Are 400 Pull Kills Good Design? Are They Fun?   70 comments

(image by Dan Scott can be found at Dan Scott Art)

On September 1 we took our first three pulls on Heroic Rag, to “see what he was all about”.  On September 6, we started working the fight in earnest.  We are now some odd 345ish pulls into the fight, and each additional night that we work on the fight a small part of my soul dies.  I no longer have the energy to get angry when people make mistakes. Many times the first two phases of the fight feel mostly like just going through the motions.  It’s like a dance that I’ve done 100 (well, more like 300) times.

For about the first 250 pulls I was energetic.  Enthusiastic.  Excited. But somewhere between then and now I just feel…tired.  At one point, if I was asked if the fight was “fun” I would have said that yes, I was enjoying the progression.  But that point has long past.  Now it’s mostly just frustrating. I have little patience for my own mistakes, and less patience for others.  Spending 7 minutes just to have a son hit the hammer because someone made a bad decision makes me want to put my fist through my monitor.  Spending 9 minutes to get into our new “progression” phase, only to get 60 or 90 seconds of “progression” and then having to start over makes me want to kick a kitten.

Which brings me to the question: Are 400 pull fights good design?

Now, I’m sure there is going to be someone in the comments here that will invariably say “you are just  a wuss, I loved every minute of our Rag work”.  And I’m just going to head you off by calling “bullshit”.  At some point you were also frustrated, be it at the encounter or you raid team.  If you don’t want to admit to that, that’s your business.  But I don’t buy it for a single second.

Personally, I don’t have the same level of hate for this fight that I felt with Heroic Ascendant Council, not even close.  But, unlike council,  this fight has just worn me down. And every night that we don’t walk out with a kill makes me feel that much more bogged down.  I’m no stranger to hard work and long fights by any means.  I killed the original Ragnaros when you had to spend a month farming fire resist gear, and remember when Vaelstraz was a giant cockblock for many guilds.  Hell, I killed C’thun with most guilds wrote it off and saw the demise of the T5 bosses before attunements for T6 were removed and we had to back-attune people to progress.  I don’t have any problem putting in the time on a tough fight, and I have done it many times in the past.

But seven weeks into heroic Rag I find myself wondering if a fight in which the kill average is somewhere in the ball park of 450 pulls is good game design.  I am all for a challenge, but I question if that challenge couldn’t have been equally accomplished in a more reasonable manner.  I found many of the T11 end bosses challenging – but not one of them reached this level of mind-numbing repetition to acquire a kill.  Even my arch-nemesis, I hate you and still have nightmares about you, Ascendant Council was more reasonably obtainable – and you all know how much I hated that fight.

The sad part is, I don’t even really dislike the Heroic Rag fight. I’m just so tired of it.

Are 400 pull kills “fun”?

The truth of it is that I actually found many of the mechanics of the Heroic Rag fight engaging and fun…the first 100 times that I encountered them. But now?  Some 340ish pulls later, they are repetitive and tedious.  All of the engaging and fun has been drained out of them and now for 70% of my raid time I’m just going through the motions.  Hey, magma trap – trigger nature’s grace and heal.  Oh look, seed countdown, trigger trinket and hot the people who will take damage.  Oh look engulfing flames – let me hot people who regularly take damage in hopes that it’s enough for them to survive.  Beru…don’t you dare stop to cast a heal during that.  It never ends well for you, ever.

I could probably navigate 3/4 of this fight with my eyes closed and one hand tied behind my back.  And after 300 some odd pulls, it’s no longer engaging and fun.  It’s boring.  It’s tedious.  It’s painful.  Unfortunately, if you were that one person who stepped into the fire that one time, even if it your very first time – people are frustrated with you.  And if you are that person that steps into the fire regularly, people want to punch you in the face.

Lag out at the wrong time?  Game over.  Space out on pull 285?  Game over.  Have an slightly older computer that struggles to handle heavy graphics at times?  LOL SEEDS EAT YOUR FACE.

The problem is that this fight has the potential to be quite fun while remaining challenging without becoming mind-numbingly tedious.  Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly parts of it that are fun.  But as a whole? The fight has become more tedious than fun.  Every time we push phase 4, we should feel excitement.  Even if we wipe, we should feel that we are almost there and we should be invigorated for the next pull.  But instead, the feeling that many get is “ugh…back to phase one again to start all over again”.

To me, that isn’t good game design or fun.

