Halion Down and the Failure Rate

After about two and a half hours of wiping, we managed to secure the Ruby Sanctum (25). I have to say, the amount of coordination and movement made that fight fun for me to heal. Unfortunately, the logs for that encounter don’t appear to be fully functional yet. But all the mechanics, the moving, and other stuff helped reiterate to me that the encounter designers still have tricks up their sleeve. We were one of the few early guilds on the server to have taken him down (possibly the first, but I’m not sure). I suspect other guilds were working furiously on hard mode.

The trash is a nice reminder that we still have crowd control and Misdirects to start pulls. AoEing stuff isn’t always a solution. Hibernate comes in handy here (and don’t forget to split up the trash).

Every once in a while, I get a question that sounds something like this:

Hey Matt, why does your guild suck?

I usually interpret it as “Why is your guild behind on progression?”

There’s a variety of reasons. The biggest one that hit us a month ago was the attendance boss. I knew that I had a window narrowing to take down Lich King otherwise it would become extremely difficult to get things going again. I wasn’t just happy when we killed him. I was immensely relieved. It was a lot of pressure and weight off my shoulders because a kill, even with a 20% buff, was enough to help us get noticed. With some luck, maybe we won’t get stoned by the attendance boss.

The failure rate

I am personally of the belief that every player has some sort of failure rate. That is, that player has a chance where they will cause a mistake that potentially leads to a wipe. Whether it happens to be awareness, computer issues, latency (or the fact that the latest patch just destroys their computer after an hour), for whatever reason that player is going to screw up.

No, in fact, every player is guaranteed to screw up at some point. What separates them? The fact that some people don’t individually screw up as much as compared to others. For example, maybe one player screws up 1 in every 5 raids and another player screws up 1 in every 30 raids. And we’re talking minor things like not running out of fire, not dispelling an effect fast enough (for which I am guilty of), or not using a cooldown at the right time to catastrophic errors like dropping a Defile in the middle of the room or missing a bite on Blood Queen and getting mind controlled. Failure rates are going to fluctuate among players due to all sorts of factors.

After being a GM for over two years now, I think I finally learned an important lesson.

  • No matter how much gear you give a player.
  • No matter how much coaching and training you provide.
  • No matter how many tips, videos, and suggestions you send their way.
  • No matter what kind of technology they invest in.

There is always a chance that their success rate will not increase at all. Not every player is going to improve.

Right now, I’m in the midst of internally reviewing everyone. I don’t expect every player I have now to stay when the expansion debuts. Some will move on and change guilds to suit their style or times. Others will have to deal with life stuff like getting married or school. I know that I will be committing to another expansion for sure. Cutting players is something that I still haven’t quite properly learned how to do. I know the process. I know the words. I wish I knew where the resistance is and how to lessen it. I find myself reviewing players and raids, who stands out and who didn’t.

You know what I realize?

Unfortunately, it’s always the misplays, misclicks and mistakes that are engraved in the memories of raid leaders and officers everywhere. We’re built to remember when people screw up, not when they excel (unless when they really stand out and shine). Do you find it odd that when things go well, when everyone is executing as they should, nothing is really mentioned of it? It’s like like it’s completely expected. It’s just another typical raid night. Things are as it should be. Accomplishments and clutch plays just seem to be taken for granted.

I don’t know where I was going with that.

Besides, we still have several months until the expansion. Even though it may not matter as much anymore, it’s still satisfying for me to take down this stuff on hard mode. I often wonder what it’s like in top 500+ world guilds at this point in time. Would they still be raiding? Have many players burned out? At that level, it seems to me that players would eventually just get… bored. There’s nothing else left to do in the PvE scene until there are new bosses available.

Then again, I think that is a different mentality altogether. I know I’d like to experience it once but I also know I could never sustain the energy or the time required.

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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.

