It came from the PUG: Is there something in the Northrend water that turns people into idiots?

One of the big questions in WoW at the moment is what effect the lack of challenge in heroic instances will have on the playerbase as a whole.

The gear progression has been so steep in Wrath, and Blizzard have been so keen to make sure that new 80s can easily catch up (which is a worthy goal and has made a lot of players very happy!) that players race through the level 80 heroics with barely any need or knowledge of tactics. Everything gets pulled in clumps and AEd down. A dps class is measured on how quickly they can down trash – great for puffing up the damage meters. A tank is measured on how quickly they can grab AE threat and sustain it. A healer is measured on how invisible they are to the rest of the group while this is happening – plus ca change.

So the thought is that players are currently being trained to expect that all instances will be a 10 minute AE gankfest. And anything less will be met with screams of frustration. But is that really true?

I’ve run a few PUGs on levelling alts recently, and actually I found that players tend to adapt far better than that. If they need to communicate, then they will pause and do it. So on a BRD emperor run, even the newbies who were acting like twits sat and listened to instructions and used their torches correctly.

For sure, there are still players who forget that not everyone is in full heirlooms and try to run low level instances as if they were on their ICC geared mains. But I suspect that doesn’t last long. The tank who pulled half of Ragefire Chasm last night and then bitched at the healer when we wiped will learn that doesn’t work. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

And yet somehow, as soon as players cross the sea to Northrend, they forget it all again

What I have found in general is that aside from the odd tosser, low level groups do tend to eventually get it together.  But somehow, as soon as you start queueing for Northrend normal instances, everyone acts like an idiot again.

So my latest alt in Northrend is a DK tank, and yes I picked blood spec because I like it. The up-front AE threat isn’t as strong as others, but it’s a perfectly fine tanking spec. If I group with impatient dps, I usually mark the first mob with a skull so that they know it will be the one with the highest initial threat. Pretty simple, stuff you’d think. Or at least you might think that if you have never tanked, in which case you would know that inevitably the skull-marked mob will always be the last one standing.

The other day, I did this in a group and one of the other players went ballistic when I asked him to kill the skull first. It was all, “Screw your skull!!!!!” and the like.   I can’t be bothered with that type of hassle any more so I explained that there were lots of things I could be doing in the next 30 minutes and any of them were better than tanking for him, and left.

But what I don’t understand is why he was so angry. I wasn’t rude. All I asked was for him to target the skull first.

Maybe he associated marking as something that was bad, or a mark of a bad group or bad tank. Or just resented being reminded that he wasn’t in a group with a bunch of silent NPC minions who would get on and do their thing so that he could sit back, AE every group and then profit.

Maybe it’s all the saronite in the water, but something in Northrend seems to make players forget anything they possibly learned in instances while levelling.  It is all too easy to understand why people get put off tanking in Northrend. I will probably switch my DK over to dps and only tank with friends, at least until I’ve had a chance to gear up. It’s no skin off my nose and will be a lot less stressful.

22 thoughts on “It came from the PUG: Is there something in the Northrend water that turns people into idiots?

  1. You are making a pretty strong assumption that people have learned to work together in instances while levelling. My experience so far with my lowbie druid (just dinged 28) and DK is contradictory to this. Much like your story about the tank pulling everything in Ragefire Chasm, I’ve seen that happen in other low level instances, too. Always the cause of the wipe has been the fault of the healer and the rest of the group has been silent.

    The problem is the exaggerated aim to get toons to cap and the way soloing has been made so easy and profitable means to the end. I would still make the assumption that the reason to tactic-less apporach in the Northrend normals comes from the fact that people think they have to get into the instances for the a)gear and b)achievements which open doors later on. They do not know how to group, how to behave and the alt players don’t remember (or don’t want to remember) that they are not playing with overgeared guildies or other super powered toons. There may be -sigh- a real newbie in the group, too!

    It’s not the water, dear. It’s the game.

    C out

  2. It’s not in the water, it’s in the badges. Chain-questing is faster leveling than instancing unless you have a competent group. Hey, grinding green mobs is faster leveling than instancing with “gogogogog” creatures. So only people who want to instance go instance, providing a good experience.

    However in Northrend you get badges for instancing so you “must” instance. So all the scum get to your groups. Beware!

