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Dragon Soul Nerfs

Posted by Malevica on January - 20 - 2012

Blizzard has announced that from January 31st Dragon Soul normal and heroic will be hit with a 5% nerf across the board, which may or may not be followed by further nerfs. Reactions have been predictably strong.

What Blizzard Said

Let’s have some choice excerpts. You can read the full text on MMO-Champion and elsewhere.

Here’s a bit from the first announcement:

During the scheduled server maintenance on the week of January 31, the Dragon Soul raid will become enveloped by the “Power of the Aspects” spell, reducing the health and damage dealt of all enemies in the raid by 5%. This spell will grow progressively stronger over time to reduce the difficulty and make the encounters more accessible. The spell will affect both normal and Heroic difficulties, but it will not affect the Looking for Raid difficulty.

The spell can also be disabled by talking to Lord Afrasastrasz at the beginning of Dragon Soul, if a raid wishes to attempt the encounters without the aid of the Dragon Aspects.

So it’s a flat 5% nerf to health and damage done, no mention of removal of mechanics or mechanic changes à la Firelands. The scale is similar to the ICC progressive nerf/buff, and just like the ICC effect it can be turned off if you want to.

Later on, a follow-up post with clarification and, importantly, explanation was posted:

Believe it or not there are actually guilds and raiding groups that are attempting to progress through Normal and Heroic raids, but are hitting a wall, and have been hitting a wall. We have actually statistical date [sic.] we base our changes on, we know exactly how many people are clearing these raids each week, we know exactly how many people are able to down just a few bosses, and how many were only able to down a few bosses every week for weeks on end and then stopped raiding altogether.

The issue we’re constantly trying to combat is the one where people feel like they’re just out of options. One way this is an issue is the content is too easy, they blasted through it, have everything they could possibly want, and have nothing else to do. Ideally that’s a small subset of very hardcore players. For everyone else it’s a feeling of just being stuck with no possible way to progress. Very few players are willing to suit up, buff up, do all the necessary requirements to raid, jump in, and then do no better than they did last week for hours and hours, only to return next week and do the same.

[...]

If they don’t have to be like us, why do they have to have nerfs to get to our position in HM Raiding?
Because they want to and they pay the same amount for the game? I don’t know, man. How is it good for the game to have 1% of players parading around for months and months and a 99% sitting around with nothing to do because they’re sick and tired of wiping?

[...]
We plan to increase the spell by 5% about every month, but we’re not sure if we’ll need to. If we see a lot of people able to keep progressing and downing bosses, maybe 5% is all we need. It’s going to be watching completion numbers and seeing where that gets us. We’re not assuming we’ll need to go as far as we did with ICC. It’s not going to be automatic, our hand is on the dial.

The increase is not automatic or set in its frequency. We will be manually controlling when it increases, if at all. It will be completely based on how many people we see able to complete the raid, and our decision to increase it or not.

Needless to say, much has been made of these two announcements.

Reactions

Taking a quick, far from exhaustive look down my Google Reader and Twitter, I can see several really great points being made. Gina at Healbot.net looks at it in terms of how it affects raiding guilds, particularly when it comes to recruitment. She describes two scenarios:

Option A) Turn off the buff. Fall behind on progression because everyone and their mother is using the buff. Fall behind on server leaderboard. Does it matter that we clear it without the nerf? Not so much, leaderboards don’t show the difference unless you look at clear dates.
Option B)
Succumb to the buff, get totally demotivated (/sigh), and let it hang over your head that you cleared from 3+ on HC after the nerf and had to do it with the buff or fall farther behind.

Looked at this way it’s a real no-win situation.

Kurn made a similar point:

While yes, it can be turned off, I don’t know that many raiders will take advantage of that option. What looks better when recruiting — 2/8 HM (no buff) or 5/8 HM?

In my experience while it’s not the be all and end all, server ranking is a major determining factor in the rate of applications received by guilds, especially those not at the cutting edge; a large proportion of applicants will simply work their way down WoWProgress, and if you’re a fair way down that list it’s a lot more work to recruit without a really good selling point. Saying that you can easily turn the buff off assumes both that your entire team is of one mind on the subject (which might not be the case) and that your team is stable enough to not be affected by turnover and recruitment.
Guilds do not exist in a vacuum, and the decision about the buff is not solely determined by in-game factors.