Comments

  1. My boyfriend is in the #2 guild on our server and they’ve just got one thing left to kill: LK 25 heroic, which is apparently very hard. They’ve been wiping on him for a month or more. What I’ve noticed is that he’s increasingly angry and grumpy in WoW (he sometimes helps out with my 10-man guild who’s 9/12 in heroic modes). Sometimes it’s pure tiredness or stress from work, but I’m sure at least part of it is simply seeing the same content for so long, and knowing that the only thing you still have to achieve is so hard.

    So I have to agree with you – being behind on progression is tons of fun. My guild is less than 3 months old but we’re doing amazing, I’m actually starting to get worried that we’ll run out of content before Cataclysm… what to do when you’re a raider and there’s nothing left to raid?
    (Most of us come from 25-man guilds so there’s not even upgrades in ICC 10 heroic to farm.)
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..Enjoying the QQ =-.

  2. “Do you find it odd that when things go well, when everyone is executing as they should, nothing is really mentioned of it? It’s like like it’s completely expected. It’s just another typical raid night. Things are as it should be. Accomplishments and clutch plays just seem to be taken for granted.”

    Such is the life of a discipline priest, saving peoples’ lives and topping them off when they should’ve died frequently goes unnoticed. Maybe I should write an addon which sends tells to people who would’ve died, had my PW:S not been on them. Either that or keep it in a log which I can then read after leaving combat

  3. Matt you suck because you eat and you eat because you suck it is a vicious cycle

  4. Besides, we still have several months until the expansion. Even though it may not matter as much anymore, it’s still satisfying for me to take down this stuff on hard mode. I often wonder what it’s like in top 500+ world guilds at this point in time. Would they still be raiding? Have many players burned out? At that level, it seems to me that players would eventually just get… bored. There’s nothing else left to do in the PvE scene until there are new bosses available.

    Then again, I think that is a different mentality altogether. I know I’d like to experience it once but I also know I could never sustain the energy or the time required.

    I’m in Skunkworks (formerly Casually Serious) and we’re a top 500 guild. We’re currently working on Heroic LK and got him to 17% last week; he’ll be dying in this buff iteration.

    We raid two nights a week, four hours a night. Period. Doesn’t matter for progression, doesn’t matter if we’re close to a kill; we raid two nights a week. 10 mans are optional and organized out of band. We’re only going to raid 4 hours this week because of the reset of our server on Tuesday.

    We’ve done all the content in the game save HLK. Yogg0, Algalon, Ironbounds, Insanity. And while we think about what we need to do on each fight a lot – there’s a lot of theorycrafting and research and debating – I doubt very seriously that it’s any more than what you spend working on fights.

    Now, part of the reason that we work is that we’re a niche guild. We cater to those who want to play the game hard core but can’t due to time constraints or other factors. All of the players in the guild are very good players who could make it in any top guild. They just can’t put in the time committment. That helps with recruiting and helps form a solid core; we’re all older and more mature. But part of it is that we take our commitment seriously, we focus when we are raiding, we are all driven towards getting things down (and not by loot), we are critical and able to take criticism, and we are efficient. We get everything but LK down in 2.5 hours.

    So you don’t need to be amazingly dedicated to be in the top 500. And i think with Cataclysm, you’ll find a lot more guilds like us.
    .-= kal´s last blog ..Druid NOM NOM NOM =-.

    • @kal: I would not be surprised if there were more guilds like yours that’ll be appearing especially with the expansion. I was mainly referring more to the guilds that start out going hard and spending many hours as possible to score t heir server or world or region firsts. I expect that time spent would eventually decrease over a period of time (as players get more accustomed to it at least).

  5. Well by definition you are amazingly dedicated. Dedication doesn’t mean you play the game 24/7 It means that when you do play it you excel at it. I can look at your Log files and see that probably all your DPS is where they should be and all your Healers are doing what they should be. The problem with Matt’s guild was you had a probably 5-8 people every raid that were not doing what they should be doing. In a 25 man raid that is trying to progress that is big limitation.

