Man, this is the longest gap I've taken from writing in some time. Mostly because I've been kind of glum in game as raids haven't been very engaging - not that I don't want to raid, but our raid group has been having some trouble gathering up and actually raiding and it's starting to wear on me.
I feel like we're just in this hanging phase, where all we need are a couple of good, solid, three-day weeks to push through to Ragnaros. This is exactly what it was like when we were on Nefarian - except that was one bsoss and here we have an entire raid to learn. Our core is kicking ass as usual, it's the last couple of slots that worry me. We've been picking up people, and if I look at the roster, there are 21 people who could conceivably raid... and yet I'm PuGing at least one slot every week.
There are a lot of things that happen when you have to bring in someone new.
1. You have to let your entire raid comp adjust to this new person, personality wise. We're a nerdy, smart, funny, laid-back group and we've had people join who immediately began poking, poking, poking at someone's performance, I think jokingly, and it got to be an issue. While I'm trying to figure out DPS distribution, I don't want us to be distracted by people management.
2. Things are just going to take longer. Even if they've done everything, they might not just gather up scorpions to AoE and then move out as stacks grow. Maybe they kill Shannox a completely different way, or they're used to being on the top with Beth'tilac and don't know how to manage adds on the bottom. Or worse, they don't know the fight at all and now the raid is sitting there for five minutes while you explain their role to them and suffer wipes while this person gets up to par. We're not to a point in Firelands where we can just cruise through a boss with a person down. And there is nothing worse - nothing worse - than explaining complicated things to one person while eight other people sit on their hands doing nothing.
3. The rest of your raid suffers from having to adjust around this person. Maybe you're moving people's roles around, maybe someone is playing an off-spec, and you go through all of the above with your own people. Admittedly this is less onerous, but it is still an issue where the alt-spec gear might not be up to par, or the person might be rusty or less adept with that spec, and you're wasting more time getting them used to the fight in a different role.
4. You have no reliability. The person might just have joined to get the sword from Shannox and then drops group right after the boss dies. Or they were in your raid because their own guild benched them, but suddenly asked them to swap in as one of their members left. Or maybe they forgot that they had another obligation and when you said "10 server" they thought you meant "10'o clock their time" which is an hour after you started. Sorry. And now you're stuck a boss or two in with no hope of finding someone to come into a locked instance.
5. The night is shorter because of it. You might have wasted time at the start of raid finding someone and by the time you zoned in it was 15 - 20 minutes past your start time. Now you're pulling, and explaining at the same time, and maybe someone gets confused typing or talking and half your raid just got punted off the ledge. Or you wiped. Or even if you get to the boss quickly, instead of just pulling, you're sitting there explaining again. Now it's 50 minutes after raid time was supposed to start and you do your first pull on Shannox. At this rate, you're looking at no progression work at all, and by the time Beth'tilac dies your raid is so shot and grumbly from relearning downed fights, that you might as well go see if your faction has BH just so you can come back in tomorrow with fresh brains. And you better hope like hell someone will show up tomorrow to fill that PuG slot because your odds are slim that they'll show up again.
6. You have absolutely no way to separate the good from bad. This is probably the worst problem. You can look at their armory, you can look at their gear, you can look at prior raid experience, you can even check the dates of their achievements on kills to make sure they killed Nefarian when he was far more difficult - but all of that won't guarantee a good player. Maybe they were carried through, maybe it's their girlfriend's account, maybe they're having a bad night or swapped spec because you needed a DPS and they went Shadow just to step in and haven't actually played Shadow in months. That vetting you did, checking their amazing gear, raid experience and availability for length of time just went to crap and you might not even realize it until you get to a boss.
All of that said, I'm just grateful to those who PuG with us for two things.
1. I've met some of my favorite raiders through PuGing. Three members of my core right now are people who responded to my "LF1M" calls on LFG. That's what keeps me PuGing - knowing that there are amazing people out there, looking for a chance to raid, and every time I PuG with someone, I don't know if they're going to be the next core member of my raid group.
2. I do get to go into Firelands and kill things. This is started to feel a lot like late summer from last year when we were literally begging for people to get a raid, any raid, off the ground. And other guilds are struggling far more than we are just to get started. So the fact that these PuGs let us raid and kill things is enough to make me very grateful for them.
What makes this worse is that I actually quite like Firelands and would love to get to work on it with a good, consistent team. I am enjoying these raids so much, both T11 and T12 have been fantastic raids to work on.
But. The patch is relatively young still and if our record is anything to go by, I think we'll clear the normal modes and at least a couple of hard modes before 4.3 drops, though our progression rate might move at the pace of our guild's namesake.
I hope you're having some luck out there! And if you're looking to raid, poke that link.