Define progression

Recently there's been a bit of discussion in my guild about where our focus should lie in terms of raiding. As it turns out, even thirty people who generally get along well and have similar ideas about how much and how seriously they want to raid can have vastly different ideas of where progression should lead them.

Once upon a time people didn't even have to ask questions like that because raiders had their work cut out for them: There was an "entrance raid" which you had to clear, once you had killed all the bosses in there you could move on to the next raid, which you then had to clear to be eligible for entering the next one and so on. People always knew where they stood, where they wanted to go, and how other raid forces compared to them. A guild with five bosses down in Serpentshrine Cavern was more progressed than one who had only downed three. Both were striving to move on to Mount Hyjal.

These days a freshly dinged level eighty can walk into any raid he likes and that has certainly muddied the waters. People can kill bosses here and there as they like, but how do you measure their success then? Is a guild who has downed five bosses in Ulduar and one in the Crusader's Coliseum better than one that has downed nine bosses in Ulduar? After all the Coliseum is theoretically one tier higher...

Hard-mode and achievement raiding complicates matters even further. Is it better for your guild to ignore a large portion of Ulduar to work on Deconstructor's hard mode or to kill Yogg-Saron first? Which one is a greater sign of progress?

From what I've observed there basically seem to be three different approaches:

On the one hand we have the "bosses cleared" approach: Progression means seeing new bosses and killing them. It doesn't really matter which tier they officially belong to or if there are any achievements associated with killing them. If you're 12/14 in Ulduar, your next goal should be to kill Yogg-Saron, though working your way through the Crusader's Coliseum on normal difficulty is also an option. Hard modes are uninteresting.

Secondly we have the "loot dropped" approach: Progression means getting better loot, so you always go after whichever boss drops the current best-in-slot gear. Finding themselves in a 12/14 Ulduar guild, these people will want to move on to do the Crusader's Coliseum on normal and then hard mode, since the loot from there makes everything from Ulduar look weak in comparison.

Finally we have the "achievement whore": They want to go and kill bosses wherever they can gain the most achievement points. Which in this case would mean focusing on clearing Ulduar while performing odd stunts on every other boss and attempting hard modes in order to get achievements. The Coliseum isn't completely uninteresting but offers fewer achievements to go after.

Unfortunately at least two of these definitions of progression are very much at odds with each other. If your idea of progress is to see new bosses, wiping on the Northrend Beasts encounter with higher numbers is a waste of time since it's the same boss and only hits harder. If you always strive to go where the best loot comes from, spending time on clearing Ulduar is a waste of time since you can get better stuff elsewhere. The achieve-a-holic can get along reasonably well with people of either conviction, but will always push for random achievements and hard modes that the others don't care about.

How do you reconcile people wanting such different things from raiding? None of the three attitudes mentioned here are right or wrong, but they suddenly create friction where people used to be unified in their goal to follow a clear raiding path. For example I'm a "bosses cleared" person myself, but most of my guild seem to be split between wanting to go after achievements and loot. Should I leave over something like that even if I value my guild very much for other reasons? And even if I wanted to find a different raid force, how would I know where to go? The most hardcore raiders will want to kill everything in every possible way, but if you're more of a middle-of-the-road raider you'll have to make choices, yet I don't think I've ever seen guilds advertise themselves accordingly. "Focused on hard modes", "don't care about achievements", or what?

What kind of raider are you?

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