Queueing for Castle Nathria

With Classic currently being filled with doom and gloom for me, I decided to try and extract some more positive value out of my WoW subscription by playing a bit of retail again, after the husband and I pretty much dropped it like a hot potato when SWTOR's latest expansion came out. Specifically, I decided to follow up on a long-time plan I've had to finally do some Shadowlands LFR - with so much of the expansion being focused on the events in raids, surely it was worth seeing them at least once? Plus this sort of touristy exploration is exactly what LFR was made for, right?

I queued up for what I thought was the first wing of Castle Nathria and waited. I knew that there was going to be less interest in the older raids at this point in the expansion, but I still tend to think of WoW as this game with millions of players where no queue lasts longer than a few minutes anyway.

After spending over an hour in the queue and watching the number of queued players only go down during that time (mostly it was dps that was missing), I gave up. To be fair, this was during day time on a weekday (I had the day off), so I guess I shouldn't have been that surprised, but as I said...

I put myself back in the queue on Saturday while tending my mission table, and was pleasantly surprised to get a pop as dps within only a few minutes this time. The last time I set foot into LFR was during Mists of Pandaria, and after re-reading that old post, my experience with the first wing of Castle Nathria was pretty similar. There wasn't a lot of talk but there was a little, and all of it was good-natured and friendly. One of the tanks dropped group the moment we zoned in, but when the remaining tank asked whether anyone could respec for Huntsman Altimor, someone piped up quickly with the caveat that they'd never done it before. They got a quick rundown of what to do and we were able to progress easily enough from there.

It's worth noting here that I myself went into this mostly blind. I'm not a fan of expecting people to watch guides before stepping into the lowest difficulty of group content, and I don't have any addons installed on retail, but the game itself actually gives a decent amount of sound and visual queues these days anyway. It was generally pretty obvious when I was supposed to run away from the group or avoid standing in something.

I did read the in-game dungeon journal for the first three bosses, just to then discover that the way they are split up for LFR doesn't match the order they are listed in there, so that I was effectively only prepared for the first boss, but it didn't seem to matter anyway. On Lady Inerva, the last boss of the wing, there seemed to be a lot going on with four red bars on the side of the screen that were presumably supposed to indicate some sort of mechanic, but we just stood in the same place and punched her for a few minutes and that was that.

In fact, the deadliest thing in that entire wing was a tunnel with rats that we AoEd down, and where I suddenly found myself with thirty stacks of a disease causing a ticking DoT. I stopped to spam heals on myself as nobody seemed to be cleansing anything, and watched a rogue succumb to the same problem next to me while everybody else moved on. I took pity on them and revived them so we could both catch up, even if nobody else seemed to care.

Since that first wing had gone quite well overall and the pop had been quick, I decided to queue for the second wing as soon as I got out, but I had less luck with that. I could soon tell that this one was going to take a while to get going, so I started fishing in the meantime and got my monk's Legion fishing skill from 1 to 99 (though to be fair, a lot of those skill-ups came from squids). After about half an hour we seemed to have everything lined up except for one more healer, and I kept wondering why it didn't just change me to healer since I had queued up as both. Another ten minutes later it finally did so and the queue popped.

I was a little confused and wondered for a second whether I had queued for the wrong thing when I found myself back at the start of the raid, listening to the NPC's intro chatter for a second time, but apparently the raid finder wings for Castle Nathria are just set up in a somewhat odd way. My understanding is that Shriekwing is technically the first boss of the raid, but in both the first and second wings, her room is empty and you bypass it to go to a different part of the castle instead. At least I wasn't the only one who found it confusing that the NPCs kept opening gates to different areas that we didn't actually need to go to. Fortunately the more experienced members of the raid frantically pinged the mini map to indicate that we needed to go in the opposite direction to reach the next boss of the LFR wing.

Wing two ended up being somewhat more challenging than wing one, with the second half of Artificer Xy'mox being a veritable bloodbath. I died once myself but received a combat res from a kind druid. Council of Blood was even worse, and I got a bit annoyed because while I had read the instructions about the dance mechanic, I couldn't see any indication of where my dancing spot was supposed to be, so I took lots of damage for doing the dancing phase wrong every time and died again. But hey, the bosses died and enough raiders survived to see us through to the end, so all was good.

