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My guild, casual or hardcore?

Stoneybaby of Big Crits/ was asking on Twitter for posts regarding the variations of play and commitment between casual and hardcore guilds (to steal his wording). Through his tweet I realized that this is something I’ve always wanted to write about, but could never build up the courage to force myself behind a keyboard and expound upon, if only because I wasn’t prepared for the time investment such a topic requires.

Considering it’s now officially timely, I’m forcing myself to take the plunge. But only lightly… it’s more like dipping my toe in the pool. I won’t go into too many specifics, but I want to speak a little bit on the gaming “philosophy” that guides our guild and why I think that our MO has delivered the success that we currently enjoy.

I don’t want to get into the whole messy business of defining what is casual and what is hardcore, because I think such a task is sisyphean at best, and impossible at worst. It’s completely subjective, ultimately. It varies from person to person, much like the taste of Soylent Green.

Like the old saying goes, “it’s a recession when my neighbor loses his job, and a depression when I lose mine.” Well–one could say a common definition for many is “a guild less progressed than mine is casual, one more progressed is too hardcore.”

If I had to–subjectively–define my guild, my first answer from that dichotomy that comes to mind is “casual”. We only raid ICC-25 for 7-8 hours a week, two days out of the seven, we don’t maintain a military-like discipline when raiding, and we don’t always approach fights 100% optimally. And yet, we’re ranked 2013th in the US. We’re 9/12 ICC-25 HM. Obviously, we’re not that casual.

But then again, I guess casual isn’t so much the results, but rather the approach… right? If that’s the definition, then yeah, casual all the way. If not, then I guess we’ll wear that hardcore label, though we’re surely not as hardcore as many others.

Hell, we used to be a lot more hardcore in terms of our schedule, with far sparser results. Up until March we were running a schedule of raiding Tuesday to Thursday, which sucked, frankly. It was too much raiding, too clustered together. (Woops, my casual is showing.) Finally as part of the first wave of reforms to stem the bleeding we were experiencing at the time–and that’s another post for another time–we cut it back to two days a week. The result unexpectedly paid huge dividends.

We started doing more in those first two days than we did across three. It was like the Laffer Curve, but for raiding schedules.

And why did we cut back the schedule? Because at three days, the general consensus was that it was too hardcore! People didn’t want to spend three days straight in front of their PC. The vast majority of my guild’s raiders have RL commitments: significant others, spouses, children, night jobs. It was onerous for us to raid so much.

Of course, there is a downside: only raiding for those 7 hours limits how many progression shots we get on a boss week to week. We spent 2-3 hours every Wednesday for weeks while learning the LK fight. Then we extended the lockout to get a full 7 hour block on the guy, only to down him the first night of that week. Likewise, we’ve been pouring our energies into Heroic Sindragosa lately. Progress has definitely been steady, but I can’t help but think we’d have the old girl down by now if we had an extra 3 hours a week to spend on her.

But I digress. Surely the schedule we operate under is a tick in the casual column, with regards to time invested. Now, let’s talk about effort invested.

More of my dps than not read EJ. They do their class research. The two main raiding rogues are total spreadsheet junkies, a discipline that they’ve taught to every other rogue that have joined the raiding ranks. The healers spend their off time thinking and researching about strategies and techniques. Antigen obviously has his own blog, and knows his stuff. Ana and myself write about tanking, as well… as you know. We spend an unhealthy amount of time bouncing ideas off each other and diving through Maintankadin threads.

I think that’s a tick in the hardcore column. Not all guilds have a majority of their members spending time “off the clock” to work on improving themselves and their performance.

But we’re not 12/12 ICC 25 hardmodes. We’re not farming Invincibles. Which is partly why I am hesitant to deign myself fit to don such a moniker as “hardcore”. It doesn’t feel right upon my head.

Yet, ultimately, I think we’ve found a “sweet spot” in the casual/hardcore spectrum. Our input is casual–we don’t raid that often–but our output is in many respects hardcore. We get results, we kill bosses, we get loot. We might do it more slowly than other guilds, but in the end we’ll reach the same destination.

August 27, 2010


Leave a comment
  1. Entropia
    August 27, 2010 at 2:04 pm #

    This game is casual to everyone. The only remaining hardcore guilds in the world are the top 50. Everyone else, QQ.

    • Obeyfez
      August 27, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

      @ Entropia – while I think that is a little extreme, I do agree that there’s a huge difference in the top 50 guilds or so compared to all other guild’s ranked after them. Ghostcrawler has said the same thing in some of his posts.

      Right now, world wide, less than 500 guilds have downed LK 25 Heroic. That’s with a cushy 30% buff and almost 7 month’s since release of the content (LK was available as of Feb 2, 2010).

