Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Ulduar Progression

The guild is progressing steadily through Ulduar. We have killed everything except Mimron, General Vezax and Yogg-Saron. We also grabbed the medium-difficulty version of Iron Council (where you kill the medium-sized vrykul Runemaster last), so that we can start people on the quest chain for Algalon.

I really like the multiple difficulty modes of fights. It allows for much greater granularity, and it allows you to slowly introduce new elements into the fight. For example, Phase 1 and 2 of the Iron Council fight are pretty much identical to the easy mode, it's just Phase 3 which is different.

Boss Names

As a complete aside, it's interesting how the playerbase calls that fight "The Iron Council". The real name--which is the one referenced in the game and fight voice-acting--is "The Assembly of Iron". And yet in almost every forum discussion I've seen, the players refer to the fight by the different name. Is it because "Iron Council" is shorter? Maybe more evocative? Are there other bosses where the players use a different name than the given one?

Ulduar Nerfs

Blizzard has been steadily tweaking the early fights of Ulduar. I don't disagree with a lot of the nerfs. I think Blizzard overestimated the amount of DPS put out by the average guild. Though to be honest, there is a really big gap between the very high-end and the rest of the guilds.

Even my guild is probably averaging 500-1000 DPS lower than the edge guilds, and I've seen parses from a friend's guild where the average DPS is 1000 DPS lower than us. I think the gap is excessively large at this point, and Blizzard should probably look into things they could do to tighten things up.

Predictions Coming True

It's a really interesting experience, watching some of your negative predictions come true. On the one hand, you're happy that you made the correct call, but on the other hand, it would have been better all around if you had been wrong.

I made some predictions about Dual Spec, and I think this Guild Relations thread is solid evidence of the new expectations emerging.

Similarly, a long time ago I posted about the pressure to "do more". Sadly, my guild has decided to add an extra day to the raid schedule, going from three to four days a week, following precisely the logic laid out in that post. The idea is that the extra day will allow us to progress faster, and upping our world ranking and making us a more attractive prospective to skilled players looking for a new guild.

I can't really argue with that logic, because it's probably true, and I can make a four day schedule. But to me, guilds at our level are fairly common. However, they all seem to raid 4-5 nights a week. A guild at our level which raids 3 or less nights is rare, and what attracted me to this guild in the first place. But that of course, might be biasing me. I see a skilled guild which raids 3 nights a week. The rest of my guildmates see a skilled guild which raids 3 nights a week. We emphasize the aspect which is most important to us.


  1. The reason I joined my current guild is because their raid schedule was only 9 hours (3 days 3 hours each) a week. 4 raids a week starts to become too much too often, in my opinion.

  2. I think Blizzard overestimated the amount of DPS put out by the average guild.At the 10-man level (my guild), I wonder if Blizzard forgot to account for the large DPS difference between a stacked raid and an un-optimized raid. We typically have two hunters, two warlocks, a kitty, and no shaman. We do fine, but we have no significant synergy. An all-melee team or all-magical team would do hugely more damage than we do.

    Yes, I'm agree that I'm generally happy with the tuning. I'd bet that Blizzard has target goals for how many people should get through each encounter, and is reviewing their records and tuning the encounters to match their design targets.

  3. Don't want to sound mean, but notice as the casuals progress through Blizzard seems to nerf them as they hit the bosses.

    I mean the circles they added to the floating debris for Hodir was too much.

  4. As a complete aside, it's interesting how the playerbase calls that fight "The Iron Council". The real name--which is the one referenced in the game and fight voice-acting--is "The Assembly of Iron". And yet in almost every forum discussion I've seen, the players refer to the fight by the different name. Is it because "Iron Council" is shorter? Maybe more evocative? Are there other bosses where the players use a different name than the given one?I think the Iron Council stuck because it's a similar mechanic to Illidari council. Plus it's a nice name.

    The other one that comes to mind is Reliquary of Souls - to my knowledge, this exists nowhere in the game or even mentioned by blizzard, and has alternate names mentioned elsewhere.

  5. This is completely unrelated, but something a little strange came up in my search terms the other day ...

    "rohan succubus"

    ... any idea what's up with that?


  6. Tristan, I put a pretty long comment on Namthe's blog about that, which I don't want to repeat here.

    As Blizzard observe more about how real-world guilds do on the fights, they are tuning the fights to meet their (secret, internal) goals for what fraction of guilds should be able to beat each fight. By observation, they have needed to "nerf" the normal-node fights and "buff" the hard-mode fights in order to stay on track for their goals.

    Blizzad has repeatedly said that they're trying to make normal-mode bosses "accessible" and make hard-mode bosses, well, hard. If you want to stroke your ego, go do the hard modes.

  7. Elleiras, there's an MMO called Rohan: Blood Feud. I think one of the classes is a warlock with succubi.

    As for the nerfs/buffs, it's more a matter of degree. The edge guilds could put out about 5K dps coming into Ulduar, so Blizzard looks like they balanced a lot of the early fights around the 4K dps mark. Which seems like a good number. But it looks more and more likely that their target audience actually puts out around 3K dps, which is a full 2K lower than the top end. So they are having to nerf them.

