Retirement Reasons and Reminiscing Part 4

Over the last week or so, I’ve been discussing my reasons for my retirement from raiding and, thus, my departure from World of Warcraft. I’m not trying to tell anyone else to quit as that remains a very personal decision and it’s not one anyone can make for you. I’m just trying to share my reasons and help myself (and anyone else, I guess) gain a better understanding of why, exactly, after seven years of playing this game, I’m pretty much done.

As always, please do respect the comment policy. :)

Reason 4: Not being excited by the new expansion and new changes.

I wasn’t thrilled when, while watching the live Blizzcon stream, I discovered that the new expansion was Mists of Pandaria. PANDAS? Really? I wasn’t thrilled. Nor was I thrilled with the new talent system. Nor did I particularly like the idea of not really having one “big bad”. I didn’t like that it was “only” another five-level expansion (although I had expected it). So my initial impression was disappointment and that certainly coloured my views going forward.

So let’s talk a little bit about each of those things.

1) The Pandaren (and monks). Wasn’t thrilled. Still am not thrilled. I think the Pandaren seem fairly goofy. I do, however, love that they can be either Horde OR Alliance. That is pretty great. As to monks, I gave monks a lot of thought. I compared them to death knights in my head, remembering the introduction of the DKs in Wrath of the Lich King. DKs were completely overpowered and unbalanced in virtually every single encounter, including Sartharion with three drakes. Hell, DKs were still OP even in heroic Dragon Soul content, if you ask me — both DPS and tanks, but particularly tanks. So I knew that, come this expansion, monks were going to be pretty powerful. I haven’t done a lot of reading about monks in general for Mists, but I had an idea that we’d see similarities between the power of DKs and the power of monks. What I’ve ascertained through reading various blogs is that mistweaver monks, the healers, are very OP. I think the tanks are doing well also. The issue appears to be with the windwalkers, the DPS spec, as apparently there’s a learning curve that many people are not quite grasping and, even if you’re great at it, they’re kind of middle of the pack in terms of damage. All of which is fine except that monk healers are dominating pretty much every other healer out there, which is problematic for a variety of reasons.

Having a new race is fine. New continent, new race, okay, I can deal with that.

Why did we need a new class? Did we really need a sixth healing spec and a fifth tanking spec and what is technically a 23rd DPS spec? Seriously, 11 classes, all with 3 (except druids who got guardian to separate it from feral which makes sense, I think) specs + guardian = 34 specs in the game, spread out over a total of 13 races? Good God. The combinations are getting pretty nuts, too, especially after old classes were able to be new races in Cataclysm (night elf mages, for example, or dwarf warlocks).

I don’t know why this bugs me, which is partly why I’m writing about it. I guess the monks are integral to Pandaria and the Pandaren or something, but with the dilution of 25-man raiding, is there really a huge need for a 5th tank, 6th healer and yet another DPS? I mean, even in 25-man raiding, you can’t support all five tank specs and it would be rare to support all six healing specs.

Maybe the introduction of a new class of healer and tank was in order to help reduce queue times for all random group content? It never hurts to have more tanks or more healers in the population. But if that’s the case, that hasn’t really worked out particularly well. My hunter still faces queue times anywhere from 20-30 minutes for any random heroic dungeon, just like in Cata.

Anyhow. I wasn’t thrilled with the Pandaren and the monks. I still remain unimpressed, although the fluid animation of the Pandaren models make me jealous as all get out.

2) The new talent system. The big complaint everyone had was “oh, it’s dumbed down” because we went from 41 points to spend to a grand total of… six. One every 15 levels. Which is a far cry from Vanilla. But no, it’s not dumbed down so much, because you are now expected to change your spec frequently. As well as your glyphs.

I admit that it was challenging for me to remember to change my glyphs around in Cataclysm. I would occasionally forget to swap glyphs and would inadvertently take more damage than I needed to for glyphing/not glyphing Divine Protection and the like. The glyphs didn’t seem to matter too much for me in 5-man content, but in raiding, I did have to occasionally change out glyphs and even had a second holy spec for pretty much the whole expansion so I could have a “standard” spec for most fights and whatever progression fight I was on would have its own custom spec, basically. (Like Chimaeron and Yor’sahj, for instance.)

