Nerfs – what nerfs, actually?

They’re nerfing heroic dungeons “across the board”! It’s all over the tabloids. “Across the board” being almost as popular a forum-phrase as “slap in the face”. Which makes me imagine two people sitting at a board (i.e. table) and then one of them reaching across and slapping the other in the face. Slap in the face across the board. Or, heroic dungeon nerf. Larisa is puzzled and saddened. So, they lasted only a few weeks before they caved in and made everything faceroll again. Gone are the good times and from here on we’ll always have to say “I did Stonecore pre-nerf” and be immeasurably proud of it.

Or maybe not. Let’s take a look at the actual patch notes, across, so to speak, the board.

Blackrock Caverns

Beauty now spawns with only two pups in Heroic difficulty.

Okay, we start with a nerf indeed. But a nerf to what? To CC – and not to quality, cleverness or execution of CC, but simply to the amount of CC you (need to) have in your group. Frankly, as soon as the number of applicable CC spells available equals the number of puppies engaged into the fight, the rest is mostly a long winded beating up on a big dog. Got 3 applicable CC spells available? Take out the puppies and DPS the boss, if you get somehow punted or feared into Runty, control him instead and kill one of the puppies, then finish the boss. Only 2? Control two puppies, kill the third and hope Runty doesn’t get playful before you’re done with that one. Only 1 or even none? Well, best just skip Beauty, as she’s optional and you probably don’t want to bother. So, yeah, it’s a nerf to the optimality of the optimal group composition. Arguably, it places more opportunity for clever play and strategy into players’ hands.


Foe Reaper 5000’s health has been reduced slightly. In addition, he now enrages at 40%, up from 30%.

Fight slightly shortened, difficult part of it slightly prolonged. Hardly a change at all.

While in Helix’s Nightmare during the Vanessa VanCleef encounter, Helix is now larger and a little easier to see.

Being able to see what you’re fighting is hardly a nerf.

The final rope swing while fighting Vanessa VanCleef has been removed. Players no longer need to swing off of the boat at the end of phase 3.

That’s entirely difficulty-neutral, as it doesn’t affect the encounter at all, being at a point where the encounter is actually over. Okay, I don’t know whether you still lose if you manage to all get flattened by that explosion, but as long as at least one person in the party performs the swing (not too much to expect after you did it twice previously in more peculiar situations), you still win. I agree it’s rather hurting the fun factor of the fight to remove that final swing, but it has nothing to do with difficulty at all.

The ship teleporter now activates when Ripsnarl is first engaged, rather than when he is defeated.

Convenience, not challenge.

Grim Batol

Faceless Corruptors now move 10% more slowly.

Yes, this will make the encounter easier. And by “easier” I mean less effin’ frustrating. Some ranged types might not notice, but trying to deal damage to something that moves quicker than you is not challenging, it’s a royal pain in the bum. Oh yes, of course they can be slowed down – so we do. Of course, once again, you need two slow-down-effect-appliers in your group or you’re screwed, but that aside, if your Charge takes you too far (which is more than a little likely on fast-moving targets, and following up with an Intercept only gives me one additional attack I can land), if your latency spikes for a moment, if your hamstring-equivalent-spell misses (because at least in pure theory it is imaginable that someone does a heroic while not being hit-capped because they’re gearing up or something silly), well, you’re basically screwed, as you’ll only be able to catch up to them again once they start casting. You see, using a slowing ability to win time and improve the outcome – that’s clever. Using a slowing ability to enable you to do your job at all – that’s imbalanced (bring the player, not the ranged).

Players may still use spell and abilities while afflicted by Forgemaster Throngus’s Impaling Slam.

This also will make the encounter easier, both by allowing healers to continue healing and by letting damage dealers contribute to their own saving. Basically it reduces the Impaling Slam to a “the tank is legging it, so someone else needs to be taking damage in this phase” thing. Which is fair enough. The encounter remains reasonably complex.

Valiona’s Devouring Flame damage has been reduced by 20%.

Yeah, that’s a nerf. Particularly to those situations where you’re caught between a Flame Spark Thingy, bad stuff on the ground and said Devouring Flame. There’s a lot going on in that fight and it won’t all fall apart because the dragon breathes for 20% less damage. But a nerf is a nerf.

Halls of Origination

The duration of the Flame Wardens’ Raging Inferno has been reduced by 80%.

That’s a nerf and, in my opinion, an unfortunate one. It promotes “stand in, heal through”, which is rarely a nice lesson to take away.

Anraphet’s Nemesis Strike now does 75% of weapon damage, up from 50%. In addition, the damage-over-time effect applied by this ability does 15,000 damage every 2 seconds, up from 9,000.

Certainly looks like a buff.

Earthrager Ptah’s Flame Bolt now deals more damage per second on Heroic difficulty.

“More damage” sounds like a buff, too!

Setesh seeks a portal every 25 seconds, up from 20.

Ah, nerf. By the way, with a well organised group that knows what it’s doing Setesh is far easier than I expected him to be. Slower portal spawns give more breathing room in case you happen to not have brought your prime-DPS-squad to the party.

Lost City of the Tol’vir

Lockmaw no longer tolerates fighting in his treasure room.

Exploit-fix, it seems.

Shadowfang Keep
Gotta admit, not been there yet, so won’t comment.

The Stonecore

Stonecore Earthshapers’ Dust Storm does slightly less damage.

I think we try to CC them anyway.


The warning time for Thrashing Charge has been increased by 1 second. In addition, Thrashing Charge now happens 4 times, down from 5.

I think they should have kept it at 5, but an additional second of warning is a good thing, not being caught by it is more a case of luck than of skill at the moment. I just keep moving all the time (which coincides with my goal of picking up the adds anyway).

