Thoughts on the Apparent Lack of Healers in LFR

Yesterday, WoW Insider linked to this post by the Grumpy Elf. It’s a fairly lengthy post, but the part that was being referenced – and that I want to discuss – comes around the end, where he goes into the reason LFR queues are so much longer for tanks and DPS’ers. That is, that healers are less likely to queue for LFR.

To be completely honest, I’d never given this much thought. I always just assumed that the healer instant queues were a product of the ratio of roles in the population. I never figured that healers would be less inclined to queue than other people. I mean, you get instant queues and your job is fairly easy. It’s 90 easy valor. Why wouldn’t you want to queue?

The Grumpy Elf makes quite a fair point in that, when people are constantly screwing up, it can be fairly stressful, and the lack of cooperation and the quality of conversation do not make up for it like they would in a normal raid (I’m okay with wiping occasionally to stupid things in my regular raids because I quite enjoy my time spent with my teammates regardless of the raiding aspect; in a similar way, stressful situations are less so because I trust the rest of the team to do their jobs and to help out when the healing gets rough). The burden of making up for other people’s mistakes suddenly falls squarely on your shoulders, and that is not fun. I can definitely see why that would put certain people off healing LFR. (Not me, though, As proven by my love of queuing solo for random heroics at the start of Cata, I’m a bit of a masochist when it comes to healing.)

The logical step here is to figure out how to fix it. And at that point is where I stop agreeing with him entirely. He says:

If they want to fix the LFR queue time issues they have the answer right there.  Healers.  Make the healers want to heal it.  No, do not give them some stupid baggie that has a chance to give a pet.   Lower the damage done to the players in there.  Tanks can get by doing sub par in the LFR playing badly or being slightly under geared.  Same for the damage dealers.

While it is true that no class in the game should be doing less than 60K at a 480 item level you can have 3/4 of the damage dealers doing less than that and still down bosses.  Not to mention, those people doing that 30K are not only making it harder on the other damage dealers having to pick up their slack but they are the ones that are taking the extra damage and causes others in the group to take extra damage and are making the fight much longer than it should be which puts the pressure directly on who, the healers.

The fix for the LFR queue problem is to lower all damage by 50%, maybe even more.  So bad healers doing poorly can still handle it, just like bad tanks doing poorly can still handle it and bad damage dealers doing poorly can still handle it.

I think that lowering the damage is absolutely the wrong approach here. I think TGE is forgetting a very important aspect of healing LFR:

90% of the time, there is not much to be healed in LFR. And it is very, very boring.

The problem with LFR is that, the way it’s designed, it doesn’t require six half competent healers to make even an iota of effort to keep people alive, unless the rest of the raid (and some of the healers) are just not giving a crap about mechanics or just going afk. So it oscillates wildly between ‘smite, smite, yawn, smite’ (for a disc priest, anyway, I suspect for people not disc priests, fistweavers or paladins it’s more like, yawn, yawn, HoT, yawn) and ‘Oh, bloody hell! Why on Earth is everyone dying?! Why is that tank not taunting?! Where are all the battle rezzes?!! Why is that healer doing 5k healing while there’s clearly damage going on?!!! (Spoiler alert: he went afk midfight).’

Lowering the damage to the point where it’s completely foolproof would make the boring parts more boring and it would make every part of the raid a boring part. This is not something we want happening. I already don’t queue more for LFRs because I find them tedious and long. This would, honestly, make me not want to queue at all. After all, as TGE correctly points out, it’s not like the loot is that good. And I’m sure I’m not the only healer who thinks that way.

The stressful bits that TGE alludes to are only actually stressful because you usually have some chance of success. Twenty people in the raid dying to the aforementioned laser beam is not stressful because -a- there’s nothing the one healer still alive could’ve done and, -b- unless you have like seven stacks of determination, it doesn’t much matter that you’re able to keep the surviving five members alive because chances are you’re hitting that enrage timer. But you have one tank alive on Horridon and you’re still burning down Jalak? You might just be able to prevent the majority of the damage from triple puncture for long enough for your raid to get him down.

It’s then that it becomes stressful.

And, to be perfectly honest, it also sometimes becomes fun. Healers, more than anyone, have to reconcile the seemingly contradictory feelings of wanting people in their group to suck more so that they can have something to do and being frustrated at having more work for stupid reasons.

If anything, I think the solution lies in making it so LFR is a little less forgiving. Make it so that people don’t feel like afk’ing for half the fight, or dying on purpose, or playing as a spec different to that for which they queued for, will have no bearing on the likelihood they’ll receive loot. Make it so that even a little effort is required on everyone’s part, so that it’s a little bit challenging for the right reasons. Make it so that healers are stressed, in a good way.

Failing that, just make them shorter. I don’t mind getting rewards for not doing anything, as long as it’s not for a frakking hour of my life.

(Incidentally, TGE’s other solution was to make 10-man LFR a thing. I don’t think that would work, personally, as it would keep DPS queues equally long, make it easier for the group to fail to morons, and make it less likely that randoms would end up with someone able and willing to explain mechanics to newbies. I can also foresee the majority of people queueing for 10-man, and 25-man LFR going poof. But, I dunno, it might be worth a try.)