Saddle up, it’s postmortem time

It’s been a good week online.

1. I picked up a copy of Mount and Blade (will write more about that later but basically you can download a full trial version for free, and you only pay if you want to get past level 7). If you like your medievalish RPGs sans magic, go try it. I just like any game that lets me play a badass female warrior in heavy armour.

2. Our Warcraft raids went well. In fact, they went really well. I don’t entirely know what we’d been expecting when our 25 rent-an-adventurer group hooked itself up onto voice chat and sailed into the inexplicably floating pyramid that is Naxxramas … but I don’t think we were expecting to kill 9 bosses in 2 evenings. (If anyone knows the place, we cleared the Spider and Plague wing and the first three bosses of the Construct wing. Only had time for one try on Thaddeus but we’ll get him next week for sure.)

Today our alliance (with a small a, since we play Horde like all right-thinking people!) boards are a-flurry with excited posts. Lots of people thanking the raid leaders and saying how much they enjoyed it. A few people posted combat log parses — which results in raid leaders saying sternly that these are useful tools for analysing how to do better but that there will be no witch hunts for poor performance. Some posts suggesting slight changes to tactics to try next week.

Basically this is the post-mortem phase of the raid week. How did we do? How can we do better?

But what I mostly take from it is the sheer enthusiasm of the raiders. I’m happy too (also relieved). I enjoy raiding and it’s always fun when things go well. Some of the guys who were with us on Wednesday or last night had never raided before, and it’s infectious to watch them light up with enthusiasm.

On those grounds, I would say that Naxxramas is well tuned for raids like ours. I can see now why people say that it’s an easy raid instance. If you’re used to an environment where it takes several weeks to kill a boss, having a relaxed raid like ours be able to trot in and down nine in two nights is a fair sign that things are not what they were.

But you can’t argue with people having fun and looking forwards excitedly to coming back next week for another go. If I was a designer, that would be exactly the response I would hope for from a group like mine which has a fair mixture of experienced and new raiders. It really is the entry level raid we were so desperately hoping for.

The main thing that makes it such a pleasant learning curve for new raiders is that a lot of the fights are quite fault tolerant, and the amount of raid damage is generally low. So there are several fights where it won’t stop you successfully killing the boss if a few people do things wrong or run the wrong way or die inexplicably on the other side of the room from everyone else (NB. I did this on at least one occasion). Also the fights themselves are simpler than some of the complex 5 phase craziness that was the TBC boss fight. Each boss has one or two tricks that people need to learn. That’s a much more friendly staged way to teach new raiders what it’s all about than throwing them straight into Karazhan the way it was at the beginning of TBC.

And the other newbie friendly thing about the raid is that the gear requirements are now much easier to meet for new raiders, plus there are more experienced guys around to help and advise. Between reputation gear, crafted gear, quest gear, badge gear, and drops, you don’t need to spend weeks farming heroics in order to raid. Note: I just reread that last sentence and realised how complex a process it sounds.

It’s all about the Trez

Mrs Spinks has a bad shield day

Mrs Spinks has a bad shield day

And our raid collected 20 drops over the two nights, which for a 25 person raid means that most people got a shiny purple souvenir too. Blizzard, I think, realised very well that one important thing about raid drops is that they need to be recognisable enough that you can lounge around cities and make sure other people know that you actually have 24 friends. Unfortunately this means that some of them are unfeasibly large and glowy, and ugly as sin (I mean the epics, not the friends).

I think of it as the Azeroth equivalent of a T-Shirt saying, “I tanked Patchwerk and all I got was this fugly shield.”

But it is epic and I am happy :)