To buff or not to buff
3 March 2010 § 8 Comments
As you probably know by now, this week Blizzard introduced the “zone buff” they had promised when they previewed ICC. Hellscream’s Warsong (Alliance have a similar buff, but we don’t care about them anyway) increases health, damage and healing by 5% – and there’s future ranks pushing it up to a 30% total increase (that would mean having tanks with 65k+ health…). The most interesting thing was to observe the reaction of people around me.
Most people I talked to welcomed the buff: these are people who raid casually, and are most often strruggling through the Plagueworks on their 25-man, and have been for a few weeks. The buff, for them, is a way to push forward and see the rest of the content. Some of my fellow raiders felt the same – maybe because their 25-man was stuck as well (though normally on Blood Queen or Sindragosa), maybe because they saw this as a chance to move forward on our Lich King attempts. The reaction on the blogosphere has been more cautious. Miss Medicina feels this is a pity buff; Bobturkey feels that it’s too early, and wonders if this will make people wonder if their future progression is thanks to the buff or their effort. Dreambound is more cautious about it, simply regretting not finishing the instance before the buff went live – but the cautiousness may simply be due to her feeling a little sick (get well soon!).
My own reaction has been a study in contradictions. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you may recall I was in favour of the buff. When I read the announcement on various news sites, though, I felt like Ragnaros: TOO SOON, BLIZZARD! Like many of my fellow bloggers have said, no guild has killed the Lich King in Heroic yet (actually, one guild just has, on 10-man – but yeah, not very different), and even the worldwide kills of the Lich King in normal are very limited. On Feathermoon, my realm, only one guild has so far (and they’re on Alliance, did I mention they don’t count?). I also felt a lot of Kae’s disappointment about needing it. At the same time, the lure of finally killing the Lich King that much sooner, and thus start on hard modes, was pretty strong, so I decided to wait one raid and see. We assembled today, decided to forsake the badges of a full clear in favour of working more on the Lich King, extended the raid lockout, and in we went.
Oh boy. What a difference.
We had worked on the Lich King for about 6-7 hours, spread over a few different days. Our best result was getting to P2 and killing the first valkyr. Today, we got to see P3, and one of us went into Frostmourne to help Terenas. So there’s no doubt the buff is working. Do I feel diminished by the fact we got there with a little help from Garrosh? Well, the buff certainly helped us handle P1 faster, and kill the Valkyr consistently in the required time. It did not help us deal with the general mechanics of the fight though: from handling the Necrotic Plague, to moving correctly for Defile, to getting all the adds under control first, dead later. All these mechanics are not trivial, because Defile still wipes you if there’s more than a couple of ticks going, Necrotic Plague still is the only way to kill the P1 adds, and the various adds still kill you if they’re not under control (I should know – I died to them twice in a row today!).
In many ways, the buff is simply relaxing the gear check aspect of the raid – and not changing the actual fun mechanics. Of course, the two things are related: when you overgear an instance dramatically, you can simply ignore some of the mechanics because they don’t matter. Case in point as a sidenote: the weekly this week is Malygos, and the Power Sparks have been totally trivialised by the two additional tiers of gear since we last did it. Clearly, however, we’re not there for ICC. All this is giving you is a bit more leeway to play with: all in all, if this allows more people to progress, see more content, and feel less burnout (and there’s a lot of that going around, apparently: Linedan, Jov, BobTurkey…), then so be it. I’m sure that some of that burnout is not related to raiding and being stuck on bosses – but maybe a small part *is* linked to that, and that’s the thing Blizzard can act upon more easily.
In many ways, I go back to the Sunwell days. Dawn Vigil, my guild, managed to kill Kil’Jaeden before the release of Wrath. We did it because we got extremely lucky. Just as we killed Illidan at the end of August 2008, Blizzard nerfed the hell out of Sunwell, making it possible for us to clear the whole instance in little more than two months. Many raids ahead of us in progression got burned out on “unnerfed” Sunwell, many less progressed never made it there, or stopped at the first couple of bosses. Maybe, if they had introduced a zone-wide buff to Sunwell raiders, more people would have experienced the great relief I felt as Velen re-ignited the Sunwell we had cleared with the help of Kalecgos and Anveena.
And hey, if things get too easy, we still have the option of opting out of the buff!