Life in Group 5 – A Resto Shaman Blog
A resto shaman perspective on raiding


November 8, 2012

Playstyle Choices versus Game Constraints in Mists

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Written by: Vixsin
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Stick around the WoW community long enough, and you’ll see the same topics rear their head again and again–the recent fuss over LFR is certainly no exception. But whereas previously I shrugged off the ties of LFR to raiding, this time around I’ve been following the blue posts, forum discussion and blogs a bit more attentively because the quality of my time in game has, since the start of the expac, become more of a focus for me (a post for another day, perhaps). And, integral to both my own evaluation of my time in game and the ongoing discussion about raiding is this idea of something being “required”. You see it thrown about quite frequently:

  • “Dailies are required to get gear”
  • “LFR is required to raid”
  • “Why am I required to PVP to get upgrades for PVE content?”

Reading through the requirements as defined by this thread alone, it would be easy for someone unfamiliar with the raiding game to envision a spiderweb of compliance requirements so dense that the raiding population struggles to ever find their way into an instance, nonetheless clear it on heroic difficulty. But, as we know, that really isn’t the case. So why do we maintain that there are so many requirements to raiding?


Constraints, Rules and Choices

In order to wade through what is a very dense and interconnected topic (it took up the whole of a dinner AND pre-/post-movie discussion this weekend!), I think it’s best if we start off by establishing some definitions about the game world, beginning with two very basic concepts—game constraints and playstyle choices.

For the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to define a constraint in a video game as a prescribed action or threshold that you, the player, must meet in order to advance to the next step in the scripted progression path. (We could call them “gates” or “conditionals” or “hurdles”; all convey the same idea). In WoW, game constraints can be things like ilvl requirements to queue for dungeons, a specific amount of experience points needed to advance to the next level, or a multi-part questline. Constraints are different than rules in that constraints represent gates in an activity sequence. A rule, for example, would be a cap on the total number of valor points you can have at any given time. The rule has no conditions to satisfy it and no implications beyond what is stated in that rule.

When you’re looking at PVE content, specifically max-level raiding, I can think of a few important game constraints that govern your experience:

  1. You must be max level to participate (this may not be as important to you later on, but that 20-hour gaming session you did at expac release is a testament to how important this constraint is).
  2. In order to beat an encounter, you must do a certain level of raid damage such that your group is able to reduce a boss’s hit points to 0 in the allowed time frame.
  3. Also in order to beat an encounter, you must do a certain level of raid healing such that at least 1 player is alive when the boss is killed.
  4. Advancement to the next boss in the progression path is predicated by the defeat of the preceding boss (most times).
  5. You cannot fight Hard Mode bosses until you have killed all Normal Mode bosses in the same instance.

Constraints essentially set the bar on what we are being tasked to accomplish, without rigidly defining the steps to get there.

Thus, if constraints set goals, then playstyle choices are the choices that a player makes in order to meet those goals. The WoW IronMan Challenge is a great example of a playstyle choice because it actively debunks something that players often regard as a game constraint—that increased stat levels are requisite to killing higher level mobs. Likewise, you make a playstyle choice when you choose to gain experience points via LFD instead of questing, because the ultimate constraint that you are trying to meet is the amount of experience points needed to advance to the next level.

So if we take this concept and apply it to max-level raiding, we can see the following as being playstyle choices:

  1. Collecting Valor points through dungeons (instead of raids)
  2. Raiding with 25 people (instead of 10)
  3. Opting to use a higher number of melee versus ranged dps
  4. Choosing to CC the adds in Will of the Emperor (instead of dpsing them down)

These choices (and many, many more) are what fill in the space between constraints. WoW isn’t going to tell you how to get to max level in order to participate in raids, only that you need to meet that threshold. Likewise, the game isn’t going to give you a boss strat or a raiding lineup with which to defeat an encounter and it won’t even tell you the DPS and HPS levels that you need to achieve; that’s up to you to figure out (and IMO, part of the joy of participating in PVE content).


Rewards and Advantages

But, we’re leaving a number of things, which are being highlighted lately as a major cause for complaint, seemingly unaddressed. Where do dailies, reputations, valor points, justice points, honor points, conquest points, BoE’s and LFR fit into this picture? When you look at the two definitions—game constraints and playstyle choices–that I’ve set up, it’s clear that the aforementioned game elements are not game constraints. Which, would put them in the category of playstyle choice. Or, more specifically, as an array of rewards (advantages) associated with playstyle choices. Think about it: dailies, reputation gains, valor/honor/conquest/justice points, are all ways of providing value to a player’s choice about how they want to play WoW. You like to PVP? As a reward for that choice, here are some points that can be used to gain an advantage in PVP content. You like to do quests? Here are some points that reward you for making the choice to do quests.

And none of these, none of them, are required for raiding. There is no daily requirement to enter a raid instance; no one collects Charms of Good Fortune at the door. A specific level of reputation with Pandaria factions is not necessary to gain entrance to Tier 14, nor is there even an ilvl requirement for NM or HM raids (you could do them in greens if you so chose). The constraints that players are misrepresenting when they say something is “required” are Constraints #2 and #3 above, which specify that your raid group do a certain amount of HPS and DPS in order to kill a boss and advance further.

