Monday, October 28, 2013

A Defense of Raiding? -- A Response to Responses To a Response to a Response

I think I have that title correct.

Rowan responded to my last post with two posts, effectively, here and here.  So let's discuss them.
My original post—as did Stubborn's, in my view—had more to do with guild drama, and some root causes of it, than the merits of WoW-style raid-gear treadmills.
Well, a few things.

First, you literally opened your original post in this series saying...
Samus brings up an interesting "fundamental" flaw in endgame raiding. He is referring to the way a group or guild must work together; but more often than not, individuals spend time without any reward for their efforts. DKP schemes are only a player band-aid for a faulty reward system design. Flaws in gear stats design can compound this, for instance when I was locked out of a loot roll in Ice Crown Citadel as a healer because the item had increased "hit," but there were no items that had a stat exclusively for healers. Occasions like that caused me eventually to forsake raiding altogether in every game I've played since.
And Jeromai said
Exactly. I simply cannot play games with need/greed loot systems where players end up competing with each other for the one desirable piece of loot. It just ends up boiling down to lots and lots of drama.

Give me a City of Heroes or GW style you-gets-your-own-personal-loot and no one knows what you got unless you choose to link it for them any day.
So I think I can be forgiven for thinking you were criticizing how loot worked in raids -- particularly since you seemed to be viewing getting gear as the reward for raiding, which is not how it works.  Everything seemed to point to you effectively saying "The rewards for normal/heroic raiding in WoW are messed up so I don't do them because I don't get loot."

Hence my post talking about why loot is only important as a nerfing mechanism for normal/heroic raiding!
[EDIT: OK, I missed somehow that you did say it's about killin' the bosses.]
Yeah, and, uh, that's kind of a really really really important point there!  My whole post was about how gear was not the goal of raiding!

Let's make an analogy of sorts.  Raiding is like playing basketball and gear indicates how physically fit you are.

A few things to note here:

1, the goal is playing basketball is not to stay fit.  The goal of basketball is to play basketball because you find it enjoyable and if it helps you stay fit so much the better.  It's something that comes naturally as a side benefit.

2, a person being more fit than someone else means very little if they don't have the skills to dribble/pass/shoot/etc.  In fact, being physically fit past a certain point is often one of the LEAST important things.  You're better off with someone who's 5% slower but 10% better at his actual skills.  Effectively, fitness only matters when skill is roughly equal or there's such a massive gap in fitness (a 400 lb man who can't run 10 feet is going to lose to an NBA player even if he can make 99.9% of his free throws).

3, if you play basketball while starting in less than tip-top shape, you'll become more fit over time simply by playing without focusing on it specifically.  This is gear progression.

Being able to use gear for anything outside of raids is a side benefit -- the main purpose is to allow progression over time for raiding groups rather than have to explicitly nerf content or start it out incredibly easy.
I prefer content that challenges me as a player as opposed to my character as "properly geared." exactly what raiding is.  Why do you think world first guilds kill a boss with far, far worse gear than most?  Because they're much better and the content is beatable at that point -- but most people aren't good enough to do it.  Therefore, to compensate for not being as good Blizzard lets people slowly get stronger with gear each week in addition to them practicing and becoming better.  This allows less skilled groups to kill bosses by putting in the effort of reclearing if they find a boss too difficult to beat with their lesser skill level.

Basically, it's "If you're good enough, you can kill the boss.  If you're not, then you can get a bit more gear each week and eventually kill the boss."  I promise you that you will never find a situation where you cannot beat the boss with skill unless you fall into one of two categories:

1, you're a world first raiding and literally doing 10-20% less output than the designers tuned for because your gear is so bad (due to spending 50+ hours the first week progressing through bosses and thus reaching the final boss after the first week instead of after a few months as intended).  This is not an issue for 99.9% of players.

2, you try to jump into the final tier of content right away or something.  This is like being that 400 lb man and challenging the NBA player.  You might be better at free throws but you're still going to lose.  You need to work at getting in shape first -- which, if you've been raiding the whole expansion, you already ARE because you have the gear from raiding during the previous tier.  So this is only an issue for people who come in at the end of an expansion or something and try to skip to the end.

