5 Mistaken Beliefs of Raiding Guilds

5 Mistaken Beliefs of Raiding Guilds

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The comments from Wednesday’s post drew a consensus where everyone called for a Gkick. As some readers observed, it’s not exactly going to win the Emmy for Best Drama of the year.

On the other hand, the fact that a Paladin on break is the best I can offer in terms of drama should say something about myself and the organization.

Please understand that I wrote that post to inform and let readers know that no guild is impervious. I did this to inform. I didn’t mean for it to come out as a rant (because there’s far worse things in life then a Paladin leaving).

I’m not going to remove him. I’ll let him stick around in the guild. On the flip side, it doesn’t mean he’s going to get the start when the 2 raiding instances come out. He’ll have to earn his stripes.

Belief 1: Your GM Owns You

Wrong. I don’t own my players. They recognize that they’re all technically free agents. They didn’t sign a multi-year contract to raid. I’ll elaborate on this in the next point. But there is nothing to prevent people from walking away.

All I can say is this. If you don’t want to clear out Heroic Naxx, OS with 2 Drakes, Malygos, and Vault of Archavon within 6 hours, then you don’t want to be in this guild.

It’s all about incentives.

And if a player doesn’t want to do that, I’m damn sure I can find someone who’s willing. When a player’s goal differs from a guild’s goal, no amount of incentives will win them back.

Belief 2: It’s a One Way Street

The relationship between a guild and a member is a symbiotic relationship. It works both ways. The guild serves the individual by providing them with a home, discounted prices on materials, and a supply of other likeminded people to do 5 mans or heroics.

On the other hand, the individual serves the guild by being present for raids, investing their time and money into raids, and just being there.

Belief 3: Your Excuses Mean Something

Whether a player wants to leave because of burnout or they have exams or their wife is pregnant is irrelevant. I realize this sounds quite harsh. But the reality is, no matter what the reason, I’m still going to have an empty hole in my roster for a period of time that has to be filled. I can’t be expected to wait around for 4 months for a player to come back. I’m not going to raid short handed with 24.

Whether a hockey goalie injures his groin, breaks a leg, or has to deal with family issues is important. But the team’s general manager still has to go out and make a trade for a goalie or promote one from the minors because the team needs one.

No matter how you slice it, it all leads to the same result. In this case, it is a net loss of one player for a few months.

Belief 4: Your Spot is Guaranteed

Sorry, that’s not the case here. If a player doesn’t perform, they get replaced. If a player isn’t here to perform, they have to be replaced anyway.

The difference between a Paladin who leaves and one who stays with the rest of us?

It proves to me that they’re willing to stick around and dedicate themselves. Those are the type of troopers I want.

Readers, understand that we’re all expendable to an extent. It’s going to be easier to replace a healer because there are 4 different healer classes to choose from.

But it will be much more difficult to replace the guy who tirelessly draws out maps, sets up strategy and organizes the kill method on a weekly basis.

The hint here is to be be valuable as much as possible. In the end, the Paladin I lost is just one Paladin. They’re a dime a dozen.

My guild is in a good bargaining position right now since we’re ahead of the raiding curve (also coming soon). Finding people isn’t the problem especially when I’m not terribly concerned with a player’s gear level. When I started Conquest, I didn’t have a reputation. I’ll elaborate more on this later.

Belief 5: Gear Makes You Important

I can see this being true to an extent. But in my years of raiding, I’ve learned something. I’m going to refer to this concept as the 30% rule.

30% of loot will be wasted

This factors in upgrades, players leaving, and off spec items. Inversely, this means that 70% of loot awarded will actually be used for raiding and be effective for guild progression. It’s just the way of guilds.

While I may invest a large proportion of gear into players, I know that gear alone isn’t going to win me any favours. But progression will.

We say stuff all the time about guilds rewarding players or just gearing them up for whatever reason. But the reality is that every instance has a “minimum standard of gear” before it can be completed successfully. What the standard is will deviate from guild to guild.

