Thursday, January 13, 2011

Heroic Difficulty

Judging from the comments on the last post, I think some people may have misconstrued my sentiments about heroic difficulty. Here's my real thoughts:

Heroics need to be nerfed.

Just so you understand, I've pugged every single heroic. I had full i346 before I got a single piece of raid loot.

Heroics are hard and challenging. But they need to be nerfed.

Why? Because of the space heroics currently occupy in the game. Heroics are a necessary stepping stone to raids. If people fall off the path in heroics, before they ever get to raiding, raiding will be a disaster this expansion. What's the point of 4.1 with new raid tiers if the majority of the playerbase is struggling with heroics?

The decision to release raids with Cataclysm was a total mistake. If raids had not released, heroics would not be a stepping stone, they would be the current endgame. And they are pitch-perfect difficulty to be endgame for a couple months.

But with the route Blizzard took, heroics are not endgame, they're a mere stepping stone to endgame. And they are too difficult for a stepping stone, given the probable timespan to the next major patch. Thus they need to be nerfed to match the proper difficulty for their placement.


  1. I dunno - if heroics were the current endgame, I'd be pissed: they are not a _that_ much of a challenge.

  2. Well, they're not that much of a challenge to different groups in the audience. They're still a challenge to other parts. The Aristocracy and Royalty guilds would probably be working on getting all the heroic achievements, while the Gentry are just working on finishing them.

    Plus, there's a lot of other stuff to do. Heroics wouldn't be a good endgame for a full patch cycle, but they would have been solid for about three months after release.

  3. I agree that heroics are difficult with pugs. I've had about one in three pug groups get to finishing the instance on a good night. However, it is still early, and many are still learning the fights. I've had absolutely no issues with guild runs. As time goes by, and more people learn the fights, it will get better. Right now, I think only a few fights are overtuned, such as Altairus and Beauty, but they are fixing them with the next patch.

  4. My view is that they do need to be nerfed, and it's because Blizzard want people to run them repeatedly for gear.

    Tough instances are fun. Long instances are fun. But grinding long, tough instances in random groups is very very unfun.

    And I bet a lot of people are like me and just not running any heroics once they're raid geared. Because it's not fun after you've learned them once with some friends.

  5. I think the problem is the length more than the difficulty. Anyone who is in a raiding guild should be able to clear the heroics with the guild the problem is it is often hard for people to set aside enough time (or to convince guild tanks and healers to set aside enough time)

    Having said this heroics in their present state are definately not enough for endgame for a couple of months. We already have several people with glory of the hero in the guild and im sure if it was all we had to do everyone would have it.

  6. I don't think they need to be nerfed, to be perfectly honest.

    People complain that the game proper doesn't give you the skills to succeed in the end game. Now we have heroics that teach real raiding skills! And you need these skills to survive. Take that away and suddenly you're back to learning basic raid skills while 9/24 other people are relying on you. Keep in mind as well that for many people who don't want to raid, heroics *are* the current end game.

    The other thing is that gear scales up really quickly. It's a world of difference going in at 329 versus 340. Myself, a Holy Paladin at 345, and a tank similarily geared with a bunch of 335 DPS managed to zerg the entirety of Lost City without any CC and I never dipped below 80% mana. Heck, I even respecced to Shockadin to blast Exorcisms between casts. It own't take much until people are familiar with the dungeons and geat just enough gear to tip over that edge to where they start feeling like Wrath heroics again.

    However, as people have mentioned, they're probably too long. Trash packs could probably be cut in half (ala the Deadmines nerf) and no one reasonable would complain. Except perhaps the 40 minute queue DPS who want that extra rep.

  7. What's the point of beating bosses when getting to the point of killing it hasn't been challenging at all? Gear isn't quite as rewarding as having bested a difficult fight (I really couldn't care less about gear). Outgearing stuff makes it a boring and repetitive task.

    The length of the heroics wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the almost hour-long dungeon queue (which gets even longer if you miss it, accidentally forget and relog, or get a WoW error) in addition to the tanks / healer that can just bail almost instantly because their queue is neglectable which will earn you more time in the queue.

  8. I think they were too quick to nerf them and it's confusing in the light of the blogpost Ghostcrawler just wrote. If you wanted to challenge yourself against the instances as they were at realease you had to be crazy quick about it. I haven't yet done DM heroic and I'm very disappointed that I missed out the chance. I think nerfing them a little could have been fine after a few months. But now already? Come on! What's the rush, really? There was a holiday season in between. It's disappointing and I don't quite get the idea. GC was spot on in many of his observations. Don't they listen to him anymore?

