Saturday, November 21, 2009

To bench, or not to bench.

Icecrown Citadel is coming, and as Raid Officer of my guild, it's time again to assemble my roster and build the best raid group I can to clear new content. The new encounters looks more and more likely to demand more of the players than Trial Of The Crusader did, both skillwise and gearwise, and gathering a rock solid force to provide the highest possible amount of raid buffs will more than likely be a far bigger necessity than it already is in tier 9 normal modes.

But that's not for another 2-3, maybe even 4, weeks. Which gives us almost a month to hone our skills, perfect our gear sets and even farm those coveted offspec items that can make or break an encounter - who needs two tanks on Mimiron anyway? And that's when the following hits me, from one of my best healers, both gearwise and skillwise:

"I don't really need any more loot from there, I think I'll take a break until 3.3 goes live."

A few days later, the best geared rogue in our raid group says just about the same. And today, our main tank joins the club. For a guild dedicated to 10-man content, that's 30% of our core taking time off from further progress, effectively killing any hardmode attempts or achievement runs - we'll be busy gearing up their replacements now instead.

There's two things that strike me as peculiar about this behaviour. First of all, you KNOW there will have to be someone replacing you - are you really interested in a new person stepping up to grab all that tanking plate that would elsewise be sharded for the guild bank? You might just find yourself in a position where someone else has equal or even better gear than you, depending on drops. Secondly, why would you EVER jeopardize your postion like this? Leaving a progress group since you're out of loot to grab means less shards to pay for your future enchants, less progress since we're not having the gear to back it up with, more time spent wiping unnecessary to learn new players new encounters - the long and short of it is that it will inevitably hamper your guild. Are you prepared to make that sacrifice for a few weeks off ToC?

Benching a solid player is hard. Benching a solid player who's been with you for years is even harder. But benching a replacement who've shown the skill and dedication to bleed for the position the moment it became available is even harder. Both our tank and main DPS on hiatus have had their replacements make sacrifices and progress above and beyond the call of duty. So when 3.3 goes live, I will have to choose. It's not an easy choice, and honestly, not a choice I really want to make. But there can only be so many players in a raid. And more importantly, loyalty and sacrifice should matter.

The question is how to weigh it. Does turning you back on progress deserve any repercussions, or even punishment, even if you're the best geared man for the job? Or should this behaviour be made example of - "the three of you are strong enough to carry the alt run now, and that will be your job" or even "you'll have to sit this raid out"? It's not an easy choice, because it won't affect only the position in question, or even the raid group - it will put a precedent for future situations of similar nature. One thing is taking a break for exams or IRL situations that require you to sit out a few raids - I'd happily as a duck give you a raid break for that.

It's a whole other can of worms the moment the raid break is because you're bored of the current content and can't be bothered to progress. And it makes running the guild an even bigger job than it already is.

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