Saturday, July 07, 2012

Attunements, Years Later

WoW Insider and Klepsacovic are arguing about attunements. I started writing a response, but realized that I had already written it five years ago, all the way back in 2007.

A lot of the trouble with the discussion about attunements is that there are actually four or so separate types of attunements, and each has different pros and cons. But everyone conflates all the types, and mixes them up, so it seems like they are talking past each other.  A pro from one type gets countered by a con from a completely separate type.

Here are the types of attunements, as I see them:

Class A: Only one person needs a key for the instance.

Examples are Keys for UBRS, Eye of Eternity, Nightbane in Karazhan

The main advantage of this class is that you can take people who aren't attuned in the group, while still gating access on the whole.

The disadvantages are that if the attunement is too long or difficult, then no one does the attunement, instead relying on someone else to do it. Vanilla WoW players will remember "LF1 UBRS, must have key". If the attunement is too easy and a large portion of the population has it, then it might as well not be there, until you hit the unexpected situation where no keyed person happens to be in the raid. It also makes the raid very dependent on the presence of the keyholder. No keyholder, no raid.

Finally, a group may "purchase" an unlock from someone else, effectively bypassing the gating. Not to mention that I don't think this method can work with an automatic group finder. How could you sign up for a raid if your access depends on someone else in your group?

Class B: Non-raid quest line is required to unlock the instance.

Examples are Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, Karazhan attunements.

The advantages are that you can work on your attunement on your own time. It also ensures that the player does a minimum amount of previous content before they can raid. It's a really good answer the question, "Am I ready for this raid?" A new max level player can also be powered through the questline.

The main disadvantage is that an absolute fresh 80 cannot be brought into the raid at all. Each character must be attuned. As well, if the attunement chain is long, then redoing it on alts becomes rather frustrating.

Class C: Defeating previous raid bosses is required to unlock future raid bosses.

Examples are needing Kael and Vashj to unlock T6 in TBC.

The advantage is that you can't skip hard bosses to progress. Raid progression is "hardcoded" for individual raiders.

The disadvantages are that it causes a lot of problems with raid composition, even before we look at recruiting. The thing is that you want to attune your entire raiding force, including your people on the bench, not just the 25 people in the instance at the time of your first kill. Otherwise, you can't actually progress to the next instance, because odds are you'll have to replace at least one person on your next night of raiding.

As well, it causes large problems with recruiting. Basically, it's very hard to work on attunement on your own, you have to rely on the group to attune you. So already attuned players become very valuable, and guilds have to keep running old content in their limited raid time to attune new players or alts.

Class D: Running old content multiple times eventually unlocks new content.

An example is gating by reputation, like the TBC heroics, where you needed Revered reputation to buy the keys.

The advantage is that you can almost certainly guarantee that people will be properly geared and prepared for the next level of content.

The disadvantage is that it can seem repetitive and grindy (Lower City rep, anyone?). An artifical roadblock to make you waste time. Also this scheme usually has the longest time between hitting max level and actually being able to enter the instance, and people might get bored and drop out early. Personally, I don't think I ever got all my TBC keys.


I actually like Class B attunements. I enjoyed the MC, BWL, and Karazhan questlines, and rather miss them. They provided direction for a new max-level character, instead of having to figure out if your gear was "good enough". Sure, they had some issues (Rexxar, where are you?), and occasionally not being able to take someone to a raid because they where not attuned hurt. Of course, if that happened, the player was always attuned by next week, often with the help of some of other raiders.

By and large, I thought Class B attunements worked. They made the game between leveling and raiding more interesting, gave it more purpose rather than simply gearing up. I would not mind seeing them brought back in a future expansion.

But for Class A,C, and D attunements, I think their problems outweigh their advantages. I think the game is better for having gotten rid of them.


  1. I feel like Class C attunements would work pretty well today. The problem at that time was the difficulty of the content required to unlock new content. People couldn't PuG these bosses. In todays raiding enviroment, everyone can quickly become attuned by PuGing the required instance(s).

