Tobold's Blog
Thursday, March 11, 2010
The Icecrown Citadel buff

As I'm not currently raiding, I didn't mention the Icecrown Citadel buff up to now. Blizzard had already in previous expansions made characters stronger and nerfed raid dungeons with time, so that at the end of an expansion people could visit raid dungeons they had been previously been unable to beat. But the ICC buff is the first time this mechanism is formalized. It started as a 5% buff on just about anything (health, healing, damage), and with time will grow to a 30% buff. Rahana from Blueberry Totem has a thoughtful post with a more detailed description and comments.

What I found most interesting is Rahana's report on the discussion going on in her guild about whether or not to use the buff. It is another of these cases where on the one hand people are complaining that the buff makes the raid too easy, but on the other hand raid groups don't want to turn the buff off (which they could), because it feels like raiding with one hand tied behind your back.

I guess I don't have the right achiever mindset, because that sort of discussion is completely incomprehensible to me. I would think that having selectable difficulty options is always a good thing. Want challenge? Play without buff! Want a tourist raid to just say hi to Arthas? Play with a 30% buff in a few months! But that personal view of challenge comes from me not caring at all what other guilds on the server are doing. Meanwhile the discussion in Rahana's guild is about whether they should "gimp our progress relative to other guilds" or the danger that "it leaks out we did it without the buff, we are definitely going to be called names and dragged through trade channel for being elitist epeen no-lifers who have to brag about their pixel achievements". Because they care so much what the other players in other guilds think about them, guilds feel obliged to use the buff, while simultaneously complaining about it all the time. Or they are just using that as an excuse, because they are secretly relieved to not have to wipe so much to beat Icecrown.
Oh well, where do I start... I will try my best not to get personal :)

I will react to the bit that stirrs me most - the part where we care too much what others think. It is right. And since this is MMORPG with other people involved, everyone does. The problem I do have with the caring is that I am responsible for the recruitment for our guild - if I want to get good people in, I have to advertise the best of the guild which essentialy leads me to caring a lot what others think about us. If we used the buff, the extreme case is us being dragged around as "no skill who need buff lulz" because you know, strict 10M raiding is still considered like self-inflicting terminal diseases and the general attitude is "lol how can u wipe thar it's so ez!" by 25M raiders, but that's irrelevant for the main point of this reply :) My other option is to go without the buff to avoid the "noob needs buff" label, in which case we fall behind anyone else on progression so in order to remove the "lolnoob can't progress" tag the guild has, I would have to state we are slow on progress because we are progressing without the buff. Which, as you might've guessed, leads to our guild being dragged through trade for no-life pixel achievment bragging. So for me as a guild leader, that situation had no "WIN" scenario.

Second point, there are X people in the guild and you have to do your best to keep them hooked. Whatever decision you take, Y out of X people will be unhappy - either for using buff and skimming the encounter, or for falling behind on progression compared to their outside guild mates. Again, where do you draw the line?

Third point - I welcome the buff for normal mode, it speeds the boring farm a lot and it let us kill Sindragosa, which was a block for us for quite some time. However, the thing that the buff will scale up independent on what you'd like to do, that is it the same way in heroic and that there are as well encounter-specific nerfs coming in, makes me rage. Because, even the 5% buff makes the encounters shift one or two difficulty levels down for a skilled raidgroup. From medium to easy, from easy to trivial. I mean, we did Saurfang on 10 with 10M gear only with using 1 healer for the fight and we killed him before he stacked more than something like 43 runic power. That's just silly.
I guess it only really matters if you are in a hardcore raiding group.

As for me, I'd just like to get the chance to get in there and see it - I personally don't care either way whether the buff is on or off
I would recommend that all raid guilds take the buff. If you downed a boss already grats, now it is easier. If you haven't cleared a boss take the buff... down them and then if you want remove the buff on a future encounter do so. I just picture lots of guilds out there canceling the buff (pride) and continuing to stall on their current content.

This week the buff is ONLY 5%. We don't know when blizzard is going to bump that amount. If a raid cancels the buff and doesn’t down content before the buff bonus increases they will never know if they could of cleared with ONLY 5%. I know if I personally couldn’t clear something without a buff I’d rather try it with a 5% buff as opposed to jumping right to 10%.

If going from zero buff to +5% is going to cause some people to swallow their pride, going from zero to +10% would only be worse. Better to go zero->+5%->+10%, etc. If a raid cancels their buff for the next 3weeks, their time to try the raid with only +5% may have forever passed. That is my two cents anyway.
Because they care so much what the other players in other guilds think about them, guilds feel obliged to use the buff, while simultaneously complaining about it all the time. Or they are just using that as an excuse, because they are secretly relieved to not have to wipe so much to beat Icecrown.
The last bit.
They are using it as an excuse to keep the buff on.
What if Blizzard were to give some extra recognition for beating the encounter without the buff? Perhaps a special title or better still a fancier looking set of amour. The special armour could have exactly the same stats but just look cooler. You would be amazed the lengths folk go to in Guild Wars just to get a fancy set of armour with no extra stats.

This way the tourists can tackle the content with the buff and get whatever armour they need for progression while the hardcore can test themselves without the buff and get recognition if they achieve it.

I really do not have sympathy for you. You let yourself fall into the trap of caring what idiots think about you and your guild.

You are trying to make yourself good in the eyes of the elitists who like putting down people who they feel are inferior to them for arbitrary reasons. At the same time you are trying to avoid looking bad to trolls in trade chat so they think you are 'one of the people'. Who gives a frig what they think about your guild? Is your self-esteem that low that you need to seek approval from the dregs on both extremes?

My guild is using the buff and will use it for the foreseeable future. We are simply not that good to give up any edge we get. Heck, we still have a good chance of wiping on Saurfang 10 normal. Once we feel we are improved enough then we will worry about doing it without the buff.

