BDGG on the Preparation to Compete in the World First Race for Sanctum of Domination
“Wow, if only they raided more hours, they’d be able to compete for world first”
If you’ve engaged with WoW content surrounding the world first race, you’ve heard this said about a guild or two before. Usually in reference to a guild that raids somewhere in the 8 to 16 hour a week range and kills bosses with a very low pullcount. The logic is there, these guilds are often highly efficient on a limited schedule; so, if they simply increased their schedule but maintained efficiency, they’d do extremely well.
We used to think of ourselves in that same light until we actually went for it… and promptly got destroyed.
- Officer and Healing Lead of BDGG
safely had a tier in the “didn’t get destroyed” category, we figured it might be interesting to shed some insight into just how different it is being one of those efficient guilds versus one that’s trying to compete in the top-5, and the changes we’ve had to adapt to so that we could get here.
Many people hadn't heard about BDGG until the last two tiers. Even now we're a newcomer in the RWF scene and many are just learning our name. BDGG was founded in 2013 and for a long time operated as an efficient and very light-schedule guild. Slowly, we grew from US 158th, to US 3rd raiding only 16 hours a week (4 nights a week, 4 hours a night). This was a very difficult task, as most of the guilds we competed with raided far more than us.
Our pull counts in Uldir
Our pull counts in Battle for Dazar'alor
Like many people, we figured "We should day raid, I bet we'd be able to compete with the roster we have!"
But a lot goes into being able to do that. And after giving 7 days a week at 4 hours a night a go in Ny'alotha and had great success. We had the opportunity to do the full day raiding schedule for Castle Nathria and we went for it.
Requirements to Compete
Perhaps the hardest part of day raiding is that it's
. You can't log on the next morning and prep a new character before raid starts, or refine a strategy and build weakauras, or even sleep in and refresh your mental. You are on the clock when you go for the race, and if something wasn't prepped ahead of time that could have been, that's a significant amount of time lost.
You have to put in dramatically more prep time than ever before. This means strategies for all bosses, not just the first few. You have to have weakauras set up ahead of time for every boss. Exhaustive PTR testing, people taking the time off work, having multiple characters prepped, having more splits than ever set up, plans around gearing and legendaries, just to name a few. And all of that comes before a requirement that is relatively new in the space:
. With sponsors now being a big part of the Race to World first, most players will not want to day raid without financial compensation. And without it, you risk losing talented players to larger guilds who do have that ability. So you'll want to have a business side to your guild, with a growing stream team, and the ability to represent brands in a positive way.
We put in everything we had to get things in place, and be able to make the attempt. How did it go?
The First Attempt: Castle Nathria
We won't sugar coat it: It didn't go well. We improved our world rank from 14th to 9th, but not as much as we had hoped to. In the process we exposed a huge number problems in our roster, guild, and strategy.
So what went wrong for us in Castle Nathria that caused us to struggle so hard? Everything. Literally everything. Every aspect of what worked for us previously no longer worked when making the shift to round-the-clock raiding.
An incomplete list of issues we had trouble improving:
Sleeping, eating, and break schedules
Proper reads on meta and comp
Boss strategies for later bosses
Fully fleshed out strategies for earlier bosses as well
Custom boss timers / WAs (especially early on)
Stocking consumables in guild bank
Fatigue/consistency whilst raiding all day
Building out HOW to raid lead/call decisions on the fly with no guide in front of you
Maintaining a positive atmosphere
Organizing and scheduling heroic week
So you know... a couple of problems.
If only all of that were an exhaustive list. Somewhere in the ballpark of over 100 hours were spent in meetings the month after Castle Nathria just creating itemized and actionable items for us to address over the following 6 months before the next tier. Essentially, what we had realized was how far out of our depth we were in the jump from 16 hours a week to 16 hours a day. It’s difficult to conceptualize just how different playing at this level is, and that’s why many guilds hyper-fixate on how efficient they are on their limited schedule.
Day Raiding Demands
Another culture-shock moment we had to face after the tier was the number of players on our roster who realized that this wasn’t the kind of experience they wanted from playing WoW. It takes a lot of preparation and honestly requires everyone to be willing to cater their lifestyles towards it. For example, those of us who work during the day, they can no longer take vacations because all vacation time needs to be banked for progression. Additionally, it means sacrificing weekdays and roughly a month of your time every 6 months around raid tiers. Playing WoW at a world-first level sounds very fun and exciting but, understandably, that’s a stiff requirement that not everybody can or should commit to.
