Monday, April 22, 2013

To exploit, or not to exploit?

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That is the question, my Warcraft friends. And it's in reference to the infamous Garalon exploit.

I've been led to believe that not only does everyone know of this exploit's existence, but most raid groups use it to their advantage. For those unaware, what essentially happens is through clever use of several class abilities, Pheromones can be completely removed from the fight. That means no damage from Pheromones. That means no kiting. That means no debuff switches. And that means no mandatory Crush from Garalon.

The first time I witnessed the exploit was as a tagalong healer in an established guild group. When we reached Garalon, there was talk in Ventrilo about who would be "sacrificed." Since the exploited version only requires one healer, and I was the new guy, that job fell to me. They gave me instructions on what to do, and I reluctantly agreed. After failing to do my job the first time, I got it right on the next attempt and promptly died like a good sacrifice should. The remaining nine raiders facerolled Garalon, with the healer even commenting on how he'd barely used any mana.

I didn't feel great about what I'd just done. In fact, I felt dirty. I knew we'd cheated, no way around it. Stripping the fight of not one, not two, but THREE of the mechanics is cheating. It is an exploit, and I don't need Blizzard to confirm or deny my suspicions. The encounter designers meant for Pheromones to be a major part of that fight; they meant for players to swap the debuff while dropping puddles around the room; they meant for the raid to take a significant chunk of damage from Garalon's Crush ability immediately following each debuff swap.

Gutting these mechanics trivialize the encounter, essentially turning Garalon into the ugliest, exoskeletal loot pinata this game has ever seen. Not to mention that if in order for your group to be successful, you need to essentially nerf the Garalon fight after we've already had a 10% nerf, you likely won't advance any farther in Heart of Fear. See, the fight is easy when your raid members pay attention and do their job. If your raid is struggling to get through Garalon without cheating, you've got bigger problems on your hands -- ones that will rear their ugly heads on the next fight; on Empress; and in Terrace of Endless Springs. And that's not even touching current raid content.

I'm not hiding how I feel about this, as you can see. I raid because I like rising to the challenge in the company of friends, and for the impression of receiving a reward. Removing all difficulty from the encounter removes the impact of the reward and disturbs the synergy of the group. I mean, if fights are so hard and we as players no longer possess the patience to wipe a dozen times when learning an encounter, why can't Blizzard just tell us where bosses live so that we can visit them on their off-days and politely ask them for their loot? Let's quit mucking around with mechanics, abilities, healing, tanking and killing. It's been eight years of this, after all.

When it comes to Garalon, I've been assured by several people that Blizzard is OK with the exploit, and that they won't be banning people who use it because the Heart of Fear is now considered "old content." That's supposed to make people like me feel better about it, I guess. For what it's worth, I can't find a source for either claim and I'm a self-certified professional Googler. That said, the exploit's legality in Blizzard's eyes doesn't change my stance: players who bug out the Garalon encounter (no pun intended) are cheating. And I won't be a part of it.

I have friends who maintain it's no big deal to use it, assuming -- correctly or not -- that Blizzard doesn't really care. There are also those who resort to using it when they're trying to move through HoF quickly with a randomly assembled group. I also have friends who have reluctantly been using it in their group because their raiders have come to expect that they use it. I know people who claim it's completely legal, others who claim its not, and still others who care nothing for the legality/illegal of the exploit and only concern themselves with the ethics of the situation.

What's your stance on the Garalon bug?

(note: I have reached out to Blizzard through multiple channels regarding the exploit during the last three months, but have received no official response aside from a canned "thank-you for bringing this to our attention.")


  1. There've been a lot of things like this through the years. They never ban people for 'creative use of mechanics' unless you're formally warned by a GM and continue to do it anyway. They usually hotfix it if it matters.

    But, that doesn't really answer the question of whether or not it's ethical/'cheating' to do something like that.

  2. It makes sense for it to be considered in the "creative use of mechanics" category. Just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

  3. I don't like exploits and neither do half our officers. However if it hasn't been fixed it makes you wonder if it is one? If I ha some been you I would probably have done the same as you - not knowing what it was the first time and then after realising what it was, not do it ever again on principle.

  4. Yeah...I don't think I'm a very popular guy in the guild anymore. Being known as a rabble-rouser. :P