On bad design

I got all the Darkmoon Faire artifacts this month on my main – every single one. Because I’m an impatient completionist and achievement points call to me.

The PVP ones were pretty easy. Ran a couple of Alterac Valley, stopping to loot every single corpse, got two, got frustrated and realized it would probably be more efficient to just buy the third one on the AH. So that’s what I did.

Most of the dungeons ones were easy, too. Stockades coughed up Ornate Weapons quite easily, Scarlet Monastery was farmed for Imbued Crystals (Whitemane) and Mysterious Grimoires (Doan), and Gahz’rilla kindly dropped a Monstrous Egg. These are meant to drop from the new heroics, too, and I saw some – but it was just more efficient to grind old instances and not risk getting outrolled.

Getting Soothsayer’s Runes was a simple matter of building a trade-chat PuG for Magmaw 10 only, for the specific and sole purpose of getting them. One drops for each raid member, so no problem there.

The Treatise on Strategy was the problematic item, and it’s simply a matter of poor design.

I can understand the theory behind it. In the same way the Soothsayer’s Runes are “hey, let’s get people to run raids that aren’t Dragon Soul!”, the Treatise on Strategy is “hey, let’s get people to run heroics that aren’t the new ones!”.

It’s a lovely theory, and I salute the desire to give players reasons to run old content. The way this was implemented, however, leaves much to be desired.

The problem is this:

We didn’t really like having separate queues for each tier of Heroic 5-player dungeons. The random option should be all-inclusive. […] if you want to run any random Cataclysm Heroic dungeon, we want the system to choose from all of them. […] you’re probably getting the new ones more frequently because more players are queuing for them specifically. You’re being grouped with those people by the system so the wait times are as short as possible.

(source)

In other words, players want to run old heroics (because the Treatise on Strategy only drops from there) but, at the same time, are frustrated in their efforts to do so, since the dungeon finder will drop a well-geared character into the new heroics more often than not. Because of this, players end up having to queue specifically for the old heroics by selecting them all in the “specific dungeons” list – which means they’re unable to do each heroic more than once a day and they won’t get valor points from the run, just justice points.

The former consequence makes getting a Treatise frustrating – it only drops from one or two bosses in each instance, at a very low drop rate, and it’s quite likely that several people in the group will have a Darkmoon Adventurer’s Guide and therefore be competition for the loot. The latter consequence will further frustrate players with well-geared characters, since justice points are essentially useless for them.

All this also further exacerbates the resentment between well-geared players and undergeared, under-performing or freshly 85 players. From a well-geared player’s perspective, it looks like this:

“I’m carrying these scrubs, I’m doing three or four times their DPS, they stand in all the bad possible, and I’m not even getting any valor points out of this, never mind a Treatise. This sucks.”

Or possibly even this:

“I carried these scrubs, I did three or four times their DPS, they stood in all the bad possible, and now one of them actually rolled against me on the Treatise and won? This really sucks. Ungrateful little bastards.”

From an undergeared player’s perspective, it looks like this:

“These guys come into dungeons they overgear, yell at me for being new, want to skip bosses I need loot from, boss me around and don’t even bother explaining how fights I’ve never seen work. This sucks.”

Nobody’s happy, everybody’s frustrated. Not a well thought out system at all.

I wish I could feel like it’s going to get better with subsequent arrivals of the Darkmoon Faire – after all, the Darkmoon Adventurer’s Guide stays and the artifacts drop even when the Faire’s out of town – but I don’t see it happening. More people are going to queue up for the new heroics anyway if they want valor points (because they’re faster, they can potentially provide gear upgrades and valuable BoEs as well as valor points, and “they’re not filled with scrubs”), so queuing for a “Random Cataclysm Heroic” in the dungeon finder will still drop well-geared characters in the new heroics. So well-geared characters wanting a Treatise will have to queue specifically for each old heroic, leading to the same frustration all the time.

There’s no elegant solution, either, and no solution I can see Blizzard taking. One solution would be to take the three new heroics out of the random Cataclysm heroic list – but Blizzard has openly stated they don’t want to do that. Another solution would be to make the Treatise drop off at least one boss in all heroics, including the new ones… but that would defeat the original point of the Treatise.

But then again, that might be better. Well-geared and knowledgeable players and under-geared, new-to-85 players in the same heroic together is a recipe for disaster anyway. (See also: the drama when it looked like raiders would have to run heroics to cap valor points every week.)

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