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Raiding accessibility and achievements

Matthew Rossi

OK, we all know I'm all for raiding accessibility. I've posted multiple times about how progressively making raids easier doesn't invalidate the accomplishments of those who went before, and about how it's all about letting people get to see content as time progresses. And I still intellectually believe that. Intellectually.

I hate to admit it, however, but my heart doesn't always fall in line with my head, and the recent change to Glory of the Dragon Soul Raider is one of those. You'll notice that the screenshot of the achievement above has removed the requirements of having to have killed heroic Spine and Madness of Deathwing, two fights I had to push my face through in order to get the mount.

This is where I turn into a hypocrite, I guess, because I don't like this at all. Not even a little bit. Especially with recent news that Blizzard is going to make the mounts off of heroic Ragnaros and Deathwing harder to attain in Mists of Pandaria. So you're making the drop mounts harder to get but the achievement mounts easier? And frankly, taking heroic Spine off of this achievement doesn't just make it kind of easier, either; it makes it massively easier.

At this point, my heart and my head are in full-out war over this. Like I said, intellectually I support the progressive reduction in difficulty as a good compromise that lets people see more content while it keeps progression moving forward.

Raiding and our precious nerd points

But there's a difference between getting to see content and getting vanity items like mounts, titles, and achievements. Removing heroic Spine and Madness from this achievement does more than let people see content they otherwise might not have gotten; it doubles down on the nerfing by essentially saying that not only is everything easier, but you don't even have to do it. And I can see why that decision could be made, but understanding it and liking it are two entirely separate things.

Now, there is less than a month of real serious Dragon Soul raiding before Mists of Pandaria launches, but in a way, that makes this change even more baffling to me. When Mists comes out, the mounts from heroic Ragnaros and heroic Madness will become harder to get, with a reduced drop rate that will keep you from farming the raid in your Mists gear and blowing it up for mounts. But the Twilight Harbinger, which is arguably harder to get than the heroic Madness mount, will now be considerably easier. And you'll be able to form a raid and blow up Dragon Soul for the Harbinger throughout Mists.

I don't get why you'd make a mount that was the epitome of Dragon Soul's hardest content suddenly so accessible yet make the Life Binder's Handmaiden more restricted -- especially when the progressive nerfs have, by themselves, made heroic Spine and Madness (especially Madness) so much easier anyway.

Fun fact: Petards are bombs that blow things up

Admittedly, heroic Spine is a fight that actually requires your group to watch its DPS. You can't just blow it up, or the healing gets harder and harder for everyone involved, and that makes it a fight that is almost immune to progressive nerfing. Almost, but not quite. I doubt seriously that any raids in Mists gear are going to find it so hard to do that taking it out of the meta was warranted. And perhaps since that's the case, you might as well take it out of the meta now so people doing heroic DS but stuck on Spine can switch it to normal and get their drakes.

I get the logic, but I'm not happy with it. Achievements are optional. They're optional and they're already made easier by the progressive nerfing of the entire raid anyway.

In the end, I feel hoisted by my own petard here, blown up by the bomb I so advocated using. Intellectually, I have to support this. I'm on record being OK with progressive nerfs even when they allow players to see content and get gear I already had. How can I now draw the line at achievements? Why are they special in a way gear or seeing the content is not? Why is it OK for the difficulty to be nerfed so that other players get to see the fights and get the loot but not the achievements?

I have no answer that satisfies the voice in my head that made those previous arguments. I feel as if achievements were the only way left to really distinguish what you'd achieved in game, and when you'd done it, but this nerf to this achievement doesn't change that. You can always look to see when it was achieved, after all.

I don't like people getting this mount without having to kill heroic Spine and heroic Madness. But I have no argument against it that doesn't boil down to "But I had to do it the hard way," and that's the same argument I rejected earlier. Emotionally, this is not something I wanted to happen, not even close. Intellectually, I have no choice but to accept it. I've argued too long for progressive content nerfing to quibble now over this change.

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

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