Valor cap the new softlock? Lodur’s opinion

Yesterday we got news that the valor cap is being lowered from1,250 valor points to 980. This may seem like an insignificant change by itself, but it comes among a series of others as well.

  • The maximum number of Valor Points awarded for completing Rise of the Zandalari dungeons remains at 980.
  • The maximum number of Valor Points awarded for completing Heroic dungeons remains at 490.
  • The number of Valor Points awarded for killing a boss in the Firelands is 70 in 10-player mode, and 90 in 25-player mode.
  • The number of Valor Points awarded for killing Occu’thar in Baradin Hold is 35 in 10-player mode, and 45 in 25-player mode.
  • The number of Valor Points awarded for killing a boss on Heroic difficulty in The Bastion of Twilight, Blackwing Descent, and Throne of the Four winds is 35 in 10-player mode, and 45 in 25-player mode.

Raiders completing a full tier 12 raid clear will obtain 630 valor points from raiding 25’s and 490 points for 10’s. If they go back and raid heroic levels in the previous tier, they can gain another 585 (25’s) or 455 (10’s) points. Players running their heroic ZA/ZG will be able to cap out on valor points without having to set foot in a raid. So this raised a few questions, and quite a few opinions. I know I had a good run at it on my twitter account yesterday. So what can we take away from this?

The change really levels the playing field for obtaining raid quality gear and Tier 12 items. Whether you’re in a raid or just able to run heroics, everyone will be doing so at roughly the same pace. This can be good for those players attempting to play catch-up in terms of gear so that they too can raid. I understand that point, but I see a couple potential problems with this.

By lowering the amount of valor points in the previous tier, they are attempting to stem the flow of free valor points. I get that, but it partially removes the incentive for doing the tier after the new one comes out. Now I’m not saying this because I want to farm valor points, but it presents a problem. The raid lockout was recently changed with Cataclysm so that 10 and 25 man raids share the same lockout. As a result, for raiding guilds looking to trial out members it means they either have to take them on content that isn’t progression. This takes away from progression raiding time and can actually hinder a guild’s progression. Previously you could take the person into a 10 man raid and see how they did without disrupting your larger raid group’s progression. I personally was looking forward to having a testing ground in the previous tier of content to run recruits through and see how they do, but with the reduction in points I think it’s going to be quite hard to entice people to go back to the previous content. Also, I don’t know about you, but my guild doesn’t have many plans on keeping the previous content in the rotation when there’s new content to progress through, unless we’re going back for a Sinestra kill.

The idea of not being able to cap out from the current raiding tier bothers me. It means I’ll be forced to do heroics to reach the cap, or try to do so from some other method. I don’t like the idea of being forced to do something else, especially when I spend so much time a week already raiding. Sure it’s great for the non raiders who only run heroic dungeons, but I can’t help but feel it’s a slap in the face for raiders. essentially it’s forcing us to spend more time in game doing content we’ve been running since shortly after the game was released. With only 7 bosses in this tier (+1 for Baradin Hold) we’re falling short of our valor cap by 350 points if we full clear. We can assume we won’t be killing Ragnaros on day one of Firelands, so ultimately it means we’re going to spend even more time grinding in game on top of raiding.

It just smacks of an attempt to keep us in the game longer for the ever elusive gear chase. Right now, the new cap puts you at roughly about three weeks to obtain a piece of tier / vendor gear. That’s if you hit the cap every week. So if you’re raiding 15 hours a week, and you’re still learning the fights and aren’t clearing the whole new tier, you’re still forced to do several hours of either other tier raiding AND heroics, or just heroics. This is a significant time investment, and considering it’s content that a lot of us have already done to death, it has the potential to significantly increase burnout. I know a lot of people personally that have seen this and have already decided to stop raiding as a result. It also comes at a time where summertime burnout is creeping in, and this change doesn’t help matters any. Part of it is the fault of only having 7 new bosses in the game, part of it is just the gear grind in general.

It also, in part, seems like a soft gate. Keeping players under-geared longer means it will take longer to get through the content. With only 7 bosses in the tier, I can understand that to a point, but then it puts us in a position similar to what we were in when ICC was out, stagnant. It’s going to be doubly annoying if you hit a DPS wall that only new gear can fix, but you’re weeks away from that relief coming. How about a boss that is a hard healing check, that healers just simply are behind stat-wise through no fault of their own, to heal through. It will take longer to gather the gear to push through the bosses to down the content. While that is partially true of every tier, the limited number of bosses in this tier combined with the new cap in points makes this take that much longer.

