Thursday, February 11, 2016

If There Were Only One Raid Difficulty...

With the four different levels of difficulty in raiding right now from the pure random pug friendly LFR to the highly coordinated group effort of mythic it made me wonder, what is the preferred method level of raiding of people if you could only have one.

The way I figure it most "raiders" raid two levels or raiding, not really all four.  You have your farm raid and your progression raid.  For some people they farm LFR and progress through normal, or others they farm normal and progresses through heroic and for yet others they farm heroic to progress through mythic.

Of course there are those that only do one.  I know a great many players that only do LFR.  I have some guild members that refuse to step into LFR but as they are not really raiders so they will only do normal.  Then there are the people that are "better" than normal, their word, not mine, and refuse to step into any raid that is not heroic.  If we are doing a normal run that night they take the night off.  All those people only do one level of raiding.

So while the choice is nice to have with 4 different levels of raiding I would say the majority of raiders, at least the ones I know or have spoken to, only raid 2 of those 4 levels of difficulty on a regular basis at most.

If I were to ask the question which 2 raid difficulties would you choose the answer would be simple for me personally.  My opinions are as follows.

LFR is not needed.  It no longer serves the purpose it was intended for and it should be either fixed or removed from the game.  If LFR still offered real tier gear I could see it having a place in the game.  If LFR was designed to teach people to be raiders I could see it having a place in the game.  If LFR was actively moderated by blizzard to keep it from getting toxic like it does often I could see it having a place in the game.  If LFR actually required people to participate and actually try, even if they do poorly, then I could see it having a place in the game.

The thing is, it does not teach anyone, it does not offer tier gear, it does not have moderators and there are too many people expecting to be carried by others for LFR to continue to exist.  It is not needed and should be removed because, we know for a fact, blizzard has no intention of fixing it.  So cutting down from 4 raid difficulties to 3 was easy for more.  Lose LFR.

Losing the second difficulty was an easy choice for me as well.  Mythic has no place in the game either.  Just look at the numbers.  LFR has the most people actively playing it in the game and I would choose to remove that, so why in hell would I keep the difficulty that the fewest, by large, are participating in.

It is not just about the numbers that use it, it is about the format itself.  It is a fixed size, something that in this day and age has played itself out, games need to be more dynamic.  And if it was going to be a fixed size it should be a fixed size that was more inclusive, like 10 or at max 15.  When they decided on 20 man as the base for mythic they effectively told over 95% of the heroic guilds to go screw themselves.  Not the smartest move in my opinion. 

Perhaps if mythic were 10 man than it would not be one of the two I would remove.  As a matter of fact, I am sure if mythic was 10 man I would have not said to remove it.  But as 20 man it does not fit in a dying game where it seems most servers can barely field one or two mythic guilds even if there are hundreds of people on that server that would want to run mythic.  Many, like myself, prefer smaller groups even if it historically means harder fights.

So if I had to choose only 2 to stay it would be normal or heroic.

Now comes the hard part, if I had to choose only one.  Both have their strengths and weaknesses.

Normal is easy enough that you can take new players along with hurting yourself too much.  You can take alts on a normal run no problem.  You can make mistakes on a normal run.  You can have fun on a normal run once you start to over gear it by ignoring some mechanics, something it usually takes until the next tier that comes out to be capable of doing.  And the number one plus on the side of normal is because it is easier it is faster.  I am about as sick and tired of log fights as any one elf can be.  I enjoy going into normal on my main and blowing things up in record time.  Fast fights = fun fights.

Normal does have its downsides as well.  As it is easier you will down stuff faster.  Sure depending on your group and the skill of the players in it you can still hit a bump in the road here and there to slow you down.  Normal archie took a little bit for us, heck even gorefiend was a bit rough the first week for my guild who never did higher than heroic the previous tier and was geared as such.  Neither took us long to down, but that is the point.  Even the "brick walls" on normal are not much of a challenge for even the remotely organized group.  If all challenges are like this, were you never meet a fight that can take you weeks to down, or 100 wipes to get, I could see it getting boring.  Sure no one want to wipe 100 times on every single boss, but having one or two or even three in a raid this side that take you a few weeks, maybe even 40 tries would be nice.  It would feel like progression.  Normal might be fun, but it can also be too easy for anyone that is willing to put in even a little effort.

