Timing is Everything

Today we got the news that patch 5.2 will be dropping in the last week of February. Usually, I’m not too critical of decisions made by Blizzard. In fact, I usually am on the verge of being a Blizzard apologist. This game has kept me interested and entertained for 7 years, there’s not much else I can say that about. But I have to say, sometimes their timing just sucks.

I think Tier 15 being released after less than 5 months is too soon. Much too soon. I would like some more time to work on T14 heroics, I feel like my raid can progress more before we run into a brick wall and are itching for the new tier to come out. And I don’t think we’re alone.

WoWProgress has tracked the progress of ~39,000 guilds. Of those, 29.5% have completed all normal modes and 1% have completed all heroic modes. This isn’t a lot. I think many guilds out there would benefit from a little more time in the current tier.

I had this exchange on Twitter once I learned about 5.2’s release date:

5.2 release date from Bashiok
Releasing a new raid tier every 5 months is an admirable goal, but all raid tiers are not created equal. The quantity and quality of the content available need to be taken into consideration when deciding when to push out the next tier.

Let’s take Tiers 8 & 9 as an example. They were current content for roughly the same amount of time, but they shouldn’t have been. Ulduar was a beautifully designed, lore-rich raid instance with great boss fights and clever ways of accessing heroic modes. TotC was a single room with no trash mobs and only 5 unique fights. Three and a half months in Ulduar did not feel nearly long enough.  Four months in TotC was enough to make me never want to step foot in that raid again.

Having only 5 months in the particular case of Tier 14 is problematic for three main reasons:

  1. The tier is HUGE! 16 normal + 16 heroic encounters is a lot of bosses to work through, the most bosses we’ve ever had at one time. Five months isn’t enough.
  2. Aside from the raids, players have had a ton of content to work on since the launch of Mists – gearing, rep grinds, dailies, lesser charms, dungeons, scenarios, challenge modes, new BGs, arenas, brawler’s guild, pet battles. Of course I can’t speak for everyone, but I feel like it’s only recently that I’ve had time to take a breath and spend more time doing non-raid related things or working on alts. There’s still a lot I’d like to do before jumping into the gear/valor grind to prepare myself for a new tier of content.
  3. It means we’re going to be subjected to front-loaded raid content for the 3rd expansion in a row.

There has been a very obvious pattern for the release of raid content over the last 3 expansions:

  • The first tier of the expansion features a large number of unique raid bosses, spread out through multiple raid instances.
  • The middle tier(s) feature less raid bosses in less raid instances and are current for a shorter amount of time.
  • The last tier is a single raid instance and is current for a very long time before the next expansion is released.

Unless some major changes in priorities and allocation of resources has taken place in Mists, I’m anticipating these trends will continue and we’ll again be in the final tier for much longer than anybody wants to be.

When thinking about the ideal amount of time to spend in one raid tier before the next is introduced, we really need to consider how many encounters are in that tier. Let’s take a look at the amount of time each tier lasted and compare the length of time to the number of encounters available:

Tier 7  (5 months, 18 encounters – 3.6 encounters/month)
Tier 8  (3.5 months, 23 encounters 6.6 encounters/month)
Tier 9  (4 months, 11 encounters – 2.75 encounters/month)
Tier 10 (1 year, 26 encounters – 2.2 encounters/month) 
Tier 11 (6.5 months, 25 encounters – 3.8 encounters/month)
Tier 12 (5 months, 14 encounters – 2.8 encounters/month)
Tier 13 (10 months, 16 encounters – 1.6 encounters/month)
Tier 14 (4.75 months, 32 encounters – 6.7 encounters/month)

*I’m counting heroic versions of bosses as their own encounters, and have not included world bosses or the bosses in VoA/TB*

I think that everyone can agree that 1 year in ICC and 10 months in Dragon Soul was way too long. By comparison, Ulduar and Tier 14 were current for far too short a time. I think a good ratio for boss fights to months spent in a tier is around 4:1. That’s about 1 encounter per week. The raid tiers that are around this ratio (Tiers 7 and 11) are the ones that made me feel neither rushed, nor like I was sitting around waiting for new content for an inordinate amount of time.

Raid tier release timing could be much better. Just because PTR testing is complete, doesn’t mean you need to release the next raid content patch immediately. You can hold something back. Slow down the release of the first couple tiers (but keep working on the next!) so we don’t have to spend a year in the last one. Just imagine how much more enjoyable raiding in Wrath could have been if the release schedule had been just a little bit different. Spending 6 months in Naxx, 6 months in Ulduar and only 9 months in ICC certainly would have made my raid time in Wrath more fulfilling and resulted in much less burnout at the end.

