In this section I’ll touch on topics of guild and raid management in order to show my thought process and decision process which worked fairly well so far with numerous realm first kills in the respective raid sizes as well as overall realm firsts regardless of raid sizes in the last 5 years of exsistence of Dark Glare.
For some basic background – I’ve been raiding since 2005, and raid leading since 2006 and have been a member, officer, raid leader and guild master in terms of roles in the guilds I’ve been in. I have been a member of ;
– Servants of Light (Darksorrow – May 2005 -> November 2005),
– Lorekeepers (Darksorrow, November 2005 – May 2006),
– Unknown Immunity (Darksorrow, May 2006 – January 2007),
– Lorekeepers (Darksorrow, January 2007-October 2007),
– Faith (The Sha’tar, October 2007-November 2007),
– Athanatoi (The Sha’tar, November 2007-July 2008),
– Dark Glare (The Sha’tar, July 2008-October 2013 and counting)
Started off with 40 mans then the mix of 10/25 in TBC, both sizes regular hard mode raiding in WotLK, Cataclysm we raided 10 man in Tier 11 and 13, 25 mans in 12 and 13. MoP we were 10 man in start of Tier 14 and 15, And 25 man in 15,16. This gives me a fairly unique but wide overview on raiding through time.
Basic premises which I hold to and are basis for this post are following :
– Comparing the two raid sizes is stupid, they are different, should be considered separate.
– This is covered for average guild that is aiming for quality raiding, maybe realm firsts, not world top guilds. This is very important to understand. When you’re going for world top kills, things change.
– Raid sizes are built around different concepts which I’ll cover. Running a 10 man guild is a different world to running a 25 man guild.
– Each size has its limitations and innate difficulties, overcoming fights on hard modes while keeping the guild running is praiseworthy.
– I will always annoy people who raid 10 mans. Please go raid 25’s and make me proud!
Basic Notions of Raiding
Best part of stereotypes are that they always hold a tiny bit of truth to them, generally heavily exaggerated, but nevertheless true. Same thing can be said about certain facts about different raid sizes. Everyone has seen the phrases thrown around that 10 mans are simply harder, 25 mans are harder to organize and similar but the real truth is you just handle different kinds of issues in different raid sizes. Things that occur and are considered major problems in 10 man don’t get nearly as much notice on 25 mans, and issues that are considered major in 25 have little to no effect in 10’s.
Instead of talking blindly let’s take some realistic examples of every day issues that come up while running a guild and a raid, disassemble them and see how different raid sizes of guilds might handle them. Do keep in mind that this ‘solutions’ are what I would consider appropriate and might now work on every type of guild or fit every leader’s personality.
Problem #1 – Raid Setup
Raid setups are a constant issue that crops up during progress raiding regardless of raid size.
Averagely speaking 25 mans sort this out by having a few capable people level and gear alts in their own time to help in main raids when needed. If none is available we make do with what we have simply skipping easier tactic and doing it the harder way if its not possible to do the easier way because of setup requirements. This has worked very well few times in the past however it requires good ability from individuals to play alts as good as their mains and keep their alts at appropriate gear levels. Generally requires guild wide effort on off-raid days to run secondary raids to be able to provide this option.
More likely alternative is that you keep a healthy raid roster of 30-35 active raiders at any time to fill all the spots as required. This in turn creates a different problem which will be described in #6.
In 10 man this particular problem is severely escalated, some bosses become significantly harder without perfect setup, or this particular class / spec. Even one single ability missing a in raid can completely skew the results in negative way. On other hand this makes certain bosses significantly easier than intended with presence of particular classes.
Few examples of strong abilities are Heroism, Combat Res., Aura Mastery (Devotion Aura this days), and similar extremely strong abilities that have situational but very strong use. In 25 mans this is also present but in lesser amount, generally speaking workarounds and not using ideal setup does not make as much actual difference than in 10 man.
Realistically it covers a different issue – issue of Blizzard being able to balance fights accordingly on both 10/25, they’ve gotten better but generally speaking its an impossible job to do. They will never be balanced. Striving towards it is good though and you have to commend Blizzard on trying.
Problem #2 – Attendance and Activity
Attendance and high-activity is key in any proper raiding environment, the less you can rely on people the worse the atmosphere. When motivation is lacking so are the results. Reliability on members of the guild is the key to any long term success. You need to know that a person will be there, this usually takes sacrifice from officers of the guild and guild members in equal share.
