Raids – Accessibility versus Challenge?

I’ve been wondering how you feel about raid accessibility and progression lately.

During Wrath of the Lich King, the raids started out at one level of difficulty, and then were reduced in difficulty over the course of the expansion. Raids kicked it big, and then as new raids came out, old raids got the ol’ nerfbat swung at ’em.

Even the last big pre-Cataclysm raid, ICC, saw planned gating with the group buff that got beefier the longer the expansion was out.

The most recent notes from patch 4.2 indicate that all existing raids in Cataclysm are about to meet with the same nerfbat treatment, just in time to ease the difficulty/speed the progression of those working on them to get people into the Firelands sooner.

We know for a fact that the easing of difficulty in the name of accessibility did not die with the Lich King. Also, Valor gear for Justice points, coming soon to a vendor near you.

So, how does that make you feel?

I’m interested in this, because for the first time in the game I have a character that could keep up with progression and see Firelands with my guild as it’s released.

In all the years I have played World of Warcraft, I was never one of the players on the leading edge of content progression. Of course, I’m still not on the leading edge, it’s the guild I’m in that is. But I’m kinda going along with them, running like hell to catch up, and I’ve been the beneficiary of their largess with pity epics.

That, plus some seriously focused playtime on my Hunter have placed me on the “wtf, I can raid?” chart as a backup/fill in. If content gets nerfed, then it will be the raids I’ve actively seen that are getting the axe. Including the one boss I haven’t seen die, Nefarian.

It’s my opinion that the nerfs aren’t needed, not on the basis of difficulty level.

I have now done the raids with two different groups, and I’ve had the chance to see how things look from both sides. One group has the content on farm, and the other has about half of it on farm and is tackling new bosses each week.

I’ve also done the heroic dance, getting the gear and figuring out what to get for Justice points, and what to save those precious Valor for.

What I’ve seen is that the content as it is, is excellently balanced.

It is very challenging to learn initially as a group, because each battle has multiple phases, slick gimmicks, and is balanced for groups with a good mix of melee and ranged. learning everything about each fight as a cohesive group takes time. I don’t care who you are.

The most challenging aspect of each battle seems to be movement.

There is a choreography for each fight, a timing and rhythym. They aren’t as rigid as the Safety Dance in Naxx, but timing is still critical.

The most interesting thing to me is that you can control the timing of your group. If your DPS is too high for some fights, too unrestrained, you can trigger phase changes at the wrong moment for your tanks to handle. You can choose whether or not to kill adds or kite them, and deal with the repercussions your own way if you feel up to it.

You’ve got more control, and the better your group is able to flow as a team, the easier the fights get over time. I like that. “And you can dance… for inspiration.” Oh, sorry, I didn’t really type that, did I? 

The thing is, once your group has learned these things, then the encounters are fun and thrilling without being a pain in the butt. When you finish a battle, you know you still had to do it right and do it well, you don’t snooze through. There is still definitely a strong feeling of “Hell yeah, baby, beat his ass again, roll him and grab his wallet” to it.

They’re not nerfing raid fights because they have to. They’re nerfing raid fights to make them easier to get past, and they’re doing it at the same time as they released troll heroics that are farmable for epics, and when they’re making Valor gear go for Justice points.

It’s all about accessibility for more people.

I clearly remember how I felt when all this happened in WotLK. I was glad that there was new content for me to do (the ICC heroics), and I was glad that my friends in Zug would soon be seeing even more tasty fun content.

I even got some benefit out of it, in that the old heroics defintely became a much easier proposition in ICC heroic gear. 

But at the same time, there were problems.

The old heroics were shunned, because why run one of those when there were fun heroics that had epics? Sure the old ones were easier and you could gear up in them to be stronger in ICC heroics, but a lot of people queuing up didn’t seem to care. As soon as iLevel gating said they could do ICC heroics, in they were. Carry me!

So that begs the question, is the current iLevel gating to the troll heroics forcing people to be much better geared in comparison to what we dealt with in WotLK?

