Heroics: Not For “Wrath Babies” Anymore

Grim Batol's Erudax is one of the toughest bosses on Heroic. Remember when 6 million health was reserved for raid encounters?

Bravo, Blizzard! You’ve finally done it! Heroics are now, verifiably, “serious business.” That isn’t sarcasm, folks — I’m genuinely happy about this development and it seems I’m not alone. Apparently, this thread makes Zarhym very happy, and I imagine much of the development and support team must be just as proud of their work.

During my first real trip into the realm of Cataclysm Heroics, I met a fellow who’s name I can’t quite recall, but clearly had some experience in the dungeons already. Whether that was because he and his guildmates had barnstormed their way to Level 85 (and an average 329 ilevel, needed to queue for Heroics) or the guy had spent some time in beta, I’m not sure. Either way, it quickly became apparent that there was a difference between him and the revolving door of players who kept leaving the group after a wipe or two, which he (and now I) affectionately called “Wrath Babies.”

That being casuals weaned on a diet of steamrolling dungeon bosses and turning off their brains in the process. I’d like to think I belong to a guild of moderately successful players, members of a broad World of Warcraft “middle class” who desire to push as much content as they can whilst not dedicating their entire lives to the endeavor. We’re not Paragon, but we’re not about to roll over and feign death after our second wipe to a difficult encounter, either.

I suppose what sticks in my craw the most about the thread I referenced above, though, is the idea that Blizzard needs to change their philosophy and “stop catering to elitists.” Thankfully, most of the people who replied to this whiner likewise berated him for his blasphemous thoughts. It seems like common sense that things towards the end of current content should be more difficult than what has come before it, but let’s look just a little deeper. You might recall that going from Burning Crusade to Wrath, what Blizzard sought was a way to take casuals from the beginning of the game’s storyline to its very end, and since most of the major plots — including the one that some people had been waiting to finish since the end of Warcraft 3 — ended in raid dungeons, the decision was made to dumb things down a bit. Normal mode boss encounters would be much easier than they were in the previous expansion and now Hard Modes would be introduced to appease the higher-level players.

In some ways, this still reduced the “specialness” of clearing a very difficult encounter, but it wasn’t an entirely terrible idea. The main problem is that players at the level of being able to do Hard Modes are generally hungry for new content, which means that the portion of content that truly challenged them was incredibly tiny. When someone says the game is “catering to elitists,” I’d like to point them to the fact that most of the content in the game is designed for casual players, and this goes triple for Cataclysm. Loads of new and involving quests in old zones, dungeon redesigns to make them less confusing to traverse, and a streamlined leveling process represent just a few of the ways that the 1-80 game has been tweaked to make things easier for “casuals.” That’s not to speak of the new, higher-level zones, either. For a person progressing through the game at a truly casual pace — maybe only playing a couple hours a day — Hyjal through Twilight Highlands easily provides several weeks worth of content. Though a lot of the regular mobs are tuned to hit a little harder and have a few more hit points relative to their Wrath counterparts, I can’t recall a single non-dungeon/daily quest that required more than one person to complete, and those asking you to go up against elites almost always gave you some sort of help.

Put in perspective, a few Hard Modes for the “elite” seems like a pittance, an unsatisfying meal of tooth-breaking hardtack for those players soldiering through the most difficult content in the game. And, once again, we’re talking about that middle class here. The guilds which comprise the “competitive PvE scene” (and, yes, I feel like a tool for saying that) have already or come close to clearing all normal raid content within the first week of the expansion’s release. That takes a special breed of gamer that I don’t think you can ever fully appease, because they have the goal of “being the first” firmly planted in their minds, and that drives their progress beyond all other aspects of the game. While their input is great for tuning encounters, it should by no means be used as a measure of their true difficulty.

So, taken in context, Cataclysm‘s Heroic dungeons are a godsend. The encounters are not easy, trash often requires crowd control, and best of all, the new abilities given to bosses in Heroic teach essential skills for raiding content. Heroics now collectively comprise the gate so desperately needed to keep idiots out of 10 and 25-man content. It seems to be of little coincidence that some of the added mechanics seem ripped straight off of Wrath raid bosses (such as the expanding void zones from the second boss in Throne of the Tides, which are reminiscent of Professor Putricide’s final phase). The game now requires that you play smart to access the next level of content — separating the “Wrath Babies” from the “Cataclysm Men” — while at the same time expanding the amount which is catered towards players who want a challenge.

In Wrath of the Lich King, my guildmates and I were blazing through Heroic dungeons just as fast as we had in their regular modes while leveling up. In Cataclysm, that’s been reduced to a slow and steady pace. We wipe to bosses; hell, we wipe to trash on a regular basis. Heroic runs take longer, too. There will come a time, when we’re loaded up with raid gear, that this content will become easy again, but the point is that it should be by that point. It shouldn’t be a cakewalk before we even get there.