Part of the Problem

To me, I think the biggest part of the problem with the encounter is how bloodly long it is.  It really skews the learning curve, which is what (I think) causes the tedium.  Let’s take a look at it:

  • Mastering phase one is fairly easy once you figure it out. 
  • However, as you are learning the transition, you have to go back to phase 1 and reapeat it. 
  • When you move on to phase 2, as you learn it, you have to go back to phase 1 and the transition. 
  • When you learn the second transition, you have to go back to phase 1, the first transition and phase 2.
  • When you move to phase three, you have to go back to phase 1 (again), the transition (again), Phase 2 (which if any of you saw the live raid at Blizzcon know is still difficult), the second transition and THEN can work phase 3…if you survived all of that with most of your raid team alive. 
  •  When you start working phase 4 – you got it!  You go back to phase 1 (dear god, are we there yet?), the transition (WHY IS THAT SON SO CLOSE TO THE FUCKING HAMMER), phase 2 (seriously, people, TURN ON YOUR TIMER BARS ALREADY, THEY DON’T LAG), another transition (*sobbing at this point*), phase 3 (Please, I beg of you, JUST DANCE), and oh, hey look!  IT’S FINALLY TIME FOR PHASE 4

By the time to get to see legs for the first time (which is a huge fucking deal), you have probably seen phase one 200 (or more) times.  You have probably seen phase two 150 (or more) times.  And you are just starting to work the final phase of the fight, which offers a whole additional set of challenges to overcome.  Only if you wipe, you must start back at square one and spend an additional nine minutes getting back to the point of progression…and did we all remember what we learned the last time we were here?  It was three pulls ago…because we wiped a couple of times in phase two or three before getting back here again.  I’m not sure at what point the tedium sets in.  I just know that it gets there. 

Every pull that we don’t make it to phase four makes me want to curl up in a ball under my desk and weep.  Not because it’s too hard, but because I know that we have to navigate the land mine that is the rest of the fight again.  And oh god, it’s such a long way to the end of the field.

I get that I’m supposed to feel challenged, but I don’t really feel challenged anymore.  I feel exhausted. At what point do we loose sight of remembering that challenge and fun can be synonymous?

What do you think?  Are 400 pull fights good game design?  Are they fun? Would encounters still be challenging if they took less to get to the end?

Posted October 25, 2011 by Beruthiel in Deep Thoughts, Hard Modes, Raiding

70 responses to “Are 400 Pull Kills Good Design? Are They Fun?

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  1. I actually believe 400 pulls is a sign of good design. What isn’t a good design is 15 min long fights, like H Rag and H LK was back in WotLK. I feel that if you put the 400 + attempts (my guild did about 550 attempts till we killed), you really earned the title. WoW is a casual game as is (we got a group for reg FL 10 a couple weeks ago, and half the raid was in blues/BoE epics, and we blasted through without much problems – that’s how casual the game is). We, the people that practice end game raiding, deserve to have some challenge, deserve to push ourselves for a high rank, that’s why we decided to go end game raiding to begin with.
    H Rag is a long, long fight, I agree with you that at points it get gruesome when you wipe to seeds, or to sons not being killed and hitting hammer, or some brain fart from a raid member. But you can’t deny that they are fun mechanics. I like it that you have to focus to do it. You can’t just mash your buttons without a worry in the world. That keeps us sharp, and makes the game enjoyable (at least for me).
    Now look back at T11. There were ANY fights worth mentioning? I liked Sinestra, but progression in all end tier bosses was relatively quick – which is appropriate for a 1st tier of a xpac. H Al’akir was perhaps the most challenging, because it was a dps race and took a long time for some people understand the tornados mechanics, plus control of the sparks, plus having competent healers.
    I know it’s hard right now, but you will love it when you kill it the first time, with all the nerd screaming, and your heart beating fast. If it comes for any consolation, once we hit p4, only took about 10 attempts for us to kill. You are probably really close 🙂

  2. I’ve gained weight since we started this fight because I can’t face it sober.

  3. Your “seven weeks” comment makes me remember our guild’s Lich King pulls.

    Our guild raided ICC one day a week, so got far fewer attempts per boss than guilds that raid multiple days per week. We beat Lich King, after 72 pulls over eight weeks.

    By week seven, I was done. Tired of it. I was willing to keep going and complete the kill for my guild, but I wasn’t personally getting anything out of it any more.

    And so I quit raiding. This made my guild sad, because they liked having me as Raid Leader, but my feelings were either (1) quit raiding, or (2) quit WoW. I’m still playing, but I haven’t raided at all in Cata. My feelings toward Raiding has gone from “This is fun” to “This is a trap, an endless treadmill designed to consume all my time. Stay away.”

    So my question for Beru or others tired out by tedious fights is: are you having fun? You are doing exactly what Blizzard wants you to do – staying subscribed, re-playing and re-playing fight that was in fact designed to take lots of attempts, to keep people stuck on it. But is it fun?

    If it isn’t fun, maybe it’s time to step back, re-evaluate, and find something fun to do.

