Friday, June 26, 2009

3.2 Emblem Change: Welfare Epics?

Though there are many exciting, interesting, and occasionally controversial changes coming in Warcraft Patch 3.2, few changes have spurred as much debate as the coming adjustments to the emblem currency system. In a nut shell, the emblems once reserved for 25 man WotLK raids will now drop in Heroics and 10 man raids as well as in all pre-3.2 25 man raids. A new, higher ranking Emblem of Triumph will now drop in the Crusaders' Coliseum instances and be available as a reward for completing both normal and heroic daily dungeon quests. Feel free to check out the thread announcing the change here.

Since the announcement the classic feud over who is entitled to endgame gear and who isn't has been put back on the table. The debate has been renewed now that the Public Test Realms for 3.2 are open and players are beginning to see the changes first hand. Having trolled countless forum posts on the subject and mulled the issue during the quiet moments of everyday life, I have finally decided to weigh in on the subject.

Blizzard's mantra since the release of Wrath of the Lich King has been "making content accessible." Despite some hardcore cries to the contrary, I think it is a great direction for the game to move in. World of Warcraft's player base is gigantic. It's hardcore player base (those who raid endgame content multiple evenings per week) represents a small, though rabid, segment of that broader population. It does not make sense for Blizzard to design complex raiding experiences to only be experienced by a small segment of the game's players. More intense players will always be the first to clear new content and, ultimately, the best at clearing it. In my opinion, this is the reward for being one of Azeroth's elite.

Unfortunately, many players view loot as the endgame raider's reward. Some admit this openly, while others veil their lust for loot, whether to themselves or the world at large, as some other skill, time, or dedication based concern. Regardless, there is a rather pervasive disdain amongst the hardcore community towards any change which makes epic loot easier to come by. In my opinion, this antipathy is misguided.

Good gear does not grantee passage into one of World of Warcraft's top guilds. A player must also be skilled in his or her class and have the time and patience necessary to grind away at fresh, difficult content. Having the gear to make clearing endgame content a possibility is quite a distance away from being in a position to actually do so.

As Warcraft equipment system has introduced more and more tiers of player gear, making endgame content a possibility gear-wise has become an increasingly arduous task. That task has ultimately become a problem as players on the cusp of entering endgame content find themselves needing gear from dungeons which the hardcore have no incentive to run and the casual cannot handle. Though this does not present a dead end, it does transform a player's gearing up experience from play to a chore.

The 3.2 emblem change fixes that problem in two ways. First, upper tier players now have an incentive to run lower tier content as that content is now tied to rewards which can be beneficial while working through endgame. This increases the player base interested in running lower tier content and makes finding groups easier, which ultimately enhances the player experience and increases player skill by allowing for more time in grouped content. Second, the change allows a player expedited advancement into endgame content on the shoulders of his or her own merit. Again, gear is only one ingredient used to bake an endgame raider. Without skill and dedication, all the gear in the world will not bring you into any of World of Warcraft's primear guilds. Additionally, I think that many hardcore players forget that this tool is available to their alts as well.

I am clearly in favor of the emblem changes. Though I am much more casual in my play currently, there was a time during which I was rather hardcore. (I was the first Druid on my server to land myself Leggings of Immersion afterall. Oh the memories!) As a result, I can certainly understand the hardcore mentality. To avoid giving legitimacy to the claims that hardcore players are elitist, it is important to keep in mind that World of Warcraft is a game. It is not a sport or an industry. Players should not invest time in World of Warcraft for some reward. Time should be spent in World of Warcraft because it is fun.

If you enjoy seeing new content first and spending long nights slugging away at difficult encounters with 25 of your closest friends, then you have the right kind of hardcore mindset. If, however, you have "worked hard" for your gear and do not want others to get epics easily, perhaps your time would be better spent concentrating on your real life job or studies. If you dislike the change, take a step back and really put your fingure on why. If you are honest with yourself, I can almost garuntee you will not like what you find.


  1. I have to be honest I haven't read up on it yet. Perhaps you can fill me in on a couple of things. Will our current heroic emblems be magically turned into the new and the old ones banned or will they simply have no use and we will start with the new emblems?

    I'm a simple girl:)

  2. The current heroic emblems you have will not change and the things you can purchase with them will also remain the same. The new badges can be converted into the current heroic emblems if you still want to purchase those rewards. There is, however, currently no way to convert the old heroic emblems into the new ones (ie the old 25 man badges).

    Blizzard certainly doesn't keep it simple sometimes! :)

  3. Thank you for the explaination Pathis...greatly appreciated:)

  4. Unfortunately, you're discounting the fact that some players spend literally hours online, in order to gear up with the latest-tier pieces. Now, players can simply (thru their own "skill") receive their own reward in a matter of hours. How, pray, is that fair?

  5. It is fair because the players who spend hours pushing into endgame content will still have the "latest" tier pieces. Pre-3.2 tier pieces are now more easy to obtain, not post.

    Also, just because someone invested in his or her gear in a way that does not involve raiding does not degrade the accomplishment.