Officers have to guarantee that in 95-98% of cases raids will happen. Cancelling a raid is the very worst thing that can happen in any stable guild environment, making it shorter, skipping hard modes, anything is preferable to outright cancelling a raid. And it is up to officers to make it happen by any means possible. (#9)
Guild can stand solid as long as members and officers can maintain proper level of balance. Issues sprout up when either of groups starts slacking. When members start slacking its up to officers to motivate them, and when officers start slacking its up to Guild Master / Mistress to handle it – and members can help letting the officer team know their efforts and work is appreciated (This is generally very thankless work, but rewards come in different ways).
How to motivate raiders is a topic for a blog post on its own but generally speaking being open about your goals, letting people know what’s going on, not keeping raiders in suspense and making sure that the goals are clear and concise is a good way to keep people motivated. You have to present both short and long term goals and tell / show what you are doing about currently active issues that pop up. If people don’t see that you are handling the issues (even if you are) it can get them in a quiet riot and that leads to lesser activity, being late or having other issues. More on this covered in (#5).
Lower activity in 25 man guilds is handled by over-recruiting and making sure that people are aware of consequences of being less active – in short the more people you have to recruit the worse loot distribution gets, the people don’t know each other that well so the synergy in raid gets worse which in turn leads to even worse activity and large amount of rotation. This later on makes the guild unstable and unfriendly environment – with officers being more and more frustrated until they start doing stupid things (cancelling raids, punishing members wrongly, extending lockouts, etc.) that end up hurting the guild – even though it might work short term.
In 10 Mans over-recruiting is generally a bad idea, the focus there is simply keeping as little people as you can to provide good raiding, have most if not all of them have alts and guarantee activity. Replace people only when needed but instantly. There is no time to wait. In 10 man raiding queues for recruitment are generally good idea, write down every interested person that ever applied and let them know a spot opened up the moment it happens.
Problem #3 – Loot Distribution
Ah yes, loot distribution. Another topic that could have its own post. Simply put – you have to be efficient. Especially in expansion like MoP where gear is king. Few itemlevels make a difference between killing a boss on enrage on perfect play, and murdering him minute early with some fails. This is why its extremely important to have some sort of loot distribution where people who are most active and most useful are getting loot. How you do it is up to you, we have our own DKP way that we keep improving through time and it works pretty well for us in 25 man.
Optimal in 10 man I believe is Loot Council. There are other ways but with 10 mans if you can’t agree on who gets loot with such tiny amount of people then you have other problems, not loot. 😉 There will be more on loot distributions in some other post.
The key overall in average guilds is to not let the guild fall behind on loot, full clear should always be full priority unless you’re doing final boss of the instance on hard mode and its a realm first. Obviously you ‘can’ kill the boss with current gear levels if you play almost perfect but you could even simpler in higher gear. Few item levels make tight enrage kill with perfect play a minute from enrage kill.
Clearing up to those bosses should take almost no amount of time after several weeks of farming. If you don’t kill a boss for many weeks in row though (due to many extensions) it can get quite sloppy though.
Problem #4 – Out of Raid Organization and Management
Out of raid activities are critical for guild health, inter-member bonding and social activity is key to releasing stress and relaxing. Raids are generally stressful when progressing even when you’re having fun, having something to do to unwind outside that stress is handy. PvP, Flex Raids, RP, you name it – anything works.
Half-organized or properly organised is good, but generally speaking overly standardizing and organizing stuff chokes people a bit and makes it stressful. Being more self-sustained and free for all approach works better with these.
By overly complicating the extra activities you might get too much overhead for the officers to handle too which in turn will burn them out faster and over-systemization will cause the guild to stagnate rather than naturally let the extras evolve and give the guild people that have the self-initiative the control of these few aspects.
Guild members having control of certain aspects of the guild management in general will make them feel valuable and will add extra value to the guild as whole. At same time you do have to keep warning them about dangers of burning out and making sure they don’t get overly involved and personal with these side-projects as depending on personality of people it can lead to negative aspects of handling thing as well.
(Extremes in general are not healthy for stability of individual members and guild in general.)
Problem #5 – Social Activity and Atmosphere (Individual Members)
Each member has to be treated as separate individual obviously. They are from different places, different cultures, backgrounds, they all have different expectations and on different days they will act and react to same situations differently. In other words – you are screwed.
No really, run for the hills ..
Very often people mistake trial period as part where they have to be overly nice, overly cautious and play carefully not to fuck up too much. While this does help it is by no means what you should be doing as prime directive.
We want to know you as a person we’ll raid with for next few years potentially, we need to know your good sides, your bad sides. We all have them. We need to be compatible with you, you need to be compatible with us.
If we don’t understand each other and you are not a natural fit in to the guild, you will have issues and you will end up leaving sooner or later. We want to save our time and energy as well as yours.