Then there is the problem of how you feel, working so hard and taking on challenges, only to have them nerfed, then bypassed by stuff that people won’t get upgrades from if they can get into the new stuff instead.

Will the current raids still feel as epic, when I know that they used to require a tighter group? Will guilds that were struggling feel cheated that they didn’t clear it before the nerbat was swung?

Or will people feel too excited to get into the Firelands?

With Firelands out, will we see the same change in priority we saw in Wrath of the Lich King? Guilds that run the old stuff as little as possible in order to get into the tasty loot-dropping new stuff? Players that run the two new heroics with epic drops exclusively to gear up to hit Firelands, skipping the old raids entirely?

I’m really wondering. I wasn’t part of the raiding scene when ICC was released, so I never played with anyone that had been struggling on content, only to have everything they were doing flushed when ICC and the new heroics got released. 

Is your guild already farming hard modes and bored, waiting for Firelands? If so, will you ever return to BoT, Throne of the Winds or BWD?

Is your guild at the point that you’re could be done and farming the current raids, but have chosen to focus more on farming the new heroics for easier (and repeatable) chances at troll epics?

Are you still struggling to get full raid clears (much like I feel I am) and if so, how do you feel about the upcoming nerfbat, and where will the Firelands find you? Eager to enter, or determined to finish what you started first?

I’m surprised to admit that I’m interested to see what happens next in the story… but at the same time, I feel a strong sense of familiarity about the whole thing. I wonder if the content shift in the next patch will work smoother, or if we’re about to hit that bumpy patch in the road.

18 thoughts on “Raids – Accessibility versus Challenge?

  1. I for one am all for giving the entry level raids a bit of a nerfing. Simply put, there are a good number of raiders (or former raiders) out there that would love to be able to actually raid once in a while.

    Folks like me that either cannot commit to the steady diet of attempts that lead to the types of sucesses you describe.

    I aspire to it.

    I think it would be awesome.

    I would trade places in half a heartbeat.

    But I simply am unable to commit the time to it that it currently requires. Particularly when I am not fortunate enough to be in a guild that has a spot for me on the off chance I am able to go.

    There is a place for folks like me though, and that place is in Pug raids.

    A week before Wrath hit I was still going in every week and puggin Kara. You know what? I had fun.

    A week before Cata? I was puggin whatever the weekly raid quest was, and having fun doing it.

    With the advent of Cataclysm, and there not being a puggable raid instance that place no longer exists.

    With no raid to gear up for there is no need for me to run heroics. With no need to run heroics there is no real need to gear up in normals. With no need to head into normals there is little reason to bother grinding up faction rep for enchants and such. After all, the gear I got from questing is good enough for anything outside of an instance and will all be vendor trash by the time I hit 86 anyhow.

    In fact, there is little reason to do anything but ride circles around the capital city of my choice waiting for the next expansion so I can have 5 more levels as a goal I can actually work towards.

    Its enough to make archeology look like and exciting passtime.

    Then again my solution is an easy one. I simply quit paying on all but one of my accounts. Soon that one will go away as well. I’ll be loggin off until some content I can actually work towards is availible.

    I think the last one expires on the 25th.

    TLDR: Yes, I am in favor of a good whackin with the nerf bat. So people like me, on the other end of the progression spectrum, can actually raid.


  2. One of the things that I’ve noticed this expansion is a lack of PUG raiding. I have one one night a week which I can dedicate to significant hours of play but I have yet to find anyone running anything like in Wrath. I think the removal of the weekly raid contributes to this and I personally would like to see it come back. Frankly I hope with 4.2 we find more people willing to PUG the “old” content as it will be 20% easier which may allow me to see the content. Otherwise I’m stuck farming heroics for badge gear 😥


  3. Hi BBB,

    I´d like to add that a lot of classes are supposed to get preemptive damageoutputnerfs for the tier 12 gear rating inflation, I guess the old content nerfs are to compensate those players already behind behind in progress suddenly doing less damage in the old gear.
    Additionally there is not a single heroic mode nerf in the announcements, so Blizzard seems to push the envelope there.
    Thank you for your post and best of luck with your novel!