    • This, I think. The random dungeon rewards at low levels are pretty forgettable, so you only go on runs if you really want to. Northrend lures people into its instances with emblems, so you get shorter queues but at a price. Unfortunately.

  3. Even if you like Blood spec, and even though my own DK tank is Blood spec, in your position I’d still choose Frost, purely because it makes tanking 5-mans with impatient and trigger-happy DPS so much easer. Howling Blast is a wonderful thing, especially with its associated glyph.

  4. Why didn’t you vote kick him?

    I didn’t run vanilla instances on my DK as I consider the DK to be insufficient equipped for that (you don’t get the AE tank spells before level 61). But I tanked all the Outland instances. I got the same impression as you but a completely different explanaition.

    “Northrend normal mode instances are freaking hard. They really are.”

    The post-2.4 nerfed Outland instances can just be AEed down. Especially if the tank knows the instances and therefore pulls every group correct. The mobs in Northrend instances take substancially longer to kill and do much more damage. UK trash on normal with a level 68 tank is much much harder then any heroic in ICC gear.

    Player didn’t learn to listen to and work together in Outland instances. They are just so easy that it doesn’t matter. (e.g. The torches room in front of the emporer was most of the time not completed by PuGs in vanilla.)

  5. This also happened way back in TBC. Aka “Karazhan Speed Run”. It happened even earlier in WOTLK whose dungeons are by design very prone to fire and forget AoE tanking/nuking.

    People are not there for fun. They are not there to experience the instance. They do not want to play with you.
    They want their badges in the minimum amount of time necessary, and even that takes too long.

    This mindset makes even people who raided the highest tiers suddenly noobs and wipe on trash mobs.

  6. What I find fascinating is that people forgot how freaking hard some of the WotLK heroics were at the start.

    Remember Loken? Remember the fact that he managed to kill more people in a short space of time than any 5 man boss ever? ( I never worked out what was up with that. It wasn’t that complicated a mechanic. Were we all retarded?)

    Remember the freaking UP gauntlet?

    Remember other hard stuff that I can’t remember off the top of my head?

    I’d think people would be a little more cautious after the early beatings they recieved.

    • Absolutely Simon – I often joke to guildmates about “remember when this place was actually hard?”. Like you say, the gauntlet in UP, those big dudes in the room before Loken (that poison was lethal, and the spinny dwarf guys can still wipe a party even now), the trash packs by the steps after Taldaram in Old Kingdom. The Tribunal in Halls Of Stone used to be really hard to heal through too, and still gives tanks a bit of a workout trying to keep aggro on stuff.

      Plus like Kring says, the Northrend instances can actually be quite hard when doing them at an appropriate level. Sure, a well-geared 80 can solo them, but a level 68 who doesn’t even have all their abilities yet will struggle much more.

      Even having run through them countless times on your main, you can still get into trouble on some bosses if you’ve forgotten what they actually do because you’re used to burning them down in 20 seconds. When was the last time you had to kite Mage Lord Urom off the ice patches he puts down, or actually run away from Slad’ran’s poison nova in Gundrak?

    • I meet more dps who don’t know Krystallus’s mechanic too. Today I had to painstakingly explain to a roomful of ranged that we probably wiped because they all stacked on the tank.

      Yes, Ormorok is easier if you stack. No, not all craggy giant dudes are the same.

  7. Having levelled numerous alts in this expansion (because of lack of stuff to do on my 80 main, but that’s a different discussion) I recognise some of the things you say.

    The average player today has FAR less knowledge about the game and their class than in even Vanilla. Sure, we were all newbs at some point, but back then it was “learn to play or GTFO”. Nowadays it’s “it’s ok, your party will be OK despite whatever your party does. Put your AoE spells on the hotbar and zerg from 15-80 and beyond”.

    The slime in Maraudon is probably a good example which is still somewhat unforgiving. This is the only trash pack in WoW that can’t be (unless you run with a healer that is prepared for it) tanked and AoEd down. In 4/5 parties the tank runs in with the melee dps and becomes murdered by the slime.

    [Tank]: HAELER WTF?
    [Healer]: Sorry
    [DPS 1]: fail healer
    *DPS 2 has left the party*
    [Me]: You’re supposed to kite the slime, not tank them.
    [Party]: lol what the f*ck is kite?

