World of Queuecraft (Sanctum LFR, Part 2)

Have you ever watched or read about a person playing a game that you're very familiar with and that you personally enjoy, and at first you're pleased by watching them be delighted by all the things you remember really loving about the game when you were new too? But then they get caught up in some random side activity that clearly frustrates them in some way, and you keep thinking: "Just let it go, man... I agree this isn't a great system/situation, but this isn't what the game is meant to be about! Just get back to the well-designed, fun stuff already!"

While trying to get into the last two remaining wings of Sanctum of Domination in LFR, I've been feeling like I must be the type of player who would cause that kind of consternation in random observers. All these things to do in WoW and I'm wasting my days screwing around with LFR for hours on end! What is wrong with me?

I just thought that I should be fine queueing for it on a Saturday afternoon on a long weekend, because I had a lot of time and lots of people should be playing, right? Even the less recent/relevant content? No? No.

When I started writing this post, I'd already been sat in the queue for the "Shackles of Fate" wing of LFR as both damage dealer and healer for nearly three hours. Since I got a bit tired of levelling cooking and fishing, I decided to pass some of that time doing archaeology this time around, but after about two hours I got somewhat bored of that too.

I also became oddly mesmerised by what the LFR UI kept showing me... at around the one-hour mark, I was quite close to getting a full group, then it went into the sort of pause mode while it assembles a group, and then most of the group was gone but I was still there in the queue. I can only guess that a partial group sucked a lot of potentials out of the pool or something, because I'm not sure how else I could have missed out on both a healer and dps spot when I'd already been queued up as both for so long. This pattern repeated a couple more times, with the UI proudly updating to say that the average queue time was "only" 45 minutes to an hour, all while my own wait had already been three times as long.

It was a funny situation in a way because while I was getting increasingly annoyed, I could tell that it was at least partially my own fault for wanting to play the game "wrong" by queueing for old raid finder wings that nobody cares about anymore, but at the same time I was thinking: Why are queues for content from the current expansion so empty? This doesn't seem right. However, I had set myself the goal to do this and I wasn't going to give up this close to the finish line. I will beat you, raid finder queue!

After five and a half hours, time I mostly spent doing things on my second monitor, the queue finally popped after I'd set myself a deadline of six hours - by that time it was well into the evening and I figured that if I still couldn't get a pop by then, there was no point in waiting for it to get even later.

We made our way to the first boss of the wing, Guardian of the First ones, where we just stood around for a while. Since some markers were being put down, I figured that maybe the tanks were discussing tactics in whispers or something. I didn't mind the additional wait, but what I did mind was all the players getting out their noisy toys - there was no Transmorpher Beacon this time, but the classic train set was present and some sort of jukebox that played a horribly out of tune NPC song. Someone complained that the train noises were so loud that they'd woken their sleeping child.

When we finally pulled the boss, we wiped. A rogue posted damage meters in chat that showed them on top and complained that the dps sucked. He also called us a bunch of clowns. I looked at my death message and it said that I was killed by an ability that wasn't on the boss's ability list in the adventure guide, so I googled it. What I found was that it was "the big hit that goes on the tank and anyone standing too close", which left me wondering whether I had messed up or whether it had been the tank, considering that a lot of others had fallen over at the same time as me.

While we were still trying to reassemble, the boss suddenly got pulled and we wiped again. For a couple of minutes a vicious blame game ensued, until it was agreed that the person pulling had been a replacement for a quitter who had simply been loaded into the instance at an unfortunate spot. The rogue from earlier and one of the tanks quit, and several people commented with something along the lines of "glad they're gone", which honestly surprised me, as I'm used to being in the minority in WoW when it comes to perceiving behaviour like that of the rogue as toxic.

After we'd got another set of replacements, we killed the boss just fine, and the consensus seemed to be that the tank who had left had been the problem on the first attempt since there was supposed to be a tank swap mechanic and they had never taunted.

I got a cloak from the first boss, which would turn out to be the only piece of gear I got from the entire run, and someone instantly whispered me to ask whether they could have it. That other person already had a much better cloak, but it wasn't an upgrade for me either so I assumed they wanted it for transmog and gave it to them, since I didn't really care.

On the way to the next boss, we pulled seemingly every trash mob under the sun, which led to some joking comments along the lines of: "You can't pull everything!" - "Hold my beer."

I was a little worried how Fatescribe, the second boss, was going to go, but this one was actually really easy, not to say boring. I even found myself looking at the clock and wondering why some sort of "you're the bomb" mechanic seems to be a requirement for every single raid boss nowadays.