    • I think I look at challenge a little differently, maybe. If it’s there – I want it. For me, that is a driving force.

      That doesn’t mean that I can’t think the challenges laid in front of me are poorly done. But it also doesn’t mean that I wont’ want to accomplish them any less. Progression raiding is one of the key things holding me in the game. We’ve built a strong team, with good community, specifically to meet that goal. I’d like to think that it is guilds similarly to ours (within the top 2-3%) that these encounters are being designed for. Maybe I’m wrong in that assumption 🙂

  4. “good” an “bad” is such glubbernuggin’ relative terms. Fer me, 400 pulls ain’t happenin nevers. By pull 100 (or mebbe 50), I’d be outta there and levelin’ an alt in Plaguelands or wherever. Don’t matter how interestings the fight is. Means I don’t do many heroic raid bosses, but is sumthin I’s fine with. But I is I an’ you is you, and thems is thems…

    • I definitely agree that there are different strokes for different folks!

      For me, I want this kill. I want my guild to have this kill. But damn it all if it’s not draining every last bit of energy that I have trying to get there 🙂

  5. Thanks for this post. I always thought that progression raiding came with a level of insanity, and by the looks of it from the outside it is. 400-500 pulls is ridiculous. I have done that many pulls as a RL on LK, but that was getting 6 different casual groups through it. It was a great sense of accomplishment. I don’t think I would get the same if it was just 1 kill after all that work, specially if it is just a kill and not something that can be replicated (or by the sounds of it, that now one would want to).

  6. 400 pulls seems kinda insane! I am a casual raider at best, I consider myself a fairly decent Resto Druid. But, I never did Heroic Ragnaros and I just was able to down him last week for the first time on normal. It took us about 15 hours of work, and about 2 new people per raid night to re-teach the fight to, to be able to down him. a lot of 14% wipes and one 11% one before we killed him.

    Did you have the same 25 people for those pulls, or was it always teaching new people every couple of raids?

    Myself, I think I would break my computer, throw in down the steps, set my dog on fire, run out the house, douse it with gasoline, light the match, get in the car, smash it into a tree around pull 150.

    400 Pulls seems excessive and stars need to aligning to create the perfect storm to get you a kill. You need 25 people with perfect connections, perfect frame rate, and super fast reaction-time for 15+ minutes. That’s asking a lot, and to get that kind of dedication together on 1 server must be an insane task to undertake as a guild/raid leader.

    I commend you, you have tons more patience than the vast majority of people who possibly play. Guilds who do Heroic Rag’s I would guess have a computer and connection requirement to be able to participate. Thats not fun, to me.

    Nice to meet you! 🙂

    Veloresh (Uldaman)

    • It certainly takes dedication. That is for sure 🙂

      Honestly, I think challenges at all levels require dedication. You certainly wouldn’t have gotten your Rag kill without it! (Grats, by the way!).

      It is tough, and like I said I was gung ho for the first 250 or so pulls we spent on him. Now I just want the damn thing to be finished so that I can move on.

  7. Blizzard is a business, and businesses like to see a return on their investments of time, effort, and overall resources. They’ve already said that not enough people were raiding in this Tier and they are being quick with the nerf-o-meter as a result, which tells me that they realized early on that they weren’t seeing that return. If the design was such that it chased people aware from finishing the raid then the design was poor – that someone as progression oriented as you is even asking that question is just anecdotal-evidence-icing atop the cake.

    • Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely think that there should be challenges in the game. I do not want to walk in, give a boss the stink eye, and walk out with loot. I do want to work for it and earn it. I mean hell, I got my proof of Omega in FFVII after a marathon like EIGHT HOURS to kill the fucker. I don’t mind a challenge.

      But when I start to feel exhausted at one encounter, in the middle tier of an expansion, I have to stop for a minute and go WTF. You know?

  8. When people collapse and you hear a collective sigh of relief after downing a boss, “Thank God it’s over” as opposed to “Yay, we did it!” really does say something about the 400 pulls design. It’s not fun and people are less likely to want to put that much effort to kill him for the second time around.

  9. I hate it. I hated the fight on normal and I hate it on heroic.

    I too remember vanilla and tbc raiding when you had to put in the time to get kills, but I don’t remember being as frustrated with the fights and the long learning curve. There’s something about this fight that just drains my will to live. My only thought when we finally get the kill will be “finally; about damn time.”

    • I share your sentiments! I will most certainly be glad when it is over. I just hope I have a little bit of breathing room between now and 4.3 😦

      • Ugh, yeah. I really want to have a few weeks at least between when we get our kill and when 4.3 comes out; mostly so that we can have a 1 or 2 evening raid week and have the other two off to recharge.

