On difficulty in WoW and social control in MMOs

The following article is a follow-up to this topic by Klepsacovic. For full context, please head there first (including comments). I would like to second his clarifications on using (relative and problematic) terms such as ‘good/top’ or ‘bad/sub-par’ players for the second half of this argument. No player is always just good or bad and good players always benefit from the presence of someone a little weaker.
Difficulty in WoW for the average player, lvls 1-80.
On social control in MMORPGs
Admittedly, I have omitted one more lesson of WoW’s current “difficulty syllabus” in the above picture: heroics. If we look at the stark discrepancy between WoW’s leveling game from 1-84 vs. the huge step-up of entering a serious raiding scene, we must give credit to the implemented bridge between the two. In theory, WoW players are supposed to stick to this schedule:

5-man dungeons and heroics are the “gate-keeper” to raiding; or at least that’s how it’s intended. At the very latest, this is when a new player is introduced to cooperative group-play. Here he is pushed to learning his class and role, here he is questioned, here he is geared up for the challenges ahead. Here he understands the importance of strategy and communication before class is dismissed.…If only!

No matter how Blizzard have tried to hard-tune their raid-entry dungeons in Cataclysm, heroics do not fulfill their assigned role as necessary stepping stone between noobland and the unforgiving reality of many raid encounters. Getting into a raid is relatively easy, but many are ill prepared for the individual challenge and pressure that awaits. For guilds and recruitment this means a big crowd of potential candidates with the barest pre-selection.

For one thing, there are too many ways in which players can avoid challenging and maybe stressful/frustrating 5-man runs (for example by gearing up in other ways). More importantly though: in an MMO with cross-server LFG no reliable means of player selection or preparation exist. The purpose of the training phase is undermined in a game of anonymity. Here’s why:

Let’s have another look at yes – vanilla WoW. Back then, we had 5-mans too at lvl 60 and hard ones they were (hello Stratholme 1.0 & Co.). We didn’t have heroics, normal modes were bad enough. Gear was important and there were no ways around acquiring your starter raid-gear (8-piece sets on random drop!) from in there. Then, there were also attunements and resistance gear which kept sending you back in frequently, not just for yourself but those you were trying to help out.For the MC raidguild looking at a potential, ready-looking candidate at the time, this meant the following: not only had this person leveled from 1-60, he had also jumped all hoops in order to gain entry and had made it through all essential lvl 60 dungeons (many times) to gather his gear sets. More so, he had succeeded in finding/organizing and finishing runs with groups of your own server continuously. If you hadn’t heard of said player in negative terms up to that point, if he wasn’t on any spoken or unspoken blacklist by that time, there was a pretty good chance that this was your guy! Even if not quite that – at the very least, there was full confirmation of this player being incredibly motivated and experienced enough to raid.

There are no similar pre-raiding hoops in today’s WoW and heroic gear tells us very little about a player. Maybe he is a complete fail who only ever made it by jumping from one LFG group to the next while being an anonymous ass, ninja-looter, rage-quitter. Who knows – you certainly don’t! Who can say how somebody behaves in a cross-server group? Who can judge how well a player truly performed in order to gain his gear? Even if he let himself carry (or cooked his dinner during runs), he certainly didn’t need worry about not being re-invited to a next group (as tank/healer within the next 5 minutes). No social pressure – no social control.

We need the concept of social control for functional communities. We need the dynamic of reputation. We need small enough server communities for social interaction to become meaningful and transparent. We need consequences. The last thing we need is anything cross-server or bigger. Guilds and smaller groups don’t benefit from quantity, they benefit from quality.And so does the individual player, by the way; black sheep aside, it’s not exactly fun to be the “weak link” in a raid guild. It’s not a nice awakening to realize you are ill prepared. It’s disappointing and stressful to end up in a place too early. In a game of unforgiving raid mechanics (which is the situation I base this argument on), you want and need proper hoops early.

How I became a different person
I used to be the raider who loved vanilla raids for being 40man; the scale, the epic kills and also the hilarious chaos (and challenge to order the same). I loved being part of a mixed crowd and running raidguilds that had colorful characters in them. I liked having merry minstrels and jokers along for the ride, to share good moments and laughs on our way.I liked being able to afford “clowns” in our raids.I was never a l33t player and I don’t consider myself “hardcore”, despite having always been a core member and healing coordinator in dedicated top guilds. Fame, loot and kills are all nice and dandy, but I want to share them with good folks and have fun together. I want both, the close-knit team and serious raids. If this means I need to cut back on the first and heroic kills in order to have that – fine in my books (as long as I still experience most of the content). I don’t seek the affirmation that comes from being nummero uno on a ladder, nice as it may be. I frankly also never wanted more than three raid nights.

