There has been a lot of talk about the casual guilds dying off lately. The social gamers that raided, the friends and family guilds that would be willing to take lesser players and move slower, the people that do not raid often, or are not very skilled but willing. There are many types of casual guilds but nearly all over they are hurting and hurting bad. Some call this time in the game the death of the casual raider, and I agree with them.
While not scientific in any way I plan to take a look at what could be part of the reason for many of the issues that seem to be plaguing and dismantling the casual raiding guilds based on my observations.
While some seem to argue that raiding is no more difficult now than it was before statistics prove them wrong on that fact. They can argue it until they are blue in the face but they will never get anywhere. That would be like me handing you a fresh banana and telling you it is purple. I can say it all I want but it won't make it true.
Someone new to the game will have a harder time breaking into raiding then you or I did. There are just so many things we take for granted and do normally that they need to learn. To us it has become part of the standard but to them it is part of the learning curve and that curve has never been steeper than it is right now in the game.
In an effort to keep people like you and I engaged with the content they need to keep turning it up a bit. To give us a new challenge. This leaves those that had never completed the challenges before it a larger hill to climb. They do not have the luxury we did. They have to step right in on current, into content designed for people that have been raiding for years. Not into the content they should be in. Content designed for people that want to get into raiding.
Not saying it is not a challenging position for blizzard to be in. It is. Create raids to keep the players already playing interested in doing it or make them so new people have a starting point. I believe the solution would be to make the first few bosses piss easy and ramp up from there.
Jasper chains anyone? For a brand new player it was killer, to a seasoned raider it was old hat. We have done this before haven't we? At least three of four times we have encountered this type of mechanic. So we walked in as if it were no big deal when a new player walked in and freaked out. And this is why you still can not even pug MV on my server if jasper is up. Yes, I am serious. Don't bother unless you like repair bills or have healers that can just heal through it. Chains and something to move out of, with rookies it is a nightmare.
The difficulty of the raids are one of the things that is hurting the casual guild. From older members not getting better but the content getting harder to new members being harder to find because they think it is too hard.
2) Fight Length:
Wiping is a part of progression and even the most casual of casual guilds understands that. Most people have no issue with wiping but more and more I am hearing complaints about the length of the fights. At least from what I see and hear people do not have a problem with wiping after 2 minutes of a 5 minute fight but they are really getting frustrated with wiping 10 minutes into a 12 minute fight.
With this expansion and there being so much to do the tolerance of wiping has gone down. A lot. Getting 4 attempts done in an hour is just too few for the casual guild. Lets say it is a 10 minute wipe, a minute to walk back and eat, a minute or two to go over any changes or adjustments. Best case scenario is you are getting 4 attempts done in an hour.
There is a huge difference in it taking a casual guild 20 wipes in one night to get something down and it taking them 20 wipes but those 20 wipes are over the course of three weeks.
One night of wiping feels like you are making progression. Three nights of wiping makes you feel like you are banging your head against a brick wall. Both could be 20 wipes only. But they feel completely different depending on the fight length.
It might seem like something so trivial but it does matter. Long fights mean less attempts for the casual guild and less attempts makes it feel like you are not getting anywhere fast. Horridon, the guild breaker, is the perfect example of that. I've heard stories of guilds wiping 100 times on him over 8 weeks. If only the fight were shorter it would be 100 wipes in 2 weeks and it would allow them to feel as if they were progressing, albeit slowly whereas after 8 weeks, that is two months folks, people just start to give up. It is not the wiping that makes them want to quit, it is the wiping over 8 weeks instead of wiping over 2 weeks like it would be if it were a shorter fight.
One of the biggest issues with long fights is that it makes the guilds that play less often feel as if it it taking them longer to do everything, even if attempts wise, it was not really taking longer.
Longer fights are hurting the casual raiding guild in many ways. It is making them feel like they are getting nothing accomplished. It is making them feel like it is going to take months to down something it should be taking them weeks to down. And that is huge and that is hurting.
It is only a small piece of the puzzle but one that started when 10s and 25s were combined and now it seems to be getting worse because many people need new raiders and pugging with that extra lock out was always the bet way to get them.
Having separate lockouts allowed for more chances to get people into raiding. My attempts at forming the 25 man would probably go a hell of a lot better if the mains from the other two teams could be in it. It would allow for the possibility to down more bosses and get more people gear.
The lock out issue is a huge recruitment loss for many guilds. We used to use pugs to find new players. Can't any more. Need to save the mains for our group. So no chance to meet new people and see what they can do.
Lockouts might only be a small piece of the puzzle but I believe it is hurting the casual guild by keeping them from running extra to carry some wanna be raiders or meet and recruit some new people that need to catch up. Two lock outs would really help in both aspects and the casual guilds can sure use the help.
Seriously. I just said loot. 10 man, and more so for the casual guilds, needs to be smarter loot. I've heard it so many times and experienced it even more when you kill a boss and you only get drops that are for offspec or drops that no one can even use.
One of the ways the casual guild gets past some road blocks is from loot. They gear up so they can over power it. Gear can, to some extent, compensate for skill. If your guild is stuck on a boss because "if only the tank had more life" or "the healers were not oom half way through" or "we could push some better DPS out" then there are two options to fix that. Get better or get loot. If they are a casual guild and this is the skill level they play at they are not about to get better quickly so that leaves only one option, get loot.
Hard to get loot when it seems that every boss drops something for a holy paladin and there is no holy paladin in the group. Wouldn't you say?
Smart loot would really help the casual guild. If there are no elemental shaman, don't drop elemental gear. If there are no plate tanks, stop with the dodge plate. If there is no holy paladin, leave the spirit plate out of the equation. But if there is a rogue, a monk, a druid and a hunter, perhaps up the chance of the agility trinket dropping. Maybe?
