Raid Tourism – Being the 25th Man

It isn’t as though I have never raided before.  It is just that my raiding days are pretty much deep in the past at this point.

I used to be very active in such things in TorilMUD back in the day.  It wasn’t called raiding back then, it was “doing zones” and it required a full 16 person group with the right mix of classes.  While well shy of the 40-person peak in WoW… and whatever the raid sizes got to in EverQuest… 75 people or some such… that does put it smack dab in the middle of the 10 and 25 person marks that WoW uses today.  And in a community as small as TorilMUD’s was even at its peak… a few hundred players with maybe 100 online at peak times… 16 players was a big group.

And it also meant that if you were not a complete screw-up, you would get invited to do zones pretty frequently… if you had the right class.  Or even the wrong class.  I played a druid, which was more of a utility class and you really only needed one per group for a zone.  But druids could also do some damage and act as backup healers (heal the casters and such), so if a group had an open slot I could end up going along all the same.

And so I ended up in Jotunheim, City of Brass, Tower of the Elementalist, Ice Crag Castle (ICC long before Ice Crown Citidel was a thing), and a dozen or so more raid zones.  I even went on the big big zone once, Tiamat’s Lair, an all day affair that involved fighting through the astral plane and into Tiamat’s throne room.  As I recall, we made it to the room outside of the throne room before time and wipes ended to effort.

There were (and still are) lots of zones, big and small.

But that was also a point in my life where I could come home on a Friday night with a pizza, some snacks, and a few sodas and say good-bye to the world until Monday morning.  But life moves on and those days are behind me.  Since then, raiding hasn’t really been a thing for me.

There was a brief resurgence of it when our guild leader in EverQuest II declared that our guild would become a raiding guild and started yelling at people for not keeping up to date with the guild calendar and raid schedule.  I tried to play along.

Almost everybody in this raid went off to WoW

Proof I was at least in a raid group

I think the move to raiding actually pushed the guild over a cliff.  The guild still remains, but most of the players went off to World of Warcraft.  Those we remained in EQII went off to other guilds.  The guild remains… and my character Nomu is still in it… mostly as a marker.

I was one of those who ended up in WoW, where raiding is a big part of the game.  It has just never been part of the game for me.  I have been happy enough with single group, five player content.  That is my niche.  I like it and I do not begrudge any effort Blizzard spends on larger group content, so long as they throw smaller groups a bone now and again.  I have given no thought to actually getting involved in raiding in World of Warcraft in all the years I have played.

Until Blizzard introduced the Looking for Raid option.

More after the cut… because verbosity and me.

Blizzard and LFR.

Actually, I didn’t even consider raids then, all the more so since my last experience with raiding, that bit of time in EverQuest II, mostly involved me feeling lost and wondering what the hell was going on.  So I figured that LFR wasn’t for me, generally under geared and barely competent player that I am.  I was happy enough just to get a few gear upgrades from Timeless Isle to help make dailies and such go a bit quicker.

But Earl decided to give it a try with his level 90 warrior alt and said it wasn’t so bad.  So on a quiet weekend I decided to roll the dice and give it a try with my retribution paladin.  The mix for the 25 player LFR raids seems to be two tanks, six healers, and then 17 DPS.

In the queue

In the queue

Healers seem to be the part of the equation most in demand.  And they appear, to me at least, to have the hardest job.  On the flip side of that, I have to say that in my runs through LFR, the healing has been outstanding.  So we are either drawing really good healers or there is a pattern to how to heal for raids I do not yet grasp.  I am sure there is some of the latter involved.  I have only ever healed for 5 person groups, so 25 automatically seems like a huge increase in complexity due to it being completely foreign to me.

Anyway, I queued up as DPS.  The waits have been okay, considering.  The queue usually shows 25-30 minutes of wait, but it is pretty rare that I am actually in the queue for more than 20 minutes.  The whole LFR thing seems to be pretty popular.  And so I was in and confused as hell.

In a fight

I’m fighting a thing!

A lot of fights are like that picture above.  I am swinging away at something, trying to keep to my skill rotation while moving out of whatever gunk shows up on the floor when the GTFO addon starts sounding the alarm.

