Poll: Guild Site Hosting

Hey team, can you do me a favor? I want to conduct a poll about your guild website. I’m curious about what your guild is using and why. My interest is both personal and professional (Disclaimer: I’m with Enjin).

Which site hosting does your guild use?

View Results

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Note: If you can’t see the poll because you’re on a reader, try this link

In addition to voting on the poll, could you drop a comment answering the following questions for me?

  1. What influenced your guild to use that hosting service?
  2. What one site feature are you most thankful for?
  3. What’s the URL to your site?
When it Comes to Guild Apps, Pick Two

When it Comes to Guild Apps, Pick Two

pick2

Historically speaking, most of the players I’ve picked up in the past had two out of the three attributes. Rare is the player who manages to possess all three. Recruiting seems to be at an all time low according to a few GMs I’ve spoken to (10 man and 25 man, Horde and Alliance). It’s as if the majority of players just want to see the content, regardless of what difficulty level it is (meaning the path of least resistance gets selected the most or the LFR tool). It seems like the applicants I see seem to exhibit 2 out of the 3 traits.

Skilled

Manages to bring the pain (or the healing). We’re talking on a consistent basis. I often find myself wondering about the players who (over a 2 month period) go from the bottom to the top back to the bottom again.

Of course, no one wants the player who has a really hard time hitting that Hour of Twilight button and ends up burning all 3 Battle Res skills allotted. The ability to pick up what the rules and requirements for each encounter is a big plus (as is the ability to do it fast).

High attendance

Willingness to reschedule most events in their lives around raiding is an advantage. I’m not that much of a tyrant though.

Wedding? Sure.

Exam? Yeah, you better go study for it.

House on fire? Go.

But if you’re missing out on a raid to catch the series finale of American Idol, I can tell you’re just not into it. Or if a new game came out and you’re signing out of raid when I can see on Steam that you’re clearly playing Skyrim. That tells me where your priorities are and it’s clearly not with WoW.

Drama free

Perhaps drama free might not be the best choice of words to use. When I mean drama free, I’m not referring to guild splitting dramatic incidents. I’m talking about the little things that can get under people’s skins eventually leading to guild splitting incidents.

How difficult does a person need to be?

There’s been times I’ve tried to compromise on issues to reach the best approach for everyone involved. In other cases, a single course of action was settled upon because that’s what the leaders wanted to do, period. I really hate working with players who argue for the simple sake of arguing. I can tell you it takes away my efforts and focus on the next item I want to resolve. Pick your battles carefully. Otherwise the GM might exercise their right to throw you out because you keep causing problems and end up being more of a liability instead of an asset.

Now going back to the original question, if you were restricted to two selections, which two would you pick?

7 Tips for Creating the Perfect Guild Application Form

Application forms can be a little daunting for the first time guild leader. What’re the right questions to ask? What if it’s too long? What answers are considered “right”? Over at Enjin, I’ve written a quick guide on how to get started. Don’t expect your application form to be final. But I hope this’ll put you on the right track.

And yes, I am familiar that some organizations have done away with forms entirely. I also know that some players absolutely refuse to apply and scoff at guilds who suggest filling out a form. “I’m not applying for a job!”. They’re right, it’s not a job. I look at it more as a binding commitment.

Anyway, back to the tips. Here’s one that should be included.

Requirements overview

I’ve seen guilds place their entire policies and rules on the same page as the application. I don’t advise doing this. Place a link that leads to it and then include a summary list of all the important rules. Include only what players absolutely need. Some of the common ones I’ve seen are:

  • Working headset and microphone
  • Minimum gear standard for MMO guilds
  • Minimum kill to death ratio for FPS clans
  • Positive and forward-thinking attitude
  • A regular schedule of events (More on this below)

Read more on Enjin

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 Letter from a Level 25 Guild Leader

First, I just want to say to my Chicago readers that you should be extremely proud of your team. They’re going to be an awesome hockey franchise for years to come. And oh my god did they give me the biggest scare of my life.

