Gearing, Gating, Attuning. And sometimes I miss the resistance fights …

national (OK, which tank has a fire resist set?)

Rohan wrote a post at Blessing of Kings which has been on my mind recently. He asked, “Was Blackwing Lair Boring?” Blackwing Lair (BWL to friends) was the second of the old 40 man raids from Vanilla WoW. It featured a large amount of dragons, and a storyline about Nefarian, the Black Dragon who was trying to breed a new strain of dragonkin. It also involved the best looking tier set in the game’s history.

And we adored it. I have very fond memories of Blackwing Lair, and even when my 40 man raid was way overgeared for the instance, people still enjoyed the weekly runs and happily signed up for them.

So I was thinking some more about how raiding in WoW has changed since then. These days, you show up on your weekly raid night/s for a few hours killing with your friends/ guildies/ random people from trade chat and then you’re done. You won’t need to farm raid food unless you are keen, someone will probably bring fish feasts which provide enough for the whole raid. Your repair bills will be handily covered by a few daily quests or dungeons. You will probably want some potions or flasks, which are easily bought, and gold in the game has never been easier to come by.

Back in the days of BWL, the raids would be the focus of your raid group for most of the week, even when you weren’t actually raiding. You would spend more time farming to cover repair bills, or for extra buff items. You might be helping your guildies to farm up some resistance gear, or quest items that they needed to build legendary weapons like Thunderfury. And if you needed any flasks … well, the only places in the game where flasks could be made were deep inside the Scholomance, or inside Blackwing Lair.

I remember getting permission to use my BWL lock (to our cleared instance) to let my friends from non-raiding guilds come in and use the alchemy table. Blackwing Lair had another bonus for crafters too, it was the only place in the game where miners could learn to Smelt Elementium, a material that was used to make legendary weapons.

Crafters were also involved in creating the resist gear that was needed for some of the fights. We had tanks in fire resist gear to tank the drake bosses. Everyone needed their own Onyxia scale cloak for the last boss also. And in that way, BWL was tied both mechanically as well as thematically to Onyxia (another black dragon boss). You HAD to kill Onyxia enough times to provide materials for cloaks for your whole raid before you could attempt Nefarian. The raid needed good crafters who had collected the right recipes – which also either dropped in raids or were bought with reputation that was collected in raids.

Raiding wasn’t just about killing bosses and getting loot. (Just mostly.) It was about completing raid instances in the right order and learning how to use drops from one raid to help complete a puzzle in another. The raid game back then was designed to be able to focus people’s attention completely.

Overcoming Barriers Together


No one will deny that being forced to collect resistance gear could be tedious, time consuming and annoying. I don’t think many people enjoyed it and I doubt anyone was sorry to see the resistance fights disappear. But often, the rest of the raid group would chip in and help.

I remember in TBC that our raid group helped to collect the materials to craft frost and nature resist gear for our tanks on Hydross (a boss which required one tank with frost resist gear and one with nature resist gear). It was a way for people who had more time and energy to contribute to the raid effort, even if they didn’t raid so often themselves. (We were more casual back then.)

In many ways, I think Blizzard has been toying for a long time with the notion of letting crafters and non-raiders be a part of the raid effort. They’ve just not found a successful model yet.

In Wrath, BoE raid drops (ie. runed orbs, crusader orbs etc) can be used by crafters to make some extremely nice and desirable gear, all of which is BoE and can be freely traded and sold. In Ulduar, recipes were random and rare drops from bosses. In TotC, the recipes were still random drops, but were much more common and also BoE so can be found on the auction house. A rich crafter could quietly buy them up. And in ICC, the recipes are no longer random drops. They are bought with frost emblems (indirectly, they’re actually bought with primordial saronite which can be bought with frost emblems).

So it’s never been easier for a non-raiding crafter to make those raid items.

The other side to resistance fights was the sense that the whole guild/ raid was working together on an ongoing basis to achieve a goal. Barriers are annoying, that’s their whole point. To annoy you until you overcome them. But the sense of working together on a common goal doesn’t apply to PUG raids in the same way.

