This is the tale of two runs. One was a guild run with 8 people that had never done ICC, or at least never finished it. The other was a PuG into an ICC 25 heroic, which I was biting at the bit to do being I never did ICC 25 heroic.
First the facts.
Like it or not ICC was the most successful raid ever. More people saw the content while it was current then any other raid content before. This meant that it was easy enough for most people to feel a part of the game. That is a good thing, accessibility is the key to success for a game.
Community in the game is falling like a rock and the ease of ICC for its pugability meant that there were always community groups being made. This was the last bastion of community and I would like to see it return. On my server now the only thing they pug is trash runs for epic drops in BoT. How sad is that?
As much as most people will never admit it, ICC was a lot harder then anyone gives it credit for. On my server, which sucks I admit, no guild ever downed 25 heroic until everyone was 85. It was like that on many servers. Heck, I remember reading about some servers that did not get a 10 man normal clear until after everyone was 85. Finally a server that makes me feel good about mine.
As a matter of fact I would be willing to bet that less then 1% of players in the game would have been able to do ICC 25 heroic, or 10 strict heroic, without the buff. 1% is probably too high even, more like 0.1% would have been able to do it. People love to say that ICC was a cake walk but it wasn't a cake walk. It was extremely challenging content if you didn't use the buff.
Take away the buff and I bet you that even at 85 a huge percentage of players, probably upwards of 85%, would not be able to do ICC 25 man heroic even now with ease. It would still be a challenge. More challenging then any content current considered end game, normal mode at least.
This isn't about difficulty however, this is about ICC as a training tool for new raiders. Giving the background and showing the actual difficultly for most was important to my rambling that I have coming up, if you managed to say with me that long that is.
I joined in on a ICC 25 man heroic on my main, the hunter, being I had never gotten the chance to do heroic 25 with my hunter. We stopped at 9/12 in 25 man when we did not have enough to do 25s any more and just moved to 10 man because it was easier to assemble.
I join up and notice it is not a fresh run. No big deal, all I need is the King for my Light of Dawn title. They are up to Sindy and after a horrible wipe on heroic where the iced people decided it would be smarter to stand in the middle of the group, and then run with them while they where trying to get away, caused nearly 90% of the raid to get frozen. I did not get frozen. I ended up dying from the blast because I could not get behind the giant wall of ice.
They switch to normal. We barely down it. By barely I mean there was one fantastic tank, 2 healers, me and 2 other DPS, that did the last 20% by ourselves. Go go 30% buff and amazing DPS. I wish I could do that all the time.
We switch to heroic and go after the King. It is a horrible wipe fest. No one does anything right. One of the raid leaders asks everyone if they have any experience. Most all do. Just 2 people that never faced him at any point. Most say, and we all know how honest people are, that they just never did it on this character.
They ask if everyone has DBMs. They ask over all experience in raids. Seems 4 of the people are 12/12 current 4 more are at least 9/12 current. Everyone is at least 1/12 in current content. So, from the raid leaders standpoint, that means that this should be easy. If people can down even one boss at current content then doing a boss we outlevel and outgear should be easy.
Apparently they do not subscribe to my school of thought. ICC 25 heroic is still, even with this level and gear, more of a challenge for a pug then current normal content.
We wipe, wipe and wipe again before the raid leader says he is getting tired. They just want to get it done so they are going to switch to normal and bang it out easy. All this time we take 15 minutes between each pull. Each time we need to hear how super awesome everyone that assembled this is and every one else in the game sucks because they can not do simple content. Meanwhile, they are all failing too, but of course they would never realize that.
The most satisfying thing was that we wiped on normal. Not once, not twice, but three time before they called it quits. Why exactly would I say that is satisfying? Because seeing people with that attitude fail is the greatest feeling in the game. poetic justice if you will.
Of course, they will always blame everyone else but themselves, but so be it. Everyone there knows the truth and it proved one thing for sure. Just because people can down current content does not mean they can down LK. It is harder then people give it credit for. Sure, it is just a matter of simple mechanics but isn't every fight like that?
Now to my guild run. A totally different experience from the 25 man. My guild run was made for the sole purpose to get people achievements and get some people that never had a chance to get into ICC and down the King.
When the group started we had 2 people that had done it all before, both on different characters, one being me tanking on my warrior, his first time ever in there. Four people that had never been past 6/12 and last but not least four people that never stepped foot into ICC.
Mind you, we did not do heroics, we did normal, with the buff. I explained all the fights in a lot more detail than I needed to for sure. I even explained mechanics that we could actually ignore, but ignoring them was not my agenda. That you will find out later.
We one shot everything up to the King. People that had never been there reacted like pros. Like they had done it 100 times before. This was because of the "grace" of the extra health and extra gear and of course, explaining everything and calling everything out.
Anyone that remembers their first time on the King will remember that by the time you actually got to him gear was not an issue any more. You could blow him away. It was always about execution. That is all that mattered.
I explained, we pulled, we wiped, we laughed. We had a fun time, we explained what went wrong, we refined tactics, we went at it again a few times and wiped a few times more.
I called it a night and told everyone we would come back and down him the next night. We did exactly that. Missing a few people so we call someone else in with some experience in the fight but basically it was still all people that where new or in a different role.
Someone else had to drop and we pulled in a friend from one of the top guilds on the server. After two wipes he said to me in whisper, just ignore the valks, you will lose someone but you will get it done.
I replied. I would rather wipe 10 more times then do that. I am trying to teach these people mechanics and by ignoring mechanics they will never learn. Switch to Valks.
We ended up downing it two tries after that. 8 of the 10 people there got their achievement. We all had a good time. We laughed about the wipes, remember running into the orb, I was like OMG. To which I replied, Hence the reason I said avoid the orbs, well now we all know. We laughed about it. Things like that are what made this run great.
We got some experience for a few people that never had a chance to do it before and introduced a few people to the basic concept of raids as a whole. Move away when you have this, move to this place when you have that, switch to adds, you know, the same exact thing we experience in every raid ever.
The difference is, the margin for error in a lot wider in ICC and as a training tool it is fantastic for people new to raiding. It is still hard enough that if you do something really stupid you will pay but it is easy enough that if you make a mistake you can recover from it.
ICC became boring as sin at 80. At 85, it becomes a tool for raid leaders to break in new players. It becomes fun again because for you it is not really a challenge. Explaining it has become second nature. The few can make up for the ones just learning.
For a fresh tank it is an excellent idea of where to learn raid tanking. For a healer it is a great way to understand raid healing without as much of a panic mode people die in a couple of seconds like current raids are.
You know the biggest thing this taught me? That it is better to wipe a few times on LK training new people that are willing to learn then it is to wipe with a group of people that call each other names because they can't do content they where doing at 80.
Proof positive that ICC can be a training tool. A group of 25 people that where heroic minded and with tons of experience spent 3 hours wiping and could not even down the boss on normal whereas a group of 10 people, mostly brand new to the instance or raiding in general, wiped, learned, and downed it in less then 1/2 that time.
Maybe those 25 elite raiders, just ask them, they will tell you how awesome they are, should all come along on one of my ICC training runs because I do not care if you can down 12/12 current content, apparently they still have lots of room to learn and get better.
I'm liking ICC better at 85 then I ever did at 80. It is the ultimate raid leaders tool. To teach players, to test out new applicants, the learn playing a new class better, to just have some fun and believe it or not, a challenge, just click off the buff and have fun.
I never thought I would say it, but I really like ICC now. Doesn't change the fact I wish there were more Ulduar like raids out there. I hope we have one like that this expansion. That was the best raid ever.