Last week, Ana posted some thoughts on the valor point grind. She and I have been discussing this topic on and off for the better part of three weeks, and for the most part I agree with her. There is one issue, however, that we don’t agree on despite each of our best efforts at persuading the other. And that particular topic is, “How much valor should we get from raiding?”
Quoting the relevant section of Ana’s post:
For the record, I am NOT asking for raiding to completely cap VP. This is a very important point, because I know the devs are quite tired of hearing from raiders who want their VP handed to them on a silver platter. I don’t think raiders should get a completely free pass. I accept that as someone who desires to cap VP, I have to put in a fair amount of effort.
To make sure I’m presenting Ana’s opinion fairly, let’s clarify some of the details. We both agree that it would be more convenient if we could cap valor through raiding, and that we’d be happier if we could. Her stance is purely that we shouldn’t be able to, because it’s better for the game if we can’t. The principle is that by forcing raiders to do dailies, it gets us out into the world and interacting with other players, which is a good thing.
Counterpoint: valor isn’t the prime motivator
Certainly it’s good to get people out into the world. But it’s not clear to me that valor has a significant effect on that. First of all, dailies are an abysmally inefficient way to grind valor; any reasonably talented raider can do far better by running heroics via LFD, LFR, or challenge modes. So a raider who’s time-limited (or just efficiency-minded) won’t generally opt for the long, slow daily grind instead of getting a few other guildies together and choosing one of the more efficient routes to their weekly valor.
There are plenty of other reasons to do dailies though, reputation being the most obvious. If you drew a Venn diagram, I’d be willing to bet that the set of raiders has a pretty healthy overlap with the set of achievement hounds. So we’re doing them anyway, and would be whether they granted valor or not, simply because we want to max out our reputations with the factions.
And of course, there’s also the gear that becomes available at revered and exalted. Most of the factions provide ilvl 489 epic gear for valor points once you reach revered, and the Klaxxi and Golden Lotus each provide a free epic at exalted (ring from Klaxxi, amulet from Golden Lotus). The other nice part about these items is that they’re competition-free. There’s a great expertise/haste option from Klaxxi, and we don’t have to feel guilty about taking it from a DPS. As I joked on twitter, there’s also a dodge/mastery option, “but I don’t know what that’s for.”
So between reputation and free epics, we’d all be doing dailies anyway. And once we reach exalted with a particular faction, we’re still going to stop. I’ve already quit doing the dailies for the factions I’ve gotten to exalted – Klaxxi, Golden Lotus, Anglers, and Cloud Serpents. Which is a relief, because it’s turned a miserable 2-hour grind into about 30 minutes of (still miserable) Shadopan dailies and (significantly less miserable) August Celestial dailies, along with a few tillers dailies to finish out my budding social network at Halfhill and spending some quality time down home on the farm.
So, what is valor for?
Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that we do get valor points for doing them. I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t, either. In fact, quite the opposite, they should probably reward more valor given how much time they take, so that they’re more competitive with challenge modes, heroics, and scenarios. Especially since the latter were just buffed.
But we have to consider that, given the myriad of sources of valor points, the currency is basically just a reward for “time spent in-game,” doing almost anything. So if you can cap valor with 12-15 hours of dailies, or much faster via challenge modes, scenarios, LFR, and heroics, then why can’t you cap with 12-15 hours of raiding? What makes that time spent raiding less valuable than spending an equivalent amount (or less) time doing other things? It’s certainly no less challenging, and I think you’d be hard-pressed to make any argument for the situation based on skill.
Of course, one argument might be that you get gear drops from raiding. Though I’ll note that you get gear from heroics, scenarios, and LFR as well. The dailies also unlock gear at certain reputation levels, so there’s a gear reward there too. And while challenge modes don’t drop useful items, they do have a long-term reward that encourages people to try them, which is – you guessed it – gear. So I’m not sure the gear argument holds much water either.
It’s not clear to me why raiding is such an inefficient way to get valor points. Raid content has for the majority of the game’s lifetime been the end-game content. It’s what patch cycles have been scheduled and built around and what guilds use to gauge their skill and dedication. A good raid tier gets lauded and remembered for years, and a bad one gets decried for an equal length. The simple utterance of “Ulduar” or “Dragon Soul” elicit a wellspring of memories for most raiders, and it’s hard to think of other activities in the game that are similarly evocative. Raiding is the heart and soul of World of Warcraft.
