Soylent Green

A collaborative essay by Hamlet and Perculia.

Tuesday night. Like many others, you queued for LFR because you were Looking For a Raid. The question we want to explore here is, is what you found actually a raid?

We know what you’re after when you queue up. It’s not so much a raid, per se, that’s on the forefront of your mind. It’s that you’ll win an epic. Yes, the odds are low (you’re not even totally sure what they are), but maybe this will be the week. Maybe your item is from the final boss, so your hopes are prolonged further before being dashed by a bag of gold. Yes, that bag of gold you bitterly accept, but you’d almost rather throw it away in protest. Preferably at someone’s head. But since WoW doesn’t let you do that, you dutifully click on it and add the gold to your inventory. Nobody will ever know anyway. You’re never going to see these people again.

If ever, in that moment, you wished you hadn’t come to LFR, you’ve already begun to understand what we’re telling you today.

This is at first blush a piece about LFR. But what it’s really about is raiding, and the things that make raiding a unique gaming experience. LFR demonstrates what remains when you strip the element of human interaction away: a shell that resembles raiding only superficially. Through the case study of LFR, we hope to remind you of what raiding is about, why you got started doing it, and why so many people love it.

There is one exception that runs throughout all of our comments. The people who make a group with friends and run LFR because they can’t raid Normal for whatever reason (group size, cross-realm, skill level, scheduling, or maybe they’re also raiding Normal but still doing LFR for gear). This is the exception that proves the rule. Because they’re using the “LFR” system as a workaround for logistical or other issues, not because they need to Look For a Raid. As will be discussed below, these people are the target audience for Flex raiding, which is better suited to their social raiding needs and will hopefully replace LFR for them. Our primary focus is the player who doggedly runs LFR outside the context of an already-established raid group. It is to these people that we send the message: don’t.

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History of NPC and Item Scaling in MoP

In light of Blizzard’s recent announcement that Flexible Raids are coming in Patch 5.4, I’m going to take a look at various NPC and item scaling tech used previously in Mists of Pandaria. Looking closely at item scaling should help clarify some confusion about trinket procs in general as well.

NPC scaling

In Flex Raiding, the bosses you fight will scale based on the number of players in the raid (between 10-25), while still remaining easier than Normal modes. We’ve previously seen scaling boss abilities in Mists of Pandaria, as well as mobs that scale based on the number of players attacking.

Scaling has been used on outdoor elite mobs in MoP, such as the Isle of Thunder and Battlefield Barrens mobs scaling up in difficulty based on the number of players fighting them. In WoWMartiean‘s Rare Champions of Lei Shen video, you can see Goda’s HP scaling around 2:10.

In MoP’s beta, spell IDs for boss abilities were consolidated for many bosses. This allowed spell IDs for dungeon bosses to scale between Normal, Heroic, and Challenge Modes, and spell IDs for raid bosses to scale between LFR, 10N, 10H, 25N, and 25H. In Patch 5.3, this was also applied to Normal and Heroic scenarios.

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