I’m of course late on this news, but this is more of an outlet for opinion than news. For those of you who haven’t heard, SK Gaming brought down Kil’Jaeden on Monday. So far, nine guilds have managed the feat (not including those who have not been updated on WoWProgress). SK has already posted a video of their kill. Nihilum came in third, losing their crown as the top raiding guild. And some members of Nihilum are a little bitter about it. I suppose that’s to be expected when you’re trying to retain sponsorships.
Reading Grandeath’s opinion, I agree with some of it. But there are also some points of contention.
[Nihilum] as a guild aim for world firsts all the time. And this time we failed – and it sucks! Just like it sucked for Jesse to fail with his car project. And I for one would love to take a minigun and pump the Sunwell full of bullets until there’s nothing left but a burning corpse.
This is akin to my guild having lost the server first to Illidan after achieving server firsts on every single boss in SSC, TK, Hyjal and BT, except Lurker and Illidan. What was so disappointing was the fact that we were so far ahead on our Archimonde kill, too. Lurker was no big deal. You could do the bosses in SSC in any order, except for Vashj. So it’s no surprise someone beat us on at least one boss in there. However, Illidan was rather a big deal. But then we considered exactly how we killed Illidan. Basically, the story goes as follows:
We had a good amount of practice on Illidan and felt we could achieve a kill that very week. It was just a matter of when we would obtain it. The second-place guild was also close to a kill, so it had become a race. One of our warrior tanks had become burned out on tanking and WoW in general, so he was unavailable to tank for us. That left us with three possible tanks: a protection paladin, a protection warrior, and a feral druid. The fact that we decided not to recruit more tanks while we were still pushing attunements a couple months before left us in a problematic position when it came time to push Illidan.
What compounded the problem, however, was that our paladin had stated that he would be crittable in his FR gear. And we believed this would have been certain death for a flame tank (especially because paladins hadn’t received their stamina buff yet, at the time). So what did we do? We decided to have him tank Illidan. At this point, while a protection paladin had tanked an Illidan kill before, none had tanked a guild’s progression kill before.
So we had some frustration regarding tank death on transitions between demon and human form in phase 3/4/5 (the “human/demon” and then “human/demon/trap” phases). The most problematic transition was that at 30%, when everyone is put in a bubble and all HoTs on the tank drop. This caused Teckbot to die a few times, due to a lack of last stand, LoH being on CD, etc. So the result? We lost the server first. We were beaten by an hour. However, we did obtain a world first by achieving a progression kill with a paladin tanking.
That said, after the kill had been accomplished, we realized Teck forgot to factor resilience into his crit calculations. So he actually would have been uncrittable as a flame tank. And this would have allowed us to use a protection warrior as the optimal tank for Illidan. And I’m rather confident we could have obtained the server first on him had we done this. But we didn’t, so this error in judgment and caused us to become the server’s second best guild at the time.
The above was not the only mistake we made, however. We also allowed poor players to retain their position within our raid. And we made some errors in our approach to recruitment. We should have recruited more people before ceasing our attunement efforts, giving us more bodies to allow us to persist all the way through the end of the content. We should have immediately gone back to TK and SSC when one of our tanks expressed a declining interest in tanking, instead of waiting until after Illidan was dead.
However, when I look back on it in retrospect, this fact runs through my mind: We were the first known guild in the world to achieve our progression kill with a protection paladin tanking. And this was back when paladins didn’t have as much stamina as they do now. That’s a big fucking deal! So, yes, failing sucks. But you should be able to come out of an experience with at least some positive notes.
“Like Butter Scraped Over Too Much Bread”
I see what you did there. A quote straight out of The Lord of the Rings.
