Dreamstate has been raiding Flex these last two weeks. The results have been interesting. TLDR version: There seem to be some scaling issues.
Flex is not stupidly easy, but neither is it hard. To give you an idea of our normal progress we managed Magaera in Throne of Thunder and got stuck on the giant bug in Heart of Fear before the nerfs hit. The reasons for our slow progress are fairly simple – we averaged about one raid a week due to a small group of players who all have real life commitments. We have a real mix of abilities and we don’t want to remove players from our group who are struggling with the game. The idea is to enjoy raiding with friends and we took the hit when Cataclysm made raiding harder again and accepted we would not progress as much. In this respect, Flex works well. We cleared the first wing in about 12 hours worth of raiding (probably less with the excessive amount of faffing we had), even though key raid members were missing until late in week 2 (some still are, in fact).
Flex is intended to be perfect for guilds like us. One of the biggest problems we had was recruiting with a roster that came and went so much. We have shift workers, people with kids, a variety of work patterns. We needed a bench, but that meant a lot of people who wanted to raid whenever they could had to sit out raids at times. Flex was meant to fix that. Over two weeks I’ve run raids with between 10 and 13 people. Whoever showed got to raid.
The probelm we ran into was with scaling. Boss 1 of the first part of Flex, Immerseus, seemed to work okay no matter how many we took. Boss 2 and 3 were an entirely different matter. Going from 10 to 11 people seems to have a disporportionate effect on the raid. With the exception of Immerseus, all of our kills have been with 10 man raids. All attempts at kills with more people failed due to the extreme amount of damage being output. That damage seemed, to us, disporportionately different.
A great example here is Noroushen. In the first week we hit him with 10 players in the raid. We had a couple of goes, got him down to 12% and then lost a healer due to a disconnect. We planned to raid the next day, so off we went.
The next day we had 13 people. It was a good raid make up, if a little melee heavy and with an alt tank. Our best try all night was around 30%. Most tries ended around 50%. At first, new people were learning the fight. As the night went on, however, I started to become a bit confused. It just seemed like there was so much more damage with 13 people. We tried it with 3 healers and the damage was too much, we tried it with 4 healers and lacked DPS. It was crazy.
At the end of week 1 I was reluctant to draw final conclusions based on this. There were definitely elements of the raid group that were a bit sub-optimal for various reasons. The healer who disconnected was not there, and he is quite frankly awesome. We also had a new healer in mostly PvP gear and our 2.5 healer Atonement approach wasn’t really working well. Melee are definitely sub-optimal for this fight with there being so much movement and we had four melee to three ranged. We had a alt tank who did a great job, but had less health than our normal tanks would have. Finally I was the raid leader which is never ideal, though our guild is actually really good at making theorising and changing tactics a group effort in a positive way. That being said, I still found myself questioning the increased damage and wondering about the scaling from 10 to 13 people. Adds were taken out quickly (as quickly as a melee heavy raid could manage). Whilst we had some deaths to avoidable damage, it was the unavoidable damage that was ultimately wiping us.
Roll on week 2. Once again, Immerseus was no problem. Then we hit Fallen Protectors with 11 people. Now the week before I think we had managed this with a grand total of 3 pulls or something silly like that. It was not hard for us. Again, we had elements in the raid that were sub-optimal. We struggled to kill this boss. We eventually went down to 10 people, but that was with an alt healer and everyone was tired.
The next raid we came back with 12 people. We did manage to kill it, though, and got back to bashing our heads against Norushen. We lost two raiders to RL and with 10 had two very good attempts before yet another disconnect left us stuck. We in fact managed a 2% wipe even with that disconnect at about 50%.
The following day we came back, killed the boss with 10 people and then killed Sha of Pride.
I could have taken 11 people to the raid. I didn’t.
I hate this. The very point of flex was meant to be that you can take as many people as you like. I accept that scaling was almost impossible to measure during the PTR as the testing was limited and the teams that were testing tended to stick with 10 people. However, the damage difference between 10 and 11 people is significant. It feels like once you go over 10 people, you get enough damage for 15. This is backed up by other experiences on the forums and from people I have talked to. 15 man seems to work fine, 10 man seems to work fine, everything in the middle is subject to question.
Its sad, but we will be raiding 10 man Flex until Blizzard does a tuning pass. Hopefully someone will start to gather some numbers soon to figure out the scaling. The final straw was seeing the difference between 10 man and 11 man healing on Nourushen. It wasn’t just a little bit. Healers went from being OOM at 50% to wondering what to do with themselves until 50%.
There was also a bug in this changeover. We had 11 people. 1 left and I switched toon to heal. The pull after those changes, we only got one orb to enter tests. Next pull, we were back at 2.
I hope Blizzard were watching and gathering data these past two weeks. This needs to be fixed or all the work that went into Flex will be for nothing.