Maybe being a competive progression guild means that you have to take stupid crap like that seriously and worry about looking good to the idiots but to me that just seems really silly.
Just down him with the buff and if you still feel like it, do it without.

"What will the other guilds think?" Bah, who cares? If you mind them that much then just adjust your progress chart to give extra points to those who did it without buff.
Yesterday I won at chess against a world champion. I took his king and switched him.

I set my own rules and have fun this way. Yeah!
"If you mind them that much then just adjust your progress chart to give extra points to those who did it without buff."

The problem that we ran into, is that it's nearly impossible to track. WoL doesn't track it properly. It can be turned on and off, so a screenshot doesn't work. The only solution we could come up with was to take multiple screenshots mid combat. Even that i assume can probably be faked with someone decent at photoshop.

There's no in game way to track it, not even a single achievement. That's the part that bothers me most. They made Herald of the Titans, but nothing to track the buff? Then there's the conundrum of who is better, the guild who kills LK this week with the buff, or the guild who does it 3 weeks later without? (it's also nice to be top of the server for recruiting purposes... especially if you have a very small pool of potential raiders on your server, like here.)

Tobold, what do you think of the buff extending to hardmodes? The fights that are supposed to be for the elite? People who just want to be tourists can get that through normal, so is something gained by allowing the buff into heroic mode?
As an officer in a casual raiding guild, I'm torn by this addition to ICC. If it were my decision, we would never use the buff and progress through the normal mode of ICC in its original implementation.

However, we are struggling with attendance issues. We have a small core of extremely competent players but beyond that commitment and skill levels drop quickly. Every week we go into ICC10/ICC25 and don't make progress means the next week it will be that much harder to get raids formed.

Should I set my personal feelings about the buff aside in order to hopefully make quicker progress and retain interest in the current content? I have until now but I do it begrudgingly. I hope Blizzard learns from this experiment and finds a better way to implement such accessibility measures in the future. As a start, limit these things to normal mode encounters.
I think this buff is a great idea since it will help every player experience the content by the time Cataclysm hits. It is awesome for casual players who simply want to experience an Arthas kill.

If a hardcore guild wants the normal difficulty then they are free to turn the buff off.
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My raiding days are not even here yet.

@MBP - Great idea on the non-buff achievement. What should we call it? Naturally strong.
"This way the tourists can tackle the content with the buff"

This is the kind of silly thinking that makes people hate hardcore types. People who are less hardcore aren't tourists, they may have been in the game just as long as you have. Nor are you permanent residents with greater rights and privileges.

Tourists don't stay and run regular raids.
If you are a guild leader/officer that is concerned with recruiting and keeping excellent players, you must be aware of how those potential recruits may judge you. Period.

If you have a more social guild or are barely accessing this content (like me), this topic doesn't really apply to us. Telling the progressive guild leader to get over yourself and ignore what everyone else thinks is not terribly insightful.

Blizzard keeps changing the rules for end-game content which is good for us casuals, but clearly presents challenges to the more HC guilds who must compete with each other and simply want a level playing field.

And in my opinion, if they bail from this game, it won't be around much longer for the rest of us.
I think a happy compromise would be to institute the 5% buff differently.

Since the goal of Blizard is to allow the most amount of people see their top end content, why not simply focus on Normal mode?

I think it would work to only have the buff available for Normal mode. The casuals (like myself) have a greater chance of experiencing the content, on a level that is still challenging for them, and the hardcores get to keep heroic mode, in its virgin state of difficulty, with accompaning achievements.

Or they could stagger the buff, 5% in normal, 0% on heroic, 1 month later, 10% in normal, 5% in heroic, etc.

In reply to Blueberry: it comes down to seperating those that desire progression vs those that desire achievement. Nielas makes a great comment, appealing to both extremes is by defition impossible.

I understand about caring about guild image and recruitment for sure, but the slobbering idiots who criticize your guild for stupid reasons should be the last ones you would want in your guild in the first place.
To be honest, any guild that has not already cleared ICC, and yet wanks on about the buff making it "too easy", has a severe disconnect between their ego and their abilities.

My guild for instance, has not. We are 11/12 on 10-man and 8/12 on 25-man. The idea that we would do anything other than enjoy the buff has never even occurred to anyone: we all feel that it would have been nice if we'd been up there with the server firsts and cleared ICC already, but we're not. We're not as hardcore as them. We don't raid as many nights as them. We're probably not as good players as them. :-)

But I'm glad for that. The deadliest thing to a guild is when you've got multiple camps that want multiple different things. If half the raiders wanted to skip the buff to prove their manliness, and the other half wanted to use it to get easier kills and more loot, you've got guild drama, make no mistake.
I'd put in a trade off - turn off the buff, get X amount of bonus gold at the end.

That way there is some profit to turning it off, instead of this virtual angst crap.
All they needed to do was add achievements for not using the buff and half the discussion would disappear.

But I could also see blizzard thinking "Hard Modes" is where people really care and sicne the buff is not present in HM the truly good guilds can still be proud of having done the ifnal instance while everyone else at least got to see the content.
"is where people really care and sicne the buff is not present in HM "

It's possible i misread this. I read it as saying that 'the buff isn't in HMs." It is, although there is still the turn off option, as in normal mode.
"Tourists don't stay and run regular raids."

What do you define as a tourist? There are some people who's only goal in raiding is to see each fight, and beat it. Once is ussually enough. Purples are a bonus. But they're biggest factor is they want to see everything atleast once.

There is a slight difference between casual and tourist, in my humble opinion. Although it can get blurry, they're not quite the same thing. (and i don't think my quick defintion here does the difference justice, to be honest.)
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