The guilds I ended up in (founded in vanilla & early TBC), were therefore more or less always composed the same way:
20% top players & figureheads / 60% average & good players (wide spectrum) / 20% players you’d carry more frequently, but who’d in return bring other qualities and talents to the table. I’m fine with such a guild and for myself, ideally I want all three groups present.

  • You need the top players; you need them to pull and push the group. You need them to be your guides, guild leaders, coordinators and analysts. You need them too because very often, they’re simply the consistent show-ups with the most time available (which is why they make great guides or leaders).
  • You need the solid good players who are dedicated but down to earth; You need them for a healthy, balanced guild culture that is neither too casual, nor too hardcore. You need them to be the pendulum that swings in between. They are your main executive force.
  • You need the sub-par players; You need them for social qualities, for wisdom and humor that may be indispensable and unique. You need them so your top players get their occasional extra challenge and feel needed. You also need them because somebody always needs to be the weakest link – it’s better to know yours than to constantly look for a new one.

I don’t wish to be in a guild where every person is exactly like me (despite a healthy narcissism, that’s just boring). Nor do I mind slower learners or players who simply fail at the odd mechanic, and those who might fall behind a little due irregular playtime – as long as you can compensate for them somehow during specific encounters. (Assuming of course that they’re otherwise awesome).

Only, this gradually stopped being the case in WoW after the 40man era. Encounters became highly technical, focused on individual performance and unforgiving in ways that wouldn’t let us make up for lower bracket players – there was suddenly a hard line that wasn’t summary. We could only stand by and watch with increasing frustration as they went through the motions, again and again. We became helpless spectators of our guildmates’ ordeals, despite all guidance given. Worse: they started to become the “enemy”. If 100+ wipes into a boss, the same few people are still stuck at beginner mistakes, it’s human to start feeling resentful.

I never wanted to become that other person or find myself in that well-known dilemma of so, so many raidguilds out there. But if I am pushed into the corner of choosing between keeping the bad player and not seeing larger parts of the game’s content in time (which was my motivation to play WoW at all) – then yes, I want the bad players out! I even want established people out who I used to appreciate and tried to support for as long as possible (my guilds have always tried longer than many would). I will make the unhappy choice if forced to; I won’t see an entire raidguild fall apart because the other 80% (and especially top 20%) will start looking elsewhere some time into the stagnation. Hesitating forever is not an option. If you’ve tried all you feel you could and if you intend to stick to the established raiding pace, you must make the choice as a leading team.It’s no wonder so many good leaderships crack under the pressure of this decision; it sucks beyond comparison (add the issue of recruitment). It will always be one of the big sores for me when looking back on an otherwise great raiding run in WoW. It cured me of being too judgmental about how some guild leaders will act, too (“wear my shoes and see”).Sometimes raidguids change their original philosophy because they are catching the “success bug”; it’s a dangerous place to find yourself in, the upwards spiral of success that many fall for, becoming something else, someone else, forgetting how they started off and with whom. I fully acknowledge this problem. But what we experienced like so many others from the 25man era on, was not of our making; it’s nothing you choose, only what you roll with as good as you can.

To this day, I am deeply resentful; resentful of Blizzard, of the game’s later raid designs that presented my own guild with such a reality. I resent them for putting the focus on the weaker players, without any chance for the rest to step in and make a difference. I resent them for cornering us  – for making us choose like this, again and again as the game took its course. Most of all, I resent them for making me that different person. A person with less and less tolerance for team diversity.

What is fairness?

Addendum

Much in this argument is relative, depending on your own personal approach to an MMO like WoW. Maybe you’re the type of raider who wants to be in zero-tolerance guilds and who has always managed to keep clear of such problems. Maybe you’re not even interested in raids. However, for a big number of “mid-bracket raiders” that form the majority in WoW’s endgame and who are in constant competition for recruits, the missing pre-selection mechanisms and highly unforgiving raid mechanics on individual level, are presenting a real struggle and dilemma. There is also the added pressure of the ever-looming next content patch.

