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Posts with tag dungeons

Warlords of Draenor: Eight level 100 dungeons at ship

Warlords of Dreanor will ship with eight level 100 dungeons. These dungeons will be put into place in patch 6.0, which is currently in alpha testing at Blizzard. The clients that have been datamined are currently only showing six dungeons, however as Lead Game Designer Ion Hazzikostas points out, this is incorrect. Alpha clients are not final products, so there's a lot missing.

The dungeons we know about are:

  • Bloodmaul Slag Mines
  • Blackrock Depot
  • Auchindoun
  • Arakkoa Spires
  • Shadowmoon Burial Grounds
  • Iron Barracks
  • Upper Blackrock Spire (updated to a new layout and heroic difficulty)
A lot of people got upset over only having six dungeons at release. It was said at BlizzCon that at least six dungeons would be added, and then when there was only six in the alpha client, it caused angst. It appears, as is often the case with datamining, that no one needed to get upset at all.

Ion also noted that 7 out of the 8 dungeons are new.

Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

Should there be another kind of five player dungeon?

The first dungeon I ran in World of Warcraft was the Deadmines. Not the Deadmines we have today, of course, although the layout is largely unchanged, but the original, Edwin VanCleef helmed Defias operation. From there, it's been a lot of years and a lot of dungeon crawls (not just in WoW, either - I've been crawling around in dungeons ever since the Caves of Chaos were build adjacent to a Keep on some Borderlands) and so I've come to have some opinions on dungeon design and variety that I think are worth nattering on about.

In general, some of the dungeon complexes released with the launch of World of Warcraft took labyrinthine to new extremes. As much as I love it, Blackrock Depths is a positive pain to navigate for a new party - it was terrible before the dungeon finder existed, it's not any better now. Modern dungeons tend to have moved as far away from the 'sprawling mega complex' design as possible. Current dungeons tend to be what I call 'bite sized' in comparison - smaller, self contained wings or experiences that contain between three and four bosses, to be consumed in a 20 to 30 minute chunk of time with four strangers via LFD. It's understandable and even unavoidable that this had happened, but I think there's some wisdom in considering how to have a happy medium between these extremes.

Dungeons like Dire Maul, for instance, saw minimal change in Cataclysm because it was already perfect for the new system. Three wings, mostly self contained (one could previously get from north to west via a tunnel into the library, which was removed) with a reasonable assortment of bosses, tied together by theme yet distinct in terms of what you faced in each. Maraudon, on the other hand, is still a sprawling, difficult to navigate dungeon made worse by the addition of incredibly arbitrary starting locations that the dungeon finder only exacerbates.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

The struggle between gear disparity and good play

Okay, truth time - I can solo any five player heroic dungeon in Mists of Pandaria, as long as it doesn't have mechanics that prevent me. If I'm even concerned that I'll take too much damage and die, I'll pop on my tank set and go prot, but many times it isn't even a concern. Blow all my DPS cooldowns, blow my defensive cooldowns when I'm at about half health, boss falls over. Done it in Mogu'shan Palace and Scarlet Monastery. And I'm hardly the exception here - the fact is, the Mists of Pandaria dungeons were introduced at the beginning of the expansion and tuned so that players in ilevel 450 gear could complete them.

I'm at around ilevel 576.

Even players who are just in flex or LFR gear out gear these instances immensely. If a DPS player in full SoO LFR gear goes into Mogu'shan Palace and decides to pull more mobs than the tank was ready or waiting for, he or she can probably DPS them all down before dying themselves, especially if they get a few heals. Meanwhile, even the tanks can often put out enough damage (while taking so very little and having various means to heal it up) that they can basically solo the whole place if they want to, leaving absolutely everyone in the group feeling very little need to actually play as a group. As many, many people point out to me on twitter, it's just assumed that everyone is going to pull like crazy, so even undergeared players in a specific role often assume it's going to happen and react. Maybe your tank doesn't want to pull like a fiend, but they saw your gear and thought they had to in order to keep control of the dungeon. The lines of group communication have broken down into a silence that masks intent - runs are zoned into and pulled with grim efficiency.

