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