Thursday, May 20, 2010

Failing Skadi For Fun And Profit

I've killed Skadi the Ruthless in WoW's Utgarde Pinnacle a few times, but never quite like the way we pulled it off in a random dungeon run this past weekend.

Skadi: Then and Now
If you're in a PUG with a tank who has not done the fight before, it typically goes something like the following:

- Tank gathers up the horde of flunkies, while the healer keeps him up.
- One or more DPS players grab harpoons from the fallen flunkies, loads them in the harpoon launcher, and uses them to kill the drake that the boss is flying on.
- The boss lands on the ground with a completely clean aggro table, aggros on the healer due to healing threat, and kills them before the tank figures out what's going on.

Step three results in a wipe, and I've had PUG HUP runs wipe repeatedly and give up after failing to get this particular stage of the fight under control. People even came up with a way to abuse the fight respawn mechanics in order to skip directly to the transition. Or rather, step three resulted in a wipe a year ago. This past weekend, the fight proceeded as follows:

- The dead healer was a priest, and therefore gets to keep healing as a ghost for 10ish seconds after his demise.
- The tank was raid geared, and able to stay alive for a while with emergency cooldowns even after the heals stopped.
- DPS has tripled over the last year, primarily due to massive gear inflation. Even the tank is now doing as much DPS as the DPS used to do a year ago. The boss' health, however, has remained constant (somewhere in the mid-400K range).

Between the decreased total burn time to kill the boss, and the increased amount of time we were able to stay up without a healer, this previously sure wipe turned into a win. Indeed, I've had a fair number of healer-less victories in PUGs of late.

The point of the entry level game?
The point of having all this gear inflation in the first place is to help new players get up to par to enter the raid game. Unfortunately, it's having a serious negative effect on the competence with which players approach dungeons (which were already AOE-fests with no crowd control a year ago).

The net result is that the few dungeons that are still vaguely difficult (notably Halls of Reflection) are very difficult to complete in a PUG. Players come in expecting to not be able to wipe no matter how badly they screw things up, and this does them a disservice in preparing them for situations where performance actually matters. I didn't have problems beating HOR the week it came out, and I came back months later to find that Blizzard had raised the gear requirements for the zone. Even with the higher (though easily met, thanks to more gear inflation) standard, it is still very difficult to get a group that is prepared to deal with a dungeon that makes them work.

Is this really doing the raid game any favors? It certainly isn't improving the quality of the experience for players who aren't looking to go beyond 5-man content.


Keith said...

Unless I'm going for achievements in random pugs (which I do now for the challenge), I can't really find the new heroic dungeon system fun.

it is nice to return to a game a year later and outgear everyone, makes me feel sad for those who play wow day by day.

Seems like it will get even worse in cataclysm due to the tiers (like pvp crafted armor) that improve every season. Might as well wait till 3 patches to check out cataclysm.

but I guess that is a player vs developer issue, right?

Anonymous said...

Actually I find it fun when I can "solo" the boss as a tank because dps die to something stupid. Not calling Skadi, because here it's "tank fault", but it happened to me I've got one of those nightmare pugs in heroic pit of saron, Garfrost, 2 dps die on first stone throw, next dps and healer die halfway the fight... I kill the boss... bloody bastards didn't even release and run in all that time. Light bless frost resi aura + seal of light.

Then we come to Ick and of course they die in poison / pursuit... Laughable. The boss damage isn't big if you avoid all the poisons, pursuits and explosions. Yes, last man standing again... Gotta love POS.

And then dps moan on forums tanks are arrogant and think they're kings of wow. Oh well you couldn't kill the boss without me but I could kill it without you...

Anonymous said...

The priest should use FADE on Skadi, because priests are given Fade for a reason.

/tar Skadi
/cast Taunt
- never fails for me though. :)

Anonymous said...

I am an occasional WoW player (played a year SUPER casually when it first came out, but never hit 60) who revisits from time to time. I am strange and severely time crunched, and actually enjoy leveling and so have lots of non-capped alts.

I have to say that I am not all that happy with the state of the game these days. The lower level content has been trivialized to the point that it is a lot less fun. The addition of random dungeons is a boon in that it lets low level characters find groups to do instances, but it prevents me from meeting anyone in game on my server. It is a very isolating experience.

The trivialization of content makes new players lack skill, so that a random party that is lowish for the instance has pretty much no chance of finishing (happened to me as a level 24 in Gnomeregan a few times).

That this is now noticeable at endgame is a very bad sign...

Anonymous said...

I was in a many successful HoR runs the first few weeks, and I think it was because there were a ton of higher end tanks (I'm talking the kind of tanks that have been playing since vanilla on the same toon) running it because it was new. I was on my druid, who at the time was only high 4k-ish GS'd, so it was still very difficult to heal, but doable because we had very skilled tanks (and to a lesser extent skilled in they just didn't do "X" number DPS, but they knew things like watching out for their aggro levels and maybe even...gasp...assist targeting off the tank). Now...I think you have a bunch of new tanks trying it out that just can't keep aggro well enough, so the healers go oom no matter what kind of gear they have because the dps keeps taking damage. Sometimes I wish we could go back to how things were in vanilla where sure the dps could do "X" dps, but they ended up do much much less because they'd out aggro the tank. But that's what things like, as the above poster said, fade; iceblock; and feign death were for.

Lujanera said...

Heroics with no wipes (and the re-evaluation of the group that typically follows) give players very little unambiguous feedback about their play. Many players are never put in a situation where they -need- to play well until they get to HoR or raids. As a consequence, it can be very difficult to judge whether players actually know what they are doing.