MMO Expansions and Sequels

I recently read a post at Tobold's about the nature of Blizzard expansions, and it got me thinking.

I keep referencing World of Warcraft 2 in my posts ("Maybe Blizzard will change this in WoW2"). But it dawned on me that there's really no real difference between sequel and expansion with MMOs. We're already playing World of Warcraft 2. Blizzard is about to release World of Warcraft 3.

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Maximum Performance Isn't Always Maximum Fun

This is a thought in progress. A little rambling.

My wife is a combat rogue. Always has been. When she joined the game she fell in love with being a rogue, and she asked what the highest damage version of rogue was. I went off to the internets, and came back with the answer: Combat Sword build. So that's what she chose. When we got to the endgame, she did the most damage in our 40-person raids, virtually every raid. She gave the other dps people fits. (although she never spammed damagemeters) She flourished in that role.

When TBC was released, the raiding game was suspended and everyone is back to the beautiful leveling game for a while. In TBC leveling, there are quest daggers given throughout the leveling process, with rogues in mind. She thought, "why not experiment?" and then rebuilt as Combat Daggers.

Guess what? Combat Daggers is simply more fun to play than combat swords. Managing position and Backstab is more fun than mashing Sinister Strike x1000. To non-rogues, I'm sure this sounds like a minor distinction. It sounded that way to me, and I told her so.

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Raiding does not mean Skilled

(Related post: Max level does not mean Skilled.)

There's a class of player who feels that their status in the raiding game means that they're Right. They label other people noobs, and the silly thing is that people believe them. "I have this awesome item, you don't, therefore I know what I'm talking about and you don't." This frustrates me a great deal.

My guild recently brought in a new recruit. Her main is a holy priest, just like me! I'll call her Mary. She was very personable, online a lot. She had raided a lot in the original WoW, all the way through AQ40, which I've never seen. She had taken over a year off from the game, and in her return was looking for a more relaxed playtime requirement while still playing at a high level. A perfect fit!

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The Downside of Endgame Guilds

I've been reading Tobold and Potshot lately. They're talking about loot and game design as it relates to endgame guilds, specifically guild hopping and progression problems due to it. I haven't seen a decent explanation of the problem, but as a guild officer/leader I've seen it in action twice now, once with the original WoW endgame and now with the TBC endgame. I don't have a solution, but I can frame the problem.

For me, the most fun time in WoW is right after an expansion hits, when there's limited collective endgame exploration. All the content is new and fresh, then I find myself grouping with not just my long-term guild friends, but also my friends who left to get on the progression roller coaster. It's glorious! This is what the first two months of TBC was like.

Then, endgame progress starts to happen, and a tiered system begins to form.

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Second Magister's Terrace run

Ran it for the second time with my guild, again on my healing priest. This time I better appreciated its virtues, I think. It's a fun, interesting, and relaxing instance, perfect in length. It runs like a greatest-hits version of Burning Crusade boss-fight design.

Of course, both times I've healed it have been with a very talented protection paladin doing the tanking. Protection pally tanking everything is easy-mode for everything but boss fights. I haven't had to heal the group with a protection warrior yet, which I'm guessing would be (cough) a bit harder due to the aoe encounters. The sad state of warrior tanking is well known. We had a mage, rogue, and hunter, which gave us ample crowd control. The hunter was one of those lovely people who like to put an ice trap in front of me instead of him. Just a nice run from start to finish, and the reason I like the game. Group up with guildies, laugh through an enjoyable instance together, where effective teamwork matters.

I forgot that someone gets a zomgepic just for completing normal mode. Last night that someone was me, when I lucked into [Kharmaa's Ring of Fate] off Kael'thas Sunstrider. The socket (on a ring, whee!) goes perfectly with the quest reward gem ([Teardrop Crimson Spinel]). I'm not sold on priest healing with spell haste yet because priest healing is a mix of instant/non-instant spells, but I'll experiment to see if it's better than my [Band of Halos]. Not that you can actually tell most of the time. More on that later.

An interesting healing note is that in both wins on the Kael'thas, two dps'ers died. It actually got much easier after that, when you have only three people to keep alive instead of five. Most of the time when someone dies, that means that the full damage of that part of the encounter then turns to someone else. This event has constant global damage, so the group takes 100% damage with five people, 80% damage with four, and an easy-to-heal-through 60% with three. I'll shoot for four teammates alive at the end of the next run.

This is a very fun instance. I'm looking forward to trying this on heroic.