Officers’ Quarters: Raiding in Warlords
Officers’ Quarters has returned! Thank you all for your overwhelming support of the new site. It has allowed me to bring this column back. Many of you have been asking about it on Twitter and Patreon, and I’m very happy to debut the new incarnation here on Blizzard Watch.
I’m going to try a slightly different format this time around. Instead of answering one question per week, every week, I’m going to answer as many questions as I reasonably can, based on comments in the Officers’ Quarters articles and questions I receive on Twitter — sort of like the Queue, but for guild issues. Longer questions may require an entire feature, and from time to time I will still write my own features, like this one today. I encourage you to be brief, but please ask away!
Now, on to the topic at hand…
The new new new new new raiding structure
By my count, Blizzard has changed the way raiding works in WoW five times: Burning Crusade‘s 25-player cap, Wrath‘s 10-player versions of raids, Cataclysm‘s “both sizes are equal” loot systems and LFR, Mists‘s flexible raids, and now Warlords has turned the system on its ear one more time.
The biggest changes are the flexible sizes for both normal and heroic difficulties and the 20-player (only) cap in mythic. Each change presents its own challenges for officers and raid leaders. Let’s take a look!
Despite progressing up to heroic Paragons in Mists, my guild hasn’t even zoned in to a mythic raid in Warlords yet. Part of it is that we were a 10-player raid in Mists so we haven’t quite had the numbers yet. The other part is that heroic raids have been more challenging for us than in the past. I think a big part of that is actually the flexibility.
When you have to take the ten best players to progress, your talent is more concentrated. You can pick the ten best classes/specs from among your raiders for the best possible raid comp. With flexible sizes, the temptation is to bring everybody. We’ve been bringing all of our raiders to every boss, and even a lot of “friends and family” members when we can get away it. More loot drops, so on that level it makes sense.
But sometimes we’ve hit progression walls, notably heroic Mar’gok. More players on that fight is a real detriment, since that means more people to hit mines or AOE each other in the last phase. We reached awkward situations several times in Highmaul where we had to ask our lowest DPS to sit. With Blackrock Foundry, we had to nix any friends and family participation. At heart, we are a progression guild, so no one can complain, but it feels bad to have room for people and tell them they aren’t good enough to come along. We’re always willing to help players improve, but becoming a legit progression raider in WoW has a sharp difficulty curve.
For a social guild, the flexibility is a godsend, since you can include many more players and you don’t have to worry about the exact number anymore. But that also means you need a really good reason to bench someone. “Sorry, we’re full” was the best excuse in the world for sitting a problem player without initiating a whole conversation about why you can’t bring them in to the raid. Now, officers and raid leaders need to be more proactive about talking to disruptive players so when that “no” moment arrives, they already understand why.
Blizzard has stated that the decision to limit mythic to 20 players, no more and no less, will help them create well-tuned, innovative encounters. No one is disputing that. The downside, of course, is that many guilds have had to make yet another big adjustment in personnel. Mists‘s 25-player guilds, for the most part, have not significantly downsized, since flexible heroic raids allow them to bring up to 30 players.
The old 10-player heroic guilds like mine have had to staff up or risk becoming obsolete. Fortunately, Warlords has brought back many players to the game, with subscriptions back above 10 million. But the larger rosters change the feel of both our raids and our guilds in general. There are more personalities to balance, more voices in chat, more requests and suggestions. Officers now have more on their plate: more issues and disputes, more attendance to track, more to look at in combat logs, and in some cases a more complex loot system to attempt a fair distribution for 20+ raiders. For those who have successfully upgraded from 10 to 20, I applaud you!
The new Warlords raiding scene requires a shift in best practices. Here are a few suggestions to help you manage it:
- Be very specific about what you require from raiders to qualify for a raid. With the flexible sizes, you want to bring the players that have put in the time and effort to earn that slot. Even social guilds should have light minimum requirements for participation just to filter out the “zero effort” players that ruin the fun.
- Be willing to recruit the nonoptimal for mythic. It’s more important to have bodies to make sure you hit that magical number 20 than to have exactly the right comp. Remember that world-first guilds kill bosses with far lower ilevels than most guilds have as they progress through a zone. You don’t need to min/max every possible situation in order to progress over weeks and months. If having two DK tanks and four mistweaver monks means you can raid mythic, it’s better than not raiding mythic at all. You can use your success to recruit further, instead of losing players who grow impatient.
- Tackle the bosses in the order that’s best for your guild. Every guild has unique strengths and weaknesses. Neither Highmaul nor the Foundry have one set path like Siege of Orgrimmar did, so use that to your advantage. Don’t simply look at the number of guilds that have killed a specific boss. Study the mechanics to figure out which bad guys your guild matches up against best. If your raiders are good at dodging dangers but your DPS is lower than average, for example, Hans’gar and Franzok should be your first stop in BRF. If your tanks are always on point, but other players struggle with mechanics, Gruul might be a better choice.
- Use the flexible slots for training. If you have players who want to raid with your guild but need more practice, flexing them in for farm encounters on normal or heroic runs is a great way to help them. The most loyal raiders are the ones you have personally developed.
That’s all for this week. It feels great to be back! I welcome more suggestions for Warlords raiding and, of course, questions for the next column.
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