Recruiting Roulette: Elitist Jerks Paid Membership Review

Recruiting Roulette: Elitist Jerks Paid Membership Review

Player recruiting continues to be tough for guilds and their leaders around the community. Some might even consider resorting to third party sites in the hope that they can drive up and attract interest to their raiding guild. In the Recruiting Roulette series, I’ll offer my opinions on different recruiting sites and what kind of results my guild received and what you can expect. All fees are paid out of my own pocket.

Site: Elitist Jerks
Fees: $25 per thread or $30 for 6 months (Patron status)

Elitist Jerks has widely been accepted as the think tank  community of choice where top theorycrafters go to exchange ideas and beginners go to dive into more advanced concepts of their class. With a such a large and skilled community, it makes sense to try to recruit players here. The upfront costs can be considered expensive.

Is it worth it?

Ground rules

Once you’ve paid the requisite membership fee, you’ll be allowed to post in EJ’s /LFGuild forum. You can only have one visible recruiting thread at a time. Only threads with a post in the last 30 days will be visible.

Next, your thread must be in the following format:

[Faction][Server] <Guild> Title

[Alliance] [Ner’Zhul] <Conquest> Looking for all ranged DPS, 4/8 HM 25 man

Conquest started using Elitist Jerks back in the Fall of 2011. I can’t remember the exact date. Sometime around October or November or so? We were starting to dry up with applications and it was time for us to explore other alternatives. After some asking around, Elitist Jerks was one of several recommendations made.

Which option?

I could’ve gone with the 1 time fee of $25 which would only allow me to create 1 thread. Or I could’ve gone with the $30 fee which is good for 6 months and allows me to make as many threads as needed.

Didn’t take long for me to decide that the second option with the $30 is a better bang for the buck. The registration process after that was absolutely flawless. Payment is accepted via Paypal. After the confirmation email was received, I followed my own guild ad guidelines and created a forum thread on the site. Only thing left to do was to sit back.

Effectiveness

Was it worth it? I was essentially paying $5 a month for 6 months to keep a guild ad up there for maximum exposure.

In total, we received 2 applicants from Elitist Jerks and no additional referrals.

  • A tank who played no more than 8 weeks before deciding to leave to play with his real life friends.
  • A melee DPS who played for about 8 months before stepping down to real life. Still plays other games with us and remains a part of the community.

My option for renewal is going to come up fairly soon within the next month. Right now, I don’t think I will be exercising the option to renew it until we get closer to Mists release.

Factors

If you are planning to utilize EJ’s services, then keep some things in mind.

The community behind Elitist Jerks is full of extremely knowledgeable and skilled players (usually). Expect to get players of reasonably high calibre. With that in mind, your guild’s ability to attract candidates is going to depend on the progression of your guild. Proven guilds with consistent hard mode kills or successful raid achievements are going to have a higher appeal than a friends and family guild that had just taken down normal mode Ultraxion (as an example).

Mind you, your mileage may vary and you may have better responses. In addition, we’re also in a “lull” period of the game right now where burnout is quite high. I suspect results will be way different once Mists gets closer to release.

Edit: Just to help clarify a few things, I don’t suggest using their service right now. Most players are already cemented in their guilds and are hoping to finish out the tier and expansion with their guilds. Once Mists comes out, expect a stronger and higher population of people. With all guild progression resetting at “0″, this should warrant a much better yield for your money.

Did Cataclysm fail?

So, you’ve probably seen a number of these posts around lately, and to be honest you shouldn’t be too terribly surprised. We’re at the end of a cycle, with the last raid tier coming out soon and people already looking forward to the next expansion and the promise of bouncing pandas. The topic lately is whether or not that Cataclysm has failed as an expansion.

I figured the time is right for me to chime in on the topic, and I promise you it will be relevant to the site.

