Thursday, March 4, 2010

It came from the Bar: Buff me up bro and the curse of choice

Today we have a new poster who wants to share some thoughts with the other frequent guests hanging by the barside at The Pink Pigtail Inn. His name is Reptile, and he describes himself as a "geek with attitude". Reptile plays a DK in a raiding guild on a EU server in the lower tiers of the aristocracy, to follow the classification made by Rohan of Blessing of Kings. Since our innkeeper actually was planning to rant a bit a bit on this topic herself, we'll get a comment from her as well after our guest has spoken up.


Last night we managed to kill Sindragosa. On normal. It took us 3 hours and 12 wipes total from the moment we first saw her. It was epic and the RL on vent saying perfect while people were standing on their proper positions while being frozen was becoming trivial. So – she is dead now, and I am very pleased that we were able to pull it off before the buff. I think that the buff is in the “nice idea, horrible implementation” category. Why? Well here is my opinion on it:

It affects hard modes. Now – nerfing content so all can see it is good idea. But heroic difficulty was supposed to be the elite guilds’ sandbox where they are the only players. So – if my guild kills heroic Saurfang with no buff – it will be the same encounter which Paragon did 3 weeks ago. The community already saw first heroic LK 10 man with the buff. Congrats to Paragon for doing that. And admitting they used the buff. But here comes speculation – was the kill really in their grasp, would they have been able to down it if the buff was not implemented and so on.

There is no way to prove that your kill was pure – no achievements, no nothing. So every hard mode from now on will be discriminated by its date – you are guilty till proven innocent. Everyone will assume you have used the buff.

It is a guild breaker – what happens when half of the guild wants the buff and half of the guild doesn’t? Drama – that’s what. This is curse of choice – if blizzard just shoved the buff down our throats and said deal with it – it would have been better. Right now every new lockdown will be a source of friction between people that want challenge and people that want progression. Decoupling progression from challenge is another bad side effect. Which guild is more progressed the 8/12 with no buff or the 9/12 with it? And it requires immense amount of will not to use it.

It is way too powerful – 5% is huge – it decreases the encounter difficulty by almost 20%. 30% = insane. It will make even some of the hard modes easier for pugs and trivial for guilds.

It is pointless – it will not make the content more accessible – one person in pug is enough to chain freeze the whole raid while fighting Sindragosa. One person in melee with afk brain will wipe all of melee when fighting the Blood Queen and he gets the blood link. And the bite order will still be problematic. The raid will still wipe on the Professor if tanks don’t kite and rotate properly in third phase. Assuming they get past Rotface – which is the pug grinder currently. These big oozes will still one shot people. No matter what. And healers will still have to harvest buff stacks on Dreamwalker.

Who is this buff aimed at? It doesn’t help the elite – they prefer level playing field, it doesn’t help pugs much – not all encounters become brute force tank and spank. It decreases the firepower requirement but not the skill one. So it only help casual guilds that can stay out of the fire, but lack the DPS to make the enrage timer – are there really so much of them ?

A better solution?
How would I have done it – well simple – keep the buff away from hard modes for 2 or 3 more months – this way more of the really good guilds would have had a fair shot at them. After that create some kind of pure achievements for normal and heroic – if you down the boss with no buff – you get one of them. If you down the boss with the gear level encounter was designed for – you get the second achievement and the mount of überness.

P.S. Lich king – beware – I am coming after you. Hopefully without buff.


I can see where you're coming from. This is yet another version of the nerf countdown we've been fighting so many times before. I remember the pride we felt as we downed Mother Shiraz pre-nerf in Black Temple. And the disappointment that we didn't get another few weeks before the final mega-patch, which made all our shadow resist gear we so painfully had gathered suddenly become unnecessary over night. We knew we could have made it to Illidan without the nerf. We just never got the chance to prove it.

Agreeable, this way of putting up the nerfs is way better than how it used to be. At least you have a choice now. You CAN get rid of the buff, although I doubt that more than a handful of guilds really will come around and do it. The temptation to get the bosses down a bit easier is just too big, since there's absolutely no incentive at all not to use it. If we only could have gotten some way to distinguish a guild that didn't use the buff from a guild that took advantage of it, for instance by an achievement, like you suggest, or by some particular sort of gear drop, it would have been an entirely different question. But as it is now, no one will ever know. And since most guilds that are fairly serious about raiding also have a competitive side, comparing themselves to other guilds on their server, it's quite unlikely that they'll cripple themselves in the hunt for their first kills, without any reward for it whatsoever.

