Recently, a fellow blogger who I befriended 7 months ago wrote an article stating his disappointment with the recent nerfs in Firelands, and before reading any further I encourage everyone to go take a look at it, as my post here is in direct response to that article.
Let me state this disclaimer now, while I am writing a counter point to Fannon’s article, I do agree in part with some of his points, however my focus is to provide a look at the other side of the coin.
Patch 4.2 went live on June 29th, introducing the return of Ragnaros along with several dailies at the molten front, it was when this was released that Tier 11 content was nerfed to a state where it became puggable. Some folks questioned why it was nerfed after Tier 12 was out, and why not sooner? Some folks even asked why not do a tiered buff to players similar to what they did with ICC. However Tier 11 was mostly nerfed by 25% (health and damage) across the board. I was happy that my guild was able to clear this content before the nerfs had happened, however many of our raiders still were not geared completely in Tier 11, and Tier 12 was unforgiving if people were not fully decked out, especially on the DPS side of the house.
When Firelands was released, as the GM and raid leader, I slowed our first steps into Firelands to 1-2 nights a week (3-6 total hours) mostly because several of our raiders couldn’t tackle this content yet and we had to focus on Tier 11 to get people geared up. This admittedly slowed our progression in Firelands, but my guild being casual friendly, we wanted to have people play with us, and not leave folks behind, its just not who we are.
Though as we step into Firelands, we had to ditch our 25 man ways most nights and focus only on 10 man, as we maybe had 15 folks fully decked out who could even tackle this content. Also many of the remaining 10 were more of FnF rank and were not consistent raiders, but we pride our guild on having the ability to play with your friends without strict attendance requirements.
Firelands forced us to sit many folks, which we hate to do, but it had to be done if we were to progress. When the nerfs came on September 20th via a hotfix, many folks in the Warcraft community were very upset or disappointed like my fellow blogger Fannon. My guild was 3/7 and working on Alysrazor when the nerfs happened. We were admittedly getting better when the nerfs happened, making better progress in the previous 2 weeks than since the raid was deployed to live realms, we also had just started running 2 10 mans as more of our folks were geared and could handle the content, and both 10 man groups were seeing similar progression.
However when the nerfs came, we decided to push all 25 people into Firelands, which we did and we were able to go 3/7 with everyone in 1 night. I only had to sit 2 people as before I was sitting 7-15 people. While some of our more determined raiders commented on the easy nature of the bosses, we heard joking, people having fun on voice chat. As a GM I have always wanted to create and maintain a guild environment that allows people to have fun but also work on progression. These nerfs allowed me to not sit as many people, I was able to include more people who sometimes typically do not get to see this content until we do alt runs on the patch that follows.
Now on our progression night we killed Alysrazor, Baleroc and Majordomo with ease, granted this was in 10 man with our most experienced raiders. We chuckled at the ease we cut through them, and yes the challenge was lost for the most part and a part of me thought, this feels underwhelming, especially since these were the first “guild first” kills in Firelands I personally have been able to participate in due to family commitments. Then we hit Ragnaros, and this fight we found very challenging still. We never discussed the mechanics for Rag and just kind of winged it. I expect him to be challenging for our progression 10 man crew for another week or so, maybe more. Now for the 10 man we had to sit about 9 folks, we had many folks out for a variety of reasons, sick, work, family commitments, traveling, etc. But after the raid I told my raid officer to plan on tackling our 3 new kills in a 25 man setting starting the following week.
There is no thrill or enjoyment in beating up crippled children, Blizzard, and that’s what you’ve turned these raid bosses into.
I agree, an achievement not earned through hard work and dedication is no fun and not rewarding. Something given has no value, something earned does. Alysrazor, Baleroc and Majordomo were our progression kills, and they felt too easy, I will agree and perhaps the nerfs went too far on these. Though I feel nerfs were needed, before 4.3 comes out to help those who might be stuck, and wanted to clear the content next patch. For me I see this as an opportunity to farm the heck out of Firelands so we do not have to go back once 4.3 is back and we can focus on the new raid. But I do wish the bosses before Ragnaros were a bit more challenging than they were. The current nerfs I feel went too far, after 4.3 I would agree with the current “nerf level”.
As for the challenge, look if your guild was hardcore you probably finished Firelands early, you earned your stripes and can say I cleared it before the nerfs, even some of you on heroic mode. Then there is the rest of us, we work, we go to school we have little time to dedicate to being as focused as the other hardcore players but still want to see the content completed. That is what this nerf represents, a way for the rest of the community to see the content. Did the nerfs go too far and trivialize some of the mechanics, absolutely. Should this level of nerf be reserved for after 4.3? Yes it should have. Are these nerfs game breaking? No they are not. In the 3 months Firelands has been out, many raiding guilds cleared T12, many times over, many have even gotten the legendary staff, and working on their second, others are farming heroic already. Then there are the more casual guilds still working our way through. Some say T12 was easier than T11, but honestly easy vs hard is truly a matter of perspective. I will say a more gradual nerfing or even buffing to players probably would have been a more preferable approach to keep more of the challenge. Also heroic modes offer more of a challenge as well, and Firelands heroics are more accessible with the larger nerfs to normal mode. However I am happy as a GM of a very casual guild that I will be able to include more people on raid nights, and hear the sound of many of my members having fun raiding.
I have been raiding since Vanilla, I remember clearing MC, Ony, BWL. But this was also when I was younger, less progressed in my career, I didn’t have a wife, or a child who I needed to dedicate my time to. These nerfs let me see the content before the next content is out, which I enjoy. What I do not enjoy is being handed raiding achievements, so to that end I would have liked to see either more time at the current difficulty, or a more gradual step down nerfing schedule. So yes the nerfs trivialize the encounters for those who know what we are doing, but also makes the content accessible to those who previously saw a barrier to entry. There can be balance between accessibility and challenging content, I have faith that Blizzard can find it.