Into this veil of silence enters you, the player. So what can be done about it?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Using the Dungeon Finder to level in a flash

If you're exhausted of leveling through the same old zones, it may be time to head to the Dungeon Finder for some of World of Warcraft's speediest leveling. How speedy are we talking about? Last night I spent about an hour with a just level 15 -- the minimum level for dungeons -- priest dungeon running and walked away with five levels and sacks full of loot. Admittedly, I had a stock of rested XP and a few heirlooms, but even without either, you should find dungeon leveling to be pretty zippy -- and a nice change of pace from the daily questing grind.

The downside? While you're here, you'll be playing in a group of five -- typically a tank, a healer, and three DPSers -- and you'll need to learn how to play well in a group, which can be a bit different than playing solo. Though dungeons -- especially low level dungeons -- are easier than ever, there are some tips that will help ease your way. So let's take a look at what you need to hit the dungeons so you're ready to take advantage of that sweet, sweet Dungeon Finder XP.

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Filed under: WoW Rookie

The case for catch-up loot

I talked a while back about catch-up dungeons. Now, we'll talk about the more basic issue - why have 'catch up' mechanisms at all? Why have gear that exists so you can skip content? Recently Celestalon responded to this question on twitter and his answers are very, very interesting to me.
This idea of playerbase consolidation reminds me, as it always does whenever anyone brings it up, of the old days of Vanilla and BC raiding. That's how you can tell I'm crazy old - everything reminds me of something that happened years ago. But in this case it's apt. Back in Vanilla, there basically weren't any catch-up mechanisms. If you wanted to join a raiding guild that was clearing Blackwing Lair, if you hadn't set foot in Molten Core yet, you probably simply weren't getting in, and if you did, you'd likely end up being dragged through several MC and Onyxia runs (assuming you didn't have to get attuned) to get you caught up on gear. Often guilds didn't really want to do that, so if they didn't, you were basically out of luck. The 20 man raids Zul'Gurub and AQ20 served as stopgaps, with gear that could help, but it wasn't enough in many cases.

BC improved this to a degree. There were still attunements for a while, but guilds could at least rely on the Badge of Justice mechanic and get newer players geared up faster. I actually took some time off playing WoW after Vanilla ended and didn't start raiding in BC until my then-guild was working on the Tier 5 raids (Tempest Keep and Serpentshrine Cavern) and so, in order to get ready to join them, I ran a ton of Karazhan and heroic dungeons and bought tanking gear off of the Justice vendors - I ended up still having to tank in Zul'Aman with a green tanking ring and belt and a bunch of dungeon blues on, but at least I had some gear by that point.

Since those days, we've seen various mechanisms (Wrath and Cataclysm's patch five mans, Mists with justice and honor gear and the Timeless Isle) to allow players to get caught up to current content. And to my mind, while I'm not always on board with the specific way it's implemented, it's the best change imaginable for a variety of reasons.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Raiding

Warlords of Draenor: The return of hard heroic 5-mans?

Just occasionally I'll see a blue post that gets me really excited. And today, I saw one. Blizzard EU Community Manager Taepsilum posted in response to a thread about the difficulty of 5-man dungeons. It's a really long post, so do go and read it, but I'm just going to pull out the exciting stuff for now. He mentions, firstly, that Warlords will see the return of normal and heroic modes at max level, and goes on to add that "WoD heroics will be much harder than MoP heroics".

This is music to my ears. MoP has been a terrible expansion for 5-man content. And, while I appreciate that my experience is not the same as everyone's, 5-mans are some of my very favorite content to do to grind points, to grind gear, just to do for the sheer fun of it. I have hated the absence of new, relevant 5-mans in Mists. It's also something Blizzard devs are keenly aware of. And the latter ones in Cataclysm weren't that great either, yes there were a few tricky moments in Well of Eternity, but as ever, Blizzard overcompensated for players' complaints that the early Cata 5-mans were too hard.

