Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Do You Find The Flexible Format Favoring Larger Groups?

To answer my own question, I will simply say yes.  From my limited experience this expansion, through guild and pug groups, it seems that the more people you add the easier a fight gets.  And not always in the way one might expect.

As an example, I was in a blackrock pug, not many people in it, I think 11.  The raid leader decided to add another healer being it seemed like we were short on heals, otherwise the fight we were on, iron maidens at the time, would go down, we just could not keep up at the end but DPS numbers were fine.

When in the listing asking for a healer a few damage dealers signed up that had high item levels.  He figured he would grab them.  This meant we needed to add even more healers.  Soon this small group doubled in size.

Next attempt was a little better, but we added so many damage dealers we were back where it seemed we were before, we needed another healer.  So we went to grab one and ended up grabbing three, two more damage dealers and one more healer.  We had a full on party going here now.

The fight went down nice and easy.  Lost a couple of people at the end but really it did not seem like the same fight it was with only 12 in the group.  I would compare it to doing a 5 man dungeon on challenge mode (with 11 people) to doing a 5 man dungeon on normal mode (with 24 people).  There was that much of a difference.

No more did we have the same person seemingly targeted by each and every ability.  No more did people die to having too few heals on the platform when one healer left for the boat.  No more did penetrating shot seem to take chunks out of people, it barely tickled them a little.  Mechanics seems to be easier to handle, less damaging, and more manageable with more people.  Not to mention losing 5 people to the boat means nothing when you have a massive bunch of people still on the ground among other things.

The people that were added were all good players doing solid numbers, don't get me wrong, but none of them were the savior of the group, that one healer to rule them all, that one damage dealer to blow everyone away.  As a matter of fact all the original damage dealers were in the top, only two of the damage dealers added reached the numbers the people that were in the group at first pull had.  The healers that were added, which is my opinion is what made the fight, were nothing super but enough to get the job done and keep most of us alive, none reached what I like to call pug god mode.  Have to love when you get one of "those" healers.  But they were all very solid healers.

So it is not like the group added a bunch of "better" players it just added a bunch of capable and knowledgeable players and that made the fight so much easier.   There were no slackers, but there were not any before hand either.  It was a pure number issue.  The fight was easier all around because there were more people there.

This is just one, of many, experiences I have had while running with guild and in pugs that makes me believe that blizzard did not think of small groups or people that would prefer to run with small groups in mind when they made the flexible format.  It almost seems as if you are penalized for wanting to keep the group small and it makes all the fights harder, sometimes, like on fights like this one, much harder with smaller numbers.

What do you think? 
Have you experienced the same thing were many fights just seem easier with more people?


  1. I concur most wholeheartedly, Grumpy.

    When Highmaul opened before the initial nerf to Tectus, and before any significant retunings in general, I was on a team that ran 11 against Tectus. This was a team of well geared (for starting at, but very appropriately geared) skilled accomplished raiders. We 10 man'd heroic (before it became mythic) SoO 7/14 before second set of valor upgrades were added to the gearing for Siege (the team took a Siege break having done it for 8-9 months). Suffice to say, no slouches, everyone knew their class, the abilities, could deal with complex mechanics and demanding tuning checks.

    We spent hours upon hours wiping, then grapevine suggested scaling size up would make it easier. Brought in 5 people for an even 16, the five we brought in were not on the same level as the rest of the team, in both experience, gearing, and execution, but Tectus dropped in 3 pulls.

    I believe this one experience is indicative of the entire design of raiding in WoD. Ten man raids are extraordinarily hard, disproportionately hard when compared to 15+ teams. I don't mind having hard fights tuned and requiring skilled disciplined execution to down. What I do have a problem is that add some mediocre players even substandard players for that difficulty and suddenly what was near impossible becomes easy mode. Mistakes per pull rate increased, yet bosses dropped easier. How is that possible?

    Its possible because they did not tune the fight fairly for 10 man teams, in my opinion. I've seen mythic teams (previously heroic) simply toss in the towel even before WoD dropped because they didn't want a team of more than 10 raiders. They believed, and I agree to some degree, that the intimacy, trust, and communication is hampered the more people you have in the raid. They didn't want the struggle that you yourself have experienced, telling someone they are not up to par for this difficulty. They wanted a tight knit, band of brothers and sisters with free open communication, high expectations and didn't feel that WoD's design would afford them that environment. I can only say their impressions before WoD even dropped were spot on.

