This post is in response to quite a few emails I’ve had lately asking how we balance being a casual guild and still organize successful raids without drama.
I’m sorry for not replying in detail to each e-mail. It’s your fault anyway, if you insist on asking very good, detailed questions, you risk not getting a reply because it’d take two bloody hours to give you a useful answer.
First, right off the bat. You canna change tha laws of physics, laddie. Whoop, sorry, the day, it is affecting me. I mean, you cannot eliminate drama. Please get the thought out of your head. If there are a group of varied folks, there will be different personalities, and I have never seen a roomful of people where everyone gets along without friction.
The very best you can hope for is that everyone present for a raid equally values the friendship they have with the other people in your guild on the run, and actively restrain their own prickly tendencies.
Which brings me to Sidhe Devils Raiding Rule #2; Never, ever, ever bring in a pugged person just to fill out a raid.
If you have good friends, friends of your guild, that might be in other guilds on the server that you want to ask to come along, that’s fine, but don’t pug some stranger in if what you intend to do is have a fun run. Once you bring people in just to fill out the raid, what you’re saying is, “Completing the run is our first priority. We’re looking for a body that has gear and can fill a position – what kind of person you are is secondary”. Armory gear checks, etc.
If that IS your first priority, well, that’s cool. As far as I’m aware, that’s the norm in most guilds; the ability to accomplish the mission (and show up reliably) is of paramount importance, not whether you can “play nice with others”.
That’s all well and good, but the emails I get ask about Sidhe Devils specifically, so I’m telling you our philosophy. Having fun with friends is our first priority. If we end up one short to fill a raid, and none of us have good, known friends online that can come join us, we won’t go.
We have had folks leave the guild because they wanted the raiding first and foremost, tried to push the progression a little faster than we were going, got frustrated and left. While I always miss folks that leave, I’m glad when someone is able to clearly see what they want for themselves in their play time, and make a decision to go get it, rather than stay and be unhappy.
The important thing as a guild leader or officer is that you maintain the standards and direction that you feel best supports the kind of guild you’re trying to run. Be open to the interests and desires of the majority, and be flexible in changing to best suit the majority of your active players… but don’t go rushing off to change everything just because one person is grumpy. Find out of their concerns are shared by others first.
And that leads us directly into the next part, communicating with the guildies to try and decide how many active nights you want a week, and figuring out when to schedule them.
Don’t try and do this in a vacuum. Sidhe Devils Raiding Rule #3 is, ask the people in your guild what they want to do, when they want to do stuff, and then schedule things for when the majority say they’d be available. Communication, baby!
When we ran a couple of polls to narrow down recurring raid schedules, we had two polls; one for which weekend evening we wanted to raid and the time, and one for which weeknight we wanted to raid, and the time.
We chose the nights that most people said they’d like to do, and then within that night picked the time that most people said they’d prefer. Hopefully, even if not everyone wanted 8 PM on Thursday, all the people who chose Thursday as their preference are happy, even if the raid starts an hour later than some of them would have preferred.
When it comes time for the raid itself, I’ve heard a lot of different suggestions for how to rush through things so there is more bang bang, less jabber jabber on a raid. I appreciated all the advice, but we don’t follow through on part of it, and likely won’t in the near future.
When we do our loot, we do the Master Looter, and we do talk about it at the time rather than using an impersonal roll and silence.
For Sidhe Devils, the personal interaction with other people isn’t a drain on our time that we resent because it prevents us from killing bosses. The personal interaction is the whole point. Otherwise, might as well pug 25 man raids and go for the better loot. Why bother with the 10 man stuff?
Oh, right, because we’re playing with friends and having fun. We tried the 25 man raid thing, working with other guilds, very good guilds… and the majority opinion was, it was successful, the loot was certainly there to be had… but it wasn’t fun.
We do take the time to chat about what loot dropped, and find out who wants what. It’s a crying shame if something ends up getting disenchanted that could have been used by someone in their off spec.
We also try to get loot distributed around so everyone has a chance, as much as possible, to get some shinies on a run.
As people get geared up, there are fewer things they’re going to want on each run. Some people who are experienced raiders will only be looking for one or two items, if that, while the newer player in the raid may be wearing all epic crafted, rep rewards and Emblem gear, and a single run can turn into a Monty Haul lootfest for them. It happens, no worries.
What we prefer is having as many people as possible walk away from a raid night with shiny pretty purples to wear.
If a Tier piece drops, that’s some serious shit, and everyone that wants the item can and should roll on it, regardless of whatever else they got… but if anything else on the run has dropped and they rolled and won it, then the next time something drops they should let all others that haven’t won anything yet roll for it first… so that someone else gets a shot at a shiny too.
If nobody else that has gone without a drop wants to roll, then sure, the folks that have won an item already all roll on it. But every time loot drops that ain’t Tier, the first roll should go to folks that haven’t won anything yet on that run.
Let’s look at a single two quarter Naxx night. Say, Plague and Construct wings. You’ve got 3 bosses in Plague, 4 bosses in Construct. Each drops 2 items, minus 2 for Tier. So you’ve got 2 Tier items anyone can roll on… and 12 other items up for grabs. With 10 people in a raid, and the way loot seems to drop so you get 4 plate items drop in a row (all caster plate, of course), chances are very high that no matter what you do, folks are going home at the end of a successful run without any drops.