I wrote my recommended requirements for Naxx last week. Note how the comments vary. Some agreeing and some disagreeing. Your guild’s “sweet spot” will differ from mine.

Another example would be Brutallus. A raid DPS of 20420 (post nerf) is required to kill him within enraged timers (another post entirely). Once you reach that threshold, you’re gold.

Reflections

If a player is going to burn out after only 6 hours of raiding a week, then this guild is not for them. What’s going to happen when the second tier of raiding instances are released? How will they handle the wear and tear of progression raiding where we commit ourselves to 12 hours a week?

To me, these early farm raids are a dress rehearsal. If we compare raiding to a season of sports, then Naxx, OS, and Malygos is just pre-season for me.

Remember that when I formed this guild, I had nothing to go on but my name, my reputation, and my promise. I could’ve lied and said that I was a proven guild leader. But I didn’t. I managed to convince around 25 players to buy into my vision and my goals. This was a combination of people that I had raided with for a long time, readers via my blog, people on twitter, and players in trade chat. I had no way of knowing whether or not it would work. I didn’t know whether they would gel together. There was so much uncertainty when I started out.

I’d by lying to you if I said I didn’t spend every waking moment second guessing myself.

A new guild does not have it’s fair share of pickings. There’s no reason for star players of other guilds to come play under your banner. I had to build from the bottom up with all sorts of people without knowing what their motives were.

Use these “easy” raids to learn more about your guild. Find out about their strengths and weaknesses. Figure out habits and tendencies. What makes them laugh and what makes them cry.

Oh, one more thing. I want to extend a thank you to all the Paladins and healers who emailed me and sent in applications. I believe that position’s been settled for now (unless they turn out be pure crap, in which case I’ll put the call out again).

Image courtesy of barunpatro

Systemic Looting of Your 25 Naxx Pug

Pickup raids. We can’t live with ‘em and we can’t live without ‘em. For the players that don’t have the scheduling ability to raid with a guild, they have no choice but to raid with 24 other players ranging from the chivalrous to the downright nasty.

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in a Naxx 25 pug on my alt Shaman which went somewhat smoothly for the most part. Patchwerk and Four Horsemen absolutely stoned the raid and we had to call it later.

Loot System

Here’s how loot was handled and I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.

1 Tier roll for entire night
1 Need/1 Greed for Spider and Plague Wing combined
1 Need/1 Greed for Military and Abomination Wing combined

I felt that it was simple and that it worked. With the amount of loot that drops in Naxx, this was simple, fast, and effective. Players were limited to only one tier piece, period. But having four other roles helped prevent sharding of gear and helped spread the loot around more than if it was just 1 need, 1 greed.

My Elemental Shaman clocked in at ~1900 DPS on Patchwerk. I got some more work to do, it seems.

Handling loot in pugs is a lot more different then handling loot in guilds.

Have you participated in any Heroic raids lately? How has loot been handled?

Obsidian Sanctum with Drakes Up

Tonight Conquest is going to take a shot at Heroic Sartharion with one drake up. For those that have done it, I have a few questions to ask:

  • Which drake did you leave up and why?
  • Did Death Knights D&D (due to the visual similarity between that and void zones)?
  • How did you set up portal groups?
  • How many healers were sent down low into the portal?
  • Did Firewalls affect those in the portal?
  • Any other last minute tips or insight that you can offer?
The Off Armour Problem

The Off Armour Problem

guest-post This is a guest post from friend and bodyguard Cassio

I’m Cassio, I’ve been playing a rogue on Ner’zhul for the better part of three years so my area of expertise is something different then the writers here.

I’m a damage guy. I run numbers to figure out how to squeeze another one or two points of damage per second out of my rotation or how much I should weigh hit stat verses attack power or agility. So please understand that I will not be talking about the best way to heal a boss encounter. Most of the time I have no idea what a healer is doing in them since they are behind me somewhere. Instead, I’ll be trying to stay remotely within the sphere of this blog by talking about loot distribution.

