Hardcore and Casual, can't we all just get along?

So, the Druid community has had a few things to say about casual and hardcore players lately.

Jacemora, Druid of the Moon had a few things to say about being tired of casuals taking potshots from hardcore players every time there is a content nerf.

In eloquent response, Keeva of Tree Bark Jacket defended the hardcore player’s right to not be stereotyped as elitist asshats, and mixed in quite a few reasons why hardcore players do have cause to be upset lately.

Even our beloved Bellwether of 4Haelz had a few things to say about the topic, in her own insightful way.

Hmmm… was the week lacking in drama? I hadn’t noticed.

Well, there’s always room for more drama!

No, that’s unfair of me. Whenever someone involves themself and their identity heavily into a subject, emotions run high if they feel themselves or others in similar situations are insulted, slighted or belittled.

I have to admit that I stopped thinking in terms of casual or hardcore, except as generic placeholders familiar with other people, a long, long time ago.

I have the opportunity to play with quite a few people from different walks of life in my guild. Some of them would call themselves casual PvE content players, and others came from what they describe as hardcore PvE raiding environments, have the gear and accomplishments to prove it (Hi Algie!) and joined to get away from it, if only for a while.

I’m sorry if this offends some people, but I have to tell you what I have learned in my time in the game;

What content someone has cleared, and the number of people with them when they did it, has nothing whatsoever to do with the potential or actual skill of the player.

I’m sorry, but it’s true.

I will say that players that are consistently a large part of their guilds’ raid progression will obviously tend to be well skilled at playing their class, because those that are poorly skilled will be removed by the raid leader.

But those players are by no means the only skilled players in the game.

I personally don’t care in any way what content anyone claims to have cleared, when they claim to have done it, or what Achievements or gear they may sport.

The single biggest difference between a raiding player and a casual player is the time (and desire) available per week to play.

I said I do use the terms. When I describe someone in terms of casual or hardcore, I actually use the terms for two different categories; time they themselves personally spend per week playing, and the level of content that a guild is focused on completing.

If I say that such-and-so is a hardcore player, there is no assumption of skill implicit whatsoever in this label, not on my part. I’m merely acknowledging that the person has a massive amount (in my world) of personal time to devote to playing the game on a scheduled, weekly basis.

For your average college student that lives in a dorm and doesn’t have a part time (or full time) job, I bet what I consider massive amounts of time is barely the lifespan of a mayfly.

I know people I consider to be hardcore players whose guilds aren’t even raiding. They raid with other guilds as part of their teams, and stay in their own social guilds for the comradeship. They want to raid, really raid, and put lots of hours into it. They want to see progression, and work together with other people that have a lot of time to devote to the same pursuits.

But they like hanging with friends in a social guild the rest of the time.

Some of these people are, indeed, highly skilled.

I do know one hardcore raider that I feel has very poor skills, in every way… but he is currently a welcome member of a raiding team because he is extremely reliable in terms of being on time, being prepared with mats and repairs, and he plays a healer with very good gear.

Not very good skills, just very good gear.

I have played in raiding guilds before, and I have played and still play with the people in my casual, social guild.

I’ve seen a lot of those ‘casual’ players pull off skillful moves that are amazing. Simply amazing. And yes, I’ve been in pugs for 10 man, 25 man and 5 man content, and been with ‘hardcore’ raiders in extremely good gear from progressed raid content, and I thought they played their class like shit.

Please, I know what someone will say. They’ll say that the hardcore player was probably slumming and wasn’t bothering to give their attention to the raid. They were coasting and spending more time chatting with guildies or whatever. Maybe watching a movie. If they were actually trying their skillz would be da bomb.

Hey, if someone commits to any raid and doesn’t actually try to do well, to the point of being an asshat that wipes people without a care, I don’t care what he CAN do, he’s an asshat.

Even when I did a Karazhan pug at the same time as I did a podcast with the Twisted Nether, I was flighty on the air because I really was prioritizing my time on doing my best in the game first, for the pug, and being chatty second. I made jokes about the run, but I was doing my damndest to bring the pain to those mobs.

