Thursday, September 19, 2013

Can Bob Come Out and Play Now?

For those that do not know who Bob is let me give you a small recap.  Bob is a good person and a good player, but not great.  He sometimes has connection problems, can occasionally be a little slow to move and generally will never be the type that could do heroic raiding even on his best day ever. 

Everyone likes Bob because he is a friendly person and he is always willing to go out of his way for you.  For a while now Bob could not really raid with us, at least not until we completely out geared content and even then he could sometimes wipe us.  Every guild has a Bob or two or ten and I would like to believe that people would rather keep Bob around than just tell him that there is no place for him any more.  The game was heading quickly to a world where there was no place for Bob in it any longer.

So with the addition of flex raiding it seems that maybe Bob can once again start to raid with us and that makes me happy, because I like having Bob around and I am sure it makes Bob happy because there is only so long someone can stand on the sidelines playing the role of cheerleader for the people that are raiding.  Even more so when only a year or two ago Bob was a regular raider.

Has flex allowed Bob to come out and play again?

I've run multiple flex raids so far in the short time it has been out with varied results.  Our guild flex runs have been relatively decent and Bob was able to contribute.  Actually a few Bobs were able to contribute.  Basically because we had some real raiders there.  I am not sure a group of Bobs would be able to do it but I believe that is what flex is meant to be.  It is meant so the raiders could bring along a few non raiding friends and have some fun.  For that it seems to work.

The line for Bob is still there however, flex is not a free pass by any means.  A guild mate of mine joined some friends from an old server to give them a hand when they tried flex out.  They were all raiders in wrath but had not raided really since then.  She has downed the first few bosses on normal and flex so she knew all the fights and figured that she could help them get through flex.  Maybe it was the fact she was not so good at leading, I was not there so I can not say, or that the line for what Bob can do is not exactly all that low, but they wiped for three hours on the first boss and never got it down.

During the run I was doing a flex run of my own, tanking, and she would whisper me asking for advice on what to tell them.  She said they where doing all the right things but they were just not doing them well enough.  I got a chuckle thinking of flex raiding as "progression raiding for Bob" but I do think that is a very accurate assessment.

Flex raiding leaves a wider gap for mistakes to happen and not kill people or wipe the attempt, but it is not exactly a push over unless you go into it with real raiders.  Those people you see on the forms that are complaining that flex is too easy need to be ignored.  Of course if you are in ToT heroic gear flex will be easy.  You drastically over gear it and drastically out skill it so it should be extremely easy for you.  But if you are Bob flex is still pretty damn hard.

For a mixed group, like mine with a few raiders and a few Bobs we can go in and work on things.  We did the second half of flex and wiped 2 or 3 times on each boss but we got it down.  That is absolutely fine.  That is what flex is supposed to be, you are supposed to wipe when you are doing it with "friends and family" or in your "beer league", whatever someone wants to call it.  I call it "raiding with bob".

We had three rather lack luster players in the last first half flex we did the other day.  I am talking 50K type damage dealers.  Or if you want to go to effective DPS we are talking much much lower.  Yet we still managed to down it all, only wiping on the last of the four bosses once.  So even with those mega bobs, if you will, it was still capable of being done when 15 of the 25 people were actual raiders.  If you would like to judge it based on that experience, you could say that flex rocks.  It allowed us to get a few fresh 90 alts and a few bobs in there and we were still able to down a few bosses even if we did experience one wipe all thanks to the fact we had a few real raiders there.

More importantly, it allowed us to become closer as a guild.  Bob is no longer left out when we do the real raid.  I no longer have to say, sorry Bob but your connection is iffy and we can not stand losing a person in the middle of the fight so I can not take you.  I can just tell Bob you can come with us on saturdays run.

It allows me to take my paladin, and its god awful DPS in there to hopefully get a few pieces of tank gear without actually holding back the group any, as long as not all of the main raiders are bringing alts.  We can all rotate bringing in alts, so at least 10 of the 15 of us are on mains, and we still have a reasonable chance at success in a 25 man flex.

While my guild mates group wiped for three hours on the first boss she said they continually got better.  They could see themselves getting further into the fight and everyone was moving from stuff quicker and reacting to things with more accuracy.  They were doing progression within their own ability and that is freaking awesome.  In the end, when talking with her, I told her they would never get it down.  I had her look over peoples gear, there were too many ungemmed people, unenchanted people, and people with item levels of 480 and 490.  When the whole raid is basically made up for Bob it is going to be hard, really hard.

Even if someone is a Bob they still need to be of the appropriate item level, they still need to be gemmed, they still need to be enchanted.  Truth be told, the group she was trying to help was not even ready for the LFR.  But they made progresses.  They did not get the first boss down, but they got to play as a team. They got to see they were making it further each time.  They got to see that they could do it with a little more gear and some effort with making their gear better with gems and sparkle with enchants.  They got to see what it was like to raid again for the first time since wrath.  Really raid, not looking for raid.

Flex is progression raiding for Bob but it is so much more.  It is a testing zone for casual raid teams that hit a wall so they can try different strategies without as much pressure.  A gearing up place for those that are behind a little.  A raid where you can bring new players to let them get a taste of real raiding in an environment where people are willing to teach them instead of yell at them.  A place where they can learn mechanics matter and can not be ignored like you do in the LFR sometimes.  Flex has a place in the game and while I am not completely sure if the difficulty is right on or still a bit to hard for Bob, it does have excellent Bob potential.