In short, if you're raiding normally, you will never find a situation where you can't beat a boss with skill.  You will never need more gear.  Gear will HELP but that's its purpose -- to nerf the content if you don't have the skill.
 It bothered me (and others I have spoken with) that so much time and effort was spent on TBC raid content that so few people saw because it was hidden behind gear gates and other barriers. Blizzard has acted to change that in subsequent ex-pacs with Flex and LFR, and that is a great thing.
Sure, the TBC model had a lot of flaws and neither Stubborn nor I are defending it.  Interestingly enough the first effort to make more accessible content was the 10 man normal modes of WotLK.  LFR/Flex sort of came into being because they took 10 man WotLK normals away in Cataclysm when they equalized 10s and 25s.

Also, Stubborn was suggesting that the raids be used while leveling -- he's referring to content from previous expansions, not previous tiers of the current expansion.
Your reasons for being a loot hound don't change the fact that you are one.
I am sorry, but in terms of achievements, I'd rather work slow and steady than pray for just the right combination of numbers in a loot lottery.
I've said it before, but you seem not to be listening: Extrinsic rewards and virtual slot machines are not why I go through a given bit of content. I may sound condescending. I'm not trying to be. If you enjoy end-game raiding in WoW, that is wonderful. I did for a while, but then I realized I didn't, so I stopped.
So...uh...yeah.  You REALLY missed what I was saying about the bosses (as you subsequently noted).  But to make sure we're all on the same page...

I play for killing bosses (not loot), my achievements are bosses dying (not loot), and I enjoy end-game raiding in WoW (not extrinsic rewards or virtual slot machines).  The complete reverse of what you originally said.


This was then followed by the second post linked earlier.

Repeating content over and over for weeks and months—regardless of how easy it became before we moved on to the next challenge—lost its appeal long before I came to the realization that my raid group didn't really need me.
 I think there's two important parts here.

1, the reason you repeat the content each week is to slightly nerf the boss you apparently can't beat yet each week.  Otherwise, from Blizzard's perspective, you'd have killed him (or her) already so you must need help.  They eventually realized that sometimes it was due to people not having the time to do the whole thing in one week and thus started allowing lockout extensions -- meaning you could pick up where you left off last week and could keep working on the boss if you decided you didn't need the loot.

2, there are several reasons you keep raiding once everything is dead.  One, most raiders LIKE raiding inherently.  They enjoy beating the bosses just like you enjoy playing tennis with a friend for the three hundredth time.  Two, many raiders like the social atmosphere of farm content and hanging out with their raid group during a scheduled activity.  Three, groups that stop raiding typically break apart because many people within the group DON'T want to stop and thus they find a new team.  So you keep raiding to preserve the team for the next tier.


There's clearly a lot of misconceptions about raiding out there.  Amusingly enough, many of them are from people who haven't played WoW in a long time (like BC).  I say "amusingly" because gear mattered even less in BC than it does now.

Bosses dropped less gear so the gearing rate was much slower.

Bosses were not tuned to have tight output checks so you could get by without much gear.

The gap between tiers was smaller which meant gear nerfed the content less which, in an interesting way, meant that skill mattered more.  That said, the bosses of BC (or at least the vast majority) were also MUCH easier and required much less skill -- the toughest bosses in history have been (in no particular order) Yogg+0, Lich King, Ragnaros (Firelands), Lei Shen, and potentially Garrosh.

That's not to say there weren't hard bosses in BC -- but they weren't nearly as hard.  No, not even M'uru.

So, in that sense, gear matters less now because it's far more about skill.  I think I discovered a paradox or something.

But the bottom line is that gear has always mattered very little for good players -- it just came naturally as you killed the bosses.  It only becomes an issue if your group is below the skill level required for the difficulty you are raiding.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Why Have Gear?

There's been some discussion about the role of gear in WoW -- ranging from comments on a post by Stubborn to comments on a post by Rowan to a post by Rowan to a post by Stubborn and beyond!  Whew!  I wanted to take a moment to respond to Rowan's post and comment on some things in Stubborn's post.

First of all, let's establish what we're discussing.  Gear in this context indicates items that increase character power in some fashion that are non-consumable.  A mount is not gear in this sense, neither is a flask.  It's also important that this increase in character power is relevant.  A trinket that decreases damage done by 5% to gain 10% survivability is not something a DPS player will consider worthwhile.  In the current expansion of MoP, a DPS player would also not be very interested in a trinket that increases damage dealt to undead in raids by 10% -- because there are no relevant undead enemies in raids (specifying "in raids" to avoid people from pointing out something like Scholomance or Scarlet Monastery).

Note: I'm sure some people can think of some creative exceptions to the above.  We're speaking in general principles here, though.