Gina also sums her feelings up in a way I can definitely relate to:

I feel a sense of disapointment and I’m sorry for my raid team. Sorry I didn’t push us harder, faster, and get us more HC kills.

Nerfing current content reminds us that raids, at launch, are intended for a different audience than us. Once they’ve been through the content, it gets changed to be more suitable for hoi polloi. That’s not a good feeling. I want to raid the same content, albeit a bit later and with more gear, as everyone else.
What’s more it feels slightly patronising to me, as if the game is somehow taking pity on us and nerfing bosses so we don’t have to wipe too many times.

Another thought from Kurn:

I still wear my Hand of A’dal title because of what it took for us to kill Vashj and Kael and finish the Vials of Eternity quest.

Those were my favourite days of WoW; pushing hard to achieve something, even though I was months behind others, knowing that, apart from minor tweaks and slight adjustments, the encounters were basically the same as they had been when the server first guilds had done them. (Until the 3.0 nerf, anyhow.)

Raiders like us who take their in-game achievements seriously are bothered by when we kill bosses, pre- or post-nerf. A post-nerf kill, regardless of the size of the nerf, feels illegitimate, as if we’ve used a cheat code or killed the boss’s weaker sibling. Many guilds insist on tackling heroic modes because normal mode kills aren’t enough of a challenge and therefore don’t give enough of a psychological reward; as normal modes are to heroic modes, so post-nerf bosses are to pre-nerf bosses.

Juvenate of WTS Heals (@WTSHeals) on Twitter was one of several people who brought the LFR mode into the equation:

I always thought the ICC nerfs were so that people can see the content. We have raid finder now.

When LFR was announced, I was hopeful that LFR would allow people to “see content” without needing to nerf normal modes. Unfortunately, as Adam Holisky points out at WoWInsider:

The Raid Finder, while good, isn’t for everyone. Some people really hate pugging — so much so that they’d rather not play the game than have to pug. There are some people who are just interested in running content with their guild, and if their guild doesn’t want to run the Raid Finder, then it’s normal modes.

LFR might have fixed the difficulty problem, but it has its own problems relating to the format and to the social side of raiding. Perhaps if there existed a 10-man LFR difficulty mode that a casual or otherwise less-progressed 10-man guild could elect to tackle we’d have our third difficulty level, but at it stands LFR is an entirely separate animal and can’t just be considered an easier version of the raid that people can do if they can’t handle normal mode.

Note, I’m not arguing for the removal of LFR either. The match-making functionality and the ease and speed of grouping is a huge bonus for a vast number of people, and the game experience for many people has been dramatically improved by the feature. All I’m saying is that it didn’t achieve one of the things I, and others, had hoped it might.

Finally, in what I suspect might be a regrettable slip from whoever wrote that second Blue post, there was a noticeable change in the tone of the rationale this time around. In previous tiers the changes have been framed more towards “greater accessibility” and “allowing people to see the content”. While we’ve not always agreed with the decision, the intention has always appeared relatively noble. This time around though there was some extra language which very definitely pushed Kurn’s buttons, and I can certainly see why. Here are those lines again:

The issue we’re constantly trying to combat is the one where people feel like they’re just out of options. [...] For [all but a small subset of very hardcore players] it’s a feeling of just being stuck with no possible way to progress. Very few players are willing to suit up, buff up, do all the necessary requirements to raid, jump in, and then do no better than they did last week for hours and hours, only to return next week and do the same.

[...]

If they don’t have to be like us, why do they have to have nerfs to get to our position in HM Raiding?
Because they want to and they pay the same amount for the game? I don’t know, man. How is it good for the game to have 1% of players parading around for months and months and a 99% sitting around with nothing to do because they’re sick and tired of wiping?

I wouldn’t go quite as far as Kurn did in her reaction to these comments, although she’s perfectly entitled to her opinion and as I’ve said I do understand her perspective. But it is very provocative to see Blizzard effectively saying that they’re not catering for you.

