Ulduar, how I wish I could enjoy you.

21 04 2009

  This weekend saw several incursions into the much ballyhooed Ulduar instance, both in 10-man and 25-man versions. Ooh, so pretty, shiny and new. Lots of wonderful loot to covet, and exciting new bosses to face.

While moderately representative, its also about on par with the duration of most boss fights.

While moderately representative, it's also about on par with the duration of most boss fights.

  Unfortunately for me, and just about everyone else that isn’t in a progression guild that’s about top-10%, this place sucks. I mean flat out, no fun, keyboard smashing and expletive inducing frustration.

  Ulduar has a lot of promise to it. The problem is, it feels like Blizzard missed an entire evolutionary step in progression. Going from Naxx-25 to Ulduar feels like running Mount Hyjal in Kara gear. Sure, you can probably do it with a bit of luck and a raid that is 1 through 25 elite skilled players – but honestly, how many of us fit that bill? Not a lot. Not me, though I’m at least a competent raider.

  There has been a lot said in the runup to this patch that Blizzard did not want to repeat the Sunwell Mistake, introducing an instance that was so ridiculously overtuned that it could not be enjoyed – or even experienced – by the vast majority of players. Well, the Sunwell Mistake is back, and it’s Ulduar.

  Consider, for instance guilds that – for whatever reason – are more or less 10-man guilds. These people might have found their way into a few Naxx 25 PuGs, and there will certainly be OS / VoA 25 gear on their toons, but they will be predominately geared in 10 man loot. That means tanks with 30-32k hp, and DPS likely around 2300-2800 with 10 man buffs. Some of them will be pretty good players, some will be competent players, and a few might even be substandard. This guild is going to have one hell of a time downing much of anything in the instance, and so it will become exclusive against them. Without Naxx-25 gear, they cannot pass the gear checks. Without jettisoning 1-2 “casuals”, they can’t down the bosses. Get top flight gear and make it an elite club if you want to succeed.

  We tried Ulduar-25 this weekend with a crew that has been running full clears of Naxx for 8-9 weeks straight now. Not the kind that sweeps the whole place in 3 hours, but we’re at about 6 or so for the whole thing, and most bosses are one-shots unless something dumb happens, or strategic disconnects bork the raid. Almost everyone in the raid is 0-2 items from the “Epic” achievement, so we’re certainly geared. These are skilled players with gear, and yet it was a total, unmitigated disaster.

  We were able to get Flame Leviathan down on the first try – barely. That fight, strangely enough, was actually pretty enjoyable. I had anticipated that the vehicle fight might be the frustration point for the instance, but it was really quite the opposite. I ran in one of the Siege Engines, as both the driver and later (in 10) as the gunner. It was fun, represented the right amount of challenge, and ultimately left everyone feeling a certain amount of satisfaction.

  Razorscale was a different story. I was part of a run that downed her in 10-man, after about 10 tries. We were able to consistently get her to 60% health or less, and got to the “grounded” phase somewhat regularly. While it was very, very frustrating (we were about ready to call it and move on when we got the kill attempt), at least we got deeper into the fight and were ultimately successful. In our 25 man tries, we probably spent 1 1/2 hours on the fight and never even made it to the grounded phase.

  It sucked, mightily.

  Of course, I know that there is a learning curve. I know that a certain amount of this can be written off to that – but it was ridiculous. You’d spend the whole fight trying to dodge invisible fireballs / dots, hoping that all of your melee didn’t get whirlwinded, or a healer got 2-3 fireballs / chain lightnings in a row or it was curtains. It’s a fight that seems to leave a lot – too much – to dumb luck.

  My guild got Deconstructor down in 10-man on Friday; I was at work and couldn’t go that day, so I haven’t witnessed a successful kill. I know that last night (I was on the Pallytank, as Manch had an ID with MiM), we couldn’t even keep more than 5-7 people up through the first Tympanic Tantrum. Everyone has their own ideas about how the fight should go, and in the end we’re all running all over hell and back. Wipe, wipe, wipe. 