  4. The only people I feel “bad” for on this front are the middle of the road raiders who are right on the edge of downing some of the end bosses in T11. They’re going to steamroll the content and then feel it was handed to them. Luckily, my totally made up statistics tell me that’s a fairly low % of the raiding population at this point.

    Most current raiders will probably continue on T11 hardmodes mixed with T12 or more likely just start straight into T12 and hit T11 hardmodes on off nights. Normal T11 will become a place for inexperienced or underskilled raiders to cut their teeth, see content, and hopefully improve their skills a bit. Trade PUGs will get a lot further in T11.

    Some raiders will be upset about the underskilled and inexperienced seeing “their” content. Luckily, they’ll have new content and new titles to get, and they can suck it up.

    I guess we’ll see how it plays out, but my belief is that Blizzard just wanted to get some raids together for the casual crowd, and this was a good opportunity.


  5. Seems to me to be much ado about nothing. Nerf bat to old content makes it easier for those who want to see them. Anyone who is hard core is already past it (seen it – bought the t-shirt) and on to current content so shouldn’t make a difference to them. For those stating that “they did it the hard way and it’s not fair”, I ask “Why do you care?” You’re on to the next hard stuff. That’s why YOU play.

    It’s not like what someone is doing has any affect on your progression.

    Oh – btw BBB, if I interpret your post a little differently, Blizzard probably doesn’t need to re-tool the encounters as you have said. But from a player point of view, I play what’s in front of me and move on.

    Wholeheartedly agree with the tequila comment. I frequently mention the absence as the root of all evil.


  6. I can always tell when a post I wrote was incoherent – the interpretations of what I meant divurge a LOT, and the comments take stances I didn’t realise I made and rebut them.

    I blame it on the tequila. As in, I haven’t had any.

    Clearly, I need to re-read my next post and edit it for clarity at least a little.


  7. I agree with Unglar – it’s not like the uber epics from BoT and BWD help with PvP – My guilds status on completion has zero effect on your guilds status on completion. This isn’t a race (at least it shouldn’t be perceived as one) – I’m not in my servers top progression guild; My guild is 8/12 on normal modes, and although I’m sad I’m apparently the only druid without epic shoulders (so there’s no reason to be showing off in Org anyway) – it’s kinda silly to be raging about ‘dumbing down’ the encounters.

    Because you asked, BBB, I’ll give my perspective.

    My guild, as I mentioned, isn’t hard core top progression anything. We were clearing Naxx 25 when ToC came out. We were just scratching at the Inner content of Ulduar when ICC came out. We used ICC gear to help us master ToC – and we never did finish ToGC. I got my Kingslayer title a few mere weeks before Cataclysm struck – we NEEDED that 30% buff – it was obvious. We could chart our progression based on the increase of the buff. We weren’t bad, per se, just had a few people who weren’t as dedicated to the cause – and the buff helped smooth out that roughness.

    When I read the 4.2 nerf notes, I was ecstatic – I know, without a doubt, that now we’ll be able to get past Ascendant Council, Al’Akir, Cho-gall and Nefarion. I’t entirely possible we’ll get there pre-4.2 – out last few raids have been one shotting the bosses we have on farm – it’s mostly a time constraint on doing the rest of the bosses (we only get 1 good night of attempts a week – and people still need items off the first bosses – so no one wants to lock out). 20% reduction means 20% faster runs – which can definitely make the difference between doing 8 bosses on farm and having time left over to make an attempt or 2 at ones we haven’t even seen.

