Replay Value

Why do some areas of Warcraft hold our attention through repeated play, while others grow stale?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this while playing Cataclysm, because there are parts of the game which I really enjoy doing the first time, but can’t muster the interest to do them again. This isn’t new to this expansion, but it feels like it’s more prevalent now, like there’s more things to try, but that they don’t hold my interest for long.

What’s interesting is that it’s certain parts of an activity that hold (or don’t hold) my interest, not the entire activity. Leveling is kinda fun, but there are some zones which I’ve done once and have no desire to ever do again. (Worgen starting area, Vashj’ir, Hyjal.) I find most battlegrounds infinitely replayable, except Tol Barad, which I just can’t motivate myself to play anymore on offense OR defense. Raiding has zero interest for me right now, even though I really enjoyed it during ICC. I’m not even bothering with heroic dungeons at this point, choosing to spend my time in PvP or on alts.

What’s going on here?

THE RIVER IS NEVER THE SAME TWICE

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.

Heraclitus

Every single BG or Arena I queue up for is different. There’s a different opponent, I have different team mates, and the battle is going to be unique. Yes, the maps are the same. Change comes very slowly to the battlegrounds, so even major changes (like the new WSG graveyard) get assimilated into the collective knowledge of the map, and you can focus on trying to win the battle.

But even more than the external factors, I can see how I’ve changed as a player inside the battlegrounds. My recent forays into the Arena have given me better skills in breaking up a defending team, of working with others, of winning the 1:1 matchups. I’m slowly learning how to predict what different classes will do, and move to counter them. While the games played in the battlegrounds are static, the participants are not, and I still find that highly engaging.

PvP has high replay value for exactly this reason – the river is never the same twice. While the surrounding framework is the same, the individual experience of that specific battle is always different. Once a player overcomes the initial challenge of learning how to play the BG (and gearing their character appropriately), the replay value stays high. And there’s enough variety between the different types of PvP that, generally speaking, you can bounce between different matches and not get bored with a single battleground. Variety seems to be key here.

I wonder about the exceptions to this rule, though. I don’t play a lot of Tol Barad anymore, and I am hard pressed to figure out why, exactly. No doubt part of it is because I hit a wall with the daily quests, so the external motivation for capturing the zone is lessened. It’s still a great source for Honor Points, but I don’t need those. And after spending a lot of time in there learning how to win, once I started winning I stopped going.

If Tol Barad was part of the random BG queue, would I play it when it came up? Possibly. I think I might play all of the World PvP zones if they were part of the random BG queue if they were adapted for it. But as a separate activity? I find myself choosing to do other things instead of Tol Barad.

I don’t think it’s just the lack of external rewards, though that no doubt contributes to it. The other battlegrounds offer similar rewards (Honor, Achievements) to battlegrounds I’ll willingly play, even when you set aside the pets and trinkets and mounts and gold from dailies and another exalted reputation and Honor Points coming out the wahzoo. (And those are a lot of things for a battleground to have – no other PvP area has come close to having this breadth of rewards.) So that leaves two other places to look – factors internal to me, and factors intrinsic to Tol Barad.

I wanted to beat Tol Barad. I remember this so clearly when I wrote a post where I basically agreed with people who said it was too hard – and my own attitude in that post royally pissed me off. It wasn’t that the battleground was too hard, it’s that we weren’t trying hard enough and blaming the battleground for it.

Anger can be a positive thing. Anger can motivate you to buckle down and solve a problem, to get over yourself and do the hard things. Winning Tol Barad with a demoralized, outgeared Alliance-Durotan team before the rules was changed was hard. Figuring out how to hold the keep was hard.

And in learning how to overcome that challenge, I think a lot of folks had a lot of fun.

But what happens when the challenge is finally overcome? What’s left? PvP isn’t like PvE, where content gets progressively easier as you gear up (and when content gets nerfed down). The difficulty of PvP is dynamic, but you never get to the point where you overgear the instance – they can have just as many, or more, ubergeared characters on their team as you have on yours.

Tol Barad never really got any easier, even when the changes to how quickly the first and last base flips went in. It’s still a pain in the ass to win on Offense, and a game of musical chairs on Defense. It’s actually kinda boring – go to Slags, okay, go to ICG, okay, go to WV, frak, losing ICG. So in comparison to some of the other battlegrounds, there’s less nuanced strategy, it’s more difficult to coordinate en masse, and parts of it are kinda boring. It’s both harder than the other battlegrounds, and lacks a lot of the fun parts of the other games.

When you take away both the internal motivation of conquering the battlefield and the external rewards for participating, it starts to become clearer why I don’t queue up for Tol Barad anymore.