  On the guild run, we made some attempts on Kologarn. What an absolute joy that was, he’ll grab someone and squeeze the life out of them in 5 seconds time unless you DPS them out of it. Of course, He’s shockwaving the whole time (this does hit the gripped peeps, BTW) and blasting everyone with Eyebeams too – but all that aside, we still weren’t able to get anyone out of the grip before that 5-second insta death happens. Hell of a mechanic that you’ve got there, Blizz. If he did nothing else the whole fight but the squeeze and shockwaves,  he’d wipe most 10-man raids due to attrition.

  Of course, with Ignis being all screwy we didn’t attempt him, and unfortunately never got around to Iron Council either. Still, what I’ve seen from this so far makes me not even want to contemplate Mimron, much less anything else.

The Result?

  Blizzard is in a tough spot on this one. The instance is doing a fine job of catering to the top-tier guilds. People who got their Sarth 3D achievements back in December and have been burning for something else to do are no doubt happy, as this is exactly the kind of challenge that they savor. Unfortunately, these kind of raiders compromise somewhere around the top 5% – probably less – of players in the game. We’ve all heard them complaining for months about how content was too easy, and the fine folks at Blizz hand-delivered them something appropriate to their skillset.

  For the next tier of raiding, good guilds with some ability but a little bit of a skill range – maybe only 2-5 of your 25 man crew as “average” raiders, even  – then it’s a very difficult task to complete most bosses. The fights just have such a small tolerance for failure that you can’t afford to take these people. One guy screws up Thaddius’ polarity and he’ll die, maybe take 2 people him at worst, but the fight is doable. One guy misses the gravity bomb icon for 3 seconds and doesn’t move out of range, and it’s a raid wipe. It’s not like Grobby, where you can at least move out of the poorly placed cloud – you’re flat out dead before you know what happened.

  Philisophically, that’s just not right. While Naxxramas certainly needs a level of skill to complete, you could afford to have 3-5 people in the raid in heroic gear or even a bit worse, and still carry them while they got geared up. In Ulduar, anything short of the best is difficult to contend with – in fact, it appears that the instance is even designed to expect all of the raiders to be very close to BIS gear.

  So, that leaves the majority of guilds – and the majority of players – faced with a frustrating reality. You’ll be able to go to Ulduar every week and down Flame Leviathan, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get 1-2 more bosses down. That’s it. Unfortunately, the vast majority of guilds and players in the game – likely 75% or higher – will fit into this category or worse.

  I can tell you that, personally, I don’t play with people who are a bunch of bums. I’m not going to lie and say that I’m a part of one of the top 3 progression guilds on the server either, but the players that I ran 10- and 25-man content with are certainly geared and capable. That said, I probably spent over 180g in repair bills this weekend and got to see Flame Leviathan 10 + 25 down, and Razorscale 10. To me, that’s a bit much for overtuning.

  I know it’s not just me; several friends on the server that I spoke with had the same problems; in fact, getting Razorscale in itself probably put us in the top 10%, especially as we got the Deconstructor too. The top Horde guild on my server managed 8 bosses on heroic; another very good guild managed 9 on 10-man but only 2 on heroic. These are both guilds that have dominated content prior and represent the pinnacle of Progression Guilds – yet with all of their experience, skill and gear, that’s all the further they could push.

  “QQ about it, l2play” is the likely response that I’ll get for this; realistically, though, take a step back and look at where you are as a player relative to everyone else. Terms like “Casual Player” are so often linked to thoughts like “Noob who can’t play” and made to be derogatory. Yet, that’s what most of us are. We play the game well enough that we learn not to stand in fire, pull aggro or bubble the tank. We’re responsible about our gear and understand what stats we should be itemizing and how to setup a talent tree. When it comes right down to it, though, Ulduar isn’t a very conducive place for us, and that’s a problem.

