The latest patch to the World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King beta - and to the related update, on the test realms for the live game - has made the current top-level raids and dungeons for the game drastically easier.
WOW Insider is reporting that the health of monsters and bosses in raids from the Burning Crusade expansion has been reduced by as much as 30 per cent.
WOW Insider's analysis of the move is that class changes coming to the game in time for the Lich King expansion - which will arrive before it, in the update known as patch 3.0.2 - have necessitated the move. Many tactics currently used by raids to get through the game's toughest encounters, such as using multiple Shadow Priests for their group mana regeneration, will no longer be viable.
It's also true that Blizzard is changing its philosophy of raid design in Wrath of the Lich King, aiming to provide a smoother difficulty progression. "Burning Crusade was way too hardcore out of the gate, at the lower raiding tiers," lead designer Jeff Kaplan told us back in May. It could be that the Burning Crusade raids are being readjusted to slot into this new curve.
WOW Insider also reckons it knows when the crucial patch 3.0.2 will be released, October 14th, just under a month before Lich King is released on November 13th. This would likely be the October 15th Wednesday-morning patch in Europe.
The rationale is that Blizzard has mentioned that the current Arena season will end on that date, and has previously said this will coincide with the new patch. We'll find out soon enough.