LFM and LFG: The Difference

WoW Spirit Healer You play World of Warcraft, right? Of course you do.  Everyone does.  So let’s say you’re standing around in Dalaran on your Death Knight and get the urge to run through a Heroic.  Getting some badges sounds good, and you have some time to waste.  Unfortunately, your friends list is either entirely empty or everyone you know is running through their Trial of the Grand Crusader attempts for the week.  You don’t mind PuGs, so what do you say?

/2 DK LFG any Heroic. 4k DPS, PST.

Something like that, maybe?  You are alone and looking for a group, hence you say you’re  LFG, or “looking for group.”  That’s what it’s used for.

But what if, let’s say, you have a single friend online.  A Mage.  She wants to kill some time and get the daily Heroic finished.  So you invite her to a group and chat that you’re LFM, or “looking for more,” people to fill out the rest of the group.  What do you say in this case?  Probably something like:

/2 LF3M for daily Heroic. Need Healer. PST

When I see this, I avoid it.  But, why, you ask?  I’m a healer and am obviously needed, so why avoid the call?

Because, in my experience, there is a precedent of joining said party and immediately seeing  the following in my chat window from my group leader:

/2 LF2M for daily Heroic.  Need Tank and 1 DPS. PST

By doing so, you’re telling me that you never really had a group at all.

Or worse, I’ll occasionally see something like:

/2 LF2M for daily Heroic.  Just need Tank and Healer.  PST

In both of these scenarios, you’re just some DPS who wanted to do something and needed people to do it with.  You’re not LFM (looking for more) if all you have are DPS classes; you’re just LFG (looking for a group) because without a tank or a healer, there is no group to speak of.  They are, and I’m sorry how this comes across, the keystones of a party.  Without at least one of them, you’ve just got some guys together wanting to do something, not a party.

Say What?

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I understand how uppity and pretentious saying that out loud sounds. But in reality, World of Warcraft is a  game based entirely around the idea of the holy trinity—a tank to absorb damage and keep mobs off her, a healer to keep all five people alive, and three DPS characters to melt everything hostile’s faces.  Three roles (hence the trinity) across five people.  Do the math.

WoW Tank It’s only logical that the roles intended for a single person—tanking and healing—would be more valuable and carry more weight than those open for three.  We also have to take into consideration that tanking and healing are much more demanding jobs than DPS.  Also, much more responsibility is placed on a single person performing a job instead of having two other people able to make up for a slacker’s deficiencies.

Because of this responsibility (and the consequential requisite skill), players flock toward the facemelting DPS classes in far greater numbers than tanks or healers.  Finding a DPS class for a Heroic is like bobbing for apples with your hand.  Finding a tank or a healer, however, is much harder.  Fewer players want to take on that responsibility.

So when I find a “group” who still needs both a tank and a healer, I really wonder if the group leader understands the difference in LFM and LFG.  They start a group without either keystone class.  They are not looking for more because they don’t have either fundamental class that makes a group functioning entity.  They are not a Death Knight and a Hunter LF3M to join them, they are simply a Death Knight and a Hunter LFG.

Am I overthinking this?  Almost certainly.  But it bugs me, so I thought I’d share.

By B.J. Keeton

B.J. KEETON is a writer, teacher, and runner. When he isn't trying to think of a way to trick Fox into putting Firefly back on the air, he is either writing science fiction, watching an obscene amount of genre television, or looking for new ways to integrate fitness into his geektastic lifestyle. He is also the author of BIRTHRIGHT and co-author of NIMBUS. Both books are available for Amazon Kindle.


  1. As a DPS class, let me just say that every time I read someone saying that healing or tanking takes more skill than DPS, I want to punch them in the face. Yes, exceptional tanks and exceptional healing do take skill, but so does exceptional DPS. It takes no less ability to crank out 4.5k dps than it does to keep 4 other players alive in a 5-man heroic that all of them are over geared for.

    Now beyond that point, you’re arguing semantics. At the core, two people are looking for more to fill out a group, while one is looking for a group. Read into it more if you will, but that’s what’s going on.

    1. You’re right about that. Exceptional DPS is incredibly hard to find. Someone who can crank out 5k while remaining situationally aware is just as hard to find as a healer who keeps everyone topped off without going OOM or a tank who never lets an add slip off to play smashy-face with the healer.

