Archimonde 2.0

I remember the first time my old guild breached the Mount Hyjal raid back in Burning Crusade. It was breathtaking to play that iconic mission finale of Warcraft 3 from an MMO perspective. Instead of being the base commander, I was in a position where I had to repel the attacks as a character. We faced hundreds of wipes during the period working on Archimonde. Every time, we started our initial position on that little rocky outcropping facing west where Archie was. We lost a ridiculous amount of time because players would sometimes forget to get their tears. I’m glad that tears aren’t a thing this time around.

We ran into an issue last week with Archimonde that had nothing to do with the encounter itself. Last week was the first time players could kill Gorefiend and complete the quest to jump the instance. I joined a pug earlier in the day just to get the quest completed so that when raid time rolled around, we could skip ahead and start on Iskar. That part worked and we secured our first Mannoroth kill that night. We made a fun pull on Archimonde since we only had but a few minutes left.

The problem occurred the next night. We were hyped to enter the instance and put in some serious work on him again but there was no portal to Archimonde. There was a portal to Mannoroth but nothing leading us there. A ticket was opened to Blizzard’s support teams but no resolution was made until the next day (which meant spending Wednesday night on heroic content instead). Thankfully, whatever they did worked and we were able to pull Archimonde on Thursday night. Managed to see phase 3 a few times though (under 40%) so it was quite a productive night. If only we weren’t locked out earlier in the week, we might’ve even seen a kill. Our primary strategy involves stacking and slowly working our way around the room to control the fires.

Never thought I’d ever have to contend with Doomfires again.

Now the next question is to figure out how many players to send in those portals on that last phase there.

Recruiting Tiers

Not to be confused with recruiting tears (which sounds common for many guilds out there right now).

At present, we’re 11/13 normal and 5/13 heroic. I did manage to find a skilled pug on the weekend to get the normal Manneroth kill and the heroic Gorefiend kill just to get my quest going. Difficult getting consistent progression with three healers and a rotating fourth every raid night.

The creation of multiple tiers of raiding is great for the game, no doubt. Players and guilds can pick and choose the difficulty they want to progress and see the rest of the game at. This has a natural side effect of trickling down to the recruiting side of things.

During Burning Crusade, guilds could be bracketed and organized into completed content. If you were attuned to Serpentshrine Cavern or Black Temple, you were highly sought after largely because guilds didn’t have to go through that effort of going through that process for you.

In Wrath, the raiding scene split to those who wanted the tighter knit feel of a 10 player group or those who craved the 25 player scene (and it was divided further more into those who were okay with just doing normal and those who wanted heroic content).

Fast forward to present day, the selections have opened up to mythic raiders, heroic players, and normal players. In Burning Crusade, there were no raiding filters in place since you either wanted to raid or you didn’t. There’s so much choice that exists now.

Even as I’m cruising through the recruiting forums, I’ve started automatically sorting through players in my head. That 705 Mistweaver shaman that’s cleared 10/10 Mythic Blackrock during the first two months? Probably going to want something more than I can offer. I won’t waste their time or my time so I’d pass on making a pitch. What about that 660 Holy paladin? Sounds like they finished Heroic Highmaul but their guild wasn’t able to get down Heroic Blackhand in time. Sounds like an investment project since they’d need additional gear to get up to where we are (and survive the unavoidables). Is it worth making the pitch? Can they help us now?

Objectively speaking, it’s best to just cast a wide open net or take the shotgun approach. If I keep throwing crap against the wall, something will stick, right? Or at least, that’s what my University TA told me during exam prep. Even so, I can’t help but mentally filter and sort out players between those who are the right fit and those I’d pass on because I have a good idea my guild would get passed over.

Things were so much easier back then.

 

What’s Going on with Mythic?

Indulge me in this observation.

It appears that a number of prominent guilds are starting to buckle and implode. These were once strong, proud guilds who had achieved success last tier during Siege of Orgrimmar. I can’t say for sure what the cause of breakups are, but it’s happening across the board.

Starting to wonder now if we’re walking in with too high expectations of ourselves and then getting hit with a huge dose of reality. Maybe it’s deliberate though since they want Blackrock Foundry to last a while before the next tier (which if history is any indication will be around during the summer or early fall).

Can’t even begin to surmise what’s going on here.

Is the extra difficulty level of Mythic simply too much?

Is it just due to the roster absences?

People getting tired and putting too much pressure on themselves?

I had a thought yesterday. All mythic guilds now were strong, heroic guilds last tier. But it does not appear that all heroic guilds can cut it as a mythic guild this tier.

We started the expansion strong with 27 players. Thank goodness for flex modes, because I feel lucky if I can even get 20 now. Trying to recruit and pickup raiders for a  guild seems insanely tough (and I still think transferring off might do the job).

Allow me to highlight two factors:

  • Too much competition: I’m not referring to other guilds. I’m referring to other difficulties. Between raid finder, normal, and heroic, players can now find the guild that’s raiding at the right pace and difficulty for them.
  • Too much accessibility: The group finder has been a huge blessing and a curse.

Take this nugget of logic below:

“Why bother going through an application and interview process in joining a guild when I can just take a few seconds to browse around on Group Finder or Open Raid and join a group at will?”

– Random Mage, 2015

Years ago, guilds were the only game in town if you wanted to defeat Arthas or tackle raids. No group finder meant if you wanted your moneys worth in the game, you had to join a guild. The only way to get picked up by a guild is by going through their process. The only way to stay in the guild is to not lose your edge and die to every third void zone on the ground. You had to be sharp, you had to be productive, and you had to be skilled otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see content.

