Jasyla does a great job as a GM, and I think being an officer in a guild is probably tougher and more thankless than most players think (myself included.) I commend all of our officers for being the ones with the guts to make tough decisions for the guild, even if I don’t agree with some of them.
Jasyla’s post was about the concept of extending raid lockouts for the sake of working on progression. This kind of decision is always fraught with politics and mixed reactions. As a raider in her guild who was didn't agree with the raid planning last week, I feel it’s my duty to explain why as well as what I would do differently. What good does complaining do without suggestions to back it up? I don’t have any expectation that what I propose will be put into practice. Again, I just want to get involved in this discussion and hopefully put some ideas out there that can help the group find a happy medium. Make note of the fact that I am dangerously assuming that there are some people in my guild that aren't okay with extending under certain conditions.
If you've read Jasyla’s post (which you should) then you know that our guild, Apotheosis, is currently 1/13 Heroic in Throne of Thunder. The raid plan this last week was to get to Tortos and start working on him/her/it on heroic. The raid was to be extended to the following week, where we would ideally get the kill, and we would move forward.
Now for a bit of back story about my recent history in the game and guild. As a guildie, I’m not always the best at staying current with what is going on in our forums. I always try to know my role and the fight strategies, but when it comes down to things like our raid review and planning threads, I’m typically not involved. This isn't ideal, but I don’t believe I’m violating any guild rules by doing this. I should be involved because it’s ultimately helpful to the group, but alas I have a lot on my plate these days and sometimes things fall between the cracks.
Anyhow, as we were hammering away at H Tortos, I started wondering if we were ever going to move ahead and clear the instance on normal. This thought occurred to me for a couple of reasons. First, we had been struggling with the fight for a good portion of the night. This is to be expected because it’s somewhat of a chaotic encounter. My heart goes out to our tanks that have the task of kiting. It doesn't sound fun or easy. When working on progression, we usually “call it” at a certain point if it doesn't look like we’re on the brink of a breakthrough. The second reason is tied into another factor I haven’t mentioned. We have only cleared ToT twice. Historically (to my knowledge at least) when we’re progressing through heroics, unless we've farmed the raid a bit, there’s a certain point in the week where we decide to move forward and clear any remaining content on normal. When I found out our plan was to prioritize progression, I became a bit agitated.
I’m normally pretty okay with extending, but I think that’s because it has happened under different conditions in the past. As I was asking questions about extending, it was presented to me that a significant number of raiders are opposed to farming for the sake of farming. In general I agree, but since when was clearing content more than twice considered excessive farming? Or even farming at all? I’m not saying that we need to set some minimum number of clears before extending is “acceptable.” What I’m getting at is: up to a certain point in the tier, clearing normal modes after progression time is still beneficial. I will elaborate on this below.
This experience has shown me that I need to be more involved in the raid review and planning processes because it’s a lot harder to be upset with a plan when you participated in shaping it. On the topic of the planning process, I think that the selection of which heroics to tackle is something to seriously consider. I believe the guild did this well in the previous tier. It was widely known that Spirit Kings was more challenging than Elegon, so we worked on the sparkle dragon first. We came in and did SK later and were able to defeat the encounter, possibly via the benefit of obtaining gear from easier heroics or even normal modes. I don’t know for sure, but Tortos may not be the next easiest boss to work on. We could possibly kill the turtle on normal, move forward, and then work on H. Ji-Kun. Something like this sounds more agreeable to me (if Ji-Kun is actually easier.) This assumption is of course missing empirical evidence (which I’m sure exists) of which heroics are easier and which are more difficult.
Gear is always going to be a factor in discussions like this. Some of the guild simply won’t be as concerned about it. I can accept that even though I don’t feel that way myself. The things I focus on for enjoyment in raiding are directly related to my gear level. Raiding is fun to me because I like feeling like I do my job well. Part of that is doing as much DPS as possible. It would be dishonest for me to deny the fact that I want this or that item to drop for me. Obviously clearing bosses is going to be a determining factor for whether or not that need gets met. When I find out that we’re planning on clearing the raid once over a two week period verses twice, of course that isn't going to be something I view as ideal. Of course I’m just a small sampling of how people may feel and what I want isn't the point anyway. It’s true that gear doesn't help people avoid one-shot mechanics or contribute to better decision making, but upgrades have their own value in the context of progression and I think sometimes that value is understated. I feel that’s a valid statement in this case because we've only cleared Throne of Thunder twice. Naturally, that argument gets weaker and weaker as more kills occur.
An argument can also be made for the value of practice in the context of progression. How will people know how to do the hard modes without hard mode practice? I think this is a valid concern, however I think this is somewhat of a case of trying to run before we can walk. In my opinion the group can benefit greatly from the practice of normal mode mechanics, some of which we still struggle with (myself included.) If we dig into heroics full bore we will certainly learn. The point is that if we’re still going to be clearing some encounters on normal, in an effort to prioritize gear acquisition, a refinement of normal mode execution will also occur. Both of these things will be beneficial for progression.
So, what is my ideal situation for progression planning? Let me start by again pointing out that this is an armchair analysis of a process that I am largely not currently participating in. Also, I would like to pay a massive amount of respect to the people in my guild that do the raid planning. I have nothing but appreciation for those individuals because that planning is a huge reason why Apotheosis is able to be successful. No raid group can get by without it, that’s a fact. These people don't get any sort of tangible compensation for their effort so I can imagine that the success of the guild is an important way for the officers and coordinators to really see the fruits of their labor. I would think this is part of what makes progression so important.
The raid group that I’m a part of needs progression. Without it people get bored and burned out quickly. I’m sure the challenge of heroics (as opposed to the prospect of better gear, achievements, other tangibles, etc.) is all a lot of our players need to justify extending a lockout. I understand that this is a multifaceted decision. I guess my major disagreement with all of this is the turning point where a guild commits fully to progression at the cost of normal mode kills. Moving forward, I think progression with my group could be handled similarly, but also with a few twists.
First, issues like this can be largely avoided with more participation in raid review threads on our forums. Mandating participation is too heavy handed in my opinion, so I would propose that some kind of small EP bonus be offered as an incentive for being actively involved. This way the officers can get more people in on decisions like this as well as the other positives that come from raid reviews. Since EP drives are already in place, the drive and thread participation bonuses could be an either/or thing, or they could just both be offered. I think either works.
Since it’s already been established that we want to make progression a priority, I think an expectation could be set to determine if and when we stop prioritizing a full clear each week. As Jasyla mentioned, such a decision is slightly different this tier because we’re only looking at one raid as opposed to several. Given that we’re only two Lei Shen kills deep right now, I hope we can make getting more normal mode kills a priority for at least a little while. As I mentioned above, in addition to potential upgrades, these experiences will (IMO) help us hone our execution. This decision is something that can be handled through a raid review (or planning) thread. Obviously these discussions are already happening to a degree. I think they would benefit the group more if participation can be increased. Keep in mind that I am pushing for normal mode kills for the boss fights we're not actively working to kill on heroic. Simply clearing ToT on normal over and over isn't what I'm asking for.
Progression is something I value. Joining a guild like Apotheosis was incredible for me because I came as a player that never did heroic modes. I am fully on board with keeping things fresh and challenging. I just hope some of my suggestions for implementing that sound good to more than just myself.