Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How Cataclysm raiding is hard?

Monday I showd that people progress in Cataclysm normals just as fast as they did in ICC. Yet they kept saying that Cataclysm raids have "smaller error margin" or "punishing fails harshly" and so on. It's nonsense. If it punishes fails with wipe, then people will wipe. But people progress. How can people progress in something harder just as fast? (Talking about normal modes only). It seems everyone claims that raiding is hard, including those who beat the content. On the other hand if ICC normals are really easier (like everyone claims), then why don't more guilds did them?

While everyone says "Marrowgar was a pushover", the final WoWprogress data says only 84K guilds did Marrowgar and 48K did the Lich King. Practically every second guild that stepped into ICC killed the LK, at least after 4.0.

Without other idea, let's assume the obvious: player skill distribution follows the bell curve. The normal distribution has an explicit correlation between the "difficulty" and the "number of guilds capable to defeat that difficulty" axises. So by looking at one, we know the other:
In this chart I corrected the gated start of ICC, despite now the chart is unfair to Cataclysm as everyone was in full 245 when ICC opened, while most people were not in full 346 on the day Cataclysm lauched. But the chart remains the same, the bosses are in the same difficulty range as their ICC counterparts. One exception can be found: Marrowgar 4.0 is much easier than Putricide 4.0, so we can rightfully assume that the 4 months old Marrowgar was also much easier than 4 months old Putricide, while Magmaw is not much easier than Maloriak (who is about as hard as Putri).

OK, so there can be 10-20K guilds who were 1-3/12 ICC and now 0/12. For them it's definitely harder. But there is something else behind the problem. I mean it's not just them complaining. Everyone are saying it's too hard, or to be more specific: too "unforgiving". So the question is, why do the same 40K guilds who defeated Maloriak call him "hard and unforgiving" while they did not call Putricide "hard and unforgiving". They defeated them both. What make them think so differently?

The answer is in the social structure of normal mode guilds. While hard mode guilds are usually running with a closed group of high-attendance raiders, in normal mode guilds bringing "friends" and "alts to gear up" is common. The difference cannot be seen in these numbers as they only describe guilds. To see the problem, you must consider the chart I made for a post about a week ago:
It says that the more progressed the guild is, the more people get the chance to raid. This is about "unforgiving". Back in ICC when the guild defeated a boss, it meant that practically everyone could get loot from that boss. The "friends" were carried to these bosses. However in Cataclysm if the guild defeats the boss, it means that the inner core did it. They are unable to carry "friends" or even alts. Only the most progressed guilds can carry "friends".

So the correct statement is: "While Cataclysm raids are not harder for the good players than ICC, it is very hard now to carry M&S to loot". Well, stop trying. You got your own bosskills. They could get it too, if they wouldn't suck.

Explanation of "not harder to play but harder to carry": you don't have to do more DPS, HPS (relatively to theoretical maximum) or run more than you had to in ICC to kill the boss. If you and 9 equally skilled and geared player could kill an ICC boss, you can kill a Cata boss too. However in ICC you could compensate for someone standing in the fire or being overall useless except for a few mechanics (defile, yellow ooze, ice tomb). When an M&S got this mechanic, that was "bad luck". Here you can't do it, as such mechanics are so common, that M&S has nearly 100% chance to get one and wipe the raid.


Rohan said...

I'm not really sure what your point is. Putricide was pretty hard and unforgiving, at least at first. But he was also boss 10 of 12. (The only reason he has higher kills than BQL was that Plague Wing opened first.)

Bosses at the tail end of the instance, especially wing bosses, are expected to be hard and unforgiving, so there's no point in complaining they aren't. I think you're completely discounting the fact that the wing bosses were a step above the previous *7* bosses in the instance.

It's about expectations. We expect Nefarian, Cho'gall, and Al'Akir to be about Sindragosa and Putricide difficulty, so it's not surprising that they are.

We don't expect Magmaw and the early bosses to be wing boss difficulty, so people are complaining.

Azzur said...

I agree with you that the gated start is a little difficult to account for in the graph since that will make it unfair to Cataclysm.

However, you've still missed the main point that a lot of people were making. Where is the (non 4.0) Marrowgar, Lady Deathwhisper, Lootship, Saurfang, Fester and Rotface in the graph? I don't understand why you've included all the Cata bosses but not these? In ICC, many guilds at least got 4/12 - 6/12. In Cata these guilds are 0/12 or 1/12.

