I haven't been talking about raiding much lately because I haven't been able to do much raiding (well, real raiding, which is Firelands) lately. When 4.2 dropped, we went in to Firelands the first two weeks and had a lot of trouble. One of our healers was severely under geared and we had a lot of trouble keeping the raid alive.
This week, we decided we'd go do some hard-mode/T11 clearing for some gear and upgrades and then go back into Firelands for the second night, and then the roster issues rose up again. Next week I'm on vacation and that means the earliest chance I'll have to see Firelands again is 7/26. Which is not a pleasant thought. It's not that I'm trying to compete with the guilds on my server - most of them have pushed forward fairly quickly and many congratulations to them, however, it's frustrating to be side-lined.
Last night we wound up PuGging to go clear some raid achievements because hey, 2 missing raiders means I don't want to wipe for hours on Shannox, so we cleared all of T11 (which, BTW, seems easier than Zandalari these days) and Halfus on Heroic.
Our roster is growing more stable, slowly, one person by one person. We picked up one semi-regular friend from another guild which is super-awesome, and last night, yet another PuG who was raiding with us last night wanted to join after the night ended, and I hope his attendance will be stable.
Right now a third - solid, geared, aware, and reliable - healer or tank would make life a lot easier. That's the big gap in our roster right now. My co-tank has swapped to healing and one of our top DPS has taken to tanking, but I miss her epic DPS (though she's a fine tank as well) and their off-spec gear sets are not as well-tuned to these roles as their main-spec sets are, naturally.
There are maybe three or four other raiders who are on the roster, and they are all awesome and I would love to see them attend consistently, but their real-life obligations make them hit-and-miss and I can understand that, and they know that if I do find stable positions they would become bench-warmers, but these HR problems continue to crop up, and I hear about it even from the very top-end guilds on my server who never used to have a problem with their rosters.
I'm wondering if I'm noticing it so much because of the smaller size of our guild (before we formed Turtles, we were in fairly large guilds with many people and often had folks to step in to fill raid (even if they were sometimes less than ideal, which is a completely separate issue)). Or is this a Cataclysm issue? Is there just a lot of burnout with Cataclysm in general? I don't know.
There is also the time factor. I do think that the new encounters are just, plain, harder, and the biggest resource they require to clear is not gear (though it helps) but time to practice and learn. So many guilds are doing at least three nights, and often four hours per night. We're doing six hours a week, total. I can't help but stare at that fact and wonder if it's a factor in our stalling progress.
Solving HR problems is the hardest thing for me - thankfully my GM is amazing at recruitment and when we find good people PuGing with us, she is relentless at getting them to accept a Guild Invitation. I don't know how anyone can resist her pursuit. It's like the adds on Maloriak casting Fixate - she just doesn't let go until you say yes! The problem is finding good people who are reliable.
Anyway. This post is just a ball of QQ and I didn't intend for it to be that - I'm trying to remain optimistic and it was actually a pretty fun night to kick back, crack a beer and just steamroll T11 while picking up achievements and yak with friends. Isn't that what raiding is supposed to be about, anyway?
Next week, I'm off to Cape Cod at a beach house with my wife and baby, so the only thing I'll be raiding is the Oyster bar. Lots of yummy, briny Oysters to shuck and slurp, while reading lots of books and dreaming of Dagon sleeping off the coast of New England.
You guys have fun, and I'll see you when I get back, unless I get inspired and write from vacation-land.