When Good Enough isn’t Good Enough

With Conquest taking down Throne of the Four Winds and Theraliona on heroic mode, we find ourselves now at 7/13 hard modes for progression (We could also greatly use another Rogue or Warlock).

At that progress level, I’ve had to make slight adjustments to our recruiting requirements. Namely, gear that was good enough to get through normal mode bosses such as players with a mix of crafted epics, reputation epics and other blue heroic quality gear just won’t be enough anymore. With the way the lockouts presently work, we only tackle heroic bosses. There aren’t that many normal mode bosses that we can really take on lest it compromise our progression. We generally don’t downgrade heroic bosses to normal because we usually take them down within a couple of attempts.

Because of this, we’ve raised our gear requirements from an average item level of 345+ to 356+. Why? Because we can’t spare the time and effort to go back through and “carry” players to get gear upgrades. Our directive is to go progressive and look forward. Granted, because of this, there’s going to be a slight gap. Players that draw in will continue to get to gear and I also need to take care that the players who are sitting on the side get rotated in the week after so they can get practice and shots at gear as well.

But how can I get better if I don’t get to raid?

Therein lies the kicker. As a player on the outside looking in, that player needs to do well enough to draw into the lineup. From there, they’re off to the races. But as a raid progresses through the different bosses, the minimum requirements will go up. What may have passed as above average months ago may not be good enough now. If there was one thing I missed about having access to separate 10 man raid instances, it would be the capability to gear players on the side during the weekend. The success of pickup raids on vary wildly from server to server. I get lucky joining 5/6 clears in Blackwing Descent on my alt Ret Paladin. Not everyone is so fortunate in getting in.

Player patience

The other thing I notice is that player patience drops the moment we take something down on farm. I know my guys tolerate the first 20 – 40 learning wipes. Once we get a fight down once or twice, people get agitated if we wipe more than 2 or 3 times. Wiping more than that is inevitable if we pull in several newer players who haven’t taken down the fight yet (much less seen it at work). I counter this by placing them in the most easiest and least stressing of roles. I don’t try to switch up the tanks unless it’s extremely urgent (such as a missing tank). I’ll place new and less experienced healers on raid healing duties until they see enough of the encounter for me to get them to specialize in certain positions (Tank healing, or kiter healing or tackling the stupid Rohash platform on heroic mode).

I face pressure from the veterans from trying to get through the stuff we’ve taken down on a timely fashion to get moving onto the stuff we haven’t seen.

On the other hand, I face pressure from the newer players who are also dying to get in on some of the action for loot and to see the encounter.

This new system makes it a little difficult to accommodate both. I’m glad those big nerfs are coming in 4.2. It’ll spur up alt and pickup runs again for sure.

The bottom line

Performance matters. Is it the only factor? No, of course not. But it still represents a significant portion.

You can be the nicest person on the planet and still do lower DPS than the tank. Sorry, not good enough.

You can be the hottest guy/girl on the planet and still do lower DPS than the tank. Sorry, not good enough.

You can have the best gear available and still do lower DPS than the tank. Sorry, not good enough.

The bars on the DPS meters have a cutoff point where it becomes a liability to bring a player in. It’s up to that player to not be a liability. I’m not sure if I’m willing to stack the deck to help ‘em out or ask veterans to ease off the gas a little bit. It’s quite frustrating either way. I love the new lockout system and all. It’s freed up 3 hours of raiding that doesn’t have to be done, but it introduced an additional set of headaches.

With a 4.2 release but only weeks away, I struggle to find a line between straight progression to get as much down as we can or switch to gearing. If we go for the progression focus, I’m tempted to utilize lockouts to cut away the time. Right now, we’re operating on 3.5 hours for farm and 7 hours for progression. Basically, we spend our day 1 clearing to a progression boss and days 2 and 3 working on pulls, fine tuning and going through it completely phase by phase, minute by minute, attack by attack.

Heroic Nef is next. Could use some pointers.

Improving the in-game Recruitment System

Improving the in-game Recruitment System


We just downed heroic Atramedes last night on 25 man. We’re now 5/13.

So, the in-game recruitment interface.

I love it.

It’s about time something like this was added. Not every guild can afford its own online presence or has the desire to monitor constant  forum posts. Instead of listing how serious a guild is (hardcore or casual), there are options allowing leaders to indicate guild interests. Weekdays and weekends could be a little more specific, but it’ll do the job for now. Same thing with class roles even though it is extremely basic. I like how they subtly allowed leaders to show whether the guild is a leveling or an endgame guild. It doesn’t say it per se, but come on. For me, I left the Any Level radio button checked. I might have rerolls wandering around and exploring guilds or something.

I do have some suggestions to make.

From the guild leader perspective

I would like to see more screen real estate for additional options. Weekday and weekend availability is nice, but we all know people take their Friday nights off to go watch movies like Fast 5 (Anyone see it yet? Worth it?). Add 7 checkboxes for each day of the week showing what days the guild does stuff on.

Why stop there? How about some buttons for times like:

  • Red eye early morning
  • Morning
  • Afternoon
  • Evening
  • Late night

Approximate time of day would need to be based on server time. At least prospects will have an idea of whether or not they can commit to the rough time.

See the class roles? Setting tank, healer and damage is great for queuing for instances. But we need a little more precision when it comes to class selection at least. Throw class and spec icons. If not, consider adding in classes so we can choose to recruit elusive classes that players seem to be ditching these days like Rogues and Shamans.

I’d also like the ability to set permissions on who can view the Requests tab. I cant seem to find it in the permissions settings anywhere.


From the applicant’s perspective

The upside to this is that if you’re in a guild, you can’t browse other guilds. That means you need to be an unguilded, free agent.

Here’s the thing.

I imagine most players would want to retain benefits of their guild or at least enjoy some social interaction before their time to leave. I’m sure that if a player is leaving their guild, they would have informed their leadership anyway (At least, I hope). If I were looking to change guilds, I know I’d want to minimize downtime between current guild and guild-to-be. 

Okay, I guess I’ll be more realistic. If I were a player unsatisfied in a guild, I’d love to at least explore what guild options are available to me. Being able to browse all the guilds that are looking while guilded would be nice to have. Perhaps remove the “Apply” button or render it unclickable to minimize any errors.


