Raid instances need trash mobs for several reasons:
- Helps with pacing of raid content. It slows down the raiding group so they can’t blow through content as fast. Part of the problem with the 10 & 25-man ToC instance is that we complete it too fast. Without any trash mobs to better pace the time between boss fights, we get done with it super fast and then we’re bored. Adding more trash to a raid dungeon to slow down the pacing to a more appropriate speed is going to be better than just needing dozens of bosses to keep people busy. It also helps with pacing of new content that you are struggling on. For hard mode ToC, a guild can get really demoralized for going into an instance and killing basically nothing – and leaving with nothing but a huge repair bill. If there were at least trash pulls, then at least you are accomplishing something when you go in the instance, and maybe earning some of that repair bill back in trash loot/money.
- Provides content where players are more forgiving. Doesn’t necessarily require new models or super interesting unique abilities. We’re much more forgiving of trash mobs being repetitive but not forgiving of bosses being repetitive. It’s a great way to add content in a way that doesn’t demand as much from the development team (you can re-use art models, and you can have multiple packs that are the same mob types with the same abilities).
- Gives raiders some rewards even if they don’t kill the boss. Killing trash in the past has provided things like: chances for random loot, patterns, money to pay repair bills, and sometimes even reputation. There were instances in the past where we went in before we were able to kill the bosses. Why? To farm the trash mobs for their random drops, reputation, or whatever other goodies we had a chance of getting from there. You can have decent incentives to want to kill trash mobs if the instance is designed well. If you are wiping a lot on that boss, then at least you got something out of killing the mobs leading up to it. While the bosses are less difficult now than they were in BC, it doesn’t reduce the importance of killing trash mobs for guilds who are learning new bosses & wiping a lot on it.
- Breaks up type of encounters to sometimes alternate between easier and harder mob types; shorter & longer fights; bigger & smaller numbers; having to actually use crowd control on trash. Trash mobs can sometimes be interesting encounters in their own way! Going into an instance and having everything kinda feel the same can suck sometimes. Going straight from boss to boss to boss is actually pretty repetitive without something to break it up. Going from boss to trash to boss means that you shifted between really short fights (usually on the trash) to longer & more intense boss fights. Trash mobs can still be challenging & require interesting strategies sometimes, too! Some of the AQ40 trash mobs had really interesting effects and were really challenging and interesting, but as you got better at the instance, it became easier to blow through those and you felt a sense of accomplishment just at getting faster at clearing the trash packs.
If trash in instances is so great, why do people complain about it so much? It usually has more to do with it not quite being designed right. Possible problems with trash:
- Sometimes, there is too much of it and it slows down the pacing too much. An example of too much trash is Freya. Freya is too trashy (yes, I wanted to find a way just to say that)…
- Can sometimes be too repetitive, but that’s usually only a problem when there’s too much of it.
- Can sometimes be designed poorly (too hard or too easy), or designed in a way that is more annoying than fun.
In conclusion, as much as people love to hate on the trash mobs in instances, having mini-pulls between boss pulls can really be a great addition to a raid instance and can help it feel more epic. I miss trash mobs when I go to ToC 10/25-man, because the instance just flies by at an inappropriately fast pace. You can mix up how much or little there is for each boss, which can also make things interesting & different – with having different pacing between bosses. However, too much is sometimes worse than too little. ToC makes me miss trashy instances, and I’m actually going to appreciate the trash in Icecrown Citadel so much more than I ever appreciated it before.