Emerald Nightmare part two

Last night my guild finished up the last three bosses in Emerald Nightmare (Normal). This week was basically a warmup for progression, which we will start next week with Heroic. I can’t claim great expertise with EN yet, but I do have some general observations to add to my earlier comments.

Fight length. The one overwhelming impression I had after finishing up last night is that most of these fights are very, very, very long. I think this is true for nearly all the EN bosses, but especially so for the last three. The fights just seemed to go on for-freaking-ever, reminding me a bit of how I usually felt in the Immerseus fight back in Siege of Orgrimmar.

This is almost certainly due to a combination of it being early in the expansion — thus most players are not at the peak of their damage powers — and the fact that these bosses have hundreds of millions (in some cases over a billion) health. I have to wonder if Blizz merely substituted the add-crazy approach of WoD with a length-crazy approach for Legion. After a certain amount of time, very long fights get challenging just because eventually people get bored or fatigued enough to start to make mistakes, so the challenge really is not the fight itself but rather one of maintaining focus. And, of course, longer fights are usually a bigger challenge to healers not only because of mana issues, but also because of the fatigue tendency for other players to stand in more bad stuff the longer the fight goes on.

Tuning. I have seen some of the usual forum-dweller complaints about EN being “a joke” or “too easy”, and some data mining indicates Blizz may be considering a combo of “class tuning adjustments” along with significantly buffing many dungeon and raid bosses in 7.1. Thus, I take this opportunity to reiterate my opinion that normal mode raids should not be weeks-long slogs for non-progression casual raid teams. Blizz itself has told us repeatedly that normal mode is supposed to be the “friends and family” mode. This does not mean it should be a stroll in the park, but it also should not take a casual team weeks of progression-type raiding to finish, and it should be tolerant of a true flex setup, rotating people in and out as their schedules permit.

When Blizz set up flex mode in 5.4 (I think that is about when they did it), it was designed to be a difficulty level between LFR and what was then Normal mode. When they made the flex concept permanent, they announced that their intent was for Normal to be the same as the new “flex” mode, and for Heroic to be the same difficulty as the old Normal mode. Thus, Normal would be the “friends and family” level, and Heroic would be the level for progression teams. In WoD, this was absolutely not the case — Normal mode required a progression setup and schedule for most casual teams, and even for many semi-casual teams. This in my opinion is one reason why many teams disintegrated about the time that Black Rock Foundry came out — they simply were not the kinds of guilds that could field solid progression teams.

Thus, it seems to me that any cries of “too easy” for EN are unfounded. We are simply seeing what I hope is a return to the original intent of Normal mode raid tiers. I really hope Blizz does not cave in to either the devs or the forum denizens who believe that raids at any level are strictly for hardcore 40-hour+ a week players.

Cost of raiding. Simply put, this is astronomical. Basic flasks, enchants, gems, talent switching tomes, and food on my server — and I suspect on many servers — are going for well upwards of a thousand gold each, with enchants and gems easily fetching 20k+ each. Even the mats go for huge sums. These numbers will come down a bit as the expansion wears on, but for now they are effectively a bar to raiding for many players, as most raid teams expect a certain amount of preparedness from each of their members. Players who went through the gold giveaway of WoD may have enough to get through at least a couple of months of this high cost, but new players really don’t have a chance.

Also, I do not expect the costs to go down significantly for many months, due to Blizz’s treatment of professions in Legion. It is a prohibitive time and skill sink for most people to learn — much less produce — the major products of their professions unless the character is a main. The mechanics of profession progression in Legion require main-level commitment to leveling and to doing dungeons (Mythic as well as Heroic) and world quests. What this means is that far fewer players than in the past will be able to produce their own raid supplies, resulting in these items remaining very high cost. Basically, if you were not lucky enough to have selected the “right” mix of professions for your main, you are going to be spending a LOT of gold just to be able to effectively raid every week, for many months to come.

The whole subject of professions in Legion is certainly a topic for an entire post (or series of posts), but I think as Legion wears on we will find that Blizz may have finally broken the profession system in WoW. It is one thing to have to work a bit to max out a profession, it is quite another to structure the process such that only a character with main-level proficiency and time commitment can achieve a max profession.

