Two Worgen Vs. The World

In the comments to my last post, mysteriously named commenter "R" asked why my pet tank and I weren't just setting out to duo instances together if I had reservations about using the dungeon finder to get a full group. As a matter of fact, this is exactly what I originally suggested, but I was rebuffed with doubts about whether two-manning things at level was even feasible. (And anyway, the groups we got during our first couple of runs weren't so bad, right?)

Gnomeregan ended up being a turning point.

When I last set foot into Gnomeregan shortly after the Shattering patch, I noted that it didn't appear to have been changed much, except for a couple of visual tweaks to some mobs and the removal of the old goblin escort quest. Imagine my surprise then, when we zoned into the instance this week and instead of a host of wacky quests telling us to collect punchcards and essential artifacts artificials, there was exactly one quest at the entrance - telling us to parachute straight down on top of the Viscous Fallout. We followed the instructions, even if they left us slightly bewildered... but when the follow-up quest told us to press on even though we hadn't even killed Grubbis yet, we balked and went back to do that encounter first. Our three damage dealers disagreed and continued on their own, with neither group struggling to kill things and stay alive, until we eventually reunited shortly before the last boss. After he had died and everyone else had left, my tank and I also went back to two-man the Crowd Pummeler, whom the dpsers had skipped too. I hardly needed to do any healing even with just the two of us.

We were left with an incomplete quest, seeing how we had been out of range when the Electrocutioner died, and a certain feeling of disappointment. Everyone's used to players taking the path of least resistance and wanting to skip things, but Blizzard adapting quest chains to actively encourage this behaviour just makes no sense. Usually dungeon quests serve to guide the group and lead players towards as much of the content as possible. Why Blizzard themselves consider their own dungeon bosses skip-worthy now is a bit of a mystery to me to be honest.

We re-queued for Gnomer in specific, and with the next group we just went with the boss-skipping flow so that we could at least complete our quest. Incidentally, this was also our first run where someone in the group brought up Recount. When they posted the dps numbers in chat, they showed that our warrior tank was doing more damage than the entire rest of the party put together. Low-level class balance is so bad it hurts.

The next dungeon on our list was Scarlet Halls, the first of the revamped Scarlet Monastery instances. We decided to give the dungeon finder another go and ended up in our most unpleasant run yet. There was absolutely no time to take in what was new about the instance, as the damage dealers rushed ahead as if it was their one hundredth run (which it very well might have been) and we struggled to keep up. I also clearly jinxed it in my last post when I breathed a sigh of relief about the lack of ninjas in our groups, as in this run we had not one, but two people rolling need on absolutely everything, which caused both me and my pet tank to lose out on gear that nobody else in the group could actually use. By the end of that run, I wasn't the only one fed up with the quality of pugs in Looking For Dungeon.

I brought up the duoing suggestion again. Gnomeregan had proved that a single protection warrior was clearly all the dps we needed, and our experience in Scarlet Halls had shown that trying to get a good look at new content with a group of randoms was a futile endeavour.

"So, how about we do a Scarlet Monastery run old school-like?"
"Isn't the Scarlet Monastery really far away?"
"Hey, back in my day we had to walk there every time we wanted to run the instance, and before we even had ground mounts! Uphill. In the snow. And we liked it."

Thus it was settled that after questing exclusively in Kalimdor for thirty-odd levels, we were making a trip to the Eastern Kingdoms. It took us quite a while to ride all the way up to Tirisfal Glades, but it certainly wasn't boring, as we kept ourselves entertained along the way with random bursts of gathering, pet battling and archeology.

As I had expected, duoing the two Scarlet instances turned out to be no problem whatsoever, and while working our way through them at our own pace, it actually gave us a chance to read the quests and take in the sights, which was nice. As for the actual changes to the dungeons, I'm honestly not sure what to think of them. Condensing the four wings into only two separate instances was probably a good idea, and I enjoyed seeing Lillian Voss again. In the cathedral I felt kind of sad when I went into the secret room off to the side and High Inquisitor Fairbanks' corpse was still lying there, unclickable now. Everything else kind of felt... awkwardly over the top to me though. Since when do all the Scarlets speak with funny German accents? Why are they all so incompetent, getting eaten by their own dogs and by zombified corpses that they are clearly unable to even burn properly? Weren't they supposed to be a morally ambiguous and fearsome organisation? Oh, and Whitemane's new champion is some guy with an oversized sword and anime hair... I don't know.

In the end we decided not to write the dungeon finder off completely just yet, but to settle for a mix of duoing things when we felt like it and using LFD when we wanted to make progress quickly and weren't too concerned with the details. Doing Maraudon the old school way right after was certainly fun enough, and not even that inconvenient considering that we were questing in Desolace anyway. (Though we managed to miss the quest to kill Princess as we didn't take the exact path Blizzard prescribes to make the quest appear and we didn't bother to look up what had gone wrong until after the fact.)

Up next: Uldaman and Dire Maul.