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Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

The hope for more future five-mans

Dire Maul
A common refrain among casual players this expansion has been the lament for five-man content. Mists of Pandaria hasn't added any new five-man dungeons since it launched, and for fans of that format, it's a bit of a bummer. In fact, Mists of Pandaria marks the first time that Blizzard hasn't added new dungeons post-launch. In classic WoW, Maraudon was added in patch 1.2, and the Dire Maul set in patch 1.3. The Burning Crusade saw Magister's Terrace in patch 2.4, Wrath gained the three Icecrown five-mans in patch 3.3, Cataclysm had Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub retooled as 5-mans in 4.2, plus the Well of Eternity dungeon suite in 4.3. Yes, if five-mans are your thing, Mists probably has you feeling pretty glum right about now.

So maybe the following tweet from Ghostcrawler will cheer you up a bit:

Instead of five-man dungeons, Mists definitely saw a focus on scenarios for casual group content. And while scenarios are fun, if you're a healer or a tank, you're not really necessary for them. I personally would love to see a bit more balance in the future between implementing scenarios and implementing five-mans, so here's to a WoW future where both will shine. What about you? Are you hoping for more five-mains, or could you do without them?

Filed under: News items, Mists of Pandaria

How to go from solo WoW to group WoW

It's finally time: you've been leveling on your own but now you've been lured into your first dungeon by a quest or the promise of gear. But running dungeons with a group of four other players is a lot different from soloing -- different enough to seem like a whole new game. When you enter a dungeon, you need to work as part of a team, and take careful consideration of the rest of your group before you make any moves. It's a very different mindset than what you're accustomed to as a solo player.

Even if you feel like you know your stuff in World of Warcraft, the switch from soloing to grouping can be bumpy -- so how do you make the transition without looking like a newbie? Fortunately, we've been around the block a time or two and have some advice to help you get started, no newbie moments required.

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Filed under: WoW Rookie

Have you ever been vote kicked?

dungeon finder
Applied with discretion and thoughtfulness it's a useful tool, but in the hands of an overly snarky or bad-tempered group it can certainly be abused--we are talking, of course, about the group vote kick option. Most of the time when I run group content I don't even remember it's there, but occasionally there's that one person who won't stop butt-pulling adds before the tank is ready, or who just can't seem to resist spewing a never-ending stream of gross and offensive epithets, or someone logs off and just doesn't ever come back online. When that happens I'm very, very grateful for vote kicks. Sometimes, unfortunately, it gets applied less sensibly; I've heard of players being kicked for every reason from their choice of toon being disliked to not having "enough" heirloom gear equipped, and situations like that can be infuriating.

When I stopped to think about it, I realized that I have never myself been kicked from a group. I'm sure this is mostly due to the fact that I'm not a huge dungeon runner, so I'm not in random groups very often, but also at least partially because when I do run group content I tend to play a healer. Kicking a healer, while sometimes necessary, can also occasionally result in a very bored group sitting around for a while waiting for a new one, which is no fun. Sometimes people don't believe me that I've never been kicked, but I've met plenty of players who also say they haven't, either, so I've never thought myself particularly unusual, but I still I count myself as being lucky in this respect. How about you, though? Have you ever been kicked? And, perhaps more importantly, was it deserved or were you the victim of a trigger-happy kicker?

Have you ever been vote kicked?
Yes, and I can understand why I was.862 (16.1%)
Yes, but it was for a bad reason.2616 (48.8%)
No, but I probably should have been.229 (4.3%)
No, and I had no reason to be.1657 (30.9%)

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Patch 5.3: New gear vendors for Cataclysm leveling

Patch 53 New gear vendors for Cataclysm leveling
Two new gear vendors were added in Patch 5.3 that sell ilevel 232 gear so that you can immediately do the Blackrock Cavern and Throne of Tides dungeons upon reaching level 80. The ilevel requirement for both dungeons is 226 which is greater than the questing and dungeon gear from Wrath of the Lich King. Before the patch, if you were leveling up via dungeons, you had to stop and quest for a bit at level 80 in order to get the ilevel of gear required to continue running instances.

