I remember some year ago, when Wotlk had just come out. I think dinged 80 some two months or so after the release. No that sounds like much... I can't check it out at the moment, since my account is still down but it doesn't really matter. The point is that I had just dinged 80 on my priest and epics where still way off and something you could only get in Naxxramas. My gear was pretty good, at least with those standards back then, a nice mix and match of blues from different instances, like most newly dinged 80 still have today (but quickly swap).
Me and some friends, who had been grinding alot of heroics already, were going to do HoL hc. And how I dreaded that instance. Finally getting to the last boss, Loken, we actually had to apply a tactic (!) to make it. Back then I used a mouse that was getting old and it had the bad habit of screwing (literally) around, making the screen spin wildly and completely impossible to click anything, or run anywhere for about a second.
When doing Loken we decided we had to run from his nova, because healing it through would be too difficult. Just healing his continous pulse and tank damage was tricky. Running from his nova was sweaty, since the player damage was so low back then he got to do it several times and running and healing and positioning was close to fighting a raid boss.
We had already wiped a couple of times because people had failed to move from the nova and been one shot, and now he was loading up to do it again. I had a bunch to keep track off, keeping everyone alive and now I had to turn and run in the right direction. So I start running and my mouse starts spinning around like crazy making it impossible to get anywhere. I get nova'd and die instantly. I was so angry at that mouse! fortunately neough Loken was low on hp and with a last effort and some off healing from some dps the rest of the group manages to get him down without me.
Thinking back I remember that fight to be really tough and like mentioned nearly as difficult as some easier raid bosses. Comparing that with today, when no one would ever think of moving from the nova (no one would be one shot anymore) and killing Loken just after he gets his firts nova done (instead of three or something), makes you think about how much better our characters have become without the rest of the game keeping up. I have mentioned this before, and the debate about the inflation-problem that all the epics we have in the game today bring is going hot on the forums as you read this. Apparently there are now more Epics than Rare items in the game...
I'm not saying this has to be a bad thing, looking at how tricky some instances were back in BC even with really good gear (like MGT) and even worse back in Vanilla (like Strat) tells me that there has to be a good inbetween where everyone has to put in an effort but not so much so that every instance becomes like a small raid. The difficulties I had healing some of the heroics at the beginning of wotlk still felt well balanced. You needed to know what you were doing, you couldn't go afk and every person in the party made a difference.
What could be done to get around this "inflation" problem? New, more difficult instances? Perhaps, the ICC instances are slightly more difficult than the older wotlk instances. This is also something they tried in BC. Another solution could be to increase the difficulty of the instances based on the average ilvl of the gear that characters in the group are wearing. It could turn out to be an interesting solution, but I can see problems with it too. Maybe people have really nice gear but suck at playing, they would have really difficult instances which they couldn't handle. Or maybe people would keep a special "low-ilvl" instance gear just to get an easy instance when they enter and then switch to better gear once they're inside. People are lazy. I often think people generally prefer really easy and effortless epics over having to bust their asses for them every day. And I definitely understand that.
It's just interesting to think about the huge difference between now and back then. I'd really say even more about this, but can't sit here for too long ^^ I might continue in some other post later on, if I remember to.
Do you remember any particular wotlk-encounter that you had troubles with, before all the epics came and stole the show?