“Ah-HA!” you might shout, “They are required because we can’t advance without some greater level of stats!” Okay, I’ll concede that point partially (*cough IronMan cough*), because mathematically it’s not possible for a naked level 90 to do the same level of damage per second as a player in raid-level gear. Gear does afford you some advantage in meeting a certain threshold of performance . What the game doesn’t specify is how much of an advantage is necessary to meet those constraints. Is the difference between success and failure +300 food instead of +250, an epic leg enchant, several pieces of valor gear or an entire wardrobe of epics? Is that advantage more or less than you would gain from upgrading your internet connection, using different keybinds, changing your rotation, or using a different strategy?

The truth of the matter is, you don’t know. Which is why you hedge your bets and afford yourself the in-game advantage of trying to overshoot the boundaries of a nebulous constraint. The result of which is that you look at a field of advantages, of playstyle choices, and you choose them all. As Zarhym so succinctly put it:

Do you want every advantage possible in the game? ‘Cause you have to put in extra effort for that.


… So then you go full tilt.

But there’s one more problem to throw into this sticky web of raiding “requirements” and that’s time.

Raiders, for better or for worse, inherently subscribe to the idea that faster is better. We support it every time we look at WoWProgress as a definition of success and whenever we define a kill based on a relative US or World ranking. When we talk about “time efficiency” there is the implication that we want to get the maximum benefit out of the time we invest. Even Blizzard (*pointed look*) encourages this philosophy through Server First titles and its promotion of 25-mans as being a “faster way to gear”.

It’s quite an odd valuation when you think about it, because none of the game constraints that I set forth in that first section have any associated time requirement, nor do any of the rewards given for making certain playstyle choices (with rare exception). Gear doesn’t decay the same way that points on WoWprogress do. Achievements aren’t less shiny if you get them on Day 1 or Day 100. The legs that you can purchase with 2250 Valor points on Week 3 are still the same cost at Week 13 with the same stats.

But, in the raiding world, time taps you on the shoulder and encourages you to think about how behind you must be, how all these unspecified advantages are passing you by. Like the person who can’t pass up the 5-gallon jug of olive oil because it’s “such a good deal!”, raiders struggle to let an advantage fall by the wayside. There’s this idea that by not doing LFR, or by not doing dailies, or not using your Elder Charms of Good Fortune at the most optimal times, you are devaluing your and your raiding teammates’ time in game by presumably extending the time that elapses between the start of content and your progression. And while that’s very likely true, it’s important to recognize that that’s a distinction and a valuation that YOU and YOUR GUILD are making. Your progression timeline, whether it’s 2 weeks or 5 months, is yours to define and is still the result of your own playstyle choices.

Further, this idea that “competitive” raiders, which extend from World #1 to …. World 5000(?) 6000(?) 20,000(?), should all subscribe to one set definition of what is required and what isn’t, is ludicrous. There is no way, let me repeat that … NO WAY … for a guild outside of even the top 25ish World to match the time investment sustained by the likes of Vodka and Method, who literally devote the maximum number of hours in a day to afford themselves every conceivable advantage, because time is that important to them. “Keeping up with the Joneses” simply isn’t possible at that level, because the differential between someone who raids as a hobby (which is, believe you me, everyone outside of that club) and someone who raids to the exclusion of all else, is massive. (I’d give you yet another sports / professional simile here but you can likely fill them in for yourself).

If anything the efforts of top guilds and their valuation of time only serve to underscore the range of playstyle choices that can be made in order to meet the game constraints put in front of us all. But again, it’s critical for players to understand that the “requirements” that they see being put out in front of them are there because of their own choices and not Blizzard mandate.


But why are we having this discussion (again) now?

I remember sitting at Blizzcon last year and listening to someone on the Blizzard team say, at one of the panels, something to the effect of: we want there to be more things to do in-game at max level, outside of raiding and PVP. (In fact, it’s one of the expansion goals as stated on the Blizzcon blog  … I guess those Blood Legion folks behind me weren’t as distracting as I thought!). At the time, I didn’t think much of the statement, since I am a progression raider at heart and thus oftentimes blissfully ignore the world outside my little raiding bubble. Why would -I- want stuff to do outside of raiding?!

And when Mists hit, and I found myself neck-deep in reputations, grinds, farming, fishing, and valor capping, I still didn’t think much of that statement. I was too busy whining to my S.O. that Blizzard wasn’t thinking of everything that would be required of hard mode raiders at the start of the expansion. “Woe is me, I have all this to do and not enough time to do it in. It’s like they didn’t think how ridiculous this would be!”, QQ, etc. etc.

It wasn’t until this past weekend that that statement I heard at Blizzcon found its way out of my foggy memory and smacked me upside my head. It dawned on me that the reason that of all of this discussion over game requirements, LFR, dailies, reputation and gearing, came to a head now is because of that one innocuous and overlooked goal—more stuff to do– which Blizzard delivered on in spades. In Pandaria, Blizzard has given us a world of possibilities and then told us that our time is ours to define and do with as we please.