WHY RAIDS GO STALE

Tol Barad provides an interesting segue into thinking about the replay value of raiding. The initial play value of raiding is really high, drawing from internal player motivations to overcome challenges, external rewards, story advancement and exploration. This is a great set of initial values to have, covering a wide variety of accomplishment, collecting, and tourism.

Consider the challenge of raiding. Raiding is hard at first. Your entire team has to learn the fight, to try different strategies to see what works. You have to get great gear. You have to execute your strategy well. Everyone has to be on the ball at first. And then after days, weeks, or even months of trying, BOOM, a boss goes down! Mission Accomplished! You have met this challenge and triumphed! But wait, there are still 12 more bosses to go, so you can keep going.  Raiding provides small victories along the way to keep you motivated, without altering the difficulty of any one of them. The difficulty of the encounter is set; your approach to it varies.

Once you get all of the bosses down on normal mode, you can go back and make them even harder with heroic modes – oh yes, raiding as an activity has the whole “challenge yourself and your team” thing down pat.

What does change the difficulty of the encounters is gear, which is a game all its own. The more bosses you down, the better gear you get, which in turn makes it easier to progress through the content. Better gear means that the execution doesn’t need to be quite as precise, random chance doesn’t have quite as much to say in the matter. In some cases (heroic modes) it’s really necessary, but the really great guilds find a way to down bosses with lesser gear.

Also, purples are shiny.

Ahem. Right. Got distracted there.

Lastly, raiding allows you to see parts of the story of Warcraft that are, frankly, not accessible to non-raiders. A lot of work goes in to each raid instance – okay, maybe not ToC – and getting to see the story unfold really does drive a lot of people forward into heroics and raiding.

There are also social motivations for raiding – which I don’t want to discount – but just by looking at these three reasons why people raid, you see how raids naturally lose their replay value over time.

  1. Eventually, your team runs out of raid bosses to kill, or you hit a wall where you can’t get past one.
  2. Your team gets all the gear that is useful to them.
  3. You see it all.

Over time, raids will grow stale, and they won’t hold the same appeal as they did when they were introduced. That’s fine! They’re hugely appealing when we first encounter them. But over time, their replay value degrades.

You’ll notice that my argument presumes that eventually the bosses go down and the raid goes on farm status, or partially on farm. This isn’t how it works for most guilds, even during long, comparably easy raid periods (like ICC at the end of Wrath.)

No, raid teams hit walls. They get to 3/13, or 9/13, and can’t get any further. Weeks on a boss turns into frustrating months on a boss, and unless there’s some other factor at play to help motivate players (title, achievement, end boss of the expansion), the replay value of raiding drops precipitously. Teams do the bosses they can do, so there’s (hopefully) still gear being acquired – but night after night of failure can really wear people down.

The effect of failure is, interestingly, the same as the effect of success: it lowers the replay value of raiding. No matter where you stop, eventually your team does have all the gear available, even if it’s from Zulroics and crafted epics and you’re 0/13, or if you’re pushing HM 13/13.

The contrast with PvP is striking. WSG is still entertaining after 6 years, but most Vanilla and BC raids are just visited for reputation, vanity items, or nostalgia. Kara and Ulduar, arguably the two best raid instances still in the game, are gorgeous – but they’re not really a challenge with max-level characters. The appeal is to story, not to conquering the challenge.

Warsong Gulch is a challenge no matter what level you visit it at.

WHEN BLIZZARD ATTACKS

On some bosses, though, better armor and weapons may not be enough because some mechanics just can’t easily be outgeared. To mitigate that problem, our tendency is to nerf content over time just to make sure a wide variety of players see it.

Ghostcrawler

Ghostcrawler is referring to what happens when the natural nerfing of raids (due to improved gear and community knowledge) isn’t sufficient to allow a majority of the player base to get past the mechanical challenges of a raid. There are some bosses which require coordination and execution that can’t be overpowered with slightly better gear, so to prevent raider frustration, Blizzard periodically nerfs raid content.

Coincidentally, Blizzard just announced a massive round of nerfs to the current tier of raiding content that will coincide with the release of the next tier, Firelands. This is certainly in line with what the company said they would do, and it makes sense when looking at the tradeoffs they have to make between initial play value and replay value.

To keep raiding going, new content has to be released. The enjoyment that raiders derive from their activity requires new challenges – precisely because of the low replay value of raiding. Static content gets boring over time. You can only do the fight so many times before you’ve got it down.

But what about raiders who are stuck? It doesn’t matter if you’re stuck at 0/13 or 9/13, the new content is going to be arguably harder than the old content, and that means you’re going to leave more and more players behind. Soon you’ll have raid groups stuck in a variety of places throughout the content – some stuck in the previous tier, some in the current tier, some in the current tier hardmodes – and some who complete it all quickly. Frustration grows and people go do other things.

