Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Old-time raiding

My guild has a levelling group, doing Burning Crusade raids. We've been seeing dungeons at the appropriate level, and now we're at level 70, we've finished all the Burning Crusade HC dungeons, and started the BC raids, even though we're struggling to get a full team. We did Karazhan last week. I think we'd all seen that raid already, soloing it on our 90s for transmogrification gear at some time or other. But of course level 90s cut through these bosses like a hot knife through butter, usually totalling the bosses before they get a chance to show all their abilities. So we were excited to be doing it at level 70, to see it as it was originally meant to be seen.

Only trouble was, we couldn't muster more than seven or eight people. Karazhan, as you need not be told, is a ten-man raid. We gave it a go, anyway, and did better than we expected. Sure, we had a few wipes as we figured out tactics, but really, we were never blocked. We managed to get to the end of the instance in two nights (each of which included an awful lot of running about, lost, trying to find where our corpses were, or where the next encounter was). Finally we killed Prince Malchezaar (and his beautiful bow dropped). It seemed a little too easy, since we were seven at the time, but I put it down to our gear, which included some Northrend pieces and some heirloom pieces. Anyway, we had a great time.

To round off the evening, we thought we'd just quickly head over to Magtheridon's Lair, to get a foretaste of the problems we'd have in a 25-man raid. Not too bad, we survived the trash, and managed to get it all down, even though we were still only eight. Then onto the boss. A couple of wipes there, but then we found a strategy that worked, and we managed to kill Magtheridon! Well, that was definitely challenging. But really, it should have been impossible. Eight level 70s managed to get down Magtheridon? That's more than just better gear. What's going on?

My first thought is that Magtheridon has been nerfed horribly since his heyday. But then I noticed an article on the blog I like Pancakes wherein Saxsymage remembered that 400 DPS used to be common for level 70s, and she had 700 DPS in Karazhan back in the day. Our top level 70 damage-dealer had over 3000 DPS last week in Karazhan and Magtheridon's Lair. Sure, Magtheridon may have been nerfed, but the real nerf to content has been the buff to player stats.

This is something I hadn't really paid much attention to, before. Sure, I knew that new players were now complaining about the trivial nature of many quests. I put that down to an XP buff, not a stat buff. People were outlevelling zones before they'd finished all the quests in them; and out of a desire to finish a quest-line once they'd started, they'd find themselves doing trivial grey quests, just to see the story to its end.  In other words, they're doing quests designed for, say, level 70 characters, but by the time they do them, they're level 72 or 73. But that isn't the case with Magtheridon. He was originally designed as a challenge for 25 level 70s, and can be defeated by eight of them now.

Yesterday, though, we tried Gruul's Lair, and had our asses handed to us.


  1. I don't think it's a stat buff, I think the heirlooms are still scaled to be roughly equivalent to the best blue-quality item available at that level... which should put them close to on par with the items dropping from the raids you're doing (I've occasionally come across a dungeon blue that's BETTER than an heirloom I'm running). If you're using Wrath greens, though, rather than BC greens, there will be significant stat inflation from those.

    What's changing is the rotations and class abilities themselves. We tend to get abilities earlier now than we used to (my feeling, anyway) and due to the removal of ranks and various other tweaks the ones we have tend to hit a LOT harder now than they did back in the day. I think they've also been scaled to hit harder at lower levels.

    My earliest useful comparison is Wrath 5-man heroics with the incredible influx of Death Knights who were coming in after just hitting 80... the criteria I used for a DK who was performing adequately was 1K dps (obviously, good ones could do more). Under 1K dps meant the player wasn't performing. That was generally in line with other classes but DKs were the ones I most often saw UNDER that line. Back when you couldn't just queue up for a run, weeding out the DKs doing 300dps was somewhat necessary, especially in the early weeks before heroics became zerg timed runs.

    So, we're talking someone at L80, having geared up a bit, running a heroic 5-man, doing an acceptable 1K dps.

    These days, my average toon is doing over 1K dps by level 72 in mis-matched quest greens (some probably from pre-60), in heirlooms it'd probably be closer to 1.5K or 2K (or more, as your 3K L70 indicates). 4K at 80 isn't unusual.

    And that's compared to how things were in Wrath... a 2-4x performance increase at the same level in similar or worse gear. Comparing to BC-era content it's probably even higher than that. Maybe 5-6x the performance with the same gear. So, yeah, an 8-man raid should be able to do 25-man content with a bit of effort but a 40-man raid would be challenging since that would actually be at the razor's edge from a performance standpoint and might not be supportable due to mechanics (a mechanic that takes out 4 players in a 40-man is 10% of the raid, with an 8-man it's 50%).

    Might be possible to 12- or 15-man a 40-man at level, though, if the mechanics support it.

  2. Yeah, I was able to solo Maggy on 25-man with my L90 Rogue. Given that Rogues are the bottom of the barrel in Mists, I figured I'd have a bit of difficulty soloing it, but as long as I kept the self-heal going I'd probably be okay. I hadn't expected that it would be that easy, however.

    This kind of highlights the long term issue with changing the classes as much as Blizz has: the power curves for each class are all out of whack at lower levels.

  3. Thanks, R. For reference, this armory link is to one of the the tanks for our run through Karazhan and Magtheridon's Lair: Maolrua

    As you can see, he isn't wearing any heirlooms (I'm so mean to him), but he does have a main-hand weapon (a dagger!) and a chest-piece from Northrend, and several cobalt bits he made himself, with a higher blacksmithing skill than he could have achieved back in the day. On the other hand, he can't acquire any of the armorsmith weapons that were once de rigeur for BC raiding (such as Blazefury), which Blizzard inadvertantly removed when they removed armorsmith specializations.

    Anyway, he's quite well armoured, gemmed and enchanted: but not twice or thrice as well as a typical BC raider, yet 8 of us managed to down those bosses (though the top DPS by far was fully heirloomed).

    I take your point, R, that it must be changes to rotations, abilities and scaling that have caused these improvements, and not only stats. Whatever it is, I think, Redbeard, that you're right: the power curves are out of whack! In fact, I already knew this, but had forgotten it: I was in Icecrown Citadel a year ago, in the company of a level 80 mage who was able to out-DPS me there by stacking mastery until it was coming out her ears!

  4. Don't forged this too; back then there was no Mastery, and no Haste, and as far as I can remember, no-one had self-heals, except healers of course.

    Magtheridon: the trash was absolutely brutal when we first went there. This was in the days of resistances - if you didn't have Shadow-resist gear, those Shadowbolt volleys absolutely cut you to ribbons. As for the boss himself, if you didn't time your cube clicks to perfection, you wiped, simple as that.

    Karazhan: to get there you needed to be attuned. To be attuned you needed to go to places like Shadowlabs, Shattered Halls and the Dark Portal which were again extremely tough places to go to. After that, well the trash in Kara was again completely unlike today's 'round them up and aoe them down' fodder.
    For example the 3 ghosts at the top of the stairs from Moroes place (now only 2 it seems but anyway). You needed a tank to tank one each, and that left a third, which had to be Shackled by a Priest, or it would just wipe the raid. This was in the days that if a tank was stunned, a mob would absolutely one-shot any dps it could get to, rather than stay on the tank as they do now. CC was a major facotr in dealing with trash back then, and these days it just isn't.

    1. Very true, Vlad. Nowadays nobody has shadow-resist gear at level 70, but our higher damage and healing output seems to make the difference. As for the Manticron cubes, well...they're no longer there.