  Has it finally reached the boiling point with all of the big numbers, where the difference between 20k health and 23k health is so small as to be inconsequential, where the size of digits on every side of the combat equation has just risen to the point where it’s a chaotic mess (a la, Might and Magic II)? Is it so necessary to feed the needs of the elite raiders looking for more by turning your second instance of the expansion into something that’s so difficult as to exclude more than half of the game’s players? If Ulduar is tuned to this extent, what happens in the next 1-2 instances for difficulty?

  No, I have to say that it’s overdone. I was not expecting to clear this in the first week by any stretch. What I was expecting was that we would be able to get 3-4 bosses down, and a reasonable expectation that we’d be adding 1-2 a week to that number until we finally work up to the point where we could get Yogg-Saron in about two months’ time. Maybe that will still be the case, maybe the learning curve is less extreme than my initial perception would make it out to be. Maybe there are a number of issues with the instance that are in the process of being hotfixed (Ignis?) and that will ultimately make the transition run more as expected.

  At any rate, I feel like it is too steep for what should be the SSC / TK equivalency for raiding. You want it tougher? That’s why there are hard modes, and when you do them all, you can epeen around on a nice proto-drake with a wicked fast speed boost. Everyone will know you’re the man. For the rest of us, though, it’s pretty damned exclusive content, and a worrisome portent for things to come. I don’t want to wait until The Emerald Dream expansion to see all of the WotLK content, but I’m concerned that, if the next raid follows the same pathing, that might be the eventuality. Getting hung up on this stage of raiding for an entire year, however, is not something that I’d be looking forward to.

  I’m sure that everyone has a different experience. Likely, most everyone got Flame Leviathan down. Beyond that, I’m curious what the numbers are. I’d bet that some people, like Drug, got through half of the bosses or more. Others may well have hit the wall on Deconstructor or Razorscale.

  What’s your opinion of Ulduar? Too hard? Too easy? Too unforgiving? Too exclusive? I’m curious where the WoW community at large stands on this one…




16 responses

21 04 2009

OK, I’ll comment from the point of view of a progression raider. My guild is working on Mimiron, if we get him down tonight we might have a shot the General this raid ID.

But this progress comes at a price. We did raid every night since Wednesday (I had to take some breaks for mental sanity), sometimes up to 6-7 hours. Also I’m in a guild that didn’t clear sunwell, but could kill some bosses pre-nerf. But as of next ID we will step back to a relaxed raiding week, nearly casual I might say.

Now if I want to comment on Ulduar difficulty, I have to look back on Naxxramas first. Blizzard admitted, that Naxxramas25 was far too easy and many of the 10 man encounters were harder than intended. The excuse for the easy content was always: “it is entry raid content, made for people to learn raiding and gear up for the next instance”. This sounds good in theory, but in reality, it just doesn’t work that way. If you want to get the casual player base into raiding, those players have to learn to raid, just handing them over epics doesn’t help.

You point out, that Naxxramas was very forgiving. That is exactly my problem. Even if most bosses required some sort of tactics, most of them could be zerged down with some players dead. Even if you stood in the fire, most of the time a healer could still save you.

Now the hard modes and to some extent malygos would have been an excellent exercise for ulduar. But many casual players kept farming Naxxramas and wouldn’t seriously work on sartharion with 1+ drakes up and sometimes even ignore malygos. That is not a bad thing, it is just a different playstyle. And the motivation for achievements and hard modes might just not be there for casual players. Maybe casual raiders would have invested much more time into raiding, if Kel’Thuzad had been a hard encounter. Completing an instance is a cool goal. But repeating an encounter over and over just to get an achievement and maybe some better loot: not so much.

Now that we have that behind us, lets talk about actual ulduar difficulty, where I feel there are some important points to consider:

1) It is the first raiding ID of ulduar. Some bosses are full of bugs. Others are not really well tuned BUT: blizzard is hotfixing things every day. 3.1.1 will bring some changes that will make encounters easier. It is just too early to really judge the difficulty

2) Expectation of progress: I think your expectation of killing 3-4 bosses in one ID is unrealistic. I don’t know if your focus is on 10 or 25 man raiding. But if you look at blizzard content patch frequency, this content has to last 3,4 maybe even 5 months. It just isn’t meant to be a months raiding affair. And in fact if I look at the 10 man progress of your guild, that is more than ok! And many of my friends they raid 10 man content only are very happy with the difficulty and the progress they made.

