Ready Check is a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, Kara or BT, everyone can get in on the action and down them some bosses. Hong is still recovering from a vicious rabid koala attack, so you'll have to put up with me this week. We both feel sorry for you.
When you're in a raiding guild there is a natural attrition that happens at a slow but constant pace. A mage here will have to start classes, a priest there gets transferred to night shift. Your best rogue suddenly isn't feeling the game anymore and wants to take a break. A couple of friends decide that a more casual guild is better for them... I could spend all day listing the reasons why people take off and leave you hanging.
If you're on a high population server with a good chunk of your faction representin' in raid instances, then the normal course of action is to hit up your realm forums with a post containing who you're looking for and what your guild is like. You bump it every couple of days and wait for people to contact you. You can also spread the word over the guild recruitment channel or even have your guildmates ask around.
But what if you're not on that kind of server? What if you're on a medium population server where the closest guild progressing in your faction is a whole tier behind you?
You're working on Illidan while the nearest guild is making attempts on Kael. And behind them, the view is even bleaker for qualified recruits. This is the situation my guild has been in for some time now. And I've talked to many people who don't even have that. Their entire server is dying from a raiding standpoint and they have no hope of progression in their home realm.
Paid server transfers were introduced about 1.5 yrs ago as Blizzard's answer to allowing people to move from a situation they didn't like, to one they could potentially have more fun playing in. While some of the most advertised aspects of this were getting to play with friends or combining all of your many alts onto one server, it changed the face of raiding forever. No longer were you confined by what your particular server had to offer. You could recruit or be recruited from anywhere your continent-type account would let you. The WoW LFG forums were born!
So now the possibilities are nearly endless. You can find that guild that matches your raid availability times, the culture you're looking for, and the content you're ready to tackle. Likewise, guilds limited by their native server population can expand out and bring in fresh blood. For my guild, this means that about 40% of our current members are previous server transfers. The process happened over a series of months, not some sort of mass exodus, but now we pretty much exclusively recruit cross-server.
By doing this, our steady progression through content hasn't missed a beat. We just change our recruitment focus to match where we are on bosses and bring in people ready to roll. We can also be extremely picky as to who we recruit, since there are many fish in the sea to choose from now. It's been a really great experience.
We also have the chance to give back to the community by selling extra raid mats or crafting items from patterns they don't have access to. We're at the point now where we're selling the BoE patterns all of our crafters already have. Epic gems will eventually be added to the list once our own members are geared up.
But like everything, there is a downside. The first that pops into my mind is the lack of actual raiding experience you can have with a transfer ahead of time. In the old days for us, any potential recruit was required to run a heroic 5-man with the officers to be sure they knew what they were doing. Now we have to rely on Armory and WWS to tell us the things we can't easily check.
This means sometimes if people spin a good yarn, they can get into your guild. One tank we recruited looked great from what we could tell and had the personality we were looking for. They coughed up their $25 and we shot them an invite. On the first pull in SSC, it became apparent that they were missing some key class theorycrafting concepts. We tried, but the issues weren't fixable, and although they were now trapped on our server for the next 3 months, there wasn't much we could do about it. We let him go.
Another issue is the affect cross-transfer recruiting has on your own server. For one, the image you project towards your servermates can be seen as elitist when you're actively looking for people that are not them. I've seen backlashes from the community that either destroy guilds or make them defect to another realm. You'll still see the old folks sitting around Org, talking about the glory days of guild so-and-so.
Also, you're not really helping your realm in progression beyond your personal needs. Rather than taking the time to gear up and train the locals, you're bringing in insta-members. Just add water and you're good to go. And should those transfers not work out, there's little reason for them to stick around. Or on the flip side, if you're low on a selection of progression guilds, everyone that wants to raid starts leaving the server for greener pastures, leaving you with a tough road ahead if you want to stay and explore end-game.
Likewise, server transfers mean it's much easier to guild hop through progression, rather than actually stick with a guild and learn the fights. Tired of wiping on Kael? Chances are you'll be able to find a MH/BT willing to take you in. Plunk down some presidents and you've just created a morale issue for your old band of comrades.
So how has server transferring affected your raid group? Are you a fan of cross-realm recruiting or do you prefer the local player supply? Do you think the transfers help the MH/BT guilds more, and just create problems for those in TK/SSC/Kara? Paper or plastic?
Marcie Knox has been raiding for a coon's age. It's all she's ever wanted to do and would be lost without the 4 nights a week where she can help put bosses in their place. You might know her from the Raid Rx column, but then again, you migh not...