Monthly Archives: April 2010

Cata Druid Mechanics: Wild Growth & Cooldowns

So, right now, Wild Growth has a 6 second cooldown, and a 7 second duration. In Cataclysm, the developers are thinking of increasing the cooldown on Wild Growth. A lot of people freaked out about the possible change. The mistake the developers are making is not talking about it with actual cooldown #’s in mind.

So, lets talk about it in terms of real possible numbers: if they made the cooldown somewhere between 7 seconds and 10 seconds, would it really be a substantial difference compared to how it is now? Sure, if they moved it to a 30 second or 1 minute cooldown, that would be huge. However, the scale of the change is likely not going to be that drastic, and a 30 second cooldown on WG would really leave us without a good AOE toolset (since I personally think single-target HOTs are silly as primary AOE healing abilities).

So, I’m predicting that at most, it would be a 10 second cooldown. That would allow for maybe 5 (2 second cast time) to 10 (1 second GCD) spells cast between refreshes. Only a difference of 2 to 4 spells. In addition, there would only be 3 seconds of down-time between when the spell ends & when you can cast it again.  Given that they want to make our other spells better & more appealing, this change may actually even become welcoming, if we start to feel like we don’t have enough opportunity to use our other spells because of having to pop Wild Growth every cooldown.

In fact, I like the idea of having a 10 second cooldown with a 7 second duration, since that increases the need for thinking ahead & timing of our abilities. (ie. if I wait 2 more seconds, it will time more perfectly with the big AOE damage I know is coming, and if I pop WG too early, it’s possible it may run out before the big AOE is over, and rejuv may not be enough to cover it).

Also, with tranquility becoming more viable, it may be good to not have Wild Growth’s cooldown be shorter than Tranquility’s duration, anyway (so you don’t feel like you are losing out on a WG when you pop tranquility). So, a change to WG at a 10 second cooldown could actually open up resto druids to being able to use more of their expanded toolset.

A slightly longer cooldown on Wild Growth won’t be that bad – IF and only if Blizzard makes our other spells actually more desirable. An increased cooldown on WG needs to come with a reason to want to cast more than just rejuvs between WG refreshes. Anything longer than a 10 second coolodown on WG is probably also too long.

Posted in Cataclysm, Restoration Healing Trees, Uncategorized

Why not 15-man raids? A possible compromise

Lets face it. Having two different sizes of raids is going to be a complete pain in the neck for Blizzard to balance in Cataclysm. It’s going to be an even bigger pain in the neck for guild officers or PUG raid leaders who have to sift through an unforgiving & horrible recruitment system to fill their raids. Even with possible improvements for recruitment, 2 raid sizes are just not a good idea. Segregation of raiders into 10 & 25-mans is never going to work right, and is always going to be plagued with problems (and it’s going to be the players who suffer for Blizzard’s huge mistakes).  It’s still early enough in development for them to scrap 10’s & 25’s altogether. What they should do is just have one raid size: 15-mans.

Why should we have only 15-man raids? Well, because it will be better for the game.

  • 25 is really just a pain in the neck to lead & organize, even though it has a great larger-scale feel.  Especially with not having any real significant rewards to convince players to join 25-man raiding guilds in Cata, there is really no point to keeping 25-mans alive. They are just going to die a slow & painful death, at the expense of polarizing the community and creating problems that the game will never recover from.
  • 10-mans are equally hard to organize, but easier to lead. Keeping up the perfect roster for 10-mans is really not that much better than 25’s, because your ratio of raiders to backups has to be more skewed (ie. you need to bench at least 1 tank, DPS, & healer every week as backup replacements, or if 2 people leave the guild it’s a big deal).
  • 10-mans don’t have an epic enough feel to keep the whole player-base happy, which is really the only reason why they want to keep around 25-mans. In addition, 10-man raids promote class homogenization, in a way that 15-mans don’t have to (because in 15’s, it’s easier to have 1 of each class, with room for a couple doubles).
  • Keeping 2 raid sizes in Cata is a huge mistake, because they are going to be impossible to balance right, and make recruitment harder for both sizes of raids.
  • A raid size of 15 allows more DPS into the ranks, so that you can have something like: 2 tanks, 3 heals, & 10 DPS. It keeps a happier tank-heal-DPS ratio, and will prevent having wide-spread tank & healer shortages compared to having most guilds trying to recruit tanks & healers for their 10-mans after all but the most hard-core 25’s implode and disband in Cata.