It will be interesting to see how things pan out as this eventually rolls to live, and how players will react to it. Me personally, it just means I’ll be spending more time grinding points on my shaman so I can keep up with the raiding content, and a whole lot less time enjoying myself on my alts, if only because there are only so many hours in a day and I can only spend so much of them at my computer desk.
What do you think about this change? do you love it or hate it? How will it affect your time in game?


Thespius’s State of the Dungeon/Raid

There’s been a lot of great conversation about how things are tuned in regards to Cataclysm Heroics and Raids (meaning normal Raids, I haven’t seen Hardmodes yet). This is starting to dip into the usual “Casual vs. Hardcore” debate, which I think is not what this entire argument is about. This game has made leaps and bounds toward making the game challenging for all. There are definite challenges for the people at the edge of blistering progression as well as for the family man/woman that can only log on once/twice a week, if that. I’d like everyone to take a look at a few different things, including adapting to change, the nature of challenge within the game, and the mindset of the “average” WoW player.

Know Where You’re Going, Know Where You’ve Been

Vanilla WoW – I was never a Vanilla WoW player. I understand that there was a very clear delineation between the casual player (questing and alts) and the hardcore player (40-man guild raiding). It’s very daunting to play a game when you know you have no chance of getting into any of the endgame content, stocked full of lore and goodies. This definitely took things too far in segregating the community. Casual players wanted to see the content, and Hardcore players loved feeling entitled to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the Holy Grail of the game.

Burning CrusadeThis is where I stepped into the ring. I started as a very casual player, barely being able to throw a Karazhan run together with friends. It was ridiculously hard to climb up the progression ladder to see higher content, but it was doable. Sadly, I had to leave some friends behind because of it. Guilds operated as “stepping stones” to the next level. There existed the “KZ” guilds, the Gruul/Magtheridon guilds, the “SSC/TK” guilds, and the “BT/Sunwell” guilds, meaning the highest those guilds could accomplish. With the release of Zul’Aman, we now had harder 10-man content that my ~9 friends and I could hammer through. Granted, I was single and working as an actor at the time, so I had lots of extra time to play. That would definitely change soon. Still, not being able to see Illidan really sucked.

Wrath of the Lich King – Ahh, the release of 10- and 25-man raiding, but things got easy REALLY quick. So much so that I found multiple PuG 25-man ICC Hardmode Runs. Hardmodes were supposed to be the culmination of progression, really only reserved for the highest of raiders. I was fine with that. I wanted to give them a shot but didn’t have any grand visions of getting my HM Lich King kill. The gameplay was such that mechanics could be avoided. Phrases like “just heal through it” were peppered in boss explanations. DPS started to complain if they had to stop their rotation, tanks screamed at healers if they couldn’t/wouldn’t heal through a mechanic that wasn’t being interacted with properly. Entire mechanics were being glazed over, and the general WoW community got lazy (that’s right, I said it). Although PuG raiders were in Hardmodes, they really didn’t know what to do, and had forgotten entire pieces of their class/spec. Mages decursing? Druids CCing? Hunters trapping? Unheard of!! The bonus part: people got to see the content. My opinion, it became trivial too quickly.

Cataclysm – 10-man and 25-man raiding becomes equalized as much as it can be. 25’s only slightly hold the advantage of being the “truer form of raiding”. Blizzard realized that people were completely ignoring fight mechanics and made them less forgiving (if you let Dragha’s Invocation of Flame get to its target, you’re dead). Justice/Valor Points from your Daily Heroic are no longer things you’re “entitled to”. They must be earned and fought for. With changes to healing and fight mechanics, players are forced to actually look at their spellbooks once again (any Dwarves looking at Stoneform again?). Encounters now begin to feel like a group effort, rather than 5 individuals who wish they could just solo the content so they don’t have to be around other people. Raids feel more daunting for most of the player base, and guilds are back to trying to beef up their own team rather than PuG’ing from Trade Chat. It takes longer to gear up, but the gear is obtainable. Epic gear is actually epic again! Even without running Heroics, it’s possible to get 346 gear for your character. People don’t want to PuG, thus forcing the player base to look for guilds of people they get along with.

I look at all of these as good things. With my guild being called “Team Sport”, it’s no wonder that I long for a gaming world where it feels more team-oriented and not so individually cut throat. If I had the time to run things more, I’m sure I would be geared to the teeth at this point, but I’m not. It’s taking me a little while, but that’s always giving me something to strive for. A trinket I need from Archaeology, or the rep from Baradin’s Wardens, all of which give me something to shoot for that takes time and dedication. I don’t expect it to come easy.

