Why the Flex Raid is a Boon

Why the Flex Raid is a Boon

I recently purchased a Flex plan from my cell company where I’d be charged monthly based on the amount of data I actually used. I don’t know if I’ll always be near a wireless access point or not but at least the charges will scale accordingly.

Speaking of Flex plans, Blizzard’s taking a page out of that book and introduced a new type of raiding: The Flex Raid difficulty.

  • We can bring anywhere from 10 – 25 people and the bosses will scale.
  • We can invite friends from other realms via battle tag
  • Item level is between raid finder and normal but loot will be handled via raid finder loot system
  • Separate lockout from raid finder, normal/heroic

I’m still digesting the news. Usually my raid will run through raid finder once a week. We’ve started bringing in and carrying our alts. People are still running raid finder to grab their Titan Runestones at the start. Raid finder is great if I just want to mind numbingly get my way through an instance, gear up an alt, and just generally not have to think but mash buttons. I can eat every void zone, stand in every fire, miss every interrupt, and can live (most of the time).

What kind of example am I setting, right?

Why it’s good

This is great for guilds and cross realm raid groups. Players don’t have to transfer their characters from server to server to raid. I know there’s players out there who have a whole train of alts with assorted professions designed to support their main. If that player is satisfied with raiding on the flex plan, then they can still see the content in the game without committing money to move their supply train.

Second, from a recruiting standpoint, this is a huge tool for a prospect to raid with a potential guild and see if they’d fit in. Right now, we run livestreams and invite possible recruits on to our Mumble in order to give them a look at our raids. I can see a day set aside where recruits can jump in and raid with the team – And the beauty is a whole 25 man team isn’t going to be needed either.

Third, what about guilds that are looking to scale up from 10 to 25 man? This is another excellent way for them to gradually expand. It’s often a nightmare to make an immediate jump from a 10 man to a 25 man raiding guild. Sometimes the pool of player availability isn’t always there. The flex raid allows them to slowly (but surely) change their raid size until a consistent 25 raiders is found for the inevitable shift to normal modes.

But at the end of the day, Flex Raid isn’t a normal raid. It will never carry the prestige or reputation that normal and heroic kills grant. I doubt it’ll be taken seriously but maybe that’s what the main point of the flex raid is. It’s not designed to be cutting edge or challenging. It’s supposed to bring you, your family, and your friends together to raid where you don’t have to deal with potential morons in raid finder. You get to raid on your terms with whoever you want with relaxed restrictions.

Will you flex?

I’m still weighing the costs and benefits of working in Flex raiding for Conquest. I’d remove guild sanctioned Raid Finder from the list of activities and swap to this instead. At minimum, I would have to have at least two tanks available for this. With Raid Finder, I’d be able to go in with whatever composition I had available. The potential drops are better than raid finder anyway. I imagine my current raiding gear from Throne of Thunder will be better than the Raid Finder and flex drops in 5.4. If anything, Flex will be used to help ease our way into progression raids or on nights where half the raid is unable to attend.

Where does the flex raid factor into your guild’s raiding plans? What about your raiding plans? I’ll end up changing my Wednesday night raid finder to the flex raid instead.

Recovering From a Bad First Guild Date

Recovering From a Bad First Guild Date

I issued a Valentine’s day blogging challenge earlier on Twitter. It wouldn’t be fair of me to not participate. Any bloggers are welcome to join in. It’s a fun way for bloggers to throw a Valentine’s spin on their posts. If you do accept the challenge, feel free to e-mail or DM me a link to it and I’ll round them all up at the end of the week. I’m sure you can come up with some ideas if you think hard enough.

1327762_rosesPerformance anxiety.

Nervousness.

Fear.

Intimidation.

Those are just some of the few things any prospective raider will experience on their first “date” with the guild. As much as we love to hear a happy ending to a story, the reality is that it isn’t always the case. Here you are, a  player trying to court your new guild. You want them to love you. You want them to be attracted to you. Why? Because you want to be with them too.

But then you screw up.

You stand in the fire. You eat one too many Shadow Crashes. You accidentally dropped a totem in the wrong place.

For whatever reason, your “date” just wasn’t impressed with you at all. Here you are trying to establish a solid foundation with them but you blew your chances because of some silly mistakes. The question they’re asking themselves: Can you be trusted to not screw up again in the future?

Meanwhile, the question you have running through your head is: Will they give me a second chance?

Probably not. At least, not right away. If you epicly messed up, you won’t have a shot. But you know, maybe that guild likes you just enough for another look. But you have to prove yourself.

Communicate

“Hey, I know I screwed up here, here and here. I’m just a little jittery because it’s my first time here. I’ve watched the movies and I know the abilities, but I guess I was just overwhelmed with anxiety. I know I’ll do a better job next time.”

