If your guild started running Ulduar right when patch 3.1 came out, you should have Yogg down by now at least, if not working on and hopefully completing a few hard modes. Perhaps attendance issues have slowed down your progression, or stopped it entirely.
Regardless of where your guild may be in the 3.1 content, now is the time to put on your thinking cap and think about how 3.2 is going to affect your guild. While the raid content being added may be smaller than Ulduar offered, there are a number of important changes that will have an impact on your members and your guild. Having a plan in place early can help you retain current members and attract new ones over the summer months.
Taking the time to think about what’s coming up isn’t specific to patch 3.2 of course; understanding the potential impact of any content patch on a guild is a good idea. Failing to do so can cause drama of all sorts. A recent example is the Shards of Val’anyr that drop off of hard-mode heroic Ulduar bosses. wow.com’s Officer’s Quarters covered a guild that was didn’t expect to see any fragments drop, and were caught unawares when one did and they didn’t have a plan for distribution.
The specifics of the drop are interesting. I saw the same thing happen in my old guild – we did Flame Leviathan and failed to shut him down once because we didn’t understand the mechanics of throwing people up on top. We got the kill with over half the raid dead, but because our lack of skill netted us the achievement, we received a fragment.
The problem with both the guild featured in Officer’s Quarters and my old guild is that the GMs didn’t think they needed a plan for fragments. Perhaps they didn’t look at all the achievements that were possible for Ulduar when it was on the PTR. Perhaps they thought that the primary task was downing bosses, then worrying about hard modes, and that they’d have time to come up with a plan between those two progression phases.
But right now, you’re sitting around, probably doing a relaxed raiding schedule. Even if you’re not, you know what is coming in 3.2 if you read MMO-Champion or other similar news sites. Why not assume that you’re going to do better than your wildest imagination in the coliseum and determine what, if any changes are required in your guild policies?
How 3.2 Might Change Your Guild
There’s quite a few changes that will impact the average raiding guild:
Emblems of Conquest from all heroic / tier 7 / tier 8 content
This is big. If your guild hasn’t been farming Ulduar for a while, the tier 8 emblem gear is pretty sweet. Even if you have Ulduar on farm but haven’t seen a key slot drop, emblems are deterministic: earn X emblems, buy gear Y. You will see people get a new interest in heroics, and a weekly cleanup of Naxx-10 or -25 is going to be very popular among most guilds. Do you put Naxx back into your weekly schedule, or do you tell people to run it on their own time?
If you’re a small guild that struggles to get Ulduar-10 going at times, this is also important. In 3.1, running heroics when you could only scrape together 7 members on an evening was pointless – the gear was going to be sharded, and emblems of heroism didn’t get you anything that was better than the mix of Naxx-10 and Ulduar-10 gear you’re currently wearing, so if you couldn’t raid you probably would just call it and send your members off to do their own thing.
Now, heroics become a viable alternative to raids. A three or four hour run through Naxx will net you 16 emblems of conquest, but you need at least 10 people to do it. You can get the same number of emblems out of four heroics, but you only need 5 people. So if 7 people show up for a 10 man raid, then your official fallback should be to split into a group of three and a group of 4, PUG a few fillers and go run heroics.
Raid Lockout Extensions
Another big one, but one that will test your guild’s communications, especially if you don’t have the same people running with you every night. You’ll be able to extend your raid ID lockout indefinitely, but it’s a personal decision (this is a good thing). You have to choose to extend your lockout before it expires. The decision to extend should be one that is made before the raid ends by the raid leader, and your policies may need to be updated to reflect the fact that when the raid leader decides to extend, everyone follows. You don’t want to find yourself on the last day of a cycle, then decide to extend after the raid has ended and people have started to log off. Anyone who fails to extend won’t be able to continue working on the boss next week, and unless you’re going to try for just one more day, that may mean a member cut off from raiding for an entire week – not good.
It may be a good idea to pre-emptively extend your raid once you’ve done one or two nights and have some idea of what your progression for the week is going to be. If you extend your lockout but don’t down any additional bosses in the extension period, you can cancel the extension and start a fresh raid cycle. Cancelling an extended lockout is thus easier than ensuring that everyone extends before the reset, especially if you have some raiders who can only attend the early days of your cycle but not the later ones when decisions about extending are likely to be made.
If you don’t pre-emptively extend, you need to have a good line of communication to your members, whether by a forum or in-game. Perhaps now is even the time to create a twitter account for your guild, and have the leadership tweet important updates so that members who might not otherwise log in know that they should.
_Update: I had the bit about having to extend the lockout wrong, per Zarhym’s post. Apparently you can extend even after the weekly reset, but you still have to coordinate the entire raid group doing so.
Expect the new battleground and the experience gain disabling features to generate more interest in PvP. If PvP is a big part of your guild, perhaps you want to work it into your schedule. If not, expect that non-raid time will be taken up by more PvP for members who enjoy it.
Tier 9 Tokens
No more slot-specific tokens! Yay!
Does your loot system have a specific cost for each slot? If so, you better decide how to price the global tier 9 token. The simplest way: add up the cost of the 5 tokens in tier 8, adjust it in the same way you priced tier 8 vs tier 7, then average that out.
Trading Items After Looting
As I discussed in a previous post, while this new feature will simplify things and reduce GM tickets, it has the potential to be abused. Check your loot policies to make sure that the chances for abuse are minimized and that some system for detecting abuse is in place if you feel your members are of the sort to try to game the system.
They’re getting their talents refunded due to major changes. Blizzard doesn’t want them to be the king of tanks like they were for certain Ulduar encounters, so if you’re relying too heavily upon a DK-heavy tank rotation, you may want to balance things out a bit more “just in case”.
Some of your DKs might also choose to change their spec around considerably, which can affect buff and debuff synergy. If your regular Unholy DK goes blood spec, make sure that a warlock is tasked to putting Curse of the Elements into their rotation. Losing 13% magic damage will hurt your raid considerably.
Travel, and the Knock-0n Effect on Alts
Travel is getting much easier, and alts of level 80s will be able to fly the moment they enter Northrend. This will help speed the leveling curve, and spark more interest in alts. Are you missing certain slots in your raid makeup? Is now the time to ask if any members with alts that they’ve kept at 70 until now want to power-level to 80 and switch mains? Rolling straight from dinging 80 into a few pieces of tier 8 via emblems of conquest is an attractive way to get an alt up to spec quickly.
“Don’t rebanish star”
And now your raid sits around for 40 seconds waiting for the only remaining mob to come out of banish. Well, no more in 3.2 – a Warlock can unbanish a mob by casting banish again. It may only save seconds per pack, but it will add up.
But beware – it’s not clear if only the casting warlock can unbanish. If not, you may have some embarrassing situations where two locks accidentally target the same mob, banishing a mob only to unbanish it half a second later.
How many jewelcrafters are in your guild? How many transmute master Alchemists?
If you want to max out with epic gems, you need to coordinate these. Make sure that your jewelcrafters are stashing away tokens from their dailies. Get your miners out there gathering saronite and titanium, and stock up on rare gems. Go look up a list of gem cuts that are being added and coordinate among your jewelcrafters who will buy which cuts. There’s no point having five people able to make the new stamina gem if nobody can make the hit rating one.
This is a big patch. There may only be five new bosses of interest to you if you’re a PvE-only raiding guild, but the number of things that you have to take into account is massive.
Take the time to think about how these things will affect your guild and the transition will be much smoother.