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YOU. ARE. NOT. PREPARED. September 27, 2011

Posted by Stormy in General Whinging, Leveling, Raiding.

Note: This is not a blogpost. It’s a quick thought masquerading as a blogpost. It started out as a comment on this post at MMO Melting Pot and grew into a blogpost. That isn’t really a blogpost.

I’ve been reading a lot of posts during Nerfapalooza 2012, and Hugh’s post gelled the whole discussion together for me. The question so many bloggers are trying to answer is thus: is WoW too hard or too easy? At this point I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not the difficulty of the raids that is the problem. It’s also not the difficulty of leveling/solo play that’s the problem. It’s the huge disparity between the two.

Blizzard’s internal research shows they lose an awful lot of people in the first hour they try WoW. If they can’t figure out how to work the interface, quest, or kill mobs, they quit. Accordingly, they’ve designed the “starting experience*” (holy criminy I hate that term) to essentially be “push button. mob dies.” It requires no thought, no research, no blind luck, no tooltips, no reading, no experience…just click, die. The problem is that they’ve extended this philosophy through all of the 1-58 questing, leveling and dungeons to create an assembly line of clueless n00bs who haven’t got the faintest clue what they’re doing.

We’ve all heard, read and lived the Bad PuG Story a thousand times. The poster child for the Bad PuG story is the hunter wearing all intellect cloth “bcuz i need more armor lolz.” There is no longer any penalty for that bad hunter for not learning from his mistakes. He could quite possibly level from 1-60 and not have any idea that he’s supposed to be wearing agility mail because (at least from 1-60) he could not possibly fail. He graduates from WoW University and thinks he’s the cock of the walk because he’s somehow managed to fail his way from 60-85.

And then he walks into Firelands and gets his face handed to him. Repeatedly. He is in no way prepared for what raiding is all about. In reading all this talk of nerfing and such, earlier today I had a stunning realization: the sum total of my actual real, honest raiding experience is three bosses, Halion, Magmaw, and Halfus. I have full clears of Naxx, EoE, Obsidian Sanctum, and ICC, but they’ve all either been deprecated, nerfed content or buffed ICC bosses. When I first stepped into ICC with the 5% buff, I was amazed at the step up from the WOTLK roflheroics I was used to and how difficult “real” raiding actually was. Now imagine being a child of the new Cataclysm-style leveling and being thrust into Firelands. You don’t stand a chance.

Blizzard has decided, for the sake of revenue, to design a game that caters to the Lowest Common Denominator when leveling, and to the smart raiders who’ve done their research and know what the hell they’re doing. I don’t envy the position at all, honestly. What we’re seeing during Nerfapalooza is a cold front of the cloth-wearing hunter brigade clashing with a warm front of actual raiders who have a clue, and the resulting thunderstorm. At the moment, the Lowest Common Denominator crowd are winning the battle.

*Just for fun, when you’ve got a few hours to kill, go roll a new Forsaken/Troll/Tauren (or Alliance, if you absolutely must…*retch*) character in the new revamped starting areas and run him up to level 20. Then go roll a new blood elf (or draenei, if you insist…again,*retch*). If you’re used to the difficulty level of the new starting areas, Eversong Woods will kick your ass.



1. Hugh Hancock - September 28, 2011

It’s a subject that’s been analysed before, but you’ve really hit the nail neatly on the head here. Blizzard appear to be stuck on a cleft stick, and don’t have the corporate balls, as far as I can see, to take action to get themselves out of this rapidly diminishing local maximum.

I wonder what they’ll do with the next expansion to try to get out of their fix?

I’ve featured this on the Pot today, so it sort of ended up being a Pot comment anyway!

