Friends and Raiders: How Far is Too Far?

Friends and Raiders: How Far is Too Far?

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I’m back after my vacation and feeling very recharged, with that said I bring you today’s post!

This is a question every raid leader has to ask themselves at one point or another. How far can you push your raid before it’s too far? If you push your raiders too far, they drop like flies. Burn out increases at exponential rates and you find yourself actually losing ground. The problem is how does one gauge it? How does a raid leader find the line before they cross it? It’s not easy I can tell you that much. Most people I’ve talked to about this on twitter as well as just passing conversation all have different ideas on how you can find the line.

The topic came up a little over three weeks ago. Our main tank and guild leader (Death Knight) was in the middle of a horrible storm and was making sure his roof was still in tact, needless to say he wasn’t there for Vezax (and understandably so). This left us with our Second highest tank (Prot Paladin). In addition to this we were down a couple raiders due to vacations or family events. If you’ve read up on Vezax you’ll know he has an ability called Surge of Darkness. A Death Knight is able to blow cooldowns every time it’s being cast (part of the reason it’s DK tanking is getting a slight nerf) and makes the ability moot. The other tanks don’t have the luxury of having a cooldown available for every surge. One strategy is to kite him around for the 10 seconds the ability is active, but we like to reduce movement on boss fights as much as we possibly can. After a couple wipes we developed an idea for a cooldown rotation involving the Pally’s CDs, two Guardian Spirits and Pain Supression. The night was filled with all sorts of Murphy’s law. Everything that could go wrong did. After every attempt though I kept trying to push the raid forward. This is an easy fight all things considered, we’ve killed him before multiple times and 90% of what was going wrong was outside of control. No reason to quit right? After 12 attempts we finally kill him again.

After the raid I was talking to one of our warlocks, he commented that the number of attempts we made almost broke him. So I asked him if he though I was pushing the raid too far. He replied with “one more and probably”. The week after we had a similar issue with Thorim. Murphy came out and smacked us around just a little bit with random DC’s and bugged mobs, and after several attempts we were all feeling worn down and called it a night after we toppled him.

As a raid leader there is nothing more frustrating then wiping on farm content, be it through player error or laws of the universe conspiring against you. Those of you who follow me on Twitter probably remember many of my in between wipe comments like “I think I need to kick a puppy”. Being in charge, even just in part of a raid can be very frustrating. When the event fails it’s hard not to take it upon yourself and feel like you failed, or let the guild down. The burden of responsibility comes with a certain amount of guilt and most raid leaders will tell you as much. Sometimes we walk away in defeat and try again later, other times we push harder to meet the goal. Raid leaders have to know though, when it’s time to lick your wounds and come back later.

If they don’t learn when it’s time to call it they run the risk of increasing raider burn out and doing more harm then good to the raid overall. So what do we look for?

Performance

Watching your raids performance is one of the ways a raid leader can tell if they are pushing the raid too far. Are your top DPS getting lower on the charts? Is the raid missing easy interrupts? Are people who normally don’t fail at void zones failing at void zones? Is there an overall increase in the frequency of easily prevented deaths?

When you see your raid’s performance start to dip you have to stop and ask yourself, why. Is it because of bugs or lag? Bad luck with connections and addons? Is it just too late in the evening? If you find raid performance dipping with no good reason or outside cause, it might be time to call it a last attempt and then sleep it off.

Morale and Attitude

Another good indicator is the general mood of the raid. Is everyone still having a good time? Is everyone talkative on vent? Is everyone moping about or seemingly disinterested in the raid? People seem like they are ready to go to bed? If your morale in the raid is slipping, you bet performance is going down hill. Also when morale slips, tension between raiders can rise as well. Sometimes this can lead to confrontation if you’re not careful.

I have a raider who I adore, she’s one of my favorite people in the world. Every now and then I’ll get a tell from her with a statement something like “this isn’t going well is it?” , “grrrrrrr what are we doing different tonight?!?”, “I think I need to lay down =(“. It’s usually at this point I know it’s time to call it a night, or getting there very quickly. She’s usually very chipper and gives it her all. But when I get one of those tells I know we’re going to be winding down soon as morale is starting to take a turn south.

Raider input

This is a big one for me at least. I listen to my raiders. If a raider comes to me and says that it’s just too much, I listen. I expect my raiders to be vocal.  If there is a problem or concern I expect that they will tell me. I know my guild leader expects the same as well. As a raider you should be able to go to the raid officers and let them know when you feel yourself slipping for whatever reason. Your raid leaders aren’t psychic (even if we are using Big Brother) and sometimes the only way we know what’s going on is when you tell us. We are after all only human so help us out when you can.