Healing Design

At the onset of the expansion, there were some very bold statements made about healing as a whole. They basically amounted to the following;

  • Shaman are the healing model that all healers will follow
  • Triage healing is vastly more important and mana is a concern
  • healing will be a lot harder and require smart decision making

So, in this regard did Cataclysm succeed or fail? Well to me the answer here is two fold. They both succeeded and failed at the same time. At the start of the expansion healing was definitely harder, mana consumption was much more of a concern and shaman healing really was the model when it came to triage healing. Note how I said at the start of the expansion. There was a bit of a problem though, once you started getting a pretty good head of steam going and gathered your gear the “model” started to fall apart. Spirit levels and regen abilities after heroic dungeon gearing were enough that some healing classes could just completely ignore the healing model. I’m casually whistling in innocence as I look at Mana Tide Totem from a year ago, I assure you. The problem exacerbated itself when some healing classes’ masteries got tweaked, and raid gear started circulating.

At this point, triage healing isn’t really used unless you’re just starting out, and some healing classes are just blowing others out of the water causing a lot of internal debate among raiding groups as to what the best healing setup really is now. Things are shaping up to be better in tier 13, but the healing model through tier 12 I would venture to say hangs at the edge of failure. We’ve been assured that the healing model will remain in tact for the next expansion, but only time will tell if that is true especially when adding a new healing class into the mix next expansion.

Guild advancement and recruiting

The new expansion brought with it the guild advancement system. Guilds earned experience points based on questing and the activity of the guild members involved. The guild was able to level up from level 1 to level 25 carrying various rewards such as XP boosts, mount speed increases and even alchemy patterns for flasks for the entire raid. It also came with some other perks like Heirloom gear helmet and cape slot items, mounts and pets as well as a Mass Teleport and Mass Resurrection. Honestly guild advancement was a huge success as far as adding perks to guilds that get rolling and stick to it and work together. Guild achievements also added nicely to this and added a further sense of accomplishment to a guild in certain respects.

The problem is that the success of the guild advancement system, however, in my eyes became a contributing factor in a problem that this expansion has had that I haven’t seen in either of the previous ones. Stagnant recruiting. Recruiting flat-out sucks right now to be honest. Any losses from people leaving the guild or leaving the game become increasingly difficult to replace. Let us face a simple truth, the game has been around for over 6 years at this point. People are taking a break. Maybe not out-right quitting, but they’re definitely going to start taking some vacation from Azeroth around this time. Before Cataclysm, replacing losses wasn’t nearly as difficult. I attribute this partly to the guild perk system. When a player leaves a guild, they lose all reputation they’ve gained with that guild. They then start from scratch just like with any other reputation when they join a new guild.

So the problem is that a lot of the guild perks don’t kick in unless you’re Honored with your guild. This can be a very unattractive prospect, especially when you consider there is a weekly cap to the reputation you can gain. Not only can swapping guilds be a daunting task on its own, but when you combine in extra things like rep to earn it adds to the heap. So, people are staying put in whatever guild they are in for the most part. Guild mergers seems much more frequent now, where whole groups of people make the commitment one way or another, but recruitment is certainly at an all time low.

Raid design, gear options, and accomplishing goals

This is another measuring stick by which to judge the success or failure of the current expansion. Raid design was a bit different this go around. In Wrath, all of the raid tiers were contained to one single zone. You didn’t have to go from place to place in order to see all of a raid tier.  In Cataclysm, the starting raid tier was divided between not one, not two but three different locations to contain all of the bosses and events. Honestly though, I think that served to make things a little better. Having different locations broke up the monotony of raiding in one single zone for however many hours a week. Some of the mechanics were fun, and the boss fights had the potential to give you at least some challenge. Overall I’d say it was a good tier. It reminded me of Burning Crusade where tier 4 and tier 5 were divided between different zones in different locations, breaking the long dredges through BWL that we were used to at this point.

The use of valor points to purchase tier gear, as well as off set items, was a smart move at first. It allowed a certain gear gating of the content as players had to earn their valor points to purchase the raid gear. Keeping a few pieces as raid drops only also made perfect sense. It eliminated the fighting over tokens at least a little bit, and while it could be annoying have to wait to restock your valor, it served it’s purpose well enough I think. Listening to the developers at BlizzCon it would appear that they too really liked how tier 11 worked out and will be continuing that style of breaking up the raids going into Mists.

