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  1. #1

    Gear or Skill: What Separates Great Guilds from Mediocre Guilds

    Note: For some additional commentary by Tobold and myself, check here at the bottom after reading this:
    Gear or Skill: What Separates Great Guilds from Mediocre Guilds


    From a reader comment over at Tobold's MMORPG Blog we get this little gem:

    "I think the core of this casual raid vs hardcore raid debacle that WotLK is turning into lies with the age old Gear vs Skill thing. Hardcore raiders prefer to attribute their success to skill. Rather than better geared than casuals, they are better skilled, and the gear is only a symptom of that. The reason that people are reacting so violently to easy Naxx is that it is making it plain to see for all is that gear is really the ONLY thing that matters in WoW."

    "Naxx at 80 has all the same skill requirement as it did at 60 (Plus or minus a very very few changes). You still have to get away from anub'arak, stay out of the slime and behind the boss on grob, change sides on thaddius, dance on Heigan, be smart with healing on Loatheb, and get behind the Iceblock on Saph. If you aren't "skilled" enough to to those actions, you can still fail in naxx. The ONLY real thing that has changed is the gear requirements (From "Have to have perfect gear" to "You can get by as a fresh level capped character"). Wow is and always has been about the gear treadmill."


    Absolute rubbish. First off, a lot of the difficulty that top end guilds encounter is in defeating content that hasn't been analyzed and strategized and movieized a thousand times over. Naxxramas is old content and it is thoroughly understood. Having an encyclopedia of information available about every encounter significantly trivializes them. Second, the tuning is quite different. Naxx originally DID have a decent amount of easy fights which are still easy. But there were a lot of fights that used to be much more tightly tuned (Patchwerk, Gothik, Thaddius, Four Horseman, Sapphiron, Kel'thuzad). To say they're the same encounters now just because the base mechanics are nearly the same is to show how ignorant one is about how much tuning effects the difficulty of an encounter. As an example, original M'uru (the hardest fight in the game ever) and M'uru with 30% less HP are completely different fights. The names of the mobs and the graphics are the same, but it's not the same fight. Not even remotely close. The same can be said for Naxx at 60 and Naxx at 80.

    Beyond that, this read is ignorant of the changing paradigm of measuring raid progression. Blizzard is making content accessible and inclusive while retaining difficulty through the addition of achievements. It's a genius move on their part. The content itself is easy but hardcore guilds can still demonstrate their prowess by completing difficult achievements. Sure all the mediocre guilds have cleared Naxx and Malygos, but they haven't killed Sartharion with three drakes. They haven't gotten Immortal. They haven't gotten Heroic: Glory of the raider. Wowprogress.com is still doing a fine job of ranking guilds by progression despite the fact that most raiding is easy.

    It always amuses me to read posts on the front page of guild sites like "Malygos down, all content cleared!". No, no you did not clear all the content. Go kill Sartharion with three drakes. Go get Glory of the Raider. You're not done. People need to wake up and realize the paradigm of how progression is measured has changed. Ulduar will drive this point home when Blizzard makes a hard mode for every encounter that gives additional loot and rewards and all the major progression sites count towards progression rankings. People will realize that clearing the zone is just the first step, an easy step that every half decent guild will complete. Completing the achievements will be the true competition and is what will separate the great guilds from the mediocre ones. Not the gear.

    It's doesn't take gear to get Immortal. It doesn't take gear to kill Sartharion with three drakes. It doesn't take gear to kill Malygos in five minutes. Sure when people have another tier or two of gear those will be easier, but right now that's not what it holding people back.

