Tuesday, September 7, 2010

When progression raiding becomes a grind

She looked surprisingly elegant, not the destruction and death you could expect from a pile of bones coming alive. Her wings moved ever so smoothly as I took off from Krasus Landing, as if they were put together by baby soft, weightless feathers.

I couldn't stop smiling. Finally, after all those wipes, The Bloodbathed Frostbrood Vanquisher was mine. I experienced a sensation of lightness, as if I had been released from something. A burden. Most definitely a burden, even if it felt a bit odd to use that word. After all, weren't we talking about a game I'm supposed to play for fun and relaxation? But I think I simply was relieved that I got it done before we were hit by the enrage timer of any raiding in this expansion.

Getting the meta achievement
Sunday night I completed the 10 man version of the Glory of the Icecrown Raider meta achievement - my last, serious goal for Wrath of the Lich King. This doesn't mean that I've stopped raiding entirely. We've got a few more drakes to get before we're finished. But we're closing in, oh yes, we're so closing in.

It has been a strange couple of months, where our guild has been put at test. I knew we had a strong sense of belonging, but the guild loyalty and comradeship has gone beyond my expectations.

In theory it doesn't sound too bad, does it? You grab 10 players, you head off to ICC and you progress through the hardmodes and achievements, wiping a little, learning the fights one after one until the box flashes up on your screen. Glory of the Icecrown raider, yay! Shouldn't take more than a couple of weeks at our gear level and with the ICC buff, should it? Tick, tick, tick, BAM, done!

In reality it's been way more complicated. It isn't exactly as if our guild is perfectly well balanced for those purposes. We're still a 25 man raiding guild, but until Cataclysm, we can go on a break if we want to, without risking to lose our spots as raiders. Running 10 man raids, which is what we can do with our current squad, is optional. Some players have taken the opportunity to a hiatus. Others have kept going, at least to grab the ICC mount, which was one of our set goals. The result has been a huge surplus of ranged dps, compared to the amount of tanks and healers. We've rotated a lot, which has meant that it has taken longer for the dps:ers to complete the meta, especially for the ones who also have missed a few raids due to the summer vacation season.

A painful grind
Our tanks got their mounts more than a month ago and most of our healers shortly after. They've had absolutely nothing to get for their own benefit in ICC. No achievements, no shiny upgrades, no progress, nothing.

All they've had to look forward to as they have signed up for raids has been yet another grind night with content they've done before. And yet they've kept signing. Week after week, raid after raid have they turned up, to make sure that every active raider will get a shot at the mount. In the meanwhile, our officers have made spreadsheets, keeping track on everyone's status, trying to make the achievement hunt for the guild as efficient as possible.

My mount was the 16th and it hopefully won't be too long before we've got the last few, putting an end to all this.

I can imagine how painful this must have been for those who got their Sindragosa achievement or Putricide heroic weeks and months ago. They did their share of wiping and learning back in time. They downed them and they know exactly how it should be done. The problem is that everyone isn't on the same page. In every raid there has been a couple of players, still in the beginning of their own, personal learning curve. And there are no shortcuts in the most difficult fights of those achievements. Every single player has to learn the dance steps by himself, sorting out exactly where to put the feet.

Those encounters are technically demanding, putting pressure on every individual to not make any mistakes. You can't rely on a couple of veterans carrying everyone else, since it's "on farm". Everyone has to execute it well, and while it can be useful to watch videos before an encounter, most of us need to learn, practice and wipe a few times before it eventually clicks.
Week after week, our veterans have patiently been wiping until the newcomers have learned their lesson. Hardly ever have I heard anyone of them getting annoyed. They've shared what they have been able to, and have patiently waited.

Progression - and grind
It's a strange situation. Normally it's the same for everyone. Sometimes you do farm runs, sometime progression and we learn it together. But so not in this case. While a few in each raid group have enjoyed fun, interesting and engaging progression raids, the same encounters have been horrible, tedious grinds for others. But as opposed to other grinds, those raids have included a lot of wiping.

However our tanks and healers haven't fled in terror. They've stayed. Sure, they're a bit tired, but still they keep showing up, willing to help out everyone else until the job is done. Not just their own mounts, but mounts for everyone.

I know that this attitude isn't something you find in every guild. The world is full raid groups that fall apart as soon as a few players have completed their goals. All of a sudden player will disappear without any previous notice and they suddenly start prioritizing their real life as soon as they've reached their personal goal. That's what you could expect.

The patient fight to get everyone a mount is an amazing effort and I'm truly proud to belong to a guild with such a team spirit.

I smiled as I cruised above Icecrown on my new dragon. I'm well aware of that she's not super exclusive compared to for instance the Naxx meta mount, which was brought out of the game in a patch. I've even heard first hand reports that it's common in the beta, so apparently quite a few players have managed to get her.