That’s it for today.

Until next time, Happy Healing.

Sig

Image courtesy of  http://images.paraorkut.com

6 Ways to Reject a Guild App Without Sounding Like an Angry Ex

6 Ways to Reject a Guild App Without Sounding Like an Angry Ex

In the spirit of the blogger’s challenge I laid out last Saturday, I felt it was only fair to come up with a post of a similar theme.

I issued a question to the Twitterati asking them this:

On what grounds have you had to turn away guild apps?

Of the multiple responses I received, I was able to consolidate the majority into 6 real reasons guilds reject players.

Some of these reasons sound eerily familiar. Probably because I’ve been on the receiving end of all of them at some point.

It’s not you. It’s me.

@greyseer Attitude does not align with core purpose or ideals

This is the one of the more often used rejection reasons. Sometimes a player just does not fit in with the rest of the guild for whatever reason. Player personality plays a strong role in the minds of most GMs. If a personality clashes, then the door is closed. Perhaps the applicant is simply too liberal in their use of language which makes players uncomfortable. Maybe they’re looking to do nothing but PvP in a progression raiding guild. Whatever it is, the applicant just doesn’t have a place in the guild’s grand scheme of things.

You’re not open with me enough.

@asara_dragon Poor command of language on application
@cuppy Didn’t follow app instructions
@misskeli Didn’t fill app at all

First impressions matter. When GM’s are exposed to you for the first time, your language use plays an integral part in how you virtually “look and sound”. Take the time to put in the periods and capitals. Run it through a spellcheck. Come across as professional and intelligent. The guild app is your way of “selling” and marketing yourself to the guild. Even if you’re the best player around on the server, a crappy application will stone your efforts. Prove yourself out of the game or else you might not get the chance to prove yourself in the game.

Even worse than leaving a bad first impression is not following the instructions. If an applicant can’t follow instructions on a simple post, who is to say they can follow instructions in raids?

I think we need to go on a break.

@sylus Reputation for guild hopping
@Nightravyn Known drama llama
@dadexter Known to rob guild banks

These types of players are lone wolves. They travel from guild to guild exhausting their resources until they are no longer welcome. Fortunately, the names of such players spread quickly and far via trade chat and forums. It’s advisable for guilds to maintain their own blacklist for players that their guild should stay away from.

I’m just not interested in you right now.

@Threon We’ve got 4 Resto Druids
@Narayu People that app that are classes we’re full on.

Even outstanding apps have to get rejected. There are only 25 positions available in a raid. Some players already have cemented positions and it is extremely difficult to dislodge such people. It all boils down to having no room. Barring some kind of emergency, full time players who raid are full time for a reason. Their attendance is virtually flawless. This reason for rejecting players becomes more apparent in progressed guilds. They just can’t fit any more players, classes or roles into their raids. I’ve had to release some people over the past few weeks because I knew they wanted to raid and it wasn’t fair for them to be kept on retainer. They deserved to raid. There is still time for them to look for other guilds to join.

I’m too busy focusing on life and my career to get involved.

@siha You can’t make our raid times
@crazeigh Attendance and availability

Players apply with intentions to raid. Some guilds are okay with a 50% attendance rate or what have you. Other guilds expect raiders to be able to go at it from start to finish. Obviously it is not possible to expect flawless attendance. From experience, I can say that guilds I’ve been in, there is an expectation that players show up to a set amount (as a minimum). Given the choice between two identically geared and skilled players, I will always start with the player that can go from start to finish as opposed to the one that has to leave every night right before Patchwerk. From a management perspective, it just makes sense. A player that can only be available for a small amount of time is not going to be able to serve the guild well in a raid capacity.

You can’t afford me.

@Kreeoni Gear is lacking

Older friends have told me that companies generally don’t care what type of degree I have. I was freaking out because I was second guessing my program choices for school. Kimbo, an officer, explained to me that companies only care that you have the piece of paper that says you’ve got your 4 years or 120 credits. Whether it’s Psychology, Criminology, Sociology or Business Administration isn’t as big of a factor (in most cases but I know someone’s going to say “but yes it plays a HUGE factor”.

Having the degree shows you have the discipline and perseverance to work your way through school.

That mentality has some merit here. I’ve always held the belief that gear and skill are equally important. I need the weapons and armor to do my job. But I need the knowledge and skills to use my gear effectively.

Having your Sons of Hodir enchants or your exalted Rep faction gear demonstrates that you put a lot of time and effort into your character. Having high end heroic blues or a smattering of epics shows that you’re willing to grind through to get what you want. Appropriate gems and enchants show that you know how to best augment your character (unlike that one Priest I saw with nothing but agility gems. Hmm!