  2. #2

    Re: Gear or Skill: What Separates Great Guilds from Mediocre Guilds

    The incoming raid damage at level 60 Naxx was extremely high, and posed a real threat to your raid. This is no longer the case.
    - No one moves out of Faerlina's rain of fire anymore, and many other AE spells are not a threat.
    - Trash mobs are all AEd to death
    - no need to kite anub'rekan
    - one person out of place on thaddius cannot kill everyone else, only themselves
    - Razuvious's shout? That used to one-shot mana users in LoS

    I could go on...
    The difficulty is clearly much lower

  3. #3

    Re: Gear or Skill: What Separates Great Guilds from Mediocre Guilds

    Quote Originally Posted by heeps
    The incoming raid damage at level 60 Naxx was extremely high, and posed a real threat to your raid.  This is no longer the case.
    - No one moves out of Faerlina's rain of fire anymore, and many other AE spells are not a threat.
    - Trash mobs are all AEd to death
    - no need to kite anub'rekan
    - one person out of place on thaddius cannot kill everyone else, only themselves
    - Razuvious's shout?  That used to one-shot mana users in LoS

    I could go on...
    The difficulty is clearly much lower
    I agree, and I think the issue the OP-linked blog is missing is the concept of Margin for Error.  This is what makes raid encounters hard, not the mechanics in themselves. 

    What made old M'uru hard was that margin was ridiculously small.  You couldn't lose any dps, or you'd die in Phase 2, even if you could get to it.  You couldn't do it with a much less-than-optimal group or you couldn't kill the adds fast enough, or survive phase 2.  Etc.  This was the same in old Naxx.  Old Naxx was not hard because of the mechanics - it was hard because it required nearly the whole raid to bring 100% effort and reaction time to the table. 

    On Faerlina - you couldn't stand in rain of fire because you couldn't be healed through it.  There was no CoH/WG back then.  You had to MC/sac the adds properly or your tank would die. 

    On Maexxna - if you didn't time your Hots/Shields exactly right, you tank would not survive.  Shield wall was on a 30 minute cooldown so you couldn't exactly use it every attempt either.

    On Thaddius, - yeah if you didn't move fast enough, it wasn't just you who died.  And there were 40 people who could screw up, not 25, or 10.

    The most notorious example - if you got bad luck with taunt resists in 4H. o.O  You had to gear and choose your tanks to minimize that risk.

    And the list goes on.  Margin for Error is everything in raid difficulty.  With a large margin for error, even the most complex of mechanics in a raid encounter can be trivialized.

  4. #4

    Re: Gear or Skill: What Separates Great Guilds from Mediocre Guilds

    Absolute rubbish. First off, a lot of the difficulty that top end guilds encounter is in defeating content that hasn't been analyzed and strategized and movieized a thousand times over.
    idd they just had wipefest on ptr's, then moved on live realms in the morning of a patch day and downed the bosses for x time ....
    Quote Originally Posted by Darhaja
    bad math ur doing 1.5.... its 150%* sooo 100 haste rating = 250 after the buff* or 300 haste rating 150% = 750 haste dunno how u got 1.5 or 15% anywhere its giving u 150% more haste from the haste u already have why do ppl try to always complicate things.

  5. #5

    Re: Gear or Skill: What Separates Great Guilds from Mediocre Guilds

    Great post Trouble.

    People need to realize the new "elite/uber check" isn't simply clearing the content... it's clearing the content and getting all the achievements.

    It's purposefully designed so that more people can clear the content, but also purposefully designed so that only the "best of the best" will be able to get the most uber achievements.

    I think a lot of people still equate "downing the bosses" to "completing" the current content.

    It's not over till you've got all the achievement folks.

    Bored with clearing 25-man Naxx in a night? Drop 5 players, do the safety dance, don't use Frost Resist gear, don't get your charges mixed, don't die..ever. Don't kill spores, don't dispell frenzy, get through Spider wing in 20 minutes, hit those 3 minutes timers, etc.

    I can garauntee you 99% of people who say "this content is too easy make Ulduar more difficult" don't have The Immortal title. I know I don't. Heck I barely have any of the 25-man uber achievements. OS+2 is about it.

    I still have some gearing up to do and a LOT of achievements to acquire. I don't think I'm even going to be able to get them before Ulduar. I'm fine with that though. I don't need to be the best, I just want to see the content, clear it, and gear up.. all the while enjoying myself and the company of my fellow raiders.

