As this week begins to pass I look forward to next week when the world or raiding changes once again for my guild. The last time we experienced a change to the raiding face this large it was the end of wrath when they decided that 10 man and 25 man raids would share a lock out. This is still the single worst change to the face of raiding in the history of the game, in my opinion of course.
At the beginning of cataclysm we lost a great deal of players. In part to how dreadfully horrible of an expansion that cataclysm was, but also because of the shared lock outs between 10 and 25 man. I am hoping we do not see a repeat of that when this change takes place. But I don't think we will. Blizzard is adding this time, not taking away.
In a strange sort of way they are bringing back two lockouts but with two difficulties, not to sizes. But will flex and normal/heroic not being shared lock outs be a bad thing? I already hear people talking about burn out and they have not even done it yet.
But with each good there is bad in everything. My guild, walking into the next patch, is in a place it has not been for a long time and I am having trouble deciding what exactly I am going to do as far as raid schedule goes.
At the beginning of the tier we were your average struggling raid guild with only one tank meaning I needed to tank a lot and two of our three healers dreadfully under geared due to bad luck with drops and them not working as hard as they should have to make up for that bad luck with valor gear.
We struggled, like everyone else, with horridon. Three shaman healers, one tank rotating all the time, and no one to fill in for the massive loss of a damage dealer that me tanking left open. We worked our way through it. You know how it goes if you ever raided. You have to figure out what works for you and we did. In time.
During that time guilds started folding left and right on the server and our guild was the only guild on the server that was not classified, by themselves, as hardcore. We raided for 2 hours one night a week and sometimes 2 nights if we had enough on. About as casual as you could get.
In time we started to absorb the lost souls looking for a place to be and we expanded, seemingly over night. I started a 25 man team as my 10 man started to get further in. It was not long after that we had a second 10 man running.
At this point we have three 10 man teams and a 25 man team. Our 25 man is not so great of course because of the shared lock out thing in some cases. But we are still good enough to make it top 1000 in the US, which is not really saying much, so please do not take that as tooting my horn. When there are only 2000 25 man guilds to begin with it just means we are middle of the pack, the average casual raiding guild. Basically nothing special.
Now with flex on the horizon I am looking at what I might set up for our raid schedule next tier, which is only a week away and it seems like it will be a huge task, an undertaking I am not completely sure I can handle. We will be moving from a guild that was doing one or two organized raids a week to a guild that has enough people do be doing 4 raids, on different lock outs, and now flex in the same week.
10s, 25s, and Flex, Oh My
The main 10 man:
The main 10 man team is basically a core of people that have been together since firelands. We have added 2 new people to the 13 man mix this tier and both have been exceptionally huge additions. Some of those people go back a little further, but none of them are left from wrath. It is the way things change. The fact that the majority of the players have been together since firelands is amazing for a casual guild to being with.
While we will never compete for server firsts and are not a heroic group, I think the reason the group does okay is because we have been together so long. Sometimes that really helps on fights where a lot of coordination is needed as there is usually very little that needs to be said. When there is a fight where we need to split into three groups, they already know their groups without me even needing to say anything. There is something to be said about playing with the same people for so long. Sometimes what me might lack in skill a bit we can make up for in communication to compensate.
That group will be moving directly into 10 normal. They will of course go on flex runs, more gear is always better, and anything that gets you gear and keeps you out of the LFR is welcome to all the people involved.
The second 10 man:
This group is basically made up of the people from the main 10 that are sitting that week and some of the best of the people we have recently picked up with all the other guilds going down. While this group is the newest to our mix they have the potential to be a very powerful team.
It includes probably the most experienced raider in the guild currently based on time and content seen when current. He has been around longer and raided harder than most people and is still a quality player. Along with him come two husband and wife teams. One is team is clearly better than the other but both are normal capable. I just have some worries about one of the four as they can't seem to find a character they are comfortable playing, but they are willing to learn and put in the effort and will fill any role needed. So that makes up for some of it. I've been spending some time with him teaching him how to tank recently.
I am leaving this group in the capable hands of an ex raid leader I recruited back in cataclysm. I had met them in wrath back when his guild was having issues in ICC and I joined them in 10s, as I was doing 25s and we had separate lock outs, and I helped him get his 10 man through some rough patches. So when his guild folded early on in cataclysm he quit the game. When he came back he joined us. He has raid lead experience and had ran the second 10 man I had back in DS. So he is more than capable of handling the job.
I will not be joining this group unless it is required as a fill in on one of my alts. Like the main 10 man the fill ins will be picked from the people that do the best over all with the gear they have. We use the 25 and soon the flex to evaluate the new people. We do not look at numbers over all, we look at numbers based on gear level and awareness, attendance and ability to listen.
The best players in the group might not always be the ones that the average player looks at and thinks is the best. Case and point, when I needed a fill in for my 10 a few weeks ago I grabbed someone that most might not even have noticed was in the 25. He did amazing and has been driven to get even better now.
This group will also be looking to enter into normals as soon as the patch comes out as they are more than capable of it.
The third 10 man:
This group was actually the second 10 man formed. It is basically comprised of someone that wanted to do something on the weekends with some of his friends and family. Of course it was green lit and being we had so many members, thanks to running 25s, he was more than welcome to work with them.
It was only a short time before he effectively alienated nearly everyone he offered to run with him. Almost every time someone runs with him I get a whisper shortly after saying they do not want to run with him any more.