And therein lies the problem, and the source of all of these “requirements”. The metric stick, the one that allows us to check things off a limited to-do list, one which served us well in Cataclysm, Wrath, Burning Crusade, and even other games, is ill-suited to the world of Pandaria. Pandaria is an expansion about choices—I choose to do as many dailies as I want, I choose to increase my chances at loot, I choose to do PVP to supplement my PVE or visa versa. I can even choose to fritter away hours upon hours on mini-games, achievement hunts, and lore elements, if those sort of things float my boat. Just like I choose how I’m going to raid, when I’m going to log on and what I’m going to do.

We have a multitude of playstyle choices in front of us, but along with them, we also have the tough decisions associated with once more being in control of how we spend our time in game. And with that we need to remember that this game isn’t a checklist of requirements made by some faceless game company, it’s a choice that I  control. This game isn’t a quicktime event, I don’t have to press “X” to continue, and I don’t have to do anything I don’t damn well feel like doing. And I’m going to thank Blizzard for giving me that option.


  1. I enjoyed this post, with the exception of one small thing.

    I feel like the message of “You don’t have to do anything that you don’t want to” sounds a bit hollow coming from you. What I mean by that is that you being you, and competing at the level that you raid at – I don’t feel that you logging in and saying “You know what, I’m going to do pet battles tonight” would be as well received as if someone at a lower level of competition would do it.

    I feel that you of all people have that expectation set for you that you do need to do your dailies and you do need all of those charms and the best food, etc. So for you to say “I could stop anytime” or “I don’t have to do those things if I don’t want to” does sound kind of misleading, because I feel like your guild would require those things of you or would require you to better yourself that way.

    With that said, I agree with you wholeheartedly that there are guilds that aren’t at that level that are forcing those expectations on their raiders when they don’t necessarily have to. They’re not Paragon. They’re not Vodka. They don’t have to behave as such. If your guild is only 1/7 currently or however many bosses there are right now, minimaxing probably isn’t an issue. Those people could stand to “lighten up” a bit.
    Oestrus´s last post ..Good Game

    • Scott D

      This post is by far the most well-constructed and best-executed argument that I have seen on the topic.

      When viewed in this light, what these people are essentially demanding is for Blizzard to reduce the scope of available activities, or at least to make those activities give rewards that do not advance a character’s power. All so that the raider is confident knowing that there isn’t some other schmuck out there putting more time in doing the things you don’t want to do to get the rewards you want to have.

    • I can definitely understand why it might seem like a hollow sentiment coming from someone who pours a lot of time into the game.

      But, I think the important thing to note is that I’m choosing to raid at this level, and when I made that choice, I was very much aware of the fact that it would necessitate (by mandate of the guild I joined) that I obtain every available advantage. What strikes me about the complaints about “raiding requirements” is that they’re essentially laying blame on Blizzard for the ramifications of the choices that they (the players) are making. And I really don’t think that’s logical–it’s like blaming the burner on the stove for burning your hand. Yes, it hurts, but you knew that before you put your hand on the bloody thing.

      • Mark

        I think it’s not completely like putting your hand on a hot stove. Alot of raiders, including you, put their hand on the stove while it was warm (and comfy). Now, Blizzard upped the heat to a point where you may burn your hand (by adding so many things to do, all with rewards that are useful for early-xpac PvE-content). And yes, raiders could just move their hand to a different, cooler burner. But that’s easier said than done.

  2. I think it’s unfair to say that we can choose what to do and not to do, or to thank Blizzard for giving us more things to do, without arguing the other side too. I don’t think you’re wrong, but you’re also not telling the whole story.

    For anyone to play at the level they want to play at, there are requirements. These are player-set requirements, but still not a choice. Some are almost universally accepted, like having gems and enchants on your gear. Others are quite common, like flasks. Some are rarer, like capping VP every week, maxing your rep each day, or +300 stat food. At various levels, there are various levels of demands. You can decide “the guild I am in is demanding too much from me” and leave, but that comes at a huge cost, and there’s no assurance that you will find something that meets your restrictions. Raiding is not an a la cart activity. I can’t simply submit my Raid Finding Application to Blizz HQ with “3 days a week, no more than 12 hours, no more than 2 hours of outside raid preparation, will not yell at me if I take a few wipes to understand a mechanic but will yell at me if I stand in fire or don’t interrupt like I need to, joke between 30-45% of the time, keep dick jokes to less than 3/hr”, etc etc, and wait for them to tell me where to transfer to meet my 24 newest best friends.

