I was able to spend some time this week running through the new high level Runnyeye instance, “Runnyeye: The Gathering”. Even though I keep hearing comments from some players that the dungeon is “too hard” or “too exclusive”, I can’t help but think that some of those critics may be missing a very large point.
First, this dungeon is not exclusive – at least not in any traditional sense of the word. Anyone can get to this dungeon (it’s a level 80+ dungeon sitting in the middle of a level 30-40 zone). You don’t need high end raid gear to run this dungeon and in fact, it’s entirely possible to run this dungeon without such gear (hint: groups are already doing this). Even if you can’t clear the entire dungeon, the first couple of named all but fall over and die within 20 seconds of so much as seeing a player.
Any “exclusivity” is with the dungeon’s ability to skill/gear check. You can’t just load up on crafted gear and put together any random group of tank/healer/four damage dealers and expect to run the dungeon within a couple of hours. Even in an ideal group with decent gear, the vast majority of players will still need to pay attention through most every fight, which is a complete turnaround from such dungeons as Crypt of Agony or Vaults of Eternal Sleep.
To be fair, I’m not personally finding there to be that much difficulty in Runnyeye II so far. Last night, three guildmates and I grabbed a pickup tank and healer and ran the dungeon through in under 2 hours. With a guild group used to working together, we should be able to blow through the dungeon easily within 90 minutes, and probably closer to an hour.
However, for those players who feel those numbers are simply unrealistic, the dungeon itself has a 3 day timer which gives even the most casual of groups plenty of time to play, take a break, log back in the next night and go again for an hour or so, take a break, and then log in on a third night to finish it off. You simply won’t find that many group dungeons within Everquest II that allow for 72 hours of attempts.
What’s really and truly different within this dungeon though isn’t the hit points or damage per second that the players are dealing with. It’s the fact that the encounters themselves have some scripting involved. In many ways, this is the closest many casual players will get to Tier 8 raiding. In many ways, Runnyeye II can be seen as the first “raid zone” of the Kunark era. Guilds that can’t handle Protector’s Realm but who were able to pick up Fabled Epics should look at Runnyeye II as a zone to hone their raid discipline one group at a time.
I think this is the reason you hear so many raiders discussing how easy the zone is while many non-raiding players are decrying the difficulty and pointing to a lack of raid gear as the excuse.
I’d argue that raid gear doesn’t break this dungeon. Raid experience does.
It’s interesting, because for years I’ve heard arguments from non-raiders (and some raiders) who indicate that raiding isn’t harder than grouping – that raiding doesn’t make better players, only better followers. Yet, last night as we blew through the instance, I took stock of the reasons we were destroying the goblins by the boatload while other players are getting stopped clean by the first few named.
The obvious answer, at least to me, isn’t the gear. It’s the fact that raiding gives experience into breaking the “code” revolving around certain encounters. As raiders – even relatively casual raiders – my guildmates and I are very used to working with each other. Our communications during the encounters last night reflected this. Our macros were built around raiding, and came in just as handy during the encounters last night. Our adornment and achievement builds are based around raiding, and it showed last night.
You don’t need raid gear to succeed in Runnyeye II, though it admittedly will help. What you need is a raiding mindset. You need to have the ability to keep from getting into tight situations in the first place, and when you do you need the experience not to panic. If a wipe occurs, raiders simply revive and get rebuffed – while many non-raiders still take deaths more personally than perhaps they should. A lot of raiders look for ways to avoid fear, position pulls, and avoid area of effect attacks. Most raiders look for ways to learn from mistakes quickly, and adapt on the fly.
Do these statements mean that non-raiders do not do these things as well? No, it does not. However, the very act of raiding requires a skillset that includes these different abilities and thinking processes. Most general solo or group content simply does not.
So, if you’re failing at Runnyeye II, try to step back and look at the actual reasons why. Try to approach the dungeon as a raider might. Assess your own gear. Take a long hard look at the group composition you’re choosing. Take the time to make sure your tank is up to the task. Make sure you have enough support classes present. Run a parser. Watch your logs. Use voicechat and communications macros. Accept wipes. Keep moving. Keep watching. Keep learning.
When in doubt, ask. Ask others if they know the “strats”. Look around and try to research the dungeon a bit. Don’t look for scapegoats to blame – try to find solutions, instead.
Do these things, and you’ll be dropping the High Shaman before you know it. Do not, and you’ll likely frustrate yourself by convincing yourself that, once again, the raiders are to blame…