ZG, ZA and Wouldn’t it be Cool if there were 5 Mans that Felt like Raids

WoW is buzzing with folk talking about the two revamped instances, Zul’Garub and Zul’Aman.

“Too recycled!”
“Too long!”
“Too hard!”

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:

Too Long

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.

Too Hard

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.

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22 Comments on “ZG, ZA and Wouldn’t it be Cool if there were 5 Mans that Felt like Raids”

  1. Anslym Says:

    I agree completely. 3 guildies and I qued for them and we first got ZG, we made it all the way to the first boss and we went through 4-5 tanks very quickly. Something about us L2P, when the tank’s didnt grasp the concept of not stepping into the maze. We qued again and I guess someone messed up because we were ported in ZA.

    ZA was fun, I never got to experience it at level because of my lack of a raiding group. There’s a gauntlet before the eagle boss. The tank we had was going very slowly so our hunter pulled and MD’ed the mobs to him, this was met with the “You yank it, you tank it” response and then finally he just left. We got another tank that made it passed the dragonhawk boss when 2 of our guildies needed to leave to go to a cocktail party so we got pugged DPS. We we’re half way through the lynx boss when we were all DC’ed. We log back in and we’re groupless and at the beinning of the instance. We called it quits.

    A few ours later we did ZG again, we 1 shotted most of the bosses. The potion boss gave us a run for our money and we wiped a few times on Jin’do, until we finally figured out a stategy that worked.

    All in all it wasn’t a horrible experience, it was actually kind of fun!


    • Ophelie Says:

      That first boss in ZG is a pain to tank! I couldn’t do it, and was lucky enough that our pugged DK was secretly a tank who took over so I could go back to healing.

      The potions boss and Jin’do were the two that gave us the most trouble too, once the DK took over the first boss. They’re fun hard though, not frustrating hard, so it was a pleasure to learn them.

      • Gameldar Says:

        Actually I find the first boss in ZG is more a pain for the dps – it’s the linking that kills people in general. Tanking is easy – you just need to watch for the breath and run through him (and have no melee standing next to you to die) – you can run pretty early and it’ll be fine. The other tip is don’t try and tank him too close to the stairs – there is poison on the stairs that kills as well. Although I’m sure it has some bugs as I got killed by poison a couple of times when I was clearly not standing in it.

        But I agree in general (haven’t done ZA yet… and haven’t managed to down Jindo – ran out of time and I had to go after our first attempt) – once the mechanics are mastered the dungeons aren’t too difficult.

        I think people have it in their head that they are harder than they are – I cycled through about 8 healers on my second run of ZG (including a healer that drop group on the raptor boss thinking they couldn’t handle it because players kept dieing… that is a mechanic people!!!)

        • Ophelie Says:

          Yeah, it probably isn’t too bad to tank if you know what you’re doing. I didn’t have a clue! I was much happier healing. (And even then, I ended failing and dying.)

          I can really see how people would drop group a lot. Even in regular heroics, I find that players are quick to claim “fail group”, even they are the one making the mistake. So I can only imagine what the harder instances are like. I was very thankful our DK was so patient and stuck with us until the end.

  2. Zinn Says:

    I completey agree. I’ve both pugged and done guild runs in both instances by now (no, I haven’t pugged ZA actually), and on four different characters. Overall I really enjoy the instances. Even with “hardcore” raiders, we managed to wipe plenty of times on various bosses. And with my pug I did really well. Succeeding with timed in ZA is no easy task. The instances get thumbs up from me.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Pugging! On 4 characters! You’re brave! I don’t think I’m quite ready to go that far yet! Actually doing ZG once, on one character was enough for me for a few days!

      I’m looking forward to seeing ZA though. I’m working on getting another pally raid ready so my free time in game is spent there, but once she’s up and going, I’ll be checking out (and probably pugging) the new instances some more.

  3. Oestrus Says:

    I tend to think that the level in which people are enjoying the new 5 mans is directly proportionate to the amount of time that they spent in the original and how long ago that happened, among other factors.

    For example, I ran ZA much more than I ever ran ZG and I ran ZA in Burning Crusade, which took place some time after Vanilla was released. I was not one of those who ran these instances after they were current content. Once something else came along, I stopped running them. I didn’t go back for mounts or pets or the experience. I was done with them.

    I ran the re-released version of ZA on the live realms and ZG on the PTR and I was more inclined to enjoy ZG because of the above reason and also because it felt like there were at least some changes made to it. ZA felt like an overwhelmingly carbon copy of the original, with little effort being made to shake things up or to show that any work had been put into it.

    I don’t mind re-releasing content when the framework is the same, but the inner workings are different. For example, with Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep there were all new bosses, new storylines, etc. It’s perfectly reasonable (from a lore standpoint) that such settings would still exist, but just attract different inhabitants. I’m OK with that! But in what world are both of these Troll dungeons still up and around and full of the same characters that inhabited them years before? I don’t have it in me to suspend that much disbelief.

    I still stand behind my initial assertion that alts are not welcome in ZA/ZG, but I will agree with you that eventually they could be. Just not right now.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Say that to Zinn who already brought 3 of his alts! ZG isn’t a gear check – we 4 manned a lot of the bosses because someone would die at the beginning of the fight, our DK even soloed a good part of the first boss. If you know what you’re doing, the gear requirements aren’t really higher than the other heroics. Can’t speak for ZA.

      I can definitely understand how, if you’re really, really sick of an instance like ZA, having to do it AGAIN would be pretty ugg. I don’t think the majority of current players are in that boat, though. ZA was a tough instance at the time, and the casual, average guild I was in only got halfway through before it was nerfed to death. I’m really looking forward to learning the fights instead of facerolling my way through them.