The (valid) point Blizzard is trying to make here is that insurmountable roadblocks cause players to leave the game and that’s bad for everyone. Thus, they argue, if people have reached their ceiling they’ll get bored unless the difficulty is tweaked to let them progress again (until they reach another ceiling, when the number goes up to 10%, etc.). Clearly the data they have suggests to them that a large enough number of guilds have reached their ceiling to start the tweaking.

The trouble is, one size doesn’t fit all. Some of us are not at our ceiling, so we’re seeing our experience altered, our rewards diminished, our playing field made less level, for the benefit of other people. As humans, that just isn’t going to sit right with us.

And that “they pay the same money, they should be able to do whatever they want to” line was really ill-advised, and I note with interest that it’s been edited out of the forum post.

Et Moi?

As much as I’m disappointed by the nerfs to current content it’s not the first time it’s happened while I’ve been raiding and the game’s still here, I’m still raiding, and I can’t see either of those things changing in the foreseeable future. I’m happy with my current guild, and I’m enjoying the Dragon Soul encounters. Even with the 5% nerf there will still be plenty of challenge to be had.

When I look over the list of issues most of them are external, they relate to how other people will perceive me, or how I perceive my achievements in comparison with other people. So the trick is to focus on the team, focus on the encounters in front of us, and worry a little less about rankings and progression.

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Categories: Opinion

24 Responses so far.

  1. “The trouble is, one size doesn’t fit all.”

    Very very very true. It all affects (or doesn’t) us differently, thats the beauty and also curse – of so many people playing a MMO in the world. Hard to balance for the different playerbases.
    Recently posted by Gina / Healbot.net: Is World of Warcraft dead?My Profile

  2. While simply trying to focus on the group and ignore the damage these kind of nerfs do to the progression metagame may help you in the short term, it’s going to come back to bite you in the long run. We saw it in ICC when every guild was 11/12H with the 30% buff, and we saw it again in Firelands when every guild was 6/7H after the brutal nerfs, situations like that make recruitment and sustainment hell on GMs. While this won’t affect the top level guilds that have already cleared everything, it will damage every other guild in the long run by fomenting unreasonable expectations of progression, and it’ll be the middle class guilds, the guilds that are still working on heroics, and have to maintain a certain level of standards, that will get squeezed out first.
    Recently posted by The Renaissance Man: Nerfs Again: Blizzard Recognizes the Dangers of the Skill Gap.My Profile

  3. “situations like that make recruitment and sustainment hell on GMs” tell me about it :(

  4. WeWhoEat says:

    I’m really not understanding the complaints here. I agree that very little people care to look if you gat a nerfed kill or not, where it really matters is if you care. And I see that a lot of people really do care if they got a “legitimate” pre-nerf kill, well then just turn off the debuff.

    If you can’t convince your guild to run the dungeon without the debuff, then that’s a problem with your own guild. You can still run it first with the debuff to claim whatever you’d like for guild recruiting purposes as shown by Gina’s concerns, but then turn it off to really prove your guild’s mettle.

    If your concern is that its not the same feeling to get the first kill with the content nerfed, then I take it you’re someone that’s never run the LFR? if not, then what are you complaining about?

    If your concern is that “if we had one more month, we’d get the kill, but I can’t convince my guild to run without the debuff now with it in” well, again, that’s an issue with your guild, but really in the bigger picture, you’ve already been benefiting from a debuff of sorts. This month and a half of partial clears, LFRs, Valor points have gotten you geared so much that the difficultly has already been toned down. You’re not seeing the same thing as other guilds who have already been able to clear the heroics.

    If your issue is that other players not as good as you will be able to claim a kill, well that’s a you problem and you have a lot bigger problems in your life if you’re taking that attitude with a game. Consider this as red flag warning that you need to take a different route on your path to becoming a better person.

    The bottom line is that unlike firelands, the decision is truly in your hands. Do what you want with it, its your path to choose.

