Tuesday, December 8, 2009

'Let's Do It on Normal Mode'

I’ve noticed a rather disturbing trend with my guild in recent months: a willingness to throw in the towel early. This popped up the first time our ten man group finally reached Yogg-Saron. That first night we took a whopping total of 9 shots at him (though that included our unintended ‘Alone in the Darkness’ attempt kicked off by someone stepping too far into the room) before we reached our time limit for the night. We actually got to Phase 2 once, but with so few players alive that there was no hope of getting anywhere. Most of those first nine attempts ended in Phase 1, but we were learning and progressing, even if it didn’t show in the final results.

A few nights later we went back with high hopes, sure that we would be able to down Yoggy in our three hour time frame. We had a couple of clunker attempts but found ourselves doing much better, getting into Phase 2 with everyone alive, which is where it fell apart. At that point, after six attempts in about an hour’s playing time, someone begged off claiming fatigue. ‘Have to work tomorrow,’ he said. When we discussed trying to replace him someone else said ‘I’ll stay, if we can actually get somewhere.’ I wanted to reach through the internet and strangle the guy – what did he think we’d been doing for the last hour? As it turned out, we ended up not getting replacements that night; we also elected not to extend the lockout, and we haven’t been back since.

A second recent event occurred last week when we decided to tackle 10-man Trial of the Grand Crusader. A month or so ago we had made an attempt at it, just to see what it was like. It was hard, and we weren’t ready. This time we hand-picked our top players (as opposed to the open invites for normal) and went in. The results were far better than our first time in – we were just a hair off on our dps on the first attempt, so that the worms were entering the arena while Gormok was still up. We gave it a credible shot, then had the obligatory 2-3 wipes due to stupid stuff. After our 4th attempt (30 minutes or so in) it happened: ‘Maybe we should switch over to normal mode.’ (NOTE: this was not one of the two principals involved in the Yogg bailout – neither of them is in the guild now) This angered me because I felt that leaving at that point would not be giving ourselves a fair chance. Ultimately the raid decided to continue on with the Grand Crusader. We stuck it out for 10 total attempts and, while we ultimately failed to take down the Beasts, we made enough progress so that we can say confidently ‘We’ll get them next time.’

I’m not really clear where the change in attitude has come from. In the last year as a guild we’ve worked hard. We’ve had our share of triumphs and cock-ups, we’ve wiped on fights that we should have considered ‘farmable’, and surprised ourselves with some unexpected wins. From the time we started raiding Naxxramas right up through most of Ulduar, our raiders were determined to see through to the end. What happened?

I think the issue here is with the content. It seems as if most of the non-hard mode encounters are very easy, once you’ve defeated it once. As an example, Kologarn gave us fits when we first went against him. And then we beat him for the first time. Next week when we went back to face him again he proved to be no trouble at all. This was very different from our experiences in Karazhan and Zul’Aman, where some bosses always seemed to give us trouble, no matter how often we beat them. Had we simply managed to get enough gear to make Kologarn (and Auriayah, and the Keepers) easy? Or had we just discovered ‘The Trick’ to beating each of them?

Crusaders’ Coliseum is largely the same on normal. Our first time in there it was Lord Jaraxxus who gave us all kinds of trouble. He’s trivial now. Aside from the Faction Champions we have no trouble whatsoever in normal 10 man mode. And, to be honest, though I don’t yet have the achievement for ToC-25 (the groups I’m in have all fallen apart by the time we get to Anub’arak), it’s really not that hard from a healers’ perspective. But hard mode – that’s another story.

Hard mode is supposed to be hard; I don’t object to that at all. Unfortunately I think the disparity between ‘hard’ and ‘easy’ (whether it be hard mode vs. normal, or a boss that’s simply ‘hard’ like Mimiron or Yogg vs. one that’s ‘easy’) is too great – not for me, but for some of my guildies. They’ve forgotten what progression means – wipes, frustration, repair bills, less emblems this week. They’ve also forgotten how thrilling it can be when you finally get that boss down after so much head-banging. Maybe when we start getting into Icecrown it will be different. Maybe they just got tired of Ulduar over and over again, or watching the same conga line of bosses run through the gates of the Coliseum. I certainly hope that's the case, because I’d hate to wipe a couple of times in Icecrown and have someone say ‘eh, let’s go back and do Ulduar, we need the gear.’ As much as I’d still like to finish off Yogg-Saron, I’ve got my mind on Arthas – and I don’t want to wait until Cataclysm to visit him.

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