I was just reading some about the new flex raiding system coming to Patch 5.4 in WoW. This is really one of the more unexpected changes to come to the game in quite a while. Raids as a matter of practice now for quite a while, are a very locked-in experience, with a set number of people, doing a set number of roles in order to down a boss. Not since 40-man raiding, where only 27 would raid and the rest be afk, has the endgame of WoW been so flexible. This seems to be a great boon to the guild that can still run 25-man raids, but maybe not as bleeding edge style as some guilds, or at times find themselves short a member or 8. While I agree with the addition of this new difficulty, sitting comfortably in between normal raiding and LFR, I do have some questions and concerns about the difficulty.
Now I get the bosses will scale to accommodate the number of players participating in the raid, but what is the composition that one wants to take into one of these raids. Say I have 16 players, ready to go, but 3 are tanks, 6 are healers and 7 are DPS. How do I know if one of the tanks needs to turn to their DPS spec? Is this a per-boss thing one has to worry about? The real solution to this is something I would look to LFR for. Lock down the number of tanks at a very manageable 2, no matter the actual raid size, then maybe lock down the number of healers needed to 4 or 5. Thanks to the partial homogenization of classes in WoW, there should be a way to make sure no crucial healing assignment is left out. Especially if Blizzard goes the LFR route and makes some of the more certain-death mechanics easier to deal with, not punishing those who stand in the fire so much. One question that will certainly dovetail into any Flex Raid encounter when it comes to healing is also the problem of B-Rez’s. How many will a Flex Raid have? Will it change based on raid size? I imagine it has to, but those numbers will have to be intensely tested in the PTR.
One thing that I have seen on the internet since Flex Raiding was announced is the argument from some raiders that they will feel compelled to do this type of raiding, on top of their normal raids, since Flex Raiding will be on a separate lockout. Some have even said they would prefer Flex Raids to be on the same lockout, so they don’t feel like they have to do both. Now I get the idea that world firsts in raids are competitive, but very few guilds are actually in those hunts, and they are the ones who will “have to” take advantage of every lockout they can do. On top of that, I suspect those guilds would actually like the idea of an extra lockout, as those who compete seriously typically love to compete. Most people who feel like Blizzard is imposing on them by adding another form of raiding needs to seriously rethink things. How little control does one have on their own life that they cannot self-regulate how much of a game they play? If that is the case, Blizzard adding Flex Raiding on a separate lockout is really the least of their worries.
Overall, I do think it’s a good idea for Blizzard to include this system in WoW. Too many 25-man’s probably suffer when they are missing a few people, and this allows for a very fair compromise. While you may not get the full powered normal raiding gear, you still get to raid, and not worry about having to beg your raid to find friends that can actually keep up with you.