Monday, June 6, 2011

Are the demands for raiding too high?

Little more than a year ago I wrote a post titled "Are new players too impatient?". That post was written towards the later half of Wrath, we had seen Naxxramas, Ulduar and ToC pass and ICC had been out for only a few months. Even then, with ICC fairly new and fresh, in fact players had only just gotten access to killing Lich King, taking in new raiders into your raid group was not something uncommon. Gearing for ICC was ridiculously easy, not only had new players the first three raids to fall back on, the newly implemented ICC-heroics provided some good gear as well. As one who had struggled through regular heroics, then Naxxramas, then Ulduar, then ToC and then ICC-heroics, I was getting annoyed at the new players who thought they could just skip all that progression and jump straight to the good stuff. This isn't because I thought I deserved loot or raid spots more than them, but because I was confused at new players who didn't seem to understand that I was where I were because of the time and effort I had put into it. Back then I wrote;

"(...)my gear is pretty good, since I raid alot, usually a couple of times a week. But it didn't start out that way, naturally my gear also "sucked" at some point, and will suck again with each new content patch, that is the way the game goes. Behind the gear I have right now lies endless hours of raiding plus all the time spent preparing to raid."

These new players could come with their badly geared alt and say "hey, I want a spot in the raid too!", where we would go "sure thing, just gear up a little doing some heroics, buying some boe gear, and you can join" and they would answer "why do I have to do that? You guys have good enough gear to carry my lack thereof". I saw this line of reasoning over and over and I just had to tell them that just because I've spent all this time getting good gear doesn't mean you can take it for granted and use me as a spring board into higher content. At least not without saying "pretty please".

"When I started gearing up for raiding, there hadn't already been alot of raids out and people were around my gear level. I couldn't expect guildies to give me an easy boost through Naxx because their gear was as lousy as mine. I had to do endless heroics (without the LFG-tool mind you!) and did the old wipe-a-roo in raids plenty of times to get my gear, I couldn't expect easy kills anywhere."

Before you tell me I sound like one of those old people who go "when I was young we had gravel for breakfast and fought Arthas uphill in a snowstorm", I will forego you right away - yes I do sound like that. The reason people sound like that is because newer people who come around and reap the benefits of our hard work (albeit it was made because we thought it was hell of a lot of fun) without actually putting any thought into how it is that we got there. We worked for it mind you! But don't get me wrong, like I said I don't have any problem at all with people who come undergeared to a raid, it all depends on whether the rest of the raid minds boosting them or not;

"A new player comes along with everything that comes to it - no experience and no gear. He could hit the heroic-train like everyone else, but he doesn't have to. He could actually get into Naxx/Ulduar/ToC (even ICC) and down bosses, because the rest of the raid can carry his weight at this point. And this happens, I didn't mind that at all. I've been on the sugar cane end of that trade myself."

But I've always had a problem with people who take nice things for granted;

"(...) because the raid can carry his weight (as long as the good geared outnumber the badly geared) the new player actually expects the raid to carry his weight. He get all grumpy and doesn't understand when he's benched for a raid. He seriously asks "how come I didn't get to join?". And when you tell him to go get better gear he answers "how can I if I don't get to raid?". He sees the advice to go do some heroics as an insult or punishment of some sort. He doesn't realize we've all had to do it before him. (...) People who come in afterwards just see how easy things seem to be and want a slice of the cake. They don't realize the persons they're asking to give up their raid spot maybe has done that particular raid 50 times to get to that point, and probably doesn't want to give it up to someone who hasn't even begun doing heroics."

Interestingly enough however, I am seeing the opposite when it comes to raids at the moment. Admittedly, we're at the start of this expansion, so things could probably change. I can't actually recall how we treated "new" players back when Naxxramas (Wrath edition) was current content, but I get the feeling that gearing for raiding has never been so difficult as it is now (except perhaps in vanilla). There is one out of raid raid-boss available in Argaloth, who by the way only seems to drop pvp loot anyway. There are no lesser raids that can provide easy gear to new players (yet, this will change with 4.2). You've only got to grind heroics to get any sort of raid-viable gear, this is especially true if you happen to be a very poor person and can't afford buying many boe. So far nothing is wrong though, this doesn't differ much from how it's been at the beginning of any expansion. But like I said, it seems like people already raiding have put the bar a little higher for new players this time.

