Wednesday, January 7, 2009

To Achieve or not to Achieve, zees ees zee qvestion

When you're raiding in WoW, you've got a primary goal that is typically shared amongst the whole team: FUN Dead Bosses

Historically, you could assess the success of your raid by how MUCH FUN many dead bosses it leaves in its wake.

To improve success either kill more bosses, or if you're already killing them all, try to do it faster or try to do it with fewer incidental deaths.

But in WotLK, there's two new ways to look at raid success: Achievements and Drakes.

It becomes tricky for a team to decide what to go after, since the basic criteria of dead bosses might be ez-mode for your raid, however the additional success factors might provide substantial challenge, wipes, and repair bills.


In my mind, raid achievements fall into three categories: Inevitable, Challenge, and Awful

Inevitable ones

Kill this boss. Clear that wing.

Dance with Heigan Safely. Well, hopefully thats inevitable. I mean, you don't really need an achievement to tell you to try to survive a fight. But the DDR dance can be an issue for all 25 people to get it right at the same time. But, do this fight enough times and there's a chance the sun will be shining on all of you on the same night.

So these types of achievements sort of come with the turf and you don't need to go out of your way or do anything special (besides be non-fail raiders who dont die in the fire).

Challenge Ones

Then there's the achievements that the raid needs to go out of its way to ding.

Perfect example is 100 Club. Kill Sapphiron with no raid member having a frost resist value greater than 100.

We've been farming Sapphiron for weeks now. The baseline is for all raiders to have at least 300 frost resist, which comes easily via Mark of the Wild, Frost Resist Aura, and each person bringing two pieces of crafted resist gear.

Did it add challenge? Absolutely. I'm sure the healers had a much tougher job than in the past, with a much smaller room for error. As a DPS player, I paid heightened attention to staying out of the chill or blizzard or whatever. With high frost resist, you can cut some corners and stand there and absorb a tick or two without too much fuss.

Did we kill Sapphiron? Hell's yeah. Strong DPS, good tank positioning, and stellar healing led to a one-shot of the dragon.

Did we ding the achievement? Nope. We think there's a mage armor effect that can boost their FR above 100, and consequently we didn't ding.

But its all good. We proved we can do it, and we built confidence in our team. Hopefully next week, the Officers will give the green light to do it again, and I'm sure we'll nail the sunnofabitch.

Do we get anything for it? I think 10 Achievement points, and a ticky mark to check the item off our list.

But it does build team pride, confidence, and esprit de corps.


How about getting a killing blow in Malygos while on a Hover Disc?

For a melee class, this might be inevitable.

For a ranged class? How about a healer?

To get this Achievement, I'd have to (A) stop doing my normal job of pew-pew at flying Scions which has proven successful for us, and (B) bump one of our melee guys from a disc, so he might be just standing there doing nothing since he can't reach the Scions.

Achievements like these, or similar ones for doing what I consider to be absurd or counter-intuitive things in battlegrounds, seem tailored to specific roles and classes, and I'm not a big fan. Might as well make an achievement "shoot 100 bullets and 100 arrows at Malygos in the same fight". Good luck getting that one, Ms. Shadow Priest. Awful. But I digress.

Do you go for these? How many wipes before your team says "F it" and does the kill like normal?


I use the word "drakes" both in the literal sense of the number of Drakes you keep alive at the onset of the Sartharion encounter, but more as a metaphor for "tunable difficulty".

Blizz has indicated that the first T8 dungeon Ulduar will follow a similar model to Sartharion. The raid will get to decide what difficulty level they want to tackle, and can take actions in the instance that will alter how the encounter plays out.

Sartharion with zero drakes is relatively easy as long as the raid can maneuver to avoid walls of fire and control elemental adds.

Sartharion with one drake. Conquest has only officially done this once. We did one-shot it, however I won't call it a cake walk. The difficulty level went up considerably over zero drakes.

Looking forward to the new raid week, we're going after at least two drakes, and maybe even three.

Personally, I like the thought of easing into it and gradually adding drakes each week, but at the same time, if we spend 3 hours wiping on 3 Drakes, I'll be happy as a clam as long as the team doesn't degrade into finger pointing or blaming or anger.

Which do you go for?

Some Achievements are inevitable. Whether you specifically are aiming to do them or not, you very likely will if you keep raiding the content.

Some Achievements offer increased challenge without any valuable reward besides a few Achievement points (do those redeem for anything?) and some soothing of the OCD impulse in all us list-completers.

Some encounters allow for heightened challenge while dangling the carrot of additional epics or maybe epics that're only on the loot table in the higher difficulty settings.

Which ones does your raid go for and why?

If you have "walk in the park / farm status" on the ez-mode, and "massive wipefest" on the harder modes, how do your leaders manage the team's expectations, morale, performance problems, and unity?

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