Quartermaster Iris Moondreamer at the Nordrassil Inn in Hyjal sells full sets of gear for each class. In Vash'jir, Erunak Stonespeaker saves you from drowning and then sells the same gear as Iris. The beginning quest reward gear in Cataclysm is ilevel 272, so questing for a while will get you better equipment, but these new vendors help close the gear gap.

Note: If you are choosing to buy your gear from Erunak, make sure to do so before completing the quest chain that gets you out of the sunken ship. as he stops being a vendor in the next phase.

I had missed this detail in the patch notes so it was a pleasant surprise when questing in Hyjal on a mage that had leveled the previous 20 levels via pet battles and archaeology. Though the gear gap isn't as large between the older expansions, I'd still like to see more supply vendors like these and the ones in Pandaria as you level up, particularly if you are doing so in a non-traditional way.

Filed under: News items

Worlds Yet to Conquer: Ideas for new content in old places

There is a ton of lore in the Warcraft setting, from the first RTS game to the current MMO, four expansions down and counting. And one of the things I love about the setting is just how much we haven't seen yet, for all that we've been to Outland and fought the Scourge in Northrend and are now battling the effects of the Sha while dealing with old Titan repositories and mogu armies in Pandaria.

When Cataclysm came out, one of the better revamped quest areas was in Winterspring, where the remnants of the Blue Dragonflight after the death of Malygos were trying to combat an incursion by forces from outside Azeroth. I was thrilled to see satyrs from Xoroth and new etherals, because it got me excited about all the places in the Warcraft setting I haven't been yet. So I started thinking about places in that setting, both on Azeroth and beyond, where I would love to see a dungeon or a raid to get us to go back and explore them, or even to introduce those places to the game for the first time. And because this just happens to be a website that talks about WoW, I have a ready-made place to discuss these things with you.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

I hate scenarios

blood in the snow
Behind the scenes at WoW Insider, we've been talking a lot about scenarios recently, for various reasons - some of which we hope to be able to soon share! In those discussions, I relatively quickly had to come out and admit, yeah, I kind of hate scenarios. It's not that I think there's anything actually bad about them. Maybe individual scenarios have certain annoying mechanics, I honestly haven't done enough of them to know. But I kind of dread doing them, and avoid them for the most part, and there is a very simple reason why: when I first go into one, I don't necessarily know what I'm supposed to be doing.

I cannot communicate how much I despise that feeling. It's why I love being a healer. Here is your job as a healer, in any dungeon or raid ever: you stay out of the bad stuff on the ground and you play Rejuvenation (or Holy Light, or Healing Wave, or whatever) whack-a-mole with health bars. It's great. It's structured and straightforward and it's always the same. Sometimes there are additional mechanics you have to be aware of but, here's the thing - boss needs interrupts? Not a healer's job. Mobs need kiting? Not a healer's job. Turtles need kicking? Not a healer's job. Boxes need clicking? Not a healer's job (usually).

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Humor

Things that were harder before

Things that were harder before
I did a post this week about raiding in previous expansions and in vanilla WoW, and how people often say those raids were harder and my opinion that it is easily demonstrable that current raids are if anything more complicated than they have ever been. I frankly believe there is almost no room for comparison between the game at 60 and today in terms of raid complexity and difficulty. Part of this stems from the many different variations on what the word hard means in this context. Something can be harder because it is conceptually or executionally more complex (the difficulty can stem from how much is required to successfully complete its mechanics) or it can be hard because it is laborious and/or time consuming. Was raiding with 40 people in classic WoW more laborious? Absolutely it was. It wasn't mechanically harder, but it was more time consuming and took a great deal of effort to organize and plan. It's the difference between working out a complex multi-stage math problem and carrying five thousand pounds of rocks from point A to point B.

