Poll: Guild Site Hosting

Hey team, can you do me a favor? I want to conduct a poll about your guild website. I’m curious about what your guild is using and why. My interest is both personal and professional (Disclaimer: I’m with Enjin).

Which site hosting does your guild use?

View Results

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Note: If you can’t see the poll because you’re on a reader, try this link

In addition to voting on the poll, could you drop a comment answering the following questions for me?

  1. What influenced your guild to use that hosting service?
  2. What one site feature are you most thankful for?
  3. What’s the URL to your site?
When it Comes to Guild Apps, Pick Two

When it Comes to Guild Apps, Pick Two

pick2

Historically speaking, most of the players I’ve picked up in the past had two out of the three attributes. Rare is the player who manages to possess all three. Recruiting seems to be at an all time low according to a few GMs I’ve spoken to (10 man and 25 man, Horde and Alliance). It’s as if the majority of players just want to see the content, regardless of what difficulty level it is (meaning the path of least resistance gets selected the most or the LFR tool). It seems like the applicants I see seem to exhibit 2 out of the 3 traits.

Skilled

Manages to bring the pain (or the healing). We’re talking on a consistent basis. I often find myself wondering about the players who (over a 2 month period) go from the bottom to the top back to the bottom again.

Of course, no one wants the player who has a really hard time hitting that Hour of Twilight button and ends up burning all 3 Battle Res skills allotted. The ability to pick up what the rules and requirements for each encounter is a big plus (as is the ability to do it fast).

High attendance

Willingness to reschedule most events in their lives around raiding is an advantage. I’m not that much of a tyrant though.

Wedding? Sure.

Exam? Yeah, you better go study for it.

House on fire? Go.

But if you’re missing out on a raid to catch the series finale of American Idol, I can tell you’re just not into it. Or if a new game came out and you’re signing out of raid when I can see on Steam that you’re clearly playing Skyrim. That tells me where your priorities are and it’s clearly not with WoW.

Drama free

Perhaps drama free might not be the best choice of words to use. When I mean drama free, I’m not referring to guild splitting dramatic incidents. I’m talking about the little things that can get under people’s skins eventually leading to guild splitting incidents.

How difficult does a person need to be?

There’s been times I’ve tried to compromise on issues to reach the best approach for everyone involved. In other cases, a single course of action was settled upon because that’s what the leaders wanted to do, period. I really hate working with players who argue for the simple sake of arguing. I can tell you it takes away my efforts and focus on the next item I want to resolve. Pick your battles carefully. Otherwise the GM might exercise their right to throw you out because you keep causing problems and end up being more of a liability instead of an asset.

Now going back to the original question, if you were restricted to two selections, which two would you pick?

The Worst Thing a Guild Leader can do to a Player

The Worst Thing a Guild Leader can do to a Player

GM-sup

I think I’ve found my guild prank for April Fools!

I know of other guild leaders who joke about doing it (and some who actually have done it because they couldn’t do it anymore). So to all the guild leaders out there, I salute you. Doesn’t matter if the game is Rift, Guild Wars, SWTOR, WoW or what have you. It’s often a thankless job and you’re the butt of every joke but without you, your guild would be non-existent.

Although, I learned last night from Lodur that changing guild leaders can result in a bugged guild bank.

It’s okay, Logan. Your job is still safe. No plans for retirement yet. Sometimes I’ve always wondered about holding mock guild elections and what platforms people would run on. Fiscal guild responsibility?

P.S. I just noticed this. Which one of you clowns set my guild note?

Is it the Tank’s Responsibility to Lead Groups?

As Javier said in a previous comment:

Please answer me a question that I have been wondering forever. […] Why is it the sole responsibility of the tank to know and lead the group in to every instances?

During my adventures through the dungeon finder, I’ve been remarkably fortunate.

Little to no wipes.

Timely CC’s.

Sustained DPS.

I don’t always run with my guild on my priest. I prefer to give opportunities to other healers in the guild who still need the gear or the reputation. If I need a refresher course in healing, there’s no test greater than braving LFD.

But I digress.

Tank ‘em!

Traditionally speaking, tanks have been the players that automatically take leadership of a group. For years, they’ve been the ones setting up the marks, executing the pulls and controlling the pace. Whenever I joined trade chat groups (this was before the dungeon finder, mind you), tanks would usually insist on leading groups. During Wrath, it got to the point where the rest of the players in the group expected the tank to assume that role.