BM hunters seem to stink. I grant you that my experience raiding thus far in Legion is extremely limited, but from my worm’s-eye view it may soon be almost irresponsible to try and raid with any hunter spec except MM. This week our 28-30 member raid team ran with four hunters: one MM and three BM. Of this group, the MM hunter and one BM hunter are highly skilled raiders as well as being players that routinely squeeze every bit of damage they can from their spec. (And nope, I am not that BM hunter.) On every boss and in every trash fight, the MM hunter out-damaged the BM hunter by usually several thousand points both in DPS and in total damage, and often the difference was in excess of 10k-20k. Additionally, the MM hunter was frequently at the top of our damage charts overall.

Checking the initial raid charts from some of the third party log sites, I see that there are a few MM hunters at the top, but there are zero BM hunters. (Also zero SV hunters, but honestly I don’t consider that spec to be a true hunter.) Yes, the self-fulfilling prophecy effect enters in here — the top players perceive that MM is the best, thus none of them raid with BM, thus the top ranks only show MM, thus it becomes the defacto “raiding spec” — but I think we are seeing an imbalance similar to what we saw with SV hunters at the start of WoD. The difference is enough that selecting any hunter spec other than MM seems to deny your team a significant amount of damage power. (And no, good solid raid teams worth their salt will not kick someone just because of their spec, but there comes a point at which a conscientious player feels like they are not pulling their weight.)

This is troublesome, because Blizz has several times stated that they feel class balance is critical in Legion, mainly because of the huge investment in artifact power and progress. I think we are perilously close to the point where serious hunters who chose BM as their Legion spec will feel compelled to switch specs just to remain competitive.   This is exactly the situation Blizz said they are going to great lengths to avoid. This is a balance issue that must be addressed very soon, and yet every indication we have had from Blizz is that they have already abandoned the hunter class for the remainder of this expansion. None of the class balancing changes announced thus far for 7.1 even begin to address some of the fundamental problems with BM hunters — or any hunter spec for that matter.

I end this post with what has become a plaintive and lonely cry in the wilderness: Blizz, for crying out loud, do something to acknowledge the concerns of Legion hunters. At least give us a sign that you know we are unhappy, even if that sign is just a big Blizz middle finger and an announcement that yes, you intend to destroy the hunter class, BWAAAAAHAHA! Why do you pay attention to every other class and continue to ignore hunters? 

With that, I am off to start my weekend. You enjoy yours.

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

8 Responses to Emerald Nightmare part two

  1. demonnick says:

    I believe there is still hope. I’ve heard that Blizzard will be dropping some pretty huge changes to classes in 7.1, both in terms of buffs, nerfs, and all together new(ish) abilities.However, I’ve also heard from guildies that Blizzard has openly admitted to keeping many of these changes secret, in an attempt to keep the forum trolls from losing their shit. If this is true I am both very cautiously excited and completely terrified.

    I believe class imbalance is the result of few things:
    -Negative pressure on the forums that ultimately cause them to reverse changes before they ever go live
    -Blizzard making changes to classes without fully understanding each class
    -Blizzard giving more attention to classes that employees actually play (this was recently confirmed in an interview with former Blizzard employee Ghostcrawler. He used the constantly good state of mage as an example).

    Unfortunately I think Hunter falls into all three of these categories. Many hunter buffs that are released on pre-patch notes are instantly condoned by many players, regardless of their validity (after all, hunters are always overpowered -.-). So maybe, if what my guildies are telling me is true, this might allow Blizzard to actually balance some classes without the tantrum tactics that seem to frequent the forums. Of course there is always the possibility that the already OP classes might become even more OP as a result of no pressure from the community on the pre-patch notes. Only one way to find out *laughs nervously*…

    • Fiannor says:

      Definitely, I have seen and heard the same rumors. Honestly, from a selfish standpoint I kind of hope they really shake all classes up, since I am of the firm opinion that there is not much left to do that will be bad for BM hunters. (Famous last words…) I hope that if there are significant changes in the works, that some of them will help to address the fundamental hunter mechanics, but honestly I doubt if there will be any major hunter changes — Blizz has stubbornly presented the community with a wall of silence ever since Alpha, refusing to even admit that many of the concerns are legitimate.

  2. drewrewold says:

    Every data report I have seen has BM squarely in the middle of all the DPS specs. Saying they “stink” just isn’t the case.

