Merging Raids: Step One

So, you’ve got a core team of raiders. People whom you know are dedicated to the same goal that you are, whatever that may be. Despite your best efforts, you’re constantly short a few. You find yourself stretching to find good raiders. In your virtual travels, you come across another team that seems to be experiencing the same dilemma. Is it the Twilight Zone? Are you looking at your own team looking back at you? No. You’ve simply found a common problem amongst raiding teams: coming up a little bit short. A five-letter word starts materializing in your head. You try to fight it, but you start to give it more and more consideration: Merge.

That’s where I’m at. Well, where we’re at. My goal is to walk through the different phases of merging two struggling raid teams. Obviously you’re going to run into some of, if not all, of the following issues:

  • Deciding if merging is right for you.
  • Arranging & discussing the merge.
  • The first raid night.
  • Possible shifts in gameplan (or should I say, “raidplan”)
  • Potential headaches.

Is it the right choice?

As I’ve mentioned before, I decided to craft a 10-man raiding team with some of my closest friends. We all got together and decided that this is what we wanted to do.  We’re part of a slightly larger guild that likes to do whatever anyone feels like throwing together. However, it’s always been this core crew of us that always wanted to progress through raids. Let me introduce you to the crew:

– Arcas, 80 Arcane Mage – Jayme, a good friend of mine that I met while working at a piano bar in downtown Chicago. Similar mindsets, a blast to hang out with, etc. I’ve come to call him one of my closest friends.

– Naryamas, 80 Prot Warrior – Sam, a good friend that we’ve been playing with since we were all level 40s early on in the Burning Crusade expansion. He’s always dedicated to helping out, and is always the first to be open to suggestion. **Solely a tank**

– Discotheque, 80 Resto Druid – Scotty, another good friend since the same time we met Sam. Former Art teacher, now a Graphic Designer in Texas. Engaged to his girlfriend. Jayme and I will be flying down to Texas for the wedding. **Solely a healer**

– Kevorkian, 80 Death Knight – Aaron, some kind of genius when it comes to Nuclear Physics. Yet, when he came to Chicago to visit Jayme and me, we definitely made sure he’d lose some brain cells to some drinking around town. Awesome guy, can play the “bad cop” really well. **Can Tank or DPS**

– Dralo, 80 Paladin – Dave, this is the guy you’d want on your side in a fight. Not only vocally, but physically as well.  Former Army Ranger and holder of random wisdom. Regardless of the actual cause of a wipe, “it’s Dralo’s fault.” **Can be Holy, Retribution, or Prot**

– Jalla, 80 Arcane Mage – Pat is our newest acquisition. A cool guy from Boston, he grabbed a PuG slot one night, and now we can’t get rid of him! Only kidding. He’s become an awesome raider and team member to have around.

-Thespean, 80 Shaman – Me, David. I’m the “politician.” I just want to make sure everyone’s happy. =) **Can be Enhancement or Resto**

That’s who I would consider to be the “core” of this team. We have other members in the guild, but these people are the ones that seem to be the A-Team. I struggle because I know it’s borderline elitist to think of the guild that way, but it’s true. Here’s why:

The Core vs. The Friends

The Core consists of the people that usually show up on time when they click “Accept” on the invite. If they know they’re going to be late, they make someone aware. They’re usually always prepped with gems/enchants for any gear they may pick up that night. They have flasks and their own food at the ready, especially if it’s a Well Fed buff that you can’t gain from Fish Feast (Haste, etc.).  They study the fights beforehand and hold enough wherewithal to know what their classes bring to the fights. This is always key on progression nights.

The Friends are people that, unfortunately, say they want to progress, but they don’t put the level of effort forward that the Core does. Simply put, they show up late (if at all), aren’t prepared for fights, take random unannounced AFK breaks, and need constant re-explanations. It’s not that they’re bad people by any means, but the Core just doesn’t feel that the Friends are on the same level as we are. That’s tough, because we like playing with the Friends a lot. They tire of progression fights easily, which makes forward motion tough to maintain.

