Episode 202 of the Twisted Nether Blogcast (the fantastically named “Bloggers Go Whoosh!”), is now available on the podcast’s website. Thanks once again to Fimlys and Hydra for being such wonderful hosts – I had a great time talking to them about the newly announced Flexible Raiding system, and all things blogging.
I’m going to say something that may be painfully obvious to the rest of the world, but which has only fully formed in my head in the last week or so:
- The more challenging, innovative, and interesting a raid encounter is on normal, the less efficient it will be on LFR.
- The more efficient, troll-proof, and straight-forward a raid encounter is on LFR, the less interesting it will be on normal.
The reason for this is simple – LFR and normal mode raiding have fundamentally different goals:
Normal raids are (generally) worked through by an established, consistent raid group over the course of several weeks and months, throughout the life-span of a raiding tier. They require significant cooperation and planning. Additional challenges like achievements and heroic modes are designed to prolong the shelf-life of that tier, and provide additional rewards for repeating the content.
LFR is a system designed to be accessible to all max-level characters. It is supposed to provide the “feel” of raiding, but without the time commitment or coordination. In addition, it provides exposure to new encounters for normal-mode raiders who are there to learn, and for players who raid exclusively in LFR, it is a chance to experience current raiding content. The gear and Valor point rewards can be desirable to both raiders and non-raiders.
See the problem here? Normal raiding is about prolonging the experience and challenge of a raid tier. LFR is designed to abridge it. As much as Blizzard has worked to improve the system since it was first released, this is a problem that simply will not go away because the fights themselves are not designed to be able to serve these two purposes simultaneously.
The “best” LFR was pretty inarguably Dragon Soul. It generally went quickly, the fights required minimal explanation, and the raid itself had been designed so that only one major boss ability could be removed from the normal version of the encounter in order to make it translatable to Raid Finder. There were a few fights that required significantly more coordination (Hagara, Spine), but many could be reduced to a strategy something like, “Stack up for healing, DPS the boss.”
Of course, Dragon Soul was not a very good raid. No small part of this was because Dragon Soul wasn’t particularly challenging, nor did it call for innovative strategies. The fights were more complex on normal than they were on LFR difficulty, but because they had specifically been designed to be translatable to the LFR setting, many of their strategies could also be reduced to “Stack up for healing, except during X,” X being the additional mechanic that had been removed for LFR.
This type of fight, a “brute force” or “turret” encounter (think Patchwerk, Ultraxion), works very well for LFR. It requires minimal explanation and it means that your group will not wipe if a few people aren’t doing their jobs very well. By contrast, an “execution fight” (Spine, Elegon, Durumu) can be extremely fun and interesting in a traditional raid environment, while making you want to delete your account after wiping repeatedly to it on LFR.
Throne of Thunder has been described by Blizzard as the next Ulduar, and while I’m not exactly certain about that comparison, I can say that ToT is easily the most fun I’ve had in a raid instance since Wrath. That said, I don’t go anywhere near the ToT LFR unless I have a group of guildies with me, and I have absolutely no intention of bothering with it on my alts. It’s really a great and unique raid, and that means it is necessarily a terrible LFR experience. If the primary goal of the LFR system is to provide an abridged, efficient experience of the normal version of the raid, the ToT LFR has failed in this regard.
How can Blizzard’s encounter designers serve two masters in this sense? How can they create boss mechanics that are challenging, creative, new – while also being easily explainable, immune to sabotage, and not overly dependent on individual performance? The simple answer: They can’t.
What’s the solution? Well, I have two ideas, each of which pose their own sets of problems.
Option 1: Buff the Rewards
The simplest change to implement would be to significantly buff to the rewards provided by LFR. In tier 15, LFR rewards are a substantially lower than the comparable normal-mode gear, only slightly higher than normal-mode gear from the previous tier, and are actually lower than double-upgraded normal gear from the previous tier.
As such, there is little incentive for many normal-mode raiders to complete the ToT LFR each week. There are plenty of alternative ways to cap Valor, and since few of the early fights in Throne of Thunder have hard DPS checks, there is little reason to attempt to replace any gear that wasn’t already 489 or better prior to the current patch. For players whose only raiding opportunities come from LFR, the difficulty and time commitment involved are major reasons to avoid the ToT LFRs for the moment.