The only viable solution to that problem is to change the variable difficulty of old content. Satisfy player’s motivations to see the content (which doesn’t really diminish over time, there’s a lot in this game from BC and Wrath I still want to see), help them get back on track with gearing up for the new content, and still let them achieve their goals.

Nerfing older content allows it to have more initial play value than if it remained static. If raids remained static throughout the course of an expansion, players would have to wait until an entire new level cap was introduced to see content. That’s just dumb. Players want to see things. Players want the satisfaction of accomplishment, of reaching a goal, even if it’s easier when others did it.

Raiding is all about initial play value. We should expect it to get easier all the time because it lacks replay value, not because Blizzard hates people who have already completed it.

THE ACHIEVEMENT DICHOTOMY AND CATACLYSM LEVELING

The genesis of this post was not about PvP or raiding, but a discussion on Twitter about leveling in Cataclysm. I actually have been leveling alts between bouts of PvP, and have found it to be quite enjoyable.

But I’m struggling with questing, too. Not to do it – it’s really a lot of fun – but to do it over and over again, to parcel out the experience between characters.

Questing in any of the revamped zones makes me feel like they’re a single, extended quest line, custom made for that character. They’re laid out well, the story moves along at a nice pace, and the zone can become a defining moment for a character. Cynderblock’s story is Westfall. Ashwalker came alive to me in the Plaguelands (surprisingly.)

Once a zone defines a character, though, I don’t have any desire to do it again. They have limited replay value. Not only have I seen what there is to see, I’ve satisfied my storytelling urge with the zone and revisiting it with another character feels wrong.

This tendency to only want to play through a zone once really worries me about the 80-85 zones. I did three of them on Cynwise (Vashj’ir, Twilight Highlands, then Hyjal), got midway through Deepholm, and then stopped. Cynwulf is midway through Uldum, and I’m stalled there, too – I think his story is really more suited to Hyjal, but I can’t work up the enthusiasm to do that zone again. (And he’s level 83, so no real benefit there.)

Did questing have more replay value in Wrath? Questlines were smaller units pre-Cataclysm, so it was certainly easier to pick and choose what you did. There was less a feeling you needed to do an entire zone for the story, because there were lots of little stories you could pick and choose. Now zones are one big, epic story, which makes it more fun the first time through, but introduces problems the next time around.

So in this one respect, questing was better in Wrath. It had higher replay value, though it was less attractive initially.

I think of it like the difference between a movie (or miniseries) and an episodic television program; one presents a coherent, tightly wrapped story with character arcs that change quickly, while the other allows slower exploration of characters, with gradual arcs that meander through the seasons. They both can be exciting, they both can have great moments; but one defines characters quickly, the other more slowly. If you have a bad episode the series itself can recover; if you have a bad movie, well, the whole thing is bad.

This disparity between initial play value and replay value in questing also leads to an achievement dichotomy; what if I want to get Loremaster on Cynwise, but doing so requires her to quest in a zone someone else has completed? There’s a tension there between characters that’s hard to resolve in my head.

It’s not that one can’t go back and do the zones again; obviously, it’s possible, I’m sure that I could force myself to do Westfall with an 85. I have Fel Flame now on a mouseover macro, I can zap mobs with impunity.

No, the tension is between completing a zone on an alt in a way which defines them (therefore removing the desire to do it again) versus the desire to collect achievements on a single toon. Limited replay value of a zone implies a choice between richly characterized alts (which are fun) and an accomplished main (a different kind of fun).

Do I want to do all these quests? Or do I want to do all of them on a single character? Do I do them when they can benefit the character for leveling, reputation, and gear, or do I do them on my max-level main?

I want my cake and to eat it too – or account-wide achievements.

HARDCODED FUN


A few players set their own goals, … but most are focused on getting a recognised achievement. In a massive game like WoW, a lot of players rely on hardcoded suggestions to find new content.

Tim Howgego

I remember reading WoW Insider’s interview with Tim Howgego, also known as El from El’s Extreme Angling, and his very practical attitude towards achievements. Fishing has some of the hardest, most time-consuming achievements in the game, but by in large they won’t motivate people to fish. They might motivate people to fish in certain places, or for certain things, but it won’t make them like fishing. Players either enjoy fishing or they don’t, which makes the role of WoW fishing in the larger game problematic.

I really liked how Tim described achievements as “hardcoded suggestions to find new content.” It puts achievements in the proper context of guiding players to try things they might never attempt otherwise. They’re an additional reward that helps extend the replay value of an activity, little rewards for going and doing something that players might lack motivation to attempt. Perhaps it’s a title, or a mount, or even an ability that other characters don’t have. Perhaps it’s a pet, or a discount at some vendors. Perhaps it’s just achievement points! But there’s something there that encourages players to try it.

