Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Great 4.2 Nerf

Just in case you haven't seen it, though I'm sure most of you have, Blizzard announced yesterday that the T11 normal mode raids will be nerfed significantly when 4.2 is released. Here's the quote:

With the upcoming content patch, 10- and 25-person Normal mode raid encounters will be receiving a comprehensive set of tuning adjustments to decrease their difficulty.

These changes will allow players, groups, and guilds who have yet to experience the content in Blackwing Descent, Bastion of Twilight, and Throne of the Four Winds an opportunity to do so.

With the addition of a new tier of armor and weapons, we want to make the previous tier more accessible in ways other than just a shift of currency type, so we are making item level 359 gear purchasable for Justice points in the upcoming content patch.
The general reaction to this change is about what I would expect after playing this game for four years. The casuals are happy, but some seem to be more excited to troll the "incoming QQ from raiders." A few "raiders" are happy to provide the whining and say all sorts of stupid stuff on the forums which I will get into later. However, I think most serious raiders are like me. We just don't care about the nerf.

My Perspective:

In all honesty, I don't understand why anyone really cares about this change. Seriously who does this help? If you take a look at WoW progress you can see almost 19,000 guilds have cleared Nefarian on normal mode. Even more have cleared Cho'gall and Al'Akir. If you haven't cleared the T11 normal mode bosses at this point of the expansion, you clearly aren't serious about raiding or progression. For the casual player this allows them to see some content that no one is going to care about otherwise.

If anything, this change helps the serious raiders out there more then any one else. Raiders tend to get locked into playing one character for very long periods of time. Raiders spend so much time learning, optimizing and gearing a particular toon that it's hard to switch to something else even after they've grown bored of their main toon. This change will make it easier for players to gear an alt or main switch if they so choose.

I am a sensitive to the argument that these nerfs will cheapen the rewards of titles and such. However, I think this argument is being over blown a little bit. The "Defender of a Shattered World" title will become more common, but was it really all that impressive to begin with?

I'm more concerned about Heroic titles and Meta achievements that signify the rare accomplishments in raiding. I still think these types of rewards should be removed in a timely manner, but that is irrelevant to the 4.2 nerfs since the 4.2 are being made to normal mode bosses only.

Legendary Concerns:

The silliest complaint I've heard about these nerfs is that they will some how make the Legendary staff easier to get and more abundant. Yes, you have to complete the T11 raids to be able to pick up the first quest leading to the legendary staff, but it's not like that was a significant barrier in the first place. There are already hundreds of thousands of players who meet that criteria already. The real barriers to the staff are the 25 Living Embers you will need to create the first step, and the 25 Seething Cinders needed to complete the second step. The Heart of the Flame needed to complete the legendary might also be a big issue if it only drops off of Heroic Ragnaros. The simple truth is, if you haven't completed T11 raids yet, you probably don't have a snowballs chance in the Firelands to complete the legendary staff anyway.

Some people may argue that this nerf sets a precedent that the Firelands raid will be nerfed at some point in the future. Thus making the staff easier to obtain when Tier 13 is released. I agree there is some merit to that argument, but I think history shows that to be an insignificant concern. Let’s use Ulduar as an example. The legendary mace [Val'anyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings] was the BIS healer weapon right up until the release of Cataclysm. Yet, it wasn't a very common item to have even at the end of WotLK when Ulduar was easy to clear. The reality was that you still needed close to a full group to clear the instance, and most players weren't willing to run the instance for weeks on end just so that a healer could get the mace. I expect the same will be true in Cataclysm. There will be plenty of caster DPS that want to still run Firelands to try and get the Legendary, but only one player can work on it at a time. It will be difficult to get the necessary tanks, healers and other DPS to fill out the group. Thus the legendary staff will still be very rare.

Encounter Journal a Nerf?

I find it very strange that some people are upset that Blizzard has added the Encounter Journal to the standard UI. Complaints that it "gives too much information and will trivialize learning the fights" seem silly to me. Have these people actually looked at the Encounter Journal or paid any attention to how guild prepare for raids these days?

