Reading an article on Massively about Wildstar’s endgame the comments section actually raised an unrelated but very interesting topic. The commenter Andrew19 mentions a so-called ‘blind’ guild – a raiding guild that goes out of its way not to spoil the secrets of raid encounters before experiencing them. Members are explicitly told not to watch the strategy videos (which are very common for many MMOs now) on Youtube or elsewhere, nor to read up descriptive guides in advance of facing the boss fights.
I love this approach to learning group content. It’s not efficient of course and can mean a lot of failed attempts (a k a wipes). My original friends & family guild in WoW operated on this principle most of the time. Whenever new dungeons were released we would always go in with zero spoilers, if one of the other guild members had already done it they were sworn to follow the group and not spoil the surprise of any unusual boss abilities. For me these were some of the best dungeon runs, a real challenge of adapting to content and improvising tactics rather than simply executing someone’s recipe for success. We follow the same rules in our SWTOR leveling trio since I’ve not done most of the flashpoints more than once so can’t remember much about the boss tactics – we just charge in and give it our all.
The problem with this approach, beyond the lack of patience to wipe as you learn, is that many more modern boss fights have ‘one-shot mechanics’. Innocent little effect icons that the boss places on someone may cause a sudden instant death for the whole group if you aren’t aware of the special rules for that fight. That’s where such an approach falls down badly, learning by doing only works if the mechanics of the fight are observable and more gimmicky boss abilities often are not easy to work out in this way.
I would certainly be nice if group content was designed to not require spoilers to even attempt it, but then perhaps that would also exclude anything more unusual tactics-wise?