Thursday, February 20, 2014

When is an Empy Spot the Better Solution?

Over the last year(s) I have had a few occasions where I needed someone for one of the raids and was left with no good choices.  Good being very subjective of course.  In many cases the bar for good is so low that as long as the person has a pulse it is fine and other times the bar for good means they need to at least come close the doing what the person they are filling in for can do.

It all depends on the content you are doing and what would be required of the person.  There are people that are good damage dealers but horrible when it comes to mechanics.  Like this one mage we bought in one day that just did not grasp the concept of stand in the bubble near you on Malkorok and to get out of the group if you have the debuff when we stack.  He caused us wipe three times on a fight we did not even wipe on the first time we did it.  While that was fine, he deserves a chance to learn like anyone else, the fact he didn't learn and we only downed it because we got lucky and the debuff was not put on him and someone else covered his section well makes me think we would have been better off with an empty slot.  So while he was horrible on that fight he might have been good on another.

In that situation the group would have been better to have an empty spot, absolutely.  The fight was not pressing on the damage needed part and we could have easily nine manned it so in a way adding a person effectively made the group worse, not better.

With normal mode raiding making that decision is a lot easier.  The boss has a set level of health, his abilties do the same amount no matter what, the mechanics are the same whoever is there.  But what about flex, when are you better with an empty spot.

I've been in a lot of flex groups ranging from a group of mains blowing through it, to well geared and skilled alts doing just fine, to groups that managed it without wipes but it was not a push over, to the groups that worked progression on it, to groups that just failed, sorry there is no other word for it.

When it comes down to it whoever assembled those bad groups did not ask themselves the question I asked here.  Where is an empty slot a better option?

Just because you can take 25 people to a flex doesn't mean you should.  Taking 22 good players of various degrees of skill will surely be better than taking those 22 with 3 people who might get you killed by dropping bombs in the group on spoils.  If you have never been unfortunate enough to wipe on a flex due to things like that consider yourself lucky.  I just ask, would we be better off with an empty slot?

While I have no problem with people learning and no problem with wiping.  We all started somewhere so I accept that people need to learn and sometimes wipes happens when new players are around.  But when you wipe a few times and the problem was addressed and it was explained exactly how we wiped and how to keep it from happening again and the person keeps doing whatever it is they did wrong, there is something that needs to be done, yes, even on flex.  It is times like that, dropping bombs on the group on spoils, or getting killed by the big flaming metal ball of death over and over and over again that makes me think would be we better off with an empty slot?

This is where it can make flex a little harder to answer that question.  Where in normal everything is set, like I mentioned, things scale with flex, mechanics change with flex and you can also run into the RNG factor in flex now where one moment it could put out 2 debuffs and the next time it puts out three.  In a way your group actually needs to be better than a normal group because they need to react to mechanics changing on the fly thanks to having a group size on the cusp of a mechanic break point.

Would it be better to have a few empty slots to lower the health of the boss?  When you are carrying a fair deal of players with lower numbers that is surely true.  But when do you start removing the people at the bottom to lower the bosses health?

If there is a mechanics, like prisons on sha, where how many you get could end up being random because of that cusp is it worth lowering it to make sure you always get 2 instead of the possibility of getting three?  This is flex, some of the people in there very well are not raiders, they can not react on the fly as well are seasoned raiders would be able to.

With the expansion rolling on and most of the main people getting bored with raiding they do not want to run flex runs even on their alts, they would rather just bring their alt on a normal clear for gear now, and even if we try to put together a guild run it is usually over 50% of players with dismal skills, dismal gear, or dismal experience meaning that even flex can sometimes be a challenge.

It has me thinking a lot of not allowing certain people in, not because they are not raiders, after all that is what we have been using flex for.  To test people out, to gear alts up, and to get people some experience in raiding.  It is a great way for them to learn the fights and easier to teach them there.  But with fewer and fewer raiders willing to run it the groups fill up more and more with non raiders and where just a month ago having 6 or 7 damage dealers doing 50K or 60K was no big deal now having a bunch of them could mean we are not going to down the boss. 

