Friends and Raiders: Raider Accountability

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So, it’s a topic that is always present but not a lot of people seem to want to touch on is disciplining raiders. It’s a topic most people hope to never deal with, but inevitably it comes up, how do you discipline your raiders? My guild has several ranks, the hierarchy goes like this.

GM

Officer

Class Lead

Raider

Veteran

Applicant

The raider rank offers free consumables for raids and a guaranteed raid spot on our 25 man raid nights. Pretty sweet deal right? The officers thought so too, but we felt it had to come with some requirements. Last year at Blizzcon 08 my guild was lucky enough that almost all the officers were able to attend. We hit up a pub, ordered a few pints and decided to hash out ground rules. We understand everyone has off days, so with that in mind how do we evaluate our raiders? We have three categories which we judge our raiders. Performance, Attendance and Attitude.

Performance

This is judged by varying degrees depending on class and role. We divided out the basic archetypes into 4 groups and an officer looks over each group one for melee, one for hunters, one for casters and one for healers (guess which one I take care of). We don’t set hard numbers but we look for a couple things. Is the player performing well based on assignment and others of their class? Is the player prepared with proper gems, enchants, talent spec and consumables (and using the provided consumables)? Does the player have their resistance gear(if applicable)? Is the player following assignments (healers on their target, interrupts doing what they need to do, the right sheeps going out)? Is the player consistently dying to void zones for no good reason? Is the person looting / herbing / mining etc instead of doing what they are supposed to be doing (ex: picking flowers instead of healing the tank)

That’s a rough sketch but you get the idea.
Attendance

This one is a hard number. We require that those of the raider rank attend 75% of the main raids (we only count our 25 man raids since for us that’s the focus) if you are not going to be able to make an official raid we expect you to give us notice so we can prepare. We understand that life happens and well, real life is more important then the game. We just ask that our raiders give us notification so we can bring in a replacement and keep the raid going for those that are on.

We also require that raiders be at the instance at the time of raid invites. This is not too much to ask, log out at the instance the night before if you have to. We don’t want to keep an entire raid waiting because one or two people are horsing around in Dalaran, or are always waiting for a Warlock to summon them.

Attitude

This one’s a bit of a wild card for some people, but the basics of the concept is as follows. Is the player badgering other players? (this includes harassing classes on the same token if they are going to drop or pass the token to the player) Is the person constantly in a sour mood and taking it out on the raid? Is the person ignoring assignments? Is the person acting like they just don’t want to be there? This also includes personal grievances between players. If one player has a problem with another we investigate it.

For this one it’s more the temper tantrum rule. If you’re being pissy, expect to be called on it.

Punitive Measures

So, now that we’ve metered out the 3 categories to go by how does one go about reprimanding offenders? For attendance issues we review the monthly numbers and people below the 75% mark are brought to the attention of the raid officers. If we see that there is sufficient reason for a demotion (ie skipped two weeks of raids for beer blasts) we will demote the person from raider status. We understand that real life happens and of course won’t hold unavoidable events against our raiders.

For performance and attitude we follow the Three Strike Rule. Each time a raider breaks one of the rules they receive a strike. Along with the strike comes a warning, usually handled in whispers during a break in the raid or if its severe enough during the encounter. We try to avoid public defamation on vent (but that doesn’t keep us from screaming to get out of the damned void zones when needed). Attitude problems are dealt with swiftly and on the spot. Informing the raider that they can and will be removed if the behavior continues (and following through with it). There is an officer in every class channel and usually one per group in 25 mans, so we have a good idea when someone is acting up. When a raider reaches three strikes they will receive two treatments. First is a docking of DKP. My guild still uses the DKP system so this is a major check point for most of our raiders. The degree of the docking depends on the severity of the strikes to be decided by the raid officers. Along with that comes the evaluation of the person’s raider status.  The raid officers decide if the person should be demoted.

