So with 4.2 on the horizon Blizzard made a rather sweeping and not entirely unexpected change to all of the normal mode content that currently exists in the game. The change is the following:
On average, all boss HP, damage, and ability complexity reduced by approximately 20%. This affects bosses in all raid zones and only on normal difficulty.
Let’s get the obvious B.S. out of the way. A large chunk of the player base cries out “oh no, there Blizzard goes catering to the casuals” or “Oh no, there Blizzard goes allowing <insert highly unpleasant slur here> who couldn’t beat the content originally to beat it now”. The lengths they go to bash, badmouth, and spread vitriol about the change is impressive to say the least.
Yes this content was some of the harder content Blizzard has ever released and this tier was the best and deepest release content available for any expansion. To some they see the reduction in difficulty as a slap in the face or some form black mark against the legacy of the content. I don’t think this is fair because the nerf is not trying to render this content pointless I think but rather something else entirely.
One of Blizzard’s biggest dilemmas over the past two expansions is how to handle new player progression and alt raiding progression. In Burning Crusade a new raider or dedicated alt could craft a small set of profession epics and progress through Karazhan and ultimately ZA though a chance at the bear mount was unlikely. Pugs for Gruul’s Lair, Magtheridon’s Lair, and Serpentshrine Cavern were available but not reliable. There was a fairly tough ceiling to these raiders progression paths. This was a fairly painful path that made coming late to the party or working hard on a primary dedicated alt difficult.
In Wrath of the Lich King the tables turned significantly. As each tier was released the badge system and abundant bind of equip items allowed new raiders/alts to gear up fairly close to the current tier’s ilevel through non-raiding means. What this meant was that any tiers prior to the current tier, if they did not have an attractive mount reward, became ghost towns. With all of the effort they placed into Ulduar i’m sure it frustrated them to no end seeing it completely abandoned.
So what should we keep in mind for this nerf and what is the real intention behind it?
This nerf only affects normal mode content. This allows players who still want a challenge from the content in the form of fight mechanics still have the opportunity to do so. This preserves the “elitism” and difficulty associated with them.
This nerf is not being deployed prior to the 4.2. No relevant content for players in 265+ ilevel gear will be reduced in difficulty. Through the use of Tier 12 normal items, crafted items, reputation rewards, and holiday gear there will be no need for normal tier 11 items for an active raider. Hardmode items will still be relevant and as such those bosses remain untouched.
What I believe this nerf will allow them to do is create an acceptable two tier raiding structure for alts at any one point in time. What you would have is the following:
Current tier will be sold for Valor Points, Previous tier will be sold for Justice Points.
Heroic 5-man dungeons will yield Justice Points, and Valor Points for the weekly randoms.
Previous tier raid content will serve as an entry level raid environment allowing more players to experience the content and serve as an additional opportunity to garner Valor Points.
Ultimately new toons and alts will be purchasing the occasional Current tier items and will getting previous tier loot from the Justice Point vendor and previous tier raid bosses.
This change doesn’t disrupt the flow of content for those that are actively pushing progression, though some people may feel scorned in some way. This may prove to be their attempt at splitting the difference between the WotLK loot pinnata system and the burning crusade restricted progression system. While I can’t say for certain how well it will work I’m still fairly optimistic. I’m curious what other people think about these changes. You can’t throw a digital stone right now without hitting a troll flaming blizzard for this…but I’m hard pressed to think the general population agrees with them.