Catch-up kills even the minute

I wrote many times how catch-up mechanisms killed WoW for me. Simply, the optimal way of getting ilvl X is to log out and wait until it becomes catch-up. Why work if you get it for free. I recently wrote how I hope that WoW classic will get rid of this nonsense and make sure that later starting players have to walk the exact same route as the first players.

But I didn’t even consider the effect on the “this minute” gameplay. For me, calculating what is the optimal route is enough to take it. If that optimal route is unbearably not fun, I simply abandon the game, but I will not take a suboptimal route just because it’s fun. Which is fine, but most people don’t work that way.

However Syp wrote a good post how these mechanisms destroy the fun of the current game, before they are even implemented:

So instead of being excited to build up my character by working on my artifact weapon, farming legendaries, etc. and carrying that with me to Battle from Azeroth, now I have no — zero — reason to do any of that. It’s not just a gear reset, it’s a reset of character progression in this regard. It’s Blizzard, yet again, taking away a talent tree to give us a different talent tree just to eventually take away that talent tree to give us another talent tree.


Now, on the one hand, he is very wrong. He assumes incompetence where there is malice. Blizzard doesn’t seek the perfect talent tree, they change the system every expansion on purpose, to completely destroy the old. This way the newcoming players don’t have disadvantage over those who spent hundreds of hours building the old talents.

However he is completely right on the “feeling” part. The “pre-expansion lull” hits even the most emotion-driven player, because it becomes obvious that any kind of effort he puts into character progression will be taken away completely. Everything the game has to offer is “old” and “irrelevant”, even before the new content arrives. Why bother if it’s already announced that it’ll be taken away.

I really hope that the classic server will be implemented without catch-up mechanisms. And if successful, I hope it will receive a TBC upgrade, but reworked at the no-catch-up idea. So the lvl 58 fel orcs should be tuned to Vanilla dungeon geared players and give Vanilla dungeon level rewards. This still serves as a catch-up, as Vanilla green players can team up and slowly kill these mobs for serious upgrades, while Vanilla dungeon geared players can solo them and move faster. But they should be easy for Vanilla epic geared players and should not give any upgrades for Vanilla raiders. Those players should be able to ignore TBC normals and move directly to heroics which give equal gear to fill up the holes or go directly to raiding. This way even when TBC is announced on the Vanilla servers, there is reason to continue to progress in Vanilla.

Author: Gevlon

My blog:

18 thoughts on “Catch-up kills even the minute”

  1. It’s always weird encountering someone with a completely opposite sense of what is found fun. It’s not about achieving ilevel X, it’s the getting to ilevel X. You’re basically yelling at joggers and telling them “if you never left the house, you wouldn’t have to run back.” The artifacts and legendaries were relevant for almost two years now, and will continue to be relevant for anyone progressing through the last raid. After that, progress resets with the expansion, same as it always has, for the last decade.

    This way even when TBC is announced on the Vanilla servers, there is reason to continue to progress in Vanilla.

    There really wouldn’t be, for all the same reasons why nobody was doing vanilla content once TBC came out. All the serious raiders were raiding TBC content, all serious dungeon-runners were in TBC dungeons, and everyone else skipped the entire vanilla endgame and farmed the Fel Orcs. Or, you know, out-leveled them. Getting dungeon groups together was tough enough without LFG tools, let alone when the lure of better, easier gear from questing rendered older content moot. If you’re good enough to raid Molten Core, you’re more than good enough for Karazhan.

    And all of this is besides the fact that these vanilla raiders still had to slog through trivial questing content, assuming that their vanilla raiding gear was better than anything they found anywhere other than TBC raids. What if some of them liked questing? Ten levels of zero rewards. It’s a terrible experience for everyone involved, and why damn near every themepark resets power every expansion.


  2. You misunderstood what I’ve said. I meant “after TBC is ANNOUNCED, there is reason to farm Vanilla as the Vanilla gear helps in TBC” while now you can stop playing when new expansion is announced because anything you get will be reseted on launch day.


  3. I do not think the existence of catch-up mechanisms is bad, but it is the way the work.
    The problem is how they are implemented.
    Catch-up is needed to avoid players spreading over a too large area and quitting because they do not find people at their level.
    The problems I see with WoW’s system are
    – on expansion announcement (or rather on personal first kill of last boss) current content becomes irrelevant
    – old content is mostly a grind to the new expansion
    – old content is nerfed to the ground
    As a suggestion for a different catch-up model:
    – xp for mainline quests is increased (less side quests needed to reach the endgame, still has the story)
    – move good/important side quest rewards to the main story line or dungeon bosses(less grinding gear for the mid to lower skill players while still having a hard cap for how easy it gets)
    – drops are increased in dungeons etc (i.e. bosses of a dungeon drops 2,4,6,8…? items per kill)
    In this model catch-up happens by removing the grind part from older content. Skilled players can progress even faster while bad players can skip the grind.


