Weekly World of Warcraft #15 - How to Make a Crusade Burn

By: Nick Arvites

Weekly World of Warcraft #23 - Goodbye to the Old Stomping Grounds
Will the new lands signal the end of the old?

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
Won't anyone think of the Windriders?

Weekly World of Warcraft #20 - New Year's Resolutions
Nick lays out some WoW-related goals for 2007.

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
The calm before the Burning Crusade storm.

Weekly World of Warcraft #15 - How to Make a Crusade Burn
Burning Crusade will have a negative impact on raiding, but it should bring some good PvP changes.

Weekly World of Warcraft #14 - Should I Stay or Should I Go?
It's time to renew!

Weekly World of Warcraft - Raiding for the Rest of Us
Our first guest discusses how a casual player can raid successfully.

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.

Weekly World of Warcraft #11 - Undead Events
A deeper look at Patch 1.11 and the Scourge Invasion.

Weekly World of Warcraft #10 - Busiest Week Ever
You want more of this?! Patch 1.11, Diablo/Starcraft MMORPGs, and more!

Weekly World of Warcraft #9 - Mailbag Edition
9 out of 10 naked dancing dwarves agree: mailbags are good!

Weekly World of Warcraft #8 - Guild Woes
Guild improvements and raid interface changes discussed this week.

Weekly World of Warcraft #7 - PvBroken
What's wrong with PvP in today's World of Warcraft.

Weekly World of Warcraft #6 - Post E3 2006 Thoughts
We look at the addition of the Draenei, and various problems with Burning Crusade.

Weekly World of Warcraft #5 - Expansion Outlook: Pre-E3 Edition
Looking forward to next week's E3, and what the future holds for WoW.

Weekly World of Warcraft #4 - Class Warfare
Nick's perspective on playing the nerfed Rogue class.

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 as a whole or any of its affiliates. This is simply one writer's opinion, and should be accepted as such.

If you didn’t pay attention to the recent World of Warcraft chatter, you missed a bombshell. As reported by gaming news outlets such as 1up, IGN, and Gamespot, The Burning Crusade will completely alter the end game scene as well as the PvP scene in the World of Warcraft universe. The biggest change was the revelation that the raid dungeons in the expansion were all designed for groups of 25 people or less, and the current 40-man instances were essentially the last of their kind.

You read that correctly. Blizzard, citing player concerns, decided to move towards a smaller group setting, essentially putting the nail in the 40-man coffin. Now, as any reader of my past columns would know, I have never really been a fan of the notion to only put end-game content in the hands of 40-man groups. I’m sure many of you think I’m going to take this space to write an extended “I told you so PWN’D!!!” article on the subject. Well, I’m honestly not too sure about the idea of completely abandoning large-scale raids, and I do have a major problem with Blizzard essentially telling the 40-man groups to enjoy what they have. 

Yeah, I know, all the people that flamed me for complaining about the lack of small-group content are probably falling out of their chairs in shock. Let’s go over this again: I do not like the notion of completely eliminating 40-man, large-group content. My reasoning is very simple, especially when going through my back columns. Look at it this way, they essentially just told you what they’ve been telling the small group crowds for months: Enjoy what you have, you can still run those. Maybe some of you can appreciate why I’ve complained about the tier 0.5 quests essentially forcing you to rehash dungeons you’ve played to death. Here’s the thing: I think making the vast majority—or even all—of the dungeon content in The Burning Crusade primarily small group content is a good move. There was a true glut in large-scale content, and now it provides a chance (how realistic that chance will be remains to be seen) for smaller casual guilds and pick-up groups to tackle end-game content. The kicker: eliminating large-scale raiding is a bad idea. I don’t want the large-group raiders, the former golden-children of World of Warcraft, to feel as left out as the rest of us previously were. Sure, you can adapt, and sure, you’ll likely have no problems splitting up guilds to have multiple teams. That isn’t the real problem in the least. Let’s be honest: if your mega-guild can’t adjust to running smaller groups, you’re either not trying or you need to get back to the basics.