As expected, I was, and remain, in a state of confusion. I tried looking up a couple of the fights before hand, but they ended up playing out differently than described.  And rare is the time when somebody says something like, “Go stand on the marker when X happens” before a fight.  And I spend so much time trying to figure out where people are going and what I should be doing that a good chunk of the story… the ostensible reason for going in and fighting these big guys… goes right over my head.

But on the bright side, I don’t think I have screwed up in any way new or different.  I died when that snail ate me in one gulp, which at least explained to me why that one guy said “I hate these snails” in chat.  And I fell in a big hole.

Standing on the edge of a big hole

Standing on the edge of a big hole

It turns out that the hole gets covered over for the fight, so you run out and engage the boss on it.

Elegon arrives

Elegon arrives

However, mid-fight you get a warning that the cover is going away.  That message took me just long enough to notice and process that I just missed getting to the edge of the whole before the bottom dropped out on me.

Looking up from the hole

Looking up from the hole

There were a couple of others down in the hole with me.  I gather that this gets a couple of people every time.  And we won the fight.

In fact, we almost always seem to win the fight.  In maybe a dozen runs up to this point, I have only seen two wipes so far.  My level of raid competence and general lack of experience in dealing with bosses sporting 350 million hit points means that I am unable to attribute the reasons for success.  It could be that I am getting in good groups, or the level of difficulty for LFR might just be low enough that any group of 25 stands a decent chance.

I will say, looking at the battle stats in Recount, that it appears that a few people are slumming in LFR, as some of those DPS and damage done numbers are huge.  I am always way down the list, to the point that I think a couple of the healers out DPS me.  But I am always near the top five in the activity stat, so I am in there swinging all the time, even if I am barely effective.

Slowly though I am gearing up, which is improving my numbers a bit.  Soon I hope to leave those healers in the dust!  The LFR reward mechanic appears to be that everybody gets a drop from each boss encounter once per week.  So the first time each week you have a chance of getting a gear drop.  Or you get a bag which usually contains just gold. (Once I got a piece of cloth gear, which didn’t really help me as a plate wearing pally.)

I was a bit bummed the first few times I got the bag.  Then I noticed that the gear drops from the early LFR instances were not as good as the Timeless Isle gear I had collected.  But that got better as I advanced through the instances.  They don’t just let you jump into the Siege of Orgrimmar.  You have to work your way up the ladder.  I gather that this is done through gear score after the first instance, but since I was semi-geared up from Timeless Isle, I am not sure.

All I know is that I have managed to hit a plateau.  I am two iLevel points shy of moving to the next LFR instance.

Have 494, Need 496

Have 494, Need 496

I will have to work on that.  After that screen shot I realized I still had some points to upgrade gear.  That got me to 495.  I need a trinket drop to get to 496, those are my low score items at this point.

All in all, even with my constant state of confusion, LFR has been interesting so far.  The raids are broken up into manageable chunks.  I don’t think I have spent more than an hour in any given segment.  Seeing the various boss mechanics has been neat.  Wind seems to be a theme.  I have been blows this way and that, down corridors, off platforms, and into various bad locations.  And, of course, I like the gear upgrades.

Vikund with new stuff

Vikund with new stuff

Those shoulders are my only transmog.  I got them as a drop on a alt group faction run.  I think they are great.

And the gear upgrades allowed me to go into a couple of Cataclysm heroic instances to work on my Ramkahen faction so I could get their mount.

What day is it?!

What day is it?!

So it has been worth my time.  I doubt this will make me want to raid with a real group.  In fact, I am pretty sure that once I have seen all the raid instances at least once, I will likely stop.  I am really a tourist in this regard.  I might go redo them with my level 90 hunter.  I tried one with him already, and I have to say that being ranged DPS was a lot easier than having to get in the with a blade like the paladin has to.  I can actually see what is going on.

But I have no real desire to make raiding a thing I do regularly.  So LFR seems about just right for me.

Finally, I have some snapshots from my raids so far.  More tourism, me standing in the middle of huge fights trying to take screen shots of bosses to remember.

