We begin this week with a couple of posts focusing on endgame raiding. First up for debate: Should loot tables for 10-man raids remain superior to loot tables for the 25-man versions?
"You are missing the most obvious compromise between both positions," writes Nikkodemus. "That is to say, make 10-man raiding provide a limited selection of BiS (Best in Slot) gear. This would let 10-man-only casuals get something that is BiS and give 25-man raiders an incentive to do both. Alternatively, bring in some kind of hard mode based on casual questing. For example, I was a casual in vanilla WoW, and frankly, the quests for Tier 0.5 to upgrade the blue dungeon set into dungeon set 2 were pretty tough. Why abandon that line of thought?"
"I am a 10-man raider, because my guild simply does not have the people for 25-man content," adds Robert. "I would be fine with having two separate but equal progressions, with 10-mans one tier lower -- but that's not how it is working out. I think it is highly unfair that while I am raiding Ulduar, I cannot buy Ulduar gear with my badges, only Naxx25 gear. That makes no sense to me.
"I still think that if they awarded the same loot but 25-mans provided MORE loot (above the increase granted by having more people), then people would still do 25-mans because they would have a better shot at more gear."
"... I don't know why you're so focused on the actual item levels," interjects AShadowPriest . "You're complaining about your badge upgrades being six item levels lower than the gear that drops in the instance you're progressing in. Would you rather you find that the boss you just killed after a week of wipes dropped sidegrade or even inferior quality gear to the gear you just purchased with badges? I wouldn't. Boss loot is supposed to be superior, to reward the raid for progressing. If anything, it's the 25-man raiders who get boned with the badge loot this time around, as it's all sidegrades from normal-mode 25-man boss drops.
"Besides, if your guild is progression-oriented, you should be getting Conquest badges from the 10-man hard modes anyway. It's only a matter of time before you get Ulduar on farm and eventually the hard modes as well. Enjoy rolling around in 25-man badge gear in your 10-man guild.
"What was the problem here again?"
||Is Ulduar too easy?
Next up on the raiding debate menu: What do players think of Ulduar tuning? Too hard and in need of more nerfs and tuning – or too easy?
"... I honestly don't think Blizzard can make the content any harder on normal mode," says Julie. "Because if they do, they are risking resetting things to how they were before (ie. only top guilds will see the content). The way things are right now, I can almost guarantee you a big chunk (maybe 20-50%) of the people who cleared Naxx will not clear Ulduar.
"I actually think the encounters are a little too hard for casual players. That's not QQ, that's just an observation. If you're not in a set group with the right composition, then basically you are having to adjust the fight every time you do it because the people/classes are different. That is much harder to coordinate than having the same group that always runs together. So any fight that requires precise coordination, is already going to be harder on the casual player. And that's what 'normal' mode should be, i.e. casual."
"My guild is in the same category as Julia's," adds ChiperSoft, "casual players, some better skilled then others. Our GM picked the best players in the guild for the Ulduar-10 group, and they just this past weekend finally got to the antechamber. We've had to re-prioritize gear distribution in the Naxx-25 run to make sure our best players are well equipped.
"Memzer says that 'most' guilds are working on Yogg-Saron. On my realm (Khaz Modan-US), no one has even SEEN Yogg-Saron. There is only one guild that has defeated all the Keepers on 25-man and only a handful that have accomplished it on 10-man. And these are guilds much more hardcore then we are, guilds that regularly kill Sarth 3D.
"The difficulty is right where it needs to be. Let it be."
||The state of the Horde and the Alliance
Another topic to hit the chopping block of debate this week was lore – in the first instance, the state of the Horde/Alliance relationship. "It's about time we had somebody like Varian," claims Narakku. "It's one thing to work together toward some common goal, but let's not forget that the Horde has savaged not only Azeroth but Draenor as well. I say it's fine to put off the cleansing, but payment is going to have to come some day. The Forsaken and Orcs at least have to be put down. They are a danger, and the Alliance should not forgive what they have both done.
"I think Garrosh only proves what the Horde is, and the Forsaken want nothing better to wipe all living off the face of Azeroth. We might not be pure as driven snow, but neither did we try to commit genocide -- and we, frankly, were here first. It was the Horde who started this fight, not the Alliance. If Varian goes up against the Horde, then he will have my mace and shield.
