Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Is the Burning Crusade reshuffling guilds?
A reader who prefers to remain anonymous wrote me and asked me about my opinion on how The Burning Crusade transforms guilds. In his guild the most hardcore players leveled to 70 and attuned to Karazhan a lot quicker than the rest, and then instead of helping the others to reach the same level just quit the guild and joined a "more serious" raiding guild. And I wouldn't be surprised if that happened all over the place.
Of course there are also bright examples. I was discussing WoW with some RL friends last night, and their guild decided to not start Karazhan before everybody was attuned, and organized lots of evenings for the different steps of the attunement quest. Such organization goes a long way towards creating a more homogeneous guild environment. But the more frequent thing is for the Burning Crusade sorting out people inside a guild into different sub-groups, and these groups eventually separating.
It is Karazhan that will turn out to be the real bottleneck here. I have yet to hear from guilds that successfully manage two or more Karazhan raids in parallel, most either limit themselves to one raid, or have a second group that fails miserably. Lets face it, not all 40 players in a MC raid were equally responsible for the success. There is a wide distribution of dedication and skill, from the main tank who participates in every raid, to the guy who is on his first raid and ends up getting several epics that nobody else wants any more. With the same 40 people you simply can't run 4 Karazhan raids in parallel. Karazhan is hard, and it requires all 10 players in the raid to be totally focused.
This leads to the Burning Crusade making a more clear distinction between hardcore raiders and casual raiders. If the guild is very large, the hardcore just tend to forget about the rest and just organize their little 10-man raid for themselves. Which of course will sooner or later lead to 10 people standing in front of a 25-man raid encounter and wondering how to do it. It would be surprising if they didn't have the idea that its easier to leave the guild and join other people with the same mind set and problem. In smaller guilds this separation simply happens earlier, because the hardcore aren't numerous enough to form their own Karazhan raids.
Molten Core already at level 60 could be successfully raided by less than 40 people. That provided guilds with free raid slots that they could fill up with less experienced, less geared people, who were just there for the headcount and contributed less than the others. Some sort of DKP system made sure that the more frequent raiders got loot first, but most people were okay with unneeded epics going to newbies instead of being sharded. The advantage of that was that at the end of the raid the newbie had gained both experience in raiding, and possibly some gear, making him more valuable for the next raid.
This sort of training ground is missing in the Burning Crusade. When I first heard about the raid dungeons I automatically assumed that there would be a 25-man raid dungeon which you could tackle wearing a full set of the new blue dungeon set, the equivalent of going to MC in full tier 0 armor. But apparently this is not the case, there is no alternative to Karazhan with equal difficulty and larger raid size. Everybody needs to gear up in that 10-man dungeon to access the first 25-man dungeon. That will be fiendishly hard to organize inside a single guild. The temptation will be strong for a serious reshuffle of guilds, with several guilds' regular Karazhan raiders banding together for the bigger stuff, and leaving their former guild mates behind.
If you think of guilds as being associations of players of equal attitude and needs, formed just to accomplish things they couldn't do on their own, this reshuffling is the only logical thing to do. But for people like me, old enough to remember previous concepts of guilds being there for friends to play together, this trend comes as a serious disappointment and sad statement on the selfishness of players.