Structuring Your Casual Raiding Guild

King and his Pawns

A couple of days ago, I had the opportunity to read Karthis’ post on Building a Raiding Guild. In it, he posed several excellent points:

  • Progression Results
  • Leadership Restructuring
  • Smart Recruiting
  • Identifying and Assisting Underachievers
  • Accountability of the Raid
  • “Pat on the backs”
  • Separation of Raiders and Non-Raiders

The other day, an ingame friend of mine asked me to help him create the blueprint of a raiding guild from top to bottom identifying positions and the like. I figured my current Guild model would be a good one to use along with an explanation of each role both within the Guild and within the Raid.

Gnometastic posted a request for input about diving into the T5 instances which I will also address at the bottom of today’s (long ass) piece.

The first thing I will stress to any casual raiding guild is the following: Drop the casualness. The moment you decide to step foot in you T5 instances, you are an official raiding Guild.

What IS casual

From my various experiences and chats with other guilds, casual to THEM means:

    Not reading up on strategy before hand
    Not listening to the raid leader
    Not paying attention or having any kind of situational awareness

And they wonder why they have such a hard time in SSC and TK.

This is what casual means to me

    Not spending more than 6 hours a night raiding
    Not spending more than 3 days raiding
    Not being stupid while having fun

1 definition describes a guild that is struggling night after night in T5 instances and wonders what they have problems. The other is having a blast exploring Mount Hyjal and Black Temple.

Guild Positions

Here’s the framework of our Guild:

Guild Leader

We only have 1. There are no ifs, ands, or buts. The ultimate decision rests on him. Any hard calls are his to make. We are not tied down or restricted in any kind of way. Your Guild Leader should be rational, intelligent, and must actually have a pair.

I’ve seen a lot of paper tiger Guild Leaders who were not willing to stand up for themselves and their Guild. Everytime someone made a request, they would immediately bend over backwards to accommodate them. The way I see it, if you’re not willing enough to say no to someone in your Guild, you are not fit to lead. I wrote more about Leadership earlier in the school year. Any aspiring GMs, I encourage you to read it.

Your Guild Leader obviously cannot run the show alone. But he must be willing to listen to opinion of his officers and guildies. The guild in turn must respect the decision he comes to. If they don’t like it, they’re free to hit free agency.

Don’t run a CO-GM kind of deal. In my experience, I’ve found that it rarely works well. When 1 GM puts their foot down, the other may not be as firm. In fact, the 2nd GM might even reverse the first GM’s decision. You cannot that kind of instability in a Guild.


If you read Kestrel’s interview the other day, then you can see his best advice to any GM is one simple fact:

    You can’t do it all.

These are players that people can turn to for help. There isn’t really much for them to do. They could assist in various day to day guild affairs. Honestly, whoever you put in these positions depends primarily on what your Guild Leader lacks.

If he lacks time and organizational skills, he can delegate an officer to help him set raid schedules.

If he’s lacking people skills, delegate a recruiting officer or 2 to help find some raiders and personnel.

What they do isn’t important.

The bottom line is that these are individuals that your Guild leader can trust and depend on. There is no perfect set of criteria that can define who is eligible to be an officer and who isn’t.

Raid Structure

Here’s the real meat and potatoes. I think our raid structure is a pretty damn efficient model.

Raid Leaders

Note the plural. We have 2 raid leaders who feed off of each other because it’s impossible for 1 person to track everything going off simultaneously. It’s nice to have another leader around to call out something the other might miss.

In addition, it helps reduces burnout on 1 person. We have 1 person research and call the play for 1 boss. We have the other raid leader research and call the play for another boss. For example, our GM doubles as a raid leader (let’s call him Bob). He calls the play for Lurker, Fathom Lord, Tidewalker, and Al’ar. The other raid leader (let’s call him Fred) calls the plays for Vashj, Kael, and Leotheras.

During trash pulls, they light up the marks on the various mobs. They call for what it is that they want to happen. They might want a sheep on square, a misdirect on skull, or a trap on circle. They don’t care who does it as long as it’s done.

They have delegated duties down the chain of command.

