Icecrown: The self-nerfing raid

Blizzard have really outdone themselves with this one. The plan for opening up the Icecrown Citadel (the raid instance which is coming with the next patch) has been released. They’ve thrown the kitchen sink at it. It’ll have bosses gradually being unlocked as time goes on, bosses only being unlocked if you kill previous bosses within a limited amount of tries, and the whole instance actually coded to get a bit easier over time by dint of a raid buff that increases as time goes on.

So imagine a self-basting chicken if it was a castle full of undead. Instead of Blizzard having to take it out of the oven every so often to pour fat over it/ nerf it, they can just leave it in until it is done.

Larisa echoes my thoughts on forcing limited attempts. It punishes people who wanted to go into the instance blind, or who have raid members with poor connections, and puts undue stress on the learning side of the encounter. Limited attempts is something you do to spice up farm raids.

Self-nerfing raids forces people to raid to Blizzard’s schedule. This has happened to some extent anyway but if like us you raid on a relaxed schedule, it’s hard to know what that will really mean for the difficulty side of things.

I think what they’re aiming at is that the limited attempts (and the number of attempts allowed also increases over time) should  let the hardccore stay ahead of the rest for a short while at least. The autobuff should make it easier for PUGs to form towards the end of the raid’s lifecycle.

But none of this is really ideal for players who would prefer it if their own raid group could select the difficulty. A group like mine doesn’t need limited attempts, we already have a relaxed schedule and aren’t going to sweep through the instance in a week. All that does is add extra stress for us. But since we’ll also be gearing up and getting more practice in, I’m not sure we need the increasing raid buff either.

I don’t think any of these ideas are bad on their own, but I’m not sure how well they all will work together. Can you really throw in some stuff for the hardcore and some for the casuals and bake it all in the same oven? It will be interesting to find out, and to see what players do with it.

20 thoughts on “Icecrown: The self-nerfing raid

  1. Horrible Idea. I won’t repost my whole comment from PPI, but it basically amounts to everyone wacthing the video in vent together before every pull.

    L A M E

    This is why I wanted a job at Blizz btw. They’ve completely lost touch with the people who play the game. I’m not talking about Nihilum’s MT, or sally who plays 5 min a year, I’m talking about US.

    we need a rep in there, stat.

    • Sadly, I think they probably are pretty well in touch with how the vast majority of people play the game. I agree with you, but I bet most people either watch the videos/read strategies or have a raid leader who does on their first time into the instance.

      This is a particularly tragic quote I found on EJ on the subject:

      Between all of the boss kill videos available, all the information posted on EJ and other related forums, and the PTR being open to anyone who wants it, “getting your feet wet” should be a thing of the past. No one should be going into a fight on the live realms without knowing exactly what to expect.

  2. I suppose I’m on the outside now looking in but I don’t really see how a publicised incremental buff to make the raid easier over time is any worse than sudden unexpected nerfs to raids that have the hardcore crying out that Blizzard has sold out to casuals.

    It’s just what they’ve been doing anyway for 5 years, but this time you know it’s coming.

    • It is pretty much what they’ve been doing but the thing is, the raids get easier anyway because people gear up and learn the fights. I find it awkward that they feel they need to ease the learning curve even more than the gameplay would naturally flow (and I’m sure it’s entirely because they want it bastard hard for the hardcore guys who rip through the bosses in the first week.)

      I’m going to be very curious to see the initial tuning. Because if it’s really that hard, it might not even be worth the non hardcore trying it for a few weeks. I hope they don’t do that though.

      • I would guess the non-hard mode difficulty will be attemptable by a geared and buffed raid with everyone focussed. (ie not super-elite difficulty). Right from the start.

        They have given up on the idea that basic game content should be restricted to 0.1% of their players and I’m sure this new philosophy will apply to non-hard modes.

        It’s the old conundrum though. Everyone wants content just hard enough that they and their guildies can beat it while it still gates the vast umwashed hordes who are less adept. If you’re one of the ones gated it’s ridiculously elitist but as soon as you get through then it’s equally ridiculous to let the undeserving rabble have the same loot and bragging rights.

