I’ve recently been pondering the possible effect of building a raid with an LFR setting in mind on raid dungeon linearity, or the lack thereof.
Tier 15 is completely linear. Normal-mode raiders have to fight through each of the twelve boss encounters of Throne of Thunder in order. BTH’s guild has killed 9 bosses in 10s and 7 bosses in 25s. They started at Durumu tonight, but only because they’d already killed the previous six bosses on Tuesday and Wednesday. LFR allowed me to jump into Throne of Thunder at Durumu on Tuesday night, without having to have already fought through the first six bosses in this raid reset period. I did the last six bosses of Throne of Thunder first, and though I could go into the first two wings of LFR this evening for the chances at loot and collecting more of Wrathion’s thingamabobs, I don’t have to go defeat the first six bosses of Throne of Thunder this week if I decide that I want to do something else instead. In fact, now that I’ve completed Pinnacle of Storms LFR, I can do as many or as few of the wings of Throne of Thunder as I want, in any order that I please.
Tier 14 was only sort-of non-linear. Sure, the bosses were spread over three different instances, but one had to complete Mogu’shan Vaults before proceeding to Heart of Fear and Heart of Fear before going on to Terrace of Endless Spring. Only after one had completed Heart of Fear could one really pick and choose among the three instances. And each instance was linear within itself. The splitting of Mogu’shan Vaults and Heart of Fear into two wings apiece gave the LFR versions a greater degree of non-linearity.
Tier 13, the first raid to have the LFR option, had a little bit of non-linearity: Zon’ozz and Yor’sahj could be done in either order. The rest of it was all linear. The LFR version split the raid in half, offering the option to do just the second half, provided one had done the first half once — which is what I did, given that my normal-mode guild had cleared the first half and I’d gotten all the gear I wanted from it at the time that I decided to stop doing regular raiding and they downsized from 25s to 10s.
It seems to me that the division of raid dungeons into wings for the LFR mode produces an illusion of non-linearity, because the wings can be run in any order after one has completed a first “in order” run-through. A certain degree of true non-linearity is possible within the wings themselves — I think that an LFR wing could accomodate such sprawling non-linearity as the opening plain of Firelands or the Watchers area of Ulduar. It’s easy enough to imagine dividing Ulduar into wings for LFR, based on the breakpoints ordinary raid groups used to use: 1) Flame Leviathan, Ignis, Razorscale, XT-002; 2) Iron Council, Kologarn, Auriaya; 3) Hodir, Thorim, Freya, Mimiron; 4) General Vezax, Yogg-Saron. But what about Karazhan, with all of its optional, skippable bosses — the animal bosses in the servants’ quarters that I never saw because the guild I began my raiding career with was already starting Kara at Attumen when I joined, the Maiden of Virtue, Nightbane, Netherspite, Terestrian Illhoof? Could a raid with such side-spur bosses be made to work in an LFR mode, or does the advent of LFR mean that such diversions in raiding will never come back again?