Despite how much I dislike certain achievements in PvP – you have no idea the personal anguish getting the Double Rainbow screenshot caused me, dear readers – I think they’re by and large an effective part of the game. They extend the replay value of content, they direct you to try things you might otherwise attempt, and they provide a focused goal to work towards. I have no reason to visit Serpentshrine Cavern anymore, but I’ll go fish up the Lurker Below anyways.

There have been achievements which I’ve sought which have been entirely positive experiences – getting Ambassador on Cynderblock helped me focus my efforts on questing through the Horde starting areas before Cataclysm so that I’d have gone through them at least once – even though I had no desire to level an alt through them. It’s nice to work on something and go, hey, I got this shiny thing, and even though it doesn’t make me a better player, it was fun to do.

There are other achievements which are very negative for players – School of Hard Knocks is commonly cited here, but for me it was Sinister Calling. I was sick with the flu that week, but I doggedly logged on, hour after hour, hoping that the gorram helm would show up in the treat bag, and then running SM:GY as many times as I could manage.

I was as sick as a dog, pushing myself to play a video game for a fast purple dragon.

That was probably a low point.

I deliberately left achievements out when talking about PvP and raiding because they work differently than other rewards. They are suggestions, nothing more, about what your characters can experience in game. You can choose to do them, or not, as you please. They don’t modify how your character plays in any in-game capacity – given equal spec and gear, it doesn’t matter if you have 1000 achievement points or 13,000 when it comes to PvP, raiding, or whatever. At best, achievements show player experience with that character – nothing more.

That lack of real difference is one of the reasons I have difficulty reconciling my feelings about the new zones in Cataclysm. Experiencing them at the appropriate level means the time is spent well, leveling an alt, gearing them up, enjoying the story the way it was meant to be told. But I also want to be able to do them on Cynwise, to say, hey, look, this girl and I, we’ve DONE things together. There’s no real practical value to that desire – it’s entirely social – but it’s there, nonetheless.

Achievements are highly personal affairs.

CYN Y U NO RAID

I haven’t raided in 4.1 because I find the replay value of PvP to outweigh the initial play value of raiding. I’ve also found that leveling, in general, has been more fun than raiding.

So when I sit down at night and log in, I’ll either PvP or level an alt, or maybe PvP on an alt.

As players, we make choices every time we log in about what we’re going to do. And, when Cataclysm launched, I made the choice to solely focus on PvP with my endgame character, instead of splitting my attention between PvE and PvP (like I did in Wrath), or focusing on getting ready for raids. Could the alts turn into raiding toons? Could I go raid on Cynwise? Maybe. None of this is set in stone. But I didn’t want to raid.

The easy explanation for why I felt this way is that I was burned out on raiding due to spending far, far too long farming ICC. I kept running it on Cynwise long after I should have stopped or switched to an alt, but the worth of a well-geared DPS on an alt run is actually pretty high. You have to pack a lot of the raid DPS into a few characters in order to beat the enrage timers, even on farm bosses. We spent a long, long time in that place. “Burned Out Raider Takes A Break, Film At 11” is not really news.

But that’s not really it. Plenty of people got tired of ICC, yet returned to Cataclysm raiding in force. Something drew them back in, something that didn’t draw me in.

No. I looked at the known value of raiding in Wrath – with its known highs and lows – and the perceived difficulty of raiding in Cataclysm – with the reputed difficulties of Heroics, not even talking about raids – and said, this does not sound as much fun as PvP, or even leveling. One or two hours to complete a heroic dungeon, with no guarantee of success? Weeks of wiping on the same boss? Are you kidding me?

I was willing to spend months wiping on the Lich King. There’s a sense of completion there, a huge amount of motivation there, to do it at least once. But wiping for months on a raid at the beginning of an expansion? Really? Shit, I’d rather go play some Arenas, run some battlegrounds, heck, go level an alt. I don’t get enough personal satisfaction from raiding as an activity to even make it worth the attempt.

Acknowledging the constraints on your time is important. I’ve said it before: if I had unlimited time I’m sure that I’d be able to excel in all the areas of this game. But time is limited, and we have to make choices about what we work on.

So where’s the failure, here? Is it that Blizzard failed to make something appealing to me? Is it that I’m just lazy, and that I’d rather wait to faceroll it later than spend my nights being the first to punch through?

I look at the failure of Tol Barad to capture my attention and idly wonder why I don’t play it more, but I don’t think I’m a bad person for not doing it. Raiding feels a little different. My friends, my guild, could use a solid DPS. They could use my DK or Warrior, leveled up, as tanks. They wouldn’t want me healing on my Druid (OMG, trust me), but they could use me as a Priest. There’s a direct social component to raiding that Tol Barad just hasn’t captured – I don’t feel strong loyalty to my faction, but I sure as hell do towards my guild.