Besides, as a GM, I’d love to see what my competition colleagues are looking for. It’s also amazing how many “blank” applications are out there. A good number of players who wanted to join Conquest don’t even fill out the description so I have to guess based on their role and level. Usually what I do in cases where I think the player has serious interest is I’ll decline their application but I’ll fire them an in-game mail asking them to formally apply on the Conquest site anyway.  

How about you guys? What do you think of the in-game recruiting interface and how would you improve it further?

Tough Call: Handling the Churn

Tough Call: Handling the Churn

Note: Read the following italicized text in this voice.

In a world where bosses just don’t down themselves…

Cataclysm is crushing the souls of poor performers and now everyone is recruiting…

Top 100 US Guilds are looking for more players for this tier still….

Middle-of-the-Road Guilds are doing hard modes and need stronger players to progress…

Guilds that a year ago would have disbanded and now downshifting to 10-mans and are still recruiting to have a reliable 10…

All of this amounts to lots of homes and very few buyers with available credit. You may have never gotten that Guild House that you asked for at every Developer Q&A, but we sure are getting an equivalent to the housing-crunch. 

This month I’ve had conversations with multiple GM’s, recruiters and available raiders. Everyone agrees that the market for available raiders is shrinking as guilds stall out, disband, or stop fielding successful raid teams. On my server there used to be about 40+ functional 25-man raid teams during ICC. Last night I checked WoWProgress and there are only five 25-mans left (Edit: Many of the ones listed have become inactive or switched to 10s). Lots of teams shifted to 10-mans in January & February, largely because of less-dedicated raiders leaving the pool. It was easier for them to shift to 10-mans and keep their identity & guild perks. Even so, several guilds folded entirely as their best players gave up the ghost and left for Top 100 squads, and the remainders are scrambling.

This is called the Churn and it is an unavoidable fact of life in Cataclysm. 


So where does this leave you and your team?

Between now and the next tier of raiding, a lot of your performance as a leader will be judged upon how well you handle the churn.

To be certain, even if you’ve decided to go the route of 10-man raiding instead of 25, attendance and turnover issues are still part of the territory. I’ve yet to speak to a “close-knit 10-man” that doesn’t have some issue with either cancelling raids due to sign-outs, or trouble balancing bench players who may be brought in only occasionally.

Of course, no matter what size your raid is, the best way to handle the Churn is to stay one step ahead of it.  The steps below, in no particular order, should help you stay well informed and ready to act appropriately.

Things you can do for the team

  1. Know your team.  Know when they are approaching burn-out and make adjustments to help them de-stress before they give up the raiding game.
  2. Know your weaknesses.  Cata raids are harder; that’s a fact.  Eventually you will have to make either a personnel decision or a social one. Are you willing to replace the weak-link, even if it means bringing in an “outsider”, or are you willing to get the rest of your team to be satisfied with stalled progression for the sake of not changing your roster?  Are you willing to make concessions to keep that irreplaceable clutch player satisfied?  Are parts of your team not on the same page?
  3. Know your strengths.  You’ll be under pressure to pull off a raid team that not only survives the churn, but gets better and downs more bosses each week.  Don’t let the pressure make you try to act outside your leadership style.  If you’ve built a successful team, your leadership style must be working thus far (unless it’s the Sheerluck Holmes style, of course) but make sure that acting on your terms doesn’t mean ignoring future problems, because that’s how you get pushed into a corner.  
  4. Act fast!  Machiavelli teaches us that to delay war only serves to aide your enemy.  In less aggressive terms, one could say “a stitch in time saves nine”. Handle problems quickly and definitively.  When operating in a world of scares resources, you cannot afford to let problems fester and spread. 

Things you can do for the team you want

  1. Promote, promote, promote.  Make everyone on your realm aware of your guild, because you never know when another team will call it quits and their good players will be looking for a new home.  There is no benefit to being an unknown or understated guild.  Be proud of your team’s accomplishments; success breeds success.  Guilds that look stable, welcoming, efficient and knowledgeable will all appear attractive to raiders who want to get on a new team and not stop raiding.  In business we learn that every interaction is a step towards your next sale, the same holds true here.
  2. Recruit early and often.  Be honest about how soon and how often new recruits will have a shot at raid time, but don’t think that just because you don’t need them today, that you won’t be glad you have them tomorrow. I can speak from experience that if you stop recruiting for even a fortnight, you will regret it. Once the apps dry up, you start losing flexibility and start losing ground on the war of attrition.
  3. Be in touch with other leaders on your realm.  While you may consider them your competition, they can also be a good source of info, and potentially a future teammate. With the number of guilds imploding, merging, or breaking up and reforming as “super-guilds”, it’s better to be aware of the goings on than to be the guy who’s wondering why he just missed out on potential recruits and/or lost a few of his own guys.  
  4. Have a plan, even if it’s one you never want to use.  During Wrath, the rule was that you’d lose about 30% of your members (and the gear you’ve given them) from the start of one tier to the start of the next.  Due to the spike in difficulty for entry-level raiding, we’ve yet to get a good idea what this loss-percentage will be in Cata, but I’m certain it will be well higher than 30%.  Therefore, while we all may prefer to raid with the same team for the next year, as a leader you must have a plan of action for the day you find yourself with a dwindling roster.

In the end, the roster you will have the night 4.2 drops is almost certainly not the roster you had on December 7th.  The same thing will happen again between 4.2 and 4.3, only this time you can be ready for it, and hopefully be the one controlling the changes.  

3 Questions to Ask After a Recruit’s Trial Period Ends

3 Questions to Ask After a Recruit’s Trial Period Ends

In a recent episode of the Matticast, one of the topics we discussed was what guilds look for in applications. Once a player gets accepted, they typically undergo a trial process. The period could range anywhere from days to weeks. An application is a start, but it’s during this evaluation period where the recruit’s skill and attitude are truly scrutinized.

The questions vary from guild to guild, but there are 3 big ones that cross my mind.


