This Week In Raiding: The Next Logical Step?

The last couple of weeks have been very exciting for Mountain Top progression. Two lockouts ago we got Alysrazor down for the first time in what can only be described as another "Click" moment. This week marked the first time that we killed all five Firelands bosses that we've downed so far, plus Heroic Halfus in a single night, leaving us a full raid night to work on Majordomo Fandral Staghelm.

I'm pleased to say that, for the first time this tier, Mountain Top took down a progression boss on the first night of attempts. I had heard that the Staghelm encounter was relatively easy, but that the transitions were quite tricky. I think that most of our raid group went into the fight not really expecting a kill, but hoping for some good, solid progress on learning the fight.

It really surprised me, then, when in the midst of a promising pull that was about to turn into a wipe, I look down at the good Majordomo's health and see it sitting at 5%. I was completely gobsmacked. At that point it really felt as if we had really just started working on it, and yet the bastard was already practically dead? For me, that was the moment of emotional elation, and the point that I knew it was only a matter of time before we get our kill. The actual event itself was an anticlimax in comparison.

All that remains.

With the death of the Majordomo, Mountain Top is 6/7 and has the end of this tier in sight - at least in the normal modes. This brings up the question: Once a casual guild is 7/7, what's next?

Do we progress into Heroic Modes? Even at this stage in T12, we've only ever attempted Heroic Halfus (the easiest of the T11 Heroic bosses).

Or, do we continue doing regular modes, farming for gear and then bringing in Alts (of which there are plenty in our guild) and less experienced raiders so that they can get geared up?

I think that for a hardcore raiding guild, this question is so easy that it's not even asked. Heroic modes are not just an option, they're the entire point. I have always imagined that for guilds like these, regular modes are merely an inconvenience; a tedious chore that needs to be completed as quickly as possible so that they can get to the real fights.

For a more casual guild, on the other hand, the idea of Heroic Modes gets much more complicated. Questions need to be asked and the Raid Leadership needs to take a critical look at the raid team. Is the team dedicated enough to put in the extra work that Heroic Modes will bring? Will morale hold while relearning a boss that everyone knows can be beaten easily with just the flip of a switch? Does the raid team have enough gear to even make Heroic Modes feasible? At what point do you make the switch? And probably most importantly, Does the Raid Team even want to do Heroic Modes?

For myself, I think that I would like to see this group tackle something really challenging. I'm very impressed with the quality of people that we have in our Raid Team and how far we've managed to come in a relatively short time - despite the many challenges we've faced. We've had to deal with hurricanes, two different medical emergencies, scheduling conflicts, gear drama, raid spot drama and a host of other things that make organizing each raid an epic adventure all on its own. And yet we've managed to make it this far.

I think that we've got enough talent on the roster to make a very good showing on the Heroic Modes if we could get everyone - including myself - committed to working their butts off to sharpen our play.

What I'm afraid of though, is that the desire to do heroic modes - to continue on past 7/7 normal - just isn't there.

I think what happens in a lot of casual guilds is that once the final boss of the instance lies dead at the guild's feet and the rush of emotion dissipates, the idea that "we're done" sets in. Why bother going back once we've already downed the end boss? Oh, the raids continue, but some people take a break, while others start bringing in Alts to get those characters geared up. Raiding continues, but progression stops.

And that's okay, too. Heroic modes aren't for every guild or for every player. If desire and commitment to move forward isn't there, attempting heroic modes isn't going to accomplish anything other than frustrating everybody.

There are many ways to fail at raiding, but there is only one way to succeed: The entire team has to share the same goal, and be willing to put in the blood and sweat needed to make it happen. And this isn't just about raiding, this is true of life in general.


At the beginning of Cataclysm, I set myself the goal of finishing the normal modes of each tier while they were still current. I missed out on accomplishing that in Tier 11, but it seems almost certain that my guild and I will succeed in Tier 12.

If Mountain Top does decide to move on to the Heroic Modes, I will be the first one to sign up and will give it every ounce of dedication I have. But I think that if we do simply stall at 7/7 and get no further, I will be satisfied with a job well done. For me, at least, it will be a first and an accomplished goal that I can be proud of.

But I would very much like to test myself against the really hard fights that this game has to offer. I think that doing those fights would make me a better player. Odd as it may sound, I really love working on a new and difficult fight, and there is no sweeter moment than the successful kill after weeks of hard disappointment. I really want to experience that feeling knowing that I'm working on the hardest content in the game.

The real trouble with normal modes is that, no matter how sweet the taste of victory is, there is always the niggling doubt in my head that knows I am working on second tier content. It's like sitting at the kids table at Christmas; you're there and eating the same food, but the experience is lesser.

I would like, just once, to sit at the adults table in WoW. To get the full experience. To look back at a Raiding Tier and say to myself, "Yeah, I've done that shit".

But if I were to look realistically at my ability to dedicate time and effort to working on Heroic Modes, I wonder if I would pass my own criteria for a Heroic Mode raider? Can I dedicate the time, or rather, will the wife and Dwarfling allow me to dedicate the time to be successful? Do I honestly have the skills to be valuable to a Heroic Mode raiding team? Never having tried, I can honestly say I don't know.

