How to Lose 14 Players in One Night

It took the guild 3 years, but it was bound to happen sooner or later.

I just lost over 14 players from my raiding roster.

It started out as a simple personnel disagreement. There was a quiet debate raging within me for some time. On the one hand, I understand the strains of progression raiding and the impact it can make to a roster especially on the drive to having flawless raid nights. We all want a mistake-free raid group with players who can ace every obstacle thrown at them.

But does that mean putting up with personalities you don’t agree with all the time? The game was getting to the point where it was no longer fun for me.

Actually, scratch that. The game itself was fine. The managing social dynamics and personalities aspect made the game not fun. All I ever wanted to do was kill internet dragons, with friends or otherwise. One of the policies I even had in place for players was that they weren’t required to be friends with everyone. They didn’t have to go to the bar with them or anything. Over time, however, I began to wonder if that was a standard I could hold to myself. I realized that I had a very difficult time doing that because of all the added responsibilities and inter-personal problems that I had to deal with as part of my rank. As a player, in contrast to being an officer or guild leader, the only person you really need to be cool with is the GM. If the GM isn’t cool with you, then there’s no point in being there. This goes hand in hand with the chemistry clause – The right for applicants to be rejected because they don’t “fit” with the guild.

Competence and likeability are not mutually exclusive. The players I’m looking for have both. But it seems that the higher the skill level you go, the more disrespectful people become. Why? I can’t help but wonder if it’s because they believe their skills can give them an excuse to act however they want and get away with it. I don’t want to deal with that. If a player is skilled but not likeable, I’ll end up showing them the door. If a player is likeable but not skilled, eventually a newer player will work their way in and take their spot. That’s just how it is going to be.

Respect the chain of command

For any budding officers out there, this is the most important rule. If you bring up an idea, any GM worth their salt will at least hear you out and weigh all the negatives and positives associated with it. It’s up to you to sell your perspective. But once the decision from the top is made, that’s that. There is no higher authority to appeal to. You’ll have a hard time finding a GM who says otherwise. Do not try to circumvent it even if you know every fibre of your being says it is the right or wrong thing to do. The only thing you can do is look inside yourself and decide if it’s worth leaving over. That choice is absolutely yours to exercise. There’s no contract obligations that force you to stay in a guild.

In this particular case, cliques were cliques. When it comes to social groups like this, nothing’s going to stop people from playing with who they want. Trying to would just cause a social group to leave and create their own guild. This was a scenario I actually had in my mind as a realistic possibility. I don’t take kindly to ultimatums or threats of leaving at all. Given the option between killing internet dragons with people I’ve shared beers and had a good time with versus players who are willing to throw other people under a bus at a whim, I’d rather shoot for the former. I absolutely love raiding but not at the cost of my own mental health. Leading a guild isn’t easy at all when it comes to executive level decision making.

I still maintain that is perfectly possible to raid in a progressive raiding environment with people who you enjoy playing with. I see it in other guilds all the time. It’s my ongoing goal to reach that state, current drama aside. The only thing I can do is look forward and exercise my recruiting skills. And what an opportunity!

The thing about hindsight is that it always occurs after the events. I wish I had gone on offense sooner and made earlier changes. I don’t know if that would have offset the events, but it means I would have been forced to start the rebuild earlier. You always think and second guess to yourself wondering if that was the right thing to do. Or if there was another alternative solution or another way. I can’t answer that because I don’t know. I felt I offered enough of a compromise by allowing a player to stick around in the guild and idle on our Mumble servers even if they weren’t in our raid team any no longer. But that’s not enough.

Regardless, I’m sure they’ll be fine. I know for a fact we’ll be fine. 9 out of 10 rebuild guilds don’t actually make it and I have zero intention of being a statistic.

I also may have made up said previous statistic.

My options

  • Do 10 mans
  • Look for another guild
  • Quit the game
  • Rebuild us back to even strength

10 mans are okay. I could go look for another guild. I could just retire from the game and step down from blogging and writing on WoW Insider.

Or I can pick my ass up off the floor, dust myself off and get back to work. I challenge you to find a GM more determined than myself. Am I saddened? Yeah, a little. Do I feel that I can recover? Oh, you bet I will. This is a great opportunity!