However, I'm not totally against the concept of making the instances a bit more accessible after a couple of months. The ranking site Guildprogress, which keeps track of 125 000 guilds worldwide suggests that somewhere between 3 and 4 percent of the guilds have killed Putricide in 25 man. 85 percent of the guilds haven't gotten as far as downing Saurfang. Mind you, there are several sources of error in this. I have no idea about how relevant their database over guilds is; many of those guilds might have ceased to exist and hence aren't progressing anymore. Then there are other guilds which might have killed a couple of bosses back in time, guilds that are still ranked, but in reality have lost their interest for raiding.

Still I think the tendency is correct, judging from what I see in recruitment ads on the forums and in the general chat; very few guilds have progressed at all further than the first four bosses in ICC, two months after it was released. It's no wonder that Blizzard wants to push the general progression a bit further. Doing the same four bosses over and over and over again certainly give you some badges and a shiny reputation ring, but it's kind of boring in the long run. So I think that we just have to live with nerfs in one form or the other.

Two things could have been made to make the ICC buff work as intended without being forced down the throat of every single raiding guild, either they needed it or not. One thing has already been mentioned: to somehow recognize the non-using of the buff. This would have given us three available difficulty levels of the encounters: buffed mode, normal mode and hard mode. It's just like taco sauce: some like it mild, others want it spicy and then there are all those boring medium types, like me. Something for everyone.

The other thing I'd like to change is to switch around, so that you don't get the buff by default. You shouldn't have to talk to an NPC to get rid of the buff. You should have to talk to him to GET it. I believe that this would make guilds think twice before using it; do we really need this or can we do without?

It's just like with children. You can't hand out candy and then tell them to think over if they really want to keep it. It's easier to say no when you don't feel the chocolate smell in your nostrils.


Fitz said...

I agree with you Larisa, you have to see both sides of this. Everybody who is crying doesn't understand that while they may be good enough to eventually grind their way to the Lich King, many guilds like my own are not. I think Blizzard is more than catering to the hardcores by allowing you the choice to turn the buff back off every week. Therefore even if you accept the buff to see the content at first, you can still test yourself and see what might have been later (I know that's unlikely, but it's possible). They catered to the hardcores and they still complain. So in other words, I say grow up and turn off the buff.

Anonymous said...

I don't see the issue and I welcome the buff. I have 3 raiding chars in 10 man guilds. Two of them were stuck at Rotface. Wiping 5 weeks 3-4 days a week on a boss just to join a pug on my 4th char, pug made of icc25 raiding people, with icc25 gear, one-shot the boss because the dps advantage was so high it gave so much more room for breath...

Out of those 3 raiding chars, the 3rd, the one that didn't grind Rotface... was in a worst situation.

The guild is nice and not stupid people overall but... we struggled on every boss (except gunship). First week Marrowgar was an impassable wall, then Deathwhisper gave us a hard time, then it took us a lot of time to stop wiping on Saurfang and now we're usually like this:
- kill Saurfang fast
- link dps meter
- go home
We used to wipe on festergut, on hard enrage, despite our best tries, no one dying, etc.
We killed festegut ONCE by pure luck, and only because our "best team" came, now say 1-2 best dps are away due to IRL stuff, we get replacement and the above happens.

Maybe with the buff it will be different.

By the way, on one of those "stuck on rotface" chars we finally killed him last week before buff and came to Putricide just to realize the dps can't kill the ooze fast enough before the second one spawns. Utter fail.

The pug I mentioned killed Putricide with blazing speed, took us few tries because of people failing, but overall I had the feeling oozes drop down fast, boss hp goes down fast, phases change faster than I expected (while on my guilded char we never got to p2 even).

So basically, was the answer to drop my guild and go with some overgeared people? I don't want to drop my guild. Maybe they aren't the best dps, but they aren't serial firestanders either.

Yes, the buff is for us, for people like my guild. Your "guest poster" just assumes it's some next to non existent minority.

How nice.

Anonymous said...

