It's not a question of >10 flasks a week -- I wouldn't say you need that at all. It is, however, a question of having every rogue and warrior come with mongoose and giants/juju, mages with wizard oil and GAEs, etc., healers and even casters chain-chugging major mana pots, etc., for even learning attempts beyond the additional "let's figure out what he does" parts. It's not the big stuff like flasks; it's the little stuff times 40, per attempt.
Some fights aren't like this at all -- you can practice and learn Gluth quite nicely with fairly minimal expenses. But when you spend a night wiping to Patchwerk or to Gothik, it's pretty brutal.
You're spot on about the little buffs being the real breaking point for a raid. That's not to downplay the need for flasks in Naxx, however. Prior to Naxx, we were using 2 Titans a week for emps. Now we're using 1 on faerlina to give us room for error and then in hopes of making use of that same flask on maexxna. We've yet to manage that, so now we're at 2. We're on the learning stage for patchwerk and that's a guaranteed 4 flasks. And as you said, countless mini buffs and chain chugging mana pots. 6 Flasks (5 on a good night) and we're at 6 bosses.
My concern is that these are the earlier bosses in Naxx and even when they approach farm status, I don't see the drop off in extreme buffing. You're going to need 4 flasks, 4 defense pots and 3-4 stoneshield / tank on patchwerk for as long as I can see. A wipe here or there and your costs are going up greatly. It's becoming quite a challenge to keep up with content while maintaining a steady buff baseline, as I see fit for most encounters. The only option I can see at this point is to keep grinding it out and hope that as you progress, you can continue to drop the older encounters and rely more on steady play.
We also have an alt loaded up with "basic" consumables -- mongoose, giants, elemental protection pots, arcane elixirs, etc -- that I keep parked in UC for those "damn, we've totally got this, let's restock consumables and kill him" moments that come when learning a new boss, after a session of wipes that drained the consumables people brought with them for personal use.
I think the only "interaction" raiders should have with non-raiders is through paying your repair bill. Preach community all you want, I think mats for potions required for certain encounters should drop in that raid zone. It makes for much more controllable system so that the designers don't have to push it to the limit(sorry). At first, I thought the hourglass sand/chromaggus system was terrible. What if we didn't get enough sand from the techs? Which, of course, has never happened, even when learning him. Can you think how bad Chromaggus would be if hourglass sand dropped of goblin guards in BB? Don't pretend it's much different now with flasks. With the droves of farmers and other raiders, dreamfoil might as well drop of goblins in BB.
Either that, or nerf potions into obscurity, or make them dirt cheap.
Eh, but they do drive a tradeskill economy, which is a good thing. Alchemy is a good profession and pretty much the only one that lets you really make a good profit just buying materials, combining them, and reselling the results, not counting other crafters with hyper-rare patterns/enchants. I'm not opposed to the idea of player-made consumables. The problem is just how far it's gone. Herbalists/alchemists who regularly brought their own potions to raid used to have an advantage and performed better as a result, which was cool. The same way engineers who pop sapper charges or have reflectors for higher resists have an advantage as a result of their profession. But now it's reached a point where it's not a nice perk but instead mandatory, such that coming to a raid without major mana pots or DPS buffs makes you a lazy slacker.
The raider/nonraider interaction needs to be both ways.
With BOE epics the non-raiders have a continuous way to upgrade their character by obtaining money. They can obtain money by either farming gold, or by farming mats that raiders need and by selling them to the raiders. They in turn use that gold to buy BOEs from said raiders.
Since MC, Blizzard has broken that raider->nonraider interaction, and has bumped up the non-raider->raider interaction. This is one of the big problems.
Widow is a good example of some of the glaring problems in Naxx as a whole. The laggier your server, the harder the fight (drastically so)... and consumables are king. Thaddius is still unnerving on this end... nothings changed.
The lag on our server has become high enough that we can't drop her until 11pm server time... however, if we use GFPPs, doing it at primetime is possible.
Yeah, I completely agree regarding the two-way street. I really don't see why some of the trash epics from later instances aren't BoE. You could sell a Necro-Knight's Garb for a fucking fortune. A small handful of BoE epics from raid zones wouldn't break game balance in the slightest, and it'd stimulate the economy.
On a somewhat related note, the fact that I probably will soon be passing on Bonescythe because I don't have the money to make the pieces until I free up time to farm is probably the most irritating I've seen in WoW in a long time.
The big thing, as others have said, is that consumables are now being considered part of the fight which everyone is using.
On previous road-block encounters, the only real consumables that was used that seemed to be required were various protection potions. GFPPs on Ragnaros, Nature potions on C'Thun, Ouro, and Huhu... As time went on, they began to be needed less and less, but they were somehwat 'required' to learn the fight, just to give healers some leeway. Consumables beyond those were just to give a margin for learning the fight. Flasking tanks or using DPS potions.
In Naxx, we hit encounters like Patchwerk and Maex, where it feels like Stonescale Potions and Flask of the Titans are assumed on every tank. Every class looks at Patchwerk and things "I'm going to spend 10-15 gold each attempt on this encounter." From a gear standpoint, Patchwerk is clearly going to be an encounter that gets easier with better gear- but I don't see it being something where we wever spend less than 10 gold an attempt.
And of course there's the 3-4 second lag spikes that our server loves that wipes us every time. Nothing like 300+ gold down the drain because of the server. My entire guild is on extreme farm mode whenever we aren't raiding, and it just isn't fun anymore. :(
My DPS consumables and repair bills cost me around 160g last week. I currently have 2g, and I have yet to refill my stocks of DPS consumables. I work, go to school, and have other obligations outside of WoW. I'm going to have to start taking days off of raiding to refill my gold supply.
I'll go one step further - not only should there be BoE epics, but some of them should be a 100% drop of that item class- ie. bracers in MC should be off a friggin boss and be a 100% drop off XYZ boss (just like in BWL), not a 5% chance (or whatever) to drop off any of the dozens of Molten Giants that everyone skips. Heck, whats the reason for non-set, non-raid-spec items being BoP? Feral druid crap in AQ40? Make that shit BoE so we can sell it to all the PvP droods.
I also agree that raiders and non raiders should have a strong interaction in the economy. Buying mats for consumables is a good way to do this but I feel that the implementation is awful.
Problems with the current system
1- Many of the best alchemy recipes are rare or require reputations from raid zones which make them inaccessable to the casual player. Your average casual alchemist probably can not even make major mana pots let alone flasks or magebloods.
2- Many materials used in the best raiding potions are also used in less useful potions. For example silversage is expensive enough that it is always cheaper to buy major health pots instead of buying mats to craft them.
3- Most casuals have absolutely no clue what items are of value to us so they dont farm them. I am sure if they knew they could make 30 gold an hour in arathi farming elemental fire or in badlands farming elemental earth that they would be all over it. Realistically, the market should be flooded with these mats but it never is. Dark runes, firewater etc there is plenty of great stuff out there but it.