Raid in the Mirror

As hard as we’ve worked, we always find ourselves just shy of a full raid. Even though we may reach ten people, one is usually a frequent fill-in or is a Friend that’s not too reliable.  I’ve had friends like Derevka and Avalonna from bring alts over to come help. Lodur has offered his help as well, but once Cataclysm hits, each of them goes back to their respective raiding crew to do the new content. Recruitment on Nazjatar is slim at best. I’ve had great response from people that are interested in raiding with us, but it’s a lot to ask for someone to completely transfer to a new server, especially to a guild that’s not at the breaking edge of content. We’re not World First, we’re not Server First, we just don’t desire to be on the cutting edge. We want to be on our own cutting edge. In general (there are always exceptions), people tend to transfer servers for much more hardcore-style progression. Since that’s not us, our recruiting is harder.

We found another guild on Nazjatar that’s having similar issues. Almost point for point, they struggle with similar problems. Although they have a bigger guild than we do, they just don’t feel they have the roster for the kind of raid they want to do. With Nazjatar recruiting being very slim, they also hit a similar wall.

The Deciding Factor

We had one raid night that just wasn’t pretty. I had to call people to get them online (after they clicked “Accepted”). We started about 30 minutes late. After a good raid the night before, there was just no focus, and the Core noticed it. We were having to explain and re-explain assignments. People had to leave early, but we couldn’t get the group focused to make the best of the time we had. People randomly left because friends wanted to hang out (I’m all for friends, but stick with a committment you made). One of our AFKs ended up being gone for about 20 minutes. Our warlock said she would be 15 minutes late, but she didn’t show up until over 90 minutes later.  In just over an hour of raid time, we got one boss down, and that’s it. Once the raid got called, we were ready to bring up the merge to the other raid team.  Those of the Core that were online all agreed. Putting aside our nights and not having similar dedication from other members just wasn’t fun for us.

And so the conversation began, which I’ll cover in the next post…

Have you dealt with a possible merger? What other issues have you had that pushed you towards or away from the decision?

14 thoughts on “Merging Raids: Step One”

  1. My 25 man team went through something similar, except we decided to downgrade our 25 raiding to 10 man raiding guild, and we were able to team up 1 night a week with a friend’s guild that went through something similar to run 25s, we are now 9/12 in ICC25 as an alliance, and we have now cleared ICC10

    Getting that solid core is so key and we are now in process of building up a 2nd core team for 10 mans.

  2. Elitist always had a negative connotation associated with it. Just because you read up on strats, show up on time with consumables, and respect the time of others by not being constantly afk means that you’re a bad player? More importantly, you learn and acquire knowledge without having to constantly get explained?

    I’d consider that more as an elite player as opposed to an elitist. The elitist is someone who flaunts it and consistently puts down others because those others aren’t at their level.

    Elite players try to help and work hard with their efforts. We should really start pushing that image somehow. I’m just tired of the image of an elitist being painted on to players who actually mean well :\.

  3. Following on from Matticus’ comment, elitists are actually far from it. One of my RL mates is in a top 20 US progression guild (and he is bend over backwards helpful), and the perception of that guild from without is that they are snobby and arrogant. I have never found that to be true. They simply know what they want and don’t put up with random crap. They generally are extremely helpful, but don’t do handouts – which is where I think people get the impression from. YAY Entitlement!! But, this is very much a tangent to the topic!! Well, not really. Back when we were struggling through HToC, I was working with them to get us both through the horrible lag we were encountering. Which brings me back to the merger concept.

    I have done 2 mergers in my time – one was a complete guild merger (which was highly successful) when moving from kara to SSC/TK content and trying to step from 10s to 25s. The second was a raid merger during the time of HToC, the horrible lag and burnout of raiders due to that. This was also successful until the other guild did something my guild decided was very unsportsman like and the relationship dissolved.

    I have written a blog post on making raiding mergers work if anyone is interested in reading it which addresses the issues Thespius asks about:

  4. You’re talking ’bout the raid in the mirror.
    You’re asking him to chaange his ways.

    Never been in a merger before, but I hope your mirror raid raids similar days/times and has similar loot rules. That’s part of what made me think about the song. Will be interested to hear how you deal with it!

  5. i’ve often felt the biggest problem anytime you merge raid teams is handling the tanks.

    very rarely will both raids teams only have one tank each. for all the scarcity of raid tanks, most raid teams are well off for tanks, and their spots are pretty firm. If one team only has one regular tank, and the other has two, its workable, as one can be a standby, or dual-spec to DPS/healing, but if both teams have two regular tanks each, its a nightmare to try to push those raid teams together, and its a problem you don’t usually get with healers or DPS….healers and DPs are often happy to switch specs or sit out, but tanks like their positions.