"P.S. That whiny sympathizer Jaina has her day coming. She messed up a perfectly good chance to retake Lordaeron. I doubt she even considers herself Alliance anymore."
"Narakku, your honesty is refreshing and appreciated," replies dpoyesac. "To my fellow Horde: this is exactly why I'm thinking Thrall has to go ... and we loyal Horde ought to install Garosh as top dog.
"Thrall and Jaina and their bleeding-heart commitment to 'peace' are commendable, but how can there ever be 'peace' with people like Narakku? How can we justify putting the future of the young orclings and Troll-pups at risk in the pursuit of a shiny tantalizing pipe-dream when warmongers like Narakku won't be satisfied until they've spilt rivers of blood? We Horde have to defend our way of life! And if the only way to do it is to raze Stormwind AGAIN, then that's what the Horde will do!
"(I'm really hoping the next expansion is full-on, complete Horde/Allaince WAR across a new, phased version of Azeroth.)"
||Varian Wrynn is right
The debate about Varian Wrynn continued on this post. Kylenne jumps right in: "@ Alc: Good kings don't escalate a conflict with a crucial ally at the doorstep of a mutual foe, particularly when said foe has the ability to raise your dead as cannon fodder to then be used against you. Good kings are not ruled by their emotions. They calm the hell down and wait for all the facts to come in on a given situation before flying off half-cocked on some vigilante mission like this is an episode of the A-Team. Good kings think before they act, something that would probably give Varian an aneurysm.
"Varian was so blinded by his CAPS LOCK OF RAGE that he apparently missed the fact that half the corpses on the ground at the Wrathgate were wearing Horde colors, and that while he lost Fordragon, we lost the son of one of our most cherished leaders. Obviously something was amiss, there, and if Captain Emo was remotely paying attention to what was going on -- or, hell, listening to Jaina and probably Alexstrasza, too -- he would have seen that. Hell, if Varian was at all smart, he'd have been fighting Varimathras in the Undercity alongside those 'green skins' instead of showing up a day late and a dollar short and jumping to conclusions, his favorite past-time.
"This guy is going to get half the Alliance killed and the other half doing the Thriller dance in front of Icecrown if he keeps this up, mark my words. If I still played Alliance, I would not be trying to prop him up; I'd be looking for any way possible to get rid of him and set up Jaina as Regent Lord or something."
Gannar despairs over the entire post: "No, damn you, Daniel! Your entire argument has made me lose the will to play Horde; I can't play a faction that is proven to be bad! I liked the 'blood and honor' ideals, but I always thought that, in the end, the Alliance was as good/bad as the Horde (and that Varian was a jerk).
"Now I can't pick up my Horde chars (and I find all the Alliance races' models hideous -_-). I would've preferred to remain an ignorant T.T."
||The Martin Fury scandal: Karatechop replies
And finally, we bring you a reply to our exclusive interview on the Martin Fury scandal from the player at its epicenter, Karatechop himself.
"First off, I would like to apologize if any of this is incoherent," he writes. "I've been writing it for about 30 minutes now and my head is spinning.
"What do you want to know? Where is anything I have said inconsistent? I never claimed it was sent to Leroy as any kind of thank you, rather we thought it was sent to him as a 'We are sorry for your account issues we ignored for four months.' Leroy admitted that he thought it was a mistake, to which I responded how the hell could someone make that kind of mistake? Then we justified it due to the limited charges on the item and Blizzard's neglect of Leroy's account for over four months.
"Granted, in hindsight, any of these justifications were apparently extremely naïve, according to a lot of people here. And to the comments of the 14 times we used it, I would've used it 100 times as those were the number of charges the item had. IF a GM had contacted me at anytime in the game or even via email and said 'WTF are you doin'?', I would've promptly cooperated with them, as I am still willing to do so. But I didn't honestly think it was something that was so far from believable, I never thought to open a ticket and obviously didn't think about being banned. I seriously justified this as customer service.
"In the aftermath of all this, I even tried to call Blizzard on Tuesday of this week, to offer my help with the investigation so that my guildies who weren't involved in this 'scandal' would stop being punished as well by Blizzard's blanket ban. But you can't speak to anyone except for Billing at Blizzard, and so I spoke to several people in Billing for a long time. Very nice people, too, I might add. But they couldn't help me.