But damn, I really want to try.


  1. I think we can most definitely get AT LEAST Shannox and Bethtilac heroic modes down. Maybe Baleroc too, or Admiral McStompyPants. With the nerfs incoming to Firelands (normal and heroic) I'm sure we can still make some nice progression.

    Once the Firelord is dead, of course.

  2. It actually becomes more about managing time than anything else. You want to spend some time on the Heroic boss, but you still want to leave enough time in your schedule to get down the rest of the instance.

  3. Nice stuff man. As I have been there and have seen your play, you have the talent it takes to do these fights and progress further. But as you said, I'm not sure that everyone else is down for it.

    I will pose that question to the group after we kill Rag. I am here to service the guild, not tell them what to do and when to do it, so I will leave it entirely up to them. If we wish to progress further, then we shall. If they want to just clear farm, then that's fine too. We shall just see.

    But for now, you keep writing, and get ready for Rag this week! :D

  4. The time commitment doesn't have to be a huge thing. What ends up mattering is the whole team being able to play at the same time for most, if not all, sessions. Consistency, practice, and focus matter - whether you're hard mode raiding for 1 night or 5 nights per week.

    Other items to consider: Tier 11 heroic modes can be a lot of fun. Tier 12 heroic modes are likely to see a nerf in a couple weeks which could make them accessible to your team.

    For a casual raid team capable of clearing all normal modes, I think you guys would find a lot of enjoyment in hard modes - even if you have to wait for some nerfs or over-gearing get there. While some hard modes are rather lame (Chimaeron), others have the mechanics to remain interesting for the whole expansion (like V&T, Magmaw, and Conclave).

  5. "I will pose that question to the group after we kill Rag. I am here to service the guild, not tell them what to do and when to do it, so I will leave it entirely up to them."- Mylindara

    Seriously, I hope she is an officer in Mountain Top. To say that at the peak of current tier raiding on Normal Modes for a raiding guild is impressive.

    I ran raids fairly regularly back in WTLK days in ICC and I even got my feet wet in both BOT & BWD earlier this summer. Sometimes I wish I could wade into battle once more with a strong 10man team as my feather self, or alter-ego plate wearing paladin. I think it is awesome that you all have worked towards and achieved something most guilds hit the wall on. Going froma casual guild and rocking out in raid content without falling apart and hopefully still keeping the casual atmosphere of fun.

    Starting in January the Mrs. Paladin and me are thinking of starting up a second account and a brand new realm and place to play with two new toons together. Might have to think about Sargeras as a realm.

    Keep up the great work, either alting through normal modes or stepping it up to Heroics.

  6. I don't think I comment here very often, but I enjoy reading your blog.

    First, I wanted to congratulate you and your team on sticking together and progressing as far as you have.

    Normally, the hairs on the back of my neck stick up when people start talking about whether or not they have the *time* for heroic mode raiding. As one of the previous commenters mentioned, it isn't really a matter of time, there are plenty of 6/7H guild out there that raid less than 10 hours a week, some as few as 6-8 hours. It is a question of tenacity and interest though. A consistent group that doesn't mind a whole lot of wiping.

    I've been keeping track of a silly number of statistics of our raiding this expansion and can share a few numbers with you that might of interest:

    For Tier 12:

    ~55% of our raid time is spent in combat
    ~45% of our raid time has been spent in combat with a boss (which means only 10% of our raids has been spent on trash)
    ~70% of our raid time each week is spent on "progression" (6-7 of our 9 hour raid week is spent wiping over and over)

    Boss Attempts:
    225 "attempts" which includes 52 kills on normal mode
    252 "attempts" which includes 19 kills on heroic

    The above clearly shows the difference between how much time we put into heroic attempts each week.

    # of attempts for our first kill of each boss:
    (these should be taken with a grain of salt, lots of factors are at play here)
    Shannox N: 6
    Shannox H: 28
    Alysrazor N: 27
    Alysrazor H: 48
    Ryolith N: 26
    Ryolith H: 4 (yes, 4 attempts for heroic)
    Beth'Tilac N: 4
    Beth'Tilac H: 33
    Baleroc N: 9
    Baleroc H: N/A
    Staghelm N: 5
    Staghelm H: 57 (though to be fair, we made a massive shift in strategy and killed it 8 attempts later)

    Ragnaros N: 43
    Ragnaros H: N/A

    (Sorry for the wall of text, hopefully it is of some kind of help)
    I think it sounds like you have a strong grasp on the basic question, which is whether or not your raid team feels like they would enjoy the shift in "style" from normal modes to heroics.

    I've been around more casual groups in the past that just didn't weather the frustrations of wiping to a new boss for 2/3rds of their raid time each week. Its a completely valid approach to raiding and the fun of just getting to hang out with each other on familiar fights for a couple of months while people get some alts geared up as well has a definite appeal. Best of luck finding a good balance for your group!

  7. Really, really interesting question.

    Especially for a raid leader who is progressing, with his guild, through regular content.

    I feel that it would be good to give it a taster now and then, if the guild isn't sure, and work in to HMs gradually, if that is the desire of the guild of course.

    It's a big one,

    - Jamin