Heroic Raiding and Casual Rookies

My guild is new to heroic raiding in Dragon Soul thanks to timely nerfs and a raiding tier that was easier than previous ones. This is and was uncharted territory for me as the raid leader and I’m still getting used to the increased difficulty that heroic raiding presents. If you read an earlier post I wrote (Selective Perfection) you will understand why heroic raiding is an attractive option for me at endgame.

So far the experience has been pretty positive, especially since the challenge of normal mode raiding no longer existed. As recently as 4 weeks ago my guild could clear DS normal in just over 2 hours. Since we dedicate 4 hours per week to raiding (2 nights) we felt that this meant it was an appropriate time to test the waters of HM raiding. We have managed to maintain our atmosphere as a casual guild even with the increased expectations, which is what this post is about.

Last night marked our fourth consecutive Morchok H kill (and our first without any deaths or wipes) and thanks to the 20% buff we shaved about 30 seconds of our kill time. Immediately afterwards we went back to work on Yor’shaj H. Even with the buff Yor’shaj continues to give us problems and require a lot of work on our end to succeed. Tonight we will also be working on Ultraxion H for the 3rd week (we have about 8 attempts in so far). Our best attempt was 50% health with 2:30 left for enrage. We are way behind the DPS mark, but most people need time to become comfortable enough with mechanics to reach their max potential in healing and damage dealing, so I’m not terribly concerned.

This leaves me in a weird place regarding my opinions of Dragon Soul because of conflicting emotions. Everyone has an opinion about the raid, and I am no different. I think the triumph of Dragon Soul was the successful rollout of Raid Finder and the increased availability of HM for casual raid guilds. There has never been a raid with this type of player exposure and success. I’ve heard and read the complaints that it is too easy and the nerfs too severe, and while I think its rude and inappropriate to dismiss opinion I don’t really think the facts back up the complaints. Nowhere did I read that the 50th ranked guild worldwide for Firelands became the 2nd ranked guild worldwide for Dragon Soul. In fact, with the admittedly sparse attention I give it, I didn’t see much movement in the rankings from Tier 12 to Tier 13. If Blizzard really had screwed up the difficulty wouldn’t we have seen something like that? In the end I concede the point that it took less time to complete Dragon Soul than previous tiers. The flip side to that of course, is that if they had made the raid too difficult they would not see the same participation from guilds like mine. We are not far from the next expansion, and yet I think we have much fewer guilds (overall) on burnout mode. Personally we have far fewer missing raiders night in and night out than before Wrath or Cata expansions because we simply have more to do than we did before. I can’t see this as any but a success.

The best part about all of this is that Blizzard has paced the buffs in such a way that we have been able to be the casual raiding guild we always were. We let our raiders learn the fights at their own pace, we offer constructive criticism when they ask for it (or when they really need it), and we stick to our 4 hours of raiding each week. I may not like the encounters or the setting as much as I enjoyed Tier 11 (sans TotFW), but I think Dragon Soul was a good raid to end Cataclysm, even if it wasn’t exceptional.


13 thoughts on “Heroic Raiding and Casual Rookies”

  1. Great post Leodar! You’ve got a great blog going here!
    I totally agree with you about the buffs in T13. They were very well paced. My own raid was all set to kill Deathwing when the first buff dropped, so for that one fight we turned it off, got our kill without it, and since then have been enjoying heroic mode content with the buff to help us progress through fights we would never have attempted before.
    I think if people are going to complain about the debuff, they should just disable it for their raid. It is optional.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Kalc.

      I’m glad your guild is enjoying see hard mode fight design as much as we are. It certainly is a eye opening experience, especially when I consider the guilds that have successfully completed these extremely difficult fights without the buff.

      I’m not sure how I feel about the entire ‘turn off the buff’ controversy. On one hand I can easily see where people are coming from when they say: “We were so close to finishing this raid without nerfs, but you rolled out the buff and made our final kill feel lackluster!” I’m glad that your guild agreed on how it was going to be handled, and I’m sure there was a significant amount of intrinsic satisfaction in knowing that you were successful without any aid from Blizzard.

      There is a great post over at Sacred Duty by Anafielle (even if I don’t completely agree with her) about this I suggest checking out.

      On a final note, the “don’t nerf my raid until we are done” thing bugs me. Once the top spots worldwide are established for progression I think its pretty silly to be worried about whether you are the 375th ranked guild worldwide or 381st. It just sounds like the need for another extrinsic reward for something that should satisfy you intrinsically.

  2. Fantastic post IMO, I’m in a Casual guild and Dragon Soul has been great for us – at preset we’re still working on Spine, but we’ve not been raiding long – and IMO the vast majority of Warcraft’s player base.

