Since the dawn of Everquest, the adventurers of Norrath became split between those who raid and those who do not. After countless debates and discussions the split between these groups pulses between them, sometimes growing, sometimes shrinking. Yet at some time in the career of every high-level Everquest player, the question is raised:
Should one become a raider?
This article discusses the factors leading to this question and takes a look at how the game changes when one makes the leap to a raiding guild.
To begin, lets look at the advantages of raiding in Everquest:
1. It is a lot easier to get a group.
Since Gates of Discord, it has become time consuming and difficult to find a pickup group. Outside of Monster Missions, pickup groups outside of monster missions have shrunk. When one joins a raiding guild, these problems mostly disappear. Guild groups form quickly and easily. They focus on content that benefits individual members and the group as a whole. They move quickly and easily, their power is very high, and their success ratio is much higher than a pickup group. While most players join a raiding guild to raid, many find that grouping becomes much easier as well.
2. You will initially gain a great deal of power in a short period of time.
Unless you are joining a guild just beginning to raid, you will likely earn a great deal of powerful equipment in a short period of time. This process of gearing up new recruits is a common practice for guilds. It helps both the guild and the individual and with the power gap between raiders and non-raiders at a high point - it is likely that gear far above the power of a non-raid-equipped player will be worthless to most high-end raiders.
Over time, this progress will slow down but initially one can expect a few very powerful items to fall into their hands quickly.
3. You have access to more content, both raid and single-group.
As individual power grows, so does available content. Single group and multi-group events that were too difficult for non-raiders suddenly open up to raiders. Groups of raiders can hunt in Theater of Blood twinking alts with Qvic-level equipment. Groups of raiders can hunt for augments in Anguish. The MPG Trials, the DODH spell missions, the Skylance missions - these all become much easier as equipment power grows.
4. You can solo better.
As power grows, so does ones ability to solo. It seems odd that players who wish to solo would wish to join a raiding guild but at this stage in Everquest, the only players who can effectively solo at high levels are those with the high-powered equipment available to raiders.
If you want to solo well, you should join a raiding guild.
5. You can earn better gear in single groups than you could before.
Raids open up more single-group content including areas such as the Qvic Mshas and the Anguish augments. Groups of six can hunt in these zones and earn gear much higher than any available to non-raid-equipped single group hunters. As power grows, so does future profitability. This has a limit, of course. Eventually, when one earns enough powerful gear on a raid - the likelihood that they find something useful on a single-group hunt is low.
6. The encounters you face will be more interesting than those you faced before joining a raiding guild.
The high-end raid encounters past Gates of Discord are the most interesting events in the game. They are more dynamic, include better stories, and give players the most variety. Of course, they entice players with the most powerful loot in the game and include some of the best looking zones and models - models most of the population of Everquest will never see.
7. You will have more fun.
With better gear, a big jump in power, new and interesting encounters, new and interesting beasts, you are very likely to have more fun playing Everquest in a raiding guild than you are outside of one.
Clearly there are many advantages to becoming a raider. What disadvantages does one face when choosing the path of the raider?
1. You will get less sleep.
Raiding requires a lot of time. It is not uncommon to push back your bed time one or two hours. It is the nature of raids that the most interesting and rewarding content comes at the very end of a raid - the point that will be the latest in the evening. If you join a raiding guild, expect less sleep.
2. You will lose some friends.
As you make the transition from a non-raider to a raider, expect to lose some friends. While you may meet many new friends within your new guild, many of those with whom you hunted in your younger days will drift away from you or you will drift away from them. As the gap between your power and their power grows, so does your ability to hunt with them.
3. You won't have the freedom you had before raiding.
Raiding requires dedication and commitment. Your time is no longer your own. It is not uncommon for raiding guilds to require anywhere from three to five nights a week of raid time. The more powerful the raiding guild, the less free time you will find yourself with. Any hobbies you used to have in or out of game will suffer.
4. You will become less tolerant of less-skilled players.
When you have seen the skills of those in a well coordinated high-end raid guild, you become a lot less tolerant of those outside of your guild. Player skills will seem low and your trust of those you do not know will shrink. Expect to become an isolationist.
5. You can never go back.
Once you have geared up on high-end raid gear and once you have seen the powerful encounters that lay in the far depths of the game, you will never be able to let them go. Anything else will seem mundane and pointless. You are far more likely to quit completely than you are to leave the raiding game and go back to to the LFG channel.
Now that we have outlined the scope of the question it is time to look at it once again. Should you become a raider? Do you have the time? Do you have the desire? Are you tired enough of life as a non-raider? Do you want to see the best encounters, the best zones, and the best equipment in the game? There is only one choice to make.
So why would one not choose it? Let me speak for myself.
/em begins his editorial.
This game was not always so one dimensional as it is today. I was originally drawn to Everquest because of the sheer scope of possible things to do. Every time I logged in I faced a wide array of choices. I could group, I could solo, I could tradeskill, I could do an LDON instance, I could heal and buff new players, I could do some roleplaying, I could seek out lost treasures in ancient forgotten dungeons.
These days, at the highest levels of the game, there is really only one choice. Soloing is not profitable. The most beneficial content at level 70 is not achievable without raid gear. There comes a point where one can no longer progress until one chooses to raid.
I am just about at that point now. I log in and I sit in Arcstone watching people farm for low-powered gear on the demon's hill. I chat with my friends. I debate with other members of the Everquest summit - often with disastrous results. I pontificate and I brood and I dream - but I don't play. There is no gear better than what I have that is worth my time to acquire. I watch the titanic uberguilds roar past on their way to slay beasts in lands I will never see. I listen to the rumors of powerful equipment beyond anything I will see in the next four years.
I sit and I remember the times of LDON, the times where every night I could find a group for two hours and earn a fraction of a new piece of powerful equipment. I miss those days.
I want only three things:
1. I want to have a smooth path of individual power progression. Give me a set of 200 hp and mana primary armor available from sets of missions or quests.
2. I want to be able to quickly find a group and hunt for 90 minutes. Give me instanced or triggered quest encounters that have fixed durations so it won't make me late for work the next day.
3. I want to face fun and interesting encounters. Give me about thirty more of the Arcstone Spirit mob quests, give me thirty more missions like the 70 spell missions in DODH.
With Serpent's Spine on the way, I have hopes that I will have answers to these requests. Serpent's Spine can return us to the days where groups were plentiful and gear progression was possible at every level of play. Many are quick to point out that I had such hopes for Prophecy of Ro and they are right to question me. At this point we can only wait and see. If it does not return us to those days where the world was wide open and we chose our own path - perhaps it is time for Loral Ciriclight to consider the path of the raider.
29 July 2006