Raid Finder Theories, Part 2

When I first heard about the raid finder coming out in 4.3, I wrote a fairly cynical post summing up what I'd imagine this new feature to look like if it was exactly like the dungeon finder, only with more people. Since then more information about it has come to light, most importantly the fact that it will have a separate lockout on an easier difficulty setting, and I find that idea really interesting.

I still think that this feature will have a similar effect on the game as the dungeon finder in so far as it will be a smashing success in terms of numbers, because anyone can press the "queue" button and thus the number of people who have at least tried raiding in some form or another will go through the roof. However, I also believe that just like it happened to five-mans, the quality of the average raid group will plummet dramatically. We'll see what kind of long-term effect that will have on the game.

Anyway, the thing that really intrigues me is that I believe bloggers are interpreting Blizzard correctly as wanting this new raid finder to be a tool to teach people and encourage them to get into "real" raiding. If this is indeed something the developers are hoping for, I can only see them failing spectacularly.

First off, the teaching idea. Remember how at the start of Cataclysm, harder heroics were meant to be a stepping stone towards raiding? Well, it turns out that the average dungeon finder pug was totally overwhelmed by concepts such as having to use crowd control on most trash pulls and boss mechanics that could actually wipe you if you ignored them, so Blizzard had to nerf the content. In hindsight, I can even kind of understand why. Back when people formed their own groups for five-mans, it was easy to tell off whiners with lines such as "the difficulty is fine, you need to group with better players". However, if the expectation is that game mechanics will put together your party, then the developers are actually at least partly at fault whenever those groups don't succeed. It's just a shame that they seem to prefer the option of making bad teams viable to trying to actually create better groups.

Anyway, nowadays we're back to most heroics being AoE zergfests, and they teach people exactly nothing about good play. I'm pretty sure that this will be the inevitable fate of the looking for raid tool as well. Unless all bosses become more or less tank and spank, randomly formed groups consisting of people who don't want to talk to each other will fail. Players will complain about the fights being too hard for raid finder groups, they will be nerfed some more, and eventually they'll be about as instructive about normal mode boss mechanics as an AoE zerg is about using crowd control.

As for people feeling encouraged to get into "real" raiding, I don't think that this will happen either. In fact I'm pretty sure that the looking for raid functionality will be another blow to traditional raiding and decrease interest in it even further. Just wanting to see the boss, regardless of the details of the mechanics, is one of the major motivations to raid. If you can just get to see the boss event in easy LFR mode, why bother with all the extra hassle of being part of an organised raid group?

Better loot, eh? I don't think a few more ilevels will be enough to justify such a massive jump in investment for most people. I expect the whole thing to work similarly to the decline of 25-man guilds. Sure, those who are already doing it will keep going for a while, but fresh blood will become more and more rare as people are simply lacking another major incentive to make the jump to bigger groups/normal mode raiding.

Incidentally, I do wonder how exactly the looking for raid loot will work out and how it will compare to what you can get out of the new five-mans and valor points. Everyone knows that people gravitate towards wherever getting the loot is easiest, so I think that LFR and the dungeon finder being in competition with each other might become a bit of an issue.

More than anything I am curious to see how it will all work out, and I'll definitely hit that looking for raid button a few times once it comes out, just to see what it's like. However, on the whole I have to admit that I expect it to have more negative than positive effects on the game. Personally I just can't see the benefits of more people seeing the bosses outweighing the negative effects of the game gaining yet another incentive to play in crappy random groups.


  1. The only way to "create better groups" is to make your own. As long as the dungeon finder exists there will need to be a dungeon finder difficulty level and there is no place for learning in a dungeon. Hopefully they learned that this expansion and do not make the mistake again in the next one.

    I recall no being able to complete a random for at least 2 months after the game came out. The only time I ran dungeons was when I went with full guild because random people are... random. You can not ask random people to perform at any reasonable level of ability.

    I also do not expect the LFR to do any good over all. I do not have that much faith in Blizzard. They screw up every step they take so I learned to expect everything they do to be a screw up.

    However... I plan to use the LFR depending on if the groups can get stuff done. It will be a great way to keep my lesser used characters in reasonable gear without grinding heroics 7 times a week on each character.

    If anything I see heroics taking the hardest hit when the LFR comes out.

    Why would anyone do heroics when you can do LFR and get better gear?

    Time invest to return. 7 heroics a week for 2 weeks for 1 piece of current gear. 1 LFR and a little luck and get 3 or 4 pieces of gear just a tiny bit less in item level then the heroics VP gear.

    I'll take the LFR to gear me up and then the real raid to get the new level items.

    Good bye dungeon finder. My alts will never step into one again.

  2. A 25 raid has 2 tanks, 6-8 healers, the rest dps. I suspect that healer queues will be microseconds long, tank queues will be half an hour or more, and much whining will ensue.

  3. @Grumpy: The only way to "create better groups" is to make your own.

    I can't entirely agree with this. People have made good posts in the past suggesting that grouping could be improved a lot if the developers were actually willing to prioritise that. So I do think it's theoretically possible, though I agree that it won't happen to WoW any time soon.

