Guerrilla Raiding: How To Scale Up to 25 Mans

Guerrilla Raiding: How To Scale Up to 25 Mans


My guild is special. No, really. We’re like a guerrilla force descending from our airborne stronghold to plunge deep behind enemy lines in a surprise raid. This is, you see, an affectionate way of describing my guild’s raids.

We are a small, ten-strong band of fighters not all wearing the same colours because our roots are in a small core relying on PUGgers. It is sometimes a surprise when our raids get going, even though they’re organised in advance. Yet despite these things we’ve managed to storm the citadel right up to Rotface. Not only that, we’re thinking to scale up to 25 man operations. How I hear you cry, is that special?

My guild, you understand, is not a raiding guild. At least that’s what we keep telling ourselves. Herding Cats is a small group of real life friends. But many moons ago we got together, grabbed a few random PUGgers, and poked our noses into Naxxramas, like guilds do. Northrend’s raids became second homes over the months.

In ye olde Naxx runs we decided we just wanted PUGgers to be friendly. Not imbah, not a great tactician, not rocking 18k DPS. Our raids might not be lightning fast but they should be jolly good fun, old chap. Whenever we found a friendly stranger we rejoiced. And kidnapped them. Oh, we didn’t recruit – only invited them to our raids. In this way we cultivated a network of friendly people who fit in with the raiding group.

Our network of non-guildies quickly outgrew the slots we had for 10 man raiding and priority was given to people who were already raiding with us. We thought it sensible to develop a core. Tactically the group would become a single unit capable of learning encounters and to work together in order to move forward. Naturally this had social benefits for our raid members, who were rewarded with progression, loot and group friendships.

The downside of this was that many Herding friends are left out. As the raid leader/organiser, I really feel bad about this downside, as we are lucky enough to have people ask every week if there’s a raid spot for them this week even though they’re often told “I’m sorry but we’re full at the moment.”

So my guild is special but not unique. I’d wager there are a lot of guilds either already in our position or considering adapting to something like it.

How can we include people? 25 mans. Our network is big enough to fill 15-20 slots of a 25 man raid. It’s one huge step for Herding-kind. Dangerous almost. It might bite. Going into the hydra’s den unprepared is a bad idea so we’re arming ourselves and going at it as a team. We’re still thinking about it but this is the current battle plan.

1. Delegation. There are a lot of hats to wear in a 25 man so we’ve agreed to split the hats between the five of us. We’ll have leaders for each role, and they will each have a chat channel to communicate with their players. For example, in the tanks channel the tank leader will ascribe tactics to the tanks and foster communication between them. The other leaders will do the same for healers and melee and ranged DPS. The raid leader’s task is to introduce the raid, keep an eye on the group chat channels, be the deciding force in conflicts and handle unforeseen shenanigans. We’ll also have someone acting as a mentor. Unofficially we’ll have someone else as a morale officer and someone acting as a raid HR department.

2. Housekeeping. This is a brief introduction to the raid, given by the raid leader, which sets out a few basic points. These include our core principles for the run – for example, that we will welcome people amicably and expect them to do the same in return. We’ll also set out other rules on behaviour, breaks, tactics and loot. I’ve spoken before about how important this is, and it can only get more important the more people you have to organise. Setting clear rules from the start creates a safe, fun raid for everyone, Herding Cats veteran or first-timer and gives everyone a fair warning of what’s expected of them before we start.

It relaxes strangers, too. I think that people can join PUG raids expecting an atmosphere of every man for himself; having to constantly defend their playing style, DPS, healing, gear, whatever. We’ve had PUGgers say they’re pleasantly surprised to find a group where this isn’t the prevailing culture.

3. Communication. I believe the more information you communicate the more time you’ll save on wipes. Tactics are fluid things, changeable in progression content and per player experience. We’ll explain tactics for all encounters, provide a chance for suggestions and encourage raiders to ask questions in chat or privately to raid officers at any time. Officers will also keep an eye on their players and have a quiet chat if they suspect a player isn’t clear on something. “Hello Mr.. rogue, nice work on adherents there but you didn’t seem to get any time stabbing Deathwhisper. Any questions about that?” Likewise, we’ll check in with random raiders at random times to find out how they’re feeling.