One of the goals for Cataclysm was to reignite the fire the propelled the game to 12 million subscribers and get people excited about the game. New graphics throughout the world, Azeroth split and changed. Entire zones looking completely different and completely different starting zones and quests for the races of Azeroth. Well, this was both successful and a failure at the same time. The new starting zones did reignite the flame somewhat, but mostly in people with alt creation.  Some old players did come back to check out the new zones and explore some of the new content, but it didn’t quite have the kick that it originally intended. Subscriber rates pretty much stayed the same, and the number of active toons remained about the same as well. It just didn’t quite have the shakeup that was expected.

So what is it? Success or Failure?

Well, that’s the whole point of this post right? The big question. Is Cataclysm a success or a failure? The answer is honestly both. There are things that Cata did exceptionally well, and things that it fell behind on. To be honest a lot of the goals were pretty damn lofty from the get go. It was ambitious and new things were tried, combined with old things that we knew worked. Not everything was ever going to be achieved just based on the pure scope of the original intent. There were things it did well, and things it didn’t do quite so well. That said it was hardly the failure that some folks seem to think. The content is still there, there is still plenty of value in the game, and for a game that is going to be rapidly approaching the age  of 7 they can boast a lot of good things. The game hasn’t really lost too many subscribers and is going strong. Oh and they still get my money every month, and I signed up for my hear subscription with free Diablo 3 “phone”.

So what do you think?

Common Recruiting Terms

Hey everyone! The other day, I gave you a quick method on narrowing down the collossal amount of search results you’d get from recruiting and compiling a neat, orderly list to work with. Today we’re going to hit up the actual recruiting forums and pick out some common jargon for new recruiters who are confused with the terms or have difficulty reading between the lines. Some of these are serious and some are rather tongue and cheek. I’ll let you decide which is which!

“We are exceptional <class> looking for…”

What they really mean: They think they’re really, really good and clearly there is no one in the entire 11+ million pool of players who are better than them. Not just some average Joe Raider. It’s just no one wants to take a chance on them on their server. Like seriously, it seems that half the recruiting ads I see are from players who believe they’re really exceptional. But if everyone says they’re exceptional, how can they all be exceptional? Unless they were the exception to the exceptionism.

E X C E P T I O N

“US Top 100 only”

What they really mean: They’ve been around since beta. They’ve seen it all and done it all. They’ve got lots of time to spare for progression. Whatever needs to be done, I can do. Looking for the best guilds only! These types mean business. Either that or they’ll wash out when they realize the raid leader really can remove them from the raid and they’re not the center of the universe.

“Progressed realm”

What they really mean: Clear desire to get off their low population, backwater server. They need a life line and they need it fast. Thinks they have what it takes to raid at a higher level but have trouble finding other like minded people.

“No less than 5/7 Firelands”

What they really mean:  Clearly they took a break at the end of tier 11 and missed the first few weeks of Firelands. Probably just started Firelands for the first time and got trounced. Wants to get back into the thick of things again. Probably stonewalled on one specific boss for a long time and cannot seem to muster the man power or skill to power through.

“25 man only”

What they really mean: Possibly prone to screwing up. Likes to hide along the relative anonymity of other players. Has a 4% chance of being blamed for a wipe on 25 man instead of 10% on a 10 man. Hates the closeness of 10 mans. My kind of player.

“LF adult guild!!111”

What they really mean: Likes to make lots of sex jokes. Possible cybering involved. Use caution.

“Immediate core position for <class>”

What they really mean: Wants to feel like that special snowflake. You know, like the only Shaman or Boomkin in the guild. Wants to feel really unique and indispensible. Yeah. That guy. Works great until you discover they can’t sustain their Molten Feather stacks or circumvent tornadoes properly :(.

“Must be able to accept all 3 of us”

What they really mean: Will quit if even one person is deemed not good enough. Must accept all or accept none. Strong desire to stay together.

“Professional environment”

What they really mean: Likes to raid with really loud music. Doesn’t want Mumble chatter to impede what they’re listening on iTunes or what they’re watching on Netflix. He’s the guy who constantly blasts top 40 music whenever he speaks.

