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Weekly World of Warcraft #12 - Dungeon 2 Armor Complaints

By: Nick Arvites

Weekly World of Warcraft #23 - Goodbye to the Old Stomping Grounds
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Weekly World of Warcraft #22 - Burning Crusade First Impressions
Positive first impressions from our resident warlock.

Weekly World of Warcraft #21 - Thoughts from a Disgruntled Wyvern Windrider
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Weekly World of Warcraft #20 - New Year's Resolutions
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Weekly World of Warcraft #19 - Calm Before the Storm
A look at the most-recent patch and Blizzard's next game.

Weekly World of Warcraft #18 - Casual Raiding Vol. 2
Another look at casual raiding from our brand new writer!

Weekly World of Warcraft #17 - South Park, Expansion Plans, and Updates
A look at the infamous South Park episode, and talk of the future.

Weekly World of Warcraft #16 - All Quiet on the Kalimdor Front
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Weekly World of Warcraft #15 - How to Make a Crusade Burn
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Weekly World of Warcraft #14 - Should I Stay or Should I Go?
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Weekly World of Warcraft - Raiding for the Rest of Us
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Weekly World of Warcraft #13 - I Still Hate the Baron: Clarifications & Responses
Clarification of last week's points after receiving a deluge of responses.

Weekly World of Warcraft #12 - Dungeon 2 Armor Complaints
I hate the Baron, and other .5 tier complaints.

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Weekly World of Warcraft #7 - PvBroken
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Weekly World of Warcraft #6 - Post E3 2006 Thoughts
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Weekly World of Warcraft #4 - Class Warfare
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Weekly World of Warcraft #3 - Over-Raided
The third in our series focuses on the lack of content for smaller groups.

Weekly World of Warcraft #2
The second in our series of weekly World of Warcraft rants focuses on crafting.

Weekly World of Warcraft #1
The first in our series of weekly World of Warcraft rants by our resident level 60 Rogue.

The views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of VGGEN.com as a whole or any of its affiliates. This is simply one writer's opinion, and should be accepted as such. Weekly World of Warcraft is usually updated each Tuesday.

Author’s Note: Let’s face it, the topic I’m about to dive headfirst into has been dissected and explored across the web, be it through in-game chats, forums, or columns like this. Yet, my take on the .5 tier armor sets, otherwise known as the Dungeon 2 sets, comes from the same vein as the “Over-raided” column I did many installments ago. Casual gamers, in my personal opinion, constantly get the shaft from Blizzard at level 60, and the game has a dramatic shift towards the hardcore raiding groups. Again, as I’ve previously stated (and my hate-mail loves to ignore this), I am not advocating “OMGFREEEPIX,” nor am I ripping on Raiding guilds or hardcore players. I am serving as the voice of the casual gamer who is so often shouted down across the Internet by Counter-Strike minded, holier-than-thou players who feel everyone should run Molten Core 40 hours a week while working/going to school another 40+ hours. You don’t have to agree with what I say, and I don’t expect it at all. Just keep the hate-mail at least entertaining. Who knows, you may make the next mailbag.

Unless you’ve turned off all of your in-game chat channels (with the global Looking-for-Group channel, you may have), solo-play the entire game, and never look at an Internet forum, gaming magazine, or talk to anyone in the real world that plays World of Warcraft, you know that the casual gamers out there have been steadily complaining about the post-60 game. The vast majority of the post-60 content in World of Warcraft requires extensive time raiding (or 15+ hours PvPing) to access, and many of the top weapons and loot are out of the reach of casual gamers. Is this a bad thing? Not really. Raiding should be rewarded with the top quality loot that it produces, and it would be completely unfair to give people who don’t raid epics just to have epics. Yet, the amount of content available to casual players who choose to not raid can be exhausted within a few months of hitting level 60. Sure, casuals can get into pick-up groups or small guild runs in Scholomance, Stratholme, Blackrock spire, or Dire Maul, but these get exhausted very quickly and after a certain point, even the most casual of players will acquire all of the possible loot out of these instances.

Blizzard, in an attempt to appease those complaining about the distinct lack of casual content in level 60, introduced the .5 tier, or Dungeon 2 armor sets. These sets are class-specific, and require a player to have the Dungeon 1 pieces and run an epically long chain of quests. Sounds good so far, right? After all, the Dungeon 1 sets required numerous runs through Stratholme, Blackrock Spire, and Scholomance, and players may want to do something different now. Too bad Blizzard dropped the ball implementing this quest chain and the Dungeon 2 sets. Instead of getting viable content for casual gamers or even small-group players, Blizzard provided an incredibly long, expensive, hard and frustrating quest-chain to reward casual players with gear that isn’t exactly a high step up from the Dungeon 1 set. In other words, the Dungeon 2 set isn’t exactly casual and isn’t exactly worth the trouble.