    As far as giving us more to do, they certainly have. The problem is the lack of choice. I spend 12 hours a week raiding, plus LFR and world bosses. Even with 10 bosses available, this gets me half of my VP requirement, meaning I need to do 100 dailies, 6-11 heroics, challenge modes, scenarios, or some combination of them to hit my VP cap. But to spend those VP, I need to do dailies to get rep (because tabards no longer exist for that purpose). To do those dailies, I need to spend time on a daily basis, rather than a weekly one. Even after I am exalted in every faction that has gear or rewards I care about, I will continue to do dailies for lesser charms, because getting an extra piece of gear every other week is incredibly valuable. Raids give insufficient VP even if you do LFR, and charms are only obtainable from dailies, which means I’ll be running heroics and doing dailies long after the other benefits from those activities is gone.

    As someone who HATES questing, it really sucks that I have no alternative method of gearing up or preparing myself for the level of play I like to operate at. Telling me that it’s my own fault doesn’t make the situation any better. I’d rather quit than play at a level far below my capability, and I’d rather do all of these things I don’t want to do than quit, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a right to be upset about what that entails. The fact that I am not forced into it to *attune* to a raid zone doesn’t change that it is a requirement for me to raid.

    Also important is the fact that this burden on raiders is much higher than it has been in ages, likely since level 60. There was a trend over the last several years to reduce the burden on raiders who want to raid. Instead, MoP has dramatically increased it. I can’t just do one thing. I need to do multiple activities to get a single reward. Hitting revered with the Klaxxi doesn’t give me a belt, it allows me to purchase a belt with VP I’ve gotten elsewhere. The reward is too distant from the chore, and requiring a daily investment of time is excessive. I can’t sit down on a Saturday and knock everything out. I want to spread my heroics out to maximize their VP reward. Dailies are *dailies*. Crops reset each night at midnight.

    I hit 90 on an alt. After getting full 463 gear on it within a day or two, there are few options left for me to progress my character. I can craft or purchase a few items, but for the most part, the only thing left for me to do is continue running heroics that have no gear for me, which also necessitates more dailies to be able to spend any of those points, or raid on the alt, which will also come with more restrictions.

    So yeah, I’m in charge of how much I do. I don’t have to do dailies, I don’t have to farm VP, I don’t have to deal with crops, craft gear, run LFR, level professions, buy consumables, use gems and enchants, do heroics, or almost anything. No one is forcing me to do any of those activities. But I don’t think I really have a lot of power in making choices.

    If someone is going to college, they might complain about the cost, the difficulty, or the amount of time they have to spend preparing. They could go to a cheaper school or an easier school, but if the purpose is to both learn and find a job after graduating, this may not accomplish their goals. They may find that to find a school with cost and demands at their *ideal* level, they’re better off quitting school completely. This may not be a legitimate option for them if their goal is to work in a certain profession. I would say this person is completely justified in voicing their frustration with the cost and burden on them at their current school. You can say that it’s a choice of theirs, that no one is forcing them to go to that school, or take those courses, or get good grades, but that argument doesn’t do anything to change the dilemma they are faced with.

    • Holyground

      You make a lot of good points, but there are some things I have a quibble with:

      1) Raids give insufficient VP even if you do LFR, and charms are only obtainable from dailies, which means I’ll be running heroics and doing dailies long after the other benefits from those activities is gone.

      Why do you need ANOTHER benefit to do something? Yes, running heroics can gear up a character’s sub 463 gear, and doing dailies gets you rep at first, but you’re still getting rewards–VP/JP(in a future patch, I guess) for running those. This is no different from the people who didn’t get enough VP from raids in Cata running heroics 7/week. So I’m not sure why that’s a complaint.

      In the future you’re if doing dailies for the coins (I haven’t done dailies in weeks and I’m still good for 2 more weeks). There will also probably be better valor gear available. So running heroics (I know I ran entry level cata heroics because they were easier than ZA/ZG at first) is just as rewarding as it was back then.

      I guess my point is, I’m not sure how much different it is–dungeon vp wise–than it was last year. I mean, I get the rep thing, I really do, and I understand the feeling that you NEED to obtain the coins each week, which is FORCING you to do dailies even though you hate questing, but honestly–and I think this may be one of the points of the article–it’s all psychological. Because it’s available, you feel like you have to do it, and it’s making you resentful.

      2) I hit 90 on an alt. After getting full 463 gear on it within a day or two, there are few options left for me to progress my character.

      What is your goal for this character? Is it LFR? You are over the required limit, and it’s supposed to be doable at 460 anyways. Hell, I went in with spirit gear on my warlock and still did top 5 dps that first week. Is it regular raiding on an alt team? Still, NM doesn’t req epic gear… at all. And you can progress your character through that.

      So I guess, I’m just a little stumped as to why you think you can’t progress this character. Do you only consider progression wearing Valor gear? What is the purpose of that? Are you only going to run dungeons on your alt? Why? I just don’t understand.

      The thing is that people are thinking they have to consume every piece of content available to them. I don’t think highly of pet battles so I don’t do them. I did tillers dailies, Profession dailies (cloth procs, JC cuts, etc) and the cloud serpent dailies. I have two characters at 470: a healer and a warlock and I only raid once a week. Yeah, Normal modes, so I guess I can’t talk, or whatever, but seriously, last year everyone was complaining there was nothing to do, now it’s too much. But I don’t think. I respect your opinion though.

