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Posts with tag five-man

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

Wouldn't this be cool? The Lost Islands of Draenor

One of the things we like to do at the virtual WoW Insider office is talk about what we'd like to see in the game. Sometimes it's something as simple as a winged Zhevra mount. Sometimes it gets more elaborate, like when Mat McCurley and I were talking about the lost ocean that once surrounded Hellfire Peninsula before Draenor got ripped inside out and dumped unceremoniously into the Twisting Nether, becoming what is now Outland.

"Hey," I said, "Have you ever noticed that Deathwing's Lair isn't part of the part of Draenor that became Outland?"

"Yeah, and the Warsong Clan's island is gone too." He pointed out. This got us to thinking about future content. We know we're going to Pandaria soon, but neither of us have given up on what Mike Sacco calls an outer space vacation expansion. We want it to happen, to seek out new life, to go where no tauren has gone before. And this got me to think that maybe, we can start the exploration off in 5-man content.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore

5 ways to keep your tank happy in 5-man heroics

I recently wrote a similar post about how to keep your healers happy -- now I don't want it to sound like I'm hating on you tanks. See how this is a nice, predictable series? Can you guess what's coming next? I just need to think of another three ways to keep your DPSers happy in 5-man heroics -- but don't worry, I'll run some more heroics and I'll get there.

My first and still allegedly main character is a paladin tank, and I've run a few dungeons in my time. There are some simple things everyone can do to make sure their tank is a happy meaty meat shield rather than a disgruntled defender.

5. Watch your aggro. Remember this from the "How to keep your healer happy" post? Yeah, much as that helps your healer, it also helps your tank. Playing as a paladin, I have one of the easiest AoE tanking rotations out there -- but still, if a DPSer front-loads all their damage into something that isn't my primary target before I've had one GCD to hit the darn thing, even with the new aggro buff, it may well be after you. As a paladin, I can pre-bubble you with Hand of Salvation to decrease the likelihood of this happening or even a Hand of Protection on a caster (or on a melee player to troll them). I also have an arsenal of taunts. However, other tanking classes don't have it so easy -- just give the tank a moment to gain aggro, then attack the thing that they're attacking.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Breakfast Topic: What's your favorite 5-man instance of all time?

Shadowfang Keep
This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

The first instance I ever ran was Shadowfang Keep with my brother and his friends. I was led by the nose through it and it's a good thing, because I couldn't fight to save my life -- I just wanted to look at everything! To this day, it remains the benchmark for me by which all other instances are judged. When it received its update in Cata, part of me was really disappointed. I had always looked forward to running it on fresh alts, and I never wanted it to change. For the most part, I'm OK with the changes, and it still remains my favorite instance. And now I don't have to make alts to run it.

So what has been your very favorite instance to run? Not raid, mind you -- that's a whole other Breakfast Topic. Just a regular 5-man instance. Do you prefer the old classics, or has something from Cataclysm stolen your heart? None of the Wrath or Cata instances really did it for me, but I really got a kick out of the Caverns of Time instances from The Burning Crusade.

What grabs you when you get to an instance? Is it the setting? The music? The end of a quest line? Or are you primarily concerned with what kind of loot you're going to get out of the deal?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: What do you want from 5-man content?

Dungeon Finder
This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

A good amount of the WoW population spends the majority of its endgame time in 5-man dungeons. Blizzard is acutely aware of this, and it's striven to make new and engaging 5-mans. The 5-mans were more or less left alone in The Burning Crusade, with only one new dungeon during the entire tier, and the only major innovation was the wave system used in Opening the Dark Portal, which was later mimicked in Violet Hold and The Culling of Stratholme. In Wrath, Blizzard released four new dungeons over the course of the expansion and added in vehicle-based encounters in Trial of the Champion and the Oculus (which thankfully haven't been reproduced anywhere else yet). During Cataclysm, Blizzard has already released two new instances and announced plans for three more in the upcoming 4.3 patch. It's added interactive environments, randomized bosses, and some of the most complex 5-man encounters to date.

So what is Blizzard going to add next? Since Wrath, new raid tiers are accompanied by new raid meta-achievement mounts. While raid encounters are unquestionably more difficult, it'd be a nice nod to the players who can't raid for some reason or another to have a new mount to aspire to in 5-man content. A new Glory of the Hero mount for each tier of 5-mans that come out would be a good touch and a way to make 5-man content feel a little bit more connected to the storyline. Blizzard already implemented nine achievements tied to Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub, so tying them into a meta wouldn't be much of an issue.

What would you like to see in the future of 5 man content?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Does the Rise of the Zandalari dungeon tier serve a purpose?

