LFR is a Better LFD

A few days after my friend ran me through some of the MoP heroics, he asked what I thought about them. To be honest, I did not think about them much at all. They are much easier than Cataclysm heroics, of course, which should be a reason to like them as much as I did the Wrath heroics; I am solidly in the “random pug content should be easy” category. At the same time… something felt off about them. It was not until I queued for LFR that I realized what it was.

LFR is everything that LFD strives to be. It is the final evolution of the LFD process, if you will.

Like many people, I was annoyed to find out that Blizzard backslid on reputation gains with MoP, removing the two-expansion precedent of running heroics with tabards. On one level, their argument makes sense: daily quest hubs are one guaranteed way to get people back out into the world. And while Blizzard has a long way to go with their stubborn “strangers are competition” design – Guild Wars 2 fixed it so thoroughly that anything less feels archaic – the daily quests became a quasi-guild event for my group for at least two weeks.

But there is a longer con going on here, and Blizzard is being a bit more clever than I thought. Put simply: Blizzard is intentionally marginalizing heroic dungeon content. The decreased difficulty is irrelevant compared to the fact that there isn’t really ever a reason to run heroics anymore. When tabards gave reputation, you always had a reason to run X number of dungeons far beyond the possibility of upgrades. When (BoP) Chaos Orbs only dropped from bosses, crafters had a reason to run dungeons. When Valor was only easily capped from heroics, you had a reason to run them every day (or at least 7x/week). None of those things are true or relevant anymore.

Raid Finder as a solution to the endgame problem is goddamn genius. The biggest problem with the raid scene in WoW was with how low participation has been; no matter how awesome raids like Ulduar are, it gets hard to justify the expense when less than 25% of your players see the first boss. Solution: LFR. No matter how much they bribe tanks to queue for heroics, I do not think I have seen a DPS queue less than 40 minutes long. Solution: LFR. Seriously, I had an 8 minute DPS queue for LFR the other day to possibly get gear 20 ilevels higher than heroics. Random jerks that you can’t kick harshing your vibes in heroics? Solution: LFR. People Need-whoring your drops? Solution: LFR. If there was ever a clearer indication that LFR is in and LFD is out, it would be how LFR has the new looting system and LFD is stuck with “mage won the healer trinket.” Once they start letting you win off-spec gear in LFR, there won’t be a reason to do anything else.

Oh, and how many new 5-mans are coming out in 5.2? Exactly.

So if you are wondering what I think about the Raid Finder system, I think it is fantastic. LFR is not perfect by any means, but it is probably the biggest improvement in WoW’s endgame structure since LFD. It provides practice for the “real” raids; it provides complexity in a somewhat more forgiving environment; it provides something more substantial than endless heroic runs; there are/will be enough of them to take up a good chunk of your playtime if you wish it; better loot with less grinding; and, finally, LFR offers an elegant solution to DPS over-representation.

I sometimes question the decisions they make over in Blizzard HQ, but whoever designed the integration of LFR into the game proper deserves a raise.

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Posted on January 24, 2013, in WoW and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. It’s not just LFR that’s eating into LFD audience. Scenarios (with their role-agnostic 10 second queues) are also a factor.

    • Hmm. I haven’t really thought about Scenarios, as I was not even sure what they offered other than the mysterious box at the end. Might have to give those a try just to feel them out.

      • Basically just the loot box and valor. Some of them are quick, so it is potentially a faster way to get 463 blues than dungeons. My server has pretty quick dps queues for lfd though, around 10 minutes or so.

      • It’s not publicized well, but the scenario queue and the LFD/LFR queues are concurrent. So if you queue for both as dps, your scenario will pop up, and when you’re done, you’ll be 15 min further into the LFD/LFR queue. Sometimes that’s enough to put you at the head of the line, putting you in LFD/LFR immediately.

        Basically you can spend the time waiting in queue for LFR/LFD by doing scenarios instead of dailies (or whatever you do) if you want.

      • Rohan,
        Someone should do a small post on those concurrent queues, particularly the ingenious nature of them. I had no idea, and while it won’t ever mean too much to me, the people who queue for LFR can get a great deal out of that tidbit.

        Thanks!

    • Regarding scenarios there’s no way to kick a slacker. I went disc/holy somewhere in the end of 2012. If you’re with 2 healers it goes slower. Although priest healers can do pretty good damage, and save your ass in the process, 2 healers is simply overkill. If there would be a kick option though it is entirely possible I could’ve been kicked “just because I am a healer.”

      Its a good point, Azuriel, but what if I prefer a less crowded place? I don’t feel comfortable in these big groups, and as a healer an average disc priest absolutely owns in 25m raiding due to absorbs. Tanks also get often a big flak, and their queue times are high.

      My preferred content, raiding-wise, would be 10m challenge mode raid. No grind, no gear check, normal raid mode (pre outgearing!!) skill required. Getting great times forces you to think outside of the box here.

  2. However, LFR ceases to be viable once you no longer need any drops from it and only need valor points. My queue times for DPS are usually 20-30 minutes for LFR, and 10-15 minutes for LFD.

    I can queue for LFR, wait 20 minutes, spend 30 minutes clearing it, and earn 90 valor, once a week.

    I can queue for LFD, wait 15 minutes, spend 15 minutes clearing it, and earn 80 valor, once a day.

    In the long-term, LFR ends up being just another treadmill, but one that is more tedious and frustrating than LFD. It’s simply not going to be a worthwhile replacement to LFD, but it suffices as a complementary addition. Directly comparing the two in a competitive manner does not really feel like a worthwhile through exercise.

    • LFR as a more tedious Valor treadmill, yes, I would concede that; I would never run a LFR in which there was no further gear to be gained. But it is a bit besides the point, as acquiring 16 drops from LFR is so far beyond what you’d accomplish with the dozens and dozens of heroic runs you’d do for points otherwise.

  3. I agree with a lot of your points. Blizz is marginalizing heroics. The LFR loot system is a massive step forward. The attitudes in the nigh-always-successful LFR runs are far more positive than the acidic bile in heroics with wipes (and often even without wipes). The gear is better. The queue – well, I can’t compare since I don’t have a decent sample size, but I’ll take your word on the queue, which is also an improvement. For the most part, we’re in agreement that a lot of LFR is a great idea.

    But not on two interrelated points. That LFR “provides practice for the “real” raids; it provides complexity in a somewhat more forgiving environment” seems entirely wrong. Educational theory holds that unlearning and relearning something takes 7 times longer than learning it properly in the first place.

    That you can ignore most of the mechanics – how often are stone dogs tanked properly in LFR? – does not in any way prepare you for “real” (your quotation marks) raiding. The complexity is really just more screen effects that most people ignore. Heroic Shado-pan has far more relevant complexity in a 5 man than 25 man LFR does, and irrelevant complexity – which can be ignored – isn’t really complexity; it’s just more stuff.

    My feeling is reflected heavily by Cirak’s point; that it’s just another chore, but I believe it could be something better, something that includes all the great benefits you mention while also making good on the promises you claim at the end regarding learning in a more forgiving environment. What you describe is precisely what I want, I just don’t think it’s there yet.

    LFR is bad pedagogy, which really isn’t different from most of the game’s various progression.

    • Sure, the dogs are tanked in a cleave pile in LFR. But when I look at something like the Gara’jal the Spiritbinder fight, having everyone see the LFR version would save me loads of time in explaining what to do in Normal mode. “Can’t click the totem this time, need to destroy it when you guys are around it. Also, you die after 30 seconds, so press the button before then (which appears once healed to 100%).” Even if everyone in the raid watched the Youtube guide (they never do), actually mimicking the fight and seeing the debuffs, etc, is useful.

      I’ll take your word that learning/unlearning takes 7 times longer, but I’d even debate how many things are being “unlearned” here. More than the amount of unlearning going between Normal and Heroic raids? More than going from 10m to 25m or back again? I’m not running Normal raids this expansion so I cannot say how they work in practice, but the vast majority of the abilities I’m reading on Icy-Veins are basically “LFR+20% damage” and the like.

      • And so we meet again :D Eki here..

        I think you stubborn are talking about people who do not know or care about the fights mechanics. From that POV you learn nothing.

        It does however, how Azuriel points out, provide a learning environment for people who do care. Since the mechanics are more or less the same just low dmg, you CAN practice the encounter on an easier, more forgiving level. If you care to do so…

      • In regards to your question about “unlearning” between normal and heroic raids: Yes. I’d say there’s more between LFR and normal than normal and heroic, but there’s certainly a lot going into heroic. I’d only say there’s more because I think more bad habits spawn in LFR that aren’t useful in normal than in normal that aren’t useful for heroic, but yes. Blizzard’s whole setup is to teach you the wrong way to do things then expect you to do it again, which makes me very irritated at them.

        And I do understand your point about visually seeing and interacting with fight mechanics being vastly superior to watching a video, but in my experience in teaching, seeing something and then implementing it wrong is still worse than not seeing it at first but doing it right (in raid terms, wiping on the first few pulls as people start to “see” the mechanics but still executing the fight properly). That’s what bugs me about LFR; it could be a laboratory for good raiding like you describe, but I think it’s simply not being implemented in that way.

    • It doesn’t really matter than LFR doesn’t prepare you for LFD, since people appear to be moving from old fashioned raids to LFR, not the other way around. Guild implosions have been noted to be running at an exceptionally high rate, and this especially may be true among marginal raiding guilds. The difficulty and complexity of the “real” raids may be nearing a tipping point.

      I expect normal mode raid participation in T15 to be shockingly low, if things continue as they have been. How low does it have to drop before someone at Blizzard tells them to just design for LFR and forget the higher difficulties?

  4. LFR makes me sleepy.

    Their is also a limit to what a single person can do to get 25 people through without failure.
    LFD I get a tank in 80% greens, 30k less hp then me, No problem, LFR sometimes its just a morass of afk and semi afk players. When it takes 3 wipes just to finally get 4 good active healers its pretty sad.

    Sadly I am the point where I need nothing from anything except 500 valor per week. Dailies at least give charms but they are also the most time consuming content

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