Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Pink Pigtail Inn List of 2009 - The instances

Ta-daaaa! Did you hear the fanfare? You didn't? Well, I admit that we're kind of short on impressive instruments here at the inn. All I have is a tin whistle and a non-electric guitar, and they require a pretty noise free environment to make themselves heard. And that is exactly the opposite to what the inn is like right now.

Ever since I mentioned that I wanted your nominations for The Pink Pigtail Inn List of 2009, the discussion has been going on at the inn as well as in other places in the blogosphere. I never imagined that this little playful attempt to set up an equivalence of the Academy awards in a WoW context would attract that kind of interest.

The thanks
The fact is that I've been so overwhelmed by the response that I've been hesitating a bit on how to decide and how to present the results. There are so many good suggestions - and good motivations as well - that I can't possibly mention and quote all contributors, no matter how much I want to. I can't even link to all the blogs that have posted their own lists, since I've basically lost track on them, apart from those who posted a link to their blog posts in a comment.

All I can say is a humble: thank you. Thank you all who commented, no one mentioned, no one forgotten. Thank you Rejuvo, The Wow Perspective from an Altoholic, Spinksville, Hots & Dots , Falling leaves and wings , Miss Medicina , Christine's Blog, Healer Trek and all others who blogged about the list - I'm afraid the list is far from complete. Thank you all who wrote me e-mails. And thank you all who helped spreading the word about the list -, Sideshow and Syrana and The Rawrcast show among others.

The rules
Before announcing the result, I'd like to mention a couple of rules or guidelines that I've followed:

  1. Winners from the previous year are very unlikely to win the same class again. I don't say are "disqualified" - you'll never know if I want to make an exception at some point in the future. But I just don't think it would be fun to see Ghostcrawler winning the Blizzard employee category over and over again or Tobold being the most solid content provider among the bloggers a second time in row - no matter how much he rocks. I want to share the love a bit.
  2. You can't nominate The Pink Pigtail Inn including the staff. Or rather: you can nominate us but we won't give ourselves any awards. The jury is biased and therefore we're disqualified for the list. Period. However - of course we're really humbled by the nominations and all those hugs. Thank you!
  3. The list should somehow mirror the year of 2009. This may include some content that existed before Jan 1 2009, such as Naxx in the WotLK version. After all many players hadn't leveled high enough to see that content before this year. But for instance the hideous Olympic tabard of 2008 wouldn't compete even if it wasn't already disqualified by winning the tabard category last year. Some content will be on the verge of rather belonging to 2010. This includes The Icecrown Citadel and The Random Dugeon Tool. You'll see my verdict in those cases later on.
  4. The final decision on how the Pink Pigtail Inn List of 2009 will look is taken by a one-man jury consisting of Larísa. This has not been an election where I'm counting votes and following the will of the majority. I've taken some inspiration, I've listened and often - but - but not always - agreed with what has been suggested. So if you disagree with this list it's working as intended. It's opinion and not rocket-science.

And now: the fanfare - even if it was tiny - has been played once again and it's time to announce. winners. Since I'd like not just to present my own list with my reasons for the choices, but also some of the other suggestions I've gotten, this list will be too long for one single blog post - even by PPI standard. So I'll make this into a little series, presenting a few winners at a time, starting today.

So, after this initial rambling (they ramble a LOT more at the Real Oscar Event, so I'm excused!) we're finally ready for our first few announcements:

1. Best raid instance

Nominated: Ulduar, Ulduar and Ulduar. There's no doubt that the blogging community as a whole loved Ulduar most of all. But we also had nominations for ToC, Onyxia, OS, and Eye of Eternity.

Spinksville gave her vote a bit unexpectedly to Naxxramas:

"Why? I know some people felt it was too easy but the smooth learning curve into raiding helped a LOT of new raiders in my guild to get the raiding bug. And it also eased my transition into running 10 mans. [...] Also Ulduar has a strange difficulty jump in the middle, and we’ve found it just a bit too long to comfortably complete in one evening even when it is on farm. I enjoy the difficulty, but it has been a barrier to more people seeing it."

Rhii suggested the Icecrown 5 mans: "We've decided they're not heroics, they're five man raids."

Nice try, but... no. This category was meant for raid instances. Karazhan has also been suggested, and even though I'm a huge fan of it I can't really see how it would belong to 2009. The same goes with ICC. I'm as enthusiastic as anyone else by the first wing, but I really think it will have to compete with the raid instances for 2010.