Sometimes a little reassurance to the guild is all that’s needed. Everyone loves a person who recognizes and owns up to their own mistakes. It’s a sign of a truly mature individual who understands they’re not perfect. Now I can’t speak for everyone, but someone who can see where they screw up without having to be told about it is perfect in my eyes.

Listen

Hear out what the guild has to say. If you’re not sure, ask them what you did wrong so you can try to make amends for it. If you know your DPS rotation is messed up, why are you still following the same bad habits? This is especially true if someone is playing the same class as you. Listen to what they have to say, consider it, and see if its right for you. When they drop little hints about what you can do to be better, listen to it.

If that player isn’t you, then you might just need to take a hard look at yourself in the mirror and make the choice between walking away or dealing with it.

Don’t screw up

You were given a second chance. It’s extremely unlikely you’ll be given a third. Don’t mess it up again by choking. They’ve said yes to you again so you better show up and show them who the real you is. Polish up the armor and maybe shotgun a flask.

When they ask you where the nearest raid is, you can curl your muscular Dwarven arm and go “that way”.

Even though you didn’t make the best of first impressions, you might still have a chance to get into the guild of your dreams.

They want to like you

Last thing I want to impart is this:

No one is out to get you.

The guild that you’re going for, you have to remember that they want you to be the one. They don’t want to go back to the recruitment boards again searching for Mr. or Ms. Right. They’re looking for someone who will stick around for a long time.  You’re here because they think they found a potential match and they’re rooting for you to be with them! They want you to ace it so they can go back to drinks! It’s up to you to either validate or prove wrong that claim.

Speaking of which, we’re looking to shore up our roster with a Holy Paladin, an Elemental/Resto Shaman, Rogue and a Mage. But we’ll look at any other classes though. Come check us out.

A Change of Recruiting Strategy: World of Raids Tool

This raid cycle is about to end soon and I know there are many guilds who are gradually bleeding members to life and other obligations outside of the game. It’s becoming a tough stretch to even field a full competent crew for ToGC 25.

Right now, even though we’re recruiting for ToGC 25, I personally don’t know if anyone’s going to bite. What I did decide to include is an extra note that says we’re also recruiting for Icecrown.

Another stipulation that I’ve added is that quality of gear players have when applying won’t really matter to us. In other words, I’ve relaxed the gear standards.

Why?

Because I know Icecrown’s just on the horizon and will debut within 4-6 weeks. I projected a late November or early December release.

That’s 4 weeks for a new applicant to get themselves geared up so that they can be effective in Icecrown. Even if they’re a fresh 80, running a constant stream of heroics or getting carried in farm or alt raids is enough to build a supply of badges to purchase tier 9 gear.

So in other words, I’m enacting a two tier strategy. The first priority is to recruit players who can help fill our raids and contribute. Failing that, if they’re not at the level they need to be, we’ll still draft them for the future.

I’ve gotten some bites on trade chat, but they’re mostly inquiries for now. Twitter has again proven fruitful as I’ve had a few interested players from there apply. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to use the official realm forums as everytime I post it says “Invalid Option”.

I was actually tempted to include in the recruiting message that the leadership had Icecrown experience as I’ve participated in all of the PTR tests so far. When you’re competing against other guilds for players, every edge helps right? One would think that foresight and knowledge into the next tier of content might tip the scales in favor.

So let’s look at the World of Raids recruiting page.

What are you looking for?

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The first thing you’ll notice is that there are a variety of search filters at the top. Use those to narrow down the guilds that fit your criteria.

1. This is where you select the Realm. Obviously, since I’m a Dwarf Priest, I am going to select Alliance. Even though I live in Canada, the closest realms to me are in the US. I prefer PvP servers just because of the extra variable element they add to my day to day affairs even though I still hate Rogues.

2. If there’s a specific realm you’re looking for, you can enter it here and it will isolate only guilds that are from there.

3. You set your class and specs here. For me, I’ll put down Holy Priest as an example.

4. If you care about progression, you’ll want to look for a guild that’s in your area. This takes a bit of trial and error as there’s no absolute guideline on this. Just for the sake of it, I said narrow it down to guilds that are in the top 2000 around the world.

5. Raid times can be narrowed here. If you prefer to raid on certain days and times, simply choose the day where it matters and then use the buttons to select the start and end times. Setting a large range works best. It will display guilds that happen to raid on the days that you choose. Note that the guilds may raid days in addition to the ones you have selected.

Make sure you set the time zone appropriately.

The search results below will show guilds that best match your criteria. A green bar on the left signals how close they match your filters. The rest of the information is shown on the bar such as classes, progression rank, and times.

And hey, look at that. There’s a guild called Conquest that happens to be recruiting. I think I might give those guys a shot. Let’s click on that page and see what happens next.

What am I looking for?