When I started doing raids I recall having no more than somewhere around 340 gear score (I think in fact it was 336 exactly). And sure, I had hell trying to keep people alive at Magmaw and Halfus the first couple of times, but looking back at it I'd say that was because I wasn't all comfortable with the new heal style rather than my gear being shite (and also, priests still sucked then). Someone with 336 gear score right now however, would barely make it into our alt raids. Maybe if we were desperate. He'd definitely wouldn't get into our regular raids, but we are doing heroics at the moment and want people to be able to jump straight into that. On the other hand, that's another piece of the problem. To be able to raid nowadays it's not enough to have a viable raid gear, say somewhere around 350. Raids that do heroic modes will probably prefer you to have even better gear, somewhere around 360-365. I read the most hilarious tweet from @Pyriss the other day;

"Healer in ZA told me I needed to raid more and get better gear. more to do a 5 man for gear that is inferior? Interesting..."

The point is that the demands to be geared enough have never been higher. Back in late Wrath we saw undergeared players complaining about not getting to raid as often, because in reality they could get into most raids and the raid would still do good. Now, we're seeing rather the opposite where established raid groups are basically demanding to get people who have full raiding experience and gear already. It reminds me of the swedish employment market where you have to have an exam and 5 year experience to become a waitress (it's seriously not far from). Like I said, this is common in the early stages of an expansion, but I feel like the demands have never been as high as they are now. Getting enough gear to meet raid demands seems to be really difficult nowadays. Where does it put most people? In the heroic limbo.

Having a couple of alts who do heroics, I know that it aint fun doing those over and over and over to get rep and gear enough to be able to join some sort of raid. That must be especially true if you're in that position with your main and that is all you've got. And even more true if you're used to raiding and doing other things than just grinding the same heroics. People didn't enjoy grinding heroics back in Wrath, and they're not enjoying it now. And the worst thing is, unless you happen to know a raid group who is willing to take you in once you're geared enough, all that effort will probably be in vain since I have yet to see someone pug for the current raids. So far I've only ever seen guild raids who pug the last spots to fill their own ranks, but never a full-fledged pug raid. People expected to get undergeared into raids in Wrath and now raids expect to have a fully experienced and geared player into the raid. Maybe I am getting senile, maybe this was exactly what happened in early Wrath and BC, and I have just forgotten all about it. In truth, Cataclysm has only been out half a year. Yet it is obvious that people are getting tired. Cataclysm also holds three less heroics than we had in Wrath, and it seems like all you get is Halls of Origination anyway. I remember that the only instance I thought was troublesome back in Wrath was Oculus, now I sigh whenever I get anything but Vortex Pinnacle or Lost City. Raid guilds seem to crumble left and right, and I doubt many people enjoy the idea of going from raiding to dungeon farming. If you happen to be one of those people that are stuck in heroic-limbo, with no real prospect of getting into a proper raid, I can definitely see why this seems like an ideal time to quit WoW, for some time or forever.


  1. Great read but I must disagree with one point you made there.

    TL;DR - I think gearing up is way to easy right now in the game.

    Gearing up is easier right now then I've ever seen it.

    The suggested entry item level for when you should be capable of doing well in a raid is 342. Skill providing of course.

    My Hunter was 349 2 days after release. My Warrior was 350 after just 2 heroics with the help of rep gear and some plate I made.

    Both cases, I would be considered over geared for all current non heroic raid bosses.

    As long as heroics offer gear that is above the required entry level for a raid it will be easy to gear up for a raid.

    With rep gear, the new zul heroics, and normal heroics you can easily attain a 352 item level. That is not counting crafted items, BoE drops, or valor items.

