The Mean Season

I have been running LFR quite a bit lately, mainly on my healer but also on my alt hunter until I got my 33 tomes, and I have noticed a pronounced uptick in ass hat behavior. Of course, this could be just a run of bad luck with groups, but as I think about it, I believe I see a pattern of toxic LFR behavior increasing towards the end of every expansion (where LFR has existed).

If in fact there is such an increase, there could be several reasons for it. But I think the main reason is that you have two disparate populations trying to run LFR towards the end of an expansion: those who are finishing up [some legendary or heirloom quest line], and those just trying to gear up as fast as possible. The first group is largely composed of people who have run the raids before, a lot, and even if they are now running on an alt, they are well schooled in all the boss mechanics and have practiced them, even if in a different role. The second group tends to consist of players completely new to the raid instance — new or returning players who want to gear up in preparation for the next expansion. Especially in WoD, there is quite a large population of players who stopped playing very early in the expansion out of boredom or disgust or whatever, and they are now starting to come back to get ready for Legion.

When you mix these two groups in LFR, it is like oil and water. The first group can’t understand why — this late in the raid tier — there are still people who don’t realize that failure to kill adds results in a wipe, or that you need to stack on the tank and save all your raid cooldowns for when Gorefiend goes into his Feast of Souls phase. These mechanics are pretty much on autopilot for the first group, and many of them have no patience for those just getting introduced to them. The second group, especially if the last LFR they ran was Highmaul, get a rude awakening with the complexity and length of the HFC fights. Let’s face it, HFC is not your father’s LFR, it is orders of magnitude more difficult than previous LFRs — I mean, even the trash can kill you! This in itself tends to make the second group pretty cranky, and when you add in the superior attitude of the first group, you have a recipe for toxicity.

A particularly nasty version of this culture clash occurs when one or both of the tanks belongs to the second group. If they are driven out either by the rest of the LFR group sniping at them or because they feel they are in over their heads, it often sets the group up for ultimate failure. This late in the expansion, comparatively few tanks are interested in running LFR, so there is usually a long wait to replace them. During that time, many others in the group leave, and even if they don’t leave some idiots get so impatient that they foolishly try to forge ahead without a tank. (“Hell, I’m a plate wearer, how hard can it be?”) This of course gives rise to further recriminations and blame, resulting in more people leaving.

One LFR group I was in yesterday gave the tanks so much grief that they ended up pulling everything in sight then disappeared from the group, leaving everyone to deal with the mess. I don’t think I would have done such a thing in their place, but on the other hand it’s hard to really blame them as they were getting a steady stream of very nasty and unhelpful comments from 3-4 raid members. At one point I tried to calm everyone down by asking if anyone who had a tank alt might have some pointers for them, but that little peacemaking initiative went nowhere and in fact only fueled more derision from the ass hats. (No Nobel Prize for me!) After about 20 minutes of trying to get new tanks, during which time we lost most of our healers and our top damage dealers (but not the ass hats), I finally gave up and dropped group.

Side note: Blizz really really needs to do something about the whole tank situation in raids, especially LFR. If I were a tank, I am certain that I would never run LFR. For one thing, you are forced to do what is often very precise coordination with another tank you have never worked with before — without the benefit of voice communication — and for another you are subject to almost incessant sniping and ridicule. It is far worse for tanks than it is for healers or even low damage dealers. And yes, I know many tanks can be arrogant buttheads, but still no one deserves the kind of abuse they often get. (What’s the difference between God and a WoW tank? God doesn’t think he is a tank. *ba da bump bump*)

Interestingly, I find that I am much more able to take all this in stride on my healer than when I am on my damage dealers. Most likely that is because I know my healer can leave any time and immediately get into a different group, whereas my damage dealers will have to wait close to an hour, so I feel trapped with them when they are in a bad group. Feeling trapped and cornered is not conducive to patience. Having options is.

At any rate, I think the LFR mean season has begun.

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

2 Responses to The Mean Season

  1. Grumsta says:

    I’ve actually been pretty lucky with LFR groups recently, and I thought it was because the ultra-impatient were now pugging in Normal for gear and Tomes. From your experience that’s clearly not the case.

    I was trying out some rotation changes on my Mage on Tuesday, so I did LFR to test them out. The thing that struck me most is that often the trash is more dangerous and caused more wipes than the bosses, for absolutely no reward. There’s a lesson for the Blizz design team to be learned right there.

    The Archie fight was a great example of how LFR can still work. We had an experienced tank #1 and a total newbie tank #2.

    Tank #1 obviously looked at tank #2, saw what he was in for, and immediately set the group’s expectations and told tank #2 exactly what to do in raid chat so everyone could see. That shut the asshats up from the word go.

    After the inevitable wipe, tank #1 put markers up to help dps with positioning, and then had a private chat with tank #2.

    A few people left after wipe 2, but that gave tank #1 more time to explain stuff again, few more tries, and on pull 5 the group got the kill. Every pull was a collective improvement.

    It was great, and I took the time to thank tank #1 at the end of the fight. I’m sure tank #2 is still buzzing too 🙂

    It’s sad that this experience is the <1% minority of LFR fights, but it was heart-warming to see it.

    • Fiannor says:

      It kind of restores your faith when the system works as intended. It’s nice when there is progress resulting from multiple wipes, although I contend that “progression” is not a term that should have any connection to LFR. It is horrible design when, this long after it was introduced, groups frequently have 5 or more wipes on Archie. I was in one group a couple of days ago where the idiot tanks decided that the only way to down him was to go ahead and immediately shoot for 10 determination stacks, THEN do the “real” try. So they proceeded to do intentional wipes. Needless to say, I did not find this a reasonable strategy and left after it became clear they were actually going ahead with it.

      I remember that Imperator was a tough LFR fight when it was first introduced, especially after the cakewalk that the rest of Highmaul had been. But after a couple of weeks it was unusual for LFR groups to wipe on it. That kind of design makes people realize the last boss for a raid tier is and probably should be different, without being beyond the reach of many LFR players. (Lei Shen in Throne of Thunder was the same, too.)

      Archie is just too complex and unforgiving of mistakes for some LFR players to grasp, so the only way groups succeed is when the number of these players is small enough to not matter when they inevitably die. I remember a while back in one of Grumpy’s posts he observed that Blizz has structured the last few raid tiers such that the only way for LFR to succeed is if there are enough “real” raiders in the group to carry the clueless. (I don’t mean either of those terms in a derogatory way.) This might be a happy feel-good philosophy on Blizz’s part — have experienced raiders mentor newbies — but I am not sure it works in practice. Your recent experience with Archie indicates it does work sometimes, but as you said it is extremely rare, in my opinion too rare for Blizz to continue the philosophy in future raid tiers.