Monday, February 11, 2008

Badge Reward Epics: Do Not Want!

So, information is starting to come out regarding the 2.4 patch. We already knew about the new 5- and 25-man instances we were getting. We had heard there was going to be a new legendary bow (Seriously though, blizzard, whats with the utter lack of legendaries in Outland?). And now, the floodgates are opening, and we're getting all sorts of information on specifics, Sunwell opening quests, class changes, 8-piece extensions on T6, Tier 6 quality badge rewards. . .

T6 badge rewards? Pardon me while I die a little inside. . . thats just not right.

Now, first off, let me get one thing out in the open here. I could care less about what Joe Schmoe of Kokomo has for gear. People used to get all upset because they couldn't get epics in what has come to be called Vanilla WoW without either raiding with 39 of their closest friends, or PvPing for 30 hours a day to climb the ladder. Blizzard listened, and gave more casual players avenues for acquiring epic gear: heroic instances, badge rewards, crafted epics, a completely revamped PvP point system, and arena. Lets face it, in the Outland, purple is the new blue. But whatever, color is color.

Fast forward to 2.3. Among the changes to the game are new badge rewards, equivalent to the gear that drops in The Eye and Serpentshrine Cavern. Honestly, I probably would have had the same issue with this that I do with the upcoming badge rewards, being much higher quality (T5) than what the content one runs to get it would dictate (Karazhan and Heroic Instances). At the time, though, I was distracted by the fact that two pieces of new badge gear would effectively "plug" two gaping holes in feral tank itemization: Bracers and Idol.

So, what do I care, anyhow? I already said I dont care what other people are wearing, and this new gear doesn't hurt anybody in any way, only gives us new opportunities. Well, first of all, I consider each piece of my gear to be a mark of accomplishment. I wear my T4 Helm with pride, knowing that I earned it by being there for my guild's first ever Prince Malchezaar kill. A'dal's Signet of Defense sits proudly on my finger as a testament to my guild's first slaying of the pit lord Magtheridon, shutting down the source of the Fel Orc menace. My Waistguard of the Great Beast, on the other hand, is simply evidence that I found the time to farm Karazhan for badges for a few weeks. Whoopy doo.

Which brings me to my second reason: expectation. I know that right now, my gear is in great shape for tanking. In fact, other than my T4 chest (which I may never get to see, since I've only been able to attend that one Mags raid due to my schedule), I really dont have any upgrades to look forward to in the forseeable future. So you would think that I'd love to have new gear to work toward in 2.4, right? Wrong. Guess what, its NOT about the gear for me, thats not why I raid. I raid because I love the CHALLENGE of it, not the purple color of my gear text (which, as I already noted, can be gotten by pretty much anybody nowadays). Farming heroics and Karazhan for badges of justice is NOT a challenge to me, and it frankly pisses me off that I now will be expected to continue farming these places to replace my hard earned raid drops with better pieces that even somebody who can only run Heroic Slave Pens and Underbog can get.

Ok, so maybe I DO care about what other people are wearing, just a little bit *shrug*

Third, lets look at an interesting fact: casual content (Which I define as 5-man instances and Karazhan) can be done just fine with casual gear (Which I define as anything that does not come from a raid instance, raid reputation reward, or badge reward other than those TBC released with). The only people that need T5 and T6 quality items are guilds DOING T5 and T6 difficulty content. Quite frankly, having high-quality gear takes all the challenge out of the casual content anyhow. I tank most heroic runs and much of Karazhan in my kitty DPS gear just to make them go faster, for God's sake, I dont need full T6 to run Heroic Underbog! If people are having a hard time doing content without uber gear, thats GREAT, that gives them a challenge, something to work toward. Kind of like how raiders have to work hard to down new bosses, fancy that! And if they really, truly, want to do the equivalent of cheating by acquiring gear beyond what the instance was designed around, go ahead and farm honor/arena points and buy PvP rewards (My disgust for the fact that I should also force myself to do arena since my S3 gear is worlds better than my current raiding epics is another topic altogether.

I've heard some people put forward the thought that this gear can allow people to "catch up" to guilds raiding higher end content. And to a degree, they're right. A person will be able to farm badges and get T5/T6 quality gear to catch up with those who have loot from SSC/TK/Hyjal/BT. There are two problems with this line of thinking, though, which can be summed up in one of my very abbreviated philosophies: Skill > Spec >> Gear. Sure, you can get BT quality gear from badges, but when you really look closely at the difference between T4 and T6 gear, the difference isn't THAT great. A person in full Karazhan and Heroic gear isn't going to be topping the charts on Illidan, but I bet that if they had a decent amount of skill to back up that gear, they would make at least a respectable showing.