3) Who’s to blame when I wipe? I agree, wiping is no fun. But you can always blame yourself (or your guild) or the raid instance. Most of the time, it is a bit of both, but if things don’t work out, start by looking at your own performance. From reading what encounters you guys have problems with, following things come to my mind: organization might be a problem. All those fights require perfect positioning and every raider has to exactly now what to heal, what to target, when to move. This is no Naxx where the slackers just die and the rest finishes the job. You absolutly need a good raidlead who calls the shots. Healers have to react very quickly, but more important: raiders shouldn’t get too much damage. You should be creative and try new things if your old tactic doesn’t work out. Dual specs make it so easy to shift some 2-3 healers more into a fight.

4) Hardcore vs. casual. Like totalbiscuit says: There are no casuals. WoW is addictive and most players spend too much time in the game. The biggest mistake is to make hardcore vs. casual a time issue. It is not. Raiding guilds are just extremly well organized and have enough people that can commit themselves to 3-4 times a week to raiding. Most casuals spend exactly the same amount of time in game, but they do heroics, level alts and just don’t feel comfortable with schedulded raids they have to attend. Or they avoid decisions like not bringing someone to a raid who’s been in the guild forever but is just really slowing the raid down.

I’m already curious how you see Ulduar three, four weeks from now. But if you like raiding, be it casual or not, you will absolutely love the instance. If you have problems with a specific boss, the forums are filling up with good tactics and I’d be happy to give some advice as well.

Just remember, Naxxramas was just gear-wise a preparation for Ulduar. Not at all raiding wise. It was an old instance, but ulduar is how content is going to look like in the future. I even think many players were in much better shape pre 3.0.2, or when they started working on karazhan in crappy gear. Now many uf us have to relearn raiding, having real tactics and working towards executing them better and better with every try.

21 04 2009

For the most part I think Ulduar has given me what I expected. A lot of wipes, but eventually a glimmer of progress.

We managed to go in and over the course of 7 hours or so down FL, Razorscale and XT.

These fights had the right feel to them. many wipes, but every time we realized we could be doing something better. We saw the idea and it was all down to execution.

One thing that gave me this same feeling of hopelessness that you had was Ignis and the trash leading up to him.

On the trash leading up to him we had 2 full wipes (or more, i tried to block that day from my memories) And it just seemed a bit overwhelming.

Same with Ignis himself. It didnt matter what we tried we did not seem to make any sort of headway into that fight and we didnt have the feeling that we needed to keep working on it.

Oh well, we should see more next week

21 04 2009

wow drug….I was going to put in my 2 cents….but DAMN. You basically said it all.

good read, article and and comment.

21 04 2009

I’ll admit I haven’t been to Ulduar so can’t really comment on it’s level of difficulty. But as was stated above by Drug, wanting to clear through almost half an instance in the first raid week is aiming too high too quickly. I for one, am glad that it sounds like raiding has been made more challenging than Naxxramas was. If you have a new raid that you’ve cleared within 6-8 weeks what do you do then? Sure you can farm it for gear, but is that really what you want? Another instance you become bored of facerolling your way through?

Comparing it to SSC/TK isn’t actually that far off. That was quite a step up from Gruul/Mag. I think people look back at those raids now as being easy because in the end most of us overgeared it, but that’s not how it was to begin with. It was hard until you started to collect better gear and could progress further into it. I know that my guild spent a long time wiping at Vashj & Kael in particular before we finally managed to get them down.

I read somewhere that GC had prgression down as:
heroic 5 man -> naxx 10 man -> ulduar 10 man
heroic 5 man -> naxx 25 man -> ulduar 25 man

which may help to additionally explain why trying to switch from naxx 10 man to ulduar 25 man is proving to be a further step up in difficulty.

