There was another great, thought-provoking post by Rohan at Blessing of Kings today, this time discussing the consequences of large group and small group raiding to MMOs, player retention and MMO health.

I love Rohans posts, he always brings up great topics, adds his opinions or experiences, but then leaves it open for people to think about it or discuss without feeling that by dissenting they’re being confrontational. A happy place to have a conversation instead of an argument.

Silly, silly paladin, didn’t anyone ever tell him the internet is for drama?

When Rohan spoke about larger raid teams being more comfortable for some people to find a home, it spurred all kinds of sparks in my skull.

I’ll be honest with you… I probably don’t have any points to make. I just can’t resist taking a stroll down memory lane, which at my age is more like a 5 lane superhighway straight to the past, where I’ve built a summer cottage the size of the Magic Kingdom, there to spend my days.

I’ll pretend I have a point by contrasting my raiding experiences now compared to what I remember of the old, old, OLD days.

For about the last month, I’ve been raiding twice a week with two different 10-person groups.

On Saturdays I am part of a regular 10 person raid team, and on Thursdays I take part, when I can, in the guilds “Alt Night” Dragon Soul runs on a different character. Lately it’s been my Hunter.

Everyone here by now also knows that I’ve had plenty of opportunity to see the shining lights of awesome to be found in 25 person Looking For Raid.

About that, I’d like to be clear about how I feel concerning Looking For Raid. I bitch about individual players and how there always seems to be that 8% asshat quota that has no trouble getting filled for every single run. I’ll admit it.

Overall though, I remain delighted that Looking For Raid exists, and I still run it on someone every week, without exception. Sometimes on two different characters for different experiences, like Healing and ranged DPS. Still haven’t gotten tired of it, but give me five more months of this same stuff and I’ll be singing a different tune. Or caterwauling, as the case may be.

If dealing with asshats and adding them to /ignore is the price I pay for the fun I’ve had in LFR, then so be it. Give me more room in my Ignore List, and get out of my way, there are internet ultimate shadowy dragons to kill, and swaggering to do in the Eye of Eternity.

I’m pretty current on my World of Warcraft raiding. I’ve even done some Hard Modes on my Druid, up through the first four. Ooh, shiny pretty raiding.

But what about the past?

Casting my mind back over the years, I remember with fondness raiding in 40-person teams with Divine Might.

That line right there tells you this is bullshit. If I’ve somehow convinced myself that 40 person raiding was awesome, I must be delusional.

But really!

Divine Might was an absolute KICK ASS guild on Kael’thas when I first started playing the game, back in the days when the only end game raiding there was to look forward to was 40 person groups.

They had two raid teams, and at the time the progression flow in the game went as follows;

Get to level 60.
Run 5 person instances to get geared enough for the 10 person raids.
Run Blackrock Depths 5 billion times to get various people through the Ony attunement that can’t ever figure out what freaking part of the chain they’re on. Ever.
Start obsessing over Fire Resist gear.
Run 10 person raids in Upper and Lower Blackrock Spire to get geared.
Run 10 person raids in Zul’Gurub and lesser AQ to get geared. Work on Zandalari rep.
Finally join 40 person raid teams, start running Onyxia, never get your Tier. Ever. EVER.
Run Molten Core.
Run Molten Core.
Run Molten Core.
YES we still need Fire Resist gear, FFS!
Run Molten Core.
Run Onyxia. Who still needs their crafted Cloak for BWL?
Run Molten Core.
Run Onyxia.
Run Molten Core.
Run Onyxia.Are we done with the damn cloaks yet? OMIGOD.
Blackwing and AQ, here we go!
Naxx? OMIGOD the attunement go go go!
Oops, too late, expansion is here, 10 man and 25 man raiding is born, bah bye 40’s, time for the guild to eat itself over raid spots.

Ooh, that sounds fun, right?

Amazingly enough, it was. It really was.

Times do change, and we grow and adapt to the game. What was fulfilling before may seem simple and even boring now, but back then, there was a spark, an excitement to follow those quests and get attuned and earn a key and get a Drakefire Amulet forged, and everything else associated with it.

Rohan is in my opinion dead right on larger raiding groups back then having room for more people of all skill levels.

In 40 person raiding, there was absolutely some wiggle room to accomodate people who were not completely obsessed with maxing every last aspect of their raiding toolkit.

I’m not saying “room for idiots”, because it wasn’t that, although a truly great raid team could certainly absorb a few people who didn’t try… or know what to do.

No, I mean people who didn’t live, eat and breathe maximizing every little aspect of their game life.

See, I recall the fight mechanics back then as being a bit more… well, unforgiving than they are these days.

Perhaps this is rose-colored welding goggles in gear, but things back then seemed tuned loose for things like pure DPS or health or healing throughput, and tuned tight for movement, situational awareness, and restraint.

