Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Flexible Questions and Answers

Flexible raids have been really great for my guild and for many others.  Our 25 man team might still not have normals in their sights because we do not have 25 players capable of it but we do have 25 players capable of flex.

So we run flex, get some people experience, get some people gear, and we get to see what some of the newer players that come and go can do.  Even with a mixed crew of some good players, some average players and some bad players we can easily get 8 bosses down in one 2 hour night of raiding.  If you ask me, that is awesome beyond words.

There are some questions about flex that I hear asked however and while I am no expert I have been running it each week on multiple characters with guild, server pugs and open raid, so I do have some knowledge and experiences I can share.  Most answers to these questions will be based on my opinion of how it felt to me but there are a few facts in there that you might not have noticed.  One of those awesome facts will be our lead in question.

How to battle resurrections work in flex?

You get three battle resurrections no matter what size raid you go into flex with.  Even if you go with only 10 people you can revive three people during the fight.  While I had heard of this I actually had the chance to test it for the first time last week.  It worked, so it is 100% true.

What boss does it start at if someone has done some bosses before?

It will always place you where ever the raid leader was.  If the raid leader downed the first boss, you start at the second, even if you never did the first boss.  They will always place you in at the boss the leader of the raid was last at.

Can I kill a boss for loot multiple times for loot?

Yes you can but only if you have the coins for it.  The bosses only drop loot for you once a week but you can roll a coin as many times as you want.   If you want to do the first boss a second time just join a group where the raid leader has not killed it yet and you start there and good luck with your coin roll.

So I can kill the same boss dozens of times if I want?

If you are a freak like me that likes to do the same boss over and over so I can learn my timing, position, rotation, usage of cooldowns and such to try and get better at it, go for it.  If that is the type of thing that is fun for you like it is for me, enjoy yourself.  It is one of the reasons to love flex (would be better with more loot chances of course).

This also means that if you are in a heavily demanded role like a tank or a healer you can offer your services for a fee.  I'll tank flex for you for 5K per wing.  Run it 100 times a week if you want to, go for it.  Sell your services.

What healer to DPS ratio should you use?

There is no real answer to this, you have to know the ability of the healers you have.  Last week we did a flex with 22 people and only 4 healers.  All 4 healers were pulling around 100K-120K HPS, so maybe you should base it on what the healers are capable of.  Of course them healing the right people means a hell of a lot because it is not just about HPS but if you want an idea I would say you look at the capability of 100K HPS per 5 people.

Basically with a 22 man raid we had over 400K HPS going out, it put a tiny bit of pressure on the healers but it was doable.

You can also choose to over heal them.  I had a run were we were a full 25 man and were using 8 healers.  If you have a few disc priests and a fist weaving monk or two, just have them go full out DPS as healers, which some normally do anyway, and having too many healers won't really hurt.  Even more so when you have disc priests and monks doing over 100K, which is still seems most pugs are incapable of.

So I do not suggest a healer to number ratio, I recommend a HPS to player ratio.  100K HPS per 5 players.  Your mileage might vary however if those players are bad player taking avoidable damage or the healers are bad healers not healing the right people, but if you are inviting actual raiders that at least have the basic concept of how to play, that 100K to 5 works nicely I've noticed.

How would you judge the difficulty of Flex compared to normal?

It greatly depends on the people in the flex but as I have run a flex clear with my main 10 man just to get a feel for it and do have an exact comparison to work with I will use that as the base line for my judgement, even if it can change based on the people in your given group.

I feel as if Flex is like ICC with the 30% buff or DS with the 30% debuff.  It feels just like normal but just a bit easier.  Not so much easier that you can completely ignore things right away, you still need to pay attention, one shot mechanics still exist.

Being I have not done 25 on normal yet I can not compare big groups to big groups, however, I can make a comment on the big group type design for flex, as it might be different than normal (depending on how you judge the 10 to 25 difficulties) which is where the next question comes from.

Does bringing more people make it harder?

Yes and no.  It all depends on who you are bringing.  If you bring every Tom, Dick and Harry who says, "I have a ret spec I can use with a one button macro that will get me 50K" then yes, bringing more people will in fact make it harder.

If you bring actually decent people who are actively trying, the more you bring the easier it gets.  That is the basic design of Flex.  I've always said 25s are easier than 10s and while that is debatable for normal and heroic, in flex it is not.  25s are absolutely easier than 10s.  It is part of the design and made that way to encourage bringing more people.