Incidentally, the tank was the same one I'd had in wing one, and again his supposed tanking partner had dropped group the moment we zoned in. He ended up solo-tanking the first two fights, and on Council, where he said that a second tank was needed, a dps stepped up again. They said that they didn't know what do, to which the first tank replied with something like "First time for me too, I just watched a two minute YouTube guide", which I found quite amusing.

I re-entered the queue, this time for wing three, and got a pop pretty quickly this time, but was then dismayed to find that two of the three bosses were already dead. I wondered whether this meant that the group was having trouble with Stone Legion Generals, but we killed them easily enough. However, I now had to queue for wing three again, which made me long for the checkbox in SWTOR's group finder that lets you opt in or out of joining partially completed runs.

This time I had to wait over an hour for the queue to pop again, time I spent writing most of this post and doing some more fishing, this time in Shadowlands itself. When the group was finally assembled, we were in and out of the raid pretty quickly and easily again (though on Shriekwing there was a lot of blood on the floor, which probably means that we did things wrong). I stayed for Stone Legion Generals even though I wasn't able to get loot from them again, because just dropping out would've seemed rude to me.

I was glad to queue one final time for the last boss, and was hopeful that this one wouldn't take as long to pop as it showed an almost full group immediately, but then we still had to wait half an hour for a second tank, who then promptly followed the by-now tradition to quit the moment we zoned in, just like it had been in most of the previous wings - not that it seemed to matter.

After downing the final boss I looked at the time and noted that more than five hours had passed since I originally queued for the first wing, and most of that time had been spent waiting - if I want to do any more of these, I'll need a lot of free time as well as a good plan for how to spend all that time in queue. I didn't expect tourist mode to be so time-consuming.

(Addendum: I tried to queue for the first wing of Sanctum of Domination this morning, because people play on Sundays, right? I was in the queue for almost one and a half hours and just about to give up when it finally popped... but unfortunately a lot of people in the queue had evidently gone AFK by then, as both of the tanks and several others did not respond, and the group went back into the queue with greatly diminished numbers. At that point I did log off. At least I got my monk's Cata fishing to 64/75, and Cata cooking to 71/75 while waiting.)


  1. So THAT was what you were doing on Friday...

    Typically you'd expect a healer to go quicker than pure DPS, especially when you can't specify which DPS to select. (For example, Mages and Warlocks go much quicker than Rogues.)

    On Lady Inerva, the last boss of the wing, there seemed to be a lot going on with four red bars on the side of the screen that were presumably supposed to indicate some sort of mechanic, but we just stood in the same place and punched her for a few minutes and that was that.

    Isn't that Rule #1 for Dwarves? When in doubt, punch it in the face...

    1. I don't know for certain, but I don't think LFR cares about what kind of damage dealer you are. Either way I was surprised to see lack of dps be a bottleneck, but in hindsight I have seen that kind of issue in other kinds of older/less popular content before. It's because tanks and healers always like to group - it's what they chose their roles for - while damage dealers often only queue up for rewards, and as soon as those dry up, a lot fewer of them are interested in grouping.

      Not sure about rules for dwarves, I haven't played that many in my time...

  2. I think that's been a WoW problem for a long time, the current tier of LFR is attracting people and the old ones are dead. I actually thought it wasn't possible to queue for them on LFR, but maybe that was only for "last expansion's LFR"...

    Now if only they would adopt FFXIV's model here to give the people some incentive, that would encourage more (and knowledgeable) people to show up once in a while...

    1. I was more thinking how it would be nice if you could just queue for the whole raid at once for the older tiers. One hour wait time wouldn't feel totally unreasonable to do an entire raid... the problem is that I have to wait that long each time to do 1-3 bosses and then start over again. Then again, this would probably worsen the issue of being put into partial runs when you actually want to do the whole thing...

      More incentives would probably be helpful. In that post from MoP that I linked, I complained about 20 minute waits feeling long... god, I wish they were this short now! But back then there was this... thing(?) with the legendary cloak going on that required people to farm raid bosses I think, so that probably helped to prop up the LFR population.