    • Malevica says:

      You’re right in principle that we (as guilds) have the ability to choose, and I agree that this is a big improvement on Firelands, since we can still take on the “proper” form of the bosses if we want to. However, I don’t think it’s quite as straightforward as it might sound in theory.

      The one issue you’ve not addressed, which I think is one of the most provocative ones, is the inference many of us take that we somehow “ought” to have beaten the content by now, and that we therefore need help.
      Imagine you’re sitting on a train on the way to work, happily working your way through a tricky crossword puzzle, when someone comes over and starts handing you extra clues or filling in extra letters. When you ask what he did that for he tells you that he created the puzzle and he’s been watching the other commuters and he’d seen a lot of people getting stuck, so he figured the puzzle needed to be made easier. If it were me, I’d be a little bit annoyed that he felt it was OK to butt in in the first place, seemingly unaware that I was still plugging away.

      Now you’re right, you could just stop him and tell him you didn’t want the help, and perhaps he’d leave you alone to finish the puzzle in peace. But now imagine that everyone who completes the crossword gets a special prize, a nifty-looking hat maybe, and it’s the same hat regardless of whether or not they accepted help. Sure, you have the knowledge that you’re earning that hat all on your own merits, but you’re still working on it while the rest of the commuters are busy admiring theirs and talking about how comfy it feels. Plus the nice-looking girl you’ve had your eye on is busy flirting with someone else, because she’s impressed that he’s earned his Crossword Destroyer hat.

      Now, the analogy isn’t perfect, so let’s take it back to a WoW context for a moment and relate it to your other points. I’ll answer for myself, other people may have different views on the subject.

      You can still run it first with the debuff to claim whatever you’d like for guild recruiting purposes as shown by Gina’s concerns, but then turn it off to really prove your guild’s mettle.

      This one doesn’t really work with the analogy, because crosswords are far less difficult to repeat. The problem with this one, in WoW terms, is that by killing the boss in nerfed form you’ve raised your potential gear cap, so even if you turn off the buff it’s still effectively nerfed, albeit perhaps not by as much as 5%. Plus, it’s no longer a first kill, and that does have a psychological impact (see below).

      If your concern is that its not the same feeling to get the first kill with the content nerfed, then I take it you’re someone that’s never run the LFR? if not, then what are you complaining about?

      Interesting point. It comes down to a difference in how we conceptualise a “boss”. For me, normal Zon’ozz is distinct from heroic Zon’ozz which is separate again from LFR Zon’ozz. They’re as good as different encounters, with vastly different difficulties and added, removed or trivialised-so-much-that-they-might-as-well-have-been-removed mechanics. So for me, killing Zon’ozz on normal takes nothing away from killing him on heroic, because they’re different things. That’s not going to apply to everyone, I’ve come across plenty of people who kill the end boss on normal and declare themselves done because they’ve “seen everything” and don’t want to “kill it again”, but there are plenty of people who do see the difficulty modes the same way I do. We never got to kill heroic Madness, it was taken away and replaced with another boss with less damage and HP.
      Of course, we can choose to fight the original version, we’ve covered that though.

      If your concern is that “if we had one more month, we’d get the kill, but I can’t convince my guild to run without the debuff now with it in” well, again, that’s an issue with your guild, but really in the bigger picture, you’ve already been benefiting from a debuff of sorts. This month and a half of partial clears, LFRs, Valor points have gotten you geared so much that the difficultly has already been toned down. You’re not seeing the same thing as other guilds who have already been able to clear the heroics.

      We’re coming at this issue from different angles. It’s accepted and long-established that some encounters will require more gear to defeat; that’s how players advance at end-game, because there’s no more levelling to be done. We accept that we need to raise our Gear x Skill product in order to defeat the bosses, and for many of us the greatest increase comes from the Gear side of the product. But, and I’ll speak for myself here, I accept that if we’ve got all the Gear we can get and still can’t defeat the boss, I still don’t want it nerfed. We’ve “found our level”, and I’m OK with that.
      Although apparently, if you ask Blizzard, I’m in a minority there.