Now that you’re on my World of Raids guild page, you can see all of the necessary information listed in one area and it’s very handy to applicants and recruiters alike.

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At the very top, it displays some basic information. The icon on the left signifies which faction, Horde or Alliance, the guild is. The server and battlegroup along with the guild’s website is shown beside it. On the right side, applicants can see where this guild ranks on the progression curve. The Apply button is in bright yellow box that’s difficult to miss.

recruit-1

As you’ll see, the top part of the page displays what classes I’m looking for. At the moment, the classes that have a color background behind them signify that I will consider those classes. All we could use right now are bodies to help us in our raids and I won’t be too picky when it comes to class. If you can reach a certain threshold of DPS output and in game “smarts”, it’s good enough for me.

recruit-2

Right below that, you can see a neat graphical representation of progress. It takes a while to update as the data is pulled from WoW Progress and is reflected here. Under Crusader’s Coliseum, note how there are two levels of progression. Half a bar represents the boss has been taken down on normal mode while a full bar means it’s been done on heroic.

Ulduar is below that and it also breaks down individual boss achievements into fractions. Freya, for example, is broken up into 4 parts which represent her and various amounts of elder kills.

Sadly, this isn’t up to date as we took down Heroic faction champs last week and killed Yogg with 3 keepers active.

You can also see a link to 10 man achievements in the top right corner of each raid instance.

 recruit-3

Below that you can see notable accomplishments and a simple mouse over will display what has been achieved. I like the fact that it also highlights when a certain achievement was achieved. For example, Kil’jaden on the far right was killed prior to the release of 3.0.2.

Unfortunately, as this tracks everyone’s achievement, even if one person has Immortal, it will still display it as a guild achievement. Such was the case here because we weren’t able to get Immortal together as a guild.

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Finally, the right side bar displays information that can’t easily be expressed or pulled from a third party source. This is where the administrator enters extra information about their guild. The raid times are shown at the top and is displayed in a 24 hour format to minimize confusion. The timezone that the guild operates on is also shown. These are settings that the administrator can control which ranges from MST, CST, EST, and so forth. I don’t recall what the European ones are.

The about section offers a brief description of the guild and what it’s about. It’s important to not go all out here. You want to sell your guild and garner interest, not scare them away with a giant wall of text. This is not the place to paste your guild’s core beliefs. You don’t have to enter in duplicate information. Remember, guild progression is already shown in the main area. Just tell potential applicants what you’re all about.

Some things include:

  • What you do? (Raid, PvP)
  • How you do it? (Push content within a narrow time frame)
  • What sets you apart from other guilds? (We hold players accountable)

Applicant expectations are where the guild administrators state what their expectations are. Again, be fairly brief here. Think of this as a brochure instead of an operations manual. This is the area where the qualities of the ideal applicant are listed.

One example would be something simple as must be mature and have thick skin so as to not take negative feedback personally.

Great I’m ready!

Once you’re ready and this looks like the perfect guild fit, it’s time for you to hit the apply button. There are 3 options that administrators can set.

  • Apply via World of Raids private message
  • Email
  • Website

For me, I selected the website because I like to keep all applicants in one area. Not every guild has such a luxury and you may wish to use email or PMs to handle that.

It’s certainly a well polished tool and I hope more players and guilds make use of it.

Is Applying to Multiple Guilds a Sin?

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Found this intriguing question on Twitter today that was directed to me. I’ll try to paraphrase it as best as I can.

”Is there anything wrong with players applying to multiple guilds?”

From my perspective, no. The way I see it, if I’m a guildless player who is looking to get involved with a raiding guild somewhere, I’d take the shotgun approach. I won’t get into why such a player should or shouldn’t apply to this type of guild. Let’s assume that I’ve done my homework and have answered the self-help questionnaire on the type or guild I want to be a part of. For example, I want to be in a raiding guild that’s just started Ulduar and is utilizing a DKP system that happens to only raid on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from a period between 6 PM – 12 AM.

Let’s say I hit the jackpot and there happens to be four guilds that fit the criteria.

From the applicant perspective

Why not? I want to raid. It doesn’t matter to me which guild I get into as they’re all pretty much the same. I’m flexible with my hours. I can raid from 7 – 11 PM for example. The time frame I listed above is the window that I am willing to commit myself to raiding. By applying to 4 different guilds, I get to maximize my chances. The odds are higher that at least one of them could use the role that I play.

From the guild perspective

It’s nice and flattering to hear from a player that they’ve looked only at your guild and want to be a part of it. They didn’t even consider any other option. What if the applicant doesn’t fit or if you don’t have room? It’s nice to know that the player has some other plans to fallback on. It kills me whenever I turn down a player sometimes. Some of them genuinely deserve good guilds to be a part of and wish to contribute to raids. Sometimes there’s just no space.