The fact of the matter is that Blizzard isn't providing anything new by adding the Encounter Journal. All of the information it contains has traditionally been provided by third party addons and websites. If this information trivializes learning the fights then it's been trivialized since TBC. Almost nobody goes into a raid encounter completely blind any more. The elite guilds have tested most of the encounters on the PTR and have a good idea of what to expect when the content goes live. The rest of us comb the internet for kill video's and strategies before we make any serious attempts. For the people that want to go in blind, they still can. You don't have to look at the Encounter Journal if you don't want to.

I don't see a good reason for anyone to be upset over the encounter journal. It's just a list of abilities and loot, with some lore thrown in. It doesn't tell you how to deal with those abilities and kill the boss. The Encounter Journal is just a quality of life change. It makes it easier to find fight information, should limit the amount of misinformation that is pass around while people learn the fight.

22 comments:

Dancingblade said...

"If you haven't cleared the T11 normal mode bosses at this point of the expansion, you clearly aren't serious about raiding or progression."

Gross generalization.

...but otherwise, your analysis is spot on: QQ is quite unnecessary. To be honest, I think the QQ is a CLEANSING mechanism for those that are TOO FULL of themselves.

Siobhann said...

"If you haven't cleared the T11 normal mode bosses at this point of the expansion, you clearly aren't serious about raiding or progression."

Excuse me, but last time I checked WoW is only a race to clear content for people who choose to play that way. My guild raids once a week for three hours. We love to raid, and though we just got to Nef, it doesn't mean we want nerfed fights to kill him. We cleared everything last expansion, just somewhat behind the progress curve of guilds who raid 2-3 times a week.

Having children, jobs, families and time limitations doesn't mean we want an easier game. Blizzard is basically taking away content we paid for; well-tuned and challenging fights. It is already a "nerf" to current content when T11 goes to the JP vendors. That was sufficient and changing the mechanics goes overboard for slower-progressing guilds.

Aggrazel said...

I have no problem with them nerfing the content at all. I just think that when they push out gear resets they should remove the titles from the game from the previous tier. It used to be a badge of honor to wear your "Bane of the Fallen King" title around Dalaran, but now everyone has one. Starcaller? Yeah I see about 2-3 pug groups a week going and getting one. Nerf the content so people can see it, sure, but throw a bone to those that actually fought the content when it was relevant and make the titles something unique.

Graylo said...

@Dancingblade & Siobhann

I knew that line was going to upset some people. Let me try and explain it.

Yes it is a broad generalization, and there are exceptions to it like everything. For example, there are new players that are very serious about raiding and progression, but are still learning and have other things that keep them in a more casual raiding environment. That said I'm not going to modify my comment for all the potential exceptions because I think it is accurate for a vast majority of guilds and players who have some T11 raiding experience but aren’t 12/12 yet.

I think our differences really revolve around how we define "serious." Let me use an example. I like to play soccer, and I used to play informally every week with group of guys at the park. While it was a very regular group I would in no way call what we did "serious." We didn't analyze each other's play. We didn't recruit. Nothing was formal about it other then the regular time and the general positions people tended to play on the field. This doesn't mean we didn't have fun or that we didn't like competition, but you couldn't call it all that "serious" either.

@Siobhann specifically

I understand where you are coming from. I am a husband, father of two, and I have a full time career. I understand the time constraints involved. I know it's not fun to have content you are working on nerfed, but try and be fair. Blizzard isn't taking away any content you paid for. The content has been there for almost 6 months and you've chosen for whatever reason (and I'm sure they are good) not to take advantage of it. You can't expect Blizzard to hold the game constant. They have to make chooses depending on what they think is best for the entire player base and their product. Unfortunately with many positives changes there is someone who is impacted negatively, and you seem to be the unlucky one this time.

@Aggrazel

I completely agree with that. I have all these titles that I was extremely proud of when I got them but are now cheapen by gear inflation. I think we could debate when is the right time to remove a title and or mount reward, but I do find it a bit sad that titles like Immortal and Bane of the Lich King have no meaning any more. That is the main reason why I still wear the Ardent Defender title.

mushu said...

