The State of Raiding

General Discussion
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So here we are. It's Warlords of Draenor and the raiding is as good as ever. It's well designed, fights are incredibly balanced for DPS (for the most part). Healers aren't burdened by impossibly difficult encounters, gear is overwhelmingly fair, weapons and trinkets are easier to come by than ever. All the tank classes are playable, though some easier than others, classes have their niche. People have to work as a team to down content, personal accountability is as important as ever. I've never enjoyed zoning in and killing bosses as much as I have nowadays.

Why then is World of Warcraft on the verge of a raiding exodus? Why are melee classes disappearing from the recruitment scene? Why do hundreds upon hundreds of guilds struggle to come up with their 20 man roster needed to pursue the games highest level of content? Why do I not feel like my realm is of any importance to me anymore as a player, who manages a Mythic raiding guild on Skullcrusher/Black-Dragonflight where I've been for a number of years?

I have witnessed more top-end raiding guilds fall apart this tier than I have ever. There are more guilds recruiting for the highest-level pool of players than I have ever seen in the past. During Highmaul, there were about 2,000 guilds vying for the same recruiting pool- 6/7H-1/7M teams of players stuck in the same item level, with the same talent pool, competing against 6/7 and 7/7M guilds who over-recruit to simply regurgitate and recycle anything they can't secure within their age-old communities. And who is to stop them? Why does a top end raiding guild need to recycle players to refill the last few raiding spots that would be so easy to come by on realm, not 3 years ago?

Since when has forum recruiting been demanded of US 1,000 to US 3,000 raiding teams in order for them to survive? These are not players who are used to having content expire after they've downed "Heroic" (The old normal) mode bosses. They're used to moving on in their group to the next level of raiding, and since there's more difficult content, I don't blame them for going after it. They're human. This game has a highest level that everyone can reach, and while it takes some people longer to reach it, everyone at least wants to move on to the content they're capable of doing. One problem, you need 20 people. 20. Not 17, not 15, not ten, you need 20.

Here's the problem. There aren't enough people playing World of Warcraft to support the number of 10 man guilds that expanded their raiding teams to 20 man. Of the 20 guilds on Skullcrushers realm rank list, only 13 of them are still raiding. Only 2 of them are in their first tier raiding together, only 1 of those 2 new guilds has managed a stable roster.

That is my guild. Use Your Imagination. I aspired to be a GM in Cataclysm and left this game for a number of reasons. When I came back, I picked it up where I left off. Starting in August, a new guild was born, and since then we've gone from only myself and a friend of mine, to a 20 man team that raids around the US 250 level. As I write this, we are 6/10M, and moving through Blackrock at a very respectable pace. Still, I recruit, and it makes sense. People leave the game, people burn-out, players decide to go casual, whatever the case. We've held it together. But most guilds haven't. Most new guilds got shoved to the ground, by many of the top guilds on the server that snipe, hand-pick, and over-recruit to remain competitive.

My guild was 2/7M, we were effectively recruiting against 2,000 guilds around 1/7 and 2/7M who were vying for players of 6/7H or 7/7H experience. Why? Because anyone with mythic experience was being picked up by a 4/7M leading guild at the time- but that's besides the point. All of these guilds, like us, were sitting around 16 to 18 man rosters. Incomplete, too unstable to get a 20 man raid team that resembled itself the previous night. Even knowing the expansion was coming months in advance, and seeing the change in seize, thousands of guilds couldn't make the transition. Hundreds of guilds broke up over Brackenspore, and we squeezed out a kill better than US 500 to stay alive.
This is my opinion of the state of raiding, but this account is based off a tremendous number of hours of experience. Since August, I have averaged a monumental amount of hours recruiting on the forums, in-game, networking on and off-site. Between August and January, I averaged between 40 and 50 hours a week involved in recruiting measures. Between January and March that number decreased to 20 to 30 hours a week, and now I spend less than 10, thankfully. But it still persists. And I can't imagine many other new GM's have experienced anything different. If you didn't put in the hours, your guild likely failed, and if you did, you're likely still spamming the forums as are 20-30 of the United States top 300 guilds are at this very moment (Most of them with an exuberant raiding history). That's right, 10% of the US top 300 guilds are recruiting, and heavily. Not just for a bench spot, for an active core raiding position. What are they looking for? They're looking for players in those US 500-3,000 slots that want to step up. They're looking for the frustrating players who feel they belong in a stable community, not even that their current guild isn't good enough for them, or that they aren't at the level they should continue raiding, but that their guild simply doesn't have the bodies to keep up.