With current experiences your personal play and results get better if you fit in to the guild properly which in turn gives us extra incentive to make sure we are
Best solution for the guild leader / raid leader / officer always is to stay calm regardless of the situation (which can be extremely hard) and make sure that you keep the guild’s interest before your own.
Trusting your instincts is good but often they are wrong. Prejudice in general should be moved to the side and handling situations as objectively as possible will often be a better solution. In the end you have to realize they are only people and people can be unpredictable, impulsive and have bad days just like you.
Unless they’re like Nevariox. For robot behaviour issues read the instructions manual on memory wipes.
There is no problem that can not be sorted by talking with the person that has an issue. As long as this is managed on a guild level, atmosphere will hold and issues that will pop up will be mostly trivial.
Problem #6 – Raid Organization and Management
Every raid needs its basic rules. Things that every single raider – from trialist, member, officer, anyone else that might be in the raid has to be aware of at all times. From simple things like when do the raid invites start, how long the raid lasts, to more complex things like raid etiquette, consumables, guild repairs etc.
People need to know what is allowed and what isn’t. We all know that over time things develop which are unwritten rules that just get reminded of on occasion while they are noticed to occur. These are important but easy to uphold too.
You need to have clear designation on what happens when rules are broken, and not cause drama when it happens. Providing proper punishment without berating said people is very important. There is absolutely no reason to make the person feel shit – they usually realize their mistake, and if not then there are ways to explain what and why was made wrong without making them look stupid, especially in front of other people.
Common courtesy and respect should be your guide above all. Transparency and clear vocalization of why the rule is in place so that the rest of the raiders benefit from the commentary is good too.
In raids themselves keeping the pace and focus up is the key. Biggest issue that makes the raid feel sluggish and wrong are the downtimes. DC’s, relogs due to addon issues, emergency afk’s that extend through longer period of time and similar things will eat on focus of the raid members.
When people are bored they start doing stupid things – accidentally pulling bosses while running around, using random items, whispering each other and whining about downtime (which makes other people who were still managing it – manage it harder), ALT-TAB-ing, so you have to wait for them when you finally are ready and so on.
You need to strongly discourage such behaviour and limit the downtime to designated break time or quickly replacing the repeating offenders if applicable. If there is a downtime it is a good time to refresh the fine points of tactics and make refinements that might make it easier to defeat the boss.
Most importantly be attentive to whispers – those you get, and those you know are going around between guild members at the time. Often your members notice things you don’t, often they have good ideas. Use them when you can find reasoning to be solid behind it and acknowledge when possible that their contribution is helpful.
The ‘evil’ whispers as I call them – the ones that are causing issues with raid morale are the ones where certain people whine to others in whispers at the most trivial of things, or simply annoy others with their observations that serve no purpose but to expel their own frustration.
Putting a halt to that by talking to the person that is causing it (usually only is one person and that person’s bad mood can quickly spread like wildfire) and replacing them if needed will often get better results than by keeping them around when they’re clearly not in the right mind-set to be in raid. (Same with people who are partially or fully ill/sick, or overly tired.) – Obviously though you still have guild and raid to run so you have to use judgement and common sense. You don’t replace a person if that disables your ability to kill a boss, makes it significantly harder or causes pointless drama.
Handle it responsibly.
Rules while needed, shouldn’t be too strict, or too numerous. (Personal opinion) Constricting people into something that they are willing to accept rather than actively support is not a good idea long term. If an alternative pops up that can provide same result with less constriction – they will go there.
Lastly, when you have a large guild due to various reasons, some people will be sitting on backup and not raiding as much as they would want. This people are extremely important to the guild because without them the guild doesn’t run. Reasons why can be many, but generally speaking, make rotations, include them as much as possible on bosses where they are needed on and on others that they need – and above all important, keep the communication open, let them know why they’re on backup, what the plans are and how they fit into the guild plans both short and long term. If they know what the expectations are they know how to plan their gaming and their guild participation.
Problem #7 – Competition and Expectation Management
Once you successfully handled the basic issues you will notice your progress got better, that you’re starting to catch up and that morale is sky-high. You’ll also find that if you just ride that feel-good rocket its gonna crash into wall and kill your guild faster than you can say “Morchok”.
Being able to realistically assess your current level of quality, skill level, gear level and difficulty level of the incoming encounters is the key to managing proper expectations and relaying them to your guild members. Getting people hyped up then failing to deliver those results (due to completely viable reasons or silly reasons) is bad and will cause a lot of tension. It has happened many times before that this has caused guilds to disband, stop raiding or caused a rift or lack of trust between members and leadership which led to guilds breaking in half. mass-exodus to other guilds or quitting of officers / gm’s / raid leaders due to perceived failure of not being able to deliver as promised.
