CataRaiding Day 2: Hero Points and Competition

The bullet points from Bashniok [MMO-Champion]:

  • Hero Points — Low-tier, easier-to-get PVE points. Maximum cap to how many you can own, but no cap to how quickly you can earn them. Earned from most dungeons. (most like the current Emblem of Triumph)
  • Valor Points — High-tier, harder-to-get PvE points. Maximum cap to how many you can own, as well as a cap to how many you can earn per week. Earned from Dungeon Finder daily Heroic and from raids. (most like the current Emblem of Frost)

Fury

It’s almost cliche at this point to say the response to the Cataclysm raiding changes has been nothing short of loud and far from calm. When you do something as drastic as announce these kinds of changes, you have to expect this type of thing. Frankly, I’m not surprised that people on all sides of the Casual vs. Hardcore vs. CasualCore vs. Hardsual are all mad. There are so many loose ends and questions that it’s hard to point fingers and be mad at anyone.

The best response? Be mad at everything.

Everyone is trying to predict or put an expiration date on their guild or their style of raiding. I think it’s too soon to be numbering the days of 25 mans as we know them, but the path to that point is possible, so that’s what people are going to be looking at.

Battle

Since there are so many different kinds of guilds out there, I find it best to just address these changes from the point of view of an upper-middle tier 25 man guild (9/12 Heroic ICC25, Frostwyrms in 10 man). One of the drivers for 25 man players is inter-guild/intra-server raiding competition. If you are competitive by nature, you are always measuring yourself against your peers.

Can we do better? How are they doing better? How close are they behind us?

Viable competition requires a couple things:

  1. A common starting point and a common end goal
  2. Rules for competition
  3. Level playing field from team to team, match to match

Achieving #3 in an MMO is very difficult due to it’s very nature (intentional diversity between players). A football team might have players at many different positions, but every team has the same number of them on the field at a time. It’s true, some modify that (3 linebackers/4 lineman vs. 4 linebackers/3 lineman), but the quality of play is dictated by the talent (and to a lesser extent, the strategy).

Keeping that competition going means that separate progression tracks for 10 and 25 man need to be maintained. It might be the same boss fights and the “same difficulty” using the same loot, but the number of raiders is significant and a completely different game is being played (in terms of competition). Denoting if a kill was completed on 10 or 25 man in some fashion is essential.

Many have talked briefly about what exactly Blizzard can do to make 25 man raiding attractive? That’s where Hero/Valor Points enter into the discussion. First off, I don’t really care what they’re called. They could be called Hero Cookies or Unicorn Points for all I care, it all ends up meaning the same thing, it’s just in a different form.

With that being said, here’s what I think needs to happen to give 25 man raiding an edge:

A 25 man raid will provide enough Valor Points that no 5 man raiding is necessary to become point capped in a given week. Likewise, it will be impossible to reach more than 50% of the cap by only doing 5 mans. A 10 man raider will only be able to achieve 75% of his points cap from the 10 man raid.

Gearing to prepare for the first tier of raiding is one thing, but having 25 man raiders (and even 10 man raiders) step back all the way down to 5 mans in order to improve their character is clunky and uninteresting. Those numbers can go up or down, my intention is only to keep with Blizzard’s statement (more points/loot/gold from 25 mans).

The one thing missing from this whole “points system” (or what I’ve been affectionately calling Emblems of Frost: Blizzard DKP) is that it does not reward progression the same way a guild does. A guild can enter a dungeon, kill no bosses, but generate dkp based on effort. If points are tied very closely to gear progression, is the increase in point gain from a slower progressing (potentially) 25 man raid going to be enough to keep people coming back?

The “goal”, again, is to have 25 man raiders getting more stuff than 10 man. Right now, they would have to double (or more) the number of drops in 25 man to equal that ratio out. Also, with a greater number of raiders, competition for a piece is going to skyrocket (especially for the cloth wearing classes). A 10 man raid might run with a warlock, a mage and a priest. A 25 man could easily have 2 mages, 3 warlocks, and 2 priests, all (potentially) after the same drop.

A good solution would be double drops or multiple instances of the same item on different bosses, but I’m sure many of you have better ideas than me (the guy that competes with basically no one for gear).

Points are the same way.  Because the logistical challenge of organizing a solid, consistent 25 man, they are likely progress more slowly over the life of content (speaking at the middle of the progression pack, not the bleeding edge). Killing half the bosses in a 25 man as compared to a 10 man should be worth the same amount or more points.

