A bleak future of unreal raiding

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This is a rant.

You have been warned.

It’s with slight dread I see what’s on the horison. LFR – chaotic as it may be at times – suited me fine. I have no interest in “real rading”. Reasons are many, among others an almost chronic stress level, occasional panic attacks, slow reactions and a self confidence wich at times reach rock bottom. I am not a raider, I don’t want to be a raider. You certainly don’t want someone like me dragging down your progression.

Ah, yes. Unreal raiding – because as you all know, LFR isn’t “real raiding”. I’m a terrible cynic, of course.

Horridon

The player I am
Once I hit a gear level I’m comfortable with I’m fine. Done. Right now I’m comfortable with mu iLvl 542 on Vassannah and 540 on Shuanna. It is enough for the content I usually do. I walk the lonely road of soloing stuff instead of having to endure “team play”.

I don’t care about reaching the next hamster wheel of gear because I do not care about progression. That doesn’t mean I’m not taking care of what I do. I’m not lazy, I want to improve – but I do it on my own terms, in my own way. I don’t rely on other people and I certainly don’t expect welfare epics.

I consider myself skilled enough to play my main classes. I might not be the most optimal player, but I make do. I’m good enough for flex (should I ever want to go there). I will be good enough for the Warlords of Draenor “normal” (wich, as far as I understand, is the current flex).

I ran my LFRs for a reason (outside the legendary cloak gotta catch ’em all sigil hunting). LFR is a tool wich gives me the ability to aquire “raid equivalent” gear. This, so I can seek out the challenges I enjoy on my own terms (or in company with a select group of people who know and understand why I sometimes become the despondent defaitist without yelling “noob!” … unless they mean it in an endearing way). I more or less stopped running LFR right after the boost to 90-disaster. The stress was too taxing.

Timeless Isle fixed the lack of “gear progression”. On Timeless Isle, even if it is a grindy business, I play on my own terms. I’ve grinded out the Shao Hao-rep on both my paladin, Shuanna, and my warlock, Sharenne. I have the mount. I also found a metric ton of Burdens of Eternity along the way. With valor points upgrades I thus reached an iLvl I hardly didn’t even dream of. Heck, I’ve even killed Ordos (something I never thought I would do)!

The iLvl, especially with the legendary cloak, is more than enough for most advertised flex raids. I don’t intend on signing up for any. I don’t “need” better gear. I’m confident and comfortable with what I have. I don’t need the stress of trying to function in an environment that is more challenging than LFR with a bunch of strangers. Even if they are more skilled.

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Second rate players
I don’t care what other people say. Heroic raiders with their epeen showing or wannabee hardcore raiders with delusions of Method grandeur – their words and slurs don’t affect me. Neither does the sometimes terrible atmosphere of LFR.

What I do mind is getting branded as a second rate player by none other than Blizzard. I’m sure it’s not their intention but their actions so far has devalued the kind of player that I am. End game doesn’t have to be cutting edge to be challenging. Forcing people, such as me, into content that will likely be too challenging for me to complete will devalue the game itself. I don’t want to run Warlords of Draenor normal raids (current flex difficulty). I don’t want to be punished either. If I choose to stick with LFR I will be punished. The increased drop rate of gear doesn’t make up for it. The gear will still be sub-par – and more importantly: It WILL stigmatise players such as me.

You know it will happen. A wek into Warlords of Draenor and Anyone who use LFR will be berated, bullied and told to jump of a cliff. I trust Blizzards decisions around game development and design. I do not trust the community, not for a second. The tradition of bullying is too ingrained in the very fabric of the community for it to not affect the LFR decision. Even now people jump on “weakness” like they were competing for a “fascist of the month”-award – and not just in LFR). Dungeons, battlegrounds, world bosses. You know the shit’s going to start flying after the first “seriously?”. Tone of voice is rarely conveyed through text, of course, but there’s a certain tone to it nevertheless.

It’s started allready, by the way. Just take a look at MMO Champions comments.

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Upstairs and Downstairs
I fear this is exactly what will happen: There will be an even clearer distinction between “upper class” and “lower class”. The decision regarding LFR – especially on the subjective matter of art assets – is putting down the groundwork for an in-game class war. Normal raiders will berate LFR raiders. Heroic raiders will berate normal raiders (“normal” raiding will probably be called “dumbed down” or “welfare running”; it certainly won’t be “real” raiding). Mythics, well … to be honest I believe the minority of raid ready and raid skilled mythics will do what they do now: Stick to their own game.

