The other day my friend asked if I wanted to join her in LFR to do Highmaul content. I had some time so I agreed. We partied up, queued up, and entered. We wound up doing all the Highmaul raids LFR-style.
To sum up: it was a ton of fun. I had a blast!
What made it great for me was the fights were simplified. I know the elite raiders look at LFR with disdain. Actually my friend must have been slumming since her character’s iLevel is maxed out from the normal Highmaul raid – LFR is easier than the stuff her guild clears. But for me, having never been in any of it with my own character, it was great. I could get familiar with some of the mechanics of the fights and see the content.
As a new healer (in WoW at least) it was much better than a 5-man because there were a few other healers. Thus, the healing “pressure” falls on more than one person, unlike a 5-man where if somebody dies the rest of the group automatically thinks the healer screwed up. So for somebody trying to get the hang of healing group encounters, LFR is fantastic in that regard as well.
Yet another reason LFR was so fun is that each boss fight was largely in an arena-style room: a big circular room with minimal line of sight issues. For one fight, I was able to run 360 degrees around the boss for better positioning. Maybe I could have done that in the other fights – I didn’t but I don’t remember any barriers – but unlike Grimrail Depot 😉 I could find good positioning where I was in range of the players I needed to heal (more or less; I just kept the tanks in range tried to place myself between them and the majority of the others; DPS that decided to pathologically wander far away can suffer the consequences of their decisions) and then just worry about healing players and the encounter mechanics.
I just used the default raid UI which was adequate, but I do plan to look into some addons like HealBot.
So the advantages of LFR are numerous (easier fight mechanics; multiple other healers; fights take place in large open rooms) and I’m going to go in whenever I can (basically when the raid lock resets).
As you can see in the screenshot, I ended up as 3rd healer. Basically DPS’s job is to… DPS and unleash damage into the enemies so the group wins.
Unlike how “important” DPS meters are for DPS classes, healing meters/stats have some other factors at play. While more healing is better, there is also wasted healing (overhealing), mana conservation and skill cooldowns to consider – saving up big heals or big protection skills to use on the tank or to react to some encounter mechanic is very important. Topping off a player’s health when they aren’t in immediate danger of death may result in problems later due to lack of mana or a crucial skill being on cooldown.
I’m not trying to claim I’m a better healer than the stats – the others had the same things to deal with – I’m just saying that topping the healing meter isn’t always the best thing for group success so maxing out healing metrics isn’t necessarily the goal.
On the other hand, I likely am just an average healer (the raid has 5 healer spots, so 3rd is median), so I will use this info to compare against myself and try to get better. I’ve got skills that I don’t use much – Uplift and Chi Wave. Both have situations where they are more effective so I can try to arrange for those situations in order to amplify the effect – more healing for the mana/chi, so to speak. I can check I’m not overhealing by too much. And so on.
Anyway, I’ve got room for improvement and I think having fun in LFR is about the speed I’m looking for. My other spec is Brewmaster (tank) so when I have a good grip on the LFR version of the fights maybe I’ll try them as a tank.
LFR is wonderful for players like me that want a place to practice a different spec that they don’t get to do while doing regular questing. Which brings up the next section.
Recently, Screaming Monkeys posted about changing things up to be less boring, making a blitz LFR. This almost certainly is written from the viewpoint of a DPS player, because I’m pretty sure healers and tanks aren’t bored even in LFR.
I can see why DPS is bored – that’s all they play. Solo, group, questing, instances – do the same thing, DPS. But that is not the play style of a healer or tank – you can’t heal a mob to death, and tanking while solo… you’ve got aggro no matter what.
For group content, healers and tanks fundamentally play different than they have to while leveling, due to the nature of the vast majority of MMO content, which is to become a mass murderer and kill everything to the horizon in every direction, every time you step out the safety of the local outpost. Even though it is possible to solo quest in a non-DPS spec (for me as a Monk, that is Brewmaster/tank or Mistweaver/healer in the Spirited Crane stance) you don’t really get to work on what is expected of you in group content, unless you are well, doing group content. And expecting healers and tanks to always have to group to quest and level is a non-starter. There is the Proving Grounds instance for practicing, but you can’t level there.
Now I can sympathize to a degree, but I think that tuning encounters so that DPS doesn’t get bored, possibly because that’s all they play in every facet of the game, would make things WAY too difficult for healers and tanks.
The post mentions “hoping your group is smart enough…”
That right there is the extra challenge even the “simplified” LFR battle brings to group healers – those other players that aren’t smart enough to target the adds are also the ones standing in the fire, standing too far away, and/or generally helping the encounter kill them as quickly as possible. And for the good of the group the healers need to keep them alive anyway, or try to.
Later: “as long as you have one or two decent healers and at least one good tank”.
One of two decent healers? One tank? Flex raids scale 10 to 25, and I’m not sure if LFR works the same, but it probably does. The raid above is 25 players: 2 tanks, 5 healers, 18 DPS, and you can count them for yourself in the screenshots. I am confident that 2 healers, no matter how awesome they are or how over geared they are, cannot handle healing 25 players at even leveled content. Skills don’t cool down twice as fast even if they have ninja reflexes. And their gear won’t scale up their mana and healing output 100% more.
The regular content allows for groups of 5: 1 tank, 1 healer, 3 DPS. So one or two healers at that same ratio means a group of 5 to 10 players, and for a full raid it works out to 5 healers. But not 5 tanks; I suppose one handles the big boss and the other rounds up adds as best as possible. 2 healers means the tanks get healed and DPS is mostly on their own.
Later: “make the fights go faster”.
That depends on how it is done. Less garbage – sure. Trim boss health – sure. Compressing time so adds show up and boss mechanics fire 3 times faster (i.e. boss does something every minute, adds show up every minute; re-tuned encounter now does whatever every 20 seconds so the encounter is “faster”). No. Make boss output the same damage in less time (i.e. boss does X damage a minute; re-tuned encounter boss does 3X in 20 seconds so it is “faster”) – no No NO HELL NO!!
I didn’t think my LFRs went on too long – we downed Brackenspore in under 7 mins (also visible in the screenshot courtesy of the DBM mod) which is about the goal mentioned of a 5 min boss fight. I don’t recall how long the other fights took because I was too busy keeping on top of healing to notice. I thought the 7 min Brackenspore fight was hectic – from my viewpoint any long fight becomes a balance between various cooldowns, mana conservation, and constant triage to keep the tanks at a healthy enough margin to avoid impending death so the healers can pay attention the rest of the group.
My suggestion is: if LFR is boring as DPS, try it as healer or tank. If LFR is boring as DPS, respec or play a class that is more flexible, or even better, do the regular raid. Do NOT make the LFR fight harder because DPS, as 1 of 18 or whatever, is bored. Do NOT tune the LFR fight so no DPS gets bored. Don’t screw the healers and tanks who can’t play their spec as much as DPS can.