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.

 

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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?

The Pro Sports Team Guide to Recruiting

I have watched my Vancouver Canucks rise and fall over the past seasons. I watched as they routinely got stomped many years ago to the powerhouse that came so close to winning it all in 2010. This city needs the cup so badly.

When a team is in a full rebuild mode, they trade out their remaining valuable assets to try and get younger in order to prepare for the future.

When a team is in playoffs mode, they look for the few pieces to help them get the championship.

Like sports teams, a guild’s recruiting strategy will often gradually shift from time to time depending on their current goals and needs. If you convert the guild’s raiding progression into different stages, you can classify your guild’s recruiting strategy to better align with the guild’s goals.

Stage 1: Early game, normal

Full rebuilding year. It’s time to start planning for the future. They know they’re not going to be in the running for a few years. Time to go young and select players with high potential. Give them the experience they need in order to flourish. Edmonton is a good example of this a few years ago. Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, and Yakupov are slated to give my team a run for it’s money in the next few years.

This is the stage most new guilds are at especially at the onset of a new expansion with a depleted or non-completed roster. You haven’t finalized your tanks, DPS, healers, or combination thereof. Your leaders will recruit anyone that can make your times and have the minimum gear levels needed to make a dent in the raids. They don’t have the necessary raiding experience? That’s okay, they have the room to grow! They can learn with the rest of the players. Raid experience is going to vary wildly from the top end down to the bottom. You’ll even see this in World of Logs as the spread from 1st place to 17th is going to be a huge gap. Maybe it’s their first time in a structured and organized raid environment. Might not see many (or any) players with legitimate heroic raid level experience.

Most of their gear is going to consist of quest blues, dungeon blues, or crafted gear. If they’re showing initiative, they’ll have worked on maxing out their professions along with acquiring valor level gear. Of course, on the other end of the spectrum, they could just be in a mash of greens and epics with reforging that doesn’t entirely make sense.

But whatever right? They can commit to the posted raid times and that’s all that matters. The goal here is to actually get into the raid instance and start wiping.

This is the (re)build stage. My guild went through this in Firelands after a split. I knew that competing in Firelands was not going to happen so we planned for the long game instead.

Stage 2: Late game, normal

The team is starting to play well together. Players are getting used to each other and their tendencies. The deals being made now are for classes or specs that are still lacking. Maybe the team’s missing a consistent performing goaltender or needs a few big bodies on the blue line. They’re going to passover that high rated goal scorer and address their needs specifically. Washington has great franchise players with Ovechkin, Green, and Backstrom but the team is looking horrible so far this shortened season. They need help on the backend.

At this point, recruits are expected to have a certain level of gear and experience. Your guild is working on the late stages of an instance. Maybe you’re working on Elegon or Will of the Emperor. Or else you’re wiping to the Sha of Fear or putting shots in on Empress and Amber Shaper. The players have farmed the early half of instances and can play their responsibilities without too much guidance. They understand the challenges and mechanics of the early set of bosses and can pick up new obstacles within a couple wipes of seeing it.

These recruits shouldn’t be rocking anymore blue gear (or at most 1 or 2 pieces because they’ve gotten unlucky with drops). They’ve played the game for at least over an expansion and understand the struggles that a raid group is going to face. When looking at players like this, as a GM you want to ask yourself if these players are going to be able to help you get over that “hump”. If there’s any doubts at all, it should be a decline. You can take a chance on one or two “project” players who are a little behind in some area (gear or experience), but a certain time limit needs to be set. Either they make it or they don’t.

I firmly believe there each player in WoW has a skill cap and each boss has a minimum level needed to get through it. That skill gap and floor rises with each new progression boss and players absolutely must rise with it.

The talent is slowly coming together. You’re outside of the playoff bubble and looking in. But more importantly, you know it’s within reach.

Stage 3: Early game, heroics

Now you’re in the playoffs. The team has a great group of players. Each one knows what their roles are and where they fit in the system. In the event of injuries, the call ups are there to help. Detroit is on a 21 playoff appearance streak is a great example of this. They’re expected to make it 22 this season. Even though the team isn’t always making it to the conference championships, they’re a proven playoff contender.

