Posts tagged ‘3.2’

Do you ever find yourself second-guessing your second guess?

We knew it would happen.

Summer crit our raids.  Between the usual attrition to Real Life™, pre-patch ennui and widespread disinterest in the watered-down endgame, attendance tanked.  Suddenly, instead of attempting the hardmodes and the meta-achievement we desperately wanted to complete before the release of the new tier, we found ourselves 22-manning Ulduar, PuGing from our Friends & Family ranks and flooding the market with BoE epics and abyss crystals.

In a last ditch effort to save the guild from stagnantion, I threw recruitment wide open.  I was determined not only to replace those fairweather raiders I just couldn’t count on, but also to seed a small bench to cover the inevitable weekly absences that are all part and parcel of running a Mostly Casual® guild.

Over the course of the last month, I’ve recruited two warlocks, three mages, a rogue, a Death Knight, a fury warrior, an arms warrior and an enhancement shaman.  It sounds like a lot, but — summer attendance being what it is — it still wasn’t enough to reliably fill raids.  And even when we could assemble 25 raiders in one place at one time, we didn’t have the cumulative DPS to tackle hard-modes because we were forced to invite undergeared players as an alternative to running two or three or ten raiders short. 

… then 3.2 hit, and our long-MIA members came crawling out of the woodwork. 

Last month, we had to PuG DPS — DPS! — from /trade to fill an Ulduar-25 raid. 

Last night, we had 36 would-be raiders scattered throughout the Tournament grounds — including some players we hadn’t seen consistently (or at all!) for weeks.

Literally overnight, raid slotting became a nightmare.

Do I invite the rogue who raided throughout The Burning Crusade and still tops the damage meters, in spite of being a full tier behind in gear … but who disappears for months at a time with no warning at all?  

Or do I invite the rogue who joined us halfway through Ulduar and suffered through the very worst of the summer slump with 100% attendance … but who can barely eke out more DPS than our feral druid (when he’s tanking)?

(For the record, I invited the consistent but subpar rogue to last night’s raid — our first real foray into T9 — but will make a point of talking to him about his performance before the weekend.  If he can’t put out respectable numbers for his gear, then he’ll need to step aside in favor of someone who can.  I also had a brief chat with the flakey rogue to get a handle on his intentions.  He says he wants to raid again, so I’ll try to start slotting him in where I can and assess his commitment from there.) 

I’ve been very open with my members about where we are as a guild, what my goals are for the new tier, and how I intend to prioritize raid spots (i.e.,  to those players who have been filling them — provided that they are also competent).  Nonetheless, there was a bit of drama last night when I wait-listed one of the mages I recruited to fill summer raids in favor of a new and much better-geared recruit.  In between add-on induced disconnects, I attempted to explain to the mage that his DPS was too low for Ulduar, let alone for a new tier of content.  We were committed to helping him gear up in Uld so he could contribute to progression raids in the future … but until then, he would have to sit out. 

… Of course, now that I’ve actually done the Beasts of Northrend, I realize it’s an easier and much more forgiving encounter than many of the fights in Ulduar.  In hindsight, I’m sure we could have overcome the mage’s subpar DPS.  But I had no way of knowing that going into the Colesium for the first time, and felt it was unfair to ask the rest of the raid to carry deadweight when there were better options.

I attempted to explain all of this — but the mage essentially accused us of using him, and then casting him aside in favor of “returning friends.”  He /gquit before I even finished slotting the raid.  (Ironically, one disconnect and a thoroughly hopeless Death Knight later, he could have subbed back in if he’d just stuck around.)

To be fair, we did “use” him: he was a warm body to fill our raids.  But he was also someone we genuinely liked and were committed to helping succeed.  He came to every Ulduar raid he signed up for and walked away with several pieces of T8.5.  We invested in him, and had every intention of continuing to do so — just not in progression content. 

And I absolutely did not cast him aside in favor of “returning friends.”  In fact, I wait-listed all of our “returning friends” in order to trial new Initiates.  It seemed like the right thing to do, since I recruited the Initiates to raid (not to ride the bench!) and the “returning friends” were the ones who made it necessary for me to open recruitment in the first place.

