In which I respond to Abigore and reflect on the easy-mode/hard-mode dichotomy

May 6, 2009 at 10:43 am 5 comments

Abigore of Fear.Win posted a comment with regards to easy mode vs. hard mode encounters that I feel compelled to respond to:

You have the option of either killing each boss the “easy way” for loot and telling friends “yay, we downed Yoggy!” but if you want more of a challenge your guild can go for hard modes for bragging rights and better loot.

Everyone has downed Sartharion, but add a drake or three in the mix and it was one of the most challenging fights in the game. Lots of people, myself included, felt that Naxx and a majority of the rest of the raiding content that was available for release was entirely too easy but the only encounter available with hard modes was Sartharion.. now we have that option for an entire raid zone.

First, the obligatory disclaimer: my guild isn’t “hardcore.”  With the exception of the night that Ulduar was released, we have never been on the cutting edge of progression.  In fact, we have never been ranked higher than 12th on our server, and usually float somewhere between 15th and 20th.

Sure, we did 3D on both Normal and Heroic — but we trailed behind the truly hardcore guilds by months.  When we finally posted our 10-man 3D success on the realm forum, one of the ever-present trolls responded with (not atypical) derision: “Time to turn of that Of The Nightfall title, since it seems that anyone can get them.”

As I mused to Tara in another comment, it really is a matter of perspective.  I may seem like a hardcore raider to those who are just starting Ulduar or still progressing through Naxx, but my server (which is admittedly more competitive than most) labels me as a casual, and isn’t always nice about it.

So, speaking as a less-casual-than-hardcore, but more-hardcore-than-casual guild leader: I don’t want bragging rights.  I want a challenge.  I want the raid zone to be fresh and exciting — because once it loses its luster, it will be damned hard to motivate people to return to it.

We saw this with Sarth 3D.  Half of the guild was eager for the challenge and enamored with the idea of “defeating the hardest encounter in the game.”  The other half just didn’t see the point.  Why wipe for four hours at a time on the hard mode when we could knock out the easy mode in half an hour or less, and then go do something just as fun but less expensive (like, I don’t know, fishing)?

Is this a fundamental disconnect within the guild?  Yes.  Undeniably.  But it has never been an issue before, because we trace our origins to the dawn of The Burning Crusade and the easy mode/hard mode dichotomy is unique to Wrath of the Lich King.  I suppose I could try to recruit people who are more psychologically aligned, but the reality is that many of us have been playing together for well over a year now and are united by far more than a shared desire to topple raid bosses.

Thus, the new endgame is forcing us to re-evaluate our guild’s purpose and compromise on collective goals — and while these are both very healthy things for any organization to do, they aren’t always easy, and they are without a doubt a source of trepidation for our officers and vets.

To build on Abi’s example: Sartharion 3D wasn’t a guild-breaker because it was hard.  Sartharion 3D was a guild-breaker because it forced guilds to make decisions about what was important to them — to weigh the long, arduous (not to mention expensive!) progression versus the satisfaction of the eventual kill and (as Abigore phrased it) “bragging rights and better loot.”

Unfortunately, because nay votes often take the form of no shows as players who just aren’t interested in the hard mode encounters opt out of raiding altogether, even guilds that chose to take on the hard modes can find their progress stalled by members who don’t entirely buy into the decision.

I’m not asking Blizzard to preempt the inevitable guild drama by removing our choices.  Far from it!  As I’ve said over and over again, I understand, appreciate and (tentatively) support the developers’ attempt to compromise between the two extremes of the player base.  But that doesn’t mean that I’m anything other than keenly aware of the unique challenges that the new endgame will present for those of us who fall solidly in the middle of the casual-hardcore divide.

We will have to make compromises of our own as a result of Blizzard’s evolving design philosophy.  Because I know my guild, I know that farming the easy modes until 3.2 (or whatever) won’t be an option.  Maybe we’ll take on the hard modes, one by one, and continue to play the tortoise to our server’s many hares in the race to Algalon.  Maybe we’ll take a page from Liore’s book and alternate alt-friendly farming runs with achievements and hard mode progression.  I don’t know yet; that particular discussion is far from over for us.  In fact, I rather suspect it’s just beginning.

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Entry filed under: WoW. Tags: , , .

In other news! (A random updates post.) Also, melee DPS is hard.

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rohan  |  May 6, 2009 at 11:42 am

    You could always concentrate on 1 hard mode at a time, and do easy modes for the rest of the instance. That way you still farm the majority of the instance, but are also working on 1 hard fight a week.

    Reply
  • 2. latusthegoat  |  May 6, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Our guild split up after Ulduar came out. We lasted through all of BC without stepping foot in tier 5 raids, and we carried through WotLK as a group without ever downing Sarth3D. What did develop in that time was a group of 10 people who got along extremely well and stuck together. That group ran ZA regularly in BC, and was first in the guild (and 2nd in the server in achievements) in Naxx, OS and EoE. We carried the guild in 25 mans because they were so easy that we could.

    As any raider knows, this eventually led to drama once Ulduar was released and we were the only group capable of getting any further than FL. The others wanted to raid, but didn’t see what the purpose of 5 hours of wipes on a single boss could be. They didn’t see why anyone would want to do hard mode unless it was easy (yes, an easy hard mode… go figure!) and in the end they simply shunned us for not being willing to carry them through Ulduar. They were simply incapable of understanding that we were barely managing to get ourselves through the bosses we were getting through (10% mimiron phase 4 is how far we’ve progressed so far, and obviously only 10 man).

    We had to split up, and now we’re slowly building up a 25man group but the core of the guild is running 10man. While we haven’t downed all the bosses on EZ mode yet, we’ve started working on hard modes on the bosses we DID down. We all like the challenge and it is why we all play: to raid end-game and be awesome bad.

    I couldn’t imagine going back to a guild where people curled their lips at more than a single wipe on a progression boss, it just isn’t realistic nor feasible unless we’re Ensidia.

    Reply
  • 3. Matticus  |  May 7, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    I’ve been able to pseudo-side step the issue when I first formed my guild. I laid it all out in the open: Who we were and what are intentions are. It’s actually my guild’s philosophy and “mission statement”. Anyone who applies into the guild knows exactly what they’re getting into. We’re a progression raiding guild with an eye on hard modes when it becomes available, period. This minimizes any confusion later on.

    This is a great time to re-evaluate your focus. Remember that it’s difficult to change player beliefs. You’ll have far better luck with a team of players who believe in the exact same thing as you do and want to experience the same things as you do. That’s the secret to the success of _any_ kind of organization: Everyone buying in the same system and philosophy.

    Good luck! Feel free to ask if you want to bounce ideas (or vent) at someone!

    Reply
  • 4. Too Much Progression « Female Human Paladin  |  May 7, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    […] Partly.  But I think it mainly has to do with the foreseeable split in our guild when it comes to hard mode raiding and, for more immediate relevance, some issues with 10 man […]

    Reply
  • 5. Fear.Win  |  May 7, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Who would have known that my comment would ever spark an entire post =X. I don’t know if that’s good or bad lol.

    Reply

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