The Gearing Cycle
WoW's had a pretty consistent gearing cycle for a while.  You kill bosses in a raid tier each week and receive items each week.  Then a new tier comes out with better gear and harder bosses and you repeat the same process except in the new tier.  And so on.

What this ultimately means is that gear is extremely temporary -- it is unlikely you'll use any given piece for more than one raid tier (about 6-7 months).  It is intended you replace your leveling greens with dungeons blues.  Which you then replace with t14 epics.  Which you then replace with ToT epics.  Which you then replace with SoO epics.  You can change the name of the expansion and the name of the raids but it stays pretty much the same.

Clearly, then, gear is not some kind of long term reward.  No one sits there and says "Yeah, look at this ring I won from Black Temple in BC, I'm still using it today!"  We only care about past gear for looks (for transmog) and sometimes for things like challenge mode scaling.  Gear is only relevant within its own tier and part of the next tier.

Caring about last tier's gear is like being a reverse hipster:

The Nerfing Cycle
So what's the point of all this gear?  We're just going to replace it a few months down the line, right?  Absolutely.  Therefore, whether the gear is 3 ilvls higher versus 30 ilvls higher doesn't matter all that much, right?  As long as people view it as an upgrade it's fine, right?  Wrong.

The main point of gear within a raid tier is to allow progression without increasing skill.  It means that if you kill farm bosses each week, your raid gets items that increases the power of the group and makes it easier to kill future bosses.  Hitting enrage on Malkorok at 5%?  Get a few more ilvls during the next few weeks and you'll be able to beat him.

Now, could your raid group improve in small ways without getting better gear and thus beat the boss with the same ilvl?  Sure.  But that's harder to do for some than others and the skill range of WoW players is vast.  Making bosses easier over time by giving gear for killing other bosses means people who can beat bosses with a lower ilvl will do so and less skilled groups will need to invest the time into weekly clears to get the necessary gear.

This is why the ilvl difference from t14 to t15 was 26 instead of 19 and why the difference from t15 to t16 is 31.  Blizzard is trying to put even more emphasis on this "nerfing cycle:" if your group is struggling on a boss, keep working at it and keep reclearing each week and eventually you should get it.  Going from full 522 to full 553 (or 530 to 561 with upgrades) is likely roughly a 45-60% increase in character strength.

You may also note that Blizzard has been increasing this power difference for normals (19 ilvl gap to 31 ilvl gap) while keeping it the same for heroic content (13 ilvls) -- because Blizzard is primarily concerned with making sure groups can progress through normal modes.  Heroics are a select audience and thus we get less help from Blizzard (and we tend to want less help too).

Of course, this breaks down in LFR since there's no progress week to week and the determination buff means you're guaranteed to win eventually anyway.

Becoming Obsolete
Stubborn made a point in his post that I want to highlight:
Stubborn wrote...

From a design standpoint, it’s necessary to obsolete content for two reasons, both of which mostly relate to hardcore players....Secondly, it allows those same hardcore raiders the chance to not play every hour of every day. If even a full expansion pack of content is “relevant,” it’s going to encourage hardcore players to do all of it all the time, which will undoubtedly burn them out more quickly.

So gear obsoletes content both as a marker – “this gear is beneath what you now need, so stop raiding here” – and as an decrease of difficulty – “This content is no longer challenging due to your gear, so it’s time to move on.”
Or, in other words, the increased item power in Siege compared to Throne means you don't get an advantage by farming Heroic Throne while working on Heroic Siege.  Doing Gruul's every week for that stupid DST was not fun.

So gear both acts as a way to nerf content within a tier as well as signal when a tier is no longer supposed to be relevant for your progression.

Answering Rowan
As a warning, I'll be quoting larger chunks of text here to give some context from Rowan's post that I linked earlier so people understand the context.
Rowan wrote...
Jeromai had brought up ArenaNet's personal reward system wherein each individual player gets a private reward for killing a boss. This works out generally well in Guild Wars, where "grouping" is often no more formal than standing next to someone and shooting at the same thing they are. We won't go into here how the lack of competition for resources and kills creates a friendlier player atmosphere in the game, in my opinion.

