Friday, January 7, 2011

How Quickly Heroics Change

At first I was fearful about pugging Cataclysm heroics. CC this, CC that. Tanks, dps, and healers alike not knowing the fights. People stuck in WotLK mentality. But my worries have gradually abated. Even instances that I used to fear the possibility of doing in a pug (Stonecore *cough*) have been done successfully and with minimal wiping.

As back in olden vanilla days, people will pick themselves up after a while, with less complaining and more of a question about what went wrong, and then give the boss or pull another shot. Often times, people actually talked to each other in party chat, even if it was just a "hello, how's it going?"

Now that Cataclysm has been out for a month, pugging heroics is much safer. More people (though far from all) know the fights, so it's possible to get to a boss and fight him without more being said than "be sure to AoE all the crystal adds." Heroics can be relatively smooth.

I think I found my first downside to having more experienced puggers though, and it's come much earlier in the expansion than I expected.

Last night I got on really late and all my guildies were already in another heroic. From the time I knew it would be their last run of the night, so I queued up by myself figuring that it should be all right. I prefer to take a guildie or two if I could help it, but I had pugged completely solo before and it had worked out all right.

I pulled Blackrock Caverns as my instance, and was pleased since I consider it one of the easier heroics. The tank was well geared (160k health in a heroic) and he tanked without CC, which I initially found concerning, but the healer didn't seem to be struggling keep him up and he marked a kill order, so I said nothing. He seemed to know what he was doing.

The other dps with me were a ret paladin from the same server as the tank (but different guild) and a DK with the impressive Death's Demise title.

The group of us cleared the first two bosses without incident. Even the second boss, Corla, whose beams some puggers have problems with, went flawlessly. So we got to Karsh Steelbender, the forge boss, in short order.

We cleared the fire elementals. We cleared some troggs to the left of the boss. Then some more troggs towards the back left of the room, which was odd, but maybe the tank really wanted the leeway. Then the tank marked the cultists and elementals in the tunnel behind the boss and charged in.

Did he really think we needed to clear this many mobs around the boss?

After we killed the pack and the patting Defiled Earth Rager duo, the DK turned around to look back at Karsh Steelbender and asked "Are we skipping this boss?"

The tank did not reply and jogged down the tunnel. He proceeded to mark the next pack of mobs.

The DK asked again, but now he was asking why were we skipping this boss since, after all, the boss was not hard.

The tank replied that we could come back and do the boss later.

This sent off warning flags for me. I know if the last boss of the instance is completed there's nothing holding the group together anymore, and even if most of the group wants to go back and clear the other bosses, they can no longer queue. The first time I did Halls of Origination my tank mistakenly did Rahj first (he'd never been there before) and our healer left immediately afterwards. The four of us who remained actually wanted to do the other bosses, but we couldn't.

We finished the next pack of mobs and the tank positioned himself with his back to Beauty, and proceeded to set up the next pull. It was clear he intended to skip Beauty as well.

The DK asked anyway if that was his intention. I stood in the hallway between Beauty and Karsh, because I wanted to hear what the resolution of their disagreement would be and didn't want to be running all over the place until I was sure where we were going. I didn't need justice points badly, I had no main spec gear left to buy, so if everyone agreed to skip I wouldn't have had a problem with it, but I didn't think it was a good idea to keep on trucking as though nothing was wrong. It was awfully strange to be skipping bosses this early in the expansion just to get valor points, especially since these "optional" bosses weren't exactly out of the way like they were in a couple of the WotLK heroics.

I'm not sure if the tank didn't realize that he didn't have the entire group with him, or he just didn't care, but he pulled the next cultist/elemental pack, got the Defiled Earth Ragers as well, and things didn't go well from there. I tried to stay out of combat so I could rez everyone from the wipe I saw coming, but the survivors ran back the direction I was standing so I got pulled in as well.

As we were running back from the graveyard, the DK asked the recalcitrant tank about why he was skipping the bosses. He said he understood that Beauty would be rough with our group comp (only I could reliably CC the core hound pups), but there was no reason to skip Karsh. I chimed in saying that I could CC two of Beauty's pups easy. I nearly always handle the CC of two of them. The tank agreed to give it a shot.