The winner is... Ulduar!

Motivation: I'll quote Falling leaves and Wings, who expressed exactly what I think:

"It was beautifully designed, highly detailed, chalk full of lore and offered a good number of innovative encounters. It was the first instance to truly embraced “hard modes” [...] the actual instance itself was just gorgeous."

2. Least successful raid instance

Nominated: VoA (" I could agree with TOC, but I really feel the most sorry for those loreless, pvpgeargathering fools in VOA." ), Sartharion ("dull", according to Spinksville), Naxxramas: "I know that they wanted everyone to see what was their crowning jewel of Vanilla WoW, but the content offered very little…challenge. The gear was almost too good, and the content undertuned.".

But to be honest, almost everyone else wants to see either EoE or ToC as winner of this category.

Shintar said: "I might not like TotC much, but I still found myself running it five times a week sometimes, so that's success, right? On the other hand nobody ever seems to want to go back to EoE once they've beat Malygos from what I've seen; it's harder to get a group for it than for any other raid."

Or as Linedan puts it: "It's the Oculus of raids, and not just because it's the same color. People really seem to dislike the flying vehicle fights, I know I do."

Miss Medicina on the other hand goes for ToC:
"Part of me thinks it was a bit of a joke on Blizzard's part - "oh you want less trash? Faster raids? Well here you are, how do you like 'dem apples?"

Hatch agrees:
"ToC will win this by a landslide. It was a one-room, trashless, boring stalling tactic so they could spend more time making ICC."

The winner is... Eye of Eternity!

This instance shares the lack of trash mobs with ToC. It takes an eternity to get there with the fp on the other side of the world and no fancy instant-travel tabard available. The fight as such isn't terribad - it has some interesting effects, like falling-in-the sky (even though there were more than one player who got nauseous by the psychedelic patterns in the last phase). But all in all - no one runs it and very few did run it even when it was new. ToC at least had the heroic modes where you could get a challenge, some really fancy loot or just enjoying banging your head against a wall if that's what you like. All EoE could offer was achievements for the addicts. Content that isn't used because the players hate it so much can't be called anything but a fail.

3. Most longed for instance:

Nominated: There were some different interpretations of this category. As opposed to the previous one, you could nominate 5-mans as well as raid instances. Last year's winner was Magisters Terrace because we had been starving for a new small instance for so long when it finally arrived.

Some of the readers have started to long for things that might come in the future, such as Heroic Shadowfang Keep. I even got someone longing for Uldum! (yes, I know, that locked place is sort of intriguing).

Pangoria Fallstar has a quite surprising suggestion:

"I want to do Occulus. People who don't like it were just in bad groups. I was in a beautiful group the first time I did it, and I never got to do it again."

Well, looking at how many times I've gotten Occulus as the daily random heroic, I think you've got everything you can wish for right now!

Most of the nominations however are for the Icecrown Citadel instances of any size. Some are just tired of Trial of the Crusader, others are referring to the lore they have been waiting for since pre-WoW. As Fitz puts it: "One of the absolute primary storylines in the Warcraft universe is the rise and fall of Arthas, and this will be the presumable end of that epic storyline that spawned the entire expansion."

There are a few though who are suggesting something else and the jury has decided to go with the minority:

The winner is... Ulduar!

Motivation: One year is a long time in the life of a game. I know this autumn has been repetitive to say the least to many raiders. ToC and ToC and then some more ToC, up to four times a week. But if you think about it, this constant running of ToC has been optional and is clearly related to people's obsession with epics. If we wanted a change we had always the Ulduar hardmodes to give a try. Why didn't we?

So I ask you: try to remember what it was like last spring. For a very long time there wasn't anything more for raid enthusiasts to do but to steamroll through the undertuned Naxxramas, possibly go for the stand-alone bosses in EoE, OS and VoA and then call the rest of the raids for the week. There weren't any hardmodes available. Just Naxx, which actually was a repetition of previous available content. No wonder people were pissed. Before Ulduar finally came we were on the verge of taking a sledgehammer, breaking into the Blizzard Headquarters, urging them to make some more content for us. Ulduar it is.

End of the show
And that's it for today! We have a lot of more awards to give out, The PPI List of 2009 is far from complete, so come back for the continuation! Which tabard was the ugliest, which pet did we like best, which blog post will we never forget? It will all be revealed in the next few days.


