Hagara down! (Old news)

Hard mode Hagara is definitely a fun fight. Our kill night week was marked with a guild first. It’s never happened before in our history. Something so unprecedented, so unexpected and uncharacteristic.

We scored a progression kill while I was in a Shadow spec

Don’t worry, don’t worry! When we started learning it, I was still healing!

Right now we’re working, on that Yor’sahj guy. Our best attempts saw him hit the mid 30% range with 2 minutes left to go. We’re going to come real close to hitting that enrage timer. I’m a little behind on my Shadow gear (and I just activated my 2 piece bonus yesterday and am still looking for ways to increase that DPS higher). And yes, the reason I’m still Shadow is that we have a fair number of healers. On our next attempts, we’re going to try to run the play with 5 healers instead of 6 and hope that it’ll be just enough power.

We’ve lost several players in the past few weeks to real life, I’m afraid. If you’re looking for a stable guild for the next expansion (or just a group of players to hang out with any play other games like League of Legends and Starcraft 2 with), do check us out. I changed the URL and everything to be more reflective of what we are now.

Since BlizzCon’s been cancelled this year, the crew still wanted to meet up. If there’s anything I personally look forward to, it’s meeting up with the rest of my fellow crazy gamers once a year (and only once a year). We’ve settled on Vegas in late October as the time to hang out.

Such activities will include:

  • IRL need rolling (I love Craps)
  • Go Karting (Conquest Cup, 50cc, no blue shell)
  • Entertainment (Whenever I meet up with these people, there’s always a new chapter in the Matticus saga)
  • Relaxing (Eating, drinking and lounging around)

An Interview with Ferrel, Author of The Guild Leader’s Companion

After reviewing The Guild Leader’s Companion, I wanted to gain a little more insight from Ferrel about guild leadership.

How about a brief introduction about who you are and what you do?

Hello there! I’m Adam Trzonkowski but most people know me as Ferrel.

First and foremost I’m a raid junkie and guild leader. I’ve been raiding since around 1999 and leading the same guild (in its numerous forms) since about 2004/2005. Somewhere in that stretch of time I started to write on our guild website and eventually morphed that into Epic Slant, my design and leadership blog. That is where I found my inspiration to start my novels. In that place we call reality I’m just a boring engineer.

What were the factors that motivated you to become a guild leader?

I never really wanted to be a guild leader. I did have the privilege of dealing with a few horrible ones. When I got to Iniquity in EQ2 the officers saw potential in me and asked for me to be an officer. I agreed and eventually we decided to bump our absent, non-raiding, non-max-level, paying-a-teenager-to-level-his-character guild leader out of office. We talked it over and I drew the long (or short) straw.

Can you share any good lesson-learning stories throughout your years as an officer or as a guild leader?

I guess the story that I tell the most is a really personal one. It basically teaches the lesson of never giving up. In the early EQ2 days we were raiding Darathar. Our guild was the only one working on him on the server and very few had killed him worldwide. We had been pretty unlucky on gear drops and our main tank was missing this one bracelet that literally reduced all damage types (the only item like it at the time). We had been working on him eight hours a day for a week and our morale was low.

I played with my main tank and one of our main DPS in person and on the fifth night the tank looked at me and said, “We’re not going to win. We don’t have the gear. It is time to call it.” This was a tough thing to deal with. I’m in person with two friends. I took the approach I think is right. I looked at him and said, “That is too bad because we’re going to kill him with what we have so buck up and get back to it.” He and the DPS were obviously upset with me but I felt like we had to do it. The best part is, we killed him that night!

In your mind, what is the single most important aspect a truly brilliant guild leader needs to possess?

Positivism at all times. Players respond far better to a positive leader than a negative one. If you are positive and confident your members will be, too. Positive raid teams and guilds last far longer. Believe me, I know. I used to think being a guild leader meant being Furor or that “more DoTs” guy. The truth is, they’re doing it horribly wrong.

What is the optimal method when it comes to delivering feedback for underperforming players? How do you squeeze more out of them?

