My selfish hopes for Flex Raiding, Raid Finder

Squido told me about Flex Raiding before I had read about it myself. He seemed excited about it.

I wasn’t so sure. My first thought was this:

Oh great. Now I’ll have three raids to run every week on just one character… to spread my bonus rolls around to, to make decisions on, etc. Awesome. (Sarcasm implied) (Yes, Mushan is a hunter and he thinks to himself in green-colored font: stayin’ class-y).

Additionally, the whole “flex raiding is great when you don’t have enough people to fill a 25″ thing doesn’t do much for me. Usually, the problem our guild has is that, too often, not enough people show up to even fill a 10-person team. Last night, for instance, we 9-manned the first four bosses in ToT because the replacement healer that was apparently confirmed ahead of time didn’t log in at all, and there were no other options to even pick up a body. So from that nit-picky standpoint, this solves no problems for me.

The other side of the issue, the ‘three raids per week’ concept, was another irritant for me. More busywork*. More shit to do if I want to take all of the opportunities within my grasp / within my community to be as geared and ready as possible when it comes time to raid with my team.

*I’m considering anything that isn’t either new lore, fun adventuring, or progression raiding to be busywork today – such is my current mood.

Thus were my initial thoughts.

Since then, I’ve read more about flex raids; additionally, more information, some of it speculative or tentative, has come out. And I listened to last weekend’s CTR interview with Preach – a fascinating interview, by the way – in which they discussed flex, LFR, and where they think Blizzard needs to take these concepts in the future.

And here’s an interesting quote from Ghostcrawler:

One item that hasn’t been mentioned, at least to my knowledge, is whether ilvl upgrades will be going away again in 5.4. I have sort of been assuming that they will be, and will play my VP-managing game according to that premise. However, if by some chance the upgrade NPCs remain plying their trade in 5.4, the game changes a little bit.

In that case – depending, of course, on itemization and socketing for the new gear – flex gear, able to be upgraded under current rules, would be highly sought after. 544 is no joke to a normal-mode raider, after all, at this point in the game.

At any rate, it looks like Blizzard is not working terribly hard to bring LFR any closer to its original premise of “it’s for non-raiders to see the raid content” and any further from what it is now: raiders use it to fill holes in their gear sets or to initially gear up, or to get legendary quest items, and LFR is still too hard for non-raiders and too easy and irritating for raiders.

I could start a rant here. I’m trying not to; I’m trying to stay on track.

There needs to be a bigger separation.

I like the idea of flex raiding, I guess. It forces people to put teams together to run a raid built explicitly for that raid team’s size. Its gear is almost 20 ilvls lower than normal mode. Got it.

But I’d like to see LFR become largely irrelevant for normal mode raiders. And to accomplish in-game goals such as mine, that’s not the way it is right now.

Case in point: I finally finished collecting Secrets of the Empire a few weeks ago. I’m now collecting Titan Runestones. Where can I get those? Well, they have the chance to drop off the bosses in parts 3 and 4 of ToT. Bosses that, for various reasons, my team is not killing yet. Thus, my personal progression – my personal goal, of questing through the Legendary quest line for better gear – has left me no options other than to a) run ToT LFR for those quest items, week after week, or b) choose not to do so, stalling my progress and possibly choosing to thereby not finish the questline at all, since the likelihood that I will be killing those bosses with much regularity is marginal at best in normal mode.

It’s a harsh choice. After all, I’ve never had a legendary. And I’d love to finish legendary progress at least one time before my time in this game is over. So this is an in-game goal, combined with a result that will probably help me contribute better to my team. And how do I accomplish this? The same way I’ve accomplished major portions of it up to this point: I slug out a few LFRs every week. Content I grossly over-gear at this point. Content that is frustrating because it’s for ‘everyone,’ and therefore much time is wasted in the process of succeeding in picking off those bosses for possible pieces of the puzzle.