Regardless of this: in my eyes she remains a beauty with a very distinct look of her own and I love her. She will forever remind me of our guild spirit at its best. We are guildies and we help each other out. In grind as well as in progress.


Perdissa said...

Congrats!!! My guild just managed to complete Heroic PP and Sindra on 10m (we don't do much 25s these days). Hopefully we get the remaining ones without too much pain.

We just got the ulduar 10 drakes last week. One light was really painful, considering that we had never downed Yogg normal before. Nonetheless, we did it, and will be going back this week to help our friends who missed out a few achievements here and there over the past few weeks that we've been doing it. I hope our helpers will be as.. helpful as yours..

jeffo said...

Congratulations! I know exactly what you mean. When we finally killed Arthas it was like lifting a great weight off of my shoulders. For me, anything else this expansion (drakes, heroics, achievements) is just gravy.

2nd Nin said...

Gratz larisa, that is the one side of guild life I do miss.

Glad you finally got the guy, and hopefully you can get the rest theirs soon.

Syl said...

always glad to hear things are going so well - big gratz to you!
Adrenaline FTW!

SpiritusRex said...


It's so nice to hear of the good that people do for one another - wish there was more of that going around. I've recently joined a new guild and the patience shown by the raid leaders as we progress through the learning of the LK dance is truly amazing (into Phase 2 transition, so we are slowly getting there).

Larísa said...

: Thanks! If you've done that, you've definitely done most of the hard stuff. Allthough Sindra achievment was a tricky one, but it relies heavily on the tanks tbh.

Grats to the Ulduar drake! I got it recently too and enjoyed it a lot. We have a few who still miss a couple of achievements for it so I wouldn't be surprised if we'll go back there as well.

@2ndNin: It's a side of guild life that I like, but it's not for everyone. Some goblins would probably argue that it's slavery. Each man for himself. But I like the long-term prespective of things we do, the way we help each other out. One day it's you. Another day it's me. That's how it works.

@Syl: Hear, hear! <3

: great to hear you've found a decent bunch of people to play with as well. Yeah, I think those enclaves are fairly rare these days when most playing is done in completely silent pugs with strangers. But they still exist if you look long and hard for them. I'm fortunate to have been in one for over two years by now.

@Jeffo: Yep. It all depends on what goals you set up for yourself. I wouldn't MIND killing LK heroic, but it isn't someting I really expect us to do or even try, so it isn't the same thing. The weight depends on your expectations on yourself.

zetter said...

Congratulations from a fellow recent drake getter (though once again as a druid you spend most of your time using flight form....)
We still have a few people to get through as monday fell through due to people being off.
For me I actually found the All you can eat Achievment more of a pain than heroic Sindy in the end.

We are going to have a go at heroic LK soon I predict much ass kicking will be handed out to us at that point :)

spinksville said...

Whee, congrats!!

Coreus said...

The very idea of doing Sindy Heroic/achievement mode again makes me want to curl into a fetal position. It's amazing that people in your guild are so willing to continue wiping on this stuff for the sake of other people.

As someone who has been trying to get into a tanking position my guild's ten-man, it kind of hits a nerve for me that you were bringing overgeared tanks again and again instead of allowing new people who are at the intended gear level to come and actually progress their toons.

I take the opinion that as a general rule, if you have nothing to gain from an activity in WoW, that's the game telling you to go fight something your own level instead of carrying people through content you overgear. I don't bring my Shaman to 10-man any more for this reason.

Larísa said...

@Zetter: Ah, it feels nice to get a good spanking every once in a while, doesn't it? I think they made it better this time. Even with a 30 percent buff, there are very challenging things to do, if you take the path of the hardmodes.

: Thanks!

@Coreus: Yeah, we ARE amazing like that. To be honest the raiding activity is pretty low right now so it isn't exactly as if we're putting any willing want-to-gear-up tank on the bench. On the contrary we have tanks in off-specs sometimes due to the shortage. The only real surplus we have is dps:ers and we're all geared up to our teeth after a decent amount of 25 man raiding in ICC.

But yeah, I can definitely understand what you say about the curling into a fetal position. I personally haven't done the sindra hc and achievment more than once, but I can imagine that this is how the players who haven't been rotated or been on vacation must feel by now. Hopefully we'll be done with the project fairly soon.

Copra said...

What I see in your guild in this respect is the same as I see in the one I'm in: professionalism.

The people playing and dragging their toons through wipe after a wipe want to see others succeed. They want to hone their own skills so that they may be the ones who turn the tide when the going gets rough.

It's very much the same as I have in my other hobby. Week after week I find myself training others without any personal gain only to see them succeed. That's enough of a reward to see -and usually hear- the joy of succeeding in something that initially seems hard or unattainable.

That is part of the joy of having a hobby and being able to guide others through the obstacles.

C out