    Some of my favorite teams, whom I love a ton of the people that are on them, have become burdensome. Too many personalities to manage, and its not fair to the leads of those times. Too many competing interests, to be equitably addressed. There's tension in these groups that was never there before, now that they have expanded. If it was one team, I'd say perhaps that lead wasn't cut out for leading a large team, but I see it from multiple teams that I'm on and from dozens of other ancillary sources, much like yourself.

    I also think Blizzard messed up huge in the tuning of normals, heroic, and mythic. Normals were given the impression of being like Flex was in Siege. Not the case at all. Normals are at least a half step above flex was even approaching the difficulty of Old Normals. Heroics were supposed to be relative difficulty of old Normals, but they too are a half step above the old Normals (definitely not old heroics but still).

    New Normal is not flex. New Heroic is not old normal, they are significantly harder and that has given teams unrealistic expectations and fed many frustrations. Add to that fact, that the sizes of the groups need get larger to succeed, manage these erroneous expectations among more people, its a recipe for failure and team destruction, which I've seen.

    I think most people are ok with challenge, if they are appropriately prepared for it, understand what they are getting into. I do not believe that the implementation of flexible raids has done this and it has hurt the raiding community.


    1. That is my guilds biggest problem, we were a 10 man guild that did heroic (now mythic) a little here and there, like you, a casual 10/14 heroic as a guild before we slowed down and just did heirloom farming on alts.

      Now we are having hell with 10 man. Heck, even 10 man normal HM nearly killed us. We never downed the last boss in HM on even normal before BRF came out. It sucks and honestly I have been thinking of quitting raiding ever since then. It is a failure as a raid leader of epic proportions and makes me question why I even try any more.

      It is not like we are bad players, it is just that it was harder than it should be for a small group. If we put in more than 2 hours once in a while we probably could have done it, but it was not worth trying with so few people.

      I agree. Honestly, at least as a 10 man, I would consider normals on par to old normal, now heroic. It was tuned wrong. Normal is in no way even close to what they advertised it would be like. A guild like mine should have cleared it on day one in our 2 hour raid night and instead we did not even kill the last boss. That left a bad taste in my mouth about raiding this expansion that I don't think will ever leave. I've always said 10s were harder than 25s. Now everyone can see why.

    2. I can definitely understand your frustration. But, I don't think you are being entirely fair to yourself. "It is a failure as a raid leader of epic proportions" I don't believe is an accurate analysis of what has happened.

      I think you have been and your team has been the victim of Blizzard's inaccurate representation of what to expect in the raid structures format and failure to properly tune encounters for smaller group sizes. This is not to say, you are wholly excused from adapting your teams and your own expectations, but don't unfairly criticize yourself. In the frustrated and demoralized state you are in, it serves no constructive purpose to do continue to take so much blame onto yourself.

      Understanding the situation is what it is, and your current embittered state of mind, what do you think it will take to regain some better footing? Perhaps that is the undercurrent to the last couple months of random thoughts and venting criticism. Its the constant struggle to find that footing and then stumbling over some other new paradigm that takes you from that constructive effort and frustrates you more: apexis, group finder, crafting, garrison managment.

      Vacations do help, but as a guild leader and lead of the raid, often that means the death knell to the group and guild. Is there anyone who can fill that role for a time? I wish I had the answers, how to recenter yourself and find what you can enjoy. It is my earnest hope that you do find that and hope, purely from a selfish perspective (I enjoy your blog, been reading about 3 months now), find something of value in this experience. Good Luck, Mate.

    3. I don't think 2 hours to clear normal BRF is a reasonable expectation. I mean 15 minutes to kill a boss clear trash distribute loot. still only gets you 8/10 and that's pretty breakneck speed for an opening night. As far as bigger versus smaller raids until last night I would have agreed with you bigger seems better. but last night we got into a pug guild run that only had 11 people including us and we just whipped thru Blackhand I was honestly surprised. I think I joked to my partner that it was going to be a wipefest. So now I'm questioning my assumptions.