    Again, because our guild progression has no affect on anyone else’s progression – who cares if we needed a crutch to get where your guild is already? You get to play in the Firelands for a few weeks before we do – congratulations – no hard feelings here 🙂

    My biggest worry, honestly – is heroic modes. The 20% difference, on top of harder mechanics will make normal vs heroic that much harder to master for those of us who haven’t tasted them at all. That will certainly keep my guild challenged, even as y’all go play with Fire.


  8. I really don’t see how this badly affects anyone except shallow posers who stand in Orgrimmar/Stormwind displaying their epics wanting adoration. If you’re in a hardcore raiding guild, go to Firelands or run heroic modes in the old raid content (which are not getting nerfed). If you’re struggling to clear the current content at the moment, enjoy seeing the fights you could not do before and getting to new bosses. There is something in this for everyone.

    Personally, I am really looking forwards to Firelands – two things in particular: the staff from Staghelm and Rhyolith. The latter is a boss you don’t tank, you simply steer him by attacking his left leg or right leg. It sounds like a headache to coordinate, but how much fun is that going to be!

    From a wider perspective, I think Blizzard have frequently nerfed the previous tier of raiding through Wrath, it was just a little more delayed and a little more subtle. Getting people to see the exciting content is huge, so I think this is a good thing.


  9. I can see the necessity for it – I know I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I did in ICC (with the little time I put into it) without the buff and I like that it is opened up to other players – my self included. However I liked the way it was done in ICC with the buff that could be turned off – because it gave those that wanted to experience the content as it was originally designed a chance to do so (e.g. glutton for punishment herself Miss Medicina) – without penalizing others that are happy to work with the nerfed version.

    The ICC buff is a slightly different beast because it was an end of expansion raid and therefore there was no next tier of gear available (until you hit 85) to allow others to go back and do it. But I don’t remember them nerfing the previous tier in the other expansions – it naturally became easier because of the gear upgrades available through other methods – but I’ll admit I was paying less attention back then.


  10. Yeah this is the life of a huntar!
    You are ranged dps and if you stay out of fire … you’re easy to heal.

    All I can say is that 4.2 is looking to be like 3.1 in many ways (without the big raid area, and siege engines.. and without big robots… ok it’s nothing like 3.1 🙂

    Anywho here is what I say. If you are having a bit of fun doing what you do. It don’t matter what is happening in the greater raid-sphere. Hunters are fun fun fun to play. (even more fun when they can heal… but I digress). Raiding is a bit like a sport in that if you do your job reliably you will get the job.

    The issue you “may” come to at some point is that you get bored simply being the reliable pew pew boss HP remover and you want to do decurses or interrupts or SOMETHING besides keeping Beastial Wrath on cooldown. THEN you may have raiding issues… but right now enjoy the ride! and really suck up all the fun you can as fast as you can because for some reason Hunters have a quick halflife in raiding over an expansions timeline.

    As far as gear and getting easy… I don’t think hunters care… after all we get pets to catch that keeps us busy!


  11. Apologies for the double post.

    A better way to do it would perhaps be to retain the existing difficulty, but grant a zonewide buff to the raid. If you want the challenge, click off the buff.


  12. I think this is all a big furor about nothing, really.

    The nerf to existing raids will only happen after patch 4.2 drops. By then most guilds wanting a challenge will be busy with the Firelands raids.

    As for other guilds who may want to “finish up”, they can still do so albeit a somewhat nerfed experience. That being said, realistically their raiders will be wearing some of the new 4.2 gears, so the experience would be different in any case (unless they’re will to downgrade their gears, which I really don’t see happening).

    Besides, this happen before in Wrath when ToC dropped and Ulduar was nerfed. As I recall, the exact same thing happened – lots of chest beating before the patch, but nobody cared after the patch dropped.