The thing is, I’m not really noticing that as much anymore. I mean, it wasn’t until recently that I started observing other players taking control of groups. It wouldn’t always be the tank. It could be that random ret paladin or that warlock. Its an interesting trend to see happening, for sure. Could it be that there are just that much more knowledgeable people in the game? I once dropped in on a Halls of Origination group where most of the players in there didn’t know how to do any of the bosses on normal much less heroic. I had the option of dropping out of the group right there and then.

I’ll admit, I was tempted.

But no, I stayed right in there and showed them all the ropes. I gave myself a limit of 3 wipes on a boss. If we wiped 3 times on a single boss and it was clear they just weren’t “getting it”, then I’d take my leave. Setting a hard boundary for yourself is a good way to retain your sanity.

Blizzard allowing anyone in the party to mark targets was a great improvement overall. I’d say it ranks as one of those really underrated changes. Now other players don’t have to be the dungeon guide to mark stuff. They can simply tag their own targets.

The pressure is slowly easing off the tanks when it comes to taking the lead. That is a good thing, right?

Is Team Melee the New Hotness?

Lodur did a great job last week when he recruited 4 additional players. The catch? They were all melee players. We snagged a Rogue, a Paladin, Warrior and an Enhancement Shaman. Our melee roster now looks something like this:

4 Warriors
4 Rogues
2 Paladins
2 Enhancement Shamans

Gunship 2.0 turned into a challenge with just 6 ranged DPS players.

The guild historically has been melee heavy but not to this extent. As much as I would prefer having more ranged players as options, the raiding reality is to take the players we can get and find a way to make it work. Between the end of this expansion and a new MMO that’s holding player interest, it’s a little tougher to pick up players of the right class.

I’ve found some perks with a melee heavy raid, however.

Stuff dies really fast

That change to the melee buff (where it’s now 20%) makes a bigger difference. With trash and adds dying faster, it means overall less healing needed.

Closer proximity

Melee players typically stand in one location – Right behind the butt of the boss. I don’t have to worry about being out of range. Spells like Holy Word: Sanctuary are that much better since the melee players are in one tight location.

It’s nice to have a comfortable number of raiding players again. Holiday season is always tough. The next areas we need to shore up are ranged DPS and healers.

Now that we’ve gotten Deathwing down, we’re starting work on Heroic Morchuk (Norris). For those of you that have knocked it out already on 25 man, what would you suggest?

8 Raid Leading Mistakes That You’re Not Aware Of

I stopped raid leading a long time ago.

Who would’ve guessed that raid leading might mean a loss in ability to heal effectively? I leave that in the hands of my capable team. We’ve all made our fair share of errors and mistakes. Chances are, yours did as well. I’ve always felt that there was no reason for every player to make a mistake to learn from it. You don’t need 25 players to stand in a Void Zone to experience that it’s a bad thing to do.

So allow me to give you several fouls that I’ve committed over the years.

Pulling too fast

This is one of my biggest faults. I get pestered about trying to get pulls going too quickly. Sometimes there’s a pat coming around through a 4 pull. I’ve also been with tanks who keep pulling trash mobs even when a significant portion of the raid is down or on their way back. Generally speaking, if there’s over 5 players dead, I’ll call a stop and burn a mass resurrect followed by quick buffs before getting under way again. Keeping an eye on healer mana is important. If everyone’s fresh out of gas, give them a few seconds to replenish (I use Mana Hymns and Mana Tide totems on trash to accelerate the process).

Pulling too slow

On the other hand, you want to make sure things are going according to a schedule. There’s always time to socialize outside of raids. I used to raid with a player who flat out screamed that he was missing Blessing of Kings on trash.

Look guys, while you might wipe to trash here and there, it isn’t because you are missing Kings. Buffs can always be done on the fly. You don’t necessarily need to wait for all of your buffs to fire off before pulling.

Are there tanks present?

Are there healers present?

Is there enough DPS around?

Then it’s time to pull and let the WoW gods sort out the rest.

Not knowing when to tap out

Sometimes your raid meets a boss that they’re just presently not capable of. Maybe there’s only 15 minutes left in raid and you’ve been working on a new progression boss all night that you just killed. Now there’s a new boss standing in front of you that no one has any idea how to take on. You could always do a for fun pull and play the game of “Let’s see who survives the longest”.

Actually, where this really takes effect is around the holiday season. Maybe you don’t have enough players to field a full group. Now I dare say most raid groups can run short handed 1 or 2 players (unless you’re in 10 man). But if you suffer enough absences where it represents a significant portion of the raid, cut your losses and give everyone a night off.

