Stacking ICC Buff – Success or Failure?
May 24, 2010 6 Comments
Assuming Blizzard doesn’t suddenly deviate from their four week schedule, the ICC raid buff – Strength of Wrynn / Hellscream’s Warsong – is set to increase this coming raid reset on Tuesday, from the current 15% up to 20%. As such, I figure it’s as good a time as any to share my thoughts on the subject.
There’s really nothing to debate about the intent of the aura – it was, without doubt, meant to replace the previous model where, through a patch or hotfix, they would nerf content a couple months after its introduction by lowering the difficulty of each individual encounter through various fight-specific means, which was in turn meant to result in the raid content being experienced by a larger audience.
And there’s no doubt that it has been successful in that regard. Simply look at the below chart, courtesy of Wowprogress, with shoddy Paint work done by yours truly:
One can clearly see the effect each incremental raising of the buff had on the overall trajectory of progress. Every time kills begin to taper off – shown by the lines becoming less linear (straight) and more logarithmic (curved) – the buff comes along, providing an immediate little leap to the number of kills, followed by an increase in linearity, until it begins to curve out and it all happens again.
Compare this to the previous system, which looked something like this:
Instead of several little bumps, you had one sudden leap, and instead of all encounters being (near) equally affected at the exact same time, you had the magnitude of the jump and the date at which it occured varying boss by boss.
That’s debatable, and hence this post.
Everything positive about the buff has an equally notable downside:
- When the buff is increased is known. It happens like clockwork, every 4 resets. Nice and reliable.
- Downside: Lowers motivation and causes apathy for many. Why push for a kill tonight, when tomorrow it will be that much easier? For others, it still has the same effect, but for the opposite reason; what if we try our hardest tonight, but fail? The buff comes regardless, and then it just seems like we’re no better than dozens of others noobs who killed it Tuesday. Not knowing when the nerf was going to come kept people equally motivated (or demotivated, as the case may be) regardless.
- All encounters get affected. No exceptions.
- Downside: Normal Gunship gets affected just as much as heroic Lich King. Many encounters just don’t need to be touched, and although the fact that they are isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s certainly an unnecessary one.
- Downside: Relatedly, what happens if you want the buff for the easy fights (just to get them out of the way quicker), but not for the challenging ones (to actually preserve the challenge)? You can’t pick and choose.
- The buff is a buff, as opposed to a nerf.
- Downside: Not all classes are affected equally. Some (Unholy DKs, for example) don’t actually get the full 5% due to certain abilities (Gargoyle) not benefiting, while others (Holy Paladins) get more than the 5% due to certain abilities (Glyph of Holy Light) double dipping. This is ignoring the fact that it took months for pets/shields to be affected at all, a huge omission.
- Downside: It makes tracking your individual progress difficult. I don’t know about others, but I like to see myself do better and better each week. I like to know that due to becoming better geared, or more accustomed to a fight, or just more ‘skilled’, I’m able to push out higher dps. With the buff, I can do everything in the exact same manner and, hey, free dps increase! It negates one’s hard work by making it more difficult to see the actual rewards of that work.
- Downside: This might not matter to many, but the form of incremental buffing kills WMO/WoL records. Anything you do now is invalidated in <4 weeks, because the top 20 are that sensitive where a 5% buff is tantamount to a reset of the charts. Petty and irrelevant to most? Maybe, but annoying nonetheless!
- The buff is an arbitrary number balanced around… what?
- Downside: 30% as the cap? Why not 25%? Why not 35%? The previous system had specific nerfs, which meant things were done exactly as Blizzard thought necessary. No more, no less. Having a specific and seemingly random number leads to content being “overnerfed” or “undernerfed”. Some fights don’t need the full thirty, while others may need more than that. Just choosing that number out of a hat will have unintended consequences.
I could probably go on, but it’s getting late.
Suffice is to say; personally, I’m not a fan of the “buff instead of nerf” system, and sincerely hope that it (along with attempts!) are gone for good come Cataclysm. It makes it hard to motivate a raid, it trivializes already trivial encounters, it makes it exceedingly difficult to visualize personal progression, it doesn’t benefit everyone equal, and the fact that it’s a random number means that it will likely have unknown consequences (in the aforementioned means, no doubt).
And, of course, I can’t say I’m without a personal reason: As many know, I’m currently taking a break from raiding. What happens when I decide to go back into it, and I possibly have to apply to a new guild? How do they objectively evaluate parses from months ago, when the buff was quite lower? It’s unlikely they’re going to dig up their own from back then, even if they can, and thus it makes it understandably difficult for them to judge.
At any rate, just my two cents!