Abolish Frost Emblems from Heroics!

January 29, 2010

The most damaging conflict being waged in Azeroth right now isn’t the crusade against the Scourge, or the war between Alliance and Horde. It’s the struggle between the Overgeared and everyone else.

This is manifesting itself though intolerance within PuGs, QQ on the forums and more than a few deaths.

At its root is the breakdown of the progression path that channels players to appropriate content.

Way back during the Vanilla days of WoW I didn’t raid (mostly because the scheduling commitments back then seemed much more severe than they do now). I spent my time at 60 running Stratholm and Scholomance, working on upgrading my dungeon tier set 1 to dungeon tier set 2 along with others in my guild who were working on the same goals. Blackrock spire was our progression content at the time.

I had some friends who raided, and who might from time to time come on a run, in much the same way that I might occasionally help out lower level guildies in Sunken Temple, or Zul’Farrak. We knew it was a boost, though, just like the raiders knew they were overgeared for the content and just doing it to help out or have a laugh with us. It’s not as if they had anything else to gain.

Most of the time, everyone occupied themselves with content appropriate to their capabilities.

Those days are long gone now.

Today many people probably spend more time running content that they are overgeared for than they do on appropriate content, and they aren’t doing it to help others, or have a laugh, but are working towards their own goals. They don’t even want to be there, and certainly don’t want to be there longer than they have to. This causes antagonism when they find themselves grouped with people whose goals and capabilites are different from their own and whose presence will only serve to slow them down.

Take a look at your character on be.imba.hu and check out the yellow bar that shows you your appropriate level of content. Many people who run the random heroic every day will have their yellow bar way over to the right, up there in T10 or above. That’s six or more bars of content between where they should be and where they actually are, or where they will find any kind of challenge.

Why are they there? Because that’s where the badges to buy gear appropriate for T10+ content are obtained from.

For some specs it’s not merely appropriate gear, it’s best-in-slot gear (not counting hardmodes). Not only that, but there’s best-in-slot gear thats crafted with Primordial Saronite, which means raiders looking to get geared for their own progression content are running their alts through heroics every day as well as their mains.

Talk about a soul-destroying grind. It takes a phenomenal effort of niceness for these folks to approach each of their (maybe multiple) daily runs as an opportunity to spend their time helping others.

And what of those for whom heroics are the appropriate level of content? They are no longer just learning how to overcome the natural challenges that running appropriate level content should bring. They also have to learn to deal with the challenges of being in a group with such varying capapbilities. This affects different roles in different ways, but is particularly hard on tanks. That’s right, the one role that is most in demand, and that the game should be doing its utmost to encourage is being stamped on from the greatest height by this abandonment of the idea of appropriate level content.

What other corrosive effects might be stemming from this decision?

I’m sure the endless QQ about the game being too easy comes in large part from the fact that players spend so much of their time in content that without a doubt is far beneath their capabilities.

The change of focus from skill to gear that I discussed in my “Nerf AoE Tanking!” post is also exacerbated by this. With control abilities abandoned in favour of spamming the AoE damage button, and the consequent reliance on meter output to prove competence, gear becomes of paramount importance. This is behind the vicious cycle we’re seeing of “pulling the room then aoe” getting harder and harder for budding tanks and healers to deal with.

It is behind the current obsession with Gearscore, which far from being the curse that many consider it to be, is merely the community trying to fix what’s broken and find a way to form groups with shared goals and capabilities again.

As impatience and intolerance become more widespread in one area of the game, the character of the whole becomes affected. People are more impatient and intolerant in appropriate content too (I’ve certainly been guilty of this recently, and see the signs of it in others too).

What a mess. People for whom heroics are appropriate are hurt by the takeover of their level of content by the Overgeared who are forced into running what they have little patience for.

How should this be fixed? Remove Emblems of Frost from the random daily heroic.

This will leave the heroics for those looking to gear up. Everyone running them would therefore be in groups with a closer spread of capability and matching goals, running suitable content. Characters would still emerge from this in 232/245 gear, which is ideal for starting out in ICC10 and therefore serves the purpose of providing a fast-track to current end game starter gear.

And what of the raiders who would be “deprived” of their Frost Emblems? Easy, just make the gear cost fewer emblems.


5 Responses to “Abolish Frost Emblems from Heroics!”

  1. […] 29, 2010 I mentioned in my last post why I feel Emblems of Frost should be removed from the daily random […]

  2. Kollo said

    I like your reasoning Runcible, however, even with the removal of Frost Emblems there would still be a vast chasm of gear and experience between those running heroics, ranging from those who have just recently dinged 80 and others who have nearly all of the T9 and equivalent badge gear.

