The Evolution of Raid Progression

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.

5 Responses to “The Evolution of Raid Progression”


  1. 1 coldbear November 20, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    agree, mostly

    with the caveat that I have zero inclination to do hard mode/heroics unless there’s an unlockable boss or something really cool visually at the end of the hard work and dedication – a la Algalon.

    I kinda wish they’d make Arthas just insanely hard and difficult and heroic-mode only.

    If not – hey ho – hey ho – here we go killing Arthas again this week – the Capo di tutti di Capo – offed every week like clockwork.

    The wow player base also needs it player heroes. We like having our little Kungens and Leeroys on each server. We need heroes. We want to hear about how they struggle and battle against things we can’t reach.

    good post

  2. 2 Lissanna November 20, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Easy doesn’t have to be boring. We wouldn’t talk about WoW raiding being easy if they had actually released more than 4 raid dungeons in this expansion (the little one-boss ones don’t count).

    We had a bigger NUMBER of raid dungeons in Vanilla & BC than Wrath. In addition to just having fewer bosses to kill, the bosses are also now significantly easier. If they had released more raid dungeons, it would have given people more stuff to do and (even if it was easy), it wouldn’t have been as boring.

    • 3 Vallen November 23, 2009 at 4:16 pm

      If we consider large 25 man dungeons:

      Vanilla WOW: MC/BWL/AQ/Naxx
      TBC: SSC/TK/MH/Black Temple/Sunwell
      WOTLK: Naxx/Ulduar/ICC

      If we consider mini 25 man dungeons:

      Vanilla WOW: Onyxia
      TBC: Gruul/Mag
      WOTLK: Sarth/Malys/TOC/VOA

      If we look at 10 man only dungeons:

      Vanilla WOW: ZG/AQ20
      TBC: Karazhan/ZA

      If you combine all content together, that’s 7 for vanilla, 9 for outlands, 7 for wotlk. But you also need to consider that even though there are 9 dungeons in wotlk, there are 10 and 25 man flavours of each. So I think the amount of content has been pretty consistent.

      As for content being too easy, it’s only easy if you want to do the easy flavour. Doing content in the hard mode version is significantly more challenging. Not everyone wants to do it (as coldbear stated) but if you want the challenge that is where it lies (if you choose to take it).

  3. 4 meleetree November 21, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Interesting read🙂

    I never played during Vanilla, I started WoW about a month before BC was released. So my first raid experience was Karazhan. I do shudder when I think back at the long and agonising attunement system. On the other hand, I am a bit sentimental, and I love thinking back at a time where I found normal instances challenging, and when you didn’t just go heroic instance in green gear the second you dinged 70.

    I must admit, that I cannot even begin to imagine the complexity of 40-man raiding. I love raiding 25-man now, it’s a whole different game than 10-man. But 25 people is plenty to keep track off in my opinion. I also think very highly of whoever came up with the idea of making all raid content available as both 10- and 25-man. I’m a big fan of this, for several reasons. In my first guild we could never get the numbers for 25-man raiding, so once we hit the end of Kara, the guild disbanded. That was sad indeed, but impossible to avoid. Today, guilds do not have to struggle with that.

    I do, however, think that Blizz have made raid content too easy. Although it’s positive to see, that more people get the opportunity to try end-game raiding, I’m currently still undecided as to whether or not I like the whole normal vs. heroic raid system. I’m not elitist, as I’m no exceptional player myself, but I work hard for my gear and to improve my skills. I do get annoyed though, when I see people with gear almost as good as mine, yet they have no idea how to gem or enchant it, and they can barely get their character pointed in the direction to enter an instance.

    Blizzard’s latest idea, is the ‘limited amount of attempts’ on boss encounters. This, I’m undecided about as well. I’m one of those people who cannot afford to buy a brand new computer, and my 3 year old computer does struggle to keep up with wow sometimes, especially in 25 man raiding. I would hate to be guilty of making my guild waste one precious attempt on a boss, just because my fps drops to 2 and I disconnect. Aaah well…

    Sorry, got a bit side tracked here. Progression of wow raiding, yes! My point is, that even for someone who hasn’t raided Vanilla content, I’ve seen a lot happening raid wise. Some is for the better, but a few things is for the worse as well…

    • 5 Vallen November 23, 2009 at 4:24 pm

      The complexity of 25 vs 40 man raiding isn’t necessarily a big difference. It was just more people and since the # of tanks were the same (generally speaking) it meant more healers and more dps.

      Cutting down from 40-> 25 was definitely necessary as the age of the game started coming into effect with fewer and fewer people who wanted to raid.

      Which speaks to Blizzard’s philosophy of making raiding something accessible to everyone to help introduce people to raiding or back to raiding. It hurts people who have always raided since the content becomes a lot easier, but then again, without new ppl getting into raiding, it would be even harder than it is today to fill raids.


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I’m Retired!

As of 04/04/2011, I have officially retired from WOW. This blog will remain as a archived resource for those who know that CAT DRUID IS 4 FITE!

About Me

A blog for the ramblings and thoughts of Vallen, a full time raiding cat druid from Auchindoun-US with a passion for raiding & achievements. An avid wow player since 2004.

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