Transparency, explanation of situation and knowing what other guilds are doing are important but KEY factor that is more important than anything else is always focusing on yourself – as individual and as guild. If you reached the point where you are endangering the top spots on the realm you don’t need to care or know what anyone else is doing, you got there with your own work, skill and ability.
Why suddenly then all the interest for others? Waste of time. Focus on self, be determined to improve even more, the fights where you’re not quite as good yet – you analyze, compare to other great players of your class – ideally cross-realm, cross-continent and everywhere else.you can think of.
You will find in time, what others do doesn’t matter because you will be way ahead of them as long as you keep focusing on improving yourself. You don’t need to know what others are doing because you will know better. You won’t need to know where they are because you will be ahead.
The very core sentence that can be applied to competition can be boiled down to wise words of Terenas :
“At long last, no king rules forever, my son.”
Whoever is first now, won’t be there forever, there will be a time when they will drop. Because you will be better, because they will have issues they couldn’t fix, because of something else. Ultimately reasons don’t matter, result is equal regardless of it. It is vitally important that you remember this when you start from the bottom, or when you’re at top.
If you are aware of this and understand the core idea behind it, you will never again be frustrated or angry over raid progress – you will only wait for your moment – because as long as you work hard it will come.
Problem #8 – Member Burnout
Alas, not everyone is willing or capable of waiting for their moment, some people are just tired of you, your dog, your sister and that damn enhancement shaman that build a damn camp in fire and wiped you for last three monts. They have enough. If they see Spine of Deathwing again in 20 years it will be too soon.
This people will find hundred of reasons to justify why they decided to quit, didn’t show on raid, take a break, or whisper you for the thirteenth time this week to tell you something obvious that you are fully aware of and managing. You even already explained in detail to them personally what you are doing to solve their issue and they’ll still find something wrong with it.
Mostly issue here is that they didn’t manage their expectations properly or can’t realistically assess the situation, or have other issues, RL or otherwise. Once again reasons don’t matter, result is the same.
They will disappear for a while, or forever and you need a replacement. With proper recruitment management and trust from your exsisting members in to your success this will impact you very little in the long run.
The true core, the ones you can rely on unconditionally can be generally counted on one or both hands and they might take a break on occasion but they will be there when you need them most. This is the true core. You either become part of the core and accept the responsibility that comes with it, or see yourself become the burnout.
(Note to self : stop adapting movie quotes to fit your agenda, you suck at it.)
Problem #9 – Officers
Getting good reliable officers is harder than getting a pocketful of snow in Sahara. They should be there to help you out with tasks that you can do yourself but choose not to – to focus on what you feel is the most important part of the guild management. Recruitment, DKP Management, Raid Leading, Morale upkeep, hundreds other tasks can be delegated. You should know which tasks to delegate and which to keep on yourself. Keep in mind they are extension of you but still their own people – manage their expectations and responsibilities properly.
Give them too little to do and people will think they are useless and cause issues because of it, give them too much and they will burn out. Generally speaking long term, well respected and accomplished members are best for these roles, keep their power-hunger in check though as often officers will abuse their roles to further their agenda which might not align to the guild’s best interest. (Don’t get paranoid, just cautious.)
Problem #10 – People Leaving the Guild
People will leave the guild.
(You don’t say?)
You will take it personally. Don’t.
It isn’t personal. They are just trying to do what they think is best for them at the time. You will think you know better. Often you will be right. Often you will not be. What you should do is focus on making sure that you do your best to prevent it from happening in the first place, and if it does happen to make sure that the process is as amicable as it can be.
People will often return after other failed escapades or when they’ve simply managed getting what they wanted from elsewhere. Don’t allow your guild to become a second choice though – upon return make it clear that such thing can’t happen again. They will know that if they leave next time there is no coming back. Some will be fine with that , others will not.
Those that would ignore it, are the ones that do not fit in your guild in long term – so long term wise, they are no loss to you or anyone else in your guild. Short term you will need to find replacement. It is a steady process, it will keep happening. Deal with it – there are millions of players. Don’t tell me there is nobody to recruit or nowhere to recruit from, because you are wrong.
Make your choices and stand behind them, always back them up with reason and if you regret certain decision make sure you let other people in the guild know. They trust you to be able to guide ‘the ship’ properly, this means that you are transparent, clear on your goals and directives and as active and engaged with your guildies as possible. Respect, Patience, Understanding and Knowing the people you play with are very base towards to having a stable and successful guild.
What do you people think?
What other approaches worked for you?
Let me know in the comments below,
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Twitter : @ti_mercus