Look, if you consider yourself hardcore OR casual, I ask you to do this.

Drop the idea that your skill is better than someone else’s just because you can spend more time playing than they can.

Jacemora makes the case that he only truly respects the skills of PvP players, because they are testing themselves in the only venue where it’s apples to apples… in battle against the best other people can bring. 

That’s a fair case to make, if you are looking to prove someone has skill.

I will happily agree that there are a TON of highly skilled players out there.

That’s MY problem with the thing, I see far more skilled players than most people seem willing to accept. And the people that denigrate other player’s do seem to be hardcore progression raiders more often than not.

If you have the free time in your life to be able to devote four or five hours of your life every day to playing the game, and you do so… that’s your business. I would certainly hope that you’ve used that time wisely, to master the intricacies of your class.

Maybe it’s not that much, maybe it’s four to five hours just 3 nights a week, that happen to correspond to your guilds’ raid times.

But pelase, make no mistake, having a lot of free time does not confer upon you mad skills.

Effort, practise, knowledge, self-analysis and self-improvement efforts, study, inventiveness and improvisation all help to develop your skills.

People with more playtime just have more time to do this. They aren’y the ONLY ones with the time to do it.

If you think that only those people that play enough hours to raid consistently are skilled at your class, that’s your problem, not mine.

I see mad skills in the hands of both types… and BELIEVE ME, I see the results of complete idiocy in both types.

Good lord, yes.

Look, I know ‘hardcore’ raiders that take pride in raiding stone drunk, or simply stoned, and have for years. And yes, they also made progression, and did Black Temple and Sunwell and original Naxx and AQ40.

It’s not who you raided with that impresses me. It’s not what content you’ve seen. It’s not what gear you have, or what Achievements you’ve got under your belt.

My prejudice is in thinking that the people who think that stuff is really impressive, are the same folks who figure that if they get the fire engine red Lamborghini with the custom rims, they’ll get admiring looks down the boulevard as a slick hot race car driver as they tool through the mall parking lot. Err, I mean sit on their ZA bear mounts outside the IF auction house.

That stuff doesn’t blow air up my skirt, my friends.

I do not give anyone any respect on the basis of things that only people with a lot of free time could accomplish.

It doesn’t work that way in my twisted little world, my friends. Maybe amongst raiders, the desire to stand out from those who cannot raid is important… but if your ego is wrapped up in your status in a video game, there are other issues at play here.

No, my respect is given to players that show skill, that show understanding of playing their class, and above all else show that they are considerate, mature people both in the game world and in the real world.

Take pleasure in the game itself. Compete however you’d like. Strive agasint other players, or pit yourself against PvE content.

But don’t mistake having a lot of free time to play with being BETTER than those that do not.

If you are skilled in playing your character, you understand your class and how you can work with other players together as an efficient team, that’s excellent. But you’re not the only ones that can do this.

Have I said it enough times? Have I used the debate tactic of repetition enough?

I bet I did.

I think perhaps one of the reasons this stereotype silliness lingers on, is that raiding progression is the easiest way to obtain rarer gear or Achievements, and the scarcity of a thing is sometimes equated with it’s difficulty in obtaining. 

For these things, yes you need skill… but yo also need lots of free time, and lots of friends that have the same desire and free time as you.

It doesn’t JUST boil down to skill.

There are far fewer opportunities to shine for the 5 man instance crowd, but they ARE out there. It is what it is.

Like the Culling of Stratholme drake mount. That’s a very cool thing in game to show you brought some to the party, right?

But how have many folks cleared that content? Why, they went and raided until they get a lot of iLevel 213 drops across five people, and then they blew through it.

How many people tilted their lances against the Culling of Stratholme drake Achievement when in a group of all quest rewards greens and blues?

I’m sure a few did… and that’s some damn good skills there. If you did, kudos to you, you earned a hell of a solid accomplishment.

Hey, what is the most reviled heroic?

The Oculus.


The last boss requires skill and understanding only… gear iLevels have no affect on the final boss.


