The Day Tier 11 Died

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.


  1. We had those same 2 bosses left, with 30 prior attempts on Nef and 0 on Al'akir, and our experience was very much the same as yours. I think we 3 shot them each post-nerf. Our Nef kill was so ugly it's embarrassing (a dps dead from the very start, then 1 tanked almost all of P3!)

    I didn't see your comment on the editorial, but I agree with the gist of it. My guild would have been fine with more time or some of the more annoying mechanics toned down, we didn't need the encounters neutered to the point where we didn't have anything left to chew on.


  2. I believe that the problem was that if Blizzard had only nerfed them mildly, say to the point where both your respective guilds (and mine in fact) could kill them, but still with some of a struggle, they would still have been un-puggable.

    I think we all had our 3-4 months to kill these bosses pre-nerf. Whilst I agree with Shintar and Anonymous that a lesser nerf could have been better, we had our chance, the PUG community (which is quite large) has had no real content but BH since Cata launch. I guess it's something for them. I was one of them once, in a scrub MC run :)

  3. Hmm. That's more than a little irritating that all the comments on that post have disappeared - sorry, I didn't notice. I'll look into it on my return from holiday next week.

    As to the nerf - I agree. We did BWD up to Nef on Sunday, and it's just a bit depressing. At one point we had raiders TRYING to get themselves killed on Omnitron, and failing.

  4. I have to agree with Boxdog on this one, at least partially. We really had plenty of time to kill the bosses, and if you haven't already, you shouldn't be sour over it. Although I was lucky enough to be in a guild this time around that managed to do most of the fights while they were still current, I remember that we had this issue back in Wrath. But I never felt like the fight got less epic to me then just because it was less difficult. In a sense it was equally difficult since the skills of my guild were lower. We had to bust as much ass to down those bosses when they were nerfed as the better guilds had to down them when they were unnerfed. But I do agree that Blizzard shouldn't have nerfed them so hard with the nerfbat, but that they should have stepped it down slowly instead. Perhaps nerfing them 10% for two weeks (or more, or less), then 15% and so on. Now the fights have gone from impossibly difficult to cake walks to many guilds, leaving them without much fun at all, as you say. Maybe they just thought it would be too much work, which is a bad excuse imo.

  5. @Boxer & Zinn: I just don't really buy the "we had enough time" argument, because it assumes that it's inevitable that content gets "destroyed" every couple of months, and that Blizzard has to do this in order to maintain player interest. In fact they've been complaining about players burning through content too quickly, so why encourage that even more?

    Also, I don't think that the appeal to pugs will last long, as people will realise very quickly that they can get better gear from doing Hyjal dailies and farming Firelands trash. Not to mention that I can't see anyone wanting to pug Al'Akir for the fun of it anyway. I don't think I've seen a Throne of the Four Winds pug, ever.

    (Reposted to fix typos.)

  6. You realize that if pugs avoid T11, Blizzard is going to consider the whole "let them eat nerf" philosophy a failure, and it's back to WotLK-style design (or even easier) to save the game.

  7. "In fact they've been complaining about players burning through content too quickly, so why encourage that even more?"

    They delayed Firelands because "not enough people" had completed the previous tier, so I'm not sure where you've seen these complaints about people burning through content too quickly.

    They're also not encouraging people to burn through content more quickly. They're encouraging people to move on. Everyone had a good six months to do this content while it was relevant. Now it's old news.

    Also, there are plenty of people who didn't get into the T11 raids for whatever reason. Now it's their chance to see it and not have it be a complete wipefest. On top of that, it's not always about the gear and doing dailies loses its allure quickly. My guild - we're [very] casual. We're doing our first raid since Cata this weekend with help from this nerf. We're there to see the fights, story, and to do stuff together as a guild.

    If you're seeking a challenge, it's in Firelands now. Let the rest of us play in the old content and not have to stress out over it or spend the entire night with no progress.

  8. Darthregis: it was Morhaime who said (at the Q1 conference call) that they were going to release content more quickly because players were burning through it too fast.

    I interpret this in two ways: (1) there are players who are still burning through all the content quickly (just fewer of them), and (2) players are reaching the limit too quickly of the content they are able/willing to do.

    Basically, he was saying "they starved us of resources to make content for this expansion and it's biting us badly." I am imagining this restricted development budget was forced on Morhaime and Blizzard from Kotick or from ATVI's board, probably over his objections.

  9. I'm a little confused by what you're saying here: specifically, you dismiss the entire concept of hard modes as "boring" with not even a backhanded explanation why.

    Why not work on the hard modes if you're looking for new content? Those aren't nerfed. They would feel like big accomplishments I'm sure, and with some of the new 4.2 gear you probably even have a chance at success if your execution is good.

  10. @Darthregis: If you think that the nerfs are a good thing for you and your guild, more power to you. Unfortunately I've seen more people react negatively to the changes, or at least be indifferent because they didn't care about going back to tier 11 anyway. I guess we'll all see how it works out in practice. Personally I just prefer to play the game at my own pace. Expansion resets are traumatic enough in their own way; I don't need Blizzard to give me the proverbial boot every couple of months because they want me to play a different part of the game.

    Neowolf already explained about the "burning through content too fast" bit of my post, but here is an article that has the relevant quote. I know that it's contradictory to other statements they've made, but there you go.

    @Andy: Sorry, I didn't want to go into more detail because long-time readers of my blog will have seen me rant about hard modes enough already. :P To me they are not really new content, as they are just the same fights with some extra bells and whistles. I've still done some of them in the past for the sake of challenge, but it's always a lot less interesting than killing actual new bosses because seeing new fights is part of the core fun of raiding for me. You can't just take that aspect out and expect it to be just as enjoyable.

  11. I agree with the other commenters defending the nerf: there was more than enough time. My guild raid only runs two nights a week, semi-casual, and didn't even start for at least a month after Cata hit (hell, my main wasn't even 85 for weeks as I was too lazy). And we still got all three main bosses down over a month ago and a couple of hard modes.

    I know this comes off as some kind of bragging, but my point is just that we're a motley, unmotivated crew and still did it. We're now in Firelands and moving on as a guild should be.

    TL;DR = there was enough time.

  12. @neowolf & Shintar

    Thanks for the clarification on Morhaime's statements. Indeed, it's a bit of a contradiction from other things said by Blizz officials. Part of that 600k subscription drop was likely includes non-raiders, because dailies are just as boring as repeating raid content burned through too quickly.

    In regards to progressing at your own pace, I would suggest an "optional nerf". Something similar to what we saw in ICC; maybe that would appease more people. With that said, I highly suspect that most wouldn't opt for the harder content. I would also be interested to see just how many people turned off the ICC buff. Those numbers probably influenced the decision as to why the T11 nerf isn't optional. Too few people would choose to keep it relatively difficult.

    I'm also guessing that the designers feel the same way you do about PuGs in T11 content. There are other places to progress and get gear, even before hitting up T12 raid content. Other than "making peace" with the old content or achievements, there's really no driving force for raiding guilds to stick around in T11 (generally speaking, of course).

    I probably could have sumamarized all my nonsense by simply stating that the nerf is about accessability. For as many people that have burned through it quickly (or slowly, for that matter) - there are plenty of people who haven't seen it at all. This action gives the opportunity for those who didn't see it the chance to take a look without trivializing the efforts of the more advanced players (too much).

    Unfortunately, some people are going to get hosed with the changes. Blizz just has to make sure they don't hose them too badly and don't hose the majority of players. And I don't think they did this time around.