For a given value of ‘Don’t move when Flame Wreath is up or you’ll wipe the damn raid”, anyway.

The key seemed to be that as long as everyone stayed alive, you would win. But in order to stay alive, every single player had to manage their location and movement and switch targeting properly, or they’d pretty much die, and maybe suck a horde of adds in on the group on top of it.

Then you’d cheer from the floor for the rest of the run, short thought it may be.

Let’s just take Onyxia as an example.

Three phases to the battle, each a long phase.

To defeat Onyxia felt immensely satisfying, even though it was like 5 packs of trash in one tunnel, then one big dragon fight in a cavern. In a world where we say Trial of the Crusader proved brief trash fights prior to a raging battle agasint one boss in a single room was a stupid idea, Onyxia felt epic.

Have you done Onyxia, old school or modern remix, and payed attention to the mechanics? They’re quite exciting.

There were fears you had to prepare for… you had to locate yourself where you knew that, when you ate the fear, you would not be forced to run so far that you would facepull the Whelps in the caves to either side.

BUT, you couldn’t be so far away from the Whelp caves that you would eat the Dragon’s breath weapon. And you had to watch where you were standing, because the cracks in the ground would erupt in bursts of lava. And the dragon would knock back whoever had aggro for miles and miles. And the dragon couldn’t be taunted, so you had to generate aggro purely through DPS threat generation, so if you pulled off the tank you were a dead bastard, and since the dragon would likely turn to face the offender, the breath weapon would splash all around.

And that’s just in phase 1!

In phase two, the dragon goes airborne, begins raining down fire and destruction upon the area, whelps burst forth from their caves to swarm the groups, madness and chaos descend… screams, shouts, epic Youtube videos and other delights are the end result.

I loved it. I really did.

My point here is, someone might not have known the ‘optimal’ rotation, have the maxed out gear and enchants, used every single tool in their toolbox… but they were not, in any way, ‘carried’.

They just didn’t put out the maximum possible DPS or Heal, but the mechanics had enough wiggle room to allow for that.

You could reasonably run a raid with a few key dedicated genuises organizing and managing everything at the top level of time investment, a bunch of people in the middle making up the majority of your run theorycrafting and looking for that extra 1% of DPS, and quite a few people at the bottom level that were ‘weekend warriors’.

You really lived or died by the competency of your raid leaders, tanks and primary healers, and they got much respect for their dedication and time investment.

Maybe I remember things differently than they were, or maybe the raiding guild I was in was atypical. Too many years gone by to recall.

Where I’m going with this is, I do agree that back then there was more room for players of all experience levels to fill in one raid from the same guild.

Where I see the drawbacks, and why I wouldn’t ever want to go back, are the difficulties I remember so well in trying to find people you knew you could work together with as a team to fill out all 40 positions, and in coordinating schedules so that all 40 people would actually be online, all at the same time, for the same chunk of playtime.

Those are the two bosses I remember destroying more raids than anything else; attendance and scheduling.

Inevitably, with groups that large, we always, always had people logging in at the last minute without food, flasks or buffs, on the other side of the continent needing summons and begging for handouts.

And then, pre-Repair Bot era, needing to hearth and get re-summoned to fix things still broken from the previous week.

I love that Rohan has given me an excuse to take a trip down memory lane, but all things taken into consideration, while I do miss the epic feel of 40 person raids, I don’t miss the scheduling conflicts, being 15 people short and trying to PUG the rest into MC, and all the rest.

If the argument is that larger raid groups make for more player inclusion in the MMO, and a healthier, more active MMO in the long run, I think Looking For Raid makes for the perfect filler between tight small group raid progression and 5 person instance heroics.

If you really want to relax and pew pew without responsibilities… LFR gives us a home to do it in!

One Response to “A Blast Through The Past”
  1. Xew says:

    While I played in Vanilla, I never got into a guild or had a chance to do anything group wise beyond running WC a few times – back when Barrens chat was famous! I didn’t get into raiding until WotLK when I found an actual raiding guild and played with a couple people I knew from the Real World.

    Back then we were a pretty big guild, and were allied with a couple other largish guilds – to the point we could field a couple combined 25 Naxx runs. And I remember the pain of organizing the schedule for that… We also ran the old 40s on occasion, mostly because only a handful had ever done them. That was a nightmare! Even grossly overgeared, AQ40 was a pain.

    I guess my primary point is, with LFR doing all the hard work of scheduling and coordinating; there’s no reason it couldn’t be used to manage 40 man raids. Bring back the drama of the uber raid without the heartache of putting it together.

    10 and 25 man raids should be primarily guild oriented. Tune the LFR to 40 man, make the mechanics even more different than the current LFR is the normal and give players more options to get gear, see content, learn fights and have fun. That’d be epic, in my book.

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