  9. I fully agree with spinks comment.

    The cost and reward is way out of sync for heroics at the moment.

    They could also add items for additional slots to the justice vendor and increase the amount of justice points you get from normals and give out valor points in heroics.

    Waaaaait, no, that would allow people to make some decision for themself and not force everyone into raiding. That can't be. After all, we can't allow the game to develop into some kind of world of something. That would be to much fun.

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  11. No. If people are still struggling with heroics let them do it. If they can't manage a heroic then they shouldn't be doing raids in the first place.

    Secondly, if the majority of people are still in heroics by the time 4.1 hits, well, then postpone 4.1. Pretty simple to me.

    The main problem is the fact that Blizzards wants players to gear up in 5 mans until the end of the expansion. Spamming 5 mans to get gear is stupid and pointless.

    The way I'd nerf them when 4.1 hits is massively increase the number of Justice Points dropped from heroics so that new players can hit the 4.0 raid content much faster, while also seeing all the content.

    The thought of spamming these heroics for 2 years is making me sick.

  12. I got my Cata Heroic Achievment last night (been running only random heroics for a week with my favorite guild tank), so I've seen them all and would like to second what Talarian commented.
    Heroics are doable, if you got a group that knows what they're doing, is working together and taking time to adapt to the individual boss strategy.
    Of course the bosses take a little practice at first - which feels a little like raiding.

    So from my perspective the difficulty is fine. But of course this depends totally on the group. PUGs obviously have a higher tendency for failure. Several wipes generally don't lead to communication but only blame game and the group breaking apart.

    The only thing I find annyoing at the moment are the trash groups.
    These are the ones, that make heroics too long.
    For example the groups in Stonecore, leading up to Ozruk.

  13. "What's the point of 4.1 with new raid tiers if the majority of the playerbase is struggling with heroics?"

    Players that struggle with heroics shouldn't be raiding. Period. For them heroics *are* endgame content, and if so then two to three-hour runs in five-man instances that contain many raid-like mechanics is perfectly appropriate for endgame content.

    My runs haven't been that long in a while, though. As a tank, pickup groups are all I do. I have completed almost every heroic I've been in. How?

    * I know the fights (including the heroic differences). I ask at the start whether anyone needs an explanation of the fights, and take the time to do so.
    * I define, and use, CC marks.
    * If we wipe once, I don't ragequit. I don't start ranting at the healer, or non-l33t DPS, even if they wiped us. I calmly discuss with the group mistakes others have made, and admit to any mistakes of mine.
    * If we wipe again I may, if appropriate, raise the potential need to replace a player for underperformance. Again, I don't mock or scorn. I calmly explain the attributes of the fight that make it unusually demanding, and why said player is holding the group back. Half of the time the player leaves on his own. The odds are that his replacement is more capable.

    My most recent run through Deadmines is an example. A heretofore successful group wiped repeatedly on Admiral Ripsnarl between 15 and 40% of health. Despite being kept on the boss full time, the shadow priest only did 4K DPS. Clearly, he was underperforming. I explained this to the group; the priest was resistant and had to be kicked. The healer had ragequit, and with his replacement I repeatedly died before the boss hit 50% of health despite (as he repeatedly linked to chat) his fine gear, including epics; after I observed that he should be able to easily keep me up that early in the fight he left on his own. With new DPS and healer we one-shot Ripsnarl and finished the instance despite two people never having seen the fights before.

    That's not to say that there isn't a fight or two that need adjustments. I am pleased to see that Corborus' brutal underground attack will have one more second of advance warning, and that Altairus' random number generator-dependant tornadoes will moderate. Ripsnarl's adds already blow up slightly slower, and although I beat the fight with pickup groups beforehand I did not mind the change. The reduction in Deadmines' trash is welcome, and I would not mind seeing this in Shadowfang Keep and Grim Batol. But overall, there is nothing wrong with heroics being (for now) endgame content for some, and for players to be struggling with them.

  14. Yeechang Lee is right, heroics should NOT be nerfed exactly because they are the endgame for the majority.

    If you nerf them, and everyone can do them easily, what will happen to the majority of players? They have all the gear that justice points + 490 Valor points/week can buy and has NOTHING TO DO.

    They can't go to heroic as they have everything there. They can go to 1/day for 70 more valor point, but that's 40 mins AoE after the nerf.

    They can't go to raiding as there is no way they can pass trough the double-pull trash before Halfus and while they MAY be able to kill Magmaw or Omnitron trash, there is no point. Killing the bosses is impossible for anyone who can't complete ANY heroic WITHOUT A SINGLE WIPE.