You've also missed another point - you seem to think that EVERYONE is complaining (quote: Everyone are saying it's too hard, or to be more specific: too "unforgiving".). It is not EVERYONE who is complaining, it is the people who are struggling to get 1-2 boss kills that are the ones complaning. In fact, the "good raiders" are the ones that are enjoying Cata the most (that includes the 40k guilds that killed both Maloriak and Putricide - they are not complaning). However, even as one of these "good raiders" (1/13 HM), I'm not blind to the fact that Cata raids are definitely harder than ICC.

Gevlon said...

@Azzur: I can't find such data, so can only extrapolate.

The 4/12-6/12 ICC guilds are a few boosters and lot of M&S. The boosters shall leave.

Jumina said...

If I understand it correctly you are saying two thinks.

1) There is the same amount of good players in Cata as was in WotLK.

2) The characters of the encounters does not allow to carry players because individual mistake can wipe raid.

I agree 100% with both statements.

Riptor said...

The normal modes Raid Instances are not harder, they just force you to move. When in wotlk only the really skill-les players complained, now the ones that have no idea of class synergies (and also what classes can do what) are also struggeling.
Also, as the games emphasis switched more to "do not stand in fire" there are others that no suddenly find raiding hard: Clickers, Backpedlars and Keyboard Turners. But it's not the Games fault that they fail, it's theirs as they use the wrong mechanics to play...

I would say in most cases a simple "Learn to play" is sufficant if someone complains about Cata being "too hard"

Anonymous said...

Your conclusion is confusing. How can something be only harder for a section of the population? Doesn't that by definition make it "harder"? Just because Roger Federer would beat me and my mother just as easily doesn't mean that we have the same ability at tennis. Similarly just becuase a set of guilds beat PP & Maloriak just as easily doesn't then automatically mean they have the same difficulty.

Anonymous said...

There is a difference between stating the fact that cata raids are harder than ICC because they have less room for failure, and complaining about the same thing.

I think most of the players who do complain are socials in social guilds, where they could have either 6/10 guild runs or 10/12 pugs in ICC, and chose pugs.
Now they can have wipefest with either guild or pug, and no boss kills until they find a raid guild.

The less forgiving raids makes puging impossible or at least more difficult. It's not about casuals, it's about socials, who insist on staying in social non raid guild, but still want to raid.

The Cata raids not being pugable is just as much about coordination as it is about room for error. The tactics are not hard, but you have to coordinate with others more than in ICC where you only needed to know your little part.
In some Cata fights you need to coordinate on the fly, like ODS and blind dragon. In ICC no such thing was needed before sindragosa.

There is more than just the margin for error involved but it affects the smae group, pugers. I think most people who raided before patch 3.2 like the cata model more, but 3.2 introduced pugable raids and when cataclysm took that away some miss it.

Steel said...

So you've reached the same conclusion that the commenters to yesterday's post reached: it's no longer possible to carry morons, because there is less room for error, and there are a lot of "one idiod mistake and you wipe", right at the entrance - and that's why it's "hard". Two questions:

1) Isn't this what we wanted and dreamed about all along, through all the wretched boosting of ICC?

2) Could this be? Is Blizzard actually cutting into what you said it's their root to success - boosting? Will Blizzard stick to it, or drop the nerf hammer eventually?

Coralina said...

"The 4/12-6/12 ICC guilds are a few boosters and lot of M&S."

This statement is absolutely 100% true. I was an ex hardcore raider who moved to a social guild with real life friends for ICC. There were maybe 3 or 4 of us that done a lot of serious raiding in the past and the rest were “M&S” although I don’t like that phrase as my friends are not “M&S” in real life. They are very nice, intelligent, funny, polite and friendly people who I loved logging onto vent and having casual “poker night” raids of ICC with.

Now these charts and graphics are meaningless to me because all that matters to me is my personal experience on the ground.

People can say what they like but over half of the raid team we had doing around 9/12 in ICC I simply wouldn’t take into a 5 man HC in Cataclysm and as for raiding – seriously forget it. It is just plain not the case that Cataclysm is the same difficulty to those types of guilds. Yes to the hardcore raid guilds there wouldn’t be a difference as they were not compensating for half the raid and aren’t limited by their weakest team members in quite the same way. The mechanical changes won’t have such a bearing on them.