I’ve seen guilds who adopt this attitude that their guild is awesome. In fact, it is so damn awesome they can’t fathom why anyone who has applied to their guild also applied to other guilds. Clearly it’s an insult to such guilds. When a guild gets wind that an applicant also applied elsewhere, they just shoot them down. On one hand, it makes the process a little easier for the app as it does weed down the number of remaining guilds.

Cover your ass

When I applied to post secondary schools, I applied to no less than 3 institutions. Why? because I knew there was a very real chance that I would get rejected. It’s the same mentality when applying for jobs. Apply to many as you can and see who wants you. Then from there, you take the best possible offer.

There’s nothing wrong with the business sense. Don’t try and pull the loyalty card here either. The guild hasn’t accepted the applicant yet. There’s no incentive for them to be that loyal so early. When a player of outstanding calibre happens to apply (let’s say a player with Immortal or Champion of Ulduar or something), it’s up to the guild to change gears and sell themselves. The guild has to essentially put up a neon sign that says “JOIN US!” Ultimately, the decision is always going to belong to the applicant whether they accept or otherwise. If a guild truly wants that player, they’ll start talking and eventually extend an invite. If not, the guild will pass and one of the other guilds might consider the player.

It sure as heck saves a lot of time, too. Lots of guilds have response rates varying from hours to days to even weeks. If I were planning to raid, I’d apply to all the guilds at once. However, if there was one organization that I’d want to join, I’d make it known to them that they were my first pick. Would other guilds feel slighted? Well, probably. But if they needed the extra set of hands, they’d overlook that. If they didn’t, then the applicant would get turned down anyway regardless. It’s certainly faster than applying to one guild, waiting for a response, getting rejected, and then repeating it with a different guild over and over.

Applying to multiple guilds allows players to gauge the level of interest a guild has in their services. There’s nothing ethically wrong with that.

Image courtesy of woodsy

So You Think You Can Raid

So You Think You Can Raid

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I caught the Vegas auditions last week for So You Think You Can Dance (and the results the next day). The judges can be so brutally honest sometimes. They possess a level of blunt truthfulness. Sometimes I wish I could be like that. As a guild master and a player, interaction and feedback is a daily occurrence.

Watching this weeks performance show (Bollywood was amazing, cha cha was really good and samba was just wow) and witnessing the judge comments reminded me that negative feedback does not always have to be harsh. It’s how you respond to it that matters.

Making the cut

This isn’t a post about getting through and making the guild (or raid). This is about the leadership perspective. We’re like judges. We evaluate and assess new recruits based on what we see. Sometimes we have to cut people. What sucks for us is that in a game that is dynamic and long lasting as this is the fact that evaluation is a constant.

When a guild recruits a player even as a trial, we do so hoping that the player meets or surpasses our expectations. When the challenges that a raid instance offers goes up (such as the gap from Naxxramas to Ulduar), there is an expectation that the player evolves and grows up in the same direction. Some players are able to do it admirably. Others just can’t. For whatever reason, they are not able to fulfill the level of technical skill that the encounter demands.

I especially want to direct this to struggling players who have been talked to by their leadership or fellow guildmates.

  • We’re not calling you dicks.
  • We’re not calling you morons.
  • We’re not calling you dipshits.
  • We’re not calling you assholes.
  • We’re not calling you humanity’s failures.

But we do recognize that you’re struggling. It would be disrespectful if that was simply swept under the rug and ignored. When you’re cut, it’s for a reason.

Why is it so difficult?

Cutting people from raids isn’t a feeling I take satisfaction from. It’s one of the worse things about this GM role. There’s something heartbreaking about telling a prepared raider that they’re not going to get the call up today. And at this point, I expect the whole this is just a game, stop taking it so seriously argument to crop up. Yeah, I understand it’s a game. But you’re still dealing with real people on the other end of it. It’s amazing how many people can lose sight of that. They’re not simple chess pieces on a board to be sacrificed on a whim.

It gets way harder when a person continues to be benched.

Is it the fact that the guild’s invested time and energy into getting them some gear to help out? No.

Is it because no one likes telling people they don’t get to go today? No.

Then what is it?

I’ve acted as a recruiter in no less than four different guilds. We watch new recruits and prospects. We try and carefully screen them as best we can.

What sucks for me personally is knowing that I spotted talent and potential in a player only to realize days or weeks later when they’re in our raids that I was completely wrong about them and their ability. No one likes to be wrong.

All the upper management types are scoffing. Understandable. They’re seasoned at the whole letting go thing. I’d probably be terrible as a manager or as HR. Heh, I’m still in my early 20s and you know that rule where everyone under 25 doesn’t know what they’re doing. I sure as heck don’t.

There is a limit

I hate to say it, but there’s a ceiling to the amount of effort that will be invested to help a player. Gear can only do so much.