      • I don’t really care about the unwashed hordes, but of course I’d like raid content that is exactly pitched to be a fun challenge for my raid 🙂 We’ve seen a lot of iterations in Wrath of schemes to make the same content (with a few difficulty sliders) work for both the hardcore and more casual raiders. I guess it’s been fairly successful? Hard to really say. The limited attempts is a fairly clear statement that they really don’t want people raiding 5+ nights a week.

  3. Recall that current plans will allow you to remove that raidwide buff if you want, which means if you come there like four months later but still want to raid as it was when released, you can.

    Actually, considering the number of locks and that the number of attempts will increase as time goes on, this is really quite ingenious. Its main purpose is to prevent the really hardcore raiders from going TOO far ahead, because, as we all know, typically what happens is when the patch is released, they take a couple of days off work to raid non-stop until they can get the World Firsts. In short, Blizzard is rewarding those top 1% who play smart and well instead of just trying to brute force encounters with time, protecting them from raiding too long in one time period (which, I believe, was one of more important reasons why Algalon had a 1 hour despawn timer) and then the slower, more reasonable raiding crowd will clear content as attempts and raidwide buff goes up according to their skill.

    And then, by locking the heroic bosses behind Arthas, they ensure that you’ve completed the normal raid (and geared up!) before you ever try the heroics, and it also has the side benefit that no top guild has to choose between the normal and heroic World Firsts.

    • Recall that current plans will allow you to remove that raidwide buff if you want

      Actually no they don’t:

      “Guild Leader: why do you die all the time and do half the dps of anyone else even when not dead?

      Gaming Purist: I clicked the buff off man, gaming should be a challenge.

      Guild Leader: Good luck with your search for a new guild then, bye!”

      Unless you play with 24 other gaming purists this is a fake option, an illusory choice.

      • I dare say removing the buff will either only be doable ‘as a raid’ or if removed by the entire raid will result in random ‘cheesements and/or better loot.

        A bit like completeing ToGC Heroic within certain numbers of wipes gives various levels of tribute chests up to including the perfect ‘no wipes at all’ chest which gives ilevel items and a mount only gettable from there[till icedrown].

        Not sure how this is going to work in the the ‘self nerfing dungeon’ but I applaud the nerf schedule at least being upfront. I prefer openess to changes made later without warning.

  4. This shows that not even a giant like Blizzard can keep up delivering constantly fresh new dungeons, gear, rewards and all that over and over.

    The focus on progression AND dungeon-holes as endgame content has become standard.

    The consequence was to made raids/instances more accessible for everyone, sometimes resulting in very primitive “normal” modes and often rather questionable “heroic/hard” mode objectives. I am not only speaking about WoW, it is a general trend in many MMOs.

    But the limited tries and the self-nerfing autobuff is what most “normal” people will have problems with.

    In former times – makes one sound old somehow… – the self-nerfing thing was actually that there were people who were overgeared and very experienced who helped the newcomer through the dungeon. They could do this because they had the experience and gear from later instances/raids.

    What the hell shall this autonerf/buff thingie bring? We had this already in a more natural way. Those who came late had usually help by those who already progressed further. WOTLK already had “gear reset” patches, so why do they need this for Ice Crown?

    Boss unlocking with limited attempts: Needs to be combined with LOTRO’s radiance to create the ultimate silliness.

    They are trying to cater to a hardcore “world/server first” crowd AND everyone else, down to Joe Casual who plays WoW 5 minutes per months.

    But this is BS. It does not matter to the bulk of the players who is the first to kill Arthas. The idea to make this more meaningful by limiting attempts rather than rewarding time and tons of attempts till the bugger is finally dead is WRONG, as next to NOBODY cares about that!

    Instead of this, it is making players paranoid: DON’T WASTE your attempts! Maybe even wait a week, to have a better buff? 🙂

    They need to get away from this “game” aspects and focus again more on immersion. The “Boss of the Week”, delivered bound and chained to be gutted by your group in the Coliseum, was already odd enough.