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Pliers. You definitely brought up some interesting discussion points.

      But, the thing that I want to point out about your argument is that you seem to be taking the stance that choice should be solely about positive consequences and exclude all negative ones. (EG: “You can decide “the guild I am in is demanding too much from me” and leave, but that comes at a huge cost, and there’s no assurance that you will find something that meets your restrictions”). In fact, I think it’s the very definition of a choice whereby you weigh all of the consequences, good and bad, to come to a decision about what you’re willing to do in order to get what *you* want. So when you say that you’d rather quit than “play at a level that’s below my capacity” you’re making the choice that that level of progression is what’s most important than you. Similarly the student who chooses to pursue a law degree at Harvard Law in order to win an Associate position at a prestigious firm is (presumably) valuing the quality of his life in X number of years over the financial and educational hardships of attending one of the premier law schools in the US. So, I disagree that someone who makes a choice about what is most important to them, and has to deal with the negative consequences of that choice (all of which were known beforehand) has the right to gripe about the situation that he put himself into.

      However, I do very much agree with your suggestion that the definition of the raiding game has changed. Whereas in Cata, you could essentially raid log (log on for raid and do nothing else in addition), that is no longer possible. Blizzard has changed what is required to be a “raider”, and so in that regard, yes, I do think players have the right to dispute the constraints that Blizzard has established in that regard. The problem that I see, and which Oesterus mentioned above, is that guilds have not adjusted their own definitions as a result.

      In any event, thanks again for putting together a good counter perspective. You’re right in that I only covered one side of the debate (it was intentional), so it’s good to get someone in here to challenge my arguments. :)

      • Sam

        Very interesting post. I would disagree about someone not being entitled to gripe about the consequences of the choices he or she makes though. If I point and gun at you and say “give me all your money or I’ll shoot you”, you have a clear choice. You can part with your money or your life. You will probably decide that choice based on what’s important to you. However I think you would still have a right to gripe at me about the consequences of it.

        The point to bear in mind here I think is whether the requirement to choose itself is justified. If the only way I can maintain a decent standard of living is to work 120 hours a week and sacrifice all friends and family, then I have a choice about what I want to do. However the fact I’m required to make that choice in the first place is very problematic. Why should I have to choose to work so relentlessly just to survive? In that case, I think it would be justified to complain about the system that requires such a choice of me. Or to put it another way, the fact we choose something does not mean that the cost of it can never be too high.

        Likewise, I think we can still judge Wow for the choices it requires us to make. Is it reasonable for someone to have to choose between X amount of dailies, raids etc per day or progression raiding? If endgame was only available for people who spent 100 hours/week preparing for it, would it be acceptable to complain about it then?

  3. I think one interesting feature that you touched on but mostly ignored is peer-pressure.

    There’s a difference, for example, between what *I* know I need to stay in decent shape in the leisurely pace of progression that my guild does. It’s not a fat lot in comparison to that top-25 level, admittedly.

    The difference comes when I make it known that “no, I’m definitely not doing LFR because I hate the whole experience” and suddenly, *no matter how well I heal or how much other people are slacking* every frustrating wipe is now *my fault* in part, because I didn’t cap my valour this week. Never mind that I did 80% of the healing because the other two stood in the bad or DC’d (or whatever), it’s my fault because I’m not conforming to what other people have decided is the level that THEY need/want to meet to stay in the appropriate shape for the content.

    We aren’t Vodka, not by miles, but I’ll wager a lot of money that the same attitudes to nonconformity reign everywhere, including in my guild.
    stoove´s last post ..Craziness

  4. Correction:
    “There’s a difference, for example, between what *I* know I need to stay in decent shape in the leisurely pace of progression that my guild does.”

    should read;

    “There’s a difference, for example, between what *I* know I need to stay in decent shape in the leisurely pace of progression that my guild does and what *the guild at large* thinks.
    stoove´s last post ..Craziness

    • Aegle

      You make a good point, but you also make it sound so terrible. I don’t think it’s so much conformity as it is working as a team. If you hate doing lfr but your guild expects it, maybe you guys just aren’t in the same place effort-wise (not to say that you don’t work hard enough, but rather enjoying your time is more important than getting lfr ilvl gear, but your guild is). It is certainly something that guild/raid groups as a whole should understand what’s expected, either as clearly defined by a great raid leader or a more democratic discussion.

      My main problem with your argument is just something I’ve seen a lot – people willing to go through the pain of dealing with 24 other idiots in now 5 different instances every week might not necessarily want to “waste time” with people who don’t put in that effort. If your group is wiping week after week on the same boss due to the same person, you can bet they’re gonna look at anything they can to figure out why they aren’t performing, whether that’s due to improper gems/reforges/enchants, lack of raid awareness, lack of research on fight or class, or – heaven forbid – not wanting to spend that time wiping with 24 idiots in lfr. If that’s something that someone doesn’t want to do and their raid performance suffers repeatedly as a result, why would their raid group want to keep raiding with them? Outside of a “we’re all friends so let’s raid together woohoo aslkd;fja;w” kind of group, of course. It isn’t so much as nonconformity as it is “that person isn’t as dedicated as I am” ideology imo.