But as I have said in other posts we don’t function like my old raid guilds. The boosters generally don’t leave. We all quit together. So when the difficulty is tuned such that it knocks out 60% of our team, it isn’t the case that the other good 40% move to other guilds and keep raiding. Instead the difficulty (or rather the zero tolerance mechanics as I call them) knocks out 100% of us.

Personally I am in favour of variable difficulty and maybe an “easy” mode fitted in below normal and offering a similar difficulty level to Naxx or ICC with the 30% buff. Obviously dropping lower level rewards – perhaps similar ilevel to those that will drop in the two new rehashed 5 mans.

I think a far more interesting topic would be why the more serious raiders object so vociferously to such a suggestion… That would be an uncomfortable psychology lesson that would cut a bit too close to the bone for many raiders I suspect.

Ultimately though as I have said before, it is a commercial decision for Blizzard. I don't feel as though I am "entitled" to see this content, but neither are Blizz entitled to my money.

Anonymous said...

@riptor: I don't understand how "l2play" is an answer. There is a normal curve of player skill. I don't think Blizzard has any control over their customer's natural abilities and little control over their learned abilities.

What Blizzard can do is define how many customers they want to target: the 20,000 of Darkfall, the 13m of WotLK or the 80m of Farmville.

I can not see how the shareholders of Activision are pleased with the current situation.

Azzur said...

As much as I like the current Cata model, I do think some sort of compromise is ideal (the ICC system without the incremental buff).

Easy to 4/12.
Medium to 9/12 (non-wing bosses).
Hard for wing-bosses.

Anonymous said...

could also be people comparing not to when ICC was new but when it was free loot aka 25% buff.

or my belief that since 10=25 these days the vent that was 10 is no longer here and since most remember 10 being a cakewalk instead of an actual challenge and they are currently having a hard time with 10 mans, gives the illusion of an increased difficulty.

Grim said...

Blizzard has stated that they intend the raids to become significantly easier when next tier comes out. It was not specified if that is only gear effect (Cata Tier 1 for JP) or will they actually nerf the instances.

So just like ToC was still run a lot (mostly pugged) with ICC out already, so will Cata Tier 1 be run by all the casuals and puggers when Tier 2 comes out.

While I see the point that everyone wants current content and current gear, I still believe that there will be less crying with Firelands out, because even for the weaker players 4 month old content is better than no content (which is the current case for anyone outside the PuG without a fixed raid group).

This is probably why people cry so much about Cata raids being too hard. Those who pugged ToC while 3-day-per-week raiders were progressing in ICC, have nothing to do right now except whine.

Btw, I expect that at some point weeklies will make their return,subjecting certain bosses to facerollfarming until the next expansion.

Andy said...

Another reason it may seem harder was mentioned on the Blueberry Totem blog: in LK, people could do 10-man raids in 25-man gear, making them easier. In Cata, since there's no difference between 10- and 25-man gear, this no longer applies, so nobody can outgear the current tier any more.

Sten Düring said...

Well, no longer being able to carry idiots makes the new raids harder.

Is this a good thing? Yes.

Still harder.

Now go grab a /2 pug and do 6/12 in three hours, or, maybe not.

Krytus said...

"They are unable to carry "friends" or even alts." That means that we have a lower % of PEOPLE -not guilds- killing bosses. That means the content is harder. (Less succesful people)

We must also consider that with the actual queues and time to finish a dungeon with the LFG tool, Cata is a lot less forgiving with the casual players (Not M&S, people with limited time). You can't chain run dungeons and you need that gear to be competent enough in raids.

Tazar said...

1 point to "harder" raids. Now in cata enrage timers or soft enrage timers are much less forgiving than ones in wotlk. So now even if you bring a player who does not fail at all but he can do only 10k dps meantime you will probably wipe.

Example: Cho'gall (I know you want to kill him soon)

We did our first kill after numerous of attempts where all members know what to do with 83k raid DPS. This however required 100% focus and noone! getting more than 10 stacks of corrupted blood in phase 1. After that we did him several times oneshoting him with 95k raid dps without any trouble. Than we went there with the same people just using alts. We struggled again because of 82k raid dps where we died in phase 2 because of high corrupted blood which killed raid when some people reached 75 stacks and started cast shadowbolts.

