7.3 precursors

The final wing of Tomb of Sargeras for LFR opened yesterday. I could not face what I knew was going to be a poop show, so I did not venture in with any of my alts — didn’t even consider doing it on my main — but some of my guildies did, and they came away either laughing themselves silly or dazedly shaking their heads, depending on their personal reactions to LFR in general. The forums, predictably, are full of comments ranging from outrage over how hard it is to outrage over what idiots everyone is except the poster of course who is actually the best player in the history of WoW.

As I said, I have no first hand knowledge of the LFR Kil’jaeden fight, but it sounds about the same as the LFR Archimonde fight in WoD — wildly hard until most of the LFR population gains a group understanding of the mechanics, then somewhat better as crowd proficiency improves. I do know from experience that KJ is very challenging on both normal and heroic, and we all read about the problems Method had on mythic. So we can stipulate that KJ is crazy hard, even on LFR.

Blizz has wobbled around a lot on LFR ever since its inception. Game Director Hazzikostas admitted this in the most recent Q&A, when he stated there was no longer a desire — presumably on Blizz’s part — to make LFR “tourist mode”. You will recall that this had been the original intent of LFR — basically a low-pain way for people who chose not to raid with a regular team to experience some end game content and story lines without committing to the demands of regular raiding. It was in fact designed to be ridiculously easy. Now, it seems, that is no longer desirable.

The other historic thing about LFR is that Blizz at one time indicated it should have all the same mechanics as normal and heroic but way less demanding. That way, if players wanted to preview and/or practice for harder modes they could do so. But of course that was back when Blizz’s philosophy on raid levels was that the mechanics should not change, only the damage levels.

But now apparently “tourist mode” — formerly a good thing — is a bad thing, and changing mechanics — formerly a bad thing — is a good thing.

I don’t run LFR often enough any more to really have an opinion on the constantly changing Blizz design philosophy on it. However, it does strike me that there are limits to how “challenging” you can make a raid composed of 25 strangers, some of whom are conscientious and do their best and some whom simply do not give a shit. Some are pretty proficient at their roles and some have no clue what buttons to press, much less where to stand so as not to die. Some are there for accomplishments and gear and some are there just to screw with everyone else.

The group you get in LFR is the ultimate RNG. (With the added benefit that you can keep rolling a new one simply because people lose patience and drop group, so that you are in effect constantly rerolling the group composition until you finally get a winning combo.) So to be honest I am not sure how useful it is to, for example, keep the dark phase of Kil’jaeden where no one can see anything and you have to run around in pitch darkness trying to find the safe zone — hoping you do not fall off the edge in the process –and then venture out for a few seconds to find and kill adds. Some people in LFR will never be able to do this, just as some people will never soak the meteors, either because they don’t understand the mechanic or because they are ass hats. Time will tell if KJ is overtuned for LFR, but I think I will wait until it’s a bit less chaotic before I venture in.

Blizz has a habit of setting up major parts of the game with a clearly-stated design purpose, only to completely reverse that purpose in short order for no apparent reason other than some dev doesn’t like it. There is something to be said for flexibility and for the willingness to remake the game frequently, but there is also something to be said for keeping implied promises. I really don’t know if I would call the constant swings of LFR breaking a promise, but I wonder exactly who the target player group is for it. I think Blizz wonders, too, and I think every time they rethink the question they change LFR tuning.

There is a sizable group of players for whom LFR is their only participation in raiding. It is their endgame. I have the feeling these players go into it trying to do their best, trying to deal with mechanics, trying to improve their proficiency, in the same way as any other raider. Hazzikostas indicated Blizz is trying to tune LFR for this group of players. I guess we will see if the effort is futile or not, given the large number of morons and jerks who also run only LFR.

Here’s the problem with constant re-evaluation of LFR’s purpose: If people consider it “tourist mode”, then it attracts a large number of players who think it is a big joke, who think nothing of going afk for most of it, who disdain mechanics, who do whatever they can to pull every trash mob, who think it is funny to wipe the raid, who consider it fine to have no idea how to play their class. So when Blizz tries to change the “tourist mode” approach to make it more challenging, the perception of it being a cakewalk persists, thus those same undesirables keep running it. Which of course becomes increasingly frustrating to those who want it to be something more. Maybe over time Blizz can change the popular notion that LFR is a total joke, but it is not going to be an easy transition.

As a related event to opening the final wing of ToS for LFR, the giant imploding planet Argus is now visible in the sky to everyone instead of just to those who have killed KJ on normal or higher. As I have mentioned before, I am not really overjoyed at the prospect of Argus for our 7.3 venue. What I have seen of it, it seems pretty much to be a rehash of the depressing nothingness of Broken Shore. It might turn out to be terrific, but I am not encouraged by the ever-present specter of a planet in its death throes. Just does not seem likely such a planet will yield hours of pleasant exploration and idyllic excursions to scenic overlooks.

