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?