The game did not start off like this; raid teams had more leeway, partly due to the nature of bigger 40man raids, partly due to different encounter design. And while many asked for a more even share of responsibility and target focus after WoW 1.0., I don’t believe that Cataclysm raiders benefit from today’s very different situation – no matter what player group they belong to in their own guild. It’s the broken overall streamlining of difficulty combined with a lack of social control that impact negatively on everybody. They present today’s raidguilds with greater struggles than ever, logistically as much as socially and emotionally.

30 comments

  1. doone

    I like the way you spoke about the issue here. I can’t say my experience has been all that different, but it’s always a challenge to articulate just what changed from 1.0 to 4.0.

    In a nutshell, they have been designing an increasingly anti-social game. Not really sure why, but I hope theyre at least aware. If they know, then we can all walk away knowing they are trying to attract anti-social players. If they dont know, then it just makes them look incredibly clueless.

    I tried a few weeks back in a WoW Exposed series I published to draw some legitimate comparisons of just what made the game different and more special. I strongly dislike defenders to who will chalk up the differences to nostalgia or that new car smell. No: the game is vastly different and worse in more ways than it is better. I gave my best shot at drawing out those distinctions.

    I think the differences youre relating here have to do with how much more hardcore the game became. It does start to look like the game was being designed for hardcore raiders. All the things which made the game easier and dumber are great features if youre a recruiting officer from a top guild. But these features also stripped away the things that built the community and which made the game so successful.

    • Syl

      “All the things which made the game easier and dumber are great features if youre a recruiting officer from a top guild.”

      I’ve been questioning this bottom line for a while, but by now I find myself more and more agreeing with it, especially in the context of this topic.

      yet, I still wonder: why would hardcore raiders want an LFD? they have time enough to find/run with their own guild groups. and why would they need the easy/welfare/badge epics? or do we need to look at these two as consequences of the changed game? …

    • Rauxis

      >In a nutshell, they have been designing an increasingly anti-social game. Not really sure why, but I hope theyre at least aware

      I’d bet they know – and IMHO the reason is there are far more anti social players around then social. Even when leveling a DPS – and keeping her completely separated from guild – I never had problems finding a group throughout TBC and LK. It might have taken some effort, but it worked – and I never had the XYZ&$% events from LFG.

      LFG tremendously increased the number of people in instances (GC gloated about it), same way LFR did. And obviously Blizz thinks the only way to get business nowadays is this market.

      Rauxis, chosen of CAT

  2. Ironyca

    Great post Syl, I largely agree.
    You mention heroics as pre-screening, I’ve had my own difficulties with learning new classes and class roles in group situations. LFD groups are not the most tolerating bunch when you’re trying to learn, there’s no room for this. As you rightly point out, the “training” part of the game is extremely weak, and it’s not only heroics, also leveling is a complete joke these days.

    • Syl

      Thanks Ironyca! indeed, I just find it so bizarre, how you have these weak selection and preparation mechanisms on one side and then the over-focused raid encounters on the other. I’m all for hard lines in raids, but they need to be summary; they need to let teams work the ‘how’ out among themselves.
      I wonder after all, if it’s true that “the hardcores” of WoW are to “blame” – is it them on both accounts who wanted faster/trivial leveling and harder raiding – did Blizzard actually listen to that particular, minority group alone (as is currently again a topic in the blogosphere)?

    • Klepsacovic

      Hardcore players might want the trivial leveling if they’re thinking narrowly. If you’re rerolling or switching to other characters, then a fast-leveling, fast-gearing game is great. This gives them greater flexibility, but it comes at the cost of weakening the pool of players to choose from, teaching new players different expectations for behavior and rewards.

  3. Rohan

    I actually think you have cause and effect backwards. The guilds changed first in late Vanilla/TBC, especially the high-end, and Blizzard responded by changing the raid game to match the guilds.

    The real culprit, in my mind, is server transfers. I wrote a post back in 2007, called The Consolidation of Talent. And I think that a lot of problems in current WoW have resulted from the fact that many high end, dedicated players coalesced into fewer guilds and servers that required an ever-increasing level of challenge.

