On Raiding Disappointment: An Open Letter to Blizzard

When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure - Peter Marshall

Dear Blizzard,

As a subscriber who came to World of Warcraft with the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, Cataclysm represented my first true opportunity to get in on the ground floor of new content. For the first time I felt as if I wasn't lagging behind everyone else and was finally experiencing content the way it was meant to be experienced. I greeted the new expansion with a lot of anticipation and enthusiasm.

Cataclysm introduced many controversial changes, many of which were not received terribly enthusiastically by the community. I, on the other hand (being an avid Kool-Aid drinker), was thrilled with a lot of the changes, and incredibly excited to see the new content, experience the new levelling experience and, most importantly, to progress through the new raids. I understood the need to make the game more accessible, and supported the changes.

In fact, I was very frustrated with a lot of the complaining and the griping coming from the WoW community. Back in March I wrote a post critizing the community for having a "Doom and Gloom" outlook on the current state of the game, saying that people come and go, but the game itself was in a good place.

This week, you proved me wrong, Blizzard. I now feel compelled to add my voice to the chorous of the discontented.

Lord Rhyolith: Call me Admiral McROFLStompyPants

And it's because this week saw the introduction of significant nerfs to the Firelands bosses, crippling each boss - in both normal and heroic modes - anywhere from 15 to 25 percent in damage done and health, as well as simplifying several of the more difficult mechanics. This was done in an unprecedentedly brief time period since the raid was released.

Regardless of what your intention is, the significance of this change is instantly and universally understood by your player base: If you didn't clear Firelands before this nerf, you failed. Here are your free charity epics.

This is the exact same message that was sent regarding Tier 11 when Tier 12 came out. Didn't clear it before? No problem, let me hold your hand and walk you through it. Don't worry, the Internet Dragons are toothless now, so you won't get hurt. Just try to stay awake, okay?

At least back then we had a new, full-difficulty raid tier to busy ourselves with. Reducing the difficulty on previous tier content in order to allow more people to see it makes sense, at least. And it worked; raids were able to go back into Tier 11 and cut through the bosses like a they were barely there, and mechanics that were previously raid killers became irrelevant.

These changes to the current tier are completely inexplicable and inexcusable. They go too far, much too soon.

I mean, it's not as if people were complaining that the Firelands bosses were too hard. Quite the reverse, really; early on a lot of people were complaining that Firelands was decidedly too easy and that Raid Teams were blowing through it far too quickly. And it wasn't just the elite raiding guilds that were expressing this opinion, either.

Our raid team, for instance, is not at the cutting edge of progression. We are never likely to compete for a Realm First but neither are we at the bottom end of progression. We are probably the poster children of your average raiders; a casually-oriented guild that raids 6-8 hours a week. We expect to tackle the encounters, learn them and defeat them as they were originally designed.

Why aren't you giving us the time to do this?

My guild and I have been raiding Firelands from the day it was released. We were a new guild then, still gelling as a team, but we went in and got things done. Some of the encounters were really challenging and tested us; we wiped more than a few times on some of these bosses, which made downing them that much sweeter. I don't cheer out loud - causing my wife to give me strange looks - when we down an easy encounter. No, that is saved for when we overcome a significant obstacle that has stood in our path blocking our progression like an obstinate traffic cop. I like cheering, Blizzard, but where are the obstacles?

Wednesday night we went through Firelands after the nerfs and did six bosses. The difference in the level of difficulty is painfully obvious. It's actually invasive. Bosses that previously required precise play, good communication and teamwork even at good gear levels are now simplistic and easy. Lord Rhyolith, for example, lasted less than 10 seconds into Phase 2. I didn't even have time to get into position before he died. The burn phases of Shannox and Beth'tilac, which were previously heavy-damage phases that required the use of healer and tank cooldowns as well as skillful play to get through, are similarly laughable. As a healer, it seemed like Health Bars barely moved in those phases.

There is no thrill or enjoyment in beating up crippled children, Blizzard, and that's what you've turned these raid bosses into. You might as well give Fandral Staghelm a wool cap and a cane and rename him Tiny Tim. I actually felt sorry for Rageface the other night because he died so quickly, and his whole purpose for living - to Rage on Faces - was no more painful than a puppy dog licking ice cream off your toes. It does not qualify as something to be concerned about any longer. PETA will be hearing about this.

