Tobold's Blog
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.
Well said. I too am somewhat surprised at the supposed casual emphasis of the burning crusade and the hardcore raiding and keying curve.

I expect one of two things are going happen. 1. As soon as the bleeding edge guilds have moved past Kara etc the instances will be retuned ala Scholo and Strat in the old days. 2. At least one of the upcoming 25 man raids will be casual based. I'm thinking Zul'Aman may become a new ZG.

The thing I was most disapointed with TBC is the fact it still doesn't cater for casual raiding. In fact even less so.
I helped found one of the larger guilds on my realm - very casual/hardcore - ie - we didn't raid 5 nights a week from dawn til dusk, never insisted on anyone respeccing etc - and always followed the principle to never leave anyone behind. I was officer and class leader, in a guild making good progress in Naxx.

TBC changed all that. Thise that pressed ahead to hit 70 regardless, left a good chunk of us behind - even though I asked over and over for a timeframe for the guild to be looking at hitting Karazhan. Nothing came, until one day I logged on to find the 'uber team' in Karazhan. I was livid, a lot of guild members were livid too. This was the milestone for the guild, and a sudden raid had been thrown together to 'take a look'. Needless to say - these 10 people became fixed as 'Team A'. Team B was hastily organised to appease those who were attuned but not online or invited. The rest of use were told we'd been selfish for 'fucking about, or on alts', and that no Team C was likely so we'd just have to fill in spots for the first two teams.

So - here we have: lack of communication, selfishness, and frankly a pretty hefty betrayal.

At this point three officers (including me) decided we'd taken it from behind quite enough thank you very much, and left, accompanied by 5 other members. I know for a fact the situation hasn't got any better since we left, Team A's still ploughing on regardless, while Team B wallows. More 'hardcore' players are being sought - but as you say - I will actually smile a little on the day that Team A stand proud at the steps of the first 25 man only to count heads and realise the members they left behind aren't following anymore.

I think my guild from before is growing to be more like that.

It's a shame really. I think I saw the eventual dissolution of a guild from friendly casual into hardcore madness.
My guild is actually formed from a splinter of my pre-TBC guild. As soon as we get enough people in the right proportions keyed, we're going to be running two Karazhan raids. We're also set up in blocks of 5 for heroic instances as well. I'm not yet keyed, and I'm one of the more casual players in the guild, but its nice to have found a guild that will actually help me get keyed and so on without forming some kind of hardcore elitist group.

OTOH, the guild we splintered from was very much hardcore vs everyone else. Noone wanted to help anyone else to get keys, and those who could get into Karazhan were in there at prime time, even in other guild's raids.
After 9 attempts at the 1st Kara Key Frag in SL, last night I and 1 other guild memeber finally got it.

It's not so much that we are being left behind by the guild, it's more that nobody wants to run SL due to Blackheart the Inciter. Even when I offered to pay repair costs and respec fees, we still had extreme difficulties finding a tank.

That's been my biggest problem since the release, is just finding a tank or a healer. Can't function without a main for each. Paly's and Druid's are great but if you don't have the proper spec'd one in proper gear to heal, all you can look forward to is a repair bill.
Completely different here :D

We split the guild some time ago, when we hit MC/BWL into a raiding and a casual part. With TBC we merged the two halves again and it is going great.

We do have only a handful of Keyed peeps with the rest catching up slowly. Lots of people are helping each other in instances to get the Key to Kharazan.

We will see what will come when we got a full Khrazan Team keyed.
By the way, I thought to write about your post on my work blog. I hope you don't mind. :)

I just hope it does your writing justice, as I might have missed some nuances in trying to sum up your thoughts for our readers
By the way, I thought to write about your post on my work blog. I hope you don't mind. :)

I just hope it does your writing justice, as I might have missed some nuances in trying to sum up your thoughts for our readers

No problem, as long as you include my name and a link (which I just verified you did. Last time I got a link from QJ it only lead to my main page, not the article being discussed.).

Nevertheless, and I hope you'll forgive me for being brutally honest, I'm not a big fan of QJ. My anti-virus rang several alarms in the last weeks when I visited that site. And the strange linking policy, where all the links inside the article only lead to other QJ articles, with the only outgoing links at the bottom, isn't my favorite either.
ZG wasn't casual. We may have started ZG first, and developed into a raiding guild making our attempts there, but we beat MC with 40 before we managed to beat ZG with 20. And trying two ZG runs in a night, with our MC clearing crew, was disastrous. The A-Team flew like eagles, and the B-Team floundered like ducks. You either had a shot at Hakkar or you going to be paying 10g in repairs.

And isn't it the experience of every guild that starts out "casual," that upon reaching end-game they drop the moniker of "A casual family of players that want to have fun" and become "Raiders only, level 66+, all attunements before you even apply"?
I think the main problem is that the nature of the attunement chain means that there’s a big variance in how long it takes people to get attuned depending on how much people play. If you’re one of the more hard-core folk in your guild, you can obviously help out the non-attuned players, but if they’re only doing one or two instances a week and you don’t always get to the end of those, then you’ll still be waiting a while however much you help.