    • Stumps

      “And I think that a lot of problems in current WoW have resulted from the fact that many high end, dedicated players coalesced into fewer guilds and servers that required an ever-increasing level of challenge.”
      I don’t think this is true entirely Rohan, at least I mean to say it wasn’t representative of my experiences anyways ;)
      One of the biggest problems on the server that Syl and I were based on was the exact opposite. Every man and his brother had to have their own separate “raid guild”. We had them popping up ten to the dozen, especially in WotLK. It meant we had so many guilds with half-formed teams and which was incredibly frustrating for us from a recruitment perspective.
      Everybody ofc has the right to create their own little home with their own ethos(I’m not so arrogant as to believe otherwise). It was just a sign of the beginning of the end for me (with the benefit of hindsight) – people would rather go it alone than jump into the middle of an established community and take a chance.

    • Masith

      Isn’t the point that Rohan is making that the average skill level of players in the best guilds increased because they could recruit from the entire EU/US rather than just their server.
      I am an officer in one of the only 25man alliance guilds still playing on your old server Stumps and we almost never recruit from the server anymore.
      The level of players we require to stay at our current progression just don’t exist/apply to us from the server. The vast majority of the guilds that popped up during WotLK did not contain large numbers of the highend dedicated players Rohan is talking about.

    • Stumps

      It is part of the same issue Masith. There were some really decent players in some of those guilds, and a good few with potential too. It made for a really fractured sense of raiding on the server and lead to exactly what you are saying, guilds having to cross-server recruit. I certainly agree with Rohan that server transfer played a big part and I’d throw faction transfer in under the same heading too. Stormrage definitely had a mass of people who took up the option to defect from alliance to horde when the option presented itself.

  4. Syl

    Cheers Rohan! that adds yet another angle, I’ll head to that link now.
    I currently am still searching for more consistence in the whole argument, indeed. some of it is quite difficult to reproduce or connect correctly, also depending on one’s own memories and background.

  5. Nils

    Didn’t I make the point many months ago that WoW had been made by and for the hardcore? The trivial leveling game is one result of this – just like some super-difficult raids and these badge systems and the super-boring tier T+1 system; essentially everything which has been changed since early WotLK.

    • Syl

      You did! am aware of that and for these two aspects, it works.
      however, some still doesn’t add up for me. as I already asked elsewhere, why would hardcore raiders want an LFD? they have time enough to find/run with their own guild groups?

      and why would they need the easy/welfare/badge epics? why would they want easier raid accessibility? these are factors that are at most, minor inconveniences to a hc player, but benefit casual players more (?) like everything that basically enabled more solo or casual play (which hc players don’t care for).

    • Stabs

      Two great things about a LFD tool for hardcore raiders.

      1) these guys play a lot and sometimes at odd times. Even in a hardcore guild there may only be 2 of you on at 5 in the morning.

      2) Running new talent through stale old instances to gear them up is no longer the job of the guild’s handful of expert tanks. Yes, I’m looking at you Heroic Slave Pens!

    • Rohan

      I think that contention might work better if we looked at the different levels of the hardcore. For example:

      Vanilla/TBC was designed by and for Royalty guilds. The absolute top guilds.

      Wrath/Cataclysm was designed by and for Gentry/Aristocracy guilds. Good, dedicated extended players, but not the best. This segment is the segment that benefited most from 10-mans, badge gear, normal/hard mode split, etc.

      Imo, I still think the contention is wrong, but I think the above is a more logical way to look at it.

    • Syl

      @Stabs

      These seem to be advantages yes, but more of a side-effect nature? I doesn’t really convince me that hardcores were the ones to actively ask for LFD, even if they can always find some pros there too.

      it’s players with smaller playtime who generally want faster grouping tools or alternative ways to obtain gear (outside raids). there’s that side too, where hardcore raiders actually suffer from worse pre-selection for their own recruitment process.

  6. Azuriel

    I think the problem is the never-questioned premise that raiding SHOULD be the endgame that millions of disparate players are funneled into. Less than a fifth of the playerbase raids, at all, no matter how easy or accessible it is. What are the other 80% doing? Why is content not being developed for them? Even LFR is considered “widely used” at ~30-40%.

    The article itself was good… as long as you acknowledge that a tight-knit community means “not many people playing.” If you’re fine with small communities, if you’re fine not being able to play your MMO on your own schedule, if you’re fine with being stuck with what’s available and never anything more, then… okay. Just know the production values you are used to will not be high, and the MMO of your choice could shut down at a moment’s notice. You can have that, if you want.