I hope Blizz will make it a timed nerf debuff that can be removed if desired, just like ICC was done. This way the semi-serious raiding guilds can still say they downed Nef pre-nerf truthfully and it still opens the content for the lesser-ability social guilds to complete the raids also.

Lomein said...

But think about it. If Blizzard had done this in WotLK then doing something like The Undergeared would have been impossible, since Ulduar would have been nerfed and their achievement would have been cheapened. All the previous expac's raids were only nerfed with the new expansion patch, not in the middle of an expansion.

I stopped playing a few months ago having cleared all normal content and about half of heroic content. I think maybe i would have come back in the end of this expansions and try to do some raids I missed casually, but now it would be just running through easymode content. I don't think I would be interested in that.

I think this should've been handled a lot differently of making this nerf completely optional, if they really want an 'easy' option to complete raids.

BC said...

The way I see it is the people who spent weeks and weeks learning an encounter to become one of the first guilds to clear a boss might get angry at the 4.1 nerfs just because they see themselves as spending an insane amount of time doing it when it was hard.

Then I see the casuals laughing at this change and laughing at all those hardcore raiders for spending crazy amounts of time when the casuals got to do more real life stuff.

You know.. if you actually hung out in real life with everyone on your server (which no one does).. then I can see why the hardcore people would be mad. But you will never see these people. Having a title before anyone else doesn't make you special. It doesn't land you a better job. It doesn't get you a more beautiful wife or husband.. and it certainly doesn't make you live longer.

So the hardcores should just keep doing their thing because they will most likely be the first ones to clear Firelands and the casuals will do their thing and play catch up.

And in five years, this game will cease to exist and no one will care who did what first.

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing though, the hardcores don't care. The people that do care the mediocre ones that struggle to get past 6-7/12 even with a mixture of 359/353 gear. And I've yet to hear a valid reason as to why they're not going to be banging their heads against Firelands when it's out.

LePeR said...

I think they should have just left heroic and hit normal with the % zone buffs like icc

Azuriel said...

Blizzard is basically taking away content we paid for; well-tuned and challenging fights.

Oh, please.

You did not "pay for" raiding content that was meant to be hard and challenging for all time, with forever exclusive content. You paid for what everyone pays for, which is episodic content designed around planned obsolescence. If you have not downed Nef by the time 4.2 hits, you are not in a progressive raiding guild anymore than a guild just now doing Kara can be considered a progressive raiding guild. You might not care about the PvE race, but that is irrelevant to the fact that 6+ months is way more time than you should expect for content to remain arbitrarily difficult for a vanishingly small portion of the playerbase that wants that content, but has not downed it yet. Assuming a fairly ridiculous 30 players per guild, less than 25% of NA/EU/TW/KR population have killed a single raid boss in Cataclysm thus far, at it's current difficulty. If a 20% nerf moves the needle to 26%, that is orders of magnitude more content for more people that pay the exact same fee as you.

Blizzard did not take anything away from you. YOU took challenging content away from yourselves by dragging your feet/not being good enough/having unrealistic expectations.

Re: the rest

T11 is being nerfed because it was released at a level that was too high to begin with for it being the only tier. As the blues have mentioned, there was no entry-level raid this tier, unlike expansions past. Was Ulduar nerfed this harshly? Not in a blanket sort of way, but that was because Naxx came "pre-nerfed" with Wrath's release and then ToC's "pre-nerfed" status invalidated Ulduar completely.

The price you pay to have bosses like Magmaw be on Putricide levels of difficulty right off the bat is a severe nerf later to make the content puggable. It cost Blizzard 600k accounts to see this, but see it they do.

neowolf2 said...

What I'm interested in seeing is whether there's a rush to do the nerfed raids. I have a suspicion the uptake on them will be a lot less than Blizzard will have been hoping.

The reason being the nerfed raids are too obviously easier content, so the ego satisfaction of clearing it is greatly diminished. The game depends on maintaining the illusion for each player that they are better than they actually are, and fine-grained sliding difficulty defeats that illusion, since it tells you just where you stand on the pecking order.

Sebastian said...