Dw-redux said...

What a lovely post.

And -albeit very late- id like to nominate ICC as the most longed for instance. Fighting the Lich King himself has been something that people have whispered and dreamed about ever since World of Warcraft was released. Giving the title to Ulduar is so very wrong.
Ulduar will forever be a sidenote in the story that is World of warcraft.
It had no lore aspect worth mentioning. Everyone I know was always a bit "so why are we killing these guys again, why do we not like em?" And the race towards the world first killing in here was flawed and ultimelty an extreme letdown.
Who was the last boss in there? Was it Yogg, Yogg 1 light, Yogg 0 lights or Algalon??

No, the most longed for instance in WoW, this year and all the years before that, was Icecrown.

(look at me pulling a Kanye West on this post)

Shintar said...

Very nice post; even if I don't agree with every winner, you at least give good reasons for your choice, which is already more than you get at the usual award shows! :p Looking forward to the next installment!

Elnia said...

Dw-redux. The difference is one of line drawing. The awards are for 2009. You make a case for ICC being the most longed for instance in the history of WoW. But that doesn't mean that it was the most longed for instance in 2009. For much of 2009 ICC wasn't even on most peoples' minds because they were occupied with...Ulduar.

Dw-redux said...

Well I don't agree Elnia. I think many saw Ulduar as a side-dungeon to the main storyline of Northrend. (At least Coliseum had some purpose lorewise). Ulduar was a fun Dungeon, and hardened raiders where thrilled to finally be challenged again, but it was -and still is- a sidequest in the battle against the lich king.
It was very much like aq-20 (for those who remembers it), a little "whats all this then" before Naxx was released. There wasn't really much point explaining why we went there. Whether or not that desert had bugs or not, wasn't really terribly important (but at least aq20/40 had some spectacular introduction via the world-events).
Ulduar was, and will always be a "why are we here" dungeon. At least to this lore-munching raider.

So I guess you chose "ah real raids again" over "Whoa can't wait till we go there" (yea that wasn't really fair ;)). I still think that the whole of 2009 was spend waiting for the fight against the lich king. Maybe we can agree that since ICC hasn't really been released in 2009, that Ulduar wins by default? :)

G-Rebel said...

It was a very good post, and very good reasons for each winner, thank you.

My perspective is that of one who started playing exactly one year ago. By the time I got to Ulduar, ToC was the new raid, and everyone seemed to be anticipating ICC. But then we found out we couldn't kill Arthas till 2010; so in the end I'll just side with the Inn Keeper. Can't wait for the rest of the winners!

Fitz said...

Although I was with the masses in picking Ulduar as a success, ToC as a disppointment, and ICC as the most anticipated, I really cannot disagree too much with the outcomes. And I'm happy to see that this is not a popularity contest, as we all shared our "opinions" with you and now you get to reveal your own!

ICC not winning most anticipated is line-drawing only. Ulduar was anticipated because we had absolutely nothing to do, whereas ICC was anticipated because that's what we've been led around Northrend for months to do.

Good call on EoE. I do think that was probably more of a flop than ToC even though I personally like the vehicle combat.

Pharoahe said...

I made a reply to your thoughts on EOE on my blog

Keep up the good work on the blog, I found you via Gevlon comments and always enjoy your opinion even if i disagree.

happy new year larisa.

Miss Medicina said...

Squeee! These are so much fun to read!! The fact that you broke them up into multiple parts just heightens the anticipation!

Also, even though I listed ICC as most anticipated, I really like how you framed the argument for Ulduar. It's hard to remember 6 months ago when we were all so very sick of Naxx, because we've got ICC on the brain now, but I think you are right - everyone was more than ready for Ulduar!

Larísa said...

@Dw-redux: hm... it was definitely a tough choice. However I didn't find myself waiting as desperately for ICC as for Ulduar. We had still hardmodes to work on. But that probably is mostly related to my own game progression - and my lack if deep lore involvement in wow. BTW considering the slow gated release model, ICC may very well become the most longed for instance in 2010!

@Shintar & G-Rebel: thanks!

@Fitz: yeah, I think you nail it there. Different reasons for our longing for those instances.

: cool, thanks for posting your opinion! And yes, to be honest I remember that I was very enthusiastic after doing EoE the first time. It IS cool in some ways.

@River: and to our guests!

@Miss Medicina: thanks for the cheering!