Updated Sun, May 26, 2013 by Messiah
What are Scenarios?
Scenarios are a form of PVE content added with the Mists of Pandaria expansion. Scenarios are aimed primarily at level 90 players and are essentially an additional form of instanced PVE content. Much like queuing up for a dungeon, heroic dungeon, or raid a scenario is a way to group with and play with other players in an area away from the general population.
This is a sample slide that Blizzard showed at Blizzcon to show how a staged scenario might play out. You can see that as you complete each stage another starts.
So if they are just more PVE content what makes scenarios different than the other forms of instanced content out there? Actually there are several differences which make them an interesting option to complete.
Probably the biggest difference when comparing scenarios to other PVE grouped instances like dungeons, heroics, and raids is that scenarios do not have a role component. Everyone who queues is essentially sent in as a DPS player as the scenarios are aimed at groups being able to complete without having a tank or healer available. It is assumed that if you can solo level 90 quests and dailies, that you can complete scenarios and keep yourself alive through them.
The next big difference is that scenarios are aimed at very small groups, never mind 25 player raids, 10 player raids, or even 5 player dungeons, scenarios are meant for groups of three players of any class or specialization.
Another difference is that scenarios are goal based. What this means is that there are several phases to them each called a stage. Once you complete a stage the next one starts. The stages can happen at the same location or a different one, they can require you to move to the next or play a brief cut scene and transport you to the next location, it all depends on the scenario you are playing.
The other difference is that scenarios are designed to be completed in much less time than an instance. Depending on the scenario and how well you are geared you should be able to complete at least 2 scenarios (and potentially up to 3 or 4 if you are fast) in the same amount of time that it would take you to complete an issue free instance. The fastest scenarios can be completed in about 10 minutes and the longest take about 20 minutes.
While scenarios are different in many ways they are also similar to dungeons, heroics, and raids in other ways.
Scenarios were added to the game in an effort to provide the developers a way to tell short stories and interact with players in much the same way as group quests did in the past. While this is similar to dungeons and raids it is easier to do on this smaller scale and since it has no role requirement and are completed quickly it allows everyone to participate easily. In this way they are the same as other instances as they allow story telling in a way that is controllable out of the regular world.
Scenarios are also similar to other instanced content in that they are separate from the world servers. This allows many more players to complete them at the same time than they would be able to if they were not instanced. It also allows players from different realms to be groups together to complete a scenario, exactly the same way as in a dungeon, heroic, or raid.
Scenarios are also similar to other instanced content in that they have normal and heroic versions available to complete. This feature was added in patch 5.3 and while not all scenarios have heroic versions there are several.
Lastly, scenarios are similar to the other instanced PVE content in that they will provide a boss fight at the end as well as some form of reward in the form of Valor Points and rare gear rewards.
With so many different things to do in the game you might be wondering why you should spend your time doing scenarios at all, especially if you already do other instanced content, or if your really don’t like group play.
The first reason to run scenarios is that it gets you out of the solo aspect of the game and into a group play situation. Many players get to the end game never having grouped at all, scenarios allow those players to get a feel of what it is like to play with other people.
For those players that like group content the option to play with other people should be reason enough to jump into a scenario. For those players that have had bad experiences and prefer solo content this could be the group content to change your mind. Since there are no role requirements for scenarios there are less chances of having a bad group experience. In theory anyone should be able to group up and complete them without typical group drama.
Next up, and probably the most important reason to play a scenario is the fun of it. Being mainly a PVE player, any chance to do some other form of PVE group content is a chance to have some fun. Once at the level cap there are only so many things to do in the game that are group based. Adding in more options is always a good thing as it keeps all the other options fresher since you have more variety.
Another huge reason to run a scenario instead of a dungeon, heroic, or raid for many players will be the fast queue time. If you are a DPS player you likely get extremely frustrated with long queue times for instances, especially during peak hours. Having a form of instanced content to be able to jump into where everyone is in the same queue and therefore as soon as 3 players queue they are placed into it will greatly decrease their wait times and increase their enjoyment.
Lastly, another great reason to run scenarios is for the rewards that they provide. Scenarios that are queued for through the random scenario system provide a rewards as follows:
In general Scenarios are for groups of three players. However, Blizzard has put several into the game that are used to explain key story elements. These are used to pull you out of the world servers and put you onto an instance server so that you do not have to compete against everyone else on the server for certain key kills. It also allows Blizzard to tell you a story in a more controlled fashion.
The key scenarios of this type of those that tell the story of the attack on the Isle of the Thunder King. They are mixed into the game as you progress through the storyline on the island and allow you to learn what is going on.
You can find a guide to these solo scenarios here: Isle of the Thunder King Solo Scenarios.
Also added to the game was what is essentially a solo scenario for the Warlock class. It takes place in a solo instanced version of the Black Temple and is in place so that Warlocks can complete their class quest for green fire.
You can find out more about it in our Warlock Green Fire Quest Chain Guide.
Expect Blizzard to use this system more in the future as it was well recieved for the Isle of the Thunder King event.
Being story driven a scenario has you complete a task or several tasks per stage, at which point that stage completes and the next one is announced. Here are two typical storylines from scenarios.
Arena of Annihilation – This scenario is essentially a Ring of Blood type event. There are several different bosses that get progressively hard as you move through the scenario. There are five different bosses including a giant turtle, a yeti, a fire elemental, a Yaungol warlord, and a Saurok warlord. Defeat them all to beat the scenario.
A Brewing Storm– This scenario focuses on helping a brewmaster brew a special brew during a lightning storm. To do this you need to fend of sauroks while the brew is being struck by lightning while putting out fires that are started by the lightning. The second phase of the scenario has you escort the brewmaster down the road to the monastery being careful to not be knocked off the path. The last phase involves defeating a giant saurok that is attacking the monastery to win the scenario.
Scenarios are only available to players that have reached level 90 and that of course means not until you have worked your way through much of the Mists of Pandaria content. However, before MoP launched there will was one scenario available for each faction based around the Battle of Theramore that kicked off the war that sent players to Pandaria.
The Battle of Theramore scenario was available to level 85 players for the week leading up to the release of MOP on September 25th 2012 and then changed to a level 90 scenario once MOP was released.
When Mists of Pandaria was released there were several scenarios included with it. However, that has expanded over time and there are now many more available to players, including the solo scenarios discussed previously.
Now that you know all about scenarios, what is your opinion on them? Are they something that excites you, will you jump into them often, or just try them a few times. Let us all hear what you think in the comments section below.