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A Mythic Raider Speaks Out – The Current Issues With Raiding In World of Warcraft

Community Council Member and Raid Lead from the renowned Guild Nascent has now spoken out in a lengthy post about the issues that Blizzard refuses to change about Raiding in World of Warcraft.
Home » Dragonflight » A Mythic Raider Speaks Out – The Current Issues With Raiding In World of Warcraft

A Mythic Raider Speaks Out – The Current Issues With Raiding In World of Warcraft

Community Council Member and Raid Lead from the renowned Guild Nascent has now spoken out in a lengthy post about the issues that Blizzard refuses to change about Raiding in World of Warcraft.

You can find the original post here in the official World of Warcraft Forums.

Dobi, the creator of this post and also Community Council Member has given a quick information about himself and his current situation.

I’m Dobi, the guild master of Nascent. I’ve raided at a high level in every tier of WoW outside Mists of Pandaria. I was there farming Molten Core 52 times the first year it came out, and I’m still here farming Mythic Amirdrassil. Our guild has been raiding at the top 100 level for a few expansions now. We also do it at a very modest 9 hours per week.

Highlights of Dobi's Post

  • Private Auras were an attempt to curb mechanic trivialization by limiting what can automatically be solved with a Weakaura. However a key consideration was overlooked in doing so: quite often a programmatic solution has been a requirement, because of how encounters have been designed (while the interface has remained stagnant).
  • Need to spread six 25 yard bombs in 6 seconds on Neltharion? Good luck self-organizing without any tools.

On this point, many players have agreed that Blizzard has implemented these Private Auras just to counteract the use of Addons like WeakAuras, but over-develop Boss mechanics in a way that cannot be solved without the use of these Addons (Example: Aszhara in Eternal Palace)

  • But as we know… the core of any encounter is your interface. This is where Blizzard has too long relied on the community. They started to remedy this in Dragonflight, but have a long way to go, especially for encounters. Default raid frames are still inadequate for many classes (especially Augmentation). They need more customizability and they need to be performant (so we aren’t relying on addons that aren’t). Party frames are in the same bucket. Friendly NPC nameplates are clunky and don’t work well enough. Blizzard should continue developing more types of frames to reduce some of the need for WeakAuras.

While Blizzard has made efforts this expansion to fix their standard Interface, they still have a long way to go. Especially for new players it should not be mandatory to use third-party software in order to keep up with Boss Mechanics. Blizzard should look into these areas and adapt to these.

  • We acquire gear, and some small amount of power from the farm, but nothing that meaningfully “nerfs” the content over time.
  • Additionally the ilvl jump between tiers is a contributing factor. There used to be a benefit in that if we farmed full BiS it would give us a small advantage in the next tier (particularly in heroic and beginning of mythic). That doesn’t really exist anymore. Instead what exists is an endless M+ farming session the first week of the tier that replaces everything but our tier sets (if they were tuned well). This is pretty toxic frankly. It feels really bad to put in months of farming effort for it to only be useful in clearing higher keys slightly sooner.

 

Due to the introduction of Mythic Keystone Dungeons, the rewards in especially Mythic Raid have been fallen off, often times making gear from dungeons or crafting to be more desirable then farming the Raid. While this atleast gives players that do not participate in raiding a chance to keep up with their gear, the question remains if there should or shouldnt be a difference in rewards for players completing the highest difficulty. 

  • I have been saying for months (possibly years) that the ONLY solution to split raiding is to cap the ilvl inside of raids to the previous tiers ilvl to start with. It also solves the degenerate M+ spam simultaneously. If player power is acquirable, it will be maximized to the point of ruining the fun of the game.

Split-Raiding is a method used by the top guilds in this world in order to acquire gear and funnel them towards one player in order to equip them faster. This requires all raid members to play several characters that can funnel this gear to their colleagues. 

Full Post of Dobi from the WoW Forums

The pace and structure of raids

As WoW has transitioned to the seasonal model, there has been an inherent move towards a homogenous content candace and structure. This is most obvious at the expansion level, which even Ion recently said is “the typical 4 zones, 8 dungeons, and 1 raid”. I don’t think this is a bad thing, but I also don’t believe it’s a good thing. Why is that?

