Book Review: The Guild Leader’s Handbook

Book Review: The Guild Leader’s Handbook

There is a book for everything it seems. Some will tell you how to hack an iPhone, others will tell you how to cook rare and exotic treats. In the gaming world there has been everything from strategy and content guides to art books and everything in between.

A few weeks ago a new book hit the stands, The Guild Leader’s Handbook by Scott F. Andrews. Scott is not only an accomplished and long time  guild leader in World of Warcraft, but also the author of “Officers’ Quarters” on wow.com. His book takes a look at what it is to run a guild in today’s modern MMOs and offers readers both looking to start a guild and those who have been at it a while, a cornucopia of information from his collected experiences. Today I’d like to share my thoughts on the book with you.

Before we begin I’d like to make a few things clear. Firstly, Yes I do write for wow.com as one of the class columnists. This does not mean however that I will be unfairly biased towards the book. I have had little to no interaction with Scott and anyone who knows me or has listened to my podcast knows that I do not temper my criticism and critiques based on acquaintances or tangential relations. In short, friend or foe I try to tell it exactly as it is and as unbiased as possible. In mathematical terms we would call this “Correlation does not imply causation”. Secondly, while I myself am not currently a Guild Leader in WoW, I have lead numerous successful guilds, super-groups, and various other groupings in many other games. I am however still the Healing Lead and one of the raid officers for the guild I call home, and thus in a leadership position within the structure.

The first thing I noticed when opening this book, is the level of accessibility. It was very well written and very easy not only to read but digest. The concepts and ideas in the book are thoughtfully laid out and the way the topics are grouped not only make sense logically, but allow the material to be more easily digested. Potentially confusing concepts are quickly explained, often times with a real life scenario that the author has experienced himself. The second thing I noticed while reading this book is the confirmation of the author’s depth of experience. The familiarity he writes about the topics is comforting and also conveys a sense of certainty that is easily lost when writing something of this nature.

The book itself covers many topics such as;

  • Forming a guild and making it successful
  • Choosing a guild size and focus
  • Dealing with guild drama
  • Differences between leading a guild and leading a raid
  • Loot distribution
  • Alternate styles of guilds (PvP, RP)
  • Choosing officers
  • Guild Morale
  • Planning for the long term
  • Dealing with Real Life

Seems like a lot to cover in such a small book doesn’t it? It is, but the author cuts out most of the unnecessary and leaves in the most relevant information to the topic. Each topic is subdivided and dives into specifics and does so with the perfect amount of detail.

There were a few pieces that really stood out to me while reading this. First was the section on forming a guild. Beyond setting a size and focus for your guild, the author talked about a topic that I think deserves some attention. Forming a guild identity and presence. For any established guild or group, their name and longevity carry a certain weight to them. If you think about any guilds, corps or fellowships you may have come across, I’m certain you can find at least one where their name is well known. For a new guild starting out it can be hard to forge an identity and establish a presence. The author offers some solid advice for creating a server presence. This ranges from specializing and becoming rock solid at a particular goal, having a history of cooperation with other people and guilds to having fun contests and events. One example that I found particularly enjoyable was the idea of taking a completely meaningless piece of land in the game and claiming it as your own, while challenging anyone to take it from you and doing anything you can to hold on to it. That would certain generate some notice, and could be a particularly fun event.

Next was explaining the differences between leading a guild, and leading a raid. The distinction is one that sometimes goes unnoticed. A lot of players seem to feel the two are always synonymous. The author explains the characteristics of a guild leader very well and talks about the shift in personae needed to lead a raid. The two can often times be polar opposites of each other. A guild leader is at the end of the night the ultimate authority of a guild. They can control who becomes officers, who is kicked or invited and tend to be looked upon as the arbiters for any guild disputes. Compassion, openness, friendliness and approachability all play very well to a guild leaders station. A raid leader has to evaluate performances constantly while keeping the group focused. They have to play the role of team captain, coach and player all at the same time. Leading by example, but also calling out problems and fixing issues as quickly as possible. This can sometimes involve not being very nice and squishy in your assessments. I was quite pleased to read this section here and it would be something I encourage not only people in leadership roles to read, but also those in a raider position. It is very much like being friends with your boss outside of work. When you’re at work you still need to work, and it’s your bosses job to keep you focused.

Another part that particularly stuck out to me was the section detailing real life interactions and issues. Even though this is a game, it is a social network. You are interacting with other players regularly, and you are devoting time out of real life to play this game with other people. As a result real life will always impact a gamers life and a game may affect the life of those that play it. This section of the book covers topics like dealing with addictions (both substance and potential video game addiction), Depression and mental illness, sexual predators, relationship problems, family problems, burnout and criminal confessions. These are real life topics that can and do affect people who play MMOs. This section offers advice to deal with these situations as they arise. Let’s not forget it wasn’t so long ago that a criminal was tracked down through WoW by law enforcement.

This section also talks about planning real life meet-ups. Investing as much time as you do in a guild there may come a time where you want to meet the people behind the avatars face to face. It sometimes requires a lot of planning, but can indeed be exceptionally rewarding.

So in the end what does this book really have to offer?

For the new guild leader or leadership role

A plethora of information that is neatly gathered in one place for you. There is a lot that goes into forming and running a guild. This book takes the information and neatly bundles it for you for easy consumption. The information contained in the book is very accurate, and is very universal in it’s approach. The advice offered is solid, well thought out and has been tried and tested by the author himself. The book may have items you never thought to consider, or just did not occur to you. It offers a new officer or guild leader a chance to be prepared and also educates you on exactly what you can expect. Everything from personalities in the guild and group dynamics to planning for the future and longevity of your guild. All the basics you could possibly need to know are detailed here for you.

For the old-hand

Even if you have been playing MMOs for a long time and are quite experienced at leading groups, running guilds and leading raids, this book will offer something that can often times be lost over time. Perspective. We fill these rolls for so long that things become second nature to us. Like everything sometimes it’s nice to have a refresher. No one is perfect 100% of the time, we all make mistakes or forget things. The way I view it is like this. Next to my computer I have a series of books for programming, APA style and formatting guides, marketing and business books and a variety of other reference material. No matter how long I’ve been doing something, there will be things that I will forget. Having these books handy gives me a reference. somewhere I can go to clarify questions and vague points or remind myself of things I may have forgotten. This book now has a permanent place on that shelf. For us old hands this book is a perfect reference to when we need to get back down to basics.

