Dev Watercooler: Raiding Azeroth Part 3—Warlords of Draenor
Other than what we already have seen at Blizzcon, there are a few new details in this final blog post!

  • LFR will have even higher drop rates for loot, but will no longer drop tier gear and specific trinkets. Instead, it will have a different loot table with different art.
  • There will be less incentive to cap Valor every week.
  • The devs think that these changes will be enough to prevent most people from feeling that they need to do every raid difficulty every week.

Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Over the course of WoW’s nearly 10-year history, raiding has probably undergone more iteration and change than any other game system. To put the upcoming Warlords of Draenor raid changes into proper context, this three-part blog series will attempt to retrace the twists and turns of our raid design philosophy from Molten Core through Siege of Orgrimmar.

In this final entry, Lead Game Designer Ion “Watcher” Hazzikostas wraps things up by taking a look at the raiding philosophy and design changes coming in Warlords of Draenor (Warlords).

Warlords of Draenor (2014)

As we announced at BlizzCon, we’re excited about the opportunity to extend our Flexible Raid tech to address some of the long-standing problems we’ve been grappling with as a design team for over 5 years now. Here’s a quick breakdown of how the new system works: We’re relabeling Flexible Raid mode Normal, and it will serve as the new baseline point of entry to organized raiding. We’re also combining the current 10-player and 25-player Normal modes into a single Heroic difficulty. Finally, we’re consolidating 10-player and 25-player Heroic into a new fixed-size 20-player Mythic difficulty.

This system will allow the vast majority of players to raid with a wide variety of possible raid sizes, and reap the benefits of that structure. One of the major upsides of a 13-player raid is that you don’t have to worry about canceling if one or two people aren’t able to make it; you also don’t have to worry about asking someone to sit out if everyone shows up. This, in turn, means that raiding in an organized group is possible without the same feeling of obligation, and that such groups will be much more resilient in practice.

While we’ve made significant strides in tuning 10-player and 25-player Normal modes to be comparable in difficulty over the course of Mists of Pandaria (Mists), precise 10 vs. 25 Heroic tuning has continued to be a major challenge, especially on important fights such as Lei Shen (easier with 10) and Garrosh (easier with 25). Consolidating to a single raid size for Mythic will allow us to focus on delivering the best possible experience for our competitive hardcore raiders, while the flexible nature of Normal and Heroic mode provides an avenue for smaller groups to organically grow and continue raiding if they want to give Mythic a try.

Group Finder

Another central innovation in Warlords is our Group Finder feature, which will allow players to easily form and search for raid groups (among other activities) with players from their entire region. While this series of blogs has mostly focused on pre-existing social structures, pick-up groups continue to be tremendously important. Chance meetings in such groups have formed the basis for many a friendship, and recurring weekly pickup groups have given rise to more than a few guilds over the years. For players who want to take the next step beyond Raid Finder, or who want to find a weekend run for their alt, or who just need a last-minute tenth member for their raid, Group Finder will make that process easier than ever before.

Raid Finder

Raid Finder still has an important place within the new Warlords raid structure. Many players cannot or simply do not want to commit to a fixed group. And no matter how convenient we make organized raiding through Group Finder, it’ll never be something you can jump in and do for 45 minutes during your downtime on a busy day, the way you might do a Raid Finder wing.

However, we’ve also learned other lessons from our experience with Raid Finder over the past two and a half years. Raiding a single zone with a guild or group of friends can stay engaging for months, and one of the core reasons for that is the pacing of progression through a zone. A raid group might start out learning a new boss or two each week; that pace slows as the raid reaches the later bosses near the end of a zone, and more time each week is spent re-clearing “farm content” to gear up further. This keeps the experience varied, and even if you don’t get the specific loot you were hoping for in a given week, you’re seeing your friends and guildmates progress and get stronger, and you’re feeling the impact of those upgrades as you kill bosses faster and faster.

Raid Finder offers none of that. Your ninth clear of the Underhold section of Siege of Orgrimmar is likely no faster than your second (and might even be slower); you aren’t experiencing anything new or different. So how can we make Raid Finder a more compelling and enjoyable experience? A decent first step is to make it significantly more generous than it has been in the past, nearly doubling the rate of reward to better match the overall pacing of the content.