What ppl fail to understand is.....its not about the game...its about profits.

Making a game where only a small portion of the PAYING subscribers can see all the content is counter-productive.

They gave the hardcore players the time to kill things. They give the option not to use the buff.

From blizzards stand point, they are bending over backwards helping the MAJORITY of their paying customers see end game content. Its only the vocal few which whine about it.

Cacknoob (Whos trying to go cold turkey from wow...and finding it hard!)

Anonymous said...

I'm in exactly the same position as Anonymous commenter no. 2. My guild has everything from seriously good DPS, awesome tanks and superb healers, to casual raiders with subpar dps and/or subpar skills, but we accept they are all part of our raiding community.
So far we've killed everything up to Professor and blood queen on our 25man raids (meaning Rotface, Festergut and blood princes are dead). On our realm, that is good but not excellent either. Some nights we wipe on Festergut because of the enrage. Like Anonymous commenter no. 2, we are dependant on having ALL of our best DPS'ers and healers present if we are to make a successful raid.
I predict this buff will help us alot, and while we still have to work hard, it will make the encounters a bit smoother. Only a few percentages of guilds have advanced beyond the first wing in ICC - in my opinion it makes total sense that Blizzard first gave the hardcore time to fight for first kills, and is now opening up the scene for more guilds.
I'm willing to bet guilds like ours is no small minority - there's plenty of people out there who aren't exactly Ensidia-material, but we don't stand in the fire (or slime, or ooze, or vortex, or black hole, or...) either. Cheers! /Charlotta

Daniel said...

@commenter number 2 - I will take your statement at face value. You could not kill the oozes before the other spawn.

Ooze on 10 man has 400000 health. the next spawns after 45 seconds.

So if you have 4 dps (worst case scenario - 5th is always stunned or kiting) and they can work on the ooze 30 seconds (other time is spent running and so on) it gives 3.3 k average DPS on the ooze to bring it down.

Now 3.3 k raid buffed is naxx gear.

You are obviously doing something wrong - either you lack the gear, or your dps can improve a lot their skill. Even if you get the full 30% of the buff you will be at 4.5k DPS - this will still make phase 3 pf professor extremely tight. Not even talking about Blood Queen.

Btw - as I read both the OP and Larisa comment, and other blog posters - the only issue they have with the buff is the lack of the ability to distinguish whether a kill was achieved with or without it.

Its like going to the Olympics and suddenly there is no forbidden medicament control.

Dwism said...

It's a little early to add the buff. But in overall there is nothing revolutionizing about this. Blizz has allways nerfed encounters along the road. THe only difference is that now, you don't have to study patch notes to know when and what the nerf is.
So apart from it being a little early this is a good chance.

Another great part is this: them adding the buff this soon, means they want us to be done with ICC soon, which MUST mean that Cata is closer than I had feared.

Imperial said...

I think the buff should automatically get turned off when you switch to Heroic mode. It's fun to watch the race for heroic kills and in my guild we were extremely close on heroic Saurfang and BQL. It's a bit disheartening to think that this buff is what will push us up that extra little bit to get the kill instead of our own skill or gear increases.

I still fail to see how this buff will help the more casual guilds down their 'wall' boss. In my friends and family guild we are stuck on Rotface and this 5% buff is not going to help us what-so-ever. If people don't have the awareness to move out of slime spray or join oozes together this buff will not help us get a kill until it's nearing it's 30% range. Even then healers won't be able to heal 5 or 6 people who refuse to move out of the puke stream.

If you want to make the content more available to more people they will have to tone down those abilities that are raid wipers. Make the large ooze's melee not hit like a truck and have no aoe pulse, make Putricide only spawn orange oozes, give defile a 7 second cast time, etc. Otherwise only guilds that have excellent awareness and coordination but lack the dps or healing throughput will benefit from this.

Kobeathris said...

Here's the thing about the buff. I don't think Blizzard should have added it, but they did.

They also did not add an achievement for doing ICC without the buff.

The buff is a tool, just like flasks or food. You don't raid without flasks or food for greater challenge. You raid without them because you are lazy or you are doing farm content that you don't need them for.

I feel the same way about the buff. While I don't think it should be there at all on normal or hard mode, it is. Blizzard has given no incentive for not using it, therefore, I will use it.