Some people HAVE worked their butts off to learn the fight, master the drakes, and dominate the Oculus. And not all of them are in raiding guilds, know what I mean?

Bellwether is one of those people. Yes, she is a raider these days, but doing the Oculus in all it’s various hard modes… THAT is a demonstration of skill to me.

I wish people that did that got drake mounts or pretty shiny unicorns. They bloody well earned them through skill.

At least, they did until Blizzard changes things in 3.2 so that iLevel DOES affect your drakes in the Oculus. /sigh

I have to admit, knowing that the Oculus is going to be nerfed does have me wishing I had the spare time to go in there and master it first. Blizzard had set the difficulty bar, people have put their minds and efforts to mastering it, and I’d like to do so myself if they’re going to take that challenge away soon. I didn’t care to do it until they decided they would nerf it soon, lol.

You see, I do sympathize with anyone that pits themselves against a challenge and masters it, only to have the bar lowered for others later on.

Hammering on it one last time… I just totally disagree with the idea that the free time you have to play with your raiding guild is an indication of your potential skill in playing your class.

Heh… I bet a lot of my readers feel that I lack the Bear tanking skills because I’m not progressing in Ulduar, though.

But that is a topic for another day. Time to get back to work.


19 thoughts on “Hardcore and Casual, can't we all just get along?

  1. I can pretty much second every word here. Just because someone has less time, or less inclination, or fewer options, or fewer people to raid doesn’t make them worth any less as a player, much less a person. Looking at some of the casual-bashing you’d think the self-styled elite think we’re not worth the air we breathe and should all be taken out and clubbed to death like baby seals.

    They conveniently ignore that if that happened, WoW would probably collapse because most players are not hardcore.

    Besides, it also says a lot about these people, and none of it good. I’d rather play with friends, or friendly strangers, who may have crap gear and wonky builds and abysmal DPS but are mature and relaxed and plain fun to be around.

    And I must say, one of the fastest ways to my mental ignore list is being an obvious attention-whore, epixxed-out or not. You think you’re “k3wl” when you block a summoning stone or NPC or mailbox with your biggest rarest mount and your Tier-whatever epics? Nope, you’re not “k3wl”. You’re an infantile nuisance. I won’t look at your mount or where it drops. I won’t look at your achievements. I won’t look at your gear. I won’t care. I may look at your guild tag, but then I blank you out. Seriously, is anyone impressed by such behavior?

    Though, in all honesty I think much of the bashing and flaming and pissing and ego-wanking is probably not done by the “real” hardcore — they are probably way too busy raiding or farming to make arseholes of themselves on random forums day in and day out. Most of the idiocy likely comes from wannabes somewhere in the middle between “hardcore” and “casual”, however you define those terms. They will never get any of the vaunted server or world firsts but they clear a raid faster and sooner than other guilds with less time, so they feel superior and piss all over them as if that put them on the same level as whatever the guilds of paid players (crazy thought really) are called.


  2. Yah, BBB I wasn’t clear. “Core” was wrong. I meant that, of the arguments you put forward, and then elaborate on, I disagreed with the proposition about the potential of the player and their progress (in orange text). However I re-read your blog entry after your comment reply here, and I think I misunderstood your original blog point.

    I agree hardcore players do not have an exclusivity on the best players. I think that was one of your points.
    I agree casual players can have situational awareness and be good players.
    Also, yes, generally hardcore players need situational awareness in order to remain in their guild.
    I do think there is a higher probability that people who raid hardcore hours will be better players.

    What I had misread, was thinking you had said “hardcore players progress regardless of skill”, because of some of your elaborations like ‘Why, they went and raided until they get a lot of iLevel 213 drops across five people, and then they blew through it.’ imply brute force rather than skill.