  15. Coriel, I'm sorry to have to disagree with you, and with Spinks. I am very sorry to see heroics being nerfed. They truly were heroic for a short time. Now they aren't. It was a challenge to do them, and I loved the fact that it wasn't a given that you could complete them.

    Couldn't you have waited another month to do raids, if you felt you weren't geared enough for them? Couldn't you have enjoyed beating the bosses in the heroic instances? Now that they have been nerfed so that we can faceroll then, what enjoyment is there in completing a "heroic"? It becomes a grind.

    And to what end would you undertake this grind? To get gear for raiding? If we couldn't beat the bosses in the heroic (pre-nerf) instances, what hope have we of beating raid bosses? So the next thing is people will start to complain that they're too hard as well. Nerf city, here we come. Do we really want to nerf the challenge out of this game?

  16. As for what Kring said, echoing Spinks' views: "The cost and reward is way out of sync for heroics at the moment".

    The cost was my repair bills. It didn't cost me time, because I was doing something I enjoyed. What else would I have been doing? Disenchanting greens? Crafting spellthreads? In fact the time spent doing something enjoyable is on the reward side of the equation.

    And the reward for completing these instances was far greater than any gear: a sense of achievement if we managed to kill the bosses. That sense of achievement is now lost. What achievement is there in killing bosses that are now designed to be facerolled? Now there is only failure and grind.

  17. > The cost was my repair bills. It didn't cost me time,
    > because I was doing something I enjoyed.

    Sure. That's true for some runs. With how boring Cata heroics are done it was true for about one run for me. (The trash is boring not the bosses. I don't care about the bosses, the trash is what takes time and should therefore reward us with a challenging fight.)

    But look at the "other" reward. The T11 pants cost you 2200 points. The first random heroic each day rewards you with 70 points. (If T11 shouldn't be your goal, the instance shouldn't reward any valour points at all.)

    That's 32 heroics for the pants.
    With 6 different heroics that's completing each heroic at least 5 times.
    And it takes you 32 days.

    Hard heroics are fun. Yes they are.
    But is doing each hard heroic 5 times still fun? Maybe.

    Then there's the Chest, the gloves, a ring, a trinket, the cloak...

    That's doing each and every heroic something like 20 times? There I won't get any reward from the sence of achievement anymore.

    Plus TBC had 15 heroics. Cata has 6. With TBC you would have to do every heroic twice for the 32 runs required for the pants, not 5 times.

  18. Heroics *will* be nerfed - by the natural progression of gear.

    As time goes on, players will get better gear from instances, from crafting, from quest rewards, and from the auction house.

    When you did your first heroic PuG a few weeks ago, your healer was probably at iLvL 329 or 330. Now he'll more likely be at 335-340. In a month he'll probably be at 340-345.

    As this process happens the heroics will get easier on their own without any interference from Blizzard. I think that is the way to go.

  19. These heroics are great. Finally there is content which is going to force players to learn how to play better or deter them from jumping into raids they can not handle.

    I'm not sure cata makes great business sense for Bliz if they lose a lot of customers. But this content should improve the player base.

    Like others said, there is a ton of other things you can do in this game to have fun.

  20. I think you can at least make a case that heroics should be nerfed, but I don't think Coriel's is a good argument. Taking his logic to the extreme, you would argue that all raid fights but Heroic Sinestra should be nerfed since that's the only true end game.

    Presently the game is constructed around having a good guild. Sure, you could try to PUG raids or Rated BGs, but everyone knows your greatest chance for success is playing that content with a guild. If I were more serious about PVP, I wouldn't complain about how hard it is to win rated BGs or arena matches with randoms. Instead, I'd put in the due diligence to find reasonable teammates and partners and grind it out with them. Likewise for heroics: if you're consistently struggling in the LFD, then find some people you know you can work with (and not be too pissed off at when the group fails) and go from there. Build some relationships. It's the whole point of a social game.

    I hope Blizz doesn't nerf things beyond 4.0.6 for a while. I do agree that we could afford to shorten the length of a heroic by reducing the number of repetitive trash mobs. Only the really top end groups could do SFK, Grim Batol, or Deadmines in 45 minutes.

    Honestly, I think Cataclysm was everything the WoW community was asking for at the end of WotLK and it's funny to see to see the backtracking on some of that now.

  21. My problem with Heroics isn't that much of the difficulty. Its the time needed to complete them.

    By the time I'd run 1 with PuG, I can do 3 normal lvl 85 dungeon (1 being random) get rep and eventually gear out from rep rewards faster than I could hope for in an heroic.

    Sure wrath's 20 minutes heroics were a laugh, but they should have shot for 50 minutes runs, not 2-3 hours.