Then we got to Kel'Thuzad, a fight that once again started with an opaque wait in front of the boss and people rupturing the group's ear drums with train sets. There was some talk about "melee going down" which I deduced was about the phylactery mechanic described in the adventure guide. When we finally pulled, we wiped when it came to that part because not enough people "went down" - including me, since I'd been expecting some kind of portal or other obvious visual... but instead you have to step into some menacing-looking swirly stuff on the floor to make a temporary ability button appear that will take you to the room with the phylactery.

After a kind druid had explained this in detail, we tried again... and this time it went much better, but we still lost a bunch of dps along the way so that the eventual result was another wipe. Fortunately the third try was the charm, though it was another close call. People were typing their encouragement into chat as the last (wo)men standing shaved off KT's last few percent of health, and then we were done. (And this time someone revived everyone at the end too.)

I looked at the clock and killing just those three bosses in LFR had taken almost one and a half hours. Add to that the five and a half hours of waiting time and you shouldn't be surprised that I had no desire to queue for Sylvanas that same evening.

I took a break from WoW for most of the next day and didn't try to queue again until Sunday evening, this time with more of a plan. I had a raid in SWTOR later, so I told myself that I'd queue for Sylvanas  about two hours before then, and if I didn't get a pop within half an hour before the start of my "proper" raid, I'd leave. The previous run had taken one and a half hours for three bosses, including a bunch of wipes, so allotting half an hour to a single boss didn't strike me as unreasonable.

And I did get that pop just in time! I gotta say, the Sylvanas fight is pretty cool in terms of setup, music and mechanics. Sadly I did not get it down that time though... we wiped twice due to failing to run fast enough to interrupt her one-shot mechanic in the second phase, and then I had to go.

The next evening I put myself in the queue again while doing a bit of housework, and was surprised when I came back after about fifteen minutes and had actually missed a pop. I signed up again and got a pop after only another ten minutes! It may well be that I got into the same group that had formed earlier though, as it was evident that there had already been at least one wipe from the way people were talking.

This time we made it to phase three on the first try for which I was present, but then we still wiped. I won't go into detail about every other wipe after that because I honestly don't remember them all... we had one wipe to the same lack of interrupt that had caused both of my wipes the night before, but aside from that, it was always due to things going south during the last phase. (There were also always at least a couple of people who fell through the holes in the bridges, but that just seemed to be par for the course.)

Bridge talk. Also, you can see someone emitting random boss yells due to that bloody toy again.

Fortunately there was a human hunter from Ravencrest called Corneiius who had the patience of a saint (and I whispered him to say as much at the end) who told people to calm down when tempers flared and was trying hard to get everyone to understand what they were supposed to do. The thing that kept catching us out was that during the last phase of the fight you need to move among a small number of platforms for two different mechanics: One is an arrow that does massive AoE damage around the person targeted, so that player is supposed to jump to another platform temporarily to "explode" there. The other mechanic was Sylvanas razing the platform we were currently standing on, so everyone had to "flee" to the next one down the line to stay alive. We mostly died to the first mechanic to be honest, as the affected people didn't seem to notice what was happening to them and would blow up most of the raid around them.

We eventually got her down with six stacks of the Determination buff, and with Corneiius spamming macros in raid warnings to call out the mechanics as they happened (interspersed with comments like "stop jumping randomly xD", as we were still pretty hopeless at telling what was happening). I was very relieved to be done, though I hadn't really minded the wiping all that much as I was still learning the mechanics myself.

And that finally concludes my LFR exploration for now! The current patch's raid hasn't fully unlocked in LFR yet, but more importantly I haven't even been to Zereth Mortis at all, so my gear is probably way below the raid's requirements and I'd have no context for what's happening in there. The husband and I have been too busy focusing on SWTOR recently to play retail WoW, but seeing how the next expansion (to be announced tomorrow!) is likely to still be many months away, we should have plenty of time to check out Shadowlands' last content patch before it becomes obsolete.


  1. And here until you actually mentioned you I thought you were talking about me again!

    1. Why would you think that? I can't remember any times where you got majorly hung up on some side activity in WoW. Sure, raiding in Classic has caused you quite an amount of grief, but that is meant to be a main feature.

    2. "Just let it go, man... I agree this isn't a great system/situation, but this isn't what the game is meant to be about! Just get back to the well-designed, fun stuff already!"

      I read that and thought "Yeah, that's my last post." And I've been known to just hang around atop one of those mushrooms in Zangarmarsh, just watching the world go by. Just because.

  2. I really admire your persistence.

    I queued up for the third part of the current LFR on my Rogue last night and that was something else as well. I am still very amazed we made it through (those are bosses 8, 9, and 10) with only a token amount of wipes. On a Monday, two nights before reset!