Communication is most important when things go wrong. When we wipe we have a quick brainstorm in Herding Cats Land. Then we talk to the raid, saying something like “ok, what went wrong there was a deformed fanatic getting loose as phase 2 started. Easy mistake, we’ll get it right this time. Oh, and nice work on her mana shield, guys.”

4. Social. I play this game for fun, don’t know about you. It’s not a single player game and I like interacting with other people. I hope our raiders do too, but in a large group it’s easy for negativity to spread. The morale officer will keep the atmosphere cheery. The mentor’s role is just as important. It’s his task to be there for anyone who’s in any way unsure or needing reassurance. They might be new to raiding, they might be unsure in group settings, they might still be learning their class (who isn’t?). We welcome new players – given the right encouragement they can turn out to be some of the most loyal and best you’ll find.

5. Networking. We can’t fill 25 spots off the bat. We rather like that. It means that we have room to do what we did way back in Naxx times: meet new people and kidnap them to our raids. This way our network will grow whenever we find a new person we like and the entire group will benefit both in raiding and social terms.

If we get a PUGger we don’t like? We call them ‘That Guy’. You know – the guy who backseat raid leads, continually pastes DPS meters, abuses other group members. The list can go on. Ideally we’ll have a very strict policy, backed up by the housekeeping which already informed people what standards we work by. Some people have different attitudes and expectations to raiding than what they find in our group: that’s fine, but if you join a group you go by their expectations.

If someone insults our group members or any Cat finds them annoying in some way, they’re out. Sorry. I don’t care if they’re saved for one raid lockout, I don’t care if they’re the leader of the server’s top raiding guild. I don’t care if they’re hitting 11k healing every fight. I’ll protect my own group over someone who’s just griefed the priest healer they know nothing about. I think this is the most controversial point of our game plan, particularly if we just find someone annoying.

So those are the basics of our arsenal. There are some finer points such as where to begin our venture: we’re thinking ToTC25 for the first raid. It’s relatively short and should be a good ground to help the raid find its feet and bond. Not only that but it should provide some folks with bits of kit for the real progression and leave everyone salivating over the prospect of more next time. We also have a raid spam addon tailor-made for our needs in the works.

And do we, the raid officers, know what we’re doing? Why, yes, old bean. We know the enemy lines and the guerrilla force we’re leading into the Lich King’s chambers.

What about you? Is your guild in a similar position, or considering something like this – are you worried it’ll be a lot more work than you have time for? Are you in a large guild that does in house runs? Are you a PUGger who wishes you did/did not come across more groups like this? Do you think leaning a bit towards carebearing is going to hold us back or benefit us in the long term (and what’s YOUR playing style)?

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  1. That seems to be how our guild rolls as well. We pick up strays from the small micro guilds of friends and include them in the core raiding group. Heck that is how I got in with them and now I am a “core guild raider” even when my level 80 was waiting for her old guild members to join this one or find a new home. They still considered me a guildie. Bring on the drama too much and oops we just forget to invite you at all anymore.

    I agree I am not interested in the cutting edge progression H Grand Uber leet crap either. I get enough of that in real life. I just want to play in a social raiding environment where people have fun. We are almost able to field a full 10 man team this way.
    .-= Arkaneena´s last blog ..DK tanks Not Quite a "Disaster of Biblical Proportions" =-.

  2. I’m in kind of the same boat. I love my guild, and I want to raid with them, but my schedule doesn’t allow me to meet their schedule more than 1 night a week–if that. It’s why I had to leave Conquest, sadly, too. In my spare time, I’ve been working on a Paladin to get to 85 for Cataclysm, but I want to see the ICC fights, too. I just want to see this content; I’ve toyed around with the idea of starting 10-man PuGs with a core of a few friends I have on the nights that I am available and filling them out with guildies and puggers as I go, but I figure that’s a lot of hassle if we’re not all in the same guild.
    .-= Professor Beej´s last blog ..Do You Care About Your MMO’s Lore? =-.