As for heroic, like normal it has its positives and negatives.  Some of the positives are the fact that for the vast majority of the player base these are genuinely hard.  It is a challenge and it is exciting to beat that challenge.  Even for the somewhat better players that might be able to down it in just a few attempts the fact that it is a bigger challenge is more rewarding.

Another positive is that it teaches the next generation of raiders that mechanics matter, performance matters, personally responsibility matters.  When someone can do LFR or even normal and they die on every boss but they still down it they think "oh this is easy".  In the heroic world they are removed from the group.  Sorry, no dead weight wanted.  Even if you can carry someone like that, why do so?  They offer no benefit to the group.  Heroic, if it were the only difficulty, would mean that a hell of a lot of player would get better.  They would be better player over all, or they would not be raiders.  That's a fact.   Well, unless you pay for a carry, but no matter what they will always happen so forget I said it.

The main negative of heroic is that I am a grumpy elf.  No really.  You really can not bring people in after you have been downing bosses that do not know the fight.  It is frustrating taking a step back and unlike with normal were you might be able to push through having a few inexperienced players it usually means a wipe in heroic.  Call it be being grumpy but I would just say it is me being tired and not liking the idea of doing progression over and over and over in a raid I have already been downing with no problem.  This is the biggest draw back of heroic.

A secondary drawback of heroic is blizzards own fault and that is the scaling of flex.  A fight like Killrog with 10 people early on was near impossible unless you had top notch players and they all performed to perfection.  But with 20 or even more so with 30 players it was a joke.  Blizzard needs to fix heroic so no matter how many you have 10 or 30 it is close to the same fight, difficulty wise.

So you see whittling down to just one difficulty for me would be hard.  But when push comes to shove I would choose heroic as the single raid difficulty.  Probably because that is what I like to raid so I am already bias toward it.  Someone that only does LFR might say LFR, someone that only want to do mythic might say mythic.

However, with that all said, I want to add one additional thing.

I would prefer to say the current normal should be the only difficulty.  And that the current normal should add activated hard modes like Ulduar had.  So you can turn normal into a heroic type encounter or even a mythic type encounter.  Now that would leave everyone with the best of all worlds in my opinion, all the benefits of normal with all the challenge of mythic if you so choose with a 10 to 30 player group.

Now that would be my real answer.  I want to see normal only, but with activated modes to make it harder as you decide it to be.  With no 20 person lock, with no issues switching back and forth, just one lock out doing each boss the way you want to do them.

So if they are left "as is" I choose heroic.  But if they want to make raiding better I choose normal with activated hard modes, many of them.

If you had to choose only one raid difficulty to stay, which would you choose?


  1. Agree with a lot of what you wrote, with one big exception. I still hear many, many stories of players who were LFR only, until they got bored. LFR motivates a pretty significant amount of players to join the "real" raiding community. They sometimes have a rough transition, but isn't that better than no transition at all? I can't stand LFR personally, but if it adds more to the normal/heroic raiding pool, I'm all for it.

    1. Yes that is true. There are people that moved up from LFR to normal. But then again there are people that moved from being carried during a run in vanilla to being a regular raider. There are people that moved from normal to heroic in cataclysm. There are people that moved from listening in on voice chat to wanting to join.

      The game does not "need" LFR as a stepping stone, so to speak, it just needs to make raiding more inviting so people step into it in the first place.

      I thought I would see a lot of people joining the raiding ranks from LFR and over the years since it has been added I have. But each and everyone one of them would have become a raider even if it were not for LFR. They became raiders because they wanted to raid. Not because LFR made them want to raid. At least from my small sampling.

  2. I generally agree with you. Also, if we only have one tier of gear, you don't over-gear the next tier of normal by getting some heroic gear; this increases the challenge of normal.

    "Hard mode" can definitely be there for achievement purposes, but I don't think it should be for better gear.

    If Blizzard could fix LFR (by doing what you suggested), I'd consider making LFR a queue-able Normal difficulty and then have Heroic as a 2nd difficulty for organized groups.

    However, Blizzard has argued that Mythic doesn't add much development resources and LFR probably doesn't either.

    So I think a better goal would be to reduce the number gear levels rather than the number of raid difficulties.