  4. Poneria Says:

    I was nodding a little through the whole post.

    My nodding got jacked into a full headbang with a “YEAH!” upon those last two sentences.

    The pugs that suck the most aren’t the undergeared ones or the offensive-mouthed ones or the ones who refuse to wait for mana or boss directions — it’s the ones who won’t try past wipe #1 or #2.

    (My only disappointment so far: I keep losing the Maelstrom Crystal & disenchant rolls.”

    • Ophelie Says:

      Agreed! I always get so stressed after wipes around pugs, thinking “will the group fall apart and I’ll have to start all over?” or “will this excellent player get fed up and leave us hanging?”. I was so grateful that our DK pug was really patient.

      A thing that I’ve noticed, interestingly enough, is that it’s *rarely* the top notch players who give up easily or freak out about everyone failing. Usually it’s the wannabes or the players who are bad but don’t know they’re bad who constantly whine and give up.

  5. tobeume Says:

    Spot on review! I’ve had to do each with PUGs and we managed ok but its a near revolving door of people. It really does feel like a 5 man raid, especially ZG. It was to the point of actually getting on my Paladin alt to farm herbs for flasks before I attempted it again. I felt really naked in ZG – I actually had to sit to drink and ask a tank to wait for mana. I haven’t had to do that for a few months now.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Hahaha. It’s actually kind of nice to have to manage mana again, I find. (Although us paladins are still pretty op in the mana department. I suspect next patch will contain an incoming nerf. )

      I’m nervous about pugging, but maybe one night when I have a lot of hours to give…

  6. AliPally Says:

    These are similar to the 3 ICC heroics that came out in Wrath, and having said that, probably easier. Heroic Halls of Reflection was tougher than any of these when it first came out.
    The first boss in ZG is tough, but that is entirely due to the mechanics of the fight. Once you have learnt it, it’s not so bad. The other bosses are all do-able by anyone who has the right gear for it. Jindo needs good dps to finish, but again the mechanics are simple.
    I think Blizz have good the difficulty about right. Anyone who is saying there is too much trash in ZG clearly never went there in its original raid incarnation; the trash was tough, and there was loads of it. Switching most mobs to neutral has improved things no end.

    Paladins need a mana nerf? I’m already desperate for mana on Nefarian, and have to use every trick in the book to keep that little bar alive; please don’t say we need a nerf!

    • Ophelie Says:

      Hahaha, I haven’t tried Nef yet, so I can’t say! It just seems like I’m the worst geared healer in my raids, yet I seem to be the one complaining the least about mana and not worrying about limiting overheal.

  7. […] In the wake of 4.1, The Bossy Pally ponders the potential coolness of 5-mans that feel like raids. […]

  8. Big Says:

    I for one hate the new design of dungeons period in Cataclysm. They take too long to complete and the difficulty has nothing to do with that. Make instances hard but make them shorter. I can’t spend 2 hours running a 5 man “raid” when I have a REAL raid to run in the same night. So for a player like me these new dungeons aren’t even an option. I’m not a hardcore raider (only 12/12 normal) but I don’t like coming out of a real raid and then having to run a dungeon that is just as tough as the raid I just got out of. Make the instances shorter. Less trash and less bosses. Dungeons shouldn’t take this long to run. Not fun imo.

    • Ophelie Says:

      They’re only 45 minutes once you’re familiar with them (with the exception of the new ones and maybe Deadmines). And why do you “have” to run them? If you don’t feel like it, or you’re tired, then don’t. Once you get really into raiding (which you are), there’s nothing worth getting out of heroics.

      • Big Says:

        I guess you’re right Ophelie. I don’t have to run them. Tbh, I don’t run them anymore. Between raiding and trying to meet weekly Valor point caps, it’s too much of a time sink for me. Sorry to of gotten so Emo about these heroics. I guess I’m a wrath baby at heart.

        • Ophelie Says:

          I wonder how much our time of entry to the game (and our perceptions of the game at that time) affects our perception of the current game. I pugged my way through Vanilla, on my own, and while I was pretty complacent about it and I really enjoyed the exploration factor, I was annoyed at how they’d take 4+ hours to pug and that you’d spend more time replacing players than you did actually fighting monsters. As a result, I find that Cataclysm instances, with their 45 min runs, their LFD and their quick run backs are quite nice! And I like that they still have a bit of that exploration factor, without being maze-like and confusing.

  9. Saeadame Says:

    Just going to say I would LOVE a 5-man “raid.” I don’t have time to raid with my guild anymore, but I like the people so much that I hang around as a social member. Because it’s a fairly hardcore progression guild, the time commitment is just too much. But what about a 5-man dungeon that takes, say, 3-4 hours to complete by a good group and resets every week? Something that requires the same level of coordination from the team as a raid (though, easier because there’s less people, I’ll grant you). Probably wouldn’t drop the same level of loot, I guess, since a 5-man no matter how difficult is perceived as easier than a 10 or 25 man group but… I would love that. I can’t set aside 3-4 nights a week to raid with my guild, but I could definitely set aside one night a week to get a raid-like experience with me and 4 other guildies.

    Sounds amazing…

    • Ophelie Says:

      Yes! That’s exactly what I was going for!

      I wouldn’t want 10s and 25s to go to the wayside, but I’d love having the option of an epic 5 man, just for fun.

  10. Saif Says:

    Absolutely agree – and the nerfs are already hitting (some well deserved, but I hope they don’t down-town it too much).

    I actually completed my first run of Z’A on my warlock who’s not epic’d out or anything, and my crazily geared tank did it much later.

    Now that I know both instances, they both take ~1 hour or so, not much longer. And the difficulty level is fantastic – it does feel like a mini-raid and I appreciate it all the more for it.

    More of this sort of tiered dungeon content, IMO!

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