Not enough sleep

Get some sleep, guys! No one likes it when a player misses a raid because they wanted to catch a quick nap and oversleep their alarm!

Makes me wish I could dock DKP for that!

Excessive consensus

Let’s be real here. If you’re raid leading, chances are you know what the hell you’re talking about more. You’ll most likely have studied up on the encounter extensively. You’ve mentally orchestrated your unit about what needs to happen. There’s generally one or two ways to take down a boss. Run that raid with a fist of steel and stick to your plan. Do not instantly agree with every new radical proposal or idea that occurs after a wipe. Stick to making minor adjustments as needed but don’t overhaul the general strategy. Chances are, your strategy is sound but the rest of the team needs to adapt and make their own individual changes to make it work.

But don’t run a raid or take on a boss in a majority rules fashion.

Too much Hand Holding

This really bothers me. It shouldn’t be the job of the raid leader to micromanage every player’s DPS rotations and individual skills. I’ve heard stories shared to me by players where their raid leader would tell a new recruit exactly what to do and when.

“Okay, Lightning Bolt… then Lava Burst … trigger your Earth Shock … Lightning Bolt again and refresh your Flame Shock.”

We try to do everything we can when it comes to recruiting applications to figure out what players know. There’s a minimum threshold of knowledge that is required. I’d say having a solid idea of how your class works and any rotations would be on the “must know” list. For other progressive guilds, knowing every ability on select hard mode bosses is a plus. Perhaps knowing how to fluently play in an off role would be a requirement. It all really depends on your guild.

Your raid leader should not be the person teaching players as they go how to play their class. Your raid leader is the guy people look to when they’re trying to figure out the overarching strategy on taking down a boss. Vik addressed the difference between a raid leader and a guild leader quite nicely last year.

Being too accommodating

There’s this great quote by Steve Jobs that I keep on my wallpaper.

“My job is to not be easy on people. My job is to make them better.”

Press the buttons that you feel will actually result in action. Don’t press buttons for the sake of pressing them. Remember that you’re in the business of raiding. Your focus and dedication is going to vary. No matter what it is, figure out what your limits are.

Someone needs a quick glass of water during a trash pull? Sure, I can live with that.

Baby just started crying right before pulling a boss and needs to be dealt with? It’s a teeth grinder and a stress ball destroyer but I’ll survive until I can get a replacement.

Need to AFK for a smoke right when you clear the last pack of trash to a new encounter? Get the hell out of my raid.

That last one especially is one of my biggest pet peeves after playing this game for so long. I’m sure it’s influenced by the fact that my dad used to smoke and I hated the smell of it. While flexibility is a great strength to have, be careful that you’re not going too far in the direction at the cost of progress.

Not pulling the trigger on decisions

Cold feet on which boss to go for?

Can’t seem to switch out the healer for the DPS?

Trouble deciding on which strategy to use?

The best raid leaders are the ones who come to a decision within a quick and reasonable amount of time. Indecision is never the right way to go. Consult with officers or other players as needed, but don’t drag your feet too much. Pick one and run with it. If you’re wrong, at least you’ll know what to do for sure next week.

One more thing

Don’t be afraid to give your raid leader feedback. Just do it after the raid is over, not during. Doing it mid raid is enough to throw them off their game which isn’t a good idea if the raid is working on some new encounters.

11 Raid Finder Personalities You Will Never Escape

After running my alts through them numerously over the past two weeks, I think I’ve just about experienced every combination of player archetype that the raid finder had to offer. I wanted to post this as a guide for you to keep an eye out for them and conduct yourselves appropriately.

Raid Leader Randy

This is the guy who checks the “Raid Guide” icon when he queues up for the Raid Finder. He’s made a whole page of macros devoted to all of the encounters. Each macro spells out (briefly) the strategy being used to kill the boss. He also takes the time to mark targets or setup flares on the ground. Randy does his best to keep the 24 other strangers in the group in line and focused on the right direction. He’s got that personality where seemingly nothing is able to faze or rattle him. He just doesn’t give a crap because he has the ability to maintain a laser like focus on the prize: Boss kills.

CAPSLOCK CAROL

HER KEYBOARD WAS BROKEN AT AN EARLY AGE. DOESN’T MATTER SINCE SHE DOESN’T THINK IT’S RUDE TO TYPE IN ALL CAPITALS BECAUSE SHE BELIEVES IT’LL DRAW ATTENTION TO WHAT SHE’S TRYING TO COMMUNICATE. SHE’S ALSO KIND OF DENSE.

