A lot of guilds are starting to get to the point where they are running out of raid content before the end of the raid week. It’s not at all difficult to clear Naxxramas, Malygos and Sartharion in two nights; a particularly ambitious guild could probably do it all in one night and cap it off with Archavon if the Wintergrasp timer cooperates.
Still, the raid instances only reset once per week. As your guild’s gear and familiarity with the encounters improves, you’ll clear the content faster and faster until you reach the point where you can easily clear everything in a fraction of the time you’ve set aside for raiding.
So, now what?
For some, achievements are the answer. There are both easy and difficult achievements that can stretch your raids out as you work together to conquer a new challenge. I really like raid/instance achievments for this reason… it means you don’t always have to do the fights the same way. By altering strategies you can keep things different and challenging long after content becomes ‘farmable’.
Still, achievements will only get you so far. Once you’ve done it once, it’s less difficult to replicate on successive weeks and you can easily end up right back where you started with not having enough to do to fill your raid week. At this point, there really are two options:
1. Cut days from your raid schedule.
This is the most economical solution. If you normally have a four day raid schedule and clear all your content in 2 days, your raid team gets 2 days off to do whatever they want.
This sounds pretty good on paper, but there may be complications. What if you have members of your raid team that can’t attend one or both of those days? You may lose good people because they no longer have the opportunity to raid, or even because the glut of downtime makes them bored and provides impetus for them to find Other Things To Do outside of the game. Not to mention, once folks get into the habit of only raiding 2 days a week, will they really want to go back to 3-4 when new content is released?
2. Spread your raid content out to cover all the days on your raid schedule.
You may not be able to have a full-length raid for every scheduled raid day, but there is something to be said for spreading out your content so that you have something to do as a group on every scheduled raid day. Will some people be grumpy about showing up just for 20 minutes to gank Malygos and then disperse? Potentially. Still, as long as they’re there they might be convinced to run a 10-man, work on Heroic achievements or do some group PvP afterward. If there hadn’t been a raid that night, they might not have logged in at all.
Which option is best for your group? A wise person recently told me: A raid group is like a soccer team. You only perform well if you continue to practice.
I think there is a good deal of truth to this. A raid group is a team, and raiding not only is a way of gearing up and practicing the encounters but of working together as a team. The more time a raid group spends at ‘practice’, the better they will perform when the next big challenge (Ulduar) comes. It’s not just about learning the strategies, it’s about building comraderie and growing more comfortable/confident working together as a team. The best guilds aren’t bound together by the loot they earn, but rather by a sense of community and shared experience.
So, if your guild is one of those in the difficult position of having too much time and not enough content, before you start thinking about giving your raid schedule the chop (or asking your guildmaster to) I implore you to take some time to consider what will make you a stronger team rather than what is simply the most economical. Alternately, you can just do what I tell you. Either way, it’s a win.