[WoW] To run or not to run, and the politics of good enough

Out of all the things I saw in WoW on returning recently, one has been the most surprising by far. After all these years, there’s STILL no consensus on whether or not to run back into an instance after a death/ wipe.

As a point of comparison, in both Rift and LOTRO, the player base (or at least the ones I associated with) only wanted the resser to run back. They see it as part of the healer/ resser’s job, it’s what they signed up for. If anyone else released and ran too, no one minded, but people would wonder why you’d bothered. They’d laugh one of those, “you’re weird,” laughs. Less so if you got lost on the way back.

Rift makes this simpler and quicker by allowing classes with a ressing soul (and spec) to switch specs after being ressed themselves so that they can help res others. It also lets everyone have one self res every 30 mins or so, which ressers tend to rotate (eg. I’ll soulwalk this time, save yours for the next wipe.) So you usually have more than one resser in a Rift group, and usually at least one of them can self res in situ so that no one has to run back.

LOTRO on the other hand likes to make recovery quicker by letting people who release in instances reappear just inside the instance entrance, a modification that I am amazed has never made it into WoW. But the culture in my server is also very clear that only the healer runs back after a wipe.

OK, so that’s the comparison. Now let me recount a couple of experiences in WoW PUGs this week.

1. The arsey healer

The instance was Blackrock Caverns, an instance notable for having quite a long run from the graveyard if you do release from inside it. My character got killed while fighting the first boss and the rest of the group seemed to be doing fine so I figured I’d just lie there and wait for a res afterwards. It wasn’t as if running back would really save any time and I’d probably get back at about the time it died anyway.

But after the boss died, the healer refused to res and instead had a small hairy fit aimed neatly in my direction for not running. “Fine,” I said, “Have it your way, I’ll run back now.”

So they all sat around while I ran back because that healer didn’t think ressing people who died during a fight was his job. I don’t know what would have needed to happen for him to actually use his res. Maybe if I’d died a split second before the boss did he’d have decided I ‘earned’ it. (Or, you know, maybe if he’d been more on the ball I might not have died in the first place.)

It’s not that I particularly enjoy lying on the ground during a boss fight. It’s very dull. But I don’t especially see why I should spend 5 mins running back from a graveyard when a healer could cast a 10s spell to have the same effect.

2. You can’t run here, this is bat country

So another instance or so later, in the Halls of Origination, I die on one of the optional bosses (probably because I had totally forgotten the strategy – does anyone else find that you can only keep so many strategies in your head at the same time? after that, you just forget them unless it’s a really memorable boss, which this wasn’t.). The rest of the group die too. I have already started running back, and find that the shaman had self-ressed and ressed everyone else by the time I got there.

“Why did you run?” they asked curiously.

“I like that you walk,” added the shaman, “But you didn’t have to.”

Valor points and the good enough doctrine

The trouble with WoW after a new patch, when new grinds have been added to the game, is that a lot of people feel a moral imperative to gather as many points/ badges per day as the game physically allows.

So for example, if WoW allows players to gather X Valor Points per week (which can be done by running a mixture of heroics and raids), ultra-keen people will feel that they are obliged to gather exactly X Valor points per week. Any less means that you’re a slacker. Any more means that you’re an idiot who is working harder than you need to.

And when earning X Valor Points would take more time per week than you have available, people start to crack under the strain. After all, how can you tell a hard working good player who is short on time apart from a slacker if not by the number of Valor Points per week they earn? Surely if you were really dedicated to your guild, you’d find the extra time to get those points. (This is sarcasm, btw.)

Anyhow, sensible people realise that good enough will have to be good enough and if you earn your points more slowly, all it means is that it takes a few more weeks to gear up. It isn’t the end of the world. (And most raid leaders would rather that you didn’t burn out chasing that last 0.1% of raid performance.)

Guild Mum discusses this pressure, and makes the smart decision:

I don’t have time to do dailies, raid AND max out my valor points. I’ve got 240 this week. That will have to do. I’m sorry – anything more is just too much work for me. It’s a GAME!

But it’s a shame that so many bloggers feel that they have to apologise for … being sensible.

WoW really is quite phenomenal (and not in a good way) by how pressured everyone feels to prove that they’re ‘a good player’ when in practice anyone can tell if you’re a decent player about 5 mins after being in a group with you.

It came from the PUG: In which I get kicked!

One of the quirks of the WoW dungeon system is that if you leave a group before the end of an instance voluntarily, you have to wait 30 minutes before you can re-queue. For example, if you zone into a random instance and decide it’s one you don’t like so you leave straight away. However, if you get kicked by the other group members, you can re-queue immediately.

This week I figured I’d go on an emblem hunt before the next patch. I picked my druid because a) I haven’t played her in awhile and b) she’s a healer and I find healing very laid back in heroics these days, mostly due to gearing. Because I haven’t played my druid in awhile, she’s mostly in a mix of gear from the last couple of raid tiers prior to ICC. Although I did get lucky on an alt run of ICC 10 and picked up a decent healing mace too. None of this should really matter because I was healing heroics perfectly well a year ago.

So I queue up, instantly get a group, and zone in to Trial of the Champion. “This should be quick and easy”, I think. The tank is a bit undergeared so I run through one and a half mana bars during the first fight. One guy (a rogue) dies. He’s been mouthy the whole time so I am sure that he’ll be the type to go pull the next boss as soon as he is ressed. I decide, judiciously, to drink before I res him.

He says, “Res.”

I say, “Just drinking.”

He says, “res!”

I say, “You could run back while I’m drinking if you’re in a rush.”

He says, “res!!”

He says, “res!!!”

He says, “wait 5 mins and kick noob druid”

He says, “res!!!!”

And this is where it hits me like a bolt from the blue. I WANT to get kicked from this group.

(Yes, healing does make me quite passive-aggressive.)

Think about it. All I need to do is spend a few minutes reading and then I can get rid of this monkey, set him on ignore, and re-queue for another group immediately. I decide at this point that I’m not going to res him, whatever happens, but comment that he could ask politely if he wants a res. Unlike Tam, this is not because I am a nice person who wants to instruct the rest of the player base in manners. It’s because I know there’s no way on earth he’ll ask politely so I am bound to get my group kick.

(If he had asked politely I’d have done it, my mana bar was full by this point. I might have … slacked a bit on healing him later on though.)

Meanwhile, the other druid in the group disconnects while the group leader is whining at me and asking him to do the res. Fate is on my side! This is meant to be! No one suggests kicking the annoying rogue, or telling him to stop bitching and run in – it’s one of the shortest cemetary runs in the game. (I assume because I’m writing in coherent sentences they think I’ll be easier to reason with, which is probably true.) I certainly don’t suggest it.

Before the 5 minutes are up he keeps adding more exclamation marks to each res request, insults my gearscore (like I care) and says I must be a noob. I have gone to get tea by this point, I just notice it in the chat when I get back.

I realise he’s finally been able to request a group kick because he says, “kick the druid” a lot and I do in fact find myself very shortly back in Dalaran. I then put him on ignore and get into another group almost immediately. Working as intended.