        I “took a break” tonight until we got to Domo….that 1.5 hours just wasn’t long enough. 😦

    • I think that the memory may just be repressed, then, because the frustration and sheer tiredness I feel from Beru’s post is exactly what I felt towards Huhuran, Twin Emperors, C’thun (hell, C’thun’s trash), Gothik, and Four Horsemen (and maybe some other Naxx60 bosses I’m repressing) back in Vanilla. That feeling not of “HELL YES, THIS ASSHOLE IS DEAD” but “thank christ, this asshole is dead, I’m never doing that ever again“.

      It’s not a smart design to keep someone playing long-term. Hell, Four Horsemen drove me to quit WoW the first time.

      • Nah, having left a guild that could only field a raid one night a week for two hours if we were lucky, I was just ecstatic to be in a real raiding guild that was capable of making progress in Naxx & AQ40.

        Anything was better than the previous pattern of getting the raid together, going to AQ40, clearing to the first boss, and only having time for 5-10 attempts before people had to start bailing because it was getting too late.

  10. That is one of the reasons I could not be a high-end raider. Facing that same fight, week after week after week… I would run shrieking with my eyes spinning in opposing directions. After awhile, I need something different. I’m not afraid to say I do not have the absolute dedication that Drow and Monolith both have, to pursue those kills through 300-400-500 pulls. I very much admire those of you that do, make no mistake, but this is a game and too much is too much. I have to balance the game with my life, too. We all have to set our own limits on what we enjoy and that’s why I’m very content to down end bosses on regular difficulty and run some hard modes while waiting for the next tier. I sure don’t mind putting in weeks in on learning, then mastering a fight, but the amazing dedication and absolute focus that guilds like yours put in is just too much for this little druid. 🙂

  11. we are just going to start heroic rag tonight and im feeling mixed emotions, i love normal as you say its a dance but i dont want to wipe on this till next patch, im all up for wipe nights but 100 attempts is enough for me after that my heads gone,we had like 50 on ryolith before the nerf and that was bad but 400 ppft

  12. What’s really annoying about Heroic Ragnaros is that the hardest part of the fight is at the end. At least with Heroic Lich King, for example, the fight was just consistently difficult all the way through. The ending phase wasn’t any harder than the phases that came before.

    In addition, there was no normal mode version of P4, so guilds didn’t get a chance to establish a base comfort level with say getting into breadths or dealing with the meteors in normal mode. Normally guilds doing heroic modes have at least seen the phases in some form and established a basic comfort level with the mechanics of the phases, so the fact that an entire phase only appears in heroic mode at the very end of the fight is really annoying.

    • You know, the more that I think about it, even reading through everyone’s comments, I do think that my biggest gripe with the fight is it’s length. I mean, good grief! And the length then naturally tends to be part of the cause of everything else. The repetition. The tedium.

      I think we’ve hit phase 4 maybe a dozen times where we’ve come at it with the possibility of a kill (two meteors up, most everyone in the raid alive), but you are right. It’s an entirely new set off mechanics that you have to learn, and they are unforgiving. And you do have a learning curve that you have to navigate. But you have to get there first. Which isn’t as easy as it sounds!

  13. I’m currently feeling quite fortunate that it’s likely the next tier will be out before my guild attempts H Rag seriously 🙂 Maybe he’ll die later… when we all have better gear and it doesn’t take so long. That’s how the final boss usually is for me.

  14. I think it’s a weird culture shift for me. I start raiding only recently, but I’ve been playing games for the better portion of my life. I’m not really a stranger to difficult games, but I’m wondering if raiding isn’t as difficult as they are lead to be and simply just more punishing.

    For example: Difficult is Super Meat Boy, where you have to perfectly execute a 30 second level to progress and then never have to come back to it to move on. Punishing is Demon’s Soul where you have to survive for 30 minutes among intense boss fights (that you may or may not know the strategy to) and when you die you are sent back to the beginning with souls (functions as currency and experience)

    It seems to me that a few of the fights, especially Heroic Ragnaros are more punishing than anything else, since as you said you have to do things you already understand and can execute in order to progress. Obviously this also comes with the added frustration and mind drain that leads to additional screw ups and more frustration into a long tantrum spiral. I’m not really sure if it could be considered good design or bad design, it’s more or less just a design decision that has kinda been put into WoW. I do agree that in many cases wiping excessively isn’t fun though.

    • Hrm – I’m not really sure. It’s definitely punishing. I suppose the question that should be asked is “is it too much so”?

      As for game design – I can see single player campaigns being punishing and successful. But I think it’s more difficult to put that into play as an effective game design when you start involving multiple players working in a team effort, no? I think at least to a certain extent, anyhow. I could be wrong, but I don’t feel that I am. I mean, there have been many fights in WoW’s history that have been “punishing” but still remained engaging to the player.

