Random Dungeon Slot Machine

I finally had a chance to play around with the new Random Dungeon feature in WoW…

The Good

As a healer, I get into random groups immediately.  Like, within seconds.  I first tried the new system out on Wednesday night.  I was planning to do some old world quests while waiting (tinkering with achievement stuff) and didn’t even make it to the Orgrimmar portal in Dalaran before being summoned for my first healing assignment.  Wow.

A moment later, my group and I were assembled inside the instance, which was … Not Oculus!  Yay!  😉  It was Nexus.  Easy peasy.  We blew through the place.  We greeded and disenchanted our way through most of the greens and blues, and the shaman got the healing mace for his offspec from Keristraza at the end.

The run was very business-like, too.  I was afraid that the random dungeons would be to pugs what battlegrounds are to Wintergrasp.  With no reputation to worry about, people were going to be the worst kinds of jerkfaces to one another.  Not so in any of the runs I’ve been on so far.  We had one tank tantrum (which I’ll talk about in the next section), but other than that people have been … professional?  Sounds weird, but I think that’s the right word.  Quite a surprise.

And as soon as one random dungeon run ends, I’ve noticed it’s very difficult to not queue for another immediately.  This new feature has eliminated much of what makes pugging so maddening:  the waiting.  You have to wait to get the appropriate roles filled, then you have to wait for people to finish doing whatever they were doing, then you have to wait for them to go back and repair because they forgot, or wait because their friend who needs help with Chillmaw just logged in, etc, etc.  Now, if you want to run a dungeon, there’s more immediate gratification.  That plus the unknown of what dungeon you might get gives it a sort of slot machine quality.  If I know I’m going to be online for at least 30 minutes, it’s hard for me not to queue up.

The Bad

I’ve noticed a trend with the tanks in these random dungeons.  They are ALL chainpulling.  While this can make it fun and interesting in many cases, it can also get the group into trouble.  The first random pug I ran with had an excellent bear tank.  He always stopped before bosses and if he ever noticed me at half mana, he asked if I wanted to stop and drink.  Most of the time the answer was “no,” but there were a few times were I was pretty low before a boss pull, so I’d mana up at least halfway.

In the next pug, however, the tank was not paying attention to the rest of the group at all and it did cause issues. We were in heroic Drak’tharon run and we had just finished killing King Drek.  People were milling around the body, looting, etc.  I stayed with the group and sat down to regen my mana.  Then I noticed the tank on my grid bar, out of range, with his health dropping rapidly. He had run up the stairs and started killing things by himself.

“Maybe you should have waited for us,” said the rogue, as the tank’s health dropped to zero.  The mobs started running down the stairs after us.  The rest of us were far enough ahead that we could likely get to the entrance, so we ran.  The tank asked why we hadn’t followed, and we said that we were waiting for the looting to finish, folks were getting mana back, etc.  “All of you?” he said.

“Everyone else was down here except you,” said the hunter.

We ran to the entrance.  I was the first one out the front door and as I stepped through, I honestly wasn’t sure where I’d end up.  Turns out I appeared in Dalaran on my home server … Oops.  I told the group where I was.  “It’s okay,” said the rogue.  “Just click on the eye to port back.”  I looked around for an eye.  Thanks to my addon which hides most of the buttons on my minimap, I didn’t see it right away.  In the moments before I found it, the tank quit the group.

After a brief discussion of the tank’s departure (turns out he was a member of the notorious Goon Squad, by the way), we decided to pick up another tank for the remainder of the instance.  Two folks turned it down (since it was a partial dungeon run at this point), but the third person offered the spot took it and helped finish it off.

Anyway, I have a feeling he won’t be the last tank to do something like that and get himself (or all of us) killed.  Another of the random dungeons I got was Utgarde Keep (if this is a slot machine, I think that might be the jackpot of easiness) and the tank decided to pull the entire group of protodrakes at once.  I’m a well-geared healer, but  I don’t think he was geared as well as he thought he was.  He was unable to hold aggro on all of the mobs so there was tons of party damage.  I managed to keep everyone alive except the boomkin. After being rezzed, the boomkin said, “lol fun,” so I guess he wasn’t too bothered.  I’m just not looking forward to the day I get blamed for crap like that.  I know it will happen.

Overall, I think this is a great addition to the game and could be quite good for our guild.  I worry a little about it being too easy to find a random group (it’s now faster to put together a random group than a guild one), but in the long run, it probably won’t change our guild culture much.  Folks do like running things together, and we do still have a subset of non-puggers who will always prefer the guild.

Beyond that, those hungry to run dungeons all the time will be able to find groups to do so, while the folks in the guild that aren’t in the mood to farm badges can do whatever they want and not feel guilty.  Folks may feel more inclined to gear up their alts, knowing they won’t always be depended upon in a particular role.  There are a few achievements and a pet that I’m looking forward to picking up from running the dungeons, as well…

And speaking of… it’s just after 5.  I wonder how many random dungeons I can get in before the raid tonight… 😉

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Do you hate Oculus?

