Showing posts with label firelands. Show all posts
Showing posts with label firelands. Show all posts

16/09/2011

After four years, I've decided to stop raiding

I've got quite a few people on my blogroll who don't actually play WoW anymore or who have at least taken a step back from it and play less now than they used to. None of them did so angrily, shouting "this is the last straw" and raging about how much the game sucks these days. It pretty much seemed to be a gradual process for all of them, where certain changes to the game bothered them, though never enough to make them want to quit - until one day they suddenly realised that somehow a lot of small things had added up to enough to not make them want to play anymore. All they were left with was a certain sense of melancholia about what they had lost, but they knew that there was no going back.

This is how I feel about raiding right now.

Ever since Wrath of the Lich King, almost all the major changes that were made to raiding have been things that I personally disapprove of: the removal of attunements, all raids having a ten- and a 25-man mode, the introduction of heroic raids, the changes to the badge system, the abandonment of older tiers in order to have all players playing together in whatever was the newest raid, the equalisation of tens and 25s. And yet, every time I just moaned about the changes and kept going anyway. As the Grumpy Elf is fond of saying, complaining about something is not necessarily a bad thing; it shows that you still care... it's when you don't even care to complain anymore that things have gone really bad. I suppose I should have known that something was amiss when the subject of the newest Firelands nerfs came up on our guild forum, and all I could get myself to say was that I didn't think they were a good idea but that I couldn't be bothered to elaborate anymore.

Last night I came home late after having been out all evening. I briefly checked my guild's website and was greeted by a screenshot of a Majordomo first kill, a boss that I haven't even seen yet. I mentioned the sting of missing out on first kills only about a week ago, so there was a brief pang of regret... but it was gone surprisingly quickly. The reason that I hadn't even logged into WoW in two days was that I had been working long shifts, and then spent one evening watching Rise of the Planet of the Apes with the boyfriend (really good by the way) and the other being social with my co-workers. And I wouldn't have wanted to miss either of those things in favour of raiding. In fact, I really enjoyed doing something other than raid on my raid nights for a change.

I've talked about how I generally haven't been that enthusiastic about raiding lately, at least not compared to other activities. It didn't feel like a chore to me, but I wasn't really having lots of fun anymore either. It was just something that I'd been doing for so long that it seemed strange to stop on no particular grounds, not to mention that I didn't want to hurt my guildies by making myself unavailable for no good reason. Ten-man rosters are such a frustratingly fickle thing, and after having helped with the back end of recruiting for one for the better part of the year, I definitely didn't want to be that person - the one who left completely out of the blue and suddenly tipped the guild from rolling along just fine to having to cancel every other raid due to not having enough signups.

However, seeing that screenshot was an epiphany. It was yet another first kill that had passed me by. But you know what? That's a sign of a healthy guild. They didn't need me. If anything, we've been having a bit much rotation as of late, with some people feeling slightly frustrated that they didn't get to raid as often as they would have liked. And suddenly it hit me that if I didn't really feel like raiding anymore, I didn't have to. I could quit without spoiling other people's fun. We have enough healers.

The other day it also really hit home for me just how little I cared about raiding itself anymore when I noticed that I had capped my conquest points without fail every single week since the start of season ten, and that I was in fact getting close to having a full set... but I still hadn't bothered to buy even a single piece of tier twelve. How much of a boon is a raider who cares so little anyway?

Gear has been another little thing that has been contributing to my raid blues in general. I always frown when people say that they don't care about the gear from raiding because I find that strange. It's not all there is to raiding of course, but finally seeing that upgrade drop and winning the roll is part of the fun. Unfortunately Firelands has been absolutely horrid to me as a holy priest. I've seen other people rake in oodles and oodles of gear for both main and off-specs, and the only thing I got after all this time was a BoE off-hand that didn't even drop while I was in the raid, it's just that nobody else wanted it at the time and it went into the guild bank. There is no spirit cloth in Firelands, period. There's something oddly discouraging about a whole tier that drops close to no gear for your spec at all. Completely irrational I know, but it's as if even the developers themselves are telling me that they don't want me there anymore.