Carrying Chris

He’s the guy who is decked out in fall heroic raid quality gear. He just sneezes and stuff dies. He offsets the DPS from the bottom 4 players in the raid and manages to be the driving force which normalizes overall raid DPS. If the boss hits enrage and players are dropping one by one, you can count on Carrying Chris to get max range and activate reserves just before crushing the boss. (Thanks to Vashv17 for reminding me)

Lootwhore Larry

Out of all the players in the Raid Finder, Lootwhore Larry could very well be the worst. He need rolls on everything – even if it isn’t suited for him. I’m sure we’ve all come across him at some point. He could be the Warrior he rolls need on 1 handed Agility weapons. Or maybe the Rogue who opts for strength trinkets. Maybe he just doesn’t know or doesn’t give a crap. The only way to fight back against Lootwhore Larry yourself is to pray to the dice gods. Although, it is nice to see that this is being examined by Blizzard specifically.

Clueless Charlie

Poor Clueless Charlie. He just… doesn’t have a clue! Not only when it comes to bosses but when he gets picked on by the other members on the raid. He walks in, starts auto attacking and uses skills from time to time, but he doesn’t have the faintest idea what’s going on. He’ll attack another tentacle on Spine of Deathwing just because it’s dirty. He’ll stand there and take an Ice Wave before realizing that it’s bad. No matter how many times fights are explained, Charlie is just hopeless and is along for the ride. (Thanks to GottaHaveFaythe for this one)

Gogogo Gary

Gary’s gotta go! He’s on the clock and wants to pull everything! He’s always impatient and just wants to start trash pulls. Believes in maximum efficiency and not wasting time. Hates the players who are constantly AFK. Problem with Gary is that he’s a little too ambitious and ends up pulling two waves of Oozes in Yorsahj’s room or something. Whoops!

Elitist Ernie

Ernie frequently gets into raid chat fights with Recount Ryan. He’ll always mock the other player’s DPS or usage of cooldowns. “What’s that? You only used Ghost Wolves once? Well I used them twice!”. In the grand scheme of things, no one really cares. Ernie ends up being ignored because the rest of the raid is trying to concentrate on what Randy’s saying. Ernie tends to make a big deal out of 35 DPS. He’ll try to find a way to justify what he’s doing for either maximum DPS or maximum survivability. When pointed out that he does something wrong, he’ll try to find a way to reverse that as well.

Recount Ryan

Incidentally enough, Recount Ryan’s actual damage output drops on Ultraxion because he forgets to turn off Recount. Ryan is a fairly competitive sort. He’s always listing the top 5 damage done on everything. Yes, even on trash pulls. You see, poor Ryan is the youngest of 9 brothers and 6 sisters. He’s always been outshined in everything in life by the rest of his family. Mom doesn’t even remember who he is. So he seeks validation and affirmation in what he does by repeatedly linking meters so that someone out there might just say to him the two words he’s been hearing his whole life: “Good job”.

Tryhard Terry

This is the younger brother of Carrying Chris. He just doesn’t have that same level of gear. He idolizes him and tries so hard. He’ll interrupt the most redundant of abilities. He’ll always DPS the correct ad down (even if the other 20 players are on something else). Won’t have to worry about his cooldowns or anything as he’ll make sure they’re always being used. The trouble with Terry is that he is so focused on doing the right thing, that he sometimes might lose track of everything else going around him and tunnel vision. Because you see, Terry isn’t that great when it comes to adapting.

PvP Peter

Needs no introduction. Walks into raid finder wearing nothing but PvP gear (and still manages to out DPS certain raid geared players, but barely). Elitist Ernie will also pick a fight with Peter. But somehow, Peter just manages to destroy him anyway. Peter doesn’t really give a crap about what Ernie says. He’s also one of the few players that benefits from the implementation of the Raid Finder because he just doesn’t have the time to commit to actual raiding and prefers to PvP on his own time.

Pissing Contest Penelope

Penelope always has an opinion about something or some remark she likes to add. Even if the raid is going smoothly, she’ll find a way to bring it down. She’ll occasionally take a jibe at Raid Leader Randy even though he’s doing such a great job. Tends to be really snarky for no discernible reason. When Randy lays out a target order, Penelope is first in line to say “but my guild does it this way, and it’s way better” and tries to rally support from everyone else. It usually doesn’t end up working and she often gets placed on people’s ignore lists because they’re just tired of her being difficult to work with. She’d be much more enjoyable if she stopped giving Randy or other players a hard time and just stuck to playing.