Anyway…

I found this letter linked on Reddit the other day. It’s one of the side effects of the new guild leveling and perks system in WoW.

Dear Plebs,

If you’re here, and raging, it’s probably because you just realized you were gkicked. I’ve already deleted all your forum accounts, and removed all your boards. There’s nowhere you can post or vent so please, just read this.

For the most part this was an awkward experiment we never intended to go as far as it did. I jokingly recruited a few people out of trade chat, gave them ginvite power, and this thing for the most part grew itself. With it was the nice realization that our 10m raid crew could push levels faster and not have to farm heroics every day, so we let it ride. We figured it was a nice give and take, you guys got the best perks available and we got our XP cap every day. To be honest we mostly let it go because we thought cash flow was going to be awesome, but it turns out you guys were collectively pretty sh*tty at farming gold. (Over the last 5 months we’ve made about 14k off of a roster of 900+ people). But the XP was flowing, life was easy, and this was a nicely self-sustaining little eco-system that we just sat back and watched grow.

Unfortunately what accompanied this was an alarming number of less desirable members. Guild chat was basically useless, there were too many idiots to even try to manage, and for the most part nobody wanted to do anything. We gave you forums. We gave you vent. We gave you calendar events. We left GMOTD’s saying “come sign up on the forums for X event!” and 2-3 people would do it. We tried to coax some of the more promising members into leadership roles, we gave them an entire section of the forums with spelled out raid strats, pvp discussion, and more.

We tried. We really did try.

What we got was a whole lot of nothing but people bitching that we wouldn’t buy their epic flying, or pay their repair bills, or let them have potions out of the bank. People whining that we never carried them in our main raids, or that we didn’t run them through heroics or lower level dungeons. We got a million stupid questions a day about how to spec or what stats are good for X class. We got the few people we thought were worth keeping making a mess out of the little power we gave them. Promotions / Demotions were fucked around enormously, guild MOTD and notes were all ruined, and gchat just eventually became a giant sea from which all the idiots could troll.

When we hit 25 I kicked everyone that was inactive. I gave you all a few weeks after I cleaned out the roster to see if you would actually do anything other than occupy space in the guild pane and badger the bejesus out of us with stupid f*cking tells. I gave you your time to finish reps, buy heirlooms, get what you needed, and get out. The time has come, and now, the ride has come to an end.

That’s not to say you’re all bad, or useless, but let’s be honest; any of you worth a sh*t shouldn’t be in this guild anyway because the reality of it is that we’re never going to do anything but 10m raiding. We have no spots for you. We have no spots in an alt raid for you. We have nothing to offer you but a backup spot on a roster of people that don’t ever miss raids. It probably seems like a dick move to kick you, but in the long run we’re doing you a favor.

So, to all of you, thanks for what you did, we hope you enjoyed the perks while they lasted, but we’re ready to have our nice quiet, mellow guild chat back. Enjoy the heirlooms, enjoy the mounts, enjoy the recipes, and I hope you enjoyed the ride. I can definitely say it was at least, interesting, for me.

I sympathize with what the GM went through. The guy tried to help create a cohesive ecosystem  out of chaos but ultimately wasn’t able to pull it off. It virtually polluted the guild and he got frustrated with everything before dropping the reset button. It sucks putting time and effort in, just to get stomped on or disregarded.

At the same time, I can’t help but imagine if there were a few productive members in that pool. If the GM had been open from the start stating that they were going to be utilized in power leveling the guild to 25 and in exchange those members could purchase whatever rewards they wanted heirloom  wise, would that disclosure have made a difference? I can’t help but wonder if the situation could have been salvaged. What if incoming players were more thoroughly filtered? 

I still think the design of the guild leveling and perks system was a good decision for WoW.

There are always going to be guilds that will abuse the system and the players. That isn’t the fault of the system though. There is much more “power” to the GM’s position and that of the leadership. When there were no guild levels or perks, guilds were nothing more than organized geeks. But now, not only can a GM wipe away membership they can also remove a member’s access to powerful bonuses and items.