Challenge Yourself

Ever work out? Ever have that great feeling when you finally get your jogging route under your target time? What about finally getting able to lift some weights heavier than the 5-lb ones you’d find in an aerobic class? It’s a good feeling, isn’t it? It’s a high, a rush of endorphins. Did it come easy? Probably not.

Think of any hobby the same way. If you start out knitting, don’t expect yourself to whip out a complicated Afghan in a day. You start out with ‘easy’, and when you’ve mastered ‘easy’, you move to the next level. Look at model building, sports, or anything you do for fun. You can’t expect to be the best at it before you even pick it up. Just about any hobby is worth putting the work in, because without the work the payoff isn’t as good.

Now look at dungeons and raids. If you can face-roll Heroic Stonecore, then that one piece of gear that drops off of Ozruk doesn’t mean as much. You don’t value it the same way you would if you had to work as a team to get it done. That piece you now wear has a story behind it. Working hard to defeat that Heroic Ozruk has brought you close to your gear, and to the 4 other people that help you beat him.

When you find yourself in a group that is struggling with a Heroic Dungeon, ask yourself if you’re using everything in your power to make it go smoothly. Do you have some ability that would make the rest of the team’s job easier? Maybe you can step out of your normal role to help someone that’s struggling. I’ve seen Hunters that have issue frost-trapping a mob. My DK friend Aaron loves to Death Grip that mob back to the frost trap. It’s something that in WotLK a DK wasn’t expected to do, but Aaron does it because it helps the group. Is it easy to do? No, but it’s certainly not back-breaking. However, it’s more rewarding when we down bosses after thinking outside the box. It becomes an accomplishment to finish the encounter, rather than the accomplishment being the addition of a few Justice/Valor Points to your pool. That should be the reward for the accomplishment, not the accomplishment itself. Again, you value the prize more when you worked for it.

The Average WoW Player

A lot of complaints have come from the community (especially on the Official Forums) about the quality of the average LFD group. Rogues get instantly kicked for “not having reliable CC”, a Tank gets kicked for “one pull going awry”. I’ve been kicked from a group as a Resto Shaman simply for suggesting CC be used in Grim Batol. The quote: “Only bads use CC.” The forums are cluttered with threads such as these, and it makes it a really bleak outlook.

As stated above, we come from a Wrath mentality. The population both surged and got lazy in the last expansion. Mass pulling and AOE fests were more plentiful than senseless slander in American politics. Now we’re changing in Cataclysm, and change doesn’t come easy to most. It’s difficult for people to adapt to having to do more to get the same results.

Look at Trade Chat. Outside of gold and profession spammers, Trade Chat is pretty gross. I rarely am ever in it. Same goes for the official forums. Those that are the most unhappy or feel “scammed” talk the loudest. Anyone trying to be a voice of reason is usually shouted down, and good productive discussions are few and far between. This is no different than the LFD situation. There are a lot of people in that system that are bitter, jaded, and hate change. Rather than encouraging a nurturing environment, they’ll curse up a storm and belittle everyone else around them.

Where are all the nice players? They run with their guild, or have a friends list of people they’ve found that value a fun environment over the prospect of running a “boot camp dungeon”. They are out there, I promise. You just have to be patient and look.

I know the 45-minute queues are unbearable. It’s how I built up my Resto set–by queuing as Enhancement. It’s a total roll of the dice, and you may completely bottom out with your luck if you queue alone. Lodur posted a great article about being a teacher within the LFD. Strongly recommend checking it out, as it may give you a glimmer of hope.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

If you’re one of the people who feels like you’ve been wronged by Blizzard, I ask you this: What is it you really want out of this game?

  • “I want to be able to log in, get my badges/epics, and log off.” I’m sorry, but those days are gone. People very quickly were behaving like drones. Those players in the game looked at dungeons and badges as “tasks” or “chores”, instead of events and rewards for those events.
  • “I want to see the lore and the content.” The normal dungeons provide all the same lore that the Heroics do, as far as I know. Heroic Deadmines and Heroic Shadowfang Keep offer their own lore but aren’t really in line with the Deathwing plot line. They’re great little side stories. As for raids, think of the storyline as Mt. Everest. I would love to see the top one day, however, I know that it will take work and dedication to get there. I don’t expect to just stroll up to the top.
  • “I want it to go faster! It takes too long!” You lose the journey this way. The struggle. Anything worth getting is worth the fight. Take Lord of the Rings for example. If Frodo just flew over the mountain and dropped the ring in from the start, it’d be a short movie, and not very gratifying.

