So everyone knows that Lich King is coming. Yeah yeah, we get it – right? I’m sure I’m not the only one getting tired of the constant quibbling about it. (such and such is going to be 1) so awesome 2) so overpowered 3) so game breaking 4) so totally stupid 5) etc.)
It’s hard to escape constant little reminders that “something new is coming”. People (including myself) are stockpiling materials and finishing up side stories. Raids are either collapsing because “it’s not worth it” or feeling the pressure to complete as much of the current content as they can before it becomes obsolete.
Sunwell is to Burning Crusade what Naxxramas was to the original World of Warcraft – the guild/raid breaking instance released just on the cusp of the expansion, seen by few and completed by fewer. (which begs the question of whether we’ll see a “re-done” Sunwell in a future X-pack) And it, much like Naxxramas, is where some people are finding the pressure to see more, do more, experience more, and get more shiny loot to be worth jumping raids.
And that kind of thing sucks for the raids that get left behind – arguably causing more difficulty for BC raids than it did for the original 40 mans. Why? In a 40 man raid, you could have 10 people that were dead weight – sometimes even 15 people that were dead weight – before you started to see real issues. Granted, that number was smaller and smaller the more progressed your raid was, but even up to halfway through Blackwing Lair a raid could support some very sub-par players on the basis of numbers alone.
25 man raiding is different, and more intense. There hasn’t been a big change to tanking (you still need 4-5 tanks) – but rather than 9 healers, most raids run with 6-7, and you now have to deal with MUCH more difficult situations and dish out a lot more DPS per damage class. A good team has a lot of trust laying in between the lines, so when you lose someone at a difficult transition, it means both teaching a new person about how to do the fight – AND gearing them up, AND learning to trust them. Because of the smaller numbers and the difficulty of the fight, the loss of a valued member is more acutely felt.
Of course, those difficult transitions are the places where a raid is most likely to see burnout and frustration (two things that often lead to raid-jumping).
At the same time, there’s no guarantee of what kind of groups will or will not make it past the transition to Lich King. A lot of raids that fell apart in the months leading up to Burning Crusade never got off the ground in the 10 or 25 man arenas, people getting absorbed into other raids or staying away from the high-end content altogether.
Difficult learning phases are tough for any raid (roster wise) – but the added pressure of the upcoming expansion only makes it easier for people to go looking for bigger opportunities. After all, they might never get to see those fights/instances should they not work with other, more progressed raids.
I’m afraid I don’t have any real answers in this post, because deep down I can understand both sides. In the end, this is a game that we all pay for – and paying $15 a month to do something you hate is both silly and a waste of money. Everyone has different motivations (remember those gamer personality tests?), and getting those motivations to square with your guild, your friends, your raid, and your time spent in game is a challenge for each person that picks up a subscription.
*images from battle.net
**Regardless of all this (which fortunately hasn’t been too much of an issue for us), TRI is taking on Kael’thas Sunstrider this week. Poncy Git…
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