  4. @Pheredhel: that wouldn’t help at all. Current content would become irrelevant (you don’t need to grind it anyway) and the optimal way of gearing would still be “just don’t play and wait until it becomes catchup”


  5. While I do agree that the most optimal way to spend in-game non-gold currency is to buy items after the patch, I still see a reason for running last pre-expansion content. Killing fel-boars in Hellfire Peninsula in low-level blues wasn’t fun but defeating undeads in Borean Tundra with BT, Hyjal, and badge gear equipped was more satisfying. Also, for some reason, the first item which could be a real upgrade (instead of plain Sta boost with minor changes to other stats) to my gear was in Drak’Tharon Keep.


  6. You’re suggesting that they alter the balance of TBC to give even greater favor the players that raided naxx40 when the classic phase ends? I don’t have much experience from recent Xpacs, however I did play Vanilla Naxx40 through to TBC’s Black Temple, and I can say without question that the leveling process of 60-70 was completely trivialized by Naxx40 gear. So there’s no need to give an edge to raiders in that regard, they already have it.

    Personally I wouldn’t trust them to change anything without making it worse (or ‘better’ for M&S). I think the best chance classic has to work is if it is ported 1:1 from the past, and balanced progressively with the same changes from each major content patch.

    Forcing A > B > C > D progression on players is impossible, socials have a better and simpler work-around. It is easier to carry a few alts/new-guys in the current ‘farm’ tier than to expect potential cutting edge raid members to run old raids on their own. Nobody still ran Molten Core seriously when Naxx40 was released, the first 2 tiers were completely skipped by everyone at one point. Ironically I think that modern WoW’s LFR is closer to ‘forced progression’ than Vanilla ever was.


  7. I never understood why gear resets were needed anyhow. Its also one of the reasons I don’t play wow or swtor anymore. My most precious possession is my time. Dam you if you waste it. Resetting my character to be the equal of something that can be bought from the cash shop, wasting the previous 1000 hours? that grinds my gears.

    It can be done different, better, without rendering all the time and effort put in to my character worthless. For an example as to how look at neverwinter: there each new “expansion” is actually a long campaign with dailies new dungeons, raids, currencies etc. The rewards from these campaigns for completing them are perma stat boosts for your character. Like eg “+400 crit rating”

    Imagine if the reward for killing ragnaros ten times was a perma +15% fire resist applied to that characters (not account) core stats? of killing blackwing 10 times +15% shadow resistance. (yeah temple could be nature and nax frost I guess). NOW you have a reason for tbc guys to be using vanilla content. They will be doing it for ever as well as when the hunter rerolls a mage or the tank rerolls his pali to a druid for a boss fight, they will need running through old content by the guild to get them their boons.

    Imagine a game of wow where the level cap was still 60, but we had +500 crit from killing the LK ten times, +40 mainstat for the dragon soul clears we did and for the mythic siege of origimar? perhaps an extra 2k health. trivial by themselves, but they add up fast. NOW you haven’t been wasting my time playing your game for the last xyears.


  8. @Trees: that advantage the Naxx raiders had was completely well deserved. Which is the point. If you are good, you should be god among the noobs. Otherwise why would anyone bother?

    @Nightgerbil: that’s a great idea. Instead of each dungeons giving some of the same stats (making one dungeon clearly superior to the other), they could give some small, but everlasting buff. +15% fire resist won’t make or break a normal raid, but it helps and is good to have. It can make or break a mythic though.


  9. You’re discounting players like myself, who dip in and out of MMOs at random. I have Legion registered on my account but I have yet to play any of it. It’s more than likely that I won’t get around to it before the next expansion arrives. It makes no difference to me where the current population bubble is – I’ll be in a bubble of my own, playing through content that’s new to me even if it’s very old to most other people. If I find it interesting and enjoyable then I’ll play it as far as that takes me without any regard to whether the gear I’m acquiring is obsolete by the standards of the current meta.

    It’s like going out on a fine, winter day and spending a couple of hours chopping logs even though you don’t have a wood-burning fire and all you’re going to do is pile them up and leave them. Which I have done. And enjoyed. And will do again.


  10. Why people are willing to accept the complete reset after each MOBA/RTS match but not ready to accept the complete reset after WoW expansion? Time put into game can’t be an answer, because people play thousands of MOBA/RTS matches and put the same time into them as WoW players into a single expansion.


  11. Yes Trees, the bitching will begin from older players the moment the guild needs to recruit again, and realize they must carry them through all the old content every single time. Then it will dawn *who* the catch-up mechanism was invented for (hint: not for the new scrub).


