Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

Patch 3.2 – Halfassing Deluxe

So patch 3.2 hit and I can’t say I’m disappointed with the new 5,10 and 25 men content.
I would like to, really, but my expectations were so low that Blizzard has pretty much managed to hit the nail on the head. The Coliseum, as far as it’s accessible, is terribad. And here’s why.

Trial of the Champion (5 men)
I can only come up with two 5 men instances that have been added to the game outside of an expansion before this one – Maraudon and Magister’s Terrace3. Maraudon was a levelling instance and is therefore not really comparable. Magister’s Terrace, on the other hand, is very similar to the coliseum. It was released with a raid instance in a patch and provided higher level rewards than other 5men instances on that level. This was alright though, since Magister’s Terrace was considerably harder than its level 70 counterparts. Not so the Coliseum.
We went into the heroic version late at night with a setup that was basically just whoever was left. We had a tank, a healer, one real dps, one offspec dps and another healer dpsing in his healing spec. And we pwned it. We did have a wipe on the jousting event, but only because we didn’t understand what to do with enemies that we had dismounted. Obviously we didn’t have to repeat the event after the wipe but only fight the champions on foot. Which was really easy.
The second boss – as opposed to the similar encounter in Magister’s Terrace – required no coordination and wasn’t even close to hard.
On to the final boss, this should prove interesting right? Nope. Phases one and two were jokes and phase three was very doable even with our gimped dps.

Alright, so it’s easy. Big deal, we have ilvl 226+ gear so it should be easy. Others will enjoy it, right? Wrong. There are no new art assets, no real story, and no new impressive fight mechanics. Just a boring rehash of stuff that’s been there before and long speeches. And you get epixes for it. Hooray.

And jousting? Really? Their much hyped “mounted combat” is no different from other gimmicky vehicle fights. I would go so far to say that jousting is less interesting than even Oculus. And that was already lame. Not to mention the fact that many people have spent their past few months
jousting day in, day out.

Trial of the Crusader (10)
Clearly my guild is not the main target audience for the 5 men instance. But there’s a raid too, that should be great! Or so we thought and put 10 players together and tackled the Beasts of Northrend encounter. Unlike the 5 men we had read some descriptions of the fight before, so we roughly knew what would expect us.
The mechanics of the fight are reasonably interesting. The kobolds in phase one are fun, the burning bile/paralytic poison mechanic in phase two is interesting, and failing to run out of the way of the big guy in phase three is nicely lethal. It took us three tries to get our hands on loot that is on the level of Ulduar25 hard modes. What? Really? We even got the “Not one, but TWO Jormungar Worms” achievement by accident.
Our guild hasn’t managed a new hard mode kill in a while, heck, the new and improved XT-002 hard mode1 wiped the floor with us the other night. And at the difficulty of Razorscale 10 we get 25 men hardmode loot? What. The. Hell.

Trial of the Crusader (25)
After learning the idea of the fight in 10 men, we were looking forward to tackling it in 25 men mode. After all, 25 men is almost always harder and spreading out for phases two and three should prove more complicated. You are also bound to have some people in 25 that don’t know the tactics and wipe you with a stupid mistake or two.
Then we completed the encounter on the first try. Item level 245 loot, including a tier token (more on that later), for something that is so mindnumbingly easy? This is even worse than Vault of Archavon. It’s faster, provides better loot and doesn’t waste drops on PvP gear. (And I consider those loot pinata bosses in VoA a huge mistake already.)

Rooster Blocking
I still have one hope to cling to, that other bosses will be harder. Too bad we can’t try that yet because Blizzard put those artificial blocks in there that keep us from doing more than one new boss a week. Artificial extension of lacking content for the win. You know, I’m all for letting other guilds catch up so the world first races become a bit more interesting. But there’s nothing to catch up here! Every guild that’s even remotely in the run for world firsts is likely to one-shot this with offspecs and alts!

Your Guild Should Do Hard Modes!
I’ve heard the argument over and over again that the normal mode is for everyone and that hardcore guilds should do hard modes instead. Well, that’s all fine and dandy – but we can’t! People have pushed for a block on hard mode until the normal mode of an instance is completed, and rightly so. But combining this idea with the concept of artificially blocking progress with a gate system means that we have to wait until week 5 to be able to start hard modes. Until then are we just supposed to sneeze into the coliseum once a week and then go back to doing Ulduar where the real challenges lie, but no loot?
In one stroke they greatly devaluated the rewards you get for hard content while failing to supply us with new challenges.

Tiered Tiers
Much hate can be found on the intertubes for the new badge system. Players doing heroics and Naxx with access to tier 8.5 gear seemed to be the biggest threat from this change, unless you counted the possibility of slowly accumulating the lowest sub-tier of tier 9 gear through heroic dailies. Well, this just in – scrubs can now get the medium tier 9 as well!
Even if the encounters after Beasts of Northrend are much harder than what we’ve seen so far, a guild that’s struggling in normal Ulduar can probably go into coliseum twice for 6 badges and a Trophy of the Crusade. This token can (together with a serious amount of badges) be turned in for any piece of the medium tier 9 gear. If you show some tenacity you can collect a full set of medium tier 9 by just facerolling Beasts of Northrend again and again.

On the other hand, if you are a more serious raider you will now have to collect more emblems than ever. Previously there were only a few pieces that were actually worth buying. Now badges are essentially the main way of gearing your character – unless you are doing hard modes. Go and enjoy your daily heroics – I know I won’t.

Item Levels
Why oh why? Ulduar 10 provided the same item level as Naxx 252. Ulduar 25 the same as the “hard mode” 25 men content before (yes, only Sartharion really had a hard mode and others dropped ilvl 226 too – but they were the hardest bosses back then.) and Ulduar 25 hard modes a step above. Continuing this trend would mean to have ilvl 226 in 10 men normal coliseum, and 239 in 25 men normal mode. Beasts of Northrend is still easier than the easiest Ulduar hard mode (and most normal modes too), but at least 25 men Coliseum loot wouldn’t have invalidated every other piece of loot available beforehand and only hard modes would give you a leg up on the previous hard modes.
Instead they decided to make a huge jump in ilvl, to achieve… What?

Congratulations Blizzard, from what I can see you have managed to show the lowest effort that’s ever gone into a content patch so far. Money saved is money earned, kudos!
Raiding guilds will find themselves with essentially less to do now than before the patch, since Ulduar content has become mostly obsolete and the new content isn’t accessible. (If you can even call it content.)
But it’s not all bad – potions stack to twenty now and I can fly over Wintergrasp!

UPDATE: Did Lord Jaraxxus (25) last night. One-shot him. This is stupid.

1 The mega spawns were hotfixed some time in between our wipes, but he still used light and gravity bombs during tantrum. That is a bullshit mechanic. Seriously.

2 Well, OK, slightly higher.

3 Dobblesworth reminded me of Dire Maul as another instance that was patched in. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in there level-appropriate and I can’t really comment on the difficulty back then. What I can say is that it had various innovations in dungeon design, such as the tribute run and wing layout.

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