A new zone, new things to kill, new shinies to be had by all! And the same amount of time in your raid week to accomplish everything…argh. The majority of people are not likely to be in a position where they can completely drop Ulduar from their raid schedule just yet, so how do you cram everything in?
While I don’t have the perfect answer for that, I can provide some food for thought, suggestions and how we intend to approach the content as we wait for Ice Crown.
As always there should be a few points that you should consider when setting your goals:
- What do you want to accomplish as a guild;
- How much time do you have to devote to your goals each week;
- Is there a specific goal (i.e. crafting a legendary) that will keep you in a zone longer than anticipated;
- What is your guild’s wipe tolerance;
- What can your guild accomplish – be realistic!
- Keep things fun.
What you want to accomplish as a guild: This is something that it is very important to consider when setting raid goals. For some guilds, their goal is to just clear the normal mode content and gear up for the next zone; for others, getting those hard modes down is important. Neither of these philosophies is ”wrong” or “bad”, different groups will always have different goals in what they want to accomplish. As always it is important for guilds to be clear about what they goals as a guild are, and to let all of their members know what these goals are.
Monolith’s goals still remain to be a progression focused guild, without pushing progress to the detriment of the guild.
How much time do you have to devote each week to raiding: Before you can set raid goals, you need to understand how much time you have to work with. And this may be something that changes with holidays schedules or nights where many people have indicated they are unavailable to raid. In my opinion, being flexible here will go a long ways. Don’t schedule raids on nights that you know you are likely to have to cancel them, it’s better to just schedule an off night.
The time that you have to allocate to raid is going to vary from guild to guild. Some guilds raid 5 nights a week, some guilds raid 3. It is important that you schedule your goals appropriately for the time that you have alloted yourself to raid. If you intend to work on hard modes, know how much time each week you can allocate to those endeavors before you need to move on. Also be flexible in your weekly schedule. If you have something scheduled for a night where you don’t have an optimal group, don’t be afraid to switch your target for the night and move to something that your current raid group is more adept to handle.
Don’t try to do too much. For most guilds there is still plenty that needs to be finished but they still have the same amount of time to get everything done. Focus on one hard mode per zone at a time. Work that hard mode until you have completed it, don’t try to work everything all at once or you will end up not putting enough quality time in to make the limited time that you did spend worth the effort.
Unless you have a reason not to do so (see point below on specific goals), utilize extended raid lockouts wisely. There are very few upgrades, if any at all, left for people in Ulduar. There is little point to continue to clear the zone for gear, as the gear from ToC 25 far surpasses just about everything in Ulduar. Even the gear in ToC 10 N0rmal is almost equal to the gear that you will obtain from Hard Modes in Ulduar. Keep your lockouts extended so that you can continue work on your hard modes without having to continue to spend time clearing out the zone up to that point.
Monolith raids ~15 hours a week, over 4 nights. We have pretty strict cut off times for our raids, and we don’t push people past those times. During this time, we clear ToC and Ulduar, and try to allot time in our schedule to work Hard Modes. Right now we continue to clear Ulduar for our second shard holder, who is at 21 fragments. However, once he has completed his mace we will start extending lockouts and stop clearing the zone.
Is there a specific goal/reason to stay in a zone longer:This is fairly simple to determine at this time. And it boils down to this: Are you still crafting a Val’anyr? If the answer to this is “yes”, and you are committed to getting it finished, then you are going to need to continue to schedule full Ulduar clears for your fragment holder rather than utilizing your extended raid lock outs.
In determining this, be realistic. Does your fragment holder have 3 fragments, or 25 fragments? Continuing to clear the zone for 27 more fragments might not be the best use of your time if you are trying to progress in ToC. However, if you just have a handful of fragments left to obtain, or are very committed to getting your shard holder their mace, schedule the zone smartly. Don’t schedule a lot of time on hard modes you’ve already killed if you struggle with them. I would suggest setting a limit on the number of attempts you will do before moving on. We generally find 3-5 attempts a good number, and amount of time to say “we’ve got it tonight or we don’t”.
Monolith’s second fragment holder is at 21 or 22 fragments. We just need a few more and we are committed to finishing out his mace. As such, until he has his 30 fragments, we will continue to clear the zone in full…and pray for good drop rates so we can start focusing on just finishing out hard modes and not clearing the zone.
Knowing your guild’s wipe tolerance: Let’s face it, not all of us are Ensidia (or the like), and we certainly have a “wipe tolerance”. That is, there is only so much of throwing ourselves at an encounter that we can tolerate before we are spent. Finite. Knowing when you have crossed that line is important. Pushing your guild past that point is detrimental for everyone.