It’s too predictable. I also believe it inhibits innovation and creativity. Creativity in what respect? Perhaps that the lore need not always fit a single size of content, and in doing so lead to content that while in aggregate may be a certain size (as measured by how much there is to do), but may be represented in any number of smaller sizes/shapes. Such as 3 zones, 6 dungeons, and 3 raids. Not all zones are the same size, nor is every dungeon, or every raid.

Remember when we used to get 1 or 2 boss raids? Where did those go? Why don’t they exist anymore? Why have we not seen something like SSC & TK released at the same time? Yes, we’re aiming for a ~5-6 month content model, so we have to right-size, but why not two 5 boss raids released simultaneously? Why not a Magtheridon, a Gruul’s Lair, and a 5 boss raid? The lore is so narrowly focused on a singular issue that we’ve lost that creative exploration of varied content structure. We got Crucible of the Storms back in BFA, but the timing was what really killed that raid. It was too close to the end of that tier. What if it had been released at the same time as Battle of Dazaralor (which maybe had 1 or 2 less bosses)?

If we look back at the success of Vanilla WoW we see a lot more content structure variety, and while yes those iterations of WoW weren’t seasonally focused… I can’t help but feel we’ve lost a bit of the MMO feeling by there being less variety. Does a raid have to tie into some massively important piece of lore? Or can there just be a tough dragon hanging out somewhere? Why aren’t there hard world bosses anymore? Why can’t we get a challenging world boss that isn’t in LFG?

Additionally not only is every raid just 9-11 bosses, we basically have the same set of bosses every single raid. Do we always need a patchwerk boss? Do we always need a council boss? It’s become very formulaic, which is continually less exciting or interesting.

Farm no longer provides the benefits it once did

Once upon a time the farming of a raid meant you were passively nerfing the raid every week through incremental power gains. This is no longer the case. We’ve reached about 90% of maximum power by the time we get to the last boss now (more on this in the next issue). This equates to a hard final few bosses, but also means they never get any easier on farm. We acquire gear, and some small amount of power from the farm, but nothing that meaningfully “nerfs” the content over time.

Additionally the ilvl jump between tiers is a contributing factor. There used to be a benefit in that if we farmed full BiS it would give us a small advantage in the next tier (particularly in heroic and beginning of mythic). That doesn’t really exist anymore. Instead what exists is an endless M+ farming session the first week of the tier that replaces everything but our tier sets (if they were tuned well). This is pretty toxic frankly. It feels really bad to put in months of farming effort for it to only be useful in clearing higher keys slightly sooner.

I understand the goal that we should leave the old stuff behind, but that’s only ever really been an issue for trinkets and rare items. In terms of item level, the jump between tiers is really disincentivizing farm. Farm is mostly for selling carries for gold and collecting mounts now. Sometimes we get a mount that everyone wants, but the gear? Sadly way less useful for the next tier than it used to be. This means we are often taking a 1-2 month break from the game (not inherently bad, but there is a missed opportunity to incentivize).

The tuning problem

I’ll preface this by saying it’s hard to get this right. It requires some really good testing to dial in (with players who are really good at pressing their buttons). I also think it requires a relatively good understanding of class dynamics to optimize and account for in internal testing (something I suspect is lacking).

Previously I mentioned we are getting to the ultimate or penultimate boss with roughly 90% of our potential power. This was not the case a number of years ago. Back in Nighthold after 2 months of farm Gul’dan was falling over. What’s going on now?

The big component is tier sets. Tier sets nominally are adding 10-15% (in some cases higher) to player power, and these can be gained on any difficulty. Having such a considerable jump in player power disrupts a linear difficulty curve pretty substantially. This is why during the first week of raid you may have struggled on Igira, but by the second week she is falling over without much of an issue. This naturally leads to a feeling that tuning was way under on the first several bosses, and then you’re likely to hit a wall towards the end of the raid, because tuning caught up and we’re back to relatively linear power scaling once tier sets have been acquired. This linear scaling continues on to the end of the raid.

However the tuning of the last few bosses has really been dialed up. I think this is because of the RWF. I understand the need to put on a spectacle and for those bosses to not fall over in the face of a massive gearing blitz, but it’s led to several other problems.

