Waiting to be a Hero

I didn’t get the chance to raid in Vanilla WoW. I wish I had. 40 man raids seemed like an insane and exciting thing to participate in. Pandemonium. That’s what I would expect. I did raid in a 25 man guild in Burning Crusade though, so I can imagine the headache of trying to get 25 people logged in, geared, and ready to go, scaled up to 40. OW.

In the 25 man guild I was in, we had about 30 raiders. (Or up to 35 at various other times.) There were 3 guild ranks, just for raiders. They were ranked, the highest being called Thunderfury. If you successfully posted above a certain amount of DPS or HPS you would earn that rank. When forming the raid, Thunderfuries were accepted first, then the middle rank (Sulfuras something) and Warglaive as the bottom rank. Anyone who had all blue/purple gear of the appropriate level could be a Warglaive. The problem was, once you were a Warglaive, the only way to advance your character was through raiding… so you had to wait for a night when not too many Thunderfuries showed up to raid to hopefully get in. If there were 6 spots, and 7 raiders waiting, then you had to roll against each other and hope you weren’t the lowest roll. The system mostly worked, except it was very hard to ensure you were always getting to raid unless you were very lucky or very dedicated.

When I left that guild and converted to Alliance, it was a bit different. I joined a guild as a tank, and eventually switched to healing. But we were a 10 man guild. This changed everything in that we had a fairly solid core of 9 raiders who were always present. Generally we could fill that final slot with any pug and do fairly well. However, over time we gained a few lost a few raiders, as always happens and started having issues with having 11-12 people showing up. When you can only take 10 raiders, this leads to the guildleader having to make very painful choices.

Do you take your friend? Do you take the high powered, but also very annoying person? Do you take the sweet, but oblivious person? Do you take the undergeared so they have a chance to get loot and improve or the overgeared so the raid has the easiest time of it? And oh goodness don’t take them, we already have four people fighting over cloth and no one to take the leather drops…

When I left that guild, I ended up in OLN, a 25 man guild that had about 35 raiders. So each night they would draw lots and split into 25/10 raid teams. That worked for Wrath, but Cataclysm was a different story. We lost some big players, had other players drift away, but couldn’t find *anyone* to recruit. I even talked about our insane solution to this event before. It was absurd. 16 raiders squished into a 10 man hole. By the time we hit Dragon Soul we were firmly down to 10 raiders. It was the end of that guild. We couldn’t recruit, we couldn’t bulk back up, we couldn’t get people who were willing to be on a waitlist just in case.

And that’s the problem with tightly tuned raids. When you can’t just carry one or two people, you have to have a finely tuned team to consistently show up to raid. When life happens, you lose a raider and it could be the beginning of the end for your team.

When I formed a guild with Misstorgo, recruiting was our first and main issue. We had to recruit people who wanted a casual experience, were willing to raid only 2 nights a week, and not cause drama. Through a series of lucky events, we ended up with several of my co-workers forming a core raid team. However, as we progressed through MoP we had several events that lead to losing a FEW raiders and not being able to replace them.

I think over the course of the expansion we changed more than half our raid team three times. More often than not, we would find interested people – but oh they couldn’t play without their two friends… Do you have any idea how awful it is being the 11th member of a 10 man raid team? You feel selfish if you say “No, I want to raid.” knowing it means someone else will have to sit out. You feel terrible not showing up because of course, that’s the one night that someone else can’t be there and then no one gets to raid.

But then, the Third Great Change came from Blizzard. Flex – the ability for the raid to scale based on the number of players – was implemented to all difficulty levels (except Mythic, which is fine because we aren’t hardcore like that) of raiding. 11 raiders? You’re good to go with all 11. 14? Yep. 19? YEP.

This literally changes the most painful and difficult part of running a guild into a non-issue. If we get down to around 12 players, easy, we just recruit a few more. No one has to sit, so there is no danger of them getting bored and finding another guild. The fights seem to actually be a bit easier with a few extra bodies. Missing a person? It’s fine, we have more. Your buddy who only plays a month or two then takes a 3 month break? We can bring him, when he decides to show up, and not worry about having to replace him.

WoW is most fun when playing with friends and now it doesn’t ask you to rank your friends and boot the ones who don’t fit into a 10 man hole.

How WoD Raid Lockouts Work

If you are the raid leader, the raid will despawn bosses until it reaches the first boss you HAVEN’T killed.