    We're going to push for some server firsts in Ulduar, and I think we'll all be geared up enough by then to have a shot at it.

    I still proudly display my Champion of the Frozen Wastes title because to me, it's really an achievement to say I've cleared all the current raid content. Hopefully we'll step it up a notch and get some more brag-worthy titles/achievements down the road.

    What do you people really want? Content so hard only you and your uber buddies can complete it? That's selfish. It's also not a good business plan for Blizzard.

    Accept the reality that hard-mode achievements are the new Uber and be FINE and OK with the fact that everyone who raids will have a good shot at at LEAST clearing the zones.

  6. #6
    Titan
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    Re: Gear or Skill: What Separates Great Guilds from Mediocre Guilds

    I'll agree with the OP. Same Mob =/= Same Fight. Mechanics change.

    Unfortunately, i didn't experience M'uru pre-3.0. Hell, the guild i'm in managed to get Brutallus down with 17 minutes left of the raid on the night before 3.0 was released (and that involved dragging him away from the raid to get the last few % post-enrage). Most of it taking so long was down to summer, people leaving, lack of recruits, holidays, and so on. Whatever.

    Post 3.0, we got to Twins the same week. I believe we managed to clear all of SWP by the second week. There was uproar when we were posting kills after the patch, in a progression thread. It was progress for us, and i even ended up in the firing line at one point, which led me to say something along the lines of;

    "A kill is a kill. Post patch or not, it's progress for that guild. I still want to see what people are killing post patch regardless of nerfs."

    What i was getting at was that the community should still support each other after the patch, even if the kills had a lot more room for error. The most progressed guild pre-3.0 was actually a guild that x-ferred to our server at pretty much the start of TBC, so they had the level and raid experience lead over the newer people (Ghostlands is a TBC-released realm). Post 3.0, they dropped to around 2nd or 3rd place. The current #1 guild is one built of people who levelled or rolled or x-ferred alone (i.e. not a whole guild transfer) on Ghostlands. They managed to get sarth+3 in december i believe. I do remember that as we were just past Patchwerk, we saw the "Realm First! Eternals have achieved [Conqueror of Naxxramas]!" message. We'd cleared the other wings prior to Patchwerk (we were struggling on Patch for a while, so we did the other wings), so we were only 4 bosses behind them.

    To me, this example is what shows the difference between Gear and Skill. An x-fer guild may be good upto the pre-expansion major patch, but once the expansion hits, that's when the playing field becomes level once again. As it stands, that pre-3.0 #1 guild has pretty much died, and most of the members have dispersed to other guilds. The GM has started another guild. Shame he got pretty much ripped apart by the realm players when he posted the new recruitment post.
    [...]

  7. #7

    Re: Gear or Skill: What Separates Great Guilds from Mediocre Guilds

    A brain that is working properly.

  8. #8

    Re: Gear or Skill: What Separates Great Guilds from Mediocre Guilds

    BOTH!

  9. #9

    Re: Gear or Skill: What Separates Great Guilds from Mediocre Guilds

    Gear is an effect of successful raiding, that seems self evident.

    But not only is the content more accessible, but raiding is familiar. Players have had much longer to get used to paying attention to different elements of an encounter. Remember what an eye opener it was moving from Molten Core and BWL to AQ40 and Naxx where realizing which of your dps were tunnel vision spell spammers, and which actually payed attention? Heck, until then they hardly had to pay attention, it wasn't necessary for success. 40 man raids could (and often did) carry 10 utterly horrible players through MC and BWL, but by the end of BC, those players either had to improve, or were revealed and didn't get the invites.

    I agree with the sentiment that achievements are the new yardstick, and I'm all for it. Having content that required a 6 day raid schedule to ever see was just not feasible for Blizzard's adult players. But the state of raiding now allows for enjoyable content, accessible to all, with specific achievements to reward those who have more time to commit. Brilliant.
    We can't solve problems with the same kind of thinking that created them.