Mage Leader

The job here for the mage leader is to set up and organize sheeps, plain and simple. If Bob calls for a sheep, the mage leader picks a mage within the raid and tells them to sheep that target. There’s going to be pulls where there could be 6+ mobs involved and keeping track of sheeps can be difficult. It’s the job for the mage to know who sheeps what when. It’s also the job for this mage to be able to “oh shit sheep” a mob incase 1 of the other mages fall.

Set up a mage channel.

Hunter Leader

Typically, our raiding arsenal includes 2 Hunters. They’re usually good about working out misdirects and traps amongst themselves. If you have more then that, it might be valuable to set up a go-to hunter to work out which mob or boss gets misdirected to who by which hunter so that there are no overlaps. Our Hunters usually interact with the mage leader in case they run out of mages to CC with.

Hunters: The Plan B.

Heal Leader

We like to dub ours “Gold Leader”. We even have our own healing channel. His purpose is pretty obvious and straight forward. He assigns the rest of the healers their targets. He’s intelligent enough to reassign or switch people around if it’s necessary.

For the love of god, if you’re a healer, ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR ASSIGNMENT. Echo back to him who you’re healing so that he knows there is no confusion!

Other Things to Know

I’m going to make a comment directed to Gnometastic in particular to all of his main points that he wanted to know more about.

Main Tanks

Carnage runs 1 Main Tank and 1 Off tank. The MT is a Warrior and the OT is a Druid. We also run 2 DPS Warriors who can slap a shield on and help with any extra parts of an encounter. We also have a Holy Paladin who’s willing to go Prot and vice versa as we need depending on the encounter.

Speccing into Raiding

As quoted by gnometastic:

I believe in freedom of choice and as long as you can play it you should be able to (within reason) spec it.

Normally, I’m inclined to agree. But this must be balanced by asking the following question:

    How badly you want to progress?

The 2 DPS warriors I mentioned above? They are willing to respec prot if the encounter requires it or there is simply too much healing required. Both of them respecced prot to allow healers an easier time during Kael.

On the flip side, if I were asked to do something like respec to Shadow, I would not. I’ve never played or levelled as Shadow. I wouldn’t know what to do. I would gimp the raid even further. I have no objections to sitting out a night in favor of another Shadow Priest.

If I were to become benched for the remainder of my time, then nothing stops me from parting company on good terms. I’m sure there are Guilds out there looking for a veteran healer.

Looting System

Hmm, it’s a toughie. It depends primarily on the Guild. Guilds have to start being strategic with their loot at some point. No matter what system is used, always ensure that Officer discretion can come into play at some point.

Carnage had the past policy of awarding MT priority on loot. That is, if it’s a substantial and noticeable upgrade for the tank, he gets first option no matter what his DKP is. If you think the MT might abuse that privilege, then I say to you to go find yourself a new MT.

There was a situation the past where a Defender token dropped. It would have been a marginal upgrade at best for the MT, but the 2 piece set bonus would have been a huge boon for the Priest. It was lobbied quite hard by our healer lead to have the MT policy revised to keep things like this in mind.

PvP vs PvE Gear

I made a quick note about this a while ago as a response to a reader. Before I believe that PvP Gear could not subsitute for raiding. Now I believe that there are different factors to take into account when deciding this.

    Raid Encounter
    Which season of gear

Although I still would not suggest raiding with full on Season 3 gear, I am open to the idea of substituting a a piece of gear or 2 depending on how the fights are. The Vindicator’s bracer would hands down blow away any kind of bracer that Attumen drops.

In any case, the gear choice isn’t that different for DPS classes I don’t think. But as a healer, I would value PvE gear way more then PvP gear.

By the way, be hit capped before worrying too much about spell damage and crit. That’s what my colleagues tell me and if you think about it, it does make sense. After all, what is the point of having insane spell damage if your spells get resists half the time?

Attendance and Raid Breakdown

From my experience with certain DKP systems, I’ve discovered that you can also apply a certain decay rate over DKP via a simple formula. For example, DKP earned x percentage of raids showed up to over the past 60 days.

Raider A has 100 DKP but his attendance has slackened to 30% attendance to real life factors. His effective DKP is now 30.
Raider B is new to the Guild and has 30 DKP so far but has been to 100% of the raids. He doesn’t have a penalty applied since he has showed up to all of them.