Each of these players are unique in their own way. Together, this Raid Finder family manages to score boss kills against the most unlikeliest of odds. If you ever find yourself under any kind of abuse though, it’s best to just focus on your own responsibilities and don’t feed the trolls. The Raid Finder takes no more than 2 hours usually. If you want to get some upgrades and see some bosses, just grit your teeth and suck it up. You’ll be out of there in no time.

Common Recruiting Terms

Hey everyone! The other day, I gave you a quick method on narrowing down the collossal amount of search results you’d get from recruiting and compiling a neat, orderly list to work with. Today we’re going to hit up the actual recruiting forums and pick out some common jargon for new recruiters who are confused with the terms or have difficulty reading between the lines. Some of these are serious and some are rather tongue and cheek. I’ll let you decide which is which!

“We are exceptional <class> looking for…”

What they really mean: They think they’re really, really good and clearly there is no one in the entire 11+ million pool of players who are better than them. Not just some average Joe Raider. It’s just no one wants to take a chance on them on their server. Like seriously, it seems that half the recruiting ads I see are from players who believe they’re really exceptional. But if everyone says they’re exceptional, how can they all be exceptional? Unless they were the exception to the exceptionism.

E X C E P T I O N

“US Top 100 only”

What they really mean: They’ve been around since beta. They’ve seen it all and done it all. They’ve got lots of time to spare for progression. Whatever needs to be done, I can do. Looking for the best guilds only! These types mean business. Either that or they’ll wash out when they realize the raid leader really can remove them from the raid and they’re not the center of the universe.

“Progressed realm”

What they really mean: Clear desire to get off their low population, backwater server. They need a life line and they need it fast. Thinks they have what it takes to raid at a higher level but have trouble finding other like minded people.

“No less than 5/7 Firelands”

What they really mean:  Clearly they took a break at the end of tier 11 and missed the first few weeks of Firelands. Probably just started Firelands for the first time and got trounced. Wants to get back into the thick of things again. Probably stonewalled on one specific boss for a long time and cannot seem to muster the man power or skill to power through.

“25 man only”

What they really mean: Possibly prone to screwing up. Likes to hide along the relative anonymity of other players. Has a 4% chance of being blamed for a wipe on 25 man instead of 10% on a 10 man. Hates the closeness of 10 mans. My kind of player.

“LF adult guild!!111”

What they really mean: Likes to make lots of sex jokes. Possible cybering involved. Use caution.

“Immediate core position for <class>”

What they really mean: Wants to feel like that special snowflake. You know, like the only Shaman or Boomkin in the guild. Wants to feel really unique and indispensible. Yeah. That guy. Works great until you discover they can’t sustain their Molten Feather stacks or circumvent tornadoes properly :(.

“Must be able to accept all 3 of us”

What they really mean: Will quit if even one person is deemed not good enough. Must accept all or accept none. Strong desire to stay together.

“Professional environment”

What they really mean: Likes to raid with really loud music. Doesn’t want Mumble chatter to impede what they’re listening on iTunes or what they’re watching on Netflix. He’s the guy who constantly blasts top 40 music whenever he speaks.

“No female officers“

What they really mean: Deemed “sexist douchebags”, according to one player. I’ve actually seen a recruiting post once that specifically stated no female officers. May have suffered some type of traumatic experience earlier in their gaming career and doesn’t want to go through it again. If I remember right, the reasoning behind the original poster involved something about cattiness and snark because the applicant was also female as well. Maybe Kat would know more about this than I would. All the female officers I’ve ever interacted with in my own guild or other guilds seemed pleasant enough.

And now you too can navigate the murky waters of recruiting! In any case, good luck to you young recruiters out there and may all your apps last long term!

Guild Rebuilding 101

Thanks to everyone for their kind words and support. The past week has been extremely hectic and straining as recruiting efforts kicked into over drive. I am pleased to announce that Conquest is on the way to finalizing a roster going into Firelands. We actually went back in last Tuesday. All in all, I think its a fair bet to say that we experienced the highest turnover in a raiding roster but managed to recover within a span of about 4-5 days. This included solidifying the main tank and off tank positions, numerous DPS in addition to a new raid leader.

Pulled that off over a weekend. We’re stable right now which is good. We’ve got a consistent group of veterans combined with newer players who are just stepping foot into Firelands. I consider myself extremely fortunate and lucky. I daresay most guild leaders would have definitely thrown in the towel and called it a career.

What were the steps?

Step 1: Reassure everyone

When a potential guild crushing event occurs, the first thing to do is say everything’s going to be alright. This involves damage control out the ying yang. 