    Me? I’d prefer the “community” to include only people I place there intentionally, and otherwise have the freedom to do some anonymous grouping when my friends aren’t online.

  7. Syl

    I’m not really talking about preferring hardcore, close-knit teams though. to me, the main issue is the contradiction which hits most raiders atm. there are two solutions to it – create more hoops early, or alternatively make raiding more lenient again. vanilla had both and in many ways it was the more player friendly approach, with less selective raiding. it was still demanding enough though, because the challenge in 40mans consisted of other, more team-oriented aspects.

    if you don’t want the hoops because of (faster, easier) access, you should at least tune raids down, to fit the more trivial leveling game. they could still do that for Cataclysm or future WoW; the only one really upset about it would be the hardcore minority (for which you could make proper heroic modes imo).

    It’s a fair point about questioning the main endgame premise, too.

  8. Saga

    I’ve thought a lot about the big jump from leveling (and even dungeons while leveling) compared to raiding, and how there’s really no way for truly new players to make that jump with any kind of experience. Sure, if they do enough Heroics they might do LFR – but it’s not much more than a glorified Heroic dungeon and doesn’t really teach you either. It’s a bit too lenient at times, while I realise it probably has to be to allow 25 random strangers to complete it.

    I look a lot at my dad and his wife. They started playing WoW a couple of years back now, and they never set foot in a raid, not even in a Heroic dungeon. The reason? They don’t feel that they have any idea what to do. Nothing in the game while they were leveling has taught them about it. You can’t even learn your class’ rotations without going outside of the game and onto a website. Sure, they could probably jump into some 85 dungeons and give it a go – but risking the abuse of players calling them “noobs”, since there is no repercussion to being a jerk to people that you will hardly ever see again.

    Regarding the raiding, I can recognise my own guild when you do the split between the different kinds of players. In a 40 man guild, it was okay to carry some of the raiders, because you had others to make up for it. In 25 man it’s still possible, but on a much smaller scale (I’m thinking you might manage to carry 1-3, depending on the encounter.. but some encounters none). In 10 man in current content.. it’s practically impossible to carry someone, because there’s so few of you that losing 1 person will hurt the fight considerably, losing two and it’s a wipe.

    I feel that in my guild after going from 25 to 10 man (not due to really wanting to as much as we just never had the people for 25s anymore), we’re now a bit “stuck” with some of the lower end players. Great people. But not awesome raiders. I’m not saying that I’m awesome, I’m not necessarily top dps or top healer or top anything.. but I learn from my mistakes and I’ll generally not be found dying to fire etc.

    We have people in my guild who would die to the same mechanic over and over and over again. What do you do about that? The recruitment pool is tiny these days, we’re not a top guild which means there’s another million or so guilds exactly like us. How do we get the players that we need? And also, do you really want to kick the people who fail, even if they’ve been a member of your guild for years and are good people? Or do you just deal with the unnecessary wipes.. grin and bear it?

    Sorry, I’m rambling now. I will put an end to my comment here since I tend to go off on a tangent.

    In short, I think this is a very interesting topic, and I agree with a lot of what you said.

  9. Syl

    Not rambling :) – you’re really confirming everything I experienced and assume about WoW right now. I left the game when we were about to be forced to give up 25mans in Cata, recruitment had become that bad. I would’ve given 10man a shot, but only if it meant we’d create the most top notch team for it – because as you say, there’s no other option anymore. if you have a mixed 10man group it’s impossible to retain the speed you might wish for. these are all such unhappy choices, especially for casual to top midlevel raiders.

    You’ve actually also reminded me that I presented the LFD problem too one-sided; it’s not just jerks getting away with anything in there, but honestly dedicated players ending up with jerks who won’t teach them one thing and offer zero valuable feedback for their individual progress! even if you care to learn your play, it’s hard finding that through LFD (how often will you also end up in ‘gogogo-groups’ that won’t allow you to experiment with all your class abilities properly..).

  10. The Renaissance Man

    The thing I disagree with is the notion that a group “needs” sub par players because of their social qualities. Personality and skill are two separate qualities. There are good players who are bad people, there are bad players who are good people, and everything in between. This isn’t Zatoichi, people don’t gain some mystical insight by being unable to push a button on Ultraxion. While there are often situations where it’s beneficial for the group to take an inferior player who meshes well with the group personality wise over a superior player who’s disruptive to the group, I can’t think of a single reason why you would take a person of inferior ability if all other things were equal.