With 5.4 and flex raiding, the importance of LFR may diminish for me with the hunter. Judging by how long it will take for it to come to live servers, I will likely be entirely covered in gear that is higher level than the gear from SoO LFR, thanks to Thunderforged normal gear and VP ilvl upgrades. In fact, I will be very close to the flex level. So at least I may be able to skip SoO LFR, unless… Tier gear. Oh yeah, and weapons with crazy, OP weapon procs. Yeah. Yeah…

(deep breath, go get a drink, Mushan.)

I really, REALLY liked what Preach (and the CTR guys) had to say about how the concept of LFR gets it wrong. I’m going to mix my feelings with their points, because they are melded together in my head now and because I don’t feel like writing up a transcript of the podcast in order to quote them correctly. Definitely listen to the show if you haven’t already – here’s the link again.

Anyway…

If the point of it is for everyone in the game to be able to see the content, why is it able to be completed by the fifth week after the new raid opens? Why is it built to be such a challenge that groups will fail if they don’t have raiders in the group? What happened to the idea that you finally kill the final boss after a long, hard struggle, which gives it an epic feeling of total awesome?

From my experience – and I talked about this before Throne of Thunder had even dropped, in my post Discovery, together: the number 1 reason “the new Ulduar” will differ from the old Ulduar – the answer to the last question is that, unless you’re at the front of the pack, it’s likely gone.

Preach talked about how the Lei Shen heroic fight is one of the greatest boss encounters Blizzard has ever made. I’ve only seen it once it on normal, but I’ve seen it several times in LFR.

Meh.

The soul of raiding is absent, by and large, from LFR. It’s you and 24 other tools (and I use that word to mean ‘things you use to get a job done,’ not derogatorily) smashing and bumbling your way to VP/gear/quest items.

And for those of us who find ourselves there week after week, doing boringly-insane DPS and dealing with tanks who queue for the first time ever for Pinnacle of Storms with an ilvl of 484 in full PvP gear with 426k health unbuffed, gemmed for PvP power/resilience (when there are gems), missing most enchants and all glyphs, who say “first time here…” (for example), it can be numbing if you let it get to you / if you do it often enough.

It’s badly designed. There needs to be virtually no incentive for raiders to do LFR – baked right into the game. It needs to be a true faceroll, with no trollable mechanics (like the healer today who yelled repeatedly at people to stack on the Gastropods and then lol’d at all the people who died. Asshole.). It needs to not have any gear we normal-mode raiders could possibly want. And I really like the suggestion from the podcast, that the introduction of LFR be delayed much longer than it is now, possibly even until the following patch (like 5.3 or 5.5).

This suggestion, the delay of 8-12 weeks or so, seems to me to be the best solution. It takes LFR off the table for Day One raiders. It takes care of the “I have to do this three times every week” mentality. It gives LFR-only raiders something to look forward to, while still giving them a chance to gear up. And it narrows the focus of raiders a bit, particularly with flex raiding coming.

I know that this probably reads as something of a haphazard, tangent-filled rant, as well as the fact that it is certainly not a well-thought-out, step-by-step solution/proposal. Apologies for that.

One more thought, before I wrap this up and try to move on to some other topic for some other post…

There may be other guilds like mine, where the only days you see many people online are on raid nights. In my guild, that’s Saturday and Sunday.

We tried to do LFR nights for a while during the week, but after a few weeks (each tier), attendance participation petered out. What I’m curious about is whether flex raiding is something my guild (and others like it) will be able to do as a team, without sacrificing raid time. My guess is that it will not be.

As such, I’m likely going to try to latch onto and pug with a guild that does regular flex raid runs earlier in the week. Because I’ll probably need gear from SoOflex, and it will give me something productive to do during the week. If this is possible, I may be able to avoid LFR in its entirety in 5.4 with Mushan, which would be a very, very good thing.