On a side note, we discussed player satisfaction and guild leaving in  Episode 16 of the Matticast. If you’re torn between leaving your guild for personal progressions, listen to our thoughts on the matter.

Matticast Episode 16 – Adopting Change, Unnecessary Heroics, and Patch 4.1

On Episode 16 of The Matticast, BorskMattKatChase and Brian discuss:

– Adopting Change

– Are Heroics Necessary?

– Parting Ways

– 4.1 For Healers

Don’t forget you can send us your questions or topics or tweet us with the hashtag #matticast

Subscribe to the show: iTunesRSS

 

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

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

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

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

can-they

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

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

will-they

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

  • Boring
  • Crappy
  • High stress

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

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

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

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

Especially with playoffs starting today. Go Canucks go!

they-fit

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

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

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

Tough Call: Fighting Progression Frustration

Image courtesy of leonardobc

This week the crew has been hitting our heads against a progression boss, and the talk around the campfire has a decided air of frustration to it. As a leader, you need to be aware of your team’s motivation levels when tackling new challenges. Encounters surpassing your raid team’s ability level can often turn frustration into futility.

But how do does a raid leader handle this precisely?

The same way we handle any problem – with planning and execution.  Sun Tzu, who probably would have been a Vodka/Paragon level raid leader, teaches us:

“The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.”

It sounds simple, and when you’re doing it well, it really is simple.  Knowing what needs to be done ahead of time and adjusting as you go along are the two key ingredients to successful raid progression no matter the size of the raid or the strategy being used.

Below are a few points I recommend keeping in mind when your raid team is approaching difficult content:

Planning For Raid Progression

  • Read, understand and analyze the intended boss strategies as dictated by your raid leaders well in advance of attempting the fight. This allows you to see mistakes as well as make changes easily.
  • Be honest with yourself about the capabilities of your team. Have an idea where your weaknesses and strengths lie. This could be include aspects ranging from movement, DPS, healer skill or people with high raid awareness.
  • Know when to call a wipe and when to extend an attempt to see the next phase. Part of your team being dead might still allow the rest of the raid to practice key mechanics of the fight.
  • Experimentation is good. Figure out what works and what doesn’t when you deviate from a typical boss strategy. It might just be easier for your team.
  • Ensure your team is on the same page. Present a united and focused front for your troops to follow.

Sometimes, though, even our best-laid plans… well, you know what happens.  So the question becomes, what next?  What do I do when my team is getting weary, my strategies are in question, and I need a win quickly?

First of all, do not ditch your plan just because it isn’t working.  A strategy can fall apart in a lot of places. It may be execution, it may be a certain raid composition due to attendance; it could be any number of factors.  Find out where the strategy is failing and decide which elements you can change.  Can you swap personnel?  Slight positioning adjustment?  Time your cooldowns better (this is often a fix in Cataclysm raiding)?
Whether your plan needs a complete overhaul or just some minor adjustments, it is still crucial to address the frustration of your raiders and regroup.

  • Do not avoid the tough conversations. When your members bring up their gripes, listen to them. Answer appropriately.
  • Know the difference between toxic negativity and someone just blowing off steam. Sometimes people just need to vent. However, there is line between getting out some frustration and poisoning the morale of your squad.
  • Give responses that are logical and concise. You need to lay out for your team exactly what you’re doing, why you’re doing it that way,  and why you don’t think it can be done in an alternative way.  The more details, the better.
  • Accept suggestions and give them their due consideration. After all, if the 9 or 24 other people in your raid aren’t intelligent enough to help you with their observations, then you probably shouldn’t be raiding. Applaud valuable and constructive criticism from your raid.
  • Kill the boss and go out for beer!

Remember, the future is brighter.  Your raid will down this boss and will continue downing bosses. Success breeds further success.  Get out there and prove you’re all winners.


Reader Question

Last week, regarding my post on Real Officer Set-Ups, Kalette asked:

“Do you have any comments on how to incorporate this into a 10 man guild with two separate 10 man teams?”