Frankly, I think merely buffing the rewards would be a poor choice. It solves none of the inherent problems with the conversion of raid encounters to LFR difficulty, and it doesn’t change the time commitment required to complete ToT’s LFR. It may also serve to make LFR even less accessible to non-raiders who do not know the fights and who are more undergeared than traditional raiders who use the system.
Furthermore, buffing the rewards from LFR only increases the incentive to run LFR for those people who are motivated by improving their gear. This is not a universal motivation, and it is a motivation that Blizzard has frequently said they would like to de-emphasize if they can find a reasonable way to do so. As such, this solution would only motivate a portion of the playerbase now, and might end up being completely ineffective if WoW’s gear system is someday given a major overhaul.
Option 2: Change the System
Alternatively (and requiring much more effort), Blizzard could keep the rewards exactly as they are, but alter the content of the LFR system drastically. In order for LFR to be successful, and for it to be successful even in raid tiers that have significantly complex and challenging mechanics, encounters would need to be substantially redesigned in order to make them nearly fail-proof.
Essentially, what we would need is a system that constantly provides us with a steady stream of clear instructions, delivered in a way that isn’t overly immersion-breaking. We need fights that are very forgiving of mistakes and which have few mechanics that can easily kill a player. We need NPCs who are capable of tanking and healing effectively for situations when players aren’t able or willing to do so – possibly even to the extent that LFR could create a group with 25 DPS players if no dedicated tanks or healers were available at that time.
Fortunately, this system already exists in the game. It’s called a scenario.
The intelligence of tanking and healing NPCs isn’t perfect, obviously. We also can’t force anyone to listen to the instructions given by these NPCs, or stand in the healing circles and buffs they provide. But imagine an LFR version of Durumu in which a Shado-Pan warrior is always the target for the blue, red, and yellow beams, and knows how to move the beams correctly to complete that phase of the fight. Or, better still, imagine another member of the Shado-Pan assault who bravely hops into Durumu’s maze and shouts, “Follow me!” Would some people still die to the maze? Of course. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. But we would be providing players with a more consistent and accurate form of instruction than dropping them into a group with 24 strangers and hoping someone knows or cares enough to explain.
I would love a system like this. It sounds a lot more fun than the current incarnation of LFR, and it would be a much more appropriate difficultly level for the rewards provided. I have no doubt that there might be some objections to such a severe nerf or alternation to the raid encounters, and certainly it would make LFR have less of the “feel” of a traditional raiding environment. The biggest downside would be the sheer amount of time Blizzard would have to invest to create a system like this. Each fight in a raid tier would essentially have to be redesigned from the ground up as a mini-scenario.
A scenario, however, is a much better model for LFR than what it is now, which is something closer to a random battleground. Battlegrounds don’t provide much in the way of guidance when it comes to strategy or objectives, and rely heavily on players to explain these to their group (with what can be disastrous results). Whether this is the best way to deliver information in battlegrounds can also be debated, but there is a clear distinction that makes it less problematic than in LFR. In a battleground, there are always players who win. Even if we have two teams who are totally clueless about how Arathi Basin works, someone is going to win the battleground at the end, or at least receive a minor reward of Honor Points if all either team manages to do is kill each other a few times. If a group wipes repeatedly to Durumu and never manages to down him, there is no consolation prize. There are no players who win.
Something’s Gotta Give
It is in the best interest of normal-mode raiders for Blizzard to continue to create new and unique raiding tiers. It is in the best interest of anyone who regularly uses LFR for Blizzard to create efficient and fun translations of those encounters. Working within the confines of the current systems, these goals are mutually exclusive. While Tier 14 probably came the closest to achieving both simultaneously, but the breakdown was clear in fights like Elegon and Garalon.
A steady stream of nerfs to LFR content after it has been released isn’t the best answer, either. Many players shy away from a particularly difficult LFR encounter after they’ve seen just how bad it can be, and may be unwilling to return to it even after it has been nerfed. Additionally, there are plenty of encounters that simply are not easy to nerf in a correct way, or in any way, that will make them easier to complete on LFR. In many cases, it is not simply a matter of removing one mechanic or decreasing damage across the board – a more creative and nuanced solution is required.