For the non leader

Even if you are not in a leadership role this book can offer you a great insight you might not have otherwise. Ever wonder why your guild leader made a particular decision but don’t really want to ask them? How about when a raid leader does something that you’re not quite sure of? This book will give you a basic understanding of what it is your guild’s leadership has to go through and constantly juggle to make sure the group remains stable and that you have a place you can unwind and have fun.

I applaud the author for this book. I found it easily accessible, accurate and a fantastic read. I was able to identify with the examples he presented right away and could have compared them to any number of stories from my own past in gaming. This book is a great starting point for anyone looking for form a guild, new to an officer position or for those who just want to understand what happens behind the scenes of their groups. On a personal level, reading this book allowed me to catch something happening in my very own guild that I almost missed simply by reading about it and being reminded of it.

The only criticism of it I have is that I feel it could have been longer.  Some of the sections could have been more fully explored and may have benefited from having a little more room to breathe. The book ends at a surprisingly short186 pages.

I feel it is well written, logically put together and is a must read for anyone seriously involved in MMOs and guild structure. Even with consideration of the length I feel that is well worth the money, and even more worth the time you would invest reading it.

The book retails for $24.95 us ($31.95 CDN) and can be purchased directly through the publisher’s website.

If you’ve read it and would like to share your thoughts on it we’d love to hear your opinion on it.

 

Are Easier Heroics Better in the Long Run?

Are Easier Heroics Better in the Long Run?

Image Courtesy of Geico Insurance

The patch 3.3.2 includes a few amendments to Heroic Dungeons and how they’re played.  Entire packs of mobs are being deleted.  Bosses abilities are being shortened or being made less frequent.  Fight mechanics are being made easier.  In essence, Blizzard is giving us more opportunities to blow through these dungeons with little to no effort.

I’m an educator at heart.  Seeing as though my life “endgame” is to be at the front of a classroom, it’s important to me that people learn the skills necessary to go through life.  How to write a proper business letter, how to analyze a novel or article, or how to put your thoughts in order and present them in a proper argument.

How does this translate into WoW?  Teaching players how to follow a kill order, how to manage small and large cooldowns, or how to CC a mob.  Remember some of the cardinal rules of this game that we’ve all learned?

  • If the ground changes, get out of it. Pretty standard stuff, except for rare circumstances
  • If the boss starts spinning with his huge weapon, move away from it.
  • If a really annoying mob is causing havoc, CC it. If possible, avoid DoT’ing it.

We learn these the hard way.  And, we have to utilize and execute what we’ve learned in the current content.  Ground changes?  Sounds like Rotface’s ooze pools on the ground.  Spinning mobs?  Marrowgar.  The need to CC a mob?  The mind controls in Lady Deathwhisper.

“You are not prepared!”

With the level of difficulty amongst the endgame content, more and more groups are getting frustrated with the lack of skill within the community of 80s.  I equate this to meeting people in the real world that don’t demonstrate even a sliver of mastery of their native language (slang and colloquialisms are fun choices but shouldn’t be your foundation).  How do you get through school without being able to speak or write properly?  How do you get to start raiding without having a knowledge of the fundementals?

Take Ahn’kahet (AKA “Old Kingdom”) for example.  Jedoga Shadowseeker is the boss that floats in the air, summoning an add to sacrifice.  If she succeeds, she hits a temporary enrage.  I remember wiping to that when people first started doing heroics.  The tank had to manage a cooldown; the healer was spamming big heals. This fight demonstrated the need for DPS to turn up the heat to down the add.  Even I as a healer would Smite/Lightning Bolt the add.

Now, it seems that Madame Shadowseeker only does this once.  Does this just mean everyone blows all their cooldowns (Shield Wall, Survival Instincts, Frenzied Regeneration, etc) to endure her short enrage and then they’re done?  The key to earning respect as a player with me is demonstrate a finesse of your skills, not be all RAWR OMG WTFBBQ DPSPWNAGE!!  You can be great player and still utilize all of your classes abilities efficiently.

“Time is of the essence!”

As these Heroics are being made easier and easier, that means people will be blowing through them faster and faster.  Making the value of the gear that people are getting lower and lower.  Follow this math:

Average of 4 badges (+ 2 from random) = 6 badges per run.

Clearing an instance in 15 minutes means 24 emblems an hour.

A whole set of T9 costs 210 emblems.

210 emblems / 24 emblems per hour = 8.75 hours.

Even if you play 3 hours/day, you could have full tier 9 in 3 days.

Given that, do I think it’s possible to really have a grasp of how to exist in a raid setting, possibly having an aspect of the fight rest on your shoulders?  I won’t say a flat-out “no”, but I’m hesitant.  I learned how to play my class through dungeons and heroics.  A fight like Rotface or Blood Princes is going to confuse players that haven’t had the ability to build an understanding of their class.

Consider it a slightly less horrifying version of a person who just bought their character on eBay that day.  Regardless if you’re a completely new player, or just levelling an alt, I fear that we’re starting to lose the building blocks to being a good raider to the ease of too much convenience.  (Sidenote: Notice I said “too much”.  I’m all for crafting the game so everyone has a shot, but there is a point when it goes too far.  I don’t want to go back to the days of needing to run alts through Karazhan to begin the gearing process for Black Temple.)

It’s like the economy (I know, a touchy subject).  If you start pumping more gear into the game faster, it devalues what’s already out there.  I guess the good thing is that people will be less freaked out by GearScore.  If everyone has a high gear score, more emphasis will need to be placed on player skill.  What good is a high GearScore if everyone has it?

“Lazy Sunday!”

“…WAKE UP IN THE LATE AFTERNOON!”  Sorry, a little sidetracked.  I love that skit.

