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