As a musician, I used to practice in excess of 8 hours a day (hello carpel tunnel, I do not miss you!). However, one of the things that I knew, and my professors always told me is that of that time, I probably only had 2 hours of “quality” practice. Which is true. I could only set the metronome slower and work through those tricky passages so much before I was spent, and then just went through the motions.
Raiding is the same in a lot of ways. You can only ask people to wipe and run back so many times before their brains have turned to mush. (eiwwwww, mush!). It is really important to focus on “quality” raid time. Know when it is time to stop and move onto something else. If you are still doing full Ulduar clears, save some of the “brainless” non-hardmode encounters for after you’ve hit your wipe tolerance and maximize your raid time this way.
For Monolith, I would say our expiration is at about the 3-3.5 hour marker. We try to give people short breaks as flasks fade, but we have found trying to push people past this point is futile. Their concentration just isn’t there anymore.
What can your guild accomplish: It is extremely important that you are realistic in this. While we all love our guilds, it is important that you know your strengths and weaknesses. If you know that you aren’t quite ready for an encounter, be honest with your guild about it. Don’t force them into something they aren’t ready for. Go ahead and take a few pulls to get a feel for the encounter and let people know what you will be up against, but don’t schedule 4 hours of raid time on something that you just aren’t ready for yet. Your guild will thank you for your honesty!
Monolith is somewhere on the downside of the bell curve. We above “average” but we also aren’t what I would call a “top” guild progression wise. We have some fabulous players, but we also have some that have room for growth and improvement. We have a pretty good feel for where are limits are and while we do push them, we try not to leap over them with our expectations.
Keep things fun: Of everything that I have stated thus far, I think this is the most important point. You must keep things fun for your members because if they stop having fun, they will stop playing and/or you will lose them. There are a number of ways to help keep your raiders engaged as you work on content. Below are a couple of things that Monolith does to help keep folks engaged:
- Let alts in for easy content – We have started doing this for Ulduar non-hard mode bosses. We do our hard mode attempts/clears, and then we let people bring in their alts (they must be very well geared already). We turn on guild bank repairs for those members that do not move to their alts, so that if it’s a little wipy it doesn’t cost them anything. We do not let the entire raid switch over to an alt, but maybe 5-7 people. You are only permitted to switch to an alt if your raid attendance has been good. This has worked well to get people to continue to show up for Ulduar. Everyone has a good time, and it gets the zone cleared out for us so Naz can continue to collect his fragments.
- Provide “fun” rewards for doing quirky things. We have a standing “100 g to everyone in the raid if nobody hits a mine” on Mimiron. Sometimes we will do things like offer gold to our top DPS on DPS intensive encounters, to keep people challenged and pushing themselves.
- Keep a light environment when we aren’t working on progression content. Keep things lighthearted and silly. Laugh at sloppy farmed kills (I mean, if you can’t laugh at yourself…), and try to make the raid someplace that people want to be. Know when to be serious and focus, but also know when to laugh. You know, like that Mimiron kill where only 5 people are left standing at the end! Or that Freya kill where you tank went LD and your melee all blew themselves up on the seeds.
All in all set your raid goals in such a fashion that you continue to progress, but aren’t killing your guild doing so. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: good guilds aren’t judged solely on progression. The content isn’t going anywhere, so don’t kill yourself trying to clear it!
Monolith’s schedule is probably going to look a bit like this for a while:
Goals: Full ToC clear (gear upgrades), Full Ulduar Clear (frags), Current Ulduar HM target (IC), Current ToC HM target (Beasts)
Wednesday: ToC Normal clear + Siege/Antechamber (less IC)/Keepers (less Hodir)
Thursday: Finish Zone (less IC) + Potential IC HM work
Sunday: Ulduar HM Work (IC) + Potential ToC HM work (or maybe 10 man hardmodes for gear)
Monday: ToC HM work
Now, once we have the remaining fragments that we need, we will stop doing full Ulduar clears, and extending our raid lockouts so that all we do in Ulduar is HM work, thus giving us more time to work with those hard modes and the ToC hard modes. We will go with the above schedule for a while and see how it works for us. But, we are flexible and will adjust the schedule if we need to make changes.
Keep in mind that even though this may work for us, it may not work for you! Be flexible!
Hopefully you found this helpful, and makes your raid planning a little smoother. Good luck with the new content!