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“I Miss 40-man Raids” or “Vanilla Nostalgia”

September 30, 2011 13 comments

There was a time in World of Warcraft, when things weren’t as easy as they are today for the average player. There was no quest helper feature, areas weren’t marked on your map for quest objectives, you weren’t provided with handy arrows directing you to your next objective, you couldn’t track the quests. There was no option for floating combat text. There were no threat meters. There was no addon that told you which boss will do what and when. PvP was realm only, so an Arathi Basin queue could take up to an hour. You had to figure out everything on your own, and tough as it was, that was magical!

5-Mans: Then

If you were a raider, you needed up to 20 people just to run UBRS (now a 5-man instance). You ran Stratholme and the Blackrock Spire instances until you were blue in the face, just to have enough gear to be able to face off against the first set of Molten Giants in the Molten Core. There was a dungeon set (go go banana shoulders!), an actual matching set of gear that you could acquire for your class from dungeons that gave you enough of an advantage to be able to start raiding.

5-Mans: Now

You don’t need anyone to be able to queue for a 5-man instance any longer. The game will do the work for you in terms of finding four other sufficiently able people to party up with you. Sure there are some ilvl requirements to keep what Gevlon would call M&S out of the system, but that can be circumvented by donning readily available PvP sets of equal or better ilvl. There was a time when you would wait until four of your friends logged on, or ask people in the guild to help, or send messages in the trade or LFG channels to fill the last few spots. Now, all of you have to do is press “i” and join queue.

Raiding: Then

Raiding took a lot of coordination and effort. As a raid leader, you had command of 39 other people, with several others sitting outside the instance, because:

  • over three hours, a few individuals will need to leave for real life commitments or other reasons
  • you would need to switch some players based on what gear they needed
  • you had to switch them out because they were just not performing up to par
  • the raid needed to balance the classes (buffs)

Coordinating a fight with 40 people in the room, all from different backgrounds, countries, viewpoints, skill-levels and IQs was a massive undertaking. As a raid leader you had to be be patient, forgiving, thoughtful, resourceful, yet firm and resolute. You had to nip small quarrels in the bud. You had to keep respawn timers in check (18 minutes for Core Hounds, 22 minutes for Lava Surgers). You had to methodically and carefully explain fights every time, because with 60+ raiders in the guild, there was always someone who had not fought that particular fight before. You had to be strong. You had to be smart. And most of all, you had to be insanely patient.

But the sheer volume of people was not the only reason for why vanilla WoW raiding took so much effort and energy. There were several other factors as well. It was a time:

  • when Paladin blessing lasted 5 minutes, and you had to rebless every 4 minutes and 50 seconds.
  • when the buffs provided were class centric, and could not be provided by any other class.
  • when the only priests that could fear ward you were dwarfs.
  • with no heroic and normal versions. Everything was heroic.
  • when you needed oodles of fire-resistant gear to just survive the temperature in the room.
  • when you constantly needed to tell 39 people to loot the damn dog because the game didn’t tell you which mob was who’s loot!

Raiding: Now

There is a normal mode and a heroic mode, and you can chose the style that best reflects your guild’s willingness to conquer tougher content. You only need 10 people to raid. You can argue with me and say that you need 25 for the larger raids, but unlike Wrath of the Lich King, the same loot drops from both raid sizes, so that argument is now obsolete.

As of today, patch 4.3 will now also let you queue for raids. You don’t have to find 24 other people. The queue is cross-server, and it will put a team together for you with 2 tanks, 6 healers and 17 damage dealers. This will not be a replacement for normal raids though, as the encounters will be tuned to what can only be defined as “below normal” and the loot will be of a lower ilvl than normal mode raiding. Thus we have

  • 10-man (normal)
  • 10 man (heroic)
  • 25-man (pug)
  • 25-man (normal)
  • and 25-man (heroic)

Take your pick, whatever is easiest for you.

The point of this post isn’t to say that vanilla raiding was better, though I miss that era terribly. Nor is it meant to degrade the convenience of the WoW of today. I am just stating facts here. WoW has evolved immensely over the last seven odd years, and most of the changes have been to allow better access for more and more players. The point of this post is simply nostalgia, reminiscing over those initial years when everything took effort and energy and meticulous planning.

What do you think? Do you feel all this convenience is a good thing for MMO evolution, or are we diluting the genre?

Categories: World of Warcraft