And then the recent news about the incoming nerf. Like I said above, I don't even have the energy to be angry about these things anymore, just a little sad. Once upon a time raiding felt a bit like climbing a mountain to me. It was harder on the logistics and it took long to get to the top, but at the end you could look down at how far you had come and feel like you'd achieved something. If I'm still climbing mountains by raiding today, it's only because I'm surrounded by an ever-rising tide and I'm trying not to drown. I'm finding it highly ironic that Blizzard's constant attempts at making the content more accessible to the casual player via nerfs make me feel as if more and more demands are being put on me. Here's the thing, imposing shorter and shorter time limits on people's ability to complete a given task is in fact another way of raising the bar, not lowering it. Seeing tier eleven get nerfed after six months was already hard for me, but as they keep cranking up the pace I'm simply finding it impossible to keep up. Sorry, but I do not have the energy to complete your content within the imposed time limit, and I'm not going to waste my time trying if I won't see half of it until it's only a mere shadow of its former self anyway.

Taken by themselves, I wouldn't even have considered any of these things worth posting about, but without me even realising it at the time, their combined weight has by now become too much for me to keep calm and carry on. I'm not done with the game yet - I still want to quest, level alts and do rated battlegrounds.

But raiding... raiding had me, and it's lost me. I'm sad to hurt my guild leader, because I love him dearly, we've been through a lot together and I know he'll miss me being around regardless. But honestly, I'm done moaning and I think I have to accept that this particular part of the game simply isn't for me anymore. I am glad however to see that my guild is doing fine without me and that my departure from raiding won't hurt its progression. May they kill Ragnaros many times over.

05/09/2011

Firelands - Two Months Later

My guild downed Alysrazor today, taking us to 5/7 in Firelands. I wasn't there. I can't really complain about that fact since I was supposed to be there but cancelled on short notice because I was feeling exhausted and ill.

Still, missing a first kill always stings a bit, even if I don't find them as exciting as I used to. The time I missed our Kael'thas first kill back in BC due to my PC breaking down was the only time something WoW-related ever reduced me to tears. I'm used to pretty much always being present for our firsts due to having impeccable attendance, but my Firelands track record is the worst it's ever been, with Beth'tilac and Rhyolith being the only bosses that I got to see go down for the first time. With all the others I only got to see them die after everyone else had already done it and it felt a lot less exciting. I'm not sure why that is, as I think that my attendance is still pretty good and I feel that I'm pulling my weight despite of holy priests apparently not being that great in Firelands, but maybe I'm wrong. Or maybe I'm just unlucky. It feels a bit weird either way.

On the whole, I don't think that Firelands will become a memorable tier for me, though I struggle to put my finger on the whys. Difficulty-wise Firelands is just right for my guild, as the normal modes have kept us busy at just the right pace, feeling neither too easy nor too hard. The boss fights certainly all have something unique about them, and even the trash is fairly interesting. I've actually felt inspired to take screenshots again too, even though I initially recoiled at the way the scenery gave me Molten Core flashbacks.

But somehow, something is just missing for me. I've seen the Firelands fights get described as "gimmicky", and I wonder whether that isn't part of the reason. Mind you, I don't think that gimmicky fights are automatically a bad thing, but my impression of Firelands is that each fight is very much about one or two people handling a special mechanic (which they'll usually either enjoy well enough or hate with a passion) and the rest of the fight is fairly vanilla.

Shannox: This is actually the most universally interesting boss I've seen so far and probably my favourite because he does have some mechanics that (almost) everyone has to pay attention to, such as Rageface's face rage (say that ten times fast without getting tongue-tied...) or the enrages tied to the boss's and the dogs' various health levels. Still, it always seemed to me that the Riplimb tank probably has the most interesting job on this fight. As a healer it's pretty much: heal tanks, step away from fire and traps, top off raid, spam like mad in the final AoE phase.

Beth'tilac: This one is all about going up and down the web in time. I consider myself lucky in that none of the other healers seem very keen on it and I quite enjoy it, so I get to do it almost every time I'm there and it keeps the fight interesting. If I'm not on the web however it's nothing but: heal tanks, top off the raid, and spam like mad in the final AoE phase, again.

