Heroics are not so… Heroic… Anymore

You have all experienced it by now, I am sure.  That group you get into for the Random Heroic one day that just dosen’t click.  Pulls are off, healing is not there, tanking is all over the place, and everything is taking FOR.EV.AR. to kill because you either have DPS that aren’t pulling their fair share of DPS, or you are constantly loosing your top DPSers due to lack of healing, standing in the bad, or bad tanking.  Hell, this sort of thing is being discussed across the blog-o-sphere right now at a fervent pace.

Healers are screaming.  Tanks are screaming.  DPS would be screaming if they were still alive, LOL.

All in all, I think that blizz needs to take a step back and analyze what they want from heroics.  But I get ahead of myself, lets dial it back a bit, shall we?

Bed, Bath, and WAY Beyond…

In order to solve the problem of the heroic situation, we really have to go back and figure out – What was the purpose for heroics?

The answer lies back in Burning Crusade.  Heroics were introduced as higher level content for players to maw on.  They were a source of two things.  First, and foremost, they were a source of upgrades on the path to raiding.  Can’t hack it in a heroic?  You aren’t getting past the first steps of Kara.  It’s as simple as that.

Secondly, heroics were a source of badges.  Badges, when collected in the appropriate quantity, would give you equivalent level tier gear, helping you to fill out your gear when you had a month long streak of bad rolls.

This, of course, translated over to early Lich King.  Heroics were higher level content for those who were preparing to get into raiding, and they had badges to get you gear.

So what is the disconnect?  Why are heroics so bad now, when they weren’t so bad back then?

The answer is a messy conglomeration of things.


With the introduction of Lich King, came a whole new theory to game design that WoW had not seen before – reasonably accessible content.  The expectation for Lich King was that more people would be able to see the game, content, story, than ever before.  No more were the days of people who had to farm 3 days to raid 2 hours.  No more was there going to be content so hard that it would force your raiders to switch to a different toon to get a specific buff.

This, of course translated down to heroics.  Freshly minted, in quest greens and blues,  an 80 with a competent group, you could just waltz right into heroics without any problems at all.  In BC that was not the case.  The heroics were undeinably hard.  You went in without farming the 70 dungeons first, you would get your rear handed to you…  In two peices – a right cheek and a left cheek.  I remember my first heroic – Heroic Ramps.  The tank went “pulling” and then “splat” goes the group.  It lasted all of 15 seconds.

Lich King just isn’t like that.  I have even healed tanks without Defense Cap, getting crit like their life was actually in danger, with absolutely no problem.

And then… The gear resets started happening.  T8, and now T9 are all completely farmable through heroics.  It, of course, had the side effect of not only pushing people to WAY overgear the content, but also funneled people INTO heroics.   Heroics are the default thing to do now.  Not quest.  Not farm.  Heroics.  Because it unlocks greater gear.  More people than ever are running Heroics.  That means that you are always, ALWAYS going to have groups that are mis-matched in experience.  People who have cleared the planetarium (Algalon) in Ulduar are now grouping with people who have never run a raid in their life.  If that isn’t a recipe for disaster, I dont know what is.

Add all of that up with the fact that tanking actually gets HARDER as you gear up (arguably, healing does too, but that is a discussion for another time).  I would love to know the statistics we currently have on failed Heroic groups.  I am sure that it would be a surprising statistic – near 25 or 30% – because I know that is my personal rate.

And now they are dumbing the bosses down.  Abilities that are the defining point of bosses are now being limited to once or twice.  Supposedly, this is supposed to streamline the heroics down.

But is that really what we *need*?

I would argue no.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

What needs to happen is really all dependent on what Blizzard wants done with heroics.

Should heroics be *slightly* harder versions of regulars where you simply go to farm out badges?

Should heroics be much harder, requiring a reasonable amount of skill, to complete?

Should heroics even exist?

If all heroics are going to do is prove a farming ground for new 80’s gear and badges, why have them at all?  It would be far more efficient to drop those badges down to regular dungeons, and save the development time.  There are much more interesting ways to reward badges than simply make a slightly up-tuned dungeon that everyone is going to out gear in 3 months anyway, and run those to death.

Instead, Heroics should be a place to hone skills, and gain loot.  Remember, as I have said before, many people level 1-80 (soon to be 85) without ever running a proper dungeon on their toon.  When they ding 80 and jump right into heroics where 4/5 are WAY overgeared, they simply don’t get anything more.  And it frustrates the hell out of everyone – they havent learned how to dps – they havent learned to move out of The Bad – basically, they haven’t learned at all.

