Reputation grinds are strange beasts.
On the one hand, I can understand why they’re there, from Blizz’s perspective anyway. It gives a second leveling game, which can slow players down at end-game. Slower players means slower end-game burnout, which means less QQ on the forums. Well, about burnout, anyway. Generally I’m guessing what Blizzard loses in forum QQ about end-game burnout, they gain in reputation grind forum QQ. So maybe it’s a zero-sum game anyway. Moving on. It also gives a way to make better quality items available in a way divorced from raiding, which is a nice touch for all the non-raidery types out there. You’re still likely going to see better stuff from heroics, the Thrall quest line cloak being a notable exception, but hey, progress is progress.
On the other hand, reputation grinds are generally speaking a giant PITA with PITA on the side. Not the good kind of pita, either, like from the Greek restaurant where I used to waitress where the chef grilled it with this sort of olive-oil-garlic-I-don’t-know-what-all mixture spread nice and thick. Oh, that was good stuff. Man, and his Greek hamburgers were to DIE FOR, OMG. He seasoned the meat himself, with lovely feta on top… those babies were amazing.
/wipes up drool
Where was I? Oh right, reputation grinds.
Lots of players I’ve talked to just out-and-out hate them. Especially the players that are into the end-game content, they feel that it’s just another hoop they have to jump through in order to get to what they really want to be doing, which is heroic dungeons or raiding. And they would be right. After all, what committed raider doing weekly runs with a progression guild is going to intentionally go into Dragon Soul (or wherever) without a helm enchant? And where do you get a helm enchant? From the Ramkahen, at Revered. (At least, that’s where I get MINE. Your mileage may vary.)
Which means that you either have to quest in Uldum to get to Revered, or you buy the tabard and run dungeons. Either way, you have to sort of progress before you can progress, yeah?
Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
I honestly haven’t decided myself. And partially that’s because it depends on what kind of rep grind you’re going after. Some of them aren’t bad at all, or used to be bad and now have been nerfed to the ground. To wit:
When I started working on The Diplomat this morning (okay, yesterday morning because I am once again blogging in the wee sma’s just like I said I was going to stop doing), I was maybe 25/21000 for Timbermaw Hold, maybe 200/21000 for the Kurenai, and only halfway through Friendly for Sporeggar. Timbermaw Hold took me maaaaaybe 45 minutes to finish, to my extreme astonishment. I don’t remember the feather turn-ins netting you 2200 rep per 5 before, although admittedly it was two years ago that last I did the grind. The Kurenai took the longest. It took several hours (I honestly didn’t keep track) to hunt down enough beads to cap out, mostly because the drop rate on those things is TERRIBLE. Sporeggar was even easier yet – five runs through Underbog on normal and there you have it.
Likewise, in current content, the rep grinds are reasonably easy and fast, especially if you’re running dungeons anyway. Don a tabard and off you go. Even better, you can go solo old stuff for rep. I just finished The Ambassador by running three and a half BC dungeons wearing my Exodar tabard.
(Yes, I DID cap out five reputations today. Most of them were already into Revered. Stop JUDGING me!)
Then there are THOSE OTHERS.
You know the ones I’m talking about.
The ones that you just have to plow through because you need something from them, like the shoulder enchants from the Sons of Hodir. OMG, before they buffed the rep gains from the dailies? Can we say horrible? I hated that grind, especially because I felt like such an exhibitionist every time I had to go thrust a spear or polish a helm. I hesitate to call it innuendo, because innuendos are supposed to be subtle. But even without the sexual tension, that grind took nearly a month of dailies to finish.
Or what about the Ogri’la dailies? Or the Skyguard? I haven’t started either of them on the current Kia, but they are reputedly AWFUL.
So are rep grinds good or bad? I think it depends on how the reputation grinds are spread out on what I just invented right now off the top of my head that I am cleverly calling Kia’s Work-Reward Grind-O-Meter.
Now, I have not done any kind of scientific-y statistical modeling of all of the (is it like in the 60s now?) reputations currently in the game. That would actually be kind of a fun project – make up a rubric by which we could quantify the PITA-ness of any one particular rep grind and then chart it to see how heavily PITA-y rep grinds really are these days, but that’s a project for another late night. (Also one which I am almost certain to not do >.>) However, I would postulate that the more evenly balanced the rep grinds are in the game, the happier players will be with the reputation system as a whole. If you get too many on the less-grindy side of the Grind-O-Meter, you’ve got a system that is basically handing out purplz without any effort, which leads to angsty players QQing about how Blizzard is “dumbing down the game OMG”. On the other hand, if you get lots of rep grinds on the more-grindy side, you’ve got angsty players going QQ over the fact that Blizz is forcing them to grind before they’re allowed to do anything fun. And then if you have lots of grinds that don’t really give you anything good, you’ve got a reputation system that doesn’t really mean anything and players probably aren’t participating in it, whether it’s easy or not.
Also, reputation grinds are often not synergistic. Sometimes they are – like Alliance Vanguard reputation gains, which apply to all Alliance Vanguard reputation factions. But Argent Crusade rep doesn’t give you Argent Dawn rep, or vice versa. I realize that people will argue that they are two separate entities in different expansions, but then… so are the faction capitals. Why do they work together but Argent reputations don’t?
Another factor that must be taken into account is that not everyone raids. In fact, a significant portion does not. Which is why we hear lots of horror stories about awful, awful people in LFR (I’ve told one or two myself) who have NO idea what’s going on. For these people, what are they to do after they max out? Reputation grinds give a sense of doing end-game content without raiding, so in essence add a nice layer of content without adding more content. Rep grinding can be fun. I loved the new Winterspring daily for the mount. I did the old one back in the day when you rode around Winterspring for hours at a time collecting nasty meat and killing giants. The new daily is loads of fun playing with an adorable kitten, and then when it’s done, you get a mount. Even though the Winterspring people are three expansions back, that grind is still worth doing.
So… is it a good system? Should there be reputation grinds at all? Or should we forget about it entirely and try something new? And if so, then what?
I have no conclusions. I liked what Achloryn said when I asked his opinion about it: “Rep grinding sucks. Except for the times when it doesn’t.” Blizzard has started gradually removing things from the game that players have to work for, like keys, but I don’t seen an end to the reputation system as it is. I guess it just comes down to the idea that reputation is just another fact of life in WoW. Like… flossing. You know you have to do it, but you only do it if you’re forced to.
Or, if you’re at all like me, you’re obsessed with getting over 9,000.
Not that I have any idea what you’re talking about, of course. >.>