Return of the Valor

WoWScrnShot_102415_200255While everyone else is off complaining or moving on, I’m still here excited as all get out.  Why is this? While I might be the only one, I am stoked for the (re)introduction of valor points.

With patch 6.2.3, Blizzard announced that valor points would be making a return in order to upgrade gear.  It will cost 250 VP for one upgrade (+5 ilvls) with two available upgrades per piece of gear.  In other words, for 500 VP you can add 10 ilvls and boost the stats of all your gear.  Valor points come from a variety of sources- heroic (100 VP each) and mythic dungeons (300 VP each), weekly bonus events (500 VP), and LFR (150 for HFC, 75 for the others).  There is no valor cap anymore, but all the sources are once per week.

This change is probably my favorite from the patch.  The way that I am interpreting it, there are two major positives that this will bring.

The first and most obvious positive is this will provide yet another alternative gearing method, and one that is without RNG.  Instead of being at the whim of the Random Number Gods, players will now be able to run a number of dungeons or LFR and earn points towards a guaranteed upgrade. For the raiders, this means that their gear can be supplemented and improved upon while waiting for that BiS piece to drop.  If the bosses don’t drop anything for you, you can still advance your character’s power.  As someone who has been sitting at ilvl 695 for a while with no good gear dropping, this is a godsend.  I can bring a better and better geared toon each time I play.

Even for those who don’t raid but also want decent gear, this is also very helpful.  Valor points will allow players to augment the gear that they do have.  Let’s say your thing is soloing old raids.  With the +10 ilvl gear, you might finally be able to get a boss down that you previously couldn’t have.  Or maybe that +10 will make running around Tanaan, or dungeons, or hunting for achievements easier.  Valor points can help all sorts of players.

Another great thing about the new valor system is that there is no cap.  So if you run a few dungeons and a bonus weekend in one week, and then just one wing of LFR the next, you aren’t behind because you ‘didn’t cap’ your valor.  The lack of a cap will make valor points less mandatory. (Yes, I understand that for the more elite players, there will still be a drive to run every source of valor every week, but many players will most likely not follow this path).

The other huge positive that this change brings is that it will get more people into LFR.

This next part comes from the perspective of a progression raider. An LFR raider or someone who does not raid at all would have a different opinion and I by no means pretend to express all those viewpoints, just my own.

As it currently stands, I do not run LFR ever anymore.  For Highmaul and Blackrock Foundry, it’s much more worth my time to pug the raids that I need.  I can get the stones/runes that I need and I also have a chance to upgrade my gear.  While not everyone pugs, there is a pretty big population of puggers who actively avoid LFR.  For Hellfire Citadel, there is really no point in me running it because my guild raids the normal version.  I already get the tomes I need and the gear in LFR is not any better. Even on alts, the queue time and reputation of HFC is enough to deter myself (and most other raiders that I have talked to).  The crux of the matter is that most raiders do not run HFC LFR anymore.

With the introduction of valor points, there is now an incentive for raiders to run LFR.  Maybe the gear and tomes are of no use, but the valor points it drops are now highly valuable to us.  I know that I will start running it once the patch drops for those valor points.  This change will bring more people into LFR, hopefully alleviating queue times.  It will also bring more players who know the fights well and/or are pretty well geared.  With an influx of players who want to get down their LFRs for their valor points quickly, the speed of LFR HFC runs also will improve.

Now unfortunately, this also  could bring a few negatives.  I can already see raiders joining in LFRs and seeing themselves as better than everyone else.  I see potential fights between LFRraiders and leet hardcore raiders as the hardcore raider gets angry at real or perceived failures of boss mechanics. But this has always be the case.  Blizzard should still put the valor point system in place, regardless of a few bad eggs.  Overall, I do believe it will improve the quality of life in LFR.  Most raiders will want to get the job done quickly, not get involved in protracted fights.

And then there are dungeons! With the valor point system, Blizzard is also another step closer to making dungeons valid once more.  Players will return to heroics that they have months abandoned.  There will definitely be an uptick in mythic dungeons.  While dungeons aren’t my favorite type of content, I do appreciate that they are being made relevant for those who do love them.