Stratholme

In my mind, the lure of the Dungeon 2 set is similar to a sleazy cartoonish salesman pitching a get-rich-quick scam via e-mail, sandwiched in my Inbox between some hate-mail, a miracle drug to make women desire me, and another one of those fictitious African - political - leader - wanting - to - send - me - money - if - I - give - him - my - personal - info - and - checking - account - info. Except, unlike those e-mails, I find it harder to laugh at the nonsense Blizzard has dumped in my lap with this armor set. Like a pyramid scheme, the Dungeon 2 set lures you into the quest chain by promising a seemingly good reward. Sadly, this is just a 315/300 in fishing trick to reel you in (sorry, had to insert the lame nerd humor) for a ride down rip-off lane. The reality of the matter is the Dungeon 2 quests are similar to shoveling time and money into a burning fire. It starts off simple enough: bring in the bracers to upgrade them. Then you get into the fun. Now, you act as a messenger/indentured servant for a few quests, requiring you to bring gold in bundles of 20 or 40 at a time. It also requires multiple trips across the two continents, so get used to using that boat. Really though, I shouldn’t complain, the hardest thing about the early sections of the chain is finding enough gold to waste give to the quest NPCs. After a lengthy, costly, but completely solo-able chain, you finally get the next two pieces of the set. However, the next part of the quest serves as a deal-breaker for the average gamer. Eerily similar to the jump from solo and small group content in levels 1-59 to the raid content in 60, the next quest is one that can turn off most casual gamers due to the sheer complexity of it. The quest requires you to clear the undead side of Stratholme and pull the Baron in 45 minutes or less.

What am I? Dominos Pizza?

Thanks to the global Looking-for-Group, I won’t have to tell you to sit around in a capital city to do this. Just tune into the looking-for-group channel and pick out how many requests for a 45-minute Strat UD run there are. Shockingly, there are tons of runs attempted, and many never get past the first pull. Strat UD is perhaps the most difficult non-raid dungeon in the entire game (and I’d love to hear arguments otherwise), and is barely manageable by pickup groups. Blizzard assumed with all the clarity of a college freshman who did too many Jagerbombs that the 45-minute run would be able to be done by pickup groups. Wrong. Completely and utterly wrong.

The 45 minute run is not impossible for casuals. However, it is very difficult and I would venture to say that I’ve had a harder time dealing with this one challenge then I have in my admittedly limited experiences in Zul’Gurub and the Molten Core. In order to have a successful run, you need the following classes: A warrior that can tank (sorry fury warriors), a priest that is not a shadow priest, a mage, a Pally or Druid to off-heal, and one other. It is entirely possible to do the run with a massive DPS party (i.e.: tank, mage, lock, rogue, and healer), although it can wipe very quickly if the warrior doesn’t hold the aggro. The party members should know how to play their classes well. If your 5th member is a hunter or lock, tell them to put their pets away as they tend to aggro and wipe your party with regularity. If the other one’s a rogue, pray they can top the damage chart. Every person in your party should have a full set of Dungeon 1 (with the Dungeon 2 equivalents in place already). If anyone has some Raid 1 pieces or even some ZG pieces, they’ll be more than welcome.

Everyone in the party should also have at least 10 of major health and mana potions for the run. Do NOT try this if anyone is new to Strat UD, and do not even attempt it if they aren’t wearing blues or higher. While this seems like it shouldn’t be a problem to find, it often is. Priests in general are a rare commodity on most servers out there, and priests that want to risk dealing with a grueling run are even rarer. More often than not, I’ll drop into a party that has two Hunters that think their pet can tank (sorry hunters, they can’t) and expects me, a rogue, to off-tank. While I’m wondering if these kids bought their characters or stole their parents’ password, I generally leave when they grab a lock and fury warrior instead of a healer and something useful. Loot is another pitfall of this run. If you’re the group leader, consider putting it on master loot and not looting anything, even the bosses.

Ah, but even properly geared groups can fail. The trick with the run is to pull very quickly and controlled. You need to figure out which mobs you can skip, and the best order to do the run. This, naturally, takes practice. Here’s where the 45 minute run fails miserably as a casual gaming device. Odds are a pick-up group will not be able to perform this run in 45 minutes. The closest I’ve gotten with a properly geared pickup group was 90 minutes. The problem was that we couldn’t get together another time to run it because all of our schedules were so different. Yeah, we put each other on the friends list, but we’ve still never been able to try again. See, the 45 minute Baron run requires consistent practice until your group clicks and works together flawlessly. Sure, you could say that a small guild would have no problems running Strat UD in 45 minutes. This is very true, but only if the guild has the required core (tank, offhealer, healer, and mage) and these people can be all on at the same time.

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Posted: 07/10/2006