I do. I absolutely loathe the place.  I’ll run any other heroic any time, but Oculus is the one that you have to twist my arm for.  “It’s not hard,” my guildmate who doesn’t mind the place keeps telling me. Yes, I know it’s not hard.  I know how to do the encounters and am capable of executing them.  I just don’t enjoy them.  Like,  not at all.

This hatred was born in pick-up groups back in the months after Wrath was released.  It seemed everyone’s cluelessness was amplified to unbearable degrees in Oculus.  It was mainly in the “fly around and stay together” part.  There was always someone who got lost or fell behind and then pulled additional mobs and wiped the group.  Wipe recovery meant navigating back to our previous spot through three dimensions (evidently rather confounding for some).  Worse, sometimes people would lose their drake-summoning thing and have to go back to get another one, meaning they’d have to navigate through all the skipped mobs yet again (sometimes just to die again immediately).

Once, we got so tired of a person losing their drake repeatedly that we instead had the warlock in the group summon them whenever we landed on a platform.  So, you know the boss that ports himself from platform to platform?  Yeah, we summoned this player in between the fight on each platform.  I’m sure you’re wondering how we even got the final boss down.  It ended up being a non-issue, as we didn’t get Mr. Portalpants down before two people had to leave for dinner.

I have run Oculus with my guild and we don’t have such problems, obviously.  We’re usually in vent, too, while we run heroics, so that makes it even easier to communicate and stay together.  Even so, I have had such rotten experiences there in the past, I do not have fun in there even when going in with my very competent guildies.

So, I hate to say it, but Blizz’s “fix” in the 3.3 patch, which nerfs Oculus in and attempt to make it more appealing, isn’t going to make the place any less painful for me.  It really was not the difficulty level, it was the design.  Plus, my hatred of the place has now grown to such unreasonable proportions, I think the only way to repair it would be to blow the place up and fully redesign it. (I know that’s not really an option.)

I know I’m not the only one that hates the place.  I don’t know anyone that loves it, but those that feel neutral about it seem to have some other place in WoW that they can’t stand.  Uldaman, Magister’s Terrace, Gnomeregan, and Wailling Caverns come up a lot in these discussions.  All the complaining about Oculus seems to have caught Blizz’s attention, however. I suppose their changes to it might reduce the incidence of folks running against the wall and alt-F4’ing out of their LFG groups. (Might.)

Going to War

No, not Warhammer (though that is on my list of games to play and review)… my Ikariam alliance!  We have gone to war!

I’d been idly playing Ikariam during the day, in between working on my magnum opus and checking the guild forums.  My five towns were doing well, but  the game was beginning to slow a bit for me.  I don’t have the military to start farming inactive people (which is the type of pillaging that my defense-oriented alliance generally supports), so I was left to just expand my population, beef up my defenses, upgrade buildings, and discover new technologies.  I was pretty much in maintenance mode hoping to eventually expand to a sixth town and maybe someday a seventh.  (This is *very* expensive and definitely a long term goal.)  I spent most of my time trading with my alliance and making sure me resources were well-protected.

Then, there were some rumblings in the last couple weeks.  Someone got pillaged by a member of an alliance that we had fought with in the past.  They called for aid, but our leadership said that the terms of the cease fire from the previous war stated that one-on-one battles (as this had been) were permitted between people with scores within 20K.  Additional retribution from our alliance could bring about another war, which they hoped to discourage.  The last one was very costly, apparently.

The pillaging victim backed down, but the needling continued.  There were additional reports of pillaging.  Then, the final straw: a 3:1 attack on one of our alliance members after he helped defend someone on his island who was being pillaged by our enemy.  Our leader contacted the enemy and explained the recent violations of the agreements that ended our last war, concluding: “Cease Attacks or War it is.”  In the hours that followed, we got our answer.  The attacks began.  War!  Raaar!

At first, I was afraid that we were not organized enough.  A lot of people were offering troops and resources toward the war effort, but it was unclear where to send them.  In the meantime, our membership unleashed herds of spies on the enemy’s towns to identify weak spots and possible points of entry.  Eventually, a few people offered their cities as staging grounds, giving us some coordinates to concentrate on.  It was not quite the organized assault I was expecting, but troops were deployed, cities near our enemies were infiltrated and occupied, and we began our own attacks.

I helped out by sending sulfur to those capable of making strong military units.  I have loads of good defensive units, but none of the advanced offensive units are available to me yet. Our alliance boards were updated with brief messages every few minutes to let us know how the battles were going.  One of our leaders described the cat and mouse game he had going with one of the enemy alliance’s leaders.  Troops were being shuffled and and mysteriously scattered, among other things.  As the evening’s battle intensified, the enemy leader sent this message to ours:

“You seem to be very fast and slippery. As of now you seem to be able to avoid my troops, but your [sic] going to sleep sometime.”

😮

So, before I went to bed, I deployed 200 defensive troops, 100 to each of the staging sites that I had seen listed.  Initially I had decided I’d best stay off the radar, but really, what fun would that be?

(I don’t think I’d have the time to play it, but all of this makes me want to resub to EVE!)