So if you joined a raid at Paragons, killed it, then go back later, it will start you at Immerseus. Every boss will be present, the only difference is you will not get loot/be eligible for loot from Paragons.

If you want to create a “Garrosh Lockout” you must have someone who has killed ALL the bosses – without skipping ANY – up to Garrosh. This character now has a Garrosh Lockout. If that character wants to HOLD ONTO that lockout, they need to invite their raid, zone in, then transfer leadership and leave.

They will then continue to hold a lockout.

PSA – If you have a lockout like we did, where a toon had killed ALL of the raid except Paragons, we zoned in, at Paragons. That toon did not leave, but stayed for Paragons, she now has a lockout (despite extending the other one) that has her ONLY saved to Paragons. So if she tried to raid lead again, it would start at Immerseus.

Starting at

What are Raid Lockouts, why do they matter, and how do they work?

Whew, what a loaded series of questions!

Raid lockouts were originally a Raid ID that said “This raid is this much completed, and can be completed later.” The problem was, people would raid on Tuesday, get X# of bosses in, then plan on coming back the next day, or later in the week. Then some a-hole in that raid would come back early, with different people, and clear to the end. Blizzard fixed this by effectively giving each person on the raid team a unique lockout. So when you can back, the raid leader would zone in, and that was the same raid they had worked on before.

Players could run raids that had downed bosses they hadn’t, but not raids that went earlier than their own lockout. Yes it’s confusing, so here’s an example:

Trial of the Champions – 10 man:

There are 10 raiders and they raid on Tuesday and killed the first 2 bosses (Beasts and Champions) on Tuesday. Wednesday, they come back, but two of their raiders are out. They grab a guildie and a pug. The guildie hasn’t cleared ANY bosses, but because the raid leader is one of the original 8, he zones in to see the Valkyr up and is asked if he wants to be saved to 2/4. The Pug has cleared Beasts, but not Champions, so he also zones in to see the Valkyr up and is asked if he wants to be saved to 2/4.

This gives the players a clear picture of what is going on, where they are starting, and what they are potentially skipping. So the guildie in this example is passing up the chance of loot from the first two bosses. Once he kills the valkyr, he would not be able to go back and do them later. The two members who DIDN’T make the raid could zone in with an entirely new group and would also be 2/4.

Raid lockouts matter to players because it allows us to take the raid in a series of chunks that are better for our specific playstyle. So like Weeping Angels, we raid 2 nights a week, 2 hours apiece. If we don’t clear the raid in that time, we don’t clear the raid. No running over, no extra nights. We all have kids, and spouses we want to see. WoW is a big deal, but not the highest priority. When we got to Garrosh, we held the lockout even when we would have reset because we wanted to kill him without starting all the way at the beginning of the raid.

So how did this change in WoD?

Well, it got a lot more complicated for one. (Bad designer, no twinkie! Simplicity is a goal over complexity.) Now, the lockout is per BOSS per character. So to reuse the above example, I decide to go into a raid that is 2 of 4. We kill the 3rd boss. I am now “saved” to the third boss. But I have to go, so I leave. I am saved to JUST the┬áValkyr though. So if I try to start a raid later, it puts me at the FIRST BOSS I haven’t defeated. Which is Beasts, the first boss. When I get to the Valkyr again, I just don’t get loot, but I still have to kill them again.

This is a TERRIBLE design.

Players use raid lockouts to skip bosses they need nothing from. So a guild will run SoO, get to the final “wing” and switch an alt out. This allows that character to “hold” the lockout. So the next week, they can start at Blackfuse and finish the raid faster. Get to the meat and potatoes faster. Get to the new loot – FASTER.

The only reason for changing this would be if Blizzard didn’t WANT players skipping bosses like this. But the problem is, their “fix” for that didn’t change that. it just made it clunkier! Now if we want to save a lockout, we have to bring an alt for the first 11 bosses, then switch that alt out, and have them be raid leader the next week, instead of just switching an alt out for a single boss.

I don’t understand the logic behind this. It doesn’t make sense in the scheme of raid lockouts and progression. Following the “new” method, it should just put the players at the boss directly AFTER the last boss the raid leader defeated. If we really wanted a fresh raid, we wouldn’t be extending the lockout! If we wanted a fresh raid later in the week, just have the raid leader be someone who hasn’t run!

