Monday, October 6, 2008

Gruul is a Big Meanie, and Other Thoughts on Raiding

With the 3.0 patch on the very near horizon, a few people in the guild have been after the Champion of the Naaru title which culminates in killing Gruul, Nightbane, and Magtheridon. Veritas as killed Nightbane, and with a coalition of other guilds, Magtheridon. Last night we tackled Gruul's lair.

The first thing that happened was that 8-10 people we expected from a guild didn't show, so we spent some time talking with other guilds and finally getting our 25 people together. We go in, we clear the trash, and we sit down to talk about High King. Sheesh, this guy is complicated. 5 mobs, five different types of tanking. We had a good guy directing us though, and we killed the group on our third try. Loot is passed out, people are happy, let's keep going.

Kill some more Ogres, and suddenly we're standing in a big room with a large Gronn staring at us with his one little beady eye. We discuss the strategy and we all run in and position ourselves. I figured out where to stand so that I don't get thrown around too much when he does his ground slam, so the shatter doesn't hurt me too badly. But the tanks are having some aggro issues and then a group of people go down during a shatter and the chain reaction starts. Raid wipe.

So now people have seen the fight and we go back in and try it again. We do a lot better, get him down to 40% or so before the raid dies again. By this time, people are a little tired, cranky and I think we spent some time filling some spots. Which of course meant that the trash respawned and we had to clear it again. That's fine, we want our titles!

Gruul again, and this time we have some new tanks who seem to be better on the aggro. It's going really well until the ground slam throws everyone together and people die. We are still plugging away, but our DPS isn't high enough to plow through the growths. I succumb to a cave in that I don't move out of quickly enough. More people leave the raid, we try to fill spots, but then the trash comes back again. Yeah, we've been there awhile. It pretty much ends the night, and while everyone had pretty high spirits throughout the whole thing, we are really disappointed we couldn't get him down.

25 person raiding is not my thing I don't think. And as mentioned before, I don't even want to think about what 40 person raiding was like. It's really satisfying when you do get it right and the boss goes down, like we did with Magtheridon last week, but the frustration and difficulty of making it happen makes me wonder if the benefits don't outweigh the costs.

In Northrend, all of the raids will be have 10 person versions. I'm excited about this, but also a little daunted. I'm a raid leader now in the guild, so I'm planning to push to 80 and be one of the first to gear up for Naxraamas. As a guild, we really want to progress, and we really want to see all of the content that's out there. So the question for me then, is how do I make this happen?

We've been pretty casual about raiding. Tonight we're going to complete our first full Karazhan clear when we kill Netherspite. I want to try and maintain that easy going attitude where raiding is done for fun AND for progression, and we don't have to sacrifice one for the other. But if we want to be able to progress through these 10 person dungeons, we'll have to make some changes about how we raid. And that's where I'm a little scared. I don't want to turn us into a hard core raiding guild. That's not Veritas. But we do want to do these raids.

It starts with the leader, of which I am one, so I'm going to do my best to lead by example. Step 1 is that I'm going to do my research on gear minimums for these raids, and make sure that people are at those minimums before we go into the first raid. It just makes sense, and it will mean less frustration in the long run. If people know that they have to be geared, and we don't make any exceptions, then there will be less confrontation in the long run. No one can claim that gear is what prevented us from killing a boss, for example, and then point out the ungeared person. It's just a matter of learning the fight and practicing.

Step 2 is a consistent team. This is where most of the problem lies. I imagine we'll get to level 80 and eventually 10 people will be geared to go into Naxxramas, the first level 80 raid, and we'll start going. But as more people get to top level and geared, when do they get to go? If you have a lot of people switching in and out of the team each week, it just means that it's going to take you longer to complete that raid, by virtue of gear being distributed more widely, and having to teach more people about the fights. So one of two things has to happen:

a) Have a loot system that rewards the more consistent people first, so that overall progression is kept as high as possible. Cons) The less consistent people aren't going to get first chance at loot, and that can cause some drama.

b) People that get to 80 and geared after we have a full team have to wait until we start a second team before they can start raiding. Cons) People waiting can get impatient, and feel left out.

From what I've seen, Veritas is going to lean towards the second option before we start establishing loot DKP. And that's fine. Ideally, after we get one group, the people who want to form a second group will help each other get to that point. This is probably what I'll stress. It's sort of how we did Karazhan, but it will need to be more structured for it to work, and for us to not be doing Naxxramas for six months before we clear it.

Step 3. You can't make everyone happy. And trying to make everyone happy will eventually make some people unhappy. Most likely the raid leader trying to make everyone happy. But at the same time, there has to be a general feeling of well being amongst your members that we are raiding, we are progressing, and we're all in this together, whatever stage we're at. Otherwise they'll just get disgruntled and leave. And we've had a fair number of people leave recently for reasons I don't fully understand, but that are related to how we raid. That alone tells me something has to change.

Thankfully I'll have 10 levels to think about it and plan for it before we finally take our first steps into the home of Kel'thuzad.

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