Anyways, with Blizzard making things easier and easier, I fear they’re going too far.  ICC trash is already becoming AOE-able.  People are complaining about there being too much trash (yet, people complained about Trial of the Crusader not having ANY trash and being too boring).  Oculus is getting even bigger rewards.

I don’t want this game to become “just go in and blow stuff up”.  I like the challenge.  I like the dedication.  I like the workout.  I like the strategy.  Do I know how to create a balance with this?  Of course not.  If I did, I would be working for Blizzard.  I just don’t want the laziest crowd in the game to win over the hearts and minds of the game designers.

Now, I enjoy the mechanic of earlier ICC wings getting easier over time, allowing less progressed guilds to see the endgame content, but the latest epidemic of clueless raiders is troublesome to me.  How do you make the game more appealing to everyone, while still teaching those fundemental rules that we’ve all learned over the years?

What do you think?  Do you feel heroics are being made too easy?  How do you promote an understanding of class and basic fight mechanics amongst your raiders?

Guerrilla Raiding: How To Scale Up to 25 Mans

Guerrilla Raiding: How To Scale Up to 25 Mans

TheFuture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A PUG’s Doom Knell: Link Achiev Or No Inv

SegasIdiot

This PUG will self destruct in five seconds. The first whiff of a short, lit fuse? A group leader spamming the beastly phrase “link achiev or no inv”. I believe it’s a doom knell for any PUG. It makes Dalaran and trade chat more dangerous places for a group than a fire breathing dragon with left-side whelps.

Perhaps you’ve not heard the phrase. It’s often used as a recruitment method by PUG leaders.  They are demanding that potential group members whisper them with a link to their completed achievement for the relevant instance. It does seem to have benefits for both group leader and applicant – call them Lichknig and Armand:

  • Lichknig can suppose that Armand knows tactics for the encounters
  • Lichknig can suppose that Armand is well-geared enough to do the instance, having done it before
  • Lichknig can suppose that Armand doesn’t have the attention span of a concussed goldfish, as shown by his completed achievement and the fact that he bothered to link it
  • Armand can suppose that the PUG has a good chance of completing the instance as everyone is being vetted
  • Armand can suppose that the PUG has a good chance of filling up and starting quickly as Lichknig is regularly singing out on trade and recruitment channels

Lichknig’s request of players to link an achievement and then Armand’s linking of the achievement is like a negotiation. It gets both players what they want. It also creates a sort of trust between Lichknig and Armand, and an identical bond is created between Lichknig and each player that joins the raid group. The group’s parameters of teamwork, or safety nets, are set.

The terms are not necessarily fair, though. The unspoken subtext is that Lichknig is washing his hands of error – he’s looking for an easy raid with little input from him. He’s saying “you’ve done it before – you will just do it again” to his group members. He and others like him don’t want to put the effort in to lead or direct the group. Lichknig wants to be able to crack open a beer and sit back; the group should run like a machine for him. He can put in as little interaction as he likes – both with the instance, which he will be carried through by his mechanical group – and the players, whose questions he doesn’t necessarily need to answer.

This puts group under unfair pressure to perform. This is particularly hard without direction. Almost everyone recruited into a linky linky group will have slightly different tactics from their previous PUGs or guild runs for each encounter. Think about it. Without solid direction from the leader, the group will employ three to seven different essence tactics in the Twin’Valkyr encounter, merrily exploding itself and saving the bosses the hassle.

Armand and his fellow group members have little room or excuse for error during the run. The trust bonding the group is tenuous as it can be broken as soon as someone makes a mistake; players are almost absolved of having to be patient with their teammates by the terms of negotiation. Not so long ago I was in an Ulduar25 PUG – as soon as we wiped someone reacted with “WTF? I thought you invited people who knew tacts”. What linky linky group members are under strain to prove is their worth; why they should be included. This may result in such a chilled show of professionalism that the atmosphere is icy cold and no-one says a friendly word. It may also result in players pouncing on the chance to blame someone else as soon as anything goes wrong. I mean anything – whether a tail swipe in Onyxia leads to a brief but controllable flurry of whelps or a messy wipe, players may be ready to draw attention to it as long as it diverts attention from themselves.

This isn’t a problem if the run is successful – the group may even bond if the run is fun and there’s some good humour going round. Say that doesn’t happen or someone like Armand makes a mistake, though. The initial parameters of the group will be revealed to be superficially flimsy – not a real safety net. Lichknig and the rest of the group are not guaranteed to show any patience and so Armand may find himself insulted, chased down or simply kicked.

Armand being kicked may be a bad thing for the raid. He may be a great tank and was just using slightly different tactics or his own initiative to rescue a bad tactical situation – but who knows what’s right if Lichknig hasn’t spoken since trade chat? Now that Armand’s gone the group will spend a fun two hours sitting in LFG waiting for another tank who can linky linky. Meanwhile, Lichknig’s reputation may be on a slippery slope as Armand tells his friends and guildies about his experience. Not only that, Armand may have assembled another group and led them to victory over the same instance by the time Lichknig links up with a replacement.

That’s just one reason why a linky linky group could doom you to an evening of frustration.

  • It damages recruitment chances by needlessly cutting out great chunks of potential recruits who may genuinely have the skill to learn the instance anew or the knowledge to do it from experience on another character. All because their toon doesn’t have the achievement.
    • A friend of mine has a geared but unachieved alt who keeps getting declined for the last spot of linky linky Onyxia 25 runs, yet his main regularly main tanks and raid leads successful Onyxia 25 groups
  • It’s all about ‘ez mode’. Linky linky groups want the run to be fast, almost mechanical, with as little difficulty as possible. It’s almost like expecting a group of strangers to boost you, and at level 80 end game content, for Pete’s sake

EZMode

  • It’s exclusive and Not Too Bright ™. If you teach more players the tactics or encounters then you personally will have a bigger pool of competent players from which to recruit. They’ll be used to your tactics and be grateful for the experience
  • It’s prone to turn into a needlessly competitive environment in which players forget that their teammates are other people who they might enjoy chatting to, just as much as they forget that epics are just purple pixels. I’ve actually seen people insult other DPSers of their class in VoA runs, and have often wondered if they’re trying to reduce the competition for loot
  • The longer term effect of ‘linky linky’. All of the above can combine into a solid mindset that seeps into a player and through a realm to produce a tendency to make snap judgements about other players’ skill based on very little information

So what am I talking about with the last point? I was recently PUGging on my restoration shaman Apeorsa alongside a tank friend of mine. We’d not long hit 80 but were both gearing fast and are experienced players. We’d had bad luck in PUGs that week but the ‘caek’ was really taken on the Friday evening when we joined a VoA25 group. The raid leader was not exactly Mr. Chatty (albeit hereby christened so) and when my tank friend asked who the MT was, she was unceremoniously kicked. Apparently this was payment for her asking stupid questions like who the tanks were and for having “pathetic” health.