Heroics need to be a challenge, no matter what the gear level.  The tactics should be there too.  I remember when Loken was not a joke.  When first released he was the most deadly mob in the game – EVERYONE hated him.  Now he is a joke, a mere semblance of his once mighty self.  Hell, most groups can still down him if the healer falls.  The Prophet Thron’Jah from DTK only morphs you once.  Anomolus will soon only go immune once.  Jadoga Shadowseeker of OK will only ascend once.

I don’t know about you, but that does not sound heroic to me.

Rather than funneling people and pushing them to constantly grind out content that is trivial, and simply a time sink, make the herocs more challenging*.  Make them fun and engaging, not easy and breakneck pace.


Make a higher level difficulty with each tier of gear – Heroic – Legendary – OMGWTFBBQ!

Whatever the choice, I do not think the right move is to dumb down already trivial content.  You are going the wrong way blizz…  Give us content that *matters*.

*For the record – Challenging does not have to mean it locks 90% of the populace out, like sunwell.

7 Responses to “Heroics are not so… Heroic… Anymore”
  1. Guthammer says:

    While I don’t disagree with anything you say here, I think it is silly that most groups ending spending significantly more time on the “not boss” phases instead of the boss phases.

    I think a lot of this would be solved with changing on percentage events (25% burrows on the last boss in AK, for example) to straight up timers now–and tune the timer to the gear level of the party a bit.

    What has happened to Loken is sad.

    • Firespirit says:

      Hello Guth! Welcome!

      I think what you bring up is an important distinction, and one worth mentioning. I am the kind of person who likes said gimmicks (for lack of better word). I take it as part of the boss, we have to do this to get the boss down, if you will.

      But yes, while in said mechanics, in most cases, you aren’t dpsing (or tanking or healing through) the actual boss. And I suppose that can be boring.

      I think this boils down, in all honesty, to simply running out of different boss mechanics. I mean, really. How many ways can you throw out fire around the room? How many ways can you spell reflect? In the end, in order to get more creative, you have to take the boss out of the equation, and make the mechanic the exciting point. How fun is Herald Volasj from Ahn’Kahet (Old Kingdom)? To be honest, I think that is the most creative, inventive, and just plain fun, mechanic of the whole of Lich King ( I would say the game, but I haven’t done all of the BC Raids, yet).

      I guess it just really boil’s down to personal preference, but I would hedge my ridiculously large pile of gold I have in game that the next expansion is going to be more encounters like Herald, and less like Kierstraza (Last Boss of Nexus).

  2. Ten'nen says:

    Heya Fire! Long time no see/hear!

    I agree with most of your post, but I do have one thing to add. It’s more about the disparity of of how well groups perform than anything else. First of all, with the heavy handedness of gear score, people value all the wrong things. Since T9 is available to everyone quite easily, everyone expects everyone to have it if you plan on doing anything. Including heroics. So it’s quite easy for a group that is geared in mostly T9 and parts of T10 equivalent gear to be paired up with, say, a healer or, worse, a tank in mostly greens and blues. This will lead to a lot of trouble in the run, as dps easily can outaggro the tank.

    Second, with all of this upper end gear, I’ve yet to have a boss fight last more than a minute (except for Mister Burrow Underground in AN, where half the fight is waiting for the adds to spawn) and most last under 30 seconds. Not only does this make the instances quite boring, but it also carries a lot of people who would otherwise be burdens, and, like you said, they don’t learn their class or learn to move out of bad stuff. Many healers are like “well, they are stupid for standing in the bad stuff, but I’ll just heal them through it” so the dps comes to think that they are SUPPOSED to be healed through it (I, personally, don’t heal through stupid, unless it’s the tank, and after said fight I’ll tell the tank the stupid he was doing).

    Third, to be fair to Blizzard, I don’t blame them for not trying to create new mechanics when so many people STILL fail at most of the ones they already have in place (like not standing in the bad stuff).

    I’ve found the best way to do randoms is to follow the following formula:

    1.) If you’re a dps, get with a healer and a tank that you know, at bare minimum, and then use the dungeon finder. That way, especially if you yourself are competent, you know you’ll complete it, regardless of the incompetency of the rest of the group.

    2.) If you’re a healer, get a tank and a dps. Same logic as above.

    3.) If you’re a tank, get a healer and a dps. Same logic as above.

    I still often PUG completely random groups, but it’s a risk. A huge risk. As you mentioned, it’s so easy to get into a fail group that just isn’t ready. But with the push to get T9 so you can have the gear score to do ToC, ToGC, and ICC, why bother?

