Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Why, Blizzard?

Icecrown Citadel (ICC), current crown jewel of the World of Warcraft raiding world. Lair of the Lich King himself, this immense dungeon promised to offer raiders new and exciting challenges unlike any they had encountered before. Having spent the last month and half assaulting this dungeon twice a week on 10 man difficulty, I have come to realize that it does, as promised, offer challenges. Challenges that stand the core logic and coherency of the game on their head, spin them around, and kick them over, all while laughing maniacly.

Let it be known that I have only been party to the defeat of 4 bosses in ICC 10, and the attempt of 3 others, thus I will be using the first 4 bosses as my primary source. I have noticed a serious incongruency that threatens to frustrate and alienate many members of the raiding community; an incongruency that has poked its ugly head from beneath the shadows before, but now seems to be coming out in full swing. It is near impossible to defeat the first 4 bosses of ICC 10 with the same raid group. Specifically, the group that defeats boss 2 cannot defeat boss 4. How can this be? Here is how.

The issue lies in the DPS makeup of the group. Boss 2 requires a balance of melee and spell casters, as some of the mobs are immune to spell damage (and reflect all spell damage dealt to them, which can quickly kill a caster if missed), while others are immune to melee damage. This also presents an issue to paladin and death knight tanks, since the majority of their abilities deal spell damage. It is very doable, however, as long as there is a balance of melee and spell casters in the group to eliminate the appropriate mobs. How then is such a balanced group unable to defeat boss 4? Consider this. An ICC 10 group, at minimum, will have 2 tanks and 2 healers, leaving 6 DPS. In order to defeat boss 2, there must be 3 melee and 3 spell casters.

With that in mind, we come to boss 4. The primary challenge of this boss is that he accumulates runic power as a result of various raid actions, and when it reaches 100 he casts a debuff that will ultimately kill someone (while healing himself). To avoid this, adds have to be kited, raid members must stand 10 yards apart, tanks must be quick to taunt from one another to avoid melee hits while they have a certain debuff, etc. The bottom line is, melee DPS = bad in this fight. There has to be at least 4 spell caster dps to handle kiting adds, plus if you have more than 2 melee on the boss, his runic power will accumulate too fast and the debuff of doom will ultimately wipe the raid. Thus we can come to the conclusion that a group who defeats boss 2 cannot defeat boss 4. Unless you have a DPS that is dual spec melee/spell caster (which can only be done by druids and shamans and is very rare), you have no choice but to switch someone out, which isn't fair to anyone involved.

It is not fair for Blizzard to give the player the choice to be whatever class and variation of that class they choose, then create a raid environment that is overly class specific. While they did make dual specialization available - a great feature in my opinion - the success of a raid should not depend on it. It is a feature - an OPTIONAL feature - and thus no part of the game should rely on it. Another issue in ICC arises later with bosses that require only one tank. What if your tanks have been focusing soley on their tank sets and don't have an ICC worthy DPS set to switch to? Then likely your DPS will be lacking, the boss will hit its enrage timer, and the raid will wipe. Either have every boss in a raid require 2 tanks or make them all capable of being defeated by 6 DPS.

The bottom line is ICC 10 is unbalanced, and in such a way that has the potential to cause serious issues within raid groups. Balance it out Blizzard!


  1. There was a time when all the classes were distinct and had different abilities that made them usfull. They ended that by spreading out several of the effects those distinct abilities had to other classes. The idea, and what we were told, was that you would not have to bring a specific class, but instead bring a skilled player. This is great, until they go back on that idea with some of these boss fights. Lets break down the boss fights in ICC:

    Boss 1: 2 tanks, 3 healers, at least 2 people (preferably not healers) at range to attract the blue fire.

    Boss 2: 2 tanks (for best results 1 warrior or druid tank and 1 pally or dk tank), 2 healers, 3 physical dps (warrior, rogue, feral druid preffered as hunter, ret paladin, and enhancement shaman are all half and half) and 3 caster dps (yet again, half and half not preffered).

