Flex Raiding the Right Sized Raiding Option
Recently Blizzard announced Flex Raiding coming in patch 5.4, which allows any number of raiders to participate in raid content between 10 and 25 players. So whether you have 13 people, or 24, you can participate in this new raid mode, which will scale in difficulty based on how many people you have in the group.
For many adding an additional tier / lockout to raid content only goes to increasing burnout of players who feel forced to run the additional raid content, but more casual minded raiders may find this way of raiding a welcome option.
My guild has always been casual by nature, and we have raided since Vanilla, nothing hurts more than telling a bunch of folks they have to sit in a casual guild. You are saying we know you have limited time to play, but we are telling you that even though you made time and effort to show up, due to one of many reasons we just don’t have a place for you. Conversely if you are a 10 man raiding guild, and only 9 people show up, or if you are a 25 and only 23 show up, do you PUG the rest? Do you call it? Well in these scenarios Blizzard has created Flex Raiding which will provide options for teams who have a bit too many for a 10, or a bit too few for a 25 man.
Flex raiding, the concept of it is to include as many folks as possible, while still conforming to a structure of organized raiding. It still requires the appropriate balance. Blizzard has even suggested starting 10 man flex at 2-3 healers and adding an additional healer for every 5 you go up, so at 15, have 3-4, at 20 have 4-5, at 25 have 5-6. Of course Flex Raiding is still very much in the testing phase but the idea would allow many casual guilds who have had to split up 25 man raiding into multiple 10 man teams, to perhaps build back up to a 25 by having everyone run together.
Now for the hardcore raiders, the ones racing to world first clears of a raid clear, they may see Flex Raiding as mandatory because it falls on a separate lockout than normal or heroic. Many of the race to world first crew will do anything they can to guarantee they have the best gear possible and even have multiple alts geared and ready to go to switch in. So some may feel this is something they must do, on top of LFR and their normal raiding, plus any gathering that may need to occur to be prepared with flasks and feasts. So the chances for burnout are much higher with this crowd.
Also with Flex Raiding some may try to min-max what is the ideal number of people to beat the encounter, but honestly if this is something you are doing, Flex Raiding is not for you, its meant to feel more casual focused, which of course will bring out the, “OMG Blizzard is catering to casuals” crowd. But think about it, most of their core audience are casual players, this is a business, and Blizzard is in the business to keep the majority of their paying subscribers happy. This mode of raiding appeases to the casual groups who want the flexibility to include as many folks as possible without excluding others.
Flex Raiding in my opinion will allow causal raid focused guilds to have a valuable tool if needed to “Right Size” their raids on a week to week basis. Some weeks maybe you have 17 folks show up, so run Flex raid, maybe the week after you have 20, so run 2 10 man normals if that’s your jam, but as you can see Flex Raiding does provide options. Now the question is will the rewards be worth it, as its only on the PTR right now, only time will tell on that.
The dynamic scaling of raid content to fit the amount of people you want to raid with is an intriguing mechanic, that you can see in other uses via cloud computing, virtualization, etc. Many organizations turn to cloud computing or virtualization because it lets them dynamically scale their services to meet a growing or retracting demand. Flex Raiding does the same thing, and while the logistical nightmare of doing so is there to scale raid encounters on a wide range of folks, don’t be surprised if Flex Raiding becomes the only raiding option in the future. Obviously for that to happen, Blizzard would need to try to take into account gaming of numbers, gear, difficulty per person added, etc. But it does make developing content easier if there is a plug and play formula for scaling raids, vs. balancing 10 and 25 man. Right now Blizzard has set themselves up to manage 4-6 different ways to raid (LFR, Flex, Normal 10, Normal 25, Heroic 10 and Heroic 25). Streamlining raiding would assist greatly in development efforts, if they could make it work.
I am looking forward to this feature, as I know several other folks in casual raiding guilds are as well. But it will all come down to how its implemented.