Monday, June 15, 2009


We recently lost one of our best players to one of the more progressive guilds on server - the number one guild, in fact. The abandonment was without malice, and he gquit in the wee hours of the morning so as to not cause drama.

The Guild Master and I talked with him the evening before, giving him our perspective on it. We knew we could not convince him to stay, but there was some obligation to explain why we could not provide the sort of raiding environment he desired.

My guild has never been one of progressive nature. Before BC (and before me) it was in alliance with the server's top Horde guild, and essentially seen as an off-branch of that guild for the less ambitious. I still get stories from the GM about how we were unbeatable in PvP except against the top Alliance guild. They got up to the Four Horsemen in Naxx 1.0 before the Burning Crusade, then the alliance disbanded, separating for the progressive nature of one guild and the RL obligations of the other. Our guild was still used to seeing the content, just not at the same speed.

This puts the guild leaders in a predicament. With this mentality - See All Content, But Don't Sacrifice Real Life - it makes it difficult to judge how exactly hard to push people. In BC, this wasn't too much a challenge, since there was only way to kill a boss. It was just a matter of getting the fight down, expressing gentle pressures of responsibility, and providing moderate encouragement to progress through Hyjal, Black Temple, and Sunwell. It also helped that there were certain attunement requirements, obligating raiders to do well in order to make it to the next instance. The game itself provided most of the motivation.

With Wrath, this becomes more problematic. We entered the instances relatively quickly, and cleared them equally as fast. Attunements were still sorta around, but they only require one person to get the key. We had the "learn a boss fight and execute" system down pat, and it was comfortably easy. Too easy. Hard mode-unlocked loot provided some initiative to add some challenge to our raid nights, but other general achievements were less motivating for people simply not interested. Extra loot feels more rewarding and has longer effects than the flashing lights of an earned achievement. For some, it was satisfying enough to just kill the boss and reap the loot. It was, after all, what we were used to through 1.0 and 2.0. But those of us more interested in see everything this game has to offer were not content in the pattern of kill-loot now that other options are available.

It is challenging to figure out this balance between our raiders. Some get burned out from repeated wiping, others tire of simply mindlessly clearing the weekly content. It is reasonable enough for those who enjoy the substantial rewards to go for hard-more encounters that provide loot, but strategies that require unnecessary risks can be seen as simply silly. How do you keep everyone motivated to keep coming?

There is also a matter of gear, skill and content balance. Some hard-modes we recognize as being out of our current capabilities; others seem reasonable. But do we want to start working on hard-modes for content we have down pat when Yogg isn't even on farm yet? Not every achievement will come by simply getting better at the fight or being overgeared for it, nor can we afford to simply let the hard-modes come when they may if we wish to see Algalon before the next content patch.

Leadership of this sort of guild is not an easy role to fulfill. As I was telling this former guildee, there are many times I wish I could simply join a more progressive guild and become just another raiding grunt - my obligations would less complex. But what really keeps this guild together is our pleasure of raiding together. The people are what makes it good, and we can't simply abandon what works. It was the people that stepped up to lead when the former officers decided they had enough of the game, just before we downed Illidan. Despite such a mortal blow, we recovered and have been going strong ever since. I won't leave my guild because I enjoy being in it too much.

So, what does it mean to be a "hardcore-casual" raiding guild? It means perfecting balance. It means finding that ideal set of rules and holding everyone to them, such that they can still enjoy the game in their own way (whether they be PvPers, altoholics, or family-oriented) and still experience endgame content. It requires sacrifice and personal acceptance of one's limits, plus friendliness and acceptance of a plethora of play styles. It takes work, but I wouldn't trade it for the entirety of Azeroth. Now if only I could put "Guild Leader" on my CV..

1 comment:

Thunderhorns said...

I like being in a guild where I have fun raiding too. I could go to a bigger guild and becoming a raiding grunt, getting yelled at by some punk on vent if I screw up, or taking every little thing so seriously that I start carrying stress from the game into my real life, but I don't want to. At the end of the day this game is about fun, and I want to have fun while playing it.

I'm in a guild right now that is just serious enough for my tastes, but not so serious as to ruin my enjoyment of the game. I'm going to stick it out and enjoy the group I hang with.

Just today the raid leader used a Raid Announcement to tell me to turn off Frost Presence because I forgot to do so when I was Ice Chaining bombs. We had a good laugh about it afterwards. In a hardcore raiding guild I'd probably have some punk screaming at me over vent for my mistake. And what can I say, mistakes happen.

We kill Mimiron on the next attempt with all ranged dead and his head at 4% or so. All of us melee that could started ranged AoEing the head, and I was a major portion of the damage and helped get the win. So I don't want to see an occasional mistake made into a big deal like some do in hardcore raiding guilds.

So like you, I'll stick in a guild that I have fun raiding in and still gets it done. I don't need to be first, all I need to know is we're making progress.