Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Guest Post: Deathwing, or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the LFR

By way of introduction, I am Isabeaux (also known as Guarf), loyal and undeserving friend of our hostess, Mataoka.  I’m a hunter.  I hunt things.  Based my class gear, I’m also supposed to stalk things.  Giants, Dragons, Gronns (what, now?), Wyrms; yep, I stalk them all. I’m also a raider.  Not a particular good one, but a raider nonetheless.  Based on some of our conversations, Ms. Matty offered me the opportunity to Guest Host and, I suppose, see how it goes.  I’m thinking of this as a pilot.  Perhaps I’ll get picked up for a limited run as a mid-season replacement.  Dream big, that’s my motto.

Patch 4.3 brought a lot of changes.  An updated Darkmoon Faire, new heroic dungeons, and a brand, spanking new raid, Dragon’s Soul.  This is the last major content patch of Cataclysm, and none of these things are altogether surprising.  Looking back to Wrath, the last patch added new heroics and a raid as well.  In lieu of the Faire, there was a new weekly fishing contest!  So, really, sounds like much the same, right?  Actually there are a lot of differences.

Starting with the new heroics, is it just me, or do they seem really, no, that’s too mild, say rather, exceptionally easy?  Yes, there are a couple bosses with ‘trick shot’ mechanics (looking at you, Azshara.  You big, blue, beautiful bitch*), but once you crack the code, a group of drunken marmosets can generally stumble their way through to Valor Points and Firelands level gear in 30-45 minutes.  For those that remember it, this was certainly not the case with the ICC heroics when they came out (“Halls of Reflection? We’re all going to die!”).  More recently, ZA/ZG in their first level 85 incarnation still brings back ugly memories (“Kill the ghosts!” “No, tank the ghosts, kill chains!” “Oh God, so many!”).  Well, shucks, I’ve got no problem with free loot and easy Valor.  I filled in the couple weak spots in my gear the first couple days (Shoulders, my precious, precious shoulders).  By week 3, my alts had amassed enough Valor to get the 2 BoE pieces, and my hunter was in good shape to start raiding....

The Dragon Soul!  The last raid of Cataclysm, where we finally put paid to the former Aspect of Earth, Deathwing!  Epic, epic battles that will take significant skill and gear to overcome!  Or, not. The bosses seem awfully milquetoast (the first few, at least. I’ll grant they ramp up a bit at Ultraxion) for the lieutenants of a demi-god, but that’s just me.  I’m OK with that.  My guild is semi-casual, with a fair bit of coming and going in the roster, so we generally finish up the last boss in a raid on normal mode just as the next tier arrives.  Perhaps we might actually venture into heroic modes for once.  Maybe.  This one time.

I didn’t raid in Lich King, but as I recall from the chatter, ICC was not easy upon release.  Guilds struggled to get things dead for a fair bit of time until a series of gradual nerfs (“to the ground,” as the kids say) made it accessible to essentially anyone.  For years, people had been complaining that only a tiny minority of players (“paying customers!”) were actually able to see the entire game.  Raid content was accused, correctly, of being locked away from the literally millions of people that play but don’t have 2 or 3 hours uninterrupted play time, 2 or 3 nights a week, during prime time.  The ICC nerfs were Blizzard’s response:  “Yes, you can see ICC.  Months after release.  If you can find a PuG.  And people aren’t anal about that pesky Gearscore add-on.”  It was, in my opinion, a sub-optimal solution.

I think Blizzard agreed, because, now we have a different solution, the brand, spanking new Raid Finder.  It slices! It dices!  It lets anyone that can manage to earn a fair bit of gear (or cheat it, Mr. Ungemmed, Unenchanted PVP armor guy) see the very latest, first run, premier edition raid content! Just press the button and strap yourself into the queue!  SEE the strange and wonderful ping-pong boss!  RUN in a circle on a platform in the sky!  RIDE the mighty Skyfire to battle along side the Aspects against Deathwing himself!  Wow, it’s possible I’ve been spending a bit too much time with the Darkmoon carnies.

But wait, there’s more!  “Dragon Soul Lite” will give you 500 Valor Points, and 384/390 gear!  Better than Firelands!  Nearly on par with the normal version!  Get your tier set bonuses!  Best of all, we’ve toned down (WAY DOWN) the difficulty, so the aforementioned marmosets can find their way through with minimal herding.  Wow! Who wouldn’t want to go?

And therein, I believe, is where our problems begin.

To be continued.

Editor's Note: I consider myself proud to be among the Drunken Marmoset group.

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