Friday, 2 October 2015

HFC normal nerfs

I found the the normal difficulty Hellfire Citadel nerfs that went out yesterday - removal of mechanics - confusing at best. Someone in raid referred to Archimonde normal without Wrought Chaos and Living Shadows as baby's first raid boss, which was an amusing take even if exaggerating. I wanted to see the other side of the argument, so I sat back and waited for the inevitable reaction and blue response.
Image credit: wowhead

Watcher stated that normal difficulty should be suited to Friends and Family groups, where people won't be dropped/punished for performance reasons. So it should cater for those that can not (or will not) get out of the fire or provide sufficient output. I thought that was what LFR was for, but the distinction is obviously solo queuing via the UI versus premade/pug groups.

I continue to believe 4 difficulties of raiding are too many - they make up too much of end game content, and force people who otherwise don't want to raid, into raiding. The solution would be to consolidate LFR and normal into the one difficulty, harder than current LFR and easier than current normal, and provide the means to run it both as a closed group and an open queue. If this is the direction they are headed for Legion, then I can buy into it, and will accept the nerfs for what they are. Not aimed at me, for starters.

There was also the declaration that if they are nerfing mechanics to the point where they can be effectively ignored, then they might as well remove them. A symbolism for LFR as it stands, if you will...

Difficulty in raiding can involve compounding mechanics. A good example is on Socrethar, where Gift of the Man'ari by itself, you can deal with - have the player stand out of the group and heal them. But throw in a Shadow Word Agony and an Apocalypse, and death will occur if mishandled.

So whilst these removed mechanics might have otherwise been reduced to insignificant damage, it could have still caused lethal damage in combination with other abilities. With it removed, that is simply not possible.

Removal of mechanics is a pure difficulty reduction, as opposed to number reductions that allow a greater margin for error.

They also seem intent on reducing personal responsibility, targeting abilities where one player's mistake can wipe the raid.

If this is all aimed at difficulty consolidation, like I said above I can accept that. But I have not seen any indication that this is the case, just community (and my own) speculation. In isolation, I don't like the idea of dumbing down for the sake of access. I don't think LFR provides an accurate representation of the raiding experience, and therefore I'm not in favour of moving normal difficulty towards LFR.

I've always preferred the idea of access/progression through a combination of gear and zone buffs. If normal Hellfire Assault is too hard for a particular guild on release, give them options to obtain better gear over the coming weeks through other end game content, and it will get easier. Then, half way through the raid tier, introduce an increasing HP/damage/healing zone buff, as was done in Icecrown Citadel.

But why should casual players have to wait, we pay the same subscription, we deserve to have access to the same content. But we shouldn't have to work for it, so provide it in tourist mode, now, thanks.

If HFC is initially too hard for a group, they can do BRF or Highmaul. Right now, they don't want to, because they did it all in LFR the week it was released. There's nothing new for them to experience.

The problem is not lack of access to raids, but lack of other end game content.

Put the effort currently put into LFR into non-raid content, that provides trickled gear upgrades that will in turn increase access to raid content.

This will give everyone more things to do, reduce the hardline distinction between raiders and casuals, and raid content won't become (as) redundant the moment the next tier comes out.

Original image credit: hyperbole and a half

I'll leave it there for now. But I do think there is a problem with this new paradigm of 3 tier difficulty via additional mechanics, where normal + more mechanics = heroic, and heroic + more mechanics = mythic. That is difficulty via complexity, which is fine for some bosses, but it can feel like a clusterfuck when every boss throws a bazillion mechanics at at you. Half the battle is then reading about abilities and relying on addons.


  1. Great post but I don't understand your conclusion... How does simplifying Normal mode lead to overly complex Mythic mode?

    1. Yeah not sure that came out right. I wasn't suggesting causation, just that they've confirmed they like adding difficulty by adding mechanics, so expect to see more of it (and more time alt tabbing to check 'does he do this ability in this difficulty?' etc).