    At most, I would have:
    Quest gear (iLvL 600)
    Dungeon gear (610)
    Heroic Dungeon gear (620)
    "Normal" raiding gear (630)
    "Heroic" raiding gear (if there are two actual raid difficulties) (640)

    So if we kept LFR, it could be Warforged Heroic Dungeon level (625 in my example above).
    Normal would drop Normal gear.
    Heroic would drop Heroic gear.
    Mythic would drop Heroic gear. If Blizz wanted something here, it could have a chance at being Warforged Heroic or just be Warforged (so a half tier up).

    In this scenario, I would get rid of Random Warforged from Questing/Dungeons/LFR/Normal/Heroic and Random sockets from everything. I'd have craft-able gear all the way up to Heroic Raid level where each set requires tradable materials from the appropriate difficulty level. Therefore, normal raids would drop mats needed to craft normal level raid gear, which could help fill in gaps and provide income for raid groups. Crafted gear would take the place of Valor/Badge gear.

    So for a 3 raid expansion, iLvLs could be something like:
    quest up to 600 green
    Dungeon 610 blue
    Heroics 620 blue
    Tier 1
    (LFR 625 blue or purple)
    Normal 630 purple
    Heroic 640 purple
    (Mythic 645 purple)
    Tier 2
    (LFR 635 blue or purple)
    Normal 640 purple
    Heroic 650 purple
    (Mythic 655 purple)
    Tier 3
    (LFR 645 blue or purple)
    Normal 650 purple
    Heroic 660 purple
    (Mythic 665 purple)

    So I think something like that could work as well.

    1. "If Blizzard could fix LFR (by doing what you suggested), I'd consider making LFR a queue-able Normal difficulty and then have Heroic as a 2nd difficulty for organized groups."

      This could work, for sure.

      They need to do something about the gear inflation. Heck, the issue with raiding is not as much 4 difficulties, it is that each one has MUCH better gear than the one before it which means huge gear inflation that actually means we should have a squish again now.

      5 item levels between each works. But they would need to remove warforged for that to happen. Otherwise normal warforged would be better than heroic. And what try "harder" on heroic when you can blow through normal each week and hope to get lucky.

  3. Anon, Grumpy's former Guild Leader:

    Hmm, given a choice, I would have a single raid size of 10 to 30 flexibility. Looking For would be restricted to combined servers only, with no other realm hopping possible. Hard modes could be activated for achievements but results in no better gear for raiding though other bonuses such as mounts and pets could be obtained through the harder modes.

    I won't go into a detailed explanation of tier levels nor provide examples of how it would work but that is because I think it is rather much obvious that no system would ever suit everyone. Even so, I think it would be easier for Blizzard to produce such raids over having multiple levels of difficulty for the same raid.

    Servers being combined or merged or whatever Blizzard decides to call it would provide the population base needed to make raiding work without having to bring in folks who you will never likely have a chance of meeting again. That is what I see as being key to reducing the problems with raiding as it is currently configured. Many servers can not mount multiple guilds to challenge all the different raid levels. Combine them into more populated groups and then let Looking For be restricted to that given combined / merged realm. That return accountability, which is the missing ingredient in today's game.

    1. I like the idea of tying the things like mounts and pets to doing the hard modes and keeping gear the same. That would be fine in my opinion. Some might complain "then why do the hard modes". For fun maybe? Some people like to challenge themselves.

      You are right that no matter what they do no system will ever please everyone. Not even half the people. There are just too many type of people out there and we all like things differently.

  4. I usually agree with you but...

    I used to be a raid leader for a small guild. We stomped thru Karazhan, we did AQ 20, Bear runs, Zul'Gurub, Ulduar...and then eventually I burned out.

    I moved to another guild and let them drive the bus. I'd come along when we were doing Ice Crown and Nax.

    And eventually I stopped that as well. But it was ok, because hey, LFR!!

    LFR was terrific for people like me. I didn't have to herd cats thru hours of my week, discuss why someone couldn't bring their green geared alt Mage when we needed his tank, and basically just go, have a good time and leave.

    And you know what? Now when I do LFR? I see plenty of people who clearly are on alts, and are also there to have a good time and finish a ring. And people like me are there to tank or heal for them, since odds are they're on that mage that never gets to run heroic or mythic, because damn it they need that tank.