    • Syl

      I agree with that; which is why I stressed too that such group distinctions and player labels are problematic. :) I don’t say that the good players can’t be fun – nor that you should try find bad players for the sake of it. But it should be possible to keep some bad players in a normal guild, for sake of other qualities. I also hold to what I said about knowing your weak links, and how they indirectly also establish the top players. It’s all connected.

    • The Renaissance Man

      But do you really need to establish who the best player in a group is? Or who the worst is, as long as the group is raiding successfully? I don’t believe so. So long as the raid leadership can accurately determine and correct the reason for a wipe, who cares if this tank had 98% uptime on Demo Shout versus that tank’s 87%? I don’t need an inferior tank in my group just to prove to myself that I’m a good tank, heck I’d prefer to have as good a co-tank as possible so that I’m not always having to run the high pressure assignments every night.

      As for being able to keep bad players on the roster, the question that matters is exactly how bad is reasonable? Are we talking about someone with a 50% success rate at a given task? A raid with four players with a 40% success rate each? If you’re assigning interrupts to a rogue who only hits his assignment 10% of the time, is it reasonable to expect to down the boss? There are some players who are too bad to clear an encounter that provides any sort of entertainment to even the average player. There’s 3.5% of guilds currently raiding who are incapable of downing normal mode Morchok. Are we going to set the bar low enough for them to jump over? How bad is too bad?

    • Klepsacovic

      The idea is that the success rate of the bad player isn’t relevant anymore. We don’t need to assign interrupts to a bad rogue, because we only need one interrupter, and there is a good rogue to take that duty. We don’t need the bad players to get out of the fire in a tenth of a second or in ten seconds, because they can only kill themselves. If you recall the Heigan dance, imagine a scenario where that same dance exists, but only one player needs to be able to do it: at the start of the fight they pick up some buff, let’s call it “Slime Target”, so they only they are able to get hit by slime, so as long as they can successfully avoid the slime, the raid is safe. The bad players don’t need a 10%, 50%, or 99% success rate; instead just one player needs a success rate, perhaps in this case of 100%; but it’s easier to find and keep a single high-performing player than two dozen moderate-high performing players.

    • The Renaissance Man

      So you’re asking for raid content to be so easy as to be soloable? There hasn’t been a raid encounter requiring an interrupt rotation since Nefarian, and in the overwhelming majority of mechanics, the only person they can kill is themselves. They implemented a single player must succeed mechanic on several fights. Putricide and Foe Reaper being key among them, but they still required other people to be at least competent.

      The fight you’re describing is Heigan for the tank, and Patchwerk for everyone else. The only way you could make that sort of encounter even remotely challenging would be to make it a gear check, and a raid of nothing but gear checks is boring.

    • Klepsacovic

      The other players cannot be incompetent (I believe raiding should be more difficult than current soloing), but they would have roles which challenger their ability to play their class, with proper rotations, gearing, all the sort of things players learn naturally while leveling. The majority of players would not need to know raid-specific tactics beyond “don’t stand behind the dragon”. This doesn’t make the fight “so easy as to be soloable”, but it does mean that for a significant portion of the players, it won’t be a huge step up from a new heroic 5-man.

      The encounter isn’t meant to be ‘challenging’ to all the players. That’s the problem with fights these days, they try to challenge everyone, so bad players, whether friends or strangers, have to be aggressively weeded out. That’s not good for a community.

      You might also be falling into the trap of measuring challenge by the number of wipes. If I have to play at 100% to beat a fight, but I get it after just a few tries, then it is challenging. If I have to play at 75% but it takes me a hundred tries because a bunch of 50% skill players keep screwing up, am I being challenged, or just held back?

  11. The Renaissance Man

    The problem is that the current leveling system teaches players absolutely nothing, because nothing is threatening in leveling content, and without the threat of failure, people burn through leveling content without learning the intended lessons. There are quests as early as level 12 designed to teach players to step out of void zones and how to LoS threatening abilities. These quests are repeated again in Deepholme for players who didn’t go through the lower levels since the revamp. But because the damage done by the training abilities is trivial, most people simply muscle through the quests without learning anything.