Even three people left his group, and the guild, to find a better raid team. I guess they did not want to wait on the 25 to get better and they knew there would never really be a place for them in my 10 man, as their attitude did not fit my team mentality. They were basically people that were completely elitist in mentality while still lacking in skill. Oddly enough, they fit the team they left personality wise, as that is the reason that the raid leader for that team is alienating everyone that runs with him.
I will still offer tactical support to that group as I will help them with strategy, I will help craft their people gear if they need it. I will provide potions, flasks, food, and whatever else they need. But I will not run with them. Not any more. Almost my entire 10 man has run with them and nearly every single one of them came back after the run and said never again.
So this third 10 man team, while part of our guild, is effectively on their own by their own doing. Instead of embracing people they scare them away. Like last week when they needed a damage dealer one of the elemental shaman in the guild offered to help even if he did not feel like raiding. There are so many great team players willing to do stuff like that in my guild, that is why I love them.
When the run was done they told the shaman he would no longer we welcome back and they will not be needing him next week. Okay, he is 12/12 and that group could not down the 3rd boss, he was top DPS, brought the food for everyone and supplied it after each wipe, and helped when he would have rather not went just for the guild because he is a team player and you tell him he is no longer welcome with you? Now you understand how he is alienating people?
This group has intentions of starting on normal but I really do not see it happening for them. They only got 5 down and they were raiding for a long time. And the only time they got 3, 4 or 5 down were when they had 3 (or more) people from my 10 man filling in for them. Otherwise they never got past the 3rd boss. So I do not expect much from them normal mode and will try my best to convince their raid leader to start them in flex only. That is where they should be.
I believe, if he can find a team to stick with, and he does flex they can meld and begin to get better as a group and do just fine in time, but as it stands, this group is the perfect example of what flex raiding was made for. Normals are just a tad too hard for them. Perhaps if they finish off flex a few times they can move up to normals and become better players as a team. That would be great, and perhaps offer them a taste of the humility they need, as that elitist attitude is not a good thing to have, even less so when you have no reason to have that attitude. Flex is where they should be.
The 25 man team:
Speaking of where they should be, the 25 man should be in flex as well and will be starting there. A mix of players from all three groups on alts and some others from guild the group is not half bad. It suffered a late late start and really slow progression but downing the turtle for the first time a couple of weeks ago and meg for the first time the week before last, it finally seems like they are making some progression. Heck, 5 bosses in one night for a 2 hour raid team like this is very good in my opinion, I am very proud of them.
Sure, we have some knowledgeable people in the group which helps but three of the six healers are still not even 510, one is sitting at 486, and many of the damage dealers wouldn't know 90K if you hit them in the head with it. The group still needs a lot of work and I think that is where flex will come in.
It will allow those behind in gear to catch up and it will get them some valuable learning experiences in an organized group setting. I am looking forward to "learning with them" instead of "teaching them". When I had done all the fights already in 10 man it was a matter of me teaching them but being this is new content and we will all be experiencing it together for the first time we will be learning with each other.
This will be an amazing time to evaluate the skill of all these new players I have seen coming in and out week after week. This is the beauty of flex.
Another one of the best things about flex is that it will make our 25 man team a hell of a lot better. Before we could not just tell people "you are not good enough to be here" because how would they get better. We use the 25s mans to train for the 10s being 25s are so much easier to carry people in. Now with flex we can tell them, you are not ready to step up to 25 which means I will try to fill the 25s with 25 ready people instead of 18 ready people and 7 people we are teaching each week.
So the 25 man will start off in flex, but I think it has room to grow and maybe we can start normals on 25 a few weeks after the patch comes out. In reality I am hoping to see the 25 in normals within a month at worst.
I am glad for flex, because that is the level I believe the 25 needs to be raiding at. It is not quite ready to jump from normal to normal like the two 10 mans will. But jumping from normal to flex then back to normal seems to be exactly what the doctor ordered just like the third 10 man team.
What has become of the raid week:
From a guild that was doing one or two nights a week at most we will now be running 7 days a week with multiple runs on weekends. With the influx of new people and the addition of flex, I can see how this could very much mean burn out for a lot of people.
I am trying to limit my game play to keep myself from burning out too. I am running the main 10 and the 25 but I will leave the rest in the capable hands of the other people in the guild. We currently have 6 ex raid leaders, some of very successful teams in the past. I am not to big to just stand aside and let them do whatever they can do wishing them the best of luck because after all anything any of us achieve we achieve as a team.
The way it looks now is that we will be running flex at least 4 days a week, maybe 5. The main 10 will be doing 2 days, second and third 10 one day each and the 25, at some point, hopefully 2 nights a week. That means upwards of 11 raids a week. Most likely more at the start as I am sure on the weekend we can easily get extra flex groups going to gear up alts being there will be no other way to get alts gear now unless you really enjoy abusing yourself using the looking for raid.
Sometimes it just seems like too much going on all at once and I am not sure how I feel about that. I like that there is a lot going on, but I do not like that it all feels like I "have to" do it just to keep up. I still believe that normals should have been lowered in difficulty for the lesser players instead of another tier being added. But this might work being it is on a different lockout.
I like the addition of flex because it really suits where I believe the 25 man should be but I am extremely worried for what the ramifications might turn out to be because of it. Only time will tell, but looking at it now all I can say is 10s, 25s and flex, oh my.
How will flex change the way your raid? More or less, or change of venue? Do you think you will pug with flex or burn out because of it?
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