Also, with a hard ten-man instance, there no room for slack with number of players, class balance or playing ability like there was with MC. This gives you much less flexibility – with 40 players things normally used to vaguely average out and if somebody didn’t show up or a nice person couldn’t play their class brilliantly, you could still cope.

Interestingly I think reducing from 40 to 10 man raids will actually make life tougher for us as a small guild. We’re one of the smaller guilds in an alliance of guilds that used to raid together. Although in theory we have enough people to do Kharazan once most of the guild is attuned, trying to get exactly ten people with the right class balance all together at the same time is going to be an interesting challenge. On the other hand the slightly larger guilds in our alliance won’t need our help any longer, at least certainly not from DPS classes, so our only way of getting there is going to be via a guild group.
My guild runs 2 Karazhan groups successfully at the same time, and actually tried for 3 last week, with middling success (Group 1 killed 7 bosses, group 2 killed 9, group 3 killed 8). Going back to 2 groups this week.

The key is to just reshuffle your groups each week, and not let cliques and "Team A"/"Team B" mentality develop. If you let this happen, the rivalry and resentment that develops will really hurt the guild...if your officers are on Team A and resist changing it your guild's in trouble.

-Orestus, 70 Druid, MugThol
The seven day timer on Karazhan really doesn't help. It just seems to open up a bigger gap between a guilds A and B teams. I like to think that if it was on a three day timer people would be willing to give up three days of raiding with the A Team to help keep the B Team progressing. As it stands now they see giving up a weeks progression with the A team as too higher cost.
No offense taken. Truth be told, I can't even access my work site from home. That being said, don't let my place of employment keep me from being a fan of your blog.

Heck, I'm becoming a convert to LotRO because of you. And I so want to play the game now because of your write ups. :)
My guild runs 2-3 Karazhan raids every week, and downs Prince on both. I do see what you are referring to a bit here and there, a very small fraction of our guild got somewhat left behind by their leveling pace, but we level our alts and key our alts with them and they will eventualy catch up, and and about 5 of our 24 hour a day players have moved on to a guild that wants to raid every minute and is more serious even than we are.

In the end, taking a successful 40-man raid team and making it work in 10 and 25 man chucks is not going to be without growing pains and a bit of drama. The test of a guild is how they approach the majical question..

"Is it more important for me to get my T4 2 piece set bonus this week, or help my friends get experience and gear, and get my T5 2 piece bonus 2-3 months earlier than I would, because my friends and guildmates work well and appreciate each others company".

Our guild chose the latter in the end, and we are only a few weeks from being able to enter Serpentshire.
I wondered about this same thing around the time I posted this

Our guild is pretty much letting new 10-mans form on their own. As a result the fastest and "best" are grouping together.

If the top team ends up grouping with a top team from another guild, for the 25 mans I'll be disappointed but not surprised in the least.
My guild has just started raiding Karazhan and was successful at taking down Midnight on their first try. I am keyed, but not in the "A team". I'm not sure whether I should be upset and not being included, but I guess me time will come. I'm just so bored atm with this game and dont know if I will have the patience to wait until my turn comes. My wife is not keyed yet, but really has no desire to raid and is bored beyond belief as well. I have a level 54 priest I'm leveling, but that is also boring. And I leveled my cooking and fishing on my main to while away a few hours. Did I mention I was bored?
This is an issue I'm really trying to avoid with my guild. We started at the BC release, but we're recruiting with 25-mans in mind which presents a problem in Karazhan. I've been telling myself that we won't have a superior A-Team that and a sucky B-Team, but that I'll try to cycle people between the one or two teams we have going. I just hope I'm able to do that... otherwise I think we'd be just like the hardcore loot-based guilds I can't stand.
TBC hurt raiding guilds in many ways. The more hardcore did race along quickly to level 70 and on to attunements. The problem is that other people who had been hardcore might not have wanted to gulp down the new content, knowing nothing substantial would come along again for 12 months, if we're lucky. This fractured guilds that were just fine before. As for floundering guilds, TBC raiding was just another nail in the coffin.

My son's guild did exactly what someone above submitted anonomously - 10 clique members entered without forewarning and just started farming it on their own, and never established a calendar/schedule to invite others. This fracture the guild even more and people are basically now just doing their own thing. They haven't done a schedule raid since pre-BC for a guild that raided 3 to 4 nites a week.
The group I've been raiding with has been very active in helping everyone get attuned, get Revered rep, get 5-man upgrades, etc.

I don't like much of Karazhan because the fights seem too luck based until you out-gear them, and too many of the trash pulls are annoying. The place reminds me more and more of AQ40, which I didn't like for similar reasons.

But I haven't had the social problems, personally. I've seen some of the raid guilds on my server split or end up with two teams and a wide skill disparity between them. But we've been shuffling members from one team to another every week, so we've avoided that issue.