In a perfect world with unlimited developer resources, I think the best answer would be to make LFRs more like scenarios in the ways discussed above. Properly implemented, this would not only solve some of the issues with difficulty and trolling, but also reduce the long queue times for DPS and tanks. In order to ensure the success of LFR in the long run, Blizzard must find some way to revamp the current system so that it is a fun experience and not a weekly chore that seems to eat up more and more time each tier.
Do you agree that better raids make for worse LFRs? How would you solve this problem? Would you enjoy LFR if it were more like a scenario? Or, do you think that would make LFR too easy and unfairly reward those who participate?
The first part of the Throne of Thunder LFR has just gone live, and it’s time to show those trolls we mean business. Since reports from the PTR told us that t15 LFRs are likely to be a lot less forgiving than the previous tier, it is even more important to be sure we are giving our LFR groups some information on the fights. Below you will find copy and paste strategies for the 3 bosses in “Last Stand of the Zandalari.”
Jin’rokh the Breaker
/i TANKS: This fight has a tank swap. You need to taunt whenever the other tank gets the debuff Static Wound.
/i EVERYONE ELSE: If you are targeted by Focused Lightning, kite it away from the group and do not let it go through the pools of water that will be on the ground.
/i Unless you are kiting, you should stand in the pool of water for a DPS and healing buff. Run out of the water when the boss casts Lightning Storm or you will die. Once a pool is Electrified, you cannot go back into it.
/i TANKS: One tank will be on Horridon and one will be on the adds who come through these 4 doors. Tanks should trade places after each door to clear the Triple Puncture debuff that Horridon will put on you.
/i HEALERS: The troll adds put up lots of debuffs. Please dispel as much as you can as often as you can. PRIESTS: Please use Mass Dispell on the first door.
/i EVERYONE: Do NOT stand at Horridon’s head or his tail. Dinomancers are first kill priority, AoE down the other trolls. Click the Orb of Command when it drops. Avoid all the ground effects – DBM will yell at you if you are in them.
Council of Elders
/i TANKS: Only Frost King needs to be “tanked,” other bosses cast or charge. You will get a stacking debuff called Frigid Assault. You must swap before the debuff reaches 15 stacks or you will be stunned.
/i EVERYONE ELSE: First kill priority are Loa Spirits and Living Sands. They MUST die within 20 seconds! If no adds are up, DPS the empowered boss – the BIG PURPLE one.
/i On Frost King: Stack up on the person who gets the Frostbite debuff. On Priestess: Interrupt Wrath of the Loa, kill spirits.
/i On Kazra’jin: Avoid his charges. Use damage reduction CDs when he uses Overload, DON’T KILL YOURSELF by reflecting too much damage! On Sul: Interrupt Sand Bolt, kill adds, don’t stand in quicksand.
I’m just going to leave this here.
… no one will be?
It’s hard to know exactly just how many Legendaries we will end up with by the end of the Mists expansion, since there is still plenty we don’t know yet about Wrathion’s questline and where it will take us beyond the 5.2 patch. Regardless of what’s to come, we can certainly say that the procedure for acquiring Legendary items up to this point has been much more inclusive than we have ever seen before, and I’m not entirely convinced that’s a good thing. Regular readers have probably gathered that inclusiveness in WoW is an extremely important issue to me, and it’s very rare that I would argue against making more content accessible to more people. But the Mists legendary questline so far (that being the caveat throughout this post) has me questioning at what point, if any, it’s Ok to draw the line and say, “Nope. This isn’t for everyone. This is for the dedicated few.”
An Extremely Abbreviated History of WoW Legendaries
Prior to the current expansion, Legendary weapons were basically acquired in one of two ways. The Vanilla model, which returned in a somewhat similar form during Wrath and Cataclysm, included a very long and generally extremely demanding questline that might involve rare drops, boss kills, and rare crafting materials and/or patterns. The infamous Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker followed this model as did Atiesh, Greatstaff of the Guardian.
Wrath of the Lich King built upon Vanilla’s foundation of epic questlines, particularly with the Shadowmourne story. Wrath’s Legendary questlines began to find a way to work a weapon and a story into the existing lore of the expansion or the raid tier, which made for an incredibly immersive and unique experience. Cataclysm followed this same model, though the process and accessibility of the items needed to assemble the weapons changed somewhat, and Legendaries could first be completed entirely within 10-person raids.
