Jumping into 4.3 (and FL nerf-a-thon)

So all the Warcraft news sites had their NDAs lifted last night, revealing what Blizzard has in store for us in the next patch. As it stands, this will be the last raid tier of the expansion, though some insist we are in for a repeat of Sunwell Plateau or Ruby Sanctum.

Tomorrow will also bring raid-wide nerfs to Firelands bosses, as Blizzard said they were not happy with guilds being stuck on certain encounters. In an interview with TankSpot’s Lore (posted on Wowhead), Ghostcrawler said, “[W]e know that we risk losing raiders. They may not unsubscribe, but they may just stop raiding any time they hit a brick wall for too long.” Nearly everyone I’ve talked to, however, is not happy about the nerfs applying to heroic modes — even if they can’t kill Alysrazor or Baleroc.  We are 3/7 HM (Shannox, Rhyolith, Staghelm) and I don’t know a single person in my guild who is all sunshine and rainbows over this change.

Patch 4.3, Deathwing’s Demise

Patch 4.3 will contain three new five-man dungeons — Endtime, Well of Eternity and Hour of Twilight — as well as the eight-boss Dragon Soul raid instance. I will be interested in what the item levels are up to in these places, and whether raiders and puggers alike will hate doing one of the three — a la Halls of Reflection. All three will supposedly tie into the story leading up to the end boss’s demise, which again is something we saw in Tier 10/ICC. Supposedly, the entrances to all these places will be in Tanaris’ Caverns of Time.

I would guess that Blizzard hasn’t really tried to solve the flip-flop they did in 10-vs.-25-man difficulty in the past two raid tiers. Tier 11 had a lot of fights that were more difficult on 10-man, while some argue the opposite is true in Tier 12 on fights like Majordomo Staghelm. Being a 10-man raider myself, I still argue that heroic Shannox and Rhyolith can be nightmares without the right raid composition.

According to Wowhead, Blizzard also said the final part of the Deathwing encounter will feature players fighting the big baddie on islands in The Maelstrom. How will this affect melee versus ranged classes? There is an overall melee buff afoot, but I wonder whether the mechanic will be similar to the discs in the Malygos fight, or something else completely. GC said staying “balanced” will be key, though some bloggers/tweeters have said the steering mechanic on Rhyolith was already a massive failure.

The Looking for Raid tool will also make its debut, featuring a lower-than-normal-mode difficulty, lower item-level loot, and exclusive achievements. Folks on Twitter have fretted already about having to get these achievements to feed their appetite for all the things. “My biggest concern with the LFR is that it will have unique achievements that achievement junkies like myself will feel compelled to do,” one person posted. The other big question for me is, will this “practice” mode really prepare people for the normal and heroic modes to come? Sure, mechanics are still mechanics — which applies even if the Firelands bosses get an HP nerf only — but you still need better tanking, better healing and more DPS to defeat more difficult encounters. Interestingly, Wowhead said, these raids will not share a lockout with the regular ones.

Some people may not care, but as a jewelcrafter, I am happy that epic gems are finally arriving in 4.3. They will supposedly only drop off raid bosses, however, and not after prospecting pyrium ore. (Sorry, uber farmers.)

Lastly, no, ferals will not get a legendary in 4.3. That honor will belong to rogues, who will get uber-awesome agility daggers.

The Nerf Bat Cometh

So will these nerfs help a guild like mine get to 4/7 HM or even 5/7? I don’t know, but usually it’s raid mechanics — read: tornadoes or burning orbs — that defeat us, not hard DPS/HPS requirements. If the bosses receive a nerf only to their HP, then sure, the fight will be shorter, but those deadly mechanics will still remain deadly if someone is not paying attention. And hey, that is totally our fault.

Pie Chart’s Ashunei posted a very well-written article on the nerfs on the Dungeons and Raids forum.

I could go on and on about all of this, but the point I’m trying to make is simple. You need to try and make the effort to do good by all of the players, but if you’re forced to choose, then choose the people who really attempt and pursue your content for all the right reasons, not all the wrong ones. You can’t go about catering to people who want loot, catering to people who aren’t willing to try harder and get better. I’m not saying that the need to play more than two nights a week, all I’m saying is that at most, all you are required to do is give people the ability to see Ragnaros, to see Deathwing. And that can be done with Normal Modes for those who can’t do harder content, or with 10 mans for those who can’t logistically find and field more players. Beyond this, by treading onto Heroic Mode ground, you take a huge risk by nerfing content for people who have little to no business trying those Heroic Modes. And if there are players on the fringe of this area, who would like to earnestly succeed at Heroic Modes, then you owe them the ability to try legitimately for as long as possible. They will never get better otherwise, nor will they ever feel satisfied if every time they try, they are handed nerfs to better handle the content.

Don’t nerf content to cater to the people who will dumb this game down. Nerf content to help prop up the people who will help to power the growth and stability of the community. Not the people who will flock to whatever gives them the best chance at having a higher ilvl.

I think he makes a great point there — that if players who truly want to succeed and grow are given nerfed content all day long, they haven’t really grown at all or achieved anything. It makes the entire concept of heroic modes a bit wonky. This also poses a problem when you’re recruiting for the next tier. If John Raider A completed something prior to a large heroic nerf, and John Raider B didn’t until after, you have to question whether the second guy gained the same knowledge of the encounter and its requirements as the first. Finding skilled players, especially healers, is hard enough these days.

What do YOU think about the nerfs? Do you think they are warranted and, more importantly, will be helpful in your guild’s progression? Tell me what you think, for I am an old bear.

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