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Between a rock and a hard place > when casuals want to become core

The sign says it all…

I’ve had this ‘insidious’ feeling of anxiety building over the past few weeks that I just haven’t been able to put a cause to. But with MoP now only days away, I’ve finally figured out what’s been scratching away at the back of my mind…

What will happen to our guild on launch week?

Having been a WoW player since 2008, I’ve seen my share of tiers and expansions, and the inevitable comings and goings of raiders over time. This experience tells me that Insidious could (potentially) be in for a challenge in a little over a week.

The great thing about our guild is that we have non-raiders, social members, casual raiders and (hard)core raiders all actively engaging with each other through various interests. They talk about stats and gems. They talk about addons *rolls eyes*. They are beginning to talk about class changes, and theorycraft. On rolling a new character, they ask questions of people with that class as a main, and they get cogent, helpful answers without any elitist epeen. They tell dirty jokes in guild chat while the core team is raiding, often leading to outbursts of laughter and spitting of wine in vent (*note to self – turn guild chat off during raids – your keyboard can’t take much more wine abuse!).

They roll outrageous panda names ‘Huflungpoo & Yooflungpoo’ on placeholder characters, run to Stormwind and get all up in the grill of some Enigma players outside the AH.

The offending soon-to-be-panda trolls at the scene of the crime…

This is the magical mystery woofer – afk as usual…

On that note, does anyone know of an addon that can enable players to see the main of someone on an alt? This woofer worgen we were taunting was a truly magical being, as he went quiet for a bit, then came out with ‘Genowen & Finia, huh.’

uh oh, busted.

“YOU’RE A MAGICAL WOOFER MYSTERY WORGEN! PLEASE DON’T TELL MY GM, OR I’LL HAVE TO KICK MYSELF IN THE ASS!!”

He found out our mains from our little baby pandas-in-waiting?! What the, Mr Magical Mystery Worgen!! Does anyone know of where this trickery originates?

*cough* ok, back on topic. I just had to ask if anyone knows how he did it.

All this shows that we promote a guild culture where it’s the people, not the progression status, that keeps everyone logging in. Everyone has value – hell, that’s why they’re in the guild!

With a 3-night raid schedule, being a lootmaster currently trying to get her non-math brain around implementing an EPGP loot system, and the additional responsibilities being an active GM requires, I sometimes feel a bit ‘stretched’ to do what I do best – getting to know every member of the guild through actually spending time with them, doing what they want to do. (Wanna kill a world boss? No problem, even if the whale shark DID kill us 10 times last time)! I have a feeling it’s about to step up a notch.

Here is where the rock and a hard place comes in…

What happens when casuals want to become core?

I’m blessed to be part of a great guild of people who range in age from 16 to 50+ (the 16 year old LIED TO ME! but we let him stay, as a pet. And we tease him, mercilessly), and I’ve had the great pleasure of 5-manning, raiding, pvping and being a general dingleberry with all of them. All have varying schedules for their WoW time, and that often impacts on the content they consume in-game. Over the course of cataclysm, we’ve seen various core raiders take a step back for real life stuff, and we’ve recruited to fill the gaps.

What we have right at this moment is a highly competitive raid team that have been playing together long enough to have developed that x-factor of raiding – group synergy. We’re running a core roster of 14-15 on progression content, and we’re planning a second ‘casual’ team for Saturday afternoons in MoP so that guildies with more limited schedules can still access current content through a more relaxed approach. We’ve pre-planned as much as is humanly possible, but there will always be a curve ball we didn’t anticipate.

There will always be players who really WANT to play in the core team, but who just can’t commit to 3 solid nights of raiding. They always have the best of intentions, but there are some people you just know can’t realistically commit. Also:

  • Some won’t be happy with what they see as a ‘B’ team, even though that team can be just as competitive on a more limited schedule – it just takes more planning and preparation.
  • Some will push for a core spot based on time in guild, history, raid composition etc, and will be very vocal when they’re politely declined.
  • Some have only recently started playing the game, and don’t have the experience needed for progression content – these guys would benefit most from a casual team.
  • Some simply don’t have the reaction speed required to raid competitively, even though we love them to death.

It’s always a tricky situation to be in. Do you:

  • prioritise skill over friendship?
  • make contribution to progression during the most recent tiers a requirement?
  • prioritise friendship over skill?
  • ignore all history, and create an optimal core team from a pool of classes and skill sets?