The first thing I did was explain to every player what was going on and what our plans were going forward. Our plan was to rebuild and develop our player base back to a number which allowed us to comfortable go into Firelands. After that, we would then begin the process of gradually cutting or developing players as needed to get them at a skill level consistent with what was needed to get us through the bosses. I had no illusions that it was going to be easy. I wanted to be back in Ragnaros’ door step within 4 weeks. The Vanguard (Rated BG division) offered their services by signalling their willingness to alter their PvP teams so that some of them could participate. Their offer was touching but I didn’t want to handicap their schedule.

Step 2: Get the word out

Once I finished assessing the overall damage and losses to the roster (no tanks, a completely depleted melee roster, no casters but a relatively unscathed healing corps), the next step was to get our numbers up again. Thankfully I had the whole weekend to try to pull that off. It would take a completely herculean effort to get players onboard. I would be targeting players who were looking for a fresh start or who were just getting into Firelands. Messages were sent to every player who applied but were turned down because we didn’t have the room. In essence, we were reactivating the reserved list. We told them that there were numerous roster spots available and that they would have a crack at earning and securing them.

Then I received a rather interesting proposal and this where the luck factor came into play. Turns out one of the players who I declined earlier told their present guild what had happened. The two of them started talking and before I knew it, I was dragged in. It was a 10 man raiding guild that had made some progress into Firelands but they were experiencing a myriad of attendance problems. In other words, I was presented with the offer of a potential guild merger. I didn’t even have to stress over sharing officer status or anything. From what I was told, the leaders were tired and wanted a new experience where they could just focus on their game and didn’t want to worry about things like recruiting anymore.

Again, that’s the luck factor coming into play. On Monday, we held a trial raid. We didn’t have the numbers to pull off attempts on Ragnaros (and I wouldn’t dream of going back in there, at least not for a while). The next course of action was to get both groups acclimated and used to each other. I wanted to see if there were going to be any potential personality conflicts. We ended up stepping into Blackwing Descent on 25 and had some fun in there for the next few hours blowing up as many bosses as we could before time ran out (and wow I didn’t realize the extent of the nerf).

Step 3: Meet with every new player coming in

With every recruit who was interested in joining and every player who was coming in, I did my absolute best to sit down with them and answer their questions. You figure players who are getting pulled from their sense of familiarity into a completely brand new setting are going to want to know what they’re diving head first into. I set aside some time and hung out with them on their voice servers and addressed their concerns as much as possible. The biggest thing here is be honest. If you don’t know, just say you don’t know. While GMs are often expected to know everything, that expectation is far from reality.

Even though the guild took a fatal blow, we’re going to be okay. The guild is evolving from a simple WoW guild into a truly multigaming community (League of Legends!). Although, I’m disappointed at losing several friends. These were players who I trusted and confided in. This experience only goes to show that you never truly know who your friends are going to be in this game. Some people change, some things don’t. That’s the way it goes.

Heck, we even picked up a weekend raiding 10 man guild in the process. If any players out there are looking for a solid 10 man group to run with on the weekends, look us up (4 PM – 730 PM Saturday and Sunday afternoon).

Bonus step: Reflection

This is a great time to reflect and think about your guild some more and what you want to do with it. I’ve had to make compromises and look the other way at times for the sake of guild cohesion in the past. After this though, I’ve developed a better understanding of what I wanted to do and what I expected from the team. As Mel said, it’s possible to have elite players without the berating elitism. Even though the process will take longer, it’ll be better for recruiting and for the atmosphere in the long run.

It’s a good thing Enjin allows us guild leaders to create multiple application forms.

We’re about to finish out our first week in Firelands. We’ll be back in front of Ragnaros in no time.

Has your guild experienced a rebuild? What steps did you take after the fact? Did it ultimately end up working? Was there anything you wish you could have done differently?

Interview with a GM: Mel of Edge

This is an interview in a (hopefully) ongoing Interview with a GM series. Today, we sit down with Mel of Edge and one of the bloggers at Sacred Duty.

At what point in your gaming life did you suddenly decide that you wanted to be a guild leader and what led to that decision?

I can only really answer the spirit of the question, and not the substance of it, because Edge doesn’t have a Guild Leader.  The GM is a level 1 alt, and you can’t prove that it’s me.  We run with a council of officers.  There are four of us – I’m the Raid Leader and tank officer, but it’s much more than a one-man show.  We all work very hard to keep the guild running effectively.