My advice would be to take your time clearing ulduar, endure the wipe nights that only ultimately serve to make the first boss kill that much sweeter, and enjoy the new challenge you have laid out in front of you. 🙂

21 04 2009

I avoided Ulduar like the plague.

I am not about purples (but appreciate them). I prefer to have fun with my friends. 3rd wipe on any boss – move on to the next, or call it a night.

I raid lead both 10 & 25man Naxx and OS runs. Never seen Maly. Only cleared all 4 wings in a week twice, and only face Kel once. Never even attempted to leave a drake up with Sarth.

Maybe in a couple of weeks, as some of the Ulduar craftables trickled into the community.


21 04 2009

Part of the problem with the first raid ID of Ulduar is the bugs and whatnot. My guild attempted Razorscale over 3 nights, and man was it a wipe-fest. The problems that we were having though, were hot-fixed by Sunday. As a result, I expect that this week will be a bit more fun.

I have to admit, it does piss me off that blizzard spends so much time ‘testing’ these bosses, and then, when the patch goes live, modifies them to increase their difficulty on live servers. This is why the raids are buggy as hell as soon as they hit live. Its almost as though Blizzard is saying – “Well, thanks for making sure that you didn’t fall through the world for us, we’re not going to actually test the content itself – good luck on your run.”

21 04 2009

i’m in a guild that almost exclusively raids 10 mans because we just don’t have the numbers for the 25s. a few of us have 1-2 pieces of 25 man gear from pugs, but for the most part we’re in ilevel 200 gear. our tanks have ~30k health and our dps was in the range of 2-2.6k per person, and in their current form, we got to maybe 60-70% on the razorscale and XT fights. i think it’s frustrating as hell that people basically need to be in naxx 25 gear to achieve any sort of success past flame leviathan in ulduar 10. 10 man raiding was supposed to be its own pathway for smaller guilds, but right now it looks like we’re back to doing naxx 10 and farming flame leviathan for a while.

21 04 2009

I see your points and also see Drug’s points too.

My guild raids 3 nights a week and the first 2 nights of raiding was called due to our server being down most of those nights. Sunday we went in, 1 shot first and moved onto XT. This fight isn’t too bad, we should have had it around our 6th attempt when we shot ourselves in the foot at 10% and from there on we just couldn’t get it together and began trying different things to make it easier. We called it a night. Monday a group of us did 10 man, one shot the first and went on to XT and downed it after a handful of legit attempts. We had a few attempts at razor, but decided we didn’t have the right mix (lack of aoe heals/hots).

I see/hear some things in Ulduar that are a bit over tuned, but in all honesty I can’t remember the last raid instance that was perfectly tuned & most get nerfs/fixes within the first few weeks, plus raids like BWL (Vael) where pretty much no one could get passed them until the nerf/fix. I still believe blizz in the past did this on purpose just to get the content out. It’s just what I come to expect.

As for 3-4 bosses the first week in Ulduar. I think that is a fine expectation if the server doesn’t have any lag/dc problems and those bosses don’t have any major bugs. Besides usually the first few bosses are not all that difficult.

21 04 2009

I want to keep my comment simple, so I apologize if it sounds like a rehash.

When I look at the level of complexity in the first six or seven Ulduar encounters, I have to remind myself that the difficulty is fairly surmountable. The impasse, as Drug points out, has more to do with reactivating the potential of players that have not had to rely on their full skill set for six months straight.

Being a responsive raider was something I thought I tried to practice in Naxxramas. I realize now that I was just another spamming healbot. You could almost feel the cobwebs being cleared from our minds as we wiped on Razorscale again and again last week. Naxxramas had some decent complexity in its encounters; it just gave too much leeway in the execution of those strategies. Ulduar is going to mature players for a final tier of raiding or it’s going to force many people to stop endgame entirely. I think that outcome will depend on the strength of raid leaders and their willingness to proceed, especially those that so frequently lead Naxxramas PuGs outside of guild. They will be key to disseminating this content and making it approachable to others.