As usual, it’s the tail of pretenders that will form the stormtrooper squads of virtual self-proclaimed dickwads. The changes to the raid structure, LFR in particular, will cater to the crowd who feed off entitlement and disrespect – the bullies, to put it bluntly. The system will cater to the crowd who regard empathy as a weakness. The kind of player who deem himself (or herself) “too good” for the rest of the crowd. Those who think themselves to be “hardcore”, the Call of Duty-crowd. Those who spend most of their time dead or AFK spewing insults into chat. Don’t think for a second “normal” raiding will be a good ol’ raidteam boy scout outing where we “make new friends” (the “make friends”-mantra is well worn out by now).

It will be savage.

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Who will play with Dog?

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Anne Stickney over at WoW Insider worries about Dog. It’s a beutiful written piece on how Mists of Pandaria is starting to wind down – and what impact it had on us. It’s not about the numbers or stats or gear. It’s about the immersion. Pandaria managed to immerse us all in a world so vibrant and alive it will be hard to leave it.

Just what does the future hold for my Exodar Sisters? What will happen to them – where will they go? What am I planning for them ..? I’ve been wondering what to do in order to prepare for Warlords of Draenor. I think a gameplan has started to form.

Cahanna: Retirement looks pretty good right now. Unless Warlords of Draenor brings some really good changes to Arcane, thus making it playable again, and mages in general, Cannie will probably sit comfortable in Stormwind. She’s the alchemist and formula collector of the family. Leveling her profs to 675 or 700 (or whatever we’ll see) might be possible without having to go to Draenor. It’s unlikely she’ll be the first to reach level 100; I remember how painful it was to level a mage to 90 through Mists. It was almost a game breaker for me. I don’t want that to happen again.

So, bring another bottle of wine, light that pipe, and make yourself comfortable in the armchair by the fireplace, mage. You’ve earned some vacation.

Unless …

Unless we will see a change in race-class combos. Nothing has been said about this yet, so perhaps there won’t be any changes. But what if ..? What if Warlords of Draenor brings draenei warlocks? If that happens, Cahanna could find the fel-side of magic much more interesting …

Kittyanna: Kitty, being the whirlwind of adventure (and kicking feet!) that she is, will most definitely go Draenor. She’ll probably be one of the first to do so. I imagine she will be a pretty benevolent ruler of a garrison.

Savenna and Cassanna: Nothing can stop them from going. There’s a lavabolt waiting for the first orc to cross Savas path! And an arrow in the knee on the first one to inspect Cassies ice trap! (Yes, that last one is a meta-reference to the preview video 😛 )

Sharenne: Surely there’s a need for an “adopted draenei” in Karabor? See – she’s even dressed for the occasion. The Dark Rider of Azeroth-look will probably scare the green out of Gul’dan! I imagine a scene where Sharenne stops by the first place she can find, leans down and hiss:
“Baggins … Shire!”

Well, that was confusing …

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Sha, being – Sha.

Shuanna: Will she feel the need to go back to where she once came from? No one knows. Draenor is still an open wound. Karabor – and the fall of the temple – is something she tries to forget. Seh knows what will happen if she succumbs to the bad memories (and nightmares). Akama … the shade of Akama, the broken one, weighs heavily on many a draeneis mind. Shu might not be the best paladin around – she still keeps in touch with the Light, in her own ways. going back to a “pristine” Draenor … just what will such a trip do to someone with severe PTSD?

She’s not a happy draenei, Shu. Too many bad memories. Of the fel orcs, of the sabotaged Exodar, of Northrend. She’s the haggardd war veteran of the whole lot of characters. Her eyes have seen things she wish no one would see.

Going back to the future past honestly scares the Light out of her. For now, she’s content being the family banker.

Vassannah and Zavessa: If anyone’s gonna kick some Iron Horde ass it’s gonna be a priest. Vass is prepared. So is Zavessa (well, she will be, eventually). With the Light in one hand and the Shadow in another, they’re ready to flay some minds. there’s plenty of orcs that need to be
(slaughtered)
told “you’re a bad boy!” around in Azeroth right now, sure. But the thought of getting even before they came here in the first place is mouth-watering.