Our intent is for Raid Finder to allow players to experience our raid content, see the conclusion of major storylines, and witness the epic environments that our artists create without needing to commit to an organized raid group. We’d like to focus on that purity of purpose, and minimize the elements that have made guild raiders feel like they needed to do Raid Finder each week as part of their core progression. Accordingly, while loot will be awarded more frequently, Raid Finder in Warlords will have different loot tables than the Normal, Heroic, or Mythic versions of the raids, along with different item art. The gear will fall in between dungeon loot and Normal mode raid loot in terms of power, as it does today, but without the set bonuses and specific trinkets that tend to make raiders feel like they need to run Raid Finder alongside their weekly guild raids today.

After a player gets quickly geared up through Raid Finder and starts thinking about venturing into Normal mode for better rewards, their Raid Finder loot and combat experience should prepare them to take that next step—and Group Finder will make the process easier than ever before.

Raid Lockouts

In Warlords, each raid difficulty will have its own weekly lockout. We gave careful consideration to how the lockout system should work, and which difficulties (if any) would share lockouts. Having seen how Flex works today, it’s clear there are many benefits to having our raid difficulties on separate lockouts: Players might currently raid Normal or Heroic Siege of Orgrimmar with their guilds on a set schedule, but then join real-life friends on another server for weekend Flex runs and a chance to grab some off-spec loot. Players who are regularly clearing Normal, let alone Heroic, Siege of Orgrimmar quickly find that they don’t need much main-spec loot from Flex. Most players who are doing Siege in multiple difficulties each week are doing so with different social groups, and we’d like to preserve players’ freedom to do so.

As for Heroic and Mythic, having those difficulties share a lockout would present a number of technical as well as logistical challenges: Heroic is a flexible-size loot-based lockout; Mythic is a fixed-size boss-based lockout, limited to a single realm, with a static ID. The two simply aren’t congruent. Having these on a separate lockout also simplifies some things for high-end guilds that are trying to manage progress on a limited schedule, and currently have to carefully budget enough time at the end of each week to re-kill remaining bosses on Normal difficulty for loot. In Warlords, those groups will be able to frontload their farming for the week and then work on Mythic progression for the rest of the week without worry.

Reflecting on the “Trial of the Crusader problem” in Patch 3.2, much of the issue there stemmed from the way Emblems worked at the time. Badges obtained from raid bosses and dungeons were necessary just to buy set pieces, and so guilds felt obligated to keep clearing something like 10-player Normal Trial of the Crusader, even if they needed none of the loot, just for the extra Emblems. In Warlords, we are scaling back Valor, along with the incentive to cap Valor weekly. Less linear layouts and shortcuts that allow experienced groups to skip to certain bosses should let raiders target the specific content that interests them. In general, we’re erring on the side of giving players choice and freedom, and we feel that our character progression systems are better structured now and will not encourage excessive repetition of the same content.

Raiding Draenor

The raiding system we’re introducing in Warlords draws upon ten years of experience and all of the lessons we’ve learned along the way. We feel this system will provide the best possible raid experience to as many players as possible, regardless of their play style, and we’re excited for you all to try it. We’ll be paying close attention to your constructive feedback, and watching carefully once raid testing begins in our upcoming beta.
This article was originally published in forum thread: Dev Watercooler: Raiding Azeroth Part 3—Warlords of Draenor started by chaud View original post
Comments 286 Comments
  1. moveth's Avatar
    And thus concludes the greatest Watercooler ever. I hope we get more "looks back" like this.
  1. ShobuBlaze's Avatar
    No more tier gear and trinkets in Raid Finder confirmed. I approve.
  1. TrollShaman's Avatar
    Good, I'm actually very happy flex exists, aside from the crazy ilvl requirement for flex garrosh kills. I have much less need to do lfr these days, no less come Warlords.
  1. Nakloh's Avatar
    Good stuff.
  1. Singularity's Avatar
    Oh man, I'm so excited for this expansion. This game is getting better every expansion.
  1. Tristaris's Avatar
    I'm quite glad they are preserving trinkets, and set bonus' for flex and up, as it gives players incentive to actually want to push character progression further, while still rewarding the more difficult encounters with special items.
  1. Salech's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by moveth View Post
    And thus concludes the greatest Watercooler ever. I hope we get more "looks back" like this.
    How is this the best watercooler ever?, i am confused it's a good one but they have had a few that was way superior to this one