All very sad but so what, I hear you cry. Well, I think Mr. Chatty’s attitude was partly born from the longer term linky linky effect that I mentioned. I’ve noticed an unpleasant tendency for some PUGgers to assume that everyone who wants to be ‘on their team’ will be kitted to the teeth with iLevel 245s – or at least they jolly well should be, by gosh. Anyone who isn’t so kitted is in danger of being automatically weighed, measured and found wanting before they’ve had a chance to prove they’re more than their gear. Indeed – it happens the moment they set foot in the raid or draw attention to themselves by asking the simplest of questions.

And once attention is on them – well, it’s too late. The other player will judge them based on mis-information, forget that different classes and players prioritize different stats, or just look at half a picture of their stats – such as Mr. Chatty looking at the tank’s health and drawing conclusions. Heaven forbid that he might look them up and get a full picture of composite stats. My tank friend wandered off after the disastrous and brief recruitment into Mr. Chatty’s VoA group to easily tank Ony25. Mr. Chatty, having lost a tank and main healer team, was still in LFG 25 minutes after the incident.

There also seems to be a nasty accompanying assumption by some players that basic group information doesn’t need to be shared and that anyone who asks questions is away with the fairies – or that possibly the fairies will sort everything out so they don’t have to. Not only that, there’s the simple fact that my tank friend felt thoroughly dejected after the response he got from Mr. Chatty. Why should we care? Simply because this is a social experience. Being an unfriendly twerp isn’t going to improve the game for anyone involved.

So all in all I firmly believe that the linky linky mindset is destructive and can be emotionally taxing – or even turns its players into machines. I agree that it can be important to vet PUGgers for some things – particularly higher end raids. Personally I favour an approach which allows anyone to apply for a group spot regardless of their knowledge of the encounter. It’s important to take a player’s gear into account to some extent. I check everyone on WoW-Heroes before deciding if they get an invite. This gives me a better indication of their overall gearing level and stat logic for an instance than does merely looking at their total health. And to be honest – the other thing they need is not to be our Mr. Chatty. I can teach someone tactics; I can’t teach them to be a Nice Person. That’s when their wheels fall off as far as I’m concerned.

So what do you think? Do tell, as I’d love to get a debate going on this one – it’s been a bee in my bonnet for a while now. All opinions welcome! Am I being too harsh on linky linky? Do you like the peace of mind the mindset conjures and look for raids which require you to compete and/or prove yourself? Have you had any really bad or good experiences in such a raid? What do you think the real effects of this particular – or other – types of PUG are?

And FYI – this week’s picture has been photo-shopped to remove trade spam and protect the identities of people involved.

This is a post by Mimetir, a boomkin of a raid leader. You can find my twitter feed here.

Help Simone: Heroic Northrend Beasts

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Meet Simone.

She’s the new healing lead and she needs your help. None of the other healers wanted the job of organizing and assigning healing. The raid leader doesn’t understand enough about healing to confidently handle it himself. Simone has decided to take initiative and do it.

But she needs your help!

Scenario: Heroic Northrend Beasts 25
Tanks: Warrior, Paladin, Death Knight
Healers: 2 Resto Shamans, 1 Holy Paladin, 1 Discipline Priest, 2 Resto Druid (1 optimized for tank healing, 1 optimized for raid healing)

What you know

Terrence has given Simone the tank assignments. On Gormok, the Paladin starts first, followed by the Warrior and then the Death Knight. It’s been timed in such a way that the Warrior will end up tanking Gormok until he falls over. With the twin snakes alive, the Paladin will be getting Dreadscale while the Death Knight is picking up Acidmaw. After Acidmaw is taken down, the tanks are in free for all mode on Dreadscale as it largely depends on who has the fire debuff and who doesn’t. It’s safe to assume that the Warrior will be the one tanking Icehowl when he comes out and will do so for the rest of the fight.

We can assume that her raid group is reasonably competent and are able to get out of fires fast enough. We also know that they all have excellent awareness skills and can dodge Icehowl’s trample. In fact, the raiders are so good that they spread out so well and are able to minimize Acidmaw’s poison debuff so that only one player will get it at any time. The healers are smart players and they won’t need Simone to micromanage their big cooldowns for them this time. That might change in the future when new players are brought in, however.

What would you do?

This is where Simone turns to you for help. You’re the only person she knows that’s handled healing assignments before. This is what she wants you to do:

  • She needs 3 healers on the tanks on phase 1. Which ones should she choose?
  • She needs 2 healers on each snake-tank on phase 2. How should they be distributed?
  • She has 2 Shamans and 3 tanks. How should she assign the Earth Shields throughout the fight?
  • On the Icehowl phase, Simone is worried that all the healers could get nailed by Icehowl’s Arctic breath. What solution would you give to her to calm her fears?

Remember, there is no wrong answer. This is just an exercise to see how you would handle it and what you would do.

Leading The Lodur Way

Leading The Lodur Way

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This comes as a request on twitter from @Furiey. They asked me to write a post about my particular style of leadership and thus today’s post is born!