Usually when a player is told that they need improvement and a strategy is devised to help them in that path, one of two things will happen.

Improvement: Player reads strategies, watches videos, talks with other players of that same class. Undergoes a noticeable level of change. Actually gets better and is able to respond to the challenges of raiding.

No improvement: Player reads strategies, watches videos, talks with other players. Does not improve at all. Level of skill stays stagnant. No signs of growth. Nothing happens. Doesn’t seem to care.

If a player improves, great! GM’s job or class officer or whoever’s it is is now complete! Mission accomplished! Congratulations! You helped Joe Mage get better!

But what about the alternative? What if they don’t?

You see, no amount of video watching, strat reading, image diagramming, peer discussion, or gearing up can make a player better. A player has to not only learn from what they’re absorbing but they have to act on it. I can watch any number of healing videos or read all the stuff on EJ’s. But if I don’t noticeably improve somehow, then there is no amount of anything in the world that can help. You have to find the way to battle through and prove that you can raid. If you can’t meet that threshold even with all the resources at your disposal, then there is nothing more that can be done. The onus is always going to be on the player to get better.

Not everyone can. Not every player is fit to raid. Hard mode is hard. Not every guild can successfully do it. I can’t arena for crap.

The next step after that is entirely up to you and your guild. Either they find a new role for you or you start shopping for a new guild or accept being permanently benched. I’ve had to reassign players before. They weren’t meeting the expectations that were set for them. Sometimes a change of scenery or position works wonders and they just so happen to fit in.

Negative feedback is hard to give. But it’s even harder to receive.

The Reality of Recruiting Part 1

Last week I sent out an open call on Twitter for players who are involved in the process of recruiting for their guilds. Either they’re an officer or a GM or some other person in a position of leadership. I was able to get in touch with a myriad of personalities and guild types. There are numerous post in the WoWosphere about recruiting do’s and don’ts along with various tidbits of advice. The aim of this post is to outline their mentality and thought process when considering applicants.

This is part 1 of 3.

When recruiting, what are common characteristics that you value in players who you consider?

Aggressiveness and enthusiasm are a huge factor in how I perceive an application. I immediately discard applications that offer the bare minimum of responses–yes/no and even the occasional "maybe" to our questions. Even if they’re undergeared or inexperienced, an applicant who goes the extra mile to show us that they can keep up with us via WWS reports, their level of preparedness, or their devotion to theorycrafting has an advantage over a decked-out applicant whose attitude is blasé. One mage we recruited came from a no-name guild on our server, but his DPS was impressive for his gear and he was extremely eager to prove himself to be in our caliber. His application even noted that he had 50 stacks of fish feasts banked for new content–that’s some preparedness and willingness to wipe right there!

- Cerinne, Impulse (Cenarius US)
Blog: Spectrecles

We are looking for people who will stick with us, so we want them to be interested in progression at our casual but serious pace. Personality is important to us, as we want to enjoy one another’s company.  We look to see that someone knows their class and can demonstrate this both through their answers to their application and through their armory.

- Sylly
Blog: Rolling Hots

I like it when people are up front and honest about why they are leaving their current guild and willing to share the name of their current or most recent guild. Completely anonymous applications make me instantly suspicious. I want to know that their guild officers are in the loop about their desire to leave, because that is a pretty clear indication of how they’ll handle things down the road if they want to leave OUR guild.

Other characteristics include: Experience, demonstrated knowledge of their class/spec/role and maturity.

- Seri
Blog: World of Snarkcraft

Being articulate, someone who seems to be a good fit with our raid personality wise, someone who isn’t afraid to research their class in order to improve their abilities. We also do trial runs  in five mans and sometimes bring them to 10/25 mans to see how they do, but in general it’s actual trial time that usually gives us the whole picture, regardless of what we test/try out prior to accepting a trial.

Knowing one’s class and being able to play their character properly (It seems obvious, but then again…).

- Fire

What are some of the expectations that you set for recruits right off the bat?

I expect that within 2 weeks of joining the guild, any player should be able to compete equally with any other member of the raid.  While we do often invite friends of people we have recruited, we don’t want to carry anyone, no matter who they are married to/dating/best-friends with or how hilarious they are in vent.  Other specific expectations include 75% raid attendance, fully gemmed & enchanted gear, being self-sufficient (flasks, food, repair costs without complaining) and DPS above a given threshold; for Ulduar this is 3.3k right now.

We expect that our recruits know more than our raiders.  We also expect good rotations, solid knowledge of all encounters, the gear that they would like in the future, and know how to be kind and courteous to all folks.

- Kitts, Lowered Expectations
Blog: Blood Elf Priestess

That they sign up to our progression raids, come to the raid with appropriate reagents / pots / flasks and 100% repaired. We’ll also try to let them know which bosses we’re going to take on, so ask that they will keep an eye on the guild’s forums for tactics and / or look up the tactics by themselves.  We also use teamspeak and expect them to at least be able to listen in.

