Surprisingly (to me as well) this really got my back up. So humour me while I try to get my thoughts out in a coherent way.With the final showdown against Deathwing approaching, we’ve been keeping a close eye on players’ progress through the current Firelands raid content. Before patch 4.3 is released, we want groups who are working on Heroic-difficulty content to be able to get as close to Ragnaros as possible, and we want players who are tackling normal progression to be able to experience as many of the encounters as they can. To achieve these goals, we’ll be toning down the difficulty of both normal and Heroic raids through hotfixes in the coming weeks. In general, we plan to reduce health and damage of all raid bosses in both normal and Heroic Firelands by around the same percentage we brought difficulty down for the original Cataclysm raids when Rage of the Firelands (patch 4.2) was released.
We’re looking forward to seeing more groups of players face off against the firelord in the weeks ahead. However, before we make these changes, we want to give everyone a final shot at the bosses at their current difficulty level — so this is a heads up that we’re planning to apply the difficulty hotfixes beginning the week of September 19.
Stay tuned to the Patch 4.2 Hotfixes blog for these and other live updates to the game as they happen.
My guild started raiding during this expansion. We've always been late to start - Tier 11 in May, Tier 12 in July - but we've not regretted that for a moment. Raid nights are a social thing, a chance to do our best and down some bosses in the hopes of seeing all the content. We finished Tier 11 while progression guilds were starting Firelands but for each of the 5 bosses we downed post-nerf, we felt we could have cleared them without nerfs if we'd started sooner and had more time.
For Tier 12 we started late again as we were still finishing Tier 11, trying to get people head and shoulder tokens to gear up for Firelands. Our guild is 4/7 now, our last kill being Baleroc. That fight was beyond us the week before but we chained Zulroics, got whatever extra gear we could, fiddled with reforging and even made the leap to getting potions for everyone to pre-pot. Lower those eyebrows, progression raiders! Pre-potting was never necessary before! The next time we went to Baleroc we got him down. It took all of us to collectively push the limits of our gear and skill to get it but I honestly believe it was the best kill we've ever made. As a raid team we're starting to believe that we have what it takes to clear full, current raids and it's a great feeling.
None of us had foreseen nerfs while the content was still current though. We were sure that we could get to Ragnaros and kick his ass before Tier 13 hit. We have the dedication, skill, and patience but we just need a few more weeks of gear upgrades. Unless we get Alysrazor this week, we're left with the knowledge that those last three bosses will be post-nerf. I'm 100% sure that we could do it pre-nerf, if we had the rest of this tier to do it. Now we may never know.
Only Blizzard know how these hotfixes will be implemented. There's no clear statement to go on, only small clues:
"through hotfixes in the coming weeks"which suggest a gradual change.
There's another option, in that case - one that doesn't involve nerfing bosses. Jasyla's post over at Cannot Be Tamed was a timely reminder that a previous method of making the raid content more accessible was introduced for Tier 10, the Icecrown Citadel raid. A 5% buff to player health, healing done and damage done was applied on March 2nd 2010, ramping up in 5% increments, with the final 30% buff coming into force on July 20th 2010. Admittedly, it's not likely that we have 5 months before 4.3 in which to mimic that idea but I honestly feel that this is a better solution than nerfing the bosses themselves. As Kurn says:
"...in a buff situation like the ICC buff, the onus is on the players to step it up"I would prefer that. To kill the same boss as everyone else but to do it with a slight boost? Nothing wrong with that at all. It still requires you to have the skill and put the effort in. The element I like most about this method is that it would be optional. If you wanted to do the raid at full difficulty, you would simply turn it off. This solution seems perfect to me - a buff for players who were struggling (or had been too daunted to get started) and an option to do it a harder way for those who wanted to.
The biggest part of the nerf issue this expansion (in my humble opinion) is the lack of options. There's no way to do it un-nerfed if you wish to. You're forced to take those nerfs that you might not need and finish current content without knowing how far you could have got unaided. I don't understand why they opted for boss nerfs instead of players buffs during Cataclysm but it's highly likely I'm missing something, as I wasn't raiding back in Wrath. I do think that the lack of choice is really, really frustrating to a large group of the playerbase though, in a time when many of them have been playing for a number of years. At a time when other MMOs (I'm looking at you, Rift) are on the market and WoW isn't the only option of its genre anymore.
I understand accessibility, and I think it's great that people get to see content. At the same time I don't feel that this should come at the expense of those people who are already capable of seeing content as it is. Is it right to make it more fun for one group but less fun for another? I don't think it is. If Blizzard's goal is to get more people to Ragnaros is it really so crucial that this is done before the new raid even arrives? I don't think it is.
I'm a newer player, and no changes or nerfs to the game have ever made me think of quitting. The nerfs are not my main worry, although you'd be forgiven for thinking that if you've got this far. I read a lot of blogs, and the frustration, bewilderment and resentment radiates from posts by people who care a lot about this game. It seems that Blizzard is making unpopular decisions lately and it's hard to keep believing that they're for any other reason than keeping those subscriber numbers high.
I worry, because many of these recent decisions meant to increase accessibility are pushing away long-term players who bring a lot to the game and its community. These are the people I want to play this game with. This is the community I am happy to be making myself known in. As Oestrus said recently:
"We are losing people... We’re saying goodbye to friendships and memories and ties that we have formed with one another. It’s more than just lost revenue and subscription numbers... These people have names and they have made contributions to the game and to the community."If change after change drives these people away, people that write guides, theorycraft, share their advice and speak out for their class, the whole game will be poorer for it. Blizzard needs to find a way to improve the accessibility of content without taking some of the fun away for others and it needs to think about this sooner rather than later.