Thursday, May 15, 2008

WoW raiding made easy

Last weekend I was present when my guild killed Rage Winterchill, the first boss in Mount Hyjal, for the first time. Me being more of a casual raider, it doesn't happen all that often that I'm there for a guild-first kill. In fact we didn't really plan to take down Rage, we were just there to have a look around, and for jewelcrafters like me to gain some reputation. Mount Hyjal reputation gives you the same jewelcrafting recipes as the new Sunwell Offensive vendor, but for 6 gold instead of 40 gold. As there are a *lot* of recipes, MH rep saves you serious money. So on our first attempt we got swamped by the waves of mobs. But the second attempt we already had the waves down pat, engaged the boss, and to our surprise brought him down to 12% before we wiped. Everyone suddenly realized that this was totally doable, so we did a third attempt and promptly succeeded in taking Rage Winterchill down.

If you had told me a year ago that one day I'd kill a boss in Mount Hyjal, I would have laughed at you. We have a lot of casual raiders in our guild, and we still haven't even tried the final bosses of Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep. But while before we would have needed to kill both bosses to even get the attunement for Mount Hyjal, patch 2.4 removed all attunements from the game, and it was announced that Wrath of the Lich King wouldn't have any attunements at all. Another development was that over the last year lots of raid encounters have been made easier. For example we recently killed Magtheridon, who was too hard for us before the nerf, and now was well within our possibilities. Besides making raiding easier by removing attunements and nerfing encounters, raiding is now also easier because getting epics is easier. There are now more crafting epics, more PvP reward epics, more badge epics, and all the raid bosses drop more badges and tokens than before. Getting fully epic equipped now takes less time than a year ago. And of course raiding is also getting easier with time simply because everyone inevitably gets more powerful and experienced the longer he plays at the level cap.

While Burning Crusade raiding was made easier with every patch, there are some indications that Blizzard wants to make raiding more accessible in Wrath of the Lich King right from the start. As mentioned there will be no attunements in WotLK, and every raid dungeon will exist in one supposedly easier 10-man version and one harder 25-man version, with better loot. At least right now it sounds a lot like my suggestion to create easy-mode and heroic raid dungeons. But how easy or hard these raids will be in the end, we don't know yet. 10-man raids are not automatically easier than 25-man raids. Larger raids can be easier, and easier to organize for a casual raiding guild, if the larger number means that you can take a couple of less good raiders with you. 10-man raids can be extremely hard if there is no room for error at all, and you need exactly this or that class mix, and any minor error of any of the 10 members leads to a wipe.

So what I would be hoping for is that there is a progression in difficulty between the various WotLK raid dungeons, with the first 10-man raid dungeon being easy enough that a 10-man group freshly arrived at level 80 and with slightly suboptimal raid composition can still beat it. For the next 10-man raid dungeon you'd already need some of the loot from the first place, plus a bit tighter organization, and so on. The most difficult 10-man raid could actually be more difficult than the easiest 25-man raid, because some casual raiding guilds have less problems getting large numbers together and more problems with tight organization. Up to now there is simply no information whether WotLK raiding will play out like that, but it is still possible. Accessible raiding for a larger part of the WoW player base is a good thing, and I sure hope that Wrath of the Lich King will bring us that.

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