Archive for the “Raiding” Category

Not guides, but my experiences in the field of raiding.

Man has it been a while. Sorry for not having posted in a while but work has been kicking my ass something fierce. We’re just over 2 weeks until Cataclysm hits and I don’t know about y’all but I’m very much looking forward to it. Doesn’t look like I’m going to meet my ultimate goal for Wrath, which was to down the Lich King, but I’ve very much enjoyed this expansion. A while ago I made a couple of post about leveling and instancing in WotLK but I never got around to talking about my favorite part of this expansion, raiding. I have a lot to say about the raids in Wrath, some good and some not so good, so I’m going to split this conversation up into a few parts to spare you all the giant wall of text. Today I’m going to talk about the first raiding tier.

I first started playing World of Warcraft midway through The Burning Crusade expansion. As a result, I was WAY behind on the progression scale once I finally hit max level. The guild I was in was never able to clear anything past Gruul’s Lair. We were able to get through the first three bosses in Zul’Aman before all the raids were nerfed into the ground. It wasn’t because of a lack of desire that we were never able to see higher end content, it was because of attrition to further progressed guilds. Try as we might, we could never quite sustain a full 25 man roster to progress past Gruul and into Serpentshrine Cavern. Two things stopped me from leaving my guild and trying to get a spot in a further progressed guild. First, I formed way too many friendships with people in my guild to just up and leave. Secondly, I played a Balance Druid and there was no way I was getting a raid spot as an oomkin. So I just stuck it out until Wrath.

The expansion put all guilds back on equal footing progression wise and also introduced 10 man raiding as a very viable option. Thanks to this, I was finally able to do some real progression raiding and loved it. Having never seen Naxxramas before, I was blown away by the raid. Each wing had a very unique feel to while still maintaining its overall fight against the scourge theme. I felt the difficulty, especially in 10 man was perfectly tuned for an entry level raid. Without trying for achievements, none of the bosses were overly difficult and each introduced mechanics that were needed to be understood by new raiders in order to be successful in future raids. I also found the instance to be very fun for the first few months of running through it. There were a few bosses that challenged your ability to coordinate your raiders and others where DPS could flex their muscles and fight for bragging rights. Many a fun time was had on Patchwerk where my fellow boomkins and I were constantly upstaging the mages and warlocks in the raid.

Obsidian Sanctum and Eye of Eternity where the other two raids that shipped with Wrath of the Lich King and both were drastically different from Naxx. Where Naxx was a 15 marathon of a raid, OS and Maly were one boss sprints. After having cleared Naxx and obtaining the key that unlocked the Eye of Eternity, it was very realistic for a group to clear both raid in one night. Obsidian Sanctum also introduced the concept of “hard modes” to raiding. By choosing whether or not to leave any drakes alive when engaging Sartharion, raiders could up the difficulty of the raid from delightfully easy (no drakes up) to “Oh dear gods why?!” (3 drakes up) to suit their tastes. I loved being able to dial up the difficulty of the raid and push myself harder as a raider, even if most of my guildmates at the time did not. Because of this, I found Obsidian Sanctum to be a very successful raid. Eye of Eternity on the other hand can go die in a fire. The idea behind the this instance was pretty cool. Take on the Aspect of Magic while riding on the back of a dragon? Who hasn’t wanted to kill something riding on a dragon? The execution of said idea missed its mark. The controls and abilities of the dragons felt clunky and they’re power didn’t scale with gear level of the rider. Once I completed the instance, I had very almost no reason to want to back in there.

Overall, I felt that Blizzard was largely successful with the first tier of raiding. It allowed novice raiders a good opportunity to get their feet wet in end game raiding while still providing ways for experienced raiders to challenge and push themselves. The encounter designers would take what they learned from these raids and craft what was one of the most widely loved raids in Ulduar.

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No, really.

I’d like to know.

Y’see, I saw many tweets last night about Halion.  About people killing Halion.  About people nearly killing Halion.

And all these tweets made me wonder.

How difficult do we want Ruby Sanctum to be?

See, we all know I tend towards the masochistic side of things.  I want my raid bosses to spank me, and spank me hard.  For weeks at a time.  There’s no satisfaction in it otherwise – it isn’t a challenge if he/she/undefinable it hasn’t been wiping the floor with us.

