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15 Minutes of Fame: Classic raiders keep a different pace

15 Minutes of Fame is WoW.com's look at World of Warcraft personalities of all shapes and sizes -- from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, from the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.

The old days are long gone, Gramps; take off the rose-colored glasses and play Wrath, where raiding is better than ever.

So goes conventional wisdom in the comments whenever anyone espouses a little nostalgia for the old days of vanilla WoW. Raiding was a far different animal back then. Players who raided were still considered hardcore -- "casual raiding" wasn't on the radar yet -- and devoted week after week of angling for a 40-man raid slot in hopes of earning the chance at a purple drop. Even though strategy sites for WoW raids blossomed sooner rather than later, videos and the trustworthy guides remained relatively sparse, and many early guilds developed their own tactics and jealously guarded alternative strategies. Standing at the mailbox in Ironforge with a massive, raid-sized weapon on your back meant wielding a badge of achievement that attracted a small crowd; bearers would be flooded with awed whispers asking where it was from.

A thoughtful look back at WoW's 40-man past yields both positives and negatives. It wasn't simply the size of the raids that made them feel so different than today's raids ; it was the interplay of raid size, the inexperience of the raiding player base, the scarcity and difficulty of rewards, the lack of universally accepted tactics and strategies ... A whole host of influences that simply can't be replicated today.

But while the era may long cold and dead, the content is still very much alive. Beyond the bored, pre-expansion players who are fending off burnout by sightseeing in vanilla WoW and The Burning Crusade instances lies another layer of players who are attacking old content with level-appropriate characters. These classic raiders aren't fruitlessly attempting to recreate the past; rather, they're enjoying an entirely different pacing for the game.

Main character Brewce, level 60 dwarf protection warrior
Guild <Screams of the Past>
Realm Draka (US-PvE-A)

15 Minutes of Fame: Retro raiding (revisiting older content with raiders of instance-appropriate level and above) and classic raiding (adhering to strict level and gear caps appropriate to the instance content) is becoming more and more popular in these pre-expansion days. How long has <Screams of the Past> been together now?

Brewce: SotP was formed Dec. 28, 2008.

As a classic guild, what specific content do you limit yourself to raiding?

All level 60 classic content: Zul'Gurub, Ahn'Qiraj-20 and Ahn'Qiraj-40, Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, world dragons. We clear each weekly.

We don't "limit" ourselves to this content, either, by the way. We choose to play this content; this isn't our only option.

Do you set restrictions on members as far as levels, talents, skills and using components and gear from later expansions?

Being a classic raiding guild, we raid with only level 60 characters that are in guild -- no pugging whatsoever -- and we shun any items being from post-classic WoW in our raids. Gear and enchants must be 100% classic, no exceptions. No glyphs are allowed, either. We don't participate in the subspeccing of talents or downgrading of spells. We've been doing this a long, long time and feel that our members' having fun outweighs raiding with a broken spec or level 1 spells.

"Subspeccing"?

Some people in the classic community feel as though raiding with a 31-point or 41-point talent spec and/or downranking spells gives more of a challenge, therefore creating more of a "classic" feeling. We don't participate in this mentality. We feel that any sort of subspeccing and/or downgrading spells will only result in players having less fun. Doing only two spells in a three- to four-hour raid doesn't sound very fun to me.

Our guild has been doing this a long time, and the issue has been discussed again and again. What it comes down to is people seeking more of a "challenge" than others. From our viewpoint, these people never stay in the guild long and almost always quit WoW altogether. We've been clearing all classic content for months and months, never missing a raid clearing, with the majority of our members having fun. Why mess with success?!

That's quite a record of consistency! How many raiding groups do you have?

We have one main raiding group. Our raids are 40-mans, and we rarely fill them up. Most of the time, we see between 30 to 35 players each raid night.

What content have you covered so far?

We have cleared every classic content raid available to us. We even used to clear Onyxia each reset until it went the way of Naxx-40.

Let's get down to the bottom line: What do you think attracts members to classic raiding?

Many things attract our members to classic raiding and our guild in general. If I were to copy and paste pieces off our member applications into this, the most common answer you'd find is that "People don't like the current level 80 experience." Yes, I generalize, because everyone has a different reason. It seems though that most people are tired of the current raid scene as well as the WoW community in general. Those sick of the "GS is God" mentality will find that we don't use the addon. LOL

Those sick of the "epics are everywhere" mentality will find that gear in classic content takes a lot more time and dedication to get and is therefore more valuable. "What we obtain too cheap we esteem too lightly" -- Thomas Paine. This can be applied to almost every facet of the level 80 scene. The raids aren't that challenging. The gear is easy to get, and in turn, the community has made outcasts out of a lot of people. If you don't agree, you're automatically wrong, right? LOL People wanting more from their subscription will find an outlet here.

Why is classic raiding your WoWstyle of choice?

The above-mentioned reasons. I've played Wrath of the Lich King. I took a mage in full ilvl 200s and in less than two weeks -- without the help of a guild, mind you -- I went to almost full ilvl 251s-264s and had cleared more than half of ICC-25 with a PUG.

