Tuesday, January 20, 2015

WoW Analysis: The 10th WoW Anniversary

The 10th anniversary of World of Warcraft has come and gone and while previous ones may have been considered underwhelming with annual pet rewards or anniversary-themed buffs, this special milestone called for a memorable event. However, while the 40-man raid finder version of Molten Core and deathmatch style Tarren Mill vs Southshore battleground definitely went above and beyond in terms of providing an amazing anniversary experience, that doesn't mean it was all great. Before delving into what was great and what was not so great, I would like to make it clear that I'm not complaining so much as offering criticism for possible future events like this one. Overall, I'm very happy the event happened at all and while there were some frustrations, I appreciate Blizzard's dedication to the 10th anniversary event.

With that said, let's analyze the event in detail, particularly the Molten Core anniversary raid. Feel free to watch (or listen to) the informative video I have uploaded alongside this analysis as you read through.

The Molten Core raid does a great job of providing an authentic experience.
While the Molten Core raid may have been a frustrating grind that took a few hours to complete each time, it definitely did a good job of capturing what the 40-man raiding experience in Molten Core was like back in the day. With brutal wipes on trash and raid-wide mechanics that left decursers in a dispelling frenzy, there was no doubt as to how archaically designed and imposing Molten Core was. While there are some new mechanics nowadays that help the players venture through Molten Core (such as Mass Dispel), there are also some that make the place harder (8 second cooldown on single-target dispels). They help to balance each other out (even though I personally wish single-target dispels had no cooldowns in Molten Core to match how it was back in the day)
The Core Hound mount reward (along with the helmets) were excellent incentives to run the raid at least once.
For killing Ragnaros, players received a Core Hound in the mail and each player also received an item level 640 helmet that they could use. While the helmets probably won't last long as actual equipment, they have looks that one may find usable for transmogrification. The Core Hound looks pretty nice too, not to mention it's huge.
The anniversary raid helped to bring people together.
This may be a bit on the anecdotal side, but while there was some negativity in the anniversary raid runs, the fact 40 people come together to spend a few hours together does have a tendency to make them cozy with each other. I personally saw a lot of friendly bantering and such even as we got wrecked by pulling too much trash or the like.
The Tarren Mill vs Southshore battleground was more or less a no-nonsense in terms of trying to create a large-scale world PvP experience.
While there probably weren't as many guards as there should've been in the towns, the fact that the battleground is essentially gimmick-less makes for a good old fashioned bloodbath between the Alliance and Horde, which is what world PvP was like and likely why it was so enjoyed (aside from the spontaneity). It was also interesting to see what tactics teams employed because of how open-ended the battleground was in terms of objectives (just have to score more kills than the other team, pretty much).

Ragnaros is the only boss that drops loot.
While events where the end boss is the only one that drops loot are common, the event instances in question usually only contain one boss to begin with and don't take much time to finish. Molten Core, on the other hand, is a raid instance that takes a few hours to complete. While running it once for nostalgia and the guaranteed rewards makes for a decent incentive, attempting to acquire the rare drops from Ragnaros will almost certainly require more runs. This even contradicts the authenticity of the original raid instance in a way since even that raid in particular has incentives to run it at a higher level, such as for the pet drops. Also, while the bosses themselves do drop a sizable amount of gold (to cover repair bills and such), it isn't really much of an incentive to stay around and thus trying to get into a partially completed run is very advantageous and was sought after as the event went on.

If a future event were to introduce a multi-boss raid that takes a significant amount of time to complete, adding drops for the other bosses allows for increased incentive to stay in the run. They don't necessarily have to be drops tied to the event. The drops, for instance, could be easily acquired legacy gear or somewhat uncommon pets that drop in the original instance (if relevant).
The event contains rare drops that are only tied to the event, which is limited time.
The Molten Core anniversary raid boasted two rare drops in the form of a pet and an infinite use weapon illusion. While the drop rate was highly unlikely to be the 0.03% listed on Wowhead, it was low enough that attempting to farm for it borders on impractical. While there are quite a few rare items in the game, such as Invincible, there hasn't been too many tied to a one-time event, which is why there was quite a few requesting that the drop rate of Hatespark and the Flames of Ragnaros be increased.

One such item, the everlasting firework, which previously only dropped from the Fall of Theramore (level 90) scenario that was part of the pre-Mists of Pandaria event, will supposedly be obtainable through Engineering (probably through Lunar Festival) according to the Toy Box. Hopefully Blizzard does the same treatment with Hatespark and the Flames of Ragnaros (such as by adding them to the original Molten Core drop tables but retaining the low drop rate to keep them reasonably rare).

In the future, such items should probably not be added. It's understandable as to why they were around to begin with as the desire to obtain these rare items causes players to run the Molten Core raid repeatedly, but there's also a lot of frustration down that path, especially when accounting for the previous con. Instead, to incentivize players to run something multiple times, other rewards could be added such as what I suggested above regarding drops of some significance from each boss.
Flames of Ragnaros is not a toy (yet).
Given that the item provides a cosmetic effect, it's likely to become a toy. It's just surprising that it wasn't a toy to begin with since some players farmed Flames of Ragnaros on multiple characters and I can't even fathom farming one (to be honest I don't mind that I didn't get one).
Tarren Mill vs Southshore battleground had some matchmaking balance issues.
While the battleground was really fun, for some reason the matchmaking system was a little wonky and often created mismatches between the Alliance and Horde, meaning that one faction greatly outnumbered the other for a time. Surprisingly, I was in one such match where my team greatly outnumbered the other for a time, but then the game pulled in a ton of Alliance players and they started pulling back on the score. However, because we got such a large early advantage we eventually won the match (though barely) even though we probably didn't deserve to win.

This sort of matchmaking rarely happens with traditional battlegrounds and Ashran tends to be meticulous about ensuring the odds are too greatly swung in one faction's favor, so I'm curious as to why this battleground in particular had such a balance problem.

Final Words

As I said above, I found this anniversary event to be quite the treat overall and I really hope that Blizzard does this sort of thing more often, even if it does cost a raid tier.

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