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Do we need Mythic raiding at all?

I've been talking to guild leaders getting ready for the new raiding paradigm in Warlords of Draenor, and one of the things I'm hearing is that a lot of guilds simply won't bother to do Mythic raiding. That they simply don't want to scale up. They felt that the current paradigm was perfect for them - they could raid, complete a tier on normal, then do a few heroic modes before the next tier or new expansion. This model worked in Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria for their guilds, and with it replaced by flexible normal/heroic (equivalent to current flex and normal) and 20 person mythic (replacing 10 and 25 man heroic modes) they simply have seen the end of their doing that content.

Now, I don't do a lot of 10 man raiding - I've stayed 25 pretty much since I switched guilds back in Cataclysm - but I know from experience how it feels to have that stress on your guild, and I find the idea that Mythic raiding will be out of the reach of some players not because of their skill, but because of the numbers game a little sad. To hear players that have been doing heroic content for two or three expansions now say "I guess we're done with that kind of thing" seems a bit off to me. And it dovetails into another idea I have, namely this - not all fights work as a hard mode in the first place. Some fights feel epic and really different with the addition of new elements that we see in a harder mode (Firefighter from Ulduar comes to mind) but others just feel like the same fight with more damage and health - and those fights to my mind don't need to exist.

This has me wondering - do we need Mythic raiding at all? Going into Warlords of Draenor, we're looking at LFR, Normal, Heroic and Mythic raiding. Four raid sizes, each aimed at different kinds of raiders. Yet all four of them present the same basic content, simply scaled differently - the same boss fights, just on a different scale of difficulty and (in the case of Mythic) presumably some different mechanics. What we're seeing right now in Siege of Orgrimmar is that for some players, this is contributing to burnout - saying 'hey, go do heroic if you're bored' doesn't help when heroic is the exact same content, just harder. Do we need more of this?

I ask this question without a definitive answer. Part of me, the part that loves raiding and loves working on heroics, thinks we absolutely do need a tier for the best skilled players in the game to demonstrate their mastery of it (and I'm not including myself in that group - I mean folks who chase world firsts). For those players, the highest difficulty levels are the game, and taking it away from them would remove their incentive to play it. If anything, that part of me thinks, we should have some fights that are purely mythic in difficulty - a fight or two per tier that you can't do on LFR, normal or heroic, that you have to have a mythic raid to even attempt. Algalon comes to mind as an example. And I'm aware of, and sympathetic to, the argument that in order to develop and design mythic raids going forward, you need to be able to assume that the raid will have certain abilities at its disposal.

At the same time, though, I wonder if it's good for the vast majority of players to have four raid difficulties with the same basic content. Seeing a fight on LFR, then doing it on normal, and then doing it on heroic (whether or not this is the design intent, it's what happens for many players, especially players who have alts and who want to gear them) is already pretty stressful. Then having to have your raid shave itself down or pump itself up to a 20 person size just to see the mythic difficulty seems more stressful considering the only real reward for all that work is the exact same fights you've already done, just harder. It's this issue that has me on the fence about Mythic as a raid size/difficulty.

Perhaps the real problem is that players will consume the content in ways it's not designed for - we run LFR and flex on our alts now while raiding normal and heroic on our mains, some of us will run all four of the new difficulties when they're available (which is why in the past Blizzard has locked out LFR and Flex wings to keep normal/heroic raiders from blitzing them for gear before hitting the other difficulties) and there are such a wide variety of player types and playstyles that it is impossible to really ever anticipate how groups use content. It's undoubtedly true that there are 10 man heroic guilds right now who are looking to make the jump to mythic. So perhaps Blizzard shouldn't be trying to prop up those that aren't, or controlling what we do with the content they provide us. I've argued before that Blizzard isn't our nanny - if we burn ourselves out on content, it's up to us to decide when to stop playing it. Getting rid of a raid size/difficulty won't fix that.

So in the end, I'm more on the side of Mythic raiding than against it, but I do feel for the 10s guilds that will now never get to experience it, and the 25s that will have to shave players. Considering how stressful this lull between expansions already is, it's not a stress I'd have wished on anyone.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Warlords of Draenor

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