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.