Why “Just Turn The Nerf Off” isn’t really an option

The Dragon Soul nerf is a non-issue, right? I mean, if you don’t like it, you can just turn it off.

I’ve heard that argument a lot in the last two months – and, indeed, I’ve been on record as saying that it does mitigate the nerf. All the time, though, I’ve had this sneaking feeling at the back of my mind that, like Ben Goldacre says, “I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that”.

Well, Adam Holisky made that argument as the conclusion of an article about the Dragon Soul nerfs yesterday, and it has prompted two of the deep thinkers of the blogosphere to rise up and present some pretty solid arguments that, well…

You can’t just turn the nerf off.

First up, we have The Renaissance Man from Children of Wrath. He argues the point from several angles, but his key point is that turning the nerf off requires absolute consensus in a raid – and he’s quoting Ghostcrawler in support of his point, too! –

“One of the primary arguments that people make against these kind of nerfs is that they wanted to see what the content’s really like, not to be given their kill as charity by the developers who take pity on them. The dissenters claim that they can simply turn off the nerf, and everything will be the same as it was before. This is not true. Raiding is a team activity. You need nine or twenty-four other players to go along with you in order to raid with any serious degree of success. While you might get enough satisfaction to justify turning off the debuff, you need consensus within the group. The odds of everyone in the group agreeing with you is slim, and even one person in the group who would rather raid with the debuff will put the group in a very awkward position. You’re asking them to sacrifice their personal progression, not for an achievement, not for loot, not for a mount, but for something even more trivial, for your pride. If they give in, then they feel resentful at your imposition, and if you give in, then you feel disappointed with the instance. Ultimately, the very fact that a choice had to be made alters the dynamic of the raiding experience, even if you choose to turn off the buff.”

At the end of his post, TRM says that “If Blizzard had made it an actual choice, they would have given an incentive to raid without the Power of the Aspects.”. And that’s where the second of the learned essays on the subject today, from Anafielle at Sacred Duty, picks up.

Her essay is reasonably long and worth reading in full – it totally changed my mind on the subject – but the key point she makes is that without some reason or reward for turning the buff off, saying “Just turn the buff off” is no different to saying “just raid without food and flasks”, or “just use the wrong number of healers” –

“Achievement and meta drakes require very weird strats. No one would do those fights in those ways without the achievement there, but it’s there, so we do. There’s an achievement in Ulduar and in TOGC for completing tasks in specific ilvls of gear. There were 22-man achievements in Naxx– same deal. There are even achievements for things like dealing with X number of pugs. And you know what? Some people really do farm trash for gear. So sometimes we do jump through those silly hoops– when we get a reward in return! (One day there will be an achievement for that, Esoth. One day.)

Farming is another example. Say I went and killed 1000 of a certain mob. I would be willing to bet no one sits around killing mobs because they want to kill 1000 mobs. But if they get reputation, or achievements, or a non combat pet, or just gold or a drop they want– then believe me, there will be people farming!

Rewards. A task with a reward is meaningful. A task without a reward is meaningless.”

Once again, today’s posts are on my “I hope Blizzard are reading this” list. I’d love a reward for completing DS without the Aspect buff – and it would indeed make the choice feel a lot more meaningful.

Do you think that people complaining about the DS nerf should just turn it off?