But the raids are the good part!

The discussion about what might be "wrong" with Cataclysm continues, and one of the latest installments has turned people's attention towards raiding. Now, while I do have some issues with this expansion and have said as much, I'd like to come to Blizzard's defense as far as the raid content is concerned, because I think that this is one part of the expansion where they've done really well. I'm not the only one in our guild who's feeling a bit bored, but raid nights keep us logging on nonetheless because the raids are good. I'm not claiming that it's all perfect (where's the music for example), but I feel that the developers did get a lot of things right with this tier.

First off, bringing back the multiple raids per tier model has been a godsend. My guild has been struggling to down Atramedes for weeks now, and we were starting to get really frustrated. But hey, there are other places to progress! So the next week we just took a break from him and focused on downing the Ascendant Council in Bastion of Twlight instead, which we did, and after we returned to Blackwing Descent, energised and rejuvenated from that kill, we came really close to killing Atramedes too and I'm positive that we'll get him the next time we see him. Variety helps to keep the content fresh and to keep raiders motivated.

Also, while I haven't seen all the raid content yet (not even on normal), my overall impression is that it's pretty well balanced to challenge different people in the raid. I was a bit weary when both Halfus and Magmaw turned out to be little more than healer stress tests from what I could tell, but as we've moved on I found that a lot of fights didn't always try to push the healers to the max but put the focus on different members of the raid instead. A friend of mine was very amused when he whispered me in the middle of a Maloriak attempt and I responded instantly, causing him to question whether the encounter wasn't keeping me busy. The truth was that Maloriak isn't too bad as a healer; it's the interrupters who wiped us over and over again while they had to learn their role. And I was glad about that - I'm quite happy to let some damage dealers take the spotlight (and associated performance pressures) for a change.

I honestly also don't think that the difficulty is as bad as some people make it out to be. My guild is only on 7/12 in normal mode... and I consider that a good thing. I'm happy that the normal modes are challenging, and I don't really care much about the hard modes. They are something to keep you busy while you wait for the next tier, but they don't feel like "real" content to me. At the end of the day I'd rather be banging my head against normal modes and actually discover new encounters every other week, which only works if they are difficult enough to actually slow us down for a while.

I've heard people comment that they think that the current raid tier is too hard for a "starter tier", and I agree that it's a bit hard to get your foot in the door, seeing how there isn't even a traditionally easy "gatekeeper boss" in any of the raids, excluding Baradin Hold. The thing is... having a "starter tier" only makes sense if you actually have linear progression across tiers. WOTLK was originally supposed to work that way, which is why I was a lot less annoyed by Naxx's low difficulty than many other raiders (because hey, it was supposed to be the "intro raid" of the expansion, fair enough!) But then Blizzard abandoned that model and instead went for one where they try to funnel everyone into the latest raid instance so all the kids can play together, newbies and veterans alike; the moment you do that, staggering the difficulty across tiers becomes meaningless - because the newest raid is always the newbie raid and the progression raid at the same time.

Since Blizzard has so far announced no intentions to go back to linear raid progression, I believe that there's no reason to make tier eleven particularly accessible - or to make the next tier any harder, for that matter. It's just supposed to be something new and different, preferably at a difficulty that is easy enough that people who want to put the effort in can make some progress even if they aren't the best of players, but also hard enough to challenge the more skilled ones. This is always going to be a difficult balance to strike, but personally I prefer them to err on the side of more difficulty when it comes to raiding. As Ghostcrawler himself commented in a recent blog post, raids nerf themselves over time. If you already start out with things being too easy, you're only left with a bunch of frustrated raiders that have nowhere left to go.


  1. I just wanted to chime in that I agree completely. Raiding is the good part and I think the current raids are challenging without being undoable for your average guild.

    The one thing I am finding is, with the current mechanics in many fights where anyone can wipe the raid (chain lightning on council, engulfing magic on Valiona and Theralion, etc) there isn’t the room their once was to carry people who just don’t pay enough attention.I recently blogged about this on my blog www.raidtrauma.com.

    There is a new as of Cata necessity to not bring sub- par raiders, and this can be hard for guilds. I think this may be the reason for some of the push back from guilds and players claiming the current raid content is too hard, an inability or unwillingness to demote raiders that can't seem to grasp the mechanics.

    edit:no edit button so deleted and reposted my comment. Cormating was messed up.

  2. I tend to agree that the raids are pretty good, the bosses quite innovative, and the difficulty alright aside from two issues. First, I don't particularly like raid-wipe mechanics with 1 second timers, especially not in fights that are complex to start with and where melee might be trying to run around and won't always be on the boss. Second, I think the range DPS requirement is too high. Cho'Gall is a good example. You can make the raid DPS requirement high (by giving the boss a lot of HP) but by making the add DPS requirement high, it makes that fight punishing for 2 melee 3 range, and near impossible for 3 melee 2 range, and yet trivial for 4 range 1 melee. But there were anti-melee tiers in TBC also. So maybe Firelands will be different.

    But yeah, the raid content is of a good quality. maybe not Ulduar, but better than or Naxx or for sure TotGC I think. I think on par with ICC at least. And if the rest of the content is quite short and limited (5 linear zones, Tol Barad, and a shoulder enchant faction, i.e. not very much), then that has helped me reduce my play time overall I think to raid nights plus a bit at the weekend. Once I made that adjustment I felt less bored / burnt out.

    Nice blog post anyways :) I agree with it.