      If your issue is that other players not as good as you will be able to claim a kill, well that’s a you problem and you have a lot bigger problems in your life if you’re taking that attitude with a game. Consider this as red flag warning that you need to take a different route on your path to becoming a better person.

      Personally, I don’t much care how many “scrubs” get “welfare” kills, it doesn’t impinge on my sense of achievement. Except when it affects what The Renaissance Man neatly referred to as “the progression metagame”. There is fun to be had from racing to get kills before other people, jockeying for WoWProgress rankings and so on, as well as a real impact on things like guild recruitment.
      Post-nerf Firelands is an extreme example where a huge number of guilds very quickly killed several bosses and ended up pegged at 6/7 within a couple of weeks. Or consider normal-mode progression this tier, where server ranking depended much more on your raid days/times than skill, at least for guilds in a similar position to mine.
      Here’s another example, 10-mans in Wrath. “Strict” 10-man content rankings were something to be proud of, but 10-man kills were dominated by 25-man-geared players “steamrolling” the 10-man content in “OP gear”, so ranking sites had to go to great lengths to identify “strict” guilds. The difference in itemlevels between 10-man 25-man was between 5.1% and 6.5%, roughly on par with the 5% nerf being talked about here.

      Having a button that can nerf or un-nerf a raid instance distorts this progression scale, because it doesn’t have a way to account for the nerf status of kills. Perhaps if WowProgress could reduce the points a kill awards by a proportion depending on the nerf factor used this could be corrected? I might know that we didn’t need any help and feel pride in our kill, but I would also like to be able to compare myself to other people; as I said before, it’s part of the game for me and a lot of others.

      Wow, that went long!

  5. potatoeWoW (@potatoeWoW) says:

    Why nerf Hard Modes at all?
    Not everyone needs to be a Hard Mode raider.

    If anything, limit nerfs to Normals.

    This throws a bone to the casual raiders, and leaves the progression raiders with their pride intact.

  6. Meliika says:

    What I’m seeing from Blizzard (repeatedly) is that all they have is statistics, and they are choosing to interpret them in a particular way. What they should be doing, in my opinion, is a survey of their customers to see if they actually want these changes. Never assume you know what users want, actually ask them. I have never seen Blizzard provide a survey on any topic at all, which says to me that they just don’t care what their customers really think.

    • WeWhoEat says:

      Although in reality every good company knows what is best for their customers before their customers know what’s best for them. I’m sure they focus test and gauge reactions, etc. But any company worth its salt leads in figuring what’s best for the customer rather than waiting and reacting. Also, what kind of forum for survey would reach a demographic that’s appropriate take action on?

      I much rather design decisions made from leadership than consensus.

      • Meliika says:

        Considering the amount of complaints about the changes, and the unknown responses that never get aired at all, no I don’t think Blizzard always knows what is best for their customers. They don’t actually know that customers are frustrated by content being too hard. A lot of people that play only want to play new content for a short period of time when it comes out, see what it’s like, then go off and do other things. I wonder if Blizzard has ever seen a forum post saying “thanks so much for making the content easier, I really appreciated it”. (Maybe they have, I’m not sure.) Even if they have, how would they know if this person/people was the minority or the majority without making the effort to ask as many of their customers as they can?

        The only method Blizzard currently has open to all their customers to provide feedback on the things they do is their forums. I’m sure they have people reading those forums, but I’m pretty sure the majority of players never post on those forums, and I’m very sure that it’s really hard to collate the feedback they get there into something that makes sense.

        What forum would reach the right demographic? That’s stupidly easy – put a survey on the website and advertise it in the loader. The same as they do with every other bit of news they want to reach a large number of customers.

        • WeWhoEat says:

          “Considering the amount of complaints about the changes, and the unknown responses that never get aired at all, no I don’t think Blizzard always knows what is best for their customers.”

          Do you have numbers? Anything beyond anecdotal evidence from the forums and blogs you happen to visit? Blizzard had stats on every single person who has ever attempted to raid. If you judged your own opinion on this matter with the same suspicion you have for blizzard you would find your position wanting.

          “A lot of people that play only want to play new content for a short period of time when it comes out, see what it’s like, then go off and do other things.”