Perhaps what I should be asking is, "Does the Rise of the Zandalari dungeon tier still serve a purpose?" When patch 4.1 launched, the two Zandalari dungeons, Zul'Gurub and Zul'Aman, served as a "more advanced" level of heroic dungeon, with better gear (epic ilevel 353 gear almost as good as what drops in tier 11 raiding's normal modes) and more reward. Running just heroic dungeons before patch 4.1, it was possible to accumulate 70 valor points per day per heroic, for a grand total of 490 points in a week if you weren't raiding.

Patch 4.1 shook things up, and although patch 4.2 introduced a new raid, the same basic system that debuted in 4.1 is still with us. The Zandalari heroics not only dropped epic gear, they allowed non-raiders to collect twice as many valor points, a grand total of 980 valor points. It also allowed players to run heroics in a less limited fashion; you had up to seven in a week and you could run them once a day, all seven at once, or at any other rate you liked until you'd run your seven in a week's time. This was, overall, a positive change and one that allowed non-raiders to collect the tier gear available on vendors faster. Patch 4.2's change to the valor cap (reducing it to 980 in a week) meant that the Zandalari heroics could supply non-raiders with as many VPs as raiders got from raiding.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

WoW Rookie: Grouping 101

New around here? WoW Rookie points WoW's newest players toward the basics of a good start. See all our collected tips, tricks and how-to's in the WoW Rookie Guide.

Everyone's nervous the first time. It's a principle that's so, so true for so many endeavors -- and your first WoW instance is no exception. It's easy to feel bashful about dipping a toe into the dungeon pool, but there are so many good reasons to give it a try. Instances are fun. They're challenging, calling for new and different ways to play your character. They serve up eye-popping monsters and intricate lore. They offer great XP and loot. They're great ways to meet other players.

The thing is, getting started can seem like an impossible hurdle. How will you know what to do? What if your group wipes? What if you screw up? What if your groupmates kick you out of the group? Relax. WoW Rookie's here to nudge you past those first, intimidating moments. Before you know it, that first instance becomes another, and another -- and suddenly, you're popping off an instance or two every evening, in between questing and leveling your craft, and you're loving every moment of it! Let's queue up and get started.

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Filed under: WoW Rookie

Blizzard releases Bosstiary for the Frozen Halls

Following up on their neat entry for Ulduar, Blizzard has released their newest Bosstiary, this time for The Frozen Halls, the collection of new Icecrown 5-man dungeons coming with Patch 3.3. The site serves as an encyclopedia of information on the many and varied bosses of the Forge of Souls, Pit of Saron, and Halls of Reflection.

The Bosstiaries often have information that the dungeons never really give you; for example, who knew that Auriaya was the Titans' librarian? Nobody, that's who. We just wondered why the heck she was wandering around Ulduar with a bunch of cats and a bad attitude. But now you can go into the Frozen Halls and know exactly who you're fighting and why, replete with marks on the map indicating the position of the bosses and the instance entrance.

The Forge of Souls sees us freeing the souls of innocents from Arthas' Soul Grinder machines, run by Bronjahm, Godfather of Souls. Guarding the machines and preventing souls from escaping is the Devourer of Souls.

The Pit of Saron is Arthas' saronite mining operation; Krick, a leper gnome, oversees the operation from atop his abomination, Ick. Forgemaster Garfrost shapes the saronite into weapons of destruction under Arthas' command, and Scourgelord Tyrannus lords over the pit with his fearsome Scourge powers.
The Halls of Reflection are Arthas' private quarters, guarded by his lieutenants in life, Falric and Marwyn. Inside, Arthas himself keeps Frostmourne locked away from those who would try to use it against him.


Patch 3.3 is the last major patch of Wrath of the Lich King. With the new Icecrown Citadel 5-man dungeons and 10/25-man raid arriving soon, patch 3.3 will deal the final blow to Arthas. WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.3 will keep you updated with all the latest patch news.

Filed under: Patches, News items, Wrath of the Lich King

Patch 3.3: 1400 new PvE items on their way

It seems like every Wrath patch brings with it more items than the last by an order of magnitude. It was eight hundred of 'em for 3.1, between the Argent Tournament and Ulduar, and now Ghostcrawler says that 1400 more PvE items will be packed in every box of Patch 3.3, including our big orange buddy up there.

Given the recent interview with Cory Stockton and our man GC, it seems like there's a lot of attention going into itemization for all of the Icecrown gear, and thus it's actually a little surprising that there's so darn much of it. And there's a ton of new kinds of procs, set bonuses, et cetera, building on the "Epic. Cool things. Proc'y stuff." mentality that GC says Icecrown items are all based on.

Then again, with what's going down with items in Cataclysm, fourteen hundred new items seem downright mundane in comparison. It must seem that way to Ghostcrawler, too, given that this whole comment off-handedly came out in a post where someone was loudly complaining about an itemization bug on a piece of Icecrown gear. That's casual conversation for ol' Greg. "Yeah, put the finishing touches on 1400 new items today. Figure later I'll get the number of that waitress at Applebee's. Tomorrow I personally reitemize all of the old-world quests for Cataclysm. I'll get up around noon, probably leave work at 3:30 or so."