So where have the players gone? Why can't teams on SK/BDF raid even though they're down a few players for Mythic content? It could be a number of things. My personal opinion, the raid finder is to blame, it's made it so easy to find groups for raiding people don't need to even bother searching for a raid on server anymore. Even a server with 5500 uniquely geared PvE players, like mine. People don't discover what's around. Who needs to raid with a guild at specific times of the week when you can pick up with a group of people on Illidan at 4am on a Sunday, when you fail one mechanic and that's the end of your raid night?

Maybe this is what Blizzard intended. Maybe it was their intention to make fights so difficult and unenjoyable for melee that the number of raiding DK's, rogues, feral druids, enhance shammys, ret paladins (Oh hey, melee), has virtually disappeared. The forums totals an average of 2 posts a day from all of these classes. and only about one every four days within the item level range necessary to pursue mythic content. In a raiding community where guilds are already struggling for players, the guilds that currently raid and progress through mythic content continue to struggle to find these classes to fill their rosters.

Of the 5500 uniquely geared rogue PvE players on SK/BDF, only 5 of these are in Mythic raiding guilds. Five. Between August and today, March 30th, my guild has had one rogue, and one rogue only, and he left the game due to raiding fatigue. Since then, we have yet to fill that position. Since august we have had two death knights, one cut his hand on a can of soup during a raid break and quit raiding altogether. The other left the game due to real life priorities this week (He was our first recruit). Something tells me it may be awhile yet before we find anyone who can fill that gap. But here's to the melee who stuck it out, who are still with us. The four. Two warriors, a ret paladin, and a windwalker monk.

This is what it's like all across our raiding world. Guilds class stack ranged, they discourage melee recruits unless they absolutely need that utility. Was it guilds or Blizzard who made playing a rogue or a death knight so incredibly unpopular? I think both are to blame. Melee are not strong, relatively speaking, a ranged class can usually perform at the level of its melee equivalent on any given fight. They're not restricted to cleave range, a hit-box, or following around a tank who doesn't execute boss strategy perfectly. It's almost a necessary evil, but one that used to be counter-balanced by external utility that DK's and rogues have nearly seen removed in their viability altogether.

See my next post below.
03/30/2015 07:30 PMPosted by Soar
Why are melee classes disappearing from the recruitment scene?

Because these fights are terribly melee-unfriendly unless you're a rogue...
I'm slightly confused by your Thread Title. Are you saying melee are disappearing and that's making it harder to get 20 players for Mythic groups? Or is it just a general malaise that's making it hard to recruit?

If it's about getting 20 man groups together then problem is there are too many Guilds with too many GM's and Raid Leaders unwilling to step down and merge with other Guilds in order to achieve the goal of playing at the highest level. If you're saying melee are hard to find I don't know what to tell you since all I ever see are melee DPS.
I found this feedback to be fantastically structured. You've presented a plethora of great points, and I appreciate the perspective of someone with so much experience.

I, too, wonder how Blizzard (internally) grades the switch to 20-man mythic. It's tough to make assumptions concerning the Devs' assessment on the new(ish) mythic structure without knowing the initial goals driving the conversion.
And with his dying breath he told me one word... "Holinka."
Continued from post 2.

But this is about recruitment. This is about keeping guilds together. The nature of melee is making it incredibly difficult for my guild to find the remaining one or two personnel to fill our teams, because I am up against another 20 or 30 guilds at the same level as ours when it comes to recruiting these players. We'd gladly take a high-ranking rogue or DK right now in the 675-685 item level range. Matter of fact, so would many 5/10-8/10M guilds right now. With that being said, the 675-685 item level range consists mostly of guilds that are between 9/10 Heroic and 1/10 Mythic. How then, are those near 3,000 guilds that fall into that category, to recruit players when guilds that raid similar number of hours, and are 5-6 Mythic bosses ahead of them, have so much more to offer? It's not that the 9/10 Heroic to 1/10 Mythic guilds aren't capable of downing those bosses, it's simply the number of players required is difficult to maintain. It requires a level of commitment, history, togetherness, to keep it together. Forget about new guilds, established raiding guilds are having difficulty finding personnel capable of pursuing this content as a team.