23 04 2009

Man, I love the stuff Drug writes. If you play a Shaman and don’t read his blog – or some of his posts on Plus Heal – you’re missing out.

Now that I’ve had time to get over my initial furor about the place, I’m feeling *slightly* better. I do believe that buggyness and mistuning are partly responsible, and that should be rectified shortly. What I really worry about is this, taken from a discussion I had with a fellow raider about the place, with regards to guild makeup.

Think of guild rankings as divided into 5 tiers: top 20%, next 20%, and so on. Obviously, the tier 1 guilds – the top 20% – are making some degree of progress in Ulduar. Not only do they have the gear across the board, but they have skill too, top to bottom. That’s because these guilds are all about progression and pushing content, so they fill with like-minded folk.

The guild I raid with for 25’s (not MiM), likely fits into that second tier. Very good overall, but with a wider range of talent. Gear is more or less similar to the tier 1 guild, since we’ve all been clearing Naxx. In a normal 25-man, though, you may have a composition that looks like this:

3-4 Truly “Elite” players who are very skilled and can produced results well above expectations

9-10 Very good players who produce expected damage or better, move to the right places, and rarely make errors

5-6 Average to Good players who produce solid but unspectacular results; some weeks very good, some not so much

4-5 Developmental / Substandard players who don’t get the most out of their gear or are undergeared, need to be reminded of what to do on fights and can’t really be counted on to produce, though they aren’t terribad

2-4 Below Standard players who consistently do not produce results, be it due to player skill, poor gear, lack of attention to strats, or lack of attendance and more or less need to be carried through most boss encounters

Unfortunately, those last 6-9 players are going to ruin it for your 25 man unless they pick up their games. Thus, it’s forcing many guilds that are more broad in membership into a problematic position: recruit people to replace your bottom rungs, hope that the bottom rungs get better, fast, or abandon 25 mans.

If you recruit, you can potentially solve the problem. You may also potentially get mercenaries who don’t care about the guild at all, or the people and are just punching their ticket to 25s. You might also upset a lot of people who are now being excluded from runs and thereby wreck your guild harmony as a result. Certain goblins might say that this is a good thing, though that particular assessment is founded on the assumption that the only thing in the game that matters is leet raiding. I see it as boom or bust, either problem solved or shattered guild.

If you try to develop the bottom tier, you’re not going to be 100% successful. Some just don’t “get it” and never will. Some don’t have the motivation for self improvement. You might be able to invest enough of your man-hours into it to make it go, but you might also be herding cats. This is the safest route for harmony in the guild, and also – by far – the toughest road to hoe of the three.

…And then, option 3: bag it til they nerf the crap out of it. People who have actual skills will get bored and leave, lesser people may as well. Guild could simply “die on the vine” due to the fact that nothing but Sarth-25 is happening.

So thats my worry. I don’t mind if it’s so tough that a full clear requires major skill top-to-bottom. What I’d like to see is at least 4-6 bosses’ worth of depth that could be reasonably taken on by a guild at my level, since repeatedly wiping at 70% or more is neither encouraging nor fun. Hard modes are for the overachievers – but man, attainable victory in regular difficulties (10 and 25) would be nice.

I think that I’ll be attempting 10-man with a select team from the 25 man crew (probably, those of us that have been trying to get ‘The Undying’) to see how we do – and that should be a better frame of reference.

23 04 2009

Your concerns are absolutely valid.

In BC, the raiding world was incredibly easy to balance for blizzard. There were 10 mans, starting point for every raider and for most casual players pretty much everything they’d ever see. 25 man raids were meant for the raiding elite. Some instances were nerfed later or attunements have been removed. But the step from 10 man to 25 man raids was huge.

The disadvantages were obvious. The time between BC launch and zul aman release must have been pretty boring for little 10 man guilds. All T5 and T6 content was beautiful, challenging and fun, but only a few raiders have seen it all, especially pre 3.0.2 nerfs.