While these are not actual numbers I will give an example of how it works.  If a boss as 100M with 10 people, it does not have 110M with 11, it will have 109M.  And then 118 with 12 and 127 with 13, etc.  The more you bring, the easier it gets.  Flex is made that way on purpose.  It is a vital part of the design to encourage bringing more people and getting more people involved in raiding.

Be warned however that the issues that always made larger groups hard still exist.  So do not go inviting people just to "make it easier" because if you invite too many poor players you will in effect make it harder, not easier and you will now be stuck with the added issue of the difficulty that comes with making groups and assigning people which always takes longer and has more chances of people making mistakes when you have more people in the group.

So take as many players as you want, as long as they are capable of the content, because it will actually make it easier in the long run.  Pug away baby, flex was designed for it.

What is the threshold between it being considered 10 or 25?

I've seen people post that mechanics seem to be designed in groups of 5.  As in every 5 people you add the mechanic seems to change a little.  That might be true but I can't say I have seen that personally and I have played flex in many different sizes.

While I can not be 100% certain about it I believe it to be 17 people is 10 man and 18 people is 25 man.  It could very well be different with different fight mechanics but on the first week it came out on the forth boss we had 18 people which sprung 3 prisons.  When someone had to leave after the wipe we did it again with 17 people and there were only 2 prisons.

On a few other occasions I have noticed that the 17/18 number seems to have an impact on certain things.  I might even try doing a few test pulls on certain things to play with it, because I am a geek that way, and see if that is indeed the number.  So do not take my word as gospel on this matter but that 17/18 number seems to be the break between dealing with 10 man mechanics and 25 man mechanics.  At least on the ones I have noticed so far.

Have you found any fun ways to cheese things in flex?

Of course I have.  The best way to cheese things is with having a third tank on many fights.  Nope, not kidding.  With the ability of tanks to do great DPS having a 3rd tank makes many fights a complete joke.

Wing two would be the perfect example of where a 3rd tank just makes things a joke.  First boss, third tank works shaman duty keeping it at the top.  Second boss, three tank rotation and mine sweeping, so much easier and there is never any need for anyone except the tanks to worry about mines.  Third boss, have two tanks tank the one that needs a tank switch on one side, have the third tank tank the other one on the other side kiting it around.  Melee stay on one, ranged on the other, laugh your way to loot.  Forth boss, have the two tanks beating the crap out of the boss even during defensive because they do not cause him to generate rage because they have the debuff and have the third tank worry about adds.  No switching back and forth and no mistakenly loose mob ever again, laugh your way to loot once more as a third tank makes the fight a joke.

There are so many other fights that become easier with a third tank.  High tank damage + easier content = Why not make it even easier with a third tank?

There are some other ways to cheese some things but none are more obvious that the third tank method.

What do you see as the future of flex?

I see flex becoming the new normal mode.  I would not even be surprised if there are guilds that will begin to treat it like that.  Doing flex as their weekly scheduled raid run and then sometimes dabbling in normals.  Sort of like my guild would run normals and sometimes dabble in heroics. 

Flex offers more flexibility, hence the name, so it makes it easier to bring whoever shows.  It makes it easier to get groups.  You can go with 13 or 14 and if someone does not show you are not completely screwed, you can still go.

Sooner or later those flex groups will take the 10 best and do a 10 normal once in a while and treat it as their very own heroic.  Normal will be like flex +, a restricted to 10 format with a little added difficulty, and flex will become the new normals.  If anything, flex is more tuned around the "normal" raider anyway.  Normals have gotten to hard for the average player and LFR is too unfriendly for the average player.  So flex has a place in the game.

I personally can not wait for the Flex guilds to start popping up so my alts on other servers can actually raid for the first time ever.  Sure I can join an open raid flex with them but I would much rather do it in a guild setting where I run with the same people and get to know those I run with than leaving everything to just pugging.  At least flex gives me both options and I like that.

When do you think my flex group will be ready for normals?

If you can do flex wing three with little or no difficulty, you are ready to start normals.  Flex wing three seems roughly comparable to wing one in normal, at least from my personal perspective.  I might even go so far as to say if you can one shot all bosses in flex wing two you should be able to do at the very least the first two bosses on normal.

Flex is not "that" much easier than normal that it would take a huge jump in skill to move from one to the other.  Every single mechanic that is in flex is in normal and there is nothing new in normal, so as long as you know the fights from flex you know the fights from normal.  You just need to do them a little better in normal.