Grrr… arrrgh…

It’s really doing my head in. It’s important to keep my guild as happy as possible, but it’s impossible to please everyone. I’ve made some big long posts on the guild forums about our expectations for the core team, which we’ve never done before. It shows how we’re evolving as a ‘core progression raid team’, but doesn’t impact so much on non-raiding or casual guild members.

I think the other part of my anxiety is that I’m anticipating comments along the lines of ‘you’ve gone hardcore, but the guild is ‘social progression’ oriented’. It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t want to hear it that a guild doesn’t have to be forced into being ‘one thing’. Our experience during Cataclysm taught us:

  • that truly difficult content (think t11 pre-nerfs in 346 gear) will always bring the committed players to light
  • that when the going gets tough, the dedicated members will see it through, and the casuals will drop off
  • that if someone was once Horde, they will likely return to the Horde side when you’re at a progression road block to chase that boss kill – once a Hordie, always a Hordie *evil grin*
  • that people all have a different idea of what ‘hardcore’ is – some think it’s time investment or heroic v/s normal content, others think it’s mentality
  • that people will get upset when they’re not included in the core run, but will also understand why when it’s communicated properly
  • that Malfurion is a sexy beast, and needs to get rid of Tyrande…
  • that our first crack at a formal loot system via Konfer Suicide Kings really didn’t work for serious progression; in fact, it favoured and even sometimes encouraged casuals/casual behaviour
  • that most of our more casual guildies are laid back about raiding, and are happy to fill in when they’re online or sit out farming gold by dancing on a mailbox or trolling guild chat for lols
  • that there are plenty of fun things to do outside of PVE raiding, and it’s only going to get better in MoP.

Now do you see why I feel so freaking anxious?!

And what about returning players??!!

Returning players – I LOVE them! Our ‘retired’ rank is rather overstuffed at this point, and Mortigen mentioned to me over the weekend that we should probably have a clean out of people who hadn’t logged in for over a year, but I just. couldn’t. do. it. I believe my immediate and vehement response was something along the lines of:

‘NO! They might come back one day! I don’t want them to feel all alone and be guildless if they log back in.’

I just get so excited when an old friend logs on out of the blue after a long absence, but it always brings its own set of challenges for the officers to manage:

  • established groups will change as a result of shifts in the guild’s social dynamics, potentially leading newer members of the guild to feel marginalised through the lack of ‘history’ old friends share
  • raid spots in the core team are already competitive, and good players are hard to find. There could be pressure to include a returning player over an existing raider for various composition/skill reasons
  • people returning after progression has commenced who are behind on the gear curve and need extra help.

My tentative approach is going to be to err on the side of caution until people hit level 90 and are geared for raiding. We have made the expectations clear, and we plan to enforce that, even if it means delaying our start to progression. This includes initially saying that returning players or people who haven’t raided t12/13 won’t have any priority for core spots.

The people who have done the hard yards recently are those who ‘officially’ get priority, and I think that’s a good thing – it rewards those who have gone the distance with us through a challenging expansion.

We plan on getting a second team up and running, which will also help the core roster with being able to rotate experience in and out of the casual team. We’ve done all we can, and now it’s up to the gods to see what happens.

How about you? What do you think the challenges will be for your guild in MoP?

8 responses to “Between a rock and a hard place > when casuals want to become core

  1. I think* the way to recognise alts is to look at the toon’s achievements, as account wide stuff should show. Not sure though.

  2. Heh, as one of the casuals who wishes to return to more raids I’ll offer this confirmation (which I think you already know) – Keep the core raiders as who they are! Any switch risks the people who are doing the job at the moment, and that is not fair on them at all.
    The new arrivals, returning players, fire standers and myself will have to earn a place.
    As you said there is a huge amount to do in the game soon, and the early content will be playable by a much larger range of our players because it will be the first tier of raids.
    There is also nothing stopping a 2nd team, or a pug team, or whatever from starting. We had the same issue many years ago, and switching shit around caused chaos.

  3. Ram ⋅

    Of course it would be achievements. It would be very easy to find that information. You can turn that off in the options so it only shows achievements earned on the actual character, but I’m guessing you forgot to do that :)

  4. Sal

    HAHA! You found out about Pepsi! I have been sitting on that one for a very long time.

  5. Did a little Google searching while at work, its turned off for each toon, not globally. Must be an option so that trolls can troll.

  6. Genowen

    oh yay! *let the trolling continue…*

  7. Navimie

    Tough decisions! I hope whatever you decide to do it doesn’t cause you too much stress – though I know that whichever path you choose, it will be full of heartache either way. But you’re tough Gen, I am sure hordies will log in to give you support every now and then :D

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