2. Four Posts. Four MMOs. — MMO Melting Pot - September 29, 2011

[…] at Scribblings on the Asylum Wall is our WoW blogger for today, as he figures out what the hell’s going on with WoW, levelling and the endgame “What we’re seeing during Nerfapalooza is a cold front of the cloth-wearing hunter brigade […]

3. Zahia - September 29, 2011

I was going to answer that leveling is not that forgiving, and then I read your last sentence. Effectively I did level a baby goblin shaman recently, as well as a baby blood elf rogue. I did remember than shaman wasn’t the either class at low levels, but the baby shaman was a joke. In the goblin area you don’t even have to hit your buttons, you spend most of your time in a vehicule anyway. But with the rogue it was different. I died a couple of time, as you actually can aggro additionnal mobs and if you do you are at a great risk to die if you don’t have the level for Evasion yet. You can eventually manage not to die if you’re lucky and/or use all of your tools (including arcane torrent to gain energy), but then it’s only by 5% hp or less.

Concerning nerfs, I must say that cloth hunters aren’t the only one struggling in Firelands. I’m raiding in a casual guild, and we’re not going to kick our long time members because they do a below average dps or can’t dodge tornados. We will try to help them in a nice way, be we can’t hit the buttons for them. And spending nights wiping because someone can’t dodge the tornados or because the dps is low is boring. I’m personally happy with the nerfs, and even if we had a few wipes on Ragnaros before the Nerfapalooza, it seems like it’ll remain challenging for us.

4. Rush - September 29, 2011

Leveling should be harder. Not prohibitively so, but it should require that I learn what the other tools in my toolbox do.
The other day I was messing around with a warrior alt in the high 20s and noticed that I was only barely breaking auto-run when killing mobs in Northern Stranglethorn. Between the health regen effect of Victory Rush, and a constantly full rage bar, I leveled three times in little more than an hour and never came close to 50% health. I rarely was able to even use Execute before the target lay dead at my feet. I contrast that experience with leveling a warrior back in the Vanilla days when the rage I got from Charge was crucial to being able to do more than auto-attack my target, and I patiently waited for rage to build so I could use more attacks.
I appreciate that the process has been smoothed out. I remember with all too much dread the dead zones that existed in the original 1-60 experience. Or the quest chains that sent me running from Stonetalon to Stormwind before I even had a mount.
I’m reminded of games I’ve played where with certain cheat codes you could enter a sort of “god mode.” It was fun at first, but eventually being that much more powerful than everything around you starts to lack entertainment.

5. Tesh - September 29, 2011

Nils has a great three part article set up arguing that WoW was nerfed *for* the hardcore players.

Notably, it is actually still fairly easy to die before you hit level 10 (especially for new players like my daughter and wife). The big power bump at 10 starts the “easy mode” to a degree, but it’s still pretty easy to die if you get outnumbered for a while.

Also, the Hunter in cloth might actually be using the best stuff he’s seen to get the highest armor value. It’s not his fault that he thinks armor is crucial, the *game* isn’t teaching him that +AGI is more valuable than armor. It’s not clear at a glance that that +3 AGI is more valuable than +5 armor, especially at lower levels in the learning curve.

Veterans have learned to compare numbers and see just how useless small armor increments are, but the disparate value of armor and attributes (“and what the heck is “hit rating” anyway?”, says the noob) isn’t clear to a new player.

Rush - September 29, 2011

Yes. And No. It isn’t “immediately” obvious that AGI is better for a hunter than ARMOR, but if you go to the Character pane, you’d see what each of your stats does. In fact, when your class would get no benefit from a stat (such as a hunter with intellect or spirit), it will flat out tell you. I will grant that we’ve all had moments in the past where we didn’t understand the mechanics as well as we do now, but we had the curiosity to learn. The information is there (even without going to outside sources).

Tesh - September 30, 2011

It’s there, but the system makes no effort to point it out. You get silly WASD prompts, but nothing about character progress. It’s all just sort of there, twisting in the wind.

Mind you, I’m all for intellectual curiosity, and I’m very glad the information is available at all, I just think the game should make a better effort to point out the relative strengths of the attributes. Perhaps in days past, other players picked up that slack, but that’s hardly reliable, either.

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