Valor points will get people to return or try out a variety of content.  Especially considering that Warlords is moving into the end portion of the expansion, this addition will help to keep the game fresh for a little while longer.  People love feeling overpowered, and all those ilvl 700+ folks are going to love steamrolling through Heroic Auchindoun and getting something out of the deal.  In Mists, Valor points were a big drive for me to run my LFRs and I’m excited to see it return in Warlords.  And also, I can also improve my gear even when I don’t get the drops I desire.  Its a win win situation!

Rediscovering World of Warcraft

Rockin' Out
This is going to sound completely crazy.  Ready for it?

I had forgotten what ‘fun’ was in WoW.

Yup, really.  Recently, I have become so focused on making the most of my WoW time, prioritizing, and getting stuff done.  WoW became almost like a chore.  Ok, first I gotta go my Ordos and Celestial runs on all my 90.  Next I need to run the LFRs for the legendary quest on my priest and then my druid.  Ok, now I need to level my professions on my druid.  Oops, I forgot to post my auctions, better head out to the AH.  It was tedious, it was time-consuming, and honestly, it wasn’t fun.

I was slowly burning out on WoW.  It’s not that I didn’t want to play, but when I was, I’d spent more time reading or listening to music than actually playing.  WoW became a checklist, a job, and that’s not why I love this game.  Until, everything changed one fateful night.

In order to get my last couple of sigils for my druid, I was running back to back LFR.  I was barely paying attention to the raids (you can heal the older LFRs with your eyes closed it seems), and really would rather be doing something else.  So, I turned to guild chat.

For the next couple of LFRs, I chatted with my guildies.  We talked about absolutely nothing, but it was relaxing.  And at times, funny.  There was no pressure to do anything (it’s not like we were in an instance together or something), and time passed really quickly for me.

I finished with my LFRs, getting my last couple of sigils.  But instead of feeling accomplished or even remotely satisfied, I just felt resigned.  First step down, eighty million to go.  Why was I even doing this again?

Some of the guildies that I had been talking to decided to run a heroic dungeon for giggles and chuckles.  There was no gear or anything I needed from a heroic, so I almost decided to pass (like I usually do).  I needed to get working on the legendary questline, right?

That’s when I stopped.  And thought.  And realized that I was being ridiculous.  I play video games for one reason- to have fun.  Not to get the best gear, not to be the most skilled, but to entertain myself.  And was I really entertaining myself by forcing myself to slog through this legendary questline for the 4th time? Not at all.

So I asked to come along on the dungeon run.  My guildies quickly invited me (I was to be the healer) and we were off.

We zoned into Shado Pan Monastery, us guildies and an unknown tank.  Someone joked in guild chat that we should give the tank a hard time, since we were all from the same guild.  Then, rather out of the blue, the tank announced he was ‘baked’.  And what followed was the craziest, most hilarious heroic I have ever run.

We started off with a bunch of potato jokes (because baked, geddit?) which then turned into hilarious ‘don’t do drugs’ facts (Four out of every three people who do drugs die).  All the while, we were speeding through the dungeon, recklessly pulling packs of adds that we probably could have avoided.  At one point, one of my guildies switched on pack, which started a ‘flame war’ between him and another guildie.  It was crazy and hilarious.

I was really doing nothing as a healer, as everyone out geared the content.  So, I switched to my feral spec, and that’s when things got really insane.  Suddenly, one of our guild members started to die during every trash pull (I’m not sure if this was purposeful or not), and this started another ‘flame war’ about who should be taking the blame.  We were still pulling relatively fast, and our tank was starting to joke around with us guildies.

All of a sudden, we found ourselves at the end of the dungeon.  Instead of me going back to resto, we decided to burn the boss, and pop literally every cooldown we had (some of which were not spell cooldowns, but toy cooldowns too).  The boss’s health plummeted, and then we were done! The heroic was complete, and the run ended!

Everyone said their goodbyes, and we parted ways with the tank (I never did write down his name).  I had to log out, as it was getting late for me.  But even after the run was done, I found myself thinking about it.

The heroic was awesome.  It was totally insane, completely out of control, and absolutely hilarious.  That is why I transferred to this realm to play with this guild.  That is why I came with my guildies that night.  That is why I play WoW.