It’s impossible to be efficient when you’re wiping to a boss 100 times in a day. You can no longer raid for 4 hours a night and then have the next ~20 or more hours in to look over logs and videos and analyze them to address issues. You have to fix those issues *NOW* with your limited resources or you’ll never see progress. Additionally, player fatigue and mental status is drastically different when you’re attempting to operate at 100% mental focus on a task for 16 hours straight. It’s just practically impossible to stay at peak levels of performance for that long, and instead as leadership you have to maximize progress during the windows of time where players are performing at their peak in unison.
Fixing, Growing, and Looking Forward
These were all lessons we had to learn first-hand (and disastrously) in Castle Nathria. But we took every lesson we could from it to improve. One major factor in these improvements was us bringing on
, a former raider and officer, into his current role as analyst/advisor/guild doctor. He was vital in facilitating a lot of these conversations and decisions in order to formulate a game plan. The guild went through large leadership changes on its way to the increased schedule, so having some additional experience and expertise was key in righting the course.
Once we had an idea for improvements we felt were necessary, we spent the next several months executing on said game plan.
Here are a few of the immediate changes we made internally:
We sent our new raid leader to a US 700 guild to practice raid leading from a 21st man point of view (yes, we actually did this). We also spent time optimizing the UIs of the players who would be his point of view in our guild.
Hired a talented external WeakAuras writer to create custom WeakAuras and adjust them mid-tier without us taking time during progress so one of our raiders could fix them.
Shifted BoE and Legendary acquisition more heavily to support staff, as well as bringing on additional people to help in that role, to again remove the need for officers to do these things and spend more time solely on progression. This also required a new approach to BoE acquisition, proactive instead of reactive. We bought anything we *can* use right now, worry less about financial worth, especially with avoidance/leech.
Created *rigid* scheduling starting before heroic week to get everybody on the same/consistent sleeping and eating schedules. During progress this meant taking an hour break immediately following a wipe to Guardians of the First one at just 40,000 health. Most guilds, and us in the past, would say “oh we’ve got this, one more pull” but this often doesn’t go according to plan. Making these strict calls assisted in addressing fatigue and mental consistency.
Creating detailed and optimized scheduling Heroic week to maximize gearing and character preparation whilst minimizing time spent. This includes mandated groups and timings for Mythic+ groups, Torghast groups, Korthia swoops, etc. One big area of success here was we were able to get a large percentage of our roster 2100 in PvP without spending too much time (shoutouts to Absterge in particular for offering to help).
We brought in a huge amount of new talent that had shown they were ready to buy-in to our guild culture. It’s probably really easy to understate this bullet point but it was easily one of the bigger factors in our success; people were hungry, but also
. Our guild cohesion was exceptional.
Had, literally, hundreds of hours of meetings for PTR and boss testing. This included discussions about strategy before first testings, then meetings to refine strategies for Mythic, followed by multiple meetings to abuse each and every fight and their mechanics for the Mythic version specifically. We were overall very productive here, as we identified strong strategies such as the Ner'zhul
cheese, as well as the predominant Kel’Thuzad strategy that was shown by Echo.
Pictured here is an officer's girlfriend upset at the number of meetings required for excellence.
To augment boss strategy, we also held testing sessions for DPS where we effectively tested various timings and profiles that looked to be important for the tier. For example, testing DPS for 5:40-6:15 windows for Guardian to determine optimal comps, 1:15 windows for Kel’Thuzad Phase 3, as well as target swapping to simulate Painsmith balls.
More meetings. Seriously, we talked constantly. About everything. One of the strongest aspects of our preparation this tier was intentionally trying to include every person in the raid in our decision-making, which yielded incredible results as we were able to act upon great ideas that wouldn’t have come to us if we were more insulated in private channels.
Of course the race wouldn't be complete without huge sums of gold being spent to ensure raiders had everything they needed to succeed and be supported. Having enough gold for World First raiding means starting raid sales basically immediately following the end of the previous tier, with multiple groups clearing every week. Even still, we went into debt after Sanctum of Domination.
After all of that work and effort, we landed in world 4th. Moving 5 ranks in the top 10 in a single tier is no small feat. We fought hard for it, and we're happy with the results of our effort.
However, it's still miles short of where Echo and Limit have worked to be. Which only goes to show how much more improvement and optimization we have in front of us even now. As a guild we’re so excited to get back to work and show everyone how much better we can do in the next tier. Finally, it’s important to mention how exceptionally vital it was for us to have a great partner in this event. Golden Guardians had our back every step of the way. It’s no exaggeration to say that this improvement would not have been possible without them.
See you at the next race!
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