The idea was to invite the better-geared Initiates, and sub them out over the course of the raid for raiders on standby (such as the mage) if it turned out that their DPS wasn’t commensurate with their gear … but, obviously, that didn’t work out. 

I’m sure that things will sort themselves out in the next few weeks, as we are better able to assess our new Initiates’ skill and determine who to invite to the guild as a raider and who to let go.  The novelty of patch 3.2 will wear off, as will the newness of the Coliseum (which I can already see myself coming to loathe — given that one thoroughly uninviting and lackluster room tied to completely nonsensical lore is the setting for no less than six new instances). 

I don’t know.  Maybe we shouldn’t have benched the mage.  Maybe his loyalty throughout the summer slump should have been rewarded with an invitation to our first run at the Trial of the Crusader.  But I feel we made the best choices we could in the limited amount of time we had to make them in, especially considering all of the variables we had to take into account (raid composition, prior attendance, order of sign-ups, rank, gear, skill… etc.). 

I’ve tried very hard to create a supportive guild environment, with clear and transparent rules regarding raid invites and loot distribution.  For the most part, I think I’ve done a good job, but situations like this lead me to start second-guessing myself. 

And then I start second-guessing my second guess, and it’s all downhill from there.

*  *  *

There have been a couple of similar situations recently, now that I think about it. 

Two weeks ago, one of my casual hunters threw a very public temper tantrum when I wait-listed her from a Tuesday raid.  She lives in Australia and can only raid on Saturdays: not once in two years of raids has she showed up for a weeknight!  I’ve bent over backwards to accomodate her schedule, recruiting players who can “timeshare” her spot (i.e., who can raid on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but not Saturdays) and occasionally even wait-listing members who can make all three days in order to ensure that she never has to sit out on the one evening each week that she can raid with the guild.

She isn’t a strong player, to be honest — she will forever be known as the hunter who noticed that her bow was broken after we pulled Sarth 3D — but she had been with us from the beginning and I felt a strong commitment to her as a result.  I consistently defended her, including to other officers and my own fiance, who were often tempted to bench her for her poor situational awareness and abyssmal reaction times … which, thanks to the Aussie bloggers I read, I know is due at least in part to latency.

The week before last, she decided to take some time off from work to see lower Ulduar — which, due to her schedule, she usually misses.  By some miracle of timing, the raid was actually full.  I couldn’t make room for her without sitting someone with better attendance, better raid performance and a stronger claim to the spot.  But because he’s a sweetheart, Keaton (our main tank and raid leader) volunteered to step out for the bosses she needed … which turned out to be all of them.  

We brought her in after Flame Leviathan, but she resented having been wait-listed from initial invites, and — after stewing quietly for several bosses — dropped /raid in the middle of a hardmode XT attempt.  We were forced to wipe to reset the encounter.  Keaton demanded an apology; she refused, and I kicked her and her host of alts from the guild.

Ironically, the new raider she lost her initial spot to was the same mage who /gquit last night. 

Sigh.

We also had a small loot dispute yesterday, in which a few items were mistakenly looted out of order. 

We make a point of looting tier pieces first, so winning a non-tier piece from a  particular boss won’t cause a player to lose out on the tier piece she really wanted.  However, in the excitement over new boss loot — not to mention some initial confusion as to how the new universal tier pieces work — our master looter accidentally awarded a pair of off-spec plate DPS bracers to our Death Knight tank before dealing with the tier token.  This cost the Death Knight just enough Priority that it appeared, on our EPGP lists, that I should receive the guild’s first piece of T9.  But there was no way I was going to let taking off-spec bracers cost our DK his hard-earned tier piece, so  I passed the token … which prompted our paladin tank to ask if he could have the off-spec bracers the DK had won, since taking the tier piece first would have dropped the Death Knight’s off-spec bid to second place.

