Working as Intended

It’s been a hot week for controversy and Blizzard’s PR face has been rubbed in its own mistakes quite a bit around the internet from the high-end raiding community. Ensidia got the World First kill of the Lich King on 25man, except 8 hours later they didn’t. A very short time later, Paragon posts a kill shot with 20 attempts remaining, meaning they did not wipe once on any of the gatekeeper bosses or the king himself. This would have been impressive (well, it still is impressive, but it would have been moreso) if they hadn’t used their alts, which are better geared that most of the mains in the world, to burn through all their attempts to learn the fights, then go in on their mains to get the kill achievement with a snappy killshot.
The limited attempts system has been the subject of a lot of discussion since it was debuted in ToGC. Some people love it because it allows their guild to “be better” than another guild in a measurable way; the sooner you finish with the more attempts (rather than just finishing sooner) the better you are. It allowed raiders to argue about “quality over quantity” raiding. When Blizzard put the limited attempts on end-wing bosses in Icecrown Citadel normal modes, I was rather put off. Blizzard has been dumbing down the game, making it as accessible as possible, but then they throw in a little nod to the “hardcore” crowd. Immediately complaints were heard about wiping to buggy mechanics, server lag, people’s internet connections failing them, and other ways in which these limited attempts were being lost in a non-satisfying manner. But, since hard modes were not yet available, at least “hardcore” guilds got to gloat about killing bosses period, not just first, because the majority of the world ran out of attempts. This is exactly what hard mode raiders should get to do, but NOT on NORMAL mode.
Now, the Lich King has come out from under his rock, having had his hair reassuringly tussled by his mom and eating his packed lunch waiting for him at the foot of the Frozen Throne while he waits for us all to run back after wiping. Approximately 40 guilds have killed the Lich King on 10 and 25man in the first week, which means they get to start on the hard modes, and I imagine, based on the initial difficulty of some of these encounters, that Marrowgar, Deathwhisper, Gunship, Saurfang, Festergut, Rotface, Blood Council, and Dreamwalker will all be killed in the first day. Perhaps Festergut’s enrage will be tuned a little tighter than some of those 40 guilds can manage until they get a few Heroic Brynn’Trolls to drop for them. Perhaps Dreamwalker’s adds will overwhelm initially. But, really, I don’t see any of those encounters being any kind of progression roadblock for the top 100-or-so guilds.
Just one week from his debut, the Lich King has decided that he is apparently bored waiting for raids to get to him, so he has removed the limited attempts counters on the 3 gatekeeper bosses, and on himself in NORMAL mode. Talk about a nice guy. Why are we trying to kill him again? Oh, yeah, the purples… The attempt counter will remain visible, even in normal mode, but will not decrease when you wipe unless you are attempting any of the 4 bosses on heroic difficulty, and you must defeat Putricide, Queen, and Sindragosa on hard difficulty to make attempts on hard mode Lich King. Why they have removed these now, in my estimation, is for one simple reason; having them would discourage some guilds from burning attempts on hard mode gatekeeper bosses and then having none left over to attempt regular-mode Lich King. The problem with that is, THAT’S EXACTLY WHY WE NEED LIMITED ATTEMPTS COUNTERS TO BEGIN WITH, because Blizzard wants to throw roadblocks in progression. Punish the hardcore for their failures Blizzard, that’s what they want! They want to go back to the Sunwell and wipe for 2 months on the first boss of the instance!
Blizzard wanted, in addition to the gated progression of the wings opening up, further gates, so they put in limited attempts to further slow progression within the gated content. The problem was, this has not happened. Partly because the top end guilds are top end guilds for a reason, they are really, really, really good players, and even if they only had 5 attempts on a boss the first time they ever saw it, they’d still have a good shot at killing it. But they’re also not stupid. If they only have 5 attempts to kill something, they’re gonna find a way to get around that. And, in Icecrown, how they found to get around that, was alts. Probably most people who have alts running Icecrown are just going to be Primordial Saronite mules for their mains, either for money or for epic crafted items. But when you have an alt that is in full 258 gear because you cleared all ToGC except Anub’arak in the first three weeks, you’re ahead of the gear most people have on their mains. You can go in on your alts and burn all your attempts because you don’t care about them. You know you’ll still have more attempts on your “real” character later, and you’ll be that much better prepared. Hell, if I had a geared enough alt, I’d probably do the same thing. There is nothing quite as embarrassing or frustrating as having achievements or gear on an alt that your main doesn’t have, so I’d be happy to sacrifice a character for the advancement of my main. The limited attempt mechanic does not appear like it has worked as Blizzard hoped because top guilds just worked around it, so once again, only normal guilds suffered. Keep your hard mode-catered content where it belongs Blizzard, in the hard modes, let the rest of the world get their welfare “Kingslayer” title in peace, no point kicking them while they’re down the first few weeks so condescending, arrogant, elitist video game players can feel superior to the “noobs”, the “scrubs”, and the “baddies” sooner than they otherwise would have on current content.
Some will claim that this “nerf” has come to quickly, much like the Lady Deathwhisper one. I claim that this nerf should never have been necessary and Blizzard should get their design philosophy straightened out. I appreciate that they have decided to change things for the better, I just wish they’d finish thinking their ideas through a little more because they seem to constantly be missing consequences of theta choices from a quality of life standpoint, nevermind having to ban guilds because of a peculiar programming function.

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