The most annoying problem is the reliance on nerfs. Unfortunately this appears to have become common practice. I think it should mostly stop. Here’s why:

  1. It’s frustrating. Have you ever progressed a boss, got close, and then had it nerfed the next tuesday? How did it feel? I can tell you that it feels absolutely awful. Worse yet if the nerfs forced a change of strategy and actually caused you to regress! Suddenly you were sub 10% on Tindral, and now you’re re-learning orbs and are back to wiping in P1. All that time spent and your closest competing guilds are now caught up to you.

  2. It’s unreliable. We’re hoping and praying for nerfs, and sometimes they come and other times they don’t. Or they didn’t nerf the fight in the way they should have and just made us change strategies without making the boss easier. We’re at the whims of a company who may or may not be preoccupied with their development efforts to tune a fight down to where it “should be” for the general population.

  3. It’s unnatural. Unnatural in the sense that this is not something that is simply accounted for naturally through one or more systems in the game, whether that’s farming more gear, an explicit mechanism controlled by the players, or some passive effect.

Perhaps distribute some of that tuning to the earlier bosses, and ease up on the last few a bit. It’s just too heavy on the backend. By the 2nd or 3rd boss in Mythic the expectation ought to be that most of your raid has 4pc tier (having farmed other difficulties). Historical raids that did this well: Hellfire Citadel, Nighthold, and Sepulcher (assuming better Halondrus tuning).

If we want more challenges, why are there no opt-ins? I’m going to use the classic example of hard modes from Ulduar here, because it represents an interesting contrast in design. In Ulduar you could make a fight more difficult (removing the aid of an NPC, adding a mechanic to a boss, etc) with some mechanism in the boss room. This wasn’t required to defeat the boss, but it did provide rare achievements that few would have (these could be feats of strength that can’t be acquired once the Hall of Fame closes). It could also provide additional loot as an incentive. There are many options here, and none are really being experimented with.

I believe part of the reason hard modes no longer exist is because there are a whopping four raid difficulties now, which sort of achieve something similar. We’ve traded a creative and natural mechanism in the game world for something artificial in pursuit of varied difficulty and broader access to game content. It’s not necessarily bad, but it has introduced more problems. The four raid difficulties is also what is driving those large ilvl gaps between tiers. The complexity of which bleeds into many other systems (crafting, upgrades, the vault, etc).

But the crux of the matter remains: Blizzard is trying to fit two tiers of difficulty into Mythic and it’s not working.

Raid composition has become extremely restrictive

I think this is commonly understood now, but it’s worth reiterating in the context of the other issues being outlined.

The typical retort is: well just bring the player; optimization only matters for the world first guilds. This implies it is a self-inflicted problem. Which it certainly can be. However the reality is that raids are presently tuned around such optimization. Further, because farming is so diminished in effectiveness, and the fact that we rely on nerfs… has led to guilds inevitably prescribing to what is most optimal because that is generally the easiest way to progress. Keep in mind this is in the context of progressing at a certain pace (generally Hall of Fame, but definitely top 100). If we were not reliant on nerfs and tuning was not as strict, then more flexibility would be possible. Thus if you are a guild above the top 200-300, you are unlikely to feel these issues as much, but that does not mean they are very real for hundreds of guilds.

The nature of raid buffs, debuffs, niche utility, and now multiplicative player empowerment (aug) has forced guild rosters to shrink over the last few years. This is because we generally have fewer composition changes than we have ever had. We’re rotating only a few slots. If you consider playtime equity, this means you’re not going to be able to maintain a roster of 26+ very easily anymore. People will leave because they are seeing less raid time, because we’re swapping less people. Our roster is now kept at 24 (and with this playtime equity is still often unfair).

Having backups for each role is not tenable because of gear scarcity and again, playtime equity. This further creates composition volatility (your druid is out and you don’t have MOTW) which can have a significant impact on your raid performance.

The net effect is that guilds have smaller rosters than ever before, fewer backups, and are struggling to balance playtime equity. This means guilds operate with more risks than ever. If there are unexpected outs, players quitting, or trials that don’t pan out… the guild is significantly more likely to die.

This is then all impacted by shifting balance within the game itself. Reworks tend to lead to overpowered specs that are not tuned enough going into a new tier, which then mandates we force people to re-roll. This is again, not healthy, because our roster has been forced to be so small, that we often struggle to adapt because of how rigid we are being forced to operate. This means that our players that prefer to main one thing are now feeling unnecessary pressure to re-roll.