Legendaries as Reward for Exceptional Raiders
Personally, between the BC model of rare drop Legendaries and the Vanilla/Wrath/Cata model of long questlines, I much prefer the latter. A rare drop Legendary meant that it might never be seen by a raid team during an entire expansion, even if they were able to down the required boss every week (which many weren’t). It also meant that someone who had saved up the largest chunk of DKP, or the person who had lucky dice that night could be the proud wielder of a Legendary weapon simply by default. The questline model allowed a raid team to choose someone who would work toward the acquisition of a Legendary, perhaps for the duration of a raiding tier. And this, for me, is the biggest flaw of the new system.
I suppose I might be a bit overly positive about using Legendaries in this way, but it fits with my perception of how we have handled the question of Legendaries in my guild since the Wrath expansion. When a new Legendary is announced, the guild leadership comes to a decision – which is often pretty self-evident - about who should get to do the work for that Legendary. (Or, depending upon our success in any given tier, who should get to do the work first.) In general, the leadership has picked someone who exemplifies our guild ideals, who knows a lot about their class and will put the weapon to good use, and who we know is going to be around from the beginning of the tier until the end. The person picked is not, by default, the raider with the highest healing or DPS numbers, though that may happen to be the case.
While choosing a Legendary recipient has been a relatively low-drama process in my guild, we have certainly had some folks who didn’t like the way we do things over the years, and it is very easy for me to imagine that this could be a highly divisive decision in guilds that have a different climate than mine. Loot distribution is already a sticky enough topic for many raid teams, and when we’re talking about loot that will be best in slot for perhaps two full tiers there is obviously a lot at stake. Regardless of how this decision was made, the Legendary system in Wrath and Cata was something that necessitated a group effort. Though some steps of the questline might require you to complete them alone (particularly for Dragonwrath or Fangs of the Father), the bulk of the work was still done with your raid group.
The Wrathion Legendary questline in Mists has completely shifted the focus to individual effort. Thus far, Wrathion has required us to develop our reputation with him by defeating specific mobs (mobs which, conveniently, we kill while we are working on our daily quests), by gathering sigils that drop from bosses in any raid difficulty including LFR, and by killing the Sha of Fear on any difficulty. More recently, Wrathion has asked us to step into the new Mists PvP battlegrounds, and to kill an elite boss tied to our opposing faction who requires a “team” to defeat. (“Team” being rather subjective in this case. You can kill this guy with a team of 3-5 if you have some time to waste.)
Here’s the problem for me – every single step in our Legendary questline is either (a) something we have to do anyway or (b) something we can accomplish by queuing for a group and letting the system handle the rest of the work. Grinding out reputation with the Black Prince basically means doing the Golden Lotus and Shieldwall/Dominance Offensive dailies that we are already doing. Getting the Sigils and Chimera of Fear means queuing for LFR each week, and/or getting additional Sigils on Normal or Heroic difficulty. Winning a match in each of the new battlegrounds is a matter of using the PvP tool to queue and hoping for a decent group. The only bit of this questline that requires us to actively seek out other players to help us is the “Change of Command” quest.
Somewhere along the way, the Legendary questline lost its ability to make us feel epic together.
Yes, a Legendary weapon is essentially about making one person, one raider, stronger and better at what she does. But behind that idea used to be a dedicated raid team or guild who were just as excited for that raider to reach her goal as she was. When she had to stand in the breath attacks for her frost infusion, and then immediately took an unhealable cleave and died, they were absolutely willing to wipe so that she could try again. They were willing to continue to go back to Ulduar week after week and wipe repeatedly on Yogg - even two patches later – to get their holy paladin his Val’anyr.
Legendaries as an Item to Check Off
Worse still, it seems that the Wrathion questline has made what should be a once-in-a-WoW-lifetime epic experience into just another grind that we need to do if we want to maximize our gear. Setting aside the idea of whether we are “required” to do anything to be raid-ready, let’s agree that, for people who prefer to gear themselves as well as they can, players will generally do as much as they can to improve their gear. That means we do dailies, we grind Valor, and – now – it means that we do the Legendary questline. I realize I will have a different view of this than someone from a guild that was able to churn out multiple Legendaries during Wrath and Cata, but Legendaries strike me as something that should never simply be an item to check off our gearing list. I should never be able to dump the words “Legendary questline” into a sentence with “grinding Valor” and “doing dailies” without you all yelling at me that one of these things is not like the others.
