This week I joined a new guild in WOW. My primary goal in swapping guilds was the same this time as last time I did so, just a month ago: I want to do harder things. My previous swap got me into a guild doing more challenging stuff, with a higher skill level, but even then it was still obvious that there were three top damage dealers and then a ton of people who really weren't playing well.
More to the point was the way it ended up feeling. I sat there thinking that if everyone was as prepared as I am and was playing as well as I was the fight would be over in no time and we would move on. That sense that I have beaten my personal chunk of the fight but that the rest of the group had not beaten theirs was not fun.
At some point I feel like I have beaten a fight, that I have surmounted its challenges. There is also a moment when the boss dies. If the boss dies first, it means I am still crap and I got carried. Not fun. If the boss dies much later than my mastery peaks, then I am carrying people. Also not fun.
My new guild is much better this way. They are a lot more aggressive, skilled, and demanding. We move quick, expect that people be efficient, and insist that people show up, be prepared, and pay attention. We also operate on a 6 hour raid schedule with optional stuff on other nights, and that suits me.
It also feels like Mythic difficulty fights are the ones that are actually complete. For example, on the first Mythic boss we beat last night summons lots of scorpions. The random trash mobs before the boss have an ability that puts down green splats of poison, but on the Normal and Heroic versions of the boss no such splats occur. In Mythic those same sorts of scorpions that make the green splats appear and you have to dodge the green, just like on the trash mobs before the boss. I appreciate those points, and the boss feels better designed because it is anchored in the world more completely. These bosses feel like they are done properly, and the lower level versions are just cutouts that try and fail to deliver the full experience.
The numbers also feel right. We have to play correctly, cope with mechanics every time, and come up with ways to handle difficult situations. We can't just screw up and push through it anyway. That makes winning feel far more rewarding. Our victory came right about the time that I felt I was mastering the encounter, that I was able to keep all the bits in my brain and execute properly.
Matching group mastery of a challenge with individual mastery of a challenge is a deeply satisfying thing.
I remember in years gone past this challenge coming up. Sometimes a specific encounter would be really hard for one particular group and the rest of us would have to just keep on executing it until that group figured it out. Maybe it was really hard on the healer (solo healing Saurfang heroic says hi) or maybe it was complicated for the tanks (Sarth 3D comes to mind) but in any case there are going to be times that you have a thing figured out and you need to wait for your partners to catch up.
My new home does seem like a good place so far for this. I am doing fights that I have to think about, playing with people who are good, and learning together. I have missed that, and I think I will greatly enjoy slamming myself into challenges with them.