As far as being in a leadership position in a guild goes, though, it’s not something I’d ever thought about before it was inflicted on me.  I was a fairly new raider when I joined Edge – I was inexperienced, but they headhunted me out of a ZA pug (the original ZA).  About three months after I joined Edge, the RL and MT retired, and the other officers asked me to take the job.  I was young and naive and should have known better.
Raid leading can be very rewarding, but it’s a lot more extra work than I would have believed when I first took the job on, and a lot more added pressure.  I decided to take the job they offered me because I didn’t know how much work it was going to be, and I wanted to give back to this nice guild that was letting me see content with them.  I’m not sure I’d be able to make the same decision knowing what I know now – but I wouldn’t give up the experience, either.  I’m not sure I can explain that dichotomy any more clearly, as much as I might wish to.

Tell me about the loot system your guild uses and how it fits in with your guild’s culture.

We use loot council.  In my opinion a properly run loot council is the most progressive loot system.  It allows you to put loot where it will best assist the raid in downing bosses.  It prevents any worries about DKP hoarding with tier tokens.  So long as the loot council isn’t corrupt, there isn’t much of a problem with drama.  In the 3 years that I’ve been an officer in Edge, we haven’t had an issue with corruption.  Loot is handled fairly, but we’ve been able to deflect loot onto DPS or healers when we’re stuck at a particular gear check to help us over that hump.  It’s never going to be an enormous difference, but small advantages add up.

What is the typical application process like? How are players handled who pass and those who don’t pass your standards?

All apps get posted to a private members forum for our guild.  Good ones will get contacted for an interview.  Our interview process is typically fairly long and involved, and it focuses mainly on “getting to know you” types of questions.  WoL can tell us if a player is good, but it’s very important to us that people will fit in with guild culture.  We want to get a sense of people in an interview, and we want them to get a sense of us.  If people are going to spend up to $55 to raid with us, we want them to have a very high chance of success in the trial.

Following a successful interview, there’s a 4 week “initiate” period, where people get to prove that they’re worth a raid slot.  The biggest hurdle to clear is not standing in fire.  It’s an unofficial policy with us that nobody fails in their first raid – it’s hard to join a new guild, often a more progressed guild, with new strategies, and immediately be perfect.  But we do expect trials to be competitive with our established raid force in most performance criteria (gear is taken into account) very quickly.  We can’t afford to carry people.  Generally we have a fairly high success rate on trials, roughly 75%.  We like to believe it’s due to the thorough interview process, thorough vetting of the application and logs, and because we’re willing to give trials a real legitimate second chance, no matter how disastrous the first raid was.  Some of our best raiders had a horrible first week.

If someone fails their trial, they’re either offered friend rank in the guild, or they’re asked to gquit “at some point in the next couple of days, when it’s convenient”.  It basically depends on how much a part of the guild’s social atmosphere they’ve made themselves.  As a general rule, the ways to fail a trial in Edge are to tunnel vision or firewalk.  Meters aren’t our primary measurement of playskill.

Rumor has it that your raid group does not utilize ready checks. If it’s true, how come?

Ready checks are an opt-in system, and opt-in systems deflect responsibility.  Instead, we make the choice to assume that everyone is at keyboard and ready to play when we’re raiding – when they’re expected to be.  We’ll often be discussing strategy during runbacks, so it’s a bad time to just take off the headset and run AFK anyway.  If someone has to take an emergency break, the onus is on them to inform the raid, and then we wait.  But I don’t see a reason to waste 20 seconds on every pull just to ask if everyone is actually at their keyboard, when I could just be informed that someone isn’t there for the one pull that it’s an issue. 

Ready checks are just one convenient example of a culture of personal accountability, though.  We always try to encourage personal accountability – own your actions and own your mistakes, and respect the time and effort that thirty other people are putting into the game.  Randomly running away from the keyboard is a waste of everyone’s time, so we encourage it to be kept to a minimum as much as possible.  “Opt-in” systems are generally bad, because they discourage accountability.  You opted in by joining the guild in the first place.  The onus should be on individuals where possible, rather than on the raid leadership.

In your opinion, is it possible to be an elite player without being elitist? (As in, extremely skilled without the negative, berating attitude).

A little bit of elitism isn’t always a bad thing.  It’s okay to be proud of your accomplishments in WoW.  It’s okay to know that you’re a skilled player.  You can be an elite player, and an elitist, without berating, or being negative.  In some ways, I think the two parts of the question are completely unrelated to each other.