  3. demonnick says:

    Ok, I’m going to defend Fiannor here. First off, even if we can assume this is a correct representation of the dps charts, ranking 16 out of 24 isn’t squarely in the middle, its actually 1 off from being in the bottom third…which means it needs a buff.

    Secondly, she said “in her extremely limited raiding experience…” BM’s seem to stink. She’s not claiming that her experience is the end all be all result, so calm down there. Also, where are these numbers from, is this just your experience? If these numbers are purely from your raiding experience that your point has no more validity that Fiannor’s, as you are both using your own experiences, which vary based on the skill of every single person in the raid.

    Aside from my points above, you should probably consider the fact that this a blog, which is based around opinion, not the forums. Fiannor is not stating facts here, he/she is simply stating their experience thus far.

    • JC Sway says:

      First, no one needs defending. Apologies if it seemed I was attacking:) My personal experience is the opposite of Fiannor’s, but as you correctly pointed out an antecedent doesn’t really mean much. And I obviously agree that a 100k discrepancy between specs is unacceptable.
      That said, there has been an echo chamber effect going on in the hunter community about how “bad” Beast Mastery is. When a spec is in the middle of the pack, it’s essentially where they would all be in an ideal situation. The specs in the middle don’t need buffs or nerfs. The extremes at both ends are the problems. I was referring to combat log reports such as:

      https://www.warcraftlogs.com/statistics/10/#difficulty=3

      • Fiannor says:

        No arguments about the “echo chamber” effect, it certainly exists. However, what is going on with BM hunters is not all about numbers, but rather the double whammy of horrible mechanics compounded by less-than-mediocre numbers. MM hunters also have pretty bad mechanics, but at least they are churning out some respectable numbers in the fights we have seen so far. (We will see what happens after the 20% Barrage nerf hits.) In fact, there is currently a large disparity between MM and BM (and even more so SV which is starting to look like a spec only a few diehards play — I would not be surprised to see next expansion roll SV hunter in as a third DH spec, one with a pet).

        So, if you are a BM hunter with a rotation that leaves you little or no control over your focus, your beasts, or even your shot selection, when you no longer bring any real raid utility to a group, when many of your personal cooldowns have been taken away or significantly nerfed, and on top of that your damage is in the lower half of all classes, and you see that at least MM has the potential for significantly better numbers, you start to question whether BM is worth it at all.

        This is what I meant by “BM stinks” — there really is nothing, other than stubborn loyalty and a love for what the class used to be, to recommend it as a spec in Legion. Certainly not a raiding spec anyway. Almost no one is coming forth to defend the spec with anything other than a sort of weak “it’s not as bad as it could be, and it’s kinda good to level with” approach. What you hear in the current “echo chamber” is a jumbled mix of all the factors I cited, individual shouts of frustration funneled into a box canyon of forums and blogs and ending up as a cacophony of unhappiness.

      • JC Sway says:

        BM is the only spec in the game that can bring BL/Heroism and a battle res. Not sure how much more raid utility one could ask for..

  4. Fiannor says:

    Yeah, interesting discussion here. I do tend to use slightly hyperbolic language, so one person’s “stink” category may be another’s “mediocre.” But what I was trying to get at is the idea that the current MM spec is looking like “the” only real possibility for conscientious raiders. There is a very real and significant gap between the two specs, even given the ranking list cited in the comment.

    Moreover, there is close to a 100k gap between the top and bottom class specs. That is very obviously class system imbalance, and it is exactly what Blizz has repeatedly said is exceptionally undesirable for Legion, given the central and all-consuming role of the artifact weapon. The hunter MM/BM imbalance is just one subset of this, but of course the one I am most concerned with.

    In fact, if you look at the parses column, you will see that the numbers of the more poorly performing specs (arcane mages being an outlier) are significantly less than for the better performing ones. This means that, at least so far — and it is early — fewer players are selecting these specs to raid with. The damage numbers are not the only reason this is happening, of course, but the longer the situation persists the larger role the bad numbers will play, both in player self-selection of raid specs and in raid leader preferences. Absent some significant meta-class balancing soon, it will be difficult to recover from this. Top tier players will perceive an advantage to certain specs, and their skills will propel the numbers for those specs even higher, contributing to greater discrepancies, etc.

    There will always be a certain degree of disparity among classes and specs in any given expansion and raid tier, but it should never be so great as to discourage players from playing a favored spec, and I think the current imbalances are at just such a tipping point.