“No female officers“

What they really mean: Deemed “sexist douchebags”, according to one player. I’ve actually seen a recruiting post once that specifically stated no female officers. May have suffered some type of traumatic experience earlier in their gaming career and doesn’t want to go through it again. If I remember right, the reasoning behind the original poster involved something about cattiness and snark because the applicant was also female as well. Maybe Kat would know more about this than I would. All the female officers I’ve ever interacted with in my own guild or other guilds seemed pleasant enough.

And now you too can navigate the murky waters of recruiting! In any case, good luck to you young recruiters out there and may all your apps last long term!

7 Tips for Creating the Perfect Guild Application Form

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

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

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

Requirements overview

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

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

Read more on Enjin

Handling the Guild Dirty Work

“Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself.”

- Thomas J. Watson

And I don’t mean scrubbing the toilets.

As leaders, we have an obligation to the players within our guilds. Whenever a boss comes up where something needs to dispelled, I’m the first person to volunteer for it. Not necessarily because I want to, but to show that I can and am willing. The mantle of being an officer comes with a set of unique responsibilities. In order to have the right to ask people to do something, you must be willing to do it yourself.

This is why my raid leader is the first in line when he needs to eat a debuff, maintain constant crowd control or take care of some other craptacular job that no other player really wants to do.

  • Gong banging in Atramedes? He’s always there.
  • Dispelling Blackouts? Sure, I’ll take care of it.

So whether you are a class officer, a role officer or otherwise, it doesn’t hurt to show the troops that you still have it. Because if you keep hiding behind lame excuses and continue giving players assignments you’re unwilling to do, no one’s going to take you seriously anymore. In pickup raids where I’m raiding on my Shaman, I’ll volunteer to tackle any interrupts or purges that need to be done.

To be fair, that’s the only thing I’m really good for on an encounter like the Omnitron Defense System anyway.

Bob Sutton, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss, states that, “Being in a position of leadership is the most reliable way to become oblivious and emotionally insensitive. Fight this by remembering that you’re under a spotlight. You’ll be watched closely by the people you lead – even more so than how you’re observing them.”

Even though you’re an officer, by the nature of your position, you are placed on a much higher pedestal when compared to everyone else in the raid.

Let’s move on to another aspect of dirty work. Let’s go through the not-so-cool responsibilities that officers need to do.

Do not avoid the dirty work

A quality officer must do things that will upset players. As the guild leader, I have to reprimand, gkick and talk to players who need improvement. The last bit is a bit tricky because I don’t have enough knowledge of a class to offer effective feedback. This is where I need my officers to come in play and assist me in supplying that feedback. None of those are responsibilities we need to shoulder alone. Reprimands and giving critical feedback can be a difficult thing to do. If you can’t handle that aspect of it, you might not be the right guy for the job.

Alternatively, grab a guy willing to do the dirty work. I recommend hunters.

In that same book by Sutton, he quotes a study that “Bosses of the most productive work groups confronted problems directly and quickly, issued more warnings and formal punishments, and promptly fired employees when warnings failed.”

Translating that into guilds, productive raid raid groups address any internal problems head on within a reasonable time frame. Denial doesn’t help anyone. You can talk the smack you want, but you better have the guts to confront players as well. Bad officers continue to conjure up some kind of excuse in order to put off what needs to be done. An example would be like me saying I can’t cast Dispel because I don’t have the mana to do it. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best bad cop type of personality. It’s not in my nature. However, I am driven by own desire to excel and succeed in what I do. If it’s a necessity, it needs to be done.

The first thing I’ll do is delegate it. The next thing I do is set an internal deadline for myself where if an officer doesn’t pull off the reprimand, I’ll take care of it personally.

Actually now that I think about it, setting deadlines tends to help in most aspects of life.

Heck, take the extra step and tell someone what deadline you’re setting and what it’s for.

Implementing the two man (or person) rule

I love he said, she said arguments.

It’s difficult to determine and sift through what’s true and what isn’t. Because of recent incidences, I’ve implemented the two person policy. When any type of feedback, reprimand or anything along those lines are being given, there needs to be another officer in the channel with them. They don’t have to be the same class or role. They just need to be players who the GM trusts and who are able to keep each other in check.