Here’s the standard Carnage configuration that we bring:

4 Tanks

  • 3 Warriors (2 of which can be DPS)
  • 1 Feral Druid (OT)

14 DPS

  • 2 Hunters (BM, I think)
  • 4 Mages
  • 3 Warlocks
  • 1 Shadow Priest
  • 1 Enhancement Shaman
  • 2 Rogues
  • We keep an extra Rogue, Shadow Priest, Elemental Shaman, and Hunter on standby depending on what we need more of.

7 Healers

  • 2 Holy Priests (1 with Imp. DS and 1 with CoH)
  • 3 Holy Paladins
  • 1 Resto Druid
  • 1 Resto Shaman
  • We keep an extra Paladin around in case he is needed.

For Voidreaver, Gnome, bring a Resto Shaman or 3. It makes the other healer classes kind of moot. I always wonder what I’m doing there when we do Voidreaver.

In terms of attendance, we do it inversely. If you can’t show up you make a note on the forums in advance. That gives the Raid leaders time to go scramble a replacement instead of having to do it last minute. We build the raid out of whoever is there with the core members. They are the ones that usually show up 9.9 times out of 10. I think I’ve only ever missed 2 official raids ever since I signed with Carnage back in May. The guys that should be raiding are the ones that want to raid and are willing to make the dedication for it.

We also don’t switch our MT/OT combinations. The MT is made the same no matter what. However, there are certain encounters where a Bear tank is better suited then a Warrior tank (Leo).

Class Balance

It honestly depends on the boss and the instance. We like to bring in 7 AoE. It makes killing things that much faster.

In the end, it does come down to how serious and committed you are. I think 20 hours a week is a bit much. Attrition will take it’s toll sooner or later. I know some successful raiding Guilds going at 6 hours a week. We clock in about 12 hours of 25 mans plus an additional 6 hours of optional 10 mans if we want.

This piece is probably one of the longer ones I’ve written. I probably should have broken it up and divided it. At the least, I would have had material for 3 days worth of posts. But you’re always welcome to bookmark and come back to it at a later time. I’m hoping the experiences I’ve had can benefit you in some way.

I’m kind of curious as to the experiences of other raiding readers. How is your guild set up in terms of class balance and leadership? Is there only 1 individual leading the entire raid including direction sheeps, heals, and so forth (Bless him)? Have you had any success with other styles of leadership?

13 thoughts on “Structuring Your Casual Raiding Guild”

  1. Oooh – novel-length post. Very nice =) And good flow – you actually take the time to break it down as opposed to so many other bloggers who just rambling forever.

    I’ve detailed some of the QSS setup in the post you linked to, but here’s a bit more:

    – One guild leader, but she’s also the priest lead & healing coordinator

    – One Raid Leader, but he’s also the tank coordinator & warrior lead

    – One Raid coordinator (me!), but I act as a behind-the-scenes co-raid leader, and a bit of a “fixer”. (People know to whisper me if they have suggestions, etc, and then I distill them to the raid leader so that he’s not swamped by whispers.)

    – One DPS coordinator, who oversees all of the dps classes in-raid, and acts as the main assist

    – Various class leads, who work to handle the routine maintenance of their class in-raid. (sheep targets, etc)

    We raid as follows:

    4 tanks (at least two are prot warriors)
    7 healers (2-3 priest, 2-3 pally, 1 resto shammie, 1-2 resto druid)
    3-4 melee dps (rogues/enh shaman/dps warrior)
    8-9 ranged dps (mages/hunters/warlocks)
    2-3 support dps (boomkin/shadow priest/ele shaman)

    If you look at most QSS kill shots you’ll see a big ol’ Boomkin…. look up Tenebrelle on Garona server…. she rocks. =)

  2. Karthis: Thanks =). I tried to make it as non eye bleeding as possible.

    From what it looks like, you’ve got the same kind of roles, except you use a lesser amount of people.

    Oh yes, you’re right. I forgot to specify the main assist, as well.

  3. Matticus, this goes beyond anything I was expecting – Thank you!

    This brings in some great ideas and comments to some issues I was having problems with. – The specs being a big one.

    I’ve learnt very early in raiding that 20 hours is my personal max a week, if I spend anymore I feel I’m closing down personal relationships and other things I need to focus on as well.

    The fact that you affirm you can do this in six hours brings great delight to my ‘mission’ of a casual guild. – Casual, falling closely in lines with your definition which I have found so hard to bring into light.

