So, uhm, wow! Yeah… Where to begin? I rarely comment on recent news but this really caught my attention. In case you’ve been living in a cave for the last couple of days, there has been two major changes. That we will have “points” much like the honor points we got in PvP instead of PvE emblems. And more controversially 10-mans and 25-mans will drop the same item level gear, but 25-mans will drop more gear, emblems (points) and money per player. You can read the full post on the points conversion here, and the post on equal loot in 10-mans and 25-mans here.
With that out-of-the-way I’d like to have a look at these changes and share some thoughts. Let’s start with the less controversial one, earning points instead of emblems from doing PvE content. The most important part of it that there will be a weekly cap on how many points you can get. Since all PvE actions will reward these points presumably, unless we can start earning points at 75 or 80 like we can earn Triumph emblems from doing lower level Northrend normals at the moment. According to Blizzard you should be able to reach the cap from raiding only, in theory it should be possible to reach the weekly cap without doing any heroics at all. Goodbye daily frost grind!
Now, what it won’t fix is something I’ve talked about before. How it allows new players to gear up and skip the introductory raids. They are there for a reason, they show you a new way to do something, new mechanics and tactics, without being too unforgiving. ICC isn’t that forgiving, and allowing fresh players access into it usually results in the newbies ending up as puddles on the floor with the raid yelling at them in frustration. Now, what could potentially fix this is if Blizzard makes running lower tier raids more efficient than grinding heroics. The higher up in the raid tiers you move, the more points you get.
Overall, no matter how Blizzard decides to do the specifics of the badge to points conversion, I feel certain it will be a change for the better. Badges in Wrath have been an absolutely mess, I won’t even go into all the things I think it’s done wrong here. All I know is, I’m not going to miss my badges.
What really made the forums explode with whining and prophecies of impending doom was the changes to 10/25-man drops. A lot of people have been saying that this is “the death of 25-mans”. Bollocks, I say. There will still be several reasons to run 25-mans if Blizzard do what they have promised. The most obvious reason is that some people simply prefer the bigger scale of 25-mans, no matter what drops there, why would they stop? A second reason is the increased drop rates of gold, badges and gear per player. While Blizzard haven’t said how much bigger the rate will be, I’m fairly sure all the top guilds on each server will be running 25-mans to win the server first kill races since running 25’s will allow you to gear up faster and thus progress faster. There will probably also be some prestige in killing stuff in 25-man.
Now if the only reason you raid is to get slap strangers in the face with your 264-epeen I don’t really feel sorry for you. I’m not saying it’s anything wrong with wanting the best gear in the game, but if it’s only for the sake of bragging rights and not as a tool to progress faster or being able to beat content most people aren’t able to, I have no sympathy. In fact I welcome gear becoming less of a big deal. I’m not impressed by your ability to maximise your badge grind, but rather people who overcome great challenges for the sake of the challenge and not the gear.
Argh, time for a deep breath. …right, moving on. Happy thoughts. I’ve always preferred 10-man raids because of the tighter tactical interaction between players. Each member becomes more important and quite often have bigger responsibilities. While some encounters are easier on 10-man, some are also harder. Except for the logistical problems involved, I don’t really see why 25-mans should award so significantly better gear, or no tier tokens at all. If Blizzard manages to make the difficulty as similar as they are hoping for I consider this a great change where everyone can get what they want in whatever fashion they like.
While writing this post I started to realize how big the changes in Cataclysm are going to be. While I had expected big changes, they are really changing the very foundations of the game, in all senses of the word. These changes will either greatly prolong the life of the game, perhaps even bring in even more players and increase the subscription numbers or change too much and make some players feel like it’s a completely different game than the one they used to like so much. Only time will tell, but I have faith in Blizzard and I’m not too worried… yet.