Hell is other players…

Over the past month many a friend has left WoW. The new expansion was easily leveled and to be honest, really didn’t add much to the game itself. The new zones are fascinating. The new races enjoyable for a while. Archeology interesting for a short while then becoming locked in combat with Fishing for the most boring profession. Now we are back to the grind for gear which has slowed to a glacial crawl due to the difficulty of Heroics and Raids.

First off let me be the first to say, I enjoy a challenge in WoW… for about a week. After a week or two, I am tired of bashing my head against the same old wall and just want to move on to something else. Now, two months after Cata’s release ending up in a Heroic with players who do not grasp the basic concept of “Stay out of the stupid” just makes me get angry and annoyed at the rampant stupidity of other players. Sadly, it seems like a Boolean event too. Either the group is fast, efficient and effective, or they are completely incompetent and you wonder how they even managed to turn the computer on, much less level to 85. The amount of frustration I feel at people who can’t be bothered to learn one really shouldn’t stand in the blinking yellow stuff can’t possibly be healthy.

I try to defend WoW to people who have left, but honestly, I am not sure why I even try. I have been raiding for weeks and have managed to lose every single roll on gear. People who were unwilling to even work to get rep epics are winning rolls on the few pieces I can’t buy or get with rep. When I run dungeons I invariably get stuck with players who don’t understand concepts like stay out of the bad. All in all it is a highly frustrating experience.

So as always, I turn my eye towards the question – How would I fix this?

1. Variant dungeon difficulty, that can be clearly marked by an item level. So we already know the dungeons are “ordered” as you level from 80 to 85. You always do Blackrock Caverns and Throne of Tides first. Then move on to Stonecore and Vortex Pinnacle, then on to Grim Batol, Halls of Origination, and Lost City. Why then are they *wildly* different as heroics? Arguements could be made that Stonecore and Grim Batol are by far the hardest heroics, and yet each one has a fight that is wildly difficult and “group breaking”. This happened in Wrath too (anyone remember AN before the ToC patch? *shudder*). Would it not be more logical to have the heroics progress in the same difficulty curve as the regular versions? This way the instant someone hit 85 they could pick up enough gear to queue for heroics (329) and then would be put in a BRC or ToT, which would be tuned to be *slightly* more difficult than the level 85 regulars, but almost always beatable by a non-idiot group in full 329. Having a second number to hit (335?) for Stonecore and Vortex, then a third number (341?) for the final “tier” of heroics. Not only would it make more logical sense, but it would also help people ease into heroics, as opposed to hitting 329, queuing and getting thrown into a Grim Batol, virtually assuring your group’s failure.

2. Get rid of the random drops (to an extent). I am sure anyone who reads this knows how much I hate random, and to be fair, I usually try to contain it to vanity items. However when you run a Tol Barad and have hunter gear drop (that is items with the class limitation hunter) and there isn’t a single hunter in the 25 man raid… Well that’s just a waste. I was a part of a Halls of Origination run where literally every single item dropped was plate or mail. Much to the joy of our Warlock, Priest, Mage, and two Druids. Really? An hour and a half and not a single usable upgrade? It’s not even like it dropped something useful that everyone already had, that’s at least acceptable. We are talking about every single person in the group choosing to run this instance to get specific items and having every single item sharded because no one could even equip them. I am not saying make the perfect gear drop, I am saying “cheat” the system out a bit so if there are no plate wearers, plate doesn’t drop.

-Heading off the comment – Some might point out that there aren’t that many drops on bosses, so if they weed out all the plate/mail drops then something might increase to a 50% drop. This is easily fixed by simply having more variations of gear. Every Resto Shaman will tell you there needs to be more healy boots. Every cloth wearer will tell you there needs to be more 346 bracers. (There are currently two 346 cloth bracers for DPS in the game and NEITHER has haste.) There are gear gaps that need to be filled. And while we’re at it, what is with all the belt drops by the dozens for clothies? There are two easily crafted belts available at large for clothies and yet there are 6 346 belts, two of which can be purchased from the Justice Points Vendor, not to mention all the early purple belt drops in raids.

3. Tanks and Heals are at a premium and it is only getting worse. We have 4 classes that can heal and 4 classes that can tank. Tanking assures an instant queue. Healing assures a short queue. And yet, every week since launch my queue time as dps during peak hours has slowly risen. It went from 25 minutes at launch to 40 minutes now. During peak hours. I thought, well clearly this means I should be tanking or healing. Unfortunately, warlocks can’t do either. So I worked pretty hard to get my priest up to heroics level and finally got in to heal. And man did it *suck* on so many levels. DPS stood in stupid, tanks couldn’t keep aggro, I ran out of mana faster than a dog eats a treat, and to top it all off, when the +spirit trinket dropped that I so desperately needed, the shaman needed on it saying “Whut? Spirit converts to hit for me…” And of course won it. Is it any wonder Tanks and Healers aren’t wanting to queue?

