Why Slacking Helps You Raid

Why Slacking Helps You Raid

I confess. My raiders and I have been bashing our heads against a brick wall for a couple of weeks. Our heads have been filled by the red mist ‘o wrath. We’d got the first wing of Icecrown Citadel on farm but our next focus, Rotface, ‘brokseded’ us time and again.

The brick wall suddenly came down on Sunday night. We had an experimental snipe at the Princes and then marched into the Plagueworks to slaughter Festergut and have a positive pop at Rotface. So what happened to stop us seeing red?

Change.

What change has that effect, I hear you cry? Did we change players? Did we somehow plunder a trove of 277 gear? Did we hardwire exact playing requirements into our members while they slept? Not at all. We merely tweaked one of our raiding practices: breaks.

I’ve always said they’re important in raids – it gives your raiders a chance to breathe. Sunday night taught us that organised breaks are even better.

Really regular breaks. We announced to our band of brigands at the start of the evening that we’d be calling a three minute break every 30 minutes, and that we’d like them to be sure to wait until then for quick AFKs for drinks and the like.

Wow, every 30 minutes? Those are a lot of breaks, I hear you cry. It’s a wonder we got anything done, right? Wrong.

Give yourselves regular chances to slack – that is, relax – and you’ll come back after the break more focused than had you pushed on and sat for an hour, two hours, wiping. Your head won’t be full of red mists so there’ll be room for useful things like remembering to move out of slime spray.

Movin’ n’ shaking. Several of my guild play in the same room on raid nights. Usually during a break we stare at the computer screens and brainstorm tactics in increasingly stressed tones.

Instead we decided to test out a terrifying concept during breaks: moving away from the computers and out of the room. We strongly recommended to our raiders that they do the same. We found that the simple change in space and environment again helped us to feel fresh and focused when the break was over. Even just moving about and stretching helped relax some tension. If you have time and inclination to fit in a few actual exercises, you’ll feel all the more responsive in the raid.

Time, gentlemen. After each break we announced the time of the next one. Sounds simple, but I think this was the key to the whole break renovation. Raiders need their creature comforts, right? And if they don’t know when a break’s coming then they’ll slide off after wipe 20 and get the drink they desperately need or the smoke to relieve stress. Meanwhile the rest of the group grumbles while waiting for them to return from their unannounced break.

By announcing break times, we’re allowing raiders to plan ahead. It means they don’t need to feel guilty about making the group wait on them. importantly it also gives them some control back over their own comfort. Our lock wants coffee? He knows the next break is in 10 minutes and can hang on until then.

Content breaks. I don’t mean a break in gameplay. I mean mix your encounters up to get the balance right between learning the fights and actually still having fun. You’re sick to the back teeth of bouncing on Festergut? Right, about time you take your raid to meet the Princes. Perhaps later on go to pay Rotface a visit.

You’re not being inefficient by not forcing yourselves to sit there and practice a fight: quite the opposite. Cut yourselves some slack if you’re working hard and not getting anywhere; you might find you slaughter the next encounter you head to and earn yourselves a morale boost. That’s efficiency.

 

These are small changes but could be useful to any raid group out there. You’re a 3 year-old guild running your A team? Or perhaps you’re running a PUG (breaks are not a PUG killer any more than giving your raid a little bit of trust, but such PUG raid myths is a topic for a future post). In my opinion these changes are crucial for any sort of raid group. Why? Let me explain what I think a well-run raid group is:

