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.