Needless to say, I agree with Jeromai's assessment. However, Balkoth begs to differ, because it "eliminates part of the raiding meta-game."
Except we're talking about a social group, right? Where you know what gear others have? And can see that some of their gear has changed? . . . You will remember what your guildmates have, though (especially if you notice that they recently obtained an item you want).
There is only a certain subset of player who care enough about the gear of others to bother to inspect them. Even in my closest Guild groups, I think I can count on my fingers and toes the total number of times I have inspected someone's gear with more than mild interest in a given piece of gear. In seven years of MMO gaming. And to know whether it's changed since the last time I looked? Not a chance.
While it's true that "There is only a certain subset of player who care enough about the gear of others to bother to inspect them," that subset in WoW consists of most normal and heroic raiders -- and we're talking about normal and heroic raiding in WoW!  This is doubly true for something like a rare trinket or weapon that tends to be coveted.

People like to compare their gear to others and see who has what items and how those items are gemmed/enchanted/reforged/etc -- especially those of the same class and/or similar gear.
Rowan wrote...
Balkoth had asked whether I disliked the pace of gearing or the randomness to which I responded, "The Randomness."
So let's say the current averages you at 0.5 items per boss killed and you will, on average, get your ideal set in 50 boss kills. Would you prefer a system where each time you kill a boss you get 0.1 items and you're guaranteed to get your ideal set in 250 kills? You'd always make progress toward your goal...but you'd make it more slowly.
I'll ignore the fact that Balkoth changes the rate of progress between his two scenarios and go with the faulty reasoning of the "average."
Why would you ignore it?  That seems to indicate there's a problem with making them different and there absolutely is not.  To see why, you need to realize that in the first example only 50% of people would have their ideal set within 50 boss kills.  Guaranteeing that everyone will have their ideal loot in 50 kills is in fact speeding up the process for 50% of the population.  This is why something that is guaranteed will always be set up to take longer than something that is random -- precisely because it is guaranteed and you can't ever be in the situation of chasing the last few elusive drops.
This isn't even getting into the lack of excitement in a non-random system or the fact it creates a clearly optimal way to pick up pieces of gear or any other issues.
Rowan wrote...
The assumption here is that by the end of the killing the ten zhevras, the player will have the hoof. The problem is that each kill resets the dice roll. The player's chances of getting the hoof are no better on the tenth zhevra than they were on the first. A certain percentage of players will get the hoof on their first kill and a certain percentage of players will not get a hoof within ten kills, therefore having to wait for the respawn. In fact, it's within the realm of possibility (though highly unlikely) that a player will never get that hoof. (Just for journalistic integrity: the actual drop rate for Zhevra hooves is about 31%, overall). The article proposed a way of increasing the drop rate based on the number of kills already done, but it hasn't been implemented in any game that I aware of.
I know a game that implemented it -- not very well known game, called World of Warcraft.

Blizzard has in fact fiddled with the numbers behind the scene to make a drop more and more likely the longer you go without one -- whether it's collecting one Zhevra hoof or ten bear claws or fifty tiger teeth.  They've done something similar with LFR/Flex/Coin loot where you have an increased chance to win something each time you don't win something from a boss.
Rowan wrote...
It's entirely possible that some players would never complete the set in any number of boss-kills, certainly not within a reasonable number like 150. And the Game devs, with every new raid tier and every expansion, slide the goalposts further back, meaning this patch's ideal set will be next patch's vendor trash, at least for those hard-core souls on the bleeding edge of content.
I think what you're missing here is that having people complete the set is not the goal of the loot system.  The goal of the loot system is to nerf the content over its lifespan in an interesting fashion -- which it why it gets "reset" each new tier.  Viewing your "ideal" gearset as a goalpost is a problem because it ultimately doesn't matter that you complete the set in the first place!  Even if you did, it would stop being the ideal set a few weeks later with the release of a new tier.  Take the gear as it comes and use it to help beat new bosses -- don't collect gear for gear's sake.
Rowan wrote...
How many players like me have decided the loot is just not worth the time and effort? The grind through the first four or five bosses to get to the next one, to bash our collective heads against it until it's down, to get it eventually "on farm" and move on to the next because we're finally all geared up enough is simply not interesting enough, in and of itself, and then the rate of extrinsic reward is pathetic as well. In the case of WoW, the gold sinks of repairs and such were so onerous they had to create dailies, just so people could make the gold they needed to be able to continue raiding.
The loot certainly isn't worth the time and effort -- beating the bosses is worth the time and effort.  The underlined bit is my own doing and I'm pointing it out simply because it's incorrect.  If you kill a boss in a raid, I promise you that outside of world first guilds you have plenty of gear to beat the next boss.  You should be *immediately* moving on to the next boss (since the raids reset weekly, anyway, and this is precisely WHY raids reset weekly) and working on that.  If you're struggling on the new boss and don't get it down (which will be due to execution/strategy/skill issues and not gear), next week you'll be able to get some more gear to help and then keep working on it (or even just extend the lockout and keep working on it without any new gear in some cases).

