Casual 101: Knowing Is Half The Battle

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the “Hardcore Casual” mentality.  In my 3 years of playing World of Warcraft, I’ve cut my teeth against some of the best in the game (well, my server or battlegroup).  I’ve seen some of the strongest players, and I’ve seen some of the weakest players.  The first thing I’ve noticed is a fundemental difference between the two extremes.  The strongest possess it.  The weakest lack it.  By “IT”, I’m talking about knowledge.  Yes, there are casuals that are some of the strongest players I know.  What separates them from a smattering of hardcores is their level of knowledge.

The Usual Scenario

A small guild consists of a tight-knit circle of friends.  All of them have made the necessary adjustments or rolled toons to fill all the roles that a 10man raid needs.  2-3 tanks, 2-3 Healers, and a slew of DPS, both ranged and melee.  When this guild gets together, there’s rarely a duplicate class, let alone spec.  Each player wants to benefit the raid as much as possible.  However, scheduling is always the issue.

Everyone’s got their own lives.  Everyone’s constantly juggling families, kids, jobs, school, friends, and of course, this game.  Each person constantly tries to get a raid together when they see that 8th or 9th person on.  Phone calls fly, text messages flow, and everyone is scouring their friends list to fill the final spots.  On the lucky nights, they can get together ten of their own.  A certain sense of pride swells.  “We got a guild run going,” they all contently utter.

The time is ticking.  One of the healers works the overnight shift on the weekends.  He/she has to be out the door in just over two hours.  The raid gets together surprisingly fast.  Even though ICC is the hot topic, they decide to do ToC since one of the paladins is saved to ICC.  It doesn’t matter, because they derive more joy from the simple act that those ten raiders share the same guild tag.

Buffs ensue, and right before the pull, the off-tank druid confesses his ignorance.  He doesn’t know the fight.  During Acidscale and Dreadmaw, the rogue gets the Burning Bile and runs away, but doesn’t come back to free the tanks with Paralytic Toxin.  This counts for two wipes.  On Lord Jaraxxus, the hunter gets inflicted with Incinerate Flesh and runs to kite it, as though it was Legion Flame.  He runs out of range of the healers, it ticks to zero, and wipes the raid.

We took the time to explain the fights.  The differences in the Wyrms and Jaraxxus’s two flames.  It seemed as though it was in one ear and out the other.  Although they’re all friends, tension is rising, and time is running out.  The healer with the upcoming overnight shift starts to get impatient.  Before they all realize what has happened, he has to leave.  They’ve barely downed Jaraxxus, and he/she is out the door to go to work. 

A reasonably short raid has turned into a long, frustrating endeavour. 

Things to learn as a casual player:

Take a little time to research – Even with my busy schedule, I have the time to watch a video, read a strat, or email a friend that knows.  I download a text-only strategy, copy it into an email, then read it on my phone on the train to work.  Before taking my lunch break, I take 10 minutes to watch a Tankspot video.  I’ve even, yes, downloaded a video to my iPod and watch it while I’m on the can.  (That’s right, I went there).

Listen to what’s being explained – Too often do I see people goofing off in guild chat, making random comments in /say, or participating in /general banter.  I never mind if it’s someone that I’ve done the fight with before, but if a casual player is consistently not listening because they’re engaged in other activities, I have no problem calling them out on it.

My main issue with all of this is the “talk, no walk” scenario.  All of these people will constantly ask, “Hey Thes, do you think we’re raiding tonight?” My constant response is: “I certainly hope so.  Start reading up on the fights.”  They never do.  Oh, they want to raid.  They salivate when the letters ‘I-C-C’ are called out.  Yet, when it comes down to doing a little bit of legwork, they falter.  I dont’ mind explaining the fights, but if after the explanation I hear “I’m sorry, so what am I supposed to do?” from our warlock, I wanna /logout.

Sidenote: Since drafting this blog, we’ve downed new bosses in ICC for us, so I *am* proud of my friends.  I just get agitated sometimes the lack of initiative. 


If you want to make yourself valuable as as casual raider, just take an extra step or two to be prepared.  If not, you’re wasting your own time.  The less a raid has to “nuture” you, the more appealing you’ll be to bring along.  Personally, I love that our guild, though small, is comprised mostly of people that can fill in for any guild’s raid that may need us.  Kind of like hired mercenaries.  Need a healer?  See if Thespean or Discotheque are on.  Need a tank?  See if Dralo or Naryamas are around.  How about a good DPS?  Ask Arcas or Wolfin.  That means, however, that we do our little bit of homework to make that possible.  You don’t have to be hardcore, but if you know your stuff, you are just as skilled (if not more), than someone who devotes most of their time to raiding.

Are you a player that can’t be on as much as they’d like?  How do you make yourself appealing to be pulled into a raid?

Email: | Twitter: @Thespius

20 thoughts on “Casual 101: Knowing Is Half The Battle”

  1. Thank you for typing this up and posting it. My guild is a hardcore raiding guild but we do have ‘social’ spots for close friends/family and former raiders who now have less time to play. The socials come along to raids when we are lacking raiders so this post would be great for them to prepare for those raids when they help us raiders out. Definetly going to link this on the guild website 🙂
    .-= Heather´s last blog ..Discipline in Icecrown Citadel =-.

  2. Thes, you have hit the nail on the head.

    In my previous guild “The Usual Scenario” was every week (which is one of the main reasons that I left that guild). I wanted a more consistent (not necessarily hardcore) guild in which I could expect to raid on specific nights of the week.

