On Sunday night while Vitare was bashing their heads against Heroic Northern Beasts, we got some pretty shocking news. The #2 Alliance guild on the server was disbanding. These were the players chasing the leading Alliance guild for fastest progression on the realm – and sometimes winning.
I normally take this kind of stuff with a grain of salt, but seeing I have some friends in this guild, I thought I would try and find out what was happening. It didn’t take long for confirmation to come through – the GM and 2 officers were quitting the game. This had left them short of their GM, Main and Off Tank, cornerstones of a stable raiding guild, so things were looking pretty shaky.
This is not the first Barthilas guild that has fallen since patch 3.2 either. Another Alliance guild that consistently ranked in the top 5 on the server changed their goals and pace from “hardcore” to “semi-hardcore”.
I think the reason for these disbands all stem from the completely unreasonable and terrible server instability raiders are experiencing on Barthilas since Trial of the Crusader was released.
Disconnects and Demoralised Raiders
It took us 30 attempts this raid lockout to get Heroic Northrend Beasts. We tried perhaps 20 attempts the week past before giving up and returning to Ulduar.
Each attempt we had at least 1 (more often than not up to 5) players disconnect during the first phase of the encounter. After the third disconnect, people started being replaced. When you’ve played with these same people for months and never seen them disconnect before, at some point you can’t keep blaming their ISPs (or as our GM always claims, their low “upload speed”).
Disconnecting frequently or experiencing 5 second casts times for your instant spells only inside Trial of the Crusader is not normal. At some point you realise the problem is bigger than yourself and your raid and, whatever it is, it’s at Blizzard’s end.
When it comes to heroic modes, you need everyone to be performing their best. When 3 people are dead before phase 1 finishes because they lag or DC during fire or a Snobold drops on them, you have next to no chance at completing the encounter. Just losing 1 DPS temporarily to a disconnect will set you behind the enrage time.
Disconnects and lag impacted a good 90% of our attempts.
We found that the lag spikes occurred in both phase 1 and phase 2 for Northern Beasts. The biggest problem with this was that healers couldn’t reactively heal Impale and we experienced plenty of tank deaths.
While Vitare chose to persevere, I have mates in other guilds who have instead elected to work only on Ulduar Hard Modes because wiping due to lag is simply too frustrating.
I think Vitare probably shocked quite a few guilds by downing Heroic Northern Beasts – this pushed us into the top 5 guilds of the server. We are lucky, Cass and I joined after quite a few of their core players left/stopped raiding with the release of Ulduar. The healing team was in tatters. And many other raiders were trials during those early Ulduar weeks.
Sure, this probably slowed down our Ulduar progression, but now for Trial of the Crusader our core group of players (especially the tanks and healers) are strong, experienced at working together and we are determined. If there were players or officers feeling the slightest bit “over it” or negative I’m sure things would have gone very differently in the Trial of Crusader.
A guild will have lows and highs, progress quickly then hit a roadblock or suddenly struggle for numbers. Be confident that you will pull through it. And if you have a dedicated officer team, agree on what your goals are, chances are, you will pull through.
The Last Straw
The guilds that have disbanded on Barthilas in the last couple weeks were used to competing for server firsts. They were the hardcore of the hardcore. The type of players that you would invite to a PuG run of anything and they would (usually silently) kick ass and pull out some weird tricks on a boss fight.
How can you manage a serious attempt at a boss when your long term raiders keep disconnecting? You know your players have the skill, but you are forced to remove them from the raid because they do more harm than good if they disconnect.
Do you recruit more players? Do you keep only those whose connection seems to cope better than others? How do you evaluate their skill when everyone is affected by lag and are performing worse than usual? What if Blizzard fix the server-side issues tomorrow?
At the end of the day, the current server lag issues are outside of our control. Until they are fixed I expect that many guilds with players of great skill will see little progression. And the officers of those guilds will have to perform a difficult juggling act to keep their raiders happy. I can completely understand how, at some points, the urge to quit becomes incredibly strong.
The Fall Out
Vitare are recruiting at the moment. As with any major content release the officers have been evaluating who stuck around when things got boring in the previous patch, and who didn’t.
Many of our new recruits will not make it through their trial period. And not because they are bad players. Because they disconnect.
I expect we’ll see an influx of applications from members these guilds who have disbanded. But I don’t quite think Vitare raids with the same mindset or intensity as these other guilds did. Many a raider has been kicked from the guild for what essentially boils down to loyalty (or lack thereof) and many an applicant has been turned down for questionable behavior in their previous guilds/realm.
I hope to see a new “hardcore” guild or two start up in their place on the server. There ought to be a stepping stone in skill and dedication between us and #1. Or am I just arguing that there are degrees of “hardcore”?
I hope that Barthilas guilds don’t server hop to try and find a more stable raiding platform, there is already such a select pool of players and guilds to choose from at the progression end. I hope Blizzard fix whatever is causing the problem/s before it gets to that point.