    Also, attunements should be account wide.

  2. Well, I suppose if beating it in Raid Finder counts for the attunement. But if that's the case, the attunement is pretty toothless.

    But you're not looking at the exact situation I am. Let's say your guild raids Tues, Wed, Thurs.

    On Tues, you beat Kael at the end of night. Yay, 25 people got attuned to T6. On Wed, you head to the new instance. But David can't make it tonight, so you bring in Susan. But Susan isn't attuned, so you're now looking at 24-manning.

    The thing is that normal/hard mode raiding exists on the group level. You want to attune the group, and not care about the individuals. But figuring out a way to convey that information is actually pretty hard.

  3. Not to mention that Class C is really somewhat pointless in a "current tier only" environment like current raiding.

    If everyone is expected to switch to the new tier when it comes out, why throw a wonky attunement in the mix? It seems unnecessary.

  4. How exactly does one work on Class B attunements "on their own?" Karazhan required half a dozen unpopular heroic dungeons to unlock - dungeons, incidentally, which routinely wiped Trade PuGs all day long (e.g. 2nd boss in Shadow Labs).

    If Class B attunements actually allowed someone to complete something on their own, I would be fine with it. Instead, what I remember the most out of TBC - aside from 37 weeks of Karazhan - is 15+ Kara attunement runs that I was obligated to provide as I was the guild's MT.

  5. Eh? Karazhan required normal dungeon runs, not heroic. It was completely puggable. I definitely remember doing mine in pick-up groups.

    I think you've mixed up the Kara attunement with the T5 attunements. The T5 attunements required heroic dungeons, which I think was reasonable given the timeline and placement.

    T4 required normal dungeons. T5 required heroics. And in both cases, you didn't need the entire guild to help you attune. At most, you needed a small group of 5.

  6. As Azuriel said, the class B attunements had one real problem: that it was often hard to get a group up for them, especially as the content got older. And the pressure this put on the group's tanks (and to a lesser extent healers) to run and re-run the attunement instances. However, in this age of dungeon finders, I don't think they would be problematic at all, I think the idea would actually be much better received.

  7. It was not hard to get a group for Class B attunements. Sure, sometimes you hard to wait some time and work the chatchannels. But no, it was not hard.

    I would like it if WoW had them again.

    One more pro for Class B, they work with the Raid Finder (remember the ICC heroics, you had to be attuned for them).

  8. My apologies on the misinformation - I thought for sure that Murmur didn't spawn on Normal, but there he is in Wowhead. It might have been because an attunement run was already a waste of our time, so we always did them on heroic so that the rest of us could get something out of it.

  9. Reading every one of those categories left me with the negative feelings associated with each. I'm not sorry to see attunements gone. I recall waiting for somebody with the UBRS key. I recall having to do the escort in BRD way too many times. I recall never bothering to think about raiding T6 BC, since I took a break during T5. I recall getting to 70 on alts and dreading the reputation grind to access heroics.

    So yeah, they're fun in theory, but ultimately I think they lead to more frustration than enjoyment.

  10. I find it amusing how many people hated attunements and don't want them brought back - personally I don't see how they COULD in today's WoW environment (although for the record I didn't really dislike them - I came in BC and had to play catch up though!).

    Group A - other than UBRS, the other two listed was a gate for a single boss. And I can't say I ever heard about anyone complaining they couldn't get into EoE (I was usually trying to find reasons NOT to go...) I don't see them bringing this kind of attunement back in the sense that they did in UBRS and I don't think any other examples served to be a really big gate EXCEPT for UBRS, which was way back in Vanilla and has not since been repeated on such a scale.

    Group B and C: As someone already mentioned, raid finder makes both of these options pretty moot. Likewise, Rohan's counter about killing Kael on T and unable to progress on W is pretty behind the times too. How many people do you know have active 25 man raiding groups that are a COMPLETE tier behind current content? In the age of nerfs and "only the current tier is applicable", I think it'd be highly unlikely that you didn't have 25+ people in your guild already past at least the normal version of a boss so you could step right into the instance the week it came out. It's nigh pointless to bring back such attunements.

