Monday, April 14, 2008

Casual Raiding: Guild Breakers

There are posts aplenty out there about raiding guilds, raiding, casual raiding and all that it entails. Some guilds can make it work for them. They have the players, the gear and the ability to partition time appropriately.

Knights of Utopia, a casual-guild on Alleria, has been my home now for a while. Since I've joined, it's gone through a lot of changes.

When I joined, way back when Kava the rogue was my main character, they were just starting Karazhan (again). Story is, that they used to run Karazhan and then the guild split into the 'hard core raiders' and the 'casual raiders'. Knights of Utopia were the remnants of the casual raider part of it.

So, I join the group and they need a warlock. Kikidas becomes my main. And we're doing Karazhan. They have a karma system that is additive. Meaning that I never won anything because I wasn't in there as often as the other casters in the guild, so they'd roll with 170 added to their roll and I'd roll with 20 added to mine. Not very satisfactory! Since I wasn't getting gear out of Karazhan, I became a heroic hog and went after badges and heroic gear like a madwoman. I became the raid leader and we eked our way up to the Curator, with all the associated problems that a small guild trying a 10-man raid entailed. Unfortunately, being new to raid leading, I did the 'warm body' policy. Can you get into Kara? Then let's go!

How naive I was.

I eventually left KoU with my warlock because I was tired of wiping on Attumen and being unable to motivate some members to do more.

We (KoU) went through two more raid leaders before our 'current' set of raid leaders. And we went from barely hitting Curator to hitting Prince and Netherspite. I shouldn't say 'we'. THEY. They did awesome! They had a core group of people. They knew the strats. They had the gear. Most of them had the playability. (some did not)

Then we lost two of those core people to bigger-better guilds. They were tired of doing Kara and they wanted into SSC and TK. Which is FINE. Let me say that again: that's FINE. They stuck around in Kara, training the new people who filtered in and out of the last few spots of tank and healer and DPS that always seem to be changing, and doing it over and over again. They wanted to see bigger and better things. It's their 15 bucks a month. I hope they do well in their new guild and I hope they see SSC and TK and all the other things that they want to see. They have more time to raid than I did, so I'm sure they'll go further than I ever did with Kikidas.

With one of KoU's main DPS and healers out of the game, suddenly we backslid in Karazhan. And then it happened. Whether it's cherry-picking by other guilds (it has happened before, our more geared players get stolen by the glory of epix) or the 'grass is greener on the other side' syndrome or the 'Hey guys, I'm having a BLAST in SSC and TK! Wish you could be here!' or some other thing... but last night we lost 8 people. The partings were, for the most part, sincere and regretful on both sides. 'We want to move on. We're tired of doing Kara'.

See previous response about Kara that I just made. Good luck to you guys.

Now, onto my title.

Casual raiding causes guild breakups. Because in your 'casual' group, you're going to have a range of people from the truly casual "What's a macro?" to the casual-hardcore "Let's DO THIS THING! RAWR!"

The resulting gradient is where the problem comes in. The casual-hardcore people get tired of the truly casual. The truly casual hold back the ones who can do the casual raiding well. The hardcore people can't get the casual ones to actually do things in a hardcore way. And then the hardcore people move on because they want to progress. The casual people still can't figure out where Karazhan is.

Which, considering it's a casual guild, is somewhat understandable.

Last night, KoU officers (before the mass exodus) held a meeting and decided to re-vamp our 'casual raiding' style. We're still a casual guild, but if you want to raid with us, you have to meet some stricter criteria to be on the list of our raiders. We were going to get down and dirty and streamline our Karazhan so that we can down it in a night or two. We talked about re-opening and strengthening our ties with Angel's Wrath, an allied guild, so we can do joint Gruuls and Mags. We discussed heroics and stopping the 'warm body' policy. Instead of filling in our spots with anyone who is on, if we don't have enough 'Kara ready' people -- and by that we mean pots, flasks, food, strat, gear on and ready to go 15-30 minutes before START TIME (by start time we mean the time the first mob gets pulled) -- then we'd split up the people who were there and do heroics and instances and group quests, as a guild. Strengthen ties, learn each other styles, get better badge gear, etc.

We've been casual for a long time and I don't want to see that change. We have people with babies in the guild who can't do hardcore raiding and wouldn't last in a true raiding guild because of their schedule and unplanned 'Oops, baby woke up!' moments. We have people who have variable work schedules and sometimes can't show up as planned. We have people who are there to play the game and have fun and that shouldn't change.