(And we thought tradeable BoP items would make life easier…)

This is where our loot rules failed us.  “Legally,” the paladin was entitled to the bracers.   But it would have been silly for him to take them over the Death Knight, since he attends one or two raids out of three — and almost always as a tank — whereas our Death Knight is a DPS/tank hybrid with 100% attendance.   Personally, I have a hard time believing that our oh-so competitive tanks (who tend to be prickly about seniority), will let the Death Knight see much MT time.  For those raids the paladin is present for, the Death Knight will most likely end up an OT on trash and DPS on any bosses that don’t require four tanks.  For those raids the paladin misses, the Death Knight will be a full-fledged tank … but then, neither of them will be using DPS bracers then.  >.<

I’ve never felt the need to build a “loot council”-type override into our rules, but I was very tempted to last night.

The paladin eventually passed to the Death Knight, for which I was grateful.  (It’s a relief to know that my officers can make intelligent loot decisions for the good of the guild.)  Unfortunately, the long, drawn-out discussion about loot rules that took place in /officer chat delayed the raid and caused no small amount of frustration to those who couldn’t see the conversation … and even more to those of us who did (and found the entire situation rather asinine).

*   *  *

None of these relatively minor incidents is insurmountable; in truth, we’ve already recovered from them.  But, still … I find myself second-guessing the decisions I made, and secretly dreading next Saturday’s raid (when I get to make them all. over. again.)   Things were never this difficult in TBC, when raiding was hard and those “barriers to entry” that we’ve debated into the ground nonetheless served to create an determined and dedicated raid, with members who were excited about the content and invested in each other’s success. 

I hate the revolving door that endgame raiding has become, and occasionally find myself longing to step down — if not from raiding altogether (which I still enjoy, with all the passion of an addict), then at least from having to make the hard decisions and deal with their inevitable fallout.

August 6, 2009 at 12:16 pm 9 comments

What does 3.2 mean for us? A guild leader’s perspective.

Of all the roles I fulfill in the World of Warcraft — shaman, healer, raider, recruiter, even blogger — the one I consider most important is guild leader.   I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility to those who wear my tag … not to mention the adorable, purple and blue themed Angry Totem Tabard© that recently replaced our traditional Maple Leaf.

(Contrary to popular belief, we are not changing our name to <Surreality, eh?>.  But we may take Canada Day off, since most of our American raiders are heading out of town for the weekend anyway…)

… Where was I going with this?

Oh, right.  Because I am, first and foremost, a guild leader, it should come as no real surprise that I view all of the upcoming game changes with one question in mind:

What does this mean for my guild?

Optional extension on raid lockouts

I’m not sure how to feel about this one.  As frustrating as it is to come within a few measly percent of defeating a new boss on the last attempt of the lockout, I like the sense of urgency that accompanies a looming reset.  Surreality downed Kael’thas and Mimiron on offnights, after the weeks’ raids were officially over.  If we’d had the option to extend the lockout, I’m sure we’d have taken it — but the same energy and determination that brought the guild together at the eleventh hour also contributed, massively, to our success.

I’m going to miss that.

I’m also not looking forward to the decision itself.  Do we extend the lockout for a week so we can progress through new hard-modes, even if it means losing a shot at loot from a boss we’ve already downed?  Flame Leviathan drops the best-in-slot DPS caster neck and boots, and I know there will some very disappointed mages, warlocks and shadow priests in my raid if we opt to extend.  And yet … if we’re going to make significant progress on other hard-modes or eventually unlock Algalon while raiding only 10 hours a week, we’re either going to have to pick and choose (doing some hard modes each week and forgoing others) or take advantage of the new option to extend.

My guildmembers are all adults, and very reasonable people.  No one is going to /gquit in a fit of pique or throw a temper tantrum if we end up skipping — or extending — a particular raid boss or hard-mode.  But, as a leader, I will struggle to reach an acceptable compromise and inevitably feel that I’ve let someone down.

Universal tier tokens

There will be no slot-specific tier tokens in the next raid instance, and all but the highest ilevel of T9 gear will be purchasable with Emblems of Triumph.