To be honest, at this point, I don’t do individual counselling anymore. We use a completely positive method in Iniquity now so to be honest, we do everything at the macro level now. If the DPS is short I just tell them I have faith they can do more and ask them to. Thus far, every time I ask, they give it to me. I praise what we do right, ask for more, and we succeed.

What is your biggest frustration or pet peeve when it comes to leading guilds?

I really dislike the attitude of people that assume guild leadership isn’t leadership. I’ve seen someone “take exception” to using the term guild leader. I’ve managed people in MMORPGs and in reality and all of the skills are the exact same. If it weren’t for MMORPGs I would have never become a leader in reality. The skills transferred so successfully that my raid career has impacted my engineering career in completely positive ways.

Have you had a chance to try out SWTOR?

I was in the beta and was not impressed at all. The game was good; I’m not suggesting otherwise. It just wasn’t “new.” It was just prototypical MMO + Star Wars. I’m also horribly addicted to Rift’s class system. I play healers and I loathe being backed into a corner as someone who can’t do anything but heal. Rift lets me raid heal and smash face. 

Let’s talk about the book, the Guild Leader’s Companion. One of the golden rules you mentioned is that you can never please everyone all of the time. What is the next best achievable goal after that?

The most important goal is to achieve your own (realistic) happiness. That sounds selfish but how can you lead and be positive if you’re miserable? Once you’re happy and positive you can start trying to keep the majority of the guild feeling the same way. That tends to work well and if someone gets upset they find solace in their guild mates.

What are your thoughts on multi gaming organizations/guilds?

It takes a huge commitment but is just taking guilds to another level. Perfectly fine and fun if you’re willing to put in the work. We focus on a more intimate group so it wouldn’t work for us but I think a good guild is a good guild whether it is in one game or twelve.

You mention that one of the big obstacles in MMOs is the fact that egos can often get in the way. How would you recommend dealing with them?

Lead by example. If you and your officers have an ego it rubs off on others. I don’t have a public ego anymore. When I screw up I call it. I make fun of myself. I tease my officers when we mess up. It takes the level of tension down so much. We also focus on the macro level as I said. It is hard to get an ego when we praise the team rather than the individuals.

And finally, the Guild Leader’s Companion has been out for a while now. What other projects are you working on (if any)? Can you share anything?

The Guild Leader’s Companion was my first book and I’m both proud and ashamed of it. I have had a lot of growth as a leader, writer, and publisher since I wrote it. On the last one (publisher) I would say a TON of growth. I want to go back through the GLC and change it up some. I’m actually working on that now with a fusion book. It is more of a book on leadership and team building that is applicable to MMORPGs and uses them as examples but works in any place. One of the curious things about the GLC was that some of the business people in my office liked it enough that they wanted a “non-gaming” version. I hope to meet them halfway.

Beyond that I just finished up The Raider’s Companion (it is actually available now). That is my effort to teach new players how to raid and show old raiders new tricks. We get set in our ways and eventually something new comes along that makes us go, “wow, I wish I had known that.” I’m offering a different perspective on raiding because at this point I’ve done almost all of it. I’ve been a server-first raider. I’ve been a world competitor. I’ve been ultra-casual. I’ve been ten-man. Now I’m current-tier-content. All of those different experiences gave me the chance to borrow what I feel works from each. I also know I can learn more! So I wrote The Raider’s Companion to share my experiences and stimulate ideas.

Thank you for the opportunity, Ferrel!

Friends, be sure to congratulate him on his recent engagement! Remember to check out and subscribe to his blog!

Book Review: The Guild Leader’s Companion

Book Review: The Guild Leader’s Companion

(Lost my initial post to a crash. Ctrl + S all the things Disappointed smile)

In ten words or less: Solid pickup for new players wanting to start a guild

I’d definitely recommend this for players looking to start their own guilds. Not only does it have an excellent set of instructions, it also gets you to really think about what you want to do and how to do it. The book covers all of the main aspects when it comes to a guild startup: Selecting your officers, recruiting members and outlining policies. Guild policies are often one of the hardest and slowest things to get down largely because it can be a huge pain in the but to write down the different rules and guidelines. Adam does a great job walking you through the process. To top it off, you can find some example charters and other rules at the end of the book to help with your guild’s principles. If you’ve been in a guild before, I’d wager that you would take for granted the day-to-day management activities and the other things that go on behind the scenes. The Companion helps you navigate through them.

