This is a two part series on advancing from being an AotC player to a CE (Cutting Edge) player from both the player and guild perspective. Today, we look at the player side and what are commonly valued traits.
DJ’s recently killed Mythic Raszageth. The guild had a bit of a slowdown during Shadowlands and went more casual in terms of time and attitude. During our end of expansion survey and post-mortem, the majority of the team answered that they wanted to make a push to being a Cutting Edge team again heading into Dragonflight. Normally, making the jump from an AotC guild to a CE guild takes time. By my experience, it happens gradually over the course of maybe 2 or 3 raid tiers on average. For some guilds, it never happens because they break up or run into a boss wall that can’t be overcome.
I received a question on Twitter from someone who was interested in making that leap. I’ve also received questions along these lines from a few of the other players in the community who had considered applying to DJs but felt they were lacking the experience.
Any suggestions for a AOTC playing looking to take it to the next level and join a CE guild for next tier?
Let’s start with a general foundation. You have your Normal and Heroic guilds. Above that, you have your Ahead of the Curve guild. As that guild decides to push harder and make a play for better loot or a challenge, they might evolve into a Mythic Raiding guild that knocks off a few bosses here and there but gets stonewalled by the remaining final bosses. That’s where most guilds stop. The ones that get over the hump of guild killers end up turning into a Cutting Edge guild. The elusive Hall of Fame guild is generally reserved for the top 100 guilds in both Horde and Alliance, however heading into patch 10.1, it is being amalgamated into the top 200 guilds (regardless of faction). I don’t have experience at that level so I can’t really say anything about it with confidence. In my mind, it’s incredibly rare for someone to go directly from an AotC guild straight to a CE guild. The typical path starts from AotC to a Mythic Raiding environment in order to get eased in before it ramps up (either that same Mythic guild evolves into a CE guild or the player looks for one).
Being in a CE guild is a commitment. You can’t take breaks in the middle of a raid tier and expect to come back and waltz into a Cutting Edge achievement. Expect to maintain a high level of attendance. That being said, I’m a big believer in taking a raid night off or two once in a while if you need that small reset and if the raid group can spare it. Commitment is more than just the raid nights. You still have to find the time to help progress your character in other ways. As much as I dislike it, the Mythic+ system is the other way to help fill out your gear and address any weaknesses there. Players try to aim for 8 dungeons complete to maximize their vault. In the early stages of progression, this is ideal. Later on in the tier, it isn’t as important. Nowadays, I stick to getting at least 1 box out of my vault. Sometimes the stats from the gear drops may not be the most optimized for you, but having that extra bit of health can help you survive lethal attacks. When you’re looking to progress on a boss, your own survival is paramount. Your performance will naturally improve later as you get more comfortable (and with gradual gear improvement).
Everything you do from your opener to your cooldown usage, to the positioning should all be as consistent as possible. If the raid leader makes a change because there isn’t enough DPS on a platform ad and it’s because you forgot to use a potion or a cooldown, then that change was made for nothing and further imbalances the player assignments. Be the player that everyone can expect and depend upon. I will value a player who consistently hits the 85th percentile over someone who swings from 75th to 95th. Sure their ceiling might be higher, but at least I know what I’ll get out of 85 over the course of 30 pulls. This might be harder to do for healing since that type of performance is contingent on damage coming in, but you can still maintain a degree of predictability of your position and where your major cooldowns will be although this is typically assigned in advance. Expect your raid leaders to direct where major defensive cooldowns will be committed.
This topic could be its own separate post. It boils down to being good at what you do. Stay alive and push damage while doing the required mechanics. Stay on top of your consumables and execute as best as you can. Stop dying to the same things repeatedly. I’d rather have players learn something new and creative to die from as opposed to not being able to figure out and solve the same thing causing lethal damage over and over. Any player movement needs to be on point. Can’t miss your interrupts. Any target switches have to be quick. It goes on and on. Be up to date with any class or spec changes that you have to account for. Flexibility in spec changing is valued but it isn’t necessarily a deal breaker (I mean, I’ve been a Holy Priest main since the game practically launched).
Lastly, do big numbers when it’s warranted.
Mental fortitude is critical! Raszageth took us around 186 wipes (or 206 depending on who you ask). We started working on Rasz on March 17th and kept extending until we got her down on April 8th. But that’s nothing compared to some of the earlier encounters from previous expansions. When you’re progressing on bosses such as Kil’Jaeden in Tomb of Sargeras or Uu’nat in Crucible of the Storms, expect to wipe often and for any kind of progress to be measured in weeks. Hopefully, bosses like that won’t be designed again anytime soon. There are some days when you may choose to sit and not come in because you need a mental reset and this is where a sizeable bench of players comes in handy.
Have the wherewithal to look at your own performance and see where improvements can be made. Too often, I see players immediately raid log. The ones that catch my attention stay behind after raid to decompress and discuss shortcomings. Granted, we also raid fairly late for east coast players so sometimes they need to check out and pass out. Even so, during the week, there’s healthy discussion in Discord and the willingness to ask hard questions like, “I died to this and I can’t figure out how to address it.” During our first few pulls on Mythic Terros, I kept taking lethal damage repeatedly. I was simply too slow and any attempts to cast spells were often interrupted because I had to move or risk death. I started off in melee and voiced my concerns before I got the go-ahead to switch with a player at range which made a massive difference.
You might not need to speak that often to the rest of the team during the middle of a pull but be prepared to talk if the situation comes down to it. Mistakes are going to happen and you’ll need to say something so that someone else can help cover it such as a missed interrupt or if you’re in a bad position. On Kurog, if two people have Absolute Zero and they’re in the same area, one of them needs to speak up and say what they’re going to do. If a raid leader asks you a question, you need to respond even if the answer is, “I don’t know”. We had players who were trialing with us over the weeks and if they took lethal damage and died, our raid leader would ask, “How did you die?” and the silence was quite deafening. Can’t be shy when it comes to communicating quickly about any type of mechanics change, positioning change, or information relevant to the raid. I can tell how comfortably they are communicating in a raid environment based on Mythic+ play. In Court of Stars, CE players will often call dibs on next interrupts for things like Charging Station or AoE stuns and stops for those annoying Imps in the back half of that instance.
This just about covers everything from the player’s side. There’s other nuances to consider. I haven’t even touched upon UI elements but how information is received and how it’s responded to is another consideration. I remember reviewing a fellow player’s UI and was instantly overwhelmed. In a future post, I’ll illustrate my thoughts about how guild leadership can step up from being an AotC guild to a CE guild as there is a clear contrast in how things are handled both in and out of the raid.