  15. Well, we just managed to down him this past week, last thursday to be more exact… He took us 321 attempts and I really think it was a really well designed fight. Heroic Lich king (with 0% buff) could be compared to Rag in dificulty IMO. What I have to tell is DON’T GIVE UP, he’ll eventually die…

    Oh, our kill video can be found here:


    • Grats on your kill! 🙂

      We won’t be giving up, especially not since we really are on the home stretch. I’ll just be glad when we cross the finish line, so I can collapse and relax a bit!

  16. The “Peter Principle” of organizations is that everyone is promoted until they reach their level of incompetence, at which they then stay. So, everyone eventually settles into a job they can’t do.

    In raiding, everyone progresses until they get to a fight they can’t do. You are promoted out of the fun fights into one that is just frustrating.

    • I don’t know that I agree with this principal. I have always believed that hard work should reap rewards. In raiding, I think you can still find fun in things that are challenging regardless of level. If we are in the top 2-3% and we are being “promoted out of” the fun fights, then who are these milestone encounters being designed for? The top .5%?

  17. I did enjoy our Rag work quite immensely. I think the idea of “do a 9 minute attempt perfectly for 30 seconds of practice” is separate from “400 pull kill”, and while both of those are frustrating I found the former to be worse. Though that is a big part of why Rag takes so many tries. My guild’s final score was 213 attempts.

    Sinestra was a very short fight which allowed you to get to the difficult phase very easily, and that contributed a lot to why so many guilds breezed right through it. It punished mistakes even harder than H-Rag does, but it wasn’t an endurance fight.

    • To be fair, it’s a completely different fight on 10s vs 25s. WIth the fight leaning more favorably towards 10s in this tier. I’m not sure you can compare the two experiences against each other. I’m not trying to belittle the encounter on 10 man by any means – I just think it’s a bit apples and oranges, which has been said by many guilds who have run the fight in both formats for comparison purposes.

      As such, I’m not sure you can say “it only took us 213 attempts” and have it be indicative of the same experience that a 25 man raider feels working, what is in many ways, a completely different encounter. Keep in mind that there are twice as many US guilds that have killed the encounter on ten man than on twenty-five (141 vs 77). And those small numbers, in both raid formats, say an awful lot in and of themselves about the encounter. If I could have done this fight in ~200 pulls, I would have been thrilled and I don’t think you would have seen this post from me. But the fact remains that the average number of pulls for a kill on this fight in 25s is in the vicinity of 450 – not ~200.

      It’s not that your experience wasn’t challenging – I’m sure that it was. It’s just that your experience was significantly different from mine, and honestly, I think from many people facing the encounter in a twenty-five man setting.

      • I wasn’t really going for a 10 vs 25 thing there. There were a number of fights that were “do a long, easier endurance phase cleanly just to practice the hard part for 30 seconds” without also taking hundreds of attempts. H-Chim and H-Chogall, off the top of my head.

        I thought the average number of pulls for a kill on 25s was in the vicinity of 450 pre-nerf, not post. Had it not been nerfed 10mans would’ve probably taken 450 pulls to get a kill too, not a single guild in the entire US killed Rag-10 pre-nerf. My guild is pretty casual so in the 5 weeks we worked on Rag pre-nerf we only got about 140 attempts in. We were not close.

        I’m not going to make a blanket statement that Rag-10 is harder or easier than Rag-25, but post-nerf the fight only has one difficult phase, and having three firefighters means you get screwed by RNG less often than with one. The only part of the fight where Smashes and Engulfs aren’t the exact same between both 10 and 25 is phase 1, with the Wrath issues. Guilds working on Rag-25 tend to struggle with their deadweight on something that guilds doing Rag-10 just assume their raiders are good enough to avoid by now.

      • It is still averaging 450 pulls post-nerf as well in 25s. I think the lowest number I’ve heard post nerf was Edge coming in at 273 pulls, but they are the exception and not the rule.

        You don’t have to make a blanket statement regarding the differentiated in the two difficulties. It’s already been done. By several guilds that have done the fight on both 10s and 25s for the sole purpose of comparison. If you haven’t seen it yet, Paragon did a great write up on it. As did Affinity from Blood Legion.

        Honestly, I don’t want to argue it with you. The arrogant tone of much of your commentary makes me defensive and offsets many off the points that you may be trying to make. If you enjoyed the fight and thought it “fun” and “easy” with your “super casual” guild – regardless of how you choose to characterize the encounter, it’s your right to feel that way. It’s awesome that you had such an easy go at it. However, I can tell you that every 25 man raider that I’ve spoken with that has finished the encounter ended the fight with a “thank god that is done” and not really a “thank you sir, may I have another”. And I’m sorry – while my guild may not be raking in world firsts, or even US firsts, we are far from a group of scrubs at our first rodeo. Which, frankly, is how your commentary indicates that you view us.