I guarantee none of the top guilds will be turning off the buff out of some misguided sense of honor. They will use it to get the most out of progression that they can. None of the people who are at the top of the rankings on sites like world of logs will be going without the buff, they will get the most out of it they can, and if they don't, they will be gone within a week.

If you think that WoW is too easy now, and this buff just made it worse, then ask yourself if you have killed the Lich King on normal yet. If you haven't, then obviously WoW isn't quite as easy as you make it out to be. We just killed Putricide on 25 this Tuesday, with the buff. Does it sting a little that we didn't get him down sooner? Yes. Am I still glad we got him down? Yep.

Larísa said...

@Fitz: yeah. I just wonder: would it have been really that hard to let buff-free players get some sort of credit for it?

@Anonymous: I think you have a point about 10-mans. We who are gearing up in 25 mans and are just doing 10 mans on offnights tend to forget that they're tuned for slightly worse gear than we have. So in one way we already have that buff, when we're doing the 10-mans.

@Cacknoob: Cold turkey! Oh! That explains why it was so long time since I got a whisper from you. Dead yet?

@Charlotta: yeah, I think so too. The one-wing-only guilds in ICC are probably the most common ones (among those who are raiding regularly).

@Daniel: you got it right! Neither of us are totally against the buff. But we think it's a pity it doesn't come with some kind of award not using it.

@Dwism: true, true. And with the new stat information coming out... maybe my pessimistic beliefs that we'll have to wait until November will turn out wrong.

@Imperial: I honestly hope they won't change the mechanics of those more technical encounters. That would make them rather pointless.

@Kobeathris: As I said earlier: I'm not against the idea of a buff rather than the nerfs they've done earlier. It's a better construction. It would have been better though if there was some incentive not to use it. And I don't think the game is too easy. I've been discussing that several times before at the blog.

Rades said...

I'm not in a raiding guild, and PUG ICC whenever I get the chance. I love the buff because hopefully it will let me see more of ICC. Yes, PUG raids still need the skill, which the buff won't help. But we also tend to be less geared than raiding guilds because we are not able to run ICC regularly, or even TOC for upgrades and trinkets and whatnot.

It is a little disconcerting to see so many people complaining about the buff. So you killed Arthas using the 5% buff. Who cares? If it's that important to you, your guild can always opt out of the buff. And to all the guilds saying "But then we can't prove we didn't use it!" - prove to who? You yourselves will know and isn't that what you're doing it for? Personal pride? Again, unless you're fighting for first-kill rights, nobody really cares if a guild cleared ICC with 0%, 5%, 10% buff except the members of that guild.

I look at this just like the removal of the Amani War Bear mounts. People had their chance to accomplish the feat, and now it's gone. Oh well. Move on.

(I do agree that the buff shouldn't exist on Hard modes though. Hell, it's HARD MODE. Shouldn't that be self-explanatory?)

Kobeathris said...

Apologies, I didn't mean that you, to mean "You" specifically, but more broadly to whoever may have been reading the comments.

Analogue said...

Personally I'm thrilled - I expect to get further into ICC this week, but I'm not a super hardcore raider. I think it'll help those of us who have the technical skills but haven't gotten to raid every week since ICC launched for whatever reason so that we don't fall further and further behind. I still want to kill Arthas...

Anonymous said...

Trust me going cold turkey from wow is really hard !!


Daniel said...

just posted on mmo-champ

* In the Lord Marrowgar encounters, the boss will no longer reset threat after a bone storm and will now wait a small amount of time before attacking at the end of a bone storm.
* In the Deathbringer Saurfang encounters, the boss is now less likely to cast Blood Nova on targets affected by Mark of the Fallen Champion.
* In both normal and heroic versions of the 10 player Rotface encounter, the mutated infection ability will not be cast as quickly while the fight progresses.
* In the 10- and 25-player heroic Festergut encounters, the malleable goo ability should no longer target pets.
* In the Valithria Dreamwalker encounters, the duration of Emerald Vigor and Twisted Nightmares were slightly increased.
* In the Sindragosa encounters, the duration of the instability debuff was slightly reduced.

As we can see Blizz also takes steps in reducing the skill requirements. Except from festergut which is clearly a fix.