She’s a very vengeful priest, to be honest, “my” Vassie … She’ll be the first one out of the new Dark Portal. Let’s just hope her iLvl 536 or whatever it will be is enough once MoP is obsolete and WoD opens up.

(“Will there be any cute draenei around? I’ve got the goblin jumper cables ready!”
Hush you!
“I’ll show them the Sexodar, you just wait!”
Really, Vass!)

Zavannah: Zavvie will retire at the end of MoP. She’s got her farm, she’s growing her carrots. She’s at peace with herself after a long, long time of death and disorder. A death knight growing carrots just seems to be the ultimate proof of the pandaren way of life.

(I’m also too slow for melee-classes these days. I much prefer ranged, to be honest. Assessing the situation instead of jumping into the fray. This is also a meta reference.)

She will be parked in Halfhill, growing carrots and drinking beer with the neighbours at the inn. Slowly accumulating what BS-patterns and plans I’ll find on other characters during their travels. As for the “progressive” blacksmithing – someone will have to build a garrison, but it won’t be Zavannah. There’s carrots to grow.

And someone needs to play with Dog.

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Zavvie, perfectly content with life as it is for an un-alive draenei knight.

Saving faces

The ever eminent WoW Insider posted an interesting read, Know Your Lore; A Precarious Position, part 1 – Horde.

The article got me thinking about … Just where is the Horde going, once Mad King Garrosh is dead? What will happen with the Horde? And just how can the situation be resolved in a manner that saves both the Alliance and the horde?

You know, there is a way out of this for both the Alliance and the rebels of the Horde. A total obliteration of Orgrimmar would be a pyrrhic victory for the Alliance. Well – not just for the Alliance. The way I see it deposing Garrosh is one thing – trying for “justice” is something else.

There’s a lot of sentiments within the Alliance akin to flat out revenge (mind you, I’m a proud Alliance myself and wouldn’t mind it). The question is not – is revenge justifiable. The question is – is revenge, justice?

It’s not.

A total genocide of at least the orcs wouldn’t be justice. The destruction of the Horde wouldn’t be justice. Death or slavery – or even worse, concentration camps (ahem, internment camps) – wouldn’t be justice. Kill every living thing in Durotar – it won’t bring Theramore back. Or Southshore. Or all the fallen soldiers.

What of the rebels of the Horde? Let me elaborate, not from a gameplay standpoint but from a “lore” (or rather azerothian) standpoint: What will happen within the Horde once the victory parades are over and Garrosh head is on a spike on the Orgrimmar wall? Well – likely what happens every time an empire falls, the emperor is dethroned and a junta of “good honest men” seize the power.

Revenge. Extermination of dissidents. Prisons full of political prisoners. Rebellion. Civil war – especially considering all the “warlords” soon to be unemployed. The Horde will be ripped apart from inner dissent – unless a clear and above all Respected Leader can calm everyone down.

(The magic eightball tells, of course, of a looming outer threat. There’s clear and present danger in the air, either from the Old Gods or from the Burning Legion. Azeroths people have a knack for joining forces to kill the Bad Demon – and then get back to the usual petty grievances.)

Whoever becomes the new Horde leader has his (or hers) work cut out for sure. Most of all – how to appease the Alliance (Who’s more than likely thirsty for revenge). But there is a way – and that way is actually purely logistical.

There’s not enough soldiers for one more battle. Think of the different battlefields. From Andorhal to Southshore. From Theramore to the Barrens. From Jade Forrest to the Vale of Eternal Blossom. All these battlefronts must have bled both armies to the bone. The Alliance won’t be able to sustain a prolonged occupation of Orgrimmar – there’s not enough soldiers. The rebels of the Horde won’t be able to fight both the Alliance on different fronts And the Garrosh loyalists inside Orgrimmar.

So, in order to save lives and avoid unecessary bloodshed among their own, the Alliance withdraws. Perhaps there’s still fighting spirit in the soldiers but there’s not enough soldiers. A “Picketts Charge” would be honorable – but stupid.

In order to establish peace and benevolence in the Horde, ripped to shreds by animosity within, the new Horde leader will likely consolidate “ancient” Horde territories such as Durotar and the Barrens. While the Alliance withdraws victorious the Horde will still see a “liberated” Barrens as a victory.

Both sides win. Neither loose face. As for reparitions – well, that’s for the diplomats to sort out. Not that they will have much time. There’s a rain of demons incoming.

Or tentacles … from the Dark Below …