And the Doomsayers are back. Whatever the hell those are. I never understood what the point of them was when we saw them at the end of WoD, and I don’t understand them now. I always thought a doomsayer was that one kid in grade school who, when we had to go into the basement because of a tornado warning, would tell us all in somber tones that we were probably going to die. Kind of a less-cute Eeyore. I never thought of it as a professional calling, which is apparently what it is at certain times in WoW. I also don’t get the whole pamphlet thing and why dying repeatedly is desirable, or why there are periodic breathless announcements in trade chat about the location of this or that doomsayer, followed by a player stampede to that location.

In other words, regarding Doomsayers: Huh?

At any rate, opening the final LFR wing in this raid tier, along with other factors like announcing the end of the PvP season, weirdos wandering the streets of Dalaran,  and a big honking fire planet in the sky all point to 7.3 going live sometime around the end of this month. Legion moves on.

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.

11 Responses to 7.3 precursors

  1. Marathal says:

    There was an achievement for getting all of the doomsayers pages. All I saw from Blizz was a comment that dieing and running back was still valid to get around the timer.

    Did it once. Won’t do it again.

  2. Grumsta says:

    The best suggestion I’ve seen recently for tuning LFR is that all the mechanics from Normal should be there but do less damage, and most importantly the boss should have a *lot* less health.

    That way it’s all over much sooner, but people who want to move on to “real” raiding can learn something from the encounter.

    As LFR now gives proper tier gear I think the devs have a duty to make earning it take a little effort. I started my raiding career in MoP, and there were plenty of ways to screw up and die there: I learned something. I hope this returns.

    Having boss fights where the boss doesn’t even turn up (Desolate Host) is beyond a joke.

    • Grumsta says:

      There are some really good comments in this Reddit thread:-

    • Marathal says:

      Agreed. When I raided at the end of Cata when LFR was introduced I ran it many times to get a feel for the fight. I raided with the guild on Normal. If a fight was giving us issues we ran LFR to better grasp the mechanics. It was the needed step between Heroic Dungeons and Normal raiding. Someone got in their head that LFR was for tourists and Flex Normal was a suitable step for Real Raiders.

    • Fiannor says:

      I tend to agree with the idea of having all the mechanics from Normal in LFR, but with the modifications you laid out. Hazzikostas addressed this approach briefly in the Q&A and said the current thinking is this is bad because they feel they have to nerf the mechanics so much that they can be ignored. Blizz now prefers having fewer mechanics but having them actually be lethal if not followed.

      It is not a simple problem, and I sympathize with what Blizz is trying to do. I do think we have some fights where the sheer number of concurrent mechanics become a mechanic all their own — thinking Sisters or Mistress S in this raid tier. Complexity at that level is something that is almost impossible to deal with when you have ad hoc groups of strangers. Still, as you point out, when the devs feel they have to leave out AN ENTIRE BOSS because it represents too difficult a mechanic for LFR, there is something pretty fundamentally wrong with the boss design.

      Blizz in Legion has established a consistent pattern of adding mechanics as well as lethality as you go up in raid difficulty. Heroic has more mechanics than Normal, Mythic more than Heroic. Given this pattern, it would fit that LFR would have fewer than Normal. I think the fights would make more sense, though, if Blizz started with LFR as the basic design, then added lethality and mechanics to each level, rather than baseline a higher level and subtract things. This approach might also tend to give a little more credibility to LFR as a “real” raid level.

      I was a fan of “tourist mode” at first, but seeing the number of players for whom LFR is their end game raiding I do think it needs to evolve in the way we are seeing it do. The hard part will be changing player base mentality about it, erasing the idea that it is a big joke.

  3. Banard says:

    How people forget?

    Doomsayers…read what they are saying…the confusion they are trying to create! Remember when they first appeared? Do you! DO YOU!?!

    http://www.wowhead.com/quest=25253/prophecies-of-doom

    Old god influence.

  4. Today, LFR groups are still wiping on Gul’dan. You bring up a good point, is the philosophy evolving as they begin to understand how many levels of raiding can be designed?

    • Fiannor says:

      I am hoping they get to a point where we have 4 decent raid levels, that LFR will come to be thought of as entry level raiding, or as way to raid without committing to a regular schedule, not as an AFK joke.

  5. gnomecore says:

    Hello, an LFR-only raider here, and it’s my first-hand experience.

    I went with my main on the first day, and we actually had an excellent group. A competent and patient tank/raid leader, persistent players, most of them stayed until the end and without bursts of insults and everything.

    Obviously we wiped quickly on our first try – people figuring out the fire pools mechanics.
    We did much better on our second try, but died at shadow phase, because fire pools killed many still.
    Third and fourth try… we hit enrage. It was just ridiculous, because people were performing very good. They really learnt and didn’t make silly mistakes – occasional drawbacks were not fatal. He’s just too fat.
    We killed him on 5th try. Everyone survived by the end of the encounter – EVERYONE. We just needed this flat 25% buff to damage dealing to win.

    This is the problem with Kil’Jaeden. I enjoyed LFR in Pandaria before nerf – it was hard. I enjoy the Kil’Jaeden encounter, the mechanics are hard and multiple, and you need group coordination and personal responsibility to win.

    I don’t enjoy that it is way overtuned – that is, you simply can’t win with excellent group performance and geared in LFRs without buff. That’s the only problem.

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