  • It’s a social activity. If someone in our group is not having fun for some reason we get uncomfortable and more stressed. Then Rotface smashes us more easily, morale plummets, stress goes up. Vicious circle. Having a break allows us to peel ourselves away from the stressful game environment and remember that it’s a social occasion, too.
  • It’s a team sport. Sure, we don’t leave the comfort of our computer desks and run up and down a pitch for several hours. We do work together using tactics, formations and roles to achieve a common aim. Sports benefit from breaks; think of the oft touted stories of football players eating oranges at halftime, or a weight-lifter taking breaks between sets so they can achieve their best for longer.
  • It’s a company. Wait, that sounds a little mercenary – try ‘organisation’. Either work. Like most companies, we expect our members to perform a certain job and they’re paid for successful tasks with emblems – and occasional epic perks. We invest time and effort to skill-up our members so that they can achieve goals, and improve all the time. We provide a safe (and because it’s a game, fun) environment for them to perform their tasks. All of these are good practices for a company, at least according to a particular book (see below) on company organisation. And like any good company in accordance with this book, we’re flexible enough to cut them a little slack to give them room to be their best.

A person will work better, be more focused, if they feel they are trusted and have some space to relax. Running around like a headless chicken or battering your head against one encounter is not healthy. The benefits extend to groups of people, too.

“The difference between the time it takes you to [achieve your next progression] at ‘all prudent speed’ and time it would take you ‘at breakneck speed’ is your slack. Slack is what helps you arrive quickly but with an unbroken neck.”

- Slack, T. Demarco, page 208 (and a book I thoroughly recommend to anyone wanting to change their raiding style)

What do you think? Does this sound like a useful nugget for your raid setup? Have you been wanting to try something like this for a while and been worried that you’d not cover as much ground? Do you think I’m completely wrong and sticking on one encounter until you’ve got it is best? Or, possibly, do you think the wisdom of this vs. encounter battering is dependent on how many nights your group raids?

 

This is a post by Mimetir, a boomkin and restorman of a raid leader on The Venture Co. (EU). You can find my twitter feed here.

Raiding: It’s a Team Sport

3RAR_0215

This is a guest post by Thespius.

If there’s one thing I enjoy, it’s actually having fun playing WoW. I wasn’t around for "Vanilla WoW", but I am a 3 year veteran of the game. WoW is my hobby. I take it seriously, but it’s still the place I go to "escape". I’ve been in leveling guilds, raiding guilds (hardcore and casual), PvP guilds, and guilds with friends. When it comes to raids/groups, I’ve learned one thing that I bring with me at all times:

"How do you make the best party? Simple. Bring friends."

I don’t mean only invite the exclusives (guildies, RL friends, etc). It’s called the WoW Community right? How does one become a "friend"?

I tend to gravitate towards people that are positive and contribute to the group/raid’s success, not take away from it and hurt morale. Anyone that’s been in a raid knows how much smoother it runs when everyone has a positive, goal-oriented mindset.

Yes, this can be tough through wipe-fests or newer players in the mix, but there are numerous ways to contribute to keeping morale and spirits high: Attitude, Willingness to learn/help, and Courtesy among them. If everyone involved puts in that little extra effort, it keeps the fun alive.

Attitude

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t cry over spilt milk. Don’t get pissed if you wipe. This has caused me to stop raiding with a group more than anything. Most of us aren’t in the "uber-leet" guilds and are going to have problems along the line of progression. The best way to always handle it, in my opinion, is to shrug it off:

"We lingered a little too long before starting Phase Two of Mimiron. It’s all good. Keep at it, and we’ll get it next time." (In my mind, even the top guilds could perform even better if everyone focused more optimistically than pessimistically.)

How do you make sure you’re making the best effort you can? Take the time to do it right the first time. The easiest way to waste time and boss attempts is to rush through them. Mark your targets, /readycheck, communicate. Our paladin tank (an ex-Army Ranger) always reminds us: "Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast. Fast is deadly." Truer words were never spoken. Be focused, but not rushed.

Once you get that in place, HAVE FUN! It’s a game. We all play it to enjoy it. I love joking around in raids–as long as it doesn’t distract from the raid itself. Keep in mind, however, that not everyone may share your brand of humor/sarcasm. Pay attention to the reactions of others and be mindful of possibly "crossing the line". If you want the raid to continue to go well, avoid making comments that can make it go sour really quickly. I know I’m a stronger healer when I’m having fun.