  3. I can see both sides of the story. It is unfortunate to use “gear checks” and look at achievements when deciding who to invite in a situation such as a PUG, but at least people with gear must have seen the fight, and I think that is what most people turn to in their decisions. They may have been carried by their raid or group, and they certainly may not be better, but I don’t think there is any other way to at first glance make an approximate estimate. Often people who are geared and are not as skilled may still out DPS/hold threat better/heal more than quality players simply from the stats they have. A newly leveled 80 in greens and blues is not going to do well stepping into Ulduar right away, no matter how much skill they have. They are limited by their gear in that sense, and less likely to do well in specific situations. Someone with amazing PVP skills but no resilience is going to get crit like no tomorrow and just kind of explode. I think this in turn translates, becomes generalized, and adds to the stigma against casual raiders/players that you were describing, Bear.

    I guess with the time commitment people also assume that the player is more likely to have done some research, learned how to play, become familiar with their class, etc.

    I raid in both 25 and 10 mans, do heroics, pug things, whatever. I have recently been running 10m Ulduar with another guild, one who does not have enough people to fill the raid normally, and generally only has 10m Naxx gear. They are absolutely incredible. I have had so much fun playing with them; they all have the skill you were describing. Playing with them made me want to try to recruit them, but I realized that being a 10m casual but skilled guild is who they are. They don’t want to spend time in 25 man raids scheduled multiple times a week. They are completely happy with where they are, enjoy getting better and seeing new things, but are not willing to sacrifice their identity and attitude toward the game to do so.

    I think people always get wrapped up in thinking more is better because there is nothing else to compare to. There is no objective skill rating for players (besides PVP ratings). Can you imagine making a pug and saying “Oh, I’ll take that player, they have 4 stars rather than the one with 2”? Adding something like that would be absolutely ridiculous and impossible. Showing skill on the outside is never really going to be possible, so people turn to what they assume would correlate. I think the best you can do is earn a good reputation from encounters with other players and work towards your own goals.

    I think I kind of meandered from what you were saying…oh well. Love that you bring stuff like this to light and make people think. 🙂


  4. I don’t know, Gravity, the core of the post seemed to me to be that skills in playing a class or the game, including situational awareness, do not reside solely amongst players that have a large amount of time to raid consistently.

    If you feel that situational awareness and reaction time can only be found amongst players that raid in large groups frequently, that’s your prerogative!

    Oh, and yes, technically, the core of the post was about how all players should drop name calling and finger pointing and angst towards others based on how often they play, and stop being prejudiced about someone based on time to play [in either direction], and how a wise player would stop holding preconceived judgments on other’s potential capability and skill based on pretty pixels acquired by spending long times in large groups on a weekly basis.

    But you chose to boil it down to one small part of the post, and then refute it, so I did the same.

    Funny how I’m not a raider, don’t spend all my time raiding, and yada yada yada, and yet I can’t recall ever in my life dying to the fire in Heigan. Except after the grop is gone, anyway.

    Demonstration of skill? No. Demonstration of bounciness and spatial awareness, yes, thank you very much.

    I take pride in my bear bouncing.


  5. BBB, there are distinct differences between good and bad players. The biggest is situational awareness, and related to that is their reaction time. You cannot clear hard modes if you die in the fire. So, I think I’m disagreeing with the core of your post.


  6. I get really tired of the perception that if you have more time it automatically means you are more skilled. Now they are complaining about extending lockouts to 2 weeks if you want – that is on the PTR. Because if you only can raid 2 days a week, they think I should be forced to see only the same bosses over and over, instead of using that 2nd week to get more practice. It’s not skill, it’s time. If they raid 4 days a week, and down a boss after say 15 tries, and say another guild raids 4 days over a 2 week period, and also down the boss after 15 tries, both guilds have done the same thing, one just had more time during the week. So what is the difference? Who is more skilled? neither one.

    It seems like people are much less concerned with having fun and “winning” than they are about holding other players down.

    Reading forums makes me really start to hate my fellow players.