Finally, with raiding instances set to go up in difficulty, it becomes clear that minimum throughput of DPS and healing are only going to go up. For example, the gear requirement for pre-nerf Sunwell was much higher than a fray into Gruul’s Lair of Magtheridon’s cavern. The entire raid has to reach a certain minimum baseline performance in order to kill a boss. Otherwise the enrage timer hits or healers run out of mana and it’s game over.

Why have you or your guild rejected applicants? Do you have any good (or sad) stories you like to share?

Image courtesy of nyuszika

Open Discussion: How Do You Improve Players Without Coming out as an Arrogant Jerk?

Open Discussion: How Do You Improve Players Without Coming out as an Arrogant Jerk?

 
Image courtesy of kalilo

The above picture is quite fitting. The shot is of one bear standing atop of a log looking down at another bear. It’s almost as if the tall bear is trying to tell the other bear that his technique of catching fish is incorrect. I suspect that both bears engage in a bear-like scrap which involves tussling the opponent around until they both run out of breath and call it a draw.

This leads me to today’s open discussion post. I’m going to describe to you a completely and entirely hypothetical situation.

Seriously.

Let’s assume for the moment that I’ve lost several healers over the course of two weeks. The fact that it really did happen has no bearing at all whatsoever on his hypothetical scenario.

We take on 3 extra healers, all considerably green in terms of experience and gear. They’ve done Black Temple and Hyjal a combined 5 times. Their health is not up to par. Their spec is even more puzzling. The primary reason we take them is because if we don’t, we are effectively paralyzed.

Again, hypothetically speaking.

You understand my beliefs in the matter. A raiding guild that is not raiding is not a raiding guild.

I want to help

I want to do whatever I can to get these players developed and up there in no time. But attacking a healer’s technique, gear, spec, and situational awareness can be a bit disorienting all at the same time. Unfortunately, my guild doesn’t exactly have a lot of time to spend waiting around for them to see the light. So I have to shine a really large bulb in their eyes right now so that changes can be made as quick as possible in order to balance the ship.

Did anyone who read that last paragraph understand what I was trying to say there?

In other words, if I get all nice and touchy-feely I might not get taken seriously enough. If I don’t get taken seriously enough, then they will still continue their mistakes and inefficiencies. If that continues, I will have to eventually turn to look for other solutions and I start right at the beginning going through the processes again.

On the other hand, if I come on too strong, they become defensive and tone deaf to the suggest improvements that I offer. This results in them nodding and of course, not doing as I ask.

Where are all the healers?

I don’t exactly have a whole lot of healers barging down my door begging to apply. I have to work with what I have. Skipping straight from T4 instances to T6 would just about overload anyone.

As my distant cousin Carlos Juan Atticus would say, "you loco, ese".

How can I possibly pack six months worth of raiding skill, information, and knowledge into a two week trial period? Because that’s all the time I have before these guys either sink or swim. We let them go in favour of looking for new ones. There is no readme file on how to be an awesome healer. Compressing information such as positioning, healer smarts, situational awareness, and all these big mumbo jumbo terms is tough.

Which leads me to…

I have to trim down all this fat. I have to tell them what they need to know, what they need to do, how to do it, when to do it, and why they should do it. Don’t ask me why, but people find it reassuring to know why they are doing the things they do. Do you know how amazingly cooperative people get if you give them a perfectly logical reason as to why they should do something?

Example, every time you see a Doomfire, abandon healing your tank and run. Why? Because they’ll die if they don’t. A dead healer is a useless healer.

Never forget my principles.

I want these players to get better so that I don’t have to bring in a new batch of healers to shepherd. 3 hours of my time is spent in the raid. When I handle assignments and briefings on what healers are doing, I do it several trash pulls before. This way, I don’t waste time when we get in front of a new boss and spend 10 minutes explaining exactly what we’re doing, where, when, how, and why.

It’s quite satisfying to hear my raid leaders call out for various things to find them already done.

"We need Shadow Resist buff."
"Done."
"Did anyone tell the new priest what they’r-"
"Done."
"By the way, Lang needs a fear war-"
"Already up and 10 seconds in."
"So the paladin knows who to hea-"
"Yeah, main tank, can we pull now?"

I wonder how many man hours I’ve saved.

About me

I am an extremely direct person. If I want something, I’m going to say it. If I see something wrong, I’m going to mention it. My trouble is that I want to convey my thoughts in a manner where I won’t come out as an ass yet can instill a sense of urgency.

Let’s talk about specs.

Let’s hypothetically assume there is a Priest with a 21/40 build (that’s Divine Spirit without the improved, and the Circle of Healing without the Circle of Healing).