That being said, Conquest is open for business. Firelands 25 man raiding only and we’re presently 6/7. We’re looking for all players in any position. I think we’re stacked on Resto Shamans though. I have almost no melee DPS remaining so I’ll be entertaining Rogues, Warriors, DKs, Enhancement Shamans. Hunters, I have many of. But at this point I just need bodies. I’m interested in any caster classes. I’m also looking for hybrid specced tanks who can double as DPS (a main tank and an off tank position).

Join now

If you have any questions or want to discuss a few things beforehand, feel free to get in touch with me or Lodur anytime.

GMs Talk: Things We Share, Things We Do Not

GMs Talk: Things We Share, Things We Do Not

© Monkey Business - Fotolia.com

<Apotheosis> must be sick of me whenever I pop into their mumble late at night. That’s Kurn’s guild. Every so often I like to drop in there and have a chat with another GM (who doubles as a blogger herself). Not too many of us around, I’m afraid. She doesn’t know this, but she plays a big part in making sure I remain grounded. When it comes to guild matters, there are certain unspoken rules even among the company of those similar to us. There are topics that we’ll talk about and others that we do not ever, ever discuss. It’s the equivalent of talking shop with others in the trade.

Stuff That’s Fair game

War stories

“And he’s slowly backing up pulling Arthas with him and then falls over the ledge! He just starts screaming over vent, Taunt! TAUNT! I fell off the ledge!”

Everyone loves a good war story. Hilarious events or tales of awesome heroics (that may or may not have been slightly embellished). It’s even funnier if it’s a player that both GMs are familiar with. Typically, whenever war stories are exchanged, there’s usually an important lesson that can be learned and applied. Both leaders walk away knowing more about how to avoid similar situations in the future. The exchange of knowledge means that only one of us would have to experience an event. We’ll then share it with our GM friends in the hopes that they can recognize the symptoms of a problem before it occurs.

In this case, like not tanking Lich King so close to an edge.

Policy

Anytime I’ve wanted to make sweeping policies that affected the guild or the raid, I’d try to consult with someone outside. I search for someone who’s familiar with a similar issue. Even better if the guild leader successfully implemented a policy in the first place. I also to try to get in touch with someone who wanted to put a policy in place but ultimately didn’t and listen to their point of view as well. An outside perspective can shed a spotlight on additional factors that weren’t taken under consideration. I listen to what worked well and what didn’t. Maybe some changes or adjustments were made after the fact to help smooth the transition over.

Speaking of which, I need a consult about whether or not I should implement a policy dictating that all raiders show up with pants worn at all times.

Strategy

This is another reason why I’ll consult with another GM. Sometimes we’ll run into a brick wall when we’re working on an encounter and I like to turn to other people outside who have done the boss. Oftentimes they can offer a little insight into a possible solution. Not everyone’s raid composition is exactly the same. But with strategy changes, you can usually account for that by getting a different class to try and do the same thing. Sometimes it’s a simple solution like moving the raid over slightly or altering the timing! Asking a “How did your guild handle this obstacle?” can sometimes lead to light bulb illuminating moments.

Evaluation techniques

Determining player performance is never going to go away in progression raiding guilds. We’re always looking for methods where we can excel and find tune the players under our raiding core. If a GM happens to be an expert at a class, it’s not a bad idea to pick their brain a bit and find out what they look for when gauging the effectiveness of players.

Stuff That’s Off limits

Current damaging drama

Any active, dramatic issues are kept off the table. I don’t like discussing things like ultimatums, problems or people just giving me a hard time without making certain things really vague. If the guild is going through a really rough time, a lid’s kept on it. However, if a problematic issue has been resolved and passed, I’ll classify it under the war stories category.

Exception: If it really does get to a breaking point, and every option had been considered, I’d probably shoot some ideas and get someone to play devil’s advocate and see if there’s a possible solution that was missed or we walkthrough scenarios of what would possibly happen. Sometimes it isn’t possible to do that within the guild.

Names

I tend to obscure names unless it’s someone well known to the community. If I’m describing a situation, I tend to go with the class or the role.

Example: I think Lodur’s moustache is compromising his ability to heal.  Or worst yet, he’s using the moustache to heal.