Defensive

Continuing to go on talking about the changes upcoming is very hard to do. I was round when they announced the change from 40 to 25 man raids. The same doom and gloom was strewn across the internet guilds were going to collapse, raids would be too easy, etc. All of that never came to pass and the raiding scene has been better for it.

Making an optimistic prediction about the new changes can be done, but it’s more of a stretch as the possibility still exists for the tuning to be off. None of that is anything we’ll know until the first week of Cataclysm. Until then, it’s really not worth dwelling on or getting an ulcer over.

We still have much more to see on the raiding front (especially the guild advancement system).

In other news, as predictedscheduled, Strength of Wrynn was increased to 15% recently. After a night of under-manning our farm content (all on heroic mode), it’s easy to say that ICC25 Heroic will be puggable at 30%. That isn’t for at least 3 months, though, so not much to worry about there.

EDIT:

I should have went through my google reader before posting this earlier this morning. Zarhym responded to some of the honor points concerns, this quote was the most concerning to me:

There are advantages and disadvantages to both raid sizes. The larger raids can feel more epic, yet the smaller ones tend to have less loot drama because there is less competition per item that drops. The smaller raids in some sense are more hardcore, because there are fewer opportunities to include novice raiders or folks who just aren’t carrying their weight.

So for those keeping score at home, here’s how it breaks down:

25s

Pros

  • More “epic feel”
  • “More” loot/points/gold

Cons

  • More loot drama
  • More logistical concerns (Bench management, scheduling for 30+ people, etc)

10s

Pros

  • Little to no loot drama or loot system required
  • “More hardcore” environment (not carrying players)
  • Smaller raid size means easier alignment of schedules

Cons

  • You might gear more slowly.
  • Missing one player impacts your raid more than in 25 man, the same bench concerns still exist.

So for swimming through a river of guild management, 25 man raiders get a more epic feeling raid and faster epics (maybe). They’re really going out of their way to make 25 mans sound good!

For what it’s worth, the whole “Carrying 10 players” thing is a result of the encounter tuning. It has nothing to do with raid size. You can make an encounter difficult enough to challenge 40 people equally. It’s on Blizzard to make sure that a fight is drawn up that way. Just because I can 20 man a fight, doesn’t mean 25 man raiding is casual. Make the fights harder.

But they can’t do that. So with this system it seems their implying that the 10 and 25 player modes will be tuned equally, but to do that, they’re going to make the 25 man versions easy enough that you can carry people through. This just perpetuates the “small core of good players” problem in 25 man guilds. Those players will be more inclined to leave whether they “enjoy” 25 man raiding or not.

“Epic Feel” isn’t enough. Zul’aman felt epic to me and that was a 10 player zone. Sarth 3D 10 man was epic and even Ulduar 10 had its epic moments.  It’s all in the zone and encounter design.

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5 Responses to CataRaiding Day 2: Hero Points and Competition

  1. Eranthe says:

    As I see it, Ulduar and Zul’aman are two of the finest raid instances that Blizzard has yet produced. The had a few elements in common, too:

    1. A cohesive storyline. Ulduar had an entire ZONE feeding it lore, plus tons and tons of titan storytelling in the overall game. Nearly every quest in Storm Peaks, plus some quests in Howling Fjord and many in Grizzly Hills feed Ulduar a storyline before you ever step foot in the zone. Zul’aman tells the story of the Amani trolls, including the final showdown with lore figure Zul’jin. Hex Lord Malacrass was a pretty badass dude as well, in terms of personality. The Zul’aman bosses and lore characters even fed into later troll zones in Grizzly Hills and Zul’drak.

    2. Fun elements that were unrelated to the “normal” game mechanics. Ulduar had the only vehicle fight that blizzard has thusfar made really epic and fun. Algalon had an amazing, epic feel to him. The hardmode activations were really interesting and varied. The TRAIN. Zul’aman had the timed run, amazing voice acting (as did Ulduar), varied bosses, and little things like the hex sticks that gave you a mini-pet. Those are cool variations on the theme, and again

    3. They were seriously challenging at the appropriate gear level. Ulduar was hard when you walked in. Turning on the hardmodes made it REALLY hard. It’s still nearly impossible to pug some of the hardmodes on 10-man, even with icc 25 gear, because the mechanics defeat the gear curve to a certain extent. Zul’aman was also a real challenge to get the warbear when it was first released. Some people I know never got them, despite trying pretty hard. Later nerfs undid most of this difficulty, but that’s a natural part of the game life cycle, and not really relevant to the overall issue of playing the zones as progression.