          And not a single one of those people show up on their statistics as a raider that keeps trying and wiping, trying and wiping, for a long period of time with no progression.

          “What forum would reach the right demographic? That’s stupidly easy – put a survey on the website and advertise it in the loader.”

          and that would only show the opinions of the people that even look at anything but the bottom right corner of the loader and don’t want to just play the game at that moment. Not a good sample size.

          Its the general raid progress stagnation of the warcraft nation (which only blizzard has what can even come close to being called statistics / survey that covers the complete sample size) that has prompted them to make this change. And can one really call it a change? The progressive nerfing of raid content over time has been an established standard of this game for quite some time now. Not nerfing this content would actually be what would be considered a change.

          • We do have numbers emphatically showing that Dragon Soul is by a huge margin the easiest raid instance that Blizzard has released since ToC, even discounting LFR mode.

            Yet somehow, this instance needs to be given these blanket nerfs even faster than any other tier in history.
            Recently posted by The Renaissance Man: Nerfs Again: Blizzard Recognizes the Dangers of the Skill Gap.My Profile

            • WeWhoEat says:

              “We do have numbers emphatically showing that Dragon Soul is by a huge margin the easiest raid instance that Blizzard has released since ToC”

              Please share these numbers, the MMO Champ statistics linked before show normal mode completion just slightly ahead of firelands. I’ll agree the the early bosses are a lot easier than in firelands, but most raids still working on normal mode have already plateaued past that point.

              • Wowprogress automatically trawls the armory periodically, so we know when a guild has cleared an instance.

                Take the first 52 days of each instance since release. Between June 28th, and August 18th, there were 9,500 raid groups that downed Ragnaros.

                Take the same 52 day span from the Nov 29th release of Dragon Soul. 19,500 guilds cleared Deathwing Normal. And that’s with them fighting through Christmas and New Years.

                Now, either a whole bunch of guilds magically got a whole lot better, or decided to double their raiding hours, or people have been killing Deathwing at double the rate of Ragnaros because Dragon Soul is an easier instance.

                You can’t make blanket analysis of numbers based simply on how many people have cleared the instance to date.
                Recently posted by The Renaissance Man: Lets Talk Numbers: Raid Kills, Difficulty, and Proper Interpretation.My Profile

              • WeWhoEat says:

                fair enough. Still doesn’t change the fact that those still working on normal mode are stalling. Which is the whole point of this “change”.

              • Except they aren’t stalling. There’s been another 1200 Madness kills in the 4 days since the 19th. There are still a couple significant skill gaps, in particular the SpineN>MadnessN, MorchokH>YorsahjH, and BlackhornH>SpineH, but blanket nerfs are not the answer here.

                What you’re seeing here is the perpetuation of the flawed model espoused by Tom Chilton when he took over as lead designer after T8. Smaller raids are inherently more problematic because the gaps between encounters have to be greater due to the spread of difficulty that they have to cover. Chilton released T9 with 5 bosses, T12 with 7 bosses, and T13 with 8 bosses, and they’ve all suffered from the same flaws that the playerbase has been pointing out since T9. He also believes in combating skill gaps with blanket nerfs, which do nothing to actually correct the gap, it just deflates the end state, and gives players an unreasonable expectation of their own abilities, which further exacerbates design problems in later tiers, and degenerates the community.

                To make a long story short, Blanket nerfs are not a substitute for a properly designed instance. Their reliance on blanket nerfs to cover multiple poorly designed tiers of raid content is indicative of Chilton being either lazy or incompetent, and the game will continue to suffer for it.
                Recently posted by The Renaissance Man: Lets Talk Numbers: Raid Kills, Difficulty, and Proper Interpretation.My Profile

              • WeWhoEat says:

                Very interesting points. How would you address the skill gulf (because its not just a gap). The spectrum of raid skill in this game is about as wide as there are paying accounts.

                What would you do to avoid the Naxx (tier 3) disaster; tons and tons of money spent on content that pretty much no one got to use?