    They are decreasing the epic feeling of fighting Arthas and his minions in Icecrown quite a lot by throwing the bare skeleton of game mechanics so bluntly into the face of their gamers.

    It is quite possible that many are not that offended by that like me, and actually I could give a poop about it as I am not playing WoW at the moment. But it is an alarming trend set by the trendsetter Blizzard. 😦

  5. Longasc is correct:- Upfront mechanics kill game the illusion that this is a world not a game. While I cannot for the life of me decide if I like the current plans or not (being something of a Hardcore/Casual who likes trying to do the ‘perfect tribute run’ allmost as much as I like seeing new content) it is a bit blatent isnt it?

    And even so getting the tribute chest with 50 attempts remaining IS a rush its nowhere near the rush of a new Boss.

  6. Ulduar was nerfed repeatedly after release, even the trash. Having an “Aura of Nerf” isn’t a change in design, it just is more honest about Blizzard opening up bosses to more people by making encounters easier over time. It is also nice in that it can be rolled back for people who want to a more authentic experience. I expect there will be something like Flame Leviathan or Yogg, where you talk to an NPC to turn on or off various buffs.

    I’m not too worried about the limited attempts. As a guild that “only” raids two or three days a week, I’m sure we’ll have our hands full just clearing the regular bosses, assuming IC is on par with Ice Crown and not ToC, so that limiting attempts a bit won’t really be a problem. It is really just supposed to be a speed bump for the hard core guilds that raid 5 to 7 days a week.

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  8. I think this is a pretty decent plan for rolling out a new raid. They specifically said several weeks before the rollout of more bosses, and “another period of time” for the others after that. I’m looking at my calendar and trying to map this out roughly. I’m guessing the patch will hit either December 1st or December 8th (I’m guessing the 8th), which means the Plagueworks will open around December 21st or December 28th (this is why I guess the 8th for 3.3 – so they don’t open extra bosses right before Christmas).

    Crimson Hall would then be around January 18th and Frostwing Hall around February 8th. Even if this is off by a couple weeks, you can roughly guess we won’t be fighting the lich king until early to mid February, and only after he’s been defeated will the heroic versions become available.

    I like this for several reasons – sure the top guilds will down each wing on their respective patch day, but it won’t matter that much because it is just a wing. But once the heroic unlocks they’ll be able to go from defeating normal mode Arthas to heroic Arthas in the same week, that’s where the rush will be and they can get their bragging rights.

    I also like that for the more casual raiders it really gives us time to focus on and learn 3-4 encounters over a few raid lockouts and gear ourselves up for the harder wings. By the time a new wing becomes available hopefully we’ll have more guild members familiar with the existing wing so we don’t need to explain everything.

    This new system should work out well for a lot of guilds – I know due to the limited attempts I’ll be much more selective of who I raid with. Right now we’ve carried some seriously undergeared people through ToC 10 and this mechanic really gives us a built-in excuse to exclude them. Sure it might sound mean, but when you’re dealing with people now who expect to hit 80 and see ToC 10 the same day it gets old.

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  10. I think a lot of this is just putting out in the open things that used to be behind the scenes in the past. Rather than slowing progression by ‘artificial’ gating, like farming resist gear, they just overtly gate the instance and limit tries. Rather than gradually nerfing it, they stick the nerf mechanic front and center.

    Would people be complaining less if rather than gating, they’d have made you farm Frozen Saronite from inside the instance to make Frost Resist gear using rep farmed patterns to get past the boss Froesty the Snowman who does raid wide frost damage?

  11. Artificial gating is better than ridiculous farming time sinks. IT means that the people aren’t pressured into spending hours doing mindless trash farming, rep grinding, etc….

    The autonerf is probably ok as well as long as it is a small effect (say 1% a week, not 5%).

    Again limited attempts mean that people who want to raid x amount a week don’t get pushed into staying for way more attempts due to guild pressure (yes its a big problem for many people).

    I only hope that everything is tuned hard enough.

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