Once again, a key factor in me joining LoE was the September Blues. I originally applied in August, but was turned down due them already having a moonkin and not needing a lot of people. Less then a month later they lost a few people including a GM and another officer and drama ensues. So, in September they had a spot for me.
What I find most spectacular about the situation is that LoE has been a very stable guild for the year that I've played with them. Much more stable then my other guilds. We lost people here and there but the core remained strong and we never needed to recruit more then a couple of people at a time. However, in the last 2 months we've lost 9 core raiders for various reasons. The September Blues strike again and our progression slows.
The Systemic Problems:
September is like the Monday of the year. We are just coming out of the Summer (the weekend) and it is time to buckle down and do the normal things in life. Kids have to go back to school. Work generally slows down a little in the Summer, and now it is picking back up. Not to mention all of the other distractions that come back into play, like new TV shows and sporting events.
This is a time of year when people reevaluate there lives and reset their priorities. Therefore, I think it is somewhat unavoidable that guilds go through a rough patch at this time of year. You can't fault someone for rededicating themselves to the things I think we all feel are more important then WoW: Family, School, Work.
However, is it all Systemic?
Last night our raid was very frustrating, at least for me. Due to a series of player and technical issues we had a little more down time then usual. During one of those down times our Raid Leader decided to make a mini State of the Guild Address. He talked about a couple of different things but I thought one of them was very insightful.
Most of our recent losses aren't people leaving the guild, but people leaving the game. A couple have expressed their dissatisfaction with the game in general, but most of them have sited personal reasons for the departure like work and family. Once again, I won't fault them for those reasons, but I think most of us have personal reasons why we could leave the game. The point was that some of those personal reasons while important and real, are to some extent being used to cover up some level of dissatisfaction with the game, and that if the game was more compelling that some of those people may not be stepping away.
Let's look at the current state of raiding. Honestly, Tier 7 was a joke when it was released. Ulduar was fun and exciting when released, but it has lost its luster like all instance due after repeated clears. The Ulduar Hard Modes still hold some interest for me due to the Achievements, but the once uber gear is now just so so, compared to the better gear you can get from the Loot Pinata that is ToC normal. I don't think Loot is the main reason any of us play, but it is extremely dissatisfying to know that Firefighter is one of the hardest achievements in game, but has lesser rewards then a boss like Northrend Beasts that we could one shot without ever seeing before and reading half formulated strats.
The Quality of ToC:
ToC is the most bipolar instance ever created. First look at ToC normal mode. My guild one shot or two shot every boss in there the first time we saw it. In the 6 or 7 weeks that it has been available 10,055 guilds have cleared it according to WoWProgress.com. By comparison, in the 5 MONTHS Ulduar has been available 8,017 guilds have cleared it on normal after several nerfs. Sorry, but numbers don't lie. Either ToC normal is to easy or Ulduar normal is to hard. I think ToC is to easy, and the fact that you can get 245 ilevel gear for basically just showing up makes it really hard to get motivated for wiping in Ulduar on hard modes.
Heroic, ToC on the other hand is very tough. Only 13 guilds have cleared the instance which is to be expected only a couple of weeks after the instance is available. About 1500 guilds have killed Heroic Beasts. That doesn't seem that out of wack (though I would have thought it would be higher) for what I think hard modes should be, but I have other issues with the instance.
My guilds experience may be exceptional, but judging from the forums and such it isn't that unusual. One of the main problems we've had with Northrend Beasts heroic has been technical issues. Last night, one of our Tanks would DC every time the Snobolds would spawn, making the tank transitions impossible. Other guildies had similar DC issues, and just for the record, there were no commonalities between them. They had different ISPs, lived in different parts of the country, there hardware was different, and none of them have severe DC issues in other instances. I hate to blame the DCs on the instance, but at some point it becomes to much to be a coincidence.
The most frustrating aspect of the Northrend Beasts encounter is despawns. You don't know how many times we've started to make a good transition from Gormok to the Wyrms with everyone alive to have the wyrms freaken despawn. It makes me want to punch babies.
Again, I hate to blame our lack of progress on ToC heroic on technical issues, but how can we work the kinks out of our strategy if technical issues prevent us from playing normally?
I think several of Blizzard experiments have failed miserably.
- Having 4 versions of the same instance is way to much. I sometimes forget which version I'm in. When we did Beasts on Wednesday I started to get excited by how well it was going after wiping on it all Monday and the previous Thursday, then I remembered "oh yea, this is the normal version." On top of that I have been running both the 10man versions as well.
- Emblems for Tier Loot: I liked how I could complete my tier set with badges in Naxx and Ulduar if I got unlucky with drops, but the new system in ToC completely sucks. If your looking to build a set of T9.245 it will take you a minimum of 5 raid lockouts to complete it, and that assumes that your clearing all 4 versions of ToC every week and doing the Heroic daily every day.
Lets look at it from a more realistic point of view. Currently I'm clearing both versions of normal ToC each week, and kill 3 bosses in the heroic version of the 10man. I also do the daily about 3 times a week for 45 Emblems a week. At this pace it will take me 7 raid lockouts to complete my Tier set. That may not sound that bad, but remember that requires me to run the same instance at least 3 times a week and to do 3 5mans that aren't a challenge either.
What if I can't or don't want to run 10mans? All of a sudden I'm down to 20 or 30 Emblems per week and it takes me 10-12 weeks to complete a set, and this is without picking up any of the other Emblem loot you might want like the Idols.
The new Tier loot system encourages you to do busy work and instance below your level that have no value to you other then the emblems. Blizzard has sold the concepts of 10man vs 25man and normal vs heroic by saying it gives players options to play the way they want to play and see content. Well this system takes those options away by rewarding Quantity of play rather then quality of play.
- I think Blizzard has put together a strong system for inducing burnout. ToC was released to quick before most players were ready to leave Ulduar. The normal version is to easy, devalues the Ulduar experience, and makes guild management more challenging. Heroic ToC seems to have several technical issues and is probably a little hard for being the first boss in an instance.
So players are now put in a strange situation. We have Ulduar which is well designed and balanced, but the rewards for your accomplishments are minimal now. We then have Normal ToC which is a cake walk with great rewards but can be cleared in under an hour easy. Finally we have Heroic ToC which is a little buggy and a little hard, but has great rewards. Basically we are being encouraged to clear a set of bosses in under an hour and then wipe on the same set of bosses for the next 8 hours, while ignoring a good instance because of its lesser rewards.
I don't really want to use my blog for guild recruitment, but a small blurb won't hurt. We run highly focused raids 3 times a week for a total of 9 hours, but have success similar to guilds that raid twice as much as we do. We are currently looking for Ranged DPS and Healers but will consider applicants in other rolls as well. If you want more info you can find our recruitment forum here. Our application is here.