Raiding Guilds: Hardcore vs. Casual

The term “casual raiding guild” may sound like a contradiction. I think, however, that a lot of guilds reach the point where they have to make that distinction. The guild that I am in is reaching the point where the difference between “serious” and “hardcore” is starting to cause some friction. This is a friendly, mid-size guild presently on AQ40, looking forward to Naxx. Most of the people in the guild have been together for a long time, and they’re a good group.

Things that would have been acceptable before, though, are now causing friction: rules are being set regarding going AFK for any amount of time other than short “ok, everyone back in five minutes” group breaks. If you leave early on any “wipe run” on a new boss, you are not entitled to bonus DKP. There are increasingly strict requirements regarding all the various sets of resist gear that you must have, and you won’t be invited if you’re not geared up – although guildies will help you get the required kit.

The distance from “casual raiding guild” to “hardcore raiding guild” is enormous in terms of what is required from every member of the guild.

Guilds such as Death and Taxes, Nihilum, etc., have incredible world firsts, downing C’Thun, Kel’Thuzad, et al. If you read about the requirements for membership in such guilds, though, you have to admit that the sacrifice required is staggering in terms of actual time, of gold (more time), etc. I would imagine that you would have to be a raider first, with most things in your personal life taking second place. I can admire that, but would I ever want to be part of it? No, not a chance.

On a personal basis, I can comfortably live with the “serious raiding guild” label. Although I have a fulltime job as a web developer, and a relationship, and a horse to train and compete, I still log more hours than I would care to admit. I can handle a four-times-weekly raiding schedule, and all of the additional time spent levelling alts, grinding, levelling professions, etc. I will stay as long as it takes to finish a raid, be that 10:00pm or 2:00am. Granted, the housework doesn’t always get done, and on raiding nights we don’t cook…but it all seems to work out. I couldn’t make the shift to hardcore raiding, though – the sacrifice required would exceed the limit that I would be comfortable with.

Have any of you had the experience of taking a raiding guild from casual to hardcore? How many members survived the transition? What was it like for you?

12 Comments so far

  1. Drac (unregistered) on September 21st, 2006 @ 7:38 am

    Can any guild that’s invested the time to get to AQ40 truly be called casual? My guild had to face the question while we were starting bwl, it turned into a split, the hardcore half went off and now has a grand total of one extra boss down. I stuck with the “casuals” mainly because of friends I had, and while we were back at wiping in MC for a few weeks we’re almost back where we were before the split. I’m sure it’s only our guild, but I like it much better with the ultra-elitists gone, as a healer if I wipe it’s no longer automatically my fault.

  2. Macy (unregistered) on September 21st, 2006 @ 1:06 pm

    Our guild is currently on the cusp of raiding, and most of us want to stay casual. The thinking is, once we have to “schedule” WoW into our lives, it stops being a game.

  3. Fogarty (unregistered) on September 21st, 2006 @ 1:29 pm

    It’s sometimes hard to find a balance when you’re in a casual raiding guild, but I think scheduling and strict rules about AFKing and early departure (aside from honest-to-goodness, real-life crises) help ensure that the time of 19 or 39 other people is maximized fully.

    No one likes to waste time, but the casual gamers have to be even more on the ball, I think, as the time given for raiding is even more precious.

    Nothing ticks me off more than showing up for a raid early or on time, prepared and repaired, and still having to wait an hour for everyone else who signed up for the raid to get their shit together! Why is player X in Winterspring when she should have been in Kargath fifteen minutes ago? Why does player Y have to repair after the first wipe because his equipment’s already red? Why did player Z not stock up on reagents before coming? Why do we have to keep sending summoning parties outside the instance to get wiped out by groups of the opposing faction over and over again because five people couldn’t be bothered to make it here on time with most of the rest of us?


  4. Krisjohn (unregistered) on September 21st, 2006 @ 4:26 pm

    Our ZG runs have met a bit of a problem and it seems to have caused a schism in the guild and allies. To start with, we can only just fill a ZG run, so we’re talking 20 people, maybe 25 if you include *all* the irregulars. There’s a core of maybe 10 that are pretty much happy to do whatever. There are two or three particularly vocal players that want to do this like a big raiding guild. And there’s me, trying to get discussion going on a more flexible system to cope with the demands of people’s real lives.

    I was virtually shouted down a couple of weeks back and the guild has more or less sided with the “same time, same character, same tactics, same bosses” approach of the other more vocal members. Two weeks ago the run only managed 15 people. Three weeks ago it looked like it was going to be 15 again, but some pick-ups were aquired, though they didn’t appear to help. Tonight it isn’t on.