No whispers or tells either. Don’t underestimate the importance of tone. Sure there;s no facial contact unless you’re using a webcam. But listening to the tone of someone else is the next best thing you can do to subtly improve communication.

This was an oversight on my part, but I hope this is a step in the right direction.

Quick Guide to Dirty Work

  • No problem is just going to go away. So don’t delay too long in making the hard decisions.
  • Make the hard decisions to the best of your ability. You’re going to screw them up, but it’ll be a learning experience. If you can’t do it, delegate someone who is willing.
  • Tell players why this is necessary. Example:
    • “The stuff you’re saying in raids, whether you realize it or not, is having a negative impact on our morale.”
    • “You’re not nailing those interrupts. Looking at the same fight for the past 3 weeks, your interrupt success rate is 50%. If there’s something stopping you from doing your job, tell me. Otherwise, I’m going to have to pick up another Rogue”.
  • You do not humiliate, belittle, or bad-mouth people if they’re the ones that are under fire. Of course, you’re free to poke fun at the guy who’s at the top of the meters or if he’s the GM, apparently.
  • Don’t lie to your raid. It kills your own reputation.
  • If you’re not able to do say what needs to be said the correct way, don’t do it until you figure out the best approach.
  • Set an example to the rest of the team. Show them you can compete on meters. Show them you can dispel, purge and interrupt like the best of them.

I’m still learning this stuff. I also need to begin applying these principles.

Thinking about starting your own guild?

Tough Call: When to Recruit

The answer is TODAY. 

(Actually, “yesterday” would have been a better answer, but I’m sure you had a good reason to take yesterday off.  “Today” is also an acceptable answer if you have a sizable nerd-crush on Ann Curry…not that I do or anything…)

As a raid officer, at some point it will come to you to bolster your ranks.  The first step to doing this right is to properly assess what you need and when you need it.  Even if you’re accomplishing all your goals currently, you need to plan for the next round.
As I see it, there are two schools of recruiting:

  1. Gap-Prevention Recruiting
  2. Roster-Improvement Recruiting

Gap-Prevention Recruiting

A wise boss of mine once taught me, “If you don’t have a Plan B, you don’t have a Plan.”. 

This means, of course, that:

  1. Things will go wrong, and
  2. Rarely will they go wrong when it’s convenient to you. 

In raiding, this most frequently means a loss, or temporary depletion, of players.  I’d wager that we’ve all been there at one night or another. 
For me, this used to happen at least once a month during Naxx.  I’d log in, and people who had signed up for raid ended up not being online.  It was Naxx, we ALL were burned out before Ulduar came out, so I can understand the lack of motivation, but I still had the job of fielding a viable raid for everyone who wanted to get the job done.  From those times spent using Trade Chat to fill out a raid, I learned a valuable lesson:

Recruit BEFORE you have a spot you need to fill

Since everyone is already reading Thespius’s Raiding 101 column, I know we don’t have to go over the pros and cons of having back-ups/part-timers.  They’re good; keep them around, be honest with them, and keep them satisfied. 

But what about scenarios where a back-up/part-timer just won’t do?  What about when your main tank has a baby, your invincible priest healer has to start taking night classes, or any of the other myriad reasons people can no longer raid?  Fact is, these situations can leave you in the lurch is you’re not prepared for them.  THAT is why a smart officer will never close recruiting, and will most certainly always look to improve their roster.

Consider this:  A business wouldn’t tolerate an inconsistent supplier, they would immediately find a supplier selling an identical product who can assure them of on-time delivery.  I’m pretty sure this is Fed-Ex’s bread-and-butter, actually.  The same should be true of your raid.  You may love the players you raid with.  I know I’m rather fond of a number of the people I’ve played with over the years.  That said, if one of them had to take off, stop playing, or just became overall unreliable, I would owe it to myself and the rest of the team to take actions to ensure the raid continued.  After all, the show must go on.\

TLDR Version: 

Have a plan in mind for who will take over your vital positions if someone has to depart/goes AWOL. 