      So does that make only those 500 guilds hardcore. I think it depends on how they conduct themselves – how much time/effort is required by each raider; how they react to mistakes by raiders; how tight-knit the group is; and generally the level of precision the raid is conducted. Those are more my criteria for hardcore. If one of those 500 guilds raids once a week for a few hours, is not much more than a glorified PUG with members coming and going, lots of joking in vent without much concern for wipes and without many rules to follow – that doesn’t seem too hardcore, but it is impressive what they’ve accomplished.

      My point is, I think its the esoteric “feel” of the raid group that makes it hardcore or casual (or somewhere on the spectrum in-between hardcore and casual).

  2. Celendus
    August 27, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    Honestly, the Casual / Hardcore dichotomy does a disservice to both. I would instead classify players into Casual, Serious and Hardcore.

    Casuals play to fool around and “have fun” (minimally structured playing time).
    Serious players play to win, but do not live to play. They are not generally concerned with beating other players as much as beating the content itself.
    Hardcores live to stay at the top of the raiding game. If you or your guild schedules additional mandatory raids to keep up with server or world firsts (and expects you to reschedule your real-life commitments accordingly), or expects more than three full raiding nights, your guild expects hardcore dedication.

    • Rhidach
      August 27, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

      I think “Serious” is a great description for a guild like mine! Great coinage.

  3. saif
    August 27, 2010 at 2:34 pm #

    “It varies from person to person, much like the taste of Soylent Green.” = Win.

    Also, yeah, I think there needs to be some sort of middle-ground rating between Casual and Hardcore. We raid 6 to 7 hours a week and managed to get 9/12 Hard Modes down. I bring PuGs or friends who’re less progressed in or talk to friends on other servers and they call us too serious, yet actual 25-man hardcore guilds call us casual.

    .-= saif’s last blog ..Farming Hardmodes =-.

    • Rhidach
      August 27, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

      I totally stole that joke from Futurama, haha.

  4. stoneybaby
    August 27, 2010 at 4:43 pm #

    Good insight. I hadn’t thought about the casual v. hardcore in terms of approach. I was mostly thinking about it in terms of time, expectations, and results. If you could come up with a name for your guild’s style or appraoch, without using casual or hardcore, what would it be?

  5. stoneybaby
    August 27, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    Oops, missed the comments before adding mine. “Serious” huh? Like srsbznz? Or like seriousface?

    • Rhidach
      August 27, 2010 at 8:57 pm #

      Definitely seriousface.

      • Anafielle
        August 28, 2010 at 2:25 pm #

        I think we need to describe ourselves as a “srsbzns raiding guild” from now on. In all official guild literature.

  6. Anafielle
    August 27, 2010 at 5:30 pm #

    Nice! I’m glad you decided to post on this.

    I LOVE this idea of “casual” / “serious” / “hardcore”. We are serious. We are not casual, nor are we really hardcore – serious is a great between word. I used to say “casual progression,” but not only is that sort of an oxymoron, it’s really not right. “Serious” is perfect… I’m a serious raider, but not hardcore, or casual.

    Most of us in ES are not casual. You and I are nowhere NEAR casual about tanking, Fal and Gandy aren’t casual rogues (our spreadsheet addicts), etc etc. We are a very highly self-motivated guild.

    I hold that time / week doesn’t have anything to do with the definition of hardcore/casual. There are actually 2 day / week guilds that have H LK 25 down, or have had him down for a long time, and 4 day / week guilds that are way less progressed than us.

    I think we have the self-motivation of a hardcore guild, but we don’t have the pressures of a hardcore guild (nor does anyone want it!). A hardcore guild would be less forgiving of mistakes. It would maybe have a roster system and/or a loot system that is stringently based on performance rather than more flexible. There would be external pressure to outperform. We don’t have that external pressure.

    Most, if not all, of our motivation is self-imposed.

    So we have a positive and fun and friendly environment that we all love, and enough personal hardcore-ness to get us through most of the hardest fights in this expansion. Will we ever kill H LK 25? I honestly don’t think so. Will we kill the rest? Absolutely, and we have a blast doing so.

  7. Matha
    August 27, 2010 at 6:07 pm #

    are there any bloggers left in your guild? I feel like at this point I might as well read them all.

    • Anafielle
      August 28, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

      Besides Rhidach, theres…

      Myself (used to have a few things at; mostly i just guest post here now)

      Antigen (Haz Mace Will Raid,

      We’re all on twitter at @Rhidach, @Anafielle, and @hazmacewillraid respectively, and another guildie is on twitter too (@IldaraTheDruid)

  8. Gryndon
    August 28, 2010 at 5:52 pm #

    I like the idea that approach and attitude define your guild (as opposed to time spent raiding, or the end results of your raid).