Now if you’re a veteran guild leader, you’ll want to know if it’s still a worthwhile pickup.

I’d say yes.

You can pass over the section on loot management and recruiting. If your guild’s been around already, then chances are you’re comfortable with it. Recruiting might be a worthwhile chapter to read through again as it covers other techniques and tips, but if you’re already established with a good stock of players then it might not be necessary. I paid close attention to the section on Public Relations. I’d bet PR is easily one of the weakest skillsets a guild leader can have. Solid tips though on how one should conduct themselves online and how to react to trolls that are trying to bait reactions. Not many people are able to suppress themselves and maintain a level of professionalism against attackers. The section on burnout offered a variety of tips on how to combat both member fatigue and (more importantly) your fatigue. It also offers some information on the differences between raiding and competitive raiding.

I wouldn’t recommend competitive raiding for everyone. Being roused awake at 3 AM to take down a recently spawned Ysondre or one of those other green dragons does take it’s toll. Server firsts ain’t got nothing on world bosses.

Anyway, if you’re looking to start a guild or have started a guild and are looking to polish up your skills, you can pick up The Guild Leader’s Companion on Amazon (Alternatively, Kindle edition).

Oh and check out Adam’s blog: Epic Slant!

I’ll be posting an email interview I did with Adam tomorrow.

Nifty Topics to Increase Forum Use

Don’t tell anyone this, but I’m actually in multiple guilds. I’m not cheating on my guild per se. But these guilds are involved with different games that aren’t a main focus.

Unsurprisingly, can you guess the most popular page of a guild’s website?

It would be the forums! Home and news pages don’t even come close. I suppose people just head straight to the forums with a direct link and bypassing the front pages entirely.

If your guild is young and you’re looking for ways to help ignite a little bit of life into them, I’ve seen these threads made which help draw people out of the woods.

  • Picture thread: Can never go wrong with the guild picture thread. People are naturally curious about what the real person behind the character is like. There’s always that one person who elicits the “There is no way that person sounds like that”.
  • Music thread: This is a great way to share and introduce your fellow guildies to what you like to jam to during game play. Oddly enough, the thread in my guild seems to just die whenever I mention Lady Gaga or Beyonce.
  • Movies thread: People love discussing their favourite movies along with upcoming flicks that they want to see. Movie trailers are usually posted to offer an idea of what can be expected.
  • UI thread: My personal favourite. This type of thread has the added bonus of discovering new addons or layout styles that you might never have thought of. I’ve even helped players in the past boost their abilities quicker by suggesting small changes to their interface.
  • Quotes thread: Someone say something stupidly quotable? My guild has had their own share of soundbyte moments. No doubt yours will have some. Keep a running thread going whenever someone says something exceptionally hilarious to help relive those memories.

A word to the wise. I’d strongly recommend staying away from political or religious topics. Those can be powder kegs.

Two Different Experiences, One Guild

Today I’m going to paint for you two pictures of different individuals.

Both of them are in the same guild.

Both are on the same raid team and are of the same member rank. Their raiding performances are comparable to one another.

Player A: Soshal Crither

Shows up a few minutes early before the raid. Sticks around after the raid discussing the evening. Posts interesting and relevant discussion/material on the forums. Players other games with guild members in addition to WoW forging stronger social ties. Has a strong presence.

Player B: Hermy

Stays quiet and doesn’t actively engage with many players in the guild. Promptly logs out right after raids and barely squeaks in before raid start for an invite. Rarely posts on the forums and only chimes in when they’re absent. Not a big fan of hanging out on Mumble during non raid nights.

The point I want to make here is that while being a by-the-book player who does only what’s needed down to the letter can be acceptable, it doesn’t hurt to socialize every so often.

I maintain a memorable impression of players who aren’t afraid of frequenting Mumble and touching base outside of raids. Can’t lay out a theory as to why, but I reckon it’s due to repeated exposure to their presence. Sharing additional interests with other players (in addition to WoW) can create a much better guild experience then simply playing the 9 to 5 career raider.

