Gimmick boss fights – pro or con?

There’s a been an interesting discussion on “gimmick”-based boss fights going on of late, centered around the Firelands bosses. Many bloggers have been calling the Firelands one of the best raiding tiers ever, but for a number of others, it seems that Blizzard’s design has gone too far in the direction of fight-specific mechanics, and too far away from the classic Holy Trinity-based class roles.

Oddly enough, the two most prominent debaters are both healers. Shintar started it all with an excellent post a few days ago, in which she did a full retrospective on the Firelands boss fights, and found that she really hadn’t been tremendously impressed , despite their innovations:

“Alysrazor: While I haven’t seen her die yet, the fight basically seems to come down to – surprise, surprise – healing the tanks, stepping away from (multiple sources of) fire, topping off the raid and spamming like mad in the AoE phase. I used mind vision on our mage during some of the more quiet stretches to see how he was doing with the flying around and even though I’m not sure that it’s something I’d enjoy doing myself, it definitely looked to me like this was once again supposed to be the fun part of the fight while everyone else just goes through the motions. “

And today, Malevica at Type H for Heals responded with a stalwart defence of the Firelands bosses – whilst she agrees that “gimmick” fights are bad, she doesn’t feel that the Firelands fights fit that category, instead simply being a result of the evolution of boss fight design :

“I think that a lot of this feeling comes about as a result of the evolution of encounter design and the player base to the point where “don’t stand in the bad” and “switch to adds” are neglected as mechanics, they’re just baseline aspects of a fight. So an encounter with adds, Bad Stuff on the ground and a funky mechanic is regarded as having a single point of interest for the raid rather than three. Wind back the clock to the ‘glory days’ of Vanilla or TBC and a lot more of the fights are of the simple “stay out of the bad” and “switch to adds” type. “

I’ve not actually managed to see most of the Firelands bosses yet, but I’m finding the debate interesting!

Has the quest for innovation gone too far? Or are the Firelands bosses more than just gimmick encounters?

Quotes taken directly from Shintar and Malevica’s posts