This is an interesting change, and one that I’m actually looking forward to since it will reduce the amount of loot that goes to off-specs or shards.  I imagine it will also minimize the impact of the RNG, marry the guild’s ilevel to its actual progression, and make farming the first few bosses of the instance  feel like less of a chore, because the loot they drop will still be useful.  (I’m assuming there’s some sort of linear progression to the Crusader’s Coliseum, but for all I know it will follows VoA’s “boss buffet” model.  There’s a spoiler-rich post on WoW.com that might shed some light on the subject, but — alas! — I can’t access it from work.)

I’m not sure yet how universal tier tokens will interact with my guild’s loot system.  We use EPGP, a ratio-based model of loot distribution that assigns a priority ranking (“PR”) to each raider that is equal to the amount of time they’ve put in (Effort Points, or “EP”) divided by the level and quality of the gear they’ve taken out (Gear Points, or “GP”).

It usually works out so that our more consistent raiders have a higher priority on new drops, simply by virtue their superior EP — but the fact that each token currently has limited usefulness means that our casual raiders are able to pick them up relatively quickly, in spite of a lower average PR.

The change from slot-specific to universal tier tokens may prevent some our more casual raiders from obtaining tier gear, or — coupled with the Emblem of Conquest change — it may have the opposite effect, as our core raiders farm the heroic dailies for Emblems of Triumph to purchase their tier tokens, maintaining PR for off-set drops like weapons, jewelery and trinkets.

BoP items tradeable for a small window of time (to others who were elligible to receive them)

I’m sure this will lead to item-selling in PuG raids.  A few of my guildmembers — brave souls who PuG’d into another guild’s Uld25 last night on alts — saw an early preview of this when a shaman in the hosting guild rolled on a ring with spellpower and spirit (!) and then nobly passed “to any guilded priest.”

We /scoffed at the move in guild chat.  What’s next? my boyfriend speculated.  Priests rolling on tanking shields and then passing to “any guilded paladin”?

It won’t be allowed in my guild.  All loot decisions will follow EPGP, and anyone caught selling or trading items will be /gremoved.  (Not that I expect this to happen, of course.  The closest thing we’ve had to loot drama since our crazy tankadin de-guilded — mid-SSC! — has been me complaining about losing Vulmir, the Northern Tempest three weeks in a row.  Granted, it’s off-spec for me … but I lost to another resto shaman, an ultra-casual enhancement shaman and a combat rogue who, together, raid less as melee than I do.  >.<

Of course, karma smiled on me the very next week when the Golden Saronite Dragon dropped from our first hardmode Flame Leviathan kill … and lo!, not an enhancement shaman or mace-rogue in sight!  Suffice it to say, I won’t be crying about Vulmir anymore.)

Paid faction changes

WTB Holy Paladin, PST!

No, really.  Our sole Healadin is in five-piece T8.5 and substantially all of our spellpower plate is going to a Death Knight’s holy set.  (Surely, Tirion will redeem him someday.  /cough)

Surely, I can lure just one of you humans or dwarves or spacegoats to the Dark Side!

We have cookies!

June 30, 2009 at 1:08 pm 18 comments

The return of the Naxxramas power run … ?

I wrote in a previous post that the upcoming Emblem of Conquest change will make the endgame even more accessible than it already is, in part by allowing casual raiders to remain competitive, and in part by reducing barriers to entry for new raiders.  

While this will certainly be true for guilds, like mine, that will choose an undergeared but committed applicant with a good attitude over a geared-to-the-tusks raider (Horde blog, remember? ;)) with the manners of a rabid furbolg, I suspect it could have the opposite effect on the PuG community. 

I predict that the renewed interest in Emblem-farming that is almost certain to follow patch 3.2 will lead to a resurgance of “power runs”: trade channel PuGs with high minimum requirements (such as Ulduar gear, hardmode achievements or inflated DPS thresholds), intent on brute-forcing stale content in a short amount of time.  We saw this towards the end of The Burning Crusade, when Sunwell badge gear made Karazhan an attractive alternative to running laps in Shat, and again in those long months between the WotLK release and 3.1, when there was simply nothing else to do.

