So, the Icecrown Citadel raid buff has been raised to 5 to 10%. Old news at this point, I realize, but I want to know how this mechanic has affected your progress in the dungeon so far, and whether or not it’s a good idea in the long run.
Of course, the most straightforward argument that can, and vehemently has, been made against the buff is that it’s eventually going to make what is the toughest, and most grueling, dungeon in the game look like a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. OK, that’s actually pretty chaotic, but you get the idea. “Kid’s stuff.” But that’s assuming that all raids are created equal, and as we all know, that’s simply not the case.
Take my guild, Severance Pay, for instance. Before any dungeon-wide raid buffs became active, we were able to get through just about everything but Valithria Dreamwalker and the wing-end bosses with relatively few problems. Some wipes were inevitable, but we’d usually finish off everything we were comfortable with before the week was out.
What surprised me is that the 5% buff, when it became active almost a month ago, didn’t seem to have much effect at all. In fact, despite finally finishing Valithria, we started backsliding down the hill a little bit. Progression completely halted. Festergut’s a good measure of these things since he’s more or less a damage sponge, and we were tighter on the timer than we had been when we had no buff at all. In general, even our improvements proved too subtle to even matter.
I think the problem can be traced back to two issues. The first is fundamental raid dynamics and there’s not a whole lot we could do about it. People simply weren’t showing up for raids. Whether they were on Spring Break or otherwise, we always seemed to be down a few players. We progressed farther in the two weeks preceding the introduction of the Icecrown Citadel raid buff than we did in the three or so following it, and perhaps we had hoped that even with flagging attendance, that extra 5% would carry us through.
The second relates to player psychology. Quite simply, I think that the idea of having the buff around led people to think they could play a little bit looser than they normally would. They assumed their DPS would be enough, or that the extra healing would effortlessly carry them through the rough spots.
However, with the jump to 10%, I’m confident in saying we fielded the best raid we’ve had all month. Severance Pay cleared the entire first wing in under an hour. In the remaining time, we took out Blood Princes, Festergut, and Rotface, with enough left over to get a few jabs in on Professor Putricide. My personal DPS numbers seems slightly higher on average, though they didn’t hit their absolute peak.
But how does this look going forward? Ten percent is great, but what happens when it jumps to 15? To 20? Or, what is currently speculated to be the maximum, 30%. I’d love the option to choose the level of buff you want to run with, but with no discernible penalties, I imagine few people would care anyway. After all, few players seem to face the moral quandary of whether or not to leave the buff activated as it is right now. Well, there are two sides to every coin. Do you want to kill the Lich King, or do you want to make sure you have enough content to see you through to the expansion (Ruby Sanctum notwithstanding)? Despite being a proponent of challenge, I’m leaning slightly towards the former.
Because my guild’s raid performance seems to waver from week to week, an increased raid buff could see us through a potential dry spell. I’ve been a member of it since the very beginning and history shows me that, even when progression is our main goal, we have never been consistent performers. While we’re closer to the end of new content than we ever were in Burning Crusade, I do look forward to finally getting a shot at Arthas. And I know I’m not the only one. According to Heartbourne’s analysis of the matter, fewer than two thousand guilds have actually made it to Heroic mode at this point.
Clearly, we’ve got a long way to go, I just hope we don’t run out of steam before we get there. How about you, Lore Hounds? Has the Icecrown Citadel buff had a discernible effect on your raiding experience? And if so, do you consider it a good or bad one? Since the raise to 10% hit this week, you should have a bit of experience with it by now.