Raid Update: Is this what the hardcore feel like?

Have you noticed how bloggers always write “We’re not hardcore but …’” before they relate recent guild activities which sound unbelievably hardcore to the reader? There’s a lot of truth in the saying that hardcore is anyone who plays more than you, and casual is anyone who plays less.

Or in other words, players  actually have no idea how hardcore we are. And only a vague idea what that means anyway.

This came home to me over the last couple of weeks. The last time I wrote about our alliance’s raid progress, I said that I thought Ulduar was tuned perfectly for us. And then they nerfed it.

Everyone who expressed an opinion on the private forums was disappointed. This was an unusual situation for us, we’re not usually in a position to be complaining that raids aren’t hard enough. I had a pang of empathy for the hardcore (I mean the real hardcore obviously, not me) who complained when Sunwell was nerfed.

We haven’t cleared the place yet and there’s plenty of challenges left. Plus when we do there are still hard modes. But I think we’d all shared that feeling that the place was perfect the way it was.

Were Blizzard right to nerf Ulduar?

They were absolutely right.

Whatever else it is, Ulduar needs to be accessible. And that means accessible to irregular raiders, raids with a few sub-par dps, and people who found Naxx challenging but will soon be finished with it.

The new paradigm says that the extra optional difficulty will be in the hard modes, and in a sop to the hardcore there’s an extra boss that requires completing all those hard modes to unlock.

Optional is a very key word here. With Wrath, difficulty became optional and we haven’t yet seen the results play out. How many players, if given the choice between raiding 4 nights a week and 1 night a week would decide that they’d rather have the extra free time than the hard mode achievements?

There will be inevitable jibes about people being poor players (I’m being kind here because I detest the retarded jibes — it’s neither retarded nor fair to the mentally disabled to plonk people in that category because they want to play less) if they decide that hard modes don’t motivate them.

Also the only real reward for being hardcore in the current environment is that you get to power through the content, possibly get boasting rights that a lot of people don’t care about any more, and then be bored for longer than the more casual raids.

Expect to see a lot more pressure on hardcore guilds to keep recruiting, because it’s going to be harder than it ever has been before. Give it a couple of months or so, I think a lot of them will be breaking apart. The game simply no longer provides the sort of content that they were created to beat.

Two more bosses down

My alliance usually runs 2-3 raids per week of three hours duration each. Two weekly raids is more common, and that’s what we did this week.

So we got the Iron Council and Kologarn for the first time, as well as all the previous bosses, and had some good attempts on Auriaya (nicknamed Maiden of Biscuits by the raid and I’m still not entirely sure why). Another achievement for us because it was the first week in ages that our main raid leader was away and I think it was good for confidence (and I’m sure he’ll be delighted also) that we still got stuck in there and made good progress.

Despite all this, although there was a third raid scheduled for Sunday we didn’t make the numbers. And we’re starting to see people drift away. One friend transferred to a PvP server, and another decided that he wanted a break (he says until the next expansion).

I don’t think this is specific to my alliance, it’s more illustrative of a general malaise. Also MMOs always lose numbers during the summer, I don’t think I have ever played a game that didn’t.

We also pulled a 10 man raid together last week and waltzed through the outer and antechamber bosses, picking up achievements on Razorscale and Flame Leviathan on the way. I’m not able to run them on weekends at the moment which severely limits the time we have in the instance (3 hours per week). So we really have to pick our goals so as to maximise the time available. I’ll probably write more about that later this week.