- All of ICC won't be open at the start, it will be phased over several months.
- You can't do hard modes/heroic until you kill Arthas in regular.
- Like KT in Naxx, and Yogg in Ulduar - you can't access Arthas until you kill the end boss in each wing.
- The hardest bosses will have limited attempts every week.
These are the big points for ICC and 3.3, though there are a few others that will be helpful for casual guilds and PUGs.
Is ICC ToC 2.0?
I'll admit I've never done the Sunwell. I never encountered Brutallis's super hits, never killed KJ, and have never had to stack heroism for trash. I only mention this, because to date only the Sunwell and ToC have been gated specifically to slow progression. Yes, you could (and should) argue that TKE and MH/BT were 'gated' because of the insane attunements you had to achieve to enter them.
Back on point though - Sunwell and ToC specifically restricted your ability to move through the bosses quickly, due to a limited number of them being available any one week. This wasn't a huge issue for Sunwell, as the content was so difficult that very few guilds were pushing against the progression wall every week. Even after the M'uru nerf, Sunwell wasn't heavily assaulted.
The opposite is true in ToC, where each week the boss was generally cleared with relitive ease. The first week Heroic became available, we defeated Anub with 5 or so attempts remaining. By the 2nd week we had our 25 attempt kill, and Insanity followed shortly thereafter. My point here is that even with the gated encounters, we were still sitting around on our hands every week.
If ICC follows this same pattern, we will blow through the first wing on Tuesday night, and be back in ToC on Thursday. By the time Arthas is released, we will have been doing the first wing for several months - and it will have lost its shine. The fact that we cannot even attempt heroic/hard modes until Arthas is downed only adds to the frustration.
Why the slowdown?
I can understand Blizzard wanting to stretch out the content for several months. I have no doubts that if Arthas was available week one (and if the bosses were ToC difficulty) we would knock him over by Thursday night. Top end guilds would be bored by January, and we'd see a bunch of suspended accounts until Cataclysm's release.
Having a forced slowdown will allow the less agressive guilds to have a chance at being near the same progression point as those that clear each wing the night it is opened - giving everyone a shot at the title of being the first to topple Arthas (timezones permitting). It also will prevent the best guilds from beating Heroic ICC in the first week of availability, thus sending cries across the realm that the content is too easy. Never mind that those cries will come from players that have yet to complete Ulduar or ToGC(in either mode).
This will hurt more
I gaurntee that if the content is as easy as TOC, ICC will be a morale killer for us. As it stands now we already have people asking if we're a PvP guild, simply because we're finished with the PvE content by Tuesday night. Keeping the raid force motivated will be a challenge, that's for sure. I suppose that will be the time we'll go back and work on the last few TOC achievments we have.
Maybe we can get a solid raid alliance for a normal raid night and do 25s.
The gated method is great from casual or bad guilds - it sucks for folks from the progression guilds. It will force us to spend more weeks doing older content. Guess it's time to pick up Dragon Age and work on my Arena team.