Personal grievances are set for investigation. Officers will step in and separate the people in question, find out whats happening and determine what needs to be done, if anything.

To be honest we’ve never gotten to the third strike for anyone. DKP docking and removal of rank act as great deterrents and our raiders are generally pretty adult about most things, our officers are pretty proactive as well. We hold clinics and workshops as necessary if a player decides they need help. An officer is almost always on in game and class leaders are always afoot. We are very active as a guild and work together to bring everyone up, as well as weed out anything that might threaten the stability of our raid and guild.

You’ll find most raiding guilds have something like this set up. Ours is probably more lenient then some, but it works for us. We have a pretty long app process so people who make it through generally are good seeds and mesh well with the way we do things, so disciplining raiders doesn’t come up very often.

So how about you? How does your guild handle your raider? Do you Handle them at all? How do you handle personal grievances among guildies/raiders?

Until next time, Happy Healing

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Image courtesy of Guardian.co.uk

How Matt Almost Lost 22000 Gold

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I forgot I had this post sitting in my drafts. It was written a few weeks ago. Here it is now with an important message to guild masters everywhere.

It was a warm and breezy Tuesday. Raid invites had been sent out. It’s the grace period where players are busy wrapping up their affairs and getting prepped for the raid. I slammed down a Coke because I had a feeling it was going to be one of those nights. Groups were organized during the preparation period with players specifically assigned to their vehicles and their roles.

Quick work. Next!

After toasting Flame Leviathan, the pull was set up for Razorscale. A quick countdown ensued and the Dwarven expedition team began placing their Dwarven engineering skills at work charged with getting harpoon turrets up quickly.

This is where the fun happened.

A level 1 Gnome Rogue messaged me.

“hey, its maddawg. can i get a ginvite?”

“Standby. Doing Razor.”

“o, ok.”

A few minutes later, we wrecked him and started opening up on Ignis trash.

“you guys all done in there?”

“Yeah, Razor down. Hop on vent for a sec, need to ask you something.”

“sry cant. at a friends house right now.”

I thought nothing of it and wired out the invite.

Of course, when you give an inch…

“hey, can i get promoted to officer? need to organize some stuff for the bank.”

This was followed by one of the swiftest guild kicks in the history of guild kickingness.

The vault of Conquest would not be breached today! We had around 22000 gold. That amount is just in hard currency and in the main bank (Offshore guild bank accounts? I wouldn’t be that paranoid. Right?) Including various raiding materials such as flasks, enchants, gems, and other things, the amount would have been colossal. It would have been enough to request a bailout anyway.

So what gave it away?

In one of the most failed social engineering tactics of this century, the Maddawg impersonator made several mistakes. More importantly, I had various defenses in place to protect against such infiltration.

Bad target

He didn’t exactly pick the most ideal target. I am perhaps the most paranoid guild master on the planet. That would be a result of Criminology program I’m enrolled in.

Restricted bank access

Freshly invited players do not get access to the bank. They can see everything but they can’t withdraw out of it. No cash, no flasks, and not even a single grey item can be pulled out without an officer signing off on it.

Authentication fail

The first warning sign I received was when he said he was unable to get on vent. Yeah sure there’s a multitude of reasons for that. Policy is still policy. I get instantly suspicious if I don’t hear a player asking for an invite.

Officer alt policy

No alts of any of the leadership including myself are promoted past a social rank for any reason. They are all aware of this and they agreed to it.

What was even funnier was just minutes ago Maddawg had said he was going to head out and to not expect to see him on for the rest of the evening. He wasn’t able to raid that night.

Image courtesy of woodsy

Raid Flexibility: Preparing for the Inevitable.

 

“A pint of sweat, saves a gallon of blood. ”
George S. Patton

Matt had a great post about Raid Flexibility: A Healthy Obsession . If you haven’t had a chance to read it, please do so you’ll enjoy it. Matt broke down the pieces of a raid that need to be kept in working order.

I’d like to talk today about what goes into making that work when the unexpected comes up.