"So I had to wait for email responses from people with names like Absinia, Tokimanthu and Sycronis who were not so nice or understanding. They have snippets of conversations from private and party chat, but this reflects at best half the conversations we were having at the time, as most of my guild's communication was done on Vent. And if you read those snippets, it does seem pretty dastardly. But the rationale on Vent was always Blizzard sent this item to him. Period. They sent it to him.
"And as for punishment for me, I think a perma-ban is a bit over the top. I've been told by Blizzard that 'This account will not be reactivated under any circumstances. We hope this has cleared up any concerns you may have had and expect no further communication on this matter.' So I guess that's that. But I wouldn't have skipped a beat if all of my achievements and gear even the ones I came by legitimately were stripped and I logged in as a naked Gnome (no one wants to see a naked Gnome, mind you). Because it was an awesome story. And I did love this game.
"We never meant to upset people, anyone, by personal gain of loot or achievements. That's never how TMF rolled. It was simply a ridiculous amount of fun. That's all.
"I cheated. I know this. The item said 'Cheater.' I justified it, to be sure, and it was an easy thing to find justification for.
"But I did learn some things:
"1. If something is too good to be true and you use that something to its fullest potential, then you might get perma-banned for it.
"2. If you are given power by those who have the ability to give you power and you share that power with your guildmates, then you might get people in your guild banned who had nothing to do with any of it. (Granted, I think most of them have been reinstated now.)
"3. Don't trust anything that shows up in the mailbox. I'm going to very skeptical about my cable bill this month. Surely Comcast is going to trick me with something.
"I didn't hack anything. We stumbled upon it, and to be sure, it was as if Blizzard had given us the 'Sword of a Thousand Truths.' And sure at times during the eight days, EIGHT DAYS, it was in my possession, I was uncomfortable. But I never thought I needed to hide anything from Blizzard. I wore the shirt as I logged out, which is why this story broke at all, because people would be able to find out what it was on the Armory by the item ID. Never thinking once that there was a reason to hide it, I just left it on.
"I was not forthcoming with my guild, because we had picked up a lot of newer people and we were already having a bunch of 'I just joined yesterday and I'm wearing greens. Why am I not invited to raids?' The only people I asked to keep it from were guildies who I hadn't gotten to know yet.
"And we did do some things that apparently no one else in the world had done. Well, that was a mistake. We never cleared anything; we were just having fun. We never meant to steal glory from anyone else. So, if you take a moment there to see that, the truth as it is, it is pretty plain. Fourteen uses in EIGHT DAYS. Surely we were out to destroy game content and enjoyment for everyone and get the most we could out of this blessing/burden as soon as we got it. Fourteen uses in eight days. Or maybe in eight days of time, we had a little bit of fun on a couple of occasions beyond the tons of fun we would have had on any other week.
"I have also been accused of hacking the game to get my professions to insane levels. This is not true, either. I have no idea why one of my secondary skills was 900. The most I know about computers is some basic -- I'm talking the stone age of HTML. Otherwise, this shiny new computer I bought four weeks ago with an awesome video card so that I could play WoW maxed out for the first time ever (oh, the irony) is little more than an internet box. Well, now that's what it is. But these comments look amazing on this 64-bit box with 6G ram. /cry.
"I'll answer any question anyone has, just make it a recent comment and don't nest it in a reply, because some of those comments are just to painful to read again. I loved this game and I will miss it, but more so, I will miss the friendships I had built over the last four years and the people I respected who helped me learn to be a better player.
"I'm sorry if anyone is truly upset by this, but I feel I'm getting more then my share of ridicule over things that only about 23 other people could even possibly comment on or truly understand. I hope that you people who have insinuated that I'm somehow comparable to a bank robber, a murderer or child molester, never have to struggle with a problem like this. It's easy to say what you might have done without ever having been in this situation. I don't think you are thinking this through; instead, it seems like a lot of reactionary responses. Because that's all any of you can do, is react to what happened to us (receiving Martin Fury), and what we then did with the result of what happened to us (using Martin Fury)."