    I just think that having the gap be so wide is going to cause a lot of issues.

  8. Oh.

    That's a lot less interesting than what I was imagining. I'm kind of disappointed. /sadface

  9. I think you're right, good progression guilds that only raid 3 or less days a week are way rarer than they really should be, and would make a guild stand out among the crowd.

    Maybe it's because I'm not playing so hardcore any more, but it just makes me sad when I see people pressured to raid more than they really wanted.

  10. I think the change from Assembly to "Council" is a lot of the hardcore players remembering their everquest raid days... The council is an old raid from the days of serious pain in the ass raiding.

  11. Am I crazy or doesn't Brann say "you've defeated the Iron Council and opened..." at the end of the fight when the Archavium (or whatever its called) opens?

    Or am I just imagining that?


  12. Interesting on the raid schedule. We raid just 1 night/week (3 hours)...and we're progressing through.

    Do you have a link to one of your WWS reports?

  13. Oh - and Ulduar is making me hate the holy paladin - tbh, we have to work harder than the other healers. I noticed you don't have glyph of HS - I haven't grabbed it either but am thinking about it.

  14. Was the dps gap between the vanguard and also-rans always this large (I speak as an also-ran...)?

    My observation is that Blizzard has made lots of changes that make it harder to put out good dps. I think the biggest difference is the way they have steered dps builds toward more involved 'rotations', for want of a better word. It's hard to get away with button-mashing now, and you need to watch a lot of factors to keep up good dps. Fights seem to require a lot more movement too, have more phases, more adds, more need generally to be awake and react quickly. And, perhaps this is a lesser factor, but I think the glut of haste screws massively with players on slow connections or low-spec computers. With my frame rate, for example, I don't think my 350+ haste really makes that much of a difference. If I could swap that out for crit, I'd be rocking.

    I'm not saying you can't be a good player in a casual guild, but there seems to be a lot more factors involved in putting out good dps which may account for the wide range of guild performances.

  15. Blizzard refered to "The Assembly of Iron" as the "The Iron Council" all the way through the PTR and the name stuck.

  16. The DPS gap is getting too big, and they should tighten things a bit. It's hard to tell how much of that is due to the skill cap of the classes and how much is due to buffs though. They've done a lot to make it easier to get buffs, but perhaps they haven't gone far enough. Instead of what they intended (most raid groups having most of the buffs they need) what you see instead is: it's easier to get an optimal group of buffs, but there's still a ton of raids with poor buffing synergies. So the gap is more likely to be big, I guess.

    It's now too easy for a lucky group to get a strong set of stacked buffs (or for a group to ignore "bring the player not the class" and select the raid makeup based on desired buffs), while at the same time it's still too easy for an unlucky group to have bad buffs (or one unwilling to sit their friends because they happen to be the wrong class).

    The current system is an improvement, but they could really stand to provide more options for buffs to spec into for each class. Right now, in both raiding and pvp, it seems like the way to do well is to "win" the Character Select screen (months ago), and there's little you can do now to compensate.

  17. In addition to what others have said regarding the Iron Council, I'm pretty sure they can drop a Cloak (Drape? something like that) of the Iron Council, so the term does exist even in the live game.

  18. I run my guild on a 3 day a week schedule. We're holding #5 on our server, we were third to drop Sarth3D10 and we raid 6pm to 10pm server Tuesday/Thursday/Sunday.

    Of the guilds in front of us, they all raid at least 1 more day a week than we do. Of the guilds below us, one raids 5 days a week, we beat them to all progression kills. The others are all on a similar 3 day a week schedule.

    I like having built a solid raid team, we beat one of the guilds that is in front of us now to Ignis and Auriaya. They spent at least 3 to 5 hours on her (pre-recent nerfs) we spent 1.5.

    We should have had Mimiron down last night but oh well, he dies on sunday. :)

    Icecrown may not have 10 top 200 US guilds but the server competition is fun

  19. Oh on aside, we considered adding a 4th raid day for Ulduar but decided against it. It wasn't worth the extra overhead and issues that it might cause. We aren't afraid to add raid days here and there to make up time if we lose some to server stability. Ulduar release week we tried to raid Tuesday and Wednesday had a hosed server, finally got some time on Thursday. Sunday we got clear to and pulled Hodir and went back Monday to get him and Thorim in an impromptu 25 man raid.

  20. Siha I agree wholeheartedly. Stay on Target is at the same spot in progression as you guys. We raid 8 hours a week in 2 nights. We have become such an attraction for people because they don't have to give away 4 nights to hit moderate progression speeds. Increasing raid nights dilutes our uniqueness. However, if we upped our raid days we would have Yogg down, but if that happened we would lose half of our player base. O the balance!