The last bit above there ties into something else about individual performance. If you aren’t as skilled or astute with your character, there’s a raid difficulty just for you. During the old expansions, it was play and perform at X level or else don’t raid. Now it’s, why play at X level when I can play at Z level with reduced stress and pressure and still see the same bosses anyway?

Random Mage might be on to something there.

Maybe they’re the smart one. Because you’ve got GMs like me who are wracking their brain and desperately looking for ways to find and retain talent. Other GMs are closing up shop due to lack of resources, time, effort, interest, and so forth.

Take a look at this list:

  • Summit (6/7 Mythic, ceased raiding 1/27)
  • The Horsemen (US 25th during Siege of Orgrimmar for Heroic Garrosh, ceased competitive raiding during December)
  • Blood Runs Cold (6/7 Mythic in Highmaul, ceased raiding in January)
  • Vanlyfe (6/7 Mythic, ceased raiding in January)
  • Victory or Whatever (US 38th, 25 man, ceased raiding)

Admittedly a small sample size, but I’m sure they’re not the only ones that had high hopes and aspirations. But for whatever reason, they’ve stopped raiding. Maybe expectations or other life factors interfered here. Who knows? But something’s definitely going on here.

For the purposes of raiding, guilds are meaningless and may not mean anything significant in finding success in raids because you can still do the same thing via Group Finder.

Someone pointed me over to Stoove’s blog post on Mythic raiding and how it has impacted a 10 man scaling up. Mythic took the difficulties of heroic raids and amplified the difficulty immensely.

It might be time to take a hard look at the mirror and realistically figure out what kind of guild we really are.

How Guilds Make 800k Gold Selling Boss Kills

How Guilds Make 800k Gold Selling Boss Kills

The news that cross-realms are allowing players to raid on other servers on both normal and heroic mode is a god-send! Players are no longer restricted to paying server transfer fees in order to raid. Cross-faction raiding isn’t going to be a thing anytime soon (and I doubt it ever will), but at least players can now raid across servers. This is a great way for a prospective player to “try” a new raiding guild before they commit to transferring. It’s great for guilds like mine to help fill out a raid in case we’re short players by using a service like Open Raid.

Another benefit? You can start selling guild runs and kills. It’s also known as “guild boosting”.

There’s a market out there for players who want the normal mode achievement. There’s players who want the gear that your guild has been routinely sharding week after week. People might scoff and laugh, but there’s always going to be a buyer. People want the loot, the achievements, and the mounts but aren’t necessarily able to commit the time required to a proper raiding guild. Just keep in mind that gold and loot still can’t be traded on non-connected realms so they’d have to transfer a character with gold plus the items that are the rough equivalent to the price negotiated upon. I’ve seen some players willing to transfer an alt and then boosting their main.

Want to make it even easier? Make sure the alt is the GM of their own guild. Last I checked, guild bank transfer limits were at 1 million gold. The character needs to meet the requirements though.

How does one go about it?

I’d strongly suggest doing this with a 25 man raiding team. I imagine it’s significantly harder to carry a person on 10.

Step 1: Discuss it with your guild

I’m using the word “discuss” in a loose term. It should be pretty easy to sell your guild on the idea. Remind them that that funds coming in are going to guild repairs and to the next expansion (recipes, crafting materials, enchants, etc). Will your participating raid members obtain a small cut? If you’ve already made that decision to sell runs, let the guild know. Any dissenters can be silenced with sound reasoning. If they still disagree, well that’s ultimately up to you to decide. No one has to participate if they don’t want to.

We’ll get to the actual agreements in a moment.

Step 2: Advertise it

You can sell something but if no one knows about it, you’re not going to be able to make any gold. No one’s going to come to a run they don’t know about! Hit up trade chat and see if anyone local is interested in the kills. Failing that, see if anyone on Open Raid is willing to go. Advertise on your server’s forums! They’ll ask you for a price and that’s going to fluctuate greatly based on things like your server progression, what they’re entitled to, what bosses are going down, and so forth.

If you have a guild website, consider creating a page dedicated to this information. Make sure you include the important stuff like the price and what they get. Include who they should message about it. Throw in the dates and times if you know it for a fact. If loot prices are different, specify that too.

In fact, some guilds have websites with full pages dedicated to just selling runs.

That’s where the next step comes into play…

Step 3: Settle on the terms and price

Are clients paying for just a Garrosh kill? Do they want a specific item? Do they want all items? Are they expecting a full clear? Heroic boss kills? All of those factor into. Speak to your client and figure out what they want. It seems the going rate for a straight up Garrosh kill with whatever loot they want is 15k.

A full heroic 14/14 run with loot, achievements, and the mount went for upwards of 800k gold.
A full heroic clear with just the achievements and no loot went for 300k.
Heroic gear: 20k Heroic Warforged: 30k
Heroic weapons: 35k
Heroic Warforged weapons: 80k.

Naturally the going rate of this stuff is going to be influenced by demand and the progression capabilities of your server.

Figure out and set your guild prices for:

  • Loot (Both normal and warforged)
  • Achievements
  • Mounts
  • Titles

Talk to your client and figure out exactly what they want and what they’re paying for. Once you have that step figured out…

Step 4: Arrange payment

Take a deposit.