Recently I had a conversation with Matticus about different ways guilds could operate more than one progression-oriented raid team within the same guild. (See Matt’s post here for his thoughts.) My feeling on the idea is that when you’re setting up policies for your guild, (attendance, loot, recruiting, critique, etc) they should apply to everyone playing that portion of the game, not just your raid team.

Clearly each raid needs their own raid leader, both of whom will need to be equally trusted by the GM, and trusted to work alone, because at least one of them will likely be raiding in without you overseeing them.

Beyond that, I think you could pull off a two 10-man raid guild with the same positions mentioned before.  You may have to get creative about which officer raids with which team, but in theory your role officers could oversee recruiting, critique and mentoring for every raider under their domain.  Since we’re talking about smaller numbers, they would each be responsible for roughly the same amount of players as they would in a healthy 25-man team, they would probably just need to be better at analyzing WoL logs parses since they can’t see everyone first hand.

Another approach is to combine a few roles, and have those role leaders cooperate with each other.  Tanks and melee DPS can easily be combined, and you could put ranged DPS and healing in a group together.  Then each 10-man raid would have one officer over each of those pairs.  Outside of raid, you may naturally specialize and have one ranged/healing role leader who is more attuned to healing and another who is better at the pew-pew, but so long as they can learning from each other, you can benefit from both being specialized.

By the numbers:
1x GM
2x RL
1x each Role Leader

Alternative:
1x GM
2x RL
2x Tanks/Melee Leader
2x Ranged/Healing Leader

I think the key caveat I’d make is that recruiting should still be done on a scale of “does this person meet our guild’s standards”, not just will they meet the needs of Raid A or Raid B.  When you’re fielding two squads who are both responsible for pushing progression and increasing your guild’s standing, it’s important to make sure that every raider meets the criteria to deserve that guild’s name above their heads.
Kalette, great question; I hope this helps.  If not, call me dumb and I’ll give it another look.

As always, leave your questions/comments/paternity suits in the comments.  I’ll lovingly read them all.  Also, if you have a topic you’d like to see addressed in a future episode of Tough Call, just let me know.

Tough Call: Real Officer Set-Ups In Cataclysm

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Welcome back for another issue of Tough Call, with me, Viktory.

Disclaimer: What follows is the summation of my opinion based upon the responses I received from over a dozen guild masters when I asked them about their officer corps. Given the content of my last two posts, I felt it would be relevant to take an honest look at how guilds are setting up their government structure these days. This does not mean you should change your guild structure right away.  It does mean, however, that if you were looking to make a change, you can perhaps derive some supporting arguments from a few successful GMs cited below.

A few weeks ago I put out a call for GMs to help me get an idea how their guilds are operating, and, more importantly, what sort of  hierarchy they have put in place to make their guild succeed.  Out of the numerous responses I received, two solid trends emerged:

  1. There are a LOT of different ways to set-up your guild hierarchy, each with their own respective success rates and ease of implementation.
  2. There are far fewer vanity positions in play these days. At least among the sample group at my disposal, it seems there are most GMs expect more output from their officers.

I am happy to see that the days of  “So-and-so has been with us for a long time, so they are an officer now” are largely over.  Only 2 of the GMs who responded to my survey said they had non-specific officer roles (as in “we all do a bit of everything”, which really leads to “everyone assumes someone else is doing the dirty work”).

To get my information, I asked each GM three quick questions, and let them tell me the rest (and believe me, guild managers love to tell you about their guild, its environment and their genius set-up to solve all problems.)

First Question: “What officer positions do you use, and do they report directly to you or is there a chain-of-command?”

Most Common Positions:

  • - Raid Leader (separate from a role leader)
  • - Melee DPS / Tank / Ranged DPS / Healing role leaders
  • - Bank Officer
  • - Recruitment Officer

Some GMs also reported using Morale/Relations officers and an officer rank for Loot Council or Loot Master, separate from other officer duties.  I’m not sure that I’d classify these jobs are something that needs a full-time officer, but I’m also extremely hesitant with the idea of a part-time or “junior” officer.  If it wasn’t so prevalent, I’d lump “Bank Officer” in with this lot.