But if we're going to be a casual raiding guild, some things do need to change about our raiding style. We've unfortunately enabled people to get into Kara and get the gear and the things that they 'don't deserve'. What I mean by that is that they don't learn the stats or their class or any of the things they need to know for us to progress, because we've been so gung-ho about 'getting through' that we don't make sure people know the whys and hows. We're enablers and that's the reason we have people leaving. We can't continue 'warm body' policy anymore. It's killing us.

We're so scared of hurting someone's feelings that we keep with the 'warm body' strategy and take people we'd really rather not raid with... and we fail. We keep throwing ourselves at the doors of Karazhan without being ready for it (by having 10 people ready to go). Now, I understand that some people will be learning as they go and getting gear as they go and I can't expect everyone to show up at the doors of Karazhan and go through it like they're geared out like Kikidas, Boon, Absitively and Owaru. And some of our inability to get through Karazhan in one or two nights is how slow we've historically pulled trash and how long it took to discuss the strategy. Part of our new streamlined policy is that we are no longer going to do that. You know your strats. You know your marks. No more 'this is how we're going to do this'. We get in and we pull the way it should be pulled. We hold people accountable for their mistakes. If you always kill us in Shade because you're always the one moving during flame wreath? Guess what? Get better. If you don't know the strategy for Attumen, why not? You should read up on what you're going to do before you go and do it. If you're playing the game, you have access to the internet.

But I digress, as I always do.

Casual raiding breaks guilds because you have people like me in the guild. I'm a hardcore casual raider. Absitively is a hardcore casual raider. Look at our gear. Look at what we can do. Look at what we want to do. We're always bettering our gear towards a goal. We don't just go 'ooh, purple, drool' and expect that it'll open the door to us. We don't just go 'ooh, black temple, let's PuG it!' because it has no more attunement. We work our tails off and we want to see more, do more, be more. We push our envelope because that's our nature. We exist in a casual guild because we also enjoy things that aren't raiding, because our envelopes are more than Kara, ZA, TK, BT, SSC...

But I worry how many more people in our guild will leave shortly because they're also casual hardcore raiders. What they don't understand is that KoU will never progress because we have this slow bleed. We lose our best players just when KoU is ready to make the transition to ZA or start looking at our allies for a joint Gruuls or Mag. The reason they leave is because the warm body/casual attitude we've historically taken. There's no way that as we were... we'd survive in ZA or Gruuls or Mags, even if we were grouped with our allies. It's probably why our allies don't party with us, either. We have people who just don't do their homework, who just aren't doing what they should be doing, and either don't care or don't bother to learn more. Some of it may be that they just aren't told -- after all, we don't want to make them feel bad. Some of it is the enabling that we've done in the past. Why should they... when we do it for them?

I do think that KoU still has what we need to hit Karazhan even though we lost 8 people. Our problem is making sure that we're not counting our alts!

Healers: Terrex, Boon, Shougeki, Orzag, Kiljara
Tanks: Ferenal, Annuubis, Kathe, Keyami, Owaru
DPS: Dhark, Kiya, Absitively, Kikidas, Ravensfire, Werenal, Tasogare
-- these people are Kara ready definately. I didn't list some that I am not sure are still in the guild or not as they're associated with people who recently went onto those bigger better pastures and others who aren't on regularly enough to be listed as definates.

Alts: Boon/Dhark; Kikidas/Kiya/Keyami/Kathe/Kiljara; Werenal/Ferenal; Owaru/Shougeki/Tasogare

KoU has floundered in the past. It's lost it's leaders before. It's still around. I hope it will stay around. We may have a membership turnover and people may leave... but we'll still be friends. And we will still play together. We may not raid together... but who cares about that?

(On an aside, I apologize for the way my posts have been lately. I'm having an issue with words and putting words together in a sentence that makes sense to people other than me. I go off on tangents and digress here and there and I start out typing one thing and wind up somewhere completely different. I hope this post made sense to people who are reading my blog. I realize that my blog has digressed a lot from where it started, as well. I was hoping to not have my blog turn into 'this is what I ate today' type of blog and I worry that's where it's heading.)


  1. I'm sad about what happened... yet... strangely excited.

    Big P rejoined KoU tonight.

  2. Reading this I would have thought you were writing about my guild. We are having the exact same problem of progression and people wanting more. I will be passing this around to my officers to read because it makes sense in a way that only a person in a guild like this can understand. We are about to have our exodus- I can feel it and hopefully this change can save our guild. Thanks and good luck.