It seems like a lifetime ago that I worried about heroics getting killed, in WoW 3.1. Of course it all came quite differently, and heroics, in particular the later WotLK additions Trial of the Champion and the Icecrown instances were quite popular through the end. The newer instances were their own kind of catchup-mechanism, and the ever-changing currency of emblems made heroics the number one source for progression if you were a casual player. Cataclysm continued in that vein, and people ran heroics up to the end, in order to receive valor and justice points. The first seven heroics each week awarded valor points, and so the truly progress-oriented people did their seven heroics a week.
Enter Mists of Pandaria. I have been a fan of 5-man content forever, harkening back to the days of The Burning Crusade. Yet, over the years, after the advent, I slowly fell out of love with this kind of content. The anonymity, the rush instead of smelling to stop the roses, it really doesn’t make heroics an attractive pastime anymore, unless I go in with guildies. Do I really have a reason to do them if I want to progress casually? I think the answer is a definitive no. My main Yatalai is doing quite well for her these days. Item level of 487, lots of purple pixels. My personal progression pretty much went like this: hit 90. Crafted myself a full set of 450 tank gear and 450 PvP gear. Ran maybe half a dozen heroics to have the ilevel to be able to venture into the LFR version of Mogu’shan Vaults. Through a few lucky rolls walked out with quite a few epics within the first two weeks. I capped valor every week through dailies, Sha, LFR and scenarios. Shortly afterwards had the ilevel for the other two LFR raids. Continued to cap valor easily with the additional raids. Once you have the gear for LFR, the only incentive to run heroics are the valor points. If I have to deal with strangers, I’d rather brave the 10-second DPS queue for a quick 40 valor points in a scenario than the possibly aggravating ordeal of a heroic with a bunch of rude people. I have no need for the gear that drops, unless it’s a lucky offspec tank drop. That’s pretty much my only reason that heroics might be attractive, because my tank gear is still pretty crap, ilevel 453.
In summary, my progression model: crafted gear -> heroics -> LFR -> 10-man raids. Valor cap achieved predominantly by doing dailies, LFR and scenarios. I am not alone with this perception, because Azuriel feels LFR is the better LFD, for example.
I was a huge opponent of LFR when it dropped in 4.3, and it was actually one of the reasons I quit for 10 months. Dragon Soul LFR at the start was chaotic, full of ninjaing assmunches and people yelling at each other. Basically LFD gone bad, multiplied by 5. It was not without trepidation that I ventured into Mogu’shan Vaults for the first time, and I was pleasantly surprised. It does of course help that I find the MoP raids so far a lot more fun than Dragon Soul. You still end up with rude people at times, and on some bosses things can fall apart quite quickly (I am looking at you, Garalon) but most of the time I go in, one-shot a couple bosses, and usually walk out a little bit richer in gold and experience. Sometimes even gear though it doesn’t seem to happen as often as I would like. I am pretty sure everyone feels that way though, about the loot. I get my own sense of progression through LFR. I remember my first MSV raids, with me usually being below 10 on the damage meters, and now, a few weeks later, I usually end up top 3, sometimes even number 1. It also prepares me for the actual raid encounters. There are differences of course. I wouldn’t dream of DPSing through Feng’s Epicenter in my guild raids. I think it’s excellent training, giving you a general idea what’s going to happen in the normal difficulty raids.
I feel that everyone who wants to see all the content, finally gets a shot at doing all that. There’s really something for everyone now. I mourn for the times of TBC, the 5-man challenges and the kind of server-community you had back then, and yet I can’t help but admire the MoP system.
After all this praise sung for LFR, this brings me back to my original point. What’s the role of heroics, I wonder? In 5.2 the current valor items will be reduced in price. Heroic bosses will award 100…justice points. Does anyone use their justice points? I bought one item with it when I started gearing, and that’s been it. People in my guild will sometimes run a heroic, but not that often. Some of the raiders haven’t even seen all heroics. They feel vaguely pointless. I don’t know, it’s kinda sad to see the format go to waste when I have such fantastic memories of them, but at the end of the day, I don’t really feel the urge to run a heroic when it’s just me queuing. Makes me wonder what Blizzard’s thoughts are. We are getting new scenarios in 5.2, but no new dungeon anytime soon.
As an aside, one of these days I will have to try a challenge mode dungeon.