  7. I feel as if the casuals vs hardcore raiders has gotten all the more vicious in Wrath. Perhaps due to lack of content and the constant nerfs to existing content the frustrations are coming out. I do, however totally agree with the points you made on it. I used to be a “hardcore” raider and I did see the uber geared slackers and the talented nobodies. I have since changed jobs and have alot less time to play, so I left my raiding guild and joined a social one. I’m too busy rl to be bothered with being booked up in the game I play to relax. “Zomg! I just got home and I’m late for EoE!” So it really rubs me the wrong way to get “casual player” hate dumped on me these days. Yes, I can play my class very well in all specs. Yes, it IS taking me forever to get geared and beat content because I don’t have hours to devote every day. There’s nothing like having played your class for a long time and having the uber geared slacker pull up your achievement list and belittle you just because you said something he disagreed with. “stfu noob! It took you 4 months to down Naxx” “It still doesn’t change the fact that you aren’t watching your Omen….”


  8. With so many different things to do in the game now, I really have a problem defining one aspect of the game as better over another. There’s arena, which is different from BGs, which are different from WG/world PvP. There’s 25 man raids, there’s 10 man raids, there’s hardcore raids. There’s achievements — which are further broken down. There’s leveling alts. Blizzard put all this great stuff in the game for us — how can we say one aspect is a better measure of skill than another? My greatest accomplishments in this game aren’t really raiding achievements. It’s the fun I’ve had with my guild, the salty title I earned, and the 92 non-combat pets I’ve collected thus far. My husband calls my pet collection dumb (lovingly)…while he works on earning “the Insane”. To each his own.

    If someone’s having fun and not a jerk, they’re “winning” this game.


  9. When I see raids looking for more and demanding gear and achievement checks I get a little jealous, not mad. I just keep plugging away at Heroic content and maybe someday my gear will allow me into some of those far off places. My job makes me less than casual but I am eager so I keep on PUGging.


  10. I agree with you about Oculus, Bell. It took me months after wotlk came out to get a group for that instance because everybody kept telling me it’s too hard to bother with but after completing it I really don’t see what the big deal is. o.o


  11. “What content someone has cleared, and the number of people with them when they did it, has nothing whatsoever to do with the potential or actual skill of the player.”

    Absolutely. It drives me batty, really, I’ve been down both roads over the years, in vanilla, tbc, and now wotlk – raiding several nights a week, to not raiding at all – and I’ve seen it all.

    How often someone plays has absolutely no bearing on their skill. What instances they’ve cleared, what acheivements they have, also has no bearing on their skills.

    The most important factors for raiding are: Reliability, length of time committed to raiding, and ability to not be horribly bad.

    Note that “not be horribly bad” is not the same as being very skilled. Simply average players (basically, ones who understand not standing in the fire) but with average(even somewhat below average) DPS/HPS/etc who can commit more time are ultimately more valuable for progression. I know there’s a lot of resistance to the thought, but it’s true. In every guild I’ve been in over the years, there are highly skilled players, and there are mediocre players, and in the case of the progression raid guilds those mediocre players are every bit as valuable, because they reliably fill raid spots. A raid that’s actually raiding is progressing faster than one that isn’t.

    Currently, I’m extremely casual – I work very long hours (12 hr shifts, plus long commutes to work and back) and I’ve a wife who *always* gets priority for my time – so I don’t raid often. Maybe once every other week. So, I don’t have a lot of raid achievements – not because I can’t, or because I’m terribad and stand in the fire, simply because I don’t have the time to invest in it. Still, in the raids I am able to get in to, I do well for myself. On the other hand, we’ve got lots of players in our guild who die more often, do less dps, etc – people measurably less skilled – but they have all the acheivements because they’ve been there for every raid.


  12. Thanks for the thumbs up, Bear. 😀

    I truly think Oculus is not as hard as people say it is. >.> And, technically, you do get a drake for conquering Oculus hard modes. My beautiful red proto is testament to that.

    You just also have to do the hardmodes for other heroics, too! I would argue that Less Rabi is much more difficult than anything in Oculus…because it relies on specific timing, and sometimes pure dumb luck to get those interrupts off in time, if you’re not overgeared and powering him down in half a minute.