If you want to find enjoyment in the game with people that are like-minded, you have to work for it. Blizzard stated before this expansion that they wanted to encourage more group- and community-oriented game play. It’s time for us as players to adjust to this shift in ideology.

Perhaps you’re in a guild that doesn’t really offer itself up to run dungeons with you. Maybe the group you’ve found yourself in isn’t really supportive when it comes to learning your class mechanics. Everyone starts somewhere, right? To me, both situations mean it’s time to start looking to surround yourself with people you share a mindset with. That’s what this particular MMO is built around, and that’s how Blizzard wants it. If you want to be solo and do your own thing, it’s going to be tougher and cause you more headaches. Start looking for a guild of people that you actually get along with. There are guilds out there that can get through the content and not belittle their members along the way. Whatever your schedule is, whatever your goals are, I promise there is a guild out there for you.

Focus on the journey and the challenge, rather than whining that you can’t have it all right here and right now.

I’m Thespius, and I approve this message.

Casual 101: Knowing Is Half The Battle

Casual 101: Knowing Is Half The Battle

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the “Hardcore Casual” mentality.  In my 3 years of playing World of Warcraft, I’ve cut my teeth against some of the best in the game (well, my server or battlegroup).  I’ve seen some of the strongest players, and I’ve seen some of the weakest players.  The first thing I’ve noticed is a fundemental difference between the two extremes.  The strongest possess it.  The weakest lack it.  By “IT”, I’m talking about knowledge.  Yes, there are casuals that are some of the strongest players I know.  What separates them from a smattering of hardcores is their level of knowledge.

The Usual Scenario

A small guild consists of a tight-knit circle of friends.  All of them have made the necessary adjustments or rolled toons to fill all the roles that a 10man raid needs.  2-3 tanks, 2-3 Healers, and a slew of DPS, both ranged and melee.  When this guild gets together, there’s rarely a duplicate class, let alone spec.  Each player wants to benefit the raid as much as possible.  However, scheduling is always the issue.

Everyone’s got their own lives.  Everyone’s constantly juggling families, kids, jobs, school, friends, and of course, this game.  Each person constantly tries to get a raid together when they see that 8th or 9th person on.  Phone calls fly, text messages flow, and everyone is scouring their friends list to fill the final spots.  On the lucky nights, they can get together ten of their own.  A certain sense of pride swells.  “We got a guild run going,” they all contently utter.

The time is ticking.  One of the healers works the overnight shift on the weekends.  He/she has to be out the door in just over two hours.  The raid gets together surprisingly fast.  Even though ICC is the hot topic, they decide to do ToC since one of the paladins is saved to ICC.  It doesn’t matter, because they derive more joy from the simple act that those ten raiders share the same guild tag.

Buffs ensue, and right before the pull, the off-tank druid confesses his ignorance.  He doesn’t know the fight.  During Acidscale and Dreadmaw, the rogue gets the Burning Bile and runs away, but doesn’t come back to free the tanks with Paralytic Toxin.  This counts for two wipes.  On Lord Jaraxxus, the hunter gets inflicted with Incinerate Flesh and runs to kite it, as though it was Legion Flame.  He runs out of range of the healers, it ticks to zero, and wipes the raid.

We took the time to explain the fights.  The differences in the Wyrms and Jaraxxus’s two flames.  It seemed as though it was in one ear and out the other.  Although they’re all friends, tension is rising, and time is running out.  The healer with the upcoming overnight shift starts to get impatient.  Before they all realize what has happened, he has to leave.  They’ve barely downed Jaraxxus, and he/she is out the door to go to work. 

A reasonably short raid has turned into a long, frustrating endeavour. 

Things to learn as a casual player:

Take a little time to research – Even with my busy schedule, I have the time to watch a video, read a strat, or email a friend that knows.  I download a text-only strategy, copy it into an email, then read it on my phone on the train to work.  Before taking my lunch break, I take 10 minutes to watch a Tankspot video.  I’ve even, yes, downloaded a video to my iPod and watch it while I’m on the can.  (That’s right, I went there).

Listen to what’s being explained – Too often do I see people goofing off in guild chat, making random comments in /say, or participating in /general banter.  I never mind if it’s someone that I’ve done the fight with before, but if a casual player is consistently not listening because they’re engaged in other activities, I have no problem calling them out on it.