    Get rid of any incentive to do LFR and get rid of LFR and you'll hear screaming. I know you don't see the point of it, but for people like me who have way too burned out on real raiding, LFR is fine. If it sucks, it sucks, but most of the time it's good enough.

    Blizzard learned that they can't have the best stuff only for the hard core, or the lesser core would lose any incentive to log in. They put back the carrot with the ability to earn valor via the daily heroic, and they are cognizant of that, with the valor earned via LFR.

    1. "I didn't have to herd cats thru hours of my week, discuss why someone couldn't bring their green geared alt Mage when we needed his tank, and basically just go, have a good time and leave."

      I've known lots of former RLs who basically stopped raiding once they'd had enough rather than just stepping back to be a normal raider or joining another raid as a member. I've never understood why.

      My raid is, more or less, a "regular pug" run... going in I knew 2 other people in the raid and the 3 of us basically just filled spots through friends of friends and half the raid is from off-server who were met through raid finder. We have about 18 on the invite list of whom 10-13 show up each week. We sometimes swap in alts or swap roles. We have very little leadership. Yet, the run works... bosses die quickly enough and there's basically zero drama, I can't recall a single argument about anything.

      It's obviously not a guild-focused run, one pug did join the guild (he happened to be from our server) but other than that it's just the 3 of us who started the run. Yet it works, almost perfectly.

      I can't imagine my run is the only one like this, there must be lots of others that don't have guilding requirements. If you want to raid without the stress why not see if you can find one? Toss yourself in the finder with a "not looking to guild but possibly interested in a regular spot" or similar in the comment and see what happens.

    2. Raid leading burns you out bad, especially if you're in a more social guild. If you happen to hit drama, it also scars you, making you want to step back completely from human interaction.

      It's not just raid leaders though, it happens to any raider that feels they need to give their team the most they can. You grow older, you start to spend more time with your life partner, move in, marry, and being part of a guild and socializing on guild chat and TeamSpeak simply doesn't have a place in your life. Not necessarily because your life won't allow it, but because you don't feel like you need it. And raiding without socializing when you used to be overly involved doesn't really seem possible - you either raid and invest as you used to or you don't. Therefore, step back and treat WoW as more of a single player that you still spend time with (because you've already invested a lot of your time in it and got attached to it).

    3. @Anon

      I can most definitely see the appeal of LFR for a great many people. There is a reason why it is still the raid difficulty with the largest participation rate.

      I am not one of those "LFR needs to be removed" people. I say it has a place in the game. So do not get me wrong. I am only saying to remove it as part of this question, the one were if we could only choose one, which would it be. I do not want to see LFR removed. It has a place in the game.


      There are a lot of people like that. Two of my raiders are part of different mythic runs. They do it late nights and it is all pug people. They even get down 4-6 bosses each week. (side note: I am so jealous that I am sleeping at 3 in the morning and can't join. lol)


      Oh preach it man, preach it. I have suffered all types of burnout. I am very lucky to not have drama really. It is extremely rare in my guild. But just the act of being a raid leader could kill a person or make them want to kill someone else, I swear.

  5. My main raid is a normal/heroic raid (mostly heroic lately aside from an occasional normal alt run to mix things up, we only raid 3 hours a week so those normal weeks are a literal week away from heroic). That's my preferred level these days... I want to have a chance to complete the content (heroic end boss) by the end of the expansion and I'll have that chance. I want to "finish" my content since we rarely have more than 13 or 14 in the raid and 20-man raiding isn't an option, nor do I much like the larger raids.

    Having said that, I also mythic raid occasionally with another run, usually if they're short a body or can use a gear soaker to avoid sharding. Even though I'm not technically a regular I find these stressful and I need to be in a particular mood to participate.

    I run LFR only when necessary which these days means I only run it for quest requirements (mostly the legendary quest). In theory I could pug runs to get those done but when I'm not actually wanting to "raid" LFR fits that requirement for me.

