Perspective, Decisions, Goals: A Raid Leader’s Dilemma

10 August, 2010

“Never write about a place until you’re away from it, because that gives you perspective”-Ernest Hemingway

I’ve been away from the raiding game for exactly4 resets now. I’m a hardcore player that leads a guild with raid bosses left on the table to finish. At 11/12 Heroic Icecrown and normal mode Halion, we decided to go on a pre-Cataclysm raiding vacation.

  • Burn-out
  • Attendance
  • Lack of Skill
  • Frustration

None of those apply, actually. It’s a complicated topic that I decided not to write about until a month after because I felt like I lacked the perspective to really reflect on the decision made by myself and the officer corps just a short month and a half ago.

Decisions

There are so many things that played into it. In many ways, this decision has been six years  in the making.

When it comes to being an officer in a Warcraft Guild, bloggers talk about it, but they don’t really talk about it. If that doesn’t make sense (probably not), let me explain.

We are in one of the oddest positions in gaming. We make decisions that direct how people spend their leisure time. People come home from work or school, sit down at their computer, and then ask me what we’re going to be doing tonight. I remember, in vivid detail, the first time that I ever called a raid. It was Serpentshrine Cavern. We were short 3 or 4 people, and I had to send everyone away for the evening. I sat online for the rest of the night hating myself, and vowed to do everything I can to stop that from happening ever again.

As a person, you feel personally responsible for ruining someone’s fun (which is never fun for you, hopefully). You’re the one that’s in charge of getting people into the raid in the first place. There’s a reason I’ve devoted a lot of time to studying and writing about guild recruitment and roster management. It’s so important and yet so often overlooked that when you get down to it, there’s ~20 real people that are taking time out of their evening to sit down and kick it inside a raid instance. It’s also one of the reasons that I loathed the dependence on badge income for Tier 10: too much undue stress on raid leaders.

But we take it on gladly. Certain people with certain personalities. It all works.

We met as officers, and as friends, on more than one occasion to address the gorilla that weaseled its way into the room. This gorilla was aptly named Arthas, Heroic. While working on getting icebound frost wyrms, we skipped an end-wing boss or two to get achievements. This meant that the Ultimate Encounter was not available for us to try for a reset or two, but we never really sat down and talked about it.

Until we did.

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CataRaiding Day 2: Hero Points and Competition

28 April, 2010

The bullet points from Bashniok [MMO-Champion]:

  • Hero Points — Low-tier, easier-to-get PVE points. Maximum cap to how many you can own, but no cap to how quickly you can earn them. Earned from most dungeons. (most like the current Emblem of Triumph)
  • Valor Points — High-tier, harder-to-get PvE points. Maximum cap to how many you can own, as well as a cap to how many you can earn per week. Earned from Dungeon Finder daily Heroic and from raids. (most like the current Emblem of Frost)

Fury

It’s almost cliche at this point to say the response to the Cataclysm raiding changes has been nothing short of loud and far from calm. When you do something as drastic as announce these kinds of changes, you have to expect this type of thing. Frankly, I’m not surprised that people on all sides of the Casual vs. Hardcore vs. CasualCore vs. Hardsual are all mad. There are so many loose ends and questions that it’s hard to point fingers and be mad at anyone.

The best response? Be mad at everything.

Everyone is trying to predict or put an expiration date on their guild or their style of raiding. I think it’s too soon to be numbering the days of 25 mans as we know them, but the path to that point is possible, so that’s what people are going to be looking at.

Battle

Since there are so many different kinds of guilds out there, I find it best to just address these changes from the point of view of an upper-middle tier 25 man guild (9/12 Heroic ICC25, Frostwyrms in 10 man). One of the drivers for 25 man players is inter-guild/intra-server raiding competition. If you are competitive by nature, you are always measuring yourself against your peers.

Can we do better? How are they doing better? How close are they behind us?

Viable competition requires a couple things:

  1. A common starting point and a common end goal
  2. Rules for competition
  3. Level playing field from team to team, match to match

Achieving #3 in an MMO is very difficult due to it’s very nature (intentional diversity between players). A football team might have players at many different positions, but every team has the same number of them on the field at a time. It’s true, some modify that (3 linebackers/4 lineman vs. 4 linebackers/3 lineman), but the quality of play is dictated by the talent (and to a lesser extent, the strategy).

Keeping that competition going means that separate progression tracks for 10 and 25 man need to be maintained. It might be the same boss fights and the “same difficulty” using the same loot, but the number of raiders is significant and a completely different game is being played (in terms of competition). Denoting if a kill was completed on 10 or 25 man in some fashion is essential.

Many have talked briefly about what exactly Blizzard can do to make 25 man raiding attractive? That’s where Hero/Valor Points enter into the discussion. First off, I don’t really care what they’re called. They could be called Hero Cookies or Unicorn Points for all I care, it all ends up meaning the same thing, it’s just in a different form.

With that being said, here’s what I think needs to happen to give 25 man raiding an edge:

A 25 man raid will provide enough Valor Points that no 5 man raiding is necessary to become point capped in a given week. Likewise, it will be impossible to reach more than 50% of the cap by only doing 5 mans. A 10 man raider will only be able to achieve 75% of his points cap from the 10 man raid.

Gearing to prepare for the first tier of raiding is one thing, but having 25 man raiders (and even 10 man raiders) step back all the way down to 5 mans in order to improve their character is clunky and uninteresting. Those numbers can go up or down, my intention is only to keep with Blizzard’s statement (more points/loot/gold from 25 mans).

The one thing missing from this whole “points system” (or what I’ve been affectionately calling Emblems of Frost: Blizzard DKP) is that it does not reward progression the same way a guild does. A guild can enter a dungeon, kill no bosses, but generate dkp based on effort. If points are tied very closely to gear progression, is the increase in point gain from a slower progressing (potentially) 25 man raid going to be enough to keep people coming back?

The “goal”, again, is to have 25 man raiders getting more stuff than 10 man. Right now, they would have to double (or more) the number of drops in 25 man to equal that ratio out. Also, with a greater number of raiders, competition for a piece is going to skyrocket (especially for the cloth wearing classes). A 10 man raid might run with a warlock, a mage and a priest. A 25 man could easily have 2 mages, 3 warlocks, and 2 priests, all (potentially) after the same drop.

A good solution would be double drops or multiple instances of the same item on different bosses, but I’m sure many of you have better ideas than me (the guy that competes with basically no one for gear).

Points are the same way.  Because the logistical challenge of organizing a solid, consistent 25 man, they are likely progress more slowly over the life of content (speaking at the middle of the progression pack, not the bleeding edge). Killing half the bosses in a 25 man as compared to a 10 man should be worth the same amount or more points.

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