I have to start considering telling people I would rather an empty spot than have them there and that just seems really mean.  How would you feel if an empty spot was a better player than you were?

Maybe I am just getting soft in my old age but that feels a little mean to me.  As I said, these people are not raiders, they are just players that want to play.  Saying an empty slot is better than them just seems a little harsh if you ask me, even if it is true.

Basically that is what flex is like, it is like telling someone that the decrease in difficulty, mechanics and health is more important than they are.  That bringing them would add unnecessary challenge to something that should not really be challenging.

In a weird way I am asking a question I never thought would be asking because of the sliding difficulty of flex and the lack of better players wanting to do it.  When is an empty slot the better solution for flex?

For normal the answer is easy, for flex there is a true and real line when an empty spot is better than a player.  How scary is that?


  1. As a self-declared casual player, I think that a warm-body is always nice to have, but the raid needs to recognize the issues. Maybe on fights like Malkorok you give bad-mage a raid icon to stand under far away from other players. He'll die a little more often due to no one else wanting to stand in purple puddles with him, but ... With patch 6.0, I hear they are going to convert all raids to the new WoD format, so you may have your flexible normals sooner than later.

    1. @Roo

      WoD is the upcoming expansion, no date yet announced.


      That is what worries me, flexible normals. I really do love the idea but it is going to be a lot harder when you have to tell someone they can not come because them being there will make the fight harder. One of those, it scales, but you are so bad we can not cover how bad it scales when you are here. Just seems mean to me.

    2. ok, what does it stand for - "world of deeds"? "wizards of dishonsetity"? "wabbits of death"?

      -roo (yes I am not feeling any pain, but me head is all over the place)

    3. :) Warlords of Draenor!! ..

      Where we time-travel back in time to when Orc were REAL Orcs and not these green wimpy Azerothian Alliance lovers.

      Garrisons, raid changes (no fixed sizes for normal and heroic raids (10..25), new Mythic raid level for 20 only, high res character models, etc..

    4. Wabbits of death, oh my god I want to play that expansion.

    5. Only once we're far enough past the Kung Fu Panda expansion, though. ;)

    6. Actually those wabbits near the farm did manage to kill a hell of a lot of people.

      Have to love those old school runners in a tight space, just means you end up with 20 of them instead of one. :P

    7. Yeah, the virmin are high on my list of things I won't miss from MoP... I probably died to them more than any other normal quest mob in the game at any point. Travel in packs, not much health but do full mob damage, they run, they burrow, they jump, they pat, they're underground...

      Damned virmin.

    8. And they are vicious. On most characters I was okay, but if they started to run and you did not have some sort of ranged spell to take the out or a way to stop them, you were in trouble.

      While I agree, I too hate them, with the same breath I can say I love them. They are the only mob this expansion that actually brought an element of danger with them.

  2. STOP MOCKING ME FOR DYING TO THE FLAMING METAL BALL OF DEATH. I swear the hit radius is significantly bigger in normal than it is in flex.

    Sulk. That's the one mechanic that still semi-consistently burns me... on a fight that can't really afford it. I drive myself nuts.

    Regarding holes, sometimes it just has to be done... I remember a flex run I was in quite a while back where we had 3 dps who were doing sub-40K dps. Basically, the run was set up where, as long as they weren't holding us back, they were welcome to stay but once it got to the point where they were, we'd swap them out for the fight and then bring them back in afterward. Some fights are better for carrying than others, as you mentioned, so as long as everyone's on the same page going in there shouldn't be any issues with shifting folks in and out as necessary as long as success (boss kills) is actually a goal. Different story for a strictly social run, of course.

    Basically, any type of raiding, including LFR, has an implied performance requirement... the group needs to perform at a level sufficient to succeed with you in it.

    On a similar note, I believe most heroic carry groups basically require the carried player to suicide at first opportunity on specific or all fights so they won't wipe the raid. Sometimes it's just a cost of doing business.

