Mixed signals

I'm having quite a bit of fun with Cataclysm content, but one thing that I've found striking so far is that Blizzard is sending some very mixed signals in certain areas.

For example I found the revamped low-level areas to be very easy-going for the most part, with mobs much more spread out than they used to be and more neutral mobs interspersed among the hostile ones. Yet some of the new high-level zones are among the most deadly areas (without elites) that the developers ever designed, what with the enemies' massive health pools, tight grouping and high respawn rates.

Or take dungeon quests: On the one hand Blizzard advertised that they were going to put the quest givers directly inside the instances so people would be able to pick them up more easily, yet on the other hand they gave us Throne of the Tides, where the quest NPC inside won't even speak to you unless you've completed all of Vashj'ir. Having to pick up quests for Sunken Temple in four different zones was a piece of cake compared to what essentially comes down to having to do nearly one-hundred and fifty pre-quests just to do two instance quests in a levelling instance.

On the one hand they introduced a guild levelling system and guild achievements to make you play with your friends, but on the other hand they got rid of group quests almost entirely, made levelling in sync a royal pain in the arse and generally made questing more annoying if you've got company.

And of course, they left the dungeon finder in the game with no changes. In my guild this has led to some strange conflicts. Everyone agrees that running with a guild group is generally far superior to running with a pug, but guild groups (at least in a medium-sized guild) have a problem: unless you plan ahead for every five-man as if it were a raid, they are pretty unreliable. The tank you were hoping for might have a headache and end up not wanting to run tonight, maybe there are three healers online and they can't all get into a group, or maybe everyone just started a run five minutes before you logged on.

Comparatively, the dungeon finder has one advantage there: the guaranteed spot. If you queue up there, you might have to wait forty minutes, but unless it's three in the morning (and maybe even then) you will get into a group eventually. It might be a horrible group and you might not make it past the first boss, but at the very least you'll get a chance to go.

So you try to build a guild group in the evening and get responses like "I would have come but I just got into a pug after a fifty-minute queue" or "oh sorry, we're already in a run together and just pugged the healer from the dungeon finder". And so everyone ends up pugging something or someone, and then the ones who log on later end up having to pug more in turn... and suddenly you have ten guildies doing heroics but not a single group that counts as a guild run.

I don't want to condemn the dungeon finder here, but I have to say that in light of the changes to guilds and the like, it feels oddly out of place to me now and as if the different systems are sabotaging each other. Run with your guild, it's more fun and gives achievements! No, use the dungeon finder, it guarantees you a spot at the press of a button!

Cataclysm, the expansion of contradictions?


  1. The more I hear from people who have been running LFD in Cata, the more I cringe. It's like all of the bad behavior that cropped up in Wrath moved up to the Cata instances, and someone turned the knobs all to '11'. In Q's and Neve's guild today, I was reading the conversation in guild chat about how one guildie got votekicked from an LFD pug for stating up front that he didn't know a particular boss fight, and how another guildie got yelled at by the healer in another pug when he cast Lay on Hands on himself.

    I've been contemplating a post on this phenomenon, but I'm holding off until I make it to 80 and find out for myself.

  2. I know exactly what you mean, LFD is instant as a tank, and always tempting. The fail rate for me is down to 50% (I reckon I complete half of the PUG heroics I get into now and going up all the time), and considering that a failed attempt is usually obvious in 15 minutes, it's only a 15 minute "tax" on my daily for using LFD, versus ages waiting for Guildies to "just finish these quests" or "log on to my alt once I've finished this BG".

    Still, I'm trying to run guild heroic nights 2x per week and ad-hoc promises to various guild healers to tank for them on other nights. It's a bit boring tanking all the time, but it is important to trade some personal / selfish desires for the Guild, if only because a healthy Guild with team activity is better for everyone (including me) in the long run. I wish more people understood that.

  3. @Redbeard: My own LFD experiences haven't been that bad actually, the horrible group that might not make it past the first boss is just something that I've heard other people talk about. I still haven't dared to pug heroics yet simply because I feel that healers are a lot more vulnerable now due to the mana situation and I'm not confident enough yet to hand myself over to strangers in that environment... but normals have mostly been okay. People still hardly use crowd control there, which makes some pulls quite painful to heal but doable. On the plus side however there is more tolerance for deaths and wipes, and few people will drop group over a mess-up or two. I've only had one group disband completely halfway through BRC after the tank had been disconnected for several minutes and a "gogogo" dpser pulled a bunch of trash.

    @Boxer: I'm certainly not blaming anyone for choosing the convenience of LFG, I just think that in terms of game mechanics I find it weird that Blizzard is happy to have different systems completely at odds with each other. And I'm impressed your pugs are going so well, the more of the new heroics I run the less I want to try them with strangers. Hello there Stonecore, where every single boss has a mechanic that will one-shot people if they stand in the wrong place.

  4. Before Christmas there were far more tanks and healers in our guild looking to grind heroics. Lux and I pugged a whole bunch when we couldn't find DPS to go with us.

    Now the latest trend is that the tanks have all geared themselves up (some of the more active healers, too) and just want their one random a day, while the dps are interested in grinding heroics all night...

  5. here's another interesting contradiction for you. guild leveling and guild reputation. unless you are lvl 80+, your rep gains and contribution is very negligible. and as for running as a group, only either Cataclysm dungeons (heroics and raids only, I think) level your guild/rep as well as rated (read guild) battlegrounds. so essentially, a leveling guild will level slower, even while running together, then a vanity guild that has lvl 80+ alts questing regularly. so much for encouraging variety of guilds - its end game guild or bust.

  6. @Leah-- I noticed that. The weighting is so heavy for the Cata content areas that Blizz is pushing a certain form of behavior for guilds: level your 80s first before you think about trying out something new. And if you don't like it that way, just race/faction transfer an 80 instead to the new race/class combo (and put a little more money into Blizz's pocket, too).