Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Ring Vendor (On "Optional")

So, are the dailies for Klaxxi/Golden Lotus/August Celestials/Shado-Pan optional?  Is running LFR for upgrades optional?  What do we even mean by optional?

I realize I'm a bit late to the party with this post.  And frankly at this point it doesn't even matter, the damage has been done (for now).  So why write this?  To explain the problem, illustrate the frustration people experienced, and hopefully prevent this situation from happening again.

On a personal note, my guild is currently 6/6H in MSV at the time of this posting and hopefully we'll kill another heroic boss or two by the end of this week (we only raid Sunday/Monday).  My guild did the daily grind, the valor grind, and the conquest grind during the first few weeks (along with gearing up in heroic dungeons, of course).  We hated it, but we gritted our teeth and put up with it.  In other words, this is from the perspective of a person who's been there and done that, not someone sitting at 0/0 neutral Golden Lotus and whining about how things are unfair.

So let's imagine a scenario.  Blizzard has decided that they want to give people an additional gearing option so they create a new vendor in your faction's "capital" in the Vale.  This vendor has 509 rings (which are as a collection unique-equipped) which cost no money, all you have to do is talk to him and get the ring you want (or more than one ring for different roles).

You're estatic, surely this ring will help you down more raid bosses.  It's not an earth-shattering bonus, but it will help.  You show up on raid night and you see that everyone has one of the new rings...except one person.  Surprised, your raid asks the fellow why he doesn't have one of the new rings.  He says "We get gear from raiding and we'll eventually kill the bosses anyway, so getting the ring is optional."

How many of you would accept that answer?  How many would say "Oh, yeah, sure, you having the ring would help us kill bosses faster while we're all relatively undergeared but it is optional, you're totally right."  My guess is none of you.  In fact, you'd probably try to get rid of him and replace him with someone who actually cares about helping the raid succeed.

Now let's throw a wrench in the works.  Suppose the ring costs 100g now.

Most (if not all) of you probably still think he had damn well better have that ring if he wants to be in the raid.

What if it was 500g?  Or 1000g?  Or 5000g?  Or 1,0000g?  Or 50,000g?  Or 100,000g?  Or 500,000g? How about 1,000,000g?

My guess is that somewhere along that line you went from thinking "Yeah, that guy had better have the ring" to "You'd have to be crazy to have that ring."

I'll also guess that the point at which you thought it was worth getting the ring varied among you, that some of you thought it was worth maybe 100g at most, others thought that a 509 ring that didn't cost a capped currency (valor/conquest) or require a raid ID was worth 100,000g, and most of you probably fell in the middle somewhere.

"But Balkoth, what if we're bad at making gold, that's not fair to people who aren't AH barons!"

Okay, for argument's sake, let's change the scenario.

Now, instead of having to pay 100g, you have to kill 10 Mogu in the Vale for a drop (and each Mogu drops only one item, so grouping doesn't really help).

Most (if not all) of you probably still think he had damn well better have that ring if he wants to be in the raid (that's basically one daily quest, after all).

What if it was 50 Mogu?  Or 100 Mogu?  Or 500 Mogu?  Or 1,000 Mogu?  Or 5,000 Mogu?  Or 10,000 Mogu?  Or 50,000 Mogu? How about 100,000 Mogu?

My guess is that somewhere along that line you went from thinking "Yeah, that guy had better have the ring" to "You'd have to be crazy to have that ring."

And again, I'll also guess that people have different opinions on how many Mogu lives that ring is worth.

So what can we conclude from this?

Trying to claim that getting the ring is "optional" is meaningless.  In a sense, it's technically true.  In the same technical sense, using gems is optional.  Enchants are optional.  Using flasks is optional.  And wearing pants is optional (you could technically kill every raid boss without wearing pants eventually).

What we really mean, then, is that guilds have expectations that raiders will do what they can within reason to maximize the likelihood of success in raids.  And as we've seen above, exactly what "within reason" means depends on the guild.

For raiding guilds, this means getting getting items from heroic dungeons.  This means gemming and enchanting the gear.  This means using flasks, food, and potions.  I have never seen a guild that would consider any of this optional.

But there's something important to point out here.  Even this isn't clear-cut: most people, even those who cleared 8/8H Dragon Soul pre-nerf, didn't use epic gems in every slot for every item no matter what.  Most people used lesser enchants at the beginning of Cataclysm because Maelstroms were so expensive.  And if flasks suddenly cost 5000g each for some reason, I doubt we'd see many guilds using them.

Now, in Mists of Pandaria, raiders have additional ways to maximize the likelihood of success in raids.  They can do dailies for reputation for Valor items.  They can PvP for Conquest items that are effectively 483 PvE items for all but tanks.  They do do LFR for items and sigils.  They can get Golden Lotus/Klaxxi exalted for two "free" 489 items (that don't require an RNG drop or a gated currency, i.e. Valor/Conquest).

Guilds serious about progressing quickly in heroic modes consider this all within reason.  Thus, it becomes mandatory, just like gemming/enchanting gear is mandatory.  Just like using flasks/food/potions is mandatory.  Just like wearing pants in the raid is mandatory.

If someone showed up to your raid without pants and claimed wearing pants was "optional," would you accept their reasoning?

One of my next posts will discuss possible solutions to this problem.


  1. Balkoth,
    I think you're in the process of setting up a very interesting research question. Where is that break point in money and kills? Finding the curve where the average opinion changes from "Must" to "Nuts" could provide a lot of really valuable data for developers. For myself, I think paying 1-2k for the ring would be acceptable. I might pay 5 if I really was the only person without the ring. Beyond that, I'd say it's nuts. 100 kills seems to be a good median, too. Put the question out there: to your guild, to your friends, on your server. See what you get.

    Also, do something about the comments needing the captcha (or however you spell it). It drives people nuts!

  2. Didn't even know it was asking for it! Oops. Should be fixed now.

    And yeah, asking people might be an interesting experiment, I'll see what I can throw together for that.

  3. An example of the Rings for Gold was the teleport rings that are for sale in Dalaran. They were useful to upgrade an offset when they were released, but also offered a teleport item. Expensive, but useful.
    As I cam late to raiding I AH farmed and purchased one, right through to fully upgraded. They I purchased a second for my offset.

    Mandatory? No. But yes, it kind of was.

    Everything we can do with easy to moderate effort is mandatory imho.

  4. Excellent example.

    "Everything we can do with easy to moderate effort is mandatory imho."


  5. What is easy to moderate? Blizzard decides that spending time is easy, since the quests are not hard, so it's all optional.

    Love this post, can't wait to see what your next post will bring.