There are several events that may come up that can throw a monkey wrench into your raiding schedule. It is the job of guild leadership to make sure this does not happen. Lets look at some of the things that can become a speed bump.

1. Vacations and Real Life Events

Lets face it, real life happens. People need time to go and do things like visit family, and just get away from it all. My guild has a saying, “Real Life always comes before game”. No player should feel like they can’t take time off and enjoy having a life outside the game. If you find yourself in a position of wondering if you can skip the raid to go see johnny graduate, there may be a problem.

2. Burnout

Every guild I know has felt the burn of this one at one point or another. We play this game like a part time job sometimes. Spending hours grinding, running raids and heroics and prepping for the raids. It is fun and social but sometimes you hit a point where it just weighs on you. You see this when content becomes stale too, players get tired of seeing the same thing over and over again with little variety. I’ve been hearing tales about this from friends of mine along multiple servers with current content. When players hit the point of burnout they begin to resent the raid and the game and sometimes decide to take a step back and wait for themselves to become revitalized.

3. Acts of god

Things happen sometimes that are out of your control. Hurricanes, Fires, power outages, storms and what we affectionately refer to in guild as “shiv to the forehead” moments. Sometimes you lose people when natural disasters hit, people lose power in the middle of a raid. These things are out of a persons normal control and can never fully be prepared for, but you will have to be dealt with when they happen. My guild has many members who live in areas where they suffer from hurricanes, earthquakes and flooding, we know this and we have to be ready for it. Funny story for you guys on this one too. Shiv to the forehead is what my guild refers to people who go on extended AFK’s  “where’s johnny” “dunno I think he answered his door and got shived in the forehead”. We were in The Eye getting ready to bash up Loot Reaver when I got a knock on the door. I called out in vent “hey guys be right back, someone’s at my door”. I go to answer and  find one of my batty neighbors. I step outside to see what they want and I hear the door shut and click behind me. I immediately hang my head as I realize I’ve locked myself out of my apartment. After a good twenty minutes or so I manage to get back in the apartment and call the raid officer at the time to let him know what happened. Yeah, teasing ensued for a long time as everyone thought I went to the door and got “shived in the forehead”.

4. Drama

This is a big one. You’re spending a lot of time with a lot of different people. You cultivate different relationships with people over the course of your time together. Warcraft is very much a melting pot, you will have people from all walks of life around you. While you have a common goal, conflicting ideologies and life events can grate on people causing stress to a point of breaking. You’ve all hear the stories, maybe you’ve experienced it. Friends stop being friends in game over something and one stops coming to raids, two players who were in a relationship break up and try to put the guild at odds over it by choosing sides (this also covers two people pursuing the same love interest in game and coming to odds over that). Sometimes people “Ragequit”, often times over loot. This is where they abruptly /gquit and then log off. That seems silly but it does happen. Back in the days of Black Wing Lair my guild had a warrior who ragequit. A set of tank gloves dropped, and he put in for them. Problem was he was fury so tanking was considered offspec for him. A primary prot warrior put in for them, and even though he had less dkp then the fury warrior was given the items as it was prot priority. The fury warrior immediately flipped out and /gquit on the spot, taking his girlfriend (one of our healers) with him. The twist was that we continued to raid by pulling in a couple more raiders and the same set of gloves dropped off the next boss (gotta love shared loot tables). Go ahead laugh, it’s a funny story.

These things happen. It’s the leadership of the guilds job to be prepared for these things. So what can they do to make sure these things don’t keep the guild from moving forward and raids from happening? Well there are several things they can do.

Being Prepared!

