Reading through Robin Torres’ recent rant (there’s no other name for this) about raiding vs casuals, iteration 2’347’122, I just realized what TBC is missing. An equivalent to ZG.
No, Kara doesn’t fit that bill. What ZG brought to the casual / social guilds was a place where you could go with a well-geared tank and 10+ players outfitted in reasonable amounts of quest or Strat / Scholo / BRS gear, kill a couple of bosses and have a taste of raiding. Due to the 3 days raid reset, a guild with a 40-men progression could still (and often would) take whoever wasn’t too tired, and a couple of their late-nighters, for a quick Venoxis kill, eventually followed by Mandokir or Mar’Li. The boss fights were technical but still quite forgiving, providing an actual challenge and motivation to learn your class even for your normally non-raiding guildies. There was some speciality loot which provided some lure for even T1-clad people to join a run.
ZG was the place where a guild with a mix of raiders and casuals could share a bit of the endgame experience. Parts of AQ20 later also fit the bill (on an unrelated note, post TBC realms added with closed gates is simply stupid, sorry. Aside the Qiraji Battle Tank and, perhaps, A’Tiesh, there’s zero incentive on opening them), providing some additional variety.
There’s simply no equivalent to what ZG provided – a truly casual-friendly raid environment where a guild could do something together. Kara with its keying process and weekly reset misses replacing it by miles, not to mention its reliance on having 10 players in good gear performing very well. Heroics, as “5-men raids” also fall short – you’re not running a guild raid in there, you’re running a harder instance.
As a father myself, my playtime starts around 11pm, when my family is asleep. I can do instance runs at this time, no problem. In WoW 1, I could do a ZG / AQ20 run, and after gearing through there, I could fill early leavers on the guild’s MC run, and still contribute decent damage. The barriers to entry on TBC raid content basically leave casual / social guild members with only PvP, or naked gnome / tauren racing as guild activities. I think the game is poorer for that.