We’ll see what happens… :)

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


4 Comments on “My selfish hopes for Flex Raiding, Raid Finder”

  1. Quelys says:

    I like your points about LFR (that agree with CTR discussion), that it would be good with the addition of flex to just make lfr pushed back a few weeks, or even a tier. From a heroic raiding perspective, I think this is a GREAT idea.
    ALTHOUGH, you can easily see why Bliz will never do this – they want people actually playing the game… and if they cut off that casual adventure for people (who, either with terrible play or harsh time schedules) who will never raid normals, that wouldnt be a good business plan. It is unfortunately the kind of catered game we play in, which is inclusive to a fault… I do love this topic, and the casual/hardcore debate that seems to consume it.

  2. “The other side of the issue, the ‘three raids per week’ concept, was another irritant for me. More busywork*. More shit to do if I want to take all of the opportunities within my grasp / within my community to be as geared and ready as possible when it comes time to raid with my team.”

    Here’s a question that I’ve often wanted to ask a raider-type: when DO you just say “this is too much?” Ever? Does there ever come a point where sanity/time/whatever becomes more important than completing something that could help the team because you can?

    I sometimes wonder, because Blizzard could, in theory, keep doing this sort of thing forever. They could just keep spinning out options as long as the game exists. Eventually the raider-type has to run out of time or steam! Is that the moment of no return, or is there a point where a raider could, conceivably, stop earlier and still not flat out fail the team?

    “At any rate, it looks like Blizzard is not working terribly hard to bring LFR any closer to its original premise of “it’s for non-raiders to see the raid content” and any further from what it is now: raiders use it to fill holes in their gear sets or to initially gear up, or to get legendary quest items, and LFR is still too hard for non-raiders and too easy and irritating for raiders.”

    I’m obviously coming at this from a different perspective, so I feel like you’re playing down the other aspects of LFR. Here’s what I see: Blizzard isn’t working too terribly hard to bring LFR any closer, because it’s already pretty damn close. Raiders may use it to fill holes or to initially gear up, sure, but it can serve that purpose AND others at the same time.

    I’m a casual player and I actually get to see the content (except for the last heroic dude, but whatever) if I can survive the sea of OMGWTF. I, a casual player, can also gear up to a point where soloing difficult things out in the world or soloing old school raids is doable on my own. This is hugely important for me as I may not be playing with anyone in the guild online at, say, six a.m. in the morning – which is 3 a.m. server time. LFR is hugely important to me as a gear resource because I will NOT attempt regular raiding again. You’ve had great experiences with raiding – but consider folks like me. I’ve tried twice, but each time, it’s turned out to be a hellish experience that ended in disaster for one reason or another. I’d rather gear up with the 24 other idiots and maintain my friendships with my guildmates.

    “There needs to be a bigger separation.”

    OGOD help those who want to start raiding if there is. So the second time I tried to start raiding with my guild, we read up, we did all the enchanting/gemming/etc. and whatnot. We also had a majority heroic gear, with some rep grinded gear (since we got tired of waiting for everybody to finish rep grinding all the things). We. Got. Murdered.

    I’d say we were average skill in general with a couple stellar players, and obviously, we had a learning curve to overcome. It took us 28 tries to beat the Stone Guard, and one of the ways we managed to do so was by gearing up in LFR (and/or getting lucky). If there is a greater gap (say lower item level in LFR, or even none at all) – what the heck would we have done?

    28 tries may seem reasonable. Maybe it is for a regular raider. But we were trying to hit that “casual raider” concept, and each pull/fight/wipe/rebuff took up so much time, we could get in maybe two or three tries a night. (Four if we wiped real fast.) We raided once a week. Those 28 tries felt like forever.

    “Case in point: I finally finished collecting Secrets of the Empire a few weeks ago. I’m now collecting Titan Runestones. Where can I get those? Well, they have the chance to drop off the bosses in parts 3 and 4 of ToT. Bosses that, for various reasons, my team is not killing yet. Thus, my personal progression – my personal goal, of questing through the Legendary quest line for better gear – has left me no options other than to a) run ToT LFR for those quest items, week after week, or b) choose not to do so, stalling my progress and possibly choosing to thereby not finish the questline at all, since the likelihood that I will be killing those bosses with much regularity is marginal at best in normal mode.