There are many different ways to lead I’ll discuss some of the more common ones and then talk about my own style. The most common styles of leadership you’ll find in MMO’s are as follows:

  • Democratic leadership
  • Bureaucratic leadership
  • Charismatic leadership
  • People-Oriented leadership
  • Laissez-faire leadership

Democratic Leadership

The democratic leadership style is also called the participative style as it encourages Guildies to be a part of the decision making. The democratic Leader keeps his or her Guildies informed about everything that affects their Guild and shares decision making and problem solving responsibilities. This style requires the leader to be a coach who has the final say, but gathers information from Guild members before making a decision.  Democratic leadership can produce high quality and high quantity work for long periods of time. Many Guildies and Raiders like the trust they receive and respond with cooperation, team spirit, and high morale.

Like the other styles, the democratic style is not always appropriate. It is most successful when used with highly skilled or experienced Raiders or when implementing operational changes or resolving individual or group problems.

This is an everyone contributes to the process thing with the Raid Leader or Guild Leader being the final say. This is VERY VERY good for morale and helps make people feel a stronger emotional investment to the guild as a whole. It does have a downside in which sometimes Alpha class personalities can clash when two conflicting ideas are presented. A strong and decisive Leader can head this off at the pass however. This is also very time consuming process sometimes to get things accomplished.

Bureaucratic leadership

Bureaucratic leadership is where the Leader manages “by the book¨. Everything must be done according to procedure or policy. If it isn’t covered by the book, the Leader refers to the next level above him or her, or converses with officers as to make new policy to handle the situation.

Basically you set rules and policies to handle as much as you can and then follow those guidelines to the letter, be it loot policy, raiding policy or even guild structure.

Charismatic leadership

A Charismatic leader is one who provides an environment full of energy and positive (well OK, sometimes Negative) reinforcement. If you are naturally charismatic, you are very fortunate! This is a trait that is not so easily learned. Charismatic leaders inspire others and encourage them to be their best. Guildies and group members want to impress a charismatic leader, so they work hard and strive to succeed. Charismatic leaders are great for projects that require energy and talent.

This type of leadership is a double edged sword. You’re often perceived as approachable and a friend to the guild. It’s like Cheers and everyone knows your name. People are excited to group with you and this type of leadership is great for morale. It does however require a lot from the Leader and your mood will greatly affect the mood of those around you.

People-Oriented leadership

The leader is totally focused on organizing, supporting and developing the people in the leader’s team in order to accomplish a specific goal. A participative style, it tends to lead to good teamwork and creative collaboration. However, taken to extremes, it can lead to failure to achieve the team’s goals. In practice, most leaders use both task-oriented and people-oriented styles of leadership. This lends itself well to an autocratic approach and the leader will actively define the work and the roles required, put structures in place, plan, organize and monitor.

This can be highly effective form of leadership, but has an increased chance to cause burn out and atrophy among Guildies and Raiders.

Laissez-faire leadership

The laissez-faire leadership style is also known as the “hands-off¨ style. It is one in which the Leader provides little or no direction and gives Guildies and Raiders as much freedom as possible. All authority or power is given to the masses and they must determine goals, make decisions, and resolve problems on their own.

While this may sound silly you’d be surprised at the number of people that do take this approach, trusting in the structure of the guild and the maturity and camaraderie of the Guildies and Raiders to keep things flowing.

Choosing the Right Style

A good leader will find him or herself switching instinctively between styles according to the people and work they are dealing with. This is often referred to as “situational leadership”.

For example, the manager of a small factory trains new machine operatives using a bureaucratic style to ensure operatives know the procedures that achieve the right standards of product quality and workplace safety. The same manager may adopt a more participative style of leadership when working on production line improvement with his or her team of supervisors.

How Lodur Leads

I am a Situational Leader, but I tend to hover between Democratic, Bureaucratic and Charismatic leadership styles. My default mode is Charismatic though. I’ve been told I’m very Charismatic by the people that meet me, whether this is true or not I’ll just go with it ;) . I tend to try to inject a lot of energy into my team when I’m leading. I joke I jibe people and I try to keep spirits high. When it comes time to make a decision like if people want to keep going on a raid boss, or if it comes time to re evaluate tactics I slip into Democratic mode. When there is a problem or potential problem I want everyone in my raid contributing. Even the zaniest of ideas sometimes is the one you need to work. Between being very energetic and asking for everyone to participate, morale is kept high and my raiders always feel a strong involvement and attachment to the raid and to the guild as a whole.

When it comes time for something with policy and procedure I become very Bureaucratic. I follow the policy to the letter, it’s there for a reason. This includes reviewing applications for raider positions and most recently denying someone a raider rank. I deal with it with professionalism and courtesy, and I follow the guild guidelines to the letter. Let me give you an example of each.

A few weeks ago my guild split into three 10 man groups. The idea was to do ToC 10, Ony 10 and then ToGC 10 and see how far we could get our groups in ToGC. When I started the raid invites I had a few new people and the first thing they heard was me “yelling” at another one of the officers on vent. Zabos and I have a very long history of friendship and we can often be heard over vent with me telling Zabos to die in a fire and Zabos waving some epic or mount in my face to taunt me. We goof around and the guild loves picking on Zabos. The new guy was a bit confused but then everyone joined in throwing some jibes around. I then chimed in over vent

“OK guys here’s the plan, ToC and Ony like normal then we’re coming back here to do some heroic ToGC 10 good stuff. My goal is to make it farther then Woe’s team. This is where you come in. I need you guys to give it your all when we come back here. Get your silly wipes and deaths out of the way early and lets show our Guild Leader what team Lodur is made of!”

This was met by the sounds of eager raiders getting ready to sink their teeth into content they had not tried before and led to a two shot of heroic Beasts before the raid was called on account of time. The first wipe I asked on vent if anyone had any ideas how we could make it better. A few people chimed in and we implemented some of the ideas and it lead to victory! They were so excited and everyone had a good time, and I was quite proud of them.

After the raid that night I had to send a denial letter to one of my Shaman who had applied to raider. I switched into my Bureaucratic mode and cited the reasons why they were being denied the rank, as well as citing guild policy. They understood and there was no hard feelings.

So that’s how I lead. I slip between the three styles as the situation dictates, but I tend to default to Charismatic style of leadership. People tend to like me and so I don’t have to brow beat them or yell too often to get them to do something. 95% of the time I just have to ask nicely and it gets done. People feel comfortable when I’m in charge and I’m told I do a good job and everyone has a good time so apparently I’m doing something right.