I think that in the pursuit of the noble goal of making the game more accessible to a larger variety of people a large chunk of the challenge of World of Warcraft has been removed. Many aspects of the game have fallen victim to this, with the endgame being the most notable and most damning, but even levelling is now so quick and painless that there is no sense of danger left in the game. Even without heirlooms, enemies fall over dead with little more than a mere glance, and there is a distinct lack of worry that something is actually dangerous. Low level dungeons are, even with poor gear, ridiculously easy, which is especially obvious when the vast majority of boss fights last under 30 seconds.

In fact, there is so little challenge left in WoW that your players are taking it upon themselves to make the game more difficult. Your very intelligent and creative players are coming up with things like the WoW Ironman Challenge and the Naked Dungeon Challenge just so that they have something to do that doesn't involve one-shotting the poor denizens of Dun Morogh on yet another overpowered Alt.

Thomas Paine said, "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value", and I think that is a lesson that has been forgotten. There is a benefit to difficulties, a benefit of failure. Overcoming adversity is how people learn and improve, and it's how fierce emotional attachments are created. Raiders who raided Molten Core don't look back on the gear that they got with such love and devotion because getting it was easy, but rather because the blood, sweat and sheer red-hot effort that they expended to get it has branded it into their souls.

I think it's time to put the challenge back into the World.


I understand that balancing the many different types of players and trying to make everyone happy is a difficult, if not impossible task. I can't think of a more thankless job that trying to please eleven million people, all of whom want something different, and at the same time trying to feed the corporate overlord's insatiable lust for profits.

I know that there are quite a number of people who are happy with these changes to the raids because it gives them a chance to finally see the content. But I think that there is a difference between seeing the content and experiencing the content.  The idea of merely seeing the content reminds me of a tourist: Someone who comes to visit and see the sights, but wants to have a good, relaxing time and not really get their hands dirty. While experiencing the content implies slogging through the worst that the raid can throw at you and working through the inevitable failures and hardships. These are two very different types of players who want two completely different types of gaming experiences.

However, nerfing current content when there is no alternative, higher-end content available means turning everyone into the Tourist.

I know that Patch 4.3 is brings us the Raid Finder tool and a new difficulty level that caters to the Tourists, PUGers and people who just want to see the content but are, for whatever reason, unable to raid at the normal difficulty levels. I'm sure it's your hope that this elmininates the need for nerfs such as these, and I'm optimistic that it will work very well. But that doesn't change the fact that in this patch, on this raid, you took away my challenge.

We're going into Firelands to kill Ragnaros for the first time this week. Last week it was an exciting prospect, now it's just something to do on a Sunday. Oh, we'll get the achievement, but the accomplishment has been made lesser. Like Roger Maris, I will forever have an asterisk next to my 7/7 achievement.


Dwarven Battle Medic and Dissatisfied Raider.

Ragnaros: Still tough, but 25% less satisfying.



  1. You'll have your challenge in Hard Modes. It's the guilds that can't take Rag N down after nerfs that are stuck in LOLFarm mode.

    I was in one such guild in ICC10 and that lasted almost ~5 months before Cata.

    Time to bring in the alts to gear them 378 too!

  2. I think you'll find heroic Ragnaros to be a significant challenge worthy of satisfying your need for difficult raiding content.

  3. I think 4.2 is the last we'll see of these types of nerfs.

    With how 4.3 is shaping up, I doubt we'll ever see nerfs on this level ever again because of the Raid Finder.

  4. @Reddfoxx and Anonymous #1: I'm sure they will be challenging, but since the Heroic Modes (including Ragnaros) were nerfed as well, they aren't at the same level as they were. I'm completely fine with nerfs that are introduced in order to rebalance a fight that is too hard, but making it easier just for the sake of making it easier is the wrong way to go.

    It comes to the point where something isn't worth doing if anyone can do it with little to no effort. I love the idea of making raiding accessible, and if it wasn't as accessible as it is now, I probably wouldn't be able to progress as far as I have. But it shouldn't be easy-mode, and when the level of these nerfs is taken into account, that's precisely what they've turned these into.