I’ve seen a fair amount of negative attitude and berating from 5k DPS pugs in LFD, complaining about how bad group DPS is, and how everyone sucks.  I’m a fairly good tank, and I’ve never vote-kicked someone from a 5-man in the entire time the system has been around.

Attitude is separate from skill, I think.  Being good at Warcraft does not make you a bad person.

Every guild has its share of stories. Whether they’re humorous or inspiring, there’s usually a lesson associated with it. Do you have one you’re willing to share and something to take away?

On May 31, 2010, one of our raiders announced that his wife was pregnant with their first child.  At the time, we were working on Heroic Lich King (25).  We’d had some very good pulls on the fight, and were nearing a kill – but this raider didn’t know that, because he’d missed a few raid days due to vacation.  One of our resident smartasses suggested that Collider should name his child Arthas, if we killed the Lich King that night.

Collider agreed, and made a solemn promise  that he would do so. The ending of the story is fairly obvious at this point.  We spent the entire three minute RP phase at the tail end of our first H-LK kill tormenting Collider about what his wife was going to do to him when he told her he’d promised to name the baby Arthas – male or female.  We spent the next seven months inquiring solicitously about baby Arthas, guild mascot.
We were unable to convince him to promise to name his second-born Halion.  I guess he learned his lesson.

How do you evaluate underperforming players? Is there a window of opportunity for them to work themselves back in and if not, what eventually happens to them?

The short answer is that underperforming players get a talking to (several, actually) and a chance to shape up.  We’re very very tolerant of people who’ve made it to raider rank.  It takes a lot to get demoted for performance reasons.  It helps that we recruit for a certain self-motivated attitude, and a sense of personal responsibility, I think.  I have never had to demote a raider for performance reasons, in three years.  In a couple of cases, people have demoted themselves, after realizing that they just weren’t willing to make the commitment to keeping up that they used to be. 

I firmly believe that loyalty works both ways – that it HAS to work both ways.  Someone who has demonstrated loyalty to the guild deserves the opportunity to fix things.  That’s the commitment that we make to people in order to earn that loyalty.  The guild stands by it’s membership, and the membership stands by the guild.  

Evaluation is fairly easy, though – ask the healers.  They know who’s taking damage that they shouldn’t, they know who’s using healthstones, and they know who’s healable and who isn’t.  Healchat can always tell you who’s underperforming.  The meters are the last thing anyone should look at to evaluate performance, in my opinion.  You can teach anyone to run a rotation, it’s the easiest thing to fix.  But you can’t teach reaction time, or survival instincts.  Dead DPS does zero DPS – we try not to recruit firewalkers.

If you could say one thing to a player who aspires to start their own raiding guild, what would it be?

I don’t know, I never started a guild.  That’s a terrifying prospect.  A much better idea is to join a raiding guild and somehow have them thrust leadership upon you.  It’s much less work.

More seriously, I would suggest that you figure out your goals and policies in advance and write them down.  You can modify them later, as necessary, but you need to know what your guild exists for, and how you’re going to accomplish those goals.  Are you a hardcore raiding guild?  How many hours a week are you looking to raid?  What ranking are you aiming at, roughly?  What do you need to do to make all those goals happen?  Do some research, have an idea of what you’re getting into.  And above all, have clear goals, and clear policies designed to support that goal.  Everyone who joins the guild will have an idea of what it’s about, and when you make decisions based around the goals and policies everyone will know where they’re coming from.  And when you have to go “off book”, think it through, and be consistent.  Avoid making exceptions, because when you do it once, you’re stuck dealing with exceptions forever.

When raiding, what’s considered a good day? A bad day? When would you call raids early?

There’s a few obvious situations when we’ve called raid early: when all the content is dead.  Or when we’re obviously not going to finish all the content in one night, but would only need an hour or so on the second night, we might finish half an hour early on night one.  We call raids “early” by a minute or two if the next pull would take us overtime, or if a boss dies such that we don’t have time to get a pull on the next boss after clearing trash.  But we don’t ever call raids early for “bad performance” – especially in progression.  Sometimes, pounding your head against something is worth doing, just to know how much it hurts so that people avoid doing it again.

A good day and a bad day entirely depends on context, but for me it’s less about how much we get done than it is about how well we play.  We had nights in T11 where a lot of content got cleared, but it still felt like an awful night, where the raid wasn’t focused, and there was a lot of “phone it in” play.  We had nights where bosses just wouldn’t seem to die that were fairly good nights overall.  I’m a happy raid leader when my raid is awake and paying attention and engaged, and I’m an unhappy raid leader when the converse is true.

Thanks again Mel!