  10. #10

    Re: Gear or Skill: What Separates Great Guilds from Mediocre Guilds

    Great guilds have more fanbois or trolls following the around.

    There won't be any skill difference in this game unless something can hit Sunwell difficulty in terms of margin of error. You'll lose X of your dumbest players in Y said encounters, but you'll beat it.
    WoTLK made it so every idiot in the world can get raid gear and prove to the world that gear isn't everything.

  11. #11

    Re: Gear or Skill: What Separates Great Guilds from Mediocre Guilds

    Great Gear =/= Great Skill

    But at the same time:

    Great Skill =/= Great Gear

    You can take a guild with average skill, but great gear and they'll go all the way in what is todays World of Warcraft. On the other hand, you can take a guild with great skill, but average gear and go just as far in todays game. What the casual audience wants us to believe is that many of the lackluster skilled guilds + great gear = just as great of a job as those who have far more skill, dedication and commitment, but also wearing the same gear.

    Example:

    If I practice basketball for 3-4 hours a day, every day, for the next 10 years, I might end up being a great ball player. What we've got today, in todays World of Warcraft, are players who only want to play 2-3 hours a day, 2-3 days a week for a couple months and expect to be just as good as me, who practices 2 times as much as them, for 10 times the overall length of time. On top of that, it seems that Blizzard thinks that they need to make the hoop size even bigger for those folks as well.

  12. #12

    Re: Gear or Skill: What Separates Great Guilds from Mediocre Guilds

    The difference is that members in "top guilds" have to learn how to defeat content without there being 100 guides and tips and tricks on the new raidcontent they're facing. And alot of the world top guilds don't even allow the use of VT for announcing boss-abilities. (Ensidia doesn't even allow the use of VT for any raidpurposes).

    Most other players defeat bosses by re-reading step by step guides and keeping on practicing whatever the guide describes until they perfectly copied the pre-written bosstactic. More mediocre guilds constantly have some random dweep repeating "flame waves, flame waves, 2nd drake is landing, flame waves" over VT or Teamspeak...

    What this causes is that most members of mediocre guilds become brainless zombies, because they got used to playing like that. Someone has to tell them what to do, or else they don't got a clue. They learned to be unable to improvize or unlearned to keep track of events on their own.

  13. #13

    Re: Gear or Skill: What Separates Great Guilds from Mediocre Guilds

    Quote Originally Posted by heerobya
    People need to realize the new "elite/uber check" isn't simply clearing the content... it's clearing the content and getting all the achievements.

    It's purposefully designed so that more people can clear the content, but also purposefully designed so that only the "best of the best" will be able to get the most uber achievements.

    I think a lot of people still equate "downing the bosses" to "completing" the current content.

    It's not over till you've got all the achievement folks.
    Bullshit.

    This is tantamount to saying (just pulling a random XBL game out of the air):
    "Oh, so you've beat Halo 3 on all difficulty levels, but you haven't really beaten the game because you don't have all the achievements."

    Wrong. I beat the game. I've beaten everything that is in the game, I have seen every encounter, every map, every gametype. The rest is trivial BS.

    It is the exact same with WoW achievements. They provide nothing but the occasional title or mount. Achievements are not progression, they are not content. They are not the "new uber". They are optional hoops to jump through for no gain.

    If you've killed every boss in 10 and 25 man, then you've seen all the content. Period. Granted, I will make exception for Sarth with multiple Drakes.

    No self-respecting "hardcore" guild will end a raid because one of their core group had a crappy ping and lagged into poison at Heigan, ruining their chances at an "Immortal" achievement.

    Finally, proud of "Champion of the Frozen Wastes", seriously? There's a boomkin on our server who's wearing the Argent Skullcap and using a green Wisdom Carver of the Elder sporting that title. He's just one of many people in really bad gear wearing it. Yeah, it's so "challenging" and rewarding.