From the first day Sunwell was released until Kil’jaeden was dead it took exactly 2 months. And how long did it take exactly to kill the bosses? It took 11 days total for all 6 bosses to go down for the first guild. 1 day to kill first three, 2 days to kill Twins, 4 days to kill M’uru and 4 days to kill Kil’jaeden. 11 days. 11 days of progress spread out over 2 months. A very dissapointing and boring experience. And as I’ve said before to the guild (and I know others feel the same): if the gate system or anything similar will be a part of future high end instances then I will go casual. It’s simply not worth it.
I agree that the gate system was unnecessary. The only fathomable reason I can devise for the gates’ existence was because Blizzard wanted to reduce the impact RNG mechanics of loot can have on a raid’s performance. Imagine a guild obtaining nothing but DPS gear for every single kill in their first weeks of Sunwell raiding. No doubt, if the guild was skilled and driven enough, they would have had the best shot at killing M’uru first. However, even with the gate system, the effects of RNG will still play their part.
The only way Blizzard could absolutely eliminate the effects of RNG is if bosses dropped the same loot every single time they died. This would likely mean a full-out token system in every regard. But reducing the looting system to nothing but tokens would likely cause the metagame factor of loot to be diminished. I know all of my healers get excited every time Memento of Tyrande drops. But, at the same time, it would likely cause the highlight of PvE to become the content itself, instead of loot. Blizzard seems to have compromised on this issue, and I’m not really sure which is better than the other.
Regardless, I think the gate system was unnecessary. RNG mechanics will factor in regardless, whether it’s loot, lag, or simply players having bad nights.
“The Hardest Instance So Far”
Even though they are hard and they have new mechanics or elements not seen before, how challenging were they really? While bosses get harder, guilds get better as well. Kil’jaeden went down in 4 days for the first guild, 6 days for Nihilum. Even though it’s a hard boss I can’t say I’m impressed. Also I’m dissapointed since I was hoping the fight would be more complicated, but even though it has multiple phases, it’s a pretty simple encounter. There’s only one phase in the fight that is really hard. Trust me, that phase is hard. :) But if you ace it, you basically win. Just as with other Sunwell fights like M’uru and Twins, everyone in the raid needs to ace his performance. One death most likely means a wipe. To sum it up, Sunwell is indeed a hard instance, but still a very dissapointing experience.
My opinion is the exact opposite. Not that I have fully experienced M’uru, and I certainly haven’t experienced Kil’Jaeden at all. But I’m speaking as someone who considers himself to be a good player in a great guild, however not as someone in a guild that spends nearly as much time as SK Gaming or Nihilum does on progression. I don’t raid sixteen hours a day until something is dead. Rather, I raid five hours for four days a week. That’s twenty hours a week total. We did add one Tuesday to our schedule in the first week of Sunwell’s release, but that’s been it so far. We might do that again when Kil’Jaeden is close to dying, but it’s too much to ask for certain key members of the guild to do it more often.
So, basically, my guild raids each week for about as much time as SK Gaming and Nihilum does in less than two days of progress. The equivalent of the four days spent for SK Gaming is about three and one-fifth weeks for my guild. And that doesn’t include the fact that we have to kill the first four bosses of Sunwell three more times to do that. Nor does it factor in the skill difference between SK Gaming and my own guild, which is more than likely very large. So that four days for SK Gaming actually turns into several weeks and several repeat kills of earlier bosses for us. So while it’s butter scraped over too much bread for a small handful of guilds, it’s certainly not for us. And that leaves me with an actual feeling of satisfaction, rather than disappointment. While Nihilum waited nine months for a short amount of content and the loss of their number one spot, my guild waited six for what has been, thus far, an extremely exciting and rewarding experience.