  12. By your logic, the path I took with the Microsoft X-Box is the optimal path:

    I never bought one, and played no games on the console I didn’t buy. What would have been the point? I would have just played the games and then finished them. When a new one comes out, I would have had to start all over! All my progress!

    Why go to the grocery store? You’re just going to eat the food and run out again! It’s pointless!

    Now THERE’S a micro transaction for you! Really, it’s the optimal path for finishing Assassin’s Creed.


  13. It’s gonna “make or break” the game once you have a few tier of raiding released unless you decide to balance everything released after each raid tier as requiring the buffs. Just think of how your stats will scale to infinity if you never get reset and you get “token: buffs for completing the previous tier a few time. You already have banked 15 to all 4 magic damage school. What’s the next buff for clearing Kara 15 times? Mag’s lair? Gruul’s Lair? Black temple? 2nd pass at AQ? Hyjal? Sunwell? Remember when in a single expansion, we got some class ahrd-capped on 1 secondary stas and started dumping leftovers in a second one? Do you plan on doing this until you cap everything capable and then scale in odd way because gear should never loose value?


  14. @Souldrinker
    Wrong comparison I would say… A game in league of legend is not very different from a battleground in Wow.
    You should compare a reset in wow with something like a reset of your level in league of legend.
    Something like: “Back to lvl 1 at the start of every season in LoL”


  15. I meant “after TBC is ANNOUNCED, there is reason to farm Vanilla as the Vanilla gear helps in TBC” while now you can stop playing when new expansion is announced because anything you get will be reseted on launch day.

    Nobody is going to seriously start farming vanilla gear once the expansion is announced, just so they can trivialize the leveling content. Maybe, maybe, the cutting-edge raiders, but they likely already have all the gear they needed months ago. The time costs for Naxx40 (or any) raiding are enormous, and TBC would obviously be clearable by people progressing normally through quests–> dungeons–> raids. Just as you said before, everyone would be better off waiting for the expansion to drop.


  16. “new content”
    is it really “new”?

    there is only “relevant”. its a couple dungeons, raids, maybe open world mechanic. that’s it. there is no pvp in wow retail. there was pvp back then … but I doubt it will ever return even in classic, Blizzard somehow will fuck this up.
    so, nothing new. the colours change, some numbers change and the dance changes a tiny bit. Am I too far gone that I can’t see any significant difference?

    expansions are the easy way out for a company to put another product in customers hands and demand money for basically the same thing … just a bit easier, just a bit different, just a bit changed.

    I usually stop playing an MMO after the first bigger expansion addon. nothing against adding questlines or little changes in the current world if it doesn’t make that current world completely useless and irreverent.

    No I don’t want an expansion for classic. Adding TBC would be too easy and would break vanilla again. If you want expansions go play retail.
    again. If in doubt, don’t change a thing! Never change a running system! Just leave it at the latest vanilla patch 1.12.1. and only security fix and gamebreak bugfix that version onwards. it will take years until Naxx is on farm. until then maybe JUST maybe Blizzard have figured it out what it really was that made vanilla a hit. Hint it was not listening to the community! people do not know what they want! and if Blizzard caters to those commie whiny twats, that all want to look the same and have no effort content, please for the love of reason play Retail! not TBC, not window licking and certainly not cata!

    and yes as soon as they announced classic, every one and their grandma rooted for some patch and some expansion version of the game. I don’t like 1.12.1 … I say that version because it was the most polished and bugfree version out of them all. some changes I don’t like, but overall it would still capture vanilla!


  17. People are already trying to poison the well with blog posts and videos crying about catch-up mechanisms and gear-stat mudflation as if it really makes a difference in a purely Vanilla-centric server. If Blizzard does it right, in my opinion, the end game will -always- be the end game, with nothing new coming. In that line of thought, I have the hope that whatever “patch” Blizzard chooses to base “Vanilla” around, that the end game content will be the same for everyone and stay that way.

    That way, you have a server community that benefits from a shared, common goal to work towards. THAT was the magic of Vanilla in my opinion. The dedicated and skilled players rose to the top, as they should, and became chosen by the top progressing Guilds. The M&S were relegated to the “blacklists” when it came time to form groups. If guilds weren’t big enough to attempt end game content, someone would form an “Alliance” where multiple small guilds could work together in completing said content. Nothing was forced and success was determined by perseverance and trial an error with people that became KNOWN to you over the course of the last 60 levels and content.

    Having said all of that, the only thing I would wish to see changed would be a reduction from a 40-man requirement, to a 20-man requirement in end-game content. As was seen in later content, there was no real need for a 40-man requirement and I saw first hand how WoW benefited from the 40 to 20 reduction.


  18. But Vanilla had catch up mechanics. Well sort of.
    When DM was released – it had bis gear for most of the classes and thus invalidated the lvl60 5mans that came before it. The ZG and AQ patches introduced even more easily accessible gear with blues being better than raid epics.


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