There are many ways to lead and in the end you have to find the one that fits your goals as a group as well as you as a person. and leader.

So how about you? How do you lead? What style best suits your personality and raid?

Tune in next time where I’ll talk about the tools I’ve come across that I’ve found useful when leading a raid.

Until next time, Happy Healing!

Sig

image courtesy of faqs.org

Officers: Who Watches the Watchmen?

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“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

I realize not many readers understand Latin. It basically translates to “Who guards the guards themselves?”.

During one of my earlier years in university, we studied up a bit on Plato’s The Republic (ethics and government stuff). Who protects the people against the protectors? Plato responds by saying they have to guard themselves against themselves. Ideally your officers are going to be just individuals who won’t become greedy or evil.

Your officers

In a majority of cases, your officers are simply normal people who have invested their time (and perhaps money) to handle guild tech or infrastructure. They’re busy tackling things that no one wants to deal with like personnel, scheduling, and what raid operations to carry out. Policy has to be continually updated. Loot has to be awarded and DKP systems have to be managed.

To be frank, the officers are the overseers of the guild and possess the power along with the responsibility.

The level headed ones have no desire to go all political. They’re leaders of a loose organization of gamers, not the mafia. There’s no backroom deals going on. With luck, there is no maneuvering or behind-the-scenes backstabbing.

Red alert!

Now something has happened. Maybe one of your leaders committed some kind of grievous offense. You, Joe raider, happen to take exception. You don’t agree with whatever they did. Maybe they completely screwed over a pug in loot. Or they might have completely dished it out to a raider one day who was undeserving. The reasons could number beyond infinity.

In any case, whatever the reason, you’re upset enough to the point where you want to do something about it.

Your options

Now here’s a list of things you can do and what might possibly happen if you go down these roads.

  • Do nothing. It’s the easiest choice. Keep it to yourself. Don’t say anything. You don’t want to rock the boat. This is something I’ve observed most players doing because they perceive there is too much at risk by doing anything else.
  • Speak to your GM. Have a chat with the boss and see what she says. Perhaps they don’t realize it’s an issue and maybe they can talk to the officer and try to resolve what happened.
  • Speak to the officer in question. Directly confront the officer in question and let them know what they did wasn’t cool. I don’t advise doing this publically. Do it privately in whispers. When I was just a grunt, I preferred taking the direct route and telling officers personally that I thought they did something wrong. It has a stronger effect then you might think.
  • Change your reaction. This option isn’t quite the same as the first. This involves a complete philosophy change on your end. Is their offense that serious? Does it really matter that much? What if you changed your reaction to the point where you could tolerate it and ignore it? The guild my alt is in has a raid leader who randomly calls people morons. I get called it myself once in a while because I can be a touch slow getting out of fires periodically. I don’t take it personally because I simply don’t care enough (It’s my alt’s guild for one).
  • Leave the guild. It’s fairly self explanatory. Be prepared to leave the guild. If you cannot accept what the guild is doing or if speaking to the GM and the officer prove to be futile, then the last option you have is to change your environment entirely. Not every guild is suited for every personality.

What Aldo Raine Can Teach You About Raid Leading

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What on earth could you learn about killer raiding and leadership from a ridiculously accented, revenge-based officer coming out of Maynardville, Tennessee? Answer: Quite a bit! If you haven’t watched Inglourious Basterds yet, I’d strongly recommend watching the movie.

The Lieutenant puts together a team of eight soldiers to go behind enemy lines and do nothing but kill German Nazis. Aspiring raid leaders would do well to pay keen attention to Aldo the Apache’s style.

What exactly does he do?

Ability to identify talent

Aldo has a keen eye when it comes to evaluating people with certain skills. When he hears of someone who’s in a tough jam that helps fulfill a need, Aldo will go out of his way to extend an invitation.

As leaders, always keep your eyes and ears open for players out there who may augment your guild in some fashion. If your guild is raiding, never turn down talent right away. Take a look at them and see if that player provides something that your guild could use.

Be direct

Don’t beat around the bush. It’s okay to pick words wisely. There’s better ways to tell someone that they need to improve other than they suck. But you have to be prepared to get straight to the point and not play passive-aggressive. Tell your players exactly what went wrong or where they messed up. After every wipe, I look through Recount and Obituary to find out the events that lead to our wipe and I’ll explain to everyone what happened. This way, we’re all on the same page for the next attempt and we can minimize the chance of that happening again.

Common sense

Sometimes it’s common for leaders to overthink the scenario. All you really need is some basic common sense. As Aldo says, “You don’t got to be Stonewall Jackson to know you don’t want to fight in a basement.” When it comes to strategy and tactics, examine the room you’re in. Take stock of the boss abilities and the players you have.

In the Faction Champions encounter, your raid doesn’t have much room for error. It’s different every time and it’s going to rely a lot on players. Leaders need to make the right call at the right time in terms of what’s the next target and who to lock down.

Push players hard

Either your raiders are going to sink or they will swim. Push and stress them to their limits. Now that summer is just about over, we’ve all but abandoned Ulduar and are setting the guild crosshairs on both Trial of the Grand Crusader hard modes for 10 and 25 man. We’re taking a “Survival of the Fittest” mentality when it comes to selecting personnel. Syd and the rest of the officer corps did an excellent job while I was away to recruit some extra players and now it’s their chance to show why they should remain. This means continuing the grind of raiding.

As Aldo says, “You know how to get to Carnegie Hall, don’tcha? Practice.”

Set expectations

On the first day Aldo meets his recruits, he makes his expectations and intentions absolutely clear. Leaders set the bar that everyone needs to reach. For raiders, lay down a rough DPS benchmark that they should be able to hit on test dummies or on certain bosses (Patchwerk or Ignis). It’s difficult to set benchmark for healers but I try to look at their potential healing throughput (like 2000+ healing per second on some fights, or their assignments get rotated to see if they can cope).

Right from the get go, every man under Aldo’s command owes him one hundred Nazi scalps.

… And he wants his scalps.