    I really enjoyed running a random-h during my lunch time at work in the wrath era. Today, I know I won't be able to do that again.

  22. "With 6 different heroics that's completing each heroic at least 5 times...Plus TBC had 15 heroics. Cata has 6."

    Cataclysm has nine heroic instances, not six.

  23. I should learn to count... and TBC had 15 (+1 but we expect some more in Cata).

    Looks a bit better now but my point stays the same.

    Vanilla had 26 instances (depending on how you count and no heroic mode therefore many not at the level cap).
    TBC had 15 (+1).
    WotLK had 12 (+3).
    Cata has 9.

    This content, of course, gets boring much faster because there is less variation.

  24. Love the blog, Rohan. I think heroics are pretty great right now, aside from the time commitment involved. My guild is one of those casual, plebeian guilds that people are talking about in this thread. We just barely downed LK 10 before Cataclysm went live.

    For my guild, heroics right now are hard. Like, we don't finish probably 1/3 to 1/2 of them. A lot of our guildies are just barely at the minimum ilvl. When we first got 4 people at gear level to go in, we probably entered 4 heroics before we finished one.

    For my guild, heroics are doing what Wrath heroics didn't do effectively: they're training our guys to raid. In Wrath, faceroll heroics encouraged bad habits among my raiders, so the beginning of our weekly raids were always clunky while people relearned how to watch the ground while dpsing, use CDs effectively, etc. Now in Cata, my usual tank is notably better today than he was 2 weeks ago, and I'm definitely a better healer. We're getting better at controlling the battlefield, thinking on our feet, using our abilities effectively, all that stuff, even against bosses we've never seen. DPS are a little better each heroic than they were before.

    To put how heroics are going for casual guilds into perspective, I, being a new healer in a guild of that caliber, have probably finished 1/3 of the total number of heroics I've been in, but I finished 3 out of the 4 I've been in over the last week and a half. I also successfully healed a Baradin Hold pug last week, and did only about 2% less healing than the other healer.

    On the other hand, the length of heroics is significant for us, since it usually take 2+ hours for us to finish one. Of course, that's because we wipe several times along the way; it took about an hour to do the ToT run last week when we didn't wipe.

  25. I don't think it could've been better said than the original post. Well done, indeed.

  26. Give us easier access to reputation gear, and leave heroics at the current difficulty. Buff gear, don't nerf content.

  27. I'm going to have to disagree. I have also run and often pugged every heroic and am about three achievements away from Glory of the Cata Hero to boot.

    New heroics reward smart play, communication, and team work. In Wrath I had a healer being a less than team player and so when he died, we didn't rez him, and I ran the rest of H UK without a healer with him lying dead on the floor. Near the end of Wrath I could solo most Wrath heroics, it was ridiculous.

    Heroics are only impossible if you make them impossible by not utilizing all tools available to your party in an appropriate manner. When doing this, heroics can still be hard. As I think I've stated before, I was in the first wave of 85s to hit heroics and I remember one night spending three hours just working out different strats for Admiral Ripsnarl. No one gave up, no one said it was too hard or that we weren't geared enough, and with enough effort and learning we eventually finished the dungeon.

    Nerfing heroics at this point, now that they've actually become easy compared to what they were in early December, is just a tip of the hat to the "I want everything handed to me" crowd.

    What people don't realize is that not every player is supposed to see every aspect of the game, particularly right off the bat. How many servers downed KT in Naxx 40 during Vanilla? How many downed LK or HM LK before the Strength of Wrynn/Horde counterpart started? It's meant to be hard, it's what allows the "hardcores" to feel superior (for better or for worse) and keeps this from being a PC game where everyone has equal gear/loot.

    It's equal opportunity, not equal results. You have the opportunity to gear up through heroics and raids, just like everyone else. If that's not something you're interested in doing due to time investment, difficulty, etc. then that's your business, but don't demand the same rewards of those who spent the time in the way of nerfs to make it easier for those who weren't willing to put in the same effort.

  28. "What's the point of 4.1 with new raid tiers if the majority of the playerbase is struggling with heroics?"

    Heroics get auto-nerfed in 4.1. Once the current valor point items drop down to justice points, it buffs everyone except the raiders who already have it all.

    I disagree that heroics need to be nerfed pre-4.1. The current model is perfect, imo; top tier raiding be extremely difficult and unaccessable to the majority, tier below that (heroics, atm) should be a challenge to everyone else.

    Once 4.1 comes out, the new raids will be hard and inaccessable to most. The current raids will be a challenge to the majority (with their 359 JP gear and a piece or two of new valor.) Heroics will be a joke with nearly everyone in 346/359 gear.

