And here we are, on the brink of 2009, and as usual, it’s time to look back at what changes the year brought.
One year ago, the hot topic in the WoW blogosphere was still the PvE / PvP opposition centered around the notion of Welfare epics. When I wrote my closing post on the matter, I didn’t yet measure how different 2008 was going to be – not only has the topic practically vanished, but as Megan astutely points out, the notion of Welfare epics nowadays could, if used at all, be applied very readily to raiding, whereas PvP gear is currently a lot harder and longer to aquire.
The one thing which hasn’t changed though is that the term is still being used by certain people to demean the achievements of those who are following a different path from theirs, one they deem inferior.
2008 was largely dominated by the long Wait for the Lich King, and like the end of 2006, the controversies have centered around the hardcore / casual divide and the raiding scene. One thing which has changed drastically though is the reputation of the few dominating figures. In 2006, even me (then still raiding) was following the race to the Naxx world first with interest. Death and Taxes and Nihilum were in a neck-to-neck race and most people were cheering them on. Even if we weren’t directly affected, we could sympathise with all uberguild’s dismay at the reduction from 40-men to the 25-men raiding format.
Two years later, Death and Taxes has suffered from problems but has at least exited the immediate consciousness of the average player rather gracefully. Their opponent, though, through countless name changes, ugly drama, questionable sponsorships but foremost through a series of graceless and classless public tantrums about the difficulty of the game, haven’t just tarnished their name but in the end effect massively diminished the interest of the community in the life and adventures of the überguilds. In my mind they have become like the spoiled, rotten elites living lavishly and criticizing the taste of this year’s caviar and champagne when the unwashed masses are having sausage and beer. In the most ironic development, while they were wallowing in their pride and spitting at the rest of the gamers (with their dwindling cohorts of me-tooers), the world first for the currently most difficult raid achievement in the game, killing Sartharion on 10-men with 3 drakes up, was snatched up by Method.
In the meantime, titles and mounts for PvE feats have become a lot more commonplace, and the introduction of the achievement system has brought an entirely new dimension to certain aspects of the game. Whether by a bit of an accident or clear design, achievements don’t just give raiders more elements to compare and measure up against each other but also allow for different grades of challenges for farmed content. A bit like all those RPGs with several party members where players have developped additional challenges (single character, low level, gametime etc…) but formalized in a quite addictive structure.
I can’t help but wonder how my old 2007 antagonist Stop the Warrior views today’s game. Might give way to an interesting argument.
So here we are, on the brink of the new year. Last night, Steptoe remarked that this was the most hardcore evening he’d ever seen me play: we ran 5 instances in a row together. Which is indeed more than I have ever done in this game. That being said, it was 2 times Violet Hold, Drak’Tharon followed by another pair of Violet Hold runs (Steptoe wanted the plate pantaloons off the voidwalker boss), and Violet Hold isn’t exactly a long isntance – according to my Blessings timers, it takes slightly less than 24 minutes from buffing to exit. It was quite a profitable evening for my paladin, too, with a couple of nice drops.
Steptoe has taken to taking with his Death Knight and is doing well. Let’s also immediatly put one notion to rest: on leveling instances, you do not need to be crit immune as a Death Knight, far from it. Steptoe was level 75 and his gear was around 435ish defense after he got the legplates, with a combined avoidance of about 40%. The healer was a level 74 priest, who didn’t really have too much of a hard time apparently (and since we ran UK the night before when Steptoe was only around 410 defense and the guy came back, that speaks for itself), and throughout the evening the amount of free FoLs I was tossing the tank’s way have decreased quite a bit.
We had two wipes throughout the 5 runs, one early in Drak’Tharon because sometimes a lifetime of experience in not standing in stuff isn’t enough to recognize the stuff you shouldn’t stand in, the second one in VH on the netherstalker boss because of an unfortunate conjunction of me getting hit by an energy sphere about a half second before critting with judgement of blood. Wipe by Bloodicide. Had to happen once.
Regarding Ret performance, I’m a bit peeved about where I was sitting on damage meters. Oh, I came out on top in Drak’Tharon Keep, that one being an undead-heavy instance, no contest. The first two Violet Hold runs, though, I was only third (not by a large measure but still), behind a mage and Steptoe, and in the last two runs, I really had to work my arse off to keep on top against a level 75 boomkin, including eating AP food.
In the end, some gear upgrades, and I dinged Coldweather Flying in the middle of the last run. 3 more levels to 80. Still with about 20 quests in Dragonblight to go, that’s just three zones I’ve seen and used so far. Glad to have my epic fyling back though.
And this concludes my last 2008 post. Whether you level, raid, PvP, and do it casually, softcore or hardcore, I wish you all a very merry evening and a happy new year. To 2009, and may your chosen activities in game and in Real Life bring you joy and merryment.