Obviously I’m reserving final judgment until we see the resolution of Wrathion’s questline at (presumably) the end of the Mists expansion. While there’s a lot I don’t like about this new Legendary system, I can say that I really appreciate the flexibility it gives. I like that we don’t have half the guild deciding they want to play rogues for a tier because they know their DPS will shoot up if they get a pair of the daggers. I like that we aren’t limited to only one class or a few specs who are able to use the Legendary items. On the other hand, I absolutely love the lore and the thought that goes into a class-specific Legendary, and I’m still crossing my fingers that somebody at Blizzard will make my Legendary druid dreams come true one day. In the meantime, I appreciate that the Wrathion quest makes it possible for us to reward absolutely any of our raiders with a powerful piece of gear – I just wish that it really still was that system of a group rallying around a player, rather than a player doing a bunch of grindy work by herself.
What do you think of Wrathion’s Legendary questline so far? Do you enjoy the inclusiveness of the Sha-touched weapons? How did your raid team handle the distribution of Legendaries in past content? Do you miss that system, or were you ready to embrace something new?
There’s nothing like spending some time away from WoW to put our community in an extremely harsh light. Over the holiday, I tried out a different MMO – the Secret World – and thoroughly enjoyed my time hacking my way through zombies, ghouls, and evil Nordic sea dudes. But as is always the case when I play another MMO, I am only too happy to return to WoW thanks to the many ways Blizzard has improved player quality of life over the years. The one thing I wasn’t so happy to return to was the poor attitude that so often pervades our community.
It’s easy to forget, or even be completely unaware, that not every MMO playerbase treats beginner questions the way we do in WoW. The first questing area in the Secret World is regularly frequented by more seasoned players, and the General chat there is constantly flooded with questions. Often those questions are extremely basic – things that players could learn through a simple Google search or sometimes even from an in-game tutorial video. Despite this, the majority of players answered these newbie questions accurately and without a hint of sarcasm. This was the rule, not the exception. It made me wish that, in general, the WoW community could see fit to return to a time when we weren’t all so jaded, and such unfailing experts on every aspect of the game.
Currently, this attitude is nowhere more prevalent than in LFR and in our discussions of LFR. Not to pick on the blogosphere, but I am sick to death of reading posts about how terrible everyone’s LFR experiences are. I would say that I have been lucky to have relatively few bad experiences in LFR since this expansion was released, but I truly believe that it’s more than just luck. In the interest of trying to actually DO something about the climate of the community and particularly in raid finder, here are a few tips to make your weekly “obligation” less of a trial:
1.) Use the tools Blizzard gave you.
There is plenty of bad behavior in LFR, but there are also plenty of ways to deal with it. First and foremost, the relatively new feature that allows us to right click on a player’s name and report them for language has an awesome side effect – it also essentially ignores that player for a stretch of time. You’ll notice that as soon as you use this report feature, that player’s text will disappear from your chat window. I’m uncertain as to how long this temporary ignore lasts, but it has never run out in the time it’s taken me to finish the raid so it must be at least an hour or so. It also means that you don’t waste space on your actual Ignore list on someone you may never see again. Of course, your actual Ignore list remains a fantastic tool for hiding those repeat offenders, especially those on your home server who you are likely to see much more frequently.
Use the vote to kick option when a problem is serious enough to merit it. I generally give a person 3 strikes (unless, obviously, they are being particularly crude or doing something that is directly causing the group to wipe. For example, this past week I had a Ret Paladin who I noticed went AFK at the beginning of Feng and was still AFK as we were about to pull Gara’jal. As we progressed through the trash after Feng, I whispered the paladin to see if he was returning. A few minutes later, I addressed him in Instance chat (being sure to use his name, not simply “paladin”). When he was still gone as we finished the trash, I put it to the raid group: ”[Paladin's name] has been AFK since the beginning of the Feng fight. Please vote to kick him.” The raid did, the vote passed, and we got another DPS for the final fight.
