Updated Thu, Feb 21, 2008 by Xerin
Would it surprise you if I told you that Nihilum, Death & Taxes, and many of the top guilds raid less than most raiding guilds?
For most people, thinking of the top tier of raiding guilds conjures thoughts of people who do nothing but play a computer game in a dark room somewhere. In fact, this is often not the case -- time for career, family, and friends is still very much a part of their lives.
The key is in time management.
Let's start with two basic premises for top tier raiding guilds.
First, these are people who are very invested in their goal; they are disciplined in this pursuit. The top tier of raiders are not raiding for loot.
Second, they are extremely coordinated and understand their strengths and weaknesses. They work with each other to improve each other's play. This group of players is relentlessly social.
Accepting that these are generally good players who work together and have a goal to be successful, not grumpy hobbits, is a given. Any other group of people will not succeed no matter how much time they are given.
Finally, let's note that what is fun to one group of people is considered either too serious or too casual to another group. What some players enjoy is certainly not what others enjoy, just as I may enjoy fishing while another may enjoy snowboarding. Or, perhaps a better example, one person may strive for the Superbowl while another may be sponsoring the High School football team.
There's a broad range of what is considered normal and what is considered "over-doing it." This is almost always determined by your server and the top guilds there; on some servers, guilds raiding more than 12 hours a week are considered hardcore players who are throwing their lives away; on others, those same guilds would be considered very casual guilds.
In the following examples, I'm going to use 16 hours as the basis for a "normal" raiding guild. From my experience, 20 hours is more common for very solid raiding guilds who are not "top tier" but, in time, complete most of the same content.
There is a constant upwards shift for raiding guilds as they begin new content and new raid zones. This shift is between how much time is spent on old content, or "farm" content, and new content, or "progression."
After a few weeks into new content, the raid usually expects to have downed at least one or two of the very early bosses. At this point, their schedule begins looking like this:
Old Schedule: 4 Hours out of total playtime
New Schedule: 12 Hours out of total playtime
They are still spending most of their time on new content, and once the raid week is over they have plenty of time off. After all, these aren't the hardcore raiding guilds! They have a strict schedule they do not deviate from, making it easy to adjust to work and family schedules.
As 1-2 months progresses, much of the easier content in the raid zones have been completed. In the instance of the Burning Crusade, this would be the point when much of Serpentshrine, Void Reaver, and perhaps Al'ar have been defeated. The schedule begins to look like this:
Old Schedule: 8 Hours out of total playtime
New Schedule: 8 Hours out of total playtime
Suddenly the days are split. Two raid nights are invariably taken corralling the guild to two separate raid zones and completing known content. The additional two nights (in a four night schedule) are spent trying to learn the later bosses of an instance.
As new bosses such as Solarian and Morogrim are taken down, old bosses become faster and quicker. Even so, the sheer number of encounters the guild must complete in time to keep people motivated and keep gear flowing is taking it's toll on the schedule. By the time the guild is focusing on Vashj, Kael'thas, or beginning Black Temple and Hyjal, the schedule starts looking like this:
Old Schedule: 12 Hours out of total playtime
New Schedule: 4 Hours out of total playtime
It's at this point that things become frustrating. Not only is the guild faced against very difficult, very specific encounters, they are only finding one day -- very occasionally two, if the raid week is great -- to work on the content.
This causes several issues. First, content that is nearly ready to be completed often gets held off another week or, depending on the complexity, two or more weeks before it's finished. Some nights when the class balance in the raid is ideal are followed up by a week with raider vacations or other holiday-related shortages.
Worse, this becomes taxing on the guild leadership. New players to the guild feel they only have opportunities to get gear in the older content and do not want to see it dropped; veteran players who are still looking for gear feel they have a right to push for older content in hopes of finishing off sets.
More often than not, this is the stage when players start rationalizing progress with their personal motives. Have you ever heard someone say, "We should keep going back to these older instances to gear up for the new content," or "progress doesn't matter, this game isn't a competition!" I'd wager most of you have, or will soon.
What players do not understand is how real a factor time is on the guild welfare as well as their own. Spending time gearing up for new content is almost never as well spent as time actually working on that content. This is especially true in the Burning Crusade, where stat differences and gear progression between Karazhan and Black Temple is relatively small; keep in mind that Nihilum cleared through Black Temple just 3 months after raiding began. Gear is good, but it is not key.
The key, as said earlier, is time.Continue on to Page Two