    Yes, when compared to previous Tiers the normal mode content comes across as slightly dumbed down. However I feel this is due to how successful LFR has been. Tanks and Healers are no longer user quite as much pressure in guild runs due to having tan a very similar mechanic boss fight on a weekly basis.

    My only gripe with Dragon Soul brining Cataclysm to a close is how dissapoining Spine and Madess are for such an epic end boss. Deathwing is such a powerful entity when compared to previous bosses, but the actual battle is some what lacklustre when compared to previous expansions.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Wabbage. I have a couple of follow up ideas floating around in my head as well.

      I think the fights are pretty cool, except that I killed Deathwing 6 times (4 times on DK, twice on Paladin) before my guild got there on 10 normal mode. Spine and Madness no longer held that “wow” factor that other fights had before LFR was introduced. Which leads me to two conclusions:

      1. We will never be able to determine the ‘epic factor’ of a fight when the LFR version is available to us first. One possible solution to this is to roll the LFR version of the raid out 4-6 weeks after its available for 10 and 25 normal, but for guilds that it takes 2-3 months to clear current content, it won’t make a difference.

      2. Gearing and tier bonuses through LFR forever changed the difficulty level of future raids. I will admit right here that I got incredibly lucky in LFR. I won 5 tier pieces in 8 runs, Gurthalak, and 2 DPS trinkets. My experience was definitely not the norm, but when most of your raid team is running LFR on off nights, your team is going to be geared much faster. Every tier piece that dropped in our raid went something like: “That’s an upgrade from my LFR piece.” It seemed like everyone have main spec and off-spec tier bonuses after a few months. A FEW MONTHS. That is crazy (in a good way). It does create a challenge for Blizzard to design fights that are challenging to three different gear levels: previous tier regular, previous tier heroic, and current tier LFR. That’s an unenviable job right there.

  3. Good post Leodar, sounds like you’re at the same point myguild, Exhumed on Shadowsong EU are and we’re hitting the same wall. I’m sure we’ll both overcome he Yor’sahj / Ulraxion fights and hopefully avoid the pre-Pandacraft burnout (although with a gazillion 10 mans= groups the blow is softened as there are more guilds to go around).

    As for the content I think that the HC stuff is the good old fashioned normal content whereas the normal mode is aimed at casual raid guild and the LFR is jsut meant for all to see the content even if they solo play and are guildless.

    1. My impression is that heroic mode content (Morchok aside) is about as difficult as its been in the past. Remember, we are up to a 20% buff and there are still exceptional guilds out there working towards 8/8 H.

      I think Normal mode was certainly a big step down from Firelands (which was stupidly difficult), and a small step down from BWD/BoT, which is still the class of the expansion in my opinion.

  4. I lead a casual 10 man raiding guild, and I have a split among my raiders. We can do DS-10 Normal in about 2 hours. There are those who enjoy easy raiding and loot, and we’re only one week from a legendary for our rogue. These raiders don’t care about heroics at all. Then there are a few who are bored and looking for a challenge, and they really want to do heroic modes, even with the nerf. If we don’t do heroics, the people who want a challenge get bored. If we do try heroics, the people who don’t like heroics get upset that things take so long and it’s not easy anymore.

    Now, we’re a pretty tight group. I’m not worried about this splitting the guild or anything. And soon we’ll all be rolling Panda monks so it won’t matter, but it has caused me a little consternation recently. Personally I could go either way.

    1. This was actually one of our issues as well, except that we only had one person who wasn’t interested in heroics. The problem, of course, was that it was a BiS geared hunter who happened to be an officer. So he’s taking a break from the game entirely right now (he burns out rather easily), as is his considerable DPS. It did actually take us about 3 weeks and some serious recruiting luck to come up with our current raid group – which is pretty solid.

      One of the thoughts I had when preparing this was to split the raid nights. We raid on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so I considered having an alt/non-heroic run on Tuesdays, and a heroic night on Wednesdays. Now this would pretty much guarantee that we wouldn’t have those one night clears, but we can always save the instance for the following week.

      Ultimately, and obviously, I thought that it caused more problems than it solved. Additionally, we weren’t really winning gear anymore. We were sharding and vendoring probably half of it. That just seemed stupid to me. I just couldn’t get excited about alt runs with LFR available, and couldn’t imagine crushing DS every week for months.

  5. Great blog, we are just now starting to work on Madness in our guild (got him to 2 percent last night! rawr!) due to attendance issues. Our intent was to be more progression minded this expac, but we’re just now hitting that groove of the right people + attendance to get there.

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