  3. It sounds to me that, barring inviting these players to your guild, you already have a decent architecture for a progression guild. Really, you guys sound a lot like my guild in that you have officers, leaders, different chat channels, etc.

    Is there a reason you don’t invite these other players? Do they also have small guilds they are loyal to or do you want to always stay at your core of rl friends?

    I can see staying with friends only. I miss my old guild. I made quite a few friends there while we were raiding Naxx. Then the guild fell apart; people got tired of the game, I guess. I transferred servers and joined a serious progression guild. I have made friends here and we are clearing most of ICC one shot now. Not Putricide or the Queen yet, but their coming. But…. I miss my old friends. I miss blaming everything on Lat, our 16 year old DK, who sounded like McLovin. And our pally who I thought was so OP then (and really was).

    Are you afraid that your guild wouldn’t be the same with new players in it? Or is it the drama that comes with larger guilds the problem? I guess I don’t understand the impetus behind getting a roster together for ICC 25, but not adding to the ranks of your guild.

  4. “My guild, you understand, is not a raiding guild. At least that’s what we keep telling ourselves.”

    Umm… You are a 10 man raiding guild. No way around that. The growth to 25 might be bumpy at first but with guidelines and a solid foundation it should pan out well.
    .-= Cozmo D´s last blog ..You Better Recognize! =-.

  5. It’s amazing how many guilds are adamant about not being a “raiding” guild or a “hardcore” guild. “We are not a hardcore raiding guild, we only raid 3 nights a week!” You are what you are, no need to beat around the bush when describing yourself. Maybe raiding isn’t your focus (it isn’t my guild’s), but if you raid often (like my guild), then you are probably a “raiding guild.”

    I do like how you guys organize your raids, with several officers. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of that.But, because my guild is not a “serious raiding guild,” we’ll never do something like that. It would be too serious. 😛
    .-= RaydenUni´s last blog ..Demigod builds and balancing =-.

  6. Thanks for the comments folks!

    I thnk first and foremost I should clarify something. My comment about us saying we’re not a raiding guild – it was meant humourously, tongue-in-cheek. We know we’re a raiding guild. We are, after all, a guild which raids, however our means of doing it. Not only that, it is the activity we most often persue as a group. It’s just a bit of light-heartedness to say we’re not.

    @Arkaneena – sounds very similar to our playstyle and views on the game. I wonder, if I may – do you have a particularly busy life? I’m wondering if part of the reasoning behind different playstyles is actual lifestyles – what do you think?

    @Professor_beej – sounds like the idea you’re toying around with is what we’ve been doing. It can be a lot of hassle and it is a lot of work, but it can be equally rewarding if you find a group of people who work well together, get along, and can see the content together. Let us know if you do go for it!

    @Tebla – you’ve identified the reasons we’ve not recruited, yet. Many of our ‘regulars’ are in small guilds similar to ours which they have rights to be loyal to. In our turn, my guild, at present, want to stay as a small group of friends. This decision is always one open to consideration for us though, particularly as we are at present organising a real life get together with our non-guilded raiders.

    @RaydenUni – fair play to you guys! We don’t have that level of organisation in 10 mans, though we have a fair amount. I think we are planning to have that much organisation not because we are or aren’t as a group, but because it’s what the situation calls for in order to make it go smoothly. How would you describe your guild – and how do you organise things – and do you think those things are intrinsically linked?
    .-= Mimetir´s last blog ..Juddr: Thinking to scale up to 25 mans in #WoW? Have a read of my musings at WoM: =-.

  7. After reading this article, its all very familiar to me. My guild started out on launch day with a bunch of my real life friends and some people that we met along the way. We made it to 40-man raiding in MC. Since then, we’ve gone through a lot of changes.

    Now, we run 10-mans, but most of the others that are left have no desire to maintain a full raiding guild, so we occationallly run some 25’s with our huge list of friends from around the server.

