Fascinating data on how Cataclysm’s raid progression REALLY went

It’s a day for awesome posts today, it would appear. And of different types, too – from stunning visuals to deep story thinking, to our last post of the day, full of statistics and insights on how well or badly Cataclysm’s raids have gone, after all the nerfs, buffs, tiers and changes.

Vixsin of Life In Group 5 isn’t afraid to say what she thinks and criticise the decision-making of Blizzard’s developers. But she does more, too – after thinking and criticising, she goes out and investigates what actually ended up being true – and comes out with some fascinating insights in the process.

Today, she’s been crunching the numbers on guild raid progression through Cataclysm, to answer two big questions – did people really keep clearing old raid content, and did the Firelands nerf actually work as intended?

“Regardless, the picture that the above data presents is, at least to me, enough to validate the idea that progression content in Cataclysm was generally isolated to the current tier; as much as Blizzard hoped that guilds would return to older content for progression purposes, very few actually did. Now, what’s important to note here is that I asked for guild kills, not player kills. The reason that I made this distinction is that I wanted to isolate and exclude, as much as possible, inflation of kills due to alt participation. Scoring a kill on an alt or in a new guild is not the same progressing on a boss that you’ve never killed before (which is an interesting thing to consider given the lengths that HM guilds go to test new bosses—can we really call those kills progression? … but I digress.)

What I found curious about the data above, once I had it in nice chart format, was the rise in the number of hardmode kills from Tier 11 to Tier 12. As many guilds killed HM Atramedes pre-patch as killed Alysrazor HM pre-patch? Quite frankly, I was boggled. Until I remembered the incredible fuss that surrounded the Firelands hotfix, which substantially nerfed both normal and hard modes and was decried loudly by the vocal minority on both forums and community blogs.”

I’ll admit, as a long-time SEOMoz reader, I’m a sucker for a good graph. But really, Vixsin’s mined some fascinating data out here – particularly regarding the nerf and its effect on raid completion levels. And her conclusions and insights are interesting too – particularly given they impact on one of the hottest controversies of last year, the Firelands nerfs.

What’s even more interesting is to consider what the effect of this data will be on the Mists development team – who, after all, have had more accurate data for longer. Will they stick with the half-way nerf cycle? Or have they got an even better idea?

Do you think Blizzard actually got it right in the end?