Some guilds ask for non-refundable 15% up front. Other guilds ask for 50%. Consider cutting a deal on the price if the run is scheduled to occur on the day of. Again, this obviously isn’t going to work if the player is on a cross realm since they can’t trade gold but if they’re willing to transfer servers on an alt, take that into consideration. I find that the more well-known a guild is, the higher the deposit they can command. Reputation seems to play a big part. Guilds that routinely top the kills race ask for a higher deposit because they don’t want to be ripped off. Buyers can rest easily knowing that these are guilds who are also quite serious and skilled at what they do.

Step 5: The logistics

This up to the raid leader to decide. Which player is going to sit? Is the client going to attempt to participate and contribute? It might just be easier for them to die immediately and AFK lest they accidentally mess up the kill. This is where the client can pay up the rest of the fee associated with the run.

Does all this sound ridiculous? Unrealistic? Who’d pay that much gold for this stuff? Y’know, there’s over 7 million subscribers. There’s going to be a select few who are willing to buy their way to the top.

Last minute reminder: There is an absolute ton of risk involved in these kinds of transactions. There’s no guarantee the guild can carry a person from start to finish. There’s no guarantee a person is able and willing to pony up the rest of the mentioned fee. Either party can get ripped off at any time. If something doesn’t sound right, walk away. I doubt Blizzard GMs will be able to assist with this type of stuff if someone gets scammed or ripped off.

6+3 Lessons on Guild Leadership: Don’t Make These Mistakes!

6+3 Lessons on Guild Leadership: Don’t Make These Mistakes!

Tick tock.
That’s the sound of an expansion getting closer and closer to release. It hasn’t quite started yet, but players are starting to gradually trickle in and return to the game. Abandoned guilds are coming back online.  Some players are looking to try their  hand at starting their own guilds.
Does that sound like something you and your friends want to do? Like the Pandaren say in game, slow down! Take some advice from a few of my friends and the mistakes they’ve made when they started out.
One of the first mistakes I made in the formation of my guild was one that a lot of people make: we mostly relied on “common sense” to dictate what was and was not acceptable. For whatever reason, “common sense” was fine for the first couple of months, but after more recruits joined us, it became apparent that we actually needed to sit down and write out rules to let people know what behaviour was expected of them. The worst part of it all is that my officers and I were just dumbfounded at how poorly some people could behave! We honestly could not understand how anyone thought X or Y behaviours were appropriate. As such, most of the rules we wrote had a “private name” used to refer to them by the officers, as they were named for the guild member who caused us to write the rule in the first place, along the lines of “the Kurn rule” or “the Majik rule”. It definitely made for some memorable moments, but what I took away from it was that you have to be clear about your expectations from the start!
Conquest hasn’t really had a hard and fast set of rules. Going into Warlords, I knew I wanted to have a stronger foundation in place and really figure out what I wanted the guild to turn into. There were times where I felt it was too lax. I wanted to tighten that belt. It took us over a month and several revisions before we settled on the language that I felt reflected what I wanted my guild to become. It helps to have two or three goals in mind then ask yourself if the rules you are setting down will ultimately lead to those goals. If they don’t, reconsider them.
Rhidach (@Rhidach) | Rhida.ch
We had a raider early on who had a really difficult personality and didn’t get a long with a lot of our long-time raiders. Problem was that he was really good DPS, and I found myself with a dilemma after he caused a kerfuffle with some of my players. I had to choose between showing him the exit and hurting overall raid DPS, or attempting to smooth over the row and investing some of my credibility into him. I chose to do what I (mistakenly) perceived as being for the greater good and worked things out, but there was an even bigger incident not much longer after that and he really had to go that time. Trying to find a compromise (and compromising my own integrity) only kicked the ball down the road a little ways. I should have ripped the band-aid off quickly, and I paid for that dithering in the end.
Sometimes it isn’t always easy to control player behaviour. You want to do the right thing and let them go, but you might not be in the position to do that because removing a player means your guild doesn’t get to raid for a few days. It’s harder to pull that off in a 25 man raid because there’s almost always going to be conflicting personalities. It isn’t always easy to find 30 players who are able to raid effectively at a high level and be friendly with each other. But ultimately, the boss has to reconcile the differences.
Actually, there’s three ways that you can address it:
  • Find a way to deal with it: Involves muting, not socializing, or other methods.
  • Find a way to change it: Involves talking to the player and asking them that their behaviour needs to change.
  • Remove the problem: The ol’ gkick strategy.
Adam Ferrel (@FerrelES) | Epic Slant
One of the hardest lessons I learned the first time around is that people aren’t actually expendable. When you’re in a highly competitive environment with a ton of applicants it is easy to forget that. Everyone wants to be “uber” and kill the top monsters. As a motivation tool my officers and I leveraged this. We’d remind folks that there were people in the minor league waiting for the slot on the roster. It really demoralized more than it motivated. Later on I focused more on developing talent and retention. Keeping even average players for an extremely long time yielded far better results.
This one’s always a tough one. Some players end up being late bloomers. A player that might’ve not been the greatest in one tier could become an all star in the next largely due to class buffs or raid mechanics. Go with the sabremetrics methodology. How many fires do they stand in? What’s their survivability rate? Can they react to incoming missile attacks? Can they be counted on to nail every interrupt? Have they allowed any Malkorok puddles that were in there area to go off? Clearly Brad Pitt knew what he was doing when he built the Oakland A’s (I liked that movie).
Amy Emmence (@amyemmence)
While not an original or very early on officer, I feel when I became an officer, I felt a bit less than worthy and did not try and actively do more for my guild than I had done before.  I realize now that I was asked to be an officer because I was “worthy” of the role and respected in the guild and let that guide me now.
When the GM taps you on the shoulder and asks for your help, there’s usually a reason for it. It’s because they see something in you that can help uphold what the guild is doing. The great thing about being an officer is that the buck doesn’t stop with you. The GM is always going to be the fail safe and can ultimately veto anything that might not work.
Of course, you can always say no. In fact, maybe you should just say no. Much easier that way.
Liore (@Liores) | Herding Cats
Sometimes you have to be a jerk. Don’t farm it out to officers, don’t put it off, don’t hope that things will magically get better — part of your job is making people feel like you are securely in charge and protecting the guild community.
The world needs jerks. But it needs the right kind of jerk. The kind of jerk who’s willing to put their boot down and stop other jerks in their tracks. It’s a dirty job, but it has to be done. Officership comes with both prestige and responsibility. Liore recommends not farming it out and you shouldn’t the first time it needs to be done. I’m of the opinion that if a GM can’t directly tell a player that they’re no longer a member of the guild, then they’re not fit to be a GM at all. Now if you’re a veteran GM who’s looking for a successor, this is a great way to evaluate an officer’s fitness to eventually take over. Just be present for it and supervise.
When I took over as GM, I set expectations for officer activity too high. As an example, in the first month of MoP the role officers were expected to give raiders written reviews every week so we could nip any performance issues in the bud. After the first month, these were expected to be done monthly. This was great while it lasted but after a couple months sitting down and writing 8 healer reviews (or worse, 14 ranged reviews) really wore on people and the activity dropped off, causing some disappointment. A couple officers even stepped down from their roles – this wasn’t the only reason, but I’m sure the workload was part of it. The lesson? Set realistic expectations. It’s better to do things well, even if that means those things happen less frequently. People can only dedicate a certain amount of time and energy to the guild before they start burning out.
Burnout management is huge. If you need to tell a player to take a week off, you do it. They might go kicking and screaming, but they’ll be the better for it. But the flip side is also important. You have to manage your own burnout levels. I’m not impervious to it. My guild doesn’t realize it, but I try hard to not show any signs of burnout. In reality, I’m struggling hard to keep my game face on and the last thing I want to do is just flip out on someone for pushing my buttons too hard or something else that’s trivial. Pick and choose the days you need off and make sure there’s someone to cover for you. I need a vacation.