  18. I think part of the issue is how we measure time. Here you are measuring time in number of pulls. But if you measured it in number of weeks, it hasn’t really been that long. Not to mention that Paragon put in 600 attempts in a much shorter timespan.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you only killed the fight in two weeks, you’d probably be disappointed. But two weeks could be 200 attempts for some guilds, and maybe 40 attempts for other guilds. Blizz has to make the capstone heroic fight hard and last for more than one lockout. And at the level of the Royalty guilds, that means you’re looking at 600-attempt fights like H. Lich King or H. Ragnaros.

    Personally, I rather liked the attempt counters in Wrath. Limiting boss attempts allows Blizz to stretch out time on bosses, without making them so so hard, I thought.

    • Honestly, I think a big part of the problem is that by the time you are working heroic Rag in earnest you are clearing out the rest of the zone quickly and spending the majority of your raid time on one fight. Right now, for us, we are clearing the rest of the zone in about 90 minutes, maybe 2 hours, and then we have the remaining 13 hours of our raid week being spent on one fight. There really isn’t anything to break it up. We can’t say “let’s kill two bosses tonight, work rag – kill two bosses tomorrow and work rag” because you have to clear everything on heroic to get to rag.

      The second issue is that this is the mid-expansion raid. Does this boss feel mis-placed at this point in the expansion? If this is what we are seeing now, what should we expect of Deathwing? Is it going to push the envelope further? Is it going to back off?

      And all of that leads up to the question: Should these fights be designed for the Paragon’s and Vodka’s out there, or should they be designed for the top 3-5% of the raiding comjunity? I keep hearing people talk about how these are meant to be fights for the games “elite” but how is elite defined? The top .5%? The top 1%? The top 2%? I mean, I fall into the top 2-3% of the combined (10/25) raiding community, should I expect the hard encounters to be out of my reach? I’d like to think that I’m part of the playerbase that’s being considered for these encounters when they are being designed.

  19. My guild has yet to get anywhere close to heroic Ragnaros, but I can tell you that the 200 pulls it took us to kill him on regular weren’t fun either. For me the issue with this fight wasn’t so much the learning curve, but more the length and the poor design of the encounter.

    The entire first phase becomes painfully easy after only one or two attempts, but it drags on and on. Having to sit through that each and every pull is mind-numbing enough that it can allow players to zone out before the first intermission, which is the first bit of the fight that requires any level of skill. My guild/raid leader described the fight as follows:
    “A long, boring component leading up to an incredibly difficult phase. You spend 7 minutes slogging through stuff that you can do – just to hit a phase where you wipe in moments. Come back in and redo the first 7 minutes again, and again, and again, and again. Our counters vary – mine shows over 200 attempts, Tzufit’s has more in the 150 range. And for about 100 of those, we could practically sleepwalk through the first 5 minutes. Not Fun.”

    As Aidrana said above, we didn’t cheer when we killed Rag. We swore and thanked our lucky stars it was over. That’s not the experience I want to have at the end of a raiding tier.

    • I think there is probably a point like this for everyone, the fight that causes it will vary for each team. But in the end, I’m not sure that this type of design is engaging for much of the playerbase 🙂

  20. I remember the first time we reached Phase 4 – only to have it end in a matter of seconds because we had to learn Magma Geyser. You could feel the collective pain in everyone’s chest when we realized that was our current reality.

    To answer your question :

    I personally doubt that Blizzard designs encounters with X number of wipes in mind. What is interesting is that the magic “400” number was something the community came up with. Granted the US/World First guilds set the pace and people focus in on what they do, but they do it by stacking raids in an extreme manner (10+ Druids on the first Heroic Nef kill?)

    The epicness of the fight, I believe, comes from the challenge and length. I would find it difficult to enjoy an end tier encounter that lasted as long as a 5 man heroic fight.

    You are close – stay the course!

    • I don’t think a fight needs to be as short as a 5 man heroic fight, by any means. But there should be a balance in the learning curve and length of an encounter. Look at Heroic Neferian (or hell, even the original Nefarian fight) as an example. It was a lengthier encounter, but at no point did it feel as tedious as Heroic Rag. I think that the base mechanics of the fight are fine, the pacing of the encounter is where it feels flawed.

      I don’t really think you should need to repeat phase 1 400 some odd times to see a kill. Or even have to repeat it 200 some odd times just to see phase two or three. The length of the encounter might be better if the flow of the encounter was more fluid. Instead, what you end up with people having to be keyed up for 10 minutes just to get to your final progression phase, which can go to pot in the first 30 seconds of the phase…for an entire raid night. Which is where I think there are underlying problems.