And more importantly, even if a level 70 could farm heroics for a full set of BT quality epics, I gurantee you that person, unless they have another raiding character of the same class and spec, is going to be extremely lacking in the skills you need for high end raiding. Whether you realize it or not, you learn valuable raiding skills while killing off Curator's sparks, clicking on Magtheridon's cubes, and dodging Void Reaver's balls *chortle*. Guilds dont take weeks learning a new boss because they're waiting to get enough gear upgrades, they take weeks because they need to learn the ins and outs of the fight, develop strategies, hone reflexes, and generally get better at the game.

If I had to sum up why I dont like the idea of T6 badge rewards in one short sentence, it would be this: Putting high-end raid quality rewards in G'erasMart helps least those who need the items the most, and helps most those who dont even need the items.


Xanathos said...

Interesting to hear your point of view. Mine goes the complete opposite way though. As someone who is currently grinding away getting badges to fill my missing holes I can tell you it's not going to be as simple as you make it out to be to get these badge rewards to someone who isnt hardcore. I myself consider me somewhere between HC and casual. My guild clears Kara (sometimes) and are working on early 25's.

I'm guessing that these rewards will cost around 120 badges for the new main pieces and around 75-90 for the smaller slots. Kara gives around 12 badges. At this rate it will take 10 weeks, or 2 1/2 months to get a new piece. If they need to completely fill out their whole armor this way it will take 3-4 times that.

So, heroics are nessisary. Right now I cant fill out a heroic group to save my life. But lets say I get lucky and fill out a group. A good group, we get through the instance in about 1 1/2 hours (average time for me is a bit over that on good night). I'll get about 5 badges if it's the daily. Multiply that by 7 thats 35 badges per week, along with the 12 from kara. It will still take 3 weeks of dedicated play from a casual player to get one of these rewards.

The problem you are seeing is that you could probably put together a guild run and complete it in what 45 min? move on do 4-5 heroics a night? What does this mean? you are in a guild that is progressed past the casual guilds and you can pull out one of these new items in a week. This will fill gaps in members of your raiding group. This will allow members of your raiding group to respec/reroll and still keep up with the group. This will allow you to bring members who are new to your group up to par with you.

But to someone more casual this gives us something to work for that doesnt require raiding or PvP. Also Im going to love the fact that some of our members who have been anti heroics lately will want to do them again due to actually having something to work for. it should be easier to throw together a group. Just becouse someone isnt raiding tier 5-6 stuff already doesnt mean we dont want to progress as well.

Toby said...

I'm not 100% sure, but I think we may have misunderstood this.

I think the new T6 badge rewards referred to are in fact vendor items available with token drops from within the Sunwell 25 person raid instance. So, in fact, not available to casuals at all.

If I'm wrong on this would somebody please post a link to the actual badge rewards?

Draleon - Shadow Council (H) said...

Here are the new heroic badge rewards;

Just 3.

The T6 gear is being expanded to 8 items (which is nice for mix and match) you can only get these tokens from downing the bosses like any other T6 token in MH / BT.

No heroic badges for T6.


Sabotage (Cenarion Circle) said...

I think the point is that Blizzard is trying to give guilds a boost up sot hey have a chance to experience TbC content befor WotLK. By adding badges to Kara and ZA, by increasing token drops and by adding new badge rewards they allow more players to experience the end game content before it all becomes pointless and we are yet again reset and begin the quest for 80.

Whimsy said...

Always a well written blog, but I'd disagree with your last statement (the 1 sentence summary).

From an outsider's perspective reading the entire blog, it seems that you don't like these new rewards because they devalue the time, effort and skill it took to earn your current gear. You want the gear that you've acquired to mean something, to represent what you've accomplished and to enable you to continue climbing the progression ladder. The new rewards could mean that others who've invested less time and have less skill could possibly accomplish what you have.

I think for your own sanity, you need to break away from this mindset. Every major patch, every expansion makes existing content easier, adds better rewards and devalues every single item you've ever acquired. This is a trend that will only continue.

SuraBear said...

@Toby & Draleon: Yes, from what I was able to read last night once I got out from behind the GM content filters, all of those "badge" rewards are really just a modified token turn-in system for Sunwell. I hope it stays that way, though I wouldn't be at all surprised to see T6 equivalents on G'eras at some point in the future.