Rhyolith: Steering the boss is what it's all about here, and our dps doesn't seem to like it much. Still, once again the gimmick is pretty much the only truly interesting thing about the fight. As a healer, I (you may have guessed it): heal tanks, step away from fire, top off the raid, spam like mad in the final AoE phase.

Baleroc: This one is an interesting fight for healers, but I don't like him as the buff stacking mechanic feels like Valithria Dreamwalker version 2.0 to me. Nothing like spamming your biggest and fastest single-target spells for big numbers for the entirety of the fight... especially if you're playing the class/spec combination that is currently the absolute worst at single-target healing. I'll take Chimaeron's tight spell control over stupid stuff like this any day.

And finally, Alysrazor: While I haven't seen her die yet, the fight basically seems to come down to - surprise, surprise - healing the tanks, stepping away from (multiple sources of) fire, topping off the raid and spamming like mad in the AoE phase. I used mind vision on our mage during some of the more quiet stretches to see how he was doing with the flying around and even though I'm not sure that it's something I'd enjoy doing myself, it definitely looked to me like this was once again supposed to be the fun part of the fight while everyone else just goes through the motions. Okay, that and the hatchling tanking maybe.

Before anyone says that all boss fights in WoW can be summed up the way I summed up my role on these Firelands bosses, that's definitely not true. There can be importance in positioning (something that has hardly mattered to healing at all so far in Firelands, beyond not personally standing in the fire and not being out of range of everyone else). There can be frequent changes between AoE and single target damage (only seen on Shannox so far). There can be interaction with other raid members. As it is, it's all been kind of same-y from a healing point of view.

Still, I'm not sure whether I'm not being too critical of the instance because like I said earlier in this post, there are a lot of good things about it. It's just that it seems to me that unless you get to be the special snowflake to handle the boss's unique mechanic, most of them aren't really all that interesting... or maybe it's just a healer thing. Tier eleven felt more engaging to me anyway.

I'd be interested in other people's thoughts.

29/06/2011

4.2 - First Impressions

For some reason I always seem to come up with a whole lot of post ideas shortly before a major patch comes out, but then once the patch actually hits I can't think about anything but the new content and end up discarding them. So, to immediately get it out of my system, my initial thoughts on 4.2: (Don't read on if you're concerned about quest spoilers.)

I wonder how many people besides me immediately stopped at the character selection screen and started shuffling. Being able to change the order of your characters is one of those small quality of life changes that just feels like it's been overdue forever. I don't care about visually preserving the order in which I created my characters, I just want the ones I play more often to be on top, damn it! I was very happy to finally be able to do that.

Not everything in the new patch is for max-level characters only. One of my guildies immediately found this little gem for level tens and up for example, which rewards you with a balloon that counts as a non-combat pet and has a rather amusing ending if you hang around to watch after handing in the quest.

Probably not a patch feature, but my guildies only discovered today that doing Ahune in a guild group counts as a full dungeon run for the purposes of the weekly guild challenge. We swapped alts in and out to get goodie bags for all of them and earned over a million guild experience in about ten minutes. I'm not sure that's working as intended, but if it is that's a handy way of racking up the XP in a short amount of time.

Starting work on the new dailies in Hyjal didn't feel very exciting, but I guess it simply takes some time until you get to unlock more. We'll see what things will look like in a few weeks. For now, I don't consider it a problem.

Now, the Thrall quest line was a lot more interesting. I was surprised to see Nozdormu in humanoid form for the first time and immediately decided that he must be evil. Don't get me wrong...

... he looks pretty badass for a man elf dragon, but... he's got a goatee. An evil goatee. He clearly can't be up to anything good.

During the initial cinematic I couldn't help but giggle at Malfurion's reaction to the intruders basically being, "I cast roots on all of them!" Sorry mate, but I can see why Staghelm had trouble taking you seriously there.

The following quest takes you all over the world, to Uldum, Vashj'ir, Deepholm and the Firelands, which would feel quite epic except that Aggra magically teleports you everywhere. I really felt rather torn about this. Part of me was definitely glad that I didn't have to manually go to all those different places just for one quest, but on the other hand I didn't really feel as if I was going anywhere. That's the eternal dilemma with features like this, isn't it?