Shawn

My biggest mistake was a significant lack of game/life balance. I poured an unfortunate amount of trial-and-error into the guild in the early years, lacking any formal knowledge of what it took to build and maintain a successful guild, to the detriment of those around me. Guilds are demanding (especially raiding ones), but all can be managed if you have the necessary tools and know where to set boundaries.

Yup. See above! Shawn isn’t kidding!
(@Zaierpally)I think the biggest mistake I’ve made is not having enough communication.  I’ve had a couple of different instances where I thought everything was going great and then it all blew up in my face because there hadn’t been good enough communication.  I’ve had situations go from good to terrible because of a lack of communication both between myself and other officers/the GM and between myself (as an officer) and the rest of the members of the guild.

We’re not psychic. Even I need to remind myself that we may be on the same page on a philosophical standpoint, it doesn’t hurt to keep pestering people about stuff. Keep talking to the officers and make sure everyone understands what’s going on week to week. What’re the goals? Which bosses are we going to kill? Do we plan to reset or extend? Who’s the new person that just applied and did they get the introduction?
Outside of me as the guild leader, the leadership had no structure. Officers had no specific tasks and I simply promoted every “founding member” regardless of ability or desire to lead. Committed and organized leadership is a key part of a successful guild, and the lack of it made everything way more difficult for me in the early going than it should have been. Fortunately, many of my officers stepped up in a big way when I needed them, or the guild would have died in its infancy.
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! If an officer is charge of overseeing melee players, outline that out. Tell them they’re there to assign interrupts, offer opinion on new melee apps, and that they have to tell you if a rogue is starting to fall off the wagon. Guild treasurer? Good. They need to make sure the bank is liquidated of crap, and that there’s money coming in somehow. You might think it’s obvious, but get each role defined.
Still want to do this? Make sure you examine the articles I have on Guild Management. It ain’t easy, but being the GM usually never is.
Raid Leader Questions: Reset or Extend?

Raid Leader Questions: Reset or Extend?

Back in Wrath, right around the era of the Trial of the Crusader patch, Blizzard pushed out a new feature. It was a tool designed for raids who didn’t raid as often or who had trouble investing significant and meaningful hours in progression before the week reset and all their progression and work had been lost.

Yes, the lockout extension feature.

To my knowledge, it was one of those things that not many players really raved about but no one slammed it down either. It was completely optional and not many had the desire to extend it. Two expansions later, raids are getting larger, there’s more trash in the way, and time just seems to be a factor. This isn’t 5 years ago where I was in a raid that insisted on everyone going way past their bed time to get that much needed kill in. I was in guilds that asked much of their players to sacrifice sleep and hours for the sake of progression.

When Conquest was first formed, one of the key decisions was laying down our hours. In order to maximize the potential pool of players, I ensured that our times were west and east coast friendly. But this had the cost where we would not be able to go past our end times even if we had gotten a boss down to 1%. With Siege of Orgrimmar being the deep instance that it is, many of the players lobbied for more time on end bosses and extensions on the week to put in more work. It’s paid off because we secured kills on Nazgrim and Malkorok on the days where we normally would’ve reset.