My main issue with all of this is the “talk, no walk” scenario.  All of these people will constantly ask, “Hey Thes, do you think we’re raiding tonight?” My constant response is: “I certainly hope so.  Start reading up on the fights.”  They never do.  Oh, they want to raid.  They salivate when the letters ‘I-C-C’ are called out.  Yet, when it comes down to doing a little bit of legwork, they falter.  I dont’ mind explaining the fights, but if after the explanation I hear “I’m sorry, so what am I supposed to do?” from our warlock, I wanna /logout.

Sidenote: Since drafting this blog, we’ve downed new bosses in ICC for us, so I *am* proud of my friends.  I just get agitated sometimes the lack of initiative. 

ANYWAYS….

If you want to make yourself valuable as as casual raider, just take an extra step or two to be prepared.  If not, you’re wasting your own time.  The less a raid has to “nuture” you, the more appealing you’ll be to bring along.  Personally, I love that our guild, though small, is comprised mostly of people that can fill in for any guild’s raid that may need us.  Kind of like hired mercenaries.  Need a healer?  See if Thespean or Discotheque are on.  Need a tank?  See if Dralo or Naryamas are around.  How about a good DPS?  Ask Arcas or Wolfin.  That means, however, that we do our little bit of homework to make that possible.  You don’t have to be hardcore, but if you know your stuff, you are just as skilled (if not more), than someone who devotes most of their time to raiding.

Are you a player that can’t be on as much as they’d like?  How do you make yourself appealing to be pulled into a raid?

Email: Elder.Thespius@gmail.com | Twitter: @Thespius

Reader Question: The Double Bind of Casual Raiding

Reader Question: The Double Bind of Casual Raiding

knot

Those of you who have kept track of my posts know that I love answering reader questions. This one was originally for Matticus, but I decided to take it on because it’s an issue that’s very close to my heart. Essentially, the question is the classic debate of the casual raider: do I stick it out with my guild, or do I move on? However, reader Adam is experiencing an interesting twist on the problem, as he’s a guild master who’s actively working to improve performance in his own guild. Let’s see the quandary in his words, shall we?

So, as a mixed minority I hate generalizing… but I seem to be having a problem in my guild concerning ::duhn duhn duhn:: DPS classes. Tank/Healers tend to enjoy their positions and willingly choose to do them. They read strategies, the seek out gear upgrades in their free time, they put effort into the game. As of late the DPS classes have been showing up expecting amazing loot without wanting to work for it.

Our guild is sizable enough to be running 25 mans every week, but the DPS classes aren’t pulling their weight. None of them will run Heroics to get their own gear, they expect as many drops as the people who have put effort in… none of them read boss strats so I’m forced to review every boss fight beforehand and we still wipe.

I KNOW things can be better because when our “best” do 10mans (just for the hell of it now, no one needs the gear) we can clear everything in one shot with 2 healers (myself and a Resto Druid). Hell, I’ve seen PUGs do better in 25mans than some of my guildmates.

The problem, then, is two-fold:

a) If I don’t let the sub-par DPS into the raids we won’t have enough for Naxx25. No matter how good the rest are you can’t clear it with 15 people. And in a lot of cases the bad DPSers actually hinder our performance (ie putting Grobbulus clouds in awful places, failing to make the jump on Thaddius and then rushing into the fray with an opposite charge, etc).

b) There are a lot of 2 or 3 friend groups within my guild. One is a good player, but he wanted his friends to come along too. They suck, and I can’t say no to them without the good player being hurt, etc. And when I say suck, I’m talking people in 50% Naxx10 or better epics doing 1,000 DPS. I’m not kidding. I did that at level 70 with my Priest in shadow and we currently have a few mages and warlocks consistently performing under the 1,500 mark with full raid buffs.

Recruiting isn’t helping much. I don’t get many people expressing interest in joining and the ones who do message me aren’t exactly cream of the crop. Am I screwed? Should I take my ten best players and start from scratch? Should those ten and I try to merge into another guild? I’ve led guilds since level 60 and I usually have a good idea how to proceed. Right now I’m at an absolute loss.

Such a thoughtful question deserves a somewhat lengthy answer. I’ll do my best to analyze what’s going on, and then I’ll make some suggestions for future actions. As you all might have guessed, there’s no easy fix for this one.