My guild needing me was the reason I went Demonology in ICC – to help the guild with the best raid spellcaster buff in the game. That’s why I farmed that first wing for months – to help friends gear up, even if it was gearing up alts. I got to kill Arthas and see the place, which is what I wanted.

But it always bothered me, just a little bit, that the majority of my friends in game knew me a Demo raider, not as an Aff/Destro PvPer. The closest they came was on Faction Champs, which is very much not a PvP fight, no matter how superficially it resembles one. I was the purple fuzzy demon pulling aggro instead of the dot-slinger with the Felpup, and I was okay with that, because we were raiding on our own terms.

Things are different in Cataclysm. The guild system now encourages guilds to try PvP, so that’s what I’m doing. Instead of raiding I’m helping to get my guildmates involved in Arenas and Rated Battlegrounds. Instead of farming bosses I’m running battlegrounds with folks. I’m not worried about my rating or my comp, I just like to PvP. There are more things for a guild to do than just level and raid, and I’m enjoying contributing to the guild in those things.

Raids? I can see those later. I can satisfy my curiosity some other time about all the fights. I’m sure I’ll get a PvE gearset together at some point and go run with the rest of the raiders.

Battlegrounds and Arenas are fun every time I queue for them. They are as enjoyable at level 10 as they are at level 85, and every time I queue up I get a different challenge handed to me.

(Sometimes, I get my ass handed to me, too. It’s still fun!)

Replay value matters.

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31 Comments

Filed under Cynwise's Battlefield Manual

31 responses to “Replay Value

  1. While, like you said, I love the epic quest lines Blizz added in the new Cataclysm (and redone) zones. The only issue I’ve run into with them (besides replay value) is that if a friend of mine is part way into the quest, I can’t join him on quests. I mean, I can help him on quests, but if I want to also do the same quests, I’ll need to run through the quest line up until the point he is at. You almost need to schedule starting a zone at the same time, which is disappointing.

    Great post, though!

    • That’s a good point. I don’t quest with other people, which is why it never even occurred to me that the phasing would present such a huge problem. (The bugs around phasing certainly have been troublesome, but I can work around them.)

      • It’s not always necessarily the phasing that causes that issue though, it’s also the more linear/railroaded design where one quest leads to another, then another, etc. If you’re on the 15th chain in the zone then I need to do those other 14 quests to catch up to you.

        Some zones have multiple questing hubs which can help with that, but some of them all start from a single place and require chaining to open up other hubs or other quest givers within the same hub.

    • EnvoyOfTheEnd

      Trouble is there are two groups to cater to.
      The more experienced players who are already familliar with a zone are in a better position to find obscure quests or non-signposted quest hubs which otherwise would leave players stuck in a rut if not found.
      Newer players however could well often find themselves spending more time looking for the next quest than actually questing.
      Exploration and discovering new areas should be optional and I feel the questing should cater to that with more truly optional content in any given zone, but it should not be forced on newer players.
      And it is those newer players the linear content is aimed at.

  2. Noodlenose

    I have the same problem with Loremaster. I did Hyjal on my questing main, and Vash’jir on my raiding toon, and so I need to repeat Vash for Loremaster, and probably Hyjal so my raiding toon has access to the new dailies next tier. Hard to find the motivation.

  3. To go to the other side of coin. I find arenas incredibly boring and repetitive much like how you find raids to be the same way.

    A raid team getting to a wall and not overcoming it is the same as an arena team hitting the glass ceiling of a certain rating. How you handle a team and how you handle a class are the same every time. Strategies and priorities are developed around it.

    Just like in raiding.

    What someone finds stale, others find exciting and fresh. Until all the content is dead, the raid content is fresh for me.

    Arenas don’t get new content, just new names to click on.

    • I suppose that because I don’t take Arenas very seriously at this point, and switch out my teammates based on who in the guild needs their Conquest points this week, they still feel fresh and enjoyable. I’m fighting what? With who? Okay, let’s try to make this work. It’s also part of a balanced diet of PvP, which perhaps keeps me engaged.

      I have found raiding to be exciting and fresh, for a while. But I also know any given instance has a limited shelf life, which makes raiding as an activity more dependent upon the release of new content than PvP. As a primary focus, I don’t think raiding qua raiding gets stale – but I do think that raids do.

      Like you said, it’s exciting until the last boss is dead.

  4. Lara

    For me, what really drives the persistence of fun in the game is the other people who play it. Sometimes people can be pretty awful to each other, but at least for me, the good people completely overwhelm the bad ones.