Blizzard's new phasing-but-not-quite worked very well in my opinion, as you could see all the other players around you and it felt busy, but the NPCs still changed for you personally, depending on which part of the quest you were on. I also thought that the mechanics of the elemental fighting quests were very well suited for the patch day crowds, as mob tagging wasn't really an issue and your "kill credit bar" or whatever you want to call it kept building up as long as you did at least some damage to some mobs. I can imagine it feeling a bit slow though if you end up doing it later when there aren't as many people around.

The only thing that really caused me any grief were other players, as lots of Alliance on my server decided to turn their PvP flag on, and as the elementals were dying in seconds and everyone was maniacally fighting to get a hit in, it was way too easy to hit another player by accident and get flagged without meaning to. I accidentally hit a draenei death knight with a smite during the Firelands portion of the chain myself, which promptly caused him to come over and gank me, so I lost my entire quest progression of what felt like several dozen kills (the bar resets if you die) and then had to take an enforced break of five minutes while waiting for my flag to wear off. Yeah, that wasn't that much fun. When I did the chain on my hunter, my pet randomly decided to go after an Ally as well, without any direction from me, and got me flagged this way, though I managed to escape death that time. It was still annoying. I guess one person's fun world PvP is another one's obstacle.

Also, was I the only one who wondered about Aggra's totems during the Firelands part of the chain? Where the hell does she keep totems that are twice as tall as a tauren? It's funny how some NPCs and items in WoW have increased in size over the years, for no apparent reason other than to make them more obviously visible to players. Most of the time I don't even think about it anymore and just accept that Tirion Fordring is a giant for example, but those totems gave me pause for some reason.

The entire quest chain gives Thrall some interesting characterisation in my opinion, as you basically find out about his most secret thoughts about a lot of issues. A lot of it wasn't exactly unexpected, but I was actually pleasantly surprised to hear that he's had doubts about Garrosh messing up the Horde as well.

And Aggra... well, I'm kind of in two minds about her. I haven't read The Shattering yet so I don't know how she gets introduced, but looking only at the game, she's basically this complete nobody that very obviously only gets shoved into our faces to be Thrall's love interest. I didn't mind her at first, but her new 4.2 voice really grated on my nerves, as it sounded unnecessarily sultry, whiny and somehow entirely un-orcish to me for some reason. On the other hand she's kind of cool, and manages to display some character even while under duress, occasionally snarking at Thrall even while she desperately fears for his life.

The only thing I didn't get was why the big ritual for which we were called to Hyjal in the first place wasn't completed after we saved Thrall. I thought it was supposed to be important?

The quest reward cloak you get at the end is very nice, though I couldn't help but feel like there was suddenly a certain cloak overload going on. Epic cloaks for justice points, cloaks from Ahune, cloaks from this quest, and did you see the first rep reward from the Avengers of Hyjal? Yep, more cloaks.

Speaking of the Avengers of Hyjal, in the evening my guild had its first Firelands raid. I took one step inside and immediately felt like I had ended up in Molten Core 2.0, with the only major difference being that it's open to the sky. But otherwise it's all there: flamewalkers, core hounds, molten giants - lots and lots and lots of them. I guess it's been a while since we last had a raid instance with silly amounts of trash, so fair enough. What with it being our first time, we didn't mind that much anyway because it was all new and amusing to find out about the mobs' different abilities, such as little turtles punting the tanks halfway across the instance.

Our raid leader decided that we should start off with Shannox, aka the guy whose face they pasted onto the tier twelve hunter helm. He doesn't actually appear until you've killed a certain minimum amount of trash, and then he keeps patrolling the entire zone, with each round taking about four minutes. This certainly made for a very different kind of boss fight, as we basically waited in the area that we had cleared out for the fight every time, discussing tactics until he came around again, and then everyone scrambled frantically to be ready immediately while the tanks had to make a good run for it to catch him in time since he moves quite fast. I can foresee a lot of whining about that on the forums and wouldn't be surprised if Blizzard ended up changing it. I think it would be a shame though, because while my first reaction was to find it quite annoying, it also feels a lot more dynamic. Why should all bosses just stand around, waiting for us to kill them?

We didn't make much progress on the fight, but considering that there are only seven bosses in there, I would have been disappointed anyway if the first one had fallen over immediately, on our first night of attempts.