Hard like Heroic?

With the Wrath of the Lich King we now have hard modes in our raid instances, a continuation of the normal mode >heroic mode we are already used to in 5 man content. Whilst I and my guild are working our way through the hard modes without too many hiccups I’m still in two minds as to my feelings towards the concept.
Plus points:

  • Content stays fresh longer
  • Better play, harder work produces better items. The risk > reward factor if you will.

Negatives:

  • The risk that normal mode is too easy because there are harder modes to compensate
  • Adding extra stressers to guilds. Is choice always a good thing?

Content stays fresh longer: Whilst this is technically true in the sense that there is stuff to wipe on  longer, most of the fights on hard mode are exactly the same in mechanics just requiring more dps or more healing. An example being Hodir, same fight, you just need to kill him fast. The other types of hard mode seem to be “extra aoe damage” a la Freya but still requiring decent dps just on more targets or Steelbreaker, more aoe damage and you have a distinct window to kill him in.

Better play, harder work produces better items: Fair enough. Better items also work as an incentive and people who invest more time and effort into content should get better items that those who form PuGs once a week to kill Flame Leviathan (yes, they do exist). However, a guild which kills Yogg-Saron every week gets better gear than Mr PuG one boss on a Saturday morning anyway without this extra level added in.

Normal modes end up being too easy because of optional hard modes: I definitely feel this is an issue. When I was reading up about Ulduar before the patch was released, I saw all these comments about how much harder than Naxx it would be. How suddenly CC would be vital again, rather than just aoeing everything… but apart from the trash before the General where our sneaky locks sneak in a banish or two, we don’t cc anything at all. The only times our mages cast polymorph is whilst ganking outside the entrance. With the possible exception of Mimiron (want to buy melee who aren’t overly fond of mines), most of the bosses require a lot less wiping on than say the bosses in AQ40 did. For example, it took us around 3 months from killing Kael for the first time to clear Black Temple and Mount Hyjal so that’s 3 months for 14 bosses, versus less than two resets for 13 bosses in Ulduar.

Guild issues: I can see a couple of possible issues here. Firstly, guilds where its only a minority who want to do the hard mode The rest are happy farming their easier loot/badges and don’t want to go back to wiping for slightly better rewards. Already quite a few of our applicants fall into this bracket.  Then there are the guilds where only a minority don’t want to do hard modes, however those are the ones easiest to deal with. Recruit replacements who do and get on with it. Finally and this is my biggest issue, hard modes for the most part suit particular raid make ups. As most of them have dps races at the core, you end up benching your tanks/healers in order to meet the requirements. Yes, of course dual spec helps bridge the gap slightly, but its unlikely that say a warrior who has been tanking and only tanking since the start of the expansion will have comparable dps gear to the warrior who has only been dpsing. This leads to an issue, do you wait until your dps can carry a slightly more healer/tank filled raid or do you just bench people whilst you push for the achievements now? Either option can potentially cause trouble.

In conclusion, I feel its brought in a two tier raid system which with time will make it harder for people just joining to filter up the top. Also it puts extra pressure on all guild members to be on the same page. We for example spent the whole of last night playing around with the Iron Council trying to find the best way for us to manage Steelbreaker last. Now I can see a lot of people questioning the point of spending 6 hours wiping on something you can one shot if you go for either of the other two bosses last. Whilst I understand that Blizzard want raiding to be accessible to most people who play WoW, I’m not convinced this was the way to do it. I think I would have preferred a more staggered approach to the normal modes, i.e. the first 3-4 bosses were tuned as they currently are… getting harder and harder as you work your way towards the lair of Yogg-Saron rather than make everything fairly easy the first time around. Clear it all the first time around and then decide if you want to bother with the harder bits. It smacks of laziness really, an attempt to cater to everyone with one instance.

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