    I think now with Matt’s guild alot of that dead weight is gone. Now the guild is back to being able to tackle harder content with resonable expectations on its player base. There are still some weaker players but recruiting seems to be going alot better these days

  6. I’ve been thinking about that lately. It’s the time of year where a lot of guilds normally lose a lot of people and have attendance issues because of summer. I also wonder how much the expansion is affecting that too. I’m sure a lot of people figure they’ll just level and do 10 mans if it’s just going to give them the same loot as 25s. I’d be curious to see how many guilds last through the next few months and into the expansion.

    I agree with you on the getting bored point. I took FOREVER to hit 80. I wanted to see the expansion and all the quest, etc. I was in no hurry to start raiding because I knew it wasn’t going anywhere. I will probably do the same with the next expansion too. I like downing all the content but I see no reason for it to be on a super fast timeline. 🙂
    .-= Amber´s last blog ..Initial Thoughts on Ruby Sanctum =-.

  7. Leylanna says:

    I certainly wouldn’t classify Skunkworks as a top 500 guild but I guess the only thing separating the top 200 from top 2500 is a heroic Lich King kill.

    I can tell you what it’s like for all those folks though:

    Top 100 guilds: the core raiders are either not even playing or screwing around with PVP while their trials and new people clear content for gear.

    Top 100-150: They’re farming for expansion gear.

    Top 150-200: They’re desperately trying to repeat their Lich King kill.

    Top 200-500: Spending miserable nights banging their heads against H:LK and wondering why they still play.

    Top 500-1000: Wiping on H:LK and pretending one or both of the following: that they’re actually IN the top 500, that the reason they’re failing is their abbreviated raid schedule, not their skill. (My guild is in this group, btw)

  8. I certainly wouldn’t classify Skunkworks as a top 500 guild but I guess the only thing separating the top 200 from top 2500 is a heroic Lich King kill.

    I guess that’s your perogative to believe, Leylanna. We got 502 Heroic PP, 400s HLK10, 400s Grand Crusade, 400s Algalon and Yogg-0. While we’re not competitive with some of the higher guilds in some ways, we certainly are in others – and one of the reasons I say this is because we did go back and do things like Yogg0 when there was no reason other than achievement to do so. We did do things like extend lockouts simply because we didn’t want to waste the time doing farm content when we could be progressing.

    It’s quite the common reaction to say that you have to be playing a ton in order to be doing well. Nurfed is the best example of a guild that doesn’t do this, but we’re also in that boat. If you’re playing 3 days a week or more and wondering why you’re not as progressed, there are reasons beyond ‘we don’t raid enough’.

    Top 200-500: Spending miserable nights banging their heads against H:LK and wondering why they still play.

    Top 500-1000: Wiping on H:LK and pretending one or both of the following: that they’re actually IN the top 500, that the reason they’re failing is their abbreviated raid schedule, not their skill. (My guild is in this group, btw)

    Sorry to hear you’re not having such a good time. Skunkworks doesn’t fall into this boat. Yes, we’re wiping. And yes, I’m sure we’d have done better had we spent more time on HLK than we have (we’re estimated at spending about 30 total hours on it, give or take a few). We aren’t as skilled as many of the guilds in the top 100 (though we have plenty of folks from those guilds), but we’re certainly not butting our heads against a wall and wondering why we play. We’re excited to be close to a kill and try it again. I don’t know if we’ll get it this week, but I do think we’re going to be repeatedly getting to P3 this week.
    .-= kal´s last blog ..Druid NOM NOM NOM =-.

  9. Leylanna says:

    I must not have been clear. I had meant to say that I totally agree with Mat’s post. I’m a firm believer that 90% of progression is skill, not time, based.

    The difference between top guilds and the rest has never been based on time. They just don’t tollerate failure rate the way Matt is describing and they have the reputation to demand it from their players. Guilds beyond top 200 can’t afford to kick a player because they dropped a bad defile. Guilds like ours have to live with it for attendence/recruitment issues.

    The ‘wondering why they play’ part must just come from my own personal hatred of watching people make the same stupid mistakes they’ve been making for months. If that’s not butting your head against a wall I don’t know what is. I guess that doesn’t bother some people but it’s awful as well as frustraiting to me.

  10. Guilds beyond top 200 can’t afford to kick a player because they dropped a bad defile. Guilds like ours have to live with it for attendence/recruitment issues.

