WoW is buzzing with folk talking about the two revamped instances, Zul’Garub and Zul’Aman.
And, of course, the occasional show off: “Too easy!”
Lissanna did a good post on the topic, rounding up some thoughts and getting some substantial discussion going.
I’ve done ZG. I haven’t gotten around to ZA yet.
I loved ZG. It was awesome. I know the recycled material offends purists who are too good for “lazy content”, but not me. I really enjoy the theme of Cataclysm, where I can go back to all those places near and dear to (or strongly despised by) my heart and see what they look like a couple of years after my services.
ZG was no exception. I didn’t have time to read up on the story, but I was very interested to know that more evil trolls invoking spirits have moved in since I cleared the place in hopes of achievements and tiger mounts.
I’m told ZA is a copy-paste of the original, which is a little disappointing (dudes…dudes! I killed you people years ago! What are you doing back here?), but at the same time, ZA was a brilliant instance. I loved the complexity and creativity of the fights. Especially the fire egg boss that took me so long to figure out and that made me so proud when I finally understood. I’m sort of glad I’ll get to re-experience those fights.
Now let’s look at the complaints surrounding the instances:
It took my group a little over 2 hours to complete ZG, and we had a patient, kick-ass tank in heroics gear talking us through. We had a group simultaneously do ZA, without an experienced guide, and it took them barely a few minutes more than us.
Contrarily to what Lissanna says, ZG has very little trash. Much less than the other Cataclysm 5 mans. I also don’t recall doing much in terms of CC. The instance has a feel of a modern raid, with just enough trash to avoid falling back into the Trial of the Crusader trap.
What took up our 2 hours, were the wipes as we struggled to grasp the novel mechanics of the fights. Without wiping, I think we could have easily gotten through the instance in 45 minutes, which is pretty much the same time as the other Cataclysm heroics.
I can’t speak for ZA.
How do these line up with the other heroics from Cataclysm? Well. I remember pugging them during the week of their release. Once the hardcore, now-Sinestra killers were finished with them (I loved those runs!), Cataclysm heroics took well over 3 hours to pug with an average group. As the instances became better known, the players got better geared and the fights themselves were nerfed, the average pug run was shortened to about 45 minutes, with Deadmines still taking the better part of an hour.
I recall a tweet saying: “Don’t bring your alt to the new 5 mans!”.
I’d like to make a correction: “Don’t bring your alt to the new 5 mans yet!”
The fights are actually perfect for gearing alts…once you know them on your main. These fights aren’t gear checks. They’re all mechanics. Do the right thing at the right time and they’re a breeze. Trust me. Our DK soloed the better part of the first ZG fight.
But prepare to die a lot learning the fights. The mechanics are more complex (and interesting) than “pick up adds and don’t stand in the fire”. Think Stonecore, but less shitty.
Once you’ve mastered being at the right place at the right time, though? This is the perfect place to gear your alt.
5 mans should be accessible to anyone!
While I don’t necessarily agree with this statement (I think regulars should be accessible to anyone, heroics should involve a minimal effort), I’d like to point out that my guild had two teams complete the instances Thursday night. And we are your casual, chilling, social raiding guild. At 6/12, with anywhere from 0 to 2 raids a week, we’re not Sinestra killers.
And we did ZG and ZA. We wiped, we ran back, we adjusted our tactics, but at no point did we feel like we were banging our heads against a wall.
Which is actually better than Stonecore and Grim Batol the week those instances were released.
Could an average Pug do the instance? Probably not. Not yet. The instances take too much communication and, as social bloggers everywhere constantly moan, communication is difficult in PuGs. But once people run the instances with their guilds a few time and learn the fights, I think ZG and ZA will totally be puggable, and will be comparable to the other Cataclysm heroics in length.
Conclusion: I’d sort of like a raid-style 5 man
I like fights that make me think. I like having a really small team to think with. So I like hard 5 mans.
I thoroughly enjoyed running ZG with the fantastic people in my Thursday group (I was even very tempted to ask our DK out on a date. He was HAWT.). It felt like a raid, except there were only 5 of us and the fights took slightly less wipes than a raid to learn.
The whole time I was thinking, what if there was an epic 5 man designed like a raid? One instance you don’t do often, that you save for an afternoon where you have 5 hours to yourself. A huge instances with twists and turns, Original Stratholme or Blackrock Depths style. A fight were you really need to think before engaging the bosses.
And really, sure, I think 5 man heroics should be accessible to anyone. Anyone with a brain, instead of only a face for rolling.