If your pick up raid needs a tank with frost resist, you won’t be motivated to help them to gear up. It’s much easier to just shout in trade chat, “LF1M tank for raid X. Need achievement, gearscore, and frost resist gear check before invite.”

Which is my roundabout way of saying that I don’t miss the annoyance and frustration of resistance fights. I don’t miss the feeling that I was letting the side down if I had been unlucky with nature resist drops, or didn’t have enough time to farm my primals on that particular week. But I do miss the feeling that my raid was a team that was working together on overcoming obstacles, and that team included crafters and non-raiding members too.

And I have high hopes that Blizzard’s plans for guilds in Cataclysm will bring that feeling back.

* Picture notes. I wanted images that showed people helping each other to wear protective clothing and overcome obstacles. I know these ones are (semi-)military but the alternatives were pictures of kids at camp and I was uncomfortable using those, even when they had a creative commons licence.

** PS. Screw you, Princess Huhuran and your nature resist grind. But damn did it feel good to get you down.

14 thoughts on “Gearing, Gating, Attuning. And sometimes I miss the resistance fights …

  1. “And I have high hopes that Blizzard’s plans for guilds in Cataclysm will bring that feeling back.”

    Could you elaborate somewhat on these plans and why you think they will change raiding for the better come Cataclysm? Would like to hear some input from the blogosphere.

    • i specifically remember opening my mailbox and finding my “dark iron” set waiting to be ‘opened’. back then you couldn’t attach it all to one mail, and opening all those individual mails meant I was one of our two (of three) MC tanks.

      Hot damn, I was the Nature Tank for Hydross, too….


      /I’ll be okay, just gimme a sec, THERE’S SOME DUST IN MY EYE

  2. I’m not at all sure that their plans will change raiding. I think they’re fairly happy with where that is at the moment, and they like that PUG raids are more accessible to people.

    But I do think that the idea that guilds will be able to work together to earn guild achievements and get some kind of guild progression will bring back some of that sense of working together on a common goal that I’m missing at the moment.

    Right now, it’s more a case of me getting my hopes up than anything else. They haven’t said anything much about their specific plans for guild xp or guild progression. We just know that it won’t be based purely on raid progression so should be able to involve everyone.

    • this is a topic that will definitely keep me interested in the coming Cataclysm. A way to measure Guild progression without a third party website and that progression not being solely based on raiding should create or *gasp* even increase the feeling of team that a good guild should have. Here is to more teamwork in the world of Azeroth!

  3. I agree that it’d be very nice if there was a stronger element of this in the game. I helped our range tank by crafting and gemming a stam set for the princes fight. Even though I didn’t do the tricky job, I felt like I really contributed to our success on that battle.

  4. I strongly disagree with you in one point, but agree with I believe you intended to say.

    40 Man Raids were extremely boring. Remember Hybrids Healing, Melees suffering from strong Area Effects,OoC Resurrection, Auto-Shot-afk-Hunters, glorious things like “Cleansbringer” or Cleanse Addons making the game trivial etc…
    These raids, were as anonymous as today’s random raids.
    It was extremely time consuming and progression dividing. The only possibility, to get newcomer to your progression level, was opening a second Raid and doing previous Raid Instances again.
    Many of our friends stopped playing the game, because they simply could not afford the time per raid.
    Guilds were build around Schedules, not people.

    The basic concept of 40 Man Raids was time.

    Please do not get me wrong, I totally share your opinion, regarding the social aspects you mentioned, but I would rather like to bring in early KArazhan and heroic TBC Dungeons.

    People often forget how challenging TBC was at the beginning, because many of the things that made Raiding to such an inglorious thing were initiated later in TBC.

    TBC Content was balanced around buffing your self up 1-2 Tiers higher than your current Gear. Therefore Raiding guilds complaint, that the Item Value of the Tier Sets was to low.
    Later on, the T-Sets received an increase in Item Value.
    Because of the high amount of consumable buffs needed for Raiding, the encounters were balanced around today’s two elixir or one Flask System.

