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Flexible Raid Sizes in Patch 5.4

Posted Sun, Jun 09, 2013 by Messiah

lexible raid sizes

Raiding has always (to me at least) been the ultimate part of any MMO out there.  If you are in an MMO, you should be participating in raiding as part of your playing activities.  Over time Blizzard has made raiding more accessible to more players.  First there where only 40 player raids, over time though that got viewed as hard to organize and cumbersome (although many will disagree).  Blizzard stepped in and created both 25 player raiding and 10 player raiding.  At first they were different raids, but over time they started sharing the same content.

Everything was good if you had a group that fit one of those two sizes.  What if you didn’t though?  Well you could try to find a PUG raid, but that was always a crapshoot.  Blizzard stepped in again and added the LFR system so that players could find groups quickly at any time to raid with.  Again, this helped open raiding up to more players, but it is still a risky proposition as some LFR groups are simply incapable of finishing.

With the next major content release (Patch 5.4), Blizzard is looking to make raiding even more flexible and accommodating to players with the new Flexible raiding system.

What is the new Flexible Raiding System?

Blizzard has posted a lot of info about the new system on their site in a blog entry, but here are the highlights.

One Size Does Not Fit All – Blizzard recognizes that you should be able to raid with your social group regardless of its size so that you are not stuck with only a 10 player or 25 player group.

/Flex – Based on allowing anywhere from 10 – 25 players to raid together, the new flex system will be used to adjust the difficulty based on the number of players in the raid, so that the fights are always about the same difficulty no matter if you have 12 or 22 players.

Loot Levels – This is essentially a fourth tier of raiding difficult, that is slightly harder than the LFR system but slightly easier than normal mode raiding.  That means that there will be another tier of loot available in this form of raiding that fits between the existing tiers of loot. 

Loot Distribution – Loot will be given out based on the raid finder system in the flex raiding tier.

Lock Outs – The flexible raid tier will be available as a separate raid lockout.  This means you will be able to do raids in LFR, Flex, and Normal/Hard mode each week.

flexible raid items
A new tier of loot would fit between the LFR gear and normal mode gear sets. Here is an example of a Warlock set item from the Throne of Thunder raid, if flexible raiding had been available for the Throne of Thunder it would be in the middle of them, and likley have an item level of 512.

What does all this mean?

Essentially, this new system will provide you with the ability to work on raiding content with a guild or PUG based on the number of players you have on hand at any given time.  It will be harder than the toned down LFR encounters, but not quite as hard as the normal more encounters that guilds are normally dealing with.

Just a few of the numerous situations that can arise when raiding in a guild that this system helps out significantly with are:

  • A guild has a normal 10 player group and 3 spares/alternates, normally only 10 show up any given night, however one night everyone shows up. Normally 3 would have to sit out, with this everyone could still go all together, and if you decide 10 could still do e raid in normal mode another night. 
  • A guild that normally runs 10 player raids, is trying to recruit some new players to get to 25 player raids, or to fill some spots for upcoming summer holidays or army deployments.  This gives everyone a chance to raid together while you evaluate the new recruits.
  • A friendly guilds has some of the members kids online over summer break and wants to include them, but normally only runs 10 player raids, and does not have enough for 25.
  • A 25 player raid has multiple players away on holidays or has lost some due to leaving the game and has not found replacements yet.

The Word of the Messiah

So this all comes down to: Who is this new system good for….

EVERYONE!

I’ don’t know about you, but I have been through multiple guilds since raiding went from 40 to 25 player raids and then to both 10 and 25 player raids.  Much of the reason I moved guilds was due to raid sizes and groupings, and the more players I talk to the more I hear the same thing.

The most important thing that happens when you raid in a guild, is that you make friends. More than anything else such as bosses being killed, players winning loot,  or getting achievements, raiding is about making friends. While you are raiding though, real life interferes, things happen, and players take breaks.  This means that over time your raid group that was 25 maybe drops to 17 or 18, or your 10 player raid group grows to 12 or 14.  Either way, you have been forced to either fill the spots to reach the next raid size or to fill two 10 player raids, or drop players and leave some of your friends out of a raid that week. 

Both of those are bad things and interrupt the fun of your raid night. Sure adding a few new players to fill a group is also a good thing, since you may make new friends, but when filling a raid, its generally a PUG and not something that leads to players joining the guild.

Many guilds that I have been in have ended up splitting up due to not having enough players to fill two 10 player raids, and therefore some having to sit out each week.  That isn’t fun and leads to guilds falling apart over time.

This new system is an awesome feature for everyone, but especially for the friendly raiding guilds that I prefer playing in.  You know the ones, I have written about them over the years, they are the ones I refer to as casually hardcore.  The players in them know all the fights, all the math, all the stats, are amazing at their class, but just don’t want to (or can’t) be in real hardcore guilds to raid with due to work schedules, live schedules, or any number of other things.  These are the players I love gaming with, but also the ones that just can’t take sitting out for a week, since they are here to game.

While I enjoy the looking for raid system, there is always the issue about getting 25 random players together.  You know ahead of time that 80% are going to be useless for one reason or another, and that 20% will carry the raid, that gets frustrating over time.  This system single handily can bring back a friendly, casual, guild based raiding system again.  Which in my opinion is pure win.

This is one of the best new features Blizzard has talked about in a very long time.  My only real complaint is that it wasn’t here from day one…

If you would like to find out more, you can read the Blizzard blog entry here: A Raid for All Seasons: Flexible Raid Preview.

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