So blizz decided to introduce 10 and 25 versions for every raid instance. This sounds fantastic in theory, but in reality it is incredibly hard to balance. Now that Ulduar comes with a good chunk of hard modes, we have in fact 4 versions of the instance, that have to be balanced against each other (in terms of difficulty and gear). So I seriously don’t believe we’ll see perfect balancing in Ulduar. Maybe not even in the next content patch. But if blizzard achieves challenging, yet balanced raid instances, they will have so much more active raiders than in BC.

All that doesn’t help a guild geared up from Naxx25 but struggling with the first few Ulduar bosses. And here, I mostly blame blizzard for the ridiculously easy Naxx25 instance. Naxx25 gave tons of new or “casual” raiders a wrong idea of 25 man raiding difficulty. And this gives a lot of not so hardcore raiders a hard start in Ulduar.

My guild could just scrap together some of our undergeared alts, fill it up with random people from the trade channel and clear Naxxramas25 in reasonable time. Just because about half of the raiders knew perfectly what to do and the rest somehow tried to copy the tactics.

Many guilds would be much more comfortable with the first few Ulduar encounters, if the last 3-4 bosses from Naxxramas25 had been challenging. That would have forced them to have a talk with the slacking people, perfect their strategies and lineups, maybe be creative and adapt a tactic they found in the interwebs to the strengths of their members. And maybe even start sorting out some people who’d just always mess up.

But that just wasn’t the case, Naxxramas was pure facerolling. Now many not so cutting-edge guilds will bang their heads against the first few bosses. And blizzard will surely respond with some tuning.

I’m sure every 25 man raid with some dedicated raiders will make good progress in reasonable time. The key is just really having a plan, explaining the tactics to the raid, maybe twice until the last raider understands it. And then it is just wiping and wiping until success. You really need officers and raid leaders that can motivate your folks and push them to a good performance.

On the topic of recruiting, weeding out bad players: That is the reality of 25 man raids. Ulduar isn’t the last Tier of raids and surely not the hardest. I don’t think we’re ever going to see Ulduar25 PuG’ed the way Naxxramas was. So if a guild or a player really wants to push towards 25, that means making unpopular decisions. You can have success in 25 man raids as a casual player, if casual means 2-3 raid nights no longer than 3 hours. But you can’t raid 25 mans casually, if that means slacking with gear enchants, standing in the fire, never reading boss tactics on your own, not bringing flasks/buff food etc.

24 04 2009

I like the difficulty of Ulduar. I want to see all the casual raiders washed out. When I mean casual, I mean all the people that expect others to carry them when they don’t learn their class, don’t want to pay attention, don’t want to be on vent or have helpful addons, don’t want to bring food or pots, and are the kind of people that log on and expect to be in a progression raid where half the raid is carrying the other half because one half tries to real hard to be good at raiding and the other half doesn’ t have a clue. I like that there is now a raid instance where everyone must work together and pay attention or there will be no progress.

24 04 2009

WoW. You expected 3-4 bosses down in the first raidID?

When my last guild (which was somewhere between casual and progression) started SSC we spent a whole night or two on Lurker, and that was just the start of it, we’d have a whole week of learning each subsequent boss, hopefully with more and more attempts on him as we got the experience on the previous boss and got him down quicker.

It was months and months before we could go 5/6 in one night and have a pop at Vashj.

I’d think myself lucky to have got 1 boss down in Ulduar on the first night 🙂

25 04 2009

I suppose I should have clarified a little more about the 3-4 number, in terms of relevance; given that there are what, 14 bosses in Ulduar? 15? I’m still a bit vague on the place… but that represents about 20-25% of the overall volume and I don’t consider that too be too untoward for a guild that has been laying waste to Naxx-25 for over 2 1/2 months of full clears. If you put it in Kara terms, then it’s getting Attumen, Moroes and either Maiden or Opera on the first go-round with a heroic geared team – or, for SSC, equates somewhere around downing Lurker (IMHO not terribly tough) and possibly Hydross as well (somewhat tougher / gear dependant)… or getting Nalorakk and Akil’zon in your first ZA, or whatever. Basically, solid, positive initial penetration into the place – which we did not achieve on 25 man. MiM *did* get 3 bosses into 10 man, though – #10 server for Razorscale and Deconstructor – so that was more in line.