I could name off guilds, but I won't, take a look at your realm list for yourself and just take a look at all of the guilds you've known for years, that have either died off or are no longer raiding. For whatever reason. Many of those guilds fell apart simply because 3 or 4 raiders retired from the game. They simply weren't able to come up with the personnel over the weeks to continue the effort. Many of those guilds disbanded because their GM's were completely burnt out of the nightmarish recruiting scene. I wonder how many more hours I can personally put in before fatigue sets in. At times, it seemed like an impossible hurdle. A 2/7Mythic guild competing against 2,000 other guilds for raiders in an item level range being snagged up by 4/7 and 5/7 Mythic guilds. That's who we were. And now we're 6/10M, we've been almost 6 weeks without a rogue, we've gone 8 weeks since we last recruited someone new on the vanquisher token.

We tried during Highmaul, I'd say fairly desperately at times, to recruit a high level druid, rogue, or mage, who simply decided to go for a 5/7 or 6/7M guild when only 100 guilds were raiding at that level. We tracked these players out of curiosity, knowing that their logs were only decent when it came to that caliber of raiding. For most of them, they found themselves guildless in a matter of days. But that's how the game is played right now. There aren't enough people in the game to support how many guilds are pursuing mythic raiding. At least not with the current lockout system. With a unique raid lockout for every mythic team, it's impossible. There can be things done to alleviate what Blizzard has forced so many guilds to do, many of which are unaware what they are getting into when they start the mythic recruiting process, but I think that speaks for itself. Loudly.

The players who fail within the top level guilds will often quit the game altogether. I have found more often then not, one failure in a top guild will result in a player dropping down to a casual raiding level, or simply finding something else to do with their free time. It's a shame, but it's what the current raiding format is doing to the game.

Blackrock Foundry. The saving grace of the struggling Highmaul guild. All of a sudden instead of fishing for the last few players to finish their roster, they're back in business. Raiding without the stops. Able to progress through some difficult content and gather some strength before they make a push for mythic. But here we are almost 2 months later, Blackrock heroic is reaching its peak.

If your guild hasn't killed Blackhand now, you've probably resulted to pugging it. Matter of fact, if you're skilled, you're likely searching for a guild that's already downed a couple mythic bosses. And there's nothing wrong with that, but that doesn't resolve the issue of those heroic guilds that are expected to now step into some of the most difficult content Blizzard has ever produced. Recruiting has been nearly dead the last few weeks. If a heroic raider wants to find a mythic guild, they can because many are looking for classes that are few and far inbetween. This is as opposed to the Brackenspore epidemic posed by the difficulty increase between bosses that require coordination and bosses that require a gear-level with a basic understanding of the heroic mode fight. There's no question about it, recruiting will find itself opening up again in the coming weeks due to the fallout of heroic guilds attempting difficult mythic bosses. Like any raid tier, this will happen as expected, but I feel that Highmaul taught us the proportion of players leaving the game due to raiding difficulty will be at a level disproportionate to anything we've seen before it.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with the 20 man raid format, with the exception of the major design flaw that it does not promote feasible guild growth for the average raiding guild. But maybe that's what Blizzard intended. Are half the mythic caliber raiding guilds in the game supposed to disband over the next couple months? Unlikely, but it would be necessary if you expect 2,000 guilds in the United States to kill mythic bosses before June. As someone who has spent almost a thousand hours recruiting, networking, relationship building, reading, observing, and experiencing the changes in this game since August of last year, I can say with absolute certainty that the raiding community is on the verge of breaking.

Concluded two posts below.
this is one of those posts that i really wish would get a blue response
Continued from post 3.

There is a solution. Do I know what the solution is for sure? Absolutely not. But I think I have a good understanding of what this game needs and how to resolve it. The most intense period of recruiting I have ever seen in this game was while our guild was progressing on Brackenspore Mythic, and I think a lot of GM's, recruiting officers and what-not, can attest to the sheer difficulty that recruiting posed, at all levels. Blizzard has the numbers, and I'm sure they have a great understand of the state of raiding. They know probably more than anyone the direction they're going with the game, and they certainly have a grasp on how difficult the raiding community has had it this expansion. Moreso than others before it. Once your guild crosses the US 500 threshold, it becomes easier, bearable, and raiding becomes everything you ever dreamed it would. The content is great, though obviously melee are having a difficult time enjoying some of the fights, but overall, this tier has been as good of raiding as I can remember.

Assuming Blizzard doesn't allow Blackrock to turn into a Brackenspore V2, guilds will be able to experience a decent chunk of the mythic content without running into a road-block boss until the point where you would expect it to become difficult, but as far as recruiting is concerned, times will remain tough. Servers will continue to lose their identity as pug raiding becomes nothing more than a convenience factor for your next heroic level gear-upgrade. Of course this isn't true for everyone, but that's just the nature of on-demand raiding for a lot of people.