    It’s a harsh choice. After all, I’ve never had a legendary. And I’d love to finish legendary progress at least one time before my time in this game is over. So this is an in-game goal, combined with a result that will probably help me contribute better to my team. And how do I accomplish this? The same way I’ve accomplished major portions of it up to this point: I slug out a few LFRs every week.”

    I’m honestly confused here. So you want to finish a legendary quest, ok, got that. You aren’t currently killing the bosses that drop the required items, and probably won’t be for awhile. Ok, can definitely understand that one. LFR drops said items. Ok.

    How is that BAD?

    “Content I grossly over-gear at this point. Content that is frustrating because it’s for ‘everyone,’ and therefore much time is wasted in the process of succeeding in picking off those bosses for possible pieces of the puzzle.”

    This makes it seem like the option is bad because it’s frustrating in a way you can’t overcome. But without it, you’d have no option for the legendary quest at all, which seems WORSE.

    p.s., we love you for overgearing LFR. Seriously. You clearly aren’t happy about it, but as one of the souls in the middle – I neither suck terribly nor am superamazing – folks like you help balance out the endless supply of fresh derp in LFR. I can’t do that.

    “If the point of it is for everyone in the game to be able to see the content, why is it able to be completed by the fifth week after the new raid opens? Why is it built to be such a challenge that groups will fail if they don’t have raiders in the group? What happened to the idea that you finally kill the final boss after a long, hard struggle, which gives it an epic feeling of total awesome?”

    Is being completed by the fifth week bad somehow?

    It’s a challenge that will cause LFRs to fail because most people (and probably Blizzard too) read “LFR” and think, “raiding.” So they leave in more mechanics/health/whatever.

    Unfortunately, they’re wrong.

    LFR isn’t anything LIKE raiding, as you point out. LFR is actually more like LFD because there isn’t a team, there’s a randomly generated pool of players that you have no control over and no rapport with. So when you get a situation like Lei Shen (EVERYBODY drops before his room), the results of that misconception become apparent, and LFR gets nerfed. The process repeats itself, though, because people see LFR and STILL think “easy raiding.”

    I say that we need to abandon the notion of the “long awaited success” in the context of LFR. It doesn’t work given the fragile connections between strangers. The long hard struggle just pisses all the strangers off, and they inevitably leave the party instead of hanging around, because why SHOULD they stay? They don’t know anybody. It’s not like they can get the same group again next time around, even if they wanted.

    I confess to having done this myself. The last time, a tank grabbed the two/three (can’t remember offhand) packs of trash bats right before Tortos, the ones that silence, all at once. We wiped, tank drops. Next tank comes in, grabs one pack, we survive. Lookin’ good, right? Well, Tank grabs the second group and runs straight to the boss. That move makes sense if you’re a new tank who’s been doing heroics, because that’s what you do in heroics. But we die, so we have to get that whole “don’t do that here, doesn’t work that way” thing straightened out. We get the last trash down. We start the fight with Tortos. Said (off)tank asks for repair in the middle of it, but can’t seem to master getting the bats and dragging them close to the boss THIS time. (Possibly because we said not to with the trash? I don’t know.) There was a fair amount of snark from players. We wiped this way a couple times before I just said “I’m done,” because I just couldn’t handle the sass in addition to the incompetence. Even if I had stayed, there wouldn’t have been an epic feeling once Tortos went down. I probably just would’ve been depressed over my repair bill.

    “The soul of raiding is absent, by and large, from LFR. It’s you and 24 other tools (and I use that word to mean ‘things you use to get a job done,’ not derogatorily) smashing and bumbling your way to VP/gear/quest items.”

    Yep. I say we change the name, not the game.

    “And for those of us who find ourselves there week after week, doing boringly-insane DPS and dealing with tanks who queue for the first time ever for Pinnacle of Storms with an ilvl of 484 in full PvP gear with 426k health unbuffed, gemmed for PvP power/resilience (when there are gems), missing most enchants and all glyphs, who say “first time here…” (for example), it can be numbing if you let it get to you / if you do it often enough.”

