Blizzcon 2008: Day Two Recap

Disclaimer

Again, I’d like to note I am not a member of the press. I did not feel obligated to cover Blizzcon in an informative manner. I had originally planned to attend every panel and report new and relevant information, but knowing it would be broadcast on DirectTV and WCRadio, I decided not to sacrifice my individual enjoyment of the convention. Furthermore, after day one, I realized there was hardly anything new to be said of WoW given how close Wrath is to being released.

Day Two of Blizzcon

Having realized there was hardly anything new to be said of WoW in the panels, other than small tidbits like Dalaran’s placement in Hillsbrad during the art panel, I decided I would catch the rest of the 3v3 tournament. A guildie, his friend and a I got there early to get front row seats. We also managed to talk to the announcers of the tournament, vhell (Jared Coulston) and TooGood (James Harding). vhell talked a bit about his raiding experience with Nurfed and why he swore it off. Then we talked about some of the matches from day one. While I found TooGood shaky for the selective queuers and Council of Mages match, they were both fairly strong during the rest of the tournament. Also, when talking retrospectively, they showed a better understanding outside the course of casting the matches. It’s gotta be a tough job to accurately depict what’s going on as it happens.

TooGood expressed how he was relieved to have so much time between a couple of the matches. He went to play Diablo 3 and said he was hopefully going to be able to skip the line with an exclamation to the staff of “Don’t you know who I am!?” When he got back to announce the next event, he made a joke in his introduction about how they didn’t let him “jump the queue.”

selective queuers AgainThe first round I attended was the lower bracket final between fnatic Orz and selective queuers (SQ). This was a war/lock/druid (WLD) mirror match. Orz was clearly playing better than they did the day before, but they were still playing poorly. SQ was really aggressive going straight into combat at the start, which is abnormal for WLD mirrors. Normally, the two locks sit back and dance LOSing and DoTing. But Gumbot (SQ’s lock) just went in aggressively, forcing the warriors into the battle.

  • In the first match, Rhaegyn (Orz’s war) dropped early by a charge and bash from Wojo (SQ’s druid) onto Hafu (Orz’s druid) after early pressure. SQ went up 1-0.
  • In the second match, all three from Orz were pressured early, but Hafu managed to escape and top them entirely. From there, they pushed Yog (SQ’s war) hard while Wojo was in a cyclone and took him down for the win, bringing it to 1-1.
  • In the third match, Hafu was pushed hard again at the start, but all players from both teams managed to get away and essentially reset the match. Hafu also managed to find the time to top her mana to full, leaving Wojo (SQ’s druid) with a disadvantage. But the match was pretty even for a few minutes after the reset and eventually SQ caught Hafu off-guard out in the open with nightfall up. SQ went up 2-1.
  • In the fourth match, Orz pushed Wojo with Glickz putting up DoTs and Rhaegyn switching to him with full rage early and burned him down quickly. Once he was down, Hafu charged and bashed for the kill, meaning Orz tied it up 2-2.
  • In the fifth match, Hafu was feared into a corner of the Nagrand map which allowed SQ to switch to her and push her down hard, giving SQ the match and the round at 3-2.

Nihilum during their match against selective queuers.After the Orz and SQ match, I then attended the grand finals of Nihilum Plasma against SQ. I expected SQ to come away with the first round, given the momentum they had coming out of the lower bracket finals. However, SQ lost their focus in the last match. With the pressure of $75,000 sitting on each team’s shoulders, it was really a matter of who could play with more composure, and Nihilum proved that in the last match. The round was again a WLD mirror.