- Eid, Dead Poets Society

Pull your weight. If you are a new 80 then we expect you to research your class, know what heroics to run to get geared, do dailies to get rep, get gear enchanted, etc.

OR

Take the initiative. If you don’t know where to find this information ask a senior guild member to help find it. I am a Warlock, but as an admitted forum troll in the guild I know where to send someone if they are looking for the hunter hit cap or where to send a druid looking to dual spec Resto.

- Finnugen, Legacy of the Elite

Do you conduct any sort of background checks on recruits? If so, via what methods?

We don’t really go talk to their former or current guild masters, if that’s what you mean. But I do run a guild history check on the name at Warcraft Realms and WoWProgress to see if the person’s a guild hopper. I also sometimes do a search on the realm forums to see if the recruit is prone to trolling (a no-no). There’s also a question on the app asking if the recruit knows anyone or has played with anyone in the guild. I definitely make a point to ask the people named in those 2 questions. Amory, etc, but I think that’s pretty standard.

- Raesa
Blog: Violaceous Mana

Only if we suspect that there may have been issues in a former guild, or if someone mentions something to the officers about the person. Then we’ll talk to officers in the former guild. Usually, any issues will come to light very quickly, and we can gkick accordingly if necessary, or give them a chance to reform themselves.

- Trilynne, Dawn of Maelstrom

Since our guild has long had a "referral process" and requires vouches from other members and eventually from an officer, the background check usually comes from the people they associate with. If you’re in tight with a bunch of our members and they say you’re alright? Then you’re probably not going to be a bad match for us. However, complete unknowns usually never get in. Someone we’re on the fence about usually sits down and gets asked about what they are looking for in a guild, etc. We also ask prior guild members or ask around the community at large. We’re not a huge server, a history follows you most times.

- Aislinana, Northrend Commonwealth

Matt on Massively

Darren, that community PR guy for My Game Mug managed to rope me in a quick interview. It’s the same group that’s developed WoW Headhunter. Be careful! That guy’s as sly as a Rogue. The interview on Massively involved both myself and Kree. We both chatted with Darren about what we looked for in candidates as guild leaders, recommendations for what new applicants can do and how important personality is.

And then there’s the shameless praising of WoW Headhunter (naturally).

Some quips:

What are the top 3 things that you as a guild leaders look for in order to recruit the best candidates for your guild? (Answered by Matt)

Attendance – Are the people we are recruiting going to be able to make the majority of the raids? While it’d be awesome to pickup a really good player, if he or she can only do 1 or 2 raids per month, they’re kind of useless to me and the rest of the guild since they’re never actually there.

Knowledge – Often times, knowledge translates to in-game skill. I need to know how you play your role with your given class and spec, things like, when do you end up using your spells and if you use them in the most opportune times.

Personality and Attitude – WoW has a lot of challenges. We’re going to try and accomplish big things and that’ll lead to wiping over and over again. We need candidates that are going to tough it out and make their sacrifices. They have to have the right attitude and personality to want to get better and to help their guild out. They need to be able to stick with it even when times are bad.

What is your recommendation with what candidates should put in their application when applying to your guild? (Answered by Kree)

Originality. The application has to stand out, just like a resume. If it’s too-safe or boring, it’s difficult to stand out from everyone else. Let your personality out in the application.
Also, read the question completely! I asked a question about how people plan on utilizing dual spec and one of the responses I received was, "Maybe". This doesn’t even make any sense! It shows that the person didn’t really read through the application.

Check out the full interview!

Recruiting Healers is Like Picking Up Women (and a WoW Blogger’s challenge)

I don’t get as much time to check out my feedreader as much as I like. But every once in a while, when I have time, I’ll pop open Google Reader. Sometimes I’ll see a post title that catches my eye which makes me zero in on it.

Ess wrote an eyebrow raising post about how not to recruit healers.

Here’s one of the points Ess offers:

2. Whisper them every time they log in.

So, this person that has been whispering me the second that I log in has been doing this for the past several days. Really… is it necessary to whisper me every single day? I have gotten the picture — I know they want me to join their guild. I’m always polite about the recruiting part, and tell them I appreciate it, but remind them that I plan to stay with my guild. (Are they hoping to wear me down?)

Also, they’re usually asking me to heal something at that moment for them. Because they ask me every day, I find myself much less inclined to run with them. I don’t want to do anything to encourage this behavior. If you were hoping to build a relationship with someone, would you really call them every single night and ask them to do something? Hopefully not. It sends bad signals, suggesting that you are high maintenance. This is a definite turn off. It makes me wish there were some sort of invisibility setting so they couldn’t see me when I logged in.