      Unfortunately, though, those DPS are few and far between for most raid guilds, and they’re even harder to find in a PuG. That’s where my complaint comes in. The subpar DPS don’t want to tell you that they have no tank or healer, so they “trick” people into partying with them. If they were well known high DPSers, there would be no problem; people would clamor to group, whether they were LFG or LFM.

      I was in a H. ToC just yesterday and we just could not kill The Black Knight because of lack of DPS. The adds just would not die. It even took us a long time to kill the first trio of bosses. Eventually the group fell apart because the DPS couldn’t keep up with the boss, even though the tank was wrangling the adds and I was LHWing like a fiend. If we had partied with one of those 4.5kers, it wouldn’t have been a problem, but as it was, I’d have been better off doing dailies for half an hour and collecting Champion’s Seals.

  2. You are overthinking it.

    Three DPS or hybrids players are a group, too. They might need one or two more players of the dedicated heal/tank department of the dreaded trinity, but they are already a group.
    Your interpretation of LFG/LFM is basically, LFM means looking for the easier to get DPS players to fill up the spots.

    This is where my comment should actually end and you should really start to think why you wrote this blog post about the supposed difference between LFM and LFG! 🙂

    But well, let’s go on a bit. Tanking usually meant and often still means you are less effective on your own as a tank class. You need a group to shine. The same applies more or less to healer archetypes.

    This is why many people so often lament the unholy trinity. 4/5, LF Tank or Healer. This allows main tanks and healers often to be prima donnas and still get away with it!

    This is why I think the LOTRO Rune Keeper is such a great design: It is DPS and Healing. You do not need to respec or specialize a lot, but once you start doing DPS, you get bonuses and stronger at it. The same for healing. If you switch between the roles every other second, you are significantly weaker than if you focus on one.

    Imagine that, classes that allow two roles of the holy trinity, but encourage you to focus in your group on a specified role. Less burden, but also less prestige for the main tank or main healer, but it would be easier to fill the last group spot. WoW’s dual class idea has something similar in mind, but is not as elegant. The problem is, the Rune Keeper is pretty much unique in this regard, if I want to make my off-tank Champion a better main tank, I really have to gimp myself in every other area and still will not be as good as a Guardian for this particular job.

  3. How DARE you argue semantics! Leave the semantics alone, they’ve suffered enough for their sins!

    On the other hand, this isn’t semantics, it’s the cold hard truth, and I’m glad Beej had the man-stones enough to say it. Don’t hate the playa, hate the game designers who very much make healers and tankers more essential than DPS. It is what it is.

    Besides, we all know that DPS classes are just there for the free food and to hit on the hot spider-mutants.

  4. @Drewbie – punch away, but deep down inside you know it’s true. When I’m ret I have a basic understanding of what I should be doing. I have a priority list, and I work through it as best I can. I can pull in about 4k in a heroic – and with my gear it should be closer to 4.5 or 5. When my new 80 mage in quest blues and some ToC pieces can push 2.5k – I know it’s easier.

    The difference though – and this is where the crux lies – is I’m situationally aware enough to stop DPS and start healing, Salv myself, BoP the healer, etc.

    This post is pointed at the 95% who fit the stereotype – not the other 5%.

    @Longasc – the problem doesn’t go away with that design. It’s still tougher to be the one guy keeping the group alive, than it is to be 1/3 of the damage dealing. I’m willing to bet that even if we had a class that could do that, you’d still have players who only played DPS – much like the hybrid who doesn’t have a resto/prot spec.

    @Beej – A-men. As a Healer/Tank dual spec – if I join a group that was “LF Healer” and the next words are “LF Tank” I’m generally gone.

  5. Haha, you are too much Beej. While I generally enjoy DPS more (in games, I like to kill things), there is no way WOW would function without tanks and healers. I definitely pull my hat down to those who play as those, and play them well.

    That being said, I hate the arrogance that comes with having played a class to lvl 80. Whether you’re a Rogue, a DK or a Priest, you’ll always run into someone who thinks their class can top everyone else. Whatever happened to camaraderie?

    I don’t care what class you’re playing, you’re always needed somewhere, sometime. Just have a little humility is you want to group. You can’t be a group if you rush ahead/expect the healer to do everything/overzealous tank/disrespect the tank or healer.
    .-= Robert´s last blog ..Origami by Robert J. Lang: another relaxation technique =-.

