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The danger of assuming personal experiences to be universal

Matthew Rossi

Whether or not you can believe it, there are players right now who have not finished regular Dragon Soul. Some of them raid less often, some of them started later, some of them lost players, and some of them just raid more slowly than you.

And yes, you may be a better raider or have a better raid group than they do, a more skilled collection of people. You also might have a better class comp or have gotten lucky on a few occasions when they didn't. Some groups lost key players at the worst possible time, had real-life issues to contend with, or simply started later than everyone else.

Why do I bring this up? This forum thread on the EU forums, where Draztal ( who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite CMs) is constantly forced to deal with a mindset that does not seem to understand that each raiding group's experience is personal to that group and cannot always be extended to the game or all its players as a whole. Now, not every poster in that thread has that issue; there are some good ones in there, and you should read it. But it's a mindset I see over and over again.

The game is large, and no two raid groups have the same experience playing it. Some raid groups loved tier 11; others were bored or hated the fights. Some raids had fun in Firelands; others found it repetitive or disliked the zone's tendency to be all one color. (I still say Bastion of Twilight had exactly the same problem, but that was alleviated by its being one of three raids at launch.) Some folks have enjoyed Dragon Soul; others dislike the mechanics or the use of Wyrmrest art assets.

Having these differences of opinion is a fine thing and can be good for the game and its community -- when you acknowledge that they exist, and when you realize that your own strongly held opinion about the raid finder, heroic modes in raiding, or the superiority of this fight or that fight is rooted in personal experience to some extent and that experience will never be shared with everyone. That goes for things you love and things you hate equally.

Everything changes when you see it from over there

I'm fairly rare among raiders in that I was in a small, semi-casual 10-man raid to start Cataclysm and moved on to a progression 25 just before Firelands dropped. I went from bashing my head against tier 11 content to being in a guild that worked on heroic tier 12. I've seen the 10 vs. 25 debate and the hardcore/casual split from both sides, and one of the things it's done is make me realize how protean your opinion can be.

When I was running those 10s, I was convinced that 10-man was harder because everyone had to step up and deliver, and one person's dying or screwing up would basically tank you. I saw no margin for error in 10s. But when I moved up to 25s, I suddenly saw DPS checks that curled my toes, and the same kinds of mechanics suddenly scaled up into spaces with a lot less room to maneuver.

The danger of making personal experience universal
The quality of individual players that you raid with, the amount of time you can devote to raiding, how focused you are on your objectives, and certain key positions being filled by the right people makes a huge difference. These things are all somewhat intangible, and it is hard to know what it is like to play with a different group until you do just that.

I had a friend whisper me with shock and incredulity because the group he was raiding with was wiping on heroic Morchok. Now, this is a player with a Savior title, so to him, the very idea of wiping repeatedly on heroic Morchok was ludicrous. It only got worse for him when his group wiped on heroic Zon'ozz a few times.

To me, it's not as surprising because I went from running heroic DS with one raid to another raid that, while certainly just as talented as my previous raid, raids less often and uses different strategies for several bosses. I didn't know you could make an X in the middle of heroic Hagara's encounter and hit all the crystals at once; I was used to making a kind of horseshoe shape to do it. I was not at all used to tanking Zon'ozz or Blackhorn the way they did and had to adjust my own mental strategy to encompass theirs. Different people do things differently.

This does not equal that

This isn't a case where I'm arguing for the incorrectness of certain opinions, either. It's a case where I see a lot of arguments that dismiss the idea that someone else can be progressing at a different pace or enjoy a fight they loathe, because of personal experience.

Using heroic Maloriak, a fight I've tanked, as an example -- I know a lot of tanks who really liked this fight, especially the kite tank. I also know a lot of tanks who hated this fight, especially the kite tank. I personally found the fight tedious, because as a protection warrior, I was always going to be the kite tank. Protection has a great toolkit for tank kiting. Heroic Leap, charging in combat, Intervene, Blood and Thunder and Shockwave all serve to get snap aggro and keep you out of the hands of the adds.

So for me, I found kiting adds on Maloriak boring as all hell. Either I'd get them all immediately with a Heroic Leap/TC/Shockwave combo, or one would fixate on a healer before I got there, and then there was nothing I could do about it. Binary state. Other people found it more of an excuse to whip out their entire desperation ranged threat toolkit and get other classes to buff their mobility with Body and Soul and Leap of Faith, but for a warrior tank, it wasn't an opportunity for anything like that.

The danger of making personal experience universal
Now, kiting adds on Nefarian heroic -- that was awesome. And yes, that's an absolutely subjective feeling. Objectively kiting Nef adds is no better or worse than Maloriak adds, but I enjoyed it a lot more.

There's a lot going on in the raid game. Some of us only ran the raid finder to get set bonuses as fast as possible and never went again after or only went on alts. Some of us actually run the raid finder every week just to have fun. Some of us only have the raid finder for our raid, and still others have never seen the inside of it. Accessibility still isn't for everyone, and no matter how silly it may sound to those of us who've killed heroic Madness, some people don't like to raid and will never do it. Still others don't play that often, can only raid in small chunks over the course of a month, and are still working on normal Madness (which is actually a pretty hard fight if you've never seen anything like it before). Some people actually only started playing in Cataclysm and never have seen a raid before this tier.

People like me who've been raiding forever and ever need to remember that. Your personal game history is exactly that -- personal. It should inform what you do, but it can't be assumed to be the case for everyone.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm has destroyed Azeroth as we know it; nothing is the same! In WoW Insider's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion, from leveling up a new goblin or worgen to breaking news and strategies on endgame play.

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