Applicants

I’ve had players who leave Conquest apply to guilds of other bloggers and vice versa. As a personal rule, I never bring them up at all. As far as I’m concerned, the business is always between the recruit and the guild they applied to. I don’t ever ask about their application nor would I ever meddle in any guild’s affairs. I have a hard enough time running my guild and it’s not my place nor interest to run someone else’s.

Exception: However, if the player who applied did something particularly heinous like break into the guild bank or exploited in game, I believe it’s the duty of the former GM to relay the necessary information and then let them deal with it how they see fit.

Code 21

We never, ever talk about code 21 unless it’s under extreme circumstances. Sorry guys, it’s a GM thing.

And there you have it folks! If you’ve ever wondered what goes in the GM’s lounge, I can assure you that there’s no plot to take over the world or to gkick everyone from the guild. It’s mostly business and nothing to be worried about!

A Lesson in Guild Ultimatums

It’s been 2 and a half years since Conquest has been formed. We’ve had our shares of victories and defeat. I figured a situation like this would come one day. I never imagined it would come from a main tank. Least of all from a main tank. I knew he wasn’t having much enjoyment out of the raiding scene.

Let me be clear for a moment. The story I am about to tell is not one of vindication or shame. It is one of education so that my guild leading colleagues would be better prepared should a scenario like this arise. It would come in many forms, but the most common would be if I don’t get <this>, I’m leaving.

Threats never work. Even if the leadership allows the request to go through, you can be damned sure it’ll be done so reluctantly and not out of loyalty. If anything, such gains are only for the short term.

Right, let me resume my story. Our main tank had opted for retirement. Not having fun’s a perfectly valid excuse and one that appears to be echoed throughout the community by several players. I have absolutely zero desire to force someone to play a class or role that they don’t want to play. It’s just bad for business. So I accepted it and moved on. Every player that had a tank position in my raid group was bumped up 1 rank. The secondary tank became the primary tank. Tanks 2-4 frequently rotated depending on the encounter. I am blessed with having 6 players w ho are capable of tanking should that need arise.

I come back the next day and visit my forums. I discover that our retiree posted a message:

“If you don’t make me an officer, I’m going to quit the guild.”

Was that what this was all about? Power and recognition? My gut instinct was to flat out say no. Officers are selected based on certain qualifications. There are certain traits that make them special and dependable. However, what you may not know is that there are qualities which automatically discount a player from ever being an officer.

I’ll list some of them here.

Attendance

When a player takes a break from a game without mentioning anything, I might give them a bye for it if their reason is justified. When a player pulls that stunt multiple times without saying a word, that’s the line for me. I cannot have leaders who decide to come and go at their own whims without notice. It would do more harm than good. A leader needs to be available when they can and to say so when they cannot. If a raider does this, I cannot trust they won’t abandon their position when issued additional responsibility.

Shirking responsibility

Conquest has an unspoken leadership ladder. As leaders are appointed by myself with the consent of the other leaders, there needs to be a way to evaluate their mettle and skills. Our loot system involves the use of loot council. The only way to ascend is to go through the process and sit on the council at some point. If a player refuses to handle loot council, then they may not be fit for command at all. If they’re not willing to handle important decisions like who they believe loot should go to, then I don’t know if the harder decisions can be handled (such as roster, player evaluations, and so forth).

Saying no the first time

When the boss asks a player if they want additional responsibility, the player shouldn’t just say no and then issue an ultimatum months later. If I asked someone and they said no the first time, that’s that. I wouldn’t approach them again because I figure there’s no interest in it. Onus is on the other player if they reconsider. I can’t chase people down and hound them repeatedly. I do that enough during raids calling stacks, spreads outs and debuffs. I generally don’t make offers more than once. But that’s a personal style.

Stability

This one actually just occurred to me. Leadership players need to be a rock (or at least, pretend to be one in front of everyone else). It’s okay to be pissed off and upset once in a while. But constant brooding does no good to anyone. A long time ago, I had a player who would crumble and fold when they were chastised for blowing an assignment. Officers have to be made of tougher stuff to withstand the criticism that’s bound to happen. Someone who sheds tears or anger every time something negative is said in their direction isn’t a player fit for command and I doubt such an individual would be able to garner the respect and loyalty of the players.