Do you play other games with your guildies?

The Burden of Leadership, Lodur bares his thoughts

There are a lot of folks out there that think being in charge, or in a leadership role, of a guild is a big fun thing. You get to set permissions, invite, kick and all that other cool stuff! Truth is, at least for me, it’s another job. Being in charge means that, like at every other job, you are responsible for those beneath you and how they perform. On top of that you become involved in the day to day running of something larger than yourself. This is especially true if you are among the leadership of a raiding guild.

After leaving Unpossible after 5 long years, I had put the officer mantle in the laundry bin to be cleaned pressed and put under glass. Circumstances did not allow me to leave the mantle alone for long, and I find myself in a leadership role again. Over the last two tiers I’ve had a lot on my plate between being in game, my podcast For The Lore, still consistently writing for WoW Insider, and also writing a novel that I’m submitting for publication consideration in the following weeks. On top of various other personal things, it’s been a hell of a long year and I find myself with an over abundance of ideas on the topic of leadership in a raiding guild. So, bear with me here, because I’m about to dump my thoughts a little.

The burden
The wear and tear
The hard choices

Truthfully it wears on you over time. You have to make a lot of hard decisions that are not always easy, and certainly aren’t popular with everyone. Lets take on the topic of friendship in real life, and raiding in game. I’ve talked about it before, but it’s something that keeps rearing it’s ugly head over and over again. Being someone’s friend does not make you immune from being included in those hard choices a competitive raiding guild faces. This includes officers and the rank-and-file of the raid team. Sometimes,  you have to look at someone’s performance, and if found wanting must bench them or otherwise remove them from a fight or raid, until performance can be fixed. It’s for the good of the entire team, and the progression of the raid, and ultimately if that’s your goal that’s what matters most. Don’t take it personally, it’s not a slight against you as a person, it’s just that the numbers aren’t where they need to be. I’ll use myself as an example here.

Firelands was not very kind to restoration shaman. The fights were ones that didn’t let us take advantage of our strengths and as a result other healers tended to do better than us. In our raid team, there were many fights where I would sit myself for the other healers because they were that good and the numbers worked out better. I did the same thing with the second restoration shaman in our group. Do I think I’m a crappy healer? Do I think the other restoration shaman just sucks? No, I don’t, it was just better numbers to configure our raid healers a different way to optimize success.

When you have to bench someone who is a friend of yours, especially in real life, sometimes it’s hard for that person not to be upset by it. I understand that, I get that, but it’s not personal. It’s not that they aren’t your friend, or that you suck at the game, it’s just that things needed to be done a different way. It’s not an easy decision to make, but sometime’s it’s the necessary one You have to separate the leader from the friend when those decisions are handed down the same way you would if your friend was your boss at your 9-5 job. It’s not easy, but it is what it is.

A sellers market
Make your own choices
Evaluate your position

There’s a saying that “it’s my game time and I’ll play how I want to play.” That’s all good and true, I mean you are paying to play the game. Consider, however, that you might not be in the best place to play the game the way you want to. A progression raiding group is going to be looking for a pretty solid set of criteria.  These include, but are not limited to the following

  • Are you willing to change your spec, gearing, chants and reforging to a more optimal setup?
  • Are you willing to play a spec you don’t normally play?
  • Are you willing to be benched if it’s for the good of the team?
  • Are you open to criticism about your performance and information to help attempt to improve your output?

If you answer no to any of these, then you should probably not try to get into a progression raiding guild. If you don’t want to budge on how you play your game it’s just not the right environment for you. Blizzard has made a big deal out of “bring the player, not the class, or spec or cooldown” etc. For the most part that’s true, but when you’re edging into hard mode encounters, or sometimes just a normal encounter in itself, and you want to get through it quickly and efficiently, then it simply isn’t always the case. See above where I benched myself for the good of the raid on a fight. No matter what, there’s always going to be an optimal setup. Whether it’s a raid full of paladins, or nothing but druid healers in a group, there will always be a tweak. Can you do the fights without the optimal group? Sure, but it becomes harder and harder as you progress through content. Sounds counter intuitive, but I assure you it’s true.