Please, Blizzard. Separate but equal raids will not work. I really don’t want to have to waste an entire new expansion on an experiment that I have already predicted failure for. Separate but equal 10’s & 25’s running simultaneously is a horrible idea, and I would rather lose both sizes for the sake of keeping the player base from tearing each other apart in the long run. Adopting one raid size (15-man) is really something that will allow everyone to win, because it will reduce the amount of frustration & burn-out in the community by not spreading recruitment too thin between the various types of raiding guilds. Homogenize raid size, and reduce the homogenization of everything else in the game. As someone who still misses 40-man raids, this is something I’m willing to support, just so that the game can come out stronger and not have so much competition & segregation between factions of different types of raiders.

Once again, Separate but equal isn’t going to work. Blizzard needs to pick one raid size & stick with it, with 15 being the best compromise number.

Posted in Cataclysm

Sindragosa Down: Hard work paying off

So, Conspiracy finally got Sindragosa down (on 10-man). I took all of my frutrations out on that dragon last night, and so I feel a lot better today. Grats Conspiracy! We’re still looking for 1 more tank, shaman of any spec, warrior of any spec, and a paladin tank or healer.

Posted in Achievements

Why lead a 25-man raid in Cata?

So, today Blizzard dropped a bombshell of changes to the raiding system in Cataclysm. As an officer in a 25-man raiding guild, I agree with all of them but one: 10-man raids and 25-man raids are going to share the same Raid ID lockout.

I don’t care about what kind of loot they drop. I don’t care about how much gold/badges they’ll drop. There will NOT be enough of a difference & reward for officers having to recruit & organize people for the majority of guilds who raid 25-mans right now.  The penalty of being locked out of 10-mans is just too steep of a price to pay for this in return:

We of course recognize the logistical realities of organizing larger groups of people, so while the loot quality will not change, 25-player versions will drop a higher quantity of loot per player (items, but also badges, and even gold), making it a more efficient route if you’re able to gather the people. The raid designers are designing encounters with these changes in mind, and the class designers are making class changes to help make 10-person groups easier to build. Running 25-player raids will be a bit more lucrative, as should be expected, but if for a week or two you need to do 10s because half the guild is away on vacation, you can do that and not suffer a dramatic loss to your ability to get the items you want.

My response to this is quite possibly the only time I want to respond with irrational curse words: FUCK THAT SHIT. With 5 bosses and 10 players, at 2 item drops per boss, each person is likely to come out with at least one piece of loot. With 5 bosses and 25 players, it would take 5 drops per boss to hit that same person-to-drop ratio. So, they would need to be at 6 items or more for the 25-player run to be slightly above the person-to-boss loot drop ratio, but that is unlikely to even be a noticeable difference. Even at 6 items dropping per boss, it is still NOT WORTH IT to sustain a 25-man raiding guild.

They are vastly underestimating the logistical realities of the amount of time that officers put into running a 25-man raiding guild. With 10’s & 25’s dropping the same rewards, the players we would be recruiting from may find that the 10’s offer them better rewards for their time commitment overall, and thus will make it even harder for the people who run 25’s to recruit. Given how impossible recruitment is right now, even with 25’s having better rewards, I’m going to personally refuse to spend 8 to 10 hours a day recruiting to put together a 25-man raiding group in Cataclysm, to the point where the very thought of it makes me want to cry and curl up into a ball on the floor. I don’t like being in a 10-man group as much as I enjoy 25-man raiding. I like the big group feel, above any other type of reward. However, most guilds will find that without heavy recruitment, they will end up not having the players to run a 25-man raid week after week after week, and may just dissolve slowly over time into a 10-man raiding guild, even if they start out with high hopes. I may just find playing the game in Cataclysm to not be worth it for me at all, since what I love about the game is large-scale  raiding, the way that we had 40-mans back before Burning Crusade. Erosion of the 25-man raiding reward structure, and the inability to run both 10’s & 25’s on the same character may be enough to make me consider not to continue on in playing the game, in a way that absolutely no other change in the game ever has. I could handle having both 10 & 25-man versions. I handled the overall dumbing-down of raiding. I may not be able to handle the lack of reward for putting together a larger raiding guild, and that reward in Cataclysm should come from the ability to run both 10’s & 25’s even if they offer identical rewards.