I can’t say I’ve ever experienced this stalking behavior. I’d get a lot of additions onto friends lists and I do get my share of messages when I do log on. But it hasn’t happened as much since the debut of expansion. Maybe the tanks or DPS just got tired of waiting for me to say yes and moved onto other healers instead. That’s okay. I prefer to test the waters anyway.

I gotta say, I really like Ess’s style and post here.

In the spirit of single’s awareness Valentine’s day coming up in a little under a week, I’m issuing a challenge to WoW bloggers to write a valentine’s themed post. Here’s a few post ideas and themes that you’re welcome to use. By all means, feel free to come up with your own! I’ll feature a few pieces that caught my eye next week (if I have any takers). I think I found my sweet spot. I should come out to Waves more often. London Fog seems to be the fuel for my blogging engine.

The GM’s just not that into you: Recognizing the Signs
Azeroth’s romantic getaways (Booty Bay takes on a whole new meaning)
Getting noticed by the guild of your dreams
Telling your ex-spec that you’ve moved on

Is Trade Chat a Good Avenue for Guild Prospects?

Is Trade Chat a Good Avenue for Guild Prospects?

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I don’t get a lot of email. But the ones I do get are often insightful questions. Heh, sometimes I have to respond to the reader and tell them that an email response wouldn’t do their email justice. The next best thing is to convert their question and topic into a blog post so I can really attack it from all angles.

From Ephii:

I see that you’re posting in trade to advertise/recruit. Our guild is currently recruiting but our members have always felt that spamming trade carries a social stigma of being "one of those crappy guilds." We were the most progressed Alliance guild in TBC until some of our core members transferred off. Our reputation is sterling as the mature guild with players who don’t run their mouths. However, we’re having problems getting new recruits by posting on the realm forums alone (for server recruits). What is your take on posting in trade?

Ephii runs a really cool Shadow Priest blog, interestingly enough. Pay attention to the Healing Macros post.

Back to the question at hand. I can understand why players don’t like to advertise in trade. Trade chat has traditionally been viewed as a place where scoundrels, heathens, morons, and bad players congregate.

So why would I want to advertise my guild there?

Because, like it or not, it is the largest channel in terms of population. Just because you have scoundrels, heathens, morons and bad players running their mouths off in trade chat doesn’t mean that you have scoundrels, heathens, morons and bad players reading it all the time.

I used to think about trade chat the same way. I wouldn’t want any guild I was a part of to advertise there because of the perception that those bad players bring. Why would I want to play or raid alongside these trade chat pollutants, right? Only crappy and unskilled guilds recruit from trade chat. Real good players are the ones that transfer to you off server and come to you directly. With that in mind, I shouldn’t advertise in trade chat.

Why is this wrong?

You have to start somewhere. Unless you’re a top 20 guild, you’re never going to be able to attract top level talent. The only way to attract talent is to prove that you have tenacity to get the job done with whatever members you have at your disposal. At this point, for most guilds, their immediate goal is to attract players. Skilled players come later. Weak players weed themselves out as time goes on.

As GM, my immediate goal is to get into the 25s as soon as possible. I wanted to develop the image and perception that Conquest would be a successful guild. In order to do that, I have to have at least 25 raiders. Without it, my goals are as good as dead in the water. I don’t have the reputation yet to be able to convince or draw 25 players without utilizing trade chat.

Lesson of exposure

One important concept I was taught in marketing is the concept of exposure. If you don’t expose yourself, people aren’t going to know you. If they don’t know you, they’re not going to join you.

Let’s put it this way.

I’m an electronics chain looking to unload some Blu-ray Players. Specifically, I got these kick ass Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray Player‘s lying around.

Let’s forget the fact that it’s 1080p, HDMI, Dolby Digital, and comes at a low price of only $199. Because it’s not important.

(I can hear the epic sighs and see the head shaking but I’m trying to prove a point here!)

You wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t told you. If I was working in marketing and I wanted to sell as many of these as I could, I have to make people aware that I’m selling these. Why do you think advertising is a multi-billion dollar industry? Companies employ television ads, magazine and newspaper ads, billboards and our most hated enemy are banner ads.

Hell, people call you at 7 PM when you’re having dinner to ask you to buy something. Those guys, I want to shoot.

Everyone is competing for your attention.

We’ve grown accustomed to filtering them out. But if a company can attract your attention for even a few seconds, they’ll have succeeded because they want you to think about them. The next time you get the urge to to buy a product or pursue a service, they’re banking on you to remember it.

