Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Week of Raiding, Post-Nerf: Some Thoughts

I wanted to chime in on the nerfs in Firelands but I chose to wait until I had two different perspectives in both the 10 and 25man version of the raid. I raid on my priest in the 25man version of FL and on my feral (sometimes resto) druid in the 10man version. The 25man group was 1/7 heroic modes before the nerf, and our (alt) 10man group was 3/7 regular.

Quick additions:
Jasyla (my druid buddy) over at Cannot Be Tamed just posted a similar topic, go check it out!
My GM Kurnmogh at Kurn's Corner also posted her thoughts a few days ago.

The big announcement:

When the nerfs were announced, I wasn't surprised that they were happening but I was surprised at how soon they seemed to be. I went through a myriad of emotions starting with anger. I was angry that I was being denied the chance to kill the heroic bosses as they were designed. I was angry that our guild was behind progression where I thought we should be. I used the blogosphere's opinions to buoy my own, and I was glad that there were so many people who felt the way I did.

On the other hand I was excited for our alt-run. We'd been having attrition problems, and composition problems which lead to us only being able to go 3/7 before the nerfs. The incoming nerfs to regular FL was going to mean we would be able to go maybe 5/7 over the next few weeks. Maybe it would mean we didn't need the perfect composition; we wouldn't need to specifically have two or three melee for Alysrazor, we wouldn't need to have the perfect combination of healers and maybe we could do better than we have been.

To catch you up on where my guild was before the nerfs, we killed heroic Shannox as our first heroic mode on September 6th. Apotheosis had been working on Heroic Rhyolith as our second heroic mode since September 8th. While we had been seeing some progression, phase two was where we would get wrecked. Our last attempts before the nerf were on September 18th.

A 25M group walks into a bar... er an instance:

Tuesday, September 20th Apotheosis went in to Heroic Firelands. We killed heroic Shannox. However, we killed him with one of our tanks having 16 or so stacks of Jagged Tear at the end. I heal the Riplimb tank, and he and I coordinate where we run for traps, he lets me know if he needs a Leap of Faith, I tell him when I'm running etc. Our Riplimb tank managed to drop his own stacks, but he and I failed so hard in trying to drop our MTs stacks. The MTs stacks never dropped and I could feel the stress we were putting on our other healers but the fact is, we still killed him while completely screwing up the mechanics.

Our MTs stacks.

We moved on to heroic Rhyolith and took six attempts to kill him, finally putting us at 2/7 heroic modes.

Then we moved through the rest of the instance on normal and let me tell you, I have never felt more guilty for killing bosses in a raid instance. I actually felt like I was cheating, or hacking the game and using some mod that made the encounters too easy.

Beth'Tilac melted. We actually had to STOP DPS on Alysrazor so that one of our elemental shamans could complete his charged focus quest. Alysra's initiates didn't need babysitting, the bird adds fell well before the tornadoes - and the tornadoes themselves were much slower. To give you some perspective, I avoided tornadoes like a champ before the nerf. After the nerf, they were so much slower than I was used to that I hit four tornadoes. I just ran right into them because I was used to the pace of the faster ones.

Let's not forget I also hit Brushfire and a Lava Spew.

Normal Baleroc was a joke. You could completely screw up the healing/shard rotations and still kill him with plenty of wiggle room.

Normal Staghelm made me sad. I spent 3/4 of the fight smiting because I was bored, and we killed him before he cast Burning Orbs.

We completely, totally, embarrassingly screwed up on regular Ragnaros. I smacked my face into at least two meteors. We had 10(?) people alive at the end and it was incredible that we could have multiple people hit Lava Waves, Meteors, etc, and still kill him. I felt cheap, I felt dirty and I hated it.

This week we went in and killed Heroic Beth'Tilac on the 27th after 37 total attempts after the nerf propelling us to 3/7 heroic modes. I have to admit, this fight was still relatively challenging, but I can't even imagine the difficulty level before the nerf - my hat's off to the people who did it before.

Next on the list is Alysrazor and Majordomo, both of which I'm looking forward to on heroic since their normal versions are ridiculously easy for the guild.

The 10M alt-run:

Bear tanking Shannox AND Riplimb after the FL nerfs.
This is where the nerfs were more apparent. When a group that had trouble getting 3/7 normal modes down in Firelands to going 6/7 in one night, something is wrong.

I was feral tanking for most of the evening and our first encounter with Shannox showed us that this evening would be an interesting one. I was under the impression that I would be tanking Riplimb, so I picked him up with Feral Faerie Fire, and went to town before I realized that Shannox came right behind him.

The other tank also thought he was tanking Riplimb so he was trying to pull it off me. Once I realized this I swapped to Shannox but by that time my Vengeance had stacked up and Shannox and Riplimb were nomming my bearface.

Our 10M group completely ignored Riplimbs mechanics and I tanked both the boss and the dog, increasing my stacks to 38 Jagged Tears by the time we killed him. Thankfully, bears have lots of cooldowns and I had Pain Suppression and Hand of Sacrifice at my disposal.
Thirty. Eight. Ugh.
We headed over to Beth'Tilac and made quick work of her, rode over to Rhyolith, disposed of him and came face-to-face with bosses that we hadn't done on these characters before.

We killed Baleroc with me eating dirt for the entire encounter, effectively single tanking him. We one-shot Majordomo without any real research into where to stand, so we followed the general strategy we employed in 25M.

Ragnaros proved to be just out of our reach, but I'm confident in saying that I believe our alt-run can go 7/7 in one night in the coming weeks.

Final thoughts:

The nerfs to Heroic Modes are good for my guild. They're still a challenge, and I think they are tuned perfectly for us.
The normal 25M encounters are just ridiculous. The fact that certain mechanics can be ignored or glossed over is insane. The fact that we can shave minutes off the time we take to down the bosses is just mind-blowing.
I don't have any perspective to give on heroic 10M, but the normal mode encounters feel cheapened.
If we can suddenly go from being a 3/7 one-night-a-week group to a 6/7 one-night-a-week group, that's great for us, but what about the mechanics?
What about the learning curve? I don't know about you but I enjoy learning a fight. I enjoy employing different strategies, and tweaking things until we get it right.

In the end, Blizzard has accomplished their goal of getting people into the heroic encounters faster, but at what cost? Like I said above, I felt cheap and dirty after I completed this raid week, and I can't shake that feeling of being undeserving of quite a few things I've done over that time.


  1. Though the nerfed normal modes don't make me feel particuarly badly - I'm fine with cleaning up the fights we've already beaten quickly - I am worried that they may have a bad effect on people.

    I wasn't in for the last Rag kill, but if people can hit lava waves and meteors and drop seeds in bad places and still get a kill people could get complacent. I don't want people picking up bad habits for when we start working on the heroic version.

  2. I’m a 10man raider and my guild pushes progression to the last boss in the instance on normal and considers heroic modes filler until the next content patch. Even in that mindset, we do pretty well for ourselves. After a late start to T11, we ended with 4 heroic bosses down. In T12, before the nerf hit, we were 2/7 heroic. Now we’re 6/7 heroic.

    I fully believe that we would have gotten to this point eventually, but it would have been a long and difficult process—one that wouldn’t have left us a lot of room to goof around and have fun. I like to call us serious-enough, because we’re all RL buddies who game together and we like to goof around on those games. We enjoy killing stuff, so we’re serious enough to kill stuff, but that’s where the seriousness stops.

    Coming from that perspective, I’m happy with the nerfs. I was surprised and thought they were a bit early, but I didn’t feel angry. I was just happy to see more content with my friends.

    That’s just my two cents, of course. :)