The Double Bind

What is this “double bind” I refer to, you might ask? The word refers to a situation in which a person receives conflicting and contradictory messages about how to behave, such that one behavior would negate the other. It’s similar to what’s referred to as a Catch-22, after the awesome Joseph Heller novel of the same name. Working mothers are often placed in a double bind; so are ethnic minorities, as they try to both stand out from and fit into majority culture. I’m going to put casual raiders right up there with these two put-upon social groups. A casual raiding guild typically tries to follow two conflicting sets of imperatives. I will note that Adam doesn’t refer to his guild as a casual-raiding organization. I mean no insult–I just inferred from the text of the question that the guild is, at present, casual-raiding. Perhaps Adam would like it to transition toward being more of a bona fide raiding guild, but I’ll address that prospect below.

Why is Casual Raiding So Hard?

Like the aforementioned working mothers, casual raiding guilds often try to do it all. They have two basic principles behind their organization, and those principles are mutually exclusive. Below, I’m going to try to generalize what most casual raiding guilds might say about themselves.

Principle #1: Our guild is about friendship and freedom. We value the relationships people have made with each other in-game and out. We try to keep friends and loved ones raiding together. We also let our members play as they like. They have the freedom to set their own schedule and play style.

Principle #2: Our guild is about successful raiding. Everyone has to play a certain way, and we can only do so at set times. Only people who meet certain benchmarks for performance can raid with us.

The very conditions required by raid content impinge on the freedom of the casual raider. In addition, friendships cause trouble, as in Adam’s case, when guild members understand friendship as a means to a raid invite. These two conflicting principles cause some members of casual raiding guilds to work a lot harder than their raiding guild fellows for less results. It takes a lot more hours to clear content with a less-than-committed group. One of my previous guilds, Random Acts, could best be described as a casual raiding type. During the summer we started Karazhan, we raided for maybe 12 hours a week, but the wipes were such that it took us three months to clear the instance. In addition, because of a need to accommodate people’s schedules, we did crazy things like make attempts on Moroes at 6 am. He owned us, by the way. Both times I changed guilds, I went further in the direction of a progression raiding guild, and each time the number of hours in game reduced for me.

Do One Thing, and Do It Well

In my mind, these are words to live by. This is simply, what works for me, and why I appreciate being a member of a guild that focuses on a specific goal. I have, however, been in a guild, Collateral Damage, that offered some benefits for their more casual members while being very successful at raiding. They actively worked to treat all of their players as equals (even down to taking Kara-geared folks on Black Temple runs). Incredibly, they managed to do this fairly successfully. I know first-hand, however, that the officers and players worked really hard for that, and also that, as a result of mixed messages from the leadership, drama was high. “We can have whatever we want,” was the guild mantra. It’s admirable, I think, to try to be all things to all people. The leadership of that guild is extremely altruistic. However, in the end, it was too much pressure and conflict for me. It’s worth noting, though, that CD always did and continues to do very well in raid content. They just put in a lot more time in other stuff–what I call “casual time” and “administrative time”–than raiding guilds typically do. My current organization, Conquest, which defines itself very strictly as a raiding guild, has its flaws, to be sure, but the one thing it does do is focus on raiding success as it’s only goal.

What to Do With Adam’s Guild?

Short of renaming his organization Catch-22 and just trying to laugh about it, there are a few things this guild leader can do to improve his situation. He has to decide what is most important to him personally. I am guessing that what Adam values most will be one of these things.

1. Progression
2. Friendship
3. Power

Solutions

#1 If progression is the most important, what’s needed is probably a change of guild. It seems like what Adam wants will be extremely difficult to achieve with the current group. He can try to take 10 friends with him and split off to form a new organization, but in my mind that is not the most certain way to better progression. Right now it’s a player’s market on guild recruitment. Almost all guilds are recruiting with Ulduar in mind, and players of all classes can pretty much pick and choose from the guilds at their skill level. It’s a great time to make a move. Sometimes you can do so with one or two friends, but mostly you have to go it alone if you make this choice.

#2 If friendship is most important, Adam should probably stay in the current guild and make the best of it. This means working one-on-one with low-performing dps and trying to encourage them into better behaviors. This means educating the guild about what raiding requires. I saw Collateral Damage take many players through this very education process, and in some cases casual players improved enough to become top-performing raiders. However, the success rate is not particularly high. Most players approach the game as they want to. What’s most important to Adam’s guildies might be things like the freedom to raid how and when they want to. Their personal goals might conflict with Adam’s, and there’s not much he can do about it. As I say repeatedly in my posts, we must all seek our bliss in this game. Sometimes you can turn a team of casuals into a team of raiders, but they have to want it. Even if Adam sits down with each underperforming dps and analyzes their gear choices, talents, and rotation, they still may not improve.