At the same time, like other raiding guilds, we’ve seen our share of players come and go. This is the part of the expansion where many players are slowly returning back to the game. They’re smart and skilled players, but sometimes there’s nothing they can do to survive through a large explosion even with all their defensive cooldowns used simply because their health is too low. Or we’re not able to meet a DPS check on an earlier boss like Norushen and Sha of Pride.

It’s a tough balancing act between providing our newer players with the gear and experience they need now so they can be in a position to help us later versus ensuring that the raid has adequate time to work on progression bosses in the second half of Siege. Blizzard has announced the end of the Challenge Mode season coming soon to coincide with a new patch deployment. While there’s been no mention of a friends and family alpha, the patch signals that we’re one milestone closer to the next expansion and our time in Siege is growing shorter.

How long does it take to gear a freshly geared 90 and put them in a position where they are no longer a detriment to a heroic raid boss?

My estimate is 3-4 weeks. This includes running the raid finder, flex raids, using crafted pieces, and completely carrying them through any available farm content. On 25 man, that time could be cut to 2-3 weeks largely due to the larger pool of gear that drops from killing bosses (6 items on 25 vs 2 items on 10) and this assumes they’re diligent in farming their Lesser Charms on the island or via pet battles.

Reset please!

My original stance was to continue weekly raid resets. Until we’ve got a core group of 25-30 players who’ve been around long enough where they don’t need gear anymore, we’re going to need to keep that farming going. Every once in a while, we can pull in a player who is already at our level and ready to go to the point where we don’t need to gear them out. If we don’t funnel gear, eventually we’ll reach a point where we run out of players to bring in (because turnover, people leaving/quitting/new jobs/no time, etc). Our depth is amazing. It’s how we can even field raids sometimes. There’s always going to be a bottom end and we have to narrow that gap between top and bottom to help make it easier for us when we reach the harder progression bosses. It makes sense to do this at the beginning of the tier as well to really maximize all that gear coming in.

Now here’s the flip side of the equation.

Extend please!

When we get to a new boss, we need time to learn the nuances. We have to learn the new phases and mechanics that come with it. We have to wipe to it. We have to see it so that we can understand and then execute. This usually happens towards the end of the week because the first part of the week is spent clearing UP to that boss. Our ultimate end objective is to KILL everything in this instance. The fact that it’s the final tier in the expansion means that we have a silent countdown clock hanging except we don’t know what the end time is going to be. I’d rather err on the side of clearing everything early then clearing everything too late. I want to get these guys a heroic Garrosh kill. That’s what we’re all here to do. Just when it seems like we’re all prepared and ready to take down a new boss, we run out of time, and it’s Tuesday. We have to kill all that stuff again. And guess what? There’s days where our consistency and our mindset isn’t there and we don’t even GET to the new boss that we want which cuts in to our progression time, and then boom, reset again.

This is where we are at today. This is why I proposed the compromise of 3 pulls to get it done on farm or else we move on. It helps ensure chances on getting the players that need gear their gear while simultaneously ensuring that we have enough allocated time to work on a new progression boss. Problem is, that isn’t good enough anymore.

We’re still lacking on time. In the end, we’ve opted to switch to an extended week schedule. Week 1 is spent getting as far as we can, week 2 is spent extending to work on whichever boss we just cleared to. Any new recruits are typically brought in during week 1 to learn and get suitably equipped.  Our veterans and heavy hitters are brought in for the progression stuff.

I really miss winged instances.

Giving You Crit for Dying: When is a Good Time?

Giving You Crit for Dying: When is a Good Time?

Like any guild leader would, I posted Hamlet’s latest post on Raid Awareness on my guild forums. They’re all good lessons and solid pointers. It’s all anyone can really ask for from their guild. Most of the team already knows it but it doesn’t hurt to have a little reminder from time to time. Many things shouldn’t be said but we’re nearing the end of the expansion where newer players are returning who haven’t quite raided at a heroic level before and could benefit from the points that were listed.

One of our newer players brought up a solid point about failure and dying.

I’ve discussed it a little with people but it definitely feels as a newer raider that there’s a much greater emphasis on failure as an “app” or “new” person than some of the older ones.

And this is absolutely true. Leaders tend to put recruits under the microscope much more.

The other night, we were working on Heroic Sha of Pride. One of my veteran players was standing on their projection which is the correct play. However, they spotted a rift on the ground nearby and immediately went over to that before the projection detonated. Even though she didn’t cause a wipe, the raid healers immediately crapped their pants (or in this case, blew all the survival cooldowns at the same time to stabilize).

Here we have a player who has done the encounter many times and wiped with us when we were learning it on both normal and heroic. What happened was a simple brain fart.

I could have reprimanded that player easily. But what effect would it have had? They already knew the mistake and owned up to it right away after the encounter. It was a simple mechanics error that anyone could’ve made (y’know, except me). Would me berating them incessantly and in public absolutely prevent that from happening again from anyone? Probably not. I might mention it as a PSA reminder to everyone (“PROJECTIONS FIRST, EVERYTHING ELSE LATER”), but that’s all.

Now what happens when a new recruit screws up?

Here they are trying to make a good first impression. That they know their mechanics. They want to show that they belong and that they can roll with the team. Before we engage the boss, I say one thing to every new recruit.

