Still Very Important

We interrupt your regularly scheduled painful pug discussion to talk about something else near and dear to my heart. (Okay, pugs aren’t always near and dear to my heart, but you know what I mean).

The other morning, I was sitting at my desk working away when I happened to glance over at Twitter. 35 new tweets? Something must have happened. Yes, this had happened.

25 and 10-person raids will now share a raid lockout, and drop the same items.

Maybe I don’t talk about it very often here, since this is where I write about my masochistic aim to heal every Tom, Dick, and Harry of WoW, but I’m the GM of a strict ten-man guild. I wasn’t always the GM so I can’t take credit for conceiving it, but I inherited it a few months ago and it is going strong. I’m even going to blow our own horn for a second and say that we’re 20th in the US for strict tens progression. We’ve done 9/12 heroic modes, we’re working on heroic Putricide and Sindragosa right now. After that, The Lich King! Top twenty is not the absolute pinnacle, but we definitely don’t have anything to be ashamed of when comparing ourselves to other strict tens guilds. Business Time is a hard-mode focused  tens guild full of some of the best players I’ve had the privilege to play WoW with. Moreover, they’re all people who deliberately choose to eschew twenty-fives, although the twenty-fivess offer better loot and more emblems. They said to themselves, “Yes, I could get better loot by going the other route, but that’s not what I want to do.”  For those who might be unfamiliar with it, ten man guilds typically measure progression rankings using Guild Ox’s “strict” ten man definition. Essentially, when you kill a boss on 25-man (in the case of current progression, Marrowgar 25) it puts up a flag for Guild Ox, you’ve had x number of people in the guild kill Marrowgar 25. This was done in order to prevent people “gaming” the system, and it means that we can have a limited number of people in the guild with that achievement (seven or less). Right now we’re sitting at six. Of course it means that those six people can keep running ICC 25 to get gear, but I think only one person in the guild actually does do ICC 25, possibly two.

Staying “strict” hasn’t always been easy. It means that when we’re recruiting people, we have to keep an eye on what they have or haven’t done, because we could inadvertently exclude ourselves from the rankings. Yes, the rankings are just e-peen, but progression raiding has a component of e-peen. It’s part of how we’re able to attract people to join the guild in the first place. “Yes, it’s ‘just’ ten mans, but look! We’re pretty good for people doing ‘just’ ten mans!” Finding folks who want to join a strict tens guild is also not easy. On a few occasions, I’ve gone after adverts on the recruitment forums – people who specify that they want their guild of choice to be running tens because they really enjoy tens, and I’ll say, “Have you thought about a strictly tens guild?” Sometimes, it even works! The rest of the time, people might not be rude enough to laugh in my face, but they may as well be. The underlying understanding is, “Twenty-fives are real raiding,” but I’m often unconvinced that they don’t just mean “Twenty-fives have the best gear drops.”

It’s always been something we emphasized in BT, that we get loot to raid, not the other way around. Committing to tens raiding means giving up any hope of ever seeing that best-in-slot trinket that EJ has shown will maximize your DPS. It means knowing that you’ll have to work twice as hard to get equivalent gear, but you’ll get badges about twice as slowly. It means that when we downed The Lich King on 10-man, with our 10-man gear, it was a huge deal to me. A twenty-five man guild can go strolling in and do the same thing with their better gear, and I’ll be honest, I don’t consider it as great a feat or as big an accomplishment. It just isn’t. When you overgear an encounter you can guarantee heavier healing from your healers, higher DPS overall from your DPS, and greater survivability from your tanks. The encounters are supposedly tuned for the level of gear they reward, and I believe that largely they are.

