I was once a hardcore raider in a top-ranked guild. I played to raid. Everything I did was in relation to making my raid group better. I started out as the lowest healer and worked my way up to Healing Officer, then Raid Leader. I spent my lunch hour looking at raid strats and reading articles about class rolls, so I could effectively lead. Eventually, it became difficult to manage hours and hours of in-game time and raid prep with real life. I was becoming a recluse. I would leave scheduled family gatherings early in order to get home in time to prepare for raid. I would decline social invitations in order to raid. Raiding became a second job. I was not playing the game for enjoyment anymore, but more out of an obligation. I did get satisfaction from killing a boss, and I enjoyed the camaraderie I had with our raid group and our guild, but it was becoming more frustration and stress and less satisfaction. So, I decided to go casual.
I was kind of at a loss. I tried leveling some alts, but just didn’t enjoy the play styles of other classes. I PvP’d for awhile, but couldn’t get any other folks interested in ranked matches/battlegrounds, and feared that I would become a slave to PvP rankings, as I did with PvE. I went for some long term achievements, which kept me busy for awhile. I leveled through an expansion. I tried other games. When it boils down though, I was bored; I missed raiding.
So, we formed a casual raid group. We had a 10-man group and we raided 6 or so hours a week. Though we progressed more slowly than the “A” group, we were only a couple of bosses behind. Unlike the progression group, this group was fun. It wasn’t stressful, so the raiders not only showed up, but looked forward to it. When the A group started having attendance problems, they tried to poach the raiders from my group. One or two left…then came back. In fact when the A group fell apart due to conflicting personalities, bickering, and disappointment with progression, my raid was still going strong. Why? Because it was fun.
It is possible to have high expectations from causal raiders, as long as there is no judgment. We expected our raiders to show up, to have proper buff items or to have in game currency to buy mats to proper buff items. We didn’t expect our raiders to research the strats. I still did that, and I didn’t mind doing it this time because all I did was set out the strat. The individual raiders were expected to know their classes and roles and to perform their required tasks. We discussed changes to strats as a group. We didn’t expect to get it right the first time, or second time or sometimes even the 10th time. We showed up though, which is half the battle. We expected vent cleared during the fight, but we also expected jokes, joke pulls and all around goofiness. We had what we called death phrases. When a person died they’d have to shout something silly or embarrassing like “I have a crush on Justin Bieber!” We raced to the summoning stone, and the first person there got to be called something like “Gamer God” all night long. These types of things may seem silly or immature to some people, but when the group was getting frustrated and someone yelled out “I love peanut butter!” because they died, or 7 people yell it around the same time, people laugh, tension is lifted and the next attempt is made on a positive note.
Why Not Both?
So, I’ve been part of a successful hardcore raid group and a successful casual raid group. In WildStar, I forsee a successful hybrid of these two things.
40 man casual raiding is simply not sustainable. Maybe this could be pulled off for a few months, but it will be tough, and it won’t last. I certainly don’t want to be the one to try to do it. Hardcore groups will run into the same problem, though maybe not as quickly as a casual group.
I am interested to see how competitive raiding guilds are going to handle their raid groups. I am hoping that they will take in lesser skilled players, or players with less time to commit to fill the raid, rather than downsizing to a smaller raid group. I can see a feasible raid roster with a set amount of “core” raiders, who are more skilled, have more time and are expected to meet certain attendance requirements, as well as a “go-to” roster of folks that are less skilled or have less time, but would like to raid in a 40 man group.
This makes for a very large total raid roster, but we’re talking 40 man raids, so that’s just how it goes, now matter what type of raid group a guild goes with. This can work, but it will be very important to communicate what is expected from both sets of rosters, as well as the loot system, how the spots are filled, and what happens when all 70+ show and 30 of them have to sit (wow, I’m in awe just typing these numbers). By virtue of being “go-to,” those that sit have an understanding that it’s not only possible, but likely that they won’t raid any given night, and the “core” group must understand that this is not a world first raid group. This is a hybrid raid group, and as long as the communication lines are clear, this should be a drama free zone.
The logistics of keeping up with that many people, their skill, their attendance history, their gear, their slot choices, etc. is daunting, but I have faith that some guilds will take this route, and some awesomely helpful guild officer will be willing to take this aspect on. Some folks are just good at that sort of thing, and enjoy it.
This approach to the 40-man raid creates a mix of raiders that have the skills and time to progress with those who maybe don’t have one or the other (or both). This also creates an opportunity to incorporate some fun into the raid, while keeping certain expectations high. Progression may be slowed, but that sacrifice is offset by sustainability. After all, if your guild is still raiding in a year (or longer), and the guild that killed XYZ boss first is not even together anymore, you tell me: which is the more successful guild?
Written by: Krissy