Can you tell me what is wrong with that?

A normal person might say nothing. It’s a perfectly decent spec and players should be allowed to spec however they want. Empowered Healing does increase base flash heal and greater heal by a sizeable margin, to be sure.

The healing lead would have alarm bells go off in their heads. Can you tell me why? In a raid, there are 25 players allowed. A certain percentage consist of tanks, DPS, and healers.

This is the argument that I would make and that I would say but I would just feel so guilty of saying (I do have a guilt complex).

"Bob, you know, you’re an excellent healer. You do what you’re told and heal who you’re asked to heal. You’ve been a tremendous service to the Guild. But I’m in a tough bind here. I can only let in 7 healers at a time and you don’t exactly supply a lot of options for yourself. You’re specced Spirit without the Improved Spirit. You also don’t have Circle of Healing. Why should I take you? You’re useless to me. Give me a reason to take you. I want to take you in, I really do. But when I weigh you against the other potential classes, it looks quite grim."

Of course, Bob, the ever so brilliant opportunist would counter with the fact that I don’t have a lot of options to choose from. This brings me back to my opening question. How do you improve players without giving the impression of an arrogant jerk? Because frankly, I am one. But that’s because I care.

I did mention this was all hypothetical, right? This is the kind of material that gets pumped out when a blogger sits idle in a chair with his eyes closed.

It’s quite refreshing.

6 Ways to Stay Inspired in Your Guild by Dr Randy Pausch

6 Ways to Stay Inspired in Your Guild by Dr Randy Pausch

I watched the most touching presentation the other day on Presentation Zen. It was delivered by Dr. Randy Pausch. You see, the professor was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. His doctors informed him that he would only have a few months left before his condition would deteriorate. At Carnegie Mellon University, he gave a presentation that generated an impact worldwide on how he has approached his life.

Here’s the ABC promo on the special of the "Last Lecture".

 

The professor offers a lot of insight into how a person should live their life. But that doesn’t mean that his lessons can’t be translated into World of Warcraft. The actual presentation can be found at the bottom of the post.

Inspiration

We cannot change the cards we are dealt; only how we play the hand

Item drops in the game are completely random. There is nothing you or I or anyone can do to influence what item drops. If your weapon drops and you want it really badly but it ends up going to someone else, are you going to be thrilled for them or brood in a corner? I know that when Archimonde dropped his staff, the first thing that came to my mind was sweet! Why? Because I’d have less competition for it! When it dropped again, I was ecstatic. But then my feral tank just HAD to go and set the bar for 30 DKP effectively forcing me to spend almost double to ensure that I received it.

When you’re screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they gave up

Whether or not you have just started your raiding career or consider yourself a veteran, criticism will come in many shapes and in many forms. I’m notorious for occasionally lapsing in attention during raids every so often (because there is generally a game going on) and I’ve heard about it several times. I can also deliver words of my own. But I don’t do it for the sake of putting them down. I do it because I want them to get better. Like Dr Pausch says, your critics are the ones who still love you and care.

Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls aren’t there to stop you. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough

Do you remember when WoW had attunements? They were usually there for a reason. Blizzard has slowly but surely lowered the barriers. Experienced raiders know that a free ride is not expected. Loot is earned not given. You can’t show up to a raid and go AFK. Raiders have to actively contribute. The same thing applies with DKP. If you really want an item badly enough, then start spending those points. All too often, I’ve seen items drop and have seen people complain when they were unable to get it. A quick look verified that they had more than enough DKP to bid.

Wait long enough and people will surprise and impress you

This goes for any new players that I pick up for the guild. I have no say over who goes to the raid, but I do a majority of the filtering and the handling of potential recruits. I ran a pickup Kara group with a few of my friends many months ago and looked for a healer. A certain Resto Druid whispered me and asked to come. After the successful run, we parted ways but kept in contact. Fast forward a few months later, and he is now an active healing contributor in our raids. You never know when you’re going to find good people. Sometimes it will take days, other times it will take weeks.

Guys that was pretty good, but you can do better

These are words every raid leader should say after they kill a boss. There will always be room for improvement. Never set a bar because in doing so, your raid will only do that much and nothing more. That’s when they get complacent. It’s better off if the raid has no idea where the bar is so they can still keep pushing themselves to become better.

Don’t bail; the best gold is at the bottom of the crap

Truer words have never been spoken. This applies to anything from new players, new guilds, or new instances. There’s a lot of coal to filter through if you hope to find diamonds.

The Last Lecture

If you have time, I highly recommend watching the clip. It’s about 60 minutes long but I found it to be an inspiration for me.