    You had to do regular dungeons before doing heroics, and even if you had epic gear, the dogs in Ramparts heroic ate you alive.

    TBC was significantly tuned down later, but during the first few month, it was the best Raid Experience, I had during those 5 years.

    During the week, we did heroics to prepare for the weekend.
    Because of the fact, that Tanks and Healers, actually did no damage, and there were nearly no daily quests, we formed farming groups, so everyone was able to pay his repair bills.
    Later on, daily quests, dual specialization and the change regarding Tank and Healing Items, made that obsolete.

    Time has always been a crucial factor in Warcrafts Raiding, but in my experience, 40 Man raids, required a lot of time, hanging in a raid, while TBC required the same amount of time, but mostly outside the raid.

    Which at the end brought back a lot of friends to our game.

    Hope that is understandable.

    • During those first few months of TBC, a lot of old 40 man guilds disbanded due to guild drama. I remember the drama of trying to fit everyone into 10 man Kara groups for attuning to 25 man raids, and then figuring out who went to the 25 man raids anyway ….

      Which is another way of saying that what was perfect for some people (and I agree that Karazhan is probably still the best raid dungeon Blizzard have made, although Ulduar comes close), was really really bad for others. One of the interesting things about the old 40 man raids was that MC and BWL actually dropped a decent amount of cash. So while running those, you didn’t need to spend much time outside the raid. Once you ramped up to AQ40 and Naxx though, buff food, buff items, resistance potions, repair bills etc all got more onerous.

  5. Resistance gear for Hydross was a big pain in the neck, and I think not necessary.
    I mean, it’s not like you could just walk through the door anyway, you had to have done your attunement first.

    Just as you were all getting excited about taking on the first boss, you found out you couldn’t because your tanks needed new gear. Also, you had to trust your tanks were not going to take all that shiny new gear and run to another raid guild.

    The cloaks in Vanilla were not so bad. To take on Nefarian you had to be raiding a lot, and Ony would have been part of your raid cycle anyway. It gave you a reason to keep going back there.

  6. But they did not disband due to 10 mans, or Schedules, they simply disbanded, because 25 mans did not fit into 40 man raids.

    But that was not my point. I basically wanted to point out, that the team experience, if we can agree on that term, was not dependent on the amount of people, but rather on the barriers they set outside of the raid.

    The fight against Vaelastrasz is the most memorable part of my Warcraft Souvenirs. The whole Story of the dragon, creating the ring to open UBRS, getting his aid in the arena and ignorantly making him Nelfarians Victim, and finally the way he tried to help you killing him. (I still have his ring in the bank). But over those memories, we often forget mind absent fights like Lootlayer or Molten Core in general.

    We recently discussed the actual raiding before cancelling our accounts, and agreed that we would rather trade having to prepare two weeks for one raid, than the actual ID farming.

  7. My hunter still has her entire ‘soak’ nature resist gear set in her bank… I can’t bring myself to get rid of the stuff. It took so many hours and hours and people to put it together.


  8. Pingback: On Oldschool Raiding « Procrastination Amplification

  9. Slightly off-topic comment incoming.

    You’ve summed up some of the few things I do miss from Vanilla (and partly TBC) raiding. There was a clear line of progression and everyone had to go through it. Both because of gear and attunements.

    In Wotlk content has been released faster than we have been able to clear some of it. And instead of finishing what we have started, we move on to the new raid. And we are able to because we can pick up whatever gear we missed from badges and there are no attunements.

    Not only is it frutrating not getting to see all the content and try all the challenges, it also breeds bad players. Going from facerolling heroics to Icecrown Citadel really isn’t optimal. More times than I care to think of I have seen people either ignore or completely fail to understand fight mechanics because they have been obsolete before.

    Heh, I think you just inspired a new blog post. Cheers! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s