I don’t give two crits about your DPS or your healing right now. For one, most of you don’t have your cloak or your meta. Or alternatively, you’re not as heroic geared as the rest of the team I have. Don’t even try to match them pound for pound. You really want to impress me? Don’t die. The single most important thing you can do on this fight is to survive. Do that job well and everything else will follow.

The players that we’re pulling in? Their experience usually ends up being exposed to flex raiding or some normal fights. Often times these are players who’ve wanted to make the jump to heroic raiding but were never in an organization that was capable or they’re returning players who’ve demonstrated what they could do in older expansions with those heroic encounters. Even Flex and Raid Finder mechanics are easily shruggable. What’s the point of dodging the crap that gets thrown your way or the fire on the ground if it just tickles?

That veteran player up there who made a mistake? She knows what she did wrong. The new recruit who came in who has never learned the normal mode or heroic mode mechanics with us? He may not know what he did. Maybe he’s never stacked enough pride to even reach the projections portion of the fight. That’s when I’ll step in and tell them what happened, what he did wrong, and how he can prevent that from happening again in the future. Players like to associate educating a player with giving player crap for screwing up. Eh, it’s more like attempting to correct their errors.

Why the public mumble reprimand in front of the 30 players listening and raiding versus the private tell?

  1. It’s a reminder: Maybe some other new recruit hadn’t seen it before and hadn’t died to it yet. With luck, I’ll have prevented another future wipe when the second recruit is aware of why and how the first recruit died.
  2. People can stop sending me tells: Seriously team, I don’t need ten whispers telling me that the recruit died because they goofed on something. By gently informing the player publically, it’s an indirect and subtle message to the rest of the raid that a) Yes, I know they screwed up and b) You can all stop messaging me now.

It loses effectiveness. I rarely lose my temper. Alumni and current raiders know this. I’ve been told that I should lose my cool a little more often. At the same time, I know that if I do that, it’ll lose the message I’m trying to convey and not be as effective. So I’ll try to save it for those times when I know it’ll be most beneficial to jump start the raid a little.

The same thing goes with player reprimands. Imagine if I gave crit to a player for every minor mistake they made. I don’t know about you, but I figure they’d get tired and exasperated pretty quickly and start tuning me out (Note that they already do because I’m blasting variations of Katy Perry or Beyonce when I’m talking). It would be the equivalent of the hockey coach losing the locker room. I think it’d also accelerate my own burnout with the game and raiding in general. But I also understand it when it seems like if nothing is said about a player error that it’s overlooked and swept under the rug. It does look like leniency.

This is where the old Ensidia Fails addon comes into play (and for some reason has stopped working from me). It spits out who stood in what or who screwed up for that attempt right after a wipe. Name on that list? You know what you did wrong. Name on that list because you stood in it to intentionally wipe faster? You know that too.

Let me ask you this. Do you play better when your raid leader gives you crap on a farm fight that you should already know? How about a progression fight? Under what circumstances would you prefer your raid leader directly hold you accountable? All the time? Some of the time? Never?

How does a 25 player guild handle Mythic raiding?

How does a 25 player guild handle Mythic raiding?

Ever since the announcement of BlizzCon with the revisions to raid, I’ve been asked countless times (both in guild and from players out of guild) what I was going to do.

Are we going to just stick to heroic raiding?

Are we going to have to make cuts for mythic?

What will our raid plans be since they’re all on separate lockouts now?

Before we get into that, I wanted to offer my thoughts on Mythic raiding in general. Suffice it to say, it was a long time coming. Back when SWTOR came out and there were players raiding, I felt that 16 players was a solid raid size. There weren’t that many people involved and it still captured the feelings of “epicness” when it comes to taking down monsters. Discussing it with my friends, I hoped that Blizzard would eventually make that jump down to 20 or 15. Little did I know, they did allow for that.

new-raid

The new Flex raid system that came out with patch 5.4 was simply the first step. You could have a 12 man raiding guild or a 17 player or whatever you wanted and the encounter would dynamically scale. 10 player guilds didn’t have to feel bad about benching their friends. 25 player guilds didn’t have to struggle when a player or two needed to take a night off. As far as I can tell, the reaction to Flex raiding was overwhelmingly positive.

This leads us to Warlords of Draenor and the new Mythic raiding difficulty level. Why did they decide on 20?

We chose to put Mythic at 20 largely for the function of raid design. One of the biggest issues we’re currently facing with 10-player Heroic raiding is that of raid composition. It’s impossible for every group to have every class, and often that means they’re lacking in certain tools, which in turn means that we can’t design encounters around those tools (or if we do, it becomes extremely frustrating for the 10-player Heroic guild that suddenly needs a Paladin for Hand of Protection).

We want to be able to use those sorts of mechanics again. Those of you who have been with us for a while might remember things like Mage tanks on High King Maulgar, or Priests using Mind Control on Instructor Razuvious. We want it to be okay when, say, the Paladin can use Hand of Protection to clear a dangerous debuff, because we can reasonably assume that most guilds will have at least one Paladin in their raid. We like it when someone gets to feel awesome and have a special task on a fight because of class abilities that otherwise wouldn’t get much use.

We can’t do that when we’re designing with a 10-player raid size in mind. We don’t think we’d be able to get away with it at 15 either. At 20, it becomes a lot more acceptable for us to say “you should probably bring a Mage to Spellsteal this.” And honestly, that’s just one example of the sort of encounter mechanics we can start to utilize in a larger group size.

