Now we’ll get to the good stuff.
Heroics and raiding have a lot in common.
You have players of varying skill and commitment interested in participating.
Blizzard is doing their best to make more raid content available for more people (nerfing older content, increasing badge gear availability, upcoming zone buff for ICC, etc). There is some great story and fun fights in these raids, it’s only natural that the company wants more people to be able to experience them.
Let’s do a quick comparison.
Queue up and get tossed into a party. You need a tank, a healer, 3 DPS.
Best case scenario, you’re looking at 10-15 minutes of your day. Worst case scenario maybe 45 minutes to an hour (just did a H CoS that took 50 minutes, hell on earth).
Chances are there is very little strategizing among the members of the heroic, maybe very little communication at all. It’s generally expected that if a member doesn’t admit to never having done it before that everyone has at least a passable knowledge of the instance.
Even if you have someone on follow the whole way (one contributing factor to a 50-minute H CoS), the rest of the group can probably brute force their way through.
At least 90% of the drops are being sharded. If you’re after a drop and you didn’t get it, you can always come back tomorrow.
You zone in, kill shit, and leave.
Might need two tanks. Might need 4. Might need 3 healers. Might only need 2. Might need a priest or 2 and nothing else will do. Might prefer a bear tank for this fight. Might want a boomkin for buffs. Lots of casters, let’s grab an unholy DK to fill this out. Want a shaman for BLOODLUST.
Best case scenario, you’re looking at 1-3 hours. Worst case, many more (18 hour Naxx anyone?).
Roles and responsibilities are probably reviewed before each fight. Who’s on adds? Who’s shooting frost spheres? Where will the traps be placed? Who’s MT healing? Who’s healing the mage? (Correct answer: everyone!) How many stacks before the taunt?
Once content has been mastered, most raids can carry a person or 2, more so on 25 than on 10. But farm status may be a long time in coming, until that point everyone needs to pull their own weight.
Some items (particularly weapons and trinkets) are highly sought after. If your piece doesn’t drop (or drops and you lost the roll), it’s another week before you can try again.
Everyone zones in, raid leader attempts to keep order, (hopefully) kill shit, leave, get a drink. Not always in that order.
The differences lie in time commitment, communication, planning, skill requirements, and potential for drama.
We’re hit with a double whammy on time. Not only does it just take longer to complete a raid than it does to bust a heroic, but the raiders you want with you will already have researched the fights – time spent outside the game.
Unless you’re blessed with a phenomenal raid leader that could make a rock understand why the sky is blue, many people don’t “get” a fight their first couple times in. Reviewing the strategies beforehand, especially watching the videos, helps cut down on the number of tries for a player to become comfortable with an encounter.
How many heroics have you run and the party leader insisted on vent? Going to go out on a limb and guess very, very few to none. How many for raids? Probably a good chunk of them (excluding loot pinatas like VoA). There is so much more information that needs to disseminated to the group on a raid and events during the fights that need to be responded to more quickly than waiting for your OT to read in chat that you’re at 8 stacks and you would really appreciate him taunting off of you.
Planning is key in a raid. Ever had a wipe where healing assignments weren’t clear and no one was healing the OT but that MT was at 100% all the time? Ever get to Instructor Razuvious on 25 and look at the raid and ask where the priests were? (Worst encounter design EVER in the days of “bring the player not the class.”) I know I’ve stood at the entrance to the Iron Council and asked who we had that could actually dispel Fusion Punch. Moving on to Kologarn now…
You have to plan who you’re bringing and then alter strategies around them. Before we were geared, a Naxx 10 with no shaman may not have been able to pull off a Thane burn on 4 Horseman but may have been able to do it with a shaman. A melee-heavy group may encounter difficulties that a caster-heavy group may not and vice versa. Faction champs is a great example of a strategy changing drastically based on raid composition: what CC options do you have, what offensive and defensive moves does your raid composition bring? Can you mass dispel that heroism? Can you remove curses? Can you stun lock the paladin?
Once you have a strategy, people still have to follow it. Skill comes in a few flavors here: class ability, fight mechanics, and responsiveness.
It is possible to get through a heroic with a destruction specced warlock that never uses chaos bolt. Not pretty, but doable. That same individual in a raid could spell disaster. Fights in heroics are short, I can just burn a boss without paying attention to anything resembling a rotation. Raid fights are much longer, cooldowns and energy sources have to be managed. Interrupts, spellsteals, dispels, all the toys in the toy box need to be used.
In a heroic, if someone stands in the fire it is most likely healable, might tickle, but it probably won’t kill you. In a raid, that shit burns. Because it’s FIRE. Or acid or really cold fire. Or black ooey puddles of goo. Regardless of what it is, it hurts really bad and the healers probably don’t have the mana or GCDs to devote to keeping stupid alive.
Maybe there are add switches. Not every fight is Patchwerk, blood beasts need to die and fast, brittle constructs need to be blown up, snobolds are bad news on healers.
Maybe there is movement; shadow crash, safety dance, Icehowl’s charge, stupid brain link thing on Yogg, freaking slime delivery on Rotface.
There are places to stand and places to not stand and things to kill and things to not kill to take advantage of or be destroyed by fight mechanics. The best player in the world at a test dummy may fail miserably when asked to move or switch targets.
And then there’s the “oh shit” factor and how well people respond to it. Assignments go out, people follow them, all is well. But what happens when all doesn’t go well? MT healer is Bonespiked. Other healers need to pick up the slack. Healer gets Mark of the Fallen Champion and doesn’t make it through, spriest pops out of shadow and picks up what they can.
We ran Instructor Raz the other week for the weekly raid quest. Tank and one healer on the crystals. Fight starts. Why is one of the understudies running amok? Why is the healer running in place? Oh shit. He DCed at the start of combat. Mage runs over and picks up the crystal, crisis is averted. (I got to tank something on my mage, woot!)
All those aspects of player skill can certainly be used in a heroic and it makes the run much smoother, but they aren’t required. In a raid, skill is a necessity.
At this point, just about the worst thing that can be ninjaed from a heroic is a Frozen Orb. Seriously, it happens and it’s hilarious.
Player X has rolled Need. Player X receives Frozen Orb. Player X has left group.
There are some tasty drops out of the newer heroics that are also ninja-fodder, but you can always come back tomorrow and try again.
But in a raid… it takes so much more time and effort to get to that drop. And if you don’t get it, you’ve got another week before you can take anther shot at it. And possibly be rolling against 9 to 24 other people. Loot tables are bigger than in heroics and there is more competition for each drop, resulting in more people that are going home empty handed.
Raids are where the best fights and the best loot are.
But like heroics, the only Blizzard-created limitation to enter a raid is that a character be level 80.
Next time, we’ll look at the 80 divide, guilds, pugs and their impact on raiding.