  • In the first match, SQ pushed Carekoala (Nihilum’s druid) down hard for the win. So SQ went up 0-1. This was a testament to the momentum SQ had coming into the final and why I thought they’d win the first round.
  • In the second match, Nihilum pushed Wojo hard for almost a kill. But Wojo managed to LOS a cyclone from Koala. SQ then retaliated with a push that killed Inflame (Nihilum’s lock). So SQ then went up 0-2.
  • But Nihilum shook off the rust in the third match and played evenly with SQ. In the end, Gumbot was pushed hard and taken down after a long match. So the round was now 1-2 in SQ’s favor.
  • In the fourth match, SQ managed to survive a hard push on both Yog (SQ’s war) and Wojo. This forced Wojo to try to top both him and Yog, which gave SQ an opportunity to switch their focus to Gumbot and taken him down while Wojo was focusing his HoTs elsewhere. So Nihilum evened up the round to 2-all.
  • In the final match, SQ pushed Koala early, but Wojo had a resisted or LOS’d cyclone that ruined their push. Following this, Wojo was burned hard and taken down, giving Nihilum the win and crowning them the 2008 Blizzcon champions.

Of interesting note, SQ went into the finals unsponsored. They made a good run at the championship on a difficult stage. With the way Blizzcon is set up, there are a lot of distractions. For one, the announcers sit right next to the players and they can clearly hear the announcers’ vocal perspective of the action. As vhell and TooGood said in conversation with my guildie and I between matches, it would be ideal for the teams to play in soundproof booths, like they do for StarCraft, but this has not been the case for the WoW tournament. So even though SQ went into the tournament unsponsored, they should come out of it with some offers.

After the final, I walked the floor for a while and then came back for the China versus Nihilum exhibition match. World Elite (WE) was the team sent in from China. However, apparently, there was a visa issue with their normal mage and they had to recruit someone who could come to the U.S. That said, I would have expected them to find a decent mage. But it quickly became evident that they were outclassed by Nihilum. Nihilum went so far as to even play three different comps against them.

  • In the first match, WE played RMP with the mage in PvE gear and the rogue specced mutilate. Nihilum played their usual WLD. Nihilum forced an early ice block from Arthess of WE. Once the block was up, they switched to Yay, the priest, and took him down quickly.
  • In the second match, Nihilum switched to playing war/mage/druid, with Inflame playing the warrior and Paperkat (Nihilum’s normal war) playing the mage. WE pressured Inflame early, who kited around in defensive stance to avoid getting burned by the shatter combo. Once the shatter was avoided they then pressured Suky (WE’s rogue) and brought him down.
  • In the third match, Nihilum switched to playing double war/druid. They first pressured Arthess and then feared him and the elemental to mitigate some of the shatter combo. They then forced him to block by pressuring him slowly. They had their shields out for spell reflects and to mitigate any possible damage while the mage’s cooldowns were still up. Once they had forced the CD’s from the mage and polymorph was on DR, they then switched to Yay and took him down.

Nihilum being interviewed by TooGoodThis was a laugher to say the least. I hope it’s not the best China has to offer. However, I do understand that they are fairly isolated from the style of competition that goes on in the EU and American tournaments and brackets. Either way, it’s not a great first showing from China. Paperkat went so far as to joke about it saying, “I heard Chinese people were really good at video games.”

After the match, I rushed over to the second class discussion, knowing it would be absolutely packed. I only went in hopes that the Q&A would be more intelligent than the previous day, and that I would get a chance to ask a question. The panel itself was pretty much exactly the same. They added a few more details here and there about some of their decisions, however. For example, they explained why they changed rune carving and implemented death runes (which are universal runes triggered as talents). They simply didn’t want people carving only one rune type and using only a couple abilities tied to those runes. So they made the runes static and implemented death runes as an alternative.

They also explained why they made some buffs redundant. To quote Greg Street, he said they didn’t want the rogue to “go home if he has no windfury.” Which is certainly an admirable intention, and there are some buffs and abilities that definitely needed toning down. But I’ll hold my judgment and wait until I see how it all plays out in 3.0 and Wrath itself. I definitely have my doubts, many of which I have explained in previous blog entries.

The Q&A for this panel was much more interesting. However, I was a little miffed. For all the other panels I attended in room 204, the Q&A line was down the center aisle. However, for this panel, it was off to the right side of the audience. So I ran to the middle aisle and then had to double back. The Q&A session ended with me standing third in line. (Argh!) Alas, I will have to make my case for nourish being too similar to regrowth in my blog. That said, the questions were much more intelligent than they were during the first day’s class panel. Perhaps this was because the diehard fans made sure to find their way to this one early.

