Home > World of Warcraft > “I Miss 40-man Raids” or “Vanilla Nostalgia”

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

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?

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Categories: World of Warcraft
  1. September 30, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    I posted on this somewhere recently (I think it was Spinks’), but the biggest difference for any MMO today versus MMOs of old is the accessibility of information on the internet. When I started as a newbie in FFXI, the data was sparse. (In fact, and probably worth of a blog post at some point, FFXI tool tips didn’t exist – the game didn’t TELL you what stats did. You drew conclusions based on whether you were doing more damage or not.) Games today, even single-player ones are ruined (to me) by Wikis and forums. Why bother exploring the world when I can just look up the best place to find X? Why bother reading quest text and discerning where to go next on my own if I can just look it up. At least back i the day you had to ASK someone for help (ya know, social interaction?).

    I guess this is another reason I love Fallen Earth so much. The game just doesn’t have that large of a community (yet, F2P will change that, I suspect) and frankly, answers aren’t out there most of the time without asking on the Help or Global channels. You’re encouraged to explore, try new stuff (to a degree – I still have issues with the respec policy), and read quest text. I wish it did without the quest trackers – I wish WoW never added it.

    • September 30, 2011 at 5:59 pm

      And so to piggy-back on my response above, I have decided that I will not read anything about Skyrim other than the instruction manual (and probably blog posts). I want to immerse myself fully in the world, explore, and just have fun. I’m going to try to do it old-school regardless of how “pressed for time” I feel. I mean, really, if I don’t intend to play anything else, what’s the rush? For some reason, I know that’ll be hard to tell myself over and over because I’ll want to advance the plot, but I’m going to try.

      • October 3, 2011 at 10:42 pm

        I am actually really looking forward to the (re)launch of Fallen Earth (just 9 days to go!) The sense of mystery and intrigue has been severely hampered by all these guides out there now. I mean if i am stuck on something, reading the quest or asking in the local channel normally solves the issue. if nothing pans out, there is always WoWHead, but otherwise I try to avoid these website for the simple reason that they take away the joy of exploring and discovering a new place on your own!

    • October 3, 2011 at 12:52 pm

      Hmm. Remember Spirit on everything? I’m sorry, but mystery/wasted stats, not understanding what your abilities do… no. That’s fake difficulty. What the external resources do is drastically reduce the learning curve and newbie guesswork.

      Obligatory link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrlwVtB1LBk

      (I hope that’s the right video… can’t get to youtube at work, but the thumbnail looked right on Google :P)

      • October 3, 2011 at 10:43 pm

        Lovely video man! Thank you for sharing!

  2. theerivs
    September 30, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Drew, I’m not so sure. I remember in Vanilla WoW we could always “Ask A Guard” LOL!

    • October 3, 2011 at 10:45 pm

      It’s funny you should mention that, because just the other day I was on my bank alt in Orgrimmar, a city that is as unfamiliar to me as New Jersey is to a New Yorker! They must have reduced the number of guards because it took me some time and effort to track one down and ask for the directions.

  3. September 30, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    I can’t recall the raid size in EQ, but I do recall running an early raid with 70+ people. Epic feeling was epic, and it was a bit of a clusterf*&** to say the least.

    But wow, just the level of organization required was redonkulous. Imagine the loot rolls in that situation.

    The one thing I miss about WoW 40 mans was that people could die (non tanks) and it wasn’t a write off. There was difficulty but also room for error. Once you reduce the number of people, and try to keep the difficulty manageable, you end up with 1 death means a wipe for the rest. I don’t recall it being that way in 40mans.

    • October 3, 2011 at 12:46 pm

      Depends on your raid team, I guess. Losing a main tank was always a wipe unless you could rebirth before half thhe raid got eaten, same as today. Even in this tier my 10m raid team managed a few of the encounters with a DPS floor-tanking from 20 seconds in, or even a healer in some cases. (we have a shammy who doesn’t seem to get the whole positioning thing… but he’s learning)

      It just seems like people tend to give up more easily.

      • October 3, 2011 at 10:48 pm

        I would have to agree with Leit on this one. We worked on C’Thun for four straight weeks. We had the rest of AQ40 opn farm status (with the possible exception of Princess Huhuran – what a bitch!), and we could clear the place in less than a night.

        It takes a real toll on you and forty of your comrades if you wipe 12-15 times a night every raiding night for four straight weeks.

        But I have to say the kill at the end of those grueling weeks was well worth the effort. That was some serious adrenaline man!

  4. October 1, 2011 at 9:24 am

    To answer your question, I think this is good for WoW, not for MMOs in general. Blizzard needs more people to raid or it doesn’t make sense to spend all of that time and money developing the instances. It is bad for MMOs because developers will likely take the wrong conclusions from this.

    • October 3, 2011 at 10:50 pm

      “WoW did it, so it must be a good thing to do.”

      Sometimes I think they just need to look at what WoW did (and had going for it) at the start. Everything else was tuned to the numbers and the depth of the player base. At the start it was a basic MMO with a lot of hype because it was based on a loved Blizzard universe. The launch WoW seems like the retarded third cousin (twice removed and several times beaten with the ugly stick) of the WoW of today.

  1. January 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm

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