I understand the desire for a challenge. I really do. But challenge != frustrating. And currently, that’s how it feels for heals and tanks. At the risk of saying, screw the hard core, make it easier… Well, make it easier. The more people who feel they can tank without being subjected to the ridicule of other players when they lose aggro on a mob, the more tanks we will have. In a raid, this is clearly a different situation, but in heroics, we need more tanks. The only way I can see adjusting this for both raids and heroics is to require raids to have 5 tanks, 5 heals, and 15 dps, as if they were broken down into 5 micro groups. I don’t really think that is an answer, as it is already complex enough to get 2-3 tanks geared for raids. I really feel that heroics and raids should be tuned differently when it comes to healing and tanking. A heroic should be able to get by with a mediocre tank while a raid never should. Also, to be fair, a majority of your players are DPS. So they have fun melting faces. Fewer tanks and heals means fewer melted faces.

Also, throw your heals and tanks a bone, add in the ability to offspec roll on items in heroics. When something is very clearly a tank or healing item, the tank or heals should get preferential treatment, since they are putting up with the added stress of healing and tanking. If a +spirit item drops and the healer needs, the dps should only be allowed to roll offspec. This makes it far more rewarding to run as a tank or healer if you are attempting to get that gear, as you are sure if it drops you will get it. As an added bonus this assures that tanks and healers across the board will gear consistently as well, thus overpowering the encounters and making things *easier*.

4. Give us something new. Not to sound negative or anything, because it is clearly still a challenge for some people, but so far Cata’s raiding seems to be “Don’t stand in the fire.” As much as I hated it, at least the vehicle fights threw a bit of a twist on things. But honestly we need more Dreamwalker fights. More Festerguts. Way more Lootships. This that are the norm to break up the don’t stand in the stupid. So far on this raiding tier I have seen little innovation. Omnitron is trying, but really is just 4 bosses thrown together. Conclave of Winds so far is one of the only mildly original ideas… but they drop random stated loot. Yes that’s fun, never knowing what you are going to get. Not to mention that even one death means a complete and total wipe. (Really you should be able to 8 or 20 man all raids once a majority of the people are geared to the level of the raid.)

Even if the new is something old. Deadmines and Vanessa Vancleef – amazing. Very very interesting. So where is the raid encounter? *imagines fighting Patchwerk right after running the raid through Frogger*

5. Overhaul crafting. Okay this isn’t as easy as adjusting some loot code to make loot drops worth it. But seriously. Crafting could be so much more. And it could be the answer to people who really just like to farm, play the ah, and make things. It can also fill in gear gaps, ease entry into heroics and raids, and stabilize economies. Crafting always seems to be the spot that has the most potential, and yet Blizzard seems content to let it sit. Especially if the new crafting takes time and effort, it could be a great boon to players looking for something new and Cataclysm is all about the overhaul.

6. Stack the groups for success. Towards the end of Wrath, I noticed a trend. I wondered if it was just coincidence or if it was intentional. It seems to be gone in Cata, or maybe it just doesn’t work with everyone at such low gear levels. In Wrath, more often than not it seemed like if the tank was *wildly* overgeared, the healer was not as much. If the healer was overgeared, then the tank was not as much. And invariably, two of the dps would be complete and total face melters while the third was always fresh and barely geared. It *felt* like the system was specifically putting groups together that could carry the lesser geared member. Every time my tank queued, I was always paired with a Kingslayer healer. It seems odd, but really, if the system isn’t doing this, it could be. My warlock more and more gets into groups with everyone completely geared, and so they go exceptionally smoothly, while my lesser geared priest gets stuck with people in full crafted pvp sets.

These are just a few ideas I have had on how to make WoW more fun and more engaging without inherently changing the game (except for the crafting). But even so, I almost feel like they are moot points. At the end of the day, the bad parts of WoW are directly related to bad players, with bad attitudes. The social aspects of the game aren’t quite enough to overcome the trolls, griefers, and haters. Everyone starts the expansion with their own goals, play times, and focuses. People aren’t as willing to help or play together because it is all still so new. One hopes as patches are released and players migrate back that we will have lost our singular focuses and return to the group whole. I miss my friends though, because hell is other players.

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