For the past couple of weeks we have been running Heroic 10s as part of our raid schedule as a test experiment. We do them after our normal 25 run and break our guild into three groups: Thrall, Sylvanas, and Bloodhoof. The goal when we set this up was to have two groups that were stong enough to kill Anub, and one group that could easily do the first 4 bosses, but not anub as we are using alt healers/tanks in this group.
We stack our two Anub groups to maximize DPS and synergies. Thrall is our melee group, Sylvanas is our caster group (who we give a rogue for MS and interrupts on Anub), and Bloodhoof is a mismash of who we have left that aren’t in one of the first two groups. We rotate our melee/casters into the Thrall/Sylvanas groups each week, so the groups are always slightly different to some degree. We allot Thrall and Sylvanas ~90 minutes of time, and Bloodhoof ~60 minutes of time on our given raid night for the zone.
Experiment Week One
The first week we did this, Thrall obtained “A Tribute to Mad Skill”. Sylvanas struggled with Anub, largely due to healing, which we sorted, and obtained “A Tribute to Skill”, but required us to give them extra time on another raid night to go back in for it. Bloodhoof was able to get the first 3 bosses in the zone down for a few upgrades. Being the first week of this experiment, I thought this wasn’t too shabby, even though we had some complaints from Sylvanas that they didn’t do as well as Thrall.
All in all though, we thought it was a success. We got two groups through Anub and many members of the raid obtained upgrades. After all, every upgrade, no matter what group, upgrades our 25, no?
Experiment Week Two
Going into our second week, I tweaked the roster some, moving around some tanks and healers to try to better play to the groups strengths, and rotated people into the groups.
At the last minute we had word that our DK tank’s PC had blown up and he wouldn’t make it on for the raid (shit!). This required me to do some creative juggling with our groups, as we only have 4 tanks (2 main tanks, 2 off spec tanks). So I pulled the only tank I could, a warlock who has an alt that tanks for Bloodhoof, to come tank for Thrall (Brade’s Paladin is our other Bloodhoof tank), which meant that I had an open spot in Sylvanas. Ok, no problem, I put a hunter into that hole.
When I made the groups for the week, I had honestly thought that I had put together two very strong groups, better groups than I had the previous week. I was looking forward to going in and having both groups come out with their Anub kills, and shiny new loot in their bags with very little difficulty.
Thrall performed superbly. We came out with “A Tribute to Insanity”. I honestly never expected to see this in my list of achievements. Granted it was a typical Monolith kill…the entire raid dead with Anub having died from the ankh’d shaman’s Lightening charge as he smushed him. Lots of laughs were had, and people in the group were stoked. The kill could have been much smoother, we lost our rogue somehow in phase 3 (shadowstriked, I think), and I healed WAY too much causing Anub to gain far more life than he should have (bad Beru…no biscuit!). But a kill is a kill, right?
Let’s warp over to our Sylvanas group. When our achievement popped up Sylvanas was…still on Jarraxxus? WTF?!?!?! How the hell could this be possible? I mean, I had swapped the rogues from last week, giving the caster group (which is our weaker group right now) the stronger rogue. I had thought I had stacked this group with some of our strongest casters in our 25s. What was happening?
They wiped 3 times on Beasts. A couple of times from tank deaths (indicating healer issues) and once from I think just poor play. As I watched this on Brade’s screen, I thought “ok, they just needed to find their groove, and I’ve healed groups where we let the tank die on Beasts (Thrall last week for example)”. So, I have hopes that they just hit a bump, and it would be smooth sailing from there. I mean, last week’s group didn’t bump until they hit Champs, and even then only took two pulls for a kill.
So…they pull Jaraxxus. And wipe. And wipe. And wipe. At this point, I’m feeling horribly guilty for the first group having done so damn well, while this group flounders. But at the same time I can’t help but wonder exactly what is going on…Brade actually had to holler a bit in vent. I’m usually the hollerer! So, I take a gander at his recount. And I’m a bit shocked. We built the caster group to, you know, support casters (and this group has an elemental shaman, mage and warlock). But here was our largely unsupported rogue and hunter on the top of the meters. Seriously?
But again, as I watch them work on Jarraxxus, I again see some seriously sloppy play. People running from their fires/infernals, but not moving back into healing range so they are out of range to get topped off and/or have Incinerate Flesh taken off of them. People clumping up, and chaining themselves to death (I know! It’s a 10 man…how the fuck?). And people just not putting out the DPS on the portals/volcanos and ending up with extra shit to have to kill. C’mon. We out gear this, and just had our 3rd 25 man HM kill on this. We should not be having issues with the basics of this encounter.