  1. Shintar,
    I don't know how I missed you going live again, but YAY! Welcome back. I really enjoyed reading these three posts, and I feel it reflects pretty strongly some of the base problems with Blizzard's design decisions, particularly the most recent Gnomeregan one about how Blizz actively encourages skipping content.

    Welcome back!

    1. I don't know if I'd consider myself "back" yet, but thanks anyway. :)

  2. Isn't R less mysterious than Anonymous at least? :)

    Just a few general comments.

    I think the path taken through dungeons by most groups is the one that gets them to the end most quickly, not the one that'll kill all the bosses. I find few things more frustrating than having a quest that requires killing a boss that doesn't usually get killed in most runs (I recall one of the instances in Cataclysm had one of those, took me about half a dozen runs to get a group willing to kill that boss). If Blizz is changing quests to only require killing core straight-line bosses, for that reason, I'm good with it. @Stubborn, I think it's more Blizzard recognizing how most players are playing these days and reacting accordingly, not them actively encouraging it. If quests could be done each run it might be a different story but in a do-once-run-many environment there just isn't enough incentive to get groups to kill optional bosses regularly.

    Because most dps can solo/duo at-level dungeons, at least to some point, there isn't much disincentive for them to just go in and kill stuff. In most cases the run will go "fine" despite that, even though it drives me nuts when it happens in my runs, one of the reasons I generally don't do LFD when leveling. I prefer to play/level at my pace, not someone else's, when doing lower-level content.

    I've been able to solo instances on a dps monk up to and including Uldaman although I had to switch to tank spec for the last boss, just a bit too much incoming damage as a dps. Zul'Farrak I couldn't solo with yellow/orange mobs (although if I'd known I had Paralyze it might have gone better, didn't discover that until later... even experienced folks can be noobs at times...) but it was duoable with some effort as a tank/dps team, tank/heals would probably be easier.

    Regarding tanks doing more damage than anyone else, that's mostly a function of most classes not getting ANY primary AoE until later levels (short of multi-dotting in a few cases and things generally don't live long enough in a group for that to be viable). I think tanks get AoE a lot sooner than dps so they generally will do more damage. That also makes the tank/healer or even tank/dps duo even more viable, too, it's not like you need dps to keep fights from becoming wars of attrition.

    1. Isn't R less mysterious than Anonymous at least?

      I don't know, I think it's more mysterious, but in a cool way! Like being called "Q".

      If quests could be done each run it might be a different story but in a do-once-run-many environment there just isn't enough incentive to get groups to kill optional bosses regularly.

      I don't particularly agree with the argument but I can see your point... for max-level dungeons. But levelling dungeons are content that most people will do only once, so the whole group is usually on the quests together.

      Regarding tanks doing more damage than anyone else, that's mostly a function of most classes not getting ANY primary AoE until later levels

      I know that used to be true, but I don't think it is anymore. Case in point, in that group our dps included two feral druids who both had swipe and thrash already. It just does piddly damage compared to a tank's abilities. My warrior and I have been comparing single target damage too, and all his specials hit for about 5-10 times(!) the amount of mine when we are the same level.

    2. Actually, the heroic versions of the two Scarlet Monastery instances are both level 90 5-mans, so it's entirely possible those guys could have just been running it on their mains. Not that it means that they aren't dicks, just, you know, they probably have run it many times recently.

    3. Yeah, I already knew that. :) That's why I said "as if it was their one hundredth run (which it very well might have been)". I'm not really blaming them, it just wasn't very fun for me personally.

  3. Your experiences regarding the LFD mirror those of many. As they say about it : 'The tools have taken over the Tool', courtesy of Blizzard's own social engineering

    They should have never, ever introduced the random reward as it encourages people to end up in content they do not particualrly care for and hence the 'gogogogoggooooo' attitude taking over.

    What also should leave Blizzard worried is that you and your levelling partner were returning players. Because of that you already knew how to 'make up' for it, where the Instances were etc. Now imagine what kind of impression it makes on newcomers who just forked out to upgrade their Starter Account (a reason why the first few Dungeons aren't too bad, socially, is the high percentage of newcomers)

    And yeah I big fat AGREE on it making little actual sense to encourage skipping perfectly good (at least, it was) game content ASAP, only in the thesis by Nils, Grumpy Elf, Tobold and others - the dev team is dominated by heroic raiders that have little eye for other content - does it make sense.

    Add in the trivial percentage of subscribers that even does Raid, and it gets even more awkward.

    Oh and yes glad you're back writing on WoW, the game makes a nice study object.

  4. You know, I've hardly set foot in a low level instance in about 1.5 expacs. I've leveled exclusively via BGs, which works to an extent (until you discover you NEED gear, then you end up questing a bit here and there to bring your gear up to snuff), but I end up missing out on how Blizz has essentially blown off the lower levels like this.

    Seen in this light, I can understand why Blizz has decided on the Proving Grounds and a free L90. It's stupid, really, because Blizz is essentially throwing out their great advantage over other MMOs to do this, but that's their decision.