I should have seen this coming...
Before Cata landed on us, the officers of The Dragons (myself included) decided that we wanted to try to be a 25-man raiding guild.
I'm not sure why we decided this. The most success we've ever really had as a 25-man raid group was downing Magtheridon before the 3.0 super-nerf. Of course, to do anything past Kara, you had to run 25s, so there was something to be said for that.
We went into Wrath with the intentions of being a 25-man raiding guild even though it was optional. We did manage to clear Naxx (a week) before Ulduar dropped. After that we had a huge exodus and couldn't even field enough people to try Ulduar on 25 most weeks. We never got past Auriaya.
ToC came and went much the same way. We did eventually clear it, but Anub took us a good while and we couldn't crank out the DPS to get him down before he enraged until a good portion of us were sporting a fair amount of ICC gear.
ICC at the beginning was rough. But at least by then we seemed to be able to regularly pull together the numbers to try. Festergut and Rotface were pretty regular challenges for us, though. We did down Putricide once and the Princes a couple times. But nothing beyond that.
Part of the problem was that 25s were actually tuned to be more difficult (beyond the obvious difficulty in wrangling 25 people instead of just 10). Often to fill all 25 spots we'd be taking people who just weren't as geared or able as the situation demanded. Often they would have struggled in 10s. So to ask them to perform in 25s was probably short-sighted and unfair.
Enter Cataclysm. Blizz expressed the design goal of making 10s and 25s equally difficult. If you could handle one, you should be able to handle the other. But the overall difficulty curve went up.
When ICC came out, our guild had somewhere between 12 and 15 raiders good enough to handle the kinds of fights you see in the ICC wing-chiefs (Putricide, Lana'thel, Sindragosa) and LK. In the year that followed we picked up a few random people here and there. We also absorbed two smaller guilds. So going into Cataclysm, that 12 or 15 jumped up to about 25. Maybe even pushing 30. It was the biggest pool we'd had heading into any expansion. Or even any new tier.
We figured with the gear reset and everyone starting over at the same time and being in the same place, we'd be in good shape to try the 25-man raid experiment again.
It just hasn't worked out that way.
We have started to put more stress on overall preparation due to the increased difficulty, but one thing we haven't changed at all is our "no required attendance" policy. That's just not in line with our stated goals as a guild.
The downside to this, as I've realized over the past few weeks, is to have a 25-man raiding guild with a "no required attendance" policy, you need about 35-40 geared and capable players. We're nowhere near that. I wonder if we ever will be.
At this point, I'd say we're hovering right around the 25 mark. We have yet to have a night where those exact 25 people are all online and able to go. So we've filled spots with the other people available just so we wouldn't have to tell 8-11 ready players, "sorry...we're going with 10 tonight," and subsequently spend two hours wiping before trash respawns and we call it. I don't want to say that we haven't seen good progress on those nights. Our later attempts are always better than our early ones. But I'm still watching enrage timers or other limiting factors and knowing we're just not going to make it.
Our 10-man runs have seen more success. We're not clearing places yet, but we're making progress. Magmaw, Omn(omnom)itron, Halfus, and the Conclave have all been downed. We made decent progress on our four attempts at the Double Dragons, as well.
It's obvious that the people involved in those feats are much more inclined to want to continue where we've seen success.
There's currently a 4-page long thread in our Officer section debating what we should do now. Persevere? Throw in the towel and run 10s? We have way more than 10 people who deserve raid spots.
Do we have enough for two 10s groups? We're a little light on tanks and healers.
Should we include alts? That would mean people might be in both groups and they couldn't run at the same time.
Should the separate groups be very succinctly defined, or mixed from week to week? What happens if one group starts seeing more progress than the other?
There's also the fact that I'm currently my guild's only regular raid leader. There are other people that probably could lead a second group, but no one that really wants to. That's fine for the occasional "fill in for San because he's off leading a ski trip instead of a raid" or whatever, but not for a regular second group.
In a way, I like the idea of two 10man groups. I think most of us in the officer corps do. It sucks trying to put together a 25-man group and looking at the guild list, only being able to pick out 18 people that can handle it. It sucks even more trying to put together a 10-man group and having to whittle down a list of 18 candidates.
For now I think two 10s is going to be the direction we head. We're gonna have to play around with it and make some adjustments on the fly. But hopefully we can make it work.
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