Blizzard has essentially turned Heroics from “5-mans 1.5” into “10/25-man raids .5,” if that makes any sense. It’s a subtle distinction, but an important one, and a decision that I can comfortably salute the development team for making. So, if you find yourself frustrated with Heroics, or crying about them like a baby, may I kindly suggest that you man up a little and learn how to play the game? Nothing of any real value can be lost from catering to the lowest common denominator.


  1. I recall the jump from normal mode to Heroic mode of the dungeons in Burning Crusade being total ball-busters too, and this is before the LFD tool to make PuGs easy! What these “Wrath babies” are used to in my opinion are “welfare epics” (Crafted items of generous item level or just the accumulation of Emblems to purchase raid-tier gear) and outgearing the content, making the encounters, even in Heroics, trivial. I think when Icecrown was finally opened, a majority of people at 80 were wearing 2 to 4 pieces of the tier 9 gear, plus some other items available off Emblem vendors, so the original dungeons were simple steamrolls to even people who had never been in them before. (I recall having to explain that Elder Nadox has an invulnerable stage and you had to kill the adds to hurt him, and the DPS in question just stayed on the boss, never switching to the guardian)

  2. It’s really amazing how much people have been catered to in general. Isiset from Halls of Origination comes to mind, with that one ability that stuns you if you’re looking at her when she casts it. The thing is that you don’t even need a mod to know when it’s coming, *the game straight up tells you.* Watching who consistently gets dazed by the attack in pugs is a real easy way to tell who’s been babied through the game and who hasn’t.

  3. I’ve complained quite a bit about the difficulty and / or heavy farming needed to do heroics, but I’m a hypocrite. I LOVE the changes, like you said.

    I spent 2 hours doing Heroic Vortex Pinnacle last night because we have to re-learn to CC mobs and effectively pull. We wiped 5-7 times on trash, and 2-3 times on bosses. We had a blast, and loved it.

    I felt achieved at the end for finally finishing a Heroic, because the last 3 I had done I wasn’t geared enough and was taking damage like an 85 raid boss on a level 1 new character.

    It is the way things should be, and if from what I’ve seen in Heroics has any indication for what I’ll see in the raids, Blizzard well deserves my $15 a month.

    On a side note:
    I thought the raids were closed until tomorrow (the 14th)?…

  4. I don’t know about raids. Not closed in Europe, at least. The PvP season starts tomorrow, though.

    As for myself, I’ve only completed two whole Heroic dungeons so far. Mostly because the rest of my guild has been behind and I ended up having to pug groups so that I could learn the encounters.

  5. I only know VP on Heroic. And first boss in BRC. All of them on Reg intimately.

    LFD has become my love right now – instant to < 2 minute queues :D

  6. I’m a casual player, my work schedule doesn’t match any raid schedule that i can think of, not in our guild anyway, but I do enjoy the challenge of having to learn a fight. The heroics are my best avenue to be challenged, run with our guild, and not take 4 hours to do it.

    I think the only complaints i would have would be about the people who latched so much onto gearscore they wouldn’t allow “new” people in their groups. I’m not 12, I enjoy a good strategy, and i understand it takes practice and a few wipes to get good: I want to learn. Hopefully the iLvl minimums help mitigate those people’s desire for GS alone, and redirects their focus to skill, attitude, and ability.

  7. @Balz, learn skills and don’t worry so much bout GS. iLvl seems to be the new marker which is good. I remember back in the day of TBC, I signed up for a DPS slot for Hero Mech (nightmares) and doing so well with CC (distract shot+freeze trap ftw) that I was a regular in the PuGs with the friends I made that day, many of whom were in top guilds to boot. Because of the skill and attention I paid to the instance, I was invited back and back and back and even filled in on some Kara runs to boot though by anyone’s standard I was vastly undergeared. Skills, as it was in TBC, will be what pays the bills in Cataclysm.

    On topic, while I have YET to tank a heroic much less a regular Cataclysm instance since I’m having so much fun with the questing content, I find that often even with the quest content, I’m back to old school tank mode: making snap decisions on which cooldowns to use and when. Yeah, I’ve died pulling too much.

    CoC was a pain but fun to learn how to effectively tank during those fights (once you got past the glitching and greifing going on).

    The Obsidia fight in Twilight Highlands (where you fight the last brood mother of the Black Dragonflight) was challenging not so much in a ‘difficult’ content way but more in a sense of watching what was going on, how to defend and defeat the encounter.

    I say kudos to Blizz for ramping up even the quest content to the point where it IS inevitable you’ll die if you’re not careful and aren’t willing to learn.

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