Thursday, June 18, 2009

10-mans Can Be Heroic Too: WoW Patch 3.2

Stop me if I'm getting predictable here . . .

Blizzard has been leaking patch 3.2 information for a while now, and this week the trickle became a torrent. Shaman buffs (much needed!), new totem interface and druid forms (probably the two longest-requested things in the game's history; with the totem interface being promised from LAUNCH), and info about the new dungeons. There were some huge bombs dropped in a Blue post about the upcoming Tier 9 raid encounter, Crusader's Coliseum (hopefully some of the trash will require CC so the acronym doesn't become an in-joke):

In the next major content patch, the construction of the Crusaders’ Coliseum on the Argent Tournament grounds will be complete, and it will hold new challenges for players. We’d like to share some details on the new dungeon, which represents the next tier of content for the game, but keep in mind that this is still in development and subject to change. The Crusaders’ Coliseum will include:

    • New epic 10- and 25-player raid dungeon with five encounters, with each encounter being unlocked one week at a time

    So they are bringing back the old Sunwell mechanic to keep people from just charging through the place the first week. Sounds fine to me. But isn't 5 encounters a bit light? Especially given the next item, which makes it appear like hard modes will be their own separate instance

    • A more intuitive structure for harder encounters. This raid dungeon will have four different versions: 10-player, 25-player, 10-player Heroic, and 25-player Heroic, with each one using a separate lockout.

    BOMBSHELL, with the potential to upgrade to !NUCLEAR!. 10-mans can be "heroic" too! We still need more details, but it appears that this will be how "hard modes" will be implemented for this dungeon. What I really wonder about is: what level of gear is each lockout tuned to, and what ilevel gear does it drop? Yes, I know I sound like a gear whore, but the quality of gear really plays a big part int he perception of how worthwhile a raid is, and the gear requirement difference makes it easier to dismiss 10-mans and creates the problem of 25-man-geared guilds blowing through 10-man content that the devs were forced (by their own design) to tune a tier lower.

    I will be sorely dissapointed if the tuning and drops continue to follow the Ulduar mold after this revamp. Here's what they should do:

    Normal modes of BOTH SIZES should be tuned for exactly the same thing: raids with an average ilevel of 222. Yes, this makes them a tiny bit of a pushover for 25-man guilds (in 226 gear), and a tiny bit of an extra challenge to 10-man groups (in mostly 219 gear, but who at this point will be able to craft/buy at least a few 226 pieces to go with their KT weapons, and hopefully able to do the easier hard modes and get Conquest tokens). But since it's "normal" rather than "heroic", the fights will be tuned to be EASY for an ilevel 222 group once you learn the mechanics. Since this new raid is "tier 9", I assume that the drops in normal mode will be ilevel 239, ie the traditional 13-ilevels over Uld 25 loot that would constitute a tier. Yes, this means that 10-man groups get to make an extra half-tier jump. You have to balance both raid sizes' gear at this point, and it's better to give the group you have been discriminating against a freebie rather than making the gear completely undesirable to the 25-man group. Also, consider that 10-man raids already got a half-tier jump in Ulduar, from 200 to 219.

    Now that everyone would have the same gear available to them (both instances should share the same loot table, with 25-man bosses simply dropping 3-4 times more items), tune both sizes of the Heroic raid for raids at least half-outfitted in that normal-mode CC gear, so at an average ilevel around 232. 10-man groups starting in 219s just have to spend a bit more time gearing up to get to that point, but the key is that it's not out of their reach by any stretch of the imagination.

    I have very high hopes for the possibilities of this announcement. I just hope they don't screw it up by retaining the gear quality disparity between 10s and 25s. Just make it a quantity disparity, please.

    • Introduction of the Crusaders’ Tribute! Each of the Heroic mode instances has a new tribute system that will limit players on the number of attempts they get in the Coliseum each week to present a greater challenge for the most battle-hardened heroes. Additional rewards can be earned depending on the number of attempts left in the tribute run each week when the final boss is defeated.

    I have mixed feelings about this. I like the extra challenge, but it also seems a bit too hardcore even for my taste. It's really unforgiving of mistakes. Right now, if you screw up and cause a wipe in Ulduar, all your raid loses is 10 minutes and a few gold. Imagine how annoyed they will be with you once you actually cost them epics for that week because you made one small mistake? It's much better if you get the same loot for winning regardless of how many times you wipe. It just seems like a recipe for drama. I think it puts too much pressure on a group, for very little gain in enjoyment or rewarding-ness. It reminds me of the old Undying achievement from Naxx that they didn't repeat for Ulduar because it was too frustrating (my guild had a single unlucky death on KT that denied us Undying after hours of perfection and PRESSURE, and that story is very common). Overall, I think some aspect of this might see a change before going live.

    • New 5-player dungeon with three encounters that will include Champion’s Seals as each one is defeated

    I've been hoping for new 5-player content. I hope it's just like Magister's Terrace was: normal mode was as hard as other heroics, and heroic mode was actually a minor challenge for people in raid gear. And in return, the items that dropped were much better than other 5-man dungeons. I have high hopes for this one.

    • New tier of armor and weapons that are modeled with Alliance- or Horde-specific themes

    Even though that earlier note was the biggest RAIDING R SRS BZNZZ news, this is actually the most surprising and exciting part of the announcement to me. Faction-specific themed tier sets and weapons?! I'm loving the race- and faction-imbued aspects of the tournament, such as the excellent weapon models (look better than raid gear) and the perfectly skinned mounts, and all the other stuff that brings that part back into the game in a big way. I'm psyched to see what the new gear will look like. I'm choosing WoW over other MMO's partly because of the art direction and flavor, after all.

    Taken as a whole, this was a great announcement. It still remains to be seen how the execution will go, and whether 5 bosses will really be enough. Patch 3.2 is shaping up to be one of the best gameplay and quality-of-life patches I can remember. I just hope that it also addresses Splink's story complaints. I, too, would like to see the expansion's story move forward a bit before we actually fight Arthas in 3.3.


    Ixobelle said...

    Um, rogues get 1h axes too.


    Hatch said...

    Called it!

    I love the part in the patch notes where they say rogues were able to use the weapons after "quiet contemplation".