I don't think I've ever hit my weekly heroic cap since it was first introduced, but I used up all of my weekly random bonuses for normals on my newly dinged night elf priest within two days. I think that says something about me as well as about normals, but I'm not entirely sure what it is.
I've talked about the advantages of running normals before, and all in all, they still apply. I think I'm also finally managing to pin down what has been bothering me about dungeon runs in the game as of late, and it's not so much about point systems, immersion or difficulty by itself, but the whole "rush rush" culture. Players want to get through dungeons as fast as possible, and the developers keep talking about releasing content at a faster pace. I don't like that! It turns fun into stress for me. My favourite run these past two days was actually a normal Grim Batol with four people from the same guild who advanced at what most people would consider an agonisingly slow pace (one trash pull every other minute or so). At one point their dps warrior fell off a bridge, died, and took ten minutes to find his way back. The tank apologised profusely for his friend's drunken stupor, but I honestly didn't mind. I just watched a bit of tv on the side and was happy. I'd rather deal with someone who's ten times slower than my "ideal" pace than someone who pulls even a bit too fast. It's pretty obvious that I'm exceptional in this attitude though - I'm pretty sure that ninety-nine percent of pug healers would have abandoned that group quite quickly.
I also met several nice players again with whom I continued to do more than one run, and even the not-so-nice ones were never outright mean or rude.
It wasn't all sunshine and roses however. In fact, my very first run was pretty disastrous. I got into Lost City of the Tol'vir with nobody using crowd control, two melee dps, and the very belated realisation that my keybinds were completely messed up. I struggled on for a bit, casting the wrong heals all the time and finding myself forced to drink after every single pull, but when we wiped on some trash after the first boss, someone finally complained about "bad tanking and healing". Since I was most definitely performing sub-par, I apologised and left, to try again later.
Subsequent runs with properly set up binds went a lot better, though getting fewer melee dps that loved to bathe in any ground AoEs helped as well. Still, I have to admit that I felt a lot more performance pressure than I had in a while. I think I only met one person who wasn't geared for heroics yet, and most tanks had around 150k health. I remember when we tanked heroics with 125k! I really didn't think I'd feel so undergeared in normals of all places - and other people having better gear only did so much to make my job easier, as AoE damage remains the same if people don't dodge or prevent it, and I was still left with a lot more green bar space to fill than my poor mana pool could handle at first.
There wasn't a whole lot of gear to be had either, since mages are still needing on all the spirit cloth (and winning it) even a full year after 4.0 made the stat obsolete for their class.
At some point I did the Horseman and won a ring, at which point the system suddenly tried to put me into heroics. What is this, I don't even! I'm in greens and can't heal my way out of normal Lost City and you want to put me into heroics? Clearly a single high-level epic can seriously screw with item level restrictions.
In a Vortex Pinnacle run, my group spent eight minutes on the first pull with two Temple Adepts because they just could not control or interrupt the heals. I still don't know how I managed to keep everyone alive that long, even with blowing all my cooldowns. When we ran into the same problem on the next pull, I did run out of mana eventually and we wiped. The tank told everyone that they sucked and left, at which point everyone else dropped group as well, presumably in shame. I requeued for an entirely new group, and we almost wiped to the same problem again, though we eventually managed to scrape by, barely. I think I might have to reconsider my opinions on Cataclysm dungeon difficulty...
Lost City of the Tol'vir was the instance that came up for me most often, and I think there wasn't a single group that didn't wipe on those trash packs at the entrance to the last third of the instance - you know which ones I mean, the ones that people always try to skip, but then someone inevitably butt-pulls them, you get two or more groups at once and you die. I thought it was amazing how consistent that was. You'd think people would learn eventually.
Still, I had fun, because even if it wasn't perfect, nobody was stressing about speed and that made all the difference. Also, chain-running instances is an awesome source of cloth for levelling tailoring!
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