#0 - Feb. 26, 2007, 7:04 p.m.
First, let me point out the things I like about BC.
1) The normal-mode 5 mans are very well designed. Short, fun, and with appropriate rewards. A good guild group one shots everything, is done in an hour, and everyone has fun. The difficulty is such that even a non-optimal group composition can do most of the dungeons.
2) I'm enjoying the arena. While our mainly PvE specced 5v5 team is only batting about .500, it is fun and really gets the blood pumping.
3) The questing was more varied and fun than I remember the 0-60 process being.
That said, I see some serious problems on the horizon.
1) The scale up in difficulty from 5 mans to heroic 5 mans and Karazhan is intense. We cleared through MoV on our first timer, then spent this week banging our heads against Romeo and Juliet. Most of our team has the best gear out of 5 mans. Since our gear is not going to get much better, and our skills will improve only so much after 2 years of raiding, the only way we'll be able to reliably beat this level of content is using massive amounts of consumables. At least 2-4 flasks, and food, pots, and elixirs for everyone. This kind of consumable mania is really against the spirit of our three nights a week, semi-casual raiding philosophy. If I need to spend 8 hours a week farming for raids I will likely not raid. Consumables are far too important now.
2) The gear improvements from raiding are too poor. This ties in with the consumable issues - if the tiered sets do not scale up more than we've seen with T3.5->T4->T5 then more difficult content will just mean more consumables, more farming, and less people seeing raid content. The power increases we are seeing from tier gear are really small compared to the benefits of consumables. I think a lot of the problems with itemization/consumables is related to PvP - Blizzard is trying hard to make raiders not overpower dedicated PvPer, but in the process they are making the benefit/reward ratio so poor raiding is going to be hard to sustain. One hour a week (10 5v5 arena matches) gets you a PvP epic every three weeks in the arena. Before BC I'd estimate raiding was something like 30 hours/epic. That is a factor of 10.
3) The keying process is too difficult. I'm not worried about our normal raiders - what I'm worried about is attrition. What happens 5 months down the road when we need a fill in for the black temple? We'll have to recruit someone in blues, run them to revered with 3 factions, then through heroic 5 mans, Kara, etc. etc. etc. Because the keying process is so difficult the top guilds on the server will be even more relentless trying to pry members away from less progressed guild. A suggestion here would be to make the raids like Arcatraz - the person with the key can open the door. If not, replacing members is going to be very, very difficult.
4) There seems to be a distinct lack of 25 man raids that are going to be doable by "normal" guilds. If every 25 man boss is Loatheb, where does that leave us? I understand the desire to provide a challenge for the elite guilds. I understand that you don't want DnT or Nihlium clearing the black temple by July. However, you need to provide 25 man content that can be cleared by a group of adults with lives. Ideally, this would mean:
Perfect execution is not required - 1 or 2 DCs or random deaths (except the tanks) would not mean a wipe
Consumable use is minimized - Only flask the tanks and use mana pots for your internal tuning
Aim for a normal guild to be able to down the encounter after ~10-20 attempts - no barrier encounters
If you are going to make resist fights make the resist gear craftable and relatively easy to get
As a side note, Karazhan violates almost all of these guidelines.
5) Healers. 40 mans seemed to be designed around something like 35% healers. Scaling that to 25 mans means 8 healers. R&J in Kara seems to require at least 3 main healers + 1 hybrid. The problem is very few people actually enjoy being healers. The prayer of mending nerf is just salt in the wound. It is very hard to find enough healers - I'd love to see 25 man content tuned for 6 dedicated healers and maybe 2 hybrids healing on healing intensive fights.
6) Tanks. We were planning on bringing 3 warriors and 3 druids to raids - 2 prot tanks, 1 fury, 1 feral tank, 1 cat, 1 resto druid. The Druid tanking nerf is extreme - I think it basically makes bears worthless against bleed immune mobs (all of Karazhan and likely much more), and their mitigation/HP worse than warriors, especially once T4/T5 becomes common and bears are still in quest greens. This means we'll bring 3 prot tanks, 1 cat, and 1 resto. Maybe a pally OT. As a guild leader I really like the option of having more than one class be a viable MT, but with the druid nerf and warrior buff I don't think I can justify anything but warrior tanks.