A Blog by Bajingobomb, Horde US-Malfurion

3.0.8 Malygos – Why make new content when you can fundamentally change current stuff?

So 3.0.8 finally went live yesterday, much to the dismay of fans of Volley and Summon Gargoyle.  One of the things a lot of people were really excited about were some changes made to a few of the achievements involving time limits, namely Gotta Go! and You Don’t Have An Eternity.

If you still bother to read this site, you probably recall that my guild has been working the 5-Minute Malygos achievement for the past couple weeks.  Well, as luck would have it, we finally nailed it this past Monday (01.19.09) and killed Malygos in four minutes, eighteen seconds.

Naturally, we were thrilled.  The achievement took us one step closer to Heroic: Glory of the Raider, as well as moved us closer to the top of the food chain.  So Tuesday rolls around, it’s patch day, the timer is increased to six minutes and we figure getting the achievement for those that sat out on Monday night would be pretty simple to pull off.

Wrong!

From the 3.0.8 undocumented changes posted this morning on MMO-Champion:

You Don’t Have An Eternity – Both normal and heroic version of the achievement have been changed to 6 minutes. (Up from 5) The encounter has been changed and made slightly harder, the achievement isn’t necessarily easier to obtain.

The actual change is that the power sparks summoned from the portals now have a 90 second maximum duration.  That’s 90 seconds from spawn to gone regardless of if the spark is rooted or already popped – after 90 seconds all traces of it despawn.

Additionally, the explosion caused by the dragons breath has had it’s blast radius quadrupled, so melee needs to head for the hills after each breath if they don’t want the tank to blow them up.

If you read a few posts back about 5 Minute Malygos, you saw the basic strat was to stack up 4-5 sparks and then blow them all at once, reducing Malygos to nearly dead before P2 begins so he dies almost immediately when you enter P3.  This strat proved to require the coordination of Druid roots and Death Knight grips to stack the sparks in place, as well as skillful manuvering of Malygos himself by the MT to ensure that the sparks get to the desired spot without first risking them being intercepted by the dragon.

Throughout our attempts at 5-Minute Malygos we routinely commented on how well-tuned the encounter appeared to be, something Blizzard has overall done an excellent job of on the vast majority of the achievements.  The encounter was difficult and challenging, but most certainly doable with precise execution.

Conversely, the post 3.0.8 6-Minute Malygos at first glance appears to be a cluster-fuck.

The absolute best you can hope for is 2 stacks maximum at a time.  By and large the largest drawback of the spark cooldown is that you now have no feasible way to get through P2 anywhere near fast enough to meet the timer, even with the extra minute.  Granted, we only put in a handful of attempts last night, most of which were further hindered by crippling lag at the outset of P2 (which I could have sworn was supposed to be fixed…).  However, I’ve now heard mumblings that Blizzard does not expect most groups to be able to actually complete the achievement now until better gear is available (ie. in 3.1 with the introduction of Ulduar).

So, ok, it’s harder now – so what?

True enough.  It’s certainly still nothing compared to trying to execute fights like pre-3.0 M’uru or Kil’Jaeden, but that really isn’t the point and it isn’t why everyone was so irritated.  What is so infuriating about this change is that it was just a cop-out change that hinders what was an enjoyable encounter “just because”.

No doubt, the biggest problem Blizzard probably had with the original incarnation of the achievement strategy was the “requirement” of four Druids and a couple Death Knights.  Needing specific classes who bring specific abilities in order to defeat content is completely against their entire design philosophy at this stage in the game.  Sure, that’s ok, I get it.  They could have gone about it other ways…

If you don’t like the “requirement” of Entangling Roots, make the sparks vulnerable to other CC.  Let a Paladin stop one with Repentance, let Mages sheep them, I don’t know, something.  The argument that you “need” Death Knights is even worse, because a tank who can move the dragon quickly enough and to the right locations essentially can pull the spark to the desired location without Death Grip.  Sure, it’s nice to have Death Grip to make it easier, but the point is that it wasn’t absolutely necessary like a lot of people thought.

Instead, we now have an encounter where less is less. The strategy is now limited by the encounter, not by skill.  The encounter is now billed as harder, yet you get nothing more – still the same loot you’ve been disenchanting for the last 2 months.  All you get is a lot more casuals who will get their achievement 3 months from now when they have gear to win a straight DPS race popping sparks whenever they want and blowing lust in P2.

“Hardcore” guilds, if you can even call them that anymore, will still pound away at it because it’s something to do and because they simply like to raid.  But they’ll be having less fun doing it now because Blizzard decided to kill the encounter for the sake of letting your best friends tag along.

It’s really a shame that, in a game where Blizzard claimed the Heroic Achievements would become the new form of hardcore raiding while letting casuals still see all of the content, they now take steps to make the Heroic Achievements more casual-friendly – even if they are harder.

The fight has gone from one requiring careful planning and execution to one where you really just need to bring a big enough stick.  And that really sucks.

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