@Xanathos: Actually, you likely get many more heroic runs than I do. During the week, all of my playtime is after midnight, and on the weekends I'm in raids, not heroics. Even if I did have the availability, I'm quite frankly past the point where heroics are worth running, so the only reason I'd be running 4-5 heroics a night, even if I could, would be either lesser-geared guildies needing runs, or blizzard putting the next best tanking item in there via badge rewards. Oh, and a full Kara run is 22 badges (10 bosses + chess, 2 badges for all but Attumen [1] and Prince [3]).

Also, your last comment makes me think you misunderstood one of my points. You dont need T6 quality gear to progress if you're not raiding T6 content. Once you Karazhan, Gruul, and the majority of Heroic instances under your belt, you should have a very solid set of gear stats to take on T5 instances, and by the time you get through the T5 content, you have a good set of gear to start working on T6. If you have the gear from the lower instances, and still aren't progressing, that indicates a need for more experience/coordination/practice, not more gear. Even the most incredible gear wont keep you alive when you get knocked a mile away by Lurker's beam, get shattered by three of your closest friends, or forget to click a cube on Magtheridon.

@Whimsy: Other than the release of The Burning Crusade, I cant think of any time (Save for the 2.3 badge rewards) that Blizzard has devalued endgame content by putting better rewards in easier content. Sure, I fully expect my gear to get replaced by greens when I enter Northrend, but the shift in gear value that blizzard did with outland gear was just really an effort to keep the game fun for the people who DID have the gear, as otherwise the content in outland would have been so incredibly easy for someone in T3 quality gear that there would be no enjoyment in it.

Gothie said...

As a raider mage turned casual druid (just levelled my bear to 70 3 days ago), I mostly agreed with you Surabear. But I must say that the heroic badge rewards gives interesting potential for fun & gear for folks that for one reason or another cannot raid (work hours in my case).

The one point where I disagree with you is your reply to whimsy, that Blizz has not devalued end-game raiding content: any moron without skills can get T4-equivalent gear by spending enough time in BGs and buying S1 arena gear, and in 2.4 it will be worse, you can get T5-equivalent gear with the S2 stuff. And that is not right... even though it's understandable if you want to have competition in arenas.

All that being said, and to your point Surabear, the challenge is all the fun, and tanking heroic Slave pens yesterday in my just-turned 70 druid with blues & some quest reward greens was a blast! (thanks for the tanking tips in your other posts btw, helped a ton)

SuraBear said...

That's true. In fact, I believe I brought up that very point in the original posting. Though I have to disagree with you on one point: Due to the gear's favoring PvP stats like resilience and stamina, the season gear is not exactly equivalent to its parallel raid gear tier (S1-T4, S2-T5, S3-T6), at least not for most characters and gear (Exceptions being Bear tanks, other tanks to a degree, and the PvP Weapons).

And I have no problem with there being more badge rewards for people to collect who dont raid. I just dont think they should be uber, top of the line pieces. And for the record, I dont think S3 PvP gear should be so incredible in the raiding environment, either, especially considering high-end raiding gear is, by and large, crappy for PvP (At least arena) from what I understand.

Bujin said...

Actually from what I can tell, there are only 3 new badge rewards, all cloaks designed to fill some holes in the current rewards.

The rest of the stuff only drops in the raid dungeon, and requires a raid dungeon token (not a badge) and a sunmote (which also drops in the raid dungeon).

Matford, Nagrand said...

I've been playing this game for 11 months. I've a 70 Druid and a 70 priest who's my current main.

Do you want to know why Tier X equivilant gear is made available through badges? It's because of people like me.

I have never seen inside MC, BWL, Naxx. I've done Ony, big whoop in lvl 70 basic tanking gear. I would like to see them but the fact is I won't, because no one goes there any more.

So if no one goes to the earlier tiers anymore, how am I going to get the gear to raid the current top end stuff? I cried a little inside when I hit Outlands and my Warbear leather set I'd grinded for hours on was replaced in about an hour by greens, I can only imagine what pre-BC raiders felt, but the fact is that getting the pre-BC epics just isn't going to happen.

From a business perspective Blizz needs to keep the top end of the game accessible to new players, that's why they've nerfed levelling from 20-60.

Be happy that you've had the challenges, that you've experienced the thrill of downing a boss for the first time. I'll never have that for the pre-BC stuff and with the rate of our progression and the increasing availability of gear through badges, I'll not be facing the same challenges as you. I doubt we'll have progressed to anywhere near end game come WotLK.

You'll always be richer in your WoW experince because of that.

SuraBear said...

My point still remains: using badge gear to skip content isn't going to help anyone. Gear helps, but the simple fact is that you can't hand my character to a noob and expect them to tank as well as I tank, they need the early content learning experiences.

