Stoneybaby of Big Crits/WoW.com 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.