Cataclysm Raiding: Getting Ready to Rumble

We’re now a month in on Cataclysm.  We’re past first impressions.  We’ve tried the new races, we’ve got at least one archaeologist, and we might have already played through most of the new content.  So what’s the emotional climate of World of Warcraft nowadays?  Well, for myself, there’s been more than a little frustration.

After a holiday break in which I didn’t touch WoW at all, I put my little Worgen on hold so that I could get my main geared up for raiding.  I was already 85, but I had to finish all the end quests, and get through a metric tonne of dungeons and dailies – rep is quite valuable at this point.

I’ll be honest: I never played through most of Icecrown.  I know I really should have, as it probably led up to that whole Lich King thing, but Icecrown was so… dreary.  Once I hit 80 I pretty much abandoned questing.  I didn’t want to do that this time, so I was determined to finish Twilight Highlands.

It really wasn’t difficult to do.  Every time I started to get tired of one element, the story shifted to something else.  I cannot emphasize enough how much better the quest chains are in this expansion.  When I finally finished all the quests, I was literally disappointed – it was like watching a cliffhanger finale in a TV show.  Questing, particularly in Uldum and Highlands for me, was everything questing should be: fun.

Then it was time for the dungeons.  Oh boy.  Since I had done mostly solo questing, I was pretty engrossed in reading quests, and didn’t pay much attention to chat.  While I knew I wasn’t putting out the DPS I used to, I didn’t know that pretty much everyone else felt that either their DPS or their heals were inadequate.  I found that out once I tried my first dungeon, trust me.   It was reinforced when I was in more than a few fail groups in Heroics.

I don’t actually think it’s the fault of Blizzard.  Sure, my new rotation took some adjusting, and perhaps I was undergeared for the content, but I think a lot of it has to do with expectations and my own brain.  Rather like children who come back from summer break and have to re-learn the last months of the grade before, I had to re-learn a certain level of situational awareness.

By the end of Lich King, most groups weren’t bothering with strat in heroics; much faster and easier to just fly through, and heal through whatever messes we encountered.   Everyone was over-geared.  The end-game raid had a massive buff.  In general, we just didn’t have to do much thinking.

Cataclysm, so far, values thinking over brute strength.  Almost every class has to adjust their play style to something new.  There’s very little autopilot going on.

That being said, one week into playing heroics, I’m already feeling much more comfortable.  I value each new piece of gear that drops, because it makes it that much easier.   While any PUG heroic has the potential to be painful, there aren’t any instances that make me cringe when I see the loading screen, like Oculus or Halls of Reflection used to.

The last week has been loaded with frustration in heroics, but today, I’m feeling ready to take on a raid.  I’ve already taken a look at Throne of the Four Winds, though I was way under-geared at the time; I think the strat is more than doable, and I’m excited to take it on.  Will I be victorious?  I’ll keep you updated!

Late-breaking news: This post was written early on Tuesday; now (Tuesday afternoon) I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge this blog from Blizzard.

What about you?  Are you ready to take on Cataclysm raids, or have you defeated any already?  Or are you content to check out all the new lower-level content?

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