Also, if your guild/group is doing content far beyond your current experience and gear level, and refuses to do the earlier content for those who need it, that implies to me that you need to find another group focused on experiencing the earlier content, either by changing guilds, or at least arranging to play with others.

You seem to be saying (at least, this is what I'm reading from it) that this gear is to let people who haven't experienced karazhan experience new content . . . but for those people, Karazhan IS new content, so shouldn't they be doing Karazhan, not Black Temple?

Matford, Nagrand said...

With respect, you don't get it do you ?

I came to this game after BC came out. The grind to 70 is relatively trivial, it's not a challenge. Your average person wants to get to the big shiny stuff at the end. Frankly I've got more hope of toilet training a cat than I have of getting a raid of 40 people together at 60 to knock MC, BWL etc etc over.

That's my point. You're QQing over newer players getting gear for badges. Well QQ some more, it is highly unlikely I'll get the chance to earn the BWL/MC etc etc gear at an appropriate level. Frankly I would have much preferred it if this game has some sort of mechanisim that you couldn't progress beyond a certain level without achieving a landmark raid or something like that. No progression past 60 unless you've gotten XYZ out of one of Ony, BWL, Naxx or what have you. At least thre'd be a reason to go there.

As for rushing through content, no that's not my style. Hint, I'd actually like to raid MC despite what you've written about it. My current main is a shadow priest and as you probably know it's relatively easy for shadow priests to skip half of Kara and get in to a progression guild.

Not going to happen.

dorgol (us boulderfist) said...

You know, you made a very valid point here that I never really considered.

That being... I don't need T5 / T6 gear to do my level of content.

I'm a casual raider. I've cleared Kara, Gruul, and Mag. I've done all of ZA except Zul'jin.

My Warlock is wearing FSW + some S1 honor gear.
My Paladin is wearing mostly heroic blues + kara loot.

I have no real desire to farm heroic instances to get the new gear (either 2.3 gear or 2.4 gear). I've seen all the heroics. I've done all of Kara.

I want to SEE SSC / TK / MH / BT. I want to engage Vashj and Kael'thas in battle.

I don't want to kill Murmur for the 50th time and then get phat loot.

Logan said...

To throw two more cents into a rapidly-filling change jar:

I am a semi-serious raider that dinged 70 about 4 months ago. My guild just got into Hyjal and Black Temple and we're putting in the effort to learn those new bosses. I think that, strictly because an entirely new raid instance is coming out with it, the badge gear in 2.4 is a good thing. Here's why:

With new content comes new challenges. Like Surabear said, the primary obstacle to overcoming those challenges is simply learning the new skills that are required to down the boss. Unfortunately, skill isn't everything. Many bosses in t5 and t6 content are gear checks. Many of them have enrage timers. What this means is that no matter how perfectly your raid executes the encounter, if they don't have the gear to put out the threat/healing/dps to kill the boss within a certain amount of time, they fail. In terms of trying to progress through the first few bosses of MH/Bt, this means that the entire raid needs to have roughly tier 5 equivalent gear to succeed. Prior to the 2.3 badge rewards, this meant that guilds had to go back and clear SSC and TK for weeks and even months after downing Vashj and Kael just to have a hope of gearing up enough to handle the new material. The 2.3 badge rewards allow raiders to fill in the holes in their gear on their own time without having to re-clear "old" 25-man material over and over again, hoping for the desired items to drop. As tedious as farming Kara is, farming SSC and TK is worse. At least the badges in Kara are guaranteed, and Kara is a relatively quick clear (2-3 hours) when you reach a certain gear level.

All that the 2.4 badge rewards are doing is allowing guilds who have recently finished BT/Hyjal to meet the gear requirements for Sunwell without having to spend months and months farming old content. Sure, you will get the inevitable player who has enough skill to tag along in Kara raids and heroics week after week (but not enough to raid in high-end content) walking around in t6-equivalent gear, but those players won't have the skills to last in a serious raiding guild anyway. Thus, they won't be able to use the gear for what it was intended in the first place, namely, Sunwell.

That is, unless Blizzard keeps removing attunement requirements...

SuraBear said...

@Matford: So, everybody should be able to get the best gear because they want the best gear. Ok, then when do I get to do the Illidan fight at a Karazhan difficulty level? Because honestly, for me the gear is a means to an end, that end being downing new bosses.

So if those who play the game for purple pixels get the high end purples from running Karazhan, it only seems fair that I get to kill the ultimate bosses at a similar difficulty level.

@Logan: I do believe yours is the first argument in favor of this new badge gear that I actually can get behind. Having only downed 3 T5 bosses, I have no experience in Hyjal and BT. If the fights at that level have strict gear checks like that, I can see the need for T6 badge gear.