The problem lies not with the group, but with the gameplay experience. Before long people will begin whining about how the content is all the same and there is nothing left to reward guilds that have tons of members and could conceivably take on 40-man runs. Resident VGGEN lore-junkie Cameron Morris also raised an excellent point via AIM: why wouldn’t a 40-man army be needed to take down Illidan? With the death of 40-man raids, doesn’t this bring into doubt any possibility of fighting the Lich King? Blizzard developers have indicated that any potential Arthas fight would need a large number of high level players working together. Let’s put it in these terms: if it takes 40 level 60s to take down his second-in-command in Naxx, shouldn’t it take 40 level 90s to take him down on the Frozen Throne? Granted, all of this is speculation. Blizzard hasn’t announced any further expansions that include the Frozen Throne or Northrend, but barring the company simply inventing new continents or other dimensions expanding to Northrend is the next logical step. 

The canned response to raiders is that the 25-man limit is designed to provide a new challenge and promote group utility. If Blizzard really wanted to push a challenge to large-scale raiding groups using small groups, there are better ways to do so than just killing off large groups completely. Take this idea. Since Blizzard, based on player feedback, likes branched dungeons in the vein of Scarlet Monetary, have a quest for some huge boss encounter with massive loot requiring two 25-man groups to team up and take on different branches of the same dungeon simultaneously. Put some time limits and restrictions like “they have to finish within x minutes of each other or under x amount of time” and put the end result as a massive 50 person boss fight. That would be challenging. Telling large raiding guilds to trim back membership really isn’t challenging and, when you get right down to it, only causes guild drama and divides in long-standing guilds.

World of Warcraft has been such a unique MMORPG because it has managed to mesh in numerous playing styles and satisfy an extremely large population. Sure, they’ve by all intents and purposes ignored the non-raiding crowd with few exceptions, but the game was still fun to play up to a point that took an extensive amount of playtime to get to. Adding non-40 man runs to the expansion is great, and I think the vast majority of the players in the game will not have any problems with this. I think the biggest problem comes with the simple fact that Blizzard is fixing the problem with its left hand, while using the same scalpel to amputate its right foot. Nobody wants to be in the group that’s left out, and that’s the theme I’ve tried to present in any of the articles I’ve written dealing with the raiders v. non-raiders issue. 

Honor(less) System

Thankfully, the same previews also confirmed that Blizzard will be taking the PvP Honor System out back, and putting it down like the rabid dog it is. The PvP Honor Ladder is beyond repair, and quite simply works in a manner that only rewards the most dedicated insomniacs. In order to get any sort of high rank (and thus the PvP epic gear), you basically had to PvP for 10+ hours a day. Seriously, what’s the point? Sure, by spending months on end sleeping on your desk, you get some seriously powerful equipment. However, tying the equipment to a ladder that simply rewards the amount of time put into the system over the amount of skill is just wrong on all levels. It doesn’t matter that I can kill some chump 50 times for every one they get on me if I can’t put in the 80 hours a week sleeping on my desk/urinating in a bottle/PvPing. 

Blizzard’s solution seems adequate and shows great promise for growth. Honor points will apparently be exchanged for reward items and not decay over time. This at least puts epics in reach of anyone over a long period of time and might actually make the battlegrounds somewhat fun. To make things even more interesting, the ladder will be replaced with Arena competitions. Forming PvP teams is a great idea, and having a league-style ladder has so much potential for greatness that it might actually make PvP fun, relevant, and enjoyable for every player. Imagine the potential: tournaments, a championship, standings, and ladders based on actual skill. If they really wanted to have a massive competition, they could even form some sort of cross-realm tournament.

It’s fitting that this comes on the heels of what is likely the last major patch for the initial release of World of Warcraft. Patch 1.12, released Tuesday, saw the implementation of cross-realm battlegrounds. Granted, they’ve experienced some major problems during the day of the patch, so I haven’t been able to really test it out that much. Still, Blizzard is at least attempting to improve on its pretty weak PvP system before the next competitor, Warhammer Online, comes out with promises of meaningful PvP. Sure, you do run into the problem of cheapening PvP rewards, and the problem of too many people getting the top sets, but I don’t see how this is couldn’t be fixed by either adding more epics that are harder to get or by simply nerfing the top PvP sets. We’ll soon see how Blizzard approaches this situation. 

Now, we’re just waiting for the expansion release.

As usual, if you have any comments, complaints, concerns, or fan mail, send them to I’ll try to answer all E-mails personally, and you may wind up in a future mailbag column.

Posted: 08/23/2006