Progress vs. Gear

How much raid time should be dedicated to farming for gear from bosses you’ve already killed and how much should be dedicated to learning and defeating new encounters?

I’m sure that’s a question that has plagued many raid and guild leaders. I’m also sure the answer depends on the type of guild. Blood Legion’s not going to clear through an instance multiple times on normal when they could be working on a new kill. Likewise, a more ‘casual’ guild is going to want, and maybe even need, that extra gear before they progress further in a lot of cases.

My guild falls somewhere in the middle of those two examples. We finished Tier 14 at 8/16H.

In Tier 14 we cleared all normal modes before doing any heroic modes. We did kill Heroic Stone Guard only a couple days after defeating Sha of Fear, but we never took a detour from normal mode content in HoF, for example, to work on MSV heroics. When I asked our raiders for feedback at the end of the tier, one of the most common responses I got was that we had spent too much time farming for gear and not enough time pushing progression. Noted.

In Tier 15 we’re currently sitting at 1/13H. This tier is a bit different than last. While Tier 14 consisted of 3 smaller raids, Tier 15 is one big raid. In Tier 14 if we wanted more time to work on a new hard mode in Heart of Fear we could skip one of the other raids for the week. We can’t do that in Throne of Thunder. With only 9 hours of raiding each week, we need to make some harder decisions about how we’ll be spending our raid time. At this point, it would take us about 1.5 raid nights (raids are 3 hours each) to fully clear on normal. I think we will get more efficient at that, but that’s where we’re at right now. Plus, repeating heroic kills will generally take a bit longer, so we want to give a bit of a time buffer so we can be sure to get all the way through Lei Shen.That only leaves us 3 hours (we can maybe push this to 4) to work on new things. That’s really not a lot of time.

Since so many people had said they wanted to spend more time on progression this tier, the officers tried to make good on that. The week after our first Lei Shen kill we spent half a raid on Heroic Jin’rokh, then went through the rest of the raid on normal to ensure we got a repeat kill of Lei Shen. My idea of just working on H. Jin’rokh until he was dead, even if that meant not full clearing that week, was outvoted. In hindsight, probably a good thing. The next reset we decided that we would keep our raid lockout for 2 weeks so we could spend a good 3-4 raids on progression fights, before wrapping up normal modes at the end of the following week. I thought this was the best idea. Everyone in the raid had a Lei Shen kill and everyone in the raid wanted to progress through this tier faster (I thought).

Apparently not. It seems, to some people, that farming for gear is more important than progress at this point. The officers got a number of complaints about how we were ‘wasting’ our raid lockout.

I think I have a pretty good idea about the capabilities of our raid. Yes, gear always helps, but having the best possible gear is not a requirement for getting down heroic bosses, especially the early ones. If we were failing dps checks, then definitely, we need more gear. But that’s almost never been our problem. More gear doesn’t make people not stand in Rockfall or hit their Crystal Shield at the right time. Practice does. (Also, if I’m going to upgrade my gear, I’d rather upgrade it to heroic gear).

You can’t please all the people all the time. But I try to. At this point I don’t know if anyone, besides the officers, liked the idea of extending the lockout. Because really, no one sends feedback when they’re happy about something, only when they have something to complain about.

So that brings us back to the original question. How do you split your raid time so your raiders get gear, but you can still make progress at a good pace? Where’s that magic point where doing farm content every week is no longer necessary? Do you wait for everyone to have their 4-set before you start extending lockouts or skipping normal mode kills? Until everyone has weapons? Until Lei Shen gives me that trinket I want?

20 responses to “Progress vs. Gear

  1. I’ve hated the idea of extending a lockout when it only takes a single night (perhaps a bit more) to full clear a raid instance. There are a lot of inefficiencies that when added together, take up a huge chunk of time. This of course only gets worse when you have a 25m group as opposed to a 10m group.

    At this point your tanks should be fully capable of chain-pulling trash….at least except for stupid shit like the Horridon spirits. Yell at DPS/healers that stand around for no reason. Faster trash means more attempts on progression bosses. I routinely tell our healers and dps to pick up the slack, and will pull trash when only the required number of people are present.

    I think the only point at which we’d start skipping normal mode loot is when there’s nothing left for us to get.

    • We do chain pull trash, we’ve gotten quite fast at it. But boss kill repeats are no guaranteed one-shots. Tortos can sometimes be a problem, people generally need an attempt or two on fights like Durumu and Dark Animus to get the maze/pull right. This, plus the other inefficiencies (waiting for everyone to eat, having someone d/c right before a pull, our tank lagging and needing to restart) mean we are not at the point where we can clear in 3 hours.

      We could just keep clearing normals every week and only dedicating part of our time to progression, but it’s not going to make us progress in this tier any faster than we did last tier.