  5. Talarian

    I have to say that this post is amazing! You logically lay out definitions for gating versus activities, and the definitions of requirements and rewards fall out from there. I absolutely agree with you here and I’ve been trying to point it out to folks, but so many people seem to be hellbent on everything being “required” that they can’t seem to see the forest through the trees. I seriously hope a number of people read this, because it’s bang on.

  6. First, what Pliers said. Especially given how Blizzard staggered the raid releases and FURTHER staggered Terrace. There’s a reason why you can’t stack 20 elixirs now. All of these changes are to try to not put insane demands on raiders. Yes, technically the raiders are choosing to do that. They’re also choosing to wear pants versus raiding pantless.

    Also, these two sections…

    “In order to beat an encounter, you must do a certain level of raid damage such that your group is able to reduce a boss’s hit points to 0 in the allowed time frame.”

    “Where do dailies, reputations, valor points, justice points, honor points, conquest points, BoE’s and LFR fit into this picture? When you look at the two definitions—game constraints and playstyle choices–that I’ve set up, it’s clear that the aforementioned game elements are not game constraints…

    And none of these, none of them, are required for raiding…nor is there even an ilvl requirement for NM or HM raids (you could do them in greens if you so chose).”

    I really don’t see how you can possibly juxtapose these two sections.

    Heroic Raids cannot be done in greens. Look at 10 man Heroic Gara’jal, for example, who was a huge DPS check. That was literally mathematically impossible without a certain level of gear that was probably at least 467 or so.

    Doesn’t matter how much you practice Heroic Gara’jal in 450 ilvl, you will never beat him (unless/until he gets nerfed).

    • Mulch

      I agree with the points you make, but I think you forget about a few things. Firstly the staggered raid releases and other such things only exist because we raiders always chose to do “everything” for reasons that doesn’t actually make sense. The top guilds down everything incredibly much faster than most of us so how much difference does it really do if we get that 0,5% extra healing or dps one or two weeks earlier? On the level that the average raider is on there are things that are a lot more important to improve on then having the absolute best gear at all times, some gear is needed, that’s true, but on the other hand you can get extremely far only relaying on dungeon gear pre raid and then raid drops.

      As for your other point. Even if a raider chose not to do LFR and dailies, I would be very surprised if they don’t have at least ilvl 467 by the time they get to hc Gara’jal. Let’s face it, even if you manage to get that far with 450 ilvl you will have done basically nothing to improve your gear from the moment you hit 90. I doubt that any even remotely serious raider would do such a thing.

      The point here is that you don’t have to do all of those those “not required” things to raid on a more normal level. For example, you could chose to only focus on one faction with daily quests at a time and then do the rest of your Valor cap in whatever way you like the most, for example by running dungeons or scenarios. You don’t need to do all dailies from the very start, the pace at which you can earn Valor isn’t fast enough for it to be useful anyway.

      In any event doing “everything” is not required for the absolute majority of raiders.

    • Aegle

      Idk buddy, raiding pantless seems like a better option if you’re gonna grind dailies and reps and vp and etc

      Just sayin 😀

  7. Stunchy

    Another great post Vixsin. Thank you.

    I agree with you completely regarding the choices we have in the game. I told myself a long time ago that I would minimize the amount of time I spend doing things I don’t like in this game. I like to heal dungeons and raids. I don’t like to quest. So I don’t do dailies. None. I level through LFD or questing with friends. And I’m much happier in this game because of it.

    However, I do think that Blizzard made some game design mistakes here. Firstly, after stating that wanted to give us more to do, as a healer I hit a wall once I have the best gear I can get from heroic dungeons. There is nothing that utilizes healing left for me to do that advances my character (except PVP). Even to play FarmVille I switch out of my healing spec because those pesky little farm mobs take forever to kill as resto. I used to be able to use my healing spec to advance my character by running dungeons, earning valor, and getting new gear. No longer. There is very little left for a healer to do.

    The second mistake I think they made is to underestimate the amount of pressure casual raiders are going to feal to grind through as much of this extra content as possible in order advance their character. My guild is very casual and usually hovers between 15k to 20k in the world. And even in my guild there is a fair amount of pressure to put in the time grinding for as many advantages as possible. If I were DPS and not a healer, my selfish approach would probably land me without regular raid invites. That’s my choice and I know others who made similar choices. There is a risk that some of those people will either be excluded from the parts of the game that they enjoy, or spend so much time grinding through parts they dislike, that they will quit. And I don’t think it was a smart idea for Blizzard to put many of their players in that position.

  8. shammypie

    I like this post. I think what most people are missing that raiding is like running a marathon. You can be one of those people who train all year and pay a guy you don’t know for some special juice all to get that edge in the competition. Or you can take your own natural pace and finish when you normally would. At the end of the day it probably won’t matter because you will always lose to the Kenyan. However is all else fails you wait until the race is over, hop in your car and drive the 26 miles everyone else ran on foot.

