We certainly haven't consistently been successful in doing this, but as we reflect on how Normal difficulty has turned out, we'd rather remove mechanics from Normal difficulty entirely than leave them in but make them so non-threatening that they can be ignored entirely. The latter approach hurts clarity, because you look at an encounter and see 3 or 4 mechanics, but there may actually only be 1 or 2 that you truly need to worry about.
Removing mechanics from Normal also means that, in effect, going from Normal to Heroic now introduces some additional mechanics, just as going from Heroic to Mythic always has. That adds some additional depth to the experience of learning a boss on a higher difficulty, rather than just having the same encounter with larger numbers.
It might be better if the difficulty and complexity gap between Normal and Heroic were comparable to the gap between Heroic and Mythic, and that hasn't been the case.
It's been a while now, but when we first elaborated on the Warlords raiding structure last year, we tried to spell out the target audiences. Raiding Azeroth: Part 2 and the associated blogs go into a ton of depth if you have too much time on your hands and want to read thousands of words rambling about raid design. But the most relevant part was this:
In broad strokes, there are three distinct types of groups that participate in organized raiding:
- Friends and Family groups: These are social groups that exist for reasons besides raiding, but whose players would like to venture into raid content together. This type of group is inherently inclusive, and will not organize its roster according to specific class needs, nor is the group likely to criticize or remove players based on performance. Members of this type of group prioritize playing together.
- Raiding guilds: These are groups that have formed for the purpose of raiding. These are the majority of guilds that you’ll see recruiting in Trade chat or on realm forums. These groups will generally look for specific classes based on roster needs, and will expect a certain level of attendance or performance. Members of this type of group prioritize experiencing and learning the content.
- Hardcore raiding guilds: An extreme subset of the previous category, these are the guilds of players whose ethos drives them to be the best at games they play, and who are willing to dedicate time and energy to maximize their results. Guilds of this type will recruit and maintain a roster based primarily on performance, and will expect raiders to optimize their characters. Members of this type of group prioritize competition and success.