I’d also call into question the statement of “It’s easier to drop people than it is to recruit them.” It’s technically true, yes — finding new raiders is harder than just not inviting the ones you have — but totally ignores the fact that cutting people from your roster often means losing people you like. Which feels better: making new friends, or telling your current ones that they don’t get to play with you any more? We’re already asking a lot of many 25-player Heroic groups to cut 5 people.

As I mentioned before, this was not a decision we came to lightly. It’s definitely going to be a very scary transition for a lot of people. We knew that when we made the decision. We just also feel quite strongly that, when the dust settles, we’ll be able to provide a better raiding experience for everyone.

Source

That highlighted selection is the problem I have on my hands. Granted, the expansion is still an extremely long time away. I understand that there’s a few 10 man guilds that are upset by this change going up. Maybe it’s server population reasons or that they just don’t like the idea of doubling their roster for mythic. For most normal mode raiding guilds, that’s not going to be a problem here since the heroic mode of Warlords still allows for that.  If Conquest was primarily a 10 man organization, I’d have no problems upscaling it. The problem is that we’re a 25 and I have to tell ~20% of my team that I have to rebalance the raid group and they’re not going to be on the starting lineup.

If there’s one thing I know about guild leaders though, is that they’re usually resilient. If they want something badly enough, they’ll find a way to make it happen.

Will Conquest just stick to heroic raiding?

No. During the opening week of the expansion, Mythic will not be available until the second week. We’ll start with heroic raiding first to get everyone acclimated. The first chance we get to duck into Mythic, we will. Our current plans are to fall back to Heroic raiding in the event of holiday weeks or extremely low attendance. The second option is to have a rotating bi-weekly schedule where we work on Heroic raids on week one, Mythic raids on week two (or get as far as we can). Gear is still important and we need to make sure every player has the tools that they need. The last option is we utilize Heroic raiding on the first two days of our schedule before switching to Mythic on the last day (or vice versa depending on our progression). It really is too soon to say because any number of things could change between now and the release of Warlords.

Bottom line? Both Heroic and Mythic will be on the table.

Are we going to have to make cuts for Mythic?

Yes. It’s math, right? We’re raiding 25s right now but we’ll have to eventually rebalance and downsize. I told everyone in guild to not worry about as much that we had months to go before the expansion.

The truth is that I’m already evaluating players between now and then. Based on what? Oh you know, the usual fare like DPS or other performance metrics. There’s also a secret Matt tolerance factor. Is that person fun to raid with or are they just downright annoying? Do they increase my rage meter? We’ll see what happens! There’s still a long way to go! Maybe I’ll do a secret Hunger games style thing.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on Mythic raiding. I’ve handled the transition from 40 to 25 before. I’m no stranger to making the jump in raid sizes if I have to. The players who don’t end up being on my protected list won’t be ejected out or anything. There’s still Heroic mode raiding to do plus there’s all sorts of other activities to participate in-game with. I have no plans to outright punt anyone outside of the guild. Some of our longer term players were surprised to find that their characters were still sporting our guild tag. I guess they expected me to have kicked them out at some point due to inactivity. Of course, I told them that I would never do that because I knew that one day they’d return.

In reality, I’m actually that lazy.

Guest Post: It’s Okay to be an Ass

Guest Post: It’s Okay to be an Ass

This is a guest post by LabellaNotte who is co-GM of the Guardians of Fellowship (US The Scryers – Alliance) and author of the Heals Or Leaf blog.
When you hear the Doomsday Clock ticking, it’s easy to despair.  It’s easy to give up and take what you think is coming to you.  You can sink into depression thinking that all you and your officers have worked for is going the way of the dodo.  If this makes you feel like you’ve fallen in a well with no way out, let me assure you there is a way.
Be an ass.
No, not like your raid leader, this is a different kind of ass. Let me paraphrase a little fable for you.
There was this donkey. We’ll call the donkey Bob. He worked hard and took pride in his work. One day, in a fit of overzealousness, he fell into a hole being dug for a well.
Standing there alone in the well, Bob stared up and wondered what to do next. One of his buddies peered over the edge and told him that he was stuck in a well with no escape. In the process, he sent a cascade of dirt down on poor Bob’s head. A little annoyed, Bob shook the dirt off his back and stepped on it. It seemed he would never get out.
While he stood there, Bob realized he had two choices. First, he could simply wallow in misery over his certain demise.  Or, he could do something to change his situation.
Time and again, other animals came to look, comment, jeer, heckle, or offer helpful advice.  Over and over, showers of dirt fell on him. Bob made his choice, time and again.  Shake the dirt off, step on it, and realize that each bit that fell on top of him could be shaken off, stepped on, and used to bring him closer to freedom.
It wasn’t a fast process by any means, but Bob built himself a ramp out of that well and again got to see the light of day as a free donkey. One shake and step at a time, Bob repeatedly chose to use that dirt to his advantage to build a ramp instead of letting it bury him.