The line being tread is very thin, and there have to be steps taken to save the raiding community as we remember it. Especially when it comes to that on our local realms- where recruiting on most servers has all but disappeared for mythic guilds. One thing I believe needs to be considered are the Mythic lockouts. As you may know, once you've killed a mythic boss you are locked to that instance. You will be unable to raid mythic's with another raid I.D. once you've killed one boss. While I do agree that people should be limited to killing a mythic boss once per week, and that they should not be able to backtrack through that raid I.D.s progression, it makes it impossible for guilds to combine weekly to push through mythic content. I would imagine a lot of the reason why Blizzard does this is so bleeding edge guilds can't run 9 Mythic raids, gear up 18 or so players, then combine that week to kill the end boss.

While I do think the system needs to operate as currently when content is released, it prevents guilds from combining to help each other on mythic content long-term. While it does open up content to a lot of gear-cheesing eventually, I think it would be wise to bring back the ICC-style Normal lockouts to Blackrock Mythic raiding, to allow players to continue progressing through content with different groups, max one boss-per week, no back-tracking (On Mythic only).

I don't believe that 10 man raiding is the solution, though it will alleviate the challenges of forming raid teams to raid the highest level, it won't resolve the issues that plagued the dual-system in the past. Class imbalances, loot imbalance, difficulty imbalance, the 10 to 25 debate never ended, and if that system remained, it never would. The reality of it is, multiple aspects of the raid format- size, the lockout, the opportunity to raid heroics in the dungeon finder have contributed to this fall-out. It has allowed the top guilds to reel in and dispose talent as is needed, but restricted the average raiding community from even having a chance to step into the most challenging content the game has to offer. It has burdened aspiring raiders to filter through 20, 30, sometimes even more guilds who are all equally in need of players who can fill their last few raid spots.

This is the state of raiding at the mythic level. The coming weeks will only tell whether Blackrock will lift guilds up, or cause the chaos seen in Highmaul at the 2/7 Mythic level. The gear changes were absolutely necessary to repairing an over-tuned Blackrock instance, but we still have yet to see if that is enough. In a way, this post is a sigh of relief. My guild has made it through the fire and the flames. We're enjoying Blackrock and all it has to offer. Draenor is a great expansion, and the raiding is fantasic, but the mythic raiding community is struggling to maintain its integrity due to the semantics which have made Draenor both extremely unique and extremely challenging.

I hope for raiding's sake, a solution can be found. Without dividing the raiding community. Without a discrepancy in raid size. Without the abhorrent reconstruction and deterioration of melee classes this raid tier. Even if the solution is a better recruiting tool for guilds looking for long-term players, that may make all the difference in the world. Although, a lot of what separated my guild in the first place was our willingness to pursue talent and making a personal effort to make that recruit feel like they would belong, and succeed here.

Good luck to all the guilds recruiting players and finishing their teams. Stay strong, and put in the effort, you will not regret it. One of the biggest challenges of this game is finding a group of players who enjoy playing World of Warcraft together, who you can identify and enjoy yourself with. A guild can make or break your World of Warcraft experience, and it's really important that as a community, we find a way to compose ourselves through these difficult times. After all, we all play this game for fun in the end, at whatever level we play.

Best of luck to everyone raiding this tier. May the RNG Gods be with you!

Thank you for reading,

Use Your Imagination
Maybe its the fact high level guilds are only taking players with x item level/experience instead of recruiting players that FIT their guild and play content together. I raided in Vanilla and a 40 man roster was hard to maintain (reasonable gear + resistance gear + attunements - i personally led half a raid in small groups through BRD just for MC attunement so we could raid that night with recruits)

Are the days of selecting players that are great and getting them geared up to raid gone?
The free peoples of Anti Clockwise feel your pain brother.

It has been very disheartening to see many of my favorites have to call it quits over the past couple of months to say the least.

I have seen a few guilds crumble due to their members being poached or losing interest in the game entirely. Many of the teams I see now have mostly ranged as melee is becoming something of a dying breed in the raid environment.

