Well, I’m sure everyone knows by now that 3.1 has arrived, earlier than most people expected. Not that many people have had time to play due to the mammoth-sized patch that downloaded so slowly (I downloaded a 4.4 gigabyte torent faster than 1.3 gigabytes of the patch). But one thing is for sure.
“We’re not in Kansas anymore…”
Ulduar, from all that I’m reading, is hard. Most guilds seem to be able to down Flame Leviathan fairly quickly, but then run into a wall with Ignis and Razorscale. Of course, the definition of “wall” in WotLK was previously “a boss that takes more than 1 try” so I’m sure these bosses will die within a week for most guilds, but it’s actually quite heartening that some effort actually has to be put in now.
I actually brought my ret pally, together with a friend’s mage, to try out the new VoA boss, Emalon, in heroic mode. Let’s just say this guy is frankly not puggable for the foreseeable future. We wiped on every trash pull leading up to him, and never managed to down his add in time before the explosion. For those who haven’t tried him yet, the trash/adds will gain a stacking charge. When the charge reaches 20, they explode and basically wipe the raid. The only solution is to kill the add before it charges up (20 seconds). This puts the spotlight squarely on dps, since it’s not a tanking issue and the explosion can’t be healed. No more 300 dps hunters in VoA, it will become abundantly clear that they are the cause of failure.
While I think it’s a good thing that Blizzard got their act together and improved on the snooze-fest called Naxx, I also wonder if Pandora’s box, once opened, can be closed again. Put simply, I anticipate a huge wave of guild drama and complaints about “unreasonable difficulty”.
WoTLK has given birth to a huge number of casual raiders. While this can be said to be a good thing in that it probably dispelled a lot of pre-conceived notions that raiding takes 8 hours a day 7 days a week, that you needed to farm mats for 4 hours everyday before the raid etc etc (god knows where all this came from in the first place)… I wonder what most casual guilds will do when presented with a truly difficult encounter. Nibuca wrote about her guild’s first try at Flame Leviathan, and wonders about the possibility of guild drama arising from the increased difficulty. I have a feeling there is going to be an explosion of such drama among some of the players and guilds who have gotten used to ez-mode raiding.
Quite a few players, Tobold included, felt that Karazhan was too difficult as an entry level raid. Wouldn’t they feel the same about Ulduar? After raiding in Naxx where its possible to down Kel’Thuzad in 1 hour of tries with no enchants and no flasks, would casual raiders be able to stomach wiping for weeks on the last boss ala Vashj/Kael? I have to admit that in our current casual guild, the answer is that players would likely just stop raiding. Naxx being easy probably did not do anything to teach players how to play better, which is what was lacking in the first place (and definitely not gear, despite being the favourite excuse) and the real purpose of an entry-level raid.
The raiding paradigm has been changed. Instead of expecting raiding to involve a lot of effort, many people now expect to raid 2-3 times a week and walk out with free epics with minimal thought and preparation. Will these people accept the new (old) style of raiding, where they are forced to admit that they simply are not able to perform at the standards necessary to down a boss?
Or are they more likely to complain that Blizzard made Ulduar too hard? After all, they have raided before. They cleared Naxx. If they can’t get past the 2nd boss of Ulduar, it’s obviously because Blizzard made it too hard, not that they “aren’t raiders”… Only time will tell, but I predict a deluge of tears in about a month’s time, followed by Blizzard “tuning” Ulduar down after most of the hardcore guilds have cleared everything.