I would even like to see the ability to “jump to wing” for raiding. As long as everyone in the raid has previously cleared all of those bosses, when we get ready to go in, the raid leader can choose to start at a specific boss or wing.

You met me at a very weird time in my life.

It never fails. Someone says “I cannot wait until we get a new raid… I am bored/hate this one.” This always sparks the conversation of favorite raids and most hated raids. (For the record, mine are Naxx and ICC.)

Someone always brings up ICC. You know how when you smell something distinct and suddenly you are launched backwards in time to a significant moment – that happens to me every time someone mentions ICC or when I step inside the instance.

I was raiding on the Alliance side for the first time. I was healing for my raid. I was raiding with co-workers. We worked at Sega and it was fun. We would play at night, then in the morning there would be long discussions about what we did, and what we should be doing.

During this time, we were a team of 9 players. We needed another dps, so we stopped by Dalaran, pinged trade chat, and picked up a warrior. How was I to know that the pug we just picked up would end up not only joining our guild, but so would his wife. They would become friends. Fortunately they didn’t live that far away, so we even got to hang out in real life.

Then life happened. Sega closed our studio. People went to new jobs, with weird crunch schedules. Things… drifted away. But from that point on, meeting Misstorgo, raiding ICC, downing the Lich King, and working at Sega on Iron Man 2, all of these things were intertwined in my brain.

The real oddity is… this has happened before. Black Temple and Hyjal are intertwined with working at Mind Control. Kara was when I was at TG. Since then, raiding Cataclysm was a period when I was at TfB, but not raiding with co-workers.

It is odd to realize I am in the midst of creating another connection. My TfB raid team, finishing SoO, finishing Trap Team… it’s all interconnected now. My life is a series of events blended with in game events.

When I return to these raids or talk about them, I will have that moment of nostalgia. I will have that reminder of my life from that time. I wonder if other players have similar experiences, both in WoW and in other games.

The Moment of Longing

As always, WoWInsider has inspired me to write a blog post, discussing WoW and how entwined my life is with it.

Expansion launches are always a weird time for me. I am so incredibly excited for the new thing. I can’t wait to meet new NPCs, see new zones, conquer new raids… But… I will miss the old stuff. Even now, I go back to Dalaran, and I have this moment, right when I load in, where I feel that familiarity. The soft comfort of a place I know well and rarely see anymore.

It’s like going home.

I return to my parents town and home, and everything is hearthbreakingly familiar. So similar to how it used to be. The pond is covered in green algae. The roads are as twisty as they have always been. The cows still munch at the edge of the road, balefully watching cars, trucks, and the occasional tractor drive by. That one guy still washes his old red truck every day and waves at cars as they drive down the road.

Everything seems the same. But as I look closer, there are small differences. The Walmart has been rearranged. There is a new restaurant in the old Shoneys. A new fast food place opened up on the edge of town (but it’s not very good my mother tells me). That one friend now has 4 kids instead of 3. So and so married so and so. Those people got divorced (are we at all surprised?) But even with the changes… it’s still that same place.

The feeling that always strikes me though… I don’t fit. I don’t belong here anymore. I haven’t lived there in 10 years. I thought at first it was the time I had been gone, but even spending a more extended time there, I realized… I was different. I had changed in my time away. I grew as a person, I gained awareness of others, I learned about the world at large, far beyond the microcosm of my home town.

In a way, I feel this same emotion every time I return to old expansions. These cities, zones, quests, and raids were once my home. But I have grown up. I have changed and seen bigger bosses, and bigger trials. I have explored more interesting zones. My old haunts, while still beautiful and wonderful in many ways… they are a place a visit. I don’t live here anymore. This is not my home.

I move forward to something new and exciting, and yet… I will do many of the same things. I will make new friends, and old ones will drift away. A new expansion is still just that, an expansion of the journey we have been on. The adage says – the more things change the more they stay the same.

Oh Pandaria – I loved you. Thank you for being my home for two years. A source of joy and comfort, a balm for my sadness and heartbreak. I will move forward, but you will stay behind. I will return on occasion – to visit, finish achievements, perhaps even to farm up a piece of gear… but it won’t be the same. I have outgrown you, and while that is sad, it is for the best. Let us enjoy this one last hurrah and see Garrosh fall a few more times. (Also give me an heirloom.)