That being said, I learned a few things from this experience. Strong player depth is what allows guilds to keep going and to survive. The very day that ultimatum was issued, the player was flatly denied and practically laughed out of the guild. We went and took down Theralion and Valiona on heroic mode that same night. While tanks are a critical component for raiding guilds, an awesome tank does not a successful guild make. You still need the DPS and the healers to play at their best. One of my faults is not keeping a tighter finger on the pulse of the guild. It’s difficult to split time between work, raid and just general socializing. It’s also nigh impossible to know what goes on in the heads of others. But I have to make a better attempt somehow even if that means sacrificing my peace and quiet time.

The burden of command is not a light weight to carry at all. Anyone that tries to make such demands for it is just out of their mind.

Next time you’re annoyed about something, I’d suggest talking about it first and requesting it rather than trying to make a threat. Odds are good it won’t end well.

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.

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.

Borsk

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.

_M

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.

Zet

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?

PvP?

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.

Quori

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.

Keeva

Listen

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!

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

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

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:

Melee

  • 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)

Ranged

  • 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!

Tough Call: Is Preparation Enough?

Tough Call: Is Preparation Enough?

683292_50743243Welcome to Tough Call with me, Viktory.  This column aims to answer some questions and start even more discussions about one of the trickier aspects of raiding, raid leadership.  Sometimes “raid leadership” will mean strictly talking about class composition, role management, benching policies and loot, and inevitably sometimes it will bleed over into overall guild leadership. 

Based on my own experiences and the conversations I have every week with current and past guild/raid leaders, I know that this is one area where there is almost no black and white, and everyone can use some help or constructive criticism at times. 

I can tell you now that my answers will not be the universally-applicable answer, nor will they be the happy/nice/”make everyone love me” solutions.  That simply is not effective; raid management isn’t a WordPress plug-in, it’s a graduate-level course in human relations and resource management and we’re all crazy for trying to do it. 

My aim is always to have the most efficient raid possible, so that we can get in, get the job done, then go have a beer and pat ourselves on the back afterwards. 
Bottom line, the intent of this column will be to discuss how to make the decisions that the 24 other people in your raid would hate to make.  After-all, “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”; but hey, you get to wear a frickin’ crown!

Now let’s move on to this week’s topic.

Preparation is the bare minimum

This week, many of you will either be grouping together for your guild’s first serious raids this expansion, or will be seeing more of your guildies hitting the gear levels to be able to join your raiding ranks.  Either way, you should be in a position where you have to decide who you will take to raids and who will be coming in off the bench.

In order to field the best team possible as you roll into a brand new expansion, you cannot always rely on the players who were your all-stars in Wrath.  Some may have grown complacent.  Some may have life commitments that prevent them from gearing-up (or even leveling up) as the same pace as the rest of your guild.  Some may even be less interested in raiding than they were last go-round.  Regardless of the reason, you owe it to your group to take an honest look at every possible option and make the best decisions.

If your group is already 12/12, please accept this High-Five and check back with us next week.  If your group is exactly 10 people and you would never dream of raiding with anyone else regardless of how long you have to wait…  let’s agree to disagree

If you’re still with me, I assume you’re not in one of those first two groups, and you’re probably facing some of the same decisions I’ve had to make this week.

For the sake of argument, let’s presume you’re doing 25-man raiding and have a roster of 30-40 people to choose from.  Six months ago, you could have considered multiple factors: experience, achievements, badge-gear vs boss-drops, etc.

Today, preparation is king.

Preparation does not always mean gear.  Sometimes people can get lucky and every instance they run drops exactly what they need.  I’ve seen it.  That doesn’t mean that they are any more prepared to raid than they were the day before, it just means that they may have a larger margin for error.

  • Among your healers, who is most prepared to keep your team alive when you’re in those first raid encounters?  
  • Who has taken the time to watch the videos, read the boss breakdowns, and consider what parts of their class/spec are best suited for each fight mechanic?  
  • Which of your tanks knows what is expected of them on each fight and which one is just hoping you’ll point them towards a boss and let them button-mash?