This new experiment is going to fail for me, because raiding guild officers are going to be tired & burnt-out by trying to run a 25-man raiding guild, and I’ve never been happy with just 10-man raids. In Conspiracy, I have worked extremely hard to get us back into 25-man raids, because I perceived the reward to be worth the time & energy.  Right now, even with 25-man raiding offering more rewards, many of these bigger guilds are falling apart left & right, or barely struggling to hold on. Why should we even bother to fight & struggle if there is going to be an easier way out that provides basically identical reward as the hard way?

The solution I propose is to continue to allow 10’s & 25’s to be on different lockouts, so that 25-man raiding guilds can do both. At that point, they can still drop exactly identical rewards, with everything else they have set in place with the changes. This isn’t about item-level of gear. It’s about choice & flexibility of being able to run both a 10-man & 25-man on the same character, and about 25-man raiding guild officers being PUNISHED by not having the option of additional 10-man progression. The officers of 25-man raiding guilds are going to be disproportionately punished, without any of the rewards in return that they currently receive. Just being able to run both gives 25-man raiding guilds the ability to better survive, because unequal progression within the size of their raid won’t prevent them from having further boss progression overall.

If people want to run only 10’s or only 25’s, it would give them that choice & flexibility, BUT it wouldn’t completely neuter the guilds who sustain their numbers by running BOTH sized dungeons. You can’t make the raid lockout AND the rewards basically identical, and require one to be led by someone with endless hours to recruit and organize their group (while the other takes dramatically less organization, recruitment, and people-management). A couple badges or a few extra gold won’t make up for the pain & suffering that 25-man guild officers are going to endure by trying to hold together up to three times as many raiders to sustain their larger & not as rewarding raids. Our 25-man raid progresses slower (ie. kills fewer bosses) than our 25-man raid group does, and this is true for a lot of raiding guilds who do both. Why should we pick the raid size where we progress slower, have a harder time filling the group, and still have to work so much harder?

Blizzard can’t offer cake or death, and expect guild officers to choose death. One of the many benefits of guilds that run both 10’s & 25’s is that you get the experience of killing that boss multiple times in a week, you gear up faster, and you end up having more stuff to do (ie. people who want to raid more often in a week can do so on the same character). Being locked into 1 raid ID for a raid that may take an hour to clear once you’ve learned all the bosses is going to lead to long, drawn out periods of time with nothing to do. It already happened in WotLK, and it’s going to be twice as bad with half as much stuff to do. Just splitting a 10-boss raid into two 5-boss raids won’t fix the lack of content problem they are going to create by merging lockout timers. They may have to switch to a 4 day lockout timer for their raids instead of a 7 day lockout timer, so that people can clear the same content more than once a week (though that lockout timer would also cause scheduling nightmares). In the end, I predict that the 25-man guilds are going to largely be full of either bored or frustrated members, and the officers won’t be able to recruit to deal with the attrition in their guilds (as their members find out that choosing Cake 10-mans is more rewarding to them), and for all but the most cutting-edge (ie. top 10% of 25-man guilds today), the work is NOT going to be worth how little reward there will be for all that energy.

So, it seems that Blizzard’s goal is to kill 25-man raiding by killing off people willing to lead 25-man raiding guilds. It sucks for people who actually enjoyed the challenge of trying to put together those larger raid groups, and I hope some still survive. However, the reward to punishment ratio is likely going to make it too hard for people like me to keep 25-man raids going. I just don’t have the time for raid recruitment to be a full time job through all of Cataclysm.  Blizzard needs to re-think some of these decisions if they want to make 25-man raiding guilds worth the work, because under their new plan, most 25-man guild officers will find running one 10-man group to be much more rewarding, even if we’ll miss the larger 25-man runs and the history of what raiding used to be before Blizzard decided to cut 25-mans off at their knees.

I could be wrong, but my skill has always been to predict what are Blizzard’s good & bad ideas, with high accuracy of results. I’m usually also the one who comes out more level-headed, thinking that the world is going to be all puppies & rainbows. This is one place, however, where my eternal optimism has totally broken down, and I can’t see past the big “DOOM & GLOOM” sign in our future.

Posted in Uncategorized

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