Ready Check: Everything's dead, Dave

Ready Check is a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, ZA or Sunwell Plateau, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses. This week, we look at the sort of people who've already killed everything, and ask "Why?"...

There's been a lot of discussion over the last week concerning hardcore raiders -- specifically those among the raiding corps who've raced to 80 as fast as possible and cleared every instance in game already. To people outside this group, it's quite easy to get a bit carried away when discussing raiders: these people don't have jobs, they ruin the game for themselves, they can't be actually enjoying a moment of it...

None of the above is true, of course. This week's Ready Check looks at the current raiding game from the perspective of one who's cleared it all, and attempts to inject a little myth-busting and reality into the hyperbole.

Racing to Level 80

One thing many people frequently seem curious about is the lifestyle of raiders at the top. Is TwentyFifthNovember composed of a squad of raiders with no jobs or families, supported solely by their sponsorship, who spend far too much time in front of their PCs? Let's forget the poster boys for now -- most of the guild, as with the other guilds who've already cleared all the content, is composed of (relatively) normal people.

Having a job and hitting 80 fast aren't mutually exclusive. Most raiders who hit 80 within the first few days of release planned it out very carefully, booked time off work and settled in with plenty of home comforts ready to face a stretch in front of the PC with little sleep, aching eyes and numb legs. Very few people receive anything worthwhile from their sponsorships -- after all, if people are quite happy to powerlevel to 80 without being paid, why would a sponsor pay them?

So how (we'll get on to 'why' in a minute) did these raiders get to level 80 so quickly? It's a combination of beta experience, lack of sleep, extensive use of caffeine and constant motivation. Many people levelled to 80 on beta, which has a dual effect: firstly, levelling on live servers is made a lot easier because you know just where Mankrik's sister-in-law is; secondly, having the leisure to explore the content on beta means players don't miss out when powerlevelling on live.

Also, if you have an entire Sunwell-clad raid force outstripping most of the server's population, it's very easy to get help with the odd elite quest, form on-level dungeon groups of capable people, and there are fewer problems with fighting over spawns and named mobs since those waiting for them are probably fairly sensible people.

Some of the speculation being flung around -- that people had teams of others playing their character for them, that they AFK-botted through a level or two, etc -- are entirely unfounded, at least with respect to raiders in general. People simply pushed themselves, planned well, familiarised themselves with the content beforehand and took a few days off work.

Why do people want to bypass a large amount of the new content, barely seeing it in a sleep-deprived powerlevelling haze? For a lot of people, levelling isn't the main focus of their game -- raiding is. Thus they push to get to maximum level as fast as possible, to begin the real fun.

But why not wait a week? Part of the motivation is that of attaining server first level 80 achievements for class, race or even overall -- part of it is a desire to keep up with the raid force and ensure you're not going to be left behind when the first 10 or 25 people hit 80. And again, part of it is having done a lot of the levelling content on beta and not feeling a desire to slow down and enjoy it.

NEXT: Clearing raid content fast >>