I'll also point out that even if you somehow did hit a legitimate gear check that your raid failed (extraordinarily unlikely), you'd have the gear in a week or two of farming -- it doesn't take months or something.

Finally, they didn't invent dailies because of repair costs -- they easily could have reduced repair costs.  Ditto for potion/flask/enchant/etc costs -- could have made the materials more freely available and/or require less of them.  Dailies honestly mostly came into being for people getting mount training, which was considered to be major gold sink in BC.  It gave people who were bad at farming items and then selling them on the AH an alternative way to make gold.
Rowan wrote...
Yes, people will argue that the RNG of loot drops is what makes killing a boss exciting, but after killing a boss for the 20th time and still not seeing that sword you want, I don't think it's really excitement that you're describing.
~Dan Sz, Altoholism, "The Problem with Boss Loot"
Yet somehow being told that "You can't get a sword until you kill this boss 15 times" is more exciting?  I mean, Dan Sz. is complaining about outliers of RNG, not RNG itself.  This is especially true in multiplayer games -- otherwise you get the situation in a token system where NO ONE gets an item for like 5 raids or something (if we assume the tokens are boss specific) or you get a situation (if tokens are universal to the tier) where everyone has a weapon after the first week, everyone has a trinket after the second week, and so on with everyone picking the best items first.  Isn't that rather boring to see everyone getting the same types of item at the same time?
Rowan wrote...
Execution is a different story, and folks going in blind will have to the learn the fights "the hard way." In all honesty, I prefer this method, because there is an element of surprise and excitement to the dungeon. But hard-charging loot hounds would rather get it done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Make no mistake, I love experiencing new dungeon mechanics, and mastering them. But then I want to move on. I want the challenges to be skill-based, not gear-based.
Except in WoW raiding, "the hard way" (going in blind) is often pretty simple.  I mean, we talked about the specific example of Jin'rohk's lightning orbs.  You'll see that they happen on the first pull.  Great.  Now you actually have to practice executing it.  Advantage of person reading a guide: 1 pull.

This gap obvious widens for a longer and more complex fight but it is still heavily slanted toward the execution side, probably at least a 80-90% on the execution side.  Paragon didn't wipe 600+ times on 10H Garrosh because they were confused about what was going on (especially with the hidden heroic-only phase 4), they wiped because it was incredibly difficult to execute.

I also don't understand why you're using the phrase "hard-charging loot hounds" -- people want to kill the fights faster because they're in competition with other guilds for rankings, prestige, and recruits.  Not reading a guide is like not using a flask -- you're intentionally handicapping yourself compared to your competition.  The race is to beat the bosses first -- gear only matters to the degree that it assists in that competition.

Which, incidentally, is why I find your last comment extremely amusing.  Unless you do something like walk into heroic Siege of Orgrimmar with a fresh 90 or literally do nothing but extend lockouts, every challenge you face is going to be skill-based.  You'll get enough gear naturally by reclearing to beat every boss you come across without having to specifically farm gear.  Gear is simply a way to make the content easier should you choose to accept the help from Blizzard.

Paragon killed 10H Garrosh in basically 25% heroic SoO gear.  Most guilds killing him will do so with 90% heroic SoO gear -- because they're not as good as Paragon (and/or don't want to wipe the same number of times perfecting the execution).
Rowan wrote...
Think about this the next time you see some player character in truly Epic Pixels strutting their stuff in Orgrimmar, Destiny's Reach, or Meridian: despite what may be months or even years of raiding, learning strategies and tactics for epic battles against nigh invincible foes, everything they're wearing boils down to good luck on some random dice rolls.
I will strongly disagree with this -- especially since Cataclysm where WoW has been throwing gear at players.  If they've spent months of raiding and beaten nigh invincible foes in epic battles, it would in fact be absolutely horrible and terrible luck on random dice rolls for them NOT to have a good chunk of truly Epic Pixels.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I Think I'm in Love With 5.4

I suppose there are worse things to say than "Sorry for not posting much, but my free time is limited and I decided to play WoW instead of writing about WoW lately."  I've really been enjoying 5.4 so far.

Timeless Isle
I've been having fun here for several reasons (and I am glad I do not play on a PvP server right now).

