Dragon soul, nerfs, class balance and encounter design

Coming up within the next week or two are a set of 5% nerfs to dragon soul, both normal and heroic (but not LFR as far as I know).

Why are these nerfs coming? I think its important to understand why, so we can first of all not rage at it, and second so we can give some feed back about it. I think the reason for these nerfs is primarily 2 fold

(for the record, its starting at 5%)

The distance between us and the edge
A important concept is that the best of the best, the edge guilds, are still getting better. Each patch, each expansion, they find new ways to push the game.  Meanwhile new players are still joining the game, we have a almost constant stream of players starting raiding, from scratch without several years of experience to fall back on. Sure, some of them will pick up the skills from older players and so on, but to say that puts all of them on our level instantly by just reading EJ is a bit silly.

But I digress, my point is that the gab between the bottom of raiding and the top of raiding is huge, and is still growing. What keeps edge players going for weeks can stone wall other raiders, and thats not particularly good. Is it? How much challenge is good?

But with LFR here everyone can see content!
Some people have brought up the point that now LFR is in people can see the content and as such there shouldn’t be a need for nerfs. But if we follow that logic through, then we could say that every encounter should be a “heroic ragnaros”? Lets throw 10 stages at every fight with flaming meteors all over the place and have 90% of the ground be lava, that moves. With fire waves coming from 2 directions. Encounters aren’t very fun if there isn’t a chance to down them.

So those newer players, yeah at times Blizzard attempts to cater to them, and us, and the edge raiders too. I think its fine to every once in a while say “these fights are too hard”.

Class balance and raiding
My second reason revolves around class balance. A lot of people at least know, even if they don’t understand, that at times one class is better than another for certain jobs. People have heard the stories of 10 arcane mages with legendary’s taking down (heroic) spine of deathwing.

Every expansion we get better and better class balance, and yet each tier we get harder and harder encounters.

Encounter design is consistently outstripping class balance. and it sucks.

So while class balance has been getting better and better so has encounter design, and its to a fault almost now. Every time class balance gets even closer and better than it ever was before, the encounter designers come up with a much harder raid that requires just more from us raiders and the characters we play.

But I hear you cry out! If todays raids are harder why did (some) old raids take longer to get down?
This is a argument I hear quite a lot around the place, and it has a fatal flaw. It assumes that the top raiding guilds are stationary, never improving, and have always been as good as they are today. However the edge progression guilds? Yeah they’re still getting better and more “hard core”.

The problem of 10mans
And here we go. I can’t really talk difficulty without talking 10s vs 25s. The problem I have here is not that one is particularly easier than the other, if anything they have asymmetrical difficulty, different but equal(ish). However my point is that with class and specs playing such a huge role on some fights that 25s are better of purely because they have a larger pool of players to draw from to get that right comp.

In a world where even a moderately geared death knight tank can be better than a full HM FL geared protection paladin on some fights having a larger pool of players to draw from can only lead to a higher chance of getting that right combination. Though this problem can be combated by having a larger pool of players to draw from, whats the point in a 10man if your running with close to 20 raiders anyway? At that stage you end up gimping yourself on gear.

In other words, any class balance problems, where having the right combo makes a encounter easier, are magnified in a 10man.

Even after all that, could this be likened to taking a sledge hammer to the problem not a scalpel?
They aren’t tackling the specific encounters that cause people issues if you don’t happen to have 2x rogues/feral druids, or the fight that asks you to have holy paladins galore. They’re just targeting everything in a giant blanket bomb of sledge hammer nerfs.

Hell some fights could do with buffs in certain areas as well as nerfs in others. (hello H morchok). Sadly it looks like blizzard are taking the easy route.

Over all I think this nerf has more to do with the majority of the (heroic) fights being over tuned, or at least seeming to be over tuned because not as many people are downing them due to class balance issues. Will this fix some of those issues? Maybe, probably even, but at the same time they risk degrading players view of dragon soul even further, when players already don’t seem to like it that much. Are they risking dragon soul being viewed as one of the least liked raid instances yet?