Monday, January 19, 2015

Growing Pains

Hello my friends and welcome back!

We've gotten past the oohshiney new phase of Warlords of Draenor and have settled back into the rhythm of WoW again contentedly. My team started out on really solid footing for the beginning of an xpac, probably the strongest we've ever been. Granted, GoF as a guild has had a pretty low turnover rate since the opening of ICC (I hate and love thinking of just how long ago that was) for which I'm profoundly grateful.  We learned from our mistakes we made in Mists of Pandaria and hit the ground running this go-round. We haven't yet ventured into Mythic territory of WoD content, but we're at a solid 6/7 H with about 21-24 people showing up ready to roll on raid nights. 

The roster size has been particularly challenging for us, though, building towards the Mythic team. GoF has historically, with a few scattered exceptions, run a ten man raid team with a rotating roster of about 14-16 raiders. We found this was our sweet spot, and very very rarely have had to cancel raid because of poor attendance. If a raider had to bow out for a night or a week, we had no difficulties filling the slot because standby raiders were ready. If a raider had all their needed gear and just wanted a night or a fight off, again we'd pull in a standby. All was golden and all was good.  With the announcement of the Mythic raids, we started to discuss changing the way we do things.

We're not a hardcore raiding guild. We raid 3 times a week, for 3 hours a day, and have for years. Again, this hit our sweet spot. We're an adult guild, with jobs and families and responsibilities that don't lend themselves easily to the Midwinter level of commitment. We also raid for the thrill and challenge of facing the hardest content that Blizz can throw at us. We've had a few realm first kills and have solidly been in the top ten - if not five or even three - raiding guilds on our server. We take a lot of pride in this. We dubbed ourselves "casually hardcore" for these reasons. 

The new Mythic level, of course, had our hardcore little hearts crying out "yes yes we will do this, no doubt". We can't see that gauntlet thrown down and walk away from that. It's just not GoF's way.  We're also very protective of our guild culture, and tend to do little recruiting or run multiple raid teams. After much intense discussion between our officers and some of our veteran raiders, we decided to ease our way towards the required 20 man roster so that we would be able to step into the ring against Mythic content. 

To our credit, I feel we've done a damn fine job of building up our roster while maintaining our environment, our culture, and really our guild identity. But the challenge still exists. 

It seems, at first glance, that the mechanics of Highmaul are unforgiving. They require correct execution for success. The DPS and HPS output required is also up there. What I'm trying to say nicely is it is MUCH harder to carry underperforming raiders now than previously. Also, as is the case with all new expansions, the available gear isn't quite as juicy as the end-xpac gear we had a year plus into Siege of Orgrimmar, and there's just no such thing as cheesing a mechanic with brute force now. 

So now the delicate task we have is to help some of our lesser performing raiders to a level that can make the cut, so to speak, to varsity level. We have some very committed, reliable raiders who just don't do the required numbers, or who are somewhat oblivious to standing in The Bad.  We have raiders who are perfectionists on their own performance getting irritated with the growing process of our team.  We don't want to hurt people's feelings, but we also don't want to stop our own progression. And damn it, we need every body we can get in for Mythic. Heroics are challenging, and I fear what Mythic looks like. But I want to get there with the team I've been raiding with for years now.

I don't want a new team, and I don't want filler just so we can say we're Mythic x of x. I want to get there, with my team, on our own steam, from our own blood sweat and tears. 

Has your team run into this challenge also? How have you overcome it? How do you inspire and get people to improve without feeling like you're constantly kicking them in the teeth for XY or Z? I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments. 

As always, thanks for reading!  Until next time, long days, pleasant nights and Happy Raiding!

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