Seri sez: Raid progression in 3.3 — The shot heard ’round the world.

November 19, 2009

Yesterday, Blizzard announced their plan for opening up Icecrown Citadel in 3.3. While I was reading it, I couldn’t help but think, “Wow, this is going to be extremely unpopular with the top raid guilds.” However, I have to admit… this wasn’t exactly out of the blue. Blizzard has been firing warning shots across the bows of said vessels for the last year, introducing a lot of changes that have been less than popular with the ‘serious’ raiding population. Unfortunately, now it seems more like they’re shooting to kill.

Let me outline, in brief, The Plan™:

  1. Icecrown Citadel (ICC) will not be fully open immediately at patch launch. Instead, its four sections (The Lower Spire, Plagueworks, Crimson Hall, and Frostwing Halls) will open independently with one or more weeks in between. Each section contains several boss encounters, plus trash.
  2. Sections 2, 3 & 4 each contain a ‘final’ boss that must be killed in order to unlock the Lich King encounter for that raid instance.
  3. Raid teams will have a limited number of cumulative attempts to defeat these bosses as well as the Lich King.
  4. The number of attempts starts small (5) but increases to, eventually, 15 once all the content is released.
  5. Heroic modes are toggled on/of on a per-boss basis, but are not available until after the Lich King has been defeated once on Normal mode.
  6. At some point after ICC is fully unlocked, the number of attempts per week will gradually increase.
  7. Also at some point after ICC is fully unlocked, an instance-wide buff that increases the raid team’s damage/healing/hit points will be introduced. This buff will also scale up over time, essentially ‘nerfing’ the instance to make it easier to defeat. This buff can be disabled.

So, basically, it’s Trial of the Crusader plus Algalon plus Sunwell with an added sprinkling of magic ‘make the casuals happy’ dust. Pardon me while I bash my head repeatedly against my desk.

Ok, moving on.

Blizzard seems to be attempting to put the brakes on raid progression in ICC, for reasons that I can only speculate upon. What cracks me up is this, which is a direct quote from their announcement:

“We believe a staggered release of the content will allow players to experience Icecrown Citadel at a sustainable, measured, and ultimately more enjoyable pace.”

Wow, really? Since when did it become Blizzard’s job to determine what sort of pace is most enjoyable for me? What’s next, timed raid instances? You have 2 hours to work on this raid instance today… really, it will be much more enjoyable for you that way. Call me paranoid, but the code already exists in the game to despawn bosses and teleport people out based on a timer. (VoA, anyone?)

On the whole, I really am discouraged by this announcement and concerned for the health of already-struggling raid guilds around the world. Long-time raiders seem to be becoming more and more disenchanted with raiding and the game in general, and while I’m not usually one to go all Chicken Little I would definitely say there has been something of a mass exodus going on. For the last year, Blizzard has made great strides toward bringing endgame content to the casual player. (Something that has not been terribly well-received by the raid guilds.) However, with ICC it seems like they’re shifting from bringing the casual players up to raid level to bringing the raid level down to them. The repercussions have yet to be felt, but I worry they will be significant.

More perspectives:



  1. “To further help raids, Varian Wrynn and Garrosh Hellscream will begin to provide assistance by inspiring the armies attacking Icecrown Citadel.”

    I’m confused as to how either of these guys is inspirational. Perhaps they taunt the opposite side?

    Attempt limiting is interesting, but time limiting (say, 2hr per, clock stopped when no one is in the instance) might have been better. That way you don’t get so screwed by accidental starts.

  2. =/ Staggering the release dates does seem to be encouraging guilds to move at a slower pace, however, it seems like limiting the attempts is an attempt at making them more efficient. Everyone to be on their A-game, etc. You’re right. It’s no Sunwell. For the final raid of an expansion cycle, you would expect it would be slightly less accessible. However, not completely inaccessible (for those that are neither casual nor hardcore). I think this is just an attempt at trying to meet that happy medium. Maybe it’s not the best idea, but, like the emblem system, it’s something that should, in theory, improve.