      • Is progression “speed” really a problem though? We got to 10/16H, and we know we lost a ridiculous amount of time in the middle due to logistical issues. Another week and Ambershaper probably would’ve died for 11/16h.

        Those problems you mentioned are going to kill you on the heroic versions of those encounters. Why bother pushing to them if you’re just going to end up dying since you can’t do the normal one 100% flawless? People can still hone and practice their skills, even on normal encounters.

        Maybe try and implement some sort of “ranking” challenge. Those people that rank (primarly DPS and Tanks) on farm content get something cool from the guild or something. We try to rank on almost every encounter because that’s just who we are (our Ret, Mage, and I are the most guilty here). But maybe others need a positive reinforcement or incentive to push themselves a little harder.
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  2. “Where’s that magic point where doing farm content every week is no longer necessary”
    I don’t think there is one. Gear is important to varying degrees, also, in my opinion, people find spending an entire week doing progression without even killing a farm boss to be emotionally draining. So if it were up to me, I would say to focus on what you can do to optimize farm content rather than trying to eliminate it.

    I generally appreciate my guild’s schedule of raiding with the goal of doing as much progression raiding as possible, while still getting all farm content done, and without extending raid lockouts. Obviously, this is easier said than done and requires 1) that you have a sizeable block of time that you can actually do this while putting in an acceptable amount of time on new fights 2) fairly consistent performance so that you make a reasonably accurate estimate of time requirements. It’s hard to plan a block of time if you one-shot Lei Shen every other week and wipe 7 times every other week.

    It’s important to note that adding more time on to a raid schedule would go entirely towards progression with the above strat (I realize you probably aren’t looking to expand raid times, but bare with me). Compare with an equal copy of your guild where you raided for 4 hours 3 times a week, instead of 3 for 3. If you got all farm content done in 1 hour, the percentage of time you spent on progression wouldn’t be that much, and you may risk just burning people out (did anyone working on H Rag really wish they could do it for a few more hours each week?). If instead farm content took 7 hours a week, adding three more hours would more than double your progression time.

    Again, I realize adding more time is probably not an option. This is just an argument that a short schedule that aims to finish all farm content [b]will necessarily progress at a slow rate until farm content is more efficient[/b]. If people want to spend more time on progression, those one or two wipes on Durumu need to stop happening, and they need to realize that it does have a pretty big impact on their heroic kills.
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    • I do think being more efficient will do quite a bit to give us more time to spend on progression. But 9 hours just isn’t that much (and increasing the amount of time we raid isn’t an option). If we one-shot every single boss, the total boss fight time would be about 80-90 minutes (the average boss kill time is about 7 minutes on normal, longer on heroic). I’d say average time spent on trash between bosses, going at a good clip, is about 8 minutes. There’s another 96 minutes. So if we were perfect we could kill everything in 3 hours. Of course, then we have a break at the midpoint, we swap people in and out at times which takes a couple minutes, there’s eating and buffing, giving out assignments, and shitty things that can’t be helped like DCs. If we always clear and never extend the lockout we probably could have 5 hours for doing progression fights. That’s not a bad amount of time, but as I said, we’re not there yet.

      I haven’t planned to do an entire week of progression without killing anything. This past week, for example, the plan was to get our first H. Jin’rokh kill, kill normal Horridon and Council, then spend the rest of the week on H. Tortos. The following week work on H. Ji-Kun and kill the rest on normal. To the point about emotionally draining raiding though, the raid weeks that make me hate life most are the ones where we kill all our farm content for the 18th time and don’t make progress on anything else.

  3. I do think you need to consider what’s going to benefit your raid the most, like you suggested. Better gear masks execution problems, but 1-shot mechanics remain 1-shot mechanics no matter whether your gear is heroic or not.

    I guess I’d ask … After this many weeks in 5.3, is (non-tier) gear frequently going to offspecs or DE? If so, then I’d advocate working on progression. If your raid team still has multiple people bidding on every single item that drops, then maybe you do carve out those additional hours to clear every week. Another good point of reference is GuildOx’s stats page, which tells you the average ilvl for kills ( over the last 21 days. (Wowprogress says you’re at 518.94 atm). It might be good to use those as a benchmark of what content you should/can consider working on, adjusting for your own knowledge of the guild’s strengths/weaknesses, of course.
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    • I’d say half of the non tier gear that drops goes to offspecs or DE. There are still many upgrades for people but I don’t think they’d make or break us, and I don’t think it would be so terrible to have to wait an extra week for a shot at them.

      Thanks for that link. It’s looks like our raid is right about the average ilvl for most of the earlier heroic bosses.