    Why is PvP so persistently engaging? It’s clearly not the battleground or arena maps—those rarely change. I think it’s fun because we’re cooperating and competing with other living, breathing, thinking human beings—both friends and foes—and that’s stimulating and challenging. Why is raiding fun? As you said, the fights eventually get old and boring, and everyone eventually gets the loot they need. I think we keep at it for the marvel of everyone working together, bantering, telling jokes, trying hard to keep it all together, and eventually succeeding, together. Where’s the fun in questing? As Tam aptly put it, replay value comes and goes. For me, though, the fun of questing comes from following the thread of a story with a friend by your side—someone to chat with, to share the sense of belonging to something bigger.

    This leaves open the question of why we run pugs, and I guess that can only be masochism. But for everything else, this seems to fit just fine. :)

    Another great article.

    • Thanks, Lara!

      I’d forgotten about that RO post, shame on me. Raiding has a very strong social motivation, and it’s what primarily drives me to do it. If I get back into raiding in 4.2, it will be because of other people. I enjoy hanging out and doing things with my guild, and by doing things I mean killing internet dragons. Or Horde. Or Alliance.

      It’s all good, as long as stuff is dying.

      Thanks for the comment!

  5. Raiding is like being a musician. There’s no real surprises, but you can take exceptional pride at flawlessly executing a perfect performance and reaping the (well-deserved) benefits. It takes practice, coordination, dedication, study, and a cohesive team working together to produce a final product that is satisfactory and rewarding.

    PVPing, on the other hand, is a sport. The major difference is that it’s competitive, unlike raiding, and it’s also spontaneous and unpredictable. The same elements of teamwork (usually) apply here, and research and preparation unquestionably help, but not to the extent that it does in raids. Conversely, adaptability, reflexes and “battle sense” are invaluable benefits in PVP.

    Which is better? Neither. Some people are musicians. Some are athletes. Some dabble in both. There’s different player qualities that are more valuable in one field than the other. A PVPer may have astounding reflexes, but maybe they don’t have the patience & commitment of a raider who is willing to wipe for hours to make slow, steady progression.

    Me? I’m more of a musician these days. But I still like to hop out on the field every now and then and get my nose bloody.

    • See, I like to compare both activities to music. I think of raiding as performing in a marching band, or a symphony: structured, intricate performance. PvP is jazz, where you have themes but your individual interpretation, ability to sense where things are going, and ability to perform off the cuff make for a thrilling jam session.

      We can probably take these metaphors too far, though. :-)

  6. Thanks for the writeup Cyn! I’ve been totally focused on gearing and raiding, and I’ll likely stick to that for now, but in time, I think doing PvP sounds very enticing. Again, you have swayed my opinion of things and made me want to try something else for a change.
    See you in the battlefields someday soon. :)

    • The biggest mistake I made when I first started playing was saying, “oh, that part of the game is not for me.” It’s like refusing to eat a food that you haven’t ever tried – something my kids do all too often – and I made a lot of such declarations.

      “Oh, I’ll never PvP.” Uh, right.

      “Oh, I’ll never run a dungeon.” *cough Champion of the Frozen Wastes*

      “Oh, I’ll never raid.” *cough Kingslayer*

      Pick something and focus on it, but don’t close doors! There’s too much fun to be had out there! :-)

  7. Gameldar

    Thanks for this post Cyn – well timed for me as I have been thinking about what it is I want out of WoW – particularly after staying up way too late wiping in the new troll instances, and after finally getting some bosses down (ok 2, but a chance to see a third) on the weekend in a half-pug raid.

    I partially enjoyed last night because I was playing with a couple of guildies that haven’t been around for a while, but a lot of the motivation behind it came down to frustration/obsession to kill Jindo (for his juicy tanking staff) because I keep trying but always run out of time.

    I really enjoyed raiding on the weekend – I was playing a key dps role on Magmaw (Pillar target!) and then tanking on the fights I hadn’t previously seen. Largely I would only want to kill a boss once – it’s the been there done that mentality I take to raiding – but also the chance of getting loot and the challenge of doing it with others that is great. However I’ve really only dabbled with raiding – I’d have liked have done more but time and the fact that I’ve generally had to organise my own raids means that I have only done sporadic bits (all of naxx, toc, bits of ulduar, start of ICC). I like the idea of raiding – but particularly the trying to organise a reluctant mob of people, combined with trying to fit it around family responsibilities and a limited play schedule has taken some of the shine off it.

    But I find a lot of the replay value in WoW for me comes down to learning and mastering a new class. Although there are limits to that – which comes in the form of I don’t enjoy the reputation grinds particularly when they are the same one (because my interest is in the tanks… and 3/4 wear the same gear – on that note bears are so much better for the faction grind/availability of affordable BoE gear) and I don’t like the linear nature of the questing – because before I would pick and choose quests to get gear after I’d done it once… which can’t be done any more. And well… I’ve already done the TB grind for 2 trinkets and I have a lot of lethargy when it comes to doing any more.