One, with the exception of Golganarr/Rattleskew, I can go there whenever I want.  Rares spawn every 30-60 minutes so it's reasonable to make sure I kill a particular rare at least once in a smaller amount of time.  In addition, I don't "fall behind" by missing a given rare spawn and I can choose to invest a ton of time in a single day if I want to do so  -- as opposed to dailies where missing a day meant you fell behind and you were limited in what you could do in a given day.

Two, I didn't need many upgrades and the ones I did need were either so rare as to not be worth pursuing (a specific 535 ring with haste/something) or were guaranteed (535 trinket).  I could get them at my own pace and they were reasonable.  The "crazy" grinds are simply for vanity stuff.

Three, my gear pays off.  Unlike dailies, where the "reward" for better gear was being able to do them a few minutes faster, I can plow through elites with my gear that most people can't.  I actually get a payoff from my heroic gear that is substantial (especially for the Shaohao grind).

Four, the mobs are more interesting -- they usually actually have abilities to avoid or interact with in some way and having other players around is (usually) a good thing rather than competition for your quest targets.  It's a much better set-up.

That said, while I lucked out on Rattleskew (about a 12 hour respawn I hear), getting Golganarr for my Timeless Champion achievement was awful because he spawns every 12-48 hours or something.  I'm not saying that mobs with rare vanity items with long respawn timers is a bad thing.  I'm saying that putting it on the same achievement where 95% of the creatures are a 30-60 minute respawn is a bad thing.  Give them a separate achievement if needed.

Lesser Charms
I had like 15 Lesser Charms for the patch.  I now have like 2500+.  Playing on the Timeless Isle and killing rares/elites simply throws charms at you like crazy -- WHICH IS A GOOD THING.  Especially when you can farm charms faster with better gear and/or in a group.  This is SO MUCH NICER than 5.0-5.3 where I needed to do the same dailies each day to be reasonably efficient (Golden Lotus or Thunder Isle) and which also had a limit for how much I could get each day.  Sure, I had like 1100 when I finished the initial rep grinds in 5.0, but that was only like 12 weeks of raiding back when it cost 90 charms each instead of 50.

Hell, they could go back to 90 charms each week now and it would be fine.

If anything, I wish we could turn them in for Lesser Charms and/or Mogu Runes now, since otherwise I can't spend them at all.

Flex Raiding
Flex raiding is fun.  It's actual raiding.  What do I mean by that?

1, you have to work together
2, there are social consequences for failure/poor behavior
3, the boss doesn't simply give up if you get determined enough

If you ignore what the raid leader says in Flex (like "DON'T ATTACK NAZGRIM IN DEFENSIVE STANCE") you're gone.  If you pull 30k DPS, you're gone.  If you stand in bad stuff on Dark Shaman, you're gone.

Sure, it's easier than normal.  But LFR being easy isn't why it's a complete cesspool -- it's the lack of accountability and no incentive to help others.  I still don't like that I am obliged to run Flex on my main (nearly 2000 DPS upgrade going from Heroic Lei Shen trinket to Flex Immerseus trinket) but at least it's *fun* rather than me wanting to punch people through my computer screen.  I don't care if you take a tick of avoidable AoE or do 80k DPS instead of the 100k you should be doing.  I do care if you stand in the AoE and yell for the healers to keep you up while dealing 30k DPS.

Done Flex with several alts at this point with good success on all of them, even with some wipes.  And people are actually constructive after a wipe BECAUSE IT'S A SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT WITH CONSEQUENCES AND ACCOUNTABILITY.  Can we just add in an cross-realm lobby for group finding and remove LFR already?

Hell, I've even done some Flex bosses multiple times in a single week simply because it was actually enjoyable being in there.  Also managed to drag some fellow bloggers into some groups with me, which was fun (even though I may have come up with some...unusual...guilt tripping methods to do so).

Siege of Orgrimmar
Generally a fun raid so far.  Rather long and concerned that we're going to need to do a lot of lockout extensions as we get further into heroics (killed the first three last week, hopefully another three this week), but the fights have been enjoyable (even though Thok's screech can go die in a fire -- LET'S SPAM SHADOW WORD: PAIN!).

Definitely something that feels more "accessible" than Throne of Thunder with eight "gimme" bosses, then two slightly harder bosses, and then four relatively difficult bosses.  Probably will work out better for PUGs as well.

P.S. I *would* like to request at least a normal weapon in the near future.  Thanks!