But many people want the game to be easier.  Apparently, raiding is only fun if you can win the raid.  So, if that’s what people want nowadays, I guess it’s acceptable for a new raid to be cleared within hours of release.  And not just by the ‘top’ guilds, but by a variety of guilds.

So, I’m not going to get on my soap box and rant (quite yet), because I have a funny feeling that what I want out of the game isn’t what anyone else wants.  Hell, that’s what turned me off raiding in the first place – that it just wasn’t the same, it wasn’t the right sort of challenge for me.  But I would like to know: How many of you wanted a boss that could be tumbled over within hours?  How many of you wanted something a little harder?

As for me?  I’m mentally going back in time and beating my head against Black Temple and Sunwell.  Oh, the memories…. *dreams of Mother Shahraz*

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I need a raid break.  You know how you hit that point where logging in on a raid night just feels tedious?  Painful?  Like your head wants to explode?  Yeah, I have most definitely reached that point.

On Tuesday, as the group for the weekly was forming, I panicked and hastily /quit.  Not sure why, but the thought of doing something in a raid made me want to slam my head into a monitor.  Even if it only WAS Ignis.

Oh god, It’s Ulduar AGAIN?”

Crap, I have to kill trash?”

I have to kill FLAME LEVIATHAN again??”

Oh god, I have to put up with being stuck in a bucket?”

“AAARGH I can not do this!”

/quit

Seriously.  That all ran through my head in about 2 seconds flat.  It was sheer panic, people!

So, I am having a break.  Sure, they might get Lich King down without me.  The strange thing is, I just don’t care anymore.  I remember when missing a boss downing was the single worst thing I could do.  I was devastated when I missed a handful of first kills in BC when I got a new work schedule.  Now, I couldn’t give a damn, and I don’t even give a damn that I don’t give a damn.

I don’t know what I will do in the game if I am not raiding.  The thought of battlegrounds makes me want to punch a baby in the face.  Questing is OMG urgh.  I could turn my attention fully to guild recruitment, but I think we all know that the time for recruitment is really not right now.  I’m not sure what I am going to do.

But I don’t much care anyway!  Bring on Cataclysm I say, so I can talk about Warlocks and Destruction properly again.  In my improper, gut instinct fashion, because that’s much more fun than plowing through math, damn it.

Also: I’m going to Blizzcon!  Huzzah, people!

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and then there was light… or however it would happen if the Bible met My Fair Lady, in Azeroth.

OK, OK, so I am not the only one who has been asking about this for a long time.  However, since I am a total egomaniac, I am going to take all the credit anyway.  Yay me!

I am sure that you have all now heard that in Cataclysm, you will be forced to choose between 10 and 25 man raiding.  The long held perception of dumb-dumb 10 man raids will hopefully be done away with.  People won’t feel forced to run the same content twice a week to remain competitive.  10 mans should be more challenging because there will no longer be any over gearing.

I know many people who are afraid that this will be the end of 25man raiding.  The same old chestnut gets mentioned every time this is discussed.  “But why would you bother doing 25mans if 10mans gave the same loot?” 

Why?  Because you bloody well like 25mans, that’s why!

Believe it or not, some people prefer 25man raiding.  I used to play with someone who actually missed 40man raids.  Some people like that large size, that epic scale, the camaraderie you get with the people of your class and role that just doesn’t happen in 10mans (Arcis Warlock Chat, I miss you so much <3).  The level of inner competition and drive was amazing in 25mans, solely because you had so many more people who could potentially be kicking your arse at your job.

Others like 10mans.  The intimate feel, the huge sense of responsibility on your shoulders knowing that, if you mess up, that’s ten percent of your raid gone.  Raiding in a group that is small enough that everyone can actually have a chat on Vent (or even get a word in edgewise), and everyone can carry some of the responsibility of running the raid.

For most of Wrath, 10 man exclusive guilds have been punished for being just that.  The player base refuses to see them as anything other than casual, regardless of how seriously they play the game.  More attention is given to 25man downings than 10 (partly because the top guilds raid both levels of content, and so over gear the ten man equivalent).  The emphasis on bloody gearscore has also meant that 10man only guilds and players are, again, largely seen as casual or scrubbish.  This annoys the hell out of me.

Not one type of raiding is better, or more important, than the other.  But by allowing people to do both, 10 man is always going to be pushed to the bottom of the pile, where 25man raiders run the 10 ‘just for badges’, making 10man raiders appear lazy or unmotivated.