    Group D: These still exist, but they changed how they convince you to do it. Instead of needing reputation to get into an instance, they simply make you get reputation in order to get the new purple shinies so you can raid more effectively. You're still grinding reputations. People are just better motivated if they get something personal out of it rather than "Oh boy, now I can go do the HEROIC version of this dungeon I've been playing forever." They have no need to bring back this type of attunement either, and even if they did, unless they took reputation gearing away, people would already be working towards this kind of stuff.

  11. Another disadvantage of the B class of attunements is that finding out that you need to do it is sometimes a bit of a surprise. Sure you get the Kara quest outside of Kara, but nothing SENDS YOU THERE until you want to do the raid (and by that time, you're too late). Likewise, the MC and BWL ones are random quests; BWL's could easily be missed since it's even from a mob drop (though to be fair, as well, you don't NEED them to gain access. They only existed to let you teleport right to them).

    Actually, the key to Kara was the same way as well. The only Class B attunement that ever existed in the game for raids was Onyxia's.

  12. Sure you get the Kara quest outside of Kara, but nothing SENDS YOU THERE until you want to do the raid (and by that time, you're too late).

    Actually, the Kara attunement started with a quest right in the middle of Shattrath sending you to Karazhan...

  13. I will stand corrected, but considering the first comments about it are from 2.3, I'm going to assume that it was probably added well after Kara simply because people weren't finding it on their own.

  14. @Jarviz: I don't think you can say "It was not hard to get a group" as some sort of blanket fact which is true regardless of (a) which server you played on, (b) which timezone you were in, and (c) what stage of the content's life cycle you were at.

    Try doing the heroics for Tempest Keep attunement a year after TBC launched, as an Oceanic player, on a low population server, whilst not guilded (assume you're trying to get attuned so you can apply to join a raid guild).

  15. I believe the good thing about attunements are not the attunements themselves but these long quests chains they often come with, that have a cool reward at the end. The quest chain for BT felt pretty epic, and it rewarded a neck that one could use to teleport to BT. I did that chain when the attunement was no longer needed and I still have fond memories of it.

    However, they don't need to make these epic quest chains as parts of attunements. The Quel'Delar chain in Wrath is an example of a cool quest chain tied to group content that was optional. The reward was also interesting, at least lore-wise. It did have the inconvenient that, since you most likely had to buy the starting item in the AH, it became expensive for those interested in doing it on lots of alts. I'd like to see more of those in the future, just not tied to a random drop.

  16. Attunements are like a long movie with plot twists. It (usually) can be fun the first time, but you'll probably never want to watch it again because you've already been through it and it's too time-consuming. That being said, I do like the idea of attunements. So, I'd support a type B attunement with an account-wide effect.

  17. There's a remnant of Class A attunements today - in order to do heroic mode of any raid you have to beat the final boss on normal, and often in order to do the final boss you have to have beaten the rest of the raid on heroic.

    And then there's Sinestra, who you can't spawn unless you beat heroic Chocho. I guess that's a type C?

  18. ur - previous comment, you get the 'key' to heroic mode by beating the normal mode, but only the raid leader needs that 'key'.

  19. I wouldn't count Sinestra as an attunement. She's just an extra boss in the instance. It's no different than having to beat Domo to spawn Ragnaros in Molten Core. You have to do it each instance run.

    Algalon, on the other hand, is an attunement combining types A and C. One person in the raid needs a key, but you only get the key by defeating other raid bosses.

  20. I can't believe I missed this post in my reader. A great one indeed!

    I agree with you on the class B attunements being good. Obviously the class A doesn't work in an automated system, but maybe that's the fault of the automated system.

    For that reason, I'd have Class B attunements on the early content. Then have Class A attunements, based on completion of the earlier content (a hybrid of A and C) used for raids. That way a brand new guild can't jump to the latest tier, but bringing in an outside won't result in calling off the raid.