    However – I really have been enjoying my PvP – for a number of reasons:
    1. There is a lot for me to improve – and two matches are never the same so lots of different ways to improve (I think this is more so now you have less chance of ending up with the same group – whereas when it was all realm/battlegroup based you’d often end up with the same people chaining BGs). It’s also not something I’ve focused on much previously so within each class there is a lot more nuance/mastery to learn as well.

    2. The time commitment to it is a lot less than for a dungeon – and that is perhaps also part of the reason I don’t feel as bad typing /afk to leave if I have to go.

    3. The rewards for a small time investment are more tangible – you gain HP for the time spent – you gain more or less depending on wins – but it is relatively constant and it’s at most a 30 minute investment to get to the end (even across the randomness of BGs which isn’t the case for dungeons) . There are no loot tables with random rolls to win. The time commitment for each BG is relatively similar, so hitting ‘Random Battleground’ is not such a Russian Roulette that I fell a lot more obligated to do for dungeons even when there are drops I need from specific dungeons because the value of the VP is that much higher.

    4. This is perhaps a biggest factor – I can so easily do this solo (yes it’s is great to do with others… and I’d love to do some RBGs at some point). I guess this is more a comparison to raiding – I’m happy to jump into pugs on dungeons because I enjoy the challenge that often presents (as a tank – I’ve only healed on 2 occasions… and never actually finished a run)

    Ok I rambled TL;DR version – I enjoy the diversity of the game – but for the present PvP is a lot more approachable for me giving time/people coordination issues!

    • You make a lot of really good points. I also, frankly, don’t have the time to raid that I used to, and short bursts of PvP are easier to work into whatever is going on outside of the game when I can sit down and log in. I enjoy knowing that I’ll get gear at a constant rate.

      I know I’m lucky to be in a flexible guild that allows me to raid, or not raid, as I see fit. If I had to organize my own raids, I’m pretty sure that I would not be doing them at all.

  8. The Dewd

    I think you’ve brought something to my mind that I hadn’t considered before. I’m in a casual guild – we raided in Wrath because we could – and most of the folks play lots of alts. I hit Cata with multiple level 80 toons available and greatly enjoyed seeing all of the new Cata zones and quests. And then I did it again, and again, and again… I’m currently working a level 77 alt in my spare time and I’m hating Northrend – because I’ve done, probably, every quest there at least 6 times now. But at least I can decide which zone to go to.

    Cata zones, on the other hand, pretty much leave your hands tied. If you want to do anything beyond regular dungeons, you pretty much have to max out your gear as much as you can. That means questing through zones to completion to get those lovely blue items, especially in Uldum and Twilight Highlands. But to do that, you pretty much have to do Deepholm (or do every single quest in Vashj’ir and Hyjal). And you really need to do full Cata Loremaster just to get enough of a headstart with rep that you won’t bleed from the eyes doing dailies and tabard dungeons.

    I feel like I’m dragging myself through those zones every time I do them. I actually like Vashj’ir (for the most part) but it’s so long that it just drags. And trying to find the right depth to enter a cave, in addition to the X/Y coordinates gets annoying, too. Every time I think I’m almost done with the zone there’s another hub in my way. I’m tired of Hyjal and Vashj’ir. I’m tired of leveling. I’m tired of wiping in dungeons. At least with Wrath we had a lot more dungeons available from launch and a lot more variety of zones. I keep hoping that they’ll add another zone or two, somehow, to the Cata leveling range – but I guess I’ll just have to get by with the helm and cloak heirlooms and the guild perks to speed things up.

    I know the pendulum has swung wildly back and forth between Vanilla WoW and all the expansions but I’m hoping that they’re learning that they may have pushed too far in one direction with Cata. (The raid nerfs are nice, though, since it means folks like me who aren’t really doing a lot of raiding (we’re 1/12 right now because we lost so many Wrath regulars to RL issues) might have a shot at seeing the content before the next expansion.

    • You hit a point I hadn’t really considered – that leveling through the Cata zones is a requirement for raiding. If you want to do raiding, you’ll need that rep gear and enchants and tabards. Yikes. No wonder leveling in Cata feels even more grindy.

      I never thought I’d miss the Sons of Hodir.

  9. Darlaan - Sentinals US

    I really enjoy PVP. I have 6 – 85 toons and I pvp with all of them as they all play differently. I love having the variety. I have never been much into the dungeons and raids mainly because of time restrictions. If I do go, I usually try to go with my guild just because they have more patience and are willing to teach me the encounters instead of dealing with the rude people that you sometimes get in the dungeon finder. This is the main reason I have not done any tanking in dungeons.