    Anonymous #2: That is my hope as well. /FingersCrossed

  5. "... Quite the reverse, really; early on a lot of people were complaining that Firelands was decidedly too easy and that Raid Teams were blowing through it far too quickly."

    My team, a team of friends with skills ranging from lacklustre through passable to good enough, have wiped on normal Beth'tilac every week since we started in FL. We had killed her once and even that was because we were short and had to pug in a resto druid and prot warrior. Now we're at 2 kills (just, seriously... just) so in some respects I'm thankful for the nerfs. It means my team doesn't fall apart.

    The most advanced team in my guild were working on Rag normal when the nerfs hit and although they downed him soon enough are now working on the HC's. I'm told they're finding it a significantly more challenging prospect.

    I think it's unfair to paint the situation as you did above. Only Blizzard can really tell us what the statistics are but I'm betting that the number of teams to actually get anywhere in FL are in the minority.

    Having said that I do think they went a little too far and would have appreciated a more gradual lessening of the difficulty. To go from 2/7 to 4/7 in one night was a little too quick for my tastes.

  6. You aren't typical of the average Wow player. It's not about you, it's about money. Blizzard doesn't see the game holding up with the current difficulty level and is deliberately lowering it to retain their subscribers. You might leave, but for everyone that leaves Blizzard only has to prevent those not killing the bosses to remain to come out on the right side of this change. This is about Blizzard mitigating the damage the raid design is causing this time around, the percentages say there are a lot more people stuck than those currently progressing into the content.

  7. Yeap, this is pretty much 100% how I feel about this.

  8. Ok. Back in Ulduar, Blizz has released a new tier of raiding, ToC. Ulduar was this great awesome raid instance that they obviously put tons of time into, whereas ToC wasn't at all. But, Blizz intentions on releasing ToC was not only to gear people for ICC, BUT MORE IMPORANTLY, to gear people to get through Ulduar. Do you know how many people went through Ulduar after ToC was released? The percentage of the wow population that went back to Ulduar while ToC was released approached 0. NOBODY. Our 25 man easily cleared ToC in one night and nobody even showed up our OTHER 2 NIGHTS of RAIDING.

    Blizz noticed this. There were actually quite a few upset blog posts because of this and ever since they've been fine tuning their raid approaches. You have ICC progressive nerfs and in this latest Firelands release, they did the same exact nerfs to BWD, TotFW, and BoT. Did anyone complain about those nerfs?! NO! No one complained about them as loudly as they are complaining now. Were casual raiders still wiping on final bosses like now in Firelands?! YES, THEY STILL WERE. Were people going back to BWD, BoT, and TotFW? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Maybe once to get the achievement and then NOTHING.

    What does Blizz learn here? Releasing new content again obsoletes the old content. If Blizz wants people to see all of the current content (AND ALL OF THEIR HARD WORK), nerfs are needed while the content IS STILL CURRENT. Else, no one will see these awesome encounters that Blizz made for us.

    There's the whole casual argument and other stuff, but this recent nerf is very well calculated and basically FOLLOWS THE PATTERN THAT WE AS WOW PLAYERS HAVE CREATED. If you want something different, start playing differently, like those naked dungeon runs and such....Or do old, but still at our level content more frequently. BWD and BoT Heroics are probably still a Pain. I've never tried them, but I'm also not complaining about the current nerfs...

  9. @Rokkon - Actually, MANY raiders have gone back to the nerfed T11 content, and still are. Gearing up alts, trying to get those BiS pieces, or trying for the ever-elusive Shoulder/Helm tokens. Also, they're easier in many ways than pugging Zulroics, and also more enjoyable with a group of people relaxing than some pug idiots screaming about bear timers. As well as having better loot, quality BoE epics, etc.

    I mean hell, my guild killed Ragnaros for the first time this week, and we're going into BWD/BoT tonight to get people offspec upgrades and shoulder tokens.