There are so many posts on the forums out there where people that have been killing the first boss in ToT for weeks and can not get past the dinosatan just wishing they had better luck with drops. A few pieces of gear can really make the difference. If you have ever raided in the casual environment you know that. What your healer can put out at 485 and at 510 is leaps and bounds different. Gear is how casual guilds get past content they have problems with. It is like self buffing. Instead of adding a 10% raid wide debuff, they kill bosses for a month, get everyone some gear, and they are 10% stronger, and that is how they beat things. It doesn't happen if the loot doesn't drop.
Smart loot would really help the casual guild because having to disenchant holy paladin gear, thunderforged at that, each and every week is really hurting the casual guilds that might be a little better if only an agility trinket dropped.
Hot topic coming here. The LFR is hurting casual guilds. While I do think this goes both ways, the LFR is also helping casual guilds, is the help it is giving enough to outweigh the hurt it is causing?
First lets go over the ways the LFR is helping the casual guilds. Loot, see above, while not as good as the real raid, it does give an alternative method to get some gear to help get past those road blocks. Secondly, it gives the casual guild a chance to get comfortable with a fight in easy mode before they get to it in the real thing. Lets face it, after seeing all those stones drop from the ceiling at the turtle in 25 man LFR a few times when you get there with your 10 man on normal you can't help but think, wow, this is so much easier to avoid in 10 man. And last but not least, LFR allows more people to see the raid content, which is turn justifies them making more raid content quicker. So if you get stuck on a boss for an extended period, there will be a new raid out sooner than later and you can just forget about it. It is what a vast majority of guilds did when they were stuck last tier. Just move to ToT and forget that wall ever existed.
So why is it bad for the casual guild?
There are many skilled players, as in skilled enough for making normals easy, that have just said it was no longer worth the time, they will just do the LFR. I've experienced it, and have seen other say it, that many casual raiders are just turning to the LFR as their source of raiding instead of trying to find a casual raid guild that would be suitable for them.
That is just part of it. Another part is that the LFR is tainting the player base. The people that never raided now think this is what raiding is. They come into a casual raid team and expect to down the entire raid in one night with only one or two wipes because that is how it is done in the LFR.
It is also the instant kill design where as long as half the team knows what they are doing you will never wipe on most fights. Peoples tolerance for wiping is going down. Add that to point #2 and you have an explosive combination for players not wanting to be part of a real raid.
Right now the only thing keeping me, and many others like me, even raiding the real raid is the fact that we like raiding and who we play with. That reason, and the loot reason for some, is the only thing holding people in normal raids. Otherwise the desire to slay internet dragons can easily be satisfied with a random group in random content and for many that is enough.
The LFR is hurting the casual raid guilds in many way from tainting the player base that used to feed it and make it survive to lowering the skill, desire and work ethic of the people that do come from it to step into the real thing.
Anding for the heroic raid people that think this does not matter to them, ask yourself where your future heroic raiders come from. The normal raids. If the people are not going up from the LFR to normal they won't be there to go up from the normal to heroic. Do you really want to recruit your next heroic player from the LFR because those are the only logs they have? Sure, it could work. Sure, there could be some great people there, but no. Just no. The LFR is bad for the casual guilds.
6) Being Casual:
The bane of the casual guild since the beginning of time is the label of being casual. It means many things to many people but each casual guild is its own entity. My casual guild is casual in the sense that we only do 2 hour raids. Not really the greatest for huge raids like ToT, but we will be happy with doing 3-6 bosses a week just fine. Some casual guilds raid whenever there are enough on. Some casual guild call themselves casual but they are not content unless they are doing heroic content, at least the easy bosses. It is a wide range. But they all have one thing in common, they all want the mode they play in to mean something.
Normal modes seem like heroic light to many, see #1. It feels like an extra step to even more. Many people, new players and wanna be raiders, think that you move from the LFR to heroics. It is as if normal modes no longer have a place.
The casual raiders, because of that, now feel as if they are players without a home. When we finish normal we get a feat of strength now, not even an achievement. When you get an achievement for doing the LFR and one for doing heroics but not for normal can you blame people for thinking that normal no longer has its place in the game?
Normals where and should remain for the casuals. The ones I mentioned. The ones that raid whenever there is someone on be it three nights in one week or none for a month. The ones that raid for 2 or 3 hours a night once a week. The ones who burn through normal and then attempt heroics here and there but revert to normal just to get some kills in. Even the ones that go in and wipe over and over on the first boss.
There are so many different casual types of guilds and normal is their stomping grounds. As long as blizzard considers them nothing special, as noted by the lack of an achievement for finishing them, or heroic light, as noted by the difficulty for many guilds out there, normal mode really does not have a place in the game right now.
If there is anything hurting casual guilds more than the others, this could very well be it. The sum of all the previously mentioned facts means that there is no casual form of raiding any more. At least not an attractive one for the masses to want to raid in an assembled group but are not skilled enough to be high end. Being casual in and of itself is one of the things that is hurting the casual guild. As if blizzard want everyone either doing the LFR or doing heroic raiding. Normals need to find their place again, and that should be the casual place.
I have been lucky considering I am on a near dead server and I still get to raid at all. I get a small bit of progression, even if behind what we are used to, but we are growing and moving forward. I have a reason to log in and raid. It is worth it most of the time. But for many out there it isn't and that is what is hurting the casual guilds. It just doesn't seem worth it for them to raid any more and I can't say I blame them.
What do you think is hurting the casual raiding community?