But there was always so much going on in my raids, particularly for me as the raid leader, that it was really easy for me to forget to swap glyphs/specs/etc. So the idea of doing that but also with talents is, in a word, daunting. I’m very used to a “set it and forget it” type mentality when it comes to my talents. The game has taught me that over the last seven years. It’s a hard habit to break and while I’m sure I could do so, that’s not particularly engaging gameplay for me. “Oh, hold on, I need to swap that and that and dammit, hold on, let me reload my UI. And crap, does anyone have any Tomes?” The actual process of swapping things out is not engaging to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing something and going “man, this talent/glyph would be GREAT for that fight!” and I enjoy tailoring my abilities to a specific fight. I’ve been doing this on Kurn as I swap between dungeons, dailies, rares and such. But in a raid situation? When you can’t do the swaps in combat? When it’s just one other thing you have to remember to do in addition to your food buff, watching your flask timer, listening for or reading your assignments, trying to remember when to best use various cooldowns on this fight…? Ugh. If I could plan out a “by fight” plan for my toon, like “as soon as I see Morchok, unglyph Divine Protection” and “as soon as I see Yor’sahj or Zon’ozz, reglyph it” and it would DO it for me, that would be great. That would take the busywork out of the equation and just leave the planning in place. Which I really enjoy. But at the same time, pre-programming your spec and glyphs sort of automates stuff in the game and I know the devs don’t like that. Still, there must be a better way than manually opening your talents up and doing all that in the midst of prepping for a pull.

So while I don’t think the talent system is particularly dumb compared to the talent trees of old, I don’t think it’s particularly efficient, nor do I find it engaging at the mechanical level. A small complaint, perhaps, but that’s my two cents.

3) No “big bad”. The last time I raided without a “big bad” was in Vanilla. The big villain in Burning Crusade was Illidan and then, later, Kil’jaeden. In Wrath, it was Arthas — he was everywhere. He taunted you. Youwanted to kick his frozen ass. In Cata, it was Deathwing — this is the jackass who obliterated Auberdine, who fried us as we were out in the world, innocently doing our thing. Vengeance would be ours!

I don’t always need a reason to kill things. I’m not big into the lore. But it helps to engage with “the big bad” as you level up to encourage you to do what you can to get to That Fight, you know? Vanilla raiding, for me, was trying to clear ZG (done!), AQ20 (3/6), kill Onyxia (guild never did it) and Ragnaros (we spawned Domo, never got him or Rag down, as a guild). Why? BECAUSE IT WAS THERE.

It’s likely the same kind of attitude today (I haven’t read anything about the raids), but I feel a big bad sort of ties things together in a way that made things more cohesive and coherent in BC, Wrath and Cata than in Vanilla.

4) Five levels. Again. I hated the five level part of Cataclysm. I really did. Levelling was clumsy, gearing was awkward and the levels were insanely long with very little reward, it felt like. And it feels exactly the same way to me in Mists. I’ve got two 90s now, my hunter and my shaman, and while I used to really enjoy the levelling process in previous expansions, it felt like such a chore to do it this time around. Some of the quests are great. Some of the zones are amazing. But the levels are so long and again, there’s little to no reward for dinging. Grats on 86! You get… nothing. Grats on 87! You get one new skill. Grats on 88! 89! And you get nothing for that. At 90, you get your level 90 talent and the ability to fly and that’s great, but it’s like, what is the point of 86, 88 and 89? Now, more than ever, to me, the levelling process has felt like an artificial barrier before dinging max level.

Now, a 10-level jump would have brought us to 95, so I can understand why it was another 5-level expansion, but the levelling process in, say, BC, meant abilities every couple of levels and talents every other level and it was spread out over 10 levels with only the last one before max level was really particularly bad. Same for Wrath. But I felt it was a chore in Cata and even moreso in Mists. Which makes me sad. It took me 30 days (THIRTY DAYS) of /played time to get Kurn from 1-60. I took my time, I enjoyed things, I explored the world and I eventually got to 60. It was an accomplishment on its own. Now, max level is a pesky pre-requirement for all the “content” they’re putting out, I find.

So those were all things I was concerned about before the game even launched. Since the game has been out, there’s one more thing that has caused me to think that I’m making the right decision in quitting.

5) The devaluation of organized raiding. (While I’m a proponent of 25-man raids, I think what I’ll be discussing also affects 10-man raiders, for once!)

