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One of the features that I am really looking forward to in Mists of Pandaria is the Scenario system.  This system is for all the players, like myself, out there that love PVE group content and want some additional challenges besides just dungeons and raids, since most world group quests have disappeared.  What exactly is this new system though?

Since they are not in beta yet we still have to go by what has been stated at BlizzCon and online by Blizzard. We can also get a little from the achievements found in the game and some of the information that people have dug out of the files.  Keep in mind though that all this is very much subject to change before they actually go live.

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at what Scenarios are going to be.

What are Mists of Pandaria Scenarios

We know for sure that scenarios are described as short, staged instances for a few players that you could think of as PVE battlegrounds.  

What all that means though is open for interpretation.  How man is a few and what does short mean? 

Let’s deal with the easier one first, what is a few?  A few probably means less than 5 since that is what a full dungeon instance requires.  Presumably Blizzard is looking to fill a gap and allow players to jump in something really fast to blast through some content with some other players.  This means that they will likely be for 3-4 players, although I could see this being flexible either based on scenario or have the scenario scale based on the number of people interested or grouped.

Next on to what is short?  Again, I think we take a clue from instances.  Most instances run about 20-40 minutes depending on your group and which instance.  If Blizzard really is trying to fill a gap for players that want to group, but don’t have time for an instance then it probable has to be in the order of 7-15 minutes for a scenario.  Any longer and you probably would just queue for an instance, any shorter and there isn’t much time to tell a story or get across the point of the scenario. 

What is a Staged Scenario

Now onto what exactly staged means, and for that let’s look back at some exampled that Blizzard provided back at BlizzCon.

They provided two examples, which to paraphrase were essentially:

  • Kill 25 enemies, escort an NPC past some additional enemies, and then kill a boss.
  • Kill 50 enemies, destroy 6 towers and a barracks, kill a boss.

So what this equates to for me, is essentially 3 small link quests.  When you finish the first part, it sends you to the second part, and then the final part.  This could be taken and stretched into more than 3 parts, but so far the ones that we have seen are only 3 different parts.

With at least three separate parts it allows Blizzard enough time to tell a little bit of a story with the scenario.  I suspect that some in the game will be more than three sections but we will have to wait and see.

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This is just one of the sample slides they showed at Blizzcon to show how a staged scenario might play out.

Scenarios will be Queue and Go

Next up Blizzard has also described scenarios as a Queue and Go type system with a tool that will be very much like the Dungeon Finder tool to get into them.  However one big change from the dungeon finder tool to the scenario finder tool will be that there is no role requirements.

Yes, you heard that right.  There will be no designated healer or tank, just whoever wants to go, as whatever they want to go as.  Which will mean that everyone will be DPS.

What this also means is that the queues will be extremely fast.  By extremely fast, I mean pretty much instant.  Think of queuing for an instance as a tank, where you click the dungeon finder and are immediately put into a group.  It will be that fast, however it leads me to wonder how it will all work.

What, no Tank or Healer?

Since scenarios will be fast and use a queue and go system with no role requirements, that means you will almost never have a tank or healer in your group.  That means it will be up to you to manage your own health, threat, and control your enemies.

I do worry though, that players will expect any class that is capable of healing to heal when they jump into a scenario.  If this becomes the case then I can see a lot of argument and stress for players that do not like healing but are guilted into it.

While controlling your own survival could be ok for many player, I worry that the scenarios will have to be tuned way too easy to accommodate the players that are not able to string together more than 2 kills without running out of mana or health or taking a break for cooldowns.  If the scenarios are so simple that they can be done without a healer and survived even by the most lack lustre player, then what will be the point to them?  If there is no challenge or skill required, then what is the purpose of them?

The obvious answer to that questions is Valor points.  Blizzard wanted to find a way to give points to players that didn’t want to raid, run instances, or PVP.  Why, I’m not sure, since if you don’t do any of those things you really do not need better gear than you can get through questing, but regardless, this will give the very casual player a way to get some valor points to improve their gear over time.

How many Scenarios will there be?

This one is up in the air and no one other than Blizzard is really sure yet.  Actually, they probably are not sure yet either, as there are so many things going on in the Beta, some planned items may or may not get in for release.  Not to say that there will not be any scenarios in the release, just that until it ships I think it would be impossible to guess if there will be 4, 8, or 20 at launch.

There are many names of scenarios floating around out there, either harvested from the beta files, picked up from talks from Blizzard, or pulled from past lore. Just a few of the names that I have seen floating around are: Black Ox Temple, Ancient Mogu Crypt, Valley of Power, Burgled Brew,  Arena of Annihilation, Temple of Kotmongu, and more Again though no one is sure how many will make it into release.

The Messiah’s Take on Mists of Pandaria Scenarios

So far, from what we know, scenarios seem like they could work to provide some very quick on demand fun for PVE centric players.  This is especially true for those that are online for short periods of time and are looking for something to group up to do, but don’t have the time for an instance, or can not commit for a raid.  It is also good for those that like the battleground idea, but don’t like PVP combat.

Even for harder core players I believe that if done correctly I can see scenarios as a really fun little distraction when you are done other things in the game, such as your raids for the week, dungeon runs, and more. The question is, can they be done correctly?

My biggest concern with them is that since they do not require a tank or healer, that they will have to be balanced to be way to easy to complete.  Also since they are for only a very few players, there can only be so many different mechanics put into them or they will get too confusing.  Potentially there will be some form of scaling in difficulty put in place so that the events get harder based on the players gear involved, or even potentially based on the players past records in the scenarios.

I also am a bit confused overall about the aim of the scenarios, as one comment that I have heard a few times is that this will allow players that do not raid or run instances a way to get valor points and progress in gear level.  However my problem is that if this really is for players that don’t raid, don’t do heroics, and don’t do PVP, then can someone please explain why they need access to valor point gear?  If they are not doing any hard content then there really is no need for better gear, and creating content that is easy enough to get raid quality gear that will not be used seems strange.

Lastly the whole lack of role requirements concerns me a little bit as well.  We all know how battlegrounds turn out around healers, with everyone whining that their side is losing because no one is willing to heal.  I am a little worried that could happen here as well.  That may not happen here, but a lot depends on how the whole scenarios are balanced.
While a lot of my comments may seem a little discouraging, I really am still very positive about the inclusion of scenarios as a form of new PVE content.  While I see lots of potential issues, I also see a whole lot of upside, as they could be really fun little events to participate in.  Also because they will be short, in theory they will be easy for Blizzard to create more of them for any patch they put out which could further expand content for players. 

What is your take on scenarios, are you excited about them, or could you care less? Make sure you make your comments known by posting them below.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Byron 1
Byron has been playing and writing about World of Warcraft for the past ten years. He also plays pretty much ever other Blizzard game, currently focusing on Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, while still finding time to jump into Diablo III with his son.