In both eras, new or undergeared players who were barred froms these power runs complained bitterly about what they perceived as artificial, or player-imposed, barriers to entry.  At the same time that Blizzard was striving to make raid content more accessible, it seemed, the hardcore elite were conspiring to make it less so. 

The most common complaint was levied at the inherent Catch 22: in order to run Naxx, you almost had to have gear from Naxx (or be willing to buy your way into guild-sponsored, auction-style raids in which loot was literally sold to the highest bidder).   The more-casual accused the less-casual of being ridiculous, while the less-casual belittled the the more-casual for expecting to be carried … and much unpleasantness ensued.

Not surprisingly for someone who considers herself firmly middle of the road, I empathize with both sides.  

On one hand, I can almost guarantee that if I were to organize a Naxx PuG today, I would only invite players I knew personally or who had previous clears under their T8-crafted belts.  It isn’t about being elitist or hardcore or just plain mean; it’s about having already logged more hours than I care to count learning Naxx and then farming it into the ground with my guild.  If I ever wipe on Grand Widow Faerlina again, it will be too soon. 

So, no, I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong — and certainly nothing high-handed or immoral — about with setting a goal (“A full clear in two hours with no wipes,” for example), and recruiting players accordingly.  

On the other paw, (sorry!, shifted into Ghost Wolf to scratch an ear!), I can sympathize with those who are just now leveling to 80 and looking to catapult themselves into endgame raiding.  Getting shut out of one trade channel PuG after another — not because your gear is inadequate for the content, but because you don’t yet outgear it — can be a frustrating and thoroughly demoralizing experience.

And then there are the gray areas, such as the new alts of raid-experienced players who may not have an achievement to link but know a particular instance inside out.  My main is Of the Nightfall, but my warlock alt can’t join a VoA PuG because she doesn’t have the Emalon achievement (or a single Emblem of Conquest!) to her name. 

In general, I think the best way to avoid the frustration and unpleasantness associated with PuGs — especially as power runs become increasingly prevalent — is simply to resolve to run content with comparably geared players.  This is just common sense to me.  Ten or 25 brand new level 80’s in quest blues and a smattering of leftover Tier 6 can clear Naxxramas.   They won’t do so as quickly or as smoothly as an Ulduar-geared group, but they aren’t meant to.  The advent of patch 3.2 won’t change this, and may even prove to be equal parts blessing and curse for those looking to break into the raiding scene for the first time.

The Emblem of Conquest change will make the current content more accessible, but it won’t completely obliterate linear progression.  Nor will it eliminate player-imposed barriers.  On the contrary, it will encourage them by making old content profitable for progression guilds and raiders — in other words, for those players who are most likely to set the bar high.

I’m sure reactions will be heated and varied — if not now, then a month or two from now when the Crusader’s Coliseum is considered endgame and Ulduar is the new Naxxramas.

June 29, 2009 at 12:25 pm 7 comments

WTT: 530 Emblems of Conquest for an Ulduar-geared restoration shaman, PST.

Crop CirclesThanks to the immiment Emblem of Conquest change (details and reactions here, here, here and here.  Oh, and some more here and here, too!), it’s only a matter of time before the How To Gear Your Raiding… Without Raiding! guides start appearing on the Internether like crop circles in an Iowa cornfield. 

This isn’t one of them.

… Not because such guides don’t have value, but because I really don’t want the responsibility of maintaining one!  (I’m pretty sure that’s what Matticus is paying Lodur for, anyway.)

Still.  I was curious as to what an Emblem-geared resto shaman could look like post-3.2, so I did what any good (soon-to-be unemployed) financial analyst would do in the same situation:

That’s right!  I made a spreadsheet.

And since spreadsheets can be a little, tiny bit intimidating for the uninitiated — not to mention boring to refer to in a blogpost, and difficult to anthropomorphize — I decided to give mine a face.  And a name.  

Introducing: Ishkaar

So, meet Ishkaar: the level one Spacegoat shaman I rolled one lazy Saturday afternoon on a far-flung server called Garona.  (… What?  I needed to know how to boil an egg and my mom wasn’t answering her phone!  I thought Andrew might be able to help, but — alas — he wasn’t online.)