    Again, I ask: when do raider-types CHOOSE to stop? When does “fun and enjoyment” balance out “contribution to the team” …?

    The other thing is, that tank thinks he/she is pretty badass. And in the world he/she comes from, he/she probably is. (484 item level is not that shabby.) So when is that tank going to learn if not now?

    LFR is, by its very nature, a pool of ALL skill levels, ranging from idiot on up to raiders like you. This is GOOD. Mixing the levels of players is NECESSARY. Some people will see that others are doing better DPS and move up. Some won’t care. Some raiders will maintain eternal frustration that noobs arrive in a never-ending stream, some will accept that stupidity is forever (beating out diamonds). People of all levels can encounter someone who doesn’t normally “play” in the same skill sphere. I made friends with a normal raider healer not too long ago in a Pinnacle of Storms LFR. I wound up going on a run of normal Terrace of Endless Spring with his team, and I ACTUALLY HAD FUN. I think it’s one of two times normal mode raiding hasn’t been a cesspool of misery for me. It’s one of the rare experiences I have in my background that helps me understand why people LIKE normal raiding.

    I would never have met him, never tried Terrace on normal mode, without this mix of players in LFR. So while everybody complains that LFR is killing normal, I think there’s a trickle in the other direction too. I can’t join his team though they ask, because they raid too late for me, and frankly, I’m still scared sheeyitless of HoF/ToT thanks to the rest of my crappy normal raiding experience. But surely, there’s someone out there who winds up in a normal group because of LFR. For that matter, surely, there’s someone out there who decides “I can do better than LFR.”

    One thing that is hard for me to deal with in this post is how it seems like you’re so hard put to endure a single LFR! You’re bored, doing insanely boring half-assed DPS and outclassing half the players in LFR anyway, while simultaneously thinking that it needs to be EASIER because people suck. (See next section, below.) Wouldn’t that make it MORE boring for you? Let’s face it – if LFR ever offers ANYTHING POTENTIALLY USEFUL to you other than gold, there’s a very good chance you’ll run it. p.s., ever thought about chatting with folks, maybe? People actually do respond!

    “It’s badly designed. There needs to be virtually no incentive for raiders to do LFR – baked right into the game. It needs to be a true faceroll, with no trollable mechanics (like the healer today who yelled repeatedly at people to stack on the Gastropods and then lol’d at all the people who died. Asshole.). It needs to not have any gear we normal-mode raiders could possibly want. And I really like the suggestion from the podcast, that the introduction of LFR be delayed much longer than it is now, possibly even until the following patch (like 5.3 or 5.5).”

    This is probably an indication of my horrible, cynical, withered soul – but that troll, in a sense, was freaking brilliant. Pulling bosses early and locking people out is old hat now. Did you vote to kick him? If he pisses off enough people, that function actually works, believe it or not. Much better than LFD, at least.

    Frankly, the simple existence of bosses is a trollable “mechanic” that can easily cause death to the group. If the element of risk exists, there’s going to be someone who will figure out how to manipulate that for the lolz.

    Otherwise, I again ask – how the heck will people start normal raiding if heroic gear is like wearing paper and rep grinds take forever? They’re not just going to waltz into Mogu’shan Vaults and magically become normal raiders.

    “This suggestion, the delay of 8-12 weeks or so, seems to me to be the best solution. It takes LFR off the table for Day One raiders. It takes care of the “I have to do this three times every week” mentality.”

    I fear that it only takes care of these things temporarily. What happens when it does come out? Will you start doing LFR then?

    “It gives LFR-only raiders something to look forward to, while still giving them a chance to gear up”

    As far as LFR-only types looking forward to something, they’ve been looking forward to the somethings since they were announced/datamined/whatever, which is likely when the raider-type first heard of the somethings too. This makes it sound like it’s about preserving the raider’s prerogative, not giving LFR-raiders something to look forward to.