Back to trade chat

So how does this apply to WoW guilds and recruiting? It’s the same general principle. People aren’t going to buy stuff if they don’t know you have them. Players won’t apply for your guild if they don’t know you exist. For guilds that are just starting out, trade chat is the biggest source of potential recruits because in my experience there are three types of players:

  • Players that aren’t looking for a raiding guild
  • Players that are looking for a raiding guild, but don’t know it yet because they’re waiting for the right opportunity
  • Players that are looking for a guild

Numbers 2 and 3 are the most important. Offering EST friendly hours was one of the best moves I was able to make because I didn’t alienate players on the other side of the continent. I advertised this in trade and received a number of applicants this way because they weren’t able to handle raiding up until 1 AM or 2 AM anymore. The only reason they stayed in their current guild was because they had little choice.

But by exposing my guild, my days, my times, my goals, and wants, I gave them another way out. Raiders looking to join raiding guilds generally have little to say in trade chat. You’ll be amazed at how many people you can pick up from there.

Realm and guild recruitment forums are nice. But only a small fraction of players check those. In my experience, those tend to be the 3rd category of players.

Although you may hate it, trade chat’s going to be the biggest source of recruits for you. Take advantage of it. Otherwise, you’re going to be waiting for a long time.

For my purposes, I view trade chat as a necessary tool. I don’t exactly have people knocking on my door and I need to spotlight my guild as much as possible. This means plugging it on Twitter, using my blog, advertising in Trade chat, using the realm forums, the guild recruitment forums, my Plusheal forums and so forth.

Where did they come from?

Since my guild is still relatively lean, I still remember where (most of) my players come from:

recruits

When I mean off server, I don’t mean transfer. These are players that were a result of advertising on guild recruitment forums. I probably had around 7ish server transfers (if you include the blog and twitter). Referrals are players that a guild member knows. A Paladin applies, gets in, refers a Rogue and a Shaman and those guys subsequently get in as well. They may or may not have been exposed to trade chat. Had I not advertised in trade chat, the original Paladin would not have known about Conquest or advised his friends about it.

Don’t judge the quality of every player in trade chat by what’s said. Most of us generally keep our mouths shut. Just because we don’t say anything doesn’t mean we aren’t reading.

The Difference Between Recruiting On Server and Off Server

The Difference Between Recruiting On Server and Off Server

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Mages. They used to be a dime a dozen. Our second highest level Mage is Stop (clocking in at a health level 4!)

There’s generally two places to recruit players from:

  • On server: This is the typical route most guilds will go through.
  • Off server: A little tougher and a little rarer. Players that transfer are generally a good breed.

I’ve delegated Sydera to the role of recruiting off server. So far, she’s done an excellent job scouting out players and prospects. She’s a lot more familiar with the process and the effort required with offserver players. When guilds recruit off server, it’s a big decision on the part of both the guild and the prospect. Server transfers aren’t free (usually) and it involves a big commitment. The process of speaking to a prospect and then transferring to join a guild could take days or even weeks at a time. But Syd has a good idea of knowing what I want and how to convey it. She represents the guild well in this regard. As a GM, I have to make sure that prospects know exactly what they’re getting themselves into. Things like my expectations, the way loot’s handled, raid times and so forth have to be said and sometimes repeated.

The worst feeling in the world is for a player to come over here only to find out this isn’t what they were looking for. That’s why I prefer vent interviews instead of in game. You can learn a lot about a person from the way they speak and their tone of voice. All our key indicators.

Coincidentally, most of the off server players who have applied read the blog. Go figure.

With regards to the on server recruits, my process isn’t as detailed or thorough. A simple trade chat macro with your guild, what your guild wants to do, raid days and times, along with classes preferred is generally a solid way to go. This way, players get all the basic information. The ones that are interested will message you for more details. The ones that aren’t interested won’t and you’ll end up not wasting time. I like to give players the option to come on vent if they want to discuss the guild more if they have any questions. I think it’s a good way to establish a dialog with them.

After that, I let them know that they’re a trial and they’ll be evaluated in the weeks ahead when we start raiding. Everyone’s performance will be analyzed and compared to see if anything can be tweaked or adjusted. It’ll continue to be an ongoing process. As much as I hate doing it, I’m going to have to make cuts in the future. I’m not sure if there’s a single GM out there that actually enjoys making cuts from their guild. It’s a dirty job but it has to be done at times.

But first thing’s first, I need to recruit.

The difference? One takes a lot more time and energy to invest in and has the possibility of not working out.

There’s enough of us at 80 now to step into Naxx and OS 10. We’ll be making a run on Saturday. The Monday following, I’m going to try and run a Naxx or OS 25 pickup group. There’s a smattering of guilds out there who have 80s but not enough in their own guild to run a 25 in house just yet. My goal is to work with a few of their players and my players and just get our feet wet so that everyone can benefit from the experience. I’m not sure if this is what Lume had in mind when he mentioned that a “GM should establish themselves and become a visual figure”.

Either way, it is a start. And it’s either going to work or fail horribly. We’ll find out!

Now, if I were a guildless Mage, where would I be…?