    And yeah it's cool looking back, i want to know about how classes was since vanilla and forward, would be interesting seeing how classes have developed from unique to almost the same across the line. (no sarcasm i am genuinely interested).
  1. Xjev's Avatar
    Well nothing new here, we almost new all. Just the official confirmation on LFR having separate loot table and increased drop rate.
  1. Lolercaust's Avatar
    Good stuff, but I don't like how LFR loot "will fall in between dungeon loot and normal mode raid loot." I was hoping they were going to remove LFR from the progression path COMPLETELY by making it drop loot on par with dungeon loot. But maybe things will change, who knows?
  1. Chib's Avatar
    I had a chuckle to myself here after that, I've got experience of all end of this game and while people complain that its far to easy now it keeps the games population large and servers healthy. Damaging LFR by curtailing its loot tables, increasing the drop rate and more importantly giving what people will consider inferior artwork on the sets. We will see more people finish the content faster and have no interest in staying for the long haul.

    Like most above me I might have taken that attitude in my AQ 40 or Naxx 40 days but that's the past and that horse long bolted when Pots and elixirs were nerfed and 25 man raids came in BC. Its a shame as I think its not going to do good and panders to a small group of vocal users and not the masses who pay the bulk of the charges for the game.

    Such a shame.
  1. frozenkex's Avatar
    Im afraid of thousands of tears that will ensue once people know that tourist mode wont give them tier items anymore, hope BLizz doesn't cave.
  1. Schnulzenbarde's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by moveth View Post
    And thus concludes the greatest Watercooler ever. I hope we get more "looks back" like this.
    Oh look Ion Hazzikostas nerfs LFR once again for his organized raiding friends.

    You are so predictable, Watcher.
  1. Potassiumgluconate's Avatar
    No Tier in LFR confirmed.

    And like that, Blizzard will spend the rest of the expansion scratching their heads wondering why half the population stopped raiding.
  1. Epsi's Avatar
    "jump in and do a flex wing for 45 minutes in your spare time" after you've been in the queue for 45-60 minutes maybe.
  1. Joeygiggles's Avatar
    I'm all for this. I have no desire to run LFR. I know I had the choice to but I mean you can't pass up on the set bonuses and whatnot. This change is long over due IMO and looking forward to doing flex with my alts and Mythic on my Main.
  1. Triggered Fridgekin's Avatar
    All things considered, in my opinion, Warlords seems to be a step in the right direction after fumbling through Cataclysm and Mists. I'm interested.

    Not interested enough to pre-order, yet, but I feel way better than I did with Mists.
  1. PuppetShowJustice's Avatar
    Those LFR queue times are going to be horrific with these changes. But I'm glad I won't feel the need to step foot into LFR.

    Except for the inevitable battle pets that will drop off bosses that I'll have to go burn extra rolls on. Siiiigh.
  1. mysticx's Avatar
    A bit hazy on some points, "loot inbetween dungeons and normal raids", is that normal or heroic dungeons? (They said "equal to heroic dungeons" before, is that still true?) There was also mention of "no specific trinkets" that would "force" raiders into LfR, which i assume means "different trinkets"? (None at all would be overly harsh IMO)

    Oh well, at least we have some actual information now, i hope some of the details get filled out with replies to the watercooler... (I can't ask myself, i have an EU account. :P )
  1. Kryos's Avatar
    Sounds perfect to me. I have nothing to complain about this plan.
  1. damonskye's Avatar
    One thing I don't see mentioned, sadly… an answer to the long queue times for LFR for DPS classes. I was hoping for a radical change -- like, reducing LFR to one tank required instead of two (let's face it, most of the time people sit around doing nothing while already *in* a LFR raid is because you've lost one or both tanks). A change to that would help reduce queue times *and* provide for more existing LFR groupings. But oh well… looks like we are destined for more tiers of 60-minute DPS queues for LFR on nights we don't have anyone to flex(normal) raid with...

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