11 thoughts on “Raid Tourism – Being the 25th Man

  1. JJ Robinson

    Nice post. Really enjoy your WoW related posts, and all the others, especially being that I recently began playing WoW on a very casual basis again.

    I’ve been loving playing a fresh character and have enjoyed the dungeon finder. The only downside I see, or one of the biggest, is the lack of effort sometimes seen in a cross realm group.

    It’s easy, particularly for tanks and healers, to just give up after one wipe or even a petty argument. Which then leaves other people hanging dry. It’s not too common but not rare also. I guess for a game with tons of content and a casual fan base, the LF is a great solution. Don’t think its the best way though to have a fresh game start.

    That said, the other night I teamed with a group for about 4 runs and we had a great and smooth time.


  2. sleepysam

    The only thing holding me back from LFR is figuring out how to get a get out of the fire addon to work with my mac. Love the writeup.


  3. UFTimmy

    Glad you liked it!

    LFRs are generally tuned very easy, so just about any random group of people will be able to complete it. Especially since as you noted, people slum in them, and can carry a lot of lower performers.

    Even though they are tuned lightly, if enough people die to mechanics, you will wipe. When I first did the “hole” fight, Elegon, generally 10-15 people fell into the hole every time it opened up. It was that way for a few weeks, until enough people figure it out. The fights are tuned so that a few people can die, but once groups die, it’s going to be rough.

    The newer fights, whatever they are, are always harder for that reason, as the critical mass of casual raiders haven’t figured out how to avoid the mechanics. But doing older LFRs, or even the current one after it’s been out a few weeks, is generally a wipe free experience.

    I’m a little more of a hardcore raider, though far from what I would call hardcore, so I don’t much care for LFR. I play WoW for the group content, with my raid group, and don’t like transient content, whether that’s random 5 mans or random LFRs. But the concept definitely fills its niche well.


  4. Rammstein

    “I will say, looking at the battle stats in Recount, that it appears that a few people are slumming in LFR, as some of those DPS and damage done numbers are huge. ”

    Various stages on the legendary cloak questline require multiple drops from ToT bosses. I’m currently raiding heroic mode SoO on my druid, while also doing weekly ToT LFR, all wings, to get Secrets of the Empire. So yes, I can idly stand there spamming one button and easily and overwhelmingly win damage done or healing done, depending on my spec. This also touches on why there are so few wipes, despite people ignoring mechanics. LFR was tuned by blizzard to be easily completed by people with appropriate gear; throw in a few way overgeared toons and it becomes a snoozefest.

    ” So we are either drawing really good healers or there is a pattern to how to heal for raids I do not yet grasp.”

    Depends on the class and the encounter; most healer classes in an LFR raid are probably just spamming their aoe smartheal while watching a movie. E.g.-disc priest rotation: target boss, do a 3 button dps rotation which also does smarthealing; if shit hits the fan switching to a 2 button aoe heal rotation. Wait for epics. Resto shaman rotation: riptide and chainheal, if shit hits the fan use a cooldown. It gets worse, as the overgeared people I mentioned above also have enough hp to be able to basically ignore all the mechanics, except insta-death ones like the floor falling out. zzz

    So no, I’m not a fan of LFR, I would much prefer any of the earlier methods for gearing up used in earlier expansions. But, LFR seems to make the larger population happy, and the main reason I end up running so much LFR is that I quit the game for a year and coming back late in an expansion, every toon I want to gear up is doomed to a ton of LFR at this point. Anyone who plays continuously and does harder-mode raiding will be able to avoid doing very much LFR without handicapping themselves, so I don’t expect blizzard to change the current system much at all.


  5. Haly

    Back when I played WoW was the days of 40 man raid, so it’s been awhile and this may no longer be true. But if you had a raid spec’d priest back then all the solo content of the game was pretty horrible, you could do it, it’d just take forever. You dumped so many points into healing that was all you could do, so when I wasn’t raiding with the guild I was instead slumming it dragging people through low level instances.