    My warrior tank (no heirlooms) does 60% damage in a regular dungeon, without boasting, cleave, cleave, revenge, thunderclap does the job and doesn’t take any “skills”. While the “dps”-classes hovers around 10-15% I wonder what they are doing there in the first place.

    My hunter does double or triple damage in a run only auto attacking. And that’s with me wearing green gear vs full heirloom mages, warlocks and rogues.

    You may argue that “levelling is supposed to be smooth” and “it’s just low level dungeons, who cares?” but you are forgetting these are the places that were designed to teach players about group play. Any idiot can AoE their way to 80 and that’s exactly what’s happening.

    WoW 2.0 has made the players lazy, dumb and not caring, because you don’t have to try to be successful.

  8. This post hits close to home. Just this past weekend I got into a Nexus group with my resto druid. Everyone was pulling agro and I had to drink after almost every pull. We get to the boss (forget name) who spawns a rift and becomes immune until you kill the rift. I’ve never actually seen this but if you don’t kill the rift it spawns more mobs that cast arcane bolts. So here we were with a whole bunch of mobs, arcane bolts flying everyone, I’m casting heals so fast I can’t type in “KILL THE RIFT!” so we eventually wipe. The consensus in the group is that I’m a bad healer. Even though I KNOW that it wasn’t my fault it still gets to me. Don’t get me started on tanking, I only tank for my guild now, I’ve given up on tanking PuGs and salute those who do.

  9. Thus and many other posts like it are why I continue to level 3-, and sometimes 2-manning level appropriate instances.

  10. I’ve recently taken to marking my Tanks with a Star. Amid all the AoE I find it’s a good visual to make sure I’m standing behind the Mobs. So far, I’ve never had any Tanks complain about being The Star 🙂

  11. “…When was the last time you had to kite Mage Lord Urom off the ice patches he puts down…”. I was the tank and because we had few poor geared people, I didn’t want them to die. So I decided to do the normal thing and kite the boss as I was suppose to do in the first place. Although usually he is burned down where he stands. The pug healer of that run, who was also “of the Ashen Verdict” says to me in party “stop moving him around ffs”

  12. I think that Blizz took a huge step backwards with heroics in Wrath.

    Remember having to run normal mode instances an ungodly number of times back in TBC to get to honored so you could unlock heroics? That at least made sure everyone was familiar with the instance and could understand the tactics needed.

    Now we just get to friendly, grab a tabard and go AoE everything down to get the rep and badges.

    I only run my one heroic a day with guildies now. But we always noob it up for fun… pally heals using ret gear and righteous fury, warlock fearing everything in sight and hunters misdirecting to anyone but the tank. We laugh our arses off because because we never wipe.

  13. If you make people run content they don’t like, every damn day with no options, what do you think you’ll get?

    Giving people 1/50th of a great piece of gear for running the same instances over and over…it’s just poor design for gamers, good design for developers.

    Damand more.

  14. I remember when the instances were hard. Wiping on Skadi, wiping on Loken, wiping to the end boss in UK – oh dear, yes. And wiping in occulus too.

    We were in greens and blues – and we were an all plate party. And we were learning.

    Along the way, our tank was patiently teaching us guildies about standing behind the mob, about aggro and our healer was teaching us about standing in the fire. Our tank taught us a lot – we eventually died less often, but it wasn’t until the Great Badge Nerf that we all got so blase about heroics…

  15. By the time I quit WoW for the final time I had ten 80s and quite a bit of /played time.

    Let me tell you: This has never changed, and will not change. You could take ten people out from a Naxxramas first kill raid and not lose anything. Hell, it made things easier because you didn’t have to heal the dead weight or expect them to do anything. I think we had 29 for our Razuvious kill first time we walked in. The only boss we had 40 on a successful kill was Heigan, and only because the Safety Dance killed the dead weight.

    Ahn’Qiraj before that was even worse! Twin Emporers was nigh impossible due to people using AoE attacks like idiots. First time we did it we had 34, I believe. And C’thun was easier too, less chance of death laser at the very beginning to wipe half the raid.

    So before they had the cross server stuff, people may have been forced to be a little more competent or kiss ass more, but honestly? Lowering the difficulty isn’t that bad in the long run. It’s certainly working out for them!

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