We grouped up where we came out of the teleporter, right by the forge boss Karsh. People drank up to restore mana... Then the tank ran down the hallway over to where we had died near the entrance to Beauty. The ret paladin and the healer went with him.

I stayed by the DK and facepalmed so he could see that I was annoyed by this as well. The DK asked why we were skipping Karsh again, since he's easier than Beauty. I realized in retrospect that the tank had never actually answered his question!

The tank still didn't. I don't know exactly what happened next, but I saw the three of them had gotten into combat (apparently the tank was so eager to skip bosses that he pulled without us) and they all died again.

The ensuing conversation went something like this:

Ret Paladin: So what about the two bosses? We can just come back later.
Me: It doesn't work like that. If you leave once the last boss is dead we can't queue anyone to replace you.
DK: I bet you're on your daily, so you'll leave after you kill the last boss.
Ret Paladin: lol, I'd take that bet.

Now... the thing that I hadn't mentioned yet, is that the DK queued specifically for this instance. He said so in party chat. Chances are, something he wanted dropped off those bosses the tank and the ret paladin wanted to skip, and as a dps it would be a horrible waste of time for him to have sat in the queue and skipped bosses in spitting distance of the main path that had gear he could use. And here we had a tank that was unwilling to take a few minutes to kill a boss, and in such a hurry he was wiping the group by pulling without having everyone present. (I'm sure we could have killed Karsh in the time it took for him to do his gy runs.)

I told the DK I'd support him if he wanted to vote-kick the tank.

The vote-kick passed under the reason "won't tank bosses." The silent healer who hadn't said anything up until now evidentally supported us, since at least three need to vote for the kick to pass. (He later said he's up for wiping a couple times on any boss, and that he hadn't appreciated the CC-less tanking.)

We tried to re-queue for another tank, but the ret paladin kept declining, so we realized we would have to vote-kick him too.

Unfortunately... there was something we hadn't anticipated.

The ret paladin had group lead, and being on the same server as the tank... he simply invited the tank back in.

Now I understand it's not a gigantic majority over who wants to skip bosses and who doesn't. I can understand that the paladin and his tank friend may have thought it would be cool to queue for a "quick" heroic and nab their valor points, and they were upset by the delay (from their perspective they were a mere two pulls away from the last boss), but reinviting the tank wouldn't accomplish anything. It's not like we could have finished the instance with this kind of impasse. All they were doing was blocking us from queuing.

We kicked the ret paladin (reason: "griefing"), but group lead horrifyingly enough passed to the tank, who reinvited the paladin. And it became a stupid merry-go-round of them reinviting each other until we finally got lead to pass to one of the three of us and kicked the other just after he accepted his invite.

We must have kicked the both of them a collective four or five times before we managed to queue for replacements.

(Note to Blizzard: If someone has been vote-kicked by the majority of the party, it should not be possible for them to be reinvited by the remaining minority.)

I'm not entirely unsympathetic towards the desire for a quick valor point run, and if the tank had voiced any serious reservations about tanking Karsh I might have supported the skip, but instances are a group effort and the tank and his friend didn't seem to think that the DK's wishes mattered. Worse, they talked about coming back to those bosses later when they obviously had no intention of doing so.

We're only a month from the launch of Cata. People are still gearing, not everyone's raiding yet. It's just too soon to assume the majority of puggers are only there for the valor points or happy about skipping bosses that drop loot and justice points. Running an instance involves a little give and take.

Blizzard has said in the past that they didn't like people skipping fights, and I think that's why in Cata there are no out of the way bosses, but stubborn people can still skip some of them if push comes to shove. Perhaps the best solution would be to not award valor points at all until all the bosses in an instance are dead.

I admit, I don't like the idea that we're transitioning back to WotLK-style dungeon running already, "I just want my valor points" and all. I might have little interest in dungeon drops myself, but I believe that when you sign up for a dungeon run you should have an interest in accomplishing the goals of everyone in the group. It may not be possible to do so, but you shouldn't sign up to use those people as quickly as possible to satisfy your own needs and then leave.