    This has changed slightly lately but traditionally my personal rules for pugging a run:

    1) Don't wipe the raid, better to suicide
    2) Don't suicide
    3) Perform as well as possible

    For your mage, assuming you don't want to drop him, he's breaking the first rule... so if I'm him (or if you're in a position to make the request), he should do NOTHING in the fight but soak appropriate puddles and run out of the group if he gets the debuff until he figures it out. As Elk mentions above, too, he doesn't have to stack with the group if it's really an issue, although training is usually better than ignoring a mechanic if it's someone who'll likely be back.

    Lately, since I've been pugging with some higher-performing raids, I'm paying a bit more attention to #3 off the bat than I normally would otherwise. Yes, I might die a few times or wipe the raid once or twice when learning but those are necessary steps for me to learn in those cases... and more often than not it's gone fine. In most situations, though, I'd still prioritize as above.

    I'm not at all a fan of the random scaling mechanics, actually, I don't like that implementation. I think any flexible runs (including Heroic in WoD) should have a set number and stick to it regardless of size. Save larger quantity mechanics for Mythic. So, for prisons on Sha, for instance, there'd only be 2 for any flexible run and 4 for Mythic. Having different numbers during a fight is going to cause more problems than it solves, I think.

    (on that note, is the 3rd pad on the prisons ever required at any level? I haven't seen 25H so maybe that's where they're used)

    1. You have to see where I put the marker for where melee should stand when that comes. If I put it any further out people would zone out of the instance. Trust me, I know how wide the range is. lol

      Maybe they should just require they get the dagger off the isle of thunder that could kill yourself. Never though there would be a good use for that raid wise.

      The mage was just a one night fill in we carried because someone wanted a day off. He was actually pretty good on many fights, but really bad at moving out of stuff, or in that case, into stuff.

      What you describe is "trying". That is all I ever ask of people, that they try. If they make a mistake, they learn from it. If they attempt to put their best foot forward and get better between attempts. As long as someone is trying I do not mind wiping with them.

      In the one ball of death case I was thinking when I wrote that a rogue died 3 times in the same place, never once trying to move even after being told too each time. It was the same rogue that on protectors got the mark and I said pass the mark, pass the mark, pass the mark, over and over and over until they died. And the same person who I said to go into the shadow realm, click the orb, go into the realm, and they never did. And the same person that stood right next to a prison and did not get someone out dispute the fact they were called out BY NAME to step to the left on to the glowing platform.

      It is not like they were just dying to the ball of death, they just do not listen, and a rogue with nearly all 553 or better gear doing a maximum of 70K just does not deserve to be in a raid, even if we carry her.

      I agree, they should have a set number no matter what, 10 or 25 or anywhere in between. Sure it would make it easier with bringing more people, but no random crap. I have had enough of random crap in this game.

      All four are used in 25 man. And all three lights light up in 25 man. And on heroic you get to play pac man... how freaking cool is that? (am I talking about the right fight or did I misunderstand you?)

    2. I believe there are add-ons for that. :) DBM does a good job, but guildies also like:

      GTFO -

      because it helps when you're on the edge of a fire and still taking damage. Maybe making one of these a raid requirement?

    3. The person is just a horrible player. Nothing will help her, sorry. We have tried over and over. We hold her hand and tell her what to do on every boss, she still can't do it. Some people are just bad, there is nothing that can be done about that. It might sound mean but it is true.

      If can sure help but I don't think it needs to be a requirement. Moving from stuff that hurts you should be one of the first things someone learns before even thinking of entering a raid. And if they know they have issues, and need help I would surely suggest it to them.

      For melee, yes, I can really see that being needed more than ranged. There is just to many flashing lights and it is easy to miss when you are standing in things.

    4. have you given thought that maybe there is something physically or mentally not right with the person and they get mixed up while playing? I know you guys wouldn't have me in your raid group because of mine (and I wouldn't blame you. that's why I don't raid or lfg now. Even my sister is tired of me because of it). Just wondering is all.