The problem

With the changes that have been made since the release of Wrath, almost every spec to become viable for raiding. This means that some classes may be dipping down into gear that’s exclusive for other classes to use due to armor class restrictions. Boomkins, tree druids and holy paladins may start to want to take gear that all cloth wearers can use. The same goes for titans grip (TG) warriors and to some extent enhancement shamans and hunters with rogue/feral druid gear.

It is my opinion that this should be avoided whenever possible.

Taking gear from a class when it is all they can use and giving it to a class that is moving down armor types to pick up an upgrade might seem fine in the short term. However, it will hurt raids in the long term due to the limited upgrade pool available to classes who have no other option other than leather or cloth.

In my guild, I am currently the raid leader for ten man raids and it falls onto me to sort out loot distribution and how to do so without causing problems that could destabilize the raid group and force us back due to people leaving and having to replace with new people. The system I have worked out is part science and part art but the basics of it is to keep gear separated to classes that are restricted to their armor type before opening it to others. There are some exceptions, such as if the gear is only a miniscule upgrade for a rogue and a large one for someone else.

Weapons

Weapons are handled by letting those that get the biggest upgrade from them roll, any two-hander classes have to roll against each other just as any one-hander users and casters have to roll against each other. So that means that ret paladins, TG (Titan’s Grip) warriors and death knights all have to roll against each other. This method relies heavily on the loot master knowing the different needs of the classes and where his raid members are in gear progression.

Suggested process

While I find that I can do this (with some help from officers and others outside my guild that know the other classes better) I would not suggest that anyone try such a method in a twenty-five man environment. Instead make your officers/class leaders do gear upgrade charts for your members and give the upgrades from the different raid instances a set value, making sure to include heroics gear where it applies, and then use that as a way to check which gear is a better upgrade for who. The higher the number the larger the upgrade, also there should be a method worked out to reward those that go out and craft or farm the gear for outside raids that will help you progress through the instances you wish to run.

While all this sound complicated it really comes down to the simple idea that each classes chances for upgrades is different. If someone needs an item that is all they can use, then this may be one of a limited amount of chances to get it. Someone that can use other armor has a larger pool of gear to pull from and so has better chances at upgrades.

Guild Goals: Deciding Between Normal Raids and Heroic Raids

Guild Goals: Deciding Between Normal Raids and Heroic Raids

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A number of guilds are beginning to have their members approach level 80. Now they’re stuck at a cross roads. Do I raid 10s or 25s? Setting a raid to Normal difficulty allows only 10 players to enter. Toggling it to Heroic allows 25.

First question GMs need to answer is what kind of raiding guild are you? I’m not referring to casual or hardcore or anything like that. I’m not interested in your style. I’m referring to your end game goals and intentions. When I formed Conquest a few weeks ago, this was the first question that popped into my head. I felt that it was important for a GM to define what their end game is so that steps can be taken towards achieving it.

I basically had 3 options when it came to guild endgame objectives:

  • Strictly 10 mans
  • Strictly 25 mans
  • Both 10s and 25 mans

Not only that, I had to make a choice for myself as a player. If you think about it in terms of BC, this would’ve been tantamount to running SSC, TK, Karazhan, and 2 or 3 resets of Zul’Aman per week. I wanted to commit to no more than 12 hours of raiding per week because a lot of players have other things to do.

Looking at that list, I crossed 10 mans off the list. I am far too ambitious for that.

This left me with the option of either 25s or guild sanctioned 10s and 25s. I had to deliberate this a bit more. Having to organize both 10s and 25s meant extra organizational and logistical work on my part. Since most drops from 10s will be replaced anyway, it made much more sense to me as the GM to stick the guild into the 25s.

Factors

Organizational and logistical: I’d have to plan out raid days for 25s and I’d have to plan out raid days for 10s. I would have to run 2 separate raid groups which would involves its own unique set of challenges. I have to pick out the days for the right group. I have to ensure there’s enough tanks and healers. What happens if someone can’t make it? I’d have to scramble to find replacements. That’s too overwhelming for me to do.