    See, I disagree. Especially about trial players. That way of thinking just leads to driving off your good players in search of groups that won’t tolerate failure. It’s much better to be understaffed with good players and be picky than it is to be overstaffed with players that can fill in. Some guilds like mine deal with shortages on nights by asking socials to come along and fill in on those nights, and that basically works out. Others recruit for the bench. But you can always choose to remove raiding based on quality. If you don’t, you can expect that you won’t get quality.
    .-= kal´s last blog ..Druid NOM NOM NOM =-.

    • @kal: And you just hit the nail on the head right there.

      On the one hand, there is that element you describe of not accepting complete failures. The problem is not every encounter can be done short handed (or if you’re missing key roles). There may not be any players (or any socials) available.

      Keep repeating nights where there isn’t enough players to run a quality raid, and players will start looking elsewhere because they’re getting restless. People in raiding guilds typically want to raid.

      Best place to be in is to be overstaffed with quality players ^^. For me though, at the end of te day, I want to make sure I have enough bodies to field a run. If there are complete failures in the group, they’re generally identified and the appropriate head hunting of select class/role can begin!

  11. Leylanna says:

    Umm…I’m confused. You say you kick players who make mistakes but you haven’t downed H:LK? You guys must have a ton of socials or run through trials like WHOA! Tell me your recruitment secrets, lol!

  12. We don’t kick players for making mistakes. The trials that don’t work out tend to be ones that continually make the same mistakes and are otherwise underperforming, or don’t fit in culturally. We’ve not downed HLK yet because it’s a fairly hard encounter.

    And there’s a big difference between dropping a bad defile and dropping a suboptimal one.

    I’m just saying that you can make a choice as to what your quality bar is, and then choose to recruit for it or accept substandard quality recruits because you need them. My guild doesn’t do the latter. I don’t think our quality bar is quite as high as, say, Premo’s or Vodka, but it’s certainly a fairly high standard. And yes, there have been times when the recruiting has sucked and we’ve been down multiple people, and we’ve not been able to do as much raiding as we like. The nice thing is that for the most part, the people in our guild are raiding as little as they can because they have other things outside of WoW they would like to do, so a night off now and then is not the end of the world.

    Plus, like I said, we’re a niche. If people want to play with very good players who take their role seriously, strive to be better and want to kill things instead of getting gear but only want to do it 2 nights a week, there aren’t that many games in town right now.

    Best place to be in is to be overstaffed with quality players

    Nah. Having to sit people and spread your gear out just means you won’t progress as quickly as you could. That being said, I’ve been in a guild that staffed to the gills to ensure there was never a called raid, and I vastly prefer the guild that recruits what they need with the possibility of being short while keeping a very high quality bar.
    .-= kal´s last blog ..Druid NOM NOM NOM =-.

  13. “Nah. Having to sit people and spread your gear out just means you won’t progress as quickly as you could. That being said, I’ve been in a guild that staffed to the gills to ensure there was never a called raid, and I vastly prefer the guild that recruits what they need with the possibility of being short while keeping a very high quality bar.”

    We were top 500 but have since been pushed out by failing to get a LKHM25 kill. In wrath I’d say that it actually isn’t as much of a problem over-recruiting but if you’re racing for world firsts then generally you don’t need to because you have a solid core in any case. Our problem is that we’re on a small pop server and find it hard to find quality recruits. The only times we’ve had decent quality apps has been the times we managed something reputable like TOGC25 or when we killed LK25 normal.

    TBH Zal your guild sounds perfect about now for me 😛 I’m considered the slacker officer because I got a new job recently and can only make 2/4 raids a week.
    .-= Echo´s last blog ..I Haz Announcementz =-.

  14. All this talk of Heroic Lich King separating the best from the rest makes me depressed. Check out the 10-man strict progress on guildox: http://www.guildox.com/go/g.asp?a=2&s=1&r=&w=

    We could be number one in the world any day now, but more likely we’ll just keep wishing that 10-player content was tuned from 10-player guilds.

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