Vault of the Incarnates LFR

In Shadowlands I did two of the expansion's three raids through the raid finder. I was planning to do the last one as well before Dragonflight came out, but in the end I just couldn't deal with the prospect of hour-long queue times for each wing yet again.

In Dragonflight, I decided to give the whole thing another go, mostly because I'm spending so much time flying around the Dragon Isles doing chill world content anyway, I figured spending that time in the queue wouldn't feel like such a big deal. And it wasn't - though as it turns out, getting into LFR at the very start of the expansion helps a lot too, as I didn't actually have to wait for a pop for more than a few minutes at any point.

I didn't keep a detailed log of the experience this time. I was surprised to find that the introduction to the raid features version 2.0 of the Grim Batol dragon ride (just not a throwback I expected at all), and the spider boss was seriously creepy. Other than that, the bosses were... okay, but didn't strike me as particularly remarkable. The overarching Primalist theme is strong and the designers didn't deviate from it a lot throughout the raid.

I didn't watch any guides beforehand, which got me all philosophical about how unforgiving some mechanics are even in LFR if you're unprepared. There are a few things that are pretty self-explanatory, like not standing in circles that pop up on the ground, and moving away from other people if a circle appears around you. Except - then you'll suddenly get a mechanic where a circle around you means the opposite, that you need to stack up, and there's no obvious indicator to show the difference. So people get those circles for the first time, run away because that's what they're used to, and then they die. It got me the first time, and I saw it get others as well.

I do look at the in-game adventure guide sometimes, because I remember when that feature was added in Cataclysm to provide a sort of alternative to having to refer to out-of-game guides, but it really doesn't work. The thing is, the adventure guide will tell you something like this:

Raszageth and her Primalist forces seek to shatter the prisons that hold her siblings. As the battle begins, Raszageth uses Hurricane Wing to sweep her assailants from the central platform. [...] Static Field reduces movement speed and forced movement effects on players standing in the area.

I already cheated a bit there because I put two mechanics together that relate to each other, though in the guide they are just lost in a sea of text. But even so, can you deduce from this what you're meant to do? For comparison, let me tell you what the actual instructions about this mechanic are, as given to people inside LFR by other players:

When you get the big circle on you, drop it at the edge of the platform. When she does Hurricane, everyone stand in front of the circle to not get thrown off.

Quite different and much easier to understand, wouldn't you say?

Fortunately I've found people in LFR to be surprisingly decent overall. I think I've said this before, but retail WoW pugs have such a reputation for toxicity, I continue to be positively surprised by my interactions with random strangers there. Sure, there always seems to be "that one guy" who complains that the damage is too low, how this fight should be face-roll and we all suck blah blah blah, but these types don't tend to hang around anyway. Most people will just sigh at that person, move on, and do their best to work together.

I was actually kind of surprised when I queued for the last wing for the first time and was thrown into a run in progress that was already standing in front of Raszageth, and someone actually stopped and said: "Hey, we got newcomers. Does anyone need an explanation?" I'm a little ashamed to admit that I hesitated to speak up, despite knowing full well that it was the right thing to do! But I did speak up after a moment, mostly because I remembered the embarrassment I'd felt on that earlier boss when I'd died from the circle that I was meant to stack up for instead of running away. And so me and at least one other person got a friendly explanation of what to do and didn't mess up completely on the first try as a result.

I was still dead by the time the boss died though.

Either way, I'm actually kind of pleased with myself for completing the current raid in LFR, something that hasn't happened since LFR's introduction with the Dragon Soul raid back in Cataclysm. I wasn't too impressed back then, mostly because I couldn't get over how uninspired the whole thing felt compared to a "proper" raid, but more than a decade later, I know that LFR has to be approached with a different attitude and I've been pretty content with the results.

I was surprised to find that I even earned some loot from the Great Vault for the first time - I'd just assumed that LFR wouldn't count towards it, seeing how easy mode queued content doesn't count toward's the Vault's dungeon or PvP reward tracks either, but I'm not going to complain about some free bonus loot.

We'll see whether I'll bother to go back. Like I said, it wasn't an unpleasant experience, but the time investment required still feels like a bit of a drag for what you get out of it in my opinion.


  1. I've often thought that raid design is a contributor to WoW's toxic pug environment. When I compare it to FFXIV (the two MMOs I've played the most) pugging is entirely different. Of course the underlying communities are different too, but simple things make FFXIV much less likely to devolve into toxicity. Stack mechanics? There's a consistent indicator used across all pug content for stack mechanics. Same for spread. Same for "drop this over here" and so on. Similarly, instance design is less toxic. Fewer gimmicky mechanics, unskippable (or no) trash, that sort of thing. I think you can design your game to help avoid toxic behaviour and having a consistent visual dictionary is part of that and makes doing content for the first time much more fun.

    1. Yeah, I've heard that from people who play FFXIV before. On second thought, it's quite remarkable just how little Blizzard have done to improve LFR since its inception over a decade ago. They split the raids into more wings and added the Determination mechanic to allow you to brute force an encounter after a few wipes, but nothing at all has been done to make the fights more approachable mechanics-wise.

  2. Glad to hear it's not uniformly terrible. My only foray went exactly as expected.

    Queue for the last part, wait 30 minutes. Zone in, clear trash, tank leaves. Stand in the instance for 10 more minutes. About 5 people seem to know the fight, it goes as expected. Don't even remember if 4 of those 5 leave after the first wipe or after the second, but the two tanks also leave and our top dps. So I also leave because no, just no.

    1. To be clear though, my runs also had wipes and leavers. Raszageth took over an hour last time I think. I just didn't mind because backfills were always quick and this was effectively my "progression", so wiping and learning felt like a normal part of the process. I get why someone who already did all that on a higher difficulty would have little patience for doing it again in LFR though.

    2. No, that's the thing - I hadn't killed the last boss on Normal yet, just Diurna. Maybe I'm overly pessimistic but in my experience there are LFR groups who are easy (I never get those, but guildies tell me about them), then some that are average and need some work (this is fine, and the majority), and then there are some where you rotate through 7 tanks before the first boss of the wing dies, and I had a strong feeling this was one of the latter. Patience for this is not my strong point, I have to admit - but I'd rather cut my losses early in that one. Also about that difficulty.. I'm not sure if mechanically complicated fights aren't actually harder on LFR than with a coordinated group on Normal, fwiw.