Time: 12 hours of mandatory raiding per week is all I ask for. My experience in beta taught me that 12 is the right amount of time to spend in order to clear out all of the raid instances. To ask them to do more would tax their stamina and increase burnout which is something I want to avoid. Throw in 10s and I could be looking at 20 hours a week of raiding. I won’t even consider that.

Increased freedom and autonomy: By not making mandatory 10 mans, I give them the option of participating in it on their own. From a personal standpoint, I have almost no innate desire to run Naxx 10’s. I suppose that was a side effect of the beta. The 10 man instances are nice, but they’re just not my cup of tea. Between blogging and school, it’s difficult for me to find the time to run 10s on top of the 25s. If players have friends in different guilds, they don’t have to feel obligated to turn down runs with their friends for the sake of guild runs. I make it known that they are on their own. There’s always a few people in guild that feel otherwise and I’m sure they’re capable enough of organizing runs on their own.

Besides, I prefer Earl Grey.

At the end of the day, I decided to give my guys the choice. They can run whatever 10 man they like on their own time with whoever they want, however they want. Loot Council won’t be responsible for how the drops are done.

And it becomes one less burden. This belief plays into the concept of the path of least resistance assuming 25s are the primary objective.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Heroic Naxxramas

My Love/Hate Relationship with Heroic Naxxramas

naxx-kel

Last night, I had the pleasure of working with some of the most skilled players in beta and we were able to clear out Heroic Naxxramas (otherwise known as 25 man Naxx). Let me tell you about my initial impressions, what I love, and what I hate.

I love…

the fact that the number of tanks needed for Naxx don’t seem to have changed. Our main tank was a Warrior. No fusses about class here. The reason he was the MT was because he was the most geared (he ran Naxx, Obsidian Sanctum, etc. every day). Prot Paladin was the second tank for any massive AoE related pulls. Feral Druid was third although he would switch up with the Prot Pally depending on what the job was. Didn’t have the pleasure of working with a Death Knight. I’m happy to say that I had no problems healing any of them on the various bosses or mobs. Druid tank had the most with 34k while the Paladin and Warrior clocked in at about ~31k. I made sure to address this first, due to a question I got from Twitter:

@honorshammer Are you seeing much disparity in healing tanks of various classes?

Hope the above question helps! Love your blog by the way ;).

I hate…

my mana regen. I took a look at one of the other Resto Druids and he was sporting a jaw dropping 1500 mana regen while not casting. In my PvP gear plus other assorted PvE epic items, I hit around 600+.

I love…

how Priests will be virtual requirements for Heroic Naxx. You can get away without having other classes at all, but you need Priests for 2 of the encounters because we have to Mind Control certain mobs in order to successfully do them.

I hate…

Sapphiron. He’s the 2nd to last boss in Naxx and he’s going to be a huge headache.

I love…

how the bosses drop between 4 – 6 pieces of loot (some of them are tier bosses).

I hate…

how people complain about not getting the loot they want because its freakin’ beta and you don’t get to keep it anyway!

I love…

that while most players were still wearing blue PvP gear to raid, we were still able to 1 shot almost every boss in the instance. We didn’t over gear it. All of us were on par with or were what could be considered slightly undergeared. This proves to me that if you have a large number of skilled players going in, you won’t have a lot of difficulty. There are a few exceptions:

Instructor Raz: 2 shot
4 Horsemen : 4 shot
Sapphiron: 5 Shot
Kel’Thuzad: 1 shot

I hate

the fact that it took us a little over 7 hours to clear. But there are a few important factors to keep in mind:

  1. Pickup raid
  2. Boss explanations are complicated
  3. Some people had to leave and we had to pull in replacements

If it’s a Guild run, I can see the time knocked down to about 6 hours or maybe even 5. Obviously if you over gear the place, then I wouldn’t be surprised to see it drop down to even 4 and a half. But suffice it to say, I suspect most guilds will take at least 2 days to clear the instance and learn it.

