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Rediscovering the discovery factor

Matthew Rossi

One of the aspects of the game that has to some degree been lost is the willingness to spend weeks upon weeks learning a boss fight, especially a boss who ends a dungeon. One of the memories I have of vanilla WoW is the pop in TeamSpeak when we killed Nefarian after nearly a month of working on him. People who didn't even make it into the raid got up and screamed.

One of the reasons it took us so long to do it was because there wasn't really any other way to discover what bosses did besides going in there and dying to him repeatedly. Boss kill vids were in their infancy, and there weren't many places to go to get ideas on how other guilds got past X or Y. Our big stumbling block was the stream of adds before Nefarian landed; we kept trying to tank them, before someone got the bright idea of using warlocks and mages to AOE them in place.

Over the years, the playerbase has built up an impressive array of options for boss fight information. Soon, the Encounter Journal will go one step beyond and incorporate loot drop and boss ability information into the game. It won't tell you how to fight a boss, but it will tell you what the boss can do to you.

In a dark time, the eye begins to see

Not only is this a consequence of a player base that has has almost seven years to develop means of disseminating information about boss strategies and encounters, it leaves the primary reason for those sources of information intact: comparing how others do what you're trying to do.

One of the reasons I like reading what other players have done on a specific fight is comparing raid compositions and considering if those ideas will or won't work for my group. Nothing in my experience has ever replaced the experience of starting an encounter for the first time and getting my face smashed in. Bosses like Atramedes go from OMFG, this is so hard -- how are we ever going to do this? to This is it? as time passes and you learn proper kiting and gong management. But no amount of watching videos or reading is ever going to replace doing the thing, experiencing it and having it all click into place in your brain. The Encounter journal in this context becomes yet another tool for preparing for that moment.

Videos and kill strats and lists of abilities are all very well, and it certainly helps speed up the learning curve when you can tell your group what to watch out for. But in the end, the experience itself is still the greatest teacher. Am I discounting preparation beforehand? No, absolutely not, especially since I tend to spend days (if not weeks) watching videos and reading up on fights. I'm simply placing those tools in the context of preparing for that moment when you step into the ring, so to speak. They're useful, helpful, and in the end can reduce the amount of time you spend eating dirt while watching what the boss does and doesn't do -- but they'll never replace the moment of discovery. You learn by going where you have to go.

After all, the Firelands awaits us. I will absolutely use the journal, read previews, and otherwise prepare for them, and yet I know I will spend a lot of time dead watching how the boss kills the raid.

The news is already rolling out for the upcoming WoW Patch 4.2! Preview the new Firelands raid, marvel at the new legendary staff, and get the inside scoop on new quest hubs -- plus new Tier 12 armor!

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