The heroism of grinding

You may recall that Patch 3.3.2 made slight changes to some encounters. I wrote that these changes were treats because it made such encounters go by just a bit faster—which is especially nice when they’re encountered via the LFD (Looking for Dungeon) tool. Not so, say others. To boil the argument down: Such changes reduce the heroism of the encounters.

I replied in other mediums but I thought I’d briefly summarize here.

Let’s take a look at one of the changes:

Skadi the Ruthless can now be removed from his drake with 3 harpoon strikes, down from 5.

You remember him, right? The dragon-riding Viking in Utgarde?

Reducing the number of spear hits to three does not steal the sense of heroism from the encounter—because that sense of heroism was lost after the boss was put on farm mode. There’s no heroism in grinding and, I argue, that’s not why anyone does it. Grinding is for gear (or in this case emblems), achievements, and materials. There is also accompanying your fellows on their efforts, when you just want to pal around. Many reasons to grind, but a sense of heroism really isn’t among them. The heroism exists before it becomes a grind.

Also, new people learning the encounter for the first time still have to do everything that’s required to complete the fight. They still have to learn how far and fast to run down the ledge, to know when the fire is coming and which way to dodge out of it, and of course how to avoid getting killed when Skadi lands. The heroism of the encounter remains intact because it’s a challenging encounter for first-timers. We’ve all wiped learning it and the first time he’s downed there’s a good sense of accomplishment—and heroism.

The number of spear hits doesn’t affect the difficulty of the fight—it affects the time it takes for the encounter to conclude.

That’s an important distinction. Certainly a long time to complete anything increases difficulty because you have to manage resources (mana) to last for the duration. But even with five spears this encounter is not a resource management encounter.

The enemy of heroism is the number times one has to go through an encounter.

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Posted on February 4, 2010, in World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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