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Not all fights require a hard mode

Matthew Rossi

Hard modes are some of the most popular encounters in Wrath of the Lich King. They grant better loot and extra rewards like mounts and rare titles, especially for specific server firsts. However, I'm of the opinion that ever since Ulduar, we've kind of lost sight of how the hard mode encounters should work and have instead just started making everything have a hard mode.

Frankly, the Gunship encounter in ICC, while fun, shouldn't have a hard mode. It's not really even hard; it's just free iLevel 277 gear for turning on a toggle. I blame Trial of the Crusader -- and specifically, having an entire separate raid lockout for Trial of the Grand Crusader -- for this. I realize I may be on the losing side of this divide, but I really don't think every single fight needs a hard mode. Some fights, sure. The four wing bosses of ICC, absolutely. The Lich King? Heck, it could be argued that Arthas should have taken a page from Algalon's book and only had a hard mode, or maybe Sindragosa should have been a hard-mode-only fight instead of a wing boss, and you only get to fight her after the Lich King is dead in some sort of doomsday scenario where she's chained up by Arthas and breaks free to destroy Azeroth in case of his demise.

I mean, does heroic Marrowgar actually feel very heroic to anyone? In my opinion, the added fight mechanics make it harder, yes, but aren't particularly interesting or epic in scope. Leaving three drakes up on Sartharion actually felt ridiculously heroic at the time when it was cutting-edge content. It took a lot of coordination and solid play to do it back when the best gear you were able to get was Naxx-25 drops.

Festergut and Rotface on heroic just make the fight more annoying, and heroic Blood Queen is basically just a gear check. Strangely, although the same could be argued for heroic Saurfang, I really enjoy that fight and feel like we've executed well when it goes off. I'm certainly not arguing for the removal of heroic difficulty, but man, I'd like to see less of it per raid. Four or five heroic fights with one fight that's basically only a heroic fight, like Ulduar did with Algalon, and a return to the variable difficulty where fights could be tuned by making specific choices would work fine for my tastes. Progressing through the various Yogg difficulty levels last year kept my guild going back well into the beginning of our ICC cycle.

Basically, I think heroic modes should be challenges to overcome, not just a new cycle of farming. You run regular ICC for gear to run heroic ICC at this point, and I think that cheapens the whole thing a trifle too much. Since we'll see an end to guilds' running the same content on 10 and 25 in Cataclysm, maybe a general scaling back of hard modes is in order as well.

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