And we’re back! Well sorta… I hope so. Sorry for the long delay but truth is that September got real busy all of a sudden and blogging took a backseat to the millions other things I had to do. Hopefully, things will quiet down. Also! I’ve been told that this blog passed the five years mark!! Insanity! A big thank you to everyone for making this worthwhile all this time.
Last time we talked I had left WoW toward the end of Vanilla and for a while, I was happy pretending that WoW was evil. I played some FFXI in the meanwhile but for the most part, everything was quiet on the MMO front. Burning Crusade launched and I was still AFK doing something else.
My return to WoW happened in spring 2007 and just like last time; it was real life friends that pulled me back in. This time around, they had set-up a guild full of people I actually knew and they had started cutting their teeth in Karazhan. Most of them started playing recently in BC and they felt they needed some experienced raiders to help them along. So me and a friend of a friend, Palfear, were targeted in an elaborate kidnapping recruiting operation. Over a fancy dinner I was coaxed into giving this group a shot.
Palfear and I became great buddies almost instantly. We had similar raiding experience, both of us were coming back to WoW after a break following hardcore raiding and we wanted to try to have progression without driving ourselves insane. It took us a few weeks to get back into raiding shape and soon enough we were ready to take on Karazhan as raid leaders for a friends and family guild.
Taking new players and teaching them to raid is no easy task and I think everyone can understand that. There are strategies to master and raid awareness to develop but raiding back in BC, even casually, took more than just beating on bosses. We had to teach about the importance of doing your hardmodes, of optimizing your gear, of learning proper rotations, of getting enchants and having flasks ready. Then we had to teach about attendance and being ready and not getting negatives about wipes. It wasn’t all fun times and cookies but I’m proud to say that for the most part, people did their best and we did clear Karazhan eventually, which honestly, made me more proud than that server fist C’thun kill.
But the real challenge was for two ex-hardcore raiders to learn how to teach more casual players how to raid. A lesson I’d sadly not really learn until late in Lich King’s expansion. Looking back I can’t say I’m super proud of the way I’ve handled a lot of situations back then. It would be easy to blame my hardcore raider background but truth is that I had little idea of how to do things. I was under the mistaken impression that raiding was an equation (skill + gear = dead boss) which is not false in itself but long term raiding takes more than that. It takes a lot of diplomacy and empathy if you want to keep the guild alive through tough times.
Saved by the bell
After we cleared Kara it became obvious that we were starting to hit a rough spot. On one hand, we had a group who wanted to progress to Gruul, Mag’theridon and beyond while another group were happy to raid Kara until the end of times to gear up their alts.
What could have devolved into a nasty argument got solved by the raiding setup of the time. Kara was a 10 man raid, the rest 25 and we had maybe 12 raiders on the roster. We tried for a while to raid with an allied guild to get into 25s but it just wasn’t working out. The problem, as we all saw it was a stupid raiding set-up and that ended up being blamed for all of our guild-issues. After all, if only Blizzard would have done things right we’d all be sailing to the promised land of endless loots and leetness.
Truth is our real issue was we had two groups with distinct aims in the guild. One group was happy just raiding once in a while with friends and didn’t want to trouble themselves with progression. The other loved raiding and was ready to put in the time and effort required to move farther. If we had only progression people, we wouldn’t have had issues with recruiting strangers or raiding with allied guilds. If we had only the friend’s people, we wouldn’t even have bothered with trying to make it into 25s.
So while it’s easy to blame the 10/25 setup (which was still stupid btw), even with 10 man all the way we’d probably hit a roadblock soon enough as the difficulty of the raids increased.
We’re all friends here but…
… it was time to move on. With raids not progression and people starting to get disgruntled, Palfear forced the situation and ended up negotiating a deal with another guild to take in the people who wanted to progress. He simply announced in the guild forums he’d be leaving and that anyone wanting to raid 25s was offered a spot. This effectively spelled the end of our little guild and probably saved us from a drama fest.
For myself I did end up joining up with Palfear and raiding for a while in the new guild but progress was slow and while those people wanted to raid 25s they weren’t quite there. By the time we started to work on Tempest Keep I was tired of the endless wipes and left raiding for a while.