It should be absolutely unacceptable for your raid members to expect you to give them boss breakdowns before each pull.  Efficient raids will already be slowed down by new class mechanics and everyone needing new loot, you absolutely cannot allow another 10-15 minutes per raid to explain the strat.  Certainly you may review how your implementation of the suggested strat may differ (where to group on Altramedes, which drake to focus first on Halfus, etc), but the concepts and fight mechanics should have been discussed on your guild forums well before raid day.  This includes making sure the vital roles (such as interrupts, counter-spells, DPS tranquilities, etc.) have been assigned, preferably including back-ups.  If someone cannot meet this minimum standard, then they are not prepared to meet the challenges of raiding in Cataclysm and have made your decision that much easier. 

Remember, your roster should be a living document, constantly changing to meet your needs, and hopefully constantly improving as time goes on.  If you bring in the player who is most prepared, the one who went through the beta, has cleared every heroic 20 times, did 10-man raids before your guild had 25 people ready and thinks they know exactly what to do on each fight; that player can still fail.  They might have learned all this to mask the fact that they suck as moving out of the fire.  Preparation doesn’t show skill, but it does show dedication to the ideal of efficient and knowledgeable raiding.

Preparation is king, but it is not a guarantee.  Pick the guys who know what is expected of them so that you stay alive longer and can get the best possible looks at the new content.  Then, after a few nights, go back and use this experience to help you pick out who your top performers are.

Raid Leading 101: 3 Important Communication Tips

Last week, we covered some of the basic pro’s and con’s to both 10- and 25-man raid styles. Thanks everyone to their input and comments. I’ll be updating the post soon to get those new items in there! This week, we cover the art of communication.

Now that you’ve donned the crown of Raid Leader, you have to pontificate with your subjects… meaning you have to talk to your raiders. This sometimes can be the hardest aspect of the job. You definitely have to be more “on the ball” than the other people on the team. In my time as a raider, and also as a Raid Leader, I’ve always found the best Raid Leaders have been great communicators.

Choosing Your Style

When I raid, I like a positive and friendly environment. In raid environments, I usually do best when people are laughing, smiling, and overall having a good time. This is a game for me, and although I take it seriously, I work hard to make sure people are having fun. As a Raid Leader, I try to impress that upon my raiders.

It’s on you, as Raid Leader, to decide how you’re going to motivate your team. Positive reinforcement? Brow-beating? Drill Sergeant? I’m particularly biased towards the positive reinforcement, but I also see the benefits of other styles as well. Think of it this way:

  • You can take each good thing from a wipe and build on it. Encourage that kind of behavior or style of playing. Praise the healers for an excellent job handling that attempt, even if they ended up wiping.
  • You can point out the faults in each attempt, in an effort to discourage that from happening again. Even take it farther and threaten substitution if it happens again. Point out that if the mage doesn’t move the split second he needs to, he’s getting replaced.
  • You can be the strong, silent type. No news is good news. Set your assignments, and let the raiders discover what went wrong.

Either way you go, you must be aware of what kind of style you possess. This will easily decide what kind of raiders you’re going to have. There are plenty of raiders out there that enjoy different styles of raiding. Some like tough competition, some like the team environment. Be conscious of the tone you’re setting, whatever that may be.

Your Intentions

Just like in the olden days when a gentleman would court a lady, they would state their intentions. You must do the same. This goes back to our discussion on motivation. Have you been honest with yourself about your motivation? What do you want to achieve? How do you want to go about it (all things we’ll eventually cover)? You need to be up front with your raiders on what the goal of this adventure is:

  • What size are you going with? 10 or 25?
  • Are you going to work towards heroics? or just normal?
  • Are you bringing close friends? or are you valuing performance over history?
  • What sort of attendance policy do you intend to have?

By setting out the groundwork to your raiders, there’s very little room for guessing on your part. When you talk things out, it solidifies it in your own mind. Also, all of your raiders and potential recruits will know what they’re getting into, and what to expect.

Honesty is the Best Policy

An awesome line from my favorite movie, Swingers: “Respect my ass. What they respect is honesty.” The same holds true for being a Raid Leader. You need to be a straight shooter. If you want someone on your team, you need to be up front about it. If something’s not working out, you gotta speak up.