1. Recruitment

This is pretty big solution to a lot of the problems. With raid size having been changed from 40 man to 25 man its a lot easier to keep a flexible roster of active raiders available. The leadership of the guild has to sit down and decide how many actives they need to keep around. Too many and you have too many people sitting out, too few and you run the risk of a large vacation or disaster of some nature taking too many out of the game to compensate for. For my guild the sweet spot is around 30 members at the rank of raider. In addition to raiders, we have a non raider rank of veteran. This consists of people that cannot meet the raid requirement but are still around and active, and friends and family. Friends and family are literally that, people who wanted to be in guild to play with close friends and family members, but never apped to be raiders. With veterans we tend to have alt runs to keep their gear level up, and this way we have a further pool of people to pull from if the number of raiders goes too far south.

2. Redundancy

Matt touched on this one a bit in his post. Redundancy saves the raid. My guild has two people ready to lead the raid at the drop of a hat. We’ve gone to lengths to make sure the raid can prevail under some odd circumstances. Let me give you an example. My guild leader normally runs the raids, and I take care of healers, we converse in officer to talk about strategies as needed and it works well. This also gives us two people to yell at folks to get out of the fire / void zones, and a check and balance in case we miss something. The other night we were running Heroic Naxx, and the guild leader DC’d due to some random Internet screw up. I made a phone call to find out what was going on, and then when he said he would probably be a while, got everyone moving to keep going till he could get back. I also sent out a couple tells to make sure we had a replacement ready in case he couldn’t get back on. Redundancy helps deal with burnout and real life events quite a bit. It allows players the safety of being able to go and take a vacation or enjoy real life without worrying about having to be there or else let the raid down. It also means people who are burning out can take their hiatus and get back to their normal frame of mind. I’m currently working on bringing up to speed a healer to take over healing assignments on the off chance I take a vacation or need to miss a raid.

3. Communication / Structure

This is another big fix. Making sure your guild can communicate with one another openly is a great (and important) thing. I have a very open door policy as an officer, something I have done throughout all my years of management as well. If someone has a problem, questions or concerns they can contact me. I’ve posted my email / aim / phone number on the guild forums multiple times, as have many of the other officers. This helps keep drama low as when someone has a gripe or complaint, they feel they can bring it to us openly and it doesn’t have to sit and fester. We also have a solid structure in the guild so there’s always someone they can go talk to:

Guild leader > Officers > Class leaders > Raiders > Veterans

We post any changes or pertinent information on the guild forums as well. Making sure information is flowing keeps a lot of things in check. It’s also important to have a set of rules in place to deal with complications. This helps cut down on drama and personal issues.

The officers do a lot on the back-end to make sure things go smoothly. Unpossible has been around for a very long time and is one of the longest lived guilds on Zul’jin, we’ve adapted to survive pretty much everything that can be thrown at us. We are able to do this because we have systems in place to deal with the obstacles you can’t control. Like Matt, my guild operates under the assumption that everyone is expendable. To quote Matt

The expendability thought is that no one person should be so important or required that the entire raid has to stop its operations in case a certain player is absent.

Thats it for todays post,

Until next time, Happy Healing!

As always feel free to follow me (@LodurZJ) on twitter And don’t be afraid to ask questions using direct message there or the contact form here on the site!

Raid Flexibility: A Healthy Obsession

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“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
Antoine De Saint-Exupery

The show must go on. It’s a common rallying cry among drama and theatre productions. It means that no matter what, the audience expects a show and the performers have to deliver. I have the same mentality when it comes to my blog. I do my best to ensure that there is something daily here for you readers to consume!

Keep that drama catchphrase in the back of your mind for a moment. We’ll revisit it.

A story

First, a story. Team Conquest finished off Naxx, Malygos, and Obsidian Sanctum. We had a reduced raiding roster. As were slowly working our way throughout OS, I received an urgent message. It’s not very often that I miss raids. It becomes even rarer when an unexpected event comes up where I have to sit myself out during the middle of a pull.

The usual trash clearing chatter was going on. I explained to the raid that something came up which required my immediate attention. One of our Resto Druids were on standby. I quickly explained to him my situation and he agreed to come in. I immediately passed off raid lead and master looter to one of my officers and said “He’s in charge.”

