Raid Update: When the going gets tough …

It’s summer. The weather is hot. Exams are finished. And this means one thing: people are wanting to take things easy and cut back on raiding.

And even in a tight-knit raid group, unless you regularly had several people signing up as reserves for your raid, you don’t have to lose many regulars before you can feel the pinch.

So even though the raids we have run have been going reasonably well, we’re sometimes struggling for signups on raids. We don’t always have the luxury of going with the ‘A Team’ (this means that sometimes we need people to come as off-specs or bring alts). And it’s affected both progression and morale. Or rather, it’s in times like these that you see who isn’t interested in signing for the wipe nights. Or in my case, who’d like to come but can’t make the schedule.

Morale can be a downwards spiral if you aren’t careful. All we can really do is press on, keep trying to recruit, and keep things moving as much as possible.

Last week I cancelled a 10 man for the first time because of raid balance – I’m not saying that 3 warlocks, 3 shamans, 3 paladins and a warrior couldn’t beat the keepers with at least two of them having to come as off-spec … ok, actually I am saying that I didn’t fancy our chances.

Note: We’d previously cleared out all the bosses up to and including Auriaya so it wasn’t a failed week, just I’d hoped to press on for more tries on Mimiron. Which is actually the only keeper we haven’t yet killed in 10 man. Maybe next week. It’s always a hard decision as to whether to cancel a raid or press on.

We still have a lot of the instance left but it’s hard not to feel a pang of sympathy for Tarsus who’s finding that some fights just are easier if you go with the optimal class balance (death knight tank, in this case). I say this cheerfully, but we don’t have a DK tank so if we get that far, we’re stuffed.

Raid Composition Issues

Death Knights making bosses easier isn’t the only composition issue in Ulduar. We’re finding that some fights are notably harder without a priest and since my main healers for 10 man are a paladin and a shaman – it affects morale.

We won’t stop trying but I don’t know that I want to have to do everything on extra hard-mode just because my friends don’t play the right classes.

I’m beginning to feel Syp’s reroller anxiety again. Did I make a mistake in not rerolling a Death Knight? Will they get nerfed into the ground? Will paladins be the next overpowered tank (this is my personal guess actually — as soon as they get an extra cooldown and block is fixed)?

There’s no way I will plan to gear up another tank now that Spinks is geared up and I like playing her but I sometimes wish Blizzard would just make us all identical – it would be better than this frustration. Is it bad to wish that you could be the best occasionally?

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Call of the Crusade might be a very smart patch indeed

We’re getting some more information out about the next content patch in WoW. Call of the Crusade is the name assigned to  3.2 (it probably has it’s own logo and theme tune coming soon too), and it’s currently including:

  • More dailies, rewards etc at the Argent Tournament
  • 5/10 and 25 man encounters inside the Coliseum itself.
  • New 40 vs 40 battleground

I was not initially thrilled with the Coliseum concept. It sounds as though you get to fight various raid bosses in an arena — so skip the interesting lore and location and just get straight to the meat of the fight. Since I really enjoy the fights where you have to use the environment to your advantage, I’m struggling to get excited about this.

But, what I’d forgotten is the Summer effect. All MMOs suffer a drop in activity over the Summer. We’ve already had a few people posting in our raid forums about planning lower activity and it isn’t just because they’re bored. We’re not unique, lots of other raids and guilds will be facing this also.

So … what if the Coliseum is (say it in whispers) PUGable? The hardcore guys still have their Ulduar hard modes to work on, and it looks to me as though many of those are simply inaccessible to more casual raids. They do require stacking in some cases, and a level of consistent performance that some raids will never be able to provide. I love the guys I raid with but we’re a mixed bunch.

But having a new set of raid encounters that people can hop into with a PUG — that just might keep people’s interest even if their regular raid group is struggling for numbers. Same with the new arena season and new dailies. The new battleground could potentially be lots of fun, and battlegrounds are fantastic for more casual play styles. These could all provide some content for people who for whatever reason can’t get regular 25 man raids.

We can assume that Blizzard is very familiar by now with the ebb and flow of players over the annual cycle. Maybe 3.2 is going to be the perfect Summer patch, with some light low-commitment content to keep people amused over the long summer nights…