    4. Cool and varied artwork. Everything Ulduar-related was amazing. I can’t think of one bad piece of artwork, gear, or anything else to come out of the zone. Druid armor growing fruit, steam powered hand-cannon guns, wicked and semi-realistic looking swords. Really amazing stuff, and the ambiance has never been even approached in terms of design and beauty by anything else in WoW. ZA’s similar, though uglier and intentionally rougher. Very unique gear came out of there.

    So yeah… if they can do more stuff like Ulduar and ZA and less instances involving me walking into long hallways full of skulls (HOW many instances now?), I’ll be pretty content with the overall design. I fear that the difficulty curve is only becoming less strict, however. I want to be instances because I get better, not because I wait in them until they get easier.

  2. antlergirl says:

    I’m easy to please, just give me another troll-instance.10 or 25man lockouts, I don’t care…just troll-instances!!

  3. Eiona says:

    I’d like to start by saying, I enjoyed this post. You made alot of points I find valid, and touched on things I never thought about.

    While I agree that cloth wearers definetly got the shit end of the loot stick in 25 mans, I’m not sure if I’d want 2-3 of the same item dropping off the same boss. In theory at the beginning, yes its great. But then comes the time where all the clothies are geared, and BAM we are still getting 2-3 pieces of that 1 peice while say Hunters/Enh shamans are still waiting for some mail. There is no perfect system when it comes to loot. However, like you said, we dont compete with a bunch of people for our gear so maybe we won’t have the best opinions in it.

    I have had frequent conversations lately about raiding in Cata, and what not. A friend said once to me, “don’t worry, come cata you can just join a 10 man guild and it won’t matter, you’ll have the same stuff just less of the hassle” While in a way, hes right, I have a hard time looking at 10 man raids as “progression”. Sure you get the same loot, but loot is just loot. While yes we’ve entered a Gear Score > All age in WoW, boss kills have always been, and will continue to be, what makes progression and its been that way since, i guess MC. I don’t know if raiding in UBRS was considered “progression” back in the day.

    While yes, 10 mans do hold a certain degree of prestige for getting the first 10 man LK kill, comparably look at AQ20/40. AQ40 was considered to be more “elite progression” over AQ20. Why? Because it was more people. Yes, and it was considered a different instance but that all evens out in the wash.

    Ramble ramble ramble. More to my point. I think while blizzard is blurring the lines between 10/25 man progression, the end game result is still the same. beating a boss on 25man > beating same boss on 10.

    personally for me, I’m sort of happy with the changes. I don’t have to worry about getting into both a 10 and 25 man group, nor do I have to worry about doing 5 mans countlessly just to get badges, to get gear, to be on par with my fellow raiders -which admittedly I have failed to do thus far in ICC-

    Until they release more details, I don’t want to speculate on how it will ultimately impact my WoW life.
    THE END!

  4. Eiona says:

    oh shi– There was more added. Touching more on what you said. (quoting for point)
    “You can make an encounter difficult enough to challenge 40 people equally. It’s on Blizzard to make sure that a fight is drawn up that way. Just because I can 20 man a fight, doesn’t mean 25 man raiding is casual. Make the fights harder.”

    Lets look at naxx 40 compared to Naxx 25 to Naxx 10.

    Naxx 40 was an instance not alot of guilds got into, which is why they brought it back in WotLK as a 25 man. The encounters at Naxx40 at lvl 60 was HARD. with 40 people. You couldnt go from diddle daddling in Molten Core to Naxx40. The boss encounters were unique, and challenging in their own rights. Naxx 10/25? For new players it was learning the fights. Was it overly difficult compared to its 40man predecessor? No. Also, in terms of the Instance Ladder, It was a step down from Sunwell. Granted it was the first raid in WotLK so obviously blizzard wasnt going to make it insanely hard.

    Like you, and eranthe, mentioned- Ulduar and ZA were great instances. Sitting with t10 and we still have some issues with 10 man Firefighter… Thats how you know it was tuned well. WTB MORE OF THAT kthx

    THE END (x2)

  5. […] that 25 mans get more of these is little more than hand-waving currently. In my last post on the subject, I asked that 25 man raiders get the ability to cap their Valor points without doing 5 mans. It […]

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