    • I’m all for bringing your A game to every attempt. What yanks my chain is the thought of more encounters that can be unmade by a single random disconnect eating up our limited # of attempts.

  3. […] others have already mentioned, what we have here is a self nerfing raid. Buffs to players will increase, attempts at final bosses […]

  4. Limiting the attempts: Bad idea
    Setting the pace: Another very bad idea
    Optional buff to help you along? Imo that’s the proper approach of helping the more casual guilds progress.
    Badge system: Good idea. There’s no reason for alts/new raiders to have to farm old, in most cases overraided instances if they don’t wish to do so.

    Oh how I wish there was an alternative with at least half the polish in their Dungeon PvE..

  5. While I mostly agree with your analysis of the mechanisms, don’t you think you’re over-reacting, Seri? At most, the gating mechanisms will just mean that we will not start devoting a full schedule to Icecrown until the “several weeks” have passed and it’s all open. Honestly, with 3.3 likely being released before Christmas, I think by the time my raid will get ready we are likely to have at least two wings open, which should be enough content to keep us busy.

    • They’re being intentionally vague about how long it will be in between releases, except to say ‘several weeks’ between the first four bosses and the second four. After that, they say “period of time” which, as I said, is extremely vague. I doubt it would be less than a week, however. Assuming a 2 week minimum between ‘gate’ openings, we’re looking at six weeks at best until it is fully open. I suspect it will be more like 8+.

      Anyhow, I’m not totally up in arms about gating. It’s more gating on top of limited attempts on top of a rolling self-nerf that will eventually trivialize the encounters that progression guilds will have worked hard to defeat. Part of me wonders why they don’t just put a ‘Easy/Hard’ switch on every boss… oh wait, they did. 😛

      Yes, I am probably overreacting a bit but… it’s been a really rough summer/fall and I can’t help but worry about things that might drive even more raiders away from the game. I’m having enough trouble holding onto them as it is.

  6. […] over at World of Snarkcraft appears particularly aggravated, “bashing [her] head repeatedly against [her] desk”, […]

  7. /startrant

    Why Blizz gates: Because they are behind on the release of Cataclysm and they don’t want to have to release another Sunwell. Black Temple was supposed to be the last raid, but because Wrath was delayed for so long they had to throw together Sunwell to keep us interested, and I’m glad they did.

    I just recently reactivated my account and hopped into and full cleared both Toc10/25 while still wearing full T7. Something about that is just wrong. I can’t even imagine someone in Kara gear taking down Illidan.

    Basically WoW is no longer a hardcore gamers game. ToC is basically Blizzard’s “Get free epics” raid instance before ICC. You log on whenever you get a chance, grab a bunch of alts and breeze through some bosses and within an hour you have shiny purples, new recipes and possibly even some T9.5 gear. Basically, everyone starts to look the same, the only difference is somebody elses gear has a “Heroic” label on it.

    Progression in ICC will be dead. The first guild to get it will be exactly one week after the final encounter is released, since its mandatory you use your first raid lockout to do it on normal. Progression will be determined by whoever is on the most lag free server and whoever can get all their members together to wait for the servers to come up after maintenance. Since we all will have 2+ months to farm ICC before we can reach Arthas we will all have T10.

    Not that I’m complaining. Finishing all the top level raids (excluding heroic) in 4 hours with a random pug is great. Leaves more time for me to watch Monk reruns.


  8. I disagree with you about gating. I think it’s a really nice idea. It allows for two things: First, it allows for more gear requirement progression between fights. Second, it reduces burnout in the long run, as progression is spread out further. This helps increase the pool of people able to participate in progression raiding (i.e. those with skill but little time aren’t left in the dust), and helps keep people interested in WoW until Cata.

  9. […] reaction to another blogger, because their virulence surprised me (the first time was a reaction to Seri’s post about ICC gating). So, am I too much of a brown-noser, Panglossian type, always thinking that what […]

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