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Ready Check: Summertime, and the livin' is...



Ready Check is a twice-a-week column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, Vault of Archavon or Ulduar, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses. Today, we step back a little and look at endgame in the context of sports.


Ah, summer. Pimm's in the sunshine, the thwack of tennis balls against grass, iced Frappucinos and hayfever. Delights like these, and others, all conspire to turn perfectly normal raiders into monsters of poor attendance. Yet guilds soldier on despite a mixture of player attrition and general unreliability -- this column looks at some of the ways they manage.

The problem at hand is that many raiding guilds, at all levels of raiding, rely on a fairly tight-knit group of players. The smaller the raiding core, the more reliant you become on everyone showing up, but the better the guild is (in theory) since your players are well accustomed to working together. Additionally, loot is better used since it generally goes to those who raid rather than those who sit out.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Raiding, Ready Check (Raiding)

Ready Check: I'm more hardcore than you



Ready Check is a twice-a-week column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, Vault of Archavon or Ulduar, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses. Today, we step back a little and look at endgame in the context of sports.


Firstly, dedicated followers of this column (hi, Mum) will have noticed a new addition - Michael Gray's working his magic to make Ready Check not just weekly, but twice-weekly! Is that more than enough Ready Check to keep anyone happy? I think so.

Today's column is inspired by a question we've been discussing internally: is WoW a sport? Specifically, as so many of the externally validated goals in-game relate to raiding, how does raiding stand up to other, more traditional sports? We're not talking eSports, but good old fashioned team games. How do the attitudes in raiding differ from those you'd find in the sporting-as-a-hobby world?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Ready Check (Raiding)

Ready Check: Hard modes and progression



Ready Check is a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, Archavon or Algalon, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses. This week, we look at the hard modes in Ulduar.


It is a truth universally acknowledged that a raiding guild, in possession of a good enough fortune to cover repair costs, must be in want of a challenge. Rather than make bosses difficult by default, the design of Ulduar is liberally sprinkled with the sort of challenge we only saw hints of before -- hard modes.

The idea behind hard modes is to cater for every type of raider. Whether you just want to see content, have difficulty killing it as-is, or fancy spending several evenings wiping to artificial constraints, you can do so. (Note that when I say 'normal mode' from now on I mean non-hard-mode, not 10-man.)

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Filed under: Raiding, Bosses, Guides, Ready Check (Raiding), Achievements

Ready Check: Casual meets hardcore



Ready Check is a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, Archavon or Algalon, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses. This week, I attempt to find common ground with a casual player who's never raided and doesn't want to.

This weekend, I spent several hours talking shop with a woman who, as well as being a casual player, also has the unfortunate privilege of having given birth to me some time previously. As well as being my mum, Lynn is a gamer, and a few years ago I managed to lure her away from Guild Wars -- where she never got past level 10 -- to WoW. She now plays a level 80 enhancement shaman, as well as uncountably many alts (far more than me, and I'm an altoholic).

However, she's very cautious about group play. She socialises with her guild and has run the odd 5-man dungeon, but doesn't really understand the scene beyond that. Despite playing more than enough hours to join a raiding guild, she hasn't, and with raiding now very much accessible to all, I was curious why.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Ready Check (Raiding)

Ready Check: Progression Recruitment and Roster Churn



Ready Check is a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, Vault of Archavon or Ulduar, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses. This week, we're LF24M Yogg-Saron hard mode PST.


It's interesting to watch the flow of players into and around hardcore guilds, and how it changes during farm, progress and the area in between. Why are so many of these guilds recruiting, and how does it change the meta-game?

There are two reasons for a hardcore guild to recruit: to expand the roster and gain flexibility, or to replace players who are leaving the raiding squad. But what effect does it have on the guild? Let's take a look.

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Filed under: Guilds, Raiding, Ready Check (Raiding)

Ready Check: Is Ulduar too easy?



Ready Check is a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, Vault of Archavon or Ulduar, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses. This week, we do some homework.

The long-awaited new instance has been live for almost two weeks now, and a lot of the excitement over first kills is waning. Everything Blizzard has thrown at us so far is dead, and even several of the hard-mode kills, nominally on a level with Sarth-3D, are beaten.

So, this leads us naturally on to the question - is Ulduar hard enough?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Ready Check (Raiding)

Ready Check: Preparing for Ulduar's Bosses



Ready Check is a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, Naxxramas-10 or Naxxramas-25, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses. This week, we do some homework.

With Patch 3.1 and the release of Ulduar fast approaching, it's time to sit down and prepare for the upcoming content. Now, you might be the sort of raider who loves a surprise or two, and as a result you haven't looked at any of the preview coverage of Ulduar; if that sounds familiar, you probably don't want to continue reading this article.

If, however, your guild is going to rush into Ulduar as soon as possible, aiming for server or even world firsts, you need to be prepared. Let's take a look at the resources you can use to maximise your chances of success against the unknown.

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Filed under: Tips, Raiding, Bosses, Ready Check (Raiding)

Ready Check: Ulduar and Burnout



Ready Check is a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, Naxxramas-10 or Naxxramas-25, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses. This week, we look at people who are leaving raiding despite Ulduar being imminent
.

It's that time of year again. We're hardly as jaded by farming tier 7 content as we were back in the days of Black Temple and Hyjal, but burnout has been rearing its ugly head lately, putting raiding guilds in a difficult position. Ulduar approaching will obviously put a stop to the problem - but for how long?

When all the 25-man content is cleared in a handful of hours, nobody has any reason to run 10-mans and the drop-of-a-hat PTR testing schedule means we're entirely at Blizzard's whim as to when we can poke new content, it's no wonder people are becoming bored. Arguably, it's better that we don't get more than a few limited hours a week on the PTR, in order that the content is fresh when it actually hits. However, the actual effect of this drip-feeding has seemed to dampen enthusiasm for Ulduar rather than heighten it, especially as one of the most available bosses is unfortunately Flame Leviathan.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Ready Check (Raiding)

Ready Check: Nearly Immortal



Ready Check is a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, ZA or Sunwell Plateau, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses.
This week's Ready Check was inspired by reader Evan, who wrote in to tell us of some frustrating near-brushes with immortality.

Among hardcore and casual guilds alike, the achievement 'The Immortal' has caused nothing but a headache, even though finally pulling it off puts you in a very elite group of raiders. We misguidedly hoped that there wouldn't be a similar achievement in Ulduar, but 'The Immortal, Part Two' puts paid to that hope. However, it's substantially changed in difficulty.

Currently, you have to complete Naxxramas without a single raid member dying on any boss encounter within a single lockout. This makes for incredibly tense raids when things are going well, and incredibly frustrated raids when something goes wrong and puts paid to that week's attempt. We'll take a look at some of the things that can go wrong in Naxxrams a bit later.

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Filed under: Tricks, How-tos, Raiding, Ready Check (Raiding), Achievements

Ready Check: Know your raiders



Ready Check is a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, ZA or Sunwell Plateau, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses. This week, we
get psychological on your posterior.

We're all familiar with caricatures of raiders, from the aggressive aggro-hungry warlock to the placid, gentle priest. Generalising to quite this extent is perhaps a little unfair, but it's certainly true that many raiders share common personality traits; by looking at research into personality and learning types, we can understand our raid force better and perhaps even find out a thing or two about how to manage them.

Have you ever wondered what makes your raid group tick? Why people with seemingly conflicting behaviour and goals get on just fine when there are dragons to be slain? Psychology research explains it all.

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Filed under: Tips, Virtual selves, Guilds, Raiding, Ready Check (Raiding)

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