The Raid Finder (what most people are calling Looking for Raid, and then shortening it to LFR) is a new feature introduced in WoW that throttles the difficulty of the raid (first out being the Dragon Soul where you kill DEATHWING! – yesterday I LoLed when someone called him DoucheWing.) and automatically groups 25 people to complete the content. It is divided in 2 parts, so you get 4 bosses at a time. There are still game mechanics, but for the most part they don’t penalize you if about 5 people are under-performing. I would say it is like doing Naxx 25 with 20 people on Ulduar or ToC gear.
If your group has about 10 competent players, the whole experience is a breeze and easily completed from top to bottom in less than 90 minutes.
The Dragon Soul gear is itemized above the current dungeons but bellow the normal version of the raid. Firelands normal was 378 and so are the new dungeons, LFR is 384.
As an added bonus for raiders to do the instance besides valor capping if you are not yet clearing dragon soul (500 valor points from running which is half of your weekly cap) is that the raid also drops gear tokens that mix and match with the normal and heroic versions of the gear, so it is very manageable to actually achieve your 4 set bonus. Something that was previously challenging for casual raiders or infuriating for guilds that had a lot of people on the same token.
First lets talk about the bad.
Because it is a place where you can complete your set (or quickly valor cap.) raiders of all experience and dbag level come to play. You easily get into BG type of discussions about “FAIL vs e-PEEN” and “Carebear vs Troll.” Reason being that even though there is a “Go Go Go!” mentality, there also is a little bit of down time (unless someone ninja pulls… actually more Leroy pulls… which reminds me that I should find an addon that spams who the heck pulled.) when in between bosses you lose and add players. I’ve had a couple of awesome runs (probably because they were filled with guildies) but in most cases you lose between 3-5 after every boss. There is a great discussion going on in Manalicious about how this is eroding the community aspect of the game.
I however find the LFR a complete success.
I think the community creation part is up to you with your guild and other guilds you have a relationship with. I don’t remember BC or even Wrath as fondly as some others do. Sure it was nice to be known as a good tank or healer to group with people, but at least in my server there was tons of raider poaching between guilds… or casual guilds used as farms for the more serious raiders. The whole server community thing for me did not exist. Now the new more populated where we reside does feel a little more like a community (still now, in the days of LFG and LFR) and we have been able to mingle and have fun running things with other guilds.
The LFR to me fills a huge gap for the people that want to experience the thrill of killing the dragon, but don’t really care to itemize themselves and work towards being part of a raid team. While you would think that would erode a guild like ours that has mostly casual players, it does quite the opposite. It gives the opportunity for people to gear more alts quickly. It also satisfies the needs of our members that want to still raid, but not on a schedule. They can be part of a community, fill gaps when needed and not feel any presure. That in the past was a pipe dream. Every time you lost a raider it was a setback. Now, there is no excuse for people not to be geared and valor capped when you can do it in one night a week.
I also don’t think that raiders see how much the truly benefit from it. They will still be able to do their normal and heroic modes, and if that unlucky shamman does not get his should drop week after week, or you have a token heavy group full of priest/pallies/warlocks, they can just go to the LFR and complete sets. I know in the past, whenever there was a gear check fight in an instance that required gearing it meant weeks and weeks of pain. Now with just 3 weeks of raiding we made it past the first gear check (Ultraxion). We have about 60% with 2 piece sets and even a couple of 4 sets. Heck we might even be able to not just kill Deathwing on normal but actually do some heroic modes while they are still relevant.
The LFR is doing a lot for a guild like ours. I know a lot of people in the raiding community maybe see us as not being deserving of the loot we are getting because of how easy the LFR is. Sure, our 4 sets might be 3 LFR pieces at first, but it will allow us to play the game at the speed we want without having to hit the reset button every time one of our raiders gets a different work schedule or wants to take an extended break.
If you want to enjoy your LFR experience, que with your friends, set up an LFR night, reach out to your server community and create groups for it. Don’t fall pray of the negative view of the world and enjoy the game for how awesome it is right now. You are in control of the communities you build and play with. So if you decide to just que on your own and end up in the ultimate dbag group, just do your best… besides, its always over before too long.