    It’s hard for a casual guild to cope with the system Blizzard has designed. Hardcore guilds simply fill with people in the same time zone. Casual guilds also have to fill with people that work the same hours and have similar home commitments. They often fill with friends, and honestly, friends aren’t always of the same level of skill either. In a casual guild you *will* have people that will never be able to play at the top level. You can’t simply chuck them out, and you wouldn’t want to anyway — they’re often *the* reason you’re in the game.

    I think that sometimes a guild just has to come to terms with the fact that it has reached the limit of what it can achieve. It looks like my guild’s limit is roughly the first half of ZG. Some of the players are more than capable enough of contributing to an MC or AQ20 run, but as a *guild*, we may well have reached our limit until the expansion arrives.

  5. DamonL (unregistered) on September 21st, 2006 @ 4:38 pm

    So I was in a guild thought of as semi hardcore, Clearing Nef in 5 hours, opening the AQ gates and all that jazz. Raiding 3 days a week was required to spend your “DKP.” That wasn’t hardcore enough for some so they kicked everyone who didn’t raid 6 nights a week and merged with another “leet” crew n order to “progress” in Naxx. Most of there “leet” crew transfered and they are just now recovering.

    I went to hang out with friends in a guild learning to take down Rag, and who wanted to foray into BWL. Casual no req.(other than FR is you want to kill Rag :P) fun atmophere!

    Again, some people get the raiding bug and wanted more progress for the nurples, so people are leaving :(

    If it looks like the guild environment is changing and you don’t want to change with it DON’T.

    Nothing is worse than growing to hate a game because you feel “obligated” to play and help out old friends. real friends don’t want you to skip meals for them!

  6. Peaches (unregistered) on September 21st, 2006 @ 5:21 pm

    A while ago I was part of starting a group dedicated to casual raiding for people who wanted to do raid on West Coast times after work.

    So far it’s been a blast. The people we’ve rounded up are intelligent and adaptive. We only have enough to ZG, but we’ve taken out all the aspects and Mandokir with only one wipe ever on them (Hakkar is another story).

    It’s a far cry from my recently-turned-hardcore raiding group. The older group clears MC weekly and is trying for BWL. It was falling appart but a few of them got together to try to revive it and decided to make it much more strict. So far they are still on Razorgore. They have some sort of strategy that involves trying the same thing over and over until it works. After the fourth wipe or so, I tend to get bored of that strat.

    I’m hoping that the group that I started ZG with will grow a little strong, then when the expansion is out we can start tackling the dungeons there and effectively skip the 40-mans. It’s a lot easier to get 20-25 people together for an evening than 40, which lends it much more to “casual” play.

  7. Ravven (unregistered) on September 22nd, 2006 @ 3:35 am

    Even at “serious” level though, you need everyone to follow certain rules of participation, otherwise you just can’t progress:

    1. Everyone needs to show up on time, repaired, with all relevant potions and resistance gear.
    2. If you’re going to be in this raid, you have to agree that you will stay to the end, and not go AFK to eat dinner or do dishes. If someone steps on your hamster, fine, but emergencies only. (The hamster analogy was used recently on our forums.)
    3. If you’re part of a raiding guild, you need to be there on new bosses and wipe runs. Even if it costs you money. Even if you get no drops. As long as it takes, even if it takes weeks…and that is the tough part.

    Hence the topic – guilds tend to be casual at first, and everyone is happy, then as you move into serious level, more people become unhappy when their lifestyle doesn’t allow them to raid as much, and then if the final move is made into hardcore, I think you would probably tend to lose a lot of your original members. It’s a tough problem.

  8. Lyman (unregistered) on September 22nd, 2006 @ 12:24 pm

    This is IMO, the crux of my issues with WoW. I am not alone. The term “casual” and “hardcore” have almost become epithets on the Blizz forums. Deciding where the line is drawn in your guild is very difficult, and dealing with the personalities in a guild who feel one way or the other is very difficult. Our guild has been wracked with periods of strife as we have attempted to deal with it. Things change when some portion of a guild’s player base decide they want to more seriously raid instances. Ours started a sub-group in the guild that would raid 3 nights a week and progress more seriously through MC (and then BWL, which they’re almost done going through). I dipped my toes in the subgroup till I saw that the sacrifices people were being asked to make for the sake of progression were ridiculous, and manners, fairness, and a lot of common decency went out the door. I quit the game over it. I went back some months later and now am back to playing but I’ve stayed out of the “hardcore” subgroup in our guild – there’s still a tone of condescension amongst many of the more hardcore players about how to play WoW and why one plays WoW, etc.