I like how it's still challenging in classic. The beginning instances, such as Scholomance and Stratholme, provide more challenge than any heroic 5-man in Wrath. There are more stuns, snares and silences in the undead part of Strat than in all heroics combined. The raids actually require an attunement. I suppose I just like more of a challenge. I like to feel as though my time and dedication have been well rewarded (waiting eight months on bracers to drop to complete full tier 2). I like the tight-knit community that we've built here and the community that is the classic raiding scene, as well.

So are most of your members experienced re-rolls? Are they full-time classic raiders, or do most players also have ICC-raiding characters?

We expect our members to consider their guilded toons their "mains." We don't recruit those who aren't 100% dedicated to classic raiding; missing our raids to raid ICC isn't tolerated. Like I've said, I raided Wrath part-time for about two weeks over a month and half ago, and during that time, I never missed one of SotP's raids. This is the level of dedication and loyalty that we expect.
How will Cataclysm affect the guild's goals and content?

I doubt it will.

What are your thoughts on the upcoming guild management system?

I've done some research and found most of the features don't apply much to us.

The big news in raiding progression today, of course, is the rebalancing of the 10-man and 25-man raid formats. You're still raiding in 40-mans -- what's your take on the change in philosophy?

This doesn't apply to my guild or myself in anyway. My guild could not honestly care less about what happens in the raiding formats for Cata.

When did you start playing WoW yourself? Have you experienced the classic content before the era of rebalanced spells and specs?

I started playing WoW in October of '06. Yes, I raided up through MC with my guild before BC hit, back when the only raid spec you could do as a pally was holy and most of the time you were just a buffing bot.

Some of the old "set class specs" can still be found in our guild. Most of our druids heal, most of our warriors tank and most of our pallys heal. The gear available to classic raiders caters to this as well. There is no ret tier, no prot tier for paladins, only holy -- meaning to go ret/prot and do respectable damage/threat/etc., you need to raid for a while and acquire the off-tier pieces.

How would you define the play experience that classic guilds like yours seek?

That's one thing we prize in our guild, the "classic" feeling that can still be found in a lot of ways. For example, it takes months and months to get gear; there is no badge system to get gear quickly. This not only creates raiders who are dedicated, preventing such issues as attendance problems. (Are you really gonna miss a raid if the one item you need that hasn't dropped in nine months might actually drop?) It creates raiders who develop a sense of belonging and responsibility in our guild.

I think this is where a lot of guild leaders and officers tend to lose their members. They should all ask themselves, "How do we find a way for everyone to have a voice, for everyone to have a share in this place?" Once you have this answered, a lot of problems disappear. We answered this by creating a community where those who have specific goals in mind can find like-minded people, but not facilitating those people at such a rate as to create burnout.

The main reason I stopped playing Wrath so soon was that it was just too easy. I didn't need to find a committed guild and dedicate myself to raiding four nights a week for three to four hours each night to get good gear; I could PUG and in an hour have good gear. Our members will find that if you want to get good gear, you have to put in the time. We use an open auction DKP system in our 40-mans to enforce this. We want those who put in the most time and dedication to get the best gear, and in this way, I think we're still very classic.
Do you find that short-manning 40-man raids is relatively "balanced" now, given the talent, spell and balance changes during the intervening years?

No, it's extremely unbalanced. The talents are extremely overpowered, yet raiding with a sub-51-point spec just isn't viable for a lot of classes/specs. The bosses are still nerfed, making them less challenging, as well. We don't expect anything different though; we know we're a niche guild and that Blizzard caters to the majority of WoW players, so when you don't expect anything better from Blizz, it doesn't seem that bad.

A big part of playing classic raiding is receiving no support or service from Blizzard in any way. The designers don't take us into account at all, so a lot of the changes affect us indirectly. Take, for example, making Onyxia level 80. This made it impossible for members of my guild and other level 60 players to complete The Only Prescription, a crucial part of arguably the most epic quest chain in classic WoW. It is my personal favorite quest line, and now my guild doesn't get to share in my experiences because of an indirect change. The GMs don't help us either with this issue; at one point they did, but now they won't, and any talk of such gets locked on the official forums.

Wrath players don't have any idea what this is like. Their quests aren't broken, their raids aren't extremely unbalanced, yet they complain and complain. Like I've stated, I know we're a niche guild and such treatment is to be expected, yet I still think it's necessary to contrast the extreme differences in each content/level bracket as to better provide those who don't play level 60 some understanding of the treatment we receive and yet the strong resolve we have and how dedicated we are in spite of it.

This sounds like a lot of hurdles.

I understand that not everyone feels that classic content is for them, and that's cool. A lot of people feel strongly about the things that deter us from other content, and that's cool too. One of the great things about this game is that we're able to play the way we want, however different that may be.

Any plans for the expansion?

With all the excitement for Cata, I'm sure a lot of people out there find it rather odd that we don't plan on playing it, at least not to the point where we'd give up SotP. That's the thing with our core of raiders and admin -- SotP is our main raiding guild. Even if our members play Cata, we'll still always raid the classic content that we have access to. Our group is more than just a guild; it's a community of strong, talented, like-minded players, and I think that's what draws and keeps many people here.

Intrigued by the idea of classic raiding? Find retro and classic group listings in recent installments of
The Classifieds; be sure to check the comments for additional listings.

"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with these players. These
WoW players from all walks of life range from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Aron "Nog" Eisenberg to Olympic medalist Megan Jendrick ... from a quadriplegic player to a player who's racked up every achievement in the game.


Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

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