Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ready Check: The long bleak winter of spontaneous raiding

Ready Check is a column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, Vault of Archavon or Icecrown Citadel, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses. You might have heard that the east coast recently got slammed by an epic blizzard. Sure, sure, you folks out in Minnesota or Wisconsin are used to getting 50 inches of snow in the middle of summer. Heck, August only means your snowfall dwindles to a mere two or three inches. But out here on the right coast, from about Baltimore down to Florida, "snow" is something that we mostly see inside globes and Northrend.The last few weeks, however, have been so thick with the white stuff that many, many, many players are trapped in their homes. And they turn to a very natural, time-killing past time: World of Warcraft. The real issue with this snowy dynamic is that it led to a lot of people looking to spontaneously raid. In the middle of a Wednesday isn't when folks usually schedule their Icecrown Citadel raid. But this small legion of snow-stranded folks often already had pre-planned raids scheduled for the evenings. They were forced to look back at available content and try and figure out "What can we do as a group, without impeding already-set plans for our normal raid?"While I bring this subject up because I was one of the many trapped indoors by the Snowpocalypse, you will probably find dozens of reasons you need to come up with a spontaneous raid or two. Heck, maybe you just find yourself with a Friday night free. Take a look behind the jump and let's talk about what to do if you find yourself snowed in but wanting to raid.While farming, questing, and chain-gunning Dungeon Finder Heroics are popular ways of killing time, remember that what we're focused on is how to use that time on behalf of an entire raid. So, without further adieu, what can you raid without interrupting ICC?Trial of the CrusaderLet's be brutally, brutally honest here. Do you really have every single item that your raid could use out of Trial of the Crusader? There's not even so much as a side-grade in there, maybe from the big-bug Anub'arak? While you're probably not going to score a lot of huge gear improvements by running Trial of the Crusader, it does have the most likely chance of dropping something you can kind-of-use. Drops are fickle things, and even with Emblems of Frost rounding out a lot of gear in Icecrown, getting a handy side-grade from a drop will still save you some trouble.Vault of ArchavonMost guilds that I know don't plan Vault raids. It's usually a PUG thing. Even Toravon isn't all that hard if your group is rocking enough DPS, so Vault of Archavon is usually a pretty fair raid to do with PUGs.But if you are looking for "something to do" because you're trapped inside, I would pick up Vault of Archavon as your first option. It doesn't take long, so it's not going to kill a whole lot of time, but the random rewards make it pretty worth it.I always meant to . . .My guild calls these "Old World Club." We have a half dozen or so players who only started their World of Warcraft experience in the last twelve months. They never got to experience the awesome moments in some of WoW's earliest raids. The idea is that you gather together a couple dozen of your level 80s, and you go back to the old world raids. Did you ever get the chance to kill C'thun? Maybe now's the time to do that. 25 level 80s are more than capable of clearing even AQ40. (Well, they'll be capable if you pay attention to dance steps -- you should still read the guides and strategies, so that you have an idea of what you're doing.)The down side of revisiting this old content is that it can be a little depressing. When you realize that death knights and hunters are pillaging these old world raids for gold and bragging rights, it's a little bit of downer. Some of us spent hours or days or weeks in those places. We struggled to eek out just enough damage to down those old, epic bosses.But, then again, if the raids weren't worth it for the fun at the time, maybe we shouldn't have been doing them in the first place.Bootstrapping alts and new folks"Bootstrap" raids are those raids whose entire purpose is to quickly and efficiently bring level 80 characters up from just-dinged to ready-to-raid. There's a number of different ways to achieve that bootstrapping. My favorite tends to be to tell a fresh level 80 to "get thee unto a Dungeon Finder."But if you find yourself trapped with a handful of other usual raid members, you have a unique opportunity to power someone up to your group's current tier of progression. Power-run those alts (or newbies), and see how quickly they jump up to your level.Even though it might technically be faster to cycle Dungeon Finder groups, the issue is that you're also trying to include a half-dozen to two-dozen other people in this effort. I'd like to think that gearing up a newb gives this effort a nice "community" feel.Sell some titles and mountsYou can still score The Undying title from Naxxramas. Unless you're bootstrapping someone, you probably don't have a lot of reason to be going back to Kel'Thuzad's stomping ground. But the problem you're facing isn't one of "is it worth it," but rather "how can I make it worth it?"There's plenty of people who have never seen Naxxramas. I know, it seems shocking, but it's true. For every player who's seen Naxxramas, I bet there's one who's never quite been able to get a group. Offer those folks to not only take them into the instance, but also all the way through it. And then sweeten the pot with the instance's applicable title. This experience will easily be worth a few thousand gold.The same theory applies to Ulduar's mounts, of course. However, I suspect that many of your guild members probably want the mount for themselves. I've actually not personally been on one of these kinds of runs before, though, so I'm not sure how it'd work out with someone who's a complete novice running hard modes. I'm actually considering trying one out on my home server of Shadow Council to see how those folks do it.SummaryThese are, of course, just a few different ideas. The problem, of course, is that an experienced, progressed raid will be able to quickly blow through the available content within a few days. If you find yourself snowed in for longer, then you probably will need even more help.Good hunting out there!


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