Anyhow, there’s always this weekend. After a bit to reflect on the fights and read more (as info comes out), I’m feeling more and more ready to take another kick at the cat.

Oh, and Drug – you’re bang-on right about the state of our (and by our, I mean damn near all of WoW) raiding skills these days. There is so very much that has been forgotten in favor of the “AOE tank – AOE DPS” methodology lately.

I remember when I would tank heroic Slave Pens on Ribby. yeah, it’s just SP… but that was when Swipe only hit 3 targets, and there were 5-pulls. You’d have to inch close enough to the Nether Ray thingy to Hibernate it on your pull, then back up while moonfiring 2 other targets for initial aggro, flip to Bear right before they got to you and tag a third target with whatever you could, while a Hunter or Mage CC’d that 5th add, then try like hell to get your ‘skull’ target down before that Hibernate broke so that you could pick it up before it 2-shotted your healer, since it was non-renewable CC from Bear. Good times. We all forgot what to do when the opposing force was more than one tank could reasonably handle or maintain aggro on – and now, it’s not just the tank. Each of those little nasties does some kind of splash damage, too so it’s about how many you can contend with dealing that to your raid at large.

I for one am glad I have Hex now.

27 04 2009

Haven’t seen Ulduar, yet, but I agree with most comments above. High difficulty level is good for the game. Motivates me to run Naxx-25 more to get a few more pieces of gear and practice more. I’m a once-twice a weak casual raider and I like that there’s a really hard raid dungeon out there that I may only see a few bosses of in the next 3-4 months. It really bummed me out when I started reading in blogs that the high-end raiders took down Naxx so fast that they were bored after a few weeks. Shooting for the stars is what life (and gaming) is all about.

19 05 2009

I think its worth noting that Blizzard have given us some options to improve some of our gear on the cheap to help with running 25 Ulduar. FL on 25 man does not prove to much of a difficulty since the nerf and the achievement for doing it without anyone being catapulted is a freebe. FL is a bit of a loot pinyata(or however you spell it) and will give upgrades week on week to toons geared in nax 10 stuff. You also get an emblem of conquest. The 10 man version of FL will also give you an emblem of conquest if you leave a tower up. So thats 2 emblems of conquest and the chance of an epic for no real raiding.
I imagine most guilds will do a VOA 25 run if they have numbers because again this isnt too much of a challenge for your reward. As long as you have decent dps (above3k in 25 man which is achievable with a mixture of Hc and naxx 10 gear) the new bos will go down, and it is a quick fight to boot. So you will get another emblem of conquest and a chance at an epic. So that 3 emblems of conquest two chances at getting an epic for not much time or effort included.
Now from the posts above it is obvious that nearly all of the guilds are getting at least another 2 or 3 bosses downed each week on the 25 man more on the 10 man. This means that you can mayb get 6-7 emblems of conquest a week, so 3 weeks later you are looking at getting an epic by turning them in, and within this period you would be pretty unlucky not go get a few upgrades from the bosses you do kill.
In my opinion once you have these upgrades to your existing gear your dps/healing/tanking will improve you up to naxx25 level if you were nax 10 geared before. For instance, I started running ulduar with about 4 pieces of naxx 25 a load of naxx 10 and a couple of Hc pieces. We ran ulduar 10 up to the general and i was lucky and got about 3 upgrades. On the 25 man side I have not got any upgrades yet but I will be able to trade in some emblems of conquest next week to get a new neck.
I dont think casual guilds should be scared of ulduar but just play smart. If you can only down a few bosses at first then do that. Build up gear over weeks and learn the strategies through wiping on the harder bosses. As everyone gears up and the nerfs keep coming then you will find yourself going further each time.

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