  13. My guild is about 90/10% with regards to the typical hardcore/casual raid concept. Of the 90% that are casual I can say that about 1/3 of those are just totally ballin’ players who hop from char to char and role to role and outperform their gear all the time, even when their gear is awesome. I think those guys love being good at a variety of things too much to put all their chars in a vault and focus on progressing just one. I was talking with some of this group about why there is so much hostility from hardcore players in general chat about casuals and I shared the following thought with them. When a player blames poor performance on his gear he also, perhaps unwittingly, cheapens the performance of the guy next to him. This insinuates that it is in fact his gear and not his hours spent agonizing over gems/enchants, researching a new build, practicing a rotation, reading wonderful blogs like this one that gives him an edge. Viewed this way, that unsolicited abuse is more of a predictable retaliation. It is uncalled for, of course, but that just further proves the more central point that game skills and life skills are =/=. That’s a lesson for both sides to learn because it cuts both ways. After this conversation we all went to the level 83 dummy and tested our DPS naked save for weapons. Lock did 1300, rogue did 1100 and other rogue did 950. That’s a fun test. If you are a caster you can try without weaps but for some of us “that ability requires a dagger in the main hand”.


  14. It’s very true that neither hardcore nor casual equates skill, that’s a given. I feel I am a moderately skilled druid healer… I personally feel I’m missing something to become top shelf, but I’ve never been able to quite figure out what it is. I want to improve, let’s face it, who doesnt want to improve their skills? That’s a part of while I raid.

    Casual, Hardcore, none of these things reflects on my skill level at all. And just like everyone else, I have good days and bad days. I know people who don’t raid and people who live to raid… and they are all people, they can be asshats or great people. It’s not your ‘label’ that defines who you are, it’s your interaction with other people. If you act the asshat, you are giving yourself and your guild a bad name, whether it be hardcore or casual.

    And it’s not simple elitism that leads the more progressed people to complain, it is a very real feeling of “hey, we did it this way, why can’t those who follow do it the same way?” A more casual guild may tend to shrug it off because they havent even seen the content yet, so no need to worry over something they havent gotten to yet. They’ll deal with it, however it is, when they get there. Regarding 3.2, I have feelings on both sides of the fence, in all honesty.

    Maybe that’s why my guild is “casualcore” to outright steal Bell’s lovely term for the in-between type guilds…


  15. The trouble is that the bulk of WoW design is built around the “time=success” model. Skill is far less important to progress than time invested. In other words, the game’s design encourages these attitudes. They aren’t correct, no, but they are not a surprise.


  16. I agree BBB. Personally having dealt with both aspects and choosing to have a casual raiding time, twice a week, is fine by me. I don’t always play this game to see the end game stuff, nor do i want to set aside the time. Ultimately it comes down to one thing. You have to make the choice. You pay YOUR 15 bucks a month. If you want to spend it raiding 4-5 hours EVERY day, Awesome. If you wanna spend it raiding 4-5 hours, twice a week, awesome. Seriously its your choice, and if you do not like what blizzard is providing, I am Sorry, but relize its probably better for the whole community instead of the higher ended guilds for a change.


  17. I view my time in game like I view my hockey teams. I am going to be spending a lot of time with these people, trying to win at something, it helps if they’re not douchebags. Anyone not on my team, also helpful if they’re not douchebags but not required. I play a hell of a lot, prolly 20+ hours a week. But I really only want to do the raid thing because most of my guildies want to and I’ll be damned if I’m the one who’s being carried. It might be that way for a little while, but no one wants to be the worst player on their team.


  18. My big thing with PvP players getting the most respect from a skill perspective is I know just how good someone has to be playing to get high arena rankings.

    With PVE it is knowing a dance, a tempo, where and when to run, a set strategy, and a simple rotation compared to the reactions necessary to win in the arena.

    In arena you have to know all the counters for all the classes and react very quickly along with communication that is above and beyond what you find in PVE.

    Then there are all the abilities you have to utilize in the span of just a couple minutes, I swear there are kids out there that have figured out how to use their toes for keybinds.


  19. I agree with you BBB. I know quite a few people who are in small guilds and don’t spend a bajillion hours playing and raiding and they’re actually verrrrrrry good. And at the same time I’ve come across people in huge raiding guilds that have the latest uber epics but are severely lacking in the skill department.


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