With that said, if you have the experience of flex wing one from flex and you can do flex wing three with little issue you will have both the knowledge (from one) and you are ready for the difficulty level (from three) to start up with normals.

Where does Flex fit for the normal mode raider?

I am glad you asked, or is that I am glad I asked?  Flex is perfect for the normal mode raider.  It is actually beyond perfect.  It keeps those backups happy because they still get some kills in each week, that is one little bonus.  It lets you try out the bosses and work out your strategy before you even try it on normal meaning that your normal progression will go better. 

It has the exact same mechanics as normal so when you do something on flex you are basically doing it on normal.  The only difference is you need to step up your game a little for normal and put out some better numbers.

Also, flex has the ability to give you gear that is better than the LFR so you can run it without having to run the LFR and lets face it, anything that can keep you out of the LFR is a good thing.  I will be the first to admit that I will still run the LFR on my main because if I need an upgrade I will torture myself there to get it, but the fact that I do not really have to is an awesome thing. 

The biggest pain for normal mode raiders, at least many I know, has been the LFR.  People would start to fall behind in gear because they did not get drops in normal so they would feel that they had to do the LFR and then the LFR would stress them out and they would just give up and quit.  Yes, we have had more than a few players quit because of the LFR and I am sure other guilds suffered the same issues.  Flex helps advert that.

For the normal mode raider flex is a gift wrapped gift from the gods.  It is exactly what everyone wanted the LFR to be.  A place to go and learn the fights and get some gear.

Now those alts that have been stuck doing nothing for so long because I refused to run LFR with them can come into a flex run and maybe get a few pieces of gear.  What is not to like about that?

I can finally get some of my tanks a few pieces of gear.  This is a good thing because I will not tank LFR, who in their right mind would?  Works out nicely because of the third tank thing I mentioned earlier and the fact that sometimes I am needed to work as an alt tank for the normal raid.  So I will have the chance to keep up with gear, somewhat, without having to do the LFR.

The LFR was a tool for normal raiders and now flex is the tool and a much better tool than the LFR ever was for the normal mode raider.

Where do you feel that leaves the LFR with Flex now?

The LFR is not going to go anywhere, trust me on that.  Blizzard has a horrible track record for admitting they were wrong so they are not going to just get rid of it.  They might however make it easier, as should have been done a long time ago.

With many people doing flex and flex only, basically everyone in my guild and hundreds of thousands of others in guilds around the world just like mine, the average decent player who would be "great" for an LFR is not doing the LFR.  This is partly why the LFRs are seeming harder than they have ever been.  It isn't so much that they are harder or that they are new, it is that not as many people that actually know the fights ahead of time are going into them to begin with.

Not only has the LFR actually become harder, but the decent players that at least knew the fights beforehand are sticking to flex and not doing the LFR which means fewer people that know the fights are there to explain it and help those that don't.  This, in effect, hurts the LFR and makes it even harder than it needs to be.  Hopefully blizzard will realize this is happening.

If blizzard does take note of this happening and adjusts the LFR to be more user appropriate instead of being designed that they expect better players to be there to lead or carry everyone then the addition of flex to the game might actually make the LFR better.  Yes, better.  As long as blizzard notices that the players using the LFR mostly are in need of easier content and make it so, the LFR will become better.  But that is putting a lot of trust in blizzard to do the right thing and we all know what happens when we trust blizzard to do the right thing.

What are some changes you would like to see made to flex?

As great as flex is there are a few changes I would love to see. 

Loot, even if it uses the LFR version of looting I believe it should be trade-able in flex.  So if I get the weapon on my hunter and already have it I can give it to someone that had has no luck with getting it yet.  That would be nice.

Better scaling, so if you want to one tank things it will notice you have 1 tank and adjust mechanics for it.  If you want to two heal with 15 players, it would adjust it so the damage output is capable of being handled by two healers.  This will never happen but an elf could dream and I would love for the flex to take spec into account when balancing it as well as just the number of people in it.  Now that would be true completely flexibility.

Solo Entry.  While there is no way in hell I can solo anything there now at level 100 I might be able to and I would like to be able to do that (if you will even be able to get to it as it is older content now).  I don't like the idea that I need to ask 4 people to group with me to get into it just so I can go solo it, or turn in the vision quest now, it just seems like an odd restriction.

Always available. As I just mentioned, I hope we can still get into old flex raids once we get to a higher level.  I hope the same for scenarios as well.  They need to make sure that once we level up we do not lose content.  That will be key.