After the class panel, I made may way down to the store to buy some items for a guildie. From there, I watched Nihilum play the winner of Blizzard’s in-house tournament (their European team). Blizzard actually played resto shaman, warrior and retadin (a strange comp for tournaments). The first two matches went to Nihilum no contest, with them playing rogue/lock/mage for the first match and burning down Blizzard’s warrior in about a second. In the second match, Nihilum played double warrior/mage and took down Blizzard’s shaman quickly. TooGood then convinced Nihilum to play 2v3 (war/druid) against Blizzard, which Blizzard ended up winning after a few minutes (Koala actually managed to live through a bloodlust). After that, the last match went back to 3v3 with Nihilum playing war/mage/druid. Nihilum was dominating, but Koala left the arena when Blizzard’s war went down and Inflame left once Blizzard’s shaman went down, prompted by TooGood to make it interesting. So it was left to a duel between Paperkat’s mage and Blizzard’s retadin. The paladin almost had Paperkat, and would have if he hadn’t used bubble earlier. Of course, however, Nihilum came away with the win. An amusing round, nonetheless.

Level 80 ETCFinally, I went to the closing ceremony. Kyle Kinane was the opening comedian. His humor is very dry and I’m not a fan of it. Patton Oswalt’s material was much more fitting for the crowd at Blizzcon. Even though he doesn’t play any of Blizzard’s games, he was able to make jokes about people in the crowd and about geekdom in general. Beware the great punishment disk in the sky! On top of this, he went with some of his usual material, which works well for any audience. So it turned out well. After the comedy, Level 80 Elite Tauren Chieftan (Blizzard’s in-house band) played. Being a metal band, I’m not a big fan. Their music is essentially a cheeky novelty for those who play Blizzard’s games, especially since Mike Morhaime (Blizzard’s president) and Samwise (Blizzard’s art director) themselves are in the band. So it definitely works, but I can’t stand metal, so I headed over to the WoW tournament stage to prepare plans for dinner. I did want to see Video Games Live, but that would mean having a two-hour wait for dinner after the convention and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to meet again with some of the guildies I had never met in person before the con.

Overall, though, the last day was great fun.

Blizzcon 2008: Day One Recap

Disclaimer

First and foremost, I’ll note I am not a member of the press. I did not feel obligated to cover Blizzcon in an informative manner. I had originally planned to attend every panel and report new and relevant information, but knowing it would be broadcast on DirectTV and WCRadio, I decided not to sacrifice my individual enjoyment of the convention for the sake of information that would already be accessible before I could even provide it.

I do, however, want to provide an account and opinion of the overall experience from the perspective of a blogger who probably knows more about WoW than most people.

Day One of Blizzcon

Welcome to the Line to Enter the Line to the Line RideThe convention was only about a twenty-minute drive away from where I was staying at a guildie’s place in Irvine. I decided we should get there around nine, an hour before Blizzcon was scheduled to open. We made the mistake of standing in line, even though pretty much anyone could simply walk in through one of a hundred doors leading into the convention. The line was very impressive to see, however. I called it “the line to get into the line for the Line Ride.”

The first event I attended was the opening ceremony. A guildie of mine saved me a seat. Because the seats were all on the same level of ground, it was incredibly difficult to see the stage unless you were close up. But the huge screens were able to clearly display the mild demeanor of Mike Morhaime, Blizzard’s president.

Morhaime began by recounting the history of Blizzcon. The first Blizzcon, in 2005 had around 8,000 attendees. By comparison, this one had 15,000 from 27 different countries. However, a Blizzard employee told me the number of actual attendees was probably more likely to be around 18,000 people.

Some general information concerning the upcoming events of the convention was also covered. Starcraft 2 was going to have its first official tournament. The game wasn’t ready for beta, but every Blizzcon attendee will have access to the beta once it begins. For Diablo 3, the announcements were more profound. It was noted that we would come up against an old familiar foe from the original Diablo: King Leoric. The Wizard class was also revealed.

There was nothing new about Wrath announced during the opening ceremony. With Wrath and SC2 already having had their times in the limelight, I imagine Blizzard wanted to use its stage to highlight Diablo 3. Understandably so, considering how good the game looks this early in development.

