Friday, April 2, 2010

Is it too easy?

So, we're still at 10/12 in Icecrown Citadel - the last weeks we've even taken a step back, having not finished Dreamwalker a single time since we first killed Blood Council. This is mostly due to personnel - I don't think we've fielded the same ten people once, ever - but I still feel that with the new and improved 10% Hellscream buff, we should have pushed further. These fights aren't HARD when you know what to do.

And knowing what to do, is what we have strategies and tactics for. More often than not developed by cutting edge, top end guilds like Paragon, Ensidia and Mazrigos' very own The Legacy (represent). Guilds that face the boss for the first time, be it live or on the PTR, their tools for the job being combat logs and the ability to read and analyze patiently between attempts. When we zerg across Marrowgar these days, I still remember launch night - granted, he was bugged that night - when we wiped on him for a solid two hours. Resto druid went OOM, tank soaking was out of control, DPS too used to full nuke simply not being able to adapt to the idea of an aggrowipe.

Was Marrowgar too hard that night? Hardly. Granted, he was bugged. But a fair few guilds got him by adapting and creating the now commonplace strategies of either standing hugged inside his hitbox, or divided to manipulate Bone Storm movement. Those tactics were fast spreading, more guilds and groups got him down, he was labelled "too easy". These days, PuGs are killing Arthas and certain hardmodes, and thus, they are labelled "too easy". In fact, the common thesis among the average World of Warcraft gamer is that the game overall is "too easy", regardless of what they themselves have killed or not.

After Paragon's world first hard mode Arthas, their composition caused a lot of uproar. People felt insulted, almost cheated, that their class was left out. I got a mage community toting my left ear full, and my right ear is almost deaf already from the shaman community (ironically, the two definitive "flavour of the month"-classes from Tier 9, by the way). They all agree that since Paragon didn't use their class for the kill, they need to be buffed. Paragon's response to this?

It's the hardest fight, ever. In the history of the game. A 13 minute encounter where a single error from one out of 25 players WILL cause you to wipe and go again. It took them 170 attempts to get it right. Imagine, if you will, spending half of those attempts learning the mechanics of the fight, trying and failing to learn positioning and timing, understanding to a pin exactly how, what and when. That still leaves 85 attempts - the other half - to get it right. In the history of this game, I can't think of a single boss encounter I've even done 85 times, let alone wiped on. Mimiron, perhaps? But even him, probably not more than 70-75 times overall. But on a fight that hard, you don't leave a single thing to chance. If warlocks do 50 better DPS, you bring warlocks. Because over 13 minutes, 50 DPS still adds up to 39,000 damage. There is no luck or extra push when you're operating on a level that hard. Only perfection.

Oh, by the way, did I bring up Mimiron earlier? I did, didn't I? Fascinatingly, Muqq from Ensidia rates Mimiron v1.0 hardmode as harder than heroic Arthas. Apparently, Mimiron back then, in the gear they had, before the nerfs, was less RNG and more pure skill. Now, I've not done heroic Arthas, so I can't comment on that. But I've done heroic Mimiron, post-nerf in gear level a full tier and a half above his intended level, and it was HARD. Back when hardmode Anub fell in Tier 9, it was widely considered the hardest challenge due to the insane DPS required, at the right place, at the right time. The frost patch restriction, the need to AoE-stun the adds to even keep your offtank alive - it was HARD. And Yogg-saron without watcher aid? Stood for four months, Paragon then claiming he was the hardest boss ever.

So the end boss for the last three tiers have been, for all intents and purposes, "the hardest boss ever". They even had a random guildkiller thrown into the fold, for good measure. In TBC, when people called for the hardest boss ever, they did not say "Vashj" or "Kael" or even "Illidan". They said "C'thun" all the way up to M'uru. And even then, most people rated C'thun as harder than Kil'jaeden. So TBC spawned one "hardest boss ever". Wrath of the Lich King spawned four - one of which is so hard that the ONLY guild ever to have killed him at the moment, finds it difficult to imagine him ever get topped in terms of perfection in challenge and difficulty.

For all intents and purposed, the game is not too easy. The question is rather where your ambitions lie - and what you expect from the game. Because if you're reading this, I'm 99,7% certain - heroics Arthas is too difficult for you.


It was announced today that Eyonix has left Blizzard. An anonymous internet voice said in regard to this, that "There are people who shape, create, influence and develop. Apple would be the same without Steve Jobs, or Microsoft without Bill Gates".

I have no further to add to that. Take care, Eyo. And shame on you for leaving us alone with GC.

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