    4. @Thuggs

      I think my issue was my unwillingness to add people with group finder. I wanted to do it as just guild and I think we could have done better if I had bended my own rules of guild first some in this case. That is where I point my failure.

      As you mentioned, I fear that any time off on my part would mean the group would disband and I would rather not have that happen. Raiding with these people is what keeps me playing. I like them. They are the reason I never left to join a more progressed guild. I'd rather keep them together if I can. If that means me being grumpy about staying, well, I'll be grumpy a bit here and there. It is who I am after all, right?

      I am just in desperate need of a good week. You know how things go hot and cold with blizzard. Things have been so cold for me so long that one good week would be nice. A couple of heroic tier pieces, hell, even normal tier pieces, and I will be happy for a few weeks. lol

      Also I would love to find a way to convince my guild to go back and kill Imp on normal for some guild practice and then heroic for the achievement. I really want that and as you can tell, not killing him as a guild is eating at me.


      Maybe not on day one, that was a bit of an exaggeration of course, but after 2 months we should have been able to clear highmaul normal in 2 hours. We could not even do the last boss. Usually ran out of time after the 6th, or it was so close to the end of the raid night we did not even put in any attempts.

      Maybe you just ran into some really great players with a lot of experience. I tend to think after you have experience the smaller group factor is not as big of a deal breaker. But when first kills are factored in it seems kind of big, to me at least.

    5. Why didn't you extend the lockout, start on Imperator to get the kill, then go back and kill the rest?

      Our team has had similar issues (9/14hc SoO), struggling to get through heroic BRF.
      There seems to be a much bigger overlap now in the difficulty levels, with the later bosses being much harder on normal than the early bosses on heroic.

      I also have to agree that it seems tuned much tighter for 10man than bigger teams,
      I've found progress much easier to come by in 25+ pugs rather than our 10-12man guild raids, even though I can see more mistakes being made and lower numbers on the meters.
      Luckily, I'm not a hunter so I can get in pugs ;-)

      My first Imp normal kill was in a 30man pug with 10 healers which shows how poorly tuned it is for different raid sizes. There is no way you should be able to take 10 healers to a fight.

      I don't mind the new normal being harder than flex (new heroic harder than normal etc.), it just means shifting your expectations. After all, we're in control of which difficulty we choose to raid.
      However, when we choose that difficulty, it needs to be consistent for all raid sizes.

      Blizzard has made one pass at fixing this but it's still not right.

    6. Wes, because there were still some that needed gear from the earlier bosses.

      I do like the idea we could have done the last boss first and then went back to the earlier ones. In hindsight we should have attempted it that way.

      I find it kind of sad you can do it in a small group with everyone doing mechanics well, and 30K, and so forth, and it be hard, yet you go in a pug, see people screwing up left and right and doing 20K or less, and you down the boss. There is just something seriously wrong there with scaling. If anything it should be easier with smaller groups, not harder.

      I do mind them being harder than they used to be because there are fewer decent players than there used to be. If it were 5 or more years ago I would not have minded. There were many more good players and tons of good ones looking for guilds, now, I could not find a decent player for the life of me, and by looking at the guild recruiting in trade, no one else can either.

  2. That has always been true. 10 man was always alot more challenging then 25 man. Always!!

    1. 25 man is like 10 man except with training wheels.

    2. I agree 100%. More personal responsibility, more attention to detail and priority needed, no slackers allowed in 10 man. The only thing that made 25s hard was getting 25 people and organizing them. The content in 25 was always easier, even when 10s were supposed to be easier, like in wrath.

  3. I'm a member of a smaller guild and we usually have 10, maybe 15 people max. The fights are much more of a challenge than when I'm doing LFR...but much more satisfying when we finally take down a new boss we weren't able to get past before. Someone told me that LFR was 'easy mode', and I think I believe them. :) Would love to try this with a larger group, but I like my guild too much to leave for a bigger one.

    1. While I agree that it is much more satisfying to down things with a guild group I believe that it should be the same difficulty level whether doing it with 10 or 30 people. The fights being easier with more kind of seems unfair to people my you or I that are in smaller guilds with smaller groups that enjoy the company and raiding with them. It is like punishing us for playing in small groups. The game needs more small group content. And having 10 man raids be the same difficulty as 30 man raids would be a start.