The first week that SoO Flex part 3 was available, we stomped all over Malkorok within 3 pulls. This was without our main tank, with one of our best healers taking his place, and without a couple of our best DPS. Think it was a test week at uni or something.
The next week we went back with our full complement of heavy hitters, confident in our experience and with high spirits.
And we wiped on the fight for almost two hours before calling it.
What changed? Well… we brought two more people. Those two people pushed us over the threshold to four exploding swirls of doom rather than three. We tried dropping our lowest DPS, as vile as that may seem in a Flex group, but still couldn’t get it down again. It looks like the damage from the swirls doesn’t scale – just the number of them present.
Now, this might look like a bit of an edge case. We’re few enough that one extra swirl is 33% more burst damage. A bigger group might have less of a problem soaking that extra swirl. Still… it’s dispiriting rolling over a boss one week and then being completely unable to make progress the next. You’d think that someone would have thought this through.
But no. Blizzard has severe difficulty with scaling, and even more difficulty accepting that fact. Every time anyone mentions scaling it’s shot down by a blue with “we don’t like talking about scaling because the community uses it in a broader sense than we do” or the like… which basically translates (to me) as “you guys complain about scaling everywhere, so we don’t want to talk about it”.
Thing is, those scaling arguments everywhere are relevant. With Challenge Modes and Proving Grounds, the fact that some specs are utterly godawful until they’re in raid gear – a regular fixture of class balance, to the point where being weak in poor gear is even considered part of the warrior identity – is no longer just a minor concern that will be fixed by natural gear progression. Watching Fire catch nerfs in the last patch three expansions running because of their scaling isn’t a joke any more. Seeing everyone and their little sister play Frost because it’s the only mage spec that does well in challenge mode level gear and yet still manages good DPS at high end should be a red flag for a design team that goes on and on ad nauseam about wanting players to have choices.
There are other manifestations of blizzard’s trouble with math – low level PvP is rife with them, and heirlooms scale abyssmally at some points, for instance – but this rant would take forever if we went through every example in the file, as it were. For now, it’d just be nice if we weren’t punished for bringing more guildies along. That was the whole promise of Flex, after all.