WoW! Thoughts! — On the Rage Over Staggered Raid Schedules

Thoughts on how the furor over SoO's staggered raid schedule is unjustified.


With patch 5.4 upon us, the Siege of Orgrimmar raid is finally available.  However, that’s not for everyone, as last week Blizzard announced the staggered release for the flex and LFR modes.  Normal is now available, and once players down Garrosh there they can start their heroic raids as of next week.  The first flex wing is also open now, with the second wing opening next week, and then the third and fourth wings becoming accessible in three and five weeks respectively.  The first LFR wing does not open until next week, with the second wing opening in two weeks, and then wings three and four opening in four and six weeks.  It’s a confusing schedule due to the number of different raid modes, and it has caused some strife within the community.

Players are perturbed because if you want to kill Garrosh (and complete Mists of Pandaria), to do so through LFR you’ll have to wait until October 22nd to get your satisfaction.  Flex Raiding will finish up on October 15th, while Heroic can be done as early as September 17th provided the Normal mode prerequisite is met.  Although Normal Garrosh  could be downed as early as Tuesday, it wasn’t until late Wednesday night that the first reports of his demise trickled in.   Those guilds will now spend the next few weeks trying to get a world first heroic kill.

Some people are complaining that Blizzard doesn’t know what they are doing, because all the players who can only do LFR are being denied the ability to kill Garrosh for six weeks.  The problem is that LFR is designed to ensure that each foray into the dungeon is successful.  The determination buff guarantees that, as if a raid wipes enough, they will have enough bonus damage, health, and healing to be victorious no matter how unskilled they are.  Normal Raiding (which even the Heroic raiders will need to defeat) requires multiple attempts at each boss and multiple efforts at coordination.  Raiding is intended to take practice, and as such, there are plenty of guilds that won’t even have reached normal Garrosh in those six weeks. (Heck, there are guilds that are still working on Throne of Thunder content).

LFR is effectively for farming bosses.  While it allows players who lack the support of a raiding guild to experience content that otherwise would have been locked from them, it also guarantees everyone that queues for it (several chances at) loot.  Some normal raiders are disappointed they won’t be able to learn the encounters first in LFR, but that has never been the intent.  Every LFR release has been gated and delayed behind the normal raid releases.  If anything, normal raiders are expected to learn the encounters first with their guilds, and then they can bring that knowledge to LFR and lead the raids there, as there’s no guarantee players in LFR have any foreknowledge of what they are to encounter.

Furthermore, few guilds will make it through the Vale of Eternal Blossoms and into Orgrimmar in the first week, so it’s only fair that LFR be given the same sort of gating.  While such barred progress is artificial, so too is the premise that a raid can be broken down into hour-long chunks.  Though LFR is based on the same content as Normal Raids, to compare the two is unfair.

LFR is designed to be easier with a lower barrier to entry.  Blizzard can’t account for player’s skill and expects a complete lack of coordination, so mechanics are dumbed down and the only requirement is an ilvl minimum.  The experiences are fundamentally different.  Flex raiding is still an experiment, and while it offers an experience closer to normal raiding, Blizzard does not think the two tiers are equitable.  Technically, flex and normal raiding are available to more players than LFR, as they do not have an ilvl barrier.  Their barrier to entry is the ability to find a group to run them with.  Players can use tools such as OpenRaid or check trade chat to form a group, but the intended method for entering normal raiding is to join a raiding guild.

The problem is that many LFR players have developed a sense of entitlement.  Prior to patch 4.3, the only way to experience any raiding content was to go through the process of joining a raiding guild.  Many of the players disappointed by the gated release are those players who don’t have time to participate in such groups.  While that is understandable, they should be grateful that LFR even exists at all.  Blizzard developed LFR to introduce raiding to the many players who otherwise felt blocked from such experiences, and it has been a success.

I get that people are excited and want to down Garrosh and get their phat loots, but the disappointment over the raid schedule is surprising.  Blizzard released prior raids in the same fashion, and they were up front in stating that Flex and LFR would have staggered releases in Patch 5.4.  Plus, given that we’re going to have an undetermined amount of time until the next expansion, the longer Blizzard can hold back on releasing the final LFR wing (allowing anyone to defeat Garrosh once a week in perpetuity), the more time they can buy themselves before the content feels stale.  It won’t be much time, but every little bit will help.

It’s a shame that people are complaining about Blizzard doing such a normal release schedule, since it’s a sign that even when Blizzard grants the average player a boon by making raid content more accessible, all it warrants them is more complaints about how they are a terrible company.  It really puts them in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t type situation.  If Blizzard really wants to irk people, they should release Hearthstone on 10/22, and then see if people even care about killing Garrosh when they can play as him representing the Warrior class.

WoW! Blurbs!

And the winner of Orgrimmar’s Next Top Warchief is…

Patch 5.4 dropped.  Its not right that there’s an isle where time stands still, but the clock in the corner of the screen keeps ticking.  This column should have been out two days ago…

Nick Zielenkievicz
Nick Zielenkievicz
Nick Zielenkievicz

Senior Producer

Host of WoW! Talk! and The Tauren & The Goblin. Sometimes known as the Video Games Public Defender. Wants to play more Destiny and Marvel Heroes but WoW is all-consuming. Decent F2P Hearthstone player. Sad that he lost the Wii that had Wrecking Crew on it. Would be happy if the only game ever made was M.U.L.E. Gragtharr on Skywall-US. Garresque on Ravencrest-US.

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