    5. It is possible, but then she should realize she should not be playing and not keep complaining if we don't invite her.

      At least you understand if you are not invited and if we take you it is our choice. You would not demand a space because you know you might not be able to keep up.

      That makes you a good person even if not the best player. In the end I would rather have a good person that is a bad player around than a bad person that is a good player. So sure, I would take you. But you would also be understand if I told you I needed you to sit out on this fight, she wouldn't be understanding and would make a scene.

    6. Re: the flaming ball of my death, it's more a timing thing and that the group I was running with was basically leaving the adds in the ball path while I was attacking them (melee, of course) and while I thought I was moving far enough out with the ball, sometimes I noticed a bit too late or, a couple of times, got caught mid-SCK (I normally don't have it glyphed and I don't have any sort of /stopcasting or /stopchanneling or whatever set up... screwwwwed). Anyway.

      I can't recall ever having much issue with players who are aware and take ownership of their own issues... everyone has quirks and most can be worked around. The issue is folks who don't realize they're having problems.

      Hm, I've done Sha on flex with close to 25 (maybe 22?) and I don't recall needing to use all 3 pads to get people out... also not sure if we were getting 3 or 4 prisons, mind you, and this was when the had the breakpoints rather than the current or incoming random numbers. And yeah, that's the fight... pac-man is great, although only when your fellow raiders actually break you out in time. :)

    7. In flex I do not think it ever uses more than three and never needs all three pads. In 25 it uses all 4 and has all three pads light up. Also there are two adds, one on each side, not one in the back.

      While flex is extremely similar to the fights usually this is one fight where it is completely different between flex with 25 people and 25 man.

      I know people who would rather quit than do things like that pac man thing, but I think it is kind of fun.

    8. yup, you understand. :) well, thats too bad for her. I am thinking it is probably mental for her with a huge lacking of self-confidence. ok, take care.


  3. This is definitely not just you. It has been pretty well established that there are fights that test the best players in a raid ( a hard mechanic you can pick who handles) and mechanics that test the weakest player in raid (a random debuff on someone that will blow up the raid/flame wreath/Amber shaper more or less)

    Any case where one person messing up can cause huge damage to the raid, that is difficult to minimize you will have a real question on is it worth it to bring them.

    This is all in the most obvious cases as well, there are tons more subtle ones. Any DPS check, health gets scaled with more people (in flex and all future normal/heroic). My guess is an extra person will typically have slightly lower dps expectations than the average raid. Say you need 100k for 6dps, if you add a 7th they will only add life to account for 90k dps or so. But what if they can only do 50k, they are hurting you if your other members can't carry them.

    We had a fight were a new player came back in ToT. We hadn't wiped on the first guy in there since I could remember, first two pulls with her, she just stood in the pool and the lightning ball hit her and it wiped us, twice. After I told her to never go near a pool and stand off to the side, she did almost no dps but it didn't matter for that, but if we needed her dps it would have been a problem.

    We have some other friends of friends in the guild who are honestly horrible, full SoS LFR geared doing 70-80k, we brought them into flex and it wasn't a big deal there (up to garrosh), but when normals are now flexible are we going to tell them they can't come? Right now I'm just hoping they will get better with more experience, but am very worried.

    1. I swear every time I bought someone new into ToT we always had at least one wipe like that if they were targeted despite being warned about it. Hey, they need to learn too. I do not mind they learn, but when it happens the second time is when I question if they should really be there.

      I have a lot like that now too, people all nicely geared that can still not break 70K. It makes me wonder how they even managed to get that gear sometimes. Reminded me of a lock we had for a short time during DS in cata. He refused to take off his spirit gear because "warlocks need spirit" and he could not DPS his way out of a paper bag. He was not even good enough for our third team. Yet some how he always managed to get into pugs, even heroic pugs, and even heroic pugs that let him have the spirit gear, and he was better geared than I was. Just makes me want to cry when I see people like that.