  4. It’s something that I think we all struggle with.

    I agree that 5.1 was an easier situation – my 10 man team actually had a pretty solid plan then, I think. We raid twice a week (7 hours total), and ended up 5/16 HM after a very slow start to the tier. As soon as we full cleared, we immediately switched to alternating clearing HoF and working on MSV heroics one week, and clearing Terrace and working on MSV heroics the next. That worked pretty well for us – despite the fact that I wanted to go and hide in a corner every time we got near Amber-Shaper Un’sok, we geared a lot of people up in tier and got most people acceptable weapons, and still had enough time to push progression. We had a bit of grumbling but overall people said they were pretty happy and felt that it was a fair way of managing it. Other 10 man teams in our guild handled it in different ways – instead of alternating HoF and Terrace, they just did Terrace every week after clearing HoF once, and then they spend the last few weeks of the tier wiping on HoF trying to get a second clear because they’d forgotten the mechanics.

    In 5.2, we haven’t hit heroics yet, but we’re still struggling with the same issue – with only 7 hours a week, we’re hard up to clear our farm bosses and get to progression each week, and it gets worse every week. Ideally I’d like to spend our 3 hour raid on farm and our 4 hour raid on progression, but this week it took us 5 hours to clear 9 farm bosses (bad week) – and we were lucky to kill a new boss in the remaining 2 hours. We’re not sure how to handle heroics yet – I really dislike the model where we need to leave time aside to clear the last boss at the end of the week – it always feels like it gimps progression and makes people play worse because they just have to hang around for a while and then we can stop working on progression and get back to shiny purplez. I might be overly cynical here 🙂

    There is a third alternative that might work as a hybrid between the two-week-lockouts and the leaving-time-at-the-end-to-clean-up versions – you could start a fresh lockout each week but make week 1 a mostly-progression (we get as far as we get, no full clear) week and week 2 a mostly-farm week (we work on progression in the time that we have and we full clear at the end of the last raid of the week). I know it’s similar to what you had already, but without the lockouts (which tend to be kind of morale sapping in themselves) – perhaps something like that would keep people happy that they’re still getting that bit of extra gear by farming the bosses that lead up to the current progression one (including any farm heroics) every week, and then mopping up the end bosses every 2 weeks for loot.

    Also – Vixsin – thanks for the GuildOx iLvl link, I hadn’t seen that before and it’s really helpful!

    • We have already extended raid lockouts a couple times when working on normal modes (which I actually received no complaints about, and heard that some people were happy about). 12 bosses is a lot to get through when you’re first learning them, so we extended one week after killing Durumu (or maybe Primordius) so we could make sure we had a lot of time to work on the later bosses. I think part of the reason people were happier about this was that they are okay with skipping loot from the first bosses, but don’t want to miss out on a chance from loot from the last bosses. It does suck that the gear from later bosses is the most sought-after (whether because of quality or just because they’ve been killed less) and those are the bosses who risk not being killed each week if you want to spend time making progress on heroics.

  5. Yeah, definitely a tough situation. Working on early heroic tier bosses while also wanting to get loot is almost a catch 22. Perhaps this gives more reason to work on h bosses towards the end of the tier. That way you can power clear normal modes, work on the h boss and then still get a clear that week.
    I have not done a lot of research but it seems like horridon is the new spirit kings of the tier. Perhaps seeking out an h elegon type of fight will help in attaining gear in addition to pushing progression.
    In regards to the feedback on more progression, it sounds like either a small minority was being vocal or people think its too soon to dedicate multiple resets to an h boss.

    • Some of the later fights are apparently easier, though it seems like it’s the ones in the middle of the dungeon that should be tackled first (Tortos, Ji-Kun, Megaera).

  6. This is something we are struggling to decide how to deal with as we recently switched to raiding only 6 hours a week. I think we have gone a slightly different route to your guild as we have got several heroic kills but have failed to kill Lei Shen again after the first kill. This has led to an issue recently as people started to get the legendary meta only to find you can’t use it in gear under a certain ilvl. This has made failing to kill Twin Consorts for a few weeks look like a mistake. I am also not sure how to deal with it on heroic progression targets later in the tier. Our next target is Iron Qon however if we spend a raid getting to him will we have time to kill him and if we fail should we extend the raid and risk having to spend time trying twin consorts heroic despite there being several bosses we aim to kill before it.

    The other issue of course is if we don’t kill a boss a second time soon after the first kill you are pretty much guaranteed to wipe on it a few times before you get another kill.

    I don’t yet have a good answer to any of this and currently it is something me and my officer team are trying to work out. I think like anything it’s a balancing act and I suspect as the tier continues and we shard more loot we will be extending much more.

    • At first I thought that having a single instance would make this dilemma easier since things were more linear, but it’s working out just the opposite. Especially at 6 hours per week, it must be tough to have time for everything you want to do.