I love

Death Knights. Look at this screenshot below:

op-dks
The top 5 players are all Death Knights. Number 6 is a Rogue. The numbers ARE slightly inflated since Thaddius has a little mechanic about him that increases DPS. Here’s a slightly better representation:

naxx-dps1 naxx-dps2

DPS order by class on Noth:

  1. Death Knight
  2. Hunter
  3. Death Knight
  4. Death Knight
  5. Ret Paladin
  6. Ret Paladin
  7. Mage
  8. Death Knight
  9. Death Knight
  10. Rogue
  11. Boomkin
  12. Feral Druid
  13. Boomkin
  14. Mage

Your mileage may vary. We only had 1 Rogue and 1 Warlock. Our raid was stacked with an abundance of Death Knights as you can see above and all of them made up the top 10.

I love

the DPS averages. Again, scroll back up and look at the DPS on the side, not the damage done. You should be pushing over 2000 DPS when you enter Naxx. Of course, I might take that statement back later. Who knows? But I’m just going by what I’ve seen thus far.

I love

these crits:

heal-crits

Repeat after me: MASS OH PEE. That’s a Resto Shaman above me there and my own Prayer of Mending.

I hate

this whole loot homegenization thing but I understand it. I started a discussion on Plusheal about how to tell whether or not you should roll on certain cloth gear or to pass on them. Wyn will be exploring this topic at some point later on, as well. It feels weird for casters to roll on gear. But I accept it and I understand it will be better in the long run.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be doing detailed healing guides for the normal and heroic versions of Naxx and Obsidian Sanctum. You’ve seen a sample of them earlier when I published a few of the 10 man ones. They’re not designed to replace WoWWiki or Bosskillers guides. What they’re meant for is to provide you (the healer) with the knowledge that is relevant to you in order to keep your raid alive. I’m most likely going to miss out on a few abilities but I’ll be sure to nail all of the ones that are important including all major boss mechanics.

Yesterday night, I took a boat load of screenshots, recorded vent when the raid leader was delivering explanations, and I have a plethora of notes all across my desk with diagrams, and post-its scattered all over the place.

By all means, if you’d like to savor the learning experience yourself, go for it. I’ll be here if you need a quick pointer or two to help you out.

Which is what this blog is for.

Questions? Comments? What else would you like to see? Will the Canucks make the playoffs this season? Will Brady get usurped? Do you require more Vespene gas? Are you, in fact, a hollahback girl? Will I ever stop beating myself up over the 7 questions I know I for sure got wrong out of 50?

Big shout out to Totodile for having to put up with the various morons in the raid, as well as organizing and quarterbacking the whole show!

Guest Post: Heroic Pugs are Not Heroic

Matticus’ Note: This is a guest post from a friend of who has no blogging experience whatsoever but still did a great job nonetheless. I have another exam in about an hour. Thanks Brendan! Post has been edited for clarity and such.

First off, let me say I’m not a writer/blogger in any way, shape or form. I’m writing this because an idea popped into my head, and I’m tired of studying for finals. This blogging stuff is a nice change from the 17 credits of math I have this semester that engineers are supposed to know.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but my view of PUGs (Pick-Up Groups) has gone downhill since BC came out. It started out fine, pugging some people to get some experience while exploring the new instances in outlands. As a druid, and usually feral to boot, I wanted to get exalted with Cenarion Expedition ASAP to pick up my Earthwarden (best tanking weapon until SSC trash). I was in a small guild at the time and there were only a handful of us hitting 70 at the same time. It wasn’t easy to get a group to grind out Steam Vaults a dozen times a day for the required rep. I would turn to PUGs to accomplish this. For the most part, this went the same way to get revered with most of the factions. Even with quested items and random greens in most people’s gear, normal mode was still fairly easy. Subsequently, after doing countless runs of instances for rep, people would replace their greens with decent blues and fill out their dungeon 3 sets. More importantly, people would learn the instances, know what bosses/mobs did what, who to CC, where to go and such. By the time the rep was obtained to be able to hit up the heroics, people had knowledge/gear to stand a chance, and knew how to play their class.