    Boss 3: 2 tanks, 2 healers, 6 dps

    Boss 4: 2 tanks, 2 healers, as much ranged crowd controlling dps as possible.

    I find it funny that boss 3, the airship battle, is the only fight you can play with the group makeup. And on boss four, no mage wants to go frost since it would hurt their dps. I'm almost to the point of quitting raiding just because I'm tired of having to do well on some bosses only to waste time switching people out or wiping a lot.

    I'm sure its better on 25, where you can have a more even spread of damage types and abilities. I've not spent time in 25 ICC, but I've heard enough to tell me it is group coordination and individual skill that is at test, not group makeup. 10 man should not be harder then 25 simply by group limitations alone.

  2. "10 man should not be harder then 25 simply by group limitations alone."
    Amen to that.

    It sounds to me like Blizzard dropped the ball on 10 ICC. Frankly, it sounds to me like they just didn't test 10 ICC all that much. I wish I could say that surprises me. But it seems that Blizzard just doesn't pay all that much attention to the smaller groups in endgame; they seem to be making the assumption that endgame PVE = 25-man raids. Sometimes it seems like everything else is just kind of tacked on.

    It's kind of rough that such a specific mix of classes, specs, and dual-specs is needed. Even if you could do it with a variety of classes using dual-spec -- it's kind of mean to require it. I mean, to me, one of the big advantages of dual-speccing is the ability to have your raid spec -- as frequently required by your guild -- and to have your own spec that you use when you're just running around. Rar.

  3. " of the big advantages of dual-speccing is the ability to have your raid spec -- as frequently required by your guild -- and to have your own spec that you use when you're just running around." I agree!

    Having dual spec should not be a necessity for raiding. It is great for people who raid and PvP, or who raid and do a lot of questing on the side. I wont deny that it is handy to have two raiding specs either, for I have done it myself with my shaman (healing/dps). But that was a choice. I chose to develop two fully raid-worthy sets of gear so that I could either heal or dps in a raid. Not every player that raids is going to do that, and who could blame them? It was hard and took A LOT of time to get two full sets of gear for ICC.

    "But it seems that Blizzard just doesn't pay all that much attention to the smaller groups in endgame..." I agree with this as well. Blizzard is making it harder and harder for those players that are not in the big 25 man raiding guilds to get anywhere. They need to stop and realize that a large portion of their player population are not in 25 man raiding guilds, and that making endgame near impossible for them is going to alienate and ultimately puch them away.

  4. I have always found it interesting, the debate between 10 and 25 man encounters. Brian would

    laugh at us as his day was the days of the 40 man, but his thinking does have a good point. I

    have just recently gone back to WoW after not playing for a little over 9 months. It is scary

    to see how much the game changes when you are away from it for a while. Let me count the giant

    changes that have happened since I have been gone.

    1. Cold weather flying for level 70-80 alts after you have a main at 80 with cold weather
    2. Level 60 and up flying in outland
    3. Flying in Wintergrasp when a battle is not going on
    4. Random dungeon finder
    5. Riding mounts at level 20
    6. 2.5 tiers of gear advances

    I am sure there are more, these are just the ones off the top of my head. If you spend anytime

    away from the game you really see how much the game and Blizzard as a company changes. Blizz

    has obviously changed their strategy to benefit the casual player. What my guess in the 10 vs

    25 man debate is that they wanted more people to see more content.

    In BC there were two 10 man raids, Kara and ZA. What I really saw was this allowed guilds with

    a few raiders to get into some content, but stopped them after ZA. You weren't going to pug

    Gruls, Mags, or The Eye. By making different versions of each Northrend raid they opened the

    content up to more players, kept more players playing, and made more money.

    In terms of group make up, it only matters to a certain level. After a bit group makeup doesn't make such a difference if you have the geard players to overcome that devide. There are some obvious exceptions, Rasuvious in Naxx, for 25 man you pretty much need at least 2 priests to MC.

    ET's comment on testing was almost a scary foreshadowing to Ensidia's statement that Blizz had been using them to Beta test the encounters. Blizzard is a company who has dramatically grown over the past 5 years.