Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hardcore Raiding in MoP - Part 1

It's one thing to talk about Hardcore raiding and another to experience it. I wanted to try it out and the last two and a half months have been educational - and I think there are a lot of misconceptions, illusions, and also a level of obscurity about what it takes and how it works and what kind of conflicts arise around the process, and it looks like a juicy topic to discuss over a couple of posts.

Just keep in mind that this isn't QQ, rather, this is what I and my guild-mates have willingly taken on in order to get the kind or progression we want. Raiding Heroic bosses is what we enjoy, and thus, we do whatever it takes to stack the odds in our favor before engaging those encounters. This is not meant to illicit any reaction positive or negative, rather it's an illustration of our process.

Part 1: Time to Prepare

When I signed up to raid hardcore, I knew it came with a level of commitment that I had not taken up before, and even with only 8 required hours of progression a week, the job is a tall order. You know the complaints about how capping valor, grinding reputations, doing dailies, farming mats, race-changing and using every opportunity to min-max your character to the hilt are only reserved for the hardcore players? Well, it's easier said than done.

Here is what every member of my raid team need every week to do the bare minimum of raiding in my guild:
  • At least 2 to 3 stacks of the best Stamina food
  • Another stack of the best or at least second best Strength food
  • A half-stack of Stamina flasks
  • A few Strength flasks
  • At least 1 to 2 stacks of Armor potions
  • At least 1 to 2 stacks of Strength potions for pre-pots  (note: I'm very bad about this)
  • Cap Valor every week
When we're working on progression bosses, all of that food can evaporate in a single night leaving you to log in early and try to either buy it at exorbitant prices on the AH or try to gather mats and cook some up before raid.

In addition, the schedule requires us to log in at 7:15pm on the two progression raid-nights and raid until 11:30pm with one or two 5 minute breaks in between. In addition we will raid at least one or two other nights between 8pm and 11pm for at least 2 to 3 hours. So, if you take that into account, you're raiding a minimum of 12 and as much as 14 hours a week. Keep in mind that those hours are still light compared to many guilds that raid a minimum of 12 required hours, and as many as 16 to 20 hours once additional nights are totaled in.

That's just time in the raids when you're really not doing much else, unless you're swapped out for a fight when you might be able to go farm food or fish, but as a tank I seldom have that luxury. So, you're sparing another couple of hours a week to farm and make food for yourself, in addition, you're also doing whatever dailies you need every day (right now, at a minimum, it's the Ironpaw Token daily and the Shieldwall Offensive dailies) and keeping your gear in working order with enchanting, gemming, reforging, etc.
Add in the fact  that as we get further into heroic content and realize that our raid-buff situation isn't ideal, we're also leveling - and gearing - alts to bring in for the buffs specifically to meet certain Enrage timers. A good example would be Heroic Bladelord, where we kept hitting enrage on our progression nights and then once we got an attack-power buff in, we killed him with nearly 30 seconds to spare.

Overall, on a fairly casual level, you're talking about a required commitment of 20 hours or so every week to raiding, and farming. This doesn't take into account the time spent on alts or actually, I don't know, playing the game in any other way. This is also not taking into account the time spent outside of game in researching fights and digging through logs and talking and coming up with strategies that work for us.

What do we have to show for this level of commitment?

5 dead heroic bosses, and some progression time placed into 2 others, so that at least one of them should (hopefully) die this week, putting us on track to finish up at least half the tier by the end of the month.

Next time, I'll go into the kind of decision making that goes into progression raiding as a character and a guild - your choice of a main, the race - and perhaps even the faction and server - that you play. After that, I'll go into some of the decision making process involved with progression raiding once all normal modes are done.

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