I’m not sure how popular this change is going to be.  I remember once suggesting this on a TNB Round Table, and I think most of the people there at the time vehemently disagreed with me.  However, I think it will most definitely be for the better.

Now let’s just pray for some challenging raid content.  Heck, this change may see me go back to serious raiding!

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You may have noticed that things are looking a little bit different around here.  My theme has been broken for quite some time, and now that I am on vacation (whoo hoo!) I finally had the time to dedicate a day to trying to fix this place.  It’s certainly not perfect, but it IS serviceable, and the changing headers make me giggle inanely.  I just wish I could decide whether I wanted to leave them on random or not.  At any rate, there is something like ten different headers uploaded, so if you find one you don’t especially like, just hit the refresh button.  If you don’t like any of them, well I guess that’s just your tough luck!

So, last night I actually set foot in ICC for the first time in… well, a long time.  Unfortunately, it turns out that my raiding reflexes may be just a little rusty (to the point where, come to think of it, I may have actually died on almost every boss.  Whoops!)  I was actually pleased with my damage for once – so even though my brain was too slow to register that ‘oh crap, you are about to die from x’, I still got my rotation fairly down pat (and missed less Conflagrate cooldowns than I have in a long while, which helped immeasurably).  I guess it helps that my latency also wasn’t being total fail, although I took a lot of Death and Decay damage BEFORE I could see it on the ground underneath me.

At any rate, it was nice to finish a raid and not feel like a giant ball of suck.  That doesn’t happen very often anymore!  I actually enjoyed being a Warlock for the first time in a while – lately everything in the game has just felt like a chore (and I am sure that the attitude of people in the Random Dungeons has nothing at all to do with that).  So having fun was nice.  Albeit, confusing, but nice.

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Seriously… it’s like ranting is a substitute for all that is nice and happy and fantastic in my world.  Or something.

I read a couple of posts in my naughty ‘I’m going to sneak home from work for an hour because my Year 11’s made me feeling like killing myself’ break, and they really intrigued me.  I guess I’ll deal with them individually, and then get onto my opinion (and feel free to, you know, stop reading at that point, because I know you are all going to disagree with me here).

The first one was an awesome guest post by Mimetir on World of Matticus.  You really have to read it to get the full impact of its awesomeness, but this particular statement hit me hard

I think there is enough evidence to say that some players felt the unstated rules of WoW had been re-written overnight using pictures sketched with crayons. Other players felt that the rules were crystal clear for the first time.

The reaction to the dramatic changes in raiding has been very, well… let’s just say it’s certainly been divisive in all levels of the community. I think that best sums up what the effect has been.  There’s people out there who absolutely love it.  Then there’s people like me, who hate it so much that it almost induces them to quit the game.

Well, on the total flip side of myself, we have Larisa.  Now, from what I know of Larisa (and I have been reading her for a long while now), she isn’t usually the sort to rant.  I guess that’s what hooked me in straight away.  She basically took aim and blasted people like me front and centre!  It appears that Larisa really likes the new system, and gets very frustrated at people complaining that WoW is too ‘easy mode’ nowadays.  She also raised some excellent points.

1.  “What annoys me so much is that the loudest criticism comes from players who themselves are far from having cleared all the current raid content.”

Oh, whoops, that would totally be me!  Well, I’m not going to justify myself in this little space… hopefully the rest of my argument will speak for itself.

2.  “Well, I guess they find him [Yogg] too hard compared to the upgrades he offers. The wipe/gear quota isn’t favorable”

Well… the gear in Ulduar isn’t worth getting full stop.  I wouldn’t blame it on the wipe/gear ratio – I’d just blame it on the fact the gear was always a bit terrible, and I’d say there are a lot of people like myself who will SCREAM if they have to do Flame Leviathan, or Hodir, or General one more time.  Seriously. Snore.  Naxx gear is easy to get, but it doesn’t mean we will keep going there.  Hell, people don’t even take alts there that much anymore!  Last time I had fun in Ulduar?  10 man hardmodes.  But if you asked me to do those encounters again, I don’t think I could muster up any enthusiasm, hard mode or no.

3.  “I’ve praised the hardmodes before and I do it again: they’re there for us to be able to put the bar at exactly the level where we want it to be to get the kind of gaming experience we’re looking for.”

