From the brief time I’ve had on the Beta, I doubt that Cataclysm will be launched before mid December. Even though that’s still 2 and a half months away I very much doubt my guild will keep raiding that long. In fact I’m getting that sneaky feeling that things will wrap up probably within the month.
It’s easy for me to be worried and upset about this because I’ve just come back from a 14 week break from WoW with no raiding. Many of our raiders have been slogging it out 4 nights a week for the entire patch and entire expansion without a break. Each time we’ve gone into a guild crushing fight or brick wall, there has always been another raid instance coming out on the horizon to look forward too.
Nothing refreshes a group of raiders like new content to experience, strategies to debate and loot to theory craft. Unfortunately this time there isn’t anything until the expansion and its becoming increasingly tough getting people to show up for our Heroic Lich King attempts.
Barthilas is an incredibly competitive server with over 50 guilds working on 25 man hard modes and it’s ranked as the 4th server overall on progress. No, not Oceanic progress or even US progress. We’re talking every single Blizzard server you can possibly play on. On many servers progressing to 11/12 hard modes is considered a big deal, on Barthilas that’s nothing to write home about.
We’ve had a really tough Icecrown Citadel raid patch. Its stuff that all guilds have experienced before. And it’s the kind of thing that a lot of guilds are experiencing right now here at the end of the expansion. Some guilds hold it together. Others call it quits.
Each time our raid group gets geared and shows some good progression and unification, we seem to lose some of our geared players to other guilds, real life or burn out. Even though there are many players out there with the experience and drive to join us and keep it all going, recruitment for skilled players is fierce. There is always a guild out there ranked better than you. Guilds like mine often have to take a chance on players who haven’t got any hard mode experience (forget the gear!) to fill the loss of our best players. It’s a buyer’s market.
Gear isn’t everything. But working with the same group of 25 people day in day out, week in week out, and knowing each others strengths and weaknesses is simply priceless. No matter how good the replacement is even in shitty gear they still need most of their trial period to catch up on the lingo, rhythms and strats that your guild uses.
We’ve been pretty lackadaisical about completing Glory of the Icecrown Raider however this is the week that officers have scheduled in time to complete the last couple of achievements. I expect that at least 15 of our raiders will earn their Icebound Frostbrood Vanquishers and the cynical part of me wonders how many of those players will bother to turn up again next week. Some might: perhaps just those who haven’t completed their full 277 BiS sets. The real raiding die-hards can always be counted on (every guild has them – they simply thrive on raiding just for the social factor, challenge whatever, raiding just does it for them).
Many raiders have been burning through their DKP over the last couple of raid lock outs to finish their sets. And I can’t help but expect those players to go casual or simply stop turning up once they’ve got everything they want out of Icecrown Citadel.
The solution can’t be to just keep recruiting new players. Every single player that leaves now is leaving with a full 277 set that can’t be replaced so easily.
I’ve been back to full time raiding for a couple weeks now. When Greatcloak of the Turned Champion finally dropped I was baffled to find that I was bidding my DKP against two other healers. Surely it had dropped before? I looked back through the DKP logs to find that, yes, it had dropped several times. And each time it had gone to a player who has since either given up raiding, gquit or simply hadn’t shown up for raid.
Cass likes to count back the number of times that Dislodged Foreign Object has dropped (at least five times I think). And point to the sole raider in the group who currently has it equipped.
To make matters worse every single player that leaves muddles our raid composition. If you’re attempting Heroic Lich King with two Hunters and only one shows up (and has to leave early at that!) for the night then it’s very difficult to adjust and see any progress.
Why do players give up and stop raiding now? Perhaps the end of an expansion is a good time to reevaluate your RL vs WoW priorities, yes. But I think at its heart there are two big problems: loss of meaning and the do-hardmodes-really-count? dilemma.
If you’ve only seen the first four bosses in Icecrown Citadel I can see how killing just one or two more bosses could help you see something new, something awesome. Something epic. But if you’ve seen all the bosses in Icecrown Citadel and experienced all the small changes to mechanics that come with hard modes is there really anything new or thrilling to experience?
And what does it matter if you really finish Icecrown Citadel anyway? We already know newer, bigger stories and challenges are waiting for us in Cataclysm. If you want to save Azeroth and be a hero do you really need to kill the Lich King again? How about Illidan? I don’t think so.
So how do you incentify and keep your geared players motivated? I wanted to write this post and offer a whole bunch of solutions and suggestions.
But I have none.
Do you remove a raid night to try and curb burn out and guild expectations? Or do you come down harsh and really penalise people who don’t turn up?
Do you remove the pressure and call off guild raids? And if you do that are you simply admitting defeat? Because surely those who still want to raid will go looking for other guilds now. Which means you have to start from scratch when the new expansion launches.
I don’t think there is a magic solution to this out there, but if you know it please feel free to share it with the rest of us!