Welcome to Volume 1 Episode 3 of Run With Fire. If you're not interested in World of Warcraft, then you probably aren't aware that the first wing in the currently available raid instance for Warlords of Draenor, Highmaul, has opened up for pick up groups, which is accessible through the game's Looking For Raid interface. On general, I avoid LFR like crazy. I don't even like joining the random queue for Heroic dungeons unless it's mostly made of my guild members. However, when I heard other guildies talk about how it was “laughably easy” and several of them went on runs that took 20-30 minutes, I must admit that I was suddenly interested. “LET IT RAIN WELFARE EPICS UPON ME!!!” I proclaimed, caps lock and all.
And they did. I offered to group with a guildie and queue with him, since he is DPS and I was planning to queue as a healer and possibly lessen his queue time. I only know the fights from a healing perspective, since I've been healing on guild runs, and I didn't want to be that guy learning the fights while tanking for this raid for the first time. I've heard horror stories for DPS queue times, but not Highmaul Wing 1 on the first week LFR goes live. I missed him queuing up, but he said he was in in less than 30 seconds. I took a deep breath and joined the queue myself. In one moment, I joined the queue. The next moment, after a brief distraction by a cat (a catstration?) I was zoning into Highmaul. Long story short, my pick up group, which included plenty of people admitting it was their first time in the zone – and likely means there were plenty more who wouldn't admit that – cleared the first wing in its entirety. Given that it's three bosses, that isn't a crazy amount. However, it was super fast, not one person died (not even a rogue DPS who doesn't want to move out of fire and other poop on the ground), and I got two upgrades. My healing set is terrible since I was initially gearing up my tank set, so I enjoyed having it rain down purples.
This does beg the question, though. Is LFR too easy? It's definitely easier than Heroic LFD. It's clearly easier than previous expansions. I thought Molten Core was a fluke; an easy raid to help people get a headstart on raiding. My pick up group for MC LFR wiped a couple of times, generally because the raid tried to skip packs and other trash, resulting in some incredibly messy pulls. LFR Highmaul? Zero deaths. I really thought that there would be a person or two dying from failure to move out of stuff. For Kargath, no one was designated as the crowd group. I was expecting it to be a totally unorganized mess. I know that LFR for Pandaria was a new experience in pain. I understand that not wanting a repeat of such a painful process is a good thing.
Does Blizzard go to far with Highmaul LFR though, and should we expect nerfs? I had this conversation last night with several guild mates. My guild's a little different than other guilds, because it's mostly made up of people who work in the gaming industry and our friends, families and significant others. Quite a few of us, at one time, all worked at the same place even. I figure that having this discussion with them would give me an honest assessment of where LFR is at and what I should expect to happen with it. Personally, I feel that Highmaul LFR far too easy and will be nerfed not much longer after the second wing is open to LFR. However, according to my conversation yesterday, I'm likely to be in the wrong with my nerf premonitions.
The theory is, according to my friends, that Blizzard feels they made a mistake with Siege of Orgrimmar's LFR. Rather than wanting to punish people this time around, LFR has been designed to encourage people to queue up for it. Allow me to point out once again that my friend's DPS queue time took all of 30 seconds. I guess one way that Blizzard can cut down DPS queue times is by giving tanks and healers a reason to keep joining queues because LFR no longer makes their collective brains itch. My friends and guildmates believe that this is a good thing, and because of this, we will not see nerfs to make LFR Highmaul harder.
Does it need to be harder? The more I think about this, and the more I keep experiencing raids in Warlords of Draenor, the more I find myself waffling back and forth over how I feel about all of this. Yesterday, I was suggesting to guildies to hit up LFR just for the welfare epic loot pinatas. Today, I posted a suggestion that anyone who has not gone through LFR yet to do so, because our next raid will lead us to our first Brackenspore attempt. Bracken is one of the three bosses currently available in LFR Highmaul. While the normal mode mechanics will be tougher, getting a feel for what to expect isn't a bad thing. The fight was crazy fun, so I'm really looking forward to our next raid night to give it a try with even more craziness.
Now, I'm beginning to see what Blizzard is doing here, and am starting to think that while LFR Highmaul (at least the first wing) is completely and totally laughably easy, maybe that's not a bad thing. Maybe it doesn't need to be harder. Blizzard has been working on better preparing adventurers for fights. All of the Warlords of Draenor dungeons, even at the normal level, hint you towards boss mechanics while you're clearing trash. When you're clearing your way to Rocketspark and Borka in Grimrail Depot, trash before you get to them will let you know what to expect from Borka's charge mechanic, big red directional arrow and all. This prepares you for the fight by letting you know how you can point Borka at Rocketspark for stuns. Highmaul normal mode has a bit of this, as well (Twin Ogron shield charge mechanics from trash pulls).
As someone with an education background, I can now appreciate LFR as a learning tool. Like normal dungeons in Draenor, LFR Highmaul can first introduce basic mechanics that players can use as a stepping stool to have a better grasp on what they will face in Normal Mode and later on, Heroic. Going through Warlords of Draenor dungeons in Normal, similarily, is a good foundation of what to expect when you face the same bosses on Heroic. Sure, the fights are a little tougher, there are more mechanics to pay attention to, but you still have a basic starting point on what to expect. Learning Heroic and Normal dungeons without guides (we did use Shift+J for the dungeon journal) were fun,but we are not complaining that we now have better gear. Better gear means we can now survive a sloppy pull or that we don't always have to take the time to properly crowd control trash pulls.
Is LFR too easy? Probably. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. Let it rain down purples upon me.