    Incidentally, last night I did the full set of BRF LFR on an alt in order to get to the final collection quest for the legendary ring and not only did I manage to do the full set in about 90 minutes but I even got a satchel as a dps for the Blackhand kill. I've never even SEEN a dps satchel before, LFR or dungeon. They were also very smooth runs aside from a bit of usual useless chatter ("Who's the moron who popped heroism on the pull?"). The runs couldn't have gone any better, frankly.

    1. 20 man raiding is not possible for most of the player base. It is why I say mythic needs to change. It has to.

      I've gotten more than a few satchels for DPS lately. Unless recently I don't think I had seen one either. A guild mate who is on late at nights tells me there is always a baggie and he runs them all night for baggies.

  6. Hard to say. Back when there was only Normal and Heroic, felt like there was a need for a third difficulty to cover everyone.

    I think it's too late to give up on them.
    LFR is needed for people who don't want to interact with others for whatever reason. Yes, there are a lot of people out there who don't want to pug at all and raiding in a guild is too much of a commitment / social interaction requirement. I really dislike how some people try to say that these people who choose LFR are lazy, that if they can do a pug in two hours a week everyone can. It's not that simple and I'll keep it at that.

    Mythic - also needed, because otherwise most people I know would be out of their preferred content in 1-3 weeks.

    If you ask me, there's no place for normal. LFR serves its purpose and then there's the organized raiding easier difficulty and the organized raiding prestige difficulty. But yeah... being stuck on boss 2 or 3 of the easier difficulty of organized raiding isn't fun. So the 'normal' is there to provide the guilds the idea that they're like 10 bosses down on normal and 2 in heroic.

    I don't know, I have a hard time wrapping my head around a few things. For example, I get why higher difficulties are discouraging. because some think "I haven't even done heroic yet and there's also Mythic which I won't get to do". But I don't get why people want LFR removed. I dislike LFR, don't consider it 'raiding', don't do it (I don't tank for strangers), but I can't honestly advocate its removal.

    1. Do not even mention being stuck on the second boss of a raid. I still have nightmares about horridon.

      If they ever go back to one standard type of raiding, meaning the current normal and heroic being rolled into one, they need to make sure they do not make a fight that locks out otherwise solid guilds because they are too hard or require a specific make up. Doing that with only shaman healers was a nightmare. We spent more time on horridon than we did the rest of the raid. First time we passed him we made it to the last boss. Nearly every other boss was a one shot our first time seeing it. So we were not a bad group. But without the right healer that fight was a nightmare. "bring the player not the class", what a line of bullcrap.

      Sorry about the rant, I still have a lot of hate for that fight. lol

      I don't get why people want LFR removed either. It serves a purpose for the game. And in reality, it would be the last one blizzard would remove because it has a higher participation rate than normal, heroic and mythic combined.

  7. I don't play WoW anymore so I don't have a dog in this fight. But my impression was that LFR was for people who wanted to see the stories of the expansion, particularly the end one, without having to be in a raiding guild. If this is the case, they wouldn't need better gear attached to it, nor would the instance need to teach people how to be raiders. Is this not the case?

    1. They "say" it is to see story. That is not what it is actually for. It is for gearing, it is for collecting quest items, it is for learning the raids, it is for a lot of stuff, but it is not for seeing the story. Never was, never will be. If they want to tell the story it would be better served being in a solo scenario so everyone can "read" the story at their own pace instead of trying to follow a massive group of people rushing through a raid as fast as humanly possible.

  8. I'm an LFR only player.
    1. Mostly I want to see how the story ends.
    2. I also want some reward (full armor set) for participating in smth. bigger and harder than killing mobs and dungeons.
    3. I'm not eager to schedule any game activity and make it more important than IRL. I like to queue when I want to, when I'm in the mood and when I have time. Which fits both me and guys who have RT (they don't have to wait for me and the guys like me).
    4. I hate difficult modes in every game I come across. I play to win. I don't want to wipe 2 hours at a certain boss and leave it until next week. I want to kill 3 in 40-50 minutes. LFR is challenging enough not to resemble a dungeon or open world.
    5. I don't give a sh*t about progress, DPS numbers and other virtual penis stuff. When in LFR, I'm trying to be positive, do my best not to stand in the fire and nuke the right things as perfect as I can. But I would never, ever install any addons in my WoW, read guides "how to enlarge your dps by 0,1%" and change talents or specs in favor of performance, not gameplay that I choose for myself.