As for command structure, it’s fairly unanimous that members report to their respective role leaders, who then in turn report to the GM.  I do wish, however, that I had devised a way to get more information about how the recruitment, bank, and morale officers interact with this command structure.

To me this combo represents a stark contrast to the landscape I saw when I started raiding back in Karazhan.  Instead of a GM who ran every aspect and had a few cronies as officers (which is what typically gave loot council-style raids such a bad rep), we are seeing 25-man guilds shift into fully-fleshed organizations.  Positioning the GM as the Chairman of the Board seems to be the clearest way to define duties/responsibilities, and is an efficient way to make sure the various aspects of the guild function at peak performance.

Second Question: “Have you had to add any officer positions since the end of Icecrown Citadel?”

The answers to this question fell in two distinct patterns:

  • Organization increase: bank officer, recruiter, defined class leads.
  • Expansion increase: recruitment officer, 2nd raid leader, PVP leads.

This should tell you that if your guild isn’t growing or refining, you’re stagnating.  12-24 months from now you will be doing things differently; the faster you can figure out what that will be, the better the transition will go.  After all, these are guilds that had 4-5 years of experience and still found roles to add and needs to address after ICC.  Learn from their example and succeed.

Third Question: “If you had to cut one officer position (not person) today, who would it be?”

A few GMs refused to answer this one, or gave responses that never answered the question, but the consensus was either the bank officer or morale officer would be the first to go.

As I stated above, I’m not sure that these are full-time jobs anyways.  In my guilds we’ve always just defaulted to the most likable officer being de facto “HR guy.”  I am very interested to hear any feedback about ways that a bank or morale officer could contribute on-par with what a raid leader, role leader or PVP lead does.

As always, leave any question, comments or epic knitting patterns in the comments below. (I’m trying to get someone to knit me a bad-ass scarf to wear while podcasting).  Also, if you have a situation that you’d like to have me address in a future column, feel free to send it to viktory.wow@gmail.com.

Out with the Bads and in with the… Who?

As a long time avid follower of as many guild/raid leadership blogs and forums as I can fit into my schedule each week, there is one discussion topic that almost invariably makes me wince. Actually, that isn’t exactly accurate. There is one particular response to this particular topic that makes me want to punch something.

“How do I push my current guild to a higher or more serious level of progression?”

The response that inevitably pops up that makes me /facepalm IRL is: “You need to start replacing the bads and attracting the pros” or even worse (because it sounds so much more friendly somehow) “You need to explain to everyone that raid spots are competitive and people will be replaced as soon as something ‘better’ becomes available”

The overwhelming message that gets passed along whenever this topic comes out is a very clear mercenary-like outline that clearly advocates using fear of being kicked or replaced to snap your raiders into line and light a fire under them to keep them moving forward under the imminent risk of being replaced.

This is my public response to all advocates of raid management that involves any sort of emphasis on kicking or replacing people as soon as something better comes along: Eff that, you would never find me in a guild that treats its members like that.  Unless you believe that you are seriously intent on competing for World or US progression rankings, using an approach that emphasizes the action of replacing/removing people is an inherently unstable strategy.

I once posted that I believe sports analogies are by far the best way to view leading a raid or guild, as opposed to trying to compare it to running a business or a leading a group of soldiers.  I bring this up because something that always pops into my mind when people start trying to describe their plans for assembling the “Dream Team” of WoW raiding, it makes me remember how well it has worked long term when the U.S. did the same thing with our national basketball team.

