I've mentioned before how I stopped doing the valor grind because of burnout and the feeling like I needed to do the Zuls a million times a week.
As someone that likes to have at least three characters reasonably geared, one DPS, one tank and one healer, I make sure to grind my valor gear on all three. Grinding is hard work, don't ever let anyone tell you different. For quick and easy gear you raid but if you want to work for your gear you grind valor points.
The problem is that I never know which character I will need for raiding. Although my hunter is my main and the one character I wish to raid on I try to help the guild by being a back up in any and all positions. Being I do not raid with all the characters each week, because pugging in cata is like pulling teeth, painful, the valor grind is the best, and only, way to keep them competitively geared without raiding.
Doing the Zul grind was hell, so much so that I only worried about my main and one alt, my shaman healer. On rare, and I do mean rare, occasion I would do a random with my tank if I could get a full guild group.
What burnt me out with the Zuls was the not so random factor of them. It was always the same two and one person being bad could turn the runs into a nightmare. Not to mention the fact that the dungeons seemed to take forever. Even with a reasonably competent group 40 minute runs where considered good. If any one player was lacking, one hour plus runs where not unheard of and some would say common place.
Enter the burnout. I would do my hunter first, then my shaman and by then I had about as much of doing those two dungeons as I could handle. Good thing I was raiding a lot on my warrior, that is how he got his valor and drops for gear otherwise I would have not had any gear on him.
The Zul grind almost caused me to quit. It did not seem worth it. I was grinding content that was not enjoyable, took too long, repetitive, and a rehash of things I had already done dozens of times years before.
This patch, 4.3, the patch I call the patch that saved WoW, corrected the biggest mistake I think Blizzard has ever made in the history of WoW. That mistake was making the two Zuls.
By making all dungeons 150 valor points that means you can get any dungeon if you wanted. The random factor is more randoms now. Sure, you will likely get the newer ones more often being those are the ones people that need gear are entering specifically but the newer ones are a lot different then the zuls as well.
While we are all rolling through the new ones as if they where a joke you have to take it for what it is. The new ones are designed for people with a 353 item level and most of us were at least 370 when they came out. That is why we stomped all over them from the second they came out.
Credit where credit is due. For a group of people in all item level 353 and a few probably faking their way in, the three new dungeons are actually still a bit of a challenge but not at the same level of challenge as the Zuls where. I've seen groups struggle with it when pugging. They are still challenging for at gear level people and people without much skill.
Even if you get unlucky enough to get in a group with all 353s and fakers the fact that the dungeons are all short compared to the Zuls means it is not as stressful if there is a wipe. In a Zul if you wiped on one boss you had to think, dear god save me, I still have 6 more bosses to do with these people. With the HoTs it is more like, this group sucks but I only have to deal with three bosses so it is not that bad.
The new dungeons made wiping a lot more tolerable but that is not the real key to why 4.3 is the patch that saved WoW, the real key is in the fact that the grind is not as stressful as it was with the Zuls when you add all the plus factors together.
In roughly the same amount of time over three nights, tues-thurs, that it was taking me to max out my hunter and my shaman in Zuls before 4.3 I am able to max out 3 tanks, 2 healers and 2 hunters. Not to mention the mage, rogue, and others I might bring through for a few runs here and there.
But wait, there is more, when doing the Zul grind I would get ZA roughly 7 times and ZG roughly 7 times. Two things, seven times a week.
Guess what, I am still getting things 7 times but it is different now. I am never doing the same thing twice on the same character. I am getting things 7 times because I am doing them on 7 different characters. Which means, even if they are the same thing, they are always from a different perspective which makes them different, in a way.
Each character does both raids and the three dungeons and puts me at 950. If that character gets into a raid that week he is capped, if he doesn't, who cares, it is only 50 points. Most likely, being things are so quick anyway, if I am not in a raid by monday I can run one quick random to cap out.
The beauty of this is that if I do not need any more gear from the new ones I can queue up for any random. I am not forced into the three new ones. This means lots of different dungeons we could get.
I have choices this patch. Good choices. I can never do the same instance twice in one week with a character and cap out. No more grinding the same two dungeons over and over.
This patch has opened so many new ways to enjoy the game and cap out. I can't wait for MoP when we can do challenges for VP, daily quests for VP, and more. It will turn the grind into less of a chore and more of a do what you want to do to have fun approach.
Do what you want! Have fun! Who would have ever expected that a game would allow people to have fun and do what they want. It is a ground breaking discovery. /sarcasm off.
The game needed this. It needed this a lot. It needed it because the Zul grind sucked all the life out of the game, it sucked all the fun out of the game.
However, as much as a gush about this and am happy with it, what does this mean long term?
For people that are not like me with a million alts I try to keep raid ready even if I do not raid with them they can really get bored very fast.
If capping is so easy now what does someone with only one character do?
Will they suffer boredom burn out? They can cap in the matter of 2 hours now if they get lucky. What are they left with to do?
The most casual of casual players can cap now even if they only play once a week for a couple of hours. What if you are the type that plays two or three days a week? What do you do the other days if you are done grinding for the week in one day?
How about me and people like me? Sure, I am capping at least seven characters a week at the moment and could probably cap more if I wanted to, but don't you think this will get repetitive as well at some point? That is the question. Will it? I am sure that I am not going to be capping that many in coming weeks but for me, that is an option, one I will decide to do.
Will I get fed up with the 2 raid and 3 dungeon on every character each week sooner or later? Maybe. The thing is, at least I can adjust it a little myself, like I said, from running the all heroic option and mixing it up some. From just doing the two raids only and making half the points each week would also prevent burnout.
I like the changes, I like them a lot. But I have reservations about how it will all work out in the long run. It has only been a couple of weeks and I do not see myself thinking what I thought about the Zuls a couple of weeks in. So maybe there is hope. I was sick of the Zuls by week two.
I'm guessing this new grind will have a much longer shelf life. I might start getting sick of it after two months maybe, but then again, after 2 months, I am sure I will have all the characters I intend to raid with fully raid geared and all the back ups with enough valor and HoT 378s to be capable back ups.
The only real downfall to this is for the people without alts. You cap so quickly now and while that works for me that is not ideal for them.
Did correcting the game for people like me hurt the game for others?
I don't foresee me suffering the same burnout I did with the Zuls, the type of burnout that made me want to quit the game, but at least this time around if and when burnout hits it will not make me wait to quit like the Zul burnout did.
This time I feel as if I have a choice and last time I didn't feel as if I did. The appearance of choice makes a huge difference, even if it is only an appearance of choice and not real choice. People like choices.