    Any alternatives for LFR here?

    1. You are one of the many people LFR is perfect for. It fits what you want to do and that is why it is in game.

      Remember that more people participate in LFR than any other form of raiding.

      I personally wish they would add tier back into LFR, real tier not the stuff they have now, so I would have some desire to do it on alts. As of now I have no desire to ever step in LFR on alts because it has nothing to offer me.

  9. I like the ideas presented on how to improve LFR. If that was done, then keep LFR. Then have one organized raiding level with hard modes. Heck, you can put in multiple hard modes if you want... The only benefit to doing those would be achievements, e-peen, and perhaps increased WF chances.

    That might help to avoid the ilevel inflation that occurs...

    1. That would REALLY help with the item level bloat and could work. And it would basically mean the one raid could be normal, heroic and mythic all in the same raid, depending on how you do it.

  10. I think the audiences that these various difficulties serve are too far apart in skill level and motivation to be successfully melded into fewer difficulty tiers. The only tier that I think could be successfully removed is the mythic tier (though I would be sad to see it go).

    Let me recharacterize each difficulty tier and I think you'll see my point.

    LFR - LFR serves people with scheduling issues, preference to not communicate, desire not to have to research their class and/or fights, run alts they have not mastered or want to master, casual players who just want an easy raid to practice or test their own mettle in their role. By its nature, this raid would need to be worlds easier than any other raid difficulty (something I think Blizz was hugely successful for Highmaul). AKA Tourist Mode.

    Normal - A level of difficulty that requires coordination, communication, learning mechanics and practicing execution on a very basic level. AKA Friends N Family mode. This mode is populated by a wide range of abilities/skill from poor to great. The difficulty ought have enough slack/leeway in the challenge to allow relatively unskilled players to participate without making the content very, very hard. Some are there just looking for a reduced stress evening. I put it akin to allowing someone to make mistakes on mechanics multiple times during a fight, but still have the capability of defeating the boss. This population is more interested in the social experience, the being a part of a team, and the cooperative communication and play, challenging content but not so challenging as to preclude their less geared or skilled friends from even participating.

    HEROIC - I see this group of people as wanting serious challenge. They are looking for a raid that requires execution by everyone in it, requires knowledge of the fight and their classes capabilities to maximize their contribution to the raid. They want a raid that tests them and their team. The need for high level dialogue, cooperation, and support to bring out the best in the entire team.

    MYTHIC - I see this audience as wanting nothing but the most challenging and difficult encounters requiring the utmost effort in every phase or aspect of each individual player. They want to run the knife's edge of disaster and prove they as a team can pull out every single little trick and nuance and skill to overcome each stupidly hard challenge (I say this as a mythic raider as well, some of those fights and mechanics are just stupidly hard LOL)

    What I am getting at, is that most of these motivations, goals, needs these various audiences have are at odds with each other. They are in fact mutually exclusive in many cases. I also think that now that they have these differentiated audiences/raiders, putting the genie back in the bottle cannot be done without further alienation, as one group or another will feel, their game play, their style, their preferred game is being legislated away, and they are obligated to change. That won't end well.

    I think it was a wonderful thought exercise, Grumpy, but not feasible or practical in any real way in my opinion.

    1. I agree with you. I was not advocating for the removal of any of them. Just posing a question of which 1 would you keep if we were forced to choose only one.

      I like your description of normal. Sadly normal is not friends and family. Not even close to it. It is a little too easy for even the most basic if "real" raiders but it is most definitely too damn hard for friends and family. I tried bringing a few friends and family when it first came out. It did not go as well as intended. Maybe 1 or 2 of those people before you already over gear it and can carry more. But some fights on normal if one mechanic targets one of those friends or family, it is a wipe. Which means, normal is not meant for friends and family.

      Depending on the group you would be surprised what "hard" really is.

      My group is weird. If there is a boss where everyone says "so and so is super hard because of this" we will one shot it the first time we see it and each time after even if every other guild is wiping repeatedly on it. Sounds awesome right? Well, the flip side is if there is a boss that "is so simple it should be an LFR fight" be prepared to wipe on it for at least 2 weeks with my group. We do hard stuff easily, but the trivial stuff we seems to really suck at.