We’re looking for the technical players. Can we count on recruits to execute? In Cataclysm raids, we want players who can easily understand and respond to the different challenges with minimal hand holding. For Conquest, things like DPS rotations are foundations that are expected before applying. If I give a Rogue a spell or an ability, I expect them to shut it down when paired up with another player. If I give tank healers their assignment, I expect tanks to survive through the worst. It shouldn’t take more than an attempt or two to stay out of fires, dodge discs or deal with any easily avoidable mechanics.

Because if a recruit can’t handle that, then we’re not the guild for them.


The nature of boss fights means there will be players who have to do the crappy job. No one really wants take on these responsibilities because they’re either:

  • Boring
  • Crappy
  • High stress

These are the roles that won’t get you the girl, but it is a necessity all the same.

Taking one for the team and volunteering for these will amplify your value. The guy who says yes to doing the hard stuff looks better. It’s one thing if you can’t actually do your job because your class or setup prevents you  from doing so. But not doing interrupts or dispels because you don’t want to and making the raid jump through hoops is a frustrating experience for leaders because we need to come up with a functional setup that might not be optimal for what we’re doing.

That’s just selfish. It might end up being the reason you get passed over for future raid invites.

Normally, I’m the guy that tackles the dispels . But it’s reassuring to know that another player or two in the raid is both able and willing to tackle the high stress jobs in the event I’m not around.

Especially with playoffs starting today. Go Canucks go!


This is actually something more along the lines of what Kat would say. Although she is the more warm and fuzzy hosts on the Matticast, I would have to back her sentiments on this one (but don’t tell her I said that, I have an image to maintain). While the aforementioned skills and willingness to do the dirty work are important, at the end of the day if recruits aren’t fitting in with the guild, then they need to get cut loose. Not every guild is right for every player. It’s easy for guilds to say yes, you’re in. It is much harder for guilds to say no, you didn’t make the cut especially after a breakout performance. Being able to recognize players who don’t fit in and acting on it swiftly will save you grief in the long run.

It was a difficult lesson for me to learn during the first year of Conquest. I had to make several compromises. I either found a way to work with troubling recruits or we didn’t raid. It took every ounce of diplomacy to maintain an uneasy peace. The two week grace period we have going lets me check out players and see if they fit in both in the raid and outside the raid. I might even join up with them in PuGs or other activities and see how they react to the banter in guild chat. I actually booted a really creepy player a few months ago because he made several members in the guild uncomfortable. But that’s a story for another time.

If you happen to recruit a player who answers positively to all of the above questions, then the odds are in your favour that they’ll be an excellent addition to your guild.

11 Suggestions for the New Guild Leader

Whether it’s Rift, WoW, or Star Wars: the Old Republic, guild problems and solutions can be carried over from one game to the next. Having organizational skills are crucial to being an effective guild leader.

I went around and had an open call with several guild leaders in the community to see if they had specific advice to offer to anyone who wanted to  be a guild leader (Many of them started off with “Don’t do it”).

Think long term

Well planned guilds have long term commitments from the leadership. I’d classify long term as something over a year. Conquest has been around for almost 3 years. It wasn’t something I wanted to just do for 6 months. I wanted to commit to it over a long period.

The top bit of advice I can give is find your essence and let it guide you. Find what makes your guild truly unique and special, and be proud of it. That essence isn’t your ranking, or how progressed you are – it’s what makes the people and the team a fun place to be. My guild, Imperative, started with an essence of serious college gamers with a light schedule, and even a year later, we’ve still got that one core. 

Don’t ever sacrifice that essence for short term success. Think in the long-term. Starting now, don’t think about making a “successful guild in Firelands” – think about making a kick-ass guild in patch 4.5, or the next expansion. We have an old saying that “progression is a marathon, not a sprint.”

As a guild leader, you have quite a responsibility: you will be solely responsible for the happiness of several people for multiple hours each week. People are going to look to you for the enjoyment of their hobby. At times, it’s easy to feel that burden and consider quitting. At times, every leader will get a feeling of burn out and think that the costs outweigh the benefits. Just remember that what you have is real, even if it exists within “just a game.” There is an essence to your team that can never be recreated, and it has value beyond the game.

Blacksen, Imperative

Delegate what you can

For some players, assisting comes naturally. In other cases, it’s best to outline exactly what you need your officers to do. They want to help but may not know what boundaries they shouldn’t cross.

If you’ve never been an officer before, you will be absolutely overwhelmed with the amount of time you will need to dedicate to your guild as the guild master.

The best piece of advice I can offer an aspiring or new GM is to delegate. Delegate, delegate, delegate. I’m a bit of a control freak myself, so it’s difficult for me to delegate, but surround yourself with people you trust for officers, and give them very clearly-defined duties. If you’re not the raid leader, refer ALL questions regarding raiding to that officer. If you’re not the bank administrator, refer ALL bank questions to your bank officer. If you’re not the caster DPS lead, refer ALL questions concerning caster stuff to that officer. See the pattern?

Kurn, Apotheosis

Pace yourself

While some organization is important to have from the beginning, take a bit of time off and actually play the game. It’s not a bad idea to have a dry run of different policies to see how effective or received it’ll be by the crew.

Start slow. Don’t try and create the entire guild structure, loot system, various rules all at once. All guilds started as a group of friends just wanting to get together and play some World of Warcraft. If you have goals, lay them out and set out to accomplish them. However, if you spend all your time setting everything up, you’ll never get around to doing the fun part that keeps people coming back every week: killing bosses.

You won’t see all the bad (or good) situations that will come up through the course of your tenure as GM, so don’t try to look for them. Shoot from the hip and go with what feels right for you and your team.


Manage Expectations

Lay down tangible goals. Set out deadlines. Anything that helps indicate progress is good because players want to feel like they’ve actually accomplished something.

Setting expectations is key to a solid leadership foundation. By managing guild member’s expectations, you can mitigate disappointment and set the stage for exceeding expectations. People enjoy a sense of accomplishment, needing it as a component of motivation. If you set expectations that cannot be achieved, there will never be a sense of accomplishment. On the other hand, setting expectations that can be successfully met will lead to people achieving the expectation, gaining a sensing of accomplishment, and providing them an opportunity to exceed expectations, further contributing to their self motivation for success.

