Finally… Crusader

It’s been a plan for a while, there are few titles which are more appropriate for a Paladin than “Crusader Korenwolf”, however there is just something about the tournament which makes me hate it with a passion.  Ponies probably are a major factor, if there’s one vehicle mechanic I want to die a death with Wrath it’s the ponies, they’re horrible and doubly so when there’s lag to contend with (allowing the AI to ‘cheat’).

There was some serious promise in the tournament, we had the model of the Isle of Free Money at the back end of TBC which was very popular and there was a driving reason to work the dailies, to make progress as a faction and a realm to reclaim the island and open up the staged content (staging which worked nicely).  However the tournament only hinted at similar mechanics with quests which related to building the structures and the like, however in the end we were not working to open up the content but just marking time until Blizz decided to give us the next raid.

All feeling very much like filler content.

So, back to the fundamentals, I have my title.  Apart from being pugged into the circular room of ponies I never have to ride one of those buggers again, nine more seals and my Argent slave can have his own pony and I can turn my back on my most hated quest hub in the game.

Wrath, a retrospective… the bits I missed

So, as various commentators have pointed out I missed a few things while writing my last piece on Wrath.

Raiding (or the little ones I forgot)

Obsidian Sanctum

A simple enough raid, kill the mini-bosses, nuke the big boss, control the adds and dodge the (moving) bad.  I like the simplicity of engaging the various hardmodes, which also feeds into making it simple to change direction and go for the easy kill after spending too long working on the hardmode.

Being a single boss raid also helps in that going for the easy mode kill doesn’t cause a lot of extra work for the following week requiring an extension of the lock.

Eye of Eternity

To be honest I think it’s horrible, much like it’s baby brother The Oculus, both were attempts to get the whole “vehicles in raiding” mechanic moving and if I’m feeling generous they were both classic first attempts.  Lots of ideas which the developers wanted to try out but little experience in how they would work in reality.

Both are definitely filler raids, there to give some flavour and a break from the larger progression tunnels full of bosses.  Having more like OS & RS in the expansion would be nice, less of the EoE style encounter please.

Wrath, a retrospective

There has been some noise out on the intertubes about whether Wrath has been a good or bad expansion, so I reckon it’s time to throw my hat into the ring.  I started in WoW around patch 2.1 or so, and didn’t hit 70 on my first toon until sometime shortly before the Isle of Free Money dropped.  We never pulled enough people together consistently to run anything more than dailies and the occasional 5-man (steamvaults blocked us for ages).

IoQD was vast amounts of fun, there was a real feeling of progress, in pushing back the forces opposing us to regain control of the Island.  It rocked.

So, enter the Lich King, the call is made and we packed our thermals (well everyone else did, I’m a dwarf our home is permanently covered in snow, Northrend.. it’s bloody summer camp by comparision, cold weather my … I digress).

The guild as a whole was a lot more active which meant by the time we all hit 80 and decided to have a proper pop at dungeons there were sufficient warm bodies around.  Of course we were inexperienced having run very few dungeons and went in with Team Tin Can (four pallies and a warrior), two of which were healing and three in prot spec, so killing things got “interesting”.  We learnt a lot, we had (and this is important) fun learning.

Lessons were learnt, respeccing and gearing happened so we moved to a single tank and moved to a more normal tank,heal,dps setup, bosses died, badges dropped, gear dropped and the tarts of the group also …. pugged.  As the druid hit 80 and dual-specced tree I moved to pugging VoA and Naxx, good experience, requiring a certain level of “patience” and thickness of skin, which I have in abundnace thanks to my day job.  Ulduar came and with it full raiding.

So where does that leave us?

Badge mechanics

I think these worked well, gearing to the n-1 tier is simple enough and just requires time, there is no requirement to grind all the previous raids to gain enough gear to pull your weight in the current level of raiding.  It looks like they’re taking this forward in Cata but in a cleaner form.  There are plenty of people who complain about this approach “welfare epics” and so on, however Blizz understandably want the work they put into the raid instances to be available to a much larger pool of players, let’s face it when the focus of the major patches is the raid instance does it make any form of sense to lock 98% of your playerbase out of them?