But it’s not.  I want my difficult raids to be new, exciting and fresh.  Killing a boss with a couple more adds, or a little less assistance, or on a timer just doesn’t cut it for me.  I remember in BC, I was always so excited downing a boss.  It was HUGE to see them die for the first time.  Now?  Blah.  Snore.  Even on hard mode it feels like ‘I just killed the tacky, slightly more difficult mode of a boss I’ve already killed’.  There is no exhilaration in hard mode raiding.  Fun?  Oh sure!  But, at the end of the day, the boss is dead, and I just don’t really care.

4.  “Is there anything at all preventing you from skipping the faceroller raids altogether and stick to hardmode Ulduar and heroic ToC? Nothing. Nothing at all”

Too bad most every guild starts out on normal.  Hey, if we all started out on hardmode, and never did easy, it would be great!  In what universe is a guild likely to do that though?  And, the more hardcore your guild, the more likely you are to have to do both, simply for the badge farming.

But the thing that really, REALLY gets me cranky?

This system bites people like myself on the ass.  Hey, yeah, of course there’s a personal reason why I hate it.

Blizzard have really killed the ‘Skilled, 2 nights a week’ guilds and players.  The people who don’t have the time to sink into hardcore raiding, and so are stuck doing easy modes.  It’s bloody hard to find a 2 nights a week, casual guild who will do hardmodes.  Sure, with ToC, it’s theoretically possible to fit both normal and hardmode in, but I am never all that fussed on running the same damn instance again to do hardmodes.  ToC just isn’t that fun, people! 

I can hear some of you snickering in the back ground now *pshaw… like you could get anywhere on 8 hours a week*.  Well, buddy, you can!  In BC, I was an 8 hour a week raider (at least in terms of ‘progression raiding’).  We started late in BC, and by the end, we were in Sunwell.  Sure, we only got to Felmyst, but hey, we were a Sunwell guild!  And EVERY boss that I downed through BC felt awesome.  Absolutely awesome.  In fact… that was the last time I heard mass cheering on Vent.

So, yeah, hardmodes might not be easy.  I just want to know whatever happened to challenging content that we didn’t have to clear on normal first.  And why people are so eager to jump down the throats of those of us who don’t like the new system – we aren’t giving you a hard time about your preferences, let us have ours!

P.S. – Larisa, I loved your post!  This was just easier than commenting and then blogging about it anyway.

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No, seriously, they do!  In my experience, the vast majority of raid leaders and raid assistants have very little understanding of what their role is meant to be.  The typical approach that I have seen to raid leading is very similar to the typical approach that I see to teaching, and while it has its place… it is really not useful.  What am I talking about?

The chalk and talk raid leader, of course.

teacher-doris-day

The raid leader who sits there and lists off instructions in a dry monotone until you think your ears are going to bleed.  Who forgets to emphasise the really important details, because, dang it, you should have read the 10 page long blog post AND the wowwiki strat AND watched the tankspot video.  The one who issues instructions constantly throughout the fight, and never fails to say what went wrong after each attempt, but forgets to mention what went well.  These raid leaders don’t listen to input from the raiders, because they are in charge, they are right, and they view the raiders as a bunch of uneducated peons who are there to serve the purpose of getting the boss down.  And don’t even get me STARTED on loot distribution!

OK, so that might be a little bit of an extreme view.  However, most raid leaders I have worked with have almost all of these characteristics, it is just the strength of them that varies.  For example, if I had a dollar for every time I heard a raid leader piss and moan about how incompetent their raiders are, how they wished they had a better quality group of raiders to work with, how none of this would happen if everyone was as awesome as them, well, I’d be a fricking millionaire.

As a teacher, I feel I have a lot to answer for.  I think a lot of these raid leaders are replicating the experience that they had their whole life – that of school.  Raid leaders are JUST LIKE TEACHERS!  You want to know what we do as teachers each day?  We talk a lot.  We try to teach kids stuff.  Often, they don’t get it.  We then walk in to the staffroom and say how these bloody kids just don’t get it, they don’t want to follow instructions, and damn it, if I worked at that fancy private school in Sydney I wouldn’t have these issues!  Hmmmm… does any of this sound familiar?

Want to know what this does to your raiders?  This feeling of constant pressure, of not being valued, of never being praised?

