Overselling Difficulty

My FFXIV raid group is now caught up to current content, and we’re tackling Ravana Extreme now. People who have done the fight before us have said things like “our raid skipped it because it was too hard” and “prepare to wipe a lot”. Needless to say, a goodly number of us were a bit leery about what to expect.

Overselling Difficulty

We dipped into the raid after a quick, 45-minute full clear of Alexander, and spent about 45 minutes on three or four attempts at Ravana. We didn’t beat it, but we got to the point where we’d seen all of the mechanics; getting the boss down to about 65% on our best attempt.

Overall, the much-touted difficulty was… somewhat underwhelming. It’s possible I’ll eat my words if we wipe constantly on it for the next few months, but I highly doubt that’s going to happen. It’s a dance fight, and the dance is slower and less instantly brutal than things we’ve done before. As much as I’m not thrilled at jumping into Alexander (Savage), it looks like a thing we’re likely to be doing unless another raid or set of raids comes out relatively soon.

I’ve never terribly enjoyed the “harder version of a raid you’ve already done” design path, although I understand why it’s good for increasing the shelf life of content. I’m a fan of harder, max-level versions of dungeons where the story, enemies, and bosses are completely different, but “the same thing but harder” has never really held a lot of appeal for me. If it’s the only thing left to do, I suppose there’s nothing for it, but I’m not thrilled at the prospect of grinding the same two existing dungeons for weeks to get geared up to do a harder version of a raid I’ve already beaten.

Overselling Difficulty

This is, of course, the downside of being on the front edge of content– there’s an effort-to-return curve that gets worse and worse the closer you get to consuming all of the content, and FFXIV is more than happy to dangle brutally difficult “savage” content for the truly hardcore. Not being truly hardcore, I don’t have the same drive to burn through that stuff.

On the other hand, I’m not going to be heartbroken about not beating Savage Alex the way I was going to be sad if we hadn’t completed the Binding Coil of Bahamut. I don’t have much problem milling around in Savage Alex until the next bit of content comes out, though, and as we progress through the next tier of content, Savage Alex will be a little less brutal, and we can go back and clear it at a more leisurely pace. I’m kind of hoping we can leapfrog content through this expansion, since we raid at a somewhat more sedate pace than other groups.

It’s been nice to settle into a routine with multiple raid groups in the guild. The ‘original’ Monday night raid is the more casual of the two raids, and the Wednesday night has quickly gotten a reputation for being the more hardcore. Until recently, they were further progressed in Heavensward content than we were, having beaten Bismark Extreme a week or so ahead of us and (I believe) working on Savage Alexander and Ravana EX. We caught up with them after beating the rest of Coil (old, level-50 content), but we’ve since closed the gap if memory serves.

Overselling Difficulty

People in the FC who really want a hardcore experience have an outlet in both the Wednesday night raid and external statics, which a bunch of people do, which has given us the ability to stay pretty casual in our raids. My hope is that we can start bringing new folks through cool content on Monday nights, especially if we run out of new things to do.

As both guild leader and one of the raid leaders, it’s been sort of a balancing act for me– I want to make sure everyone in the guild is getting the experience they want, but I haven’t wanted to over-commit myself and be forced to lead a “cutting edge” group that I don’t have a lot of interest in. I’ve been happy that Mor has stepped up to run that group, and also that some of the Monday night folks who want to raid more than once a week have the opportunity to do so with Mor’s group.

We have enough people in the guild that it might be time to start looking for a third raid night– this has classically been Saturday afternoon (before podcast), but attendance is often pretty low for that. There’ve been some ad-hoc groups that get rolling, and I think we might have enough people to make a regular Saturday raid possible. It might be a group who can start by going back to old Coil and getting a feel for working together in there. As usual, the trick is finding a raid leader for the group– I can get it off the ground but I’m not going to be able to be around every Saturday to run it.

Overselling Difficulty

who might i have in mind? (art by slipgatecentral on deviantart)

I recognize that it’s not something I’m willing/able to take on myself, and previously I would have felt like a failure as a guild leader for not bearing that load on my shoulders, but having done it before I know it’d burn me out, and if I’m burned out I’m serving no one. Part of the success of the guild in FFXIV is that important stuff is delegated to a variety of people, and if any single person isn’t around the whole thing keeps ticking. I certainly don’t have control over the whole thing, but I’m okay with that, because the organization is more than just mine. As long as people are happy, things are going well, and my job is more to be proactive and start thinking about solutions to problems before they crop up.

It’s a system that works pretty well, and I’d be lying if I said that a lot of it wasn’t borne of my graduate coursework. The two feed off one another, and I feel like my successes in both arenas are due to my participation in the other. I’m a better leader because of being an MBA student, and I’m a better student for having been a leader.

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