Negativity is going to breed more negativity. Even an optimist like myself is going to fall victim to it. It’s easier to make 5 people mad than 2 people happy. I actively take up that challenge to keep the raid’s spirits up. That’s my "hard mode" – Get through the raid night without people getting up in arms. I tend to call myself the "Guild Politician." I try to keep everyone happy. I’m a healer in game, and a healer by nature.

Willingness to Learn/Help

We all had our first toon. Mine was a Human Warlock (the original "Thespius"). I stepped into the world of Northshire Abbey and had NO idea what a spell was, or Intellect, or even that I would eventually battle with Talents. After playing this game for 3 years, I’m still learning new things every day. I personally love how this game is constantly evolving. New mechanics introduced, new thoughts shared. In this, I know I’m not perfect.

Avoid elitism. Be confident, but not pompous. I think when it comes to healing, I’m pretty confident. Am I the best? No. Do I think I’ll ever be the best? No. Do I strive to BE the best? Of course. I do that by staying open-minded, listening to those around me, and paying attention to the online healing community.

If I encounter someone who seems to be struggling with kill order, or threat, or healing "rotations", I could choose one of two ways to proceed:

  1. [Party]: HAHA!!! THIS N00B DOESN’T USE RENEW!! HAHAHAHAHA WHAT A LOSER!!
  2. [Whisper]: Hey, I noticed you don’t utilize Renew a lot. Is there a reason why you chose to do that?

I hope everyone can see that the second option allows room to suggest a change rather than belittling the person for not knowing. Who knows? Their reasoning may be solid, and may open your eyes to a different style that you can build on. I hope that others would exercise the same kindness if I’m having trouble with something. Remember, optomism over pessimism.

Courtesy

This is where you can make a raid stronger or label yourself as "selfish". A chain is only as good as its weakest link, right? We’ll start with the basics:

Make sure you’re not going to have to go AFK a bunch of times. Obviously extenuating circumstances arise (family, roommates, etc.). Ready to go means a stock of snacks/drinks and an empty bladder. We’ve all been there.

If you do have to go AFK, make sure you have clear communication with the raid leader that you’re gone. Raid Leaders, make sure you’re paying attention (or delegating that responsibility) to chat/vent to see who needs a momentary break. If you MUST go AFK, try to save it for a good downtime in raid. If the whole raid is going to take 5 minutes, go restock your supplies and empty the bladder, even if you don’t NEED to. Get back as soon as you can, and make sure people know you’re back.

If you must leave for the rest of the night, give as much notice as you can. This allows the Raid Leader to decide how to proceed. If you consistently bail at the last moment, it’s likely you won’t be asked back. It also puts undue stress on the raid, dampening the mood. Remember, easier to promote negativity than positivity.

However, I try to be most considerate about loot/upgrades. I serve as my own loot council. If there’s someone in the group (yes, even a PUG) that could use the gear more than I could, I’ll gladly pass to them. That gesture is usually a huge comfort to people, and promotes the Team environment I’m trying to build. In our raids, we give PUGs equal shot at gear. In doing this, we’ve created a great little niche of people to pull from when we need subs. We’ve also gained a few new guild members because of it.

Throughout all of this, our guild and its members have the reputation of being the best to run with. Why?

  • Our attitude is positive and team-oriented. We’re out for everyone to succeed, not just the individual. It makes every run fun and memorable.
  • We take a proactive approach to helping those that need it. We don’t belittle people for not being familiar with a certain aspect of the game. It allows for people to be honest about not knowing something, or being open to suggestion.
  • We exercise courtesy with everyone we play with. People know that they’re not going to get "screwed over" in a Team Sport run. Anyone that contributes to the run’s success should be rewarded.

Just mind the bad apples in the game, because they are out there. Keep your heads up.