              • First off, T3 Naxx wasn’t as exclusive in terms of execution as people thought. Few people cleared the instance in its entirety, sure, but pretty much every raiding guild that could fight its way past Nefarian was in Naxx downing at least Patchwerk, Raz, Noth, and Anub. Given that there wasn’t a Hard Mode option, the bosses had to run the full gambit of difficulty within the 15 bosses of Naxx.

                What caused exclusivity within T2 and higher content in Vanilla was the lack of any gear resets, which have been coming every tier since T6. Back then, if you wanted to raid Naxx, you had to be in a guild that was at least clearing BWL. Which meant they had to have all the gear from MC that allowed them to clear BWL, and then farm all the gear from BWL that allowed them to down bosses in AQ40 and Naxx. By the time a player who hit level 60 when patch 1.12 was released finished that process, Burning Crusade would have been out for months. Ever since T6, any player can hit the level cap, grind heroic five mans for a week, and be in the current raid tier. That problem has already been solved.

                In order to prevent gaping skill gaps, Blizzard needs to release properly tuned instances, something that they’ve struggled with in the Chilton era. In general, when you ask people about which tiers were the most enjoyable in the post Vanilla world, T4, T5, T6, and T8 will be the ones that get the most mentions. If you ask them which ones were the worst, T9 and T12 will be the overwhelming winners and I’m confident that T13 will be added to that list shortly. T7, T10, and T11 had issues, but generally are written off as “Meh”. Four of the five tiers of the Chilton Era were subjected to blanket nerfs: T10, T11, T12, and T13. The remaining tier, T9, had the most egregious skill gap the gap ever saw, where 89% of groups could clear the instance on Normal difficulty, yet less than 25% could progress to the next boss.

                T8 was the pinnacle of the previous lead game designer, Jeff Kaplan’s, vision for the game, it was also when WoW’s player base peaked at 12.5 million active subscribers. When Chilton took over, he introduced T9, and heralded WoW’s decline. We’ve already seen how Chilton handles tuning, so let’s take a look at how Kaplan managed the most popular raid tier in the game’s history.

                Ulduar had 14 bosses in it, and was never subjected to a blanket nerf like 80% of the Chilton tiers. Instead, they performed a series of targeted nerfs to bosses that were performing out of line with their expectations. Ignis and XT got their melee damage reduced, they stopped Mimiron’s chassis from moving during laser barrages in phase three, they ditched the MC in phase one of Yogg, and they toyed with Hodir’s speed kill timer. While these changes did frustrate some guilds that were working on hard modes early on, Ensidia on Hodir being the most notable, what it allowed them to do was basically let go of the tier, and it stood on its own without needing a bunch of retuning months into the release. It spanned the full gambit of difficulty, from Flame Leviathan normal, affectionately dubbed “The Lootmobile” to Yogg+0, a fight so difficult that only 13 guilds managed to down it before the release of the next tier. Everyone had a fight that was within reach at any given moment during the tier. Everyone always had a new progression target, all the time. That was what made it a great tier, and that’s the blueprint that Blizz should be following, not the tripe they’ve released over the past year.
                Recently posted by The Renaissance Man: Lets Talk Numbers: Raid Kills, Difficulty, and Proper Interpretation.My Profile

              • WeWhoEat says:

                The gear reset is an important part to avoiding the T3 problem, but its still not enough. The burning crusade, your heyday of tuning (I’ll agree they’ve been my most enjoyable tiers too) still had the vast majority of raiding guilds not finishing illidan when it was current content, and pretty much nobody in the grand scheme even stepping foot into sunwell in a meaningful way. Not to mention that back then the class design was so messed up that you practically couldn’t raid sunwell unless you were a shaman, rogue or warlock, and a leatherworker to boot :)

                The goal is to have your customer base enlarge consume your product when its current, or else you’re throwing money away.

              • Sunwell was the result of a different design flaw. Blizzard pushed too much content out at BC release, with every raid but BT available from the start. They were trusting that attunements would keep people penned up in T4 content for months, but they underestimated the player base, and the majority of serious raiders wound up waiting for a year after BT was released, and Blizzard needed to tune put something out to tide people over while they finished Wrath.