The DPS requirements for Heroic Saurfang are brutal. The healing is incredibly unforgiving. It’s heroic for a reason, and I’m so proud of our guild for doing as well with the heroic mode challenges as they have done. All strict tens have been asking for is parity; for the recognition that what we do isn’t a joke, that just because it takes fewer people, doesn’t mean that it’s “easy mode.” I would have been willing to accept the same items dropping in tens as in twenty-fives, even with just lower ilevel and stat allocations. People who do strict tens aren’t looking to take anything away from people who’d rather do twenty-fives. I believe that’s true. I wish I could say the same of all the twenty-fives raiders I’ve encountered, concerned with making sure their e-peen is gilded while leaving those of us who have chosen a different path out in the cold.

Yes, I said “different,” different, not lesser. And that’s been our gripe all along. You can argue difficulty levels until you are blue in the face, but I firmly believe that tens place the responsibility for raid success squarely on the shoulders of each and every player. If one of your two healers dies in a ten man, you just lost 50% of your healing. If a DPS dies, you’ve quite likely lost the DPS you needed to beat the enrage timer, unless you completely overgear the instance. Sure, I might think that ten mans are easy too, if I were running them in my 25-man gear. I’m starting to get really great gear now since our guild has been beating hard modes every week. We’re gradually upgrading our T10 pieces to be sanctified, and each time we do it is not a cakewalk. These are hard-won tokens. They drop from Saurfang, a fight difficult enough to punish all but the most on-the-ball raiders – one missed taunt, one blood beast not carefully controlled, and he gains enough blood power that it probably spells a wipe. When he drops a token we have earned it! Likewise with heroic Blood Queen – she’s pumping out a massive amount of damage and with our current raid DPS we make the enrage but only if everyone bites their intended target on time, and nobody screws up.

Understand that I’m not saying “Boo hoo ten mans are so hard, poor us,” not at all. We like them to be hard. I love the challenge of tens, which is to me, a challenge in play and not a Human Resources challenge. I don’t think I even know twenty-four people in real life I would happily say I’d like to spend three hours listening to. Why wouldn’t I want to raid, with people whose company I enjoy, doing content that challenges us? That’s what I’m already doing, and Blizz is recognizing that what we’re doing is valid and worthy of reaping the same rewards for effort expended. Many people have spoken up about this, pretty much every blog I read has weighed in to say something. I’m not looking to be excessively controversial – what it comes down to is that I’m all about having fun in this game, and I don’t want my fun to interfere with that of other people. I think that people who want to do twenty-fives, can and will still do them. If people stop doing twenty-fives because tens are what they enjoyed all along, then there was something broken in the first place, and I just can’t bring myself to feel bad about it. I’ve spent this entire expansion sifting through gear to find “not best-in-slot but good enough” gear I was able to obtain from ten mans, trying to convince potential recruits that tens were worth committing to, and watching people wearing twenty-five man gear steamrolling ten mans and laughing about how easy they are. It gets old. I think this can best be summed up by a whispered conversation I had with a mage on my server.

Mage: Hey, are you guys recruiting?
Me: Yes, but we really only need a heal/dps hybrid right now.
Mage: lol aw damn, I have bandages!
Me: Heh, yeah, I know how it is to be a pure DPS when people mostly want hybrids.
Mage: Well keep me in mind ok?
Me: Yes. You should know though (I had a fair idea that he hadn’t researched us at all at this point) that we’re a strict ten man guild. We only run ten-mans, we never run 25s.
Mage: lol why would u do that
Me: Because we like it.

An irrelevant point is that the mage ended this conversation by saying something like “Good luck /tapthatass” to me… (I really don’t know, don’t ask). But if I never have to have that conversation with anyone again with them asking, “lol why would u do that?” then that in itself will make these changes worth it as far as I’m concerned. I have many reasons for doing that, I’m happy to expound upon them at great length.

28 responses to “Still Very Important

  1. “lol why would u do that” would be a good guild name.

  2. “All strict tens have been asking for is parity; for the recognition that what we do isn’t a joke, that just because it takes fewer people, doesn’t mean that it’s “easy mode.””

    This sings to me. My guild is not even concerned with ranking as much as we have been with just progression with the people we like, but even on the casual end of 10′s, we want parity.