Within my guild, the expectation was set that we would hope to start 25m raiding within 1 month, allowing plenty of time for people to get to level 85 at their own pace without the pressure of having to take time off work or sacrifice spending time with friends/family during the Christmas/New Years. The reality turned out to be 30 excited nerds hitting 85 within two weeks and two 25m bosses down in the 2nd week of release. This far exceeded all expectations that had been set, invigorating the guild with a massive sense of accomplishment and injecting an incredible amount of motivation.


Invite with Caution

It’s entirely possible to fire off too many invites at a time. This can be counter-productive to your cause. While low barriers of entry are okay, at least some player standards should be maintained. I’m not referring to just gamesense or players skills. Being in your guild should be a privilege.

Back in the mid-BC days, I cycled through 5 raiding guilds in as many months simply because they fell apart. They got too big too fast, a group of 4 or 5 people quit in rapid succession, or the better raiders spread themselves into too many teams leading to progress stalling, the symptom could be any of the above (or something similar that I didn’t mention). If you want to start a successful raiding guild: guard your ginvites closely. After going through a new guild every month, I got sick of the transitions and, along with a few friends, founded a raiding guild that, at most, recruits 2 new players a week (though most weeks we didn’t recruit at all). I’m still a proud member of that guild today, 3 years later (and am now the guild leader).

If you guard your ginvites, your members begin to understand that while you might use the occasional pug, being a guildie is something special. This in turn fosters a sense of community that makes raids and 5-mans more enjoyable. It also makes for a nice reason for them to stick around when progress stalls (we all have hiccups in progression every so often). One team of ours bashed their heads against the Lich King fight for a solid month and not one person left the guild (this was before the guild rep system, so they could’ve jumped to another guild without any long term problems). In short, be selective about your ginvites. You can group with anyone, but guildies should be a step above the rabble.


Recruit like minded players

Heard of the phrase birds of a feather will flock together? It applies here just as well. Having similar interests with someone helps lower resistance and it ensures everyone is on the same page. Plus it cuts down on the drama. No one’s going to complain about hating PvP if all the players are into PvP.

Have your mission all laid out? Then you can focus on surrounding yourself those that help drive that mission forward. What sort of people would best fit and are like-minded to your mission? You wouldn’t recruit a bunch of casual players if you ultimately want to become a raiding guild in the top 10 guilds on your server, would you? Its nearly impossible to survive, recruit, and ultimately be a leader who others trust and respect without this defined

Our raiding guild has several officers who are all raid leaders, all equal, very flat organizational structure. We have a level 1 guild master as a placeholder only because we have to. We formed and lead the guild as a team and make decisions that way, period. Not all guilds follow a “cookie cutter” approach, it’s important to take the time to really define what fits with your guild’s mission. 

Bottom line? Start with a focus on defining your mission and build the guild around it with people just as passionate about it as you. 

Gina, Healbot, <Cold Fusion>

Establish your guild’s “identity”

Before selecting your leadership base, it’s a good idea to figure out what you want to do. Don’t try to be everything. At least, not right away.

Are you a casual guild?

Hardcore raiding?


Amazingly, once you’ve established what kind of community you want to build, the rest of the pieces will really begin to fall into place. Finding people who share this vision with you in the beginning will really shape how your guild grows. In a Cataclysmic-world, guilds are more than just tags floating above your head, they’re identities. Finding the right guild and sticking with it now has actual tangible benefits beyond just a great social hub and people are (as they should) not taking the decision as lightly. Attracting like-minded individuals who really care about the growth and development of your new guild is important and these people will become your officers at some point.

The Magette

Pick the right person for the right job

Personalities matter. It’s not enough for everyone to buy into the philosophy. Your leaders need to exude the right qualities to appropriately carry out their duties. Putting the really shy guy on the job of evaluations and feedback is not exactly the best combination.

Any guild should not need more than 1 officer per 5-8 players. Example: a 20 – 25 player roster (which should amount to 80-100 characters) should have no more than 3-5 officers). Be sure to pick the right person for the right job because your in game or RL friends may not be best fit. Just because someone is a nice person or great player doesn’t mean they are right. A great player could have a condescending tone and attitude, but would not be the right person for an officer whose tone can easily be misconstrued. On the flip side, a friendly sub-par player with the awesome personality may not have enough clout to provide the right constructive criticism.

In short, it’s never easy to pick the leadership core, but it is an first important step.


Check discipline

Be clear with the rules and watch the grey areas. While leaders do their best in enforcing policy, not everything gets caught. There’s all sorts of disciplinary action that can be taken. Be careful what you do and how you do it.

Depending on your guild set up and recruitment process, it should be made clear what the guilds rules are and what any disciplinary actions may be for breaking the rules. This way if anyone breaks the rules you have a clear course to follow without having to think too much about what to do and by doing so it adds some structure to the guild. No exceptions should be made to the rules or the whole thing will fall into disrepute. An example from my guild is that we have a “No Loot Ninja-ing either in our raids or any PuG you might run while in our guild” – on person ran a VoA pug and ninja’d some loot, which came back to me and I G/kicked him without remorse, as per the guilds rules – which went down well on our server.

Valilor, Aggro my Own Vegetables

Stop trying to do everything

There’s enough responsibility to go around. You know you have too many officers when there’s someone who is sitting around not really doing anything because anything that needs to be done is already done.

Don’t make the mistake of wearing too many hats – if you end up as the Recruitment officer, the website maintainer, the raiding coordinator, the PR officer, the guild bank organiser and especially the guild sounding board, burnout is inevitable. Little things, like making sure that multiple people can update the guild website, will ease daily pressure on you. Logging on to a dozen small issues every day will whittle away at your patience and free time, and make you feel tense at the idea of logging on or checking the forums. Ask yourself if there are tasks that you can delegate, share, or roster – partly to avoid burnout, but also so that if you have to go away, your guild isn’t left with a gaping hole in its management team.



Disagreements are going to happen. Having a group of all yes-men isn’t the best idea. Use them as a sounding board and take into heart what your players have to say before carrying through. Every risk has a possible reward. Every action has a consequence. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it.