#3 If power is the most important, Adam actually has two choices. The idea is to remain guild master. Either he can work within the framework of the current guild, as in #2, or he can take his 10 best and form a new, smaller guild. I can see how it would feel very important to be in charge. Adam probably has a sense of responsibility for his guildies and wants to take care of them. A lot of guild masters are like this–and I used to be. However, I made myself miserable trying to fight every bad policy, as I saw it, in my previous guild. It didn’t win me any friends. In my current guild, I’m just an officer, not a GM. I speak my mind, but I can pick my battles now. I don’t have to fight them all. If Adam does split off from his current guild, he can expect a lot of work and drama incoming. The surprise factor will probably be that many of his coterie of good players will not want to move, even if they join with another similarly-progressed raiding guild. This always happens when guilds merge or reform. If you’re considering something like this, just be expecting to take a step back in progression for a few weeks as you recruit to fill the spaces in your team.

Either way you choose, Adam, you can’t have everything. My best advice is to think about it during this next raid week and really weigh the things you value against each other. Then, make the best choice that you can. It’s hard to get out of the double bind, but you will be happier if you have some clarity about what it is that you really want.

A Response to Tobold: Another Guild Recruitment Perspective

A Response to Tobold: Another Guild Recruitment Perspective

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Image courtesy of Avolore

I read a great piece by renowned WoW blogger Tobold about guild recruitment and how they don’t look to hire players, they hire avatars. He writes that high end guilds don’t care much about the character of the person who is behind the avatar and that jumping guilds is almost expected in order to progress.

First, I’d like you to read what he has to say before you come back and read my responses and explanations behind how my Guild operates.

Done?

Excellent!

The Professional Style

Another follow up post courtesy of Two and a Half Orcs nailed it perfectly when it was written that we take two extremely different approaches to Guild progression and to raiding.

Now, a Guild is an organized group of people. I think we can all agree on that definition. What separates Guilds from other Guilds is the reason why the Guild is formed in the first place. Loyalty is an integral part of any kind of organization be it sports teams, businesses, or what not.

Refer back to Tobold’s blog for a moment and you’ll see an example of a typical Guild ad. In fact, if you browse the Guild recruitment forums right now, you’ll find any number of ads that have the same elements like:

  1. Scheduled raiding days and times
  2. Progression information
  3. Contact information
  4. Class openings

Tobold writes that these ads "do not mention people" and that these upper tier Guilds, such as the one I’m in, "don’t hire players, they hire avatars".

And he’s absolutely right.

Because those are the spots that we have available for raiding.

As a recruiting officer, I have no reason to mention that Carnage is looking for "friendly, intelligent, respectable players". Attributes like that are a given. As a student, when I browse job boards for part time openings, I never see companies advertise looking for "friendly, nice candidate with people skills" because it’s expected.

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In this case, being available from Wednesday to Friday nights 8 PM – 12 PM server time is more important.

Why?

Because you can be the nicest and generous guy in the world. But if you can’t raid on our raiding days, then there’s is absolutely no point at all for us to bring you to our raids.

Am I being an ass with this kind of thinking? No, I’m being realistic. I’m saving time for both my Guild and for you, the player.

The Recruiting Process

In any case, the truth is, the recruiting process is much more refined and filtered than that. I obviously can’t speak for other Guild officers but I personally check out applicant’s as much as possible especially if they’re from another server. Cross server applicants are scrutinized as much as possible. Just like the actual job hunting process, if we find a player that we’re interested in that can handle the basic criteria of availability, class, and gear, then we have a brief interview with that player. I’ve been a carnie for about 3 years, so let’s just assume that I can tell what kind of a personality a player has 9 times out of 10. I like to conduct interviews over vent because their voice can tell me a lot of information that in game chat just can’t do.

Assuming they pass that stage, it’s not quite over yet.

They undergo a trial by fire where we assess their abilities in game. We’re not talking a couple of heroics or some PvP. In my Guild, our business is raiding. So if we want to evaluate a raider, we check them out in raids. What the hell’s the point of putting a recruit through a 5 man if we want to see how he is in a 25 man, right?