    I really think this is one of the best discussions on the changes I’ve seen. Great job of looking at this from the 10-man raiding guild’s perspective and what the changes should hopefully mean for us!

    • Thanks Alas, I tried to keep it on topic but I think I may have strayed a bit. My point is basically that I’m really, really happy. Or maybe that came through clearly. I’ve become less happy though, as I realize that more and more people are really quite distressed. :(

  3. “All strict tens have been asking for is parity; for the recognition that what we do isn’t a joke, that just because it takes fewer people, doesn’t mean that it’s “easy mode.”

    People who do strict tens aren’t looking to take anything away from people who’d rather do twenty-fives. I believe that’s true. I wish I could say the same of all the twenty-fives raiders I’ve encountered, concerned with making sure their e-peen is gilded while leaving those of us who have chosen a different path out in the cold.”

    ^^THIS!

    I don’t think I realized you were a strict 10 raider as well! And a real serious bzness one like Kae!

    Great thoughts, I think its important for strict 10s to get their views out there. Awesome. <3

    • Thanks Keredria. :D I don’t talk about my raiding as much here (at least not at the moment, maybe when Vid gets to 80 I will…) but I do love my strict tens guild. We’re only serious bzness because we’re Business Time. It makes sense if you’re a Flight of the Conchords fan!

  4. Thank you for your voice and perspective in this discussion. I was hoping you were going to post something because I was in the middle of writing my own post on the subject and annoyed that I could only link to your tweets (which, from what I could tell, not everyone would be able to see). I’m with you on this one, although for rather different reasons. I don’t think it makes sense for a boss to have different pieces of loot and be able to do different things just because it’s facing 25 people rather than 10.

    I really enjoy 10 man runs and I think I would enjoy a strict 10 man guild quite a bit. Unfortunately, it’s a little too late for me for ICC (Trax is decked out in 264 gear, and Jana has downed a few bosses in 25-man mode though I think she just has one 264 drop). Nevertheless, I salute what you do and wish you the best of luck.

  5. Okay, I’m prefacing this by saying that I don’t raid.

    My immediate friends that I play with are cool with that. They raid, and they’re fine that I don’t. My goal is Loremaster and Seeker, something that one blogmate has admitted that he doesn’t have the time or dedication for. For me, however, it’s perfect; I can put in a little bit of time here and there and can even go AFK without causing undue harm to 9 or 24 other people.

    That said, even I can see the 10 vs. 25 mudslinging going on. Perhaps I’m more sensitized to that since I don’t raid, and I’m a bit farther down on the totem than the raiders are. For me, it’s a game, not a job, and the dedication to raiding requires uninterrupted blocks of time that I don’t have. For 25-man raids, you not only need extra time, but time enough to juggle 25 egos and have enough people to go raid with in the first place.

    Some people like it, others don’t. Just because someone doesn’t like 25 man raids doesn’t mean they should be laughed off the planet or belittled for not being a REAL WoW player. Since Blizz is going to eliminate the loot disparity, we’ll see how many of these 25 mans really will stick with it when the loot incentive isn’t there.

    • I think I should have been clearer in my initial post, that the majority of people who might read it have never belittled or demeaned ten-man folks in general or myself in particular. It is a prevailing attitude I have seen, and in the eyes of those of us doing strict tens, one perpetuated by the fact that the rewards and incentive to do ten-mans are so comparatively little. But I’ve talked about this enough, what it comes down to is everyone should have equal opportunity to have fun doing in the game what they like to do. I’d never look down on you for not raiding and preferring to quest towards Loremaster(!) something I haven’t accomplished on any characters myself. :D

      • It is a prevailing attitude I have seen, and in the eyes of those of us doing strict tens, one perpetuated by the fact that the rewards and incentive to do ten-mans are so comparatively little. But I’ve talked about this enough, what it comes down to is everyone should have equal opportunity to have fun doing in the game what they like to do.