Mists of Pandara has a crapton of PVE things you can do at max level. I mean, a crapton.

- Dailies
- Scenarios (still haven’t done one since Theramore and I’m pretty pleased about that, to be honest)
- Dungeons
- Challenge mode dungeons
- LFR
- Organized raiding

There are more things, of course, but all those things give you Valor Points, which is basically the upper-tier PVE currency. The current VP cap is 1000 VP, with a hard cap of 3000 VP.

The ways in which you can get Valor Points is pretty crazy, with all kinds of “bonus” VP for the first time you do a certain task. Here, Wowhead has you covered.

It says that the first LFR of the week that is completed gives you 90 VP. Assuming that’s, say, the first half of Mogu’shan Vaults (3 bosses), that’s approximately 30 VP per boss.

That is more VP than in 10/25 normal/heroic modes, which only garners you 25 VP per boss.

That is only the first LFR of the week, though, true, but a daily Challenge mode is 60 VP, plus other amounts if it’s your first gold/silver/bronze of the week.

Scenarios net you 60 for the first, 20 for the second every day.

And don’t forget the dailies where you get 5 VP for each daily, up to 48 dailies a day.

Valor Points are needed (along with reputation with various factions) to gain some of the top PVE gear available, particularly in the early stages of the expansion. Previously, you could cap (or come close to it, at least) by doing dungeons or raiding or a combination of the two.

Now, you cannot VP cap by killing 18 bosses at 25 VP apiece. That’s only 450. In order for raiders to get another 550 VP, what should they be doing? Well, that’s where we run into problems with time and effort and the like. Right now, there are “only” three LFRs open, as I understand it: Mogu’shan Vaults 1 and 2 and HoF 1. So, if you full-clear MV and HoF, which is the entirety of the raid content right now, that’s 12 bosses at 25 VP per for 300 VP. Then if you do all three LFRs successfully, you get 90 + 45 + 45 = 180, so that’s a total of 480.

But what if you kill all 18 raid bosses and then all FIVE LFRs?

18 raid bosses = 450 VP
LFR x5 = 90 + 45×4 = 270

Total Valor Points available through only raiding: 720.

Well, gone are the days when you could even come close to capping out VP by solely doing raid content.

In Blizzard’s desire to make things accessible and give people choices, they have (perhaps inadvertently) forced people to do content they don’t want to do in order to get the rewards they want to better equip themselves.

Let’s say you want something pretty from, oh, the Shado-Pan. Let’s say you want a helm, like Six Pool’s Open Helm. It requires Revered with Shado-Pan and 2250 VP.

In order to get Shado-Pan rep, you have to open up their faction and I believe that means first getting to Revered with the Golden Lotus.

So you have to do the Golden Lotus dailies until you’ve gotten all the way through honored (which is, frankly, when I gave up). Then you have to do Shado-Pan dailies until you get to revered with these guys. And then, you have to make sure you have 2250 VP. If you’re capping, that won’t take too long, but in order to cap, you will probably default to doing the dailies which you have to do ANYWAY in order to get the rep. (Plus, DPS players don’t have to wait 30 minutes in queue for dailies, so it’s something you can do more quickly and perhaps more efficiently than waiting in queue for a dungeon, unless you do dailies while you queue. Anyhow.)

And then when you’re exalted with everything and a new bunch of VP gear comes out with the next tier, then what? Are you still going to be unable to cap while solely raiding?

Sure looks like it judging by this tier.

Let’s be clear, Valor Points are the successors to “badges”. Back in Burning Crusade, the developers realized among other things that there existed a huge gap in gear. You often had a bunch of people who were geared from Karazhan (T4 gear) and a bunch of people who were geared from Mount Hyjal, Black Temple and, later, Sunwell (T6 gear) with few people in between. Many guilds and raiders who tried T5 content simply broke up or gave up. This led to a major problem for guilds in T6 content — they couldn’t recruit anyone and expect them to keep up with healing or DPS or even threat/survivability for tanks.

I’m not saying this was the sole reason for the introduction of badge gear, but that’s when badge gear was introduced. You could take your Badges of Justice and go purchase gear with this currency that dropped in ALL the raids. You could farm the crap out of Kara with its 12 bosses or whatever and use that to buy near-T6 equivalent gear. Voila, people pushing T6 content could now recruit people with halfway decent gear without keeping T5 instances on their raid schedule specifically to gear up the recruits.