This is all well and good, but then comes 2.3 and heroic keys only require honored. With pretty much any faction, you can obtain honored by doing their quests and 1-2 clears of each of their instances (sometimes even less than that!). What does that mean? People try to get into heroics still wearing their quested blues/greens, and not knowing what the heck is going on. It used to be a reasonable bet that when you pugged for a heroic, the people you got were somewhat decent, because they had done the run on normal at least a dozen or so times, and had decent gear. Now, you don’t get that confidence.

I’ve heard many stories (and experienced a few) in guild chat, of people pugging a couple slots for whatever heroic when there weren’t quite enough people online from the guild to do it with. There have been melee hunters that shoot their own traps, priests that only used flash heal (“lol greater heal takes too long”), tanks that can’t hold aggro on a single mob, mages who don’t know what a sheep is, pally tanks who consecrate on top of all the CC, and multitudes of other things. Even if you don’t get these kinds of people, there are simply people that don’t have the gear and they will get destroyed by the trash. In some instances, groups will not have enough DPS to burn down adds on bosses, making heroics all but impossible. Then there’s the issues of ninjas, people leaving unexpectedly, “know-it-alls” saying that their strat works and that t4/t5 group leader doesn’t know what he’s talking about… but those are just general PUG rarities that can happen anytime.

Now, this may sound like just a gripe with the heroic key rep change. It’s great for people trying to gear alts who don’t want to grind out the reputation to do the instances, and usually can be carried through by decent guildies. But that’s an entirely different story. The issues mentioned are more adamant to happen with PUG groups. And at least with people you know, usually there is some sort of voice communication being used, which lessens the pain of inexperience in one or two group members.

All in all, I tend to stay away from PUGs. For the most part, it’s just a repair bill waiting to happen. One of my friends who would accept a PUG invite on his main to anything from RFK to heroic Shattered Halls (one of my least favorite instances w/o a well geared Paly tank, or 2 Druid tanks), now thinks twice before pugging anything past normal difficulty. I refuse to do them, and I get at least a couple of tells a day asking to tank or heal PUGs. I usually let them down nicely, saying I’m not the spec they want (people go away so fast when I tell them I’m balance), or that I’m logging soon (which is usually the case).

This wasn’t really an informative post, just my personal gripes with heroic PUGs, which I’m sure more than a few people can relate to. Hopefully at least a couple of you agree with what I wrote, and it wasn’t an entire waste of time reading. But if not, I’ll go back to my horrendous amounts of number crunching engineering stuff and leave the blogging to the bloggers.

When Brendan’s not busy crunching numbers, he plays a horde Feral druid on… some server. I can’t remember. But thanks for the heroic insight!

Heroic Dungeon Daily Quests

Honestly, what a brilliant idea by Blizzard. I stepped into Heroic Botanica yesterday for the first time (and probably the last). I never would have gone in there otherwise if it weren’t for the daily quest. After a few bumps and bruises in the beginning, we managed to clear it with some minor difficulty. Reward? 40G. After repairs? 33G. Not a bad haul.

I’m feeling sick right now so I’m not quite at school yet (2:30 class). At the moment, I’m sitting at home and about to get underway in Heroic Black Morass. Of course, the Hunter just HAS to open fire on Horde near the summoning stone and my group gets picked apart with our corpses being camped. Damnit Hunters, stop being so trigger happy!

Does the Zul’Aman bear boss have a reset bug? I was in there yesterday, and we wiped for a few times while our tanks were adjusting to his debuff. Before we knew it, he reset himself appearing at the beginning of the instance. He was not able to be aggro’d. In fact, he just stood there. Is that the way it’s supposed to be? My group had JUST gotten a handle on things, and if we had another few shots I know we could’ve killed him. At least the instance will reset quickly.

EDIT: Forgot to mention that I wasn’t referring to reseting the encounter. After a few tries, the Bear boss will despawn and move to his first position where he stands on top of a ledge overlooking the area. Problem here is that he won’t aggro onto the group. He’s targetable but invulnerable. He doesn’t move and the script doesn’t seem to trigger. We tried running out and back in to see if that did anything, but to no avail.