I have a strange topic inside me, that I am going to try and let out this morning. It has been growing there for some time, but wasn’t exactly sure how it would take shape… that is until yesterday and a small conversation with some awesome folks on twitter. For years now I have seen a tendency to discount raid experience that is not in the hardest possible mode of a game. Now granted this is more of a World of Warcraft thing than any other game… because even in say Final Fantasy XIV folks unanimously agree that “Savage” anything is pure madness. Over the years I have seen so many statements to the equivalent of “but I am only raiding normal” and hell I have found myself doing the same, to underpin that my experiences might not be as intense or serious as those of others. When it starts to get under my skin however is when folks treat it in a way that individuals not raiding in the deepest end of the pool, or not raiding at all… are somehow poor players or otherwise flawed. I realize this is really strange timing considering I spent last night getting drug through Heroic Hellfire by some friends… who are genuinely awesome and very skilled players.
Where I would love to take the conversation when it comes to raiding is not towards a direction of player skill, but instead about one of personal preference and prioritization. It always feels like players expect to be either immediately and magically good at raiding… or to be forever relegated to the back burner of LFR. I would wager a bet that very few active raiders right now are in that “prodigy” territory, in that they were simply born awesome at video games… and never have to put in any work. Instead I would continue to wager that most active Mythic raiders got through through an extended sequence of learning their class and cutting their teeth on less difficult content until they developed the skill package necessary to reach their goal of raiding the highest difficulty. So when I see a server first or god forbid a world first…. I don’t immediately think “my god these are a bunch of naturally talented people”, I instead think “these are a bunch of folks that really put in a bunch of training and effort, and devoted a significant chunk of their life to completing this goal”. It becomes a matter of personal preference, and prioritization of their activities to meet those goals.
A Team Sport
The truth about raiding is that personal skill in itself doesn’t get you terribly far, especially as you escalate your way through the difficulty curve. Competing in difficult raid content, means you need to be effective as a group… not just effective as individuals. It becomes less about making sure you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing… and instead about making sure that you are doing what you are supposed to be doing and also at the same time supporting the goals of the team as a whole. Over the years I’ve personally raided at several different levels in this game… with everything from cutting edge progression, to casual Sunday afternoon romps in raid zones. In all cases… I was the same person playing behind the keyboard with the same skills and the same abilities. What changed between the various modes was the amount of focus I was forced to give the game experience, and at the same time the amount of time I had to spend outside of game doing research and planning. In my more serious forays into raiding, I would spend several hours a week pouring over logs… reading various theory-craft forums… all to see if I could squeeze a little bit more out of my game play to lower the margins on the next fight and make it that much closer to a victory.
Basically where I want to go with this is that I feel like as players we need to change how we talk about raiding. Each tier of raiding requires more commitment from the player, and quite honestly… you have to assess where your happy place is. Having experienced lots of different raiding difficulties over the years, I have come to realize that “serious” and “focused” raiding is not my thing. That does not mean I am some how defective, and that I lack the ability to do serious or focused raiding. It simply means that the risk versus reward equation of the amount of “stuff” that I have to do, and the amount of schedule prioritization that is required to make that serious commitment… is not worth the amount of “enjoyment” that I receive from it. I absolutely respect anyone who is raiding serious content, and I tip my hat to the awesome folks that drug me along last night, and I tried my best to stay focused and avoid doing bad things that would hurt the raid. Even though last night was very much a “roflstomp” occasion, since that group has long since moved on to Mythic raiding… it still required enough focus for me to simply not want to do it on a nightly basis.
Honestly I think the group I was raiding with last night is the perfect illustration that raiding simply takes a lot of hard work. While they have technically progressed past Heroic Hellfire Citadel, they are showing up and putting in time to help gear folks that are new to the team, knowing that the gear will be necessary to reach the performance levels needed to succeed in the later Mythic fights. It is not that they somehow magically transformed into Super Saiyans or somehow unlocked their “final raider form” between defeating Heroic Archimonde and starting Mythic. Instead they put in a lot of hard work, and time working through the content… time that they continue to put in trying to pull up the gear level of players to increase the performance. I would never want to somehow discount how important that hard work is, or how awesome the accomplishment of reaching that point as a raid is. What I do what to change is to somehow remove the judgement from the way WoW players in general talk about raid modes. It is a double edged sword, because for bad seed that is calling anyone not raiding what happens to be raiding a “Scrub” or “Trash”… there are dozens of people that well tell themselves that they are simply not “good enough” to do that content.
I would love us to reach a point where we can be okay with the choices of other players. Looking for Raid is awesome for example, because it allows you to see raid like content without putting in any effort. Normal mode is also awesome because it lets you see legitimate raid content without having to focus quite so hard on optimization, and is this great sweet spot when it comes to raiding with your friends. Heroic is also great because it ratchets up the difficulty significantly and requires both team coordination and personal focus to defeat it. Finally Mythic is that place where it requires you to take everything that you have learned and removes the margin of error to a point where you have to execute flawlessly as a team to really get through it. All of those modes have their places, and I don’t begrudge anyone for choosing to stop at a specific step on the ladder. I know personally the highest mode I would ever be willing to raid for example is Heroic, and I am perfectly comfortable with that decision. I am also perfectly comfortable with anyone deciding that the raid game simply isn’t for them… and that they would rather be crafting, or PVPing, or farming Transmog bits… because we all know the real end game is looking amazing. The best feature that World of Warcraft has going for it, is the simple fact that it has so many different things for players to be doing with their time. However it is you choose the spend your time is awesome, because ultimately it is you that needs to decide what makes you happy.
Like a Bandit
Lastly I wanted to thank once again Pugnodeum and the whole Praetorian Guard crew for letting me ride along last night. I had a blast, and made out like a bandit picking up the scraps that no one needed. These are folks who have worked hard to be able to make this content look so easy, and at the same time they are pretty chill about the whole experience or at least have been on the few runs I have now been on with them. This mornings post was not in any way a reference to my experiences last night, but instead something that had kinda been percolating for awhile in my brain… then was dislodged by some discussion on twitter yesterday. I have nothing but respect for the amount of devotion it takes to get where they are in the game, and last Saturday after getting my moose I stayed on the stream to quietly cheer them on in their Mythic Kilrogg attempts. I will continue to be excited for them as they move through the Mythic progression and am amped to know that several of my friends are there with them. As far as me last night… I made out extremely well…. which should help out our significantly more casual raid that we are in the process of pulling together. One that will once again see me return to tanking on the warrior instead of being the goofy gladiator dps thing that I have been doing up until this point.
This is all the cool shit I ended up with…