        I agree completely. I would also like to see -in addition to the leveling out of the rewards in raiding- more bones thrown in the direction of the questers. Quel’Delar is a great idea that Blizz implemented with ICC, and it would be great to see a few more rewards handed out our way.

        I’d never look down on you for not raiding and preferring to quest towards Loremaster(!) something I haven’t accomplished on any characters myself. :D

        Thanks for the compliment, Vid. I used to think Seeker was harder to get, but given all of the world event quests that come up I think I’ll hit Seeker before Loremaster.

        I rarely see the derogatory statements shoveled my way in the 5-mans I do in LFD, but that’s because I know what I’m doing (now). However, one of the common rips that I’ve seen people use when things go wrong in a heroic 5-man is the classic “your gear score isn’t high enough to handle this instance” comment. Once in a while that segues into the “you don’t even raid, do you?” flamefest, which annoys the crap out of me. When you touched on the occasional stuff you’ve seen -like pst you had in your post or the Twitter person you mentioned- that irked me in just the same way.

        They need to allow you to buy a cluestick in the game so you can thwack the people who think their way is the One True Way to play WoW.

        Snowballs work too, now that I think about it.

  6. I take what I can get in raids, but 10 is my preferred mode. Haven’t figured out what Cataclysm will mean for me personally though.

    Strict-10 is very cool. You should be proud of yourselves!

  7. Just wanted to add grats on the success your 10man raider team has achieved!

    And twas a well written post. Kudos for that.

  8. Found your blog through your comment over at Dreambound, and impressed by your writing. The paladin levelling stuff is a good read but if you feel like putting out more of this sort of content, I’d certainly read it :)

    • Thanks very much! I’m going to be branching out more and more, as I reach 80 the focus of the blog will necessarily shift, and I’ve been enjoying it too much to stop now. Pleased to “meet” you. :)

  9. Hello, it’s me again, the I-wanna-try-pally-healing-again person. I’m taking notes and getting ready to heal on a freshly dual-specced paladin. Excitement is high! :D

    I also wanted to comment on your entry here. Way back when, I was a strict 10-man raider who parted with my guild once they began over-recruiting and taking only the best of the best each week. It was more pressure than I wanted at the time, and I’ve since moved on to a 25-man guild that is now too becoming highly selective. But I’ve yet to see how any 25s raider can scoff at the efforts of a 10-man strict. In 10s, I feel keenly the pressure of each choice I make, the precision or lack thereof on my heals. And while I don’t think I’m slacking in my 25s, I do feel a certain easing of that same pressure; there is a bit more breathing room at times because I have a larger team at my side. In both, there is camaraderie, a shared joy at progression, but I will always fondly look back on my accomplishments in a 10s-strict setting because there was where I learned what being a truly skilled player meant.

    • Thanks for chiming in, Bell, I appreciate hearing the point of view of someone who’s experienced a wide variety of guilds. Of course I appreciate hearing all points of view, but yours is pretty unique. It’s not that either tens or twenty-fives is greater or lesser, just different, at least in my opinion.

      Let me know how it goes with the healing! You’ll be healing at 80 before I will that’s for sure, haha.

  10. I fully approve the change.

    But related to the “lol why would u do that” comment. It’s a valid question. By doing strict 10 mans you give up some potential “power” for a harder challenge. If you like it, go for it. But you can’t expect other people to understand why you voluntarily limit your power.

    You could also raid without any add-on, no boss mod, no grid, no nothing. That would definitely increase difficulty and you would play the game as it was designed. Again, “why would you do that” would be a valid question and most people woulnd’t understand why you would do that.

    By doing strict 10 mans you accept a random rule which makes your game harder. As much as it’s valid to play the game to the rules you enjoy, it’s valid to question the sence of them (and even think that these rules are stupid). It’s, of course, not valid to do that in a rude way.