  29. This is whats going to drive this game back to BORING Wotlk heroics.

  30. The problem with your argument is, that the step up from the current heroics to the raids themselves is quite a big step.
    If the more casual players cannot cope with the current heroics because they are 'too hard', then as soon as they get to the raids, they are going to get absolutely creamed. What then? Nerf the raids, too?

    If people want quicker/easier runs, then they should do Normals, and get their gear up to 346-359 from rep and crafted items.

    I'm all for reducing the length of some of these encounters, as they can drag on a bit, but nerfing the difficulty level is so typical of Blizzard, and I'm getting a bit pissed off with it.

  31. They're already nerfing heroics in the next patch, especially the bosses that "wiped pugs too much" as they said or bosses that required too much cc, most prominent nerfs announcements is reducing Beauty adds by 1 (so you don't need 2 ccers) or removing heal from 1st SFK boss, since he needed 2 interrupters as he has other spells in the arsenal too.

    They're also nerfing Deadmines and Stonecore, some nerfs to Deadmines are already live.

    They nerfed 3rd boss in brc (Karsh aka kite through fire pillar boss) and I must say I notice the difference from a tank (kiting) point of view.

    No need to worry, the nerfs are coming all the time.

    When we get t14 - t15 gear in 1-2 year time we'll probably zerg these heroics in 15-20 mins again but now we can't compare them to wotlk heroics in 277 level gear, you should compare them to wotlk heroics in 187-200 level blues and they didn't take 20 mins. Timed Culling of Stratholme was hard to do and it was 25 mins timer + 7-9 mins intro (nerfed VERY late into expansion) + last boss not counted in the timer. And some heroics were longer than CoS, say Old Kingdom (*shivers*).

    Also I don't see a point making heroics "real end game" and delivering raids much later, I'd be bored, I'm kinda done with heroics, running sometimes for valor points but since I'm not in hardcore guild that would whip me for skipping some valor, there are days where I don't even run the heroic. I'm 8 achievements away from the drake from heroics, but not rushing for it, if guild asks me to help in some achievement then yeah, I'll come.

    So if there was no raids I would lost incentive to play, because I already lost it for heroics, I've done them enough times.

  32. I don't know if I necessarily agree man. I understand your rationale, but I don't agree with it. I think eventually this will be a good thing for the community because if you haven't put in the time to gear up from the so-called stepping stone, few will let you in the eventually inevitable pugged raids. the better geared you are from heroics, the better the overall pugging experience will be.

  33. I have been leveling an alt recently and its dissapointing runnning so many dungeons with tank and spank bosses. Wrath had a lot of fun boss mechanics in heroics. Back when Wrath heroics first released there were not as many options for grinding gear. I like that there are many options for gearing now. It helps fill in the gaps. I like the current difficulty settings of Heroics,the mechanics are fun. That being said there are some that I will not do with a pug at this time. I think there are a good mix of puggable and not puggable and they will get easier as gear scales.

  34. i personally don't think hero's should be nerfed. what i do think needs to happen (like blue have previously talked about) is have some sort of way to force someone to be ready for heroics.

    me, the tank, got awfully tired of explaining just the fundamentals to EVERYONE (and if u didn't need an explaination, but someone else did i'd get sum smart ass remark about trying to learn someone) all the time. ie: wtf CC is and gtfo of the crap on the ground.

    it was such a chore and i've since took a break. tired of 2 hour 101 classes every dungeon.

    i SO hope there will be some sort of implementation to ALL players to ready them for heroics.

  35. Heroics are fine, admittedly I dont pug randoms. If I cant find guildies to run with I dont bother going, Its not worth my time and effort especially as you miss out on Guild rep.

    They are allready boring as a healer because all I do is press efficient heal x500. Swap to a very borderline healer, technically below the 329 ilevel and all the difference is I press efficient heal x500 and also drink a lot. You can still do runs with 0-1 cc and 2-3 melee.

  36. I have done Heroics too much now so I only run them for my Valor points and I ont have to do that for long on my main either.

    So I say nerf the shit out of them so that I dont have to spend an hour doing my daily hc and can do it in 15 mins.

    I couldnt care less if the casuals have or have not got gear like mine as I do not interract with them.

    We need to stop worrying about what they are wearing and doing and look to mimnimise the time we spend with them.

  37. But for some people, heroics *are* the endgame. Not everyone is able to raid or wants to raid; shouldn't those people be able to enjoy some content that's fun and challenging too?

  38. *smacks self* Way to say what a bunch of others on the page have already said. That'll teach me to post before reading everything carefully.

    Nothing to see here ... just move along ... *whistles casually*