                Once again, like Naxx, Sunwell wasn’t quite the “Glaive Rogues or GTFO” instance that people claimed it was. If you were raiding Black Temple with any degree of sucess, you were in Sunwell downing Kalec’gos, and probably Bruttallus and Felmyst as well.

                As for not getting Illidan down, at the time, due to the lack of heroic modes, Illidan was designed to occupy the position in difficulty that Heroic Mode operates now. It was supposed to be hard enough that only ~20% of guilds would be able to down it. Now, with the implementation of Normal mode and LFR, everyone and their brain dead cousin’s alt can see the content, so there’s no excuse for further disrupting the difficulty continuum.
                Recently posted by The Renaissance Man: Lets Talk Numbers: Raid Kills, Difficulty, and Proper Interpretation.My Profile

              • WeWhoEat says:

                “If you were raiding Black Temple with any degree of sucess, you were in Sunwell downing Kalec’gos, and probably Bruttallus and Felmyst as well.”

                That’s definitely not the case, my raid group was regularly downing illidan, 2nd horde guild on our server to get him (allstars heck no, but definitely not slouches). We didn’t once kill Kalec’gos. Your milage may very, but that’s the entire point of this “change” everyone’s milage varies, what you feel is under-tuned for your group is extremely difficult for others.

                “Now, with the implementation of Normal mode and LFR, everyone and their brain dead cousin’s alt can see the content, so there’s no excuse for further disrupting the difficulty continuum.”

                And I believe this is the heart of your misconception. First of all LFR isn’t even part of the discussion, its not the same content, the mechanics aren’t even there in any meaningful way. LFR is intended for people who don’t have a regular raid group for whatever reason. Its used in other ways obviously but that’s the intent of the feature.

                The goal is having people complete normal mode while its still current, and to have enough progression over time in heroic mode to keep people still playing the game. And that’s the only goal.

                What happens to content after a player has completed it is really none of their concern in blizzard’s eyes, you are no longer a customer of that content. What happens to content that a player hasn’t completed yet, in blizzard’s eyes they feel most of those customers are not going to make enough progress in what’s left of its status as current content.

                The timing of this nerf says much more about when blizzard feels they’re going to release mists of pandera than anything else.

  7. AliPally says:

    Our B team has gone 8/8 Normal mode this week. This is the same team that did not get a single Heroic kill in Firelands, even post-nerf.

    They have beaten Madness of Deathwing with a very casual and fluctuating raid set up, with diferent tanks, healers and dps week on week, with no-one starting the Tier with any 391 gear, and some players with some pretty poor rotations.

    I don’t see how Blizzard can justify any nerf to Normal modes. I do not believe for one second that there are a huge number of guilds out there who are wiping over and over on Normal mode content, and cannot progress. I simply don’t believe it.

    • WeWhoEat says:

      Well, blizzard has hard data that contradicts your belief. Its very easy to think that from your small view of the raiding spectrum, the whole world must be the same, but that’s just not the case.

      Even from the limited statistics shown here:
      http://www.mmo-champion.com/content/2614-Dragon-Soul-and-Firelands-Statistics-Blue-Posts-Poll

      You can see the normal mode deathwing kills seriously tapering off in december, while at a total number far lower than that of rag kills (thus a small percent of the raiding community).

      • Gee? Raid kills dropping off in December? That can’t have anything to do with some sort of major holiday preventing a lot of guilds from even raiding during a good portion of the month.

        And comparing an instance that was out for less than a month to an instance that’s been out for eight months, that’s not improperly interpreting the data. Nope, not at all.
        Recently posted by The Renaissance Man: Nerfs Again: Blizzard Recognizes the Dangers of the Skill Gap.My Profile

        • WeWhoEat says:

          The only comparison, is people who killed rag as used as a indicator of people who are raiding dragon soul (since we don’t have access to that data). I think its a fair assessment to draw that a character that killed rag is probably raiding in dragon soul.

          I’m not sure why I’m even discussing this point. Blizzard does have the stats, and has plainly said that that is what they see. I’m not sure what basis you have of accusing them of lying over that? What evidence do you have that’s not anecdotal? Please share.

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