On Solo Rewards for Group Challenges

Group content of any kind in a MMO can be seen as a social challenge. If you want the shiny mount/ quest reward/ epic then you need to find 4/9/24 other suckers to come and help you get it. Now, the standard way to do that is to either pledge your loyalty to a guild which will require some kind of ongoing commitment. Or maybe chance your luck with a pick up group, or asking random people on the trade channel. Or persuade some friends to come along.

And people enter into guild pacts because they know that they all will benefit. So where do legendary weapons fit into this scheme? One person in the raid has to be chosen to receive the main reward. I guess the social challenge for the rest of the raid is to pick the right person and hope that s/he will stay with them afterwards.

I wonder though what legendary weapons might look like in the new Cataclysm scheme of guild design. If it is possible to have guild bound items – something Blizzard have already been discussing with reference to crafted heirlooms – then how about a guild bound legendary item? You could let different people use it from week to week. So if you helped create a legendary that was of a type your class could use, you’d share the reward.

But people do also love solo rewards. They’re the only progression for soloers, and the main progression for everyone else. So there has to be a balance between guild rewards and individual rewards; how heavily it is tipped towards the individual will control how trapped people feel by their guilds. Would players even want shareable legendaries, and to give that power to a guild (guild leader, even) rather than to an individual player? Or will it make them feel less ‘used’?

My experiences with Shadowmourne


(These are some bad screenies of the legendary weapon in action)

I’ve been musing on legendaries lately due to a couple of experiences with Shadowmourne – the current WoW legendary axe.

The first was the guy who broke Gearscore, shown in the pictures above. I zoned into a random PUG with my Death Knight, and there was a player with the legendary axe. He did about double my dps, which wasn’t all that low to start with. And he was a nice guy too, he told one of the other dps to stop whining about healing. Everyone was ogling that weapon and asking about his guild. And when we left, everyone wished him luck on the hard mode LK25 fight.

The other was that we’ve been making a Shadowmourne in our raid group, which involved tackling some of the raid encounters in an awkward way to let him complete the quests. I think working together on a group achievement like that is something to be proud of, and wish him the best of luck with the rest of it. I think we’ll all be very proud to see a Shadowmourne in our raid too.

And yet. I’ve never owned a legendary weapon on any of my alts, although I have been in guilds which helped to create a couple. And frankly, even if there had been a tanking legendary this expansion, I would not have been first in line to get it (purely for attendance reasons, if nothing else).

I wonder if it’s selfish to wish for raid bound legendaries, just so that I could see what it’s like to carry one …

6 thoughts on “On Solo Rewards for Group Challenges

  1. Its sorta bittersweet to have a legendary in your raid but not to have it youself I would imagine. Especially if its one suited to your class/spec.

    Not that I’d know. I knew a chap who had the War Glaives back when they were current. But they werent in my guild I just used to do a few heroics with their Main Tank occasionaly (Tanku, if you’re reading this…you are a legend my friend). I still have shards of the Ulduar healing mace in my bag and thats even more frustrating. The shards only dropped in 25 man (not 10 heroic) and our raid had terrible luck with them. By the odds and number of boss kills our first designated legendary holder should have had theirs and I would have been well on my way. Instead we never even finished the first one.

    I’m split. They’re fantastic items that add to the ‘epic’ feel of the game. I’m tempted to say like the Phoenix Mount perhaps they should give less of an overt in game bonus? Thats only perhaps mind.

    • I really felt for you guys that we were so unlucky with the shard drops in Ulduar. But tbh they were aimed at more hardcore guilds running lots of hard modes (I think they had a higher chance to drop shards?).

      Which is unfair in many ways because it’s just as much effort (albeit for different reasons) for a casual guild to get normal modes as for a hardcore guild to get hard modes, but don’t ever expect Blizzard to understand or recognise this fact.

      We actually got 2 Thunderfuries in Vanilla for two of our main tanks, which really did make a huge difference to the raid – and is also why it’s just as well they dont’ do tanking legendaries any more.

  2. You just made my tomorrows post.

    BTW if you want legendary, get yourself a lvl 60 one. Or comfort yourself that the first naga in cataclysm will drop a better green.

    • I’ll look forwards to reading your thoughts. I’m in two minds on the legendaries — I think it’s great to have group goals to work towards but I much prefer the sort of group goals you’ve come up with for your guild experiments than making a legendary weapon for one lucky person.

      Also I’m far too pragmatic to waste time on level 60 or 70 legendaries (I suspect the level 70 ones would be easier) 🙂 I don’t actually want one that much, I just think it’d be cool to be awarded one by a whole guild!

  3. To some extent we’ve been here before with Vanilla main tank gear.

    Back then the guild worked hard to gear up its main tank. Communal loot like cores were used to make tank gear. The main tank was often the guild armoursmith too which required communal loot for Thorium Brotherhood rep.

    Blizzard realised it was pretty horrible for a guild to be so dependent on one uber-geared main tank. It didn’t help that 4 horsemen broke it by forcing the top guilds to poach tanks from lesser guilds.

    So what they did is reduce the dependency of people on tanks. More tanking classes, smaller raids, less tank and spank, more off-tanking, dual spec. No longer are 39 people screwed if one guy leaves.

    It makes some sense to apply this to legendaries. They are group effort loot that can be removed from the group by the decision of one person. It’s kinda not fair.

    However it does have problems.

    First people really like them. Next not all raids are one large guild – how would a raiding alliance deal with a bound-to-guild legendary? What happens if a guild disbands with a legendary half finished?

    • Yup, any way you do it will have problems. I personally think the issue is partly balance (how do you balance raids if there’s an uber but rare weapon available?) but also how should a group effort be rewarded?

      If there are to be group achievements (for example) that require a legendary amount of effort, what sort of reward would be fun and appropriate? And how about rewarding non-raid group efforts, and is that even appropriate?

      Legendaries in WoW feel like old fashioned design these days.

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