Editorial: Blizzard Burying Raid Content – Quick, Light A Candle

Awwwww, nevermind. *pat pat* here, have a cookie.

That’s what Blizzard’s just said to my raiders and I who are still on Valiona and Theralion and Maloriak. Normal. Maybe you too, or your alts’ raid, or your friends’ raid guild. But they haven’t stopped there.

Have all of the cookies! Well, the old ones anyway. And here, we’ll make them fall from the sky so you don’t have to put any effort in at all – not even stretch a bit to reach the cookie jar on top shelf. All you have to do is stand around in vaguely the right place, slack jawed and glassy eyed, and you’ll snag some nommable drops.

You can handle that right? It’ll be fine. It’ll be just like the raids in 4.2!

I like cookies as much as the next disheartened, previously quite competitive small-guild raider who’s been pushed from pillar to post since Cataclysm arrived. But I don’t want Blizzard fiddling with how I get cookies just because there’s a newer brand on the shelf, and I certainly don’t want them falling from the sky. I want to feel like I’ve earned my cookies. Just like I want to be able to feel like I’ve earned my raid kills.

Last night Blizzard announced in 4.2 they’re planning to nerf tier 11 raid content across the board. Not a stacking debuff as worked so well in ICC, and not a small nerf to just take the edge off, if they must nerf. Not even a “your raid leader can switch it on or off” nerf.

No, they’ve announced a whooping 20% nerf on average to all bosses, with some receiving extra special treatment (less maggots on Magmaw? Really? Make my life as add tank boring why don’t you?)

Let’s have some context here. In Wrath my guild downed the Lich King on 10 man one week into the 15% buff to damage/healing being active: we just missed downing him on 10% by a few perecent. For a small 10 man (and no more) guild of friends who raided once a week, twice if we felt like it, that was bloody good going.

In Cataclysm things changed drastically for us. Some changes to the game such as LFD and guild challenges basically steam rollered the support networks we’d grown in order to survive as a raiding group. We lost people before Cataclysm. We took ages to get into raids because of the heroic ilevel requirment. We started raiding about 6-8 weeks ago. And we’ve downed four bosses.

We recently accepted the fact that we don’t fit into WoW the same way we did in Wrath: we accept that we’re now more social and casual than we were then. The game’s changed, our group’s changed, we can’t be what we were. We are downing bosses slowly. It’s just about the right level of challenge for us now, although by thorison’s beard do I wish there were less “don’t stand in the fi- … oh well” fights.

Heroic modes are so far in the distance they might as well be the restaurant at the end of the universe. Normal modes, right now, this level of difficulty, is our territory.

This 20% nerf is going to bulldoze it. Bear in mind that we’re already going to be having a much easier time in the raids thanks to the justice point gear available post 4.2.

The 20% nerf on top of that will take it from challenging but doable and rewarding a sense of achievement to a cakewalk. It’ll be an express lift to tier 12, which will feel a whole lot less satisfying than had we walked up the 12 flights of stairs and got to the damn banquet by ourselves. To tier 12, where we’ll probably smash into a brick wall and be even more dispirited because of the false sense of ease the remainder of tier 11 will have given us by then.

Do not want. Bypasses do not have to be built.

Ah, you say, but the intention of this nerf is nothing to do with players like you! Remember you’re just a small section of the playerbase, there are lots of others out there!

You’re right. So who’s the lucky intended recipient of these cookies falling from heaven? Is it the shaman I had in my dungeon group just the other day, who insisted on skipping to the end boss because “this dunagen is boring [spelling and everything]”, and that he could tank because the tank left? And did so, gave the healer cause for repeated heart palpitations, causing them to leave? The shaman who then boldly waltzed into a room full of angry dwarves armed to the black eyeballs with rifles, got us all killed, then “gtg”? No, I don’t think it’s aimed at him. I think he’s probably safely tucked up in bed before his guild raids.

Or maybe at the three (count them) druid healers I got one after the other in a ZG PUG shortly after the instance was released. Three of ’em because each one left saying “lol you guys [the ones doing 14k DPS] are crap”, as we didn’t know tactics like the back of our hands yet? No, clearly not aimed at them, their gear showed that they’d already done the raids. Or at least their guilds had, and had fed them shinies for tagging along.

Or maybe it’s aimed at the real social, the next level of laid-backness down from me, the ones who occasionally do a dungeon but don’t raid because it’s “too hard” if you believe the accepted wisdom? Well,I have characters on another server and they’re all in an incredibly laid back guild like this. Said guild doesn’t raid, and yes, the content difficulty is one of the reasons. But there are a whole bunch of other reasons before you get to that one. Reasons like never having enough people on at once, never being able to organise anything because people have small children and real lives who they always prefer to put first, or not having enough tanks/healers to fill the roles. Why do these reasons get in the way of raiding? Because it’s not a raiding guild. These players mightn’t mind seeing the raid content they’re missing out on – the raid content Blizzard is about to nerf allegedly in the name of content tourism – but they’re not particularly fussed either. They’ve got lots of other things to be doing like chatting to each other and bimbling through the end game content that doesn’t involve the words “blackwing” or “Chogal”.

So I can’t see who they’ve aimed this at. Let’s take a look at some motives behind the nerf rather than looking for whom Blizzard wants to put on the “special” bus.

Scenario 1 – raid tourism

Blizzard say they’ve done this because they want everyone to see the content. Awwwwww, isn’t it sweet, little Blizzy wants to show everyone what he drew?Images thanks to Lara604 and goldiekatsu @flickr

The raid tourism defence doesn’t stand up – see above. And yes, I know there are a nitwibble tonne of other guilds out there who are less progressed than my guild. But I think they, like us, would do just fine with either a 5-10% nerf or a stacking debuff a’la ICC. An across-board blast with the nerf BFG isn’t necessary.

Scenario 2 – enabling PUGs

There have been a *lot* less PUGs for tier 11 raids than there were for any Wrath raid. I wonder whether Blizzard wants to help people gear up all the faster for tier 12 content and are nerfing tier 11 so much that people will have no fear of forming PUGs and stepping boldly through the door to kill the bosses by doing /fierece emotes at them.

Scenario 3 – dumbing down

I’m not even a top raider and I’m saying that Blizzard wants, for some obscure and idiotic reason, to dumb the game down even further. A lot of people have been saying for aaaaaaaages that Blizzard keep dumbing the game down but this is a whole new level of dumb. I don’t know, maybe they’re scrabbling to keep subscribers by making sure they can see the content rather than driving them away. Who or what was their control group for making this decision anyway?

My prediction? The opposite will happen. Smaller, more casual guilds like mine will rush through the rest of tier 11 and then hit a brick wall in tier 12. And because there are only 7 bosses and 1 raid instance to house them all, there’s no variety. Everyone, whether they get stuck or complete the content, will get bored. And I’ve no idea when or what the next patch is. Let’s see what the subscriber numbers do then, eh?

That’s it. Apologies for the nerd rage, though I believe I have some fair points here. Our guild has been pushed from pillar to proverbial lava decayed post since Cataclysm, and we’d just about clawed ourselves a way to survive as a raid group. By just about I’m not kidding – we’ve had so many setbacks and problems we’ve been dangling by a single thread for so long and the only reason we’re still here is because we’re a very close knit group of friends. But Blizzard bulldozing that way we’d carved, that territory, is like a slap in the face for not getting through the content fast enough and then a condescending pat on the head and cooing reassurance that they’ll make it all better.

Do. Not. Want.

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