Thursday, May 26, 2011

Annealed Raiding

On Tuesday, I post a quick response to the blue announcement about the 4.2 nerfage.  At the time, I had just skimmed and was musing about how the details would shape up.  Since then, it seems like a lot of e-words have been written about the subject, both for and against the change.  I guess I didn't realize it was going to be a hot topic.

Since it apparently is, I wanted to go a little more in depth about my feelings.

First of all, I guess I wanted to point out that there are several changes coming that are effectively nerfing raid content.  The blogosphere seems mostly focus on the 20% boss nerf, which is only one small part.  This is a very important fact when one begins to debate development strategies.  Blizzard is not simply pursuing one avenue de nerfage, they seem to be pulling out all the stops.

One could argue that a small effective nerf already happened with the release of the Zx instances and the change from daily to weekly Valor Point rewards.  Together, these improve the average level of gear across the board.  I was all for that routing.  In fact, I am still for it as proposed in 4.2.  Make no mistake, gear levels will rise as a result of the release of T12 gear, and the availability of T11 gear gets shifted down for us.  Such a change was expected, I think, all along, and is most welcome.

So far, in Cataclysm, I like how they've done gearing.  The stat changes seem well thought out.  The speed with which you gear up from greens, to blues, to purples is actually distinct and meaningful.  Sometimes it might seem a bit slow, but I'll trade speed for satisfaction any day of the week (to a certain reasonable extent). 

I would even go so far as to argue that we've got a good, healthy spread of guilds progressing through content.  The bleeding edge might find itself a bit bored, and those of us that have struggled with time concerns feel a bit rushed, but you can't please everyone.  The approach so far seems pretty fair to me.

The issue I take with the proposed changes for 4.2 is that it seems like they're trying to fix something that isn't broken.  Yes, I'm talking specifically about the 20% nerf that feels like it was simply tossed in on top of the pre-existing flow strategies.  And I have to ask: Why the rush? 

The articles I've read that have been "for" this 20% nerf seem to revolve around the common theme of "raid tourism."  That is, they seem to think it's a smart decision for Blizzard to encourage everyone to burn through "outdated" content as fast as possible.  Why linger?  The new hotness is here!  (Get it? Firelands.  New Hotness.  HA.)  Yet, to me, it seems like they're needlessly taking a strategy that is already working (namely: a successfully paced gear progression path) and throwing more on top of it.  In addition, they're completely ignoring the lessons learned in Wrath (namely: the success of the ICC stacking buff).

I guess, at the end of the day, I simply don't agree with forcibly nerfing all of the previous raid content for everyone.  Especially when there exists such a simple, proven alternative.  Granted, maybe some bosses need a slight tweak to an ability or two, that'd be fine, but an across the board nerf?  Why not turn that into an across the board, de-clickable buff.  What's the difference?  What am I missing here?  Let each raid group choose.  Furthermore, why start at 20%?  Speaking from a casual raid group that generally brings up the rear in terms of staying in when we down bosses, the ICC buff added an extra element of fun and challenge to that raid. 

It was great.  It was like every two weeks there was another push to "get this guy down before the buff increases."  It gave us natural, mini-meta goals to shoot for.  It helped us parse out the long raid.  And 5% always seemed like just enough to get us over that next hump.  We'd down a few more bosses, hit the next progression wall, and struggle to try to Beat the Buff.  It was awesome, made even moreso by our success at finishing the content prior to the expansion (just barely).

We also used to click off the buff on "farm" nights.  I know that sounds crazy, but by the time you were near the end of ICC, you so overgeared the first wing that it was a joke.  It provided another fun mini-goal to try bosses without the buff as you gained the grace of gear.  

Why are we throwing this idea to the Gilneans?  If they wanted to be at 20% now, why not start with 5% increments two months ago?  Why not let the nerf be a choice in the form of a buff?  Isn't that a lot closer to "pleasing everyone" than forcing an unneeded change down our throats? 

In response to the raiding tourist crowd, there have to be better ways to accomplish the goal of seeing the content than this.  The buff is one idea.  Simple gearing should help.  It's like we're killing a fly with a sledgehammer here.  I like the old squishy nerf bats, not this new Fel on your Face version.  And I see a good many people out there that agree with me. 

At the end of the day, I just don't get it.  Hopefully, this is just PTR shenanigans that won't make it live like this.  Stranger things have been known to happen.  It's also not the end of the world if it does go live, it will just sort of cheapen the experience we've fought tooth and nail to create.  You'll still find us in Firelands, one way or the other, we just might be a little grouchier and untempered this way. 

And trust me, you don't want to subject untempered metal to extreme pressure.  (Then again, maybe that's why they went solely with the fire theme).


