A story about Challenge

Last Thursday after update/patch 28.1 dropped, I ran what was perhaps to most painful group experience I’ve had in a while. For most part, and the few times I do group up when the synergy of what I want to run and what other runs (like this weekend and a full run of Vale) coincide in a good way, the experience is usually good.

We run EH or EE, on full or semi full groups and by all accounts it goes well. But this was a big time snag group where I – with my sub optimal fighter/warlock vanguard tactical dc build had to pull most of the weight.

It was the third quest we tried; the first was the maze one in E gianthold and I stepped in just when it was finished. Then we did Madstone – and thanks to this guy running some kind of exploiter hybrid toon we did well. The fact that the others ran their way and kept dying should be a sign. A sign of just how bad things was about to become.

Then we ran POP. And that turned out to be a fun house of frustration.

I mention this because there have been some myth about just how terribly un-challenging things are overall. A myth perpetuated mostly by people with completionist toons, fully geared and that have a great knowledge of the quests they play. Apparently these factors are entirely negligible in the overall scheme of things in what should be more nerf’s, deeper nerf’s so they can barely scrape by – never mind the many other regular players.

Players like this group where dying seemed to be happening around every corner.

On of this myths is of course that once everything is awesomely hard, cats and dogs will live in harmony and people will be forced (but in a good way) to assume their natural roles and it will be swell. Like healbot to the meatbag SP sponge. The tanking guy. The crowd control casting guy. The pew, pew guy and of course the evasion McRogue guy that disables and unlocks.

Here we had the rogue guy (able to do unlocking and fight – altho dying quickly). We had a caster guy that well….casted….but not very good at dps or anything. I don’t know if he was on a terrible destiny while doing EE but there was very little stuff going on. I think he was doing some melee and had lots of sorc levels. But he wasn’t very good at it.

We also had a cleric. That didn’t do any raising, any healing, any buffing (other than the mass stuff in the beginning which I think was really meant mostly for his own build). He died all the time. Of course running a POP EE with 400 something HP isn’t all that smart, but being unable to heal yourself well enough is inexcusable.

What followed was a disaster on many levels. Clearing out the corridor to the top went well enough. Few mishaps and mostly easy stuff. The cleric of course blew all his SP doing trash mobs where it doesn’t even count.

The red named skelly can be an issue but my vanguard did most of the tanking and altho a time consuming problem, not the worst.

Now the different prisons. In every single of them (and we avoided ice, fire an the beholder) people died, I ended up tanking everything with my low DPS build and if half the group wasn’t dead before it was over it was probably a fluke. Most often it was the cleric and the ‘sorc’ dying quickly.

Worst was of course the fact that I kept throwing resurrects during combat which was ignored by the people who died. Which of course made me mad. But the worst was yet to come; the end.

I ended up taking on the head boss – slapping him down to about 10-15% while people attacked everything but the head boss and died. Well I lie – the rogue (or whatever he was) died last – without throwing out one single resurrect to get people up. I of course couldn’t since my demise came from it turning over to Xoriat, the dream creature slammed all my Charisma so I couldn’t really do anything and the mindflayers munched up my brain.

Once we were all dead, I said my ‘have a good evening’ and dropped.

Mind you – this is not about them. This is about the notion that the super group zerging through every quest without a problem is an altruism. This week as I did a IR with my hybrid build as it hit cap for a pure fighter vanguard, I played at one point with a group doing Missing in the harbor (level 15 quest chain). On Elite certain portions like the end quest can get hairy. And people died.  These were awesome players. The difference here is that this quest chain was done before the new ones and therefore are not up to par when it comes to difficulty against the latest enhancements sweeps.

On the other hand I also did update 28 heroic quests and that was a lot hairier. There was one guy that got his arse handed to him all the time. Probably from poor agro control and started pulling all the creatures before I could intim them. And died.

And the damage was very nasty as well. Mine is a pure vanguard fighter build with many of the armor feats and such. So he got plenty of PRR and MRR despite the changes. And there were times when half the 600+ HP was chewed up in a split second. But thanks to 3 effective tactical feats I could knock down or stun to clear up some of the issues.

Again – there was plenty of challenge to be had despite running with mostly competent players.

I hope this is the end of the silliness of ‘lets nerf everything’. Because it’s not going to fix whatever the issue might be and no amount of magical thinking will bring back the good old ‘everything is awesome and pigeon holed’ again. The best way to make people group up is to have group XP weeks now and then because it works. Even if the grouping experience runs the gamut of awesome to deplorable.

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2 thoughts on “A story about Challenge

  1. Sean Cook

    I think I started about 2008 in DDO, and have recently returned after a three year hiatus. My level of epic content can be put in a thimble, but that didn’t slow me down when Mabar was new! Yes, the level 20 docent needed some Elite token that only could be had in the end chest of EE content. This is my tale….

    Me friend and I entered into EE Bigtop, not really knowing what to expect. After dying a couple times,
    I added 4 gold NPCs; I had to run them all as my friend said “he didn’t feel like he could it’, he had enough problems running his own character. After a few attempts my friend dropped, he couldn’t handle the pressure. So I added another NPC for a full group. I wasn’t going to let some silly thing slow me down from attaining my level 20 docent! I had myself (Pale Master), one main tank, an backup tank, a rogue, and a healer for the main tank, and a secondary healer under my control mainly to resurrect the dead.

    I learned the biggest changes of going into Elite content is the way you play the game. All the gear in the world won’t help a character if they cannot adapt to changes in play style. I had to run this three times to finally get the elite token to drop,and had it down to no one died until the final boss unless they mobs got lucky, and on the final boss half the party died. The most important factor to “winning” is working as a team, and having control over all characters simplified the process. It was actually easier once my friend dropped, as he played like he was a maverick, running around and doing his own thing. I had only a little over 300 HP, so it really was a challenge.

    So, now I am back, and really wanting to get into Epic content. The gap from jumping from Heroic to Elite is steep enough, it won’t behoove most players who want to make that jump, it’s really that tough already. I have joined a guild, and hopefully they can put up with me until I can get better gear.My PM is almost at 400 hp, and I am really daunted to think about how to double that number.

    tl;dr: For most players, raising the difficulty will virtually guarantee that new players will not do Elite content, ever.

    Reply

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