It is more difficult than ever to operate a mythic raiding guild.

The user interface should level up

Encounter design itself has been leveling up. The bomb mechanic made famous by Halondrus, and later utilized in Fyrakk is a great example of continuing innovation. Other examples were the addition of the energy bar to encounters, player symbols (Odyn runes, Star Augur signs, Fyrakk seeds, Halondrus bombs), and animated arrows for directional beams emanating from a player (something Archimonde would have really benefited from in HFC). The ping system is additionally a great in-game system. However all of these except the encounter energy bar are improvements to the game world, not the user interface.

But as we know… the core of any encounter is your interface. This is where Blizzard has too long relied on the community. They started to remedy this in Dragonflight, but have a long way to go, especially for encounters. Default raid frames are still inadequate for many classes (especially Augmentation). They need more customizability and they need to be performant (so we aren’t relying on addons that aren’t). Party frames are in the same bucket. Friendly NPC nameplates are clunky and don’t work well enough. Blizzard should continue developing more types of frames to reduce some of the need for WeakAuras.

We still fundamentally rely on timer addons like Bigwigs/DBM when Blizzard could be adding more intuitive elements to the interface to help players keep track of timing in the fight or anticipate mechanics. Often this is crudely derived from an energy bar on a boss unit. Other times it’s derived from analyzing log timings. It’s time to level up the interface and do better for your players.

As encounter complexity has increased (choreography, assignments) the community has been forced to develop solutions to facilitate the ever-increasing complexity of strategy. This is the WeakAuras problem. WeakAuras themselves are not the problem, to be clear. That add-on is adding much needed functionality that Blizzard for so long has not bothered to implement into their base game over the last 20 years. Blizzard has been spoiled by the addon community. It’s time for Blizzard to pay that back to the community and improve the user interface in a more meaningful way, especially for encounters.

Private Auras were an attempt to curb mechanic trivialization by limiting what can automatically be solved with a Weakaura. However a key consideration was overlooked in doing so: quite often a programmatic solution has been a requirement, because of how encounters have been designed (while the interface has remained stagnant).

Need to spread six 25 yard bombs in 6 seconds on Neltharion? Good luck self-organizing without any tools. Need to assign 20 players around Fyrakk for bombs based on a random color assignment in 6 seconds? Good luck self-organizing without any tools.

Nothing was added to the user interface to help us, and we’re expected to wing it for such punishing coordination checks? Focus the development effort on providing us tools to do what you expect us to. You can’t introduce Private Auras and make no improvements to the user interface.

A note on legendaries

The acquisition of legendaries has been subject to a lot of criticism. I think the two legendaries in Dragonflight really haven’t felt legendary at all. Personally I believe these items need to be more difficult to build (potentially taking weeks), but easier to begin building. Really what makes an item legendary is the activities that went into building it. Historically items like Shadowmourne and Tarecgosa felt truly legendary.

The biggest issue with acquisition currently is even starting the journey has a miniscule drop rate (discounting the bad luck system for a moment). If the start quest is more accessible, then people can make incremental progress (even if just a tiny amount) and will make it less frustrating because at least they are making some progress.

Higher difficulty raids dropping more materials for the legendary is a nice incentive to push folks into harder content and reward those doing it, so I would love to see that kept around.

In terms of balance I think it’s ideal for them to be powerful (perhaps around a 10% power boost), but I don’t believe any spec should be tuned around the assumption they will get the legendary. That way it’s only a bonus and not a necessity to have it. In season 2 the evoker legendary was powerful, but devastation was also powerful without it.

Lastly I think incorporating professions with crafting has been a great way to involve your guild/community in the making of a legendary and would love to see something like this kept around too.

In summary

If you’re still reading this… my apologies for the length. There was a lot to cover (and there are still adjacent concerns that I’ve intentionally left out, like the state of Augmentation).

The intent here is to hopefully see improvements in raiding, as it has become stale and systemic issues have crept in that not only limit the potential for raiding, but threaten the guilds & communities that wish to keep engaging in this form of content.

P.S. Please re-work Brewmaster, Windwalker, and Augmentation.

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