Patch 3.3 is the last major patch of Wrath of the Lich King. With the new Icecrown Citadel 5-man dungeons and 10/25-man raid arriving soon, patch 3.3 will deal the final blow to Arthas. WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.3 will keep you updated with all the latest patch news.

Filed under: Patches, News items, Wrath of the Lich King

Enter to win five Creative WoW headsets for your 5-man group


So we've been doing these Creative contests to give away their shiny new World of Warcraft-branded wireless gaming headsets for a few months now. But if you haven't won one yet, worry not: today, we're giving away five headsets to one lucky instance-running group out there, so you can all talk to each other while you're wiping in Heroic Old Kingdom.

To enter, you've got to send us a .JPG-formatted picture (no bigger than 800px please) of your favorite five-man group -- you and four friends -- to contests@wow.com by 5pm October 29, 2009 (that's one week from today!). Make sure you put "Creative 5-man contest" in the email subject so we can recognize what it's for, and while you can take it wherever and however you want to in-game (or even in real-life!), just make sure there are five people in there. Because one lucky random entry will win five Creative World of Warcraft wireless gaming headsets, one for each member of the group, at a value of $150 each, or $750 total. That's a lot of headsets! You must also be 18 or older, and live in the United States or Canada excluding Quebec -- full official rules can be found right here.

Please note: in addition to emailing us the .jpg picture, you will also need to copy and paste the form below (filled out) into your email -- it was put together by our legal department and simply says that you understand and will adhere to the rules of the contest. You need to include the names and e-mail addresses of all five players in your group so that we can contact you all about prizes if you win.

Good luck to everyone who enters -- we can't wait to see what your five-man groups look like! And stay tuned, because we've got an even more epic contest planned out soon.

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Filed under: Items, Odds and ends, Instances, Contests

Player reaction to the 5-man Trial

All right -- patch 3.2 has been out for a few days now, and I would say that most people who are interested have had a chance to go in and run the brand new 5-man instance. Of course it's not the only change in the patch (far from it), but it's the one I was most looking forward to, and unlike the raid instances, it's all in there and doable, ready for our judgment. So what did we think?

I tried it yesterday, and my first impression was "underwhelmed." I definitely don't feel that way about 3.2 as a whole, but the instance itself seems less than impressive, a one-room fight with almost as many boring moments as there are exciting ones. The fights themselves are actually pretty commonplace for a Heroic -- the jousting fight is probably the least-liked among the playerbase (seriously, whoever really loves the jousting mechanic over at Blizzard needs to take a good long look in the mirror for some self reflection), while the best is of course the Argent Confessor, who summons a random figure from our "past memories" to fight. I got Illidan and Onyxia the first few times I ran the instance, but of course Hogger and Van Cleef and Heigan the Unclean also have a chance at making an appearance. I did like the fight, but I was kind of bummed the old memories didn't bring any of their abilities with them -- they all have the same three abilities to throw at the group.

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Instances, Lore, Bosses, NPCs

WoW.com running an instance live on Vocalo.org tomorrow at 4pm central

I've been working in coordination with a group called Vocalo.org here in Chicago for the past few weeks -- they're a community-oriented division of the public radio station WBEZ (the same station that produces NPR shows like "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" and "This American Life"), and I've been doing some interviews with their in-studio host. A few weeks ago, we talked to a psychologist friend of mine about video game violence and addiction, last week we chatted with da_bears, a professional gamer here in Chicago (who recently got into World of Warcraft), and this week, we're doing something extra special: I'll be running an instance together with a five-man group live on the air. It'll start up at 4pm central both live on Vocalo.org (and live on the air in Chicago at 89.5FM). As I run through the instance live on the air (I haven't decided which one yet, though I'm thinking Heroic Utgarde Pinnacle or maybe Heroic Old Kingdom), we'll be talking about WoW and other MMOs, why these games are so fascinating, and what it's like to run with a group of five different people, all playing different roles with different abilities.

It should be interesting to say the least -- while the segment will likely be directed at people not as familiar with World of Warcraft as you guys, I'll be sure to keep it interesting even for veteran WoW players (and if we wipe, you can at least laugh at me for being a noob Hunter). I believe we'll also be taking phone calls in the middle of all of this, so if you want, you can probably call up and talk some WoW with me as well.

This all begins tomorrow, Wednesday afternoon at 4pm central time, both online at Vocalo.org and live on the air in Chicago, so if you're available to tune in and give us a listen, please do. I have no idea what will happen (has anyone ever tried to run an instance live on the radio before?), but it should be a lot of fun.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Podcasting, Events, Fan stuff, Blizzard, Instances, Raiding

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