1.  Raider Anxiety

I see this all the time.  Hell, I feel this a lot of the time.  There is this constant pressure to perform, and if you aren’t up to scratch, well you may as well drop raid, delete your character, and write a letter saying you are sorry for ever existing and wasting everyone’s time.  This happens in raids where your chalk and talk raid leader (conveniently abbreviated to CTRL) misuses damage meters, doesn’t adequately deconstruct boss attempts, and doesn’t clarify instructions where required. 

What impact does this have?  Well… anxious raiders aren’t going to perform.  Imagine two guys at a rifle range.  One of them is calmly firing at the target.  After each round (or how ever the hell people do this crap), his coach says ‘Good effort!  You got 60% of your shots hitting the target, and 15% of them hit the centre.  You need to work on keeping your arm steady, but that 15% is a great result.  Let’s see if you can improve next time’.  Next to him is a somewhat stressed out looking guy.  Every time he fires a shot, his coach says ‘Aim for the centre, damn it!’  When you look closer, you see that his finger is quivering from the pressure of having to get it right every time.

CTRL’s often issue rapid fire instructions mid fight.  They don’t allow for raiders to think out a fight for themselves, because they do not trust them to do it.  They feel that by constantly issuing instructions, they can control the raid and produce a better result.  Unfortunately, this sometimes just plain stresses a raid out.  Then they make mistakes.  Then the CTRL gets stressed out!  All of a sudden, instructions are being yelled, everyone is scared and confused, and it all goes to hell.

Lesson:  Instructions are important, but must be clear.  Do not overload on instructions, and allow people to think for themselves occasionally.

2.  Raider Frustration

‘Aaaargh, I am so tired of wiping on this boss!’  ‘I just don’t GET this fight!’  ‘You all suck! /drop raid’

This also happens a lot of the time.  I mainly see this happen, not because raiders are incompetent, but because CTRL’s suck at giving feedback.  Especially in combination with the above.

CTRL’s often view failure to down a boss as failure full stop.  They then say to the raid ‘This is what went wrong’, but forget to say ‘but we did really well at this!’.  They also forget to recognise progression on attempts, and this also leads to raiders feeling disheartened.  This fosters an environment where people will turn on one another in an instant. People get tired of wiping.  People get REALLY tired of wiping and being told how much they suck afterwards.  So, anyone who is seen as causing a wipe cops a lot of grief.  Some people will just get jack of it all and drop raid.

Lesson: be supportive of your raiders, even on tough nights.  Give constructive feedback, and always remember to praise.

3.  Lack of Raider Understanding

Want to know a secret?  I totally zone out during a lot of boss fight explanations.  I don’t do it on purpose, I try to concentrate, but, well, talk at me for 10 minutes and use the same words repeatedly -  ‘move here, then do this, then move here, then do this, and for heaven’s sake stay out of that, that and THAT’ – well, my brain just shuts down and starts thinking about the football.  Or I read twitter.  Or something.  Then I end up totally confuzzled because I missed something vital… and half the raid missed it as well.  Guess we were all too busy tweeting.

For goodness’ sake, be fricking concise in your explanations!  You know, some fights are really difficult.  I get that.  Any multiphase fight is a bitch.  I can almost guarantee though, you will more than likely not get to phase 1326 on your first attempt.  Give a clear and detailed description of phase one.  Give a brief description of phase two.  Don’t worry about phases after that until you have phase one solid, at least.  Your raiders should still be reading a strat, so they should have some idea of what to do if the miraculous happens and you get to the end straight away.

Also, type a brief summary of major points in raid chat as you go.  That is a basic, yet very important part of teaching someone a strat.  Visual reinforcement FTW!

Lesson: Be concise (opposite of this post).  Use raid chat/warnings as a tool during explanations.

4.  Drop in Raider Confidence

This one is pretty basic, and I won’t go into much detail.  Treat your raiders like morons, and soon enough they will act like it.  Or get annoyed because they will think everyone else is a moron.  You, as a raid leader, are not superior to the raiders.  You are not smarter, faster, more skilled, or better in any way than everyone else.  It’s easy as a CTRL to forget that – issuing instructions makes people often feel like they know more than everyone.  I get that.  But it isn’t true.

Lesson: You aren’t better than everyone else!  Stop acting like it!