Another truth here is that right now it’s a sellers market. What do I mean by that? Cataclysm has royally screwed recruitment over pretty badly. Finding new members to add to your guild  can be a pain and prove rather difficult, especially when you’ve something specific in mind. It’s not that “beggars can’t be choosers” or anything of that nature, but a progression raiding guild might not be keen on accepting that applicant in normal Cataclysm blues and can’t spell their own name when the group is trying to kill heroic Deathwing. There’s a guild for everyone out there, and you need just look if you want to play a particular way that you aren’t allowed to where you are.

LFR
Doing what it takes
Better for the guild as a whole

This is something of a recent development, and something that irked me a little bit. A lot of guilds out there do LFR weekly as a group in order to obtain set bonuses for raiders, gear up new recruits and sometimes just to get a feel for the fight. It makes sense really, it’s an easy way to gear up and see the fights, and still have a bit of a safety net. Hell, my guild even did it for a few weeks to get some set bonuses in action. As a group we were going to go in, and just pound out the 8 bosses on LFR and then go back and do normal raiding. With the raid as geared as it was, LFR should have been easy and would do nothing but help everyone.

What got me about it was that some folks just simply said no and refused to participate in the LFR runs, even if it would help them and the raid as a group. I understand having a preference, I myself am not a huge fan of LFR any longer, but even I showed up for those runs because it allowed people to gear up, see fights and did nothing but raise the entire guild higher and help with normal raiding. What got me was that those same people wanted priority on invites to the normal raid, and expected to get the normal equivalent gear. When neither happened, they complained.

Not going to say someone should be forced into doing something they don’t want to do, but the way it was handled was bad. Immaturely logging out, refusal to listen to reason, and claiming that there wasn’t anything in it for them so they wouldn’t do it. Even when it was needed most, refusing to help the guild by tagging along. Like above, you have to be willing to give a little, especially in a group who wants to accomplish progression raiding. Sometimes you’ll be asked to do something you don’t want to do to help the group. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet, and if you can’t, then maybe you’re in the wrong place.

In the end

This is what’s been on my mind for two tiers now. Working out ways to do what needs to be done, and convey that the decisions aren’t personal, that the raid group as a whole is a larger organism thriving on everyone in the group working to the same means. It’s hard sometimes. It’s frustrating, and borderline infuriating some nights. But, it is what it is. At the end of the day, it’s the officers who bear an incredible amount of burden. Now, I’m not quitting or burning out mind you, just needed to gather my thoughts and get them out “on paper” so to speak. I appreciate my raiders and the ones that not only give me their all but also do more than that. The ones that send me funny tells in raid to keep me laughing or just making sure we’re progressing, I appreciate their actions and what they do for us the officer corp, and for the raid group as a whole.  Sorry for the brain-dump folks, but hope you enjoyed a glimpse into the skull of ol’ Lodur here.

Envisioning Your Guild House

Let’s assume for a moment Blizzard reversed their policy on guild housing.

Guilds would have a place of their own to call home.

Could be anywhere in Kalimdor or Eastern Kingdoms only.

It could be in any zone you want, and the design is entirely up to you. The contents, the trophies and amenities are at your discretion.

  • Where would your guild’s base of operations be?
  • What type of structure would your guild own? A castle? A bat cave?
  • What kind of cool stuff would a guest find if they entered your guild’s place?

For me, I’d deck out an underground bunker just north of Booty Bay. Always preferred the tropical environments. The mountains of Dun Morogh would be a distant second. Wouldn’t be a guild house without a pool table and a minibar set up. Naturally, there’d be an armory inside with different weapons from all the bosses we’ve killed throughout the years. You can see Deconstructor’s heart in a glass case in the lobby. Dragon skulls would be hanging on the wall looking down on visitors as they walked through. Of course, there’d be an aviary for all the gryphons and other flying mounts.

Anyway, it isn’t likely we’ll hear anything about guild housing anytime soon (if at all). But one can dream!