To the best of my knowledge, Ishkaar is still languishing in Azuremyst Isle, surrounded by the charred remains of her shuttle and some very angry flowers.  But!, if I were ever to bite the bullet and actually level her, she could forward to a respectable

878 stamina
769 intellect
1,682 spellpower
374 crit
341 haste and
208 mp5

from Heroic drops and Emblem of Conquest alone.

If this doesn’t sound particularly impressive, keep in mind that these are unbuffed stats that do not take into account item enhancements or any on-use or on-proc effects.  They also ignore the effect of the two-piece T8 bonus, which can be difficult to quantify. 

Thanks to those crazy bronze dragons, little Ishkaar was able to meet her Future Self, who shared her shopping list:

Head: Conqueror’s Worldbreaker Headpiece (ilevel 226).  58 EoC.
Neck: Frozen Tear of Elune (ilevel 226). 19 EoC.
Shoulders: Valorous Earthshatter Spaulders (ilevel 213). 60 EoV.
Back: Cloak of Kaa Feathers (ilevel 213). 25 EoV.
Chest: Conqueror’s Worldbreaker Tunic (ilevel 226). 58 EoC.
Wrist: Pigmented Clan Bindings (ilevel 213). 60 EoV.
Hands: Gloves of Augury (ilevel 226). 28 EoC.
Waist: Windchill Binding (ilevel 226). 28 EoC.
Legs: Leggings of the Weary Mystic (ilevel 226). 28 EoC.
Feet: Treads of Coastal Wandering (ilevel 213). 40 EoV.
Ring: Renewal of Life (ilevel 213). 25 EoV.
Ring: Annhylde’s Ring (ilevel 200). Heroic Utkarde Keep.
Trinket: Egg of Mortal Essence (ilevel 200) 40 EoH.
Trinket: Soul Preserver. Heroic Culling of Stratholme.
Main Hand: War Mace of Unrequited Love. Heroic Nexus.
Off Hand: Protective Barricade of the Light (ilevel 200). 35 EoH.

Average ilevel = 212.3

Total cost?  530 Emblems of Conquest!

Note that Emblems of Conquest (which will trade down to Emblems of Valor and Heroism at a 1:1 ratio) cannot currently purchase a main-hand or more than one unique-equipped ring or trinket.   To fill these last three spots, Ishkaar prayed to (David Brin’s) Ifni and was dutifully rewarded with Heroic drops.  They aren’t her only options, of course — she could opt for a crafted Titansteel Guardian over That Damned Mace from Heroic Nexus®, for example — but they’re solid choices … and we’re really just looking to make a comparison anyway.

Properly gemmed and enchanted, Ishkaar’s unbuffed stats would increase to:

912 stamina
805 intellect
1,945 spellpower
392 crit
364 haste and
222 mp5

For the sake of comparison, a resto shaman with BiS gear from Heroic Ulduar would look something like this:

HeadSteamworker’s Goggles (Flame Leviathan 25, hard)
NeckCharm of Meticulous Timing (XT 25, hard)
Shoulders
Conqueror’s Worldbreaker Spualders (Yogg-Saron 25)
Back: Shroud of Alteration (Ulduar 25, trash)
Chest: Conqueror’s Worldbreaker Tunic (Hodir 25 or 25 EoC)
WristBindings of Winter Gale (Hodir, hard)
Hands: Conqueror’s Worldbreaker Handguards (Mimiron 25)
Waist: Blue Belt of Chaos (crafted)
Legs: Conqueror’s Worldbreaker Legguards (Freya 25)
FeetBoots of Forgotten Depths (General Vezax 25)
Ring: Sanity’s Bond (Yogg Saron 25)
Ring: Pyrite Circle (Ignis 25)
TrinketPandora’s Plea (Mimiron 25)
Trinket: Scale of Fates (Thorim 25)
Main HandGuiding Star (Razorscale 25)
Off Hand: Ice Layered Barrier (Hodir 25, hard)

This BiS set has an average ilevel of 228.2 and (fully gemmed and enchanted, but before socket bonuses — which I forgot to account for >.>) grants:

943 stamina
1,026 intellect
2,110 spellpower
405 crit
535 haste and
224 mp5

Thus, the difference between Ishkaar and an Ulduar 25-geared shaman with BiS everything (except Val’anyr, since it will be significantly harder to come by than Guiding Star) appears to be:

31 stamina
221 intellect
165 spellpower
13 crit
171 haste and
2 mp5

That’s … not a lot of difference, actually. 