    As for the difficulty relative to five mans, every encounter in five mans, save Corla and Foe reaper, are easily two mannable by a competent tank and a competent healer. One of the primary reasons why DPS get a bad rep in 5 mans and are treated as expendable members of the group is because that’s exactly what they are in 5 man content, unnecessary and easily replaceable.

    As for your scenario, while the former might be more challenging on an individual basis, this is not an individual event. For a raid group, the latter scenario is always more challenging. Gothik was more challenging than Heigan in Naxx. A tank could miss a pickup and still have the raid recover on Gothik. If the tank didn’t dance properly on Heigan, the group wiped. However, there were many more moving parts on Gothik, CCs, kill orders, and pacing. On Heigan, literally everyone except the tank and a healer were expendable, they only existed to make Heigan’s inevitable defeat go by quicker. Gothik was considered one of the most challenging encounters in the instance, Heigan was considered a loot pinata, well, for the guilds that had a tank with two feet at least.

    The entire purpose of raiding is that it’s content that requires 10 or 25 players to defeat at appropriate levels. When you boil it down to the point where one player playing at a high level can compensate for unlimited amounts of failure from his fellow raiders, you’re no longer raiding, you’re bringing some friends along for some very expensive solo farming.

    • Klepsacovic

      Leveling content is too easy. That is not something I disagree with.

      I’m not suggested that skilled players should be able to compensate for unlimited amounts of failure. If they all die, we’ll lose the DPS race, either by an enrage, healers OOM, or some other mechanic. If they have too little damage, a few good players cannot boost them entirely. I’m not suggesting that 5 good people can carry 20 complete idiots, but that 5 can carry 18 okay players and a couple idiots.

    • The Renaissance Man

      Enough failure in a group can and should overwhelm even the best players. Ok, now that we agree on that, we’re just working on tuning at this point.

      In my opinion, at a basic gear progression, meaning normal mode gear going into either heroic mode or the next tier’s normal modes, it’s not unreasonable for the fights to be tuned such that you need everybody alive for the bulk of the fight and average performance in terms of DPS and HPS output. There’s the 1-3 battle rezes + ankhs to cover learning mistakes, but if 20% of your raid faceplants the first Hour of Twilight on Ultraxion, I feel that it’s appropriate that unless the rest of your group are significantly above average players, the group should hit the enrage and wipe. In my experience, that’s how raids have been tuned on normal mode since the beginning of Wrath.

      I also feel that there are already positions of increased responsibility incorporated into raid design. Those are the tanks and the main healer. You can afford to have some subpar DPS in these encounters, at least on normal mode. You can’t afford to have a tank who can’t get out of the slime on Morchok. You can kill Morchok normal with a rogue doing 9k DPS. If one of those “idiots” is your main tank, then your raid has set itself up for failure from the beginning, it’s akin to the one man dance that you mentioned in a previous comment, only you’re intentionally selected someone who can’t dance to be the guy who holds the fate of the raid in his hands.

      Every raid will have “that guy”, the question from a design perspective is “Just how bad can we let ‘that guy’ be, and how many can a raid sustain?” There are completely blind people who are raiding normal modes successfully, and there are still 3.5% of guilds that can’t down normal mode Morchok. That’s how big of a disparity in ability we’re talking about, there are perfectly healthy players who are crushed by content that a blind player finds trivial, that many guilds one shotted the first day with multiple players disconnected. How many AFKers and players of the lowest caliber should a group be capable of carrying before your survey your raid team and realize that you’ve constructed a slightly more polite lfr group?

    • Delurm

      Interesting discussion – but I’ve seen plenty of times where ‘that guy’ is only ‘that guy’ on a specific fight – in the next one he’s the f’n A-bomb that can do the best.

      Why have mechanics that screw the raid or ‘that guy’ if they screw up. A mistake should be able to be overcome – and (in my experience) this used to be the case.

      If someone misses a cooldown or makes a mistake – it’s *heroic* when the A+ guy can handle a recovery – instead the guy who forgot to move blows up the entire raid – reset and start again just makes everyone grumble.

      In Wrath… I always felt like the 10 mans were *much* more difficult – but that’s because one person screwing up usually meant a wipe. In the 25′s…. 3-4 people could screw up and we could overcome.

      The ’3-4′ people is the wiggle room any encounter needs to feel like it’s a good fight.

      But that’s just my opinion – letting the A+ guy feel badass and the C+ guy belong can co-exist without making the encounter gimp.

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