    • I think Lara covered a possible reply pretty adequately. What you’re saying is exactly why I feel a change is needed. We don’t raid tens because of a “random rule” exactly, we raid tens only because we like them, exclusively. And the gear to be found in them is gear intended to tackle them, since the encounters are tuned that way. To acquire the most powerful gear that we can and THEN run them trivializes them IMO and brings into question why run them at all? Regardless, I’ll give it some thought and I’m sure it’ll crop up in a later entry. I sure as heck wouldn’t raid with the default UI. :P Somehow that seems more extreme to me, but probably because I’m an addon junkie.

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  12. Kring writes:

    But related to the “lol why would u do that” comment. It’s a valid question.

    You’re right, Kring, and there I think you’ve hit the nail squarely on the head of why this change is so exciting: Today, there is a valid question as to why you would, and clearly this is frustrating to groups who choose to do so. Do you want the best gear? Today, you have to raid 25s. Do you want to get server-first achievements for 10-player content? Today, you have to raid 25s. And, since more powerful gear has always made WoW raid encounters easier, those who don’t or can’t raid 25s are relegated to a kind of raiding footnote. As Vid pointed out, that makes it hard to even recruit someone to a 10s group.

    It will be really nice when, in Cataclysm, the choice of 10s vs. 25s will be more of a personal one, rather than following from a fundamental limitation of the game. I’m with you in feeling pretty excited about the whole idea.

    (Incidentally, although I agree with your point about making compromises, I’m pretty sure that even Blizzard employees do not raid using the default raiding UI; if they did, using it might feel a bit less like running a three-legged sack race around the caldera of an active volcano, while blindfolded)

  13. I can’t speak for heals or tanks (since my only 80 is a rogue) but I can say this:
    25 man is MUCH easier for DPS than 10 is.

  14. When a guildie whispered me about the changes, my immediate reaction was “Huh.” I raid both 10 and 25′s and like both for various reasons. 10′s are more personal, with each person having a ROLE and if you lose them, it could be very, very bad. 25′s are when a greater portion of the guild can come together and you have more folks to lean on if the #%$ hits the fan. My thought is, do whatever makes you happy. And if strict 10′s makes you happy and challenges you in fun ways…there ya go. If you like the epicness of 25′s, the better loot, raiding with more people or don’t care either way and just want to raid…go for it! I’m not on one ‘side’ or the other. I just like to raid.

    With these changes, I’m not quite sure what all is going to happen but as I said in my own blog post on this subject, I’m gonna wait and see. Cata’s not coming out tomorrow, the changes haven’t all been announced, much less finalized. Unlike in BC, 25 man’s aren’t being done away with, just made more..unnecessary for progression.

  15. I would really love to have you write a post explaining passionately all the reasons you love doing 10 man stricts in a formal guild environment. I know this article touches friendships and challange, but you still recruit so some of your players must have been strangers at first.

    I think one of my big concerns about this change is that the number of people doing 10 mans presently are much higher than those doing 25 mans. I think if you limited this to people who actually only ever do 10s seriously the numbers are much much smaller.

    25 man gear can definitely triviliase an encounter – i don’t think to the level you’ve described, arthas 10 man was still difficult to accomplish even in 264 gear. I wonder how many people are going to get a very rude awakening when they don’t have the gear buffer when going into their 10 man random pug because they don’t have the time to commit to a guild? I’m very concerned that Blizzard will eventually nerf content to make this easy for more casual players are the challange for both 10 and 25 man guilds will be lost completely.

    I’m also very concerned about this as an officer. I don’t agree with the argument that 25 mans are logistically harder to manage and recruit for. My guild has 32 “raiders” and we run 2 x 10 man runs casually on Fridays. This is WAY more difficult to organise and cater for than the 1 group of 25. It causes divide and competition with what should be 1 team and is a general headache. In BC trying to get 2 groups to run Kara and get gear for Grull was almost a guild breaker for me – this is what I really worry about with this change coming in – I’m not sure if we’ll survive as a 25 guild but I sure as hell don’t want to be involved in a guild of mutliple 10 mans :(

    Sorry if this is a bit rambly I’ve got so many thoughts going on and its so easy to upset people about this topic that I probably went over the same stuff more than once :P

    Cheers

    Lath

    • You do present a good point. The people who raid only through pugs might find it harder to find successful pugs since the characters won’t outgear the raid itself. That’s something I definitely had not thought about and I will think some more about it.