And regarding the difficulty, let’s consider insanely difficult console games. A small handful of players will play and play and play until that final boss is finally defeated. But most others will likely give up and simply obtain satisfaction merely in having tried. But the key point is that the decision is made to give up and move on. The root problem is that WoW isn’t a console game, and Blizzard can’t treat it like one. When a player gives up in WoW, it’s very bad news for Blizzard. It means a loss in revenue for server upkeep. It means Blizzard will have to eventually utilize manpower and resources to merge servers and downsize the operation of WoW, as players give up and leave. And you have to consider the fact that there are already guilds falling apart merely over the Eredar Twins. And while I don’t think they should be nerfed, I think it would be a mistake making encounters absolutely impossible for all but, say 0.01% of the population. At least Blizzard shouldn’t do so until they consciously decide the game is reaching the end of its life cycle. Not all guilds can ace encounters as well as those that have now killed Kil’Jaeden.
The only justification I can then see for making insanely difficult 25-man fights is the fact that the raid content will also have 10-man versions in Wrath of the Lich King. Instead of the 10-man instances being entirely different and separate from 25-man, there will be both versions for each raid dungeon. Defeating such content and experiencing the story is much more manageable, as it’s considerably easier to put in extra time on 10-man content for a 25-man guild. And Blizzard can choose to simply make the 10-man versions easier. But the 25-man content could still potentially frustrate some guilds, so you have to question whether or not its worth it. But I do think Arthas should be slightly more difficult than the avatar of Kil’Jaeden.
“Blizzard vs Raiders”
9 months of nothing after Black Temple and Sunwell is what you deliver… Very dissapointing from the endgame raider’s point of view. 6 bosses. Compare that to when MH/BT were released – 5 bosses in Mount Hyjal, 9 bosses in Black Temple, 14 bosses in total, more than twice the amount of Sunwell.
The quality of the encounters in Hyjal and BT was relatively diminished compared to Sunwell. For Sunwell, it seems to me that five of the six encounters are top notch (I don’t like the Twins, so I’m not going to include it; though K’J is just a guess). For Hyjal and BT, I think only Archimonde, Teron, Gurtogg, Shahraz, and Illidan come close to being high in quality. But in terms of difficulty? They don’t come close to Sunwell. I think Brutallus is more difficult than Illidan. Hell, I think the first killable version of Kael’thas was more difficult, even. So Sunwell, as a whole, is of much higher quality, in my opinion. Better I wait nine months for that than six months for another Hyjal and BT.
I think the fact of the matter remains that raiders are going to defeat content faster than Blizzard can simply produce it. And faster production lowers the quality. It would be similar to asking Nintendo to put out a new Zelda game every six months, because players beat each in the first week or two. It’s just simply not going to happen. And I’d rather have a quality experience every nine months than a terrible experience every few. I know some people will disagree, but it’s funny considering people complained how BT was relatively easy and called for something more difficult. And now that something more difficult and higher in quality has been produced, people are complaining about the time it took to produce it. It’s a huge cliché, but: “You can’t please everyone.”
Some people might say that this is QQ from elitist raiders, that Blizzard is right about caring more for the majority of players that don’t raid Sunwell and spending time on developing for them instead.
But in my opinion the top raiders are needed in many ways. There’s a strong culture around it. There are a lot of players out there who might only do low end instances but are interested in top guilds, look up to them and hope that one day they can join a top guild.
The keyword is hope. There’s how many spots for how many people? Very few spots for tons and tons of people. No matter how easy or difficult the content is, people will always look up to the top guilds, regardless of who they are and who quits. When Death and Taxes ceased to be number one, people started looking up to Nihilum. And just as Nihilum is no longer number one, people now look up to SK Gaming. When and if SK Gaming falls apart, people will find a new top guild to look up to, regardless of who at the top quits or becomes frustrated.
If Blizzard destroys the competitive high end PVE culture in WoW, they will destroy more than they think and indirectly they will lose more players than the minority that does high end PvE, trust me.
I don’t think there’s anything they can do to destroy it other than to make every single instance as easy and boring as, say, Molten Core. As long as the content is at least somewhat decent in quality and there’s a guild willing to go the distance to be number one, it will never die. People might note their surprise and disappointment about how quickly the content was defeated, but the fact of the matter is that people will still follow whoever the top guild is through that content.