If you aren’t using the vote to kick tool, you’re basically helping to screw over yourself and the rest of the community. I’ll pick on my guild members for a moment, since one of them recently told me a story about leaving a Mogu’shan Vaults LFR after two wipes on Will of the Emperor because the tanks refused to move the bosses to opposite sides of the room. The group explained to the tanks what they needed to do, and the tanks ignored this advice both times. For some bizarre reason, no one (including my guildmate) initiated a vote kick. Instead, the majority of the group simply dropped.
Now, I can understand why people do this. Two wipes can feel like a huge waste of time when you are used to easily one-shotting the fight, and waiting for two new tanks to fill the empty slots could take a few minutes more. If, however, you choose to drop out rather than vote kick the offenders, you’re really causing several new problems. First, the people at fault aren’t going to learn anything. Sure – they may not anyway, as is likely in the aforementioned case, but being forcibly removed from a raid group is something that is more likely to give a player pause than a few choice words in Instance chat. If you leave the group, you have also screwed up your own chances of finishing the remaining encounters in that portion of LFR this week. The LFR tool is smart enough that, by default, it attempts to find you a group that has completed as many bosses as you have. While this is intended to be helpful (and it CAN be helpful, sometimes), it often results in a ludicrously long queue time. What time you believe you “wasted” sitting through those two wipes and then waiting for the system to get new players is a drop in the bucket compared to how much time you are going to waste waiting for the queue to find you an in-progress raid. And remember – if you don’t finish that final boss encounter, you won’t get your Valor points.
2.) Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Some things are really worth getting angry about and/or kicking someone from your group. A lot of things aren’t.
If someone is spouting truly hateful and offensive trash in Instance chat, then I am absolutely going to vote to kick them. If they are just being generally obnoxious (swearing constantly, demanding that someone link meters, linking their own meters), then the report language/spamming and ignore features are really enough to do the trick.
Some things are really bad form and really bad playing, but probably aren’t worth the hassle of vote kicking. Recently I had a warlock who didn’t seem to understand that her Wrathguard shouldn’t have his taunt on while she was in a raid group. Normally it would hardly be an issue, but this was in the second half of MSV, and every one of those fights has some sort of mechanic that means the boss needs to be facing the way the group expects it to. I used my 3 strikes method, and whispered her multiple times with no response. As frustrating as it was, it probably wasn’t worth vote kicking her. We had a few close calls on Spirit Kings because the pet would taunt and Qiang would turn during his cleave, but most of the time her pet died so quickly that it didn’t even matter. Is it bad playing? Sure, but it wasn’t going to cause us to wipe, so who cares?
One of the worst offenses I see on a regular basis are players who queue as healers but who DPS once they actually get in a group. This is really bad form and really obnoxious, no question. But it is also significantly reducing the amount of time non-healers have to sit in LFR queues. Now, I am in no way condoning this behavior. It sucks. But if my LFR group isn’t wiping due to a lack of healing (which is something that almost never happens), I could care less. The issue is that we really don’t need 6 healers in the majority of LFR groups, but the system is set up to slot for the worse case scenario. An LFR group might actually need 6 healers if they were all very undergeared and inexperienced, but most fights can easily be 2 or 3 healed by healers who know the fights and have relatively good gear. So while I hate feeling like these non-healing healers are getting away with something, I can also recognize that it will waste more time and effort to kick them than it will to just let them stick around. This isn’t a problem we can solve – it’s a tuning issue that Blizzard needs to take another look at.
Essentially, when you are deciding whether to try to vote kick someone, remember this: every player you kick has to be replaced by someone new. That means that the new person may be entering an in-progress group and may queue again to try to complete the earlier bosses, and may then drop out after completing those fights. Their spot will then have to be filled by yet another person, causing exactly the same problem and perpetuating the cycle. If possible, it is always better to educate or resolve a problem than to kick.
One final note about vote kicks: For as much as I’ve stressed tolerance when it comes to minor bad behavior and any level of performance issues, there are absolutely some things that no one should tolerate. Hate speech of any kind, shaming, and harassment are always reasons to get someone out of your group. If the worst happens and, for some reason, you cannot get the person kicked out be sure to immediately write down their character name and server. Then, put the person on Ignore and report them as soon as possible. The majority of the responsibility for making the WoW community what we want it to be rests on our own shoulders, and we have to make the Game Masters aware of unacceptable behavior.
3.) Queue as Raid Leader.