  6. I feel that the biggest problem in merging raid are managing susceptibilities. If one is bigger, they often want more responsibilities/officers, or they want their tanks to have priority, … And then the smaller guild feel they’re not respected, and then… the merge explodes, and even both guilds may explode 🙁

  7. @Chris That’s not a problem with just tanks though. But it’s a bigger problem because any non-casual raiding team don’t usually rotate the tanks. People who are in the core of a raid team expect close to 100% invites. They except to be picked for a progression fight (unless their class isn’t viable). When you merge two teams, you often end up with far more raiders than possible for a fair rotation. What happened I found is that people get dropped and sidelined, and the team stablize when the excess leave for another raid team. It’s sad. But in Thespius case, better than both teams dying a slow death.

  8. I agree with Naki. My experience with mergers has always ended poorly. Sharing leadership with your existing core is easy, as you are friends and have similar mindsets and methods. Sharing leadership with merged officers will start well, but eventually devolves into an us-vs-them mentality. Having similar in-game goals doesn’t mean that you will get along with them at a personal level, which ultimately is as important in maintaining a healthy guild.

  9. I’ve been in a 10-man raiding guild before that merged with another guild to do 25 mans at the start of ICC. We had around 10-11 guys who could make raid times, and be prepared for our 10 mans, but it was obviously not enough to run 25 mans. So instead of not running them, or pugging a huge number of people, we found another guild in the same situation. It worked out alright for about 2 months or so, but eventually the GL from the other guild seemed to forget that it was a collaborative effort, to the point of shouting at my GL for trying to explain a boss mechanic that my GL would always bring up before. After that, we all stopped going to the raid, and the group fell apart. So if you’re trying a continuous raid merger, make sure that it stays both guild’s raid, and not one guild’s raid that another guild goes to.

  10. Never had a good merge experience before. My last attempt was with a guild near the beginning of TOC. Our guild was made up of people that left a 25man guild with no good leadership and some questionable loot tactics. Needless to say, we were building, but progressing in TOC upon the launch of new bosses. The GM bought up the question of merging with another 10man guild to attempt 25 man progression to us officers. We were “iffy” on it, as we didn’t know anyone in the other guild but our GM insisted that everyone was cool and such.

    No ground rules were set up prior to raid night, but everyone showed up and we went in with the best of intentions. We couldn’t even down Northrend Beasts between people stepping on each other toes, yelling in vent and so forth. Was the biggest disaster of a raid I’ve ever seen in my life. both guilds’ respective officers thought thought their points were more valid than the others, people were not receptive to how the other guild spoke to them, and so forth.

    The experience was very much like a pug raid that was destined to fail from the moment we walked in. I would never really consider a merger ever again. I wish you the best of luck, plan it well, but in my experience this is a terrible idea and experience.

  11. My guild has gone through a few mergers, there are a few things that I have learned from the experiences I’m happy to share;

    1. Communication – be very clear on what is negotiable and what isn’t from day one. E.g. we have a core group (not myself) who have been around since guild creation and vanilla (2nd raiding guild on Khaz’Goroth I believe) and the name is part of who we are, most raiders know us and it’s important to us, merging into

    2. Be realistic – it’s great to think that the 10-15 people coming into the guild will all a) be dedicated b) stick around a long time c) contribute positively to the guild but the reality is most mergers fail (from my experience) so pick mature people, identify the key raiders merging that you want to retain and work on them. It’s realistic to expect that most guild mergers will last a month or two, if you can convince the 3-5 raiders who you want to stick around it’s been worthwhile.

    3. Finding the Right People – if you are merging with a group of great mates, chances are it’s not going to work. They have there relationships and it will immediately build a us/them environment. Find a group of similarly driven raiders, if you have a social rank in your guild offer to bring in all the non-raiders too to make them feel more at home. Our most successful merger to date were a bunch of burned out raiders who were more interested in a very casual raiding plan. We encouraged them (through shared raids at first) that they can do that in our guild while then making themself available for raids. We now have 2 of these ‘casuals’ in officer positions and 5 or so raiding regularly.