      I pretty firmly beleive that you could still find challenge in this fight without having it stretch out 15 minutes and require such an imense amount of time to navigate the 6 phases of the encounter.

  21. I wonder if there might be some worth in an unlocking “practice mode” option: after a set number of attempts, each phase becomes available in practice mode, where you can start the fight in that phase, and fight only that phase. The number of attempts required to unlock each phase in practice mode would be up for debate (25? 50?) but would give *everyone* a chance to practice the part they keep getting wrong and hopefully cut down on the angst.

    I don’t *think* it would devalue the encounter, and as you’d still have to complete the whole fight in “raid” mode for it to count re: achievements, loot, progression etc, it shouldn’t enable groups to “cheese” the encounter but perhaps it would make long, tricky encounters (which are incredibly rewarding to beat, in my opinion) less painful and more fun.

    • I don’t know how I’d feel about a “Practice mode”. It certainly would be nice navigating say, phase 4, of this fight without having to navigate 10 minutes of the fight to get there. We do do things independantly to do that – for example, we assign our “tri-force” and then each time we drop a fish feast, you have to approach it like it was a frost patch. And I do think that action has helped to ingrain frost patch placement and positioning. But there is only so much you can do – you can’t effectively simulate dreadflame for your delugers, you can effectively simulate roots spawning under the boss, you can’t effectively simulate dpsing down your meteor.

      In all honesty, the biggeset problem with the fight, really, is that you have to repeat so much on each plateau of the encounter to get to your next progression cycle. And after awhile it just becomes tedious. Granted – not once have I stomped my feet and said “it’s too hard” or “I’m quitting”. I’m just saying that I’m really tired of the fight.

  22. I think it is a combination of the length of the fight and how one small error sets you back to the beginning. When you have to be note perfect for such a long time, and you get hardly any time on the things you need to learn before repeating that note perfect stage again, it gets exhausting.

    I dont’ want fights to be facerolling, and I’m not where near the level of raiding your guild is at, but everyone is human. People make an error, lag slightly etc. That shouldn’t be all it takes to wipe you. You should be able to recover for one bad decision in a long fight but there doens’t feel like there’s that scope in Rags (we’ve killed him on normal).

    I find it frustrating as a healer that if I make one mistake, that will be the end of the attempt and we have to do it all again. I find it frustrating as a raid leader that one person’s one moment of inattention means we have to do it all again. It’s as bad as fights where the outcome is partially RNG. You know you’re wiping not to general poor play but one moment of bad luck. You can work on poor play, you can’t fix RNG. I just feel that fights should have a small buffer – your raid can make a mistake and it won’t kill you. Make a few of them and it will.

    • I don’t even really think this fight is one where you can’t recover from a mistake. It’s just so…long. We’ve certainly had some of our best pulls when someone inadvertantly blew themselves up and been able to recover. It’s mostly just the tedium of wipe, run back, repeat the first 10 minutes again…over and over again.

      Honestly, I can’t say that I’ve seen much RNG in this fight. I know that there can be some bad placements of things in phase 4, but our tanks seem to have worked through roots being spawned under him. That being said, we’ve only seen his third frost patch one time, so perhaps we just haven’t seen enough phase four to see all the crummy things that can happen. It’s my hope that even if we have some poor placements we will still learn to work with a “worst case” scenario.

  23. I guess to comment on the RNG aspect.

    There have only been a handful of times where RNG is a deal breaker, in most encounters they can be managed and dealt with and after a certain point RNG stops being random and becomes ‘oh, this again’.

    I will admit that there are certain roles that require people to be on their toes in this particular encounter more so than others : Tanks (phase 4) and healers (since the encounter requires you run light). If anything, the RNG of the encounter is the easiest thing to deal and recover from. What it comes down to is personal accountability.

    It’s amazing what reasons people give when they don’t want to admit poor play and use RNG as a crutch. I’ve used : Lag, Internet, Cat jumped on my keyboard, etc.

    *Side note – Addon’s are usually the #1 cause of lag during this encounter. Try turning off ALL your addons. It’s funny to hear people still complain about lag and when asked about their addons they usually say ‘yes, all of them are off…except ‘

    The buffers are there – just not in the forms that we would like.

    • I know you were responding to Jem, but I just wanted to toss out that we’ve been pretty good about people owning their mistakes. It does prevent them from happening, but people generally do a good job at owning when they made an error. That being said – we have a death bounty and a whole slew of rewards for surviving. And we go through both out in game and out of game logs pretty throughly to asses how/where people are making mistakes. I don’t know if it’s helping or not – but I’d like to think at the minimum it pinpoints where people are struggling so that they know where to focus.