But there were some points worth addressing. It absolutely has never been easier to level, even without heirlooms, than it is right now. Vanilla leveling to 60 took more time and effort than leveling to 90 does today. Even without heirlooms, one can easily and without much stress reach level 20 in a few hours, level 40 in less than two days, and be level 60 within a day of that, and this isn't spending all day staring at the screen either. This is a fairly casual leveling pace. I leveled a blood elf warrior to 35 in two days of rather casual play, an hour on followed by a half hour reading websites or having a snack or even going for a long walk.

It's also far easier to do the following things:
  1. Get a dungeon group. You can queue for dungeons at level 15, and from that point on, all you ever have to do to run a dungeon is hit that queue. If you're playing in the tank or healing role you can effectively chain dungeons all day, and even leveling as DPS there are stretches where you don't even need to quest or do anything but dungeon.
  2. Run a battleground. While you could argue that doing well at BG running as you level up and at max level takes some time and effort, if you want to risk queueing in whatever gear you have, it's simplicity itself.
  3. Getting ready to raid at max level. The game now has catchup mechanisms in place for players who start later. If you just got your alt to 90 and are switching to it for raiding, deciding to give raiding a try for the first time, or what have you it's not the case that your raid group is compelled to run you through previous raids for attunements and keys, much less gearing you through older raids to get ready for the current content.
  4. Find something to do. You could even argue that there's too much to do, or that it feels too mandatory. But you can't argue you don't have options - if you don't want to run dungeons, raid, or PvP there are pet battles, daily quests and scenarios you can do.
So the question then becomes this: is it better or worse for the game that these things are easier? For that matter, are they easy enough?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

The good and bad of GOGOGO

This week on Drama Mamas, we discussed a couple that disagreed on how to handle GOGOGO PUGs, the sort that attempt to rush through everything as fast as possible. The tank felt that the DPS who pulled should not be healed, while the healer believed that everyone should be healed indiscriminately. In my opinion, the tank should pull and the healer should stay with the tank, healing others as needed as long as they are in range. But many in the comments disagreed.

Leveling dungeons are, for the most part, easy places to run -- over and over -- for experience and loot. The question is, are they only that or are they also places to practice your role for the endgame? Many commenters believe that endgame playing should be left for max level and that leveling dungeons should be raced through. Others believe that keeping to a standard pace is boring and chain pulling, even by DPS, is the only way to go.

In practice, a tank has little to no queue time, so the pace ends up being whatever the tank wants, else he or she will just accept the votekick and get into another group immediately. Though I don't believe in strongarm tactics, I do think the pace should be set by the tank, even if it ends up being a little slow. Learning on the way up is good. On the other hand, there is a challenge of the GOGOGO team that can be appealing.

What about you? Do you prefer GOGOGO dungeons while leveling? Why or why not?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

The useless distinction between casual and hardcore

The useless distinction between casual and hardcore
If the words 'casual' and 'hardcore' ever had a useful role in determining the differences between players in World of Warcraft, and I am not convinced they ever did, they no longer do. A player who wants to have an alt of every single class at max level and makes that happen is not playing the game casually even if she never raids. A player who collects several hundred pets and levels many of them through pet battles, or has a similarly high number of mounts, or determines to go out and get every cooking recipe in the game (including Dirge's Kickin' Chimeraok Chops which you can't even get anymore but somehow he finds a way) is playing the game very seriously indeed.

Quite frankly, despite the fact that I raid a set schedule, I often feel like I'm significantly more 'casual' than many players who never raid at all. I know I play a lot less - I definitely do not log on every day, I don't run LFR unless I missed a boss in normal (because I want a shot at my Secrets of the Empire off of that boss) and I don't do pet battles, farm, or even do daily quests anymore. So with my roughly fifteen hours of WoW a week, 12 of it spent inside a raid and the other three futzing about older raids for transmog gear, am I casual or hardcore? And does it matter?

Ordinarily I'd explore the answer in the paragraphs to come. But frankly, the answer is no. It doesn't matter. It is so far from mattering that the light from it mattering won't reach us for fifty thousand years. What matters is finding out what players want to do with their time and letting them do it.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Mists of Pandaria

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