With 3.1 still around a month away, I'm having difficulty keeping raiders engaged and in peak performance with the content that is available. I find three issues:
1) Everyone is just destroying mobs because DPS is so high, presumably with the intention of blasting through content faster. The result is more deaths and more time spent rezzing overzealous AE'ers. As an aside, I'm also concerned that 3.0 content has instilled bad raid behavior by eliminating the need for CC... which is gonna be an uphill battle to fix in 3.1.
2) The 2 farm days a week we do schedule seem to have less and less participation from key players without notification of their absence (which doesn't EVER happen in progression content). Most people have what they need/want and they are BORED. Even DKP accumulation isn't keeping them around.
3) About 30% of my raid group feels that 25 man achievements that we still have yet to work on (Timed Maly, Immortal) are a waste of time and gold because "Achievements are gimmicky... let's just kill it." When I do push for a timed Maly, for example, I get players playing at 50% of their skill, uninterested and, in few cases, not present. I say the usual things... that some achievements sharpen certain skills and teach raid awareness, help out in wowprogress rankings, blah blah... but it doesn't seem to make a difference.
The raiders in my guild are quality people and I know when 3.1 hits, they'll strive to be on the top of their game again. My concern is what to do in the interim so I don't lose the precious 2 weeks at the beginning of content slapping people in the face and waking them up again.
Any suggestions on how to energize the raid core or sympathy hugs?
I know what you mean, the other day we were wiping trying to do the emerald drake achievement in Oculus (i know, lame), and ppl started getting very frustrated. Interestingly, the same people a few months back spent weeks and weeks wiping in sunwell without any complains.
I personally look forward to the few challenges we currently have (we're currently working on sarth10+3 and undying), but a lot of people are losing interest by the lack of goals.
It's not at all uncommon for progressed guilds to just take a breather between content releases. Cracking the whip on good players while working on farm content is not productive. Maybe cut back to only achievement kills, and roll up the sleeves and losen the neck ties until Ulduar comes out?
I was counting my blessings that as a guild we leveled slow, lagged a lot on content and didn't raid many days then Patch 3.0.8 hit...
...and we 1 shotted everything in our now lag-free environment. So, I'm about to adventure into your situation of pushing people to do achievements because that's all there really is to do.
I have to say, I agreed with Blizzard's stance on making Naxx a bit easier in order to ease new players into raiding, but I didn't really believe they'd wait this long in order to release Ulduar. Crossing my fingers like you that Ulduar comes sooner than later.
We are spending 4 nights wiping on Sarth + 3 and one night blitzing Naxx 25
It's actually working out very entertaining. It's frustrating sometimes not quite beating Sarth 3 and we're close enough to a kill to keep everyone motivated and determined. Our farm night is a very pleasant contrast.
If you haven't beaten Sarth 3 yet then really push the raid to complete it. It's a very good progression raid. (Not quite as exciting as KJ or Kael Thas was but those were amazing fights when we were learning them). It's pretty close to being as much fun as the best progression stuff from TBC for those of us still tuning our raid to beat the fight.
Regarding dps overnuking on trash tell your healers not to ress them and keep the pace high. You can corpse run very fast and it's just annoying enough to stop people dying carelessly. You don't need all 18 dpsers there to kill trash, so keep going rather than waste time on them.
Speed runs were the old school way of motivating farm raids back before these new-fangled achievements ^^
then clear it fast. clearing content quickly makes people happy because they can do something else the rest of the week, level alts, go out w/e. This week we killed everything plus 3d sarth in about 5hours to the lots of "great raid tonight" "have a great week" etc, come kill shit and have time to do something else; isn't that what we want?