 

Basically, the most important thing, I think, is the feedback.  CTRL’s, like a lot of teachers, suck at feedback.  We like to criticise, we like to point out what we should work on and improve.  However, a bit of positive feedback helps a lot.  It makes people more willing to work hard, to put their (virtual) ass on the line for you, and to put every ounce of effort into a fight.

Now… to wait for an angry CTRL to chew me out over this ;-)

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So, I know that these numbers may not seem like a lot to many people.  I have seen people beat this time and time again, but for me it was a pretty impressive indicator of what I am capable of after all, and what I can achieve (providing things go well… like my internet not totally crapping its pants). 

I ventured into Ulduar25 with the new guild on Sunday night.  I was kinda laggy for the most part, and I have really only set foot in the raid itself once or twice, so it was a bit of an iffy experience in the first place.  However, once I settled into a rhythm and found my stride, things started to work really well.  I was generally on the cusp of being in the top 5 on a number of fights (I was 6th SO often!) but there was one minor fight where I truly impressed myself.

Usually I hover around the 4k DPS mark.  It’s not spectacular, it’s not bad, it’s just eh.  Kinda adequate, nothing more or less.  However, on one of Freya’s tree dude things (y’know, the guys who drop badges) I managed to pull off a smidge over 5k DPS.  5130DPS to be precise.  Not bad if I do say so myself!

I’m not 100% sure what changed.  Maybe I was lagging less.  Maybe it was that I have decided to ditch the Soul Fires for a while and see how that goes (they just don’t crit enough for my liking, and when they don’t crit they are kinda lame).  However, I jumped up to 3rd on that fight, top of all the Warlocks and only beaten by 2 Hunters.

So, the new rotation is something like this:

CoD, Immolate, Incin my little heart out, Conflag, Chaos Bolt, rinse and repeat.  I don’t like to Conflag early, even though I did end up glyphing for it, because it throws the bloody timer all out of whack.  However, since I no longer Soul Fire, I might give it a go… I think I might see an increase out of it once I am used to it.

I was excited, anyway :-)

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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.

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Our raid the other night started out just like any other raid would.  We zoned in, I forgot to use my flasks, soulstoned a mage just for kicks (OK.. not really, but I came awfully close!), and chewed our way through some tasty Undead trash.  Yum.  Then we hear this tiny little voice pipe up in Vent (tiny because it was a Priest – they lack that big awesome BOOM factor Warlocks have, ya’know?)

“I have a GM coming into the raid”

What now?  A GM?  What on earth for?

Well… as it turns out, afore mentioned priest had some form of issue which had to be sorted out.  When a GM finally got to her ticket and asked her if she had time to chat, she said ‘sure, but I am in a Naxx 25 raid’.  He/She/It replied ‘Hey, you know what, I’ll come into your raid and see you.  It’s only 10 minutes until I break anyway.  Besides, I heard rumours of a really awesome Warlock who runs with you – apparently really smart and good looking.  I think his name is Lastcald’.  I’ll bet he was disappointed when he found out I was the only lock in the raid!**

Now… this was really hard to believe.  I just couldn’t imagine it.  Why would a GM want to come to OUR raid?  I am sure that GM’s could be doing all sorts of much more fun things… spying on people engaging in ‘suspicious activities’ in the Tram, for example.  Or throwing annoying Horde off cliffs…  or changing Tauren’s faces so that they had Tauren bodies, but Gnome heads. I’d totally do that if I was a GM.  Regardless, A GM did show up… with another GM in tow!

I really can’t describe the lunacy accurately with words.  However, since I spent the whole boss fight spamming screenshot rather than actually killing things, I have plenty of pictures instead.  Everyone, meet Soniwam and Donnikel.

WoWScrnShot_032709_142409 The moment I noticed them arrive… I was a smidge delayed by having to run back to my corpse ><

KissOh yeah, I was kissed by a GM.  Score.

WoWScrnShot_032709_141924My leet GM induced lag.  Well… convenient to blame them anyhow.

WoWScrnShot_032709_142559The GM form of wishing someone luck?

WoWScrnShot_032709_142639GM’s make mistakes too!  Taking 10 people into a 25 man, I would never screw up and do that… *looks innocent*

Pirates and NinjasPirates versus Ninjas!

**Note:  I do not know what the conversation really was.  All I know is 2 GM’s rocked up to our raid.

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