    And I wasn’t the only one who did it. It wasn’t unusual to see the entrance to to 5-6 of instances with a fully geared priest parked outside it advertising runs. I ran Strat so many times that even now, years later, I can tell you room by room the layout and pulls.


  6. Talarian

    @Haly Every class can solo effectively now. Even the healers to a certain extent. And all DPS, Healers, and Tanks are pretty much viable in an LFR/Flex/Normal raid setting. It’s only when you get to the elite of the elite where the differences in classes start to break down.

    @Wilhelm If you’re not keep on doing more LFR, the Timeless Isle may be a good bet to try and eke out that extra 2 ilvls. Upgrade a piece or two or spend some VP to buy some 522 gear at the VP vendor in Townlong Steppes (around here:, and bam, you’re golden.


  7. Telwyn

    Interesting that you, like me, prefer(red) 5-man content in WoW. I’m back at the moment and I’ve geared up enough to take part in flexi and even some normal mode raids (10 man) with my guild. Like other commenters have mentioned I’m doing this solely to get the legendary cloak and to see the story bound to that grindtastic quest chain (damn you Blizzard!).

    Personally I’ve generally avoided LFR as much as possible. I did use it a bit before Flexi came in as I wasn’t then geared for normal mode with the guild. It’s the opposite of the (non-random) 5-man experience. There’s next-to-zero personal responsibility and very little challenge so long as some of the tanks, healers and dps are well geared (and the legendary cloak quest almost guarantees some will be).

    I hope Blizzard are planning to replace LFR largely with flex-mode in Draenor and that can only be a good thing as the overemphasis on random grouping has been nothing but a plague in this game since raid finder was introduced.


  8. Haly

    @Telwyn I don’t think I like that. That all classes can effectively solo now. It was part of the trade offs back in the day. Every class had something they could do which made them stand out, but no one class could do everything. Some actively sucked at certain things. It made the game interesting.

    But what do I know. I’ve only played Eve now for several years. My theme park days pretty much ended after WoW stopped 40 man raids. Few run throughs at things to hit top level, then quickly quit after I hit a blah end game which is ran by PUGs. I’m not the market any of these companies are aiming for anymore.


  9. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Telwyn – The thing is, with no LFR, raid content becomes out of my reach and, I would guess, out of the reach of many others. So I doubt it will go away. Blizz has rather specifically indicated it will be part of Warlords of Draenor.

    Personally, I do not have the wherewithal to be in a raiding guild or to struggle to be one of those chosen to go on raids any more. In addition to the time factor, I’ve been there, been left behind, lost interest.

    I prefer five person content because it is a much more personal experience. I can know what is happening across the group, in addition to the fact that I know the people. I suppose 10 people wouldn’t be all that much of a reach, but I doubt I know a full 10 people who play WoW, are on my server, who play in my time frame, and who are not already invested in their own guild or group or whatever. Five person groups are what our guild can manage.


  10. R

    LFR seems to be tuned for half a group… if half the group (1 tank, 3 healers, 8 dps) are competent + somewhat overgeared, you’ll succeed… especially the earlier LFRs, the ones you were running. I’ve also noticed someone occasionally slumming, I’m not entirely sure why unless they’re on a geared alt and still working on the legendary questline, running older raids can speed up the earlier collection quests.

    And yes, there are a few “noob trap” fights even if LFR… the disappearing floor on Elegon (best I’ve ever seen in LFR was 1 death, never had a clean attempt), the maze on Durumu, the killer snail trash…

    These days, the first and sceond tier LFRs are generally pretty clean and easy, most players have seen them at some point. The SoO LFRs can be a different story, some runs are great, some are cesspools. You’ll have a lot more of a mixed result in there, most likely.

    As for healing LFR being hard, to a large degree it isn’t… most of the stuff people die to is avoidable and not really healable through, including tanks, so there’s a pretty easy “do the best you can” zen mindset you can get into early that smooths things out a lot. With DPS you’re competing against yourself and others, as a tank you actually need to know the fight to some degree, but as a healer, just heal people… sure, a few fights have actual healer responsibilities but generally, just heal. I don’t heal in progression raids these days and haven’t much ever but I find it the most relaxing role in LFR of the three.


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