I must preface this post with the statement that I have not (as yet) set foot in Ulduar. A combination of the lack of time and the lack of gear means that I have not had the opportunity to experience first hand the immense difficulty that supposedly is Ulduar.
Ulduar is seen as a place which is so terrifyingly difficult that it is going to be a total wipefest. While smaller guilds have the ability to scrape together enough people for a 25 man run, the 10 man run means that people are left out. It is the manner in which people are left out which tends to cause problems in guilds. For most typical 10 man runs in a typical guild, most anyone can go who is interested, and that generally keeps people happy. As soon as something comes out which is deemed to be ‘hard content’, a guild becomes much more selective of who they will take, claiming that they need to take their best players in order to succeed.
I remember this phenomenon distinctly from when ZA first hit server. Guilds who were after mounts and better loot (or even guilds who just had trouble downing the place) started placing limitations on who could go into raids and who could not. This invariably led to resentment on the part of those who were left out, and quite often to the fracturing of guilds. There would be a distinction drawn between groups, and the perception of not being ‘good enough’ to be a part of the small core who got to see all the content made people feel uncomfortable. Some people who were a part of that small core also unfortunately found themselves feeling like they were ‘superior’ to the other people in the guild, which led to complaints about having to carry people through content. The people who were excluded from the runs often decided that they would prefer to go to greener pastures where they would feel more appreciated.
I can see a similar thing happening in many smaller guilds with Ulduar at the moment. Many guilds are taking the ‘cream of the crop’ into Ulduar10, which leaves many people in the guild feeling like they have been rejected. These people often can not form their own runs, since the guild will not always have enough tanks and healers to support 2 runs. This leads to a very difficult situation.
Not everyone can fit in a 10 man raid.
Unfortunately, there is no way you can get 20 people into a 10 man raid. It just isn’t going to happen. Some people will be left out, and some people will be left out all the time. The issue is, how do you decide which people are left out? Do you base this on gear? On skill? On availabilities? How do you walk the fine line between ‘casual, just wanting everyone to have fun’ and ‘serious, we want some progression’? The minute you choose people for your raid in a way which is inconsistent, or not transparent, you leave yourself wide open to people feeling resentful and angry. There are some steps you can take to avoid this, but in all honesty, I can not see a way around this problem without offending someone.
1. Make your selection process clear and transparent
If you are selecting people based on merit, make it VERY CLEAR how you are doing it. Gear? Well, make sure that you clearly state this. DPS? Again, state the minimum DPS that you are looking for, and also discuss utility – sometimes it is acceptable to take a lower DPS if they are performing some essential utility. You need to ensure that people have a clear understanding of why they would be invited or not invited to a raid. If you do not use a sign up system and do things in a more ad-hoc manner, you need to again make things transparent and clear.
2. Selecting people – stable or changing groups?
It is very difficult to decide how to set up 10 man runs. Should you have your groups stay the same, to ensure that people know the fights and don’t have to be taught anything? Or should you rotate people through so that everyone gets a shot at it? I guess this one really comes down to what you want to achieve. If you want to take your time and keep people happy, then it is better to let everyone have a go. If you want more progression, you are far better off sticking with a core group. At the end of the day, this comes down to whatever the purpose of your guild is: if you are progression oriented, then you should aim for progression over ‘happy-gooey’ (for lack of a better term). If you are a more community based guild, it would be well worth your while to adopt a people-friendly approach.
2.5. How do you structure your groups?
Do you have an A group and a B group? 2 groups of relatively equal abilities? Again, I believe that much of this comes down to what the purpose of your guild is. If you have an A group and a B group, someone is going to get hurt that they got put in the ‘crap’ group rather than the ‘good’ group. You might be unlucky enough to end up with a whole group of people who resent both the top group and each other! (Something along the lines of ‘I should be up there, I am tired of being stuck with these noobs’)
3. Knowing when to cut your losses
As I said, at the end of the day, as with ZA, someone is going to come out of this hurt. This someone might be hurt enough that they leave the guild. If this happens, you need to assess whether this person had rational grounds for leaving, or whether they were over reacting to a situation. If they did have rational grounds (they were unfairly excluded, they weren’t listened to, all that sort of stuff) then you need to reassess how you are structuring things, and decide whether that is the best fit for the guild. If they left in a prima donna moment, well… that will happen sometimes, regardless of the situation.
I can see Ulduar10 being just as messy and ugly as ZA was. In fact, in some ways I can see it being much worse. One thing is for sure – Ulduar will certainly test out guild management and a guild’s ability to keep people happy. Having been on both sides of the spectrum on this issue, I can see that it will be next to impossible for the average guild to keep everyone happy. No matter the skill or gear level of the guild, there will always be a perception that some people are more favoured than others. I’d love to hear how your guild is managing the transition to Ulduar, and ways guilds are dealing with this issue.