The state of raiding at the end of the expansion

After a frustrating month or so our guild finally managed to close out the tier by taking down Mythic Archimonde. I have us down as taking 377 attempts prior to our kill. Based on WoW Progress data it appears that less than 3% of guilds have currently killed Mythic Archimonde, but I’d be interested to see what the average number of wipes per first kill is. Initially we had issue getting through phase 1 and 2 cleanly. Once we cleaned those two phases up to the point where we could reliably get in to phase 3 cleanly it really started to fall in place. There are a heap of good guides out there, so I’m not going to try and reinvent the wheel. I will say that for our group the key was ensuring that we got to phase 3 with battle resurrections available and ensuring that all our group target the Infernals as soon as they dropped. As soon as we had a more even spread of damage on the Infernals (and were not relying on 1-2 people doing the bulk of the damage) we started to get deeper in to the fight. Prior to the kill we had a 1% wipe and a number of sub-15% wipes. For what it’s worth our actual kill was probably one of our uglier attempts on the night (particularly sub 25%). You can watch the kill in all its glory below.

If you were to ask me what our greatest challenge was in getting Mythic Archimonde down, I would probably say that it was maintaining a stable roster. The later half of this tier, in particular, has not exactly been kind. It’s just my opinion, but from where I’m sitting at the moment, the player base appears to be a lot more transient than I remember it. Comparing our roster for Mythic Archimonde to our roster from our first Mythic Gorefiend kill, there were only nine of us in for Archimonde that were there the first time the other guild killer, Gorefiend, went down last year. Our roster between Mannoroth and Archimonde also changed quite significantly in the 4-5 week period between kills. Having to consistently bring in new people – and get them up to speed – can be a massive time drain. This kind of thing is not unique to my guild. It’s fairly common. But why does it happen?

I’d put it down to a few factors. The first, player expectations as to how long it should take to down the highest level difficulty bosses. Where do these expectations come from? Based on our experiences I know that we had a few players expecting Archimonde to die relatively soon after Mannoroth (ie. during the same lock out) as they’d heard Archimonde was significantly easier**. You’ll hear things like “X guild killed it in Y attempts”. While that may well be true, you can’t always compare guild X with your own. Raid time, gear, experience, roster and countless other factors come in to play. If the boss doesn’t drop within their expected time frame then the guild is a failure and they’ll look else where.

Second, it’s just far too easy to get “trial” progression. Trial progression is a way I describe how some people choose to play the game. Rather than stick things out through the tougher points in progression, people guild hop, to the point where they’ll never spend any significant time progressing on any boss, instead jumping to guilds that have content on farm until they’ve ‘cleared’ the tier. I saw the same sort of behaviour in the final tier of the last expansion. There were players that would spend a few nights wiping on boss like Mythic Thok and rather than stick it out, jump to a guild that had Thok on farm. You can can generally spot the ‘trial progression’ players just by looking guild histories in WoW Progress and there’s no doubt a section of the player community that takes this path.

My theory as to why it seems more prevalent toward the end of an expansion is that, usually, the final tier drags out far longer than earlier tiers in an expac. The higher end guilds are usually in need of some top up players to come to help keep farming the content, while some of their more established players take a break at the end of the tier. If they are in need of numbers to continue farm until the end of the expansion, a 740 ilvl player with 12/13 mythic experience is an appealing prospect.

From where I sit, I also see it from other side, as we look to trial new players there’s the expectation that they’ll come in and get an easy Mythic Archimonde kill. If they haven’t got one in their first raid lockout, they are off to the next guild. We’ve already seen two examples of this in the week since we got Archimonde. Personally, if I were trialling with a guild and I have 1-2/13 mythic experience, I would not be expecting a 13/13 mythic clear within my first week in the guild, but that may just be me.

Lastly, paid carries. With gold so easy to come by at the moment, rather than putting in effort themselves, more and more people appear to be willing to pay for someone else to do the work for them. Frustratingly for us, during the raid lockout in which we killed Archimonde, we had a raider decide that they’d pay gold for a 13/13 mythic guild to carry them to a kill. Having to take a raider out of the mix because they’d rather look after themselves than help the group was not exactly morale boosting, but it’s also a symptom of where I’m seeing the game heading. My personal view is that the whole ‘carry’ concept – people paying gold or whatever to get carried through content – is having a hugely negative impact on the community. People don’t seem to form groups to work through content as much anymore. It’s too easy to drop 25K gold and have your Heroic Archimonde kill 10 minutes later than it is to try and form a ‘pug’ group to kill the boss. It seems to be getting worse. In Pandaria, I essentially pugged gold challenge modes on 8 different characters – did do a few as a guild group – but largely formed groups via oQueue or trade. Trying to complete gold this expansion via pugging has so far proved impossible. Scan group finder and all you’ll find are ‘challenge mode gold’ sellers. Post in trade that you’re looking for a group and you’ll get whispers from people trying to sell them to you. I know it’s part of the game, and guilds use it to build up their guild banks for the next tier, but I can’t help but wonder if the game would be better off if it just didn’t happen.

I guess all these things come down to human nature. You’ll always find people that will take the easiest path possible and jump ship any time something becomes ‘hard’. If nothing else, this end of expansion period weeds out the people you want in a raid team versus the people that are just along for the ride. Rant over.

** for what it's worth I wouldn't say Mythic Archimonde is necessarily any easier than Mythic Mannoroth - it's just different. While it might arguably be less dependent on RNG there seems to be a far greater importance on 20 people taking personal responsibility the entire length of the encounter. Going in to phase three with someone down, or losing one or two people early in to phase 3 is basically a wipe during progression, where as a couple of deaths during Mannoroth seem a little more recoverable. Just my opinion.

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