Wrath's inconsistency problem

With patch 3.3 coming out soon, I've been spending some time thinking about the things I am and am not looking forward to, and why I still consider WOTLK an inferior expansion to BC. One of the reasons that I've come up with is what I would call Wrath's inconsistency problem.

WoW is a game that is always changing, and that's a good thing - it's an important part of what keeps it interesting. However, I've found that in Wrath, many of the changes that are related to aspects of the game that I like (instances, raiding) have been increasingly... random. That is to say, they don't follow a consistent pattern; instead one patch changes things into a certain direction, then the next one changes them back, then the next one goes into an entirely different direction again. This makes me cranky because it makes me feel unnecessarily jerked around, and as if the developers are treating the live servers like a big beta project, happily trying out new things all the time just to completely discard them again a month later, leaving players in a state of confusion and uncertainty.

Case in point: dungeon and raid emblems

In BC, badges of justice were originally introduced to provide raiders and dungeon runners with a consolation price if the gear they wanted didn't drop even after repated runs of the same instance. At least the badges you gained in the process got you that little bit closer to another new item.

In Wrath, this somehow changed into emblems becoming the main source of upgrades since you can buy entire tier sets with them now, and any useful items that drop from bosses are pretty much just a bonus. With that in mind, Blizzard said that there'd be different tiers of badges for different levels of content, to avoid situations like in BC, where people farmed Karazhan to get gear that was as good as some drops from tier six content. So far, so good.

Except two patches later they decided that actually, people should be farming heroics to get tier nine and even though there'll still be different types of emblems, you'll only see the two newest types drop anywhere and will then have to trade them for lower types. So basically, we're back to the BC system with the one "advantage" that people can't farm for gear that's coming in the next patch in advance (since instances drop the "wrong" type of emblem until then), and the disadvantages of people being left with a whole slew of useless badges every time a new patch hits, the requirement to do a lot of hopping back and forth between different vendors to acquire the right amount of emblems of the right type, and some seriously messed up pricing between tiers (so that for example a pair of ilevel 213 leather boots costs nearly twice as much as an ilevel 226 pair of gloves or belt - that kind of thing leaves me frustrated every time I want to buy something new for one of my alts).

Case in point: tier items

Back in vanilla WoW, all tier items were class- and slot-specific and dropped from raid bosses. In BC this was changed to a tier token system that combined three classes into one token, to avoid getting too many completely useless drops, especially with the reduced size of raids. You can argue about whether this was the perfect system already (I wouldn't say so myself, coming from a raid force that never got enough conqueror tokens), but it was a step up for sure.

They kept this system for the first half of Wrath, then decided that the Crusader's Coliseum would drop tokens that were useable by all classes and for all slots. However, you'd also need emblems to buy your tier, in addition to those tokens. At least for twenty-five-man raids, ten-man raiders got to buy their stuff with tokens only. And the tribute chest for twenty-five-man hard mode would give tokens that were slot-neutral, but limited to three classes again, in the old style. O...kay, sounds slightly complicated, but let's roll with it.

Except that for Icecrown, once again, Blizzard decided that actually they didn't like the changes they made in the last patch all that much, so they are revamping the system once again. I can't recall whether the new tokens are going to be class-specific, slot-specific or both, but they definitely won't be neutral anymore. And you'll have to buy the ten-man version of the item first, and then use that to upgrade to twenty-five-man with your token. What the eff, can't these people make up their minds? Why do I feel like I need a manual for "how to get my new tier" every time a new patch hits? Whatever happened to just killing the boss and going yay?

Case in point: raid difficulty

At the start of WOTLK, Blizzard said that they wanted to make raiding more accessible, but that it would still increase in difficulty later on. Fine by me. Naxxramas was very easy, Ulduar was harder, plus it had some super hard modes for the hardcore.

Then along comes the Crusader's Coliseum, a huge step backwards from normal-mode Ulduar, and with a separate lockout for doing all the fights in hard mode. Okaaay, if that's the way they want to go...? But no, there comes Icecrown, where the multiple lockouts idea has once again been scrapped and you can instead toggle hard modes on and off on the interface for individual bosses.

This kind of thing just makes me want to tear my hair out. Every time they change the way these things work, raiding guilds everywhere have to start discussing anew how and when they should work on each difficulty. Is that really necessary? Could nobody figure out in advance that offering the same raid in four different difficulties wouldn't be that great an idea? Did they have to use us as lemmingsguinea pigs first to measure just how burnt out and bored people would get?

Cataclysm is supposed to change a lot yet again, both in terms of game mechanics and in terms of the environment. I'm still curious and hopefully optimistic about those changes, but I really hope that the developers will make a plan and stick to it this time instead of completely changing direction again as soon as patch 4.1 hits - I'm getting really tired of this constant back and forth.


  1. You're perfectly right on some counts, but keep in mind:

    - there's a coin trader in the sewers, next to the bank, that will do every emblem swap, including the triumph -> conquest one that item vendors don have for some reason;
    - badges won't become useless until early into Cataclysm, because of heirlooms and gems you can use in leveling gear; as the expansion matures, their usefulness will probably fade to nearly nothing;
    - you mean guinea pigs, not lemmings. Lemmings are people that jump off Razorscale's aerie. :)

    As for the Coliseum patch, that was one big can of messed up. Called the "filler" patch, it was put together in two days, actually tested for about two weeks and then released to the masses that promptly burned themselves out by doing 4 nearly identical versions of the same room per week. 10-man heroic vs 25-man normal/heroic itemization issues did not help this either.

    The later 3.3 arrives, the better, from a quality assurance point of view.

  2. I know that you can trade emblems down, but I find it very annoying. On some of my alts I still have, say, thirty emblems of heroism - which isn't enough to buy an heirloom if still a significant amount - but at the same time I'm reluctant to "sacrifice" higher-level emblems just to make up the difference when I could buy better gear for the alt with the better emblems themselves. So those heroisms just sit there forever and ever, not getting used.

    Also, not everyone is into levelling alts and thus interested in heirlooms at all.

    You got me with the lemmings though, no argument from me there. :)

  3. Heroics should drop all emblem together but you should be unable to trade them down. Whenever a new tier will be available, they should just *add* the second highest tier to heroics.

    So a heroic 5 man boss would drop
    1 EoH
    1 EoV
    1 EoC
    1 EoT (with 3.3)

    The way it is now is a joke as you will never buy anything from the EoH vendor because the prices are way to expensive compared with what you would get with the EoT themself.