Don’t turn away potential recruits just because you’re “full” today.  See what options you can provide them before you burn that bridge.

Roster-Improvement Recruiting

Parental Advisory: When I say “Roster-Improvement Recruiting”, I’m talking about doing what it takes (within your own best judgement) to see content and down some end bosses before they become passe.  This is the one that’s going to fill my inbox with hate mail, but it has to be said:

Not everyone you raid with today will be ready when your group wants/needs to move to the next level.

I would never call the environment I raid in hard-core, bleeding-edge, or anything like that.  What I would say is that we’re a results-driven team.  If you can do your job and do it well, and aren’t a complete dick, we’ll be glad to count you among our ranks.  Everyone competes for their spot and everyone has that much more faith in their team-mates because they know that every spot has been earned.

A team like this never “stops” recruiting.  There will certainly be times when you have a solid group and may not have a lot of NEED to recruit, but you should never flat-out deny someone on the basis that they would have to take a spot from someone you already have.

Example:  Let’s say you’re openly recruiting for a healer as gap-prevention recruiting, when along comes a deathknight asking about joining.  (Isn’t it always a DK when you don’t need DPS?) Assuming they are some-what as progressed as your current line-up, and understand that it’s a competitive environment they’re looking to join, take a moment to consider the opportunity in front of you.  Instead of turning them away, point them towards the logs for your current members and if they can beat that, encourage them to apply.

In an environment like this, a recruit should never be seen as a threat.  Your existing members should see recruits as a chance to improve the raid team in one way or another.

True Story: I intentionally recruit other priests to help push me and keep me competitive.  I know I can handle my assignments, but competition teaches me I can always do it better.  Also, the priest who comes in ready to beat me at my own game is surely a formidable ally to have.

Whether you establish rules that spur further recruitment, or simply keep a high profile for your guild and get applications that way, the key is to always ask yourself “will this player help us get through the next step”. 

Crossing the Finish Line

In the end, I say you should think of your raid team as a racecar.
A racecar can’t go anywhere without all four wheels.  That’s gap-prevention recruiting.
A racecar will go faster with performance parts.  That’s roster-improvement recruiting.
Now go finish the race.

Podcast Topic – 10s vs. 25s

Each week on Matticast we will be featuring a topic driven by our audience. You can submit your comments on this post, or e-mail us with your thoughts. You can even send us an audio clip (mp3 format please). This is your chance to have your say on what we discuss on World of Matticus. Also don’t forget, if you have general questions you’d like answered on the show, you can send them our way. Remember we record on Sunday nights, so get your thoughts in before then!

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the unique challenges each size raid has. What are your opinions? What pro/cons does each have when it comes to raiding, recruiting, organizing, loot, attendance, etc? Also, are they really of equal difficulty in Cataclysm, or does Blizzard still have a ways to go to balance them? Is there a bigger discrepancy in heroics? We are leaving this one pretty open. We want to see how many different things the choice between the two is effecting for everyone and organize the discussion around those. So whether it is just letting us know your preference or some deep spreadsheet-laden analysis let us know what you think!

Pros and Cons of Recruiting the Raid Leader

Pros and Cons of Recruiting the Raid Leader

recruiting-raid-leader

This is the most important position you’ll ever fill throughout the entirety of your guild’s existence. In fact, it is so important, guilds will often disband if there isn’t a competent nor capable one. If working on farm content, raids can typically get by with zero to minimal guidance. Everyone runs by the same playbook and routine strategies are done without any problems (usually).

But once you hit progression content, you’re going to be stuck. If your raid is leaderless, it’s going to be painful and you need a plan.

So, do people really recruit raid leaders? In many cases, the guild leader and raid leader are one and the same. There are some exceptions (such as in Conquest where the positions are separated). But back to the original question: Do people recruit raid leaders?

Typically, most raiding guilds do not. Raid leaders are usually promoted from within. There are two basic things I look for when deciding on a raid leader. Without these two qualities, I skip and move on entirely.