In summation, I really like flex so far.

How do you feel about it?  Or any questions about my experiences having done them in all four roles, tank, healer, melee and ranged.


  1. My main raid team doesn't have the time to do a flex night and still get good progression in normals so we are only running normals. (We did 1 run of flex the first week). I have joined up with a more or less set group on Open Raid that I run and a couple of people from my guild join in there, and I love it.

    I still feel a little bit of mixed feelings on how to approach new fight though. We are currently on boss 5 in normals, part of me wants to go in on flex and learn that fight as a group, but that also seems potentially like a waste.

    I am personally hoping Flex and Normal gets merged into one difficultly myself next expansion. We obviously run a roster of 12-13 for our 10 man team and have to sit people and it would be nice to be able to be more inclusive but still progress on normal difficulty that has flexible entry requirements. Like you said, the flex difficulty is more inline with Normal raiders anyway.

    1. Trust me, going into flex and seeing the fight will make it 100 times easier.

      On the 5th boss we killed all the adds way before the next wave, so that is not perfect as we do not always do that in normal, but it gave us the chance to get a feel for the fight which then made it a little easier in normal.

      It would not be a waste because even if you did heroic last tier Flex gear is still better gear. So it is a chance to learn the fight in a "normal lite" manner and get loot which in turn will make normals easier.

      How many nights do you raid that you do not have time for a flex night? I admit I raid a lot more this tier thanks for flex but there was more than enough time for it as we only really raid 2 nights at most otherwise.

      Give flex a try to test it out.

      My group is not great, we are only 6 deep and only had 1 pull on the seventh boss (which we got it to 17% on) but I assure you we would not be even 6 deep if it were not for the fact we tested it out first.

      I am sure once we get some time we will go 10 deep no problem, but being we do not extend, it is just a matter of speeding up how fast we clear each week.

      Now when we raid it is no longer "learning" the fights in normal. It is doing them. We are doing most of the learning in flex.

    2. We raid 2 nights a week 2-2.5 hours each. There is no other time during the week everyone is available to do flex as a group outside of normal raid time.

      Half of the raid team does flex on their own when they have time on the off nights and knows the fights fairly well. However, we haven't done anything past the first wing in Flex as a group.

    3. I guess if they are all doing it on their own it fills the same purpose of at least knowing everything normal does.

  2. I've long been a fan of bringing an extra tank in on fights that will benefit from it and where your group has enough dps to support it. That's something I don't see enough on normal, either, especially if you're also tight for healing.

    Flex is great for normal raiders but only if their playtime allows them to run additional raids. I know quite a few players who have deals with their significant others where they can raid 2 or 3 nights a week and ONLY those. Flex is useless for them, although when opportunities do occasionally present themselves, you can bring them along without hurting the run.

    I don't have any hard info on it but when I saw the "when does 10 become 25" question, I also thought 17... I also recall that being when you went from 2 portals on the 3rd boss to 3 but that was a while back and I was still new to the fight, may not be remembering it correctly. Still, 17/18 being the break could be right.

    Last time I checked you could only queue for Flex with 8 (I tried solo queuing once, it said it required 8). If it's now 5, that's a recent change. Interesting. No reason they couldn't reduce it to 1 once it isn't current content, though.

    For someone who mostly pugs spots in Flex and doesn't have a regular run, I *LOVE* individual loot. No guilt about getting drops that normally I'd let their usual raiders have instead. Sure, master looter or similar will be a bit more optimal for regular groups but that's not what Flex is about... I'd much prefer to see the loot stay exactly the same as it is now and take that potential issue off the table entirely. It also means there's exactly zero downside to bringing more players as long as they can cover their spot, they won't be taking loot from you. It also avoids having odd numbers of drops off bosses (with 13 players, you'd get 3 off some and 2 off others which would be ... weird). I'm an even bigger fan of individual loot in Flex than I thought I'd be and I was glad they made that decision originally.

    1. I can't remember the last time I used a 3rd tank in a normal raid. A few times we had a plate DPS "fake it" but a true tank. Maybe lady deathwhisper 25. Don't even recall if we had a real tank then either. It is kind of nice and does make it much easier sometimes.

      I would not only like to see it be able to be 1, but I hope, really hope, we can still get in when it is no longer current content. I hate seeing content locked away once we pass it. Not saying I would do DS LFR, but if I wanted to enter it, I should be allowed to.