At the same time, though, that still means making someone with the gear quality to be killing Kael and Vashj go back and farm Karazhan and heroics for hundreds of badges. Hell, the new weapons alone are 150 badges (7 Karazhan runs).

Matford, Nagrand said...

Did you even read what I said? That's not what I said at all, I encourage you to read my comment again. Particularly the third paragraph. I struggle to comprehend how you can interpret that as wanting easy gear, perhaps you could explain?

I've done Ony. I did it at 70 with 7 other people and it was a PUG. I would much rather have raided Ony properly at lvl 60 in gear appropriate for that content. I would much rather have raided Ony and have the drops mean we were a step further along in progression.

I couldn't give a flying >expletive< about gear outside the fact that it lets me do my job. I would much rather experience conent as it was originally designed to be experienced, but with Blizz catering to the casual gamer that's not going to happen.

Frankly my heart doesn't bleed for you in the slightest. You've experienced the content at the right level in the right gear. You're richer for it. I will always be poorer than you for not having that experience and, outside of the miracle of finding 40+ other players on a server who'd eschew Outlands before doing the pre-BC raids using nothing but pre-BC gear, will never have the opportunity to experience.

That's life. I missed the boat by not picking up WoW eaarlier and WoW screwed up the pre-BC conent by making Outlands too accessible. Appreciate what you've had over me and others like me and be happy.

As an aside, dropped the T4 gloves, Trial-Fire trousers and Bands of Nefarious Deeds last night. Very very happy :-)

SuraBear said...

Frankly, Matford, I'm still trying to figure out what you're actually trying to get at. Your explanation for why everybody and their mother should be able to buy T6 gear from a vendor somehow hinges on your not being alllowed to raid old world content with a group of level 60s in pre-outland gear?

You also said something about wishing there were roadblocks to progression that you needed to do something to get past. There are. . . or rather were, two such roadblocks: you had to get attuned to each raid instance by defeating all the bosses in the previous one, and you had to run the previous one to get gear, anyhow. Giving Karazhan-farming folks T6 gear is actually serving to REMOVE one of the roadblocks.

You say you "want to experience endgame content the way it was originally designed to be experienced". Here's the thing, originally, you rand 5-man instances until you got a decent set of level 70 blues. Then you used those decent blues in karazhan and heroics to get a set of T-4 quality epics. You then took those to Gruul's Lair and magtheridon to complete your set. Once you were fully T4 geared and had done all the necessary raids and heroics to get attuned, you moved on to SSC and TK. There, you used your T4 epics to progress into T5 content, over time upgrading to T5 quality gear. And so on.

The original game design wasn't "Get into a Karazhan and heroic farming group, farm badges, and skip all the content between Karazhan and T6". If you want the gear so you can do the content, the avenue was already there to get gear WHILE running the content. If you just want the gear to say you have T6 quality gear. . . why?

Please understand, I'm not trying to attack your ideas or anything, i'm just struggling to understand what angle you're coming from with this.

Matford, Nagrand said...

>sigh< NO!

At no point have I said that casual players should get T6 equivalent gear through badges.

I started out explaining why Blizzard makes it possible. It's a business decision, make the game accessible to as many people as possible. More people playing, more people paying 15 bucks a month.

Understand this, I am not in favor of it.

What Blizzard have done in catering to the casual gamer is remove any reason to do the old content. While I only (!) log 15-25 hours a week game time I don't consider myself particularly casual. I want to go to Nax, MC etc etc. Blizzard have removed all reason for doing so.

Now if you understand that I'm not in favor of it maybe the rest of what I said makes more sense. If it doesn't I'm not sure what else there is I can say.

For the record I have no badge gear. My druid is entry level Kara with the rep-grind Earthwarden, the Heavy Clefthoof set, the usual stuff. He's offtanked Moroes, Illhoof, Attumen and dps'd Prince.

I shelved him to level the purple guy, who's been to Kara twice and several heroics. He hasn't got any badge gear either, just the FSW cratable and some rather nice drops from last night.

SuraBear said...

Ah. . . yeah, suddenly everything makes more sense. Much harder to understand someone's arguments in favor of T6 badge gear when the arguments aren't actually in favor of T6 badge gear *chuckles*

© 2008 The Rambling Bear. All Rights Reserved.

World of Warcraft™ and Blizzard Entertainment® are all trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment in the United States and/or other countries. These terms and all related materials, logos, and images are copyright © Blizzard Entertainment. This site is in no way associated with Blizzard Entertainment®