Raids

Naxxramas

They’ve taken a lot of flak for bringing back Naxx in 10 & 25 man form, “recycling content”, “taking the easy route” and so on, however that does ignore the effort which will have been put in to properly balance this raid for 10 & 25.  That said it does look like the tuning was on the “easy” side with the content being cleared in double quick time, however it was cleared only by the top guilds who drive for those world first positions.  For a lot of the playerbase it did cause some headaches and provided a challenge.

Ulduar

I have to admit I love the look of this raid, the bosses have some interesting mechanics, turning on hardmodes requires some extra thought and focus.  The biggest gripe would have to be size of the raid (though this does help build the whole “epic titan” feel) and the limited number of optional bosses.  Let me expand on that for a moment as it’s particularly important when a guild is working a specific boss or mode, there’s little as depressing or painful as wiping constently on the same boss for weeks, with little or no let up.  One of the most effective ways of breaking this is to have enough optional bosses (or alternate raids) to use to “get something dead dammit!“.

More like this Blizz.

Trial of the Crusader

A disaster, nothing more, nothing less.  No trash, speaking as a tank I love trash, it’s my warm up, it’s random, it remains a challenge, the dps love the pretty numbers from nuking stuff with complete unselfconcious abandon.

Trial… a circular room which contained bosses and no trash, it was boring.

I also do have a certain downer on the place thanks to the five (yes five) weeks wiping on Beasts Heroic, that was a major test for the guild.

Trial was simply put the worse raid in the expansion, I’ll leave other bloggers to comment on how it rates against pre-wrath raids.

Icecrown Citadel

I admit to liking it, not as much as Ulduar but it’s a fun place to tank, the artwork is darker but no less epic than the titan city.  However we’ve been in there a long long time.  ICC opened in December 2009, at the time of writing it’s been open for over eight months, current estimations put Cata dropping in November which will make near as dammit a year of a single raid instance (no I’m not going to count Ruby Sanctum, we had that down in two weeks).

So epic raid, good bosses, LK was a good solid challenge, but guys… we’re seriously starting to hate seeing the inside of that place.

Onyxia

Even those of us who never raided prior to wrath have seen her go down (four manning in heroic gear in her original form).  A filler, nice but nothing special.

Ruby Sanctum

This was a challenge, the trash hurt and required some decent planning to get right.  Halion is a good positioning and control fight in the twilight realm, however it’s nothing massively special and if it was meant to keep the players interested for a significant length of time it failed.

Raiding is too easy

Often heard from the lips of raiders who would prefer that to raid you must commit large amounts of time to a guild, and spend the time not raiding in preparing to raid.  It is massively easier to get into raiding in Wrath, that is true.  However looking at the ICC pug scene there are very few pugs which are looking at heroic, only a slightly higher number which get much further than 6/12 and most fall apart at Deathbringer.

What I take from that is the first bosses are ‘easy’ and accessible to a lot of players, however there are checkpoints within the raid.  Each “mini-endboss” (Deathbringer, Putri, Blood Queen & Sindy) is a gear, skill and general raid competency check which weeds out the bulk of pugs.  Personally I see this as a good balance.  Let the casual raiders see the inside, while keeping a certain level of ‘hardness’ to keep the achievements and access to Arthas limited to those who can spend time and focus on reaching him.

As for those who want a return to raiding for the elite only, tough, it’s not going to happen.

The Tournament

Billed as a IoQD-alike it never really fulfilled it’s potential.  There was no drive to go and work on the tournament and preparing to face the Lich King, IoQD had the gated opening of sections of the Isle based on the number of players going to do the dailies, whereas with the tournament we simply had to wait for the next patch to drop.

Ponies… this is possibly the single most hated part of the whole expansion as far as I’m concerned.  Jousting felt like (and still does) something rammed in to make us love the vehicle mechanic.  Combine ponies with lag and it becomes an exercise in futility and pain.

Please do not do that to us again.

Where does this leave us?

On balance I liked Wrath, there have been some things which were annoying (Ponies, Circular room of boredom, ICC being far far too long), other things have rocked (being able to raid, new 5-man instances and so on).  Do Blizz need to tune things, of course, it’s in the nature of the beast, do I think they got it massively wrong.  No.