      I also agree with you that outgearing an encounter does not guarantee success. Recently, we went back to Yogg for a little 0 light. We had many players who had not done the encounter or had not been in there for months. We got spanked hard. Our ICC gear allowed us to take more chances, take more hits and compensate somewhat for our lack of coordination but gear will never fully trivialize an encounter that has ways to insta kill a player.

      It just gives an extra edge. Like I said above about our Yogg run, it compensates for not being perfect. With better gear, you might get through Heroic Saurfang’s really tough soft enrage. Heroic Festergut can be done even if a couple of DPS get hit by the goo.

      That’s the real difference and where your comment about the pugs makes total sense. Without that edge, that ability to lack coordination, the right to not be perfect, it might make life very hard for them.

      As for your other comment about guild size, I also agree with you there. I think the guilds need to sized for what their purpose is. A social guild can be massive, so can an RP guild. Raiding guilds have a limitation in that their purpose has a size limit. I think guilds will need to adapt to their purpose. 25 man raiding guild will remain at about 32 raiders like yours while 10 man raiding guilds like ours will be about 15 strong.

      To be honest, I really don’t see the 25s dying from this. Some guilds will die, for sure but I foresee a shakeup where some guilds will merge and actually become stronger for the change. For us, it will mean a lot more competition in recruitment and a harder screening process. Right now, people who want to do 10 strict are not loot oriented and are generally easy going and just want to raid for the challenge and the fun. This is what we’re looking for and we’ll now have to screen those great people through all the others who will suddenly want to do 10 mans.

      However it ends, it should be interesting. As for the rambling, well… ;-)

      • Vosskah wrote:

        The people who raid only through pugs might find it harder to find successful pugs since the characters won’t outgear the raid itself.

        If that really turns out to be true, then it will probably mean the end of raiding for me. I’ve never belonged to a guild group; I’ve always just picked up whatever I could — sometimes 10′s, sometimes 25′s, whatever comes up. On several occasions, I’ve found a group I can run with consistently for a while, but over the course of this expansion, I’ve seen several groups of this kind drift apart. Have fronds, will travel.

        Maybe I’m just being naïve and hopeful, but I actually don’t think this change will ruin the chances for pug-raiders like me. I guess we’ll have to see what really happens, though. :)

    • You know, Lath, I promise I will write such a post at some later date. I feel like I never really wanted to get embroiled in all of this. I don’t run twenty fives and that’s my choice, other people do and that’s theirs, and just because we don’t do the same thing to have fun in game doesn’t mean we have to be at each others’ throats (I know you were never at my throat and vice versa, I hope.) I haven’t gotten upset about this and I promise any comments I made weren’t meant to be inflammatory, upset or defensive, or upset anyone else in turn. I’ll write about what I love about my guild and the people in it once the furor dies down a bit and make it a nice warm fuzzy.

      I realize now looking back that I could have written this post better, and I could have been clearer in it as well. My irritation with people going in to do 10 man Lich King was more specific than generalized, related to one person on Twitter who had joined a twenty-five man guild and made comments such as that “ten man guilds have less talent.” But when he killed TLK (on ten person, naturally) oh WOW did we hear about it. And it was a feat my apparently “lesser talented guild” had accomplished a month earlier – without gear to give us an edge on it. I know pride is an ugly thing, but it was poking at mine. I shouldn’t have let that spill over into this post, I have zero gripe with hardcore twenty-five people and in fact a lot of admiration. I know that what you guys do is NOT just an “administrative challenge,” and in fact it’s hard, probably harder than tens if I’m being honest with myself, but that doesn’t mean tens when done with the right gear are easy.

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