The visual for Rock Borers spawning during the submersion phase is now different from the Thrashing Charge visual.

Needed adjustment. “Very important dust” and “mostly negligible dust” should not look so much the same. That’s not making it easier, it’s giving you the opportunity to actually interact with the encounter properly.

High Priestess Azil

She grew! She’s now 175% the size of a human, up from 125%.

Yes, things should be visible and distinguishable.

Gravity Wells should kill Devout Followers more quickly.

Yes, they should! Not because it’s omg-so-hard, but because at some point it otherwise becomes not worth the effort to mess around with them.

The cast time of Force Grip is now 1.5 seconds, up from 1.

Nerf, yes, but frankly, reaction games are only that much fun.

The size of the warning visual for Seismic Shard has been increased to more accurately reflect the area it affects.

I doubt anyone is a particularly pronounced fan of the time-honoured “the effect is larger than the visual” concept?


The ground phase lasts longer and has fewer stalactites.

Gives melee types more opportunity to participate in the fight in more meaningful ways than hiding.


He now does more melee damage.

More damage – a buff. And a needed one, I think, with all the other craziness going on the good old fashioned “punch you in the face” felt a bit missing with Ozruk.

There is now a precast visual on the ground to make it clear how far away a player must get to be clear of Shatter.

Seeing things is cool. Considering we use lots of addons that let us see things better, it’d be rather insicere to complain about it. Or is anyone here voluntarily doing Ozruk without DBM or another addon that’ll scream alerts about Ground Slams and Shatters? Didn’t think so.

The cast time of Shatter has been increased to 3 seconds, up from 2.5.

Reduction in difficulty, yes, but an arguably justified one, especially as it also lets melee do some more stuff rather than “you know what, just start running ahead ahead of time, just in case”.

Shatter damage is now reduced by armor, but has been increased by 33.3% (repeating, of course) as a result.

Tanks can survive with cooldowns, everyone else gets 1-shotted. Not really much of a change, but an added aspect.

Throne of the Tides

Commander Ulthok now does more melee damage.

More damage – not a nerf.

The damage done by Lady Naz’jatar’s Shock Blast and Naz’jar Tempest Witch Chain Lightning has been reduced.

Less damage – a nerf. Should those not be interrupted anyway?

Gilgoblin Poisoned Spear impact damage has been reduced slightly.

Nice not to be spontaneously blown up. A nerf, I guess. As there is not really any clever way I’d be aware of to counter it other than hope you don’t blow up (and yes, I sometimes pop Shield Wall before pulling the particularly nasty group), not a big deal.

Tainted Sentries Swell damage has been reduced.

Nerf. Do we count trash nerfs? Okay, a nerf is a nerf. And that little gauntlet is kinda fun.

The damage of Blight of Ozumat has been reduced by 25% per stack.

Nerf, yes. But let’s be honest, that’s not exactly the exciting or decisive part of the fight. All the interesting mechanics and events are before. When you make it to that point, all you need is not to panic and you’re golden. Far from crucial.

The Vortex Pinnacle


Desperate Speed cast by Temple Adepts has had its duration reduced significantly.

They have an ability called Desperate Speed? Cool. On our runs they spend most of their time polymorphed, feared, repentanced, hexed and subsequently interrupted, silenced, stunned and otherwise abused.


The visual effects in this encounter have been adjusted to make the wind direction easier to read.

And that’s about goddamn time! If you think trying to figure out the wind direction while that silly internet dragon obscures the view with his nearly-same-coloured internet breath that also hides those nasty little internet cyclones from your view, if you think that is the right sort of challenge, I don’t like you!

Cyclones now knock players straight up, and players hit by a cyclone cannot be hit again for a few seconds.

Nerf, because it allows you to actively recover from a mistake. Good, because it allows you to actively recover from a mistake! If those cyclones were meant to be instakill, they’d have made them instakill. Chain-screwing you in a roundabout way is, apparently, not what Blizz had in mind for that encounter. As with the previous point, this is less about difficulty but more about annoyance. I wish these two would make it into a hotfix rather than a patch.


Skyfall Stars are now summoned to help him defeat players.

Oho! An added fight mechanic!

Static Cling has had its cast time increased to 1.25 seconds, up from 1.

Uh .. does that .. actually matter…?

Grand Vizier Ertan

His health has been reduced slightly.

Well yes, but…

He now knocks away players standing too close to him when he retracts his Cyclone Shield, which now inflicts Nature damage if it touches players.

Heh .. the trick with just standing in the middle won’t work then. So, the mechanics are adjusted to make us pay attention to them. QQ about favouring ranged. Certainly not a nerf.

So, after this somewhat exhausting and very futile exercise, let’s summarise.

37 changes in total.

8 do not affect difficulty at all or negligibly little.

8 rebalance mechanics – this instead of that.

7 address annoyances and conveniences.

8 actually reduce the level of difficulty.

6 increase the level of difficulty.

So, out of 37 changes, 8 are indeed nerfs – hardly “across the board” and not one of them being severe or encounter-changing. I don’t know if there will, indeed, be flat-out nerfs to heroics, or if we’ll be left to nerf them ourselves by good old-fashioned overgearing, as Ghostcrawler says, but this was certainly not it.

It also won’t do much to reduce the time spent on a heroic run, as a lot of that time is expended on trash rather than bosses. And I think I’ll now go and play the game some rather than analysing its patch notes!

2 thoughts on “Nerfs – what nerfs, actually?

  1. theanorak

    When you look at the changes in detail it does slightly take the “OMG teh nerfs!” out of it. I shall stop whining. Well ok, I’ll whine about something else instead. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s