Who will these yes-men be? Sometimes it may be obvious as your RL BFF, spouse, that dude you have run with since Vanilla, or maybe someone you’ve met fairly recently. Start with a small officer core and take time to work through at least the main start-up issues with these people. You may even want to get the guild up and running a bit before expanding the leadership.

Be aware that not everyone – even your BFF – is cut out for guild leadership – and that may not be apparent until you are in the thick of things. Be sure that the officers are people that can work through disagreements. If you and your spouse have conflicts with both of you running in the same raid, leading a guild together may magnify that. Real life relationships are more important than a game – don’t forget it. Oh, you thought this would be all peaches & cream? Only if your dictatorship is structured well.

Zaralin, Force of Impact

Thanks to everyone who took a moment out of their day to add their thoughts. I would have added more but some of the responses I received would have constituted a post in itself.

That’s what happens when you ask raiding and GMing bloggers to add one response. They give you a novel.

Our community can be crazy sometimes!

Tough Call: When to Recruit

The answer is TODAY. 

(Actually, “yesterday” would have been a better answer, but I’m sure you had a good reason to take yesterday off.  “Today” is also an acceptable answer if you have a sizable nerd-crush on Ann Curry…not that I do or anything…)

As a raid officer, at some point it will come to you to bolster your ranks.  The first step to doing this right is to properly assess what you need and when you need it.  Even if you’re accomplishing all your goals currently, you need to plan for the next round.
As I see it, there are two schools of recruiting:

  1. Gap-Prevention Recruiting
  2. Roster-Improvement Recruiting

Gap-Prevention Recruiting

A wise boss of mine once taught me, “If you don’t have a Plan B, you don’t have a Plan.”. 

This means, of course, that:

  1. Things will go wrong, and
  2. Rarely will they go wrong when it’s convenient to you. 

In raiding, this most frequently means a loss, or temporary depletion, of players.  I’d wager that we’ve all been there at one night or another. 
For me, this used to happen at least once a month during Naxx.  I’d log in, and people who had signed up for raid ended up not being online.  It was Naxx, we ALL were burned out before Ulduar came out, so I can understand the lack of motivation, but I still had the job of fielding a viable raid for everyone who wanted to get the job done.  From those times spent using Trade Chat to fill out a raid, I learned a valuable lesson:

Recruit BEFORE you have a spot you need to fill

Since everyone is already reading Thespius’s Raiding 101 column, I know we don’t have to go over the pros and cons of having back-ups/part-timers.  They’re good; keep them around, be honest with them, and keep them satisfied. 

But what about scenarios where a back-up/part-timer just won’t do?  What about when your main tank has a baby, your invincible priest healer has to start taking night classes, or any of the other myriad reasons people can no longer raid?  Fact is, these situations can leave you in the lurch is you’re not prepared for them.  THAT is why a smart officer will never close recruiting, and will most certainly always look to improve their roster.

Consider this:  A business wouldn’t tolerate an inconsistent supplier, they would immediately find a supplier selling an identical product who can assure them of on-time delivery.  I’m pretty sure this is Fed-Ex’s bread-and-butter, actually.  The same should be true of your raid.  You may love the players you raid with.  I know I’m rather fond of a number of the people I’ve played with over the years.  That said, if one of them had to take off, stop playing, or just became overall unreliable, I would owe it to myself and the rest of the team to take actions to ensure the raid continued.  After all, the show must go on.\

TLDR Version: 

Have a plan in mind for who will take over your vital positions if someone has to depart/goes AWOL. 

Don’t turn away potential recruits just because you’re “full” today.  See what options you can provide them before you burn that bridge.

Roster-Improvement Recruiting

Parental Advisory: When I say “Roster-Improvement Recruiting”, I’m talking about doing what it takes (within your own best judgement) to see content and down some end bosses before they become passe.  This is the one that’s going to fill my inbox with hate mail, but it has to be said:

Not everyone you raid with today will be ready when your group wants/needs to move to the next level.

I would never call the environment I raid in hard-core, bleeding-edge, or anything like that.  What I would say is that we’re a results-driven team.  If you can do your job and do it well, and aren’t a complete dick, we’ll be glad to count you among our ranks.  Everyone competes for their spot and everyone has that much more faith in their team-mates because they know that every spot has been earned.

A team like this never “stops” recruiting.  There will certainly be times when you have a solid group and may not have a lot of NEED to recruit, but you should never flat-out deny someone on the basis that they would have to take a spot from someone you already have.

Example:  Let’s say you’re openly recruiting for a healer as gap-prevention recruiting, when along comes a deathknight asking about joining.  (Isn’t it always a DK when you don’t need DPS?) Assuming they are some-what as progressed as your current line-up, and understand that it’s a competitive environment they’re looking to join, take a moment to consider the opportunity in front of you.  Instead of turning them away, point them towards the logs for your current members and if they can beat that, encourage them to apply.

In an environment like this, a recruit should never be seen as a threat.  Your existing members should see recruits as a chance to improve the raid team in one way or another.

True Story: I intentionally recruit other priests to help push me and keep me competitive.  I know I can handle my assignments, but competition teaches me I can always do it better.  Also, the priest who comes in ready to beat me at my own game is surely a formidable ally to have.

Whether you establish rules that spur further recruitment, or simply keep a high profile for your guild and get applications that way, the key is to always ask yourself “will this player help us get through the next step”. 

Crossing the Finish Line

In the end, I say you should think of your raid team as a racecar.
A racecar can’t go anywhere without all four wheels.  That’s gap-prevention recruiting.
A racecar will go faster with performance parts.  That’s roster-improvement recruiting.
Now go finish the race.

Tough Call: Roles – RL vs GM

Tough Call: Roles – RL vs GM


Welcome back for another issue of Tough Call. This week I want to go over a topic that sets the baseline for a lot of what we do and how we can go about building the most efficient raid without imploding the guild.  Before we can get to that, however, I think I need to offer a fair bit of clarification on last week’s topic.

Stay with me, people

Classification is not “name calling”.  In my last post I discussed one set of archetypes (of which there are many) that could be used to sort out your raiders when determining who to take and what areas of your roster to shore up. The objective is never to belittle anyone, because honestly, putting people down takes too much time and energy that I would rather put towards being awesome myself.  As for the intended message, Calaban & Lument had some great points, and yes, X, you are Rudy.