I returned home 40 minutes later. A quick glance on vent showed players were slowly disconnecting and breaking off into their own channels.

This meant either the mission was accomplished or that the raid had been called prematurely due to lack of resources.

I popped in.

“Is it done?”

“Yes.”

“Good.”

I was relieved. I think I felt a slight twinge of pride in there somewhere. On second thought, it might have been that sore throat of mine acting up.

The Parts

Raid leader. No, not Red Leader. We’re not talking about Star Wars here. How many players are capable (and willing) to lead your raid? I have four players who are able to sit in the captain’s chair and direct everything. If your answer is one, then you may wish to re-examine your options. Not everyone is able to fulfill this role. Make sure your candidate has the will to do so and the undying respect of the guild or else it won’t work. You can’t make people respect leaders. They have to do so on their own.

Tanks. Brio does an excellent job flipping and rotating tanks around. It helps to keep the tanks fresh and interested in what they’re doing. I have about six players who have the ability and the gear to switch into tanking roles if it is necessary. We haven’t had that happen yet. But it’s comforting to know that the option is available.

Healing leads. Currently Syd directs the healers. I do step in if she needs a day off every so often or if she’s not as familiar with an encounter. That makes two who are capable of handling assignments. Handy in case one of them manages to inadvertently stab themselves in the eye. That hasn’t happened yet, thankfully.

Healers. This should go without saying. Either recruit extra healers or have players willing to switch from their main role to a healing role if the fight requires it. There are 7 of us on the starting lineup with another 3 on reserve.

Replenishments. Ret Paladins, Survival Hunters, and Shadow Priests. I believe this is getting further expanded in 3.1. Have alternative sources for Replenishment. The mana regen is going to be a must going into the next raiding tier. I’ve got a Shadow Priest, a Ret Paladin, and several Hunters who can supply it if necessary.

Heroism/Bloodlust. I refer to this as the raid leader’s personal shotgun. While not always a requirement in an encounter, it helps to have the extra damage available to push through a certain phase as quickly as possible.

Why?

We are all expendable. This stems from a core philosophy of this guild. We are all united in our desire to raid and clear content. I have a duty to minimize whatever obstacles or obstructions that could get in the way of that mandate. Not having players or not having the experienced is not an acceptable reason for me. The expendability thought is that no one person should be so important or required that the entire raid has to stop its operations in case a certain player is absent.

When Conquest was first conceived, I knew I wanted the flexibility there. I knew that I could not be there all the time. I knew Brio would not be there all the time. I knew certain key players would not be available. I recruited players into the guild who I felt had the potential to take over certain functions should the need arise.

Whatever happens, the raid must go on.

10 mans

This is where it gets tricky. I don’t know if that same philosophy above would apply here as the individual efforts of players becomes even more amplified. Several of roles above wouldn’t even apply here. You don’t necessarily need a healing lead among 3 healers. It wouldn’t be that difficult to divvy up the responsibilities.

I’m not as experienced when it comes to pure 10 man guilds.

Your Guild’s Dual Spec Policy: What Will it Be?

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So what’s the question on everyone’s mind?

Will you, as a player, need two sets of specs as enforced by your raid leader?

For most players, one spec should suffice. You were brought into your current guild and asked to perform in a role. That has not changed. What has changed is the ease in which you can switch from one role to another. You can go from raiding to soloing. You can switch between PvE work to PvP relaxation.

All this stuff can be still be done right now.

It’s just pretty darned expensive between re-gemming, re-enchanting, and re-glyphing.

Your guild policy

I suspect it will be similar to mine. After reading about it and thinking about it, I decided the best course of action was to allow players to select whatever secondary spec they like.

Their primary spec is going to be used for raiding. Of that, I have no doubt. If they didn’t want to raid, they’d just let me know and hibernate for a while. The players that are still around do want to raid and there’s no way they’d jeopardize that.

