The design decisions that we know about so far are all positive. They are not just adding a timer to the existing Heroics, they’re setting them up as a higher tier of Heroic dungeons, with different mechanics and everything. Speaking of which, we do seem to have long since lost the term “Heroic” to meaninglessness***, so giving us a new one, “Challenge” for this higher tier makes a hell of a lot of sense.
The very strong impression I get is that the Mists “Heroics” are tuned to be the five-man equivalent to LFR difficulty, and this is supported by the Challenge Dungeon system’s parity with the standard tier of raiding– no random grouping or porting directly to the instance [and hopefully similar difficulty]. The only real differences are the gear normalisation, and lack of gear upgrades as reward. But when you think about it, this is all necessary, not just to preserve the challenge moving forward, but to reinforce the idea that these dungeons are not designed [like most 5-mans] as a stepping stone to raiding– that they are their own endgame.
Actually, now that I think about it, these Challenge Dungeons sound like they’re going to return to us everything about 5-man content that we’ve lost in the past few years, since the Random Tool automated everything and the devs couldn’t nerf Heroics fast enough to keep the bads happy. Isn’t that something bloggers can get excited about? I’m talking about Guilds getting regular groups together, LFGing in trade chat, no “queues” for DPS who are willing to start and lead a group, and most importantly, not being forced to tolerate asshats, since the group leader has executive authority over who gets invited and who gets kicked.
I’m feeling so very optimistic right now. =)
-sigh- Two months…
* admittedly myself included a lot of the time
** meaning I can’t remember ever hearing someone whingeing about them
*** in the same way as we lost the word “Epic” years ago