  7. The biggest difference is apotheosis isn’t willing to put in the work just like are leadership isn’t willing to change when things are offered to them, yes I’m part of the group who wants to kill new bosses and believes that we can kill those bosses but when it comes to giving us an extra push be it getting people 4pc, weapons and yes even trinkets it wouldn’t hurt us. We all need to be willing to accept that yes we are going to spend time wiping on fights where it doesn’t seem like were getting anywhere but we also need to spend the time killing the bosses we’ve already downed to get everyone the extra bit of gear that may push us over on that new kill.

    • I’d hardly call a raid group that put in 19 wipes on H-Jinrohk before getting a kill followed by 36 wipes on H-Tortos “not willing to put in the work”.

      To address Jasyla’s wider question it comes down to goals. Is the goal to be 14/14 Heroic this tier? Assuming it takes two weeks to get each new Heroic down that would be 28 weeks. Is the Tier going to last 26 more weeks? That’s 6.5 months and I’d bet the answer is no. So either the 14/14 Heroic expectation needs to be adjusted or the Guild would need to make faster progress than one new Heroic every two weeks.

      Of course, some things help progression more than others. Better execution helps more than better gear. Better gear in some slots(especially the new helms with Legendary Metas or weapons for melee) helps hide less-than perfect execution. Its a balancing act for sure. Generally, I’d say for another 3 weeks or so full-clears will make a dramatic difference, but those full-clears have diminishing returns. A full-clear in 6 weeks will have almost no utility.

      • I think getting a full heroic clear is not a realistic goal. Last tier we went 8/16H and most people said they wanted to progress more. So my goal for this tier is clear more than half of the heroic modes.

        I’m trying to find a balance of progression vs. gear. Right now more full clears will help us, though I still maintain more gear should not be necessary to kill more heroics at this point. I don’t particularly just want to farm normals for 3 weeks, I’d rather be able to mix up spending the majority of our time on progression vs. normals each week. To me, that’s a better way to both avoid burning out on progression fights and avoid boredom from killing things that are no longer challenging.

    • The biggest difference between what?

      We’ve got a limited amount of time. Of course getting extra gear will help us, but it also limits the amount of time we can spend on progression fights.

  8. It’s a group effort yet there will always be people who do more (run,LFR, max crafting, cap vp, max rep) and those who only log in for raid never to be seen until the next raid time.

    usually the people who do less are those in most need of gear.

    as for running older content vs runing new content
    are you wiping on new content? if not only do the new content
    if you are wiping are you getting closer to killing the boss?
    no – do older content and try again
    yes- try again.

    • I’m one of the people in my raid who is most in need of gear (I won’t go into LFR and don’t care for dailies), but I’m also the last one who’s ever going to complain about spending time on progression instead of farming for that gear.

  9. I’m coming into this really late, but I enjoyed thinking about this post because I’m fairly new to a guild who breaks every guild management rule out there, yet still does really well, and I keep wondering ‘how?’.

    Our raid leader/GM has been balancing progression and gearing pretty good. I think we’ve completely cleared ToT every week since 5.2 dropped, and we’re close to our third heroic kill, depsite only officially raiding 8 hours a week.

    But! We’ve often raided past end time (normally we only raid 4 hours, twice a week) bringing in friends and family to replace people who had to log after official raid times, and during the first few weeks, we added optional 10s nights where we rotated people around to give them a chance to learn the fights and/or get gear (we’re proud of our 25s status, but we’re not above ‘cheating’ by running the occasional 10s if we don’t have enough people or can’t squeeze in everything into official raids) . We also don’t stop pulling during loot. One of our tanks hands out loot while the other makes sure trash gets cleared. At this stage, assignments should be pretty automatic too, unless you have new people in the raid.

    These days, we spend the first night and maybe an hour of the second on progression fights, then we clear.

    To keep farming fun, we often treat it like progression, looking for ways to cut corners and kill the bosses/clear trash faster. Mistakes and wipes are taken seriously because, well, if we want to spend more time on progression, then we should be at our best for farm fights.

    A full clear now, usually with a couple of wipes, takes us about 4 hours. If your guild is able to not wipe at all, you should be able to clear in under 3 hours, which would give you two full raid nights for progression.

    You can also look at fights in terms of self-nerfing or not. H Jinrok and H Tortos are more about mechanics. Gear doesn’t help a whole lot since the smallest mistake will wipe the raid early on. H Horridon, on the other hand, is all about how efficiently you kill adds, so gear makes a HUGE difference. We started working on H Horridon on week 2 or 3, but didn’t kill him until two weeks ago, after pretty much everyone had a major gear overhaul (I can’t speak for the other fights since I’ve only done those three.)