For the sake of simplicity and efficiency, some topics need to be encapsulated.  This was the case last week.  I could certainly turn that 901 word post into 5,000+ words about how to evaluate, coach, refine, recruit, and even alter raid tactics/comps to support the players you have.  The fact that I omitted many of those elements does not mean that I am against them,or that I do not use them myself, just that they didn’t fit into the mold of that post.  Trust me, there’s plenty of ground to cover when it comes to raid management, and I don’t plan to blow my whole load in these T11 pants. 
One thing I will continue to believe in throughout this series is that no leader should ever “leave well enough alone”, or settle for what they already have. Every team needs to get stronger, better, faster, sexier, etc.  Sometimes this happens with teamwork & growth, sometimes a pep-talk is enough, and oftentimes improvement happens by recruiting new blood. For example, we recently got a new priest who’s giving me a run for my money, and my output has increased because of it. Regardless, there would be no point to me writing this column if either of us was willing to accept the idea that you should learn to suffer through the drawbacks of today without making a better plan for tomorrow. 

Lastly, every raider deserves feedback, and that feedback should be honest and constructive.  Some people do benefit from mentoring, some from competition, and some from caliber of shame-filled guilt trip my mother used to lay on me… you pick which works best and run with it.  Regardless, as I mentioned in the comments, your guild should have some mechanism in place to give your raiders this feedback.  I know our guild has a couple different systems that work, and in the future I’ll elaborate on some of this. 

Now, onto today’s topic:

Lessons in Dichotomy // Who runs this joint?

The person/people managing your raid should not be your Guild Leader.

I don’t care how awesome you are as a GM, how amazing your coordination and multi-tasking is, or how long you’ve been doing both roles.  As we continue, I will illustrate how maximum efficiency and stability dictates that the GM not wear the black hat in raid.

Before we break into a list of what each person should be doing, the key assumption here is that the raid leader/officer is a specialist, hired to do one thing and do it well: motivate the team, execute digital dragons and carry back the rewards. 

The job of Raid Management

  • Make the raid as successful as possible
  • Needs to be Honest, Unbiased, and always performance-oriented
  • Make the tough decisions / wear the black hat
  • Assess players based on what they bring to the raid and how well they are executing
  • Manage the PERFORMANCE of the raid
  • Be a clear and present leader at all times during the raid
  • Get progression, achievements, titles, mounts, fame, fortune, super-model girlfriends

The job of the Guild Leader

  • Be the public face of the guild
  • Mediate any issues between guild members (within reason)
  • Take responsibility for the guild’s reputation
  • Oversee / Initiate recruiting
  • Manage the PERSONALITY of the guild
  • Wear the crown, take the heat, buy the drinks at Blizzcon

I know some guilds may be small/close enough that the GM thinks he/she can handle doing both.  I disagree with this because these are two jobs that require different tactics and it’s human nature to have a tough time separating these and/or staying true to the goals of each position. 
Even in a 10-man environment, it is never more efficient to have one person run everything than it is to have separate guild & raid management. This will also decrease/prevent burn-out among leadership.

How the Other Half Lives

Now, this separation also requires a high level of trust/confidence between the two halves.  The raid officer has to trust that there are the right recruitment/retention mechanisms in place to give them the right components for a successful group.  Similarly, since he/she will be handling the fall-out, the Guild Leader has to trust that the raid officer is making the right calls when it comes to who gets benched, who gets invited, who can/can’t main switch, etc. 

Think of it like the relationship between Head Coach and General Manager in pro sports.  These two don’t need to see eye-to-eye on tactics or day-to-day operations, but they do need to have the same objectives and a plan on how to reach them.

Show me an example

A founding member of the guild has lost his drive to raid, but still likes to come and go more-or-less as he pleases.  Further, he uses his relationship with the GM as leverage to get what he wants.  For the Raid Leader, this person represents a liability, as no matter how skilled they are, the risk that they will abruptly stop raiding is ever-present.  If they were given a starting spot, any loot given to this player over another player could be functionally lost at a moment’s notice, and time spent learning a fight with them would have to be adapted or re-learned with their inevitable replacement.  Not to mention the way this would look to other players who may be fighting to prove themselves and break into the starting lineup.

A wise Raid Leader can still utilize this person as a back-up / call-up, borrowing on his skill & experience in the good times, while still prioritizing those players who consistently show up.  Bring the people who have a commitment to making your team succeed, but keep a Rolodex of viable call-ups just in case.

A wise Guild Master will remind the long-term member that the raid team is an ongoing campaign, not something that is won or lost the few times a month this person wants to show up.  The GM will be clear that he expects progression from his Raid Leader, and that not everyone is entitled to raid if they cannot commit. 

Another example

Recruiting!  Without delving into when/how/who to recruit, it’s a very common situation for a Raid Leader to find themself needing to recruit.  Good collaboration between the RL & GM requires that the RL would keep the GM abreast of the development of players within the raid, or at least give them access to any relevant information needed. 

Say you need more melee dps, so you go out and recruit for that spot.  The GM should know WHY the rogue on the bench isn’t being taken over new recruits, so that they can back-up the RL’s decision should the rogue come forward with complaints of favoritism/snubbing/etc.  Similarly, the RL should make reasonable effort to give the GM whatever information he needs to substantiate the roster moves.  Simply “he’s not good” won’t suffice, but “he missed 18 interrupts each of the last three raids” does.

Unfortunately, unlike pro sports, I’ve seen the GM fail the Coach more often than the other way around.  Sometimes this is just simple burn-out, sometimes it’s close-mindedness, sometimes it’s a loss of faith by one of the two people. 

The best advice I can give for longevity is for neither person to say “I can’t….”.  Whether it’s “I can’t recruit another healer” or “I can’t down progression bosses with what you’ve given me” or even “I can’t stand your face”, the only way to maintain success in an efficient raid environment is to always be looking for the next opportunity.  Once you’ve entered into an “I can’t” paradigm, you’re actually realizing that you should have taken action weeks ago, and are now suffering from that inaction/indecision (or worse yet, refusing to realize your responsibility in the matter).  It’s up to you two to always look beyond the current week and stick to your plan you started with.