Your roster is largely stable. Everyone that’s signed on follows the guild philosophies and are all excellent fits for the guild. There’s a couple of pieces missing. Maybe you’re missing a specific class that you really think will augment your raid group. Now you’re selectively recruiting talent that’s definitely geared and experienced. As much as you want to give the blue geared player a chance, you know that your “window” is closing. Maybe a certain patch is about to drop soon and you want to secure as many progression kills as possible. If you’re lucky, you can recruit “up” and snag a player that’s coming from a guild which is more progressed. You should have a couple of heroic modes under the proverbial guild belt. You may not be actively open recruiting but you’re still scouting for key piece players to outright replace the people who have hit their skill cap and are at a level where they just can’t get it done.

Players are willing to put in the time and the wipes as long as they see some form of progression. It’s not uncommon to wipe anywhere from 30 to 100+ times. They know their classes innately. They can play their classes intuitively and can slip into any spec with ease. There is no Arcane Mage or Fire Mage, there is only a Mage who picks the best spec and talents for the job. Just because they have their favourites doesn’t mean they’re incapable of doing anything else.

You are a consistent playoff team. You’ll always hit top 16 and are capable of scoring upsets.

Stage 4: Late game, heroics

You’ve hit the dream team. You’re happy with them. If no one applied for the next year, you’d be okay with it as long as the main nucleus of the guild stays together. Unfortunately, real life always has plans. Things will always change from year to year. Now you’re recruiting in advance because you can tell someone’s losing interest in the game or they have other responsibilities preventing them from maintaining that high raid standard you set in place. Nothing is forever. You still have a powerful group of individuals but you’re in headhunting mode. Recruiting is going to be at an all time low because you can’t justify pulling new players in. They’re not going to be seeing much raid time (unless they’re okay with playing second string and backing up).

Your warrior is quitting the game because he’s getting married. Someone from the bench gets promoted or you start looking elsewhere for a player that’s heavily geared with multiple heroic kills. They can seamlessly step in and take over for the guy that’s going out even though they’ll never quite replace the departing personality.

At this stage, you’re guild is tacking the hardest bosses in the game or pursuing specific raid achievements for the meta.

You are heavily favoured to win the championship and either come really close to doing it or manage to do it.

Recruiting is a tough and draining job. Make it easier on yourself and narrow down exactly what you’re looking for. What does your guild need? What players are it missing? Then head to various community sites and start tracking them down. The best success I’ve had was the WoW official forums and word of mouth via the raid finder or simple referrals.

Be very careful with referrals. Put stock in the recommendations that you’re given, but look at that player independently and objectively. I’ve been offered referrals that don’t pan out and some referrals who turned out great. It’s not uncommon for people to say that they want to play with their friends even though they might not consciously think so. Stacking a raid with 10 people who know each other really well can also put you in an uncomfortable position where the group has an amazing amount of leverage. If one person doesn’t get their way, they may subtly influence their friends to come to their aid and boycott a raid night. The GM hat must always come first before the friend hat.

One of these days, I want to try a football analogy. I just wish I understood more of the game and the little nuances so I can pull it off well :(!

The Story of Dobby – The Resto Shaman Who Could

Alright folks, gather around and take a knee.

I have a story I want to share with you today.

His name is Dobby. No, he’s not a house elf. Dobby’s story isn’t exactly unique, but I wanted to share how his work ethic and drive to raid contributed to his cracking the lineup.

When Dobby first came to us a few months ago, we were already well into Dragon Soul at that point. If memory serves, we were halfway through the instance on the hard mode stuff.

But there is no way Dobby could’ve made a meaningful contribution at the time.

  • He had been out of the game for a few months.
  • He was barely loaded with Firelands gear.
  • Completely unfamiliar with Dragon Soul mechanics, much less heroic mode.

We knew that taking him in would be a calculated risk. There was a chance he would flame out and not care about raiding anymore, or thrive on the opportunity presented and work his way into the lineup.

Now most recruits who get rejected tend to turn away and look around for another guild with (shall we say) more accepting standards. They don’t care about putting in the time required to get the gear or playing to gain the necessary skills. But we told Dobby he could hang out with us in the guild and keep chipping away at his gear and continue playing.

And that’s exactly what he did.

Whenever a guild member posted that they were looking for players for a Firelands run, he was the first to volunteer for it. Naturally, as one of the few mail wearer’s, Dobby obtained first pickings to everything and the Firelands heroic drops augmented his character quite nicely.

Looking for raid, another fantastic gearing out process, was available and he ran that on his own time whenever the raid week reset to roll on drops and secure Valor points to purchase specific upgrades.