    I’d rather jump to a higher size, but my remaining rl friends have no interest in it, or don’t have the time any longer to run the show. I really don’t understand what they’re problem is since I always did all the work and they just showed up, but I don’t feel like I can do it without their support. I’m more of a behind the scenes kinda guy, and they’re like Type-A personality people who like to sit there and take the credit.

    I would say good luck to you, it sounds like a sound plan. If people like raiding with you that much, they’ll continue to show, or eventually they’ll just join you because they like the atmosphere. People tend to stick with the guild that’s giving them the gaming experience they want.

  8. To be honest with you, I think your guild is quite lucky that the population is high enough on your server to form 25 men raids with only 10 core raiders in your guild. There are many realms that just simply don’t have such luxury to form 25 men pugs with just 10 cores.

    Because you guys don’t want to deal with the complications of forming a 25 men guild, you will always have a lot of downsides. Just like the downsides with a 25 men raiding guild has.

    I am a casual raider in a 25 men raiding guild. It’s nice to come across a raiding group like that, but I am much more appreciated with running raids with a good guild. The progression is steady, and the upgrades are promising. Also a good guild will help with the need of gems, flasks, mats and etc for raiders as well.

    On Lightbringer realm, we have a lot of pugs going on. Some pugs are quite successful. Some would fail at the trashes. It’s very hard to run successful pugs because you rely on the players skills. Also, running pugs as a raid progression builds no loyalty. Yes you get friendship from pugs(sometimes). But once they found themselves a good guild to stay, you lose a player. Most of the time you lose good players because they want stability in a 25 men raiding guild. You are constantly shuffling cards and relearning stuff.

    IMHO, the complication you have in pugs is not less than the complication in running a 25 men guild. It’s just different kind of complication.

    If you guys really want to have a steady progression, you should try forming a 25 men raiding guild. Keep drama out of the guild quickly and early to stop any ripple effects. Make sure you are fair to raiders and no special treatment to your RL friends(a little bit of favor is fine).

  9. Estamoon – I think that depends on the PUG.

    The current Herding Cats raiding setup isn’t a guild setup, and the 10-man raids are less than half from our guild. Nonetheless, we have had a steady roster of people coming to our raids for the last six months, and currently have Rotface at 11%, which ain’t bad for a once-a-week raid.

    Some people are in smaller guilds that don’t have enough people to raid. Some people like their guild, but don’t like their guild’s raiding culture. Some people just like the way we roll. All of these people like a friendly raiding group (I’m not sure if PUG is the right word) like the Cats.

  10. this sounds very much like our current setup with one difference. We recruit the raiders to join our community before we go raiding with them.
    I will consider to implement your way of meeting new friendly faces though.

    I was wondering, what do you do with BoE items that noone needs, and orbs and saronite. Raidroll or do you bring them into your kitty-bank?

  11. @Xeeon – Thanks for the good luck! Same goes to you. I hope you can find a way to the situation you’re most comfortable with, soon 🙂

    @Estamoon – I see your point, the idea of a guild provides surety to people. However, I think if you do what we’re doing right – building a network with which to raid – and find some special people (we’re very lucky with our group) then you end up with the same thing. They might not have the same guild name but they’re just as loyal to the group as a unit.

    For example, you talk about gems, buffs and mats. A couple of examples: one of our regular, non-guilded raiders is so loyal that they make decisions about which JC recipes to buy based on what is most useful for the group. Another one unfailingly provides a stream of fish feasts. Others insist on providing group members with enchants for new gear as soon as they win it. One of the Herding Cats provides flasks if people don’t have them. All of this is without us asking, people just work together.

    @Noicha – good luck! Let us know how it goes.

    If a BoE item drops and no-one needs it then we raid roll it. No preference is given to anyone in any loot situation. The rules apply to everyone equally and are simple in the interests of fairness and ease of understanding: roll if need, MS before OS, one loot per boss.

  12. My guild did this on a 10-man scale from Karazan to Naxx. After doing naxx for a while we reqruited another group of friends. So now we don’t have to do this anymore wich is good and bad, mostly good but you do meet less nice new people and funny idiots.

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