In other words

The seemingly endless task of running a guild, whether as a GM or an officer, involves running into obstacles.  Some obstacles are small, such as picking dates for events that aren’t convenient for everyone who wants to participate. Others are potential catastrophes. My guild, just like anyone’s, has had more than our fair share of them.  Looking back at the annals of our history, it amazes me that we have lasted as long as we have.
Back in Wrath of the Lich King, one of our officers left and half the raid team followed. In the same era, our OT’s wife got fed up with his gaming and forced him to quit raiding with us.  During Cataclysm we absorbed another Guild that was falling apart to benefit both Guilds, but eventually there was a rift in our own Guild that led to an officer, one of our best DPS raiders, and several awesome social members away. Also in Cataclysm, one of our other top DPS raiders decided he has finished the story and canceled his subscription. Just recently, one of our most consistent raiders (an officer to boot) and a backup healer decided to leave the server for greener grasses.
Each of these events made us in guild leadership look around and wonder if we could handle this blow.  We wondered if we would survive, no less continue with our regularly scheduled raids.  It wasn’t easy, not by any measure of the imagination.  Each time, we made the conscious decision to keep on trucking.
Matticus very aptly observed that each guild has its own Doomsday Clock ticking towards midnight.  There are outside influences that can stop, slow down, or even reverse it. You can look to those exterior forces he discussed to keep you afloat.  One factor he failed to mention is you do have one other option.  You can draw from your own strength and ingenuity to get yourself out of that hole.
Each time we’ve been faced with a challenge that could have ended us, our GM and officers have sat and stared at the hands of the doomsday clock speeding towards midnight. And each time, our GM, myself, and our leadership team have stopped, shaken off the dirt of the latest disaster, and built a ramp to get out of the hole.  We see and hear the clock ticking and watched the progress of those numbers slow, halt and reverse.
So next time that clock is ticking, think of Bob. Go ahead and be an ass, just like Bob, and you too can smile as the hands on that doomsday clock start to move backwards.
Have you watched your own guild’s doomsday clock ticking away and survived to tell the tale?  Share your experience in the comments!Until next time, long days, pleasant nights and happy raiding.
7 Ways to Instill Life into Your Guild’s Forums

7 Ways to Instill Life into Your Guild’s Forums

Are you suffering from an SAG?

That’s short for “Socially Awkward Guild”.

Most guilds have a site or some place to talk about stuff outside of the game. Forums are a great way to foster ongoing communication between your guild members outside of the game. For Conquest, the forums house information from strategy and feedback to guild sanctioned meetups. It’s difficult to get people to start using forums at the beginning especially if they’re not used to it or they’ve never been in a guild with active forums to begin with. Forum activity is one of those aspects of a guild website that takes a little time to grow and where success requires participation from other guild members.

The ideas you see below are common in guilds of all types. Don’t wait for someone else to start a topic. Seize the initiative and be social! I guarantee you that your GM will be thankful (or at least, grateful for the attempt).

Raid Attendance threads

Some raiding guilds prefer using a signup system while others stand by the sign out system. No matter which one you choose, it involves your guild indicating their availability for an upcoming raid. A signup system sounds a little tedious but can be managed with a group that doesn’t raid as often. Imagine raiding three times a week and being required to post a reply saying that you’re able and willing to come! It gets really draining fast. What happens if you forget and your spot gets forfeited? In contrast, a sign out system only requires you to post when you’re missing a raid due to an event that you can’t miss. I’ve had players sign out because of typical things like exams or overtime. In one case, I had a player put up pictures of raging wild fires near their house and indicated that they wouldn’t be able to make it!

Guild picture thread

We all want to know what the player behind the character looks like. The person who you envision when you hear them might not actually match up with what they look like. Mind you, this is all up to the discretion of the individual guild members and how they feel about putting their face out there on the internet. Also, as a word to the wise, there’s bound to be someone who’ll try to troll the rest of the team by putting a picture that isn’t actually them.

nph“I swear guys, I really am Neil Patrick Harris!”

Strategies thread

This is meant for raiding and PvP guilds. It’s great to consolidate all resources into one area. Members can share tips for struggling players or little nuances to squeeze out extra DPS. After every raid, I try to add any new modifications so that the players who weren’t involved in the recent attempts can stay up to speed on the changes. To keep things relatively clean and on topic, create a new thread for each boss that you’re working on.

What’s your job title thread

This one’s always at the discretion of the player and some people will choose to be as vague or as specific as possible. In the history of Conquest, I think we’ve had several Professors. We’ve had a police officer. A firefighter. Lots of IT and finance folks. Many players in science related professions as well. It’s a good way to break the ice especially a newer guild that’s just formed. Good way to find interests with other players outside of the game as well.

Post your system specs thread

In a WoW guild, chances are there’s enough tech geeks who would gobble all that stuff up. Some of the less technically minded might chime in asking for suggestions on upgrades or advice on how to get their system to run efficiently. Depending on how intense it goes, you might have to reign it in lest you end up inadvertently starting an nVidia vs ATI war.

Patch discussion thread

A thread like this will usually end up with a few people complaining dejectedly about the nerfs their class received. But it’s a good place for players to collectively spitball new ideas or discuss the new changes coming to the game. Bonus: Everyone enjoys a good “HA HA YOU GOT NERFED” fest.

Embedded chat room

With Enjin’s guild tools, I’ve added a little chat module at the very top of the guild forums. This is another way to bring people together as not only does the guild defeat virtual dragons as one unit but it functions as a place to to help people get through their day. Everyone loves to complain about something (in fact, I’m probably responsible for 25% of the whining on our chat about the most mundane things while my guild silently rolls their eyes at me).

This is just a start. The sign of an active and healthy forum correlates to an active and healthy guild.

What other forum topics have been successful in generating meaningful discussion? Have you incorporated any other cool addons or widgets to keep interest flowing?