We ran Karazhan the other day and for the first time in a long time we didn't clear it in one run and took almost four hours only to call it at Prince. Only about half of our regular group could make it that day and we were forced to PuG the rest, even filling the last spot with a player who had never done Karazhan before. Our raid leader and tank grumbled throughout the entire run, sending me tells of wanting to kick people from the group. In the end, we conspired to end our misery by acceding to a couple of attempts at Prince but no more.
For the past weeks, we had been doing 2 1/2 hour Karazhan for badges, and for the most part we made sure that our raid members were equipped in Tier 4-5 or better. We'd turbo pull to bosses with a Paladin tank and Disenchanted nearly every drop because, really, no one needed anything from there. We ran it for badges and wanted to breeze through the instance as quickly as possible. We would wince if we brought someone who wasn't familiar with the strats or had more than a few blues.
Ironically, these people who have blues are the ones who actually need Karazhan more. The PuG we brought who'd never been to Karazhan was a Hunter who got an upgrade right away when Attumen dropped Steelhawk Crossbow. Even though it took us twice as long, the run actually helped gear a few people. It got me thinking about how Karazhan is being run now. At this stage in the game, where progression has dispensed several tiers of gear above what Karazhan offers, has Karazhan's original role of being an entry level raid changed? Because Karazhan is the most efficient instance to farm badges, most people -- such as our raid -- don't want to slow ourselves down by bringing undergeared players.
Karazhan loot was intended to gear up people for 25-man raids and quickly became one of Blizzard's most popular instances. In fact, Karazhan is run more than ever, but probably for the wrong reasons. Now, many players run it for badges, and the players who actually need upgrades from the place find it more difficult to find spots in raids. Fewer and fewer guilds are moving through Karazhan as progression. Has Karazhan now become the playground of geared raiders rather than those only beginning to raid? While I'm personally not too keen on bringing undergeared players for an epic train ride, it makes me wonder about how badges have changed the purpose of Karazhan for many players.