Recently, I reflected, I had forgotten this.  I became so worried about maxing out my characters, about utilizing my time, about only doing the things in the game that will improve my gear somehow, that WoW had stopped being fun.  I was so intent on the legendary questline, and my ilvl, and my auctions, that I didn’t do anything besides that.  I was so focused on my goals that I didn’t even hang out with my guildies anymore.  WoW had become a job.

But my guildies reminded me what WoW was all about.

I don’t play WoW to have the best gear.  I don’t play WoW as a chore or job.  I don’t play WoW to be the best player.  I play WoW because it is fun.  Because the people playing are fun.  Because the experiences I’ve had, and will continue to have, are fun.  I play WoW to have fun.

The Nature of Change

Blizzard has recently announced their intents for raiding in WoD, changing up the game again.  While you can find the whole post here, the main points are the changes in LFR loot, the addition of Group Finder, and multiple changes to Normal, Heroic, and the new Mythic raiding.  This article will focus mostly on the LFR and Group Finder changes, as this is the kind of raiding that Fussypants currently does.

The first big change is the removal of specific trinkets and set bonuses from LFR.  For the Normal and Hardcore raider, this is a positive change, as these raiders will no longer feel required to LFR raid to fill the gaps in their set pieces, or get that missing trinket.  However, for LFR raiders, this change is not so positive.  To many LFR raiders, this may seem to reduce LFR to a glorified dungeon.  But, isn’t that what it is supposed to be?

As it currently stands, LFR tries to do too many jobs.  It is a way to let non raiders see the lore, a gearing method for many players, a sight-seeing journey for some, and practice for normal and heroic raiding for others.  This all makes it very difficult to balance, both gear and difficulty wise.

With the introduction of Group Finder in WoD, LFR suddenly becomes redundant in many of its current jobs.  Thus, it make sense to turn LFR into more of a sight-seeing raid than a tier of its own.  As Fussypants has done already, many of the raiders who LFR raid for gear and because they don’t have the time for a raiding schedule, will naturally gravitate to the Group Finder function.  LFR will now have a specific job, and Group Finder will take the job of a raid for those who want to ‘raid’ raid with less time.

LFR will now also drop more rewards, allowing it effectively be the stepping stone between dungeons and Group Finder.  This will allow players such as Fussypants to move on to Group Finder raiding much faster than currently capable.

The second huge change is the addition of Group Finder.  From what has been stated at this point, Group Finder will be like OQueue, but Blizzard made and in-game.  This change is fantastic, as now many more people will use it than when it was in addon form.  This will open up the possibility of raiding to a far larger audience, and allow for many more pickup groups.

Also, for raiders like Fussypants, this will allow for more difficulties of raids.  As it currently stands, LFR raiders are generally at the final level of progression with the LFR.  But, with the new Group Finder, these raiders will be able to find groups to raid with at higher progression levels.  Raids that originally required you to be in a guild are now capable of being pugged.

The final big change is the addition of flex technologies to all raid types except for Mythic.  Group sizes won’t be set in stone, again making for easier pugging.  What once required dedicated guilds now will be more reachable by those not in raiding guilds.
With all these changes, it is also interesting to look at how the WoW players handle it.

Human nature is funny, in that we don’t like change, but we adapt to it very quickly.  Take for instance, the addition of LFR.  When the idea was first proposed, there was of course backlash from the WoW community.  People didn’t like the change, even though many of them ended up using the new feature.  And here we are, an expansion later, and LFR seems like it has always been there.  LFR became such an integral part of many players WoW experience, that is odd to think that the feature is only one expansion old.

This process happened again with the addition of Flexible raiding.  There was a good amount of outcry against the change, and yet only a few moments after it has been integrated, the system seems common place.

It will be very interesting to watch how quickly we the players adapt to the new raiding changes, despite our protests against them.  ’20 man raiding? That’s stupid!’ we may say now, and yet in half a year, this may seem like the most normal thing.

People need to calm down.  Change is neither bad nor good, and either way, we are going to adapt to it.  It is in human nature to do so.  It will be fascinating to see how quickly the WoW player base settles into these ‘radical’ new changes.  So don’t worry.  You will adapt in a shorter amount of time than you spend complaining.

This entire article was written by Fussypants (though it was probably hard to tell with her writing in third person and all)