    As for PVP, I have not entered into the Rated BG’s or Arenas. Battlegrounds are hard to get 10 people to go with you and arenas I have never really been fond of. So I usually que for random BG’s and I love them. I just wish we can get better gear as random soloists instead of depending on others to have access to it. I would love to have individual ratings instead of group ratings to get the gear. This, to me, makes more sense.

    What I love most about PVP, Like you mentioned, is the unpredictability. You never know what will happen, wether it will be a tight battle, you face roll the other team or you get your ass handed to you on a silver platter. There are always individual battles as well. The other day I was Doing Twin Peaks with my druid and I was running the flag. Three times in a row a rougue caught me midway and stunned me then killed me. (Didn’t help that my teammates were nowehere to be seen) Finally I decided to let a warrior take the flag and I followed him in stealth. As soon as the rougue showed up….Blam I was pounced on him and killed him……ahhhhhh sweet revenge. This is why I love PVP.

    • For most of Wrath I didn’t play Arena – just ran normal BGs, so my gear was always a season behind. I didn’t have a solid team to work with, and most of my guildmates were very meh on Arena, so I played solo a lot.

      With the changes to ratings and gear requirements in Cataclysm, getting the best PvP gear became possible. The ratings are only required for the great weapons – everything else can be purchased with Conquest Points. I don’t worry about my rating, either personal or team – I’ll team with whomever is online and try to win some matches. After a little bit, we hit a rhythm, win our 7-8 matches, and get maxed for the week.

      I would ask around your guild and friends lists to see if anyone is willing to try some 2v2s, just for points. You might find that you like it!

  10. Idaelus

    Hey Cyn, thanks for pointing out why BGs are what I love to do in this game. You stated it much better than I could have (since I am an Engineer and not a Wordy Fellow :D)

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  12. fathergod

    *whispers* It’s because you are getting bored my dear!

    I played the shit outta WOW for so many years that I couldn’t start a new toon for the life of me. Either horde or alliance, it was the same with just different areas. Same boring quests. Go here and go there. Now, I’ve gotten to the point where I really have no interest in raiding or anything else but pvp. I fly around in the air in some places just waiting for a hordie to come around so I can swoop down and kill them! Might sound boring to you all but while I’m waiting, I’m waiting some tv or talking to others in my guild. If blizzard keeps killing world pvp like they have been, sooner or later I’ll be gone.. bg’s are fun when you have a good team but when they all they want to do is fight in the middle and not protect the fc or kill the fc, it really really…SUCKS

    • Honestly, I still find plenty of things enjoyable in the game. Leveling my warrior has been a blast. Lowbie PvP has been a blast. Arenas have been a blast. Even BGs on really, really crappy nights – and I KNOW you know what kind of nights I’m talking about! – are still a lot of fun.

      I just can’t get motivated to raid on my main. *shrug*

      Maybe Firelands will change my tune on my toon. We’ll have to see. :-)

  13. Paul

    You know, if Blizzard says “wait for nerfs” to most players to do the raid content, I think a lot of those players are going to say “ok, I’ll wait until they’re nerfed by reason of me reaching level 90.” After all, if you’re only really able to do the raid after it’s past the point you’d get any ego gratification out of it, you might as well *really* wait for it to be dead trivial easy.

    Needless to say, announcement of the T11 nerf for 4.2 does nothing to make me want to resub to WoW.

    • The challenge deflation (is that a term?) is a tough one to work around. Knowing that the raids are going to get easier will make people wait if they don’t really want to go through the nights of progression wiping. That’s a rational response.

      I don’t think that most folks are waiting until the next xpac, though. It’s just that they want it tuned a little easier, while still being a challenge. There are still a lot of reasons people want to raid, but waiting until the level cap moves on negates most of them.

    • MyName

      I think the problem is that there weren’t any starter raids (other than the TB raid) at all. You get maybe 2-3 bosses that don’t take alot of work, while in LK you had 2 wings in Naxx and Sarth or the first 4 bosses or so in Kara for BC. And the heroics had a steep learning curve for most people compared to how it was in Wrath.

      It’s not about ego gratification, it’s about getting raiders enough of a start that they want to show up for the first night or so a week and then they hit the progression wall.

  14. Shimoda

    Account wide achievements — sigh. 80K HKs on my lock, 55K on my hunter and 22K on my Shammy. I did learn, however, that you cannot PvP well until you become a one-trick pony, at least for a while. Trying to Fear on the Shammy for some reason doesn’t work, and once you lose that second or 2 you lose the fight.

    • I can’t even switch specs on my warlock without flailing around for a little bit. Destro and Affliction are just different enough that I can’t play both at the same time.

      And yeah… account wide achievements would be very nice, but I’m not holding my breath.

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