Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook.
Mists has delivered new content faster than any WoW expansion to date. The days of waiting six months, eight months, or more between major patches seem like a bad memory now. With patch 5.3 likely to drop in the next few weeks, that will mean we've had an average of one patch about every three months in the wake of 5.0.
In years past, officers had to steel their guild for long lulls, which always seemed to land in summertime. They had to make backup plans to account for long absences from players who just couldn't stand to run the same raid one more time. Guilds who couldn't find replacements sometimes found themselves closing shop instead.
In 2013, that age seems far behind us. However, the accelerated content has brought with it a new kind of burnout instead, and it's one that officers and raid leaders should keep in mind as we move deeper into Mists.
More bosses with more mechanics
The faster patch schedule also means we've had more raid bosses more quickly than any expansion since The Burning Crusade: 33 in 8 months, if you count world bosses, or about one boss per week so far. If you take into account Heroic versions, you can almost double that (world bosses only have one mode). If the window between 5.1 and 5.2 is any indication, patch 5.4 could drop sometime in late July or August. And it will bring another boatload of bosses to close out our Pandarian adventures with an all-out assault on Orgrimmar.
For many, it's a great time to be a WoW raider, but not everyone feels that way. For some raiders, this expansion has been overwhelming. The complexity of bosses -- and trash -- has ramped up tenfold since vanilla. Learning each one is no longer a matter of dealing with a handful of abilities. To defeat normal and particularly Heroic bosses, raiders have to account for and react to an incredible array of different mechanics. It's exciting, but it can also be very frustrating. Many guilds no longer have those easy weeks where you're just farming conquered content.
Rep, valor, and coins
In addition to the glut of raiding opportunities, players have to do more than ever before to stay current on their gear. When Mists launched, we not only had to level to 90 and gear up in Heroic dungeons, we also had to progress through a series of rep grinds just to be able to spend our valor points. Patch 5.1 did not hit the brakes. The patch brought with it yet another rep grind in order to spend valor on the latest and greatest.
Earning valor points has also become a constant battle. No longer can we earn a week's worth only by killing raid bosses. We earn valor for just about everything these days, but we also have to use those different methods in order to cap our valor every week. Optimally, that means logging in more days of the week than not.
The new system of spending valor to upgrade gear means that we are never truly done earning valor, either. By the time we get all the pieces we need and cap out, the next patch is almost here with a virtually endless amount of upgrades to acquire, given that every new Thunderforged or Heroic drop we win means needing more of those purple points.
We no longer step into raids simply hoping for the drops we need, either. Now that items can provide bonus rolls, maximizing our opportunities means earning enough Lesser Coins to get our extra chances at loot. It's yet another task to cross off of a weekly list.
Officers and raid leaders are often the players who log in every day regardless, who cap valor just by doing the things they would normally do. They watch several different strat vids for every boss, and run LFR ahead of their own raids to see some of the mechanics firsthand. It's easy to forget that others on your raid team may not have such an easy time capping valor or learning bosses.
The crux of all this is to urge officers not to push their players too hard. Unless you're in a world-first kind of guild where your players sign up for that constant pressure, then it's going to be increasingly easy to push your raiders over the line.
In Mists, raiders may burn out just due to the sheer volume of tasks they need to accomplish every week and the parade of new boss mechanics they encounter one after another. If you put too many expectations on your players to stay in cutting-edge gear and to master bosses right away, then you may push them right out of raiding.
Patch 5.3 will test our raiders. Throne of Thunder offered a huge number of bosses all at once -- the most since the launch of Cataclysm. Many guilds will still be in the midst of normal mode progression when the new patch hits, bringing back the valor upgrade system.
Let's remember raiding in WoW is supposed to be a leisure activity. It's more intense than many other such things, it's true -- but it isn't meant to be a second job. Yes, progression helps with recruiting, but you'll never keep the players you bring in if you make them miserable once they join. If it can happen to Exodus, it can happen to you.
Officers and raid leaders should motivate their raiders to excel. But in this new, faster-paced WoW, you need to be realistic about what your players can handle. Good communication is the key to finding out where the line is.
I will never complain about too much content releasing too quickly. I think it's good for the game, especially now. But officers need to anticipate and account for the dangers of this new era, just as we did for the long lulls of expansions past.
Officers' Quarters keeps your guild leadership on track to cope with sticky situations such as members turned poachers or the return of an ex-guild leader and looking forward to what guilds need in Mists of Pandaria. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.