Most major game patches have a significant impact on guild officers, and in the past I've tried to give an officers' perspective on how the changes to the game will affect the decisions and plans that we make moving forward. Unlike previous patch-perspective columns, however, a reader actually requested this one.
I'm a guild leader for a rather small 10-man raiding guild, and I got to thinking today about the upcoming pre-Cata patch that's going to change everything. See, Wrath was the first expansion of WoW that I, and many members of my guild, were ever really active in (a lot of us swapped over from another MMO, together), so I was wondering -- once the pre-Cata patch hits, should we continue raiding? From the grumblings I've been hearing on the PTR, numbers are all out of whack, and with some of the class changes coming, I was wondering if it'd even be a good idea to keep raiding once 4.0.1 hits. I've never experienced the "conversion" from one expansion to another on the raiding front, so I really have no idea what to expect as far as people's attitudes (not just guildies, but possible PUGs, too). In the other games I'd played, an expansion just meant new zones, storyline, etc., but WoW's expansion features a level cap increase, and in this case, a major overhaul in how we play.
Should I expect people to want to keep raiding? If we do keep raiding, should we do so under the pretense that it'll help us learn the major changes to our classes? Or should I just hang it all up and let people do their own thing until the expansion hits and we finish leveling to 85?
Hi, Usaya. Fear not! It's always a strange time during the weeks leading up to an expansion, but it's mostly positive. In general, players will be excited about the game again. You should expect to see more players logging in and more players who want to take care of unfinished business before the new level cap trivializes existing content.
Your questions are focused on raiding, so I'll talk about that aspect of the patch first. The question for many guilds these days isn't whether you should raid but whether you can, given the level of interest and the amount of active players on your roster. Fielding a full team has been a struggle for many guilds, even as far back as February and March, let alone today after the longest content gap in WoW's history.
The raiding situation
If your guild is currently raiding, then there's no reason to stop after the patch drops. Players will want to try out their shiny, shorter talent trees and bust out new abilities against Arthas and his army of undead chumps. If your guild isn't currently raiding, the patch may provide the motivation your guild needs to put together a run. Put something on the schedule and see what happens.
The problem is, as you mention, the numbers will be all out of whack, and even Blizzard isn't sure how it will all shake out. Zarhym mentioned that Blizzard might even have to reduce the 30 percent buff in ICC once the new talents and stat changes go live because the fights would otherwise be far too easy. We won't know for sure how the changes affect our own raid team until we zone in for the first time. Ask your raid leaders to be patient with players while they learn how to deal with all the changes to their class.
If Zarhym's speculation is correct and the patch does indirectly nerf Wrath's raids, then we are likely to see a surge of interest in raiding much like at the end of The Burning Crusade, when raids were directly nerfed by about 30 percent across the board. Players who haven't beaten the Lich King or Halion will want to see those bosses die. Guilds who have been struggling on heroic Putricide or who could never beat Yogg+1 for their proto-drakes will suddenly have a great reason to keep trying.
Another reason to raid would be to farm legendaries for the guild achievement. If your guild doesn't already have a player with Thunderfury, Sulfuras, the Warglaives set, Thori'dal, Val'anyr or Shadowmourne, now is the time to try. You will get credit for obtaining them once guild achievements go live. There's an achievement for obtaining three of them and another one for obtaining all six (the Warglaives set counts as one).
I do recommend, however, taking a break from official guild runs for one or several weeks prior to Cataclysm's release. That gives everyone, especially your raid leaders, a break so they can hit the new content feeling fresh.
Speaking of achievements
Unfortunately, according to Mumper, guild achievements (and leveling) will not go live with 4.0.1 but instead will be added with the expansion itself. That is a major bummer. The new talents and UI changes will be nice for a while, but there won't be much new for players to, you know, do. Officers could have taken their guilds on major achievement-earning sprees to pass the time until Azeroth goes boom, but alas, we'll have to wait to work on the vast majority of them.
Even so, there are a few, like the legendary achievement, that you can get a head start on now or during 4.0.1:
- Guild Vault If you haven't purchased all available bank slots, now is the time to ask members to gather some gold for the cause. Consider hosting some GDKP runs if your guild is gold-poor but gear-rich.
- Dungeon Diplomat, etc. There are guild achievements for being exalted with various groups of factions, culminating in United Nations. The game already has 55 factions, so you can theoretically earn this achievement right now. Take a poll to see who has done the grind for the more difficult or obscure factions in the game. Then support individuals who volunteer to rep up with the factions your guild still needs.
- Dinner Party, etc. You can't get credit for placing feasts yet, but you can gather the mats and cook them. Gigantic Feast is probably the cheapest to craft, but it's not a particularly useful item. The same is true for most of the profession achievements, such as Dust, Dust, and More Dust. You can gather the items for it, but you have to hold onto them for now. I hope you bought all those bank vaults!
- Working as a Team Smaller guilds may not actually have all the professions covered. Consult the new guild UI to see what everyone has leveled up and try to fill in the gaps. Doing so is quite useful beyond earning the achievement.
The changes to the guild UI are pretty sweeping. They range from the mundane (class icons in the roster pane) to the mandatory -- guild leaders would have thrown a fit if Blizzard didn't improve the guild rank functionality (thankfully, they did). If you're planning to make major changes to your ranks, I'd suggest waiting for the patch to drop.
A new feature recently unveiled in the beta is the ability to bar members from specific guild ranks if they don't have an authenticator tied to their account. I'm crossing my fingers that this option goes live. If so, I will require an authenticator for every rank that has any guild bank access at all, and I recommend that every guild leader do the same. Access to any tab is access to everything for a hacker. Personally, it's getting really old putting four dozen stolen and then restored items back into the bank vaults. There is simply no excuse for a player not to have an authenticator these days. They've been available for years now; they're ultra-cheap; shipping is free if you need the hardware version; and they make life easier for yourself, your officers and Blizzard's staff. If you're an officer and you don't have one, you're risking some major hassles for you and your guild.
The new UI will also allow you to create events, manage the bank, sort members by several different criteria (including professions) and see who has done or looted what (much like the armory, but for the whole guild). Eventually, the guild UI will be your source of info for your guild's leveling, perks and rewards, as well as how much each member is contributing to your level.
A few other patch changes of note:
- The currency exchange will meld triumph and frost emblems into a single batch of points. You may want to encourage members who are currently in the process of gearing up to save their triumphs until after the patch. That way, they can use triumphs to purchase frost gear.
- The new stat system will in some cases radically change your players' gear. If you offer or sell gems and enchants from your guild bank, be sure to stock up on them now while there is less overall demand.
- Glyphs are also changing significantly (and will be permanent), so a stockpile of glyphs in the guild bank would be quite helpful to your members as well. In addition, you'll want your scribes to churn out a massive amount of Vanishing Powder so your raiders can optimize glyphs on the fly.
- Hunter pets will suddenly offer a wide array of raid buffs. If your raid is often missing one or more of these buffs, encourage your hunters to level pets of the appropriate type.
Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!