The lure of large-group raiding

My casual/raiding guild is starting to build up to 25-man content. They're raiding with a bunch of ex-guildies who have drifted through a handful of other guilds before running out of options and trying to start their own. This splinter guild doesn't have enough people to raid even Kara, never mind their goal of beginning 25-man content, so they proposed an alliance to start the 25-man track.

There's enthusiasm in my guild. New content! For many people in the guild, this will be their first big raid ever. For others, this would be a way to relive the glory days (cough) of Molten Core/Onyxia. The 25-man track is the big boy raid track! Whee!

There are a few problems, though.

Many of these ex-guildies kind of need their own definition. They're drifters who have swept through other guilds, convincing people that the current leadership wasn't treating them right, that coming with them will bring the resolution to whatever problem. "I'm leaving! Who's with me?!" Unfortunately, the people who left quickly learn that all they did was trade their friends and problems for a new set of problems with people who weren't friends, and now they're out in the cold wilderness of general chat. Some even learn that leadership in the game-space is difficult and it's impossible to keep everyone happy. So the new recruits slink back to their old guilds, or are turned away and have to start fresh somewhere else. Meanwhile, the drifters keep doing their drifting thing through guilds, not understanding how drama follows them at every turn. They're a handful of perpetually disaffected people.

So on a personal level, I think it's not good to group with them since all they do is try to grab people to their perpetually outcast nation. They're poison to a good system, and the only antidote is being awesome enough that you resist their attack.

Never mind that in a big raid, you have 25 chances to lose. The choice for these evenings with these raid events is between:

  1. Hanging out with 24 people with whom all the reasons raiding isn't fun are magnified (more chances for no-shows, more chances for late, more chances for afk, more chances for poor personality, more chances for sphos, more chances that some of these people won't be friends and it will be some big anonymous bukkake event and not a journey/triumph with friends).
  2. A guaranteed good time spending the evening with my daughter.

Not the hardest choice I've ever been faced with.

I like teamwork and group games as much as (or more than) the next person, but guild alliances either don't work and waste a lot of effort or end in a merge, and I could put a lot of time and effort into fending off their approach, but honestly who am I to stop my guild from trying something new? Never mind that the roster is 70/30 in our favor, so it's basically just working hard to raid with the people who were a load the first time around and tried to wreck the guild on their way out.

But rather than cause a scene and try to orchestrate this thing failing, I'm just going to fade from that effort and wish happiness to everyone there. Although it pains me to not participate. I was GM of this guild, I did a good job with it. Now it's leaving me behind to try something that I know is going to end badly.

I guess I could take all this to be a (muted, far less emotional) preview of what seeing my daughter leave for college is going to be like. It's just par for the course that things like this happen. People have different goals in these games, and frankly Blizzard hasn't given us non-large-raid types much to do if you don't like arena. I've got a Kara-equipped healer, a Kara-equipped tank, a pve mage with gear good enough to swap in for early raiding, and an effective battleground hunter. I've completely drank this level of content dry.

So have many of my guildies. We steamrolled Magister's Terrace. The second time there was relaxing, not challenging. (Going back in heroic is still on my todo list.) My friend told me that he just logs in due to inertia, but he's desperate for new content. Where the guild goes for it, he'll go. I know how he feels. I want new content too.

But instead of holding my nose, I'll be sitting this phase out.

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2 thoughts on “The lure of large-group raiding”

  1. One problem is that difficulty scales in multiple dimensions, simultaneously. Complexity, stats, required individuals. The scale isn't gradual, either, at least not on the people required front. The jump from 10 to 25 is brutal.

    And as long as that next tier of content is available, there's a class of people who will be constantly itching to enter it (even if they aren't trailblazers ready to make it happen themselves). These might be your drifters.

    I was hoping that ZA would serve the purpose of bridging that gap — giving the groups who had Kara on farm a place to work on until WotLK. Maybe they aimed too high on the entry requirements? Or maybe the drifters don't see it as a big enough leap and they really want to see their UI full of unit frames. I don't know.

    I don't fault Blizzard for this approach, though. In theory, if there are enough guilds who are in this position, some form of simple non-dramatic alliance of convenience would allow easy access into the 25-man content. Easier said than done.

    I still think we're in a drastically better world for max-level content options than we were in WoW classic (and I know you agree, based on earlier posts). So maybe we'll get even better with WotLK?

    If not, at least we'll have fun leveling all our characters to 80, learning new professions, and arguing about Death Knights.

  2. But what part of the gameplay is harder in bigger groups? The same stat design applies to every level of the game. Largely the same combinations of design tricks and resulting strategies apply to 10-man and 25-man content.

    What 25-man event could not be reconfigured to a 10-man event with little or no loss in fun? I haven't heard of any. That's what I was getting at by calling it the "big-boy track". It's not actually better, more challenging, or more fun. It's just more people.

    In our case, ZA is there and is fun, but the guild accepted an offer to try the the big-boy track instead. It's longer (in that there are more instances), and it's perceived as more elite. I was hoping for exactly what you describe, that we just progress through ZA and then WotLK drops. Ah well.

    I have another post in the pipeline comparing TBC with vanilla WoW.

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