    Either way you all get to see the sights at your own pace.

  9. […] Other things I don’t really feel like belaboring on about: cross-realm zones, dailies, or class balance. I’m at the point where I just want to enjoy the game, and I don’t feel like trying to “fix” everything with long discussions about everything Blizzard is doing wrong. If you want to read an eloquent post on one of these subjects that I agree with wholeheartedly, try this. […]

  10. Bnol

    My problem is with the charms and their use in normal/heroic raids. The charms make sense in the LFR context as gear is character specific, so whether or not you do the daily quests and use the charms does not hurt anyone else’s gear progression. However, for normal and heroics you are hurting your raid’s gear progression by not doing dailies. This will be the case for the entire expansion, and not just the initial post-expansion rush.

    The charms are in addition to whatever other requirements your raid team has (gems/enchants/ flasks/food). These things are so mind numbingly boring as well. If they would move more of this stuff to challenge modes, scenarios, and difficult achievements so that you could utilize some skill instead of just time to support what you actually want to do it would be a lot better.

    Raiding does not happen in a vacuum. As another poster pointed out, we shouldn’t have to make the “choice” of doing dailies/LFR/heroics or impeding our raid. Sure, in the perfect world we could find the perfect guild that aligns with everything we want. But I think it is much easier for a game developer to not introduce “choices” like the charms.

  11. Harm

    A well thought out post as usual.

    I don’t think anyone can argue that it isn’t a player choice to do all the dailys and LFR. Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way when raid progression is important to you but it is still a choice. Just like it’s a choice to play wow or not.

    I think a more important question is weather it’s fun or not. After all isn’t that what we all really want when we play the game? To have some fun and feel a sense of accomplishment when we overcome something?

    I don’t know ANYONE not one single person who loves to log in and do all these dailys. Attaching these rep grinds and fortune charms to raiding was a bad idea imo because it makes the game less fun.

    Most of my friends have left wow not long after mop came out. I am still here because I’m trying to re capture the fun I used to have before I spent hours “choosing” to do all the things I need to do to be successful and pull my weight in raid.

  12. I like this post— thanks for writing it!

    One of the things that has been bothering me is the proliferation that “Blizzard is MAKING me do all these dailies and farmville and LFD if I want to VP and thus be a good raider!”. That is not true.

    Blizzard is not MAKING you do anything. You are CHOSING to min/max your character and get the best food, rep, weapons, and VP. Could you raid w/o doing this? Yes… but you are not FORCED to. Perhaps it is a requirement to VP cap, or have 300 stat food in your guild. That is a CHOICE you have made… you can raid elsewhere. To steal a line from Dan Savage, “its the price of admission” If you want to raid with Guild ABC, and they require 300 level food… that is the price to raid with them.
    Derevka´s last post ..Keep Calm and Keep Healing

  13. Gus

    Nice points on both sides of the debate the end thing is this game is about numbers
    Where if you kill the boss then you have enough and if you failed you need more

    If you do all the grind you are going to be putting much better numbers than those who just
    Log to raid and here we split into a few scenarios

    Is the rest of your guild doing the grind – are you killing the bosses – are you doing the grind

    Blizzard says you don’t need to do anything you don’t want but if no one in the guild is doing the grind it is very unlikely they will be able to kill the regular raid bosses until they start nerfing them.

    If the guild is doing the grind and killing the bosses even if you are not gratz it’s very likely that you are being carried over by your peers “the system works”

    If you are doing the grind and your guild is not very likely the boss is not going down so other guilds start looking better and better as your ilvl gets lower by comparison each week to the guilds that are killing the bosses.

    Even leveling alts while the group catches up is a pain as most rewards are not shared.

  14. Xephyr

    I think the largest issue that raiders have with the current system is same issue that pvp’ers had in vanilla; that is, we want to progress based on our skill level rather than the amount of time we invest. The common thought here is that gear directly translates into progression and that time spent translates into gear. Although this line of thinking is flawed, I’ve found it to be the hidden motivator in my guildmates and friends.

    On a related note, it is my personal belief that Blizzard should not incentivize logging on everyday. If they did thier job well I’m going to play because I enjoy the game, not because I needed to finish out my rep grind for gear. During dragonsoul I farmed tol barad dailies as well as the molten front just because I loved the game and raiding alone didn’t suffice.(this with 2 h ds and 1 h fl each week) This is how the game should be imo. Sure having more dailies and other content is fine, but do not pigeonhole raiders into feeling required to do them. That’s when wow stops being a recreational activity and instead becomes a job.

  15. Jac

    I would like to focus metric stick you referred to. One of the things you may have overlooked is that this being an MMO, the metric stick is to a large extent imposed upon us by others we play with.

    For example, i like to pug raids with my alt. However, on my realm and many others I’m sure, most raids demand that you meet a baseline ilevel requirement before they will allow you to join, which is usually much higher than the 463 you will get from heroic dungeons. Simply put, unless your are extremely lucky in LFR, you need to grind some dailies to get to raid.