You do have a plan right?

…please tell me you have a plan.

As always, please feel free to leave any questions or suggestions for future topics in the comments below.  Heck, feel free to leave your favorite bean dip recipes, too.  I need something to do after I’ve cleared the raid and logged off to go watch HIMYM.

Raid Leading 101: Starting your Roster

**Forgive the absence of last week’s post. I got “blessed” by a crazy work schedule that had me away from my desk a lot. Don’t forget that if there’s anything you’d like to discuss or see in a RL101 post, you can always email me**

So, you’ve made the choice between 10 and 25. You know which feels right for you and your friends. Now you need to look at your roster. Your roster is the list of players on your team that you can pull from to make your raid on any given night. Hopefully you’ve got a group of friends that you’ve started with, which will take some of the stress off of recruiting and assembling your team. We’ll start out with the basics of your raid (this is a 101 course, remember). You need tanks, healers, ranged DPS and melee DPS.


Tanks are the classes that will take the brunt of the damage while protecting your raid. The classes that can fulfill this role are:

  • Protection Paladin (“Prot Pally”, “Tankadin”)
  • Feral Druid in Bear Form (“Bear”, “Meatshield”)
  • Protection Warrior (“Prot Warrior”)
  • Blood Death Knight (“Blood DK”, “BDK”)

It’s best in a 10-man raid to have ~3 Tanks on your roster (~4 for 25-man). Most raids encounters will require 2 tanks for encounters. Either your 2 tanks will have to alternate who is tanking the boss, one will tank the boss while the other tanks one or more mobs that join the fight, or you’re doing a Council-style fight.

Your Main Tank (or “MT”) should be your most talented tank and will seldom need a DPS off-spec. The other tanks on your roster (“Off-tanks” or “OTs”) should have a DPS off-spec so they don’t need to be totally swapped out mid-fight. Warriors can spec into Fury or Arms, Druids into Balance or Feral Cat, Paladins into Retribution, and Death Knights into Frost or Unholy.


Healers are the players that you pay to keep you alive long enough to see the boss take its last breath. Classes blessed with this ability:

  • Restoration Shaman (“Resto Shammy”)
  • Restoration Druid (“Resto Druid”, “Tree Druid”)
  • Holy Paladin (“Holy Pally”, “HPally”)
  • Holy Priest
  • Discipline Priest (“Disc”)

For your 10-man crew, count on having ~4 Healers on your roster (~9 for 25man). You’ll always need a minimum of 2 healers (5 in 25-man) for an encounter, depending on how healing intensive it is. It’s best to have the other healers in your roster work on a DPS offspec in case you need to convert to more DPS in an encounter. Priests can spec into Shadow, Druids into Balance or Feral Cat, Paladins into Retribution, and Shamans into Enhancement (Melee) or Elemental (Ranged).

Melee/Ranged DPS

DPS are the players that put the hurtin’ on the boss. They’re primarily responsible for dealing damage to the boss and any adds that may pop up, as well as crowd control, interrupt, off-heal, or help mitigate damage. Here’s the laundry list of DPS you’ll find:


  • Enhancement Shaman (“Enh Shammy”)
  • Rogue (Subtlety, Assassination, Combat)
  • Arms or Fury Warrior (“Arms War”, “Fury War”)
  • Retribution Paladin (“Ret Pally”, “lolret”)
  • Feral Druid in Cat Form (“Cat”, “Kitty DPS”)
  • Death Knight (Unholy, Frost)


  • Elemental Shaman (“Ele Shammy”)
  • Hunter (Marksmanship, Beast Mastery, Survival)
  • Warlock (Affliction, Demonology, Destruction)
  • Mage (Arcane, Fire, Frost)
  • Balance Druid (“Moonkin”, “Boomkin”, “Boom Chicken”, “Lazer Turkey”)
  • Shadow Priest

In 10-man, you’ll want ~8 DPS’ers (~22 for 25-man) on your roster, with a mix of melee and ranged. There will be some fights that will be better for melee DPS or ranged DPS, so a mix will give you a good chance of success. Having any of your DPS players with a tank or heal off-spec is great, but more often than not, you’ll be better off if your tanks and healers are all main-spec.

Summing It Up

A standard 10-man raid will consist of: 2 Tanks, 3 Healers, 5 DPS.

A standard 25-man raid will consist of: 2-3 Tanks, 6-7 Healers, and the rest DPS.

Of course different raids will deviate from this basic model, but in my raiding experience, this is usually what you’ll find. To start out, aim for those numbers. Once you have your 10 or 25, add 1-2 more for each role to solidify your team. Your raiders will need nights off or have real-life commitments from time to time, and those extra people will help keep your raid going consistently.

Coming up, we’ll look at more advanced roster planning, as well as a couple recruitment tips!

Creative Recruiting

Conquest’s 25 man raid team made some major strides today on Cho’gall. Back to back wipes at 4% and 5%. We spent a good 90 minutes after the raid just really analyzing all the little things that we were doing right and doing wrong. I’m extremely confident that we’ll get him down on Monday. That being said though, the recruiting doors are being opened for competitive, progression minded players.

Except it seems we’ve entered a bit of a recession in terms of players. With the increasing number of people situating themselves in 10 man guilds, the 25 man guilds are working extra hard trying to find players that still have the desire to do 25s. Already, I’ve witnessed a few larger guilds on my server breaking up or completely splintering off.

Not exactly the route I had in mind when I said I wanted to progress up the server rankings.

The usual recruiting methods just weren’t working fast enough. We had to really get creative and think of other ways to try to pickup players. Our initial goal was to raise awareness of our guild and to try to find the players that would both fit in and share a similar work ethic that the rest of us had to raiding. I’ve completely abolished the recruiting officer position from my guild. I think recruiting is something that every player in the guild should try to do. Different people have different talents and as a GM, I have to encourage them to play to those strengths.

Other than relying on trade chat or the recruiting forums, we’ve started trying out different strategies for recruiting. We don’t know if it’s going to work, but right now its innovate or die.

