Just to be clear, I don’t mind the Dragon Soul nerf at all. I have actually spent a good deal of my email and forums time arguing for the nerf, if you can believe that. I think it’s a pretty decent idea. Content always gets nerfed. Telegraphed, slow nerfs are the way to go, and will make the largest number of gamers happy in WOW, and I’m satisfied with that.
But this post isn’t about the Dragon Soul nerf. This post is about the switch that makes it optional.
Spoiler alert: It’s not really optional.
It really irks me to take a side in a fun debate and then find the people on my side using excessively stupid arguments. Honestly, it’s so annoying. It makes me hesitate to agree. That’s exactly how I feel about the Dragon Soul nerf debate every time I see someone say to an unhappy raider, “Well, why don’t you turn it off, then, if you care so much?” I feel like my argument in favor of it just got stupider.
Please stop saying this. It’s completely wrong, and here’s why.
Obstacles and Overcoming Difficulty
I guess on the face of it, I can understand the logic from the perspective of a non-raider. We are always clamoring for difficult content. We want the game to put fabulous wipe worthy obstacles in our way. We hate easy one shot bosses. Anyone unhappy with the DS buff is unhappy because their content just got easier. The obvious counterargument: “If hardcore guilds want to do the most challenging content, then shutting off the buff creates the most challenging content. Done and done.”
That oversimplifies raiding, though, and what makes raiding fun.
Let’s break it down. The game puts obstacles in our way and dangles a reward in our faces. We, and our buddies on Grid, battle the game to get to the reward. We have to jump through hoops, chase the stick, bend over backwards, and avoid the fire. Then we get the carrot: the reward. How do we fight against game mechanics? We use the best gear you have. We love gear! Oh, man, do raiders love gear. Let me tell you, gear is just our favoritest thing ever. But not just gear– most of us use food and flasks. Many of us enjoy the benefits of one and likely two raiding professions. We drain our gold on epic gems; we enchant our items with enchants that are chosen not just for aesthetic reasons but also for stats.
The entire purpose behind all of this preparation isn’t to artificially make the encounter harder– it’s to make the encounter easier.
Strategies are about this, too– making the fight as easy as possible. Sometimes we want the least possible people to be threatened with death. Sometimes (oh, raiders, we know this is true) we want certain reliable people to do harder jobs and certain fire-loving people to perhaps not be threatened with death quite as often. Sometimes you want cleave to hit more than one target so your damage gets used. Sometimes you want casters to be able to stand still; sometimes you want to stack for heals. Etc. The list goes on.
All of these concerns are present in every raid from the most casual to the most hardcore. Basically, we work our butts off to make the fight easier. Raiders call this “efficiency” and this is precisely how we go about killing a boss. We try to make it easier. We love to be faced with a hard encounter, but our job is to transform that encounter into something we can kill with every tool at our disposal.
It’s not fun to make the fight pointlessly harder. That is not fun difficulty. No one enjoys that.
Other really stupid things we could do to make a fight randomly difficult (that we don’t enjoy doing):
- Use a stupid strategy
- Sit 10 raiders, invite 10 pugs
- 3 heal fights that really need 7. 7 heal fights that only need 3.
- Wear green questing gear
- Purposefully 22 man content
- Tell everyone in the raid to switch to nonraiding professions
- Mandate “no flasks and no food”
- Reset the trash and do it over and over
- Kill the Proto Behemoth
- Raid with a curling iron plugged into our genitals.
No. We don’t do these things. These aren’t “fun hard.” They are pointless.
Turning off the buff is not fun hard.
Some of these examples were selected for a reason– in specific cases Blizzard has rewarded several of these tasks. And guess what? People were interested in doing them. Achievement and meta drakes require very weird strats. No one would do those fights in those ways without the achievement there, but it’s there, so we do. There’s an achievement in Ulduar and in TOGC for completing tasks in specific ilvls of gear. There were 22-man achievements in Naxx– same deal. There are even achievements for things like dealing with X number of pugs. And you know what? Some people really do farm trash for gear. So sometimes we do jump through those silly hoops– when we get a reward in return! (One day there will be an achievement for that, Esoth. One day.)
Farming is another example. Say I went and killed 1000 of a certain mob. I would be willing to bet no one sits around killing mobs because they want to kill 1000 mobs. But if they get reputation, or achievements, or a non combat pet, or just gold or a drop they want– then believe me, there will be people farming!
Rewards. A task with a reward is meaningful. A task without a reward is meaningless.
Recruitment and Competition
It’s not just about the reward, either. You shoot your raid in the foot by selecting to turn off the buff. Without a manner to differentiate between Buffed and Unbuffed raiding, your raid puts itself at an artificial disadvantage to the competition. And some of us do enjoy competing, on whatever scale we prefer – world, US, server, even among friends. Competition is a lot more fun when we’re all measuring with the same yardstick.
Theck said it best to me in his own special way, and I liked his words so much I didn’t want to paraphrase:
Encounter difficulty is only one parameter in a multi-faceted optimization problem. You could turn off the buff to have the “hard” version of the encounter, but you’re doing so at a significant cost – slower progression, fewer recruitment options, and more attrition from raiders who don’t care about the difficulty level. That last one is important – not all hardcore raiders are part of a hive-mind. Maybe some of your raid wants to do the super-hard version, but a significant portion may just want a one-night clear. So turning off the buff is an option, but one that only makes sense after you’ve cleared all the content and are screwing around, and even then only if every single member of your raid group is interested in doing it.
How many guilds other than Paragon went back to kill Heroic Lich King 25 with the buff turned off? I’d be willing to bet that it wasn’t many, probably less than 10. That alone should be enough to demonstrate that it’s not a reasonable option for the majority of guilds.
Thanks for letting me quote you without your permission, Theck. <3
There’s no point to turning off the buff; it’s nowhere near a feasible option for an actual raiding guild unless you’re Paragon shooting for a gimmick post on MMO champ’s front page. (The reward.) They’re the only ones who could have expected any kind of reward from it, so they’re the only ones who wanted to go for it.
Of course, I keep using the word reward. Hmm.
I firmly believe a lot of this would suddenly fail to hold water if there was some kind of reward attached to doing without the buff – something meaningless, like a title or a mount or even a feat of strength so as not to mess with achievement counts.
Another metric for comparison and for competition. Another yardstick! Something that we’d gain – anything, honestly – by taking the buff off. Gamers love achievements, gamers love jumping through silly hoops for goals. Look at how many people do things like “The Insane” just to do them. If Blizz attached any kind of a reward at all to doing the raids without the buff, I bet this whole argument would change.
That’s not what we have right now, though. What we have right now is a meaningless toggle.
Conclusion: Quit saying “Just turn off the buff”, because you just look dumb.
There are so very many excellent reasons why the buff is a good idea. I could write a whole follow up boring essay about what a good thing the buff will be for the entire game.
But “LOL You can just turn it off!” is just about the worst reason you can come up with. The switch isn’t there for any serious reason since the game doesn’t pay it any attention at all. It’s a psychological crutch. There is absolutely no reason to use it, and trying to do so would just be counter productive to your raiding environments. It’s pointless. Calling it an argument gives it more credence than it deserves- it’s more of a troll. And oh man, it hurts when the blues troll me, it really does.
Please… you have so many better arguments to make in favor of the nerf. Make one of them instead and leave the bad arguments at home.