The idea of trying to come up with a working series of classifications for different types/levels of raiding guilds seems to be one of those subjects that everyone has an opinion on and most people love to discuss.
If you caught the Weekly Marmot a couple of weeks ago, Lore discussed some of the differences between the extremely hardcore, the super casual, and “everything in the middle” when it comes to raiding guilds. It is that “everything in the middle” group that I think seems to inspire so much discussion.
Bleeding edge world-first type guilds are just simply in a different league for the most part. They are formed with people who push themselves beyond what most of us are able to in pursuit of being able to say that they are among the best in the world. From what I was able to find, these guilds raid up to 30-40+ hours a week until they have cleared all of the available content, and then they quickly fall back to the 2-3 hours a week it takes them to clear all of the available content for a few months until a new tier of content comes out.
While I probably would have been able to pull that off while I was a student in college, it’s just not something I am personally able to commit to at this point in my life. So instead I land firmly in the “everything in the middle” group. Most of us in this group raid somewhere between 8 and 20 hours a week (2-5 days of raiding at 3-5 hours a raid) For the majority of the people in this group, there is one “shared” goal that I believe defines this group. This one goal is simply to clear all of the available content, including hard modes, before the next tier comes out. There are also a lot of people interested in the competitive aspect of trying to clear the content ahead of as many other guild’s as possible in an effort to end up as high as possible in the various rankings as possible.
The issue that seems to cause such a surprising level of stress and consternation among people in this group though is based on the assumption that we should be evaluating ourselves in the same way that the guild’s chasing world first kills do.
New York Marathon
The whole discussion tends to remind me of the New York Marathon for some reason. In the New York Marathon, the goal is simple; each participant needs to run 26 miles through the five boroughs of NYC in the fastest time possible. Among the ~45,000 people running, there are only a small handful of ~10-20 people who have any real chance of actually winning the race. For the past few years, the winner has usually clocked in at just over 2 hours. That is two freaking hours to run 26 freaking miles. The level of training and raw ability involved in accomplishing a feat like that is something that most of us are just never going to be able to experience first hand. The average finish time for the marathon is four and a half hours. The longest record time for a finisher last year was nine hours and forty-five minutes, anything over 10 hours is not counted as having officially finished the race.
There is a lot of news coverage that goes on during the race every year and invariably you can find at least a couple of people whose journey seems particularly appropriate for this post. The people I am talking about are the ones who will do something like stop partway through the race to join their families at brunch for an hour or so to catch their breath before continuing on with the race. There are also a lot of people who simply end up walking most of the course. That being said, I think that there is something to be said for anyone who can cover 26 miles on foot in a single day. It should count as an accomplishment.
My proposition for guilds and raid groups that are trying to evaluate how well they are progressing is to stop trying to compare your own performance to the rough equivalent of a professional athlete. I would instead propose that one of the best ways to evaluate your team’s progress is instead to look at how many hours it takes you to progress through the content as well as how many attempts it takes you to kill each boss. I think that one of the most important lessons that we can learn from “the professionals” is that our time spent killing things should rapidly taper off once we have cleared them once or twice. While I don’t think that any of us should be trying to claim that there are a lot of similarities between a guild who can clear a full tier of hardmode raid content in a manner of a few weeks and a guild that takes a few months to clear the same content, I think that one important similarity is simply looking at the amount of time both groups put in to accomplish the same task.
I posted a report card for my own guild a couple of weeks ago outlining how much time and how many attempts it took us to clear all of the normal mode content (12/12 normal modes) and I was pretty pleased with the results considering that we only raid 9 hours a week. It took us just over ~45 hours of raiding. Had we had the time to devote to it, maybe we could have cleared everything before December? We’ll never know but in the mean time I can be happy that we are well on pace to accomplish our goal; clearing all current content before the next tier hits the live servers. WowProgress and GuildOx say that we are ranked ~500th in the US for 10man guilds, but that doesn’t account for our choice to take December off, or our choice to only raid for 9 hours a week (and it shouldn’t account for those either.) There is no way to fairly evaluate yourself against another guild unless you either both agree to follow the same basic route the world first guild’s take (the clock is always ticking) or somehow devise a way to accurately measure how much time your group actually spends (something that isn’t really possible, and would be ridiculously easy to cheat at) and so in reality, unless you are competing for world or server firsts, the only people you are competing against is yourselves and Blizzard’s timeline for the next tier of content.
How is your guild or raid group doing so far? Do you keep track of any similar statistics for your own group, or do you measure your progress in some way other than the number of bosses you have killed?