  • Competency: Now this encompasses a wide range of leadership skills. I just lump them all together in here for the sake of simplicity. These are things including but not necessarily limited to skills, charisma, vision, tactics, and so forth. Basically, does this player have what it takes to lead and deliver the necessary results?
  • Desire: Do they actually want to do it?

And that second point is a super important question. That raid leading wannabe you want to quarterback your raids might be the perfect person to do it. But if she has no interest or desire, it’s not going to work.

Where do I go to get raid leaders from?

In a nutshell, either you have a sleeper raid leader within the guild who emerges to take the flag when things look grim or you look outward and see if you can fish up one.

Option 1: Promoting from within the guild

These are usually the players that have stood by you for a long time. The existing raid leader left a void to fill. There could be people from inside who are looking for a chance to step up and take a larger role within the guild. Or it could be that they sense the guild is on the road to failure unless someone takes over and that person wants to be the one to do it.

Again, your group may run into the problem of not having the right person who can do the job. A skilled player who is familiar with the game and their class might not have the appropriate leadership qualities. Or maybe they work in a management type job and doesn’t want to deal with that level of responsibility on their off time. If your search for a raid leader comes up short, you’ll need to come up with options. Try to figure out why that person isn’t a good candidate. You can’t change their desire. However, you might be able to help improve their competency.

Ultimately though, hope for the best. Be prepared for the worst.

Pros

Familiarity with guild culture

Players used to the leader’s personality

Intimately familiar with players and capabilities

Cons

Might not be anyone qualified from within to take the job

Potential prejudice or favoritism to specific players

Option 2: Recruiting outward

This isn’t exactly the most common approach. You don’t see many guilds advertising for a powerful position like this one either. I suspect the main reason would be on trust. Everyone in the guild has had time to get familiar with each other. Not only would you be introducing an outside player, your guild is being asked to follow their commands. That bond between raid and raid leader just isn’t there yet.

It’s like a new manager being brought in. No one really knows who she is. Is she lenient? A hard ass? Accommodating? By the book? No idea!

Don’t forget that having a new player calling the shots from outside the guild means they’re largely unaffected by any guild politics and will have a fresh perspective on raids. Of course, you never know what you’re getting. If you truly plan on going this route, raid leading applicants need to be screened a lot more carefully.

Pros

Fresh perspective and new ideas

Unaffected by any guild influences

Cons

Players have no idea how to react

Lack of initial guild chemistry

When my raid leader hung up his claymore months ago, I was in a tight spot. The short list in my mind for replacement raid leaders had no desire to do so simply due to other responsibilities. There were other players I had considered asking, but I didn’t know if they had the skills to pull it off. The only way to know for certain is to assemble a raid, pass them lead and say “Here ya go!” and one of the senior raiding guys who had been with us for a long time wanted to give it a shot.

It was a leap of faith. Either he would sink or swim. To my delight, he did a pretty darn good job after he shook off a few raid leading jitters during the first few days at the helm. But it was to be expected.

Had he not spoken to me beforehand, I would have had no choice but to turn outwards and look off guild for someone to help coach the raid. I can’t honestly think of any moment in my experience in the game where I’ve read about guilds specifically recruiting raid leaders that were outside their organization. What commonly happens is a player either gets the nod up from management to take over or the guild implodes due to lack of interest and focus. The latter is not an option for me. I’ll admit, it would have been a remarkably interesting process (and experiment) to start off raid leaderless and end up with a fully situated quarterback acquired outside the guild.

It’s like hiring a new coach for a team. Players are so used to certain plays and systems. The new coach comes in and throws things out the window.

Highlight Posts of 2009

Highlight Posts of 2009

2010

You didn’t think I was going to finish out the year without the traditional “Best of 2009” post, did you? Here’s the top posts of 2009 based on your views, comments, and tweets.

On healing
On gaming and society
On guild management
On recruiting
On raiding
On blogging

To other WoW bloggers, I’d love to see you compile a list of your favourite posts that you have written over the past year and don’t be afraid to post a link in the comments to it below.

Have a safe and happy new year! I would share my New Years party stories, but chances are, this Dwarf would not remember. There was that one year where I woke up half naked with a Tauren beside me and a banana…

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.