A good friend of mine wrote about a negative experience she had with a guild member during an alt raid a few weeks back, and it really got me thinking about just how important casual raids are to the MMO genre.
Casual raids can provide guilds a great opportunity to introduce new blood into the group without throwing off the synergy of the progression group if they’re a bad egg. They can serve as the perfect training for players completely new to raiding, while also providing veteran players an opportunity to gain both experience and gear on an alternative character.
NB: In this instance, I am using the word casual to mean that the usually strict gear, attendance and performance requirements are relaxed and that the there is generally more tolerance towards characters who may be struggling to keep up with what is expected of a progression raider.
Casual raids ease new players into a raiding environment
When I started playing World of Warcraft, I did not think raiding would be for me (Actually, I probably didn’t even know what a raid was, but I digress) and it was only by a happy accident that I ended up in a guild filled with fun, patient and chilled raiders who were happy to take me along on their ‘farm’ nights to give me a taste of what raiding was in a way that LFR probably never could.
Over the years of super casual exposure to raiding I slowly but surely learned about gear and talent optimisation, the best places to research boss strategies and the right way to handle people. I am certainly no gem, but at the peak of my ‘career’ I was running my own raiding guild and was arguably the top healer in the guild as we worked on heroic modes. I was confident enough to start my own casual raid group — however short lived it may have been.
No casual raid = no chance for newbie Neri to blossom into a… lesser noob.
Alts can gear up and gain experience – which may come in handy for your progression team
I lost count of how many times either myself or another guild member would have to grab an alt for raid because something unexpected had happened to a regular. Thankfully, we were very happy to let a few alts come to raid during ‘farm’ nights, which meant those alts then had enough gear to fill in if required.
It’s certainly not ideal — if you’re pushing progression then you want the absolute best — but sometimes it was better to bring a player along who already knew how we did things rather than trying to find a PUG or convince someone in guild who didn’t want to raid that they should totally come along because raiding is great!
A PUG may just prove to be your next star raider
I’m not sure about how things are done now, but back in my day (Oh gawd, I’m officially ancient) PUGing for progression was the absolute last thing anyone wanted to do, since you had no idea what you were going to get. However, we were much more likely to pug for our alternative raids, and there were plenty of times where we ended up with not just a great player, but an amazing new recruit to the guild as well.
Even now, so many years after Wrath of the Lich King and Catacylsm were all the rage, four people immediately spring to mind when I think of casual PUGS-turned-guildies. Casual raids are a fantastic way to test and screen players to see if they are suitable for your group. It also gives those players a chance to get a feel for the guild in a more relaxed atmosphere.
Casual raids are not for everyone
…and that’s okay!
Some players just want to gear up their alt as quickly as possible so they can back to pushing cutting edge content. Sure, they may agree to come along thinking that it’s going to be a stream roll, but instead they’re wiping for hours on end because the bloody rogue keeps standing in stupid, or the under-geared healer doesn’t have the mana to keep up with the damage output, or any other of the million reasons why a raid made up of a mix of inexperienced and under-geared players might fail.
This is where it’s so important to make sure you stress the casual part of the statement. Having salty veterans turn your newbies of raiding is a detriment to everyone in the long run, but it can be avoided if the newbie-friendly nature of the group is emphasised in public and that all raiders are aware that you will not tolerate poor attitudes.
This PSA has been brought to you by a big ol’ chicken who is considering a return to raiding, but isn’t quite ready for the big league yet. Casual raids are the real MVP, yo!