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. ganush's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Emerald View Post
    I dont like the fact that LFR will be better Loot then hc dungeon that way u will be forced to do that LFR again before the other raids and the burnout will kick in fast that way.
    Even if the drops are faster then before, i don't get why they just make the loot equal with hc dungeon loot and let LFR only to see the content for the casual player...
    Hope they change that cause that way u have to do 4 different raid difficult nevertheless...
    Couple of things they could do to alleviate this. Keep gear upgrades so you can upgrade your dungeon gear with justice points to the same level as LFR gear. LFR gear can be upgradable with VP, but higher level raider would ever upgrade a LFR piece with precious VP that early in the tier, so effectively dungeon gear can become equal to LFR gear. Secondly, I assume they will delay the release of LFR behind the flex modes, so higher level raiders will have a chance to run normal flex to fill in some gear. Finally, if the gear drop rates are greatly increased in LFR, it may only be one or two runs (only for the most serious progression raiders) before the reward to time ratio becomes pointless. I would hope that after the first tier, LFR will no longer be beneficial for organized raiders in any way.

    We also don't know the ilvl differences between H-dungeon loot and LFR loot. Using current gear scaling for example, if heroic dungeon loot was 650, LFR loot 656, and normal flex loot 662, then only the most dedicated raiders should feel the need to run LFR.
  1. Flexor's Avatar
    What happened lfr only raiders? you wont be able to get full epic gear from that? and you are complaining that wow will lose subs? Get lost one for all!
    PS. Yea i know i am a douch w.e
    PS2. in my opinion lfr with some more changes destroyed epic loot for the kiddos. oh and a 'legendary' cloak for your. take free loots!
    PS3. Lfr should give hc dungeon ilvl gear at max! ( because ppl like the epic color(purple) not the stats of it or what ever)
    edit. I dont like the way wow works right now or it will work the same at the next expansion... LFR is the pre raid for actual raiding....
  1. Otimus's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Vongimi View Post
    It will essentially be progression for the first week or so, and than a catch-up for alts. With no set bonuses or trinkets, sounds like you could pretty easily skip it. Plus challenge modes (and maybe heroic scenarios? Havent heard anything about those) will drop equivalent gear. Even if you do end up running it for gear, with double the chance of loot drops you won't run it for long. Its pretty well removed from the progression path, you might "need" to run it for a week or two it looks like, but after that you will never have to run it again for the rest of the expansion (except as a catch-up for alts).

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    Or they could get that half to try something a bit harder. IMO it would be a victory if 25% stopped and 25% started doing normals (flex now).
    You really, genuinely think that'll happen? Even when content is nerfed into the dirt, very few people do it. People don't like organized activities in MMOs where they're forced to be judged and socialize.

    If anything, this'll encourage less people to do LFR at all, which will encourage people to flat out not play at all. Until you can queue for it, anything above LFR is never going to have much participation. Before LFR, we had something like ~10% of the 10 million or whatever raiding. After LFR, there's been even less raiding. I doubt this is going to change anything.

    Most people don't want to raid, but Blizzard is dead set on that being the main attraction because it's what they want to play. Then we'll wind up with the next expansion going all whacky, and having more people complain yet again over something.

    The real solution is to provide long lasting, meaningful casual content separate from LFR, in addition to LFR, but they're flat out unwilling to even try that. Because they want everyone to raid, despite the fact it's never going to happen.
  1. Literae's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Stellan View Post
    João Ferreira ‏@itschrysaetos Apr 30
    @WatcherDev LFR Loot better or equivalent to Heroic Dungeon loot? The watercooler post didn't specify.
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    Watcher ‏@WatcherDev Apr 30
    [email protected] 6.0 LFR ilvl is between Heroic dungeon and Normal raid, same as today.
    Looks like the Blizzard Ship of Potential has been overflown with tears of LFR.
  1. hotmess's Avatar
    I really really enjoy these changes. Enough for me to not be a lurker, make an account, and come here just to say this.

    Some people confuse me, though. In my opinion, everything Blizz is doing seems to be catering to everyone in their own way. People who like raiding, but want something very casual but also want something with a little more substance than LFR, now have Normal (Flex). People who take it more seriously, there's heroic. Those who plow through heroic and want a better challenge, now have Mythic. LFR was never meant to be a serious raiding tool. The new group feature with flex raiding should be your go-to now to do some "real raiding" a time that's convenient for you. I understand you may not commit to a schedule because you cant or just don't want to. I actually am un-subbed from WoW for close to 6 months. I didn't like this expansion. I work overnights (changing soon, yay) so it was difficult to find a guild and do some real raiding, which I miss very much. I did LFR and it was... just depressing. I care about the gameplay enough to feel like a fool for being top DPS aka effort while a bunch of others barely participated.

    I did LFR because that was, in my opinion, the only raiding option I had. They added flex raiding about the time I quit WoW and though I've kept myself occupied with other things in life, I imagine Flex would be the best option for me at this time. If you are someone who is in a similiar situation, but you care enough about gear and you are upset over the new LFR -- why can't you look for a flex group? Why do you only have to do LFR? If you are only going to do LFR because you just don't have the time to commit, why does it matter to have tier sets? MMOs are meant to be a time sink, and to be played HOWEVER you want. But with that being said, those who can put in much more time and effort in the game.. well, they should reap the benefits of that. If your time is so restricted and you can only log in, like 3 hours total in a week --- why does having certain quality gear even matter? Do LFR to see the story, that's what it's there for. Want better gear? Use the limited time you have wisely.

    I look forward to getting back in a guild and becoming a raider again. I look forward to NOT having to do LFR, but only do LFR if I want to. You know what else is nice? People don't HAVE to do LFR now in order to progress. Do you realize what this means? The obnoxious hardcore raiders who do talk down on everyone? You will most likely run into a lot less of them. Do you realize what this means? People who will be using LFR will be "LFR people", which means it'll be even more pleasant for those people. You can't get away from jerks, no, but this should help alleviate some of the jerk-ness seen in LFR, imo.

    Personally, I truly see this as a win/win for everyone. Blizzard has made tons of other really bad and horrid decisions and none of these are bad. You should raid to get raid gear and now we have different ways to raid based on our personal needs. I can't believe how many people are so upset by this. Honestly, even if they lose a ton of subs like everyone is doomsaying that's fine. I'm no where near elitist at ALL in this game (I will be raiding normal and heroic once in a guild. I don't really care too much about mythic style), but the game will be better off without "GIMME GIMME" people who just want stuff because they pay $15 a month. If you feel that way, perhaps you should find a F2P game and buy exactly what you want in a game.
  1. TCceen's Avatar
    terrible armor, absolutely disgusting.... do they want us to roll alts at ALL anymore? The whole argument before was 'we want you to play your alts, not just have everything account wide'

    Raiders complained about having to run LFR to get set bonuses and trinkets?.... make all the tiers share 1 lockout, simple fix....

    Sorry but i won't be rolling any alts to get crap gear like that, with no bonuses and garbage stats... all my alts will be in Wildstar... at this rate any more knocks to the player base and my Main might well be too!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ShobuBlaze View Post
    No more tier gear and trinkets in Raid Finder confirmed. I approve.
    Yay goodbye my alts! I will miss all of you, I may just play my main if at all... so far this just confirms Wildstar is so much more fun and FOR the players.

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