[WoW] So isn’t it time for legendaries to become more accessible?

Latest WoW news is that the Firelands, which is coincidentally the most recent raid, is due for a nerfing before the next patch comes out. And when I say ‘due for a nerfing,’ I mean next week. Also, said patch will include a new legendary weapon along with the next raid – a rogue dagger. (Well, it’s a melee dagger but rogues are the only ones who really use them.)

A more cynical person than myself might think that Blizzard was on a quest to use up all the news cycles up until the end of the year. Between Diablo 3, WoW patches, Blizzcon, and WoW watercooler discussions about how they decide who to nerf, it’s all go all of the time.

I think it’s generally agreed (among bloggers at least) that raid progression in Firelands has been slow. Maybe it’s because of the usual numbers dip due to Summer, maybe it’s down to raid difficulty, but fewer raids than ever have completed the instance on normal mode. Ilovebubbles comes out and says what a lot of people are thinking: that raid instance was overtuned. It’s never been a problem if heroic modes are hard, that’s what they are for. But an average guild of average competence would have been able to butt heads against the last boss a few times (if not down it) in Wrath by the time the next raid instance was released. If a lot of people in average guilds of average competence are saying that they’re struggling to even get 2-3 bosses down in normal, then something isn’t right.

I’m not using average as an insult, just a way to distinguish casual guilds who take their raiding seriously as opposed to what bubbles calls ‘stacks of failpancakes’.  Blizzard nerfing the normal raid hard pre-patch is pretty much an indication that they acknowledge the tuning issue.

All of which makes you wonder just how many people actually achieved the current tier legendary at all. Anecdotally, the one friend I have who is in a hardcore raid guild says that they have been finding it a heavy grind. These guys had no issues getting both the legendaries from Wrath and they’re downing the bosses.

So let’s talk about legendary weapons

Legendary weapons have tended to be rare and sought after in WoW. Shadowmourne, the two handed axe from Icecrown Citadel, was probably one of the more accessible variants – it didn’t require any heroic mode kills. Expensive and time consuming, but accessible to raiders who could clear ICC on normal mode.

The current tier legendary can also be obtained from normal mode raiding, but there’s a difference. Firstly due to the raid locks, each player can only clear Firelands once a week (rather than once in 25 man and once in 10 man) and secondly fewer raids than ever are clearing the raid in the first place. So it would take longer even if you were in a raid that got the place on farm quickly. And if you’re an average raid group that would normally take a few months to clear the place on a regular difficulty – you have pretty much no chance of being able to gather enough of the drops to make the legendary. And once the next patch drops, your players are likely to want to move on to the Deathwing raid and not keep farming Firelands so that one person can have a legendary weapon.

So there’s a point where I ask whether this matters. Legendaries are supposed to be rare, is there a problem if only the top raids can get them? And frankly, in an endgame where it’s harder and harder to get players to raid, I think it does matter. Would it have really mattered if the legendary had been accessible enough that a guild capable of clearing the raid would have a hope of getting one?

I find it hard to see people get their hopes up and then have them dashed by either bad luck with drops, or bad luck with Blizzard dropping a poorly tuned instance on their heads. I’d rather see a decent legendary with neat perks and questlines accrue to average guilds, and then let the hardcore guilds have a way to upgrade it somehow from heroic modes.

Anyhow, apparently the next patch will include a rogue legendary dagger. At which point everyone who doesn’t play a rogue mentally tunes out and stops caring about how accessible it might or might not be. But you have to feel for those players who do play and raid and love their rogues (I think least played class in raids at the moment), to have the offer of a legendary weapon wafted in front of them, but wonder if only the most hardcore raids will likely have a chance to get one.

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 …