I'm bemused by a lot of the reactions as well. I mean, I care, because I'm RL in a guild who are 9/12 at the moment - so I think in with a chance of making it before the nerf, but by no means guaranteed. I'll be pretty disappointed if we don't make it, but I'm pretty sure the number of people who'll benefit from the nerfs vastly outnumber the people in my position (and hey, it'll be an incentive for us to up our game a bit for Firelands).

Myraxa said...

@Siobhann

You can be serious about raiding and raid one day a week. Don't imply that hardcore WoW players are lifers who don't do anything but sit in front of a computer all day and night.

Artorin said...

Lomein... I know it seems like undergeared was some amazing feat... but if you look at it contextually it wasn't. They ran it with heroic gear that was ilvl 200. What gear was nax 10 man? ilvl 200. All they did was do the content at the gear level ulduar was tuned for in the first place. Not to mention Ulduar was nerfed several times after its release and before ToC came out.

Now.. as far as the current nerf goes... I agree with Graylo but for slightly different reasons. This nerf won't come about until patch 4.2 comes out and at that point tier 11 gear will be in the past. Like it or not firelands will be the only progression content worth mentioning and tier 11 will be relegated to farming gear for alts. Coupled with tier 11 emblems being able to be purchased with heroism points there there is no real point in keeping the difficulty the way it is.

I'm sorry if your guild hasn't cleared all the bosses yet, heck I still have alakir and nef to go with my guild but I know we'll have them down before firelands is released.

The bottom line... nerfing old content will never bother me, if this nerf went live now, then yes I would be seriously pissed. But since we'll have firelands to work on... its not a big deal.

Jornk said...

Good post Graylo.

I agree with everything except the bit about taking away the titles. "Hard cores" that QQ about how it cheapens what they accomplished have never been the guy watching a parade of proto drakes march around Dalaran and thinking to themselves, "Yeah, I'll never see one of those in my inventory anytime soon."

Hard cores will always have the title first. They will always have the gear first, and they are the only ones who will fully clear the content on hard mode. Why are you getting all upset when the casual player buys your used Honda with 300k+ miles on it for the same price that you paid for it 6 years ago when it was new? You hardly drive it anymore, and it has been sitting in your garage for months. Everyone pays the same monthly fee, and everyone should get a chance to kill bosses like Cho'gall, Nefarian, and Al'akir.

Anonymous said...

Since everyone else has beaten the "nerf" aspect to death, I'll just comment on the legendary side of things.

Val'anyr had a few things going for it's rarity:
1) The time frame where Ulduar was "current" was brief.
2) The pieces only dropped in 25 man.
3) YS was still a challenge for people.
4) 30 fragments required.
5) Drop rates varied wildly for some guilds. One of the guilds I was in had 4! before we moved into ToC. My guild prior to that one only last week finally finished their first. It wasn't lack of ability. It was just nothing ever dropped.

Take a look at Shadowmourne.
1) It was 25man only for the fragments.
2) The time frame where it was current content was longer than anything we've seen in recent memory.
3) Drop rates seemed to be better overall than those in Ulduar.
4) Only 25 fragments required.

We even had tanks with the axe. Our recruits were given fragments too.

The new legendary is unique due to the following:
Fragments can drop in both 10 and 25. Guilds aren't forced to have to run 25man to finish off one more person's staff even when Firelands isn't current content.

If the staff is BiS for T13, you can rest assured that guilds will go back and continue to run Firelands. Even if it means doing it on normal and blowing through nerfed content. If someone really wants to finish off their staff, they'll go with the alt run and get their fragments.

It may be too early to judge, but this might become the next Shadowmourne and even healers will be making one for the hell of it.

Graylo said...

@Lomein

I am a big fan of Gevlon's Undergeared project. It showed that skill can overcome gear, and proved a lot of dummy wrong by showing them that gear wasn't necessarily their problem.

That said, lets not over value the significance of the undergeared project. First, Gevlon as doing 10man normal raids. They didn't do a single hard mode if I remember correctly and 10man Ulduar was tuned to the same level as 25man Naxx. Players were expected to jump from 5man heroics to 25man naxx so going to 10man Ulduar wasn't that great of a jump.

From there, I don't remember them doing any of the ToC fights, but even if they did Normal mode ToC was very simple. They did kill several ICC bosses but they did so with high stacks of the zone buff.

