Saturday, June 20, 2009

3.2 QQ

Well, what a stink. The 3.2 PTR patch notes have put the cat amongst the pigeons with regard to the new Tier 9 of PvE gear, the associated Emblems of Triumph and the changes to 5-mans which mean that you can now get the new top-end emblems from running daily 5-mans.

OK raiders, cease foaming at the mouth now. Take a deep breath.

I'm all for casuals. Hell, I'm a casual by most definitions - I have 1-2 largely uninterrupted approved WoW nights a week (which I use for raiding) and otherwise it's on a no-commitment, as-available basis. And yes, WoW is a game dominated by casuals.

But - and it's a big but - I don't believe participation trophies should be the same size as the winner's trophy. I believe in the beauty of Zipf's Law which is, essentially, that the glory of being #1 is exponentially bigger than the glory of being #2, and so on down the chain. Life is competitive, and competition is healthy. WoW reflects life in that only the most talented and dedicated people who persistently attempt the most challenging content (should) get the best rewards.

I am not #1 in WoW. Nor do I have the time or dedication to be so (though I like to think I have the skill, or at least the ability to develop the skill). However, I believe that my gear accurately reflects my circumstances - when someone sees my T7.5 shoulders, they know I've been doing Nax25. When someone sees my dual Mongoose, they know I'm serious about my spec but don't have the time to get the money for dual Berserking. When they see my neck piece, they know without doubt that I have dropped 19 bosses in Ulduar25, and/or know my way around Emalon pretty well.

Blizzard, in their increasing desperation to retain their flattening user base, are resorting to participationism. There's a back door to the grand finals, if you're prepared to play enough little league. But as most people know, you may get to the grand final that way, but when you start to play it doesn't matter how shiny your uniform is. You're going to die in the fire. And when you stand on the podium to collect your runner-up trophy, you'll have a hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach and you'll feel like a fraud.

Apparently the idea is that a) people will go back into heroics, and b) more people can see the endgame content. Well let's see.

The first is probably accurate, but it will be at the expense of Ulduar. In half an hour with four other people, you can faceroll 5 EoC and 2 EoT from H Nexus if it's the daily. Follow up with H VH and H CoS and it's EoC city within another hour. Why would you get 24 other people and spend twice the time getting past Iron Council for 5 EoC and no EoT? The only people that will be running Ulduar are the hardcore raiders, for item drops that they can't buy with welfare emblems, to gear up for Coliseum. Blizz are actively encouraging grinding rather than attempting hard content. How disappointing.

The second: an unskilled raiding group will still fail on every fight in Nax, even in T9 welfare epics. Never mind (presumably) the Coliseum. Gear is only one part of the equation, and I suspect it won't affect the numbers of people dropping KT at all.

Any guild that relies on pugs to make up a 25 man (such as, often, ours) is going to have a nightmare time with the abundance of notionally geared folks in LFG. Expect more achievement linking, more assessment, less trust. Guilds that use pugs must establish a whitelist of known good pugs to raid with and find a way to integrate them into their loot system, or they will ruin raid nights with trial and error pugging. If you're a habitual pug, you'd better establish a rep with a number of guilds, because nobody's going to trust your gear anymore.

That said, gear is definitely one factor that can prevent an otherwise decent raider from seeing the content they crave, and the new system will help alts.

I'm not going to say that it's necessarily bad, because there will be pros and cons. I guess the meritocrat in me dislikes grind-based backdoors. I'm going to think some more and try to be a bit more Zen about the whole thing.


  1. Hey Cat,

    I sort of agree with your points here, and I admit that I sometimes check out other rogues I see and think, "woah, nice gear!" But I think that you added the counter to this new badge drama in your second point:

    getting good gear won't make you skilled.

    It will be fun to out-dps other rogues who won't have the excuse of hiding behind worse gear. Bring it!

  2. Hey Adam,

    Yup it's the old story - if you can't twitch-hit the right button at the right time, you'll die in the fire no matter what shinies you're wearing.

    I've realised I just hate incentives to grind. The Argent Tournament is the same thing, and the Coliseum dailies that require you to have 6 Exalted Champion reps is making me incandescent with rage - the only way you can get those is if you have waaaay too much time to grind dailies (or buy gold for Runecloth). It's anti-casual.