    • Mushan says:

      Hi, Prinnie. Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

      Let me preface this by saying that, to one of your points, the “middle” is a huge place. I consider myself to be somewhere in the middle. I am not a heroic raider. Our team is a ‘roughly half a raid completed per tier’ team. We struggle almost weekly to fill out our team and kill bosses. So I apologize if I came across as elitist. I am certainly not a great player.

      To address some of your other thoughts..

      “Does there ever come a point where sanity/time/whatever becomes more important than completing something that could help the team because you can?”

      Yes, and that time may be sooner than later – the time to say, ‘screw it, I’m going with what I have.’

      “28 tries may be reasonable…”

      It took my team almost 40 attempts over two weeks to kill Stone Guard the first time. It was awful – I feel your pain. Like I said, we are absolutely not elite, by any stretch of the imagination.

      “…and one of the ways we managed to do so was by gearing up in LFR…”

      Same here. My hope is that, in the future, flex raiding will eliminate this element from my main-gearing life.

      (skipping down a few…)

      “One thing that is hard for me to deal with in this post is how it seems like you’re so hard put to endure a single LFR!”

      My goodness… I have run a ridiculous, insane amount of LFRs. The LFR queue timer is tattooed on my brain at this point.

      “You’re bored, doing insanely boring half-assed DPS and outclassing half the players in LFR anyway, while simultaneously thinking that it needs to be EASIER because people suck. (See next section, below.) Wouldn’t that make it MORE boring for you?”

      Yes, it would be, but then again I wouldn’t be in a raider-irrelevant LFR. My hunter never sets foot in the T14 LFRs any more, because there is no gear for me there. As I said, my hope is that flex raiding will pull me out of LFR for the most part. A further separation between LFR and normal, like the ones I suggested, would entirely remove any reasons I might normally have for going into one.

      “Frankly, the simple existence of bosses is a trollable “mechanic”…”

      A “mechanic” that can be remedied by having the bosses inactive / un-pullable until there are at least 20 people in the encounter space.

      ” “This suggestion, the delay of 8-12 weeks or so, seems to me to be the best solution. It takes LFR off the table for Day One raiders. It takes care of the “I have to do this three times every week” mentality.”
      I fear that it only takes care of these things temporarily. What happens when it does come out? Will you start doing LFR then?”

      No. I will be wearing Valor gear, probably some normal raid gear, and flex raiding gear. LFR would be irrelevant by that point. Flex raiding would be my LFR chance at gear, and so LFR would be out of the picture.

      “As far as LFR-only types looking forward to something, they’ve been looking forward to the somethings since they were announced/datamined/whatever…”

      Fair enough, I can’t argue with that.

      This was a difficult post for me to publish. It was difficult to press that button because I don’t like certain things about it: 1) I feel that it comes off as a bit elitist, or at least, down on people for whom LFR is their endgame; 2) it takes a controversial ‘side’ on a hot-button issue, and I am not terribly comfortable with being on the more ‘exclusive side’ of an argument; 3) it’s tangential and not terribly well organized as a position piece.

      (Where I really side with you is when considering my alts. I recently geared up a resto druid through LFR – in just a few weeks, she has gone from sitting in Klaxxi area quest-level gear to being ready to fill in in ToT if necessary. That’s a great thing, and I’ve certainly made use of that. Of course, that all happened many, many months after the release of T14 and many weeks after the release of ToT LFR part 4. So a delay wouldn’t have affected that.)

      That being said, the post reflects how I feel with regard to my main toon’s position in the game. I hope that my responses to some of your questions / comments clarified some things. If they didn’t, I’m not surprised (I’m not the best at articulating personal opinions while showing that I am sensitive to other positions, so if that’s the case, it wouldn’t be the first time that I failed in that regard).

      Prinnie, thanks again for your awesome comments. I appreciate that you took so much time to present counter-arguments to what I had to say.

  3. […] Mushan, Etc.: My selfish hopes for Flex Raiding, Raid Finder […]


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