    Why would anyone do heroics when you can do LFR and get better gear?

    Well, that's the question. It also works the other way round: Who would do LFR to wipe over and over again if they could complete a heroic instead and actually get something out of it? I foresee some balancing issues there.

    @Anonymous: I don't think it will be quite that bad. Judging by my own dungeon finder queues, healers are quite a bit more common at max level than tanks. Three to four times as common? Maybe not, so tanks might not have instant queues, but at worst I expect them to be a few minutes long.

  4. I was really quite hoping that one could use the LFR to fill up the remaining spots after already starting your own group (still kind of hoping that will be the case, same as you can put a 4th and 5th member for the 5 mans). At least then you might have some level of control over the outcome.

    I do wonder how it will end up being though. Since suddenly there's not 5 people but 25.

    I also hope that while they'll be "easier" the new raids will have the same tactics. Or people who may go from LFR to an actual guild will still have a steep learning curve if the tactics are completely different.

    Say for example that in LFR you'd never have to trap either dog on Shannox. If you enter a guild run as a tank then, you'll wipe the raid because you think you don't have to worry about traps.

    I'll probably try the LFR a few times, either on my main or an alt - just to see what it's like, but I'll admit I don't have high hopes.

  5. I don't know if that was your intention but you make the LFR sound like a great thing. Something that would improve the game for me. We get a chance to see bosses and get loot*) without a weekly fixed time commitment? Actually, that sounds great.

    Even bad groups are better then weekly fixed time commitments for me.

    Will it be enough to get me back to WoW? I doubt it.

    *) Yes, improving my character is a big source of fun for me. With e.g. Magic I love buying cards and building decks much more then playing the game itself.

    > Well, it turns out that the average dungeon
    > finder pug was totally overwhelmed by concepts
    > such as...

    ... talking to your group mates.

    Maybe they should implement a "Looking for Trade Chat" which shows player how to communicate with each other.

    And about the loot. I wonder how much loot you can obtain through the LFR. It might very well be like good old UBRS. Everyone who every tried to get the D1 chest will know that this required quite some dedication. Back then that was ok because obtaining the T1 chest required even more time. But today, with the loot shower that normal and heroic raids are, it just wouldn't work to require more time for lesser loot.

  6. Better loot, eh? I don't think a few more ilevels will be enough to justify such a massive jump in investment for most people.

    I think you hit the nail on the head. I look at gear upgrades, and if it's not a decent enough number all the way around I typically pass on it. The amount of time it takes to raid is not worth the return.

  7. When I were a young orcling, I didn't know diddly 'bout how fer ta raid. Turns out, me friends didn't neither so they were no helps. So how did I learn? Readin' BigRedKitty and watchin' his videos 'bout killin' Moroes and the Maiden and the Big Bad Woof. He talked about lotta useless hunter crap, but he also talked 'bout aggro and positioning and targeting, and he showed ya how it were done (or what could go wrong). Picked up a lot readin' Ego and Kirk What Needed A Nickname too. They all talked about "this be what ya needs ta do, and this be why."

    I don't understands why Blizz don't do somethin' similars. Tankspot videos is usually pretty good, but they assumes yer already a solid raider (and what you know tankspot exists). Blizz can put movies in the game - they can even put movies with you in them in the game. Wouldn't it be cheapers and easiers and betters fer them ta put some movies in the game showin' ya the basic moves fer yer class as a teachin' tool rather than "here's a 25 man raid ya can flail in 'til stuff dies"?

  8. @Ratshag - the folks who will watch a video and generally not the ones who will be poor performers in LFR.

    My fear is that the idiots who we are carrying in 5 mans will now expect to be carried in raids.

  9. @TyphoonAndrew - I agrees, buggers what ain't experienced raiders ain't gonna leave Azeroth, spend ten minutes on google, watch a few crappy Fraps'd guild runs, stumble onta Tankspot, and watch a twenty-minute epic, 90% of which ain't got nuthin' fer ta do with they's job and goes over they's head anywho. Call me crazy, but I's thinkin' a polished 2-minute cinematic tailored fer yer spec accessed by pushin' a in-game button just might be a better knowledge delivery system.

  10. When I see Blizzard doing something in WoW, I try to ask myself: "what game are they imitating?"

    In this case, LFR looks kind of like raid rifts in Rift. These are rifts that drop useful, if not overpowered, epic loot, and that 20 pugs can overcome. They are also quite popular.

    To make LFR really work, Blizzard should modify the mechanics to allow respawns during combat. Someone dies? They get another try, just like in battlegrounds. One might even think of LFR as PvE battlegrounds.

  11. @Saga: I do wonder how premade groups will work with LFR. I'm thinking that they will be an option, but only to do the easy mode. So you won't be able to use it as a tool to pug that last member for your regular raid.

    @Kring: That comment made me chuckle! I wasn't particularly trying to bash the idea of LFR, just describing the problems that I personally see with it. I don't find it strange that other people might find appealing what I imagine to be dreadful.

    @Ratshag: I think if Blizzard ever implemented anything like that, people would either ignore it, hit escape, or if it's unskippable, use the opportunity to take a break. You can only teach the willing.