    4) Break the Us/Them – do not give that group the opporunity to run their own 10mans or anything like that. They are now in your guild and all raids (even fun 10mans in a 25man raiding guild) should be split to ensure relationships are built from day one

    Just something to think on 🙂


  12. I was in somewhat of this situation not too long ago. We had a set group of 10 that we had been playing with within a non-raiding guild, so we broke off formed our own guild where we cleared icc and such on 10 man. Our core decided this wasn’t enough for us and we started pugging 25 mans weekly and as often happens with repeat pugs we came into contact with a guild of people that were doing the same type of thing. So after a few weeks we decided to look at merging.

    The biggest issue straight out of the gate for us was the name. The leaders of the other guild wanted to keep their name, and our core hated any guild with more than one word as a name. Believe it or not this took about 2 weeks to work out. After that one night we logged on for 10 mans and bam there were 50 people in the guild. The merger had happen and we were hitting up 25 man that day.

    Then came the issues, some of the members from the other guild just were not good enough to make the cut. So they started dropping out and at that point we trimmed the guild down well and ended up with a good 30 or so that showed up often enough we were good to go. We started clearing icc 25 up to what was released and then we were a bit short on people one night so we did togc25. At the time icc was just getting past the blood wing and we decided it would be good to do a cloak run… well it didn’t work out as we ended up wiping some 20 times on twin valks. We chalked it up to a bad night, however the leaders of the merged guild began to complain and whine about old content at about the 10th wipe. Some drama latter ended up with those former leaders kicked from the guild and a loss of members.

    After all that we bounced back and now our guild formed just before icc has 10/12 hard modes downed and our core 10 has bane of the fallen king. So mergers come with serious drama specifically between the leaders of the guilds. However if you work through it and don’t be afraid to remove bad seeds you can end up with a strong guild. In our case it was well worth it, if only to get far enough into 25 man progression to attract new members. It can be very hard to get up your player pool without merging or a huge member turn over until you make a decent name for yourself.

    Anywho just my story and 2 cent on merging and how it can be good 😮

  13. I’m anxious to see how this merger is handled. My guild is sort of going through the same thing Thespius mentioned.

    We have 5 – 10 man raiding teams. 4 of them raid pretty regularly. Teams 1 and 2 have a lot of players in them that have been in the guild for years. (I’m raid leader of Team 2).

    Team 1 was having trouble with LK for weeks. Team 2 was having problems with Sindragosa for MONTHS (ok, it was probably weeks, but it seemed like months). Anyway, one night, after Team 2 had tried many unsuccessful attempts on Sindra, the RL for Team 1 asked me if I would like to go with them the next night, and they would use my raid lockout. Since Team 2 wasn’t planning anymore attempts that week, I agreed.

    So, 3 or 4 people from Team 2 joined up with 6 or 7 people from Team 1.

    We downed Sindra in 1 shot. We got the LK to 18%. We did the same thing the next week…. and, we finally got the LK down!

    This pissed a lot of guildies off. Now, mind you, the guildies who were pissed off were NOT the people from Team 1 or Team 2 who didn’t get to run. These were just miscellaneous raiders who verbally abused our GM for hours about why what we did was so wrong…then guild quit. (I don’t miss them, btw, they were pretty whiny and elitist.)

    I love my Team, don’t get me wrong. But after weeks of not downing Sindragosa, I needed a break. I needed to see what another team was doing that we weren’t doing. And, GD it, I wanted to see that dragon DIE!

    However, now I’m torn. I liked the feeling of running with Team 1. I liked the feeling of not being the raid leader for once, and listening to someone else talk for awhile. I liked downing bosses, while talking about cotton candy vodka. I liked laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe and mixing it up with a bunch of people I missed doing 10 mans with.

    It’s like I have a mistress….and I’m not sure I’m quite ready to go back to my wife yet.

    I’m curious to see if Thespius feels the same way. Once you’ve forsaken those Friends for the Core team, will you miss them just a little?

    Of course, I’m going back to my “wife” this Wednesday, renewed and full of ideas, but a little part of me doesn’t want to give up that saltry seductress that was Team 1.

    Hey Team 1… me sometime. ::kiss::


Leave a Comment