And yet, by giving such meager valor rewards for raiding, Blizzard is basically saying, “Yeah, we understand that you guys love this content, and we love to produce it, but we don’t think that the 12-15 hours you spend raiding is really all that important. We’d rather you spend more time not raiding. Why don’t you try this
busywork daily content we’ve implemented? Or better yet, run through the LFD tool so you can kill bosses you’ve already done 100 times while you were gearing up for raids and drop loot rewards that you’ve already outgrown?”
It’s sort of backwards, in a way. Wrath and Cataclysm emphasized the philosophy that the player should be able to progress their character in a variety of ways, based on what content they like. So the raider could cap their valor by raiding, while another player could do daily heroics. And while that dynamic is still here in MoP, it’s being stifled. Because the valor reward system is basically saying, “Hey, it’s great that you like raiding, but you’ll also have to do some other stuff you don’t care about to be maximally effective.”
And note that I’m not thinking about the last few weeks here. We were all doing dailies and running heroics anyway, just to gear up and grind reputation. But in a few weeks, when all the rep grinds are over and we’re working on the new instances, that’s content we’ll have outgrown. Maybe there won’t be as much need for valor at that point, since we’ll be getting better gear from the new raids. But if the proposed plan for turning valor into an item-upgrade currency goes through, it will become relevant in a hurry.
Let’s play “what if…”
For a moment, consider what would happen if we could cap valor through raiding. What if raiding gave 100 VP per boss instead of 25? It would take 10 bosses to cap, which is still a decent number. Once guilds are working on heroic progression in Heart of Fear and Terrace of Endless Springs, they may not even be killing 10 bosses a week depending on their schedule. Mogu’shan is likely to be dropped from many raid schedules in favor of heroic progression.
And, really, so what if they do cap through raiding? What does it mean in the broader sense? Fewer people queuing for LFD out of boredom and necessity, perhaps. That might even decrease queue times, very few guilded healers and tanks bother to queue up solo. Fewer jerks in LFR complaining about how bad everyone else is and trolling, because they’re only in the raid for their weekly valor? I don’t see how that hurts anyone either.
You might say, “fewer people out in the world doing stuff.” I’d challenge that assertion. For one, we’ve already concluded that valor is not the incentive that gets you out doing dailies, unless you’re not the fastest monk in the monastery. And in fact, I’d even argue the opposite – that there could be more people out in the world if you could valor cap via raiding. Because for every person that would prefer to log on for their 12 hours of raiding a week and never touch WoW outside of that period, there’s 3 or 4 like me who would be using that time for leveling alts, grinding reps, tending my farm, hunting rares, etc.
In other words, that time that we’re spending shackled to the valor grind is time we’d be spending in-game anyway, and we’d be spending more of it out in the world than we do when we’re stuck grinding efficient valor. Every extra hour I spend grinding valor in LFR or LFD is an hour I’m not out in the world doing something else.
So, in short, I don’t think there’s any fundamental reason that raiding can’t or shouldn’t cap valor. It’s a design decision by Blizzard that it doesn’t, but it feels like a completely arbitrary one, and completely out of line given the effort-to-reward ratio involved in the different activities. You probably shouldn’t be able to cap valor with just 6 bosses, but it really ought to account for the majority of a player’s valor for a week if that’s what they spend the majority of their time and effort thinking about and planning for.
A thought about “content”
It’s sort of ironic, in a way. Blizzard has been touting the sheer amount of content they’ve put into Mists, and in a sense they’re correct. There are so many things to do that it’s hard to do it all in a week, especially if you have a job, family, and other things that take time away from gaming. And a large chunk of that content is dailies. But I have yet to talk to anyone who claimed to really, truly enjoy dailies. Almost everyone tries to group up and get them over with as fast as possible, and most treat them like chores they have to do – stuff they need to finish before they’re allowed to start having fun.
And it’s sort of a shame, really. Some of the daily quests are pretty fun. I actually rather like the tillers kite quest (Water, Water Everywhere), and there are a few others that are quirky and interesting. But instead of looking forward to doing 5-10 interesting and fun daily quests every day, those good quests are lost in a sea of “collect 12 MacGuffins” or “kill 4 elite insects that don’t spawn anywhere near frequently enough to keep up with the number of players doing the quest, so on second thought just camp a spawn point for 10 minutes waiting, because that’s enjoyable and engaging content” (yes, The Bigger They Come.., I’m looking at you – seriously, why aren’t these elite insects “quest-taggable” mobs yet? When people within your own faction are fighting over spawn-tagging, there’s a serious problem). So instead of looking forward to dailies, everyone ends up despising them.
Which raises an interesting question: Is it really worth having loads of content if a huge chunk of it is content that your players hate? Is it a good thing that players are looking forward to the day they can stop doing chores and start having fun with their time in-game?