    The other absolute metric stick is your own performance. Quite a number of fights have an absolute dps or healing requirement that must be met to clear it. And this performance is of course directly proportional with the quality of your gear. I would be absolutely ashamed if my raid was wiping on Elegon because I underperformed, being clad in blues.

    I agree that bad gears can be surpassed with extraordinary skill, but not all of us are candidates for Paragon.

  16. Wonderful post – thank you. For the little peon like me who wants to casually raid, but can’t seem to find a team (I know, it’s me, all me) that fits in with my real life demands, this becomes confusing and disheartening. No other ‘hobby’ or avocation I have enjoyed as this many mazes, backtracks, and steep learning curves that feel out of my control. Choice and motivation have somehow become nebulous entities, not concrete “if then, then that’s.” Thanks again, and much appreciated insight.
    Matty´s last post ..RTMT: That is an awesome word:

  17. Harm

    It’s a choice to get up and go to work in the morning. You could stay home and not go and get fired. But then you couldn’t pay your bills and you would be homeless.

    Of course you have a choice to do dailys and LFR or not do them. But the idea that you can still raid without doing them is silly. If you are in all blues no one will want to take you with them to raid because you won’t pull your weight. You can talk all you want about skill>gear but the average player doesn’t have the skill to do over 50k dps in blues or beat the enrage timers on some of these bosses in a raid group without hardly any gear.

    You may say “no one is forcing you to progress quickly you could farm the first boss in mv for a few weeks until everyone in your group has a couple purples from him and then maybe you could do the second”.

    Reality is no one wants to progress that slowly through normal content and if you don’t do dailys and LFR you won’t be raiding. If you are you are being carried or not killing much.

    Yes you have a choice but that’s not what’s making people upset. It’s the choices we have to choose from that no one likes. We can either spend countless hours grinding rep with quests and LFR or we can be carried in raid or we can not raid.

    • Scoop

      There were a lot of guilds (mine included) that stepped into MSV week 1 in all blues. Except maybe those brewfest trinkets (but most were not worth even using… So)

      We went 4/6 week 1 of MSV opening in 440 (our poor Resto Druid ) – 463 ilevel.

      Yes we might be more skilled than an “average” raider, but skill is greater than gear. It only got easier after that first week because we were winning MSV loot

      • Harm


        All I’m saying is anyone who’s not doing dailys and LFR isn’t trying to max there toon to help there raid group. I realize that is a choice as stated in this well thought out blog post.

        Maybe your so good you don’t need the loot from fortune charms, vp gear and LFR to clear content. Good on ya and that’s great.

        The rest of the vast majority of wow players do need that stuff to progress and feel like there contributing(I know we must all be scrubs and we need to L2P).

        That is my entire beef with this discussion. It’s obviously a choice everything in life is a choice. The thing is I and everyone I know are enjoying there time in wow less as a result of making this choice to do hours of dailys and LFR.

  18. Chuck

    Good article. But saying none of the grinds are required in it’s self true, but so is getting a job!

    You can live on the street, eat leftovers. Not pay rent and such. THAT is a choice; however, not a mainstream choice . Nor one most would even concider a true choice.

    Yes, even playing the game is a choice.

    Playing PvP to gain advantage is a players choice. But the Golden Lotus grind is LESS of a choice; such as living on the street. YES you can skip, but you need the better gear and it is a resainable advancement. Like getting a JOB to pay to play the game.

    No compare other faction grinds. Cloud serpent dailies are a LOT less tideous and all ya get is a MOUNT. This gould have been where a longer grind would fit.

    Lorewalkers, Less than 2 hours. DONE.

    These are areas where you can have MORE to do that should have been more of a grind to fill time!

    The faction grinds could have had the same weekly max rep gain but not require DAILY play. Limmit weekly gains so people with JOBs can progress along with others. max amount per week is 3 or 4 set of dailies. Or options such as GL1 every day. If you miss a day GL2 opens up, as also GL3 if off 3 days.

    Rember when you HAD to do DAILY herroics to max JP’s (or old points, can’t rember)! That was changed to a weekly max so you could do in a day if you worked all week, had kids sports and Honey do lists to do. The new bonus that you get double the 1st heroic of every day helps spread this out; however, you can still do all in one day if that is all the time RL gives you!
    I work 12hr shifts at the hospital and if we raid on a day that I work, that left very little time (sometimes none if held over or had to fix supper when I got home) to get my daily grind done to advance my toon.

    The CHOICE would have been better received (but be honest, still a lot of QQ) if changed to a weekly time limmit! This sets the ‘pace’ but not so constricting time frame (daily) to achieve it.

    I judged YuGiOh and WoWTCG. People have to relize that the best players will excell eairly. In a 600 player regional, the top 50 players OWE thier prizes and ability to even play to all the other average and lower players who play. Without them, the game would not thrive. The average player is the one who PAYS the most 9by volume) to keep the game going and paying for content.

    Blizzard added a LOT to do, yes. But some things can improve to allow people to manage time to fit RL better and still have the throttled advancement in place.


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