And we're part of a much larger raid alliance, so we have a very large talent pool to draw on if necessary. That's been very beneficial for 5-mans, and will likely be beneficial as the larger, more casual raid alliance begins doing more Karazhan runs.
"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"

Amen to that. The two worst things - based on a purely personal perspective - that happened in WoW was the recruitment of those two FoH players on the dev team (immediately heralding a hardcore/leet-centric game with no focus on community) and 40-man raid sizes (which almost certainly relates to those two again - and effectively screwed over every small to small-medium size guild).

I've played these games for 10 years-plus and I've never seen a title have a more negative impact on guilds and what they ought to stand for than WoW.

Did Blizzard produce a good game overall? Absolutely. But for older/casual/community gamers it came at a very heavy price.

On the plus side, the reduced raid cap in WoW post-expansion was at least a nod in the right direction - and possibly even an admission by the devs that "raiding" isn't the be-all-and-end-all of mmorpgs.
Our guild started out saying no pressure to level - lets take time and explore and enjoy the new content. (There are quite a few couples in the guild with small children, so we are limited on time sometimes to play.) Soon I began to feel the pressure to level level level, and despite all our resolve not to, we sprinted to level 70, about 2 weeks behind the "inner circle". Before we even reached 70, the pressure to attune became really strong. We both play key classes for Karazhan, so the pressure was heavy for both of us to get attuned, and quickly. We finally made it through the attunement process, and we are regularly trying to help our friends that we actually enjoy playing with, get attuned also by running the different instances and dungeons needed in between the raiding schedule. We've been reluctantly pulled into what I refer to as the "inner circle" and although we are among the lucky who've been included on all the karazhan runs so far, our friends are beginning to think (and realize) the guild is focusing on this one team. We are worried that we will get blocked in with this inner core of people that we don't enjoy playing with; but also worried that if we say no, we won't get to raid at all. Now that the "inner circle" is attuned - they are only helping the classes get attuned that they need to fill out "balance" their "A" team, although I've been told we are going to have two equally balanced raid teams for Karazhan. It's really irritating not to have any choices about whether to go on a raid or not or which team i want to be on. But we are afraid if we turn down a raid, or don't sign up, we might not be invited on any raids. Our guild is on the medium to small size, so it would be hard (not impossible though) to form our own team, but I am honestly here to play and have fun with my friends, and this situation is making me want to form my own raid team within the guild, so we can have a reasonable schedule and actually enjoy going there, instead of having to group with mean people who only want us there because we are "this" class or "that" class. We've also got the problem that the "inner circle" likes to split my spouse and I up and I worry they would put us on two different raiding teams. BC has made people crazy. Definitely made it hard to just log in and have fun. So I guess we are stuck in between the people who are way aggressive and way out front and the slower group who hasn't even hit 70 yet. Yup, stuck right slam in the middle...I wouldn't really worry too much about it, 'cause we like to do the instances and dungeons, but eventually we'll want the challenge of raiding the larger areas, so we are stuck going with the flow until some more of our friends get attuned. We are working earnestly to help them, but in the long run - unless we disband, we won't have any control about who gets to play with who if they form teams instead of continuing our guild's policy of having open signups for all raids, and running numerous raids. ~sigh~ oh least it felt good to vent...
This is someting that we have not had a problem with so far. We have never been an end game guild, and though some of us have played in end game with alliances to larger guilds, we have never been drawn to it. When we had to end our alliance, we only had 2 people go to the larger guild. We are trying to get more to 70, the content is great, and we do want to do the instances, but we have developed very good friendships, Teamspeak helps there, and we all help at any level, there are still new players starting every week, we get one or two a month, we need to show them it's fun. I have noticed however, that large raiding guilds on our server have had serious melt downs when BC was released. It will be interesting to see how Blizzard rehabilitates the old Azeroth End Game 40 instances. As is, they are mostly dead.
My guild had been together for over 2 years, we had gone from downing lucifron in MC to twins in AQ and w were not a hardcore guild. We were a bunch of friends just playing and we grew into a raiding guild.
We have split up now becuase of TBC and it is such a shame i and many others have lost motivation to play anymore.

All TBC has done in my eyes has split up friends and guilds and they should have never changed the raiding system as guilds were formed over years of hard work to be broken down so horribly.

If they kept the raiding at 20 and 40 mans then guilds and friends could have stuck together and challenged them together like we did all those years.

Suh a shame blizz did this all i see now on ofrums is people posting that they are quitting wow etc.

Why do good games kill themselves with needless expansions as wow in my eyes did not need one.
My guild happens to manage multiple Karazhan teams quite successfully but I guess we are a bit of an exception.

We now run a total of 4 separate Karazhan teams and 1 (but soon to be 2) 25-man team. Skill level is about equal across the board and we mix in new raiders with the experienced ones so that things go as smooth as possible.

Of course, there are those few people who just can't wait to get a spot on a raid and complain and complain and complain. But those are the same people who don't last very long in our guild.
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