      I could see it being an "issue" if the items were tradable. Someone saying, give me that or I kick you. So maybe it would not be ideal but for a guild run it might be nice to have that option at least. Could go either way I guess, there is good and bad to it.

      Individual loot was the best way to go with it, I agree, because otherwise people would have went with a set number, all the time, to get the maximum loot per person.

    2. Dark Shamen hc. Before that - non zerg Dark Animus hc. Before that - Halfus hc. Not really a lot of fights worth bringing a third tank into.

    3. James, depends on the group... most of the raids I've run with over the years have been fine for dps but usually a bit sketchy on the healing side. Any fights with stacking mechanics on tanks (ie. most of them) were a problem. Bringing an extra tank in at times helps spread that load and keeps stacks down. Sure, some groups wouldn't require that but on fights when tanks are dying more than they should, or healers are too busy keeping tanks up to heal unavoidable environmental damage, bringing an extra tank should be a discussion point but normally isn't. 2/5/3 and 2/6/2 are options, 3/5/2 should be as well but generally isn't.

      Grumpy, it sounds like they may be coming around to your original thinking based on a recent blue comment, they just have to implement a way to to scale the loot for intermediate sizes. It wouldn't be my preference but it would be of some minor benefit to raids who regularly run as a group. If they made the choice to run that way, though, I'd probably roll against them as a full member even as a pug. If they want to share loot amongst themselves then that's their call but I'd at least like the same loot odds as individual loot offers when that's an option.

      (and I hate that even typing that makes me feel like a bit of a dick, that's the kind of thing that I love individual loot for, takes that decision entirely out of my hands)

      "Greg, any thoughts on making Flex loot tradeable in guild groups? Got a few items I wish had gone elsewhere. Thanks!"

      "Long term it's probably a requirement, but we currently don't have a way to drop more loot for larger groups."

    4. Loot distribution is always an issue, even if you do not raid specifically for loot. Everyone want to see some reward for their effort, something more than just a dead dragon body somewhere.

      I still think that having loot "earned" instead of dropped at random is the ultimate solution to that. People kill bosses, collect tokens (like valor maybe) and buy the loot they earned the right to buy by killing enough bosses. Make the tokens for raid bosses only attainable from raid bosses, and you fixed the problem where people say, but people should not be getting raid gear outside of raids. Tada, fixed, no more random issues, no more loot drama, kill a boss and earn your loot one kill at a time.

      Now if only they would come along to that type of thinking the game would be a much better place. They could still drop loot off bosses, sure, but that would be a rare bonus. 1 in 10s, 2 half the time and 3 half the time in 25s. Otherwise, the primary gearing system would be from earning your gear and not lucking into it.

  3. I like the idea of Flex, especially since it allows raiding for the whole guild. We have 3 normal/heroic raiding teams but we still have a lot of socials and friends who aren't geared or don't have time to raid so this is pretty nice. It's also nice for alts and for filling up time.

    I, for one, don't really Flex. I treat it more like LFR - I'll go if I need loot from it, but that's about it. Yeah, I sometimes go because people ask me to tank, but raiding the same thing over and over isn't what I go for. I think I got allergic to Flex since two weeks ago, when our raid leader did Flex 6 times in the same day on the same char. Raid enough as it is and I also work too many hours a day, so I hardly have enough time to spend with my honey baby. Therefore, if it's not progression, I'd rather not do it.

    1. That is how I look at it too. Except LFR is my flex. As much as I hate it if there is an upgrade to be had I go for it.

      I know it is my own choice, but I really hate blizzard for it. I spent 4 hours in LFR and did not even get the last boss finished, and that was the only reason I went in to begin with, for the head token to get my 4 piece. Even if it is LFR and my others are normal, it is still worth going out of my way for. But when you think I do not even spend that much time in the real raid, there is something seriously wrong with LFR.

      I despise the fact it even exists because as long as it is there I feel I have to do it if there is something to gain from it.

      I guess flex is LFR to you being you are a heroic raiding.

      I do agree with the raiding the same thing over and over however. It does get boring fast. I am already to the point where I will only bring alts to the first 2 wings and only bring my main in for that 1 boss I can use something from.

      I would rather they removed LFR completely and just made normal into flex, as in a lot easier and flexible, and just go back to the old normal and heroic.

      Or even better yet, completely ditching heroic and going with one single mode of raiding like Ulduar with activated hard modes.

      That way we have one raid and varied difficulties in the same raid and do not feel as if we are raiding the same thing over and over again.

      Oops, went a little off topic. ;)