I know that he is supposed to be harder still we had no such problem doing the same at Profesor Putricide his enrage timer was just more forgiving.

Squishalot said...

Gevlon: ""While Cataclysm raids are not harder for the good players than ICC, it is very hard now to carry M&S to loot""

Actually, the correct statement is 'the skill requirement is higher'. You need to be at least X skilled to beat ICC, and you need to be at least Y skilled to beat Cata raids. What you call 'good players' are those with skill > Y.

If Y > X (i.e. you need, on average, more good players to beat Cata raids compared to ICC raids), then by definition, Cata raids are 'harder'. Whether that's a problem or not is a completely separate question (and in fact, most of the raiding player base would say that's still a good thing).

The raiders already know that they can't carry poor players, that's why they're saying it's hard. I'm not sure what new conclusion you're trying to demonstrate here in this post.

Trash said...

I'm 6/13HC raider and I'd say that Cata content is a bit harder than unbuffed ICC was back then and I like it.
Just try to compare the mechanics of Cata and ICC bosses. There is a lot of movement involved in Cata raiding, you have to use different class mechanics to beat the encounters, interrupts, raid cooldowns.

Gevlon said...

@Squishalot: If 10 X-skilled people could kill an ICC boss, the same 10 X-skilled people can kill a Cata boss. This is what I believe.

However I accept that 9 X+1 skilled people with 1 X-9 skilled person could go 10/12 ICC, while the same group is limited to Halfus in Cata as the single X-9 skilled person will DPS shielded Archanotron or bring a pillar to melee.

I even find it possible that 9 X*1.111 skilled people can kill the Cata boss, while the same 9 people will wipe if we place an M&S to the group.

zenga said...

One of the main reasons why Cata raids are considered harder than ICC is - besides in my opinion mechanics - the fact that healers no longer can solve all problems. Tactics have to be spot on, fights need to be properly executed. As opposed to ICC where many errors could be out-healed.

Anonymous said...

You wrote "While everyone says "Marrowgar was a pushover", the final WoWprogress data says only 84K guilds did Marrowgar and 48K did the Lich King. Practically every second guild that stepped into ICC killed the LK, at least after 4.0."

The key word here is "guilds". Guilds aren't the entire population of raiders, in fact, far from it, at least on my server.

I'd be surprised if more than 1% of PUGS that killed marrowgar also killed LK. Now, you can guess at the ratio of pug groups to guild groups, but I would at least put it at 50/50.

Anonymous said...

There also may be a false comparison that is occurring. It was possible to carry some people in ICC25 to get good quality gear, and then ICC10 was a breeze.

ICC10 in ICC10 gear may have been just as unforgiving at the time (where unforgiving means 1 death = wipe) but people weren't doing that. They were doing ICC10 in ICC25 gear.

Grim said...

I'd be surprised if more than 1% of PUGS that killed marrowgar also killed LK.

Then be surprised. I have personally taken part in multiple downright hilarious pugs that killed normal mode LK after 4.0 (but before Cata).

They featured pretty much everything you could think of, my favorite being my so far only encounter with a real and proper "raid leader's girlfriend" archetype (standing in defile, of course), and yet after a few tries LK went down and there are some people out there wearing Kingslayer titles while still having no clue about the fight.

Exactly how many people it was possible to boost through LK after 4.0 was illustrated by a few of my guildies who... wait for it... 5-manned him!
Before Cata, of course.

Samus said...

You are completely ignoring progression.

ICC had some easy bosses, and if anything you could go back to ToC for gear. If your guild failed on a particular boss, you could come back next week better geared for another attempt.

In Cata, you easily had pre-raid BiS weeks ago. There is nowhere else outside of raids to get gear. If you fail to down Magmaw this week, no one will get any gear upgrades. What would be different next week if you tried again?

Cata raids have no progression. If you can't do them, you just can't do them.

Gevlon said...

@Samus: if you couldn't down Magmaw this week, no gear can help you. You just have to learn to play.

Samus said...


But that is the point, in ICC you didn't need to learn to play better. You just had to gear up for another week, and try again when it is easier.