So we try to spread the love.
One thing Cassie and I have been intending to do as our next step, but haven’t yet, is to basically get a thread started in our guild forums for folks to, for want of a better phrase, “call dibs”.
Our thinking is, for those people that have been running Naxx for a while, there really might be literally only one or two items that person wants, and nothing else, Tier or otherwise. If that is the case, then letting the guild know that the only thing at this point they are hoping to see from Naxx is X loot, it would certainly help us to send the loot their way.
Heck, it might even be a way for us to have the newer player scheduled and going on the run, getting lots of chances at loot all night long… and just swapping with the better geared player for a shot at that one item before swapping back out.
Putting up a list of more than 2 items, in my opinion, wouldn’t work, since there ain’t THAT much stuff in Naxx for multiple people. And some of the stuff, like Rings, a whole bunch of folks would all possibly want.
But if someone were going on raids for fun, was passing on loot endlessly, and just really hoped to someday see that one piece of elusive loot… well hell, tell us and if and when it drops, we can all be excited for you!
That kind of thing only works in a guild like ours, where we’re playing with friends for fun, and we know there is always next week for another shot.
So Sidhe Devils Raiding Rule #4 is, loot is awesome, but play for fun, and when loot drops, be equally excited if someone else gets something you know they really wanted.
There is one last thing. It’s the hardest part of all, really, but it all keeps coming back to who you are playing with in the first place.
I get asked how you can ensure that the people that sign up for a raid show up, on time, repaired, with consumables and ready to rock. What punishments and incentives do you use?
The answer is, you do that by only playing with folks that are mature and respect each other enough to not want to let other people down by showing up unprepared, or by being late without advance warning.
If you have folks that consistently show up late, are unprepared, or don’t show up at all… they might as well be people you brought in to pug an empty spot.
They may be nice enough, but it really comes down to wondering why they are in the guild, let alone going on your runs. Because the other people in the guild clearly don’t matter enough to them to put forth an effort.
Any amount of punishment or incentive is just going to be your effort to try and force them to care, by appealing to their selfish self interest.
I don’t bother. If someone doesn’t show that level of consideration towards other guildies, then why should they be in the guild in the first place?
So Sidhe Devils Raiding Rule #1 is, if you have mature, considerate people in your guild, then you’ll have mature, considerate people in your raids.
Mature adults don’t need mommy or daddy policing their behavior, they police themselves. Maybe what they say or do might be taken in a way that someone else thinks was rude… but mature people are generally not intending to hurt other people’s feelings on purpose, and if told about the problem, will try and correct it themselves. If they can’t, or if they are really just that over the top… then that’s just the way it is.
When you find yourself trying to figure out how to punish ongoing behavior that you don’t approve of… in my opinion, you’ve gone too far.
My two cents as a co-Guild Leader – It comes down to expecting mature behavior from others in the guild, and setting your expectations at that level.
If someone is simply unable to meet those expectations, even after you discuss the situation with them… that’s not your fault. You are not responsible for the behavior of others, all you can be responsible for is how long you allow that behavior to continue to affect other people in the guild.
I tend to let it go on for perhaps longer than I should, personally, in the hopes that it’s just temporary stress causing a friend to be uncharacteristically short or snappish. The last thing someone needs when they’re under a lot of stress is someone telling them they have been kind of rude lately.
But if you have people in the guild who seem to be a disruptive influence, it doesn’t change, and you keep trying to find ways to excuse their behavior, to “bring them around”… make sure you’re doing it because you like them and want to keep playing with them, and not just so you’ve got one more body to fill a raid spot.
A last, parting thought.
Don’t be overly concerned with growing the size of your guild.
If you just want to raid, and you’re a mature, considerate player that studies your class, plans your gear, works on your rotations and efficiency, shows up on time, repaired and with consumables, and your guild ain’t like that… go find a good raiding guild to join. There are lots of them, and most of them will accept a well written application.
If you want to form a guild that is made of nothing BUT mature, considerate players that study their class, plan their gear, work on their rotations and efficiency, and show up on time, repaired and with consumables… well, then you’ve got to set those standards and be satisfied when all you’ve got are four friends and a dream.
We aren’t at that level, ourselves. That kind of guild is what Matticus has going with his powerful new guild. (I say new, they’ve been around for quite a while at this point, haven’t they.)
The Sidhe Devils is not a raiding guild. We didn’t form up and recruit so that we could raid. We are all about mature folks that are considerate of others and want to have fun doing whatever… and we raid too, sometimes.
Since the guildies are all nice, mature, considerate folks (most of the time), we luckily have fun raids where folks all show up on time ready to go. We don’t have any rules in place to try and force that to happen. It just does.
Not exactly the road map for success I know you folks were looking for. There is no magic bullet I know of on having a successful casual guild that raids.
My suggestions for officers is to read the Officers Quarters posts on WoW Insider each week, and to read World of Matticus, and learn from some of the excellent discussions they generally have about guild issues. They are much more professional about thinking about raiding, and how to get it done.
Still, even though I may be the opposite of helpful, I hope that at the very least I’ve given you some food for thought, or (more likely) something to vigorously object to over lunch.
Take care, and have fun! That’s an order, damnit!