    I do not envy guild leaders/officers (especially of a bigger guild) the work they have to do juggling the desires of all different play styles and types of players in the game.

    Our guild still struggles on a regular basis with people thinking the tone of the guild has changed, etc. and quitting, and arguments over loot and such that don’t happen as much in a smaller or more casual environment.

    I am somewhere in between the casual and hardcore model. I am currently doing scheduled raiding 3 times a week, 1 night each for MC, ZG, and AQ20. Progression through these instances is important to me, but not overwhelmingly so. I know a lot of people who feel very strongly and differently than I do.

  9. Miztress (unregistered) on September 25th, 2006 @ 3:54 am

    “I do not envy guild leaders/officers (especially of a bigger guild) the work they have to do juggling the desires of all different play styles and types of players in the game.”

    As a founder member, and officer in the guild Ravven refers to – I can fully appreciate the comment of the poster above. Juggling has become my third profession.

    Our guild has progressed at a rate envied by many of the ‘uber’ guilds… we went through BWL like a dose of salts – wiping on each boss til a strategy was sorted, and now full clear from instance to dancing on Nefs head in 3 hours 50… (and just one clumsy wipe – oops).

    Casual vs hardcore – how do you tell when you go from one to the other? OUr guild has always maintained a ‘casual’ attitude to the hardcore raids – there are no ‘you have to have X’ amount of pots, we don’t force people to respec, and our raid times are sensible – 3 x 4 hours per week… this I think is what has kept us stronge, focussed, and reduced some of the burnout other guilds see.

    Yes, Huhuhuhuhuran is pissing me off royally, and I am sick of the sight of her poison bolts… but I know we’ll all stick it through until the damn wasp is dead…

    Casual vs hardcore? I’m neither – I’m just committed.

  10. Xoruka (unregistered) on September 25th, 2006 @ 8:16 am

    According to the lead devs, the entire purpose of the raising the cap was to merge the divide between Hardcore and Casual raiders.

    Some people can’t wrap their mind around this but with all future raids capping at 25 man, I think it will come down to:

    1. Your casual, easy going guild can’t do AQ/ZG/BWL/Naxx now? Get to 70 and go back.

    2. Capping at 25 leads to hardcore guilds squeezing in more and more raids between resets leads to easier farming of lewtz.

    3. My thought: I think we will not have Epic level lewtz that are require 70. What I mean by that is if we go by the real level of an item (check Thottbot), then we shouldn’t see anything greater than Tier 3 item sets.

    I think they are going to have the availability to upgrade your T1/2/3 sets so you can keep them at 70. That has been rumoured.

    For the first time, raising the level cap resolves many issues and is not a lame ass attempt to extend the game.

  11. Miztress (unregistered) on September 26th, 2006 @ 3:28 am

    If you cast your mind back – 40 man raids were added AFTER the initial launch of WoW… BWL especially was a long way from launch, then AQ40, and Naxx… I strongly suspect that the same will happen in TBC. Blizz have caused guilds to grow and build a strong 40 man raiding base – they would be foolish to ignore this completely. I’ll give it 4 to 6 months max before TBC has a 40 man raid instance…

  12. QuitBouncing (unregistered) on October 5th, 2006 @ 8:53 am

    My raiding guild terms itself as “casual hardcore”.

    We have raids almost every night of the week, but we are not required to attend any of them. Guildmates have taken off weeks/months at a time and when they come back are allowed to start raiding immediately. We have no requirements for gear, but as you can imagine if you have decent resists you are more likely to get slotted for certain fights. We are a bit loose on things you can roll on. We allow people to bring their (much lesser geared) alts to raids. We usually quit at a decent hour, regardless of how close we are to killing a boss.

    We’ve had several guildmates quit and go to other guilds due to these reasons. Just because you’ve raided consistently, you can get replaced by someone who returns out of the blue. With loose restrictions on gear, certain classes get upset with having to compete with other classes. Seeing alts get gear over mains causes grief too. And some people don’t mind wiping and get impatient with those not willing to do so.

    So the players who are more “hardcore” move on to the hardcore guilds.

    If I didn’t have RL commitments I would too, but as it stands this “casual hardcore” environment works for me. I don’t like how alot of things work within it, but the lack of time restrictions allows me to get to play.

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