I’m not doing your job for you

I’ve always told my players to select whatever talent points they needed to excel in the role they are asked to do. I don’t have the time or the interest to research every class and spec in the game and tell them what to get. That responsibility is there for them. I can provide them with resources or point them in places to look, but beyond that I am hopeless.

Now don’t get confused between asking a player to switch roles and to pick out talent points. Asking a Panzerdin to switch from tanking to a healing job is going to require him to completely switch out some specs. What I will not do is tell them how to spend each point individually. This is based on the assumption that they want to and are capable of doing it.

Some misconstrued people on Twitter get into a knot when they assume I expect and enforce people to spec a certain way. That’s not true. I expect them to pick a spec that allows them to contribute as much as they can to the raid in a manner comfortable with them. While I understand guilds that enforce specs I’ve never been one to do that unless I desperately felt that it was an ability that is absolutely essential to successfully complete an encounter. And even then, I’d ask first if they were comfortable with the idea.

What if I’m a bonafide raid healer forever? I know if I were a raiding Holy Paladin, I’d select the standard PvE Holy loadout for one spec. But my second? I’d grab the one that stretches down the Protection tree deep enough to grab Divine Guardian. 12 seconds where the raid takes 30% less damage is a make or break ability that can give healers the time to weather the incoming storm. I do this with the knowledge that it offers my guild a second option in the event that it’s needed. Not like I was using it for anything else anyway.

Again, this is assuming I don’t PvP or dabble in other roles.

The other guy we all love to hate

Most guilds have that one annoying player that everyone hates.

You know who I’m talking about. He’s the guy that knows more about your class then you do. He can play it way better than you. He has the raid achievements and the epics to prove it.

But what if you had 24 other players who knew just about as much as everyone else? Constantly asking questions, pointing out strengths, identifying weaknesses and just making people think rationally about what they’re doing is a shift in environment that a lot of players would be unfamiliar with.

With dual specs, guildss can start expecting DPS and healers to start talking to each other more. I can see different players asking each other how they specced a certain way. Maybe they’re asking for advice on what points to take for a second spec after deciding on a role. I know I don’t have the faintest clue on what to glyph, enchant, or augment if I were to grab shadow.

My Shadow Priests ask me once in a while what my thought process was between this talent point and that talent point (like Serendipity vs Test of Faith).

What about off spec loot?

And the question that every raid leader hates to answer but has to for the sake of their guild is how should off spec loot be handled? This is something that’s still under discussion. It’s always good to hear everyone’s perspective.

But in the end, it’s up to the GM to decide on one. You can’t please everybody. And the GM has to pick a policy that follows in line with the rest of their organization.

Now the Bank of Matticus is a large corporation that requires resources to continue functioning. It helps  sponsors enchanting materials for the guild. In the future, a path is being explored where it can be used to help sponsor guild repairs.

It needs a way of generating income.

Some pointers

  • Main spec (role) will get a clear priority
  • Assuming no main spec raiders need an item, players that would like to use it for offspec can obtain it
  • Players that would like more than 1 item for offspec will be asked to compensate the guild accordingly. This could be in gold (like 100g), an Abyss Crystal, a stack of Infinite Dust, or half a stack of Greater Cosmic Essences.
  • This cap resets after one week. So a player can get a free off spec item once per week (on top of any main spec items needed)

This addition is still under debate. But I expect to have a decision rendered before this week’s raid.

The aim of this is to discourage players from attempting to assemble 4 or 5 sets worth of gear. I’m sorry, but no one needs that amount of equipment. It’s absolutely wasteful. Want a healing and Moonkin set? Absolutely, that’s no problem. Grab a few items here and there during the weeks where no players need it. Donate a couple of hundred gold and an abyss into the bank. Augment your gear with stuff from heroics or normal level raids.

You don’t need a tanking set, a cat DPS set, a moonkin set, a PvP moonkin set, a Resto set, a dreamstate set, and so forth. That’s absolutely greedy and unnecessary.