Learning to Love (By Which I Mean Tolerate) LFR
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.