  6. I see what you’re getting at but I’m not sure I agree 🙂 Technically speaking any combination of 2 or more players is a group 🙂 One looks for a group, a group looks for more 🙂 It’s been beaten into me that way since EQ so I ain’t gonna change now 🙂

    Even though you’re technically right 😉
    .-= We Fly Spitfires´s last blog ..Star Trek Online – Pros and Cons =-.

    1. Oh yeah, technically they are a group. More than one person has “grouped” together. Functionally, however, they can accomplish nothing (outside of Elite quests) that Blizzard has designated for “groups,” so they essentially have a dog and pony show without a dog or a pony. And that makes for a pretty poor show. 😛

  7. I’m just glad to finally hear someone else say this Beej. Any time I see a “group” looking for a healer and a tank I just look the other way. There just isn’t a group to speak of. It is bad enough waiting on a healer or a tank but both means you have nothing going for you.

    It does sound harsh but it is true. After EQ and EQ2 I stopped playing a healer and switched to DPS. It opened my eyes to how expendable a commodity you are. There are not a lot of healers since it takes a special sort of person to play them. There are slightly more tanks. You then weed out the bad ones and you have a small demographic.

    As a DPS, however, I found that there were between 300 and 3.5 million people who could do exactly what I could (or better) and were waiting to take my spot and I didn’t like it. I enjoy having some control of my own destiny. I’m glad to be a templar again.

    As cruel as it sounds a group of DPS is really just a support group for people with the same problem.

    1. Being expendable is the main reason I went back to my Shaman after my DK hit 80 and raided. Yeah, I was able to pull about 5k DPS in Naxx25 and Sarth3D, but if I died, then the boss still dropped. I felt completely useless even knowing I was doing my job the best I could. As a healer, if I had dropped like that, I would visibly be able to see the effect I had on the raid. In some ways that’s incredibly self-centered, but it’s still geekily fulfilling.

  8. For me it’s about time spent waiting.
    If the tank and the healer aren’t in place then there’s no telling how long it will be before the run gets going.

    LFM does seem to imply a certain amount of ‘ready-to-go’

  9. ^_^ This is exactly how I felt when playing WoW’s holy trinity system.

    And I played all of the three. However, I was primarily a healer, then a tank, and only then, for kick-back woot someone ELSE makes the overarching decisions, the DPS.

    But what you said outlined my mental reaction to such ‘LFGs’ almost to a T.

    Yes, a group of 2 DPS, is still a group looking for more. But the hard truth was, when, as a tank or healer, I saw that… most of the time I would snortle to myself… and look elsewhere for my DPS.

    In fact, as a healer, I tended not to answer LFMs like that.

    As a tank, if they happened to be a perfect fit for my *already existing* group, then I would invite them to *my* group… because in WoW, most times from my own experience, the tanks end up leading.

    …which would dice the semantics even more – were they really looking for more?

    Is it that looking for more implies that you have capability to lead?


  10. I agree with you completely on this. As a Hunter or my Enh Shammy, people will pass me over in a heartbeat, or always look for higher DPS (forget situational awareness, it’s the healer’s job to keep DPS alive n00b… Oi.) But my roommate and I both also play healers, and even when we’re on together, if we see “LF3M, Tank & 2 Healz” we laugh ourselves silly. Drewbie is correct, exceptional DPS is valuable, but difficult to find. It seems a very much mainstream plague since most of the gaming population, even if we just use WoW as an example, choose to play DPS. Then they yell at the tanks and healers, but that’s another story.

    And the trinity set up can be worked around. We had previously (pre-Lock nerf) tanked a couple instances with a Warlock’s blueberry and an all cloth party. Ferrel is both right and wrong; DPS is not expendable. Ask those of us who took down the crazy Naxx-dance plague boss with one tank, one healer, and one DPS left standing. Oh, after 25 minutes. We had a few words for all the DPS who had croaked. He had no enrage timer. But we need DPS, we just need aware, competent DPS that understands fights and is not just trying to top DPS charts.

    One person LFG is understandable. LF2M is as well, but seriously, if you have not even made friends with one tank OR healer, there might be a good reason to avoid you.

    Can I blame PvP? I enjoy PvP, but it’s all about max damage and highest HK’s…

Comments are closed.