Raiding more and enjoying it less

Some of you may know that I have been raiding with two guilds for awhile — a raiding guild and a social guild. The raid teams for both guilds are configured to be what I can best describe as semi-casual. They are definitely not hardcore, but they are also not just a bunch of guildies getting together to laugh and joke their way through the easier parts of Highmaul. They are in between. If hardcore is a 10 and grabass is a 1, then these teams are probably somewhere between 4 and 7. I use this estimate because the social guild is closer to the 4 and the raiding guild is closer to the 7. All very subjective numbers, of course.

In theory, both teams run twice a week for about two hours each night. Nearly all the raiders have IRL commitments that mandate such a schedule. Both teams describe themselves as “progression.” And both teams are suffering from the effects of WoD, the expansion that likely will most charitably be described once it is over as “meh.”

In fact, it is this lack of excitement for the expansion that I think is the problem with raid team participation. People generally just don’t give a crap about Draenor, the weak story line, the group activities (when is the last time you ran a garrison invasion?) or much of anything else in the expansion. When you are not really interested in a game, you tire of it quickly, maybe you call it burnout, but it is really just lack of interest.

At any rate, being part of two teams means I have committed to 4 nights a week for a couple of hours each night. Most of my evenings are free (sad, I know), so this has not seemed very onerous. The thing is, I still enjoy my nights with my raiding guild, but the ones with my social guild have taken on a distinct tone of drudgery. Interestingly, I think the reason is a social one.

This team got to the point where we were unable to raid because we could not get even 10 people to attend raid nights. So, to build the player pool, the guild leaders engineered a cooperative thing with raiders from a guild they had belonged to a few years ago. This meant that we probably would no longer be getting guild raid achievements, but at least we would be raiding once again. The strategy worked only partially. The combined “team” had several transient players, who would show up some nights but not others. As a consequence we never really jelled as a team, and of course any progression pretty much came to a grinding halt. We were unable to make it past normal Imperator after a couple of fairly intensive weeks, and shortly thereafter we were back to being unable to get enough players to raid, even with the expanded player pool.

Plan B having been unsuccessful, time for Plan C. The raid leader from the other guild knew another RL who had a fairly decent team up and running but would be glad for additional people. There were high level discussions, calendars were synced, and my guild even added a special rank to allow for easy group invites for our raiders. For now, these invites are designed to give us all some raiding options, no pressure to accept, and if you have a reasonably geared alt you are welcome to bring it. The goal is to eventually identify and assemble a cadre of committed raiders for a renewed progression team.

You have to hand it to our guild and raid leaders. They have worked their butts off, scrabbling and scraping to keep alive a guild and a raid team that are both on life support. They are not ready to pull the plug yet, they feel that if we can just make it through this awful expansion everything will work out.

I have the greatest respect for True Believers like that. I myself come from a long line of believers, not in the religious sense but in the sense that if you just believe in something hard enough, then it will be true. My mother was fond of bragging that she and she alone was responsible for saving Tinkerbell. (When she was a little girl, there was some Walt Disney show where Tinkerbell was fading and would die if little children no longer believed in her. My mother claimed it was her fervent affirmations of belief that saved Tink.)

But, sadly, believing in a thing does not always make it come true. I do not think Blizz will turn back from the guild-killing game style they started late in 5.4 and continued through 6.1 and 6.2. Their decisions, whether by design or not, have made it difficult if not impossible for small to medium guilds to hold onto their membership. Guilds have become irrelevant to many styles of play. And, as I have said before, organizations such as guilds tend to have finite life spans anyway, even under ideal conditions which this expansion is not.

To save raiding for my guild, the leaders have no choice but to effectively destroy it as we knew it. My old raid buddies now comprise at most 3-4 members of a 12-16 member team, the rest are people I really don’t know, and who only appear sporadically during my play time. The fun of a social raiding team is in the cameraderie and good-natured joking that comes from long association and shared experiences, both from raiding and from other guild activities. The commitment to showing up, to being prepared, to focus on downing a boss, all derive from a desire to not let the rest of the team down.

There is no way that a co-op team can replicate that. Such a team is little more than a standing pug. I am not saying it is a bad thing, just that it is not the same as a regular guild team. So my raid nights with this team seem like drudgery to me, not really because of the lack of progression, but more because I miss the social aspects of what our guild team used to be.

Turns out that sometimes, even if you are a world-class believer, Tinkerbell dies.

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

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