Recruiting from the other side

X, one of my players, prefers the front line approach. He’ll actively pursue and chat players up who aren’t affiliated with any guilds. His efforts have generated results as one of the players he picked up is one of our current main tanks.

But you know what’s even crazier?

He created a character on the Horde side and started advertising in their trade chat. Ever since players could have both Horde and Alliance players on the same server, it never dawned on me to try recruiting players on the other side. So if you’re stuck on your side of the server and there doesn’t seem to be any fish biting, try the other side and see what they’re like. I know I’ve received a few messages from players who were interested in switching over to Alliance for a change of pace.

Livestreaming raids

On our progression nights, I’ve started live streaming raids for players. These are generally for people who have interest in joining and raiding but are unsure of what the guild raiding atmosphere is like. So what I’ll do is activate my microphone and stream what’s on my screen as I’m playing (and they’ll hear the occasional Matti-rage).

  • I don’t want players to join the guild only to discover this isn’t what they’re looking for.
  • I don’t want to waste their time or my time.
  • I don’t want to invest gear into players only to realize that this isn’t for them.

By streaming raids, especially during progression, they’ll get an accurate idea of what really goes on in the heat of the moment and they can see this guild at its best (or its worst depending on what we’re working on).

Macroing in the LFD

I haven’t started doing this yet because I keep forgetting. But after I finish every run, I’m going to try to drop a friendly macro listing what our guild is about, where we’re at, and the fact that we’re recruiting. While granted most players are already in guilds, I wouldn’t be surprised if t here were a number of them who were unhappy or who want more from their experience

We’re still raiding right now so we’re not in any serious jeopardy. But I wouldn’t be doing my job as a GM if I wasn’t exploring additional options. I made a mistake in the last expansion. I settled for the players I had. Unfortunately, settling didn’t get me a heroic Halion kill, a heroic Lich King kill, a heroic Anub’arak kill or a 25 man Algalon kill. I’ve learned from that and the crew here have realized that the foot isn’t coming off the accelerator.

That being said, if you’re looking for a stable guild for raiding, check us out.

Classes I’m looking for especially:

  • Elemental Shaman
  • Rogue

Even if you don’t fit that, I encourage you to apply anyway. I don’t guarantee raid spots. Our philosophy has changed to take the best possible players we have available and our loot system reflects that. If you want to know more, feel free to get in touch with me via email or Twitter or in game. Either myself or one of our raid leaders can assist in answering your questions.

Feel free to toss in an application otherwise.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Raid Leading 101: 10 vs 25

Probably as old as when Burning Crusade launched is the discussion of 10man vs 25man. The jump from 40man to 25man jolted a lot of raiders and caused the collapse of several teams. Raid teams started out in 10-man Karazhan, which geared them to enter the 25-mans until the end of the expansion (Gruul’s Lair, Magtheridon’s Lair, Serpentshrine Cavern, Tempest Keep, Black Temple, Sunwell Plateau), with a 10man Zul’Aman thrown in for flavor.

From what I saw, there was a stigma that 10mans were inferior to 25man. 25man Raid Leaders were thought of as more commanding and needed more control over their team, whereas 10man Raid Leaders didn’t have as much responsibility. The only way to get any decent gear in Burning Crusade was to run 25man raids. Legendaries were obtained only in the greater of the two. The end result was people preferring 25mans over 10mans, even lasting into Wrath of the Lich King. Anyone else remember needing to get into 25-man Trial of the Crusader to get a decent trinket at the time?

However, with Cataclysm, the tables have shifted toward more balance. With the changes that Blizzard implemented, there is less pressure on needing to raid a certain size. Let’s take a look at the pro’s and con’s (as I’ve seen it).


  • More likely to have every raid buff due to a larger raid.
  • Raiders of the same class can feel more free to tweak their specs.
  • More forgiving to players that may be a little “sub-par”.
  • Battles have a more “epic” feel with a bigger raid.
  • More players = wealth of opinions in strategizing fights.
  • Three in-combat resurrections allowed per fight.
  • Raid competition may not be as crucial (melee vs ranged).
  • ————————————
  • Maintaining control over a bigger group.
  • More standby’s may be needed.
  • More people may equal conflicting egos/personalities.
  • Possible to run into scheduling difficulties.
  • Harder to start up from scratch.
  • Easier for people to slightly slack at times.
  • More officers may be needed.


  • Usually tighter-knit group.
  • Easier to start up from scratch.
  • More responsibility on each player.
  • Possible to have one of each class (very little gear competition).
  • Fewer standby’s may be needed.
  • Fewer officers or leaders needed.
  • ——————————–
  • Less input for fight strategies.
  • With fewer people, the fights may feel “less epic”.
  • More responsibility on each player.
  • Less room for error.
  • One in-combat resurrection available per fight.
  • Possible to miss certain raid buffs because of limited raiders.
  • Less room for error because of fewer players.
  • Raid composition may matter more (melee vs ranged).

The Choice is Yours

When you’re deciding on which side to go with, keep all of these things in mind. Some of the pro’s and con’s are the same. “More responsibility for each player” may be a good thing for your team or it may not be. You and your team are going to weigh these points differently, and that’s perfectly fine. It all goes back to what you want out of your team. Maybe you want the “epic feel” of 25man and don’t mind dealing with more people/schedules. Perhaps you like less gear competition but don’t mind putting more responsibility on each individual raider.

Remember, the same ilevel gear drops off of 10man vs 25man, so that’s no longer a factor. More gear drops on 25-man than on 10-man to even the scale. Also, Blizzard is still working on balancing the difficulty of the raid sizes, so one doesn’t feel noticeably harder than the other. Personally, I feel this is hard to achieve, but I’m fine with them getting it as close as they can.

As for me, we’ve decided on 10-man since the beginning. I don’t want to put in the extra effort needed to wrangle 24 other players, and we like the greater responsibility placed on each raider. We may not have that “epic” feel because we prefer a more intimate raiding environment. It’s not that I don’t enjoy 25man raiding, but I prefer 10man.

What about you and your team? Have you already made a decision? Are you split? What other pro’s and con’s can you add to the above list?