 
Image courtesy of BluStu

Accountability goes up

The release of Burning Crusade didn’t fix a lot of issues that plagued guilds during the vanilla era. Back then, there was a progression problem where it seemed only a select few of players could advance. For example, each boss in Molten Core dropped 2-3 items. Raids consisted of 40 players. Assuming you were able to pull off a full clear and that each player wanted to overhaul their gear with epics, this meant each player needed 8 pieces of loot. 40 players multiplied by 8 items is 320 items. As you can see, that’s a lot of gear that needs to be passed around and this is assuming that each boss drops the gear that players need. While it’s true that Burning Crusade did not fix problems of officers and leaders ricing themselves up and leaving, BC made it much easier to spread the loot around and progress Guild members at a steadier and more consistent rate.

By reducing the players required to raid, it increased the overall accountability of each player raiding. Each player has more responsibility and can be scrutinized even more. It allowed Guilds to be a lot more picky and for players to be more competitive. There’s a lot of hockey teams in the NHL but there’s only so many roster slots available. Raid size reduction made it easier for Guild Leaders to find players who fit the mentality of the Guild.

When I raid, I want players who work hard, are situationally aware, don’t waste time, and willing to spend gold to make themselves the best they can absolutely be. Going from 40 – 25 players means I don’t have to find 15 additional players who fit that criteria.

"Guilds do not recruit nice people and then train them how to raid."
- Tobold

I don’t think that’s true. I would rewrite that statement so that it says "Guilds do not recruit nice people and then train them how to play their class".

Raiding requires certain strategies to pull off because these bosses have their own gimmicks and abilities. It takes an insane amount of effort and coordination to kill these bosses. There is an expectation that you have gotten to 70 on your own and that you have done 5 mans on your own and that you virtually know the ins and outs of your class. New raiders that join Carnage are given an overview of the boss and what their role is.

It’s simple logic. If a player doesn’t know what he’s doing, he’s going to wipe the raid. Wiping the raid is not in the best interests of the raid therefore we make every effort to explain the encounter in detail and what their role is whether its to sheep a certain target, or heal a certain player, or move in a certain direction every 30 seconds because the main tank has to move him around.

It’s a gigantic waste of time to pick up a freshman hunter whose still learning the basics of the game like how to trap and misdirect. It holds up 24 other players who want to progress and you’re going to find an impatient player or 5 in any raiding Guild. We pull players out of other raiding Guilds that have disbanded and such because they’ve been proven that they know what to do. While we don’t know that for sure exactly, a quick inspection of loot can tell many things. If a Priest has a Band of Eternity, then we know he was a part of an organization that took down Kael and Vashj which require 25 players to actively take part in. So he knows what the heck he’s doing.

Rejection

Assuming a player isn’t nice, polite and helpful, then he’s out of the Guild. The fact is, Guilds spend anywhere from 9 – 20 hours a week working on bosses. If a player isn’t any 3 of those, why would we want to subject ourselves to 15 hours of playing with that individual? Again, at a job, if an employee is rude, unhelpful, and callous with employees, he’s going to be given the pink slip.

The onus is on the player to prove their asset to the Guild. And what does the raiding Guild do in return? We offer them a chance to raid and tackle the hardest encounters and challenges that this game has to offer.

In closing

winnars

Hopefully the insight I’ve offered will be of value to other players who wonder how and why these Guilds operate. I want to stress that my Guild is not hardcore in the sense of time. We don’t throw ourselves at bosses for 5 hours every week night. We set our standards and expectations abysmally high to weed out the freeloaders.

Building up Guild camaraderie and morale is not a problem here. When you’ve been working on a boss for 3 weeks straight with the same 25 – 28 group of people and he goes down, there’s an immense feeling of pride. Because guess what? You were part of a kickass team of 25 players that were able to coordinate their efforts in beating the hardest boss in the game.

And nothing can beat the euphoria that follows.

Unless you win the Superbowl.

Poll Results: Over 50% Raid Between 5 – 15 Hours Weekly

If you’re a GM looking to get started on raiding, then these numbers might be something that you will be interested in. Almost 25% don’t seem to be at the point where they are actively raiding. Almost 20% of those polled raid over 15 hours a week.

However, the largest raiding populations raid between 5 – 15 hours per week. These are pretty standard hours for most players who have to go to work or attend school. That’s the kind of length that they’re willing to commit to in terms of purely raiding. It does not include their time spent farming, running instances, or the like.

So be sure to keep this in mind when you are planning out your raiding schedule for the week. Is it representative of the entire WoW community? Unlikely. But it’s a good start.

If you’re a casual Guild that wants to try it out, start out small and aim for about 6ish hours. If they can handle it, then go ahead and ramp it up slightly.