I get what you’re thinking – LFR is supposed to be fast and easy. Why should you want to be the one in charge or take responsibility for anyone learning how to do the fights correctly?
I know it sounds like a ton of work, but since I have started queuing as a Raid Leader, I’ve had much better experiences in LFR. You’d be amazed how much of a difference it makes when someone is actually willing to mark mobs, mark the tanks, and put down the ground markers where people need to stand. Having that dark orange text also tends to lend some authority to what you say, even if there are dissenters in the ranks. The raid finder fights have been tuned so that there are only a handful of abilities that anyone has to get right in order to complete the fight. All you really need to do is explain those two or three abilities in raid chat before each fight. Do not wait for someone to ask for help – the people who really need the help probably won’t ask for it. (They either don’t know they need help or have been conditioned to assume that requests for help will only be met with sarcasm.) Before each fight, simply type a few quick sentences explaining what people need to do, and drop any marks that are needed. If you aren’t a fast typist, simply drop the sentences into a Wordpad file so that you can copy and paste them.
I know this sounds like more trouble than it’s worth – I promise you it’s not. It’s hardly any work for you, and it will increase your group’s likelihood of success. If you’re so inclined, you can also think of it as an investment in the LFR community. Anyone who learns something from your limited time contribution is also likely to perform better in future groups.
All that said, it is not your job to teach people in LFR how to raid. To make your LFR experience successful, it is your job to teach them how to do the LFR encounters without dying or otherwise wiping the group. If your expectation is that everyone in LFR should be capable of playing at a level that would make them successful on normal difficulty, then your expectations are too high. You don’t need to berate them for taking too much avoidable damage. You don’t need to fuss that they have ungemmed or unenchanted gear. Gems and enchants do not make the difference between success and failure in LFR because the tuning of the encounters is already beyond forgiving in regards to DPS and HPS requirements. You also do not need to tell anyone why they are playing their class wrong, which spec they should play, or complain about how low their DPS is. If you want to love (tolerate) LFR, make this your mantra: As long as we are beating the encounters, everything is peachy.
4.) Bring your own healers.
Healers are what hold up LFR queues, so obviously bringing your own healer(s) will make your queue that much shorter. More importantly, one or two good healers can forgive a multitude of sins in any LFR group. If you group has just one or two healers who are geared and paying attention to what’s going on, they will be able to make up for just about any other deficiencies. Low tank health, abysmal DPS, failure to avoid damage – all this can be glossed over by decent healers. The only thing healers can’t really compensate for is utter disregard of the mechanics of an encounter. (So we can’t save you if you fall through Elegon’s floor, we probably won’t be able to keep it together if the group breaks CC at the beginning of Wind Lord, etc.) Fortunately, there aren’t too many cases like this. Now obviously this isn’t an ideal raiding situation – but LFR isn’t an ideal raiding situation, and we have to learn to accept that. (Don’t forget your mantra!)
5.) Queue with friends.
I can’t stress this enough. Not everyone has a guild to run with, but you can use Battle Tags to group with people from other servers (and the WoW community on Twitter is a great place to find people who might be interested in this). My guild has made it a point to set up weekly LFR runs for all of the instances since the expansion was released and it has made a world of difference for us. Obviously, we appreciate being able to talk in Vent and coordinate what we’re doing, and we go into LFR certain that a large portion of the group understands the encounters. Also, since we queue as a group of anywhere from 5-20 people, I am almost always able to get the Raid Leader role (as far as I can tell, if you queue as a large group then the person who is lead of that group seems to have a much higher likelihood of being Raid Leader). Most importantly, having so many people means that we always know that we have the numbers to police our group when it needs to be policed. When it has to happen, initiating a vote kick is very easy.
Perhaps the most important tip of all is this: If you absolutely hate LFR, don’t do it. There are many other ways to get gear, many other ways to get Valor, and it is no good to allow a leisure activity frustrate you so much that you are berating total strangers. The angrier you get, the more likely that feeling is going to spill out into Instance chat, and from there it’s nearly always a downward spiral. Otherwise, if you’re ready to give “positive LFRing” a shot, then grab a few friends (at least one of whom is a healer), queue as Raid Leader, turn a blind eye to that rogue who has been auto-attacking since the first trash pull, and always remember: As long as we are beating the encounters, everything is peachy.