    Gearing up for raids, again in my opinion, is the easiest I have ever seen it. (3 years)

    It takes roughly 4 hours once you hit 85 if you have some crafted gear, some decent rep, and luck on a couple of heroics you will be raid ready. With that, I am talking 350+ item level.

    Again, nice read and I think you outlined some of the issues with gearing and raiding as it is now.

    Pugs don't work on my server either and I do not expect them to anytime soon either.

  2. @GrumpyElf
    Oh yes I definitely agree with you. Gearing is very easy nowadays, perhaps even more easy than it was back in Wrath. The difference is rather that even if you have nice gear, most raids won't touch you with a ten foot fork, or at least that is the general feeling I've got (could just be my server though -_-). Back in Wrath you didn't need to gear up very much to be able to join some ICC pug. You couldn't come in scraps but not far from. I totally agree with you that the necessary gear level to do a good job in current normal raid content is around 342, like I said I did a decent job with 336 (but that's a tad bit low) - but I don't see any raids that accept such a low level. Even when you've got 350, which doesn't require that much work as you say, you still need experience to get to join most raids now. How will you get that without raiding? Back in the day you could get some from pugs, but that isn't really possible now. Most raids seem to demand a lot more than what you can get from the heroic treadmill, and that is what has people stuck in heroics.

  3. I seem to be in a somewhat luckier position on my realm (EU-Blackmoore) regarding pugs (I actually downed nefarian with randoms!) but your thoughts are still true.

    I've been pugging raids with my priest for almost 2 months now and even now with ~360ilvl I have to log on my main to whisper several heroic-kill-ac's to get an invite for BoT normal...

    Also the ones opening/leading pugs are usually the same people, same goes for the people they take with them. You will absolutly not get an invite if you /wave wearing all the 346 BiS + reputation and crafting epics all enchanted and gemmed.
    If you try with a clear achievment, full epic and some hardmode loots they just MIGHT take you, but only if you belong to a renowned guild.

    This limits the participation to raiding main chars with open ID's and Alts of raiding guilds who should know all the bosses.
    Taking a mix of people who are overgeared and experienced and some "weaker" players usually results in the "better" ones leaving after the first boss where they took the lead with 22k vs. 14k dps on magmaw >.>
    Some mechanics don't allow for carrying "weak" players either:
    Nef-adds on the pillars, Maloriak/Cho'gall bombing. mechanics that will kill you if one of your members can't keep up >.< I'm not even talking about tanks/healer and their gear now..

    Even if the group MIGHT be able to down 5/6 with nef being out of the question they don't even bother to try without people who are simply farming the content. Access to raids is harder than ever for new players.
    Sorry Wall of text...

  4. I don't really pug raids so I wouldn't know what things are like on my home servers, but just from what I read on blogs the situation you describe doesn't actually sound that different from late Wrath to me, where many people complained that pug raid leaders required you to be wearing full ICC gear before they even allowed you to set foot into ICC.

    The problem is simply that people are contradictory. We want to have easy access to raids ourselves, but we want the players we run with to be tried and tested and not endanger our success. The result is that the further Blizzard lowers the actual raid entry requirements, the easier it is to be raid-ready, the more people are able to reach that point... and the requirements for a player to prove themselves and stand out soar higher and higher as well.

  5. the fact is, it isn't hard to gear, isnt hard to get into raids, isnt hard period. the reason people dont want others in raids is NOT because of gear 70% of the time, its because they have no idea weather or not this person knows what they're doing. Too many people don't read about raids, dont watch fight vids, dont learn their class, so they suck. not gonna get in to raids if you dont learn to play. most of the noobs complaining about not getting in to raids haven't taken the time to learn how to be a raider.

  6. @Anon
    I agree that gear might be the least problem a newly dinged player faces, but the point is still that it's tricker to get into raids now than it was in Wrath, or at least I think so. Something about the current raid environment doesn't make it as accessible as earlier raids. It might be lack of experience as you say. Thing is, lack of experience was way less of an issue in Wrath, you could often get into pug raids anyway as long as you had decent gear. But maybe we will see this shift now with the humongous nerf to BoT/BWD/Throne.