  1. I think the biggest reason for not doing an ICC type buff is that we are not in the last raid tier of the expansion. The problem with the ICC buff is that by the end of it, you started to get used to your inflated DPS/HPS numbers, to the point where running something like Ruby Sanctum actually made you "feel" less powerful. However, for the most part that problem was removed as we all had to relevel and gear up to 85.

    If we are simply moving to the next raid tier however, now we start some new bosses, but we're 20-30% less effective in our numbers. I realize that the numbers themselves are all relative and only matter so long as we are killing the boss, but a large part of the satisfaction of progress is "feeling" more powerful, and some of that gets lost when we are artificially pumped up by a zone buff. I expect that's why they are not using the ICC system in the current tier, even though it worked so well for ICC.

  2. Hm. I can see your point. Personally, I didn't feel that way (and we did squeeze in RS), but I could see where others would.

    Maybe the "buff" could really cause a "debuff" on the baddies... like less health for them. The point isn't so much who it works on, rather the two parts of "stepping it up" a bit at a time and making it "choose-able." I'd bet the smart people at Blizz could figure out a way to have both.

    In addition, if a jarring transition is what they wish to avoid, doesn't stepping into any sort of nerf make more sense? Aren't we going to feel way less powerful going from the "nerfed" content into the "unnerfed" Firelands?

    I do agree that a big reason may simply be because this is only the first tier. Maybe they're saving gradual increases for later content to make it feel more "epic." It could be as simple as they didn't want to devote a lot of resources to a smooth early transition. That's valid too, especially since I don't know really how much effort what I'm asking would require of them.

  3. I'm still really confused as to what all the fuss is about. The nerfs are to normal mode raids only; the "hard" content remains intact for all those who've yet to kill 13/13 HM. If the raid wants to be challenged, step into heroic mode.

    As I see it, the intention is that in 4.2 players are going to need, at the very least, that normal mode loot to get into and do well in Firelands. So with some guilds struggling to clear normal modes (WoWProgress is tracking 32.5% of guilds worldwide as having killed Nef NM), they'd wind up even further behind while those of us at the front of the pack charged gleefully on ahead. The nerf simply brings up those at the rear and maybe pushes some guilds past those end bosses that they were struggling with.

  4. Won't the changes to gearing effectively do that? Why do we need the nerf ON TOP of that? Furthermore, why does it have to be so big and so blatantly forced on us? What if we're only sitting 6/13 NM and want to struggle it out? Gearing has been a struggle, making it easier is already a huge buff (or should be). Is 32.5% significant (how many of the guilds are raiding guilds)?

    I guess I see a lot of the people at the back of the pack (like us) not wanting the nerf and I don't see a lot of good counterarguments. I see a lot of people "not understanding," but what I distinctly see a lack of is anyone saying "YES, We NEED this!"

    My counter to your stated intention would be: Then simply make the gear more readily available. Leave the fights alone. Put better stuff out there for simple JP. Put a few more nice drops in the other, non Zx heroics (doubles as enticement to run them). There are better solutions than simply wielding the nerf sledgehammer.

  5. The nerfs I find most interesting are on the Nefarian encounter. There are two mechanics that gear won't help you with if you can't get them right - kiting the adds in phase 3 and the blast waves in phase 2. They're nerfing both - the blast wave cast is getting slower and the timer for when the adds fall down is getting shorter. This will make it easier for folks with slower reaction times to get those mechanics right.

    I don't care if your tank is in tier 14, if the adds don't drop in two minutes she's going to get munched. Gear or extra hit points/damage is not going to do a thing to make that easier. We could have an ICC 30% buff and if I don't drop those adds and we've lost two dps and burned our battle rez, we're wiping at 13%.

    Similar with Atramedes. If your raid is stacking up the sound because they can't get out of the circles fast enough, it could be mitigated by gear and hit points but they'll still wipe on one tick of searing flame.

    This should be a real boon to people who play with a lot of latency, especially folks like me with lots of latency between the keyboard and chair.

  6. Yeah, you've hit on something that I didn't touch on very well. The changes you describe represent a well thought out scalpel (instead of a blunt instrument) aimed at correcting a very specific problem. Changes like that are always welcome, IMO. They make good sense.

  7. Gear can't fix over-tuned fights. Those fights need other kind of nerfs on the bosses part.

  8. This is golden. Good work.

  9. Yeah, I wouldn't mind seeing some specific changes to mechanics. I just don't really like blanket nerfs that you can't choose to use.

  10. Thank you! This is the first post/blog about this (and my first time at this blog btw) where someone has come at this topic with a perfectly level head. No doomsaying!

    Yes, you disagree with what they are doing but you calmly offer better ways to handle the situation like an adult. I think I love you, would you like to go out for a beer sometime? Long walk on the beach? Boobie tassles?


  11. XD

    Fuu might Hammer of Righteous me into the Nether if there were nipple-based pom-poms involved. Beer is always a favorite though.