    Your point is valid, but is it actually Frost Emblems that are causing the problems, or is it the introduction of the new LFG system. I love the new LFG system and have found it to be a great boon for the game – I run many more instances now than I ever did before (I’m not one of those people who can put a group together or spam trade LFM). However, even with my limited gear I find that the main challenge for me in any instance is dealing with the weakness of either a tank (or less frequently) a healer – ie managing my aoe threat, and taking emergency measures if I (or other dps) fail and gain aggro.

    I don’t find this frustrating, mainly because I have recognized this different challenge – however, I do understand that others would find it frustrating, and yes, have witnessed this myself.

    How to solve it – I’m not sure, I think it might just be the case that it will take people time to really get used to the LFG system (and maybe it will come into its own in Cata as there iis bound to be certain changes), and there will always be some people who get overly frustrated because they outgear other people, and are not able (or prepared) to compensate to deal with this – there always was right back to Vanilla…

    Finally though, looking at it from a different viewpoint – what was the reasoning for rewarding Frost Emblems for the first random run of the day? I guess it was to get people using the LFG system as I cant really think of any other reasonable explanation – was this necessary, in retrospect, probably not… So, take them away, that is fine, but I think the problem you detail would still remain.

  3. Hi Kollo,

    There’s two parts to the problem, as I see it.

    I take it you’re talking about the problem as experienced by those fresh to the heroics still remaining?

    After all, the problem of boredom and burnout as experienced by ICC raiders yawning through yet another piece of content 4 tiers too low would be solved at a stroke.

    Even that first problem would be improved, and I’ll take improvement over the alternative of continuing to get worse as the upper bound of folks running heroics gear up even further.

    The issue is the widening divide. The lower bound remains constant – there’s a steady flow of fresh 80s, but the upper bound is getting further and further away from this with each passing week, and is well past the point at which problems started occurring. The wider the gulf gets, the greater the impact of those problems will be.

    I might understand it if it served a point. The point of gearing to t9 so that a fresh 80 has a way to gear up to be ready to make a start in ICC is valid, so I think that even if the gulf in gear is still not optimal, the trade off is worthwhile.

    And no, I don’t think the problem is with the LFG tool, after all its just a queueing system (and a very good one). The problem lies in the motivation to get people to run trivial content.

    Why do fights that would present some challenge to folks raiding ICC (TotGC, Ulduar hardmodes) give Triumph emblems while daily heroics give Frost? Because progression through appropriate content (and the motivation to run appropriate content) is bust.

  4. Kollo said

    I was wondering how the LFG system would have been implemented at the start of WotLK rather than at the same stage as ICC – would they have kept tweaking it so that people were always encouraged to instance run to upgrade their gear (maybe a bit like the fact you can buy slightly outdated arena items with honor points) – ie to start off with you have nothing but the heroic gear – when Ulduar is introduced you are able to get Naxx equivalents with instance run, when Tournament is introduced you are able to get Ulduar gear etc etc.

    Blizzard admit they made a bit of a mistake with the various tokens in WotLK – is it possible that the problems remaining with the instance runs are a bit of a hangover from this?

    Although I take your point that the gap between new 80s and fully raid geared 80s is constantly growing and agree that this is the case – possibly the point I was trying to make is that before the LFG system it would have been much less likely that these bands of players came in contact with each other – it is the LFG system (with the tokens) that has brought these different level players together in one group.

    You make a very good point about challenge fights not providing any reward – I guess the weekly quest was an effort to get people into the older raid instance and give them a “current” reward – however by making the targets for these quests bosses very short distances into the instances it does not actually encourage anyone to run the instance fully (what was their intent with these, I am not sure that I know).

    I do know that I would not necessarily want to be making my way through the game for the first time, hitting 80 with high expectations of enjoying instance runs, then being slated for bad tanking, poor dps, poor healing or lack of knowledge of the instance or my class – it certainly would not encourage me to play on…

    However, I am hopeful, like I said before, that they will address this issue in Cata, be able to blend the LFG tool into the game more fully (as they can design with this in mind) and that problems of this nature will not persist to this extent.

  5. You’re absolutely right. The current situation is caused by a series of positive changes that have crunched together in a tangle of outcomes; the planned, the unforseen, the good and bad. In the time between now and Cataclysm the whole thing will be analysed and engineered to polish the experience, and I’m looking forward to the result.

    The acknowledgement that the introduction of Heroic modes has led to unplanned levels of gear inflation, which you refered to, certainly explains the root cause of the negative side effects of the LFG tool at the moment.

    As for the weekly raid quests leading to very curtailed runs, I think the point is to encourage people to try an introduction to raiding and a taster of the interior art and design of the raid instances. There’s still a large number of the player base who run heroics regularly but feel they can’t run raids for time and scheduling reasons, who can now play the occasional (and commitment free) 30 minutes in a raid zone. It follows the PuG success stories of Obsidian Sanctum, Vault of Archavon, and Onyxia, regularly run by legions of “non-raiders”.

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