    Champion of the Naaru was 10, no 20, times more challenging than Champion of the Frozen Wastes.

  14. #14
    Pandaren Monk nalle's Avatar
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    Re: Gear or Skill: What Separates Great Guilds from Mediocre Guilds

    Quote Originally Posted by Captiosus
    Bullshit.

    This is tantamount to saying (just pulling a random XBL game out of the air):
    "Oh, so you've beat Halo 3 on all difficulty levels, but you haven't really beaten the game because you don't have all the achievements."

    Wrong. I beat the game. I've beaten everything that is in the game, I have seen every encounter, every map, every gametype. The rest is trivial BS.

    It is the exact same with WoW achievements. They provide nothing but the occasional title or mount. Achievements are not progression, they are not content. They are not the "new uber". They are optional hoops to jump through for no gain.

    If you've killed every boss in 10 and 25 man, then you've seen all the content. Period. Granted, I will make exception for Sarth with multiple Drakes.

    No self-respecting "hardcore" guild will end a raid because one of their core group had a crappy ping and lagged into poison at Heigan, ruining their chances at an "Immortal" achievement.

    Finally, proud of "Champion of the Frozen Wastes", seriously? There's a boomkin on our server who's wearing the Argent Skullcap and using a green Wisdom Carver of the Elder sporting that title. He's just one of many people in really bad gear wearing it. Yeah, it's so "challenging" and rewarding.

    Champion of the Naaru was 10, no 20, times more challenging than Champion of the Frozen Wastes.
    No...what you're saying is bullshit

    The achievements IS the "new uber" and if you can't see that you must be blind, and when you say that you've cleared all content etc because you have killed all bosses, thats just your opinion, killing malygos in 5 min or not let anyone die in 25 man naxx IS more difficult because it requires everyone to pull their own weight. You can even clear 25 man naxx with 15 people if you're not going for any achievements... it's that easy, so saying "yay I cleared all content" isn't really something to brag about but saying "yay I got Heroic: Glory of The Raider" is. I see many people say that getting the Immortal for example isn't hard, well you're wrong about that, it takes team effort as much as individual effort to not let anyone out of 25 players die.
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  15. #15
    RWeber
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    Re: Gear or Skill: What Separates Great Guilds from Mediocre Guilds

    Quote Originally Posted by nalle
    The achievements IS the "new uber" and if you can't see that you must be blind, and when you say that you've cleared all content etc because you have killed all bosses, thats just your opinion, killing malygos in 5 min or not let anyone die in 25 man naxx IS more difficult because it requires everyone to pull their own weight. I see many people say that getting the Immortal for example isn't hard, well you're wrong about that, it takes team effort as much as individual effort to not let anyone out of 25 players die.
    Achievements are a cheap way to get away from having to create new content. Raid progression should be about killing new bosses, seeing new instances and new lore. Not about doing the same bosses again but with stupid gimmicks.

  16. #16

    Re: Gear or Skill: What Separates Great Guilds from Mediocre Guilds

    Quote Originally Posted by Malentra
    Margin for Error is everything in raid difficulty. With a large margin for error, even the most complex of mechanics in a raid encounter can be trivialized.
    This perfectly sums up everything that has happened to raid-content-difficulty moving from BC and "un-nerfed SWP" to WotlK and "Naxx reloaded".

    Achievement-less raid-content leaves a margin of error which, to more experienced raiders, feels like they are trying to hit a boss and instead are hitting a cushion.

    This margin disappears quite fast if you bring in the achievements. You may not make the slightest mistake that could kill you - or your raid will never be "undying" or "immortal". Likewise, you will never see Sartharion die when his drakes were up initially if you fall into the proverbial "always stands in the fire category" or otherwise just plain old suck.

    I think Blizzard went into the right direction by making raid-content generally accessible to, say, "unexperienced" players. Of course, the downside is that the, say, "more experienced players" ran out of content too fast even with achievements and "hard modes". It remains to be seen if Ulduar and what is to follow will prove that Blizzard fully understood their own new concept and provide the raiding playerbase with several layers of content difficulty in all the available raid-content.

