Tonight was my guild's first foray into tier 11 content since the patch. We had saved our old raid IDs that only had Al'Akir and Nefarian left alive, as those were the only two bosses that we hadn't managed to kill before the nerf. Al'Akir was a two-shot, to many exclamations of incredulity and some maniacal giggling from our guild leader. Before the patch, we had still been working on perfecting our phase two execution, though we had seen phase three a couple of times. A lot of the time the soft enrage caused by stacking Acid Rain had wiped us, when it got up to about sixteen stacks and was doing 8k damage per second to the entire raid. After the nerf, it doesn't stack anymore. At all. Sometimes it even dropped off completely. I felt completely superfluous as a healer, and was mostly standing around and twiddling my thumbs in-between the occasional Circle of Healing. That is not what I call a twenty percent nerf, Blizzard.
After our Al'Akir kill, we went down to Blackwing Descent to kill Nefarian. Unlike Al'Akir, we had never even attempted him before the patch, which I suspect helped my enjoyment of the fight a lot, since I didn't have a frame of reference for how things should have been, only a vague idea that a lot of small mistakes that people made and that were easily fixed with an extra heal here or there probably would have wiped the raid before the nerf. However, I couldn't know for sure. Also, because we were completely new to the fight, there were tactics to learn regardless, which was reasonably entertaining. Still, by the end of the night, Nef was dead as well. Everyone was quite happy to earn a new achievement, mount and title - including me - even if we were late to the party. Now we'll just try to get a couple more kills for the raiders who couldn't make it tonight, but otherwise we're completely free to focus on Firelands.
When the news about the big nerf to tier 11 in patch 4.2 came out a little over a month ago, I didn't make a post about it. Not because I didn't have an opinion about it, but because I felt that I had already expressed it well enough in a comment on this editorial at the MMO Melting Pot. (All the comments seem to have disappeared since then, but oh well.) Basically I was agreeing with Rebecca that the nerf wasn't a very good idea, as I still remembered the last time the devs implemented a raid nerf of such scale: patch 3.0.
Back then my guild was working its way through Black Temple and had just killed Mother Shahraz. After the patch we blew through the remaining Illidari Council in one or two nights and killed Illidan shortly afterwards. I remember healing through some insane AoE damage on the latter fight and thinking, "No way we can be doing this right, before the patch that would have wiped us three times over." In the end I was always left with a vague feeling of embarrassment in regards to finishing off that tier, because it just didn't feel like we had really earned it. To this day I always talk about how we made it up to Mother Shahraz in Black Temple, because anything that came afterwards didn't really count and just left me feeling empty.
I was worried that this would happen again with the tier 11 nerfs, and I think I was at least partially right. Killing Nefarian was still elating, because as I said we were all lacking a frame of reference, but I doubt that it will be a very memorable kill in the long run. Downing a boss after less than ten attempts simply doesn't make for a grand tale to tell the newbies about. Al'Akir was a complete downer for me though. The fact that the one mechanic that had made phase two interesting as a healer was culled completely and left me feeling unnecessary was depressing, and after all the work we had done to improve our performance before the patch, the actual kill felt like it took less effort than many of our previous wipes. Thank you, Blizzard, for reminding me once again how pointless it can be to even try in this game.
There was one positive side to the whole ordeal that I hadn't considered though: it allowed us to make our peace with tier 11 quickly and move on. In previous years we often suffered from internal disagreements about which bosses to prioritise if a new patch opened up better loot for less effort. Why "waste time" on Kael'thas if we could progress through Mount Hyjal and Black Temple instead? Why spend any more time in Ulduar and wipe on Yogg-Saron if Trial of the Crusader and the bloody daily heroic gave us better gear anyway? At least tier 11 is not presenting us with such a choice. (Going back for that one night hardly counts.)
This makes the situation somewhat different from 3.0 after all, because back then it was the end of the expansion and everything getting nerfed into stupidity was like a big "game over" sign. There was nowhere else to go. Now on the other hand we have the Firelands to dig our teeth into, and I'm actually looking forward to it. Let the trade pugs have fun in tier 11 if that's what the devs want. (One of my fellow raiders said that he cleared Bastion of Twilight on an alt in under an hour and that there were no wipes despite of lots of fails.)
Of course, we'll see what things look like in a few months. If we've killed Ragnaros by then and are only left with boring heroic modes, I might still find myself wishing that Blizzard had allowed us to finish tier 11 on our own time instead.
The Night the Lights Went Out in Norrath
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