That’s the start of the Valor Points we use today. It was used to allow raiders — raiders! — an opportunity to gear up for the current content without having gone through the previous tier. That was new, it was ground-breaking and it was probably a really good thing.

But nowadays, everyone can get VP gear and raiders no longer can get capped exclusively through raiding.

For me, this is indicative that there is less value being placed on raiding. The way I’ve always seen raiding has been the pinnacle of PVE content, where you see the most challenging encounters, requiring the most people. It’s changed, obviously, because now you can raid in LFR with 24 people you don’t know OR you can spend 10 hours a day raiding heroic modes trying to get world firsts. Either way, however, by trying to make sure raiding is accessible and trying to give people “more things to do”, they have, perhaps mistakenly, removed some of the incentive to raid in an organized group.

If you want to see the content, do LFR.

If you want to cap VP and get VP gear, do LFR and dailies and dungeons and scenarios, whatever.

If you want to raid, you can pick your kind of group (10 or 25) and difficulty (normals or normals and THEN heroics) and raid.

People used to raid for a lot of reasons — to see the content, because normal raids were the only way to do it (pre-heroic raids, of course) or to get gear (because you didn’t used to get badges from dungeons or anything except raiding) or to work together as a team.

Now, you can see the content elsewhere, you can get gear/VP elsewhere… and all that’s left is the “working together as a team to defeat encounters” aspect. Don’t get me wrong — that’s why I raided. But I was always aware that people raided for other reasons as well.

By giving us so many choices, did Blizzard shoot themselves in the foot? Did they give us too many methods to cap out VP without thinking about how that will affect raiding populations?

I guess my point here is that, due to the variety of issues I’ve already outlined, I don’t trust that Blizzard has thought this stuff through adequately. I don’t trust them. At all. They’ve eroded it over the years and now it’s just gone. While I don’t know that people will stop organized raiding, I think it’s a possibility. I think the amount of stuff to do out there devalues what I always felt was the pinnacle of PVE content, was always the end goal of any PVE-oriented person.

Along with the nerfs, this kind of lack of respect for raiding and raiders really underlines why my decision to quit is the right decision for me.

The next, and likely last, post in this series will discuss the fact that I feel fairly well-accomplished and how I feel as though I’ve met most of my goals that I set out to achieve in this game, leading to an overall lack of incentive to continue playing.

2 comments

  1. Fluffy Wumpki says:

    There are a few adjustments that make the grind not AS bad, but that’s about it. Assume below that the split is First/Subsequent

    Heroic 5-mans are 80/40, with a daily rotation
    Scenarios are 60/30, with a daily rotation
    LFR is 90/45 -Per Instance, with a weekly rotation and each raid instance split in two

    So, if you can manage a full clear of current raid content, and the LFR equivalents (since only the first half of HoF is available), you’d be looking at
    450 VP (normal mode raids)
    360 VP (LFR first run clear, MSV1/2 and HOF 1/2)

    Leaving you with 190 VP to fill from other activities. Once Terrace releases, you’ll just be 10 short IF you do both full clears AND LFR.

    Where this will really become an issue is later tiers. Blizzard has stated they are OK with LFR being a “requirement” this tier, since item levels are still close enough that LFR can serve as an upgrade path for heroic mode raiders missing gear slots. The intention is that later tiers, LFR will be below the item level of previous tier heroic gear, so there will be no GEAR incentive.

    I fully expect that, once this transition point hits, there will be a lot more unrest. At least now, people who prefer to exclusively raid can look at LFR as vaguely reminiscent of the content they like. Once Tier 15 is released… I’m not sure what the resentment levels will look like.

  2. Shintar says:

    It seems to me that your memory of the original badge system is a little clouded. If you check the old patch notes, you’ll see that BC raids originally dropped no badges whatsoever – they were exclusive to heroics, with the idea being that doing heroics would serve as an alternate advancement system for non-raiders. I did a big write-up on the subject about one and a half years ago.

    Sounds to me like Blizzard has simply come full circle by making valor points mainly something for non-raiders again. That said, I can fully understand why people might find that upsetting, considering that the devs spent the last two and a half years hammering home the point that valor points were better than random drops and should mostly come from raids.

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