    Sadly, I feel like my new guild is slowly becoming much more like my old guild, in that people have either started showing up less often (without signing out on our “Raid Sign Outs” forum on our guild website) or when they do show up, they are not familiar with the strategy, and we end up wiping on one boss the entire night.

    You don’t necessarily have to be a “hardcore” raider, just a considerate one. If you have not done the fight, just make sure you are familiar with the strategies.
    .-= Spazmoosifer´s last blog ..What’s in a Name? =-.

  3. Well said, Thespius.

    To dig a little deeper into the issue, I would say that the real “IT” that some have and some don’t, is initiative (which generally determines whether or not someone has knowledge). While we often use “casual” and “hardcore” to differentiate different styles of raiding, in truth I think the terms apply more to a player’s approach to the game than they do to the structure in which the player operates. As you so aptly pointed out, there are so-called casual players who know every nuance of the class, while there are others who toil in ICC for 5/6 days a week in a “hardcore” guild who don’t understand basic mechanics.

    In the end I think it comes down to “you reap what you sow”. Personally, that’s what keeps me pouring so much into WoW–the more investment I make, the greater my reward is (provided that I look beyond ilvl).
    .-= Vixsin´s last blog ..How to be an Unabashed WoW Gamer =-.

  4. One of my biggest pet peeves is people who use the ‘casual’ tag as an excuse for not making an effort. And by the same definition label anyone who does do research & makes an effort as hardcore.

    I no longer raid but for a long time I was in a casual 25-man raiding community. Casual because the attendance requirement is only 1 day a week but the players are some of the best I’ve ever played with.

    Anyway, proud to be casual, agree with your post & enjoyed reading it =)

  5. Well put Thespius!

    “If you want to make yourself valuable as as casual raider, just take an extra step or two to be prepared. If not, you’re wasting your own time. ”

    I agree, however I would also say not only your own but the 9 or 24 others with you.

    There is nothing that frustrates me more is asking everyone to listen up, giving out assigns and/or explaining the strat to be used and having those 1 or 2 ask, “Wait, what was I supposed to do?” – 5 mins to go over everything again x 24 people means 120 minutes of combined wasted time. Not cool.
    .-= Napps´s last blog ..A Val’anyr story – by Napps =-.

  6. Nice article and I totally agree that preparation is the key. I’ve got a nice 10 man ICC group at the moment (not all guidlies) and we have a very tight but consistent schedule. We’ve made some nice progress in just two weeks running together because we let people know what to expect (i.e. we’re doing Blood Wing tonight) and people come prepared.

  7. Well said. I’m pretty serious about my raiding, but my situation is that I can pretty much never make more than one raid a week, while my guild does three nights. Needless to say, I often find myself facing a new boss for the first time, when everyone else in the raid was working on the fight the night before, and it’s absolutely crucial to have done some reading and video-watching on my own time in order to not feel like I’m letting the team down.
    .-= Carson63000´s last blog ..More on Atlantica Online =-.

  8. Totally agree, I watch Tankspot vids in my lunchbreak too.

    But how about the reverse side of the coin – it would be great if guilds filling an empty spot with a pug could do their best to be ‘gtg’ as advertised before summoning that pug into the raid instance.

    Last night our guild raid leader had to be offline because of a once-off irl commitment (involving a State Governor). So I answered a Trade call for a pug heals for a ToC 10, guild run, gtg. Seemed ideal – an early, fun night raiding, meet some new folk, wouldn’t get saved to anything the guild would get cross about. I got summonsed in.

    Then it turned out that several of these guild people had no flasks, so someone hearthed to the guild bank. Where it turned out there weren’t enough. So they were summonsed back, sans flasks, only to discover they had no raid food. In order to avoid another hearth I supplied them with food. They eventually buffed and pulled, the other healer dc’d, no-one was leading the raid and the tanks had no idea which worm to pick up – we wiped. Rinse, repeat. They then kicked the guildy healer who has apparently dc’d in every raid he’s ever been in. A guildy dps then said they had a headache and left (said dps turned up in a VoA run 20 mins later). Someone hearthed to Dal to recruit replacements.

    Just over an hour after my summons, there was no sign of a second attempt. They were soooooo not gtg. I wished them well and left. I will never run with that guild again. I will treasure my own guild more dearly.

    Being prepared individually makes you a good guildy. Not being prepared as a guild group makes you FAIL.

  9. Couldn’t agree more.

    Let me go a step further by adding that while I do read the strats and watch the videos, sometimes having the strategy explained by the raid leader cements it in my head. I need more of a hands on approach when figuring out raid strats. I can read them till I’m facerolling my keyboard, but just having someone else explain them in Vent, helps me out immensely. So, we may wipe a time or two before it dawns on me “Oh….don’t get hit by THAT yeti! Duh!”

    However, I do agree that explaining the fight more than once for those not paying attention can be agrivating.

    I think Blizzard should pass out Ritalin along with those WoW subscriptions…pay attention people!! 🙂

  10. As someone who can’t play nearly as much as I’d like. I make sure to have read a strat and watched a video (I try to watch from a healer’s perspective, or a ranged DPS so i can *see* what’s going on). I also try and come prepared with all my own consumables.

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  12. As a “casual” raider, the biggest problem I have with groups like the one described above is the lack of punctuality. I understand that many of the “hardcore” raiders are able to wait around all night for late members, but if they want to have a guild that supports us “casual” raiders, they shouldn’t wait an hour and a half for their friend to show up before starting a raid.

    Maybe your next article should be: “Guild Leader 101: Be On Freakin’ Time”


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