They finally get him down, and head to faction champs. What a disaster. At this point I’m just flat out nervous that I have made people miserable by trying this 10 man project. Being on a carebare server, this fight is frequently our bane as a guild, in both 10s and 25s. We have people who just don’t know how to get the fuck away from the big bad shit. They stand there like stone pilars, unmoving beacons. I mean, they may as well have a giant target painted on them that says “attack me! because I will stand here and take it to the face”. It’s infuriating. I mean, how do you teach survival instincts? HELLO! IF THE BIG MEAN GUY WITH THE GIANT SWORD IS RUNNING IN YOUR DIRECTION AND YOU ARE MADE OF TISSUE PAPER STOP CASTING AND GET THE FUCK OUT OF DODGE.
It is at this point that I realize a mistake I made. When I had to swap our warlock over to tank for Thrall, I left the caster group without replenishment. While not devastating to the group, it would have had an impact. Apparently the other lock in the group was not specc’d into it. This is something that I am going to have to make sure that I watch more carefully for this group next week.
As it would turn out, the mage had to leave early, and I swapped that warlock back in, as he was done tanking. The very next pull they downed faction champs. Now, I don’t know if this was just coincidence, or if it is because the warlock, a PvPer, uses all of his survival tools. But they got it done.
At this point, they had ~15 minutes left for the twins. The first pull fell apart when they lost a soaker, but was damn close to a kill. So they wiped it and had a very clean kill on the next pull. They performed here as I would have expected them to perform on all of the other encounters. We told them we would give them time on Sunday or Monday for Anub. But I’ll be honest…I do not want to send them down there if they are going to play like they did for most of last night. It will be nothing but a waste of their time, consumables and repair gold.
We won’t even talk about Bloodhoof…
What to Do?
As I listen to the other Resto druid vent in druid chat, and Brade rant sitting right next to me, I can’t help but wonder “Is this a mistake”. The last thing I want to do is burn people out on the 10s. They aren’t supposed to drive people to want to drink (I love you Dend! Save your liver!!!!), they are supposed to be minor challenges (save Anub), that provide decent rewards and make us stronger as a guild. In short, it’s supposed to be relatively quick and easy…and well, kinda fun.
As I headed to bed last night, still feeling bad about the disparity between the two groups, I was basically of the mind set to just cancel the whole damn thing and put the 10s back on our optional schedule. I don’t want people to feel inferior or like they are the “B” team. I don’t want people resenting other people because of their performance.
But…as I slept on it, and thought on it driving into work today, I changed my mind a bit. This was for a number of reasons:
- What the hell else are we going to raid?
- We use close to all of our 50 attempts in the 25s. And we are very conscious about how hard we push people. Nobody wants to wipe for 5 hours straight…it’s just not healthy. We spend just about two full raid nights in 25 TotGC.
- We are still working on the last handful of Ulduar Hard Modes that we need. Freya, Firefighter, Yogg 1. We start Freya this week. We are currently allotting one raid night a week for this, but it is soley hard mode attempts, and we are locking out our resets to work the hard modes we have left. So this again fits in with our TotGC attempts. You can only ask people to wipe so much without reward before they don’t want to do it anymore. This makes 50-70% of our raid week new Hard Mode content in which we have not mastered. I think that is probably sufficient.
- It only takes us an hour to clear out the normal ToC on 25s. This leaves us with one raid night where we’ve only got an hours worth of content.
- We generally save Ony/VoA for one of the nights we are working new hard mode content so we can actually kill something after spending hours of wiping, and end the raid on a high note.
- I like my off nights. Plain and simple. Not scheduling 10 mans on off nights frees up everyone’s time to play alts, get out of the house, etc. I can’t help but think everyone likes their time off!
- We can use these as tools for learning. It is far more apparent in a challenging 10 man setting who is having an issue with something than it is in a 25 man setting. We can take these nights and use them to help people become better performers (I hope!). It can only get better, I would think.
We will definitely be doing the 10s for at least one more week, since it is supposed to be a 3-4 week trial. But, in the end, I think that they may offer us more as a guild than just gear upgrades. I think they offer us an opportunity to evaluate and correct in a smaller setting. I think they offer everyone in the guild an opportunity for improvement, and ultimately that IS something that is worth our time.
What do you all think? What might you do if you were in my shoes?