Disturbing to be sure, but I haven't been able to think of any solutions that wouldn't aggravate large groups of players.
Maybe we're a dying breed in organized raiding, but man... we're breeding like flies in the PuG world... Whenever I start a raid it immediately fills the list with warriors, rogues, paladins and hunters...
It's been a struggle for our team that has raided together for nearly 4 years. But the transition from our tight-knit 10 man heroic team to the 20 man mythic was the death of our team and guild. Our leader burned himself out attempting to compete with other guilds to keep a roster of 20 plus people to raid at mythic level. There were too many competitive guilds and so few quality players to raid at that level and of those none were interested unless you had at least a 5/7 mythic record. We even planned ahead of WoD by merging with another guild to start the expansion with 20 plus raiders. All for naught. The result is no raid team or guild and only 2 out of our original 10-man team have continued playing with the rest either have stopped or cancelled their subscription altogether.
@OP don't burn yourself out, get a good officer core and delegate more stuff, if you are really spending that long hunting players that seems like a fast trip to making you hate, the game, blizzard and yourself.

I've said it before and it may be harsh but I really think too many teams fixated on trying to build up to a mythic team rather then focusing on just having fun with the players they enjoy playing with.

That being said expac releases are always brutal for raiding guilds, if you manage to stick it out your guild will be stronger at the end of it.
Before I found my current guild I was turned away by every pug under the sun with this response: "Warriors are awful".

The entire BRF tier is the worst I ever remember raiding on a warrior. We're a class that got gutted just as bad as shamans, and people still think Warriors are faceroll as a class. I've played every class or archetype in this game at a competitive level, and Warriors remain the most frustrating and difficult class to perform with outside of cheesy AoE padding.

I'm not here to say my class is harder or worse off than any others, but people truly neglect the fact that warriors offer zero utility to a raid. Although sometimes I do vigilance healers or tanks... Yay.
03/30/2015 09:09 PMPosted by Sabod
@OP don't burn yourself out, get a good officer core and delegate more stuff, if you are really spending that long hunting players that seems like a fast trip to making you hate, the game, blizzard and yourself.

I've said it before and it may be harsh but I really think too many teams fixated on trying to build up to a mythic team rather then focusing on just having fun with the players they enjoy playing with.

That being said expac releases are always brutal for raiding guilds, if you manage to stick it out your guild will be stronger at the end of it.

Oh, I love what I do and I love doing it. We really enjoy raiding each other, the hours spent was as much as it was about community building as it was about building a solid raid team. But the sheer fact of the mater is, less guilds are capable of breaking into the scene now than ever before, and it's a shame. Guilds are what makes this game great, and a lot of people are being screwed out of the best World of Warcraft experience that they could have.
03/30/2015 07:33 PMPosted by Soar
People don't discover what's around. Who needs to raid with a guild at specific times of the week when you can pick up with a group of people on Illidan at 4am on a Sunday, when you fail one mechanic and that's the end of your raid night?

While I understand your frustration, you have to realize that there are many people that can only raid at 4 in the morning. For those people, that's what LFR and the raid finder tool is for when they want an actual challenge.

Personally, I've always preferred raiding with my actual guild. Yes, I've pugged in the past out of necessity (conflicting work schedule that didn't allow me to raid with the guild) but I personally prefer raiding challenging content with people I know.

You are also forgetting that things like LFR and now the raid finder tool were implemented because there are a lot of servers that just don't have enough people interested in raiding. Sure the connected realms were supposed to help with that, but to be honest, it didn't help much.

Take Staghelm, for example: I've always considered Stag a slightly more mature server (in average age). We got connected with Azuremyst who- from what I've seen in trade- seems to be a less mature demographic (sorry AZ I only like some of you). I don't think I've met many people from that server I'd personally want to raid with, just because of their attitude.

I call it "Odd Couple" syndrome.

Another thing to factor in though is this: not everyone wants to raid Mythic. Heck, I know back when Mythic was still Heroic, you had to practically hog tie me to my chair to get me to attempt it. Just not a mode I'm interested in.

And now, I think I have completely forgotten my point (I know there was one).

Continuing on anyways:

Wildstar. We all heard the hype about the raiding there. From what I've heard, their plan didn't play out because people just aren't interested in larger raiding groups anymore and harder difficulties that they were toughting (add in the attunement process also). So what did WS do? I think everything is 20 man now.

In my opinion, I think Bliz made the same mistake when it comes to Mythic raiding. People had been telling them for a good year that it was easier to recruit for a 10-15 man raid then it would be for a 20m.
You think of it very in depth... personally I just can't stand how many different difficulties there are for raiding. I have no interest in doing a raid on more than one difficulty, and I feel a lot of people get sick of the content by the time they get to Mythic

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