You may think Magmaw is easy and only a moron can't do it, but the majority of WoW players can't, and with the current state of the game they never will. People who can't progress will quit. Don't you at least agree this is a business problem for Blizzard?

MetaManu said...

i agree totally, but i still think the difficulty mainly comes from downsizing raids to 10 (one fail has twice the effect).

In ICC, the 25 size enabled you to carry quite a few tourists, and i had the opportunity to verify it carries to cata.

Namely, we raid sunday with 15-20 raiders and whatever we can find to fill the gaps (in guild). You can guess we have (a few) slackers, drunks and unenchanted players that night. Still, 4/12.

There is absolutly no more skill required for magmaw and omnitron than fester and dreamwalker, for example.

MetaManu said...

@samus : i'd bet magmaw is doable in blue gear. If your tank dies, use two tanks.

As gev said, if the adds are getting at you or you get pillars, you don't have a gear problem :)

Samus said...

"@samus : i'd bet magmaw is doable in blue gear. If your tank dies, use two tanks."

I'm quite sure you are right, given competent players. Magmaw is an easy fight. But it is an easy fight that most of the WoW population cannot do. This is a problem for Blizzard.

For a long time, WoW has been based on a certain progression. Skilled players do raids with reasonable gear, unskilled players (the majority) are gifted gear until eventually they are overgeared enough that they can do it too.

Not this time. Unskilled players (the majority) are getting no gear. Even if they did get gear, the fights are more unforgiving to the mistakes that unskilled players will never stop making. They will never be able to do the raids, and they know it. They will quit.

The smart business decision for Blizzard is to go back to gifting epics.

jonreece said...

The real question isn't "where is lootship, Deathwhisper and Saurfang"... the real question is "where is Anub'Rekhan, Patchwerk, and Flame Leviathan."

The first bosses of the first raid instances of the expansion are at difficulties comparable to the end of wing bosses of the final (well, barring Ruby Sanctum) raid instance of the prior expansion? In a new boxed set that has a stated design goal of being especially friendly to new players, to help them join the game, find their place and become long term customers?

I think this has the potential to be both very fun for serious veteran raiders and also be an utter business failure over the course of the next year or so.

Steel said...

Watch out for 4.2 and Firelands. Here is a quote from Gevlon's WHU interview back in ICC:

" ToC was considerably easier than Ulduar. Even ICC first wing is at the difficulty of Ulduar keepers. ... Ulduar was a failure from Blizzard’s standpoint, very few people killed Yogg. So the subsequent instances were tuned much easier. ICC in relevant gear (245) is much easier than Ulduar was in 213.

The shadow of Ulduar->ToC looms large. I guess we'll know for sure when 4.2 drops.

MetaManu said...

@samus : but the point is, even with 372 gear, pugs would still fail at magmaw.

but the idea is, come 4.1, epic shower indeed. Those 5 mans i expect to be in full faceroll mode :)

btw, noticed that the majority of the 25 mans in magmaw actually succeed? Imo, blizzard's error was not giving upgraded loot in 25 anymore. 25 runs have more places for "aspiring" players.

Anonymous said...

I think what would swey thing in one direction or another is data we will hardly ever be able to get and that is how many people have tried a boss.
And this is what will , in my opinion(losely verified by doing alt runs wit two or three non guildies)prove cata bosses harder to kill(mind you i say "to kill" not that they really are harder).
more people have tried and didnt kill cataclysm boss then there are those that killed ICC boss(at any given time, with any amount of buffing).

Anonymous said...

I dont think your data shows what you are saying. Guilds defeating cata really isnt solely how raids are run but it is how you are measuring it.

Is healing harder now.....well playing as a druid with less gear and just dotting people up...healing was very easy in ICC. Healing now definitely has some limits as has been said. You mess up now....healer may save you at the cost of mana and wipe later on or healer just may not be able to save you. Healing is definitely a step up.

Pug raids are just never mentioned at all on the server I am on. When we started wrath and Naxx.....I would do Naxx on my main and pug with an alt. It was defintely a lot easier to find a group to do a lot of the bosses if not all of them.

Current raids have so few bosses that if you down week 1 the first boss and are stuck at the second. Coming back each week adds 2 pieces of gear to the group. In ICC doing the first three bosses was fairly easy....more gear to keep upgrading the group. Same with Naxx. The natural progression of getting raid gear was better than it is now.
I would still say the content is harder.