    I think you’ve found the happy medium that a majority of players are looking for . . . you have fun playing a game, but you are also successful at what you attempt.

    It seems that a lot of that success can be chalked up (as you yourself pointed out) to the motivation of individuals on your raid team. However, this motivation also seems to be internal. The rogues look at data because they want to be better rogues. You and Ana study tanking because you want to be better tanks. . .

    So here’s the challenge. . . how do you achieve results in a would-be “serious” guild when that internal motivation is missing?

    Or, more to the point, how do you motivate your raiders to be better when they’re not motivated on their own (hopefully while still maintaining the delicate balance between casual and hardcore).

  9. Chris
    August 28, 2010 at 10:38 pm #

    I think it is the approach moreso than the results that defines casual and hardcore.

    In the past, in early Wrath, I was part of a 10man raid group, made up of ex-25man raiders from one of the top guilds on the server before it imploded.
    We only raided two nights a week, for three hours each night. We still completely stomped every hardmode in Ulduar well before ToC10 came out, including Alone in the Darkness (10) and Algalon.

    Our approach was casual…many of the members didn’t obsessively keep up to date on their current spec info, but simply due to the combined experience from years of raiding on the part of nearly every raider, we saw massive success.

    And on the contrary, on the same server there was another 10man guild, progressing the same as us, but they raided four nights a week for 4-5 hours each raid. Their guildmaster laid down such interesting doctrines as class leaders (for a 10man guild? grow up), mandatory strategy sessions, and extra raids for bosses that were nearly dead. We completed Alone in the Darkness and Algalon a good four or five weeks before they did, and their members were constantly deriding us for being hardcore losers with no life.

    Essentially what I’m trying to say, I guess, is that “casual” does not always equate to “bad” or “no progression”. It simply means a more relaxed approach to the raiding activity. Sure, if my 10man guild at the time had raided more we would have progressed faster and more smoothly than we did. But we were still outperforming plenty of “hardcore” guilds, and still doing more than well enough for our own interests.

    And at the end of the day, what matters is that no one feels burnt out, overworked, or loses enjoyment in the raid.

  10. Chris
    August 28, 2010 at 10:42 pm #

    Oh, I thought of something else to add!

    A good analogy for raiding is the sports team analogy.

    The casual social guilds are like the people who go down to the local park to kick a ball around. No one really cares who does what, and no one really cares how well they do. But, if a player who does care comes in to their friendly matches, he gets impatient and frustrated and they get annoyed with him. Same with the guilds.

    The next step up is the amateur teams. They are serious about soccer, but its still just a game to them, they’re not going to compromise other parts of their life to enjoy it. Occasionally they might hold an extra practise session or two, but mostly they stick to their predefined playtime and no more.

    Then there’s of course the hardcore guilds. I’m struggling to find an analogy for these guys, because the professional country soccer teams don’t really apply to it, because obviously its their job and hardcore raiding isn’t a job, but the time investment is quite similar and the mental investment is definitely very similar.

  11. LedonLite
    August 30, 2010 at 8:21 am #

    Problem for this “middle” ground of a “serious” guild is, how successful and the amount of content/level of content available is balanced on the edge of a knife.

    My guild, I believe fits into a very similar place to you. We raided 3 nights a week, recently moved to 2 nights a week and are 8/12 on heroic 25 progression. We have a lot of very solid players, but we also have to train up plenty of new people. We’ve always felt we were never able to take that next step into more hardcore or I’ll at least just say here, heroic raiding. Yes I know I just said we are 8/12, but that goes back to the original knife’s edge comment. Yes ICC with a 30% buff we could do the majority of hard modes and probably will do 11/12 before the expansion, but could we in Ulduar, not really. ICC now has also been out for a LONG period of time, if the next tier came out a few months ago how far along into heroics would a lot of guilds be?

    Attendance, computer/internet/latency/DC issues, and our bottom 10% not performing up to hard mode raiding quality have always kept us from making that big step into successful hard mode raiding. While we could do some things, it was also a lot of time to invest to make a hard push.

    My point is, its a tough ground for what people have been calling serious guilds. Yes, ICC hard modes were pretty easy and I think even we could do a bunch of them without the 30% buff, but if they were tuned more like Ulduar where would a lot of these guilds sit. Spend a lot of time and effort for 1-4 kills?

    -Khatian Hunter of Solution on Greymane

    I literally just signed up for twitter this morning user name: LedonLite

  12. Logtar
    September 1, 2010 at 2:11 pm #

    This is extremely interesting to me. I would put you in the hardcore category in a second due to your progress, but then again you do have some casual flavor to it… like you said, its all about perspective.