Friends and Raiders: Raider Accountability

Friends and Raiders: Raider Accountability

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So, it’s a topic that is always present but not a lot of people seem to want to touch on is disciplining raiders. It’s a topic most people hope to never deal with, but inevitably it comes up, how do you discipline your raiders? My guild has several ranks, the hierarchy goes like this.

GM

Officer

Class Lead

Raider

Veteran

Applicant

The raider rank offers free consumables for raids and a guaranteed raid spot on our 25 man raid nights. Pretty sweet deal right? The officers thought so too, but we felt it had to come with some requirements. Last year at Blizzcon 08 my guild was lucky enough that almost all the officers were able to attend. We hit up a pub, ordered a few pints and decided to hash out ground rules. We understand everyone has off days, so with that in mind how do we evaluate our raiders? We have three categories which we judge our raiders. Performance, Attendance and Attitude.

Performance

This is judged by varying degrees depending on class and role. We divided out the basic archetypes into 4 groups and an officer looks over each group one for melee, one for hunters, one for casters and one for healers (guess which one I take care of). We don’t set hard numbers but we look for a couple things. Is the player performing well based on assignment and others of their class? Is the player prepared with proper gems, enchants, talent spec and consumables (and using the provided consumables)? Does the player have their resistance gear(if applicable)? Is the player following assignments (healers on their target, interrupts doing what they need to do, the right sheeps going out)? Is the player consistently dying to void zones for no good reason? Is the person looting / herbing / mining etc instead of doing what they are supposed to be doing (ex: picking flowers instead of healing the tank)

That’s a rough sketch but you get the idea.
Attendance

This one is a hard number. We require that those of the raider rank attend 75% of the main raids (we only count our 25 man raids since for us that’s the focus) if you are not going to be able to make an official raid we expect you to give us notice so we can prepare. We understand that life happens and well, real life is more important then the game. We just ask that our raiders give us notification so we can bring in a replacement and keep the raid going for those that are on.

We also require that raiders be at the instance at the time of raid invites. This is not too much to ask, log out at the instance the night before if you have to. We don’t want to keep an entire raid waiting because one or two people are horsing around in Dalaran, or are always waiting for a Warlock to summon them.

Attitude

This one’s a bit of a wild card for some people, but the basics of the concept is as follows. Is the player badgering other players? (this includes harassing classes on the same token if they are going to drop or pass the token to the player) Is the person constantly in a sour mood and taking it out on the raid? Is the person ignoring assignments? Is the person acting like they just don’t want to be there? This also includes personal grievances between players. If one player has a problem with another we investigate it.

For this one it’s more the temper tantrum rule. If you’re being pissy, expect to be called on it.

Punitive Measures

So, now that we’ve metered out the 3 categories to go by how does one go about reprimanding offenders? For attendance issues we review the monthly numbers and people below the 75% mark are brought to the attention of the raid officers. If we see that there is sufficient reason for a demotion (ie skipped two weeks of raids for beer blasts) we will demote the person from raider status. We understand that real life happens and of course won’t hold unavoidable events against our raiders.

For performance and attitude we follow the Three Strike Rule. Each time a raider breaks one of the rules they receive a strike. Along with the strike comes a warning, usually handled in whispers during a break in the raid or if its severe enough during the encounter. We try to avoid public defamation on vent (but that doesn’t keep us from screaming to get out of the damned void zones when needed). Attitude problems are dealt with swiftly and on the spot. Informing the raider that they can and will be removed if the behavior continues (and following through with it). There is an officer in every class channel and usually one per group in 25 mans, so we have a good idea when someone is acting up. When a raider reaches three strikes they will receive two treatments. First is a docking of DKP. My guild still uses the DKP system so this is a major check point for most of our raiders. The degree of the docking depends on the severity of the strikes to be decided by the raid officers. Along with that comes the evaluation of the person’s raider status.  The raid officers decide if the person should be demoted.

Personal grievances are set for investigation. Officers will step in and separate the people in question, find out whats happening and determine what needs to be done, if anything.

To be honest we’ve never gotten to the third strike for anyone. DKP docking and removal of rank act as great deterrents and our raiders are generally pretty adult about most things, our officers are pretty proactive as well. We hold clinics and workshops as necessary if a player decides they need help. An officer is almost always on in game and class leaders are always afoot. We are very active as a guild and work together to bring everyone up, as well as weed out anything that might threaten the stability of our raid and guild.

You’ll find most raiding guilds have something like this set up. Ours is probably more lenient then some, but it works for us. We have a pretty long app process so people who make it through generally are good seeds and mesh well with the way we do things, so disciplining raiders doesn’t come up very often.

So how about you? How does your guild handle your raider? Do you Handle them at all? How do you handle personal grievances among guildies/raiders?

Until next time, Happy Healing

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Image courtesy of Guardian.co.uk

Friends and Raiders: Becoming a Leader

Friends and Raiders: Becoming a Leader

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Where do all the officers and leaders come from? I mean, they all started somewhere right? As people become leaders the workload shifts and changes for them. The community over at PlusHeal has an entire section devoted to leadership. Tools of the trade, tips and tricks, and most importantly in my opinion how to make the transition from raider to officer or healing lead. Today I’ll talk a bit about making the transition and some of the obstacles you will face as well as share some of my personal experiences with you.

A little background, I spent most of my time in Vanilla WoW and in Burning Crusade as a raider switching from DPS to Healing when Burning Crusade came out. Partway through Burning Crusade our Heal Lead and Raid Officer left the game. In his absence I was asked to take over Heal Lead and shortly thereafter was awarded the rank of officer in his place. It wasn’t expected and I had to make the transition quickly. We finished out Burning Crusade and then headed off to Northrend to go say hi to Arthas. Here’s some things that changed.