  17. #17
    I am Murloc!
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    Re: Gear or Skill: What Separates Great Guilds from Mediocre Guilds

    The sad part is, people seem to want Ulduar to be so easy you could pug it, anything else would be elitiest.

    Unless Ulduar will be as hard as SSC were the first half year of the expansion (relative to the gear level we had back then), WoW is just going down the drain.

    The odd part is we're actually discussing this so much. There is a clear a design failure.

  18. #18

    Re: Gear or Skill: What Separates Great Guilds from Mediocre Guilds

    The problem with wow pve is that it doesn't require much skill. When you have played wow for half a year, you would know if interested all abilities and tactics and how to use them, and that is the about all the skills you can aquire in a simple game like wow. It's not like Quake or Starcraft, where you improve your skills with every hour you play. And to be honest that is a big problem for MMORPGs in general. The only thing you can improve by playing a lot world of warcraft is your gear, and even that is limited by the amount of content. I do agree on the margin of error part, that is something that seperates the best from the next best, the best make few errors, they don't select the wrong spell or stand in the wrong position.

    What I would like to see in wow, is bosses that aren't trivalized by timers and addons, simply bosses that are more random, so you have to react according to the circumstances, and not according to some predefined tactic. That would seperate players that know how to play by the book, from players that can learn and adapt. The ultimate boss in my world would be a player/GM controlled, but that is not likely to happen in a near future.

  19. #19

    Re: Gear or Skill: What Separates Great Guilds from Mediocre Guilds

    The game being "stats"-based instead of skills based is not an 'issue' of MMORPGs. It's rather that what made them succesful and addictive. This entire game philosophy however is contradictory with the general concept of gaming in the 'western' world. And that is why now year after year the one failure of an mmorpg after another is released. They all want to make mmorpgs that is more about 'skill' and less about stats and gear. Well that simply doesn't work.

    RPG has always been based on gathering items, items which would make your char stronger.

    I believe if they instead tried to make the game alot less about "personal skill" and alot more about which gear and talents you pick, that the entire market would be alot more satisfied with the game. And yes, you'd regulary get the usual whiner that tries to proof that the game "isn't about skill, but about gear", because in our mind all games should be more about reaction 'skills' than thinking/planning skills. But who cares what those people think.

    For MMORPGs to be more fun, you simply need to base them on stats, gear, talents, abilities etc. and give a huge selection of different possibilities. Don't waste your time trying to make RPGs based upon 'playskill', it doesn't work.

    I think the following comparison is pretty right:
    The more you make a game based upon stats & gearchoices, the more it'll resemble longterm based games like chess.
    The more you make a game based upon personal skill, the more it'll resemble a boxing match which only gives a cheap and quick shortterm way of entertainement.


    There is a reason why RPGs were all originally turn based games. It completely took away the concept of 'reaction time' but instead focussed alot more on people making 'thoughtful decisions' for their character development. And that is what made it a very popular genre, different from all other games.

  20. #20

    Re: Gear or Skill: What Separates Great Guilds from Mediocre Guilds

    Quote Originally Posted by Vk
    There is a reason why RPGs were all originally turn based games. It completely took away the concept of 'reaction time' but instead focussed alot more on people making 'thoughtful decisions' for their character development. And that is what made it a very popular genre, different from all other games.
    Although I agree with you on the point of RPGs originally focusing on 'thoughtul decisions' (gear, character skills ant the like) and not reaction time (as well as movement and so on) and by that being a lot of fun, I'd say that a lot of WoW's success is based upon the fact that it combines the two.

    Yes - gear does matter a lot in a game like WoW, not only in PvP but also in PvE.

    Still, personal skill, knowledge of your character and most of all your ability to interact and teamplay with others is what makes the difference between a mediocre or even bad raid and the better raids in WoW.

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