Sure, the U.S. national basketball team has been more or less successful in the long term, but the only reason for our success has been the overwhelming pool of talent that we have to pull from in the NBA.  If you watch the games, the level of coordination and teamsmanship just doesn’t ever really manifest itself on the court, especially in the first couple of incarnations of the team.  Essentially it is a collection of basketball gods steamrolling over the competition through the sheer force of individual talent. How much fun could that be on a long term basis to be part of?  The only hope someone like me would have of answering how fun that might be would be to look at what kind of turnover the team has had since the first “Dream Team” (for those that don’t want to go look, essentially the turnover is nearly 100% between each big game until very recently when they instituted rules to try and force players to commit to more time to the team).

On the other hand, we could look at virtually every Hollywood sports movie ever made for a good counterexample of an underdog team that overcomes enormous odds through hard work and awesome teamwork.  My personal favorite for this analogy is “Miracle” by Disney,<link:  a true story based coincidently on another U.S. Olympic team.  The 1980 U.S. hockey team and their “Miracle on Ice.” It is a great movie if you’re into feel-good sports films, especially if you appreciate the ones based on real life stories.  I remember watching the final game between this team and the Russians on TV and the swell of national pride during those final seconds of the game. It isn’t hard to imagine why this is described as one of the greatest moments in sports history.

So what is the point? I’ll make an effort here to explain what it is exactly that goes through my head when I see this discussion pop up and my reaction when someone proposes trying to go the mercenary route in their approach to building a “successful” raid group. It usually centers around two questions:

Does this person honestly ever see themselves trying to break into the world progression rankings with their team? (Hint: if you are asking on a public forum for directions or help on how to motivate your team to do better, the answer is no)  I know that at least for me, the only measure of success I have for my raid team is whether or not we meet our raid goals each tier. I could care less if we are the 3rd raid group to do so or the 30,000th in the world, as long as we meet our own goals I am going to feel like we succeeded.

Then my mind goes on a rambling tangent involving sports analogies and nostalgia and I come to my second question:

Which Olympic winning sports team do I honestly think I would rather be a member of? And perhaps more importantly, which team would the person asking the question rather pbe a part of?  The U.S. National basketball team a.k.a. the “Dream Team” that get together every 4 years to ROFLStomp the rest of the world in basketball (and no, you don’t get an NBA contract or salary for being on the team) or would I/they want to be part of that “rag-tag group of college kids” who pulled off one of the greatest moments in sports history? I suppose both options are going to appeal to people in different ways.

Another thing to consider: From everything I have ever read about really high end raiding guilds, one of the most prevalent traits that they share is that the bulk of their members have been playing together for -years-.  Not a single one of them is stressed out over whether or not the next new applicant is going to cause them to take their raid spot and the turnover these teams have is extremely low.  Turnover for them has been extremely low for -years-, and I would guess that what turnover they had had nothing to do with someone failing to perform up to the group’s expectations but instead likely had to do with real life obligations that had nothing to do with the game.

If you don’t have the raw talent to be ROFLStomping your way through the content, then employing a revolving door strategy where you are constantly trying to replace your “worst” raiders is going to result in a turnover rate that will rival your local fast food joint with the creepy shift manager.

If your stated goal is to replace the lowest performing members of your raid team on a regular basis, what kind of message does that send to your team about the long term security of their raid spots?  Even more importantly, what does that say about the possibility of being replaced by some raiding super-star who happens to apply to the guild?

Next week I will share my alternatives to the idea of motivating your raiders through fear of being replaced.  In the meantime I would like to leave everyone with a question to ponder.  You are welcome to share your answers below in the comments, but I would be just as happy if you just spend a few minutes thinking about what your answer would be.

Question: If one of the world’s best <insert class/role here> players applied to your guild, assuming that they met all of your other requirements for a new recruit, which of your current players would you replace with the new applicant?  What if the person being replaced was already one of your stronger players?  Would your answer be any different if there were 4 of the world’s top players turning in applications at the same time? How about 9 applications that are clearly head and shoulders better than anything you currently have in your raid? 

I can tell you that I at least would almost undoubtedly turn the applicant down.  Unless they happened to stumble into one of the few periods of the year where we have opened recruitment.  Though to be honest, even then I would have to seriously question whether someone like that would really fit in with our raid group.