Addons

One of the first things most people tackle is the list of addons they run. After being put in charge of healers or a raid you’ll find yourself having to monitor a lot more things. It’s imperative you sit down and decide what information you need readily available to you at all times. Here’s some addons I found useful when I first started out

  • BigBrother – Like Orwell’s 1984, this see’s all and then reports it to you or the raid. This mod lets you check for buffs like flasks and other consumables as well as lets you know when CC like Shackle or sheep has been broken and by who. This is a great tool to make sure you’re raiders are using their consumables.
  • RaidCooldowns – This addon allows for you to track all the abilities with cooldowns in a raid. This will display battle rezes, innervates, Divine Hymn, Lay on Hands etc. For a complete list click the link and visit the site. Some trackable abilities like a Shaman’s Reincarnation require members of the raid to be running oRA2, CTRA, or RaidCooldowns itself  in order to display properly, however if you’re in a raiding guild, chances are your team will already have one of those.
  • CastMonitor – This lets you place a movable list of players that you can then monitor their target, as well what spell they are casting. This is great when you want to double check your healers are on the right targets or doing what they are supposed to.
  • Cellular – In your new position you’re going to be getting a lot of tells, no two ways about it. People will be confirming assigments or just checking to make sure they did ok. Cellular (or any similar mod) lets you keep them like AIM message windows and they stay nice and tidy. Helps make sure you don’t miss any important tells.

My UI is constantly changing. I’m removing and adding items frequently to find a mix that will give me all the information I need in a pretty package. Find what works for you to give you what you need.

Knowledge

I’m going to focus more on the healing aspect of it here, but the ideas stay the same for all of a raid. You are now responsible for the instruction and care of a team.You’re not going to have eight of the same class with the same spec (if you do please let me know I’d be curious at that one). Take time to familiarize yourself with the various healer classes and specs in your raid. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of each of the Specs present in your heal team and take the time to learn the encounters your team will be facing. Learn the mindset of your healers and don’t be afraid to ask them questions., after all they should have a commanding knowledge of their class. You’re in a position where you need to know whats going on and need to tell people to do. Knowing your healers mindset and asking for their input goes a long way. I make it a point to encourage my heal team to offer constructive ideas when things go wrong or are not working as well as they could be.

There are several threads over at PlusHeal that deal with how to assign people, who is better suited for what and more of the ins and outs of the various specs. My suggestion, spend time on forums like PlusHeal and see what you can learn. There is a plethora of information available to help you fill in your knowledge gaps from various strategy sites and different forums all over the internet.

Communication

This is something that I thought was the easiest part of the transition. You are a central point of communication for your raid. If you are Heal Lead, all of those healers report to you and you in turn report to the raid leader. It’s important to have ways to get information to everyone that needs to have it quickly and efficiently. For healers having a dedicated healing chat channel helps. In the same vein, class or role specific chat channels are a good idea. My guild has one channel for every class as well as one dedicated to healers and one for tanks. This allows us to easily hand out information and gives collective spots to have questions asked and answered. As a heal lead you’ll want to sit in the tank channel too. This lets you know who is going to be eating what hits and allows you to quickly and effectively assign healers for maximum effect. You are the communications hub, keep that in mind.

Sometimes raiders need to call in sick so to speak, or they’ll need information that isn’t readily available on the forums and needs an immediate reply. For this reason I have my contact information posted on the guild website. This includes my email address, AIM (msn, icq and yahoo as well),  and phone number. I’ve had several instances where I’ve been thanked by raiders for being so accessible. As another rule of thumb I have an open door policy. Anyone can come to me at anytime for anything and I’ll do what I can to help, and if I can’t I’ll do my best to find what they need or point them in the right direction.

Finding a Balance

This to me is the hardest thing a new heal lead or officer needs to do. You have to keep in mind that this is a social game. You have been dealing with at least two dozen other people for a long time and have more then likely made a few friends. When you get elevated to a position of authority sometimes it’s hard to find the line between what a friend would do and what an officer would do. In the same vein it’s often hard for people to distinguish that when looking at you. They have to understand your dual roles. Keep in mind that you are in a position of authority. You have a responsibility now to keep things moving and working at a good pace. Sometimes you will have to put friendship aside and tell a person no, but at the same time you don’t want to be so much of a jerk that no one likes you. You have two distinct roles, a friend and a leader. Let me give you an example of what I mean by finding a balance.

In BC when we were still clearing Mt. Hyjal, I was new to being a heal lead and officer. I was fairly quiet in vent aside from the friendly jibes and conversation, and I had a little less authority in my assigning of healers. Plainly put I was too nice. This came to a head when we were wiping on Archimonde. I kept seeing the same 4 people standing in the fire. After a night of wipes that had followed a week of wipes, I finally dropped a set so to speak and piped up on vent. I was assertive and authoritative in my tone. I thought I edged past normal limits and into jerk territory when everyone on vent was deathly silent. The statement was something like this

“Really? Seriously? You’re still standing in the fire? Come one people! Turn! Move! Stop whatever you are doing and move. Don’t finish your cast, don’t try to get one more instant off just turn on your heels and run. It’s not rocket science just do it. That’s all this fight is. Move. Out. Of. The. Damn. Fire.”

Next attempt saw a 25% improvement in dps on the boss (from 49% to 24% boss health) then we called it for the night. We came back and stomped him into the ground the following attempts. I received a lot of thank you tells that night. I still thought I stepped out of line. More recently I had a raiding healer whose spec was brought to our attention as not being ideal. It was missing key features we needed from that class. I was real life friends with this person for many years. The guild leader and the Class leader approached him about it before I was out of work, and he was quite upset. He turned to me on AIM and I told him I’d talk to them and see what’s up. After a lengthy discussion I agreed something needed to change. I informed the raider that yes, it would be appreciated if he respeced as the raid needed the particular talents he was missing. As a friend he expected me to back his position fully, but as a healing lead and officer I had to agree with what was better for the raid and for progression. Notice the word “was” I used when referring to my friend? He was unable to see that I had two roles and has decided that speaking to me in a non official capacity isn’t to his liking any longer. He still gets the job done and responds well to assignments, but holds a bit of a grudge. It’s very difficult to find that balance of being someone’s friend while still being an authority, its something we all constantly have to recalibrate.

How about you? Any tips for new leaders you’d like to share? Any stories about your own rise to being a leader?

That’s it for now. Until next time, happy healing!

sig

Image Courtesy of su.wustl.edu