The guild is progressing steadily through Ulduar. We have killed everything except Mimron, General Vezax and Yogg-Saron. We also grabbed the medium-difficulty version of Iron Council (where you kill the medium-sized vrykul Runemaster last), so that we can start people on the quest chain for Algalon.
I really like the multiple difficulty modes of fights. It allows for much greater granularity, and it allows you to slowly introduce new elements into the fight. For example, Phase 1 and 2 of the Iron Council fight are pretty much identical to the easy mode, it's just Phase 3 which is different.
As a complete aside, it's interesting how the playerbase calls that fight "The Iron Council". The real name--which is the one referenced in the game and fight voice-acting--is "The Assembly of Iron". And yet in almost every forum discussion I've seen, the players refer to the fight by the different name. Is it because "Iron Council" is shorter? Maybe more evocative? Are there other bosses where the players use a different name than the given one?
Blizzard has been steadily tweaking the early fights of Ulduar. I don't disagree with a lot of the nerfs. I think Blizzard overestimated the amount of DPS put out by the average guild. Though to be honest, there is a really big gap between the very high-end and the rest of the guilds.
Even my guild is probably averaging 500-1000 DPS lower than the edge guilds, and I've seen parses from a friend's guild where the average DPS is 1000 DPS lower than us. I think the gap is excessively large at this point, and Blizzard should probably look into things they could do to tighten things up.
Predictions Coming True
It's a really interesting experience, watching some of your negative predictions come true. On the one hand, you're happy that you made the correct call, but on the other hand, it would have been better all around if you had been wrong.
I made some predictions about Dual Spec, and I think this Guild Relations thread is solid evidence of the new expectations emerging.
Similarly, a long time ago I posted about the pressure to "do more". Sadly, my guild has decided to add an extra day to the raid schedule, going from three to four days a week, following precisely the logic laid out in that post. The idea is that the extra day will allow us to progress faster, and upping our world ranking and making us a more attractive prospective to skilled players looking for a new guild.
I can't really argue with that logic, because it's probably true, and I can make a four day schedule. But to me, guilds at our level are fairly common. However, they all seem to raid 4-5 nights a week. A guild at our level which raids 3 or less nights is rare, and what attracted me to this guild in the first place. But that of course, might be biasing me. I see a skilled guild which raids 3 nights a week. The rest of my guildmates see a skilled guild which raids 3 nights a week. We emphasize the aspect which is most important to us.