Nerfing Heroics: Clocks go forwards early for Blizzard

So today (tomorrow for the EU) sees the next big patch of the Cataclysm era. Patch notes are here.

There is a massive amount of class tweaking, and all raiders will be happy to hear that the components for flasks have been toned down. There are further tweaks to Tol Barad, which I’ve written about previously.

And the big news this week is that Blizzard are also planning to make random heroics more appealing by adding an extra buff to damage/ healing/ stamina if you zone in with random members in the group. This is similar in spirit to the Icecrown Citadel buff, which was increased over time in that raid instance. The idea being that the hardcore would power through the raid with no buff and the increasing buff over weeks would gradually make the instance more accessible to the rest of us.

Also, there is supposed to be a small buff for random heroics, which ran at 5% in Wrath. That apparently has never been working in Cataclysm, which is one minor reason that the instances may have felt harder.

I think the Icecrown Citadel buff, whilst initially viewed with suspicion, actually worked quite well and people were fairly happy with it. The hardcore had their bragging rights and more casual raiders got to finish the instance more slowly. Everyone’s happy, right?

And yet there’s quite a big outcry about the forthcoming heroic buff. I think it makes more sense if you imagine what heroics were like towards the end of Wrath. They were popular. They were easy enough to run smoothly, if only because the emblem gear given out was so much higher level than the actual instances themselves. High end raiders and new 80s alike queued up in randoms and it all seemed to work fairly well. People did complain that they were too easy but they also ran them.

Compare that with now. Heroics are longer, contain more trash, and random groups are as likely to fail as to succeed. The rewards they give are no better than drop in raid instances. Queues are fairly long for dps because tanks (in particular) don’t seem to be queueing for randoms – I know I certainly don’t. And they’re long enough that doing one daily is likely to be a drag. They’re fun in organised groups. No fun in randoms unless you get lucky (I’ve had good random groups, usually early in the morning.)

Ghostcrawler commented, on the buff:

in general, Heroic dungeons are of appropriate difficulty for organized groups, but just brutal on Dungeon Finder groups. Players wonder, and rightly so, why Dungeon Finder supports Cataclysm Heroic dungeons at all when the chance of success is so low.

To my mind, effectively what Blizzard are trying to do is turn the clocks forwards. We all know that in a few months time, after the next big content patch when all the badge gear gets upgraded, heroics will be much easier after everyone is overgeared. That’s the same effect this buff will have. So if you had decided to not bother with heroics until that happened, you don’t have to wait any longer.

The only big surprise is that they’ve decided to give a buff of up to 15% (if you have 3 random people in your group) which is a huge boost over the old 5% heroic random buff. We’ll see whether it is enough.