The Blizzard Downloader has just started a few days ago and with that means that the patch and Icecrown Citadel is most likely less than a month away. A lot of new information has been released in the past week so expect another 3.3 Kitty Summary update shortly. For now, I wanted to reflect and do a trip down memory lane and see how raid attunements and progression have changed throughout the history of WOW and how they have affected the raiding culture of WOW.
Vanilla WOW (Lv 60 Raiding)
The most important factor to raiding at 60 was time, you had to devote all of your time and effort within WOW into raiding. All aspects of the game inevitably led towards improving your preparation for raiding. Probably the prime example would be PVP, where ultimately a large popualtion of people did PVP to obtain gear which supported raiding since PVP rewards were some of the best gear available (pre or post raiding). Attunements, gear, resistance gear were all necessary requirements to participate in raids. Here is a sample of what needed to be done to raid in Molten Core.
Molten Core: Anyone who wished to enter MC was required to complete the relatively simple Attunement to the Core questline which required you to obtain a Core Fragment from the raid entrance within Blackrock Depths. Simple enough right? Wrong! Once you enter MC, to progress through the instance there was a requirement to douse Quintessence flames (8 total) which could only be done through Aqual Quintessences. This could only be obtained through a quest chain that required killing trash, bosses and rep grinding Hydraxian Waterlords faction to honored. Once you’ve done all this and you finally do make it all the way through MC to Ragnaros, there was essentially another attunement in the sense that you had to obtain a fire resistance set which could only be obtained through farming the instance itself for materials to make the gear. Oh and if you want an Aqual Quintessence, you need to go to Ashzara every week to get a new one.
The Burning Crusade (Lv 70 Raiding)
With the release of The Burning Crusade, attunements played an even larger role than they did in vanilla WOW. The result was an extremely complex requirement that essentially required you to complete every dungeon on normal and heroic (which required a certain reputation to access). They were so difficult (bad) that Blizzard decided to remove them after only 6 months and they were made into a Feat of Strength (Hand of A’dal, Champion of the Naaru) for those who actually managed to complete it. I feel it can only be best described through a chart which actually does a pretty good job of comparing lv 60 vs lv 70 attunements (left vs right). All the quests associated with this massive questline can be found here.
By the end of The Burning Crusade, we began to see a shift away from attunements. It was very evident that only the most dedicated people were actually getting to see content which really didn’t make sense from a business perspective. Why spend money developing great elaborate content that only a small subset of your population would see. Their answer? Staggered releases. With Sunwell we began seeing locks on content so that more people had additional time to catch up and progress at the same speed as your top end guilds.
Warth of the Lich King (Lv 80 Raiding)
Wrath of the Lich King came with a huge overhaul in the way raids were constructed and designed. The game itself had been changed from a singular focus to a multi faceted game where a player could enjoy PVE, PVP, grinding, achievements and other different aspects. With raiding being such a small subset of the game, greater focus was introduced to ensure that all players could participate in raiding through a tiered level of content (easy and hard modes). As a result attunements had become a thing of the past as all instances are instantly accessible by anyone.
In 3.3, Blizzard is trying to change the face of raid access again with a concept in which I would call “Quality over Quantity”. The complete post is quite long so I won’t copy/paste it here but you can read the post in it’s entirety here. Here are the few important exerpts:
The Ashen Verdict provides reinforcements and material for players to assault Icecrown Citadel, but this support is not endless. Raids will have a limited number of attempts total each week to defeat the four most difficult encounters in Icecrown Citadel: Professor Putricide, Blood-Queen Lana’thel, Sindragosa, and the Lich King. As these boss encounters are unlocked, the number of attempts available per week will increase. The initial number of attempts provided for defeating Professor Putricide is only five. When Blood-Queen Lana’thel unlocks, the amount of total attempts remaining will increase to 10. Then when Sindragosa and the Lich King unlock, 15 total attempts will be available to defeat all four bosses. After a raid has exhausted their attempts for the week, the Ashen Verdict must withdraw their support and the four most difficult bosses all despawn and become unavailable for the week. The limited attempt system is a feature of both Normal and Heroic difficulty
This essentially means that as we reach the tail end of ICC, there will be limited number of attempts to progress to through the last section of ICC and Arthas. The quality of your attempts must be very high as the quantity of attempts is very low. This change is a good change as I feel that instead of seeing the guilds who have the most available time on their hands hitting world firsts, we’ll truly see which guild has the most skill with limited time. It should be a true testiment to skill and preparation.
In the weeks and months after all twelve encounters are unlocked, additional attempts against the final four boss encounters become available. This represents the Ashen Verdict growing more powerful and gaining a stronger foothold in Icecrown Citadel. To further help raids, Varian Wrynn and Garrosh Hellscream will begin to provide assistance by inspiring the armies attacking Icecrown Citadel. This is represented as an additional zone wide spell effect applied to all players that will increase their hit points, damage dealt, and healing done. This effect will also increase in effectiveness over time. Players may opt out of the spell’s effect if they so wish.
This I think is the best change of all which will help a lot of middle of the pack and casual players. Blizzard overall theme to raiding is they want all players to see content and they don’t want to make it something acessible by only the elite. By adding this feature which essentially makes content easier over time, it should make it so that much more people will see the content and also help those middle of the pack guilds clear content that they are stuck on. Who there out there remembers getting stuck in Naxx 60 and Sunwell? (I do!)
There are probably those people out there with an elitist attitude that feel it’s wattering down content but it is important to note that they do have an “off” switch to the assistance so that if a guild so chooses to complete content without that assistance it is still available. As well, it would be my assumption that the assistance will be triggered depending on how fast/slow content is being cleared globally.
In the past 5 years, raiding within WOW has evolved significantly and I think generally for the best. Everyone has to remember that WOW itself is a 5 year old game and while the good ol days were fun, it really was a thing of the past and doesn’t really work in today’s WOW world. I’ve heard a lot of complaints from friends, trade, blogs and so forth about content being too easy and boring but the way I like to see it is, that is the design of the content. Blizzard has purposely designed a multi tier system to ensure more people can experience this content. If they didn’t do that and they had maintained the same strategy as lv 60 raiding, most likely those complainers wouldn’t have been raiding anyways. The new changes should greater enhance the raiding experience while at the same time, creating greater definition between good guilds and the best guilds. I for one am looking forward to see who truly does have the most skilled group of raiders.