For those of you who may have been living under a rock, or just frankly don’t really care about raiding in general this expansion, Blizzard has decided to boost the item levels of all gear within the Blackrock Foundry raid zone by 5 item levels. This puts the gear on par item level-wise with higher difficulties of Highmaul. If you need a quick reference:
|Highmaul difficulty & ilvl||Blackrock Foundry Difficulty & ILVL|
|LFR – 640||LFR – 655, 660 for “LFR Set” pieces|
|Normal – 655||Normal – 670 (all)|
|Heroic – 670||Heroic – 685 (all)|
|Mythic – 685||Mythic – 700 (all)|
Obviously add 6 item levels for what your warforged pieces out of BRF will have when you go to the armory. Despite some of the stupid comments I’ve read on MMO-C, Blizzard Watch, and the forums, the fact remains that this change was needed.
My raid group this tier consists of myself and a few friends who honestly don’t have the time to raid with a guild on a set schedule for 9+ hours a week. We’ve also unfortunately left our previous guild due to a raid team merger for mythics in Warlords that simply wasn’t working out for all parties involved, so we’ve opted instead to stick to raiding normal mode. Highmaul as an introduction raid for the expansion wasn’t too terribly overcomplicated with mechanics aside from Ko’ragh and Imperator Mar’gok — we started raiding in the ogre city nearly a month after the zone launched and managed to get 6/7N our first time in there, with a group comprised of half pugged raiders. Heroic modes in general don’t change mechanics at all, therefore the only real “challenge” is that things hit harder and that mechanic that might not have outright killed you on normal WILL one-shot you on heroic difficulty.
Much like Mogu’shan Vaults, Heart of Fear, and Terrace of Endless Spring during tier 14, Blizzard decided to delay the openings of those raid zones by a few weeks to get people’s feet wet and to make the previous “unlocked raid” viable. Where they fell short during Mists was unlocking HoF and ToES (both raids which dropped not only the actual tier sets, but also had higher item level loot in general) far, far too soon and almost completely made doing normal-mode MSV absolutely pointless.
Fast forward to Warlords, and you have almost a similar issue arising before this change was implemented. BRF’s opening was delayed by Blizzard for TWO MONTHS. That alone gave people and guilds in general two months to farm gear out of Heroic Highmaul (670) and go into Normal BRF (665 at launch) completely outgearing it as a whole. Yes, mechanics on certain fights (BLAST FURNACE, arguably Kromogh and Iron Maidens) can’t be overpowered by gear alone, but for these people who went into normal mode in full (or near it) heroic+ gear out of Highmaul? Yeah, you’re going to have a hell of an easier time beating fights tuned around 660+ than someone who is coming out of normal HM.
With how powerful the normal mode and higher tier sets bonuses are this tier for many specs, it’s easy to see why a heroic guild would be farming and replacing 670 pieces for 665 tier. And speaking from the point of view of someone who has only cleared normal mode Highmaul and is sitting at 3/7 heroic, it’s disheartening to do some of these BRF fights for gear that might only be slightly better optimized than what I already had.
TL;DR: Good change is good, if it helps get more people motivated to trying normal BRF without completely negating Highmaul, fantastic. It also gives people a reason to try higher difficulties in Highmaul as “farm” content when they hit a brick wall in BRF as well.