Putting an end to Tier 14 so soon is a bad idea.

12 responses to “Timing is Everything

  1. Didn’t want to include this in the post because it seemed unnecessary, but here’s the specifics of the raid releases since WotLK:

    Wrath of the Lich King
    November 13th, 2008 – Launch/Tier 7
    At release we had access to three raids – Naxxramas (15 bosses), Ruby Sanctum (1 boss), Eye of Eternity (1 boss). The only fight that could be considered having a heroic mode was Sartharion, where you could fight him with 3 adds up. That makes a total of 18 encounters.

    April 14th, 2009 – Tier 8
    Ulduar had 14 bosses, 9 of which had a heroic mode, for a total of 23 encounters.

    August 4th, 2009 – Tier 9
    Trial of the Crusader had 5 bosses, all with heroic modes. On September 22nd the Onyxia encounter was introduced, making 11 encounters to work on.

    December 8th, 2009 – Tier 10
    Icecrown Citadel opened on the 8th, though only 4 bosses were available on this date. All the bosses were available as of February 2nd, 2010. ICC has 12 bosses, all of which had a heroic mode. On June 30th, 2010, Ruby Sanctum was released which had one boss with a heroic mode. That makes 26 total encounters.

    December 7th, 2010 – Tier 11
    At release we had access to three raids – Blackwing Descent (6 bosses), Bastion of Twilight (4 bosses + 1 heroic-only boss) and Throne of the Four Winds (2 bosses), for a total of 25 encounters.

    June 28, 2011 – Tier 12
    Firelands had 7 bosses, all with heroic modes for a total of 14 encounters.

    November 29, 2011 – Tier 13
    Dragon Soul had 8 bosses, all with heroic modes for a total of 16 encounters.

    Mists of Pandaria
    Tier 14
    At release, at the end of Sepetmber, we had no access to raids – the raid content was staggered.
    October 2nd – Mogu’Shan Vaults (6 bosses)
    October 30th – Heart of Fear (6 bosses), Terrace of Endless Spring (4 bosses)
    All of these had heroic modes, for a total of 32 encounters.

  2. Just posting to say I agree. I know it’s not popular to say you want content slower, but I really dread the last tier of this expansion.

    My guild is pretty good, but we’re casual, we raid just 5 hours per week and we PuG more often than not. We basically shut down for a month around holidays. We just killed regular Sha a few weeks ago, and we’re working our way through heroics. We’re still having a great time, and the content is still “new” (heroic bosses are of course less new than normal new bosses).

    I wouldn’t mind a 5 month release schedule if they can keep it for the rest of the expansion, but like you, I don’t think they will be able to. They say that’s the goal now, but the goal has been faster expansions and that hasn’t happened either.

    • Having this tier around the holidays is another good point. My guild also lost about 2 weeks of raids there, so that’s barely 4 months that we actually had to work on the content.

  3. Also, don’t forget in WoTLK, you had the option of doing every fight in 10 or 25 man, until ICC. If you were so inclined, that gave you twice as many bosses per week to kill.

  4. Totally agree! My guild was basically not raiding in December. Right now we’re having lots of fun doing heroic modes. It feels very rushed to have a new raid tier so soon. I’d like another month of progress and then a quite month 🙂

  5. Stick me in the disappointed camp as well, was really hoping for a mid march release.

    Would like to add some numbers so people understand a bit more.
    Firelands was around for 23 weeks, and like you said, 14 encounters.

    In contrast, assuming the end of Feb release date, 21 weeks for T14, at 32 encounters. This includes the weeks around the holidays.

  6. Huh. I’d never really thought about it to be honest but there are a lot of folk suddenly feeling very rushed, whereas in the last tier of content you have folk quitting all over the place due to boredom. They definitely need to even things out a little. 🙂
    Jaedia recently posted..Jae Goes A’Gearing

  7. I have to agree. Timing sucks for my current raid group moreso because we just got together to start raiding (only 2 weeks now). That leaves a very short time to catch up gear-wise and to be ready to hit 5.2.

    I’m still hoping that they change their minds about the date. I remember ToC being rushed out when Ulduar was still being worked through and I wouldn’t like to see that scenario again.
    Saya recently posted..The Healing UI Revamp

    • To me, there’s nothing more sad (in-game) than wasting good content. Going back to finish it a tier or two later doesn’t hold the same appeal.

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