I’ve learned this first hand as a Raid Leader. **STORY TIME** When I was running the original Team Sport raids, we had a warlock that was never up to snuff. We tried to be up front from the beginning about what we expected of the raid team, and we knew that this warlock wasn’t up to it. Nice person, and fun player but just didn’t have the extra “oomph” to raid at the level we wanted to. Constantly long AFKs, not paying attention in fights, etc. Since we let it go on for so long, it had become acceptable to this player to act like that. When it came down to saying that we wanted to move forward but without the warlock, we were met with some unnecessary drama.

Essentially, if we had been honest up front regarding what we expected and that the warlock’s behavior wasn’t what we were looking for, we would’ve saved a lot of trouble. Now, within the Raid Team, I have little to no problem telling people that not signing up is unacceptable, or that not having food/flask is not gonna cut it. I’m not a jerk about it, but I’m honest with my raiders about what I expect of them on the team, and when they’re not getting invites or raid spots, they should know why.

How have you stepped up to the task of communicating to your raid? Are there any alternate methods/tips you’ve used that have been particularly efficient?

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).

25-man

  • 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.

10-man

  • 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?

 

Raid Leading 101: What’s your motivation?

Welcome to Raid Leading 101! I’m Thespius, and I’ll be writing weekly about the in’s and out’s of what we see (or what you can expect to see) stepping into this coveted leadership role. I plan on covering a variety of individual topics: Tips, Lessons, Conflict, Loot Systems, Recruitment Systems, Scheduling, Add-ons, and whatever you feel needs to be covered. I am a new Raid Leader myself, so I look at this entire experience as a discovery. I’m certainly not perfect, but then again, no one really is.  If you have a topic you’d like covered on “Raid Leading 101″, email it to elder.thespius@gmail.com.

On your mark, get set, GO!

I don’t believe any of us woke up one morning thinking, “Wow, I think I’m gonna be in charge of 9/24+ people!” For the most part, our desire to lead has come from experience. You may have started raiding for the first time, and saw the command that the raid leader had. He/She knew the encounters inside and out and what everyone’s job needed to be. People listened to that “General” and obeyed orders.

OR, you had a horrible Raid Leader. Maybe you felt he/she didn’t have a good hold on the situation, using out-dated or unrealistic strategies. You just felt that the job wasn’t being done correctly, and you started to see all the things NOT to do. Therefore, you take it upon yourself to be a better and wiser Raid Leader.

In either scenario, you most likely learned from what you saw. Something in your past experience guided you to this position. You’re taking the lessons you learned and the stories you lived through, and you’re putting it towards your own system. You have a great trust in what you think is helpful and what is not. The question you have to ask yourself is, “Why?”

Meaning of Life My Leadership

I got my raiding feet wet in Karazhan, and I wanted more. My original guild <Sword Through the Horde> didn’t have the roster to do Serpentshrine Cavern or beyond. I joined <Rise of the Phoenix>. Drama on a low-population server tore it apart. I joined up with the newly-minted <Team Sport>, but the raiding was just too casual. I got cozy with <Concedo Nulli>, but drama crumbled that fun to the ground. I aligned myself with Lodur’s <Unpossible> and found a great home, but it was missing something.

I was missing the friends that I “grew up with” in the game. You’ll probably hear about them throughout this “column”. They’re near and dear to me, which is why I decided to go back to <Team Sport>. However, I knew (as they did) that we needed to implement a more solid structure. They all loved hearing the stories of our boss downings in <Unpossible>, and I would even invite my friend Jayme over to watch our Lich King kills. They were slightly jealous and wanted similar. It was at this point I started to tip-toe into the leadership position.

I’ve discovered that the most important thing to me is to progress through raid content with my friends that share the same mindset. There are 6-7 of us that share the similar belief of a light schedule but with solid progression. Hence, I’ve tasked myself with creating a Raid Team based around that. My closest in-game friends and I taking on 10-mans with force.

Your turn, Grasshopper

So you have to take an inward glance. If you’ve ever thought about taking the “Reins of the Raid”, you have to ask yourself, “Why?” It’s not an easy job, so you need to be passionate. Know what it is you want to accomplish, and stay true to what got you here in the first place. Maybe it’s friendship, maybe it’s hunger, maybe it’s adrenaline. Whatever it is, take some time to identify it. It’s going to be the backbone of your leadership.

What drives you to be the Raid Leader? What is it that convinced you to take on the role?