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.