Paul said...

I've said this before, but the only way Blizzard's design decisions for this expansion make any sense is if they are planning to nerf (and massively) the current tier raids down the line. And, I don't mean just nerfs from gear, but removal of entire mechanisms.

The problem is, I don't think this is going to work. Many low-skill people will have left by then, guilds will be gone, and (most importantly) the ego-boost of downing the nerfed content will be greatly attenuated.

Ego gratification is, IMO, why most people play the game, the good and the bad alike. Delivery of e-flattery, the deliberate overinflation of self worth, is the basic primal payoff behind the addiction.

I think Blizzard doesn't really understand this, and the devs are thinking players just want to (eventually) get content that is properly challenging. This notion is a mirage, IMO. Players want to be perceived as having downed content that was challenging. They don't actually want content that causes them to fail. And, they don't want to be obviously behind the curve. Blizzard's attempts to provide content that is more closely tuned to everyone's personal ability levels (by means of difficulty modes, gradual nerfs, and progressive gear handouts) makes it more difficult for the game to deliver the comforting false impressions of competence that are the real product.

Squishalot said...

@ Gevlon - Again, that's just evidence that the skill bar is higher in Cata (i.e. more penalty for lack of skill). It's nothing new, so that's why a lot of us are wondering what the point of spending this post is, telling people what they already know.

Qwerti said...

You can't compare the last tier raid in an expansion with the first. You need to compare it to naxx.

And this problem with starting raids is only temporary. Epics will be falling from the sky and raids being pugged come 4.2.

Anonymous said...

The only reason cata raids are "harder" is because healing is less forgiving and less powerful.

In Wrath a good healer would keep terrible players alive. It didn't matter if dps were dump and stood in fire, missed interrupts etc. Healers would carry bads.

In cata a good healer cannot carry a group of bad dps. If dps stand in fire or miss interrupts the healer will go oom trying to keep up and then the group will wipe.

That is really the only difference in difficulty.

Holly said...

I still have to say just due to so much of this being available in beta the impact of having working and known strategies at the raid content launch also helps here. There is the gear aquiring time, which you mentioned. Though I will give you there was also leveling time for Cata.

Overall I think it's just too hard to compare 'final tier wrath raid' with 'first tier cata' raid without a lot more data, like how much Baradin Hold and VoA helped raids get that little bit of gear.

How the ICC buff affected kills, etc. . . . Though I will admit when ICC launched it was a bit of a different beast than when ICC finished, particularly the fight of putricide for 10 man.

I also believe I've even read in the dev comments that 10 man in cata is much harder than 25 mostly due to buff/debuff allocation across the classes and the ratios of healers/dps/tanks and the mechanics cata bosses employ for most of these. Where it was a bit of a flip in wrath, particularly due to the gear difference, so perhaps comparing 10 man cata to 25 ICC would be more appropriate, or 25 cata to 10 man ICC?

Just too many variables, too many things not taken into record, I have to say again, it's interesting but I have to call it faulty data, I'm sorry.

Holly said...

A small append not really shown here is the first wing in ICC, VoA, Rep Grinds, and Baradin Hold the amount of kils and gear there that has help gearboost raids in both expansions, it might sound silly but I do think the amount of raids able to get partial sets (particularly tier sets) from there helped. Too many factors to really consider, so again, interesting but faulty data.

Though I do think it says something about the state of cata raiding as a whole when it launched with raids as difficult as the prior expansions final raid. (unless you count ruby sanctum, but that's just being silly.)

*vlad* said...

Despite our GM telling the more casual people that they need to have spent half an hour watching a video and reading up on tactics, they still turn up to raids with absolutely no clue whatsoever about the bosses they will be fighting. They put zero effort into trying to learn things beforehand, typically with comments like 'I've been too busy this week to have a look'. Not too busy to waste wiping for an hour because they don't know what they are doing, though.

Cata normal raids are not harder than ICC ones. We wiped plenty of times to Festergut and Rotface back then, never mind Putricide and Sindragosa.
Only the end bosses in Cata require any real dedication; there is no reason at all why average players should not get to 9/12 boss kills right now, other than time constraints.
I can't believe anyone who considers thay are capable of playing their class properly to be unable to kill even one boss.