Can Bob come out and play now?  Yes, yes he can.


  1. I think Flex feels a lot like doing the previous tier's raids. A lot of things that would've one-shot a few players and caused a wipe, well now they two shot, which means your healers can compensate if you have good healers, or you can just have a little bit of extra time to do the mechanic.

    You still have to do the mechanics, and I'm very glad for that. I think that's a lot of what makes it fun. If you're with a casual group of friends and want to do flex, you're still accomplishing something.

    I also like the practice aspect of it. My 25n raid is on the weekends. If we can get most of the people through flex, where the mechanics are a bit more, well, flexible, it makes progression in normal much smoother. And I like that I can bring in my druid, even though I'm really not that good of a healer. Maybe now that I have a chance other than LFR to practice, I'll become decent.


    1. I liked running flex first too, it made normals easier. We did not get the 3rd boss down last week because I was tanking on my monk who is a tiny bit under geared and I am a tiny bit under skilled with it. But having done flex made the first two bosses a joke.

      Because all the mechanics are there that means there is nothing new to learn between flex and normal. All there is between the two is doing better.

      So if you can do flex, you can do normal, as long as you meet the minimum requirements required of your tanks, healers and damage dealers.

      It makes it the perfect place to practice.

  2. Agreed with everything you said and the comment above. There are raids that will never go into Flex, it's bleow their level. There are raid groups who'll run Flex a few times for practice &/or gear and will move past it soon. There are raids that will do flex and normal together indefinitely, learning fights on flex and then progressing on the same boss in normal. There are raids, like the one I'm still considering putting together and like I suggested for your 25-man group, that will use flex as progression raiding and if/when we finish it off, we'll consider doing normals only at that point. There are raids that will only EVER do flex, it will be their 9/14 tier once they stop raiding.

    I love flex. It isn't perfect in that there is still benefit to "optimizing" (ie. leaving the Bobs at home) but it's a benefit, not a requirement, and with the right conditions it can be overcome as it appears you've managed to. I love that story. There is a potential for negativity, though, the recent post by Bravetank speaks to this and I felt bad as I read it. Might be a bit different when bringing Bobs is planned, though, vs just being fill-in bodies who'll do more than zero.

    Has anyone seen/heard any general indicators or discussions on what average dps is required for a normal comp in flex? I'm finding that groups doing less than 120K or so on average are having a significantly harder time than those doing more than that, and 120K is more than I thought we'd need heading in, I thought 100K or so would be closer to the requirement but that seems to lead to significant struggle.

    One example, Sha of Pride, mostly a guild group (competent), took 5 attempts to get it after taking almost 2 hours on Norushen (but the Norushen logs are messed up since I went inside), here are the numbers for the Sha kill shot:

    DPS: 128K average (3 over 150K, only 1 significantly under 100K).

    There were mechanic issues on that fight (apparently prisons are hard and stacking continues to be a challenge even now... yo, hunter, you lost minimum range a long time ago) but I still expected to have an easier time than we did. 120K feels like more of a normal dps requirement but if that's typical for flex, I'm assuming normal is tuned quite a bit higher than that. I haven't done normal yet, though, so I can't speak to even the early bosses.

    1. Ha! Stacking in the Sha encounter was really hard for me, as a hunter (I don't know what it was about Sha, it was easy in the certain phases of protectors). I'll do it, but I stand as close to the back of the group as you possibly can and still be considered "stacked". I don't know why i can't get out of that min-range mentality.

      And here I was hoping no one would notice...


    2. Of course I can not speak for anyone else, but when I tanked normal last week I was doing around 100K. So I would say, if tanks can be expected to push 100K for normals, as I did, then 150K would be the minimum I would expect for someone starting SoO normal. Anyone with all ToT normal gear shouldn't really have any problem reaching that number.

      With that said, flex seems to be 80% normal, so I would say 120K for flex would make it doable. Not easy, but doable. Just an opinion.

      To give an idea of normal DPS requirements, when I was tanking last week our average DPS in normal was around 200K, they had little to no problem with the first 2 bosses but even getting DPS cleansed ASAP they could not do the third boss, they needed more DPS. We wiped to enrage more than a few times.

      So yes, normal is considerably more required. At least after the first two.


      I am like that too, it is just the hunter in us. I always say as far back as I can even when stacked.

  3. On reconsideration, perhaps the real reason I'm so happy with Flex Raiding, is because for some reason I've been incredibly lucky so far. Last week I snagged the CD trinket, so I had that going into my first normal raid. And this week I got that crossbow to drop. Sure they're only flex gear, but it makes normals that much easier. I've never been this lucky in my whole wow experience, even with LFR gear. Last tier I was the very last person of my 25 man raid to get a weapon. So either they upped the drop rate in flex, or my luck has changed and this is gonna be a great tier. :)


    1. Same for me. First run through flex last week I got 3 pieces on 4 bosses including bow and trinket, no coins. Nothing else since and nothing from LFR. Did not do normal on my hunter.

      But I liked flex because I can tell you I have never got a weapon this early in a patch since ulduar when (if I remember correctly) one fell off trash on the way to the furnace master.