A slide for DK\'s in the class panel.After the opening ceremony, I attended the UI panel. This was probably a mistake on my part, as there was nothing interesting of note other than an explanation of the design process behind various elements of the user interface. However, it was pretty amusing to reminisce about the changes made to the DK character portrait throughout the alpha and beta.

Next, I attended the class discussion. This was presented by Tom Chilton (Kalgan) and Greg Street (Ghostcrawler). There was really nothing new announced during this panel and much of what was addressed had already been explained on the beta forums. However, they did note how they wanted to change talent trees to emphasize “style” instead of “role.” Also, they justified the changes to threat saying they wanted to make healing and coordination more important than threat. This is why threat scales so well now in the beta.

Much more interesting than both the class and the UI panels was the art panel. Their presentation included humorous slides and videos, as well as teasers for potential content. Most notably, they showed a picture of Dalaran planted in the ground. During the Q&A, when someone asked if the picture was indicative of the possibility that we could see Dalaran as part of an instance in the Caverns of Time, someone on the art team replied “maybe.” Whether or not that means there are actual plans for such, I don’t know. Also intriguing was seeing the design process and artistic progress of various zones, mobs, and instances.

Selective Queuers are Inteviewed by vhell

After the art panel, there was nothing left on the WoW schedule for day one. While I do plan to get Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2 when they are released, I decided to skip their respective panels in favor of WoW’s 3v3 tournament. The loser bracket semi-final between selective queuers (SQ) and Council of Mages (CoM) was the first match I attended. Being the champions of the 2008 Worldwide Invitational and the top Korean team, people expected great things from CoM. However, SQ swept them with ease. While others would say the matches were close, I disagree. SQ was put into a couple dangerous situations, but these were nothing a rogue/lock/druid (RLD) comp couldn’t work their way out of with smart play. To put it bluntly, I think CoM got stomped, leaving only Europeans and Americans as the real contenders.

  • All matches were CoM playing rogue/mage/priest (RMP) versus SQ’s RLD. SQ normally plays war/lock/druid (WLD) and decided RLD was a better comp against RMP.
  • In match 1, SQ pressured Snowstorm (CoM’s mage) hard and forced two quick blocks before he was taken down after several minutes. While a long match, it doesn’t necessarily mean CoM was ever in control.
  • In match 2, SQ pressured Snowstorm again. However, they found him a little more difficult to take down as CoM had adapted their strategy. He managed to survive with a bandage and a heal after both blocks had been used, but was still taken down.
  • In match 3, SQ changed their strategy and focused Student (CoM’s rogue). I suppose this was to prevent further adaptation by CoM. In any case, it worked and SQ swept.

OrzAfter SQ v. CoM came the upper bracket final between Orz and Nihilum Plasma. This was a WLD mirror match. I expected it to be a good round, but I was proven wrong. Nihilum easily took out Orz 3-1, though Orz did put up a fight in the last two matches.

  • In the first match, Hafu (Orz’s druid) ran out of mana and Rhaegyn (Orz’s warrior) was dropped by Nihilum in that time. Nihilum almost won early pressuring Hafu, but she managed to escape a few times. Nihilum almost lost when the pressure was put onto Paperkat, but he managed to escape behind a pillar with Carekoala (Nihilum’s druid).
  • In the second match, Rhaegyn got out of position for a while and this caused him to drop relatively early, giving Nihilum the win.
  • In the third match, Inflame (Nihilum’s warlock) was caught out of position and taken down quickly by Orz.
  • The fourth match was rather long. Nihilum pressured Hafu ferociously, but Glickz (Orz’s warlock) and Rhaegyn helped her peel a few times. However, the damage was done and she died after running out of mana, giving Nihilum the win and guaranteeing them a slot in the finals.

This was the end of day one for me, though I did get a chance to play Diablo 3 before it was over. I went out to eat with guildies after the events had finished and then rested up for day two.

Kil’Jaeden Is Dead; PvE Competition

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.

“Failing Sucks”

[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.

Damn straight.

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.