Obviously, the Ulduar-geared shaman will get a bigger benefit from scaling talents, totems and buffs, but I see no reason Ishkaar couldn’t step out of Heroic Utkarde Keep and straight into Ulduar, if not the Crusader’s Coliseum.

For this reason, more than any other, my kneejerk reaction to the imminent Emblem of Conquest change resembled Saresa’s.  I liked the tiered Emblem system.  Not only did it reward raiders in proportion to the challenges they overcame, but it also reinforced a linear path of progression that appealed to me as both a guild leader and an obsessive completionist.

Of course, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t an element of ego in it as well: my guild farmed Naxxramas, the Eye of Eternity and Obsidian Sanctum for months to earn a lower ilevel gear than a newly ding’d level 80 will have access to via heroics alone.  At first blush, that’s just a little hard to swallow.

Still, the more I think about it rationally, the more convinced I become that this is actually a good change. 

What it really comes down to is a single question with a singularly enlightening answer.

The answer: Everyone.

The question:

Besides Ishkaar, who benefits from the Emblem change?

  • New level 80’s, because it further reduces barriers to entry.  (Matticus describes this as raising the floor.)  WotLK raiding is intended to be accessible — but the more progressed a server is, the less accessible the current content becomes to new entrants to the raiding scene.  Rather than progress from heroics to Naxxramas to Ulduar to the Crusader’s Coliseum, new level 80’s will be able to assemble a respectable starter kit from heroics alone.  This, in turn, will make them more attractive to …
  • Raiding guilds.  The influx of new, Emblem-geared raiders will help prop up those raiding guilds — like mine — that find themselves struggling to fill summer raids. 
  • Casual Raiders.  Players who raid on a more casual timetable (such as the Marksman hunter in my guild, who lives in Australia and can only make one of our three weekly raids) will be able to fill in the inevitable “holes” in their gear, allowing them to remain competitive.  If our Marksman can farm Emblems in Heroics during her own “peak” playtimes — which run opposite the rest of the guild’s — then she can simply buy her T8.5 helm and chest and save PR (DKP, etc.) for the other set pieces.
  • Hardcore Raiders.  Even those of us who are already Ulduar-geared will benefit, via improved performance from our more casual fill-ins and fewer raids cancelled (or scaled back) due to poor summer attendance.
  • Alts, off-specs and rerolls.  You can better believe that my Death Knight tank will be hitting heroics hard in 3.2!  I don’t have time to raid on multiple characters, but I’d love to gear my growing stable of alts.  That way, if my guild loses a tank or healer, we won’t fall behind on progression because we’ll have officers and veterans with raid viable alts, willing and able to sub-in — at least until we recruit a permanent replacement.  (Perhaps one of those new level 80’s, decked out in Emblem gear?)
  • Casual players, including those who have no intention of raiding.  Do they need Ulduar level gear?  No, of course not.  But attaining that gear can be an end in and of itself.  My mom has no desire whatsoever to raid, but she still gushes over each new epic because obtaining it was an achievement in and of itself — no different from becoming a Loremaster or exploring every zone in the game.
  • Anyone who wants to run Heroics or lower-tiers of raid content, like Naxxramas, which will become popular again as players who previously had no reason to return to them start farming Emblems. 

As far as I can tell, everyone benefits from the change — although some more directly than others. 

The only players who might not be affected are those in highly stable, bleeding-edge progression guilds.  These raiders are already geared to the teeth and unlikely to experience high turnover.  They are also likely to spend little time in the game world outside of raids. 

In other words: the Ensidias of the world might not care about Emblems of Conquest.  For the rest of us, they can only be a good thing.

June 26, 2009 at 2:59 pm 11 comments


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