In short, Undergeared got significant help from nerfs as well.

@BC

I want to single out one comment you made.

"Having a title before anyone else doesn't make you special. It doesn't land you a better job. It doesn't get you a more beautiful wife or husband.. and it certainly doesn't make you live longer."

If this is true, why do anything? You could say the same thing about having the nices garden in the neighborhood or winning a recreational sports league. There are a lot of things that we do that don't lead to direct and easy to see benefits, but that doesn't mean we should be recognized for our accomplishments.

That said your completely wrong about the impact that WoW can have on your outside life. I've known a couple of people who've gotten jobs because of the guilds they are in and the progression they achieved. There are also countless examples of married couples who have met in WoW, and those are only the direct benefits.

The skills that raid leaders learn leading raid can transfer directly leadership roles in the working world. The raiders in high progression guilds also learn valuable skills like self analysis, and team work.

Having high proggession isn't meaningless and shouldn't be discounted out of had like you did.

@Anon2

As you implied I do think it is to early to tell how prevelent the staff will be. To much is unknown about it's strenght, the drop rates of the necessary items and the difficulty of content needed to clear to obtain them.

That said, I don't think the fact that the fragments will drop in both 10man and 25 man will have a huge impact. The 10mans aren't a cakewalk like they were in WotLK. My guess is that the fragments will have a lower drop rate 10mans then in 25mans, and that the fragmetns will have a higher drop rate in heroic modes.

I think the 10man format will help people complete their legendary who started on it in the 25man format, but I don't think it will help all that many casuals complete theirs.

Anonymous said...

If you don't like the nerf because you prefer a challenge, solution:

Remove a piece or two of gear. Seriously.

One guild completed ICC in WotLK blues. I'm guessing they enjoyed that challenge quite a bit.

Lin said...

Well said, Gray Matter. I really enjoyed reading this entire post. I completely agree.

Anonymous said...

I think the game has become more and more deamanding in a matter of time.

Raiders might have not percieved it but people who were casual, very casual raiders did. Guildies who had time geared up quickly, those who didn't just had a hard time.

I used to meet a lot of different people in wow; nowadays population has changed a lot. A lot of casual players who enjoyed the game some expansions ago have now stopped playing: reaching anything without or with little raiding is very very hard and I believe Blizzard has sensed that (Many small guilds desappeared on my server). I personally switched to pvp. It requires less organization for playing. It is not my cup of tea but better than quitting.

I think this is an operation to "try" to avoid people abandoning the game. Well, this is my opinion, ofc... I doubt it will solve the problem, though, because the mechanic of the game changed ihmo. The target of the game changed (target = players). The game has become harder: Rep with the guild, Pugs hard to be managed and other aspects prove it... all created with the same purpose.

~Lu

Anonymous said...

My apologies. I am Anon2.

What I meant by the fragments being available in both a 10man and 25man format is that people can go back and continue to farm for their final fragments while the guild moves on to T13.

Chances are by then most guilds will have alt runs doing T12 for some easier gearing up and if someone is only missing 1-3 pieces, they might be more inclined to suffer through more T12 runs. Also, if someone is that close to being done, the guild as a whole would be more inclined to go back and do 10man hardmodes if it means a significant improvement in a core member's output.

If you look back at Val'anyr, very few guilds went back and ran Uld25 to help their healers finish off their legendaries. If they got a guild run together, it was because they needed 1 and YS.

People who got theirs made after Ulduar was current content did so by pugging drake runs and reserving fragments.

Even today, I see a few people doing this. LoD runs are more popular on my server, but the principal still stands.

I'm not interested in the staff. At least not until the first 6+ have been made. It's not that I'm low on the priority list (could be), but that I just have no interest in it. The expectation placed on people who have legendaries in the content for which they are current is very high. I'll settle for anything else.

-Anon2

Anonymous said...

Hi again, thats your russian raiding moonkin, Avl.

Ive send you 3 additional questions for the interview. Still hope to get some photos before we post it :)

And yes, if your interested, you can also post an english version or some part of it.

Cheers,
Avl