To top it off, he watched our livestreams and idled our Mumble channel when we were raiding. Dobby stayed on top of the subtle changes that were made throughout all the attempts so that in the event he was called in, he wasn’t a liability. He seamlessly fit right in during the times he was called to action.

“You got a dream… You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.”

Christopher Gardner (Will Smith), The Pursuit of Happyness

Dobby is a perfect model story for the ideal recruit who doesn’t get accepted right away. That’s the kind of work ethic that scores big points with recruiters and leaders. Recruits who understand their weakness and work hard to minimize or remove it are the kind of players that I look for. You can’t teach that attitude. Of course, he could’ve taken the easy way out and just gave up. But Dobby chose to do it because he wanted to raid with us. Once the goals were laid out, he just went out and did everything he could to earn it.

He’s not the only one. One of our Holy Paladins (I’ll call him Moe), just about did the same thing. We gave him constant feedback in areas he needed to improve on and he gradually improved his play to help anchor the tanks when they needed it.

Don’t feel dejected if you don’t get in the first time. At least you know what you need to do to ace it the second time.

 

Recruiting Roulette: Elitist Jerks Paid Membership Review

Player recruiting continues to be tough for guilds and their leaders around the community. Some might even consider resorting to third party sites in the hope that they can drive up and attract interest to their raiding guild. In the Recruiting Roulette series, I’ll offer my opinions on different recruiting sites and what kind of results my guild received and what you can expect. All fees are paid out of my own pocket.

Site: Elitist Jerks
Fees: $25 per thread or $30 for 6 months (Patron status)

Elitist Jerks has widely been accepted as the think tank  community of choice where top theorycrafters go to exchange ideas and beginners go to dive into more advanced concepts of their class. With a such a large and skilled community, it makes sense to try to recruit players here. The upfront costs can be considered expensive.

Is it worth it?

Ground rules

Once you’ve paid the requisite membership fee, you’ll be allowed to post in EJ’s /LFGuild forum. You can only have one visible recruiting thread at a time. Only threads with a post in the last 30 days will be visible.

Next, your thread must be in the following format:

[Faction][Server] <Guild> Title

[Alliance] [Ner’Zhul] <Conquest> Looking for all ranged DPS, 4/8 HM 25 man

Conquest started using Elitist Jerks back in the Fall of 2011. I can’t remember the exact date. Sometime around October or November or so? We were starting to dry up with applications and it was time for us to explore other alternatives. After some asking around, Elitist Jerks was one of several recommendations made.

Which option?

I could’ve gone with the 1 time fee of $25 which would only allow me to create 1 thread. Or I could’ve gone with the $30 fee which is good for 6 months and allows me to make as many threads as needed.

Didn’t take long for me to decide that the second option with the $30 is a better bang for the buck. The registration process after that was absolutely flawless. Payment is accepted via Paypal. After the confirmation email was received, I followed my own guild ad guidelines and created a forum thread on the site. Only thing left to do was to sit back.

Effectiveness

Was it worth it? I was essentially paying $5 a month for 6 months to keep a guild ad up there for maximum exposure.

In total, we received 2 applicants from Elitist Jerks and no additional referrals.

  • A tank who played no more than 8 weeks before deciding to leave to play with his real life friends.
  • A melee DPS who played for about 8 months before stepping down to real life. Still plays other games with us and remains a part of the community.

My option for renewal is going to come up fairly soon within the next month. Right now, I don’t think I will be exercising the option to renew it until we get closer to Mists release.

Factors

If you are planning to utilize EJ’s services, then keep some things in mind.

The community behind Elitist Jerks is full of extremely knowledgeable and skilled players (usually). Expect to get players of reasonably high calibre. With that in mind, your guild’s ability to attract candidates is going to depend on the progression of your guild. Proven guilds with consistent hard mode kills or successful raid achievements are going to have a higher appeal than a friends and family guild that had just taken down normal mode Ultraxion (as an example).

Mind you, your mileage may vary and you may have better responses. In addition, we’re also in a “lull” period of the game right now where burnout is quite high. I suspect results will be way different once Mists gets closer to release.

Edit: Just to help clarify a few things, I don’t suggest using their service right now. Most players are already cemented in their guilds and are hoping to finish out the tier and expansion with their guilds. Once Mists comes out, expect a stronger and higher population of people. With all guild progression resetting at “0”, this should warrant a much better yield for your money.