    One thing that I think would be useful would be to bring back some sort of attunement process. While some of the ones in BC were downright obnoxious and far too long, it helped to prepare people for the higher end content. However, it does bring up the same issues as current Heroics, namely that over geared individuals can make up for the stupidity of others.

    I like Guth’s idea of designing instances that scale in difficulty based on your gear. I think it should have a minimum difficulty so that people in greens can’t just waltz in and roflstomp it, but that would prevent people from getting a bunch of better geared people to just carry them through the instance. Loot should also be scaled this way, making the stats themselves change based on gear score (and one that checks to make sure the gear you have attached is actually beneficial for your class, so just because a mage got a lucky epic cloak drop, if it gives strength and agility, its useless and should detract from the gear score), following an exponential curve, similar to how heirloom gear changes with your level (though I understand that to be predetermined). And once it’s set, it’s set, so even if you get better gear and a higher GS later on, the piece you got doesn’t change stats.

    Just an idea though.

    • Firespirit says:

      Just one thing to add, I don’t think its that groups just arent ready (well, not completely). Its that groups simply don’t click.

      Today’s heroic, for example, that I healed. We ended up with 3 dps that were lesser geared. By lesser geared, I mean they were pulling 2/2.5k dps so they were completely capable, but not pulling the 5k that a T9 geared person would. And the tank just kept pulling and pulling and pulling, eventually nearly getting overwhelmed I screamed at the tank to slow down, the dps need a chance to… ya know… dps. The tank promptly replied with “fcking long heroic.”

      Its not that they weren’t ready, it was that the group didn’t click. The dps needed a slower pace, the tank wanted a much faster pace. I pretty much had to stop healing the dude to get him to slow down enough for the dps to do their job. The minute he got his frost emblems, he left, didnt even roll on end loot.

      BTW, the DPS thanked me for standing up for them 🙂 Not all DPS are bad.

  3. Tamarind says:

    Interesting post – there is definitely a problem with heroics, and I’m not sure it’s solveable, to be honest.

    I don’t mind mis-matched groups – I don’t think it’s necessarily a problem that the best-geared raiders across 3 servers are helping get a newly dinged 80 a new hat…. but, god, yes, they’re *boring* these days.

    I like the fact there’s a mechanism that allows new 80s to gear and get access to raidind moderately easily.

    But the current system, as you say, is not working. I kind of wish Blizzard would just bite the bullet and send me 2 frost badges every day.

  4. Maker says:

    Call me crazy, but I actually like the current system.

    Main – Quick frost badges with minimal headaches so long as you can cover for other people’s mistakes.
    Alts – Easier to gear up without having to go the traditional progression route and forcing guilds to go back to old content to gear up alts. T9 and the new equivalents are more than good enough to allow an alt to jump into ToCs and some ICC pugs. Easier as well to farm badges to get the BoA gear for any alts you plan on levelling.
    PvP – Faster badges, allows for people to get their main pieces and then they can get out of the system and back into the BGs/Arenas.
    Economic benefits – Saronite slaves keep the prices down on primordials and all those other badges can also be used to buy gems/orbs which keeps prices down for others.

    While some instances are a bit boring with the current burn, burn, burn mentality, I wouldn’t want all of them to scale to my gear either. If all instances scaled to gear, then it would be just as bad. 30-45mins groups just to clear Nexus for the umpteenth time would not be any more fun. How many of you remember going back to HHoL and burning Loken down in under a minute when you finally had some good gear? I remember thinking to myself, “Take that! HA! Now you get to walk back from the graveyard!”

    If Blizzard wants to institute a higher difficulty which would effectively take us back to the old days, but with suitable rewards, then I’d be all for that. I’d be quite happy if you could do only one “Legendary” per day, but the system would choose the instance for you, and lock you in if you accept to zone in. Scale the difficulty up as high as it can reasonably go. Reward the players with the highest level of badges, and depending on the difficulty of the instance 1-2 pieces of random tier (VoA style) based on the classes present. Possibly require certain numebr achievements to be done in order to unlock a bonus of sort at the end. (Ie: Do the achievement even if you have it. Meet the criteria that would’ve gotten you the achievement if you didn’t have it.)

    The current system is fine, but I do understand that some people would like a bit of a challenge and the current system isn’t providing that.

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  1. […] Real Problem with Heroics 20 01 2010 Firespirit recently made a post about the declining utility and purpose of heroics, and how they basically aren’t that heroic […]

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