  10. I do agree with what you are saying completely. The Tier 11 nerfs were fine with me because I have already cleared 12/12 and I felt like if we couldn't do that in the time it took new content to come out than I wasn't going to do it anyway. (Guilds tend to not go back and do old content once new content is released).

    However, nerfing everything in the middle of a raid tier because they want more people to be able to pull Deathwing when 4.3 drops makes me think of something. If they expect people to kill nerfed content to get to Deathwing... how hard do they expect Deathwing to be... Will he be no harder than pre-nerfed Firelands?

    If not the same people are going to need nerfs to kill Deathwing (because guild groups, aka the people this content was nerfed for, won't want to do the LFR version) which means more nerfs in the future and just a continuous cycle...

    Sigh... my head hurts.

  11. I have taken note of that beautiful opening quote.

    I completely understand your viewpoint and to be honest, have very little to argue against it. Your not bringing on the negativity like many do with every change.

    Because they have literally left no alternative for raiders like yourself, as you stated, I can't help but feel Blizzard must have something up their sleeve. They just must?!

    Time will tell,

    - Jamin

  12. Allow me to generalize: there are two kinds of challenges in these raids.

    Challenge 1: 'Checks'. Surviving, out-healing, and meeting the dps check of each part of an encounter. Making sure you not only have the healing output and cooldown plan to get through Beth'tilac phase 2, but that your DPS can kill the boss before the healers are exhausted.

    Challenge 2: 'Gimmicks' or Mechanics. Not eating meteors or falling through Beth's web. Getting your healer(s) onto the web soon enough to keep the tank from dying. Dropping stacks off the tanks during Shannox. Staying airborne during Alys, Handling Torment during Bale. Handling Seeds & Orbs during Majordomo.

    The nerfs heavily affected Challenge 1. Depending on your raid's gear level and experience, these challenges go from more forgiving to ignorable.

    Challenge 2 portions of an encounter are now more forgiving in some ways, but are still absolutely deadly when handled incorrectly. This is where the fun is really found since the nerf. Sure, some fights are pushovers. But even now, 5 levels later, Gunship (for example) is still a 'fun' encounter and will still wipe your raid if you don't respect the mechanics.

  13. @Rades Hahaha, I'm going to get into a comment war with you on someone else's blog. Hehehe.

    I hear you. I also don't believe that my guild is the only one that doesn't go back and do old content. How many BH runs have you gone and cleared the other boss? And, I don't know about Drenden-H, but there is maybe (MAYBE) 1 PUG doing T11 on my off nights. I said nobody for emphasis, but mean a very (VERY) small percentage. So, much so that you could round it to 0%.

    Your guild (Rades) is an exception to the guilds not going back and doing old content argument. I'm TOTALLY jealous of it (so much so I've continually contemplated faction change to join you all). And, how do I know your guild is an exception? Look at the outrage. Guilds that understand the system and work both T12 and T11 and work together in raids are not as outraged at the nerfs as the guilds (or raiders in those guilds) who think the ONLY raid content available today IS T12.

    @joeego - Great comment. Totally agree. Very well put.

  14. You are barely getting ragnaros down on normal. If you found pre-nerfed normal modes difficult then idk what to say. Have you even done a HM in Firelands yet? Encounters on HM are already trivial to a guild who has them on farm. But to the people like YOU, it will be a new set of challenges even after nerf. Kill heroic Ragnaros, then 'cry' about Normals being easy.

  15. Fannon, Blizzard tried a design in this expansion that catered to players like you. The results have been a business disaster. They are now throwing you under the bus to save themselves. Nothing personal, they just value their jobs and careers more than they value you.

  16. I'm sorry, I can't hear your arguments over the mental image of a puppy licking icecream off my toes.

  17. Regardless of what your intention is, the significance of this change is instantly and universally understood by your player base: If you didn't clear Firelands before this nerf, you failed.

    This is an idiotic mindset and I wish it would outright die in the WoW community. Maybe it wouldn't be such a cesspit if it did.

  18. You should copy and past this right to the World of Warcraft Forums. Good read...


  19. I enjoyed your viewpoints, I had a long response up, but felt compelled to provide a somewhat of a counter argument so posted it on my blog here is a link to that article, to which I link back to you Fannon to this article and your twitter account: