Unannounced WoW Feature Announced

Coming in 5.4: Flexible Raid sizes.

While it’s impossible to fit every player into a neat, tidy archetype, we recognize that we could be providing a better experience to one broad category of raider: social groups comprised predominantly of friends and family, and smaller guilds that do their best to include as many members in their Raid outings possible. [...]

To fill this void, we’re in the process of developing a new Flexible Raid system, which includes a new difficulty that sits between Raid Finder and Normal difficulty, while still allowing friends, family, or pick-up groups to play together. This difficulty will be available for premade groups of 10–25 players, including any number in between. That means whether you have 11, 14, or 23 friends available for a Raid, they’ll all be able to participate.

The Flexible Raid system is designed so that the challenge level will scale depending on how many players you have in the Raid. So if you switch between 14 players one week and 22 the next, the difficulty will adjust automatically.

Technically, this isn’t confirmed as the “unannounced new feature,” but I have a hard time believing that there could be something else to top this game-changer.

…or does this change much at all?

I mean, yes, I have little doubt that this will improve the quality of life for a lot of friends & family guilds out there. Back in Wrath, my guild constantly had the inevitably poisonous problem of having 11-12 people show up on raid nights, and having to pick who sits out. Something like this feature would have made the issue moot, as we could grab everyone who showed up and did something fun as a guild. Even better, the difficulty is supposed to be pegged between LFR and Normal, which would perhaps mean taking that charming guildie who improves the general social atmosphere – albeit at a DPS loss – is no longer such a vexing decision.

On the other hand, this would do nothing to guilds like mine that were unable to field even a full 10m by the end. Maybe this could have incentivised our (failed) raiding partnership with a sister guild, but I don’t find that particularly likely.

You know what though? My mind is actually racing about this feature. Part of the reason why our raiding partnership failed was because the people we were bringing weren’t quite matching up to the skill level the content required. With this feature, if your guild found 10m Normal raids too difficult, you could down-shift to Flexible and still bring 10 people.

On top of that, this could be a massive coup for the Trade chat pugs of the world. I am sure there will still be stubborn raid leaders out there spamming “LF6M 25m” for hours, but as long as they had the basic roles covered, they could have everyone zone in with just the 19 they had. And on top of that, there is the news that Flexible mode has its own, separate lockout. That is huge. Go raid with your hardcore guild on Thursday, and then kick back with your friends/family on Friday, all while still getting (off-spec, perhaps) gear.

In another life, I might have been more concerned with how popular the feature would be, given the ilevel rewards would be lower than Normal mode. But looking at how LFR turned out, it is pretty clear that that sort of nonsense rarely matters except in the minds of a few. In fact, I’d almost be more worried that Flexible mode will further erode the entire raiding model, doing to 10m what LFR did to 25m.

In any event, it looks like we’re seeing the fruits of those minds diverted from the Titan project already. Now if only they could focus their efforts on, say, actual server merges instead of this 50% off highway robbery bullshit, I might actually reach for the resubscribe button again.

Well, probably not this expansion, but they are damn closer than they were yesterday.

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Posted on June 7, 2013, in WoW and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. “Even better, the difficulty is supposed to be pegged between LFR and Normal, which would perhaps mean taking that charming guildie who improves the general social atmosphere – albeit at a DPS loss – is no longer such a vexing decision.”

    Its an even more vexing decision. Do you take the social guy if it means that everyone else in the raid gets worse loot?

    • Over the years, I’ve been in guilds where the answer would have always been “yes”, guilds where the answer would have always been “no”, and guilds where the answer would depend. If I was a raid leader today, I would make darn sure that I had an answer well before 5.4 and that I’d clearly spelled it out in writing so that everyone understood the policy. Then I would stick to that decision, even if it was inconvenient some weeks.

  2. That’s what I meant yesterday. Didn’t expect the answer to surface that soon.

    > You’ll also still be able to invite Real ID or Battle.net friends cross-realm

    They see flex raids as a huge success (so do I). They see this as the solution (or part of a solution) for dying servers. They see that this will lessen the need for server transfers. Hence they tried to milk them with the 50% discount as long as it lasts.

  3. Wow.

    What an enormous let down. I mean, really? That’s it? LFR is there if you want to queue with your guildies and do “fun” content, so I don’t really understand why this is at all necessary. Considering all the teasing there was about this feature by GC and how it would be pretty major, this honestly seems really meh. If this had been instead of the raid finder, I’d be wetting myself, but as it is I cannot imagine a point in WoW where I would be hyped for a feature that is really nothing more than an improvement on the idea of different raid sizes introduced two expansions ago.

    • While it may seem like pretty meh to you please do understand that this is a huge game changer for some people. Back in the day when I used to be in a guild comprised of real life friends we used to have am exceptionally hard time gathering the necessary manpower to raid Molten Core 40 man – even though we had made an alliance with a bigger Spanish guild. If this feature (plus the smaller raid sizes) was available to us at the time then it would have made all the difference and I am quite sure people would have stuck around longer. There is a distinct difference between raiding exclusively with people you know and trust and having strangers fill in the gaps. I have always maintained this – more accessible content benefits everyone.

  4. I would imagine that at low numbers, <10, you start to run into structural problems. You can assume that a ten man has two tanks, but not necessarily a 6 man, and they can only scale numbers. At the higher end, the numbers probably get difficult to scale, but i see no reason why they couldn't max at 40. It would placate those who want the older style raids back. If I were them I would just ditch LFR and 10H and merge flexraid into normal. Back to two tiers of raids and maybe even an end to 100+ itemlevel gains over an expansion.

  5. As a point of interest (or maybe not) ASA is server hopping. Highway robbery? Yes. But damn, that server is un-saveable at this point and if we DON’T move, we face the same future.
    /shrug

  6. The developers acknowledged that they thought LFR gave them the freedom to increase the difficulty of regular 10m raids. This effectively squeezed out any room for smaller guilds who could just barely put together 10 players.

    LFR creates an unpleasant, almost toxic environment that is conducive neither to guild camaraderie nor effective strategy. Motivated players found it more tolerable simply to endure that environment alone, take their loot and move on.

    Small guilds looking for relevance at end game often brick-walled on the first or second boss of raid. This could have negative consequences for the integrity of the guild as a whole.

    Flexible raiding is huge because it brings viability back to the smaller guild. The things the small guild brings to the table — personal connections among existing friends, the ability to bring new players into a social circle — all strengthen the game. The key to its success will be in tuning the difficulty levels to allow less skilled guilds a measure of their own success. This would be a perfect application of the persistence bonus.

    Sadly, this will probably come too late to undo the damage already done in Mists.

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