  13. I don’t think that the raids will get axed, per se. The very items guilds need to make Firelands doable are still waiting in the current raids, so if anything, I predict a jump in raiding, at least until everyone is kitted out. The troll heroics are really there to fill in gaps for folks who don’t have Cho’Gall on farm yet; they aren’t quite a match for a raiding item in that same slot. Blizzard has made it plain they are tired of Sunwells and Black Temples, gorgeous raids and encounters only a fraction of the population get to see. Personally, I am all for access. Challenege? Hell, take off some gear, run with one less person, etc. Sometimes, young’uns, ya hafta make your own fun 😛

    I was reading a forum post today on the WoW site, and supposed hardcore raiders were wailing and pulling their hair, so this post resonated with what I saw. To me, it’s always sounded as if rabid hardcores see cutting-edge content as some kind of country club, and they don’t want “the wrong sort” swimming in their pool. Casuals should be serving drinks to Muffy, Buffy and Chaz; that’s the natural order of things, right? Sorry, privelige and snobbery have always stuck in my craw.

    Me, I think there’s room for everyone in the raiding scene. The Kool Kids can still be masochists with Stranghelm, mere mortals can see Nefarian, and the world will still turn. Power to the masses!


  14. If they did not do this nerfing, the instances would not have been designed to be so challenging to start with.

    The blues are admitting they screwed up in not having some pre-nerfed raid content to start with, but beginning in 4.2 two tiers (one challenging, one nerfed) will be available. This may draw back some of the people who have quit, although reconstituting their guilds is going to be challenging.


  15. They would not need to swing the nerf bat if they would design the instance with scalability in mind from the start. If you make every or almost all bosses have multiple levels of difficulty and complexity then the encounters nerf/buff themselves based upon what the raiders want to do. Freya too easy for you well do it with 1,2,3,4 elders.

    I have written a post about how they could do this and do it well. Even with scalable rewards especially since it is now points and not emblems. I know they are essentially the same thing just the point system is more granular.


    • Like the idea … build in the flexibility to dial up the difficulty according to your group, I’d say with rewards scaling as well, rather than introducing new content at a challenging level then nerfing or making it more accessible at a later date only to peeve those who have ‘put in the hard yards’.


  16. Personally I like the changes, allowing more people the chance to see “older” content and giving them the opportunity to experience the new when its still new. The changes will also allow many more people the chance to at least get the epic version of the legendary staff. Having played since the old days when raiding was for the elite few(not I) then or now; I applaud Blizzard at making accessibility a aspect of their planning. I enjoy seeing the content and am very glad that with these theme changes I don’t have to wait for half of the next expansion to be able to see these wonderful raids. I never had the chance to do sunwell when it was the pen ultimate raid, and I always felt that I choose friendship over progression. These changes will allow me to still play with my friends at our pace and if we only clear the raid because it was nerfed so be it, I will still have to joy of downing the raid bosses with 9 friends. Personally I’ll still get the rush when it shows that we cleared BWD or BoT.

    For those guilds that have the raids on farm already I don’t see this meaning much because I would assume that they are ready and waiting for firelands.

    Sorry for the wall of comment

    But again I think Blizz’s direction is a good one IMO


  17. This topic was brought up on wow insider the other day. One of the comments was something to the effect of “I raid to play with my friends and i do not want to replace one of them with a higher performing jerk.” This is the sentiment that we have in our guild. We reached the pinnacle of our raiding in TOC by downing it when it was current content. The time taken to do that raid was great for us as it let us get a raid done in one night. Our schedules just dont allow us to clear a full raid instance when it has to be broken over two or more nights. By swinging the nerfbat at the raids, it might let us get through something like BoT in one night. And if it’s not current content, why does anyone care if I want to play the game on easier mode?

    I know that we still run old content just to see it. Last Sunday, we did Sarth, Maylgos, and Ony, just to do something together. To laugh and joke and have fun where one mistake on someones part wont cause a wipe or a death. We are also working thru Ulduar hard modes just to see what everyone was talking about back then.

    One problem if they don’t change the raids and introduce alternate gearing methods, (higher tier heroics, point gear) they fall back into the “you must do regulars, then heroics, then first tier raids, then second tier raids, then third tier raids” trap. Which ever way you go some one will be unhappy.


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