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  25. The question you pose here sounds a lot like the one you asked about a few weeks ago regarding all the twitter chatter about hard vs interesting. And I think it’s another angle on the same problem Blizzard has right now: How to keep people engaged. I suspect that the designers believe that “hard and challenging” are the same as “unbearably long, endlessly repetitive, and entirely unforgiving.” I’m still at the same place with that problem too. The cookie isn’t worth the struggle. The carrot, once obtained, doesn’t satisfy. I don’t feel elated at heroic boss kills anymore. I feel relived we‘re done working on it for the week, followed closely by a subtle existential dread that next week we have to do it all over again.

    • I think it’s definitely a problem. I do think that the end result that should drive designers is for people to feel accomplished when a new challenge is met, not have the entire raid collectively sigh and think “finally”. The question, I suppose, is if that is even possible in this gaming culture.

  26. So you get the kill and that means only a couple of pieces of loot drops. The problem with overtuning bosses is that you never get to actually go for additional kills. It is terible design to have your player base say they NEVER want to do that one again. A good disign is where the first kill was hard enough so you go satifaction from the kill and that meant you wanted to do it again. Now maybe if Blizz stopped making boss fights with only Paragon in mind.

    • We generally kill everything at least twice so that everyone on our 34 person raid team gets a kill. If we have time to farm it, we do. In fact there have only been two fights in my memory where we said “never again”: Heroic Anub’arak 25 (after our second kill our block tank sharded his block gear, I’m not even joking about this) and Heroic Ascendant Council. And the later I have even caved in on and said “I’ll help with a 10 man run for people who joined the guild after we did the first two kills”.

      I absolutely want to feel satisfied by a kill, but I think that can be achieved without feeling like I’m walking Dante’s seventh circle of hell trying to get there. Now that I think on it, I’m pretty sure that phase 2 Rag would be one of my circles of hell 🙂

  27. I myself am u a semi hardcore guild achieving 4/7 pre nerf, currently 6/7 as from the last reset. (gatekeeper was a major issue for us!) After the traumas involved in getting this far, I would be lying if I was to say that I was looking forward to killing Raggy HC. My uncomfortableness is just increased by the fact I am a resto shaman! I was curious as to your composition really especially post nerf. How many healers can we get away with? Best of lick for the kill, your persistence will pay off!

    • Hey Perinkei –

      We started it with 5 healers, but moved to 4 a couple of weeks ago so that we could have some consistency pushing into phase 4. Ever since we moved one of our priests to shadow, it’s rare not to see phase 4 if we make it to phase 3. Right now we are running with a Resto Shaman, Resto Druid, Disc Priest and Holy paladin. However, we do try to tailor as much of the fight as we can into our resto Shaman’s healing assignment. So we give him the melee in phase 1 and 3 (and we tend to run melee heavy) to help maximize Healing Rain and Chain heal for him. But when push comes to shove, and I’m looking at his healing break down, I want to say that greater healing wave is usually his top heal (I could be wrong about this).

      We are almost there, I just hope it’s sooner rather than later 🙂

  28. I haven’t actually done Ragnaros, but just reading your description there reminded me of Sindragosa back in the day. It didn’t take us long to master the ground and air phase, but the final phase was really difficult to coordinate; yet you couldn’t practice it without going through the entirety of the rest of the fight every time. It was just so tedious, and eventually people would end up messing up even the comparatively easy things in the earlier phases simply because they couldn’t focus anymore. Your description of Raggy sounds exactly like that.

    So, I reckon it’s not difficulty itself that’s the problem, but a combination of the length of the fight and its pacing. I maintain a dislike for Sindragosa to this day, and not just because of her grating voice. 😛

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  30. We am not quite at your stage but we’re getting there. I am the raid leader for our guild and I think the most annoying thing about the encounter for me is the lack of consistency of progress. We saw legs for the first time last week (with 4 meteors and a half dead raid but still…) but since that point I would say we only reach phase 3 10% of the time the rest of the time is wipes due to individual errors in p2 or transitions. The worst thing about this is as a raid leader there is nothing you can do about it beyond asking people to stop making mistakes. The raid gets annoyed because one player stopped progress, the player is unhappy because they know it and morale is low at the end of the night because it feels like you aren’t making progress. I honestly loved learning phase 2 the mechanics were hard with almost no RNG involved and every pull learnt something and did a little better. Now it doesn’t feel like that because the majority of tries we don’t get anywhere near the phase we are supposed to be learning.

    Having said this much of the above is me blowing off steam. I largely play this game because I enjoy eading a team of people I like to overcome the most challenging things the game throws at us. Of course I’m a couple of weeks behind you so ask me in 3 weeks and maybe I will say screw the challenge….

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