    The thought of more then one raid leader hadn’t occurred to me at this point, though thinking back I do believe quite a bit of 40 man raiding was held that way.

    We are in the strange position of having quite a few girl raid leaders or coordinators (as karthis put it) myself included, it brings a different light to it, but as I mentioned previously; I faultier at other things that some of my guy friends seem to excel so naturally at. 😛

    I appreciate soo much the effort you put into answering all my questions.

    The hard part for myself is coming up with some sort of item or idea to work around or with, I often believe I’m better equiped for normal guild issues (loot, membership, etc) then raiding, but I’m slowly progressing that way.

    This will help myself and hopefully others involved with this so much.

    Haha, from one Canadian to another. – Merci beaucoup!

    Karthis, I also love your suggestions as well and will be using your post as a reference for this week’s ‘meeting’ as well. :] Thank you both, this truly has been a blessing.. thanks for the support!


  4. Im going to disagree with you on one thing Matt. I do not believe that people should be allowed to respec back and forth.

    My reasoning is this. I belive people should concentrate on one task and one task only to be effective. Having a tank switch to DPS or a healer switch to a tank is detrimental than anything. If people get a taste of something and decide to make the switch for good it would suck to have to gear up another prot pally or healer

    Also it would allow raiders to simply get better at what they are doing. If your a DPS warrior thats all you would need to think about and get better at.

    Just my 2 cents

  5. Doc, yeah and I agree to an extent. I think people should pick a spec and stick to it. The only reason we allow certain encounter respecs is because our cupboard is empty so we can’t pull in other players to pull off that specific role.

  6. We are doing Kara (for the last 12 months or so) and ZA and have started going into 25 man T4. There are two of us that organize the raids and I find that the thing really getting in our way of progression is that split in opinion about what casual is.

    I have been known to have certain veins pop out in my forehead when someone who signed up for the raid ahead of time tells me they didn’t do any strat checks (no guide, no video, no podcast). I have even gotten to the point of making people /roll to do strat over Vent to find out who knows their stuff and who doesn’t. Do you have any ideas for how to change that mindset Matt?

    I’d love to be able to tell the people who say stuff like that that they aren’t welcome in the raid until they are ready for it but we have so few people that we are already borrowing friends from another guild to fill in on the 25s. I know selective recruitment would help to some extent with this but our policy has always been friendly community before guild invites so we only invite about 4 people a year.

    Thanks, Ard

  7. Arduanne coming from someone with ALOT of raid experience at the top end I can honestly tell you that if you want to take your guild in a 25 man raid direction it will require a major change in the way your guild is run

    25 man raiding in SSC/TK is a major shift for casual guilds that have a friendly environment. The reason is the level of difficulty the bosses in these instances have. I know most people read that Luker/Void reaver are LOL JOKES but the true answer is they are VERY hard for people that do not or have not ever done this content.

    As a guild leader if you are willing to disrupt the nice little thing you got going in your guild because you and others like you really want the challenge of 25 man raid content then you must take the following into consideration

    1. People are bad
    2. People are Lazy
    3. People are greedy

    Every casual guild has alot of these kinds of players in them with some combination of the above. They may have been in the guild for years and they may be your friends but I can tell you you will not be able to 25 man raid with them unless they change and almost 95 percent of them will not change.

    SO just a warning to those looking to change their guilds from casual fun guilds to a full 25 man raiding guild

  8. If I was the guild leader that would be a different story Doc, however I am co-raid leader and not guild leader. So as a raid leader what can I do to motivate these folks besides kick them in the teeth by up and leaving?

  9. Arduanne I think the most important thing you and your co-leader can do is explain the situation fully to the guild.

    What I tend to find in most casual guilds is the lack of use of private forums for them to have somewhat intelligent discussions on.

    I believe that a post about the direction of the guild and the expectations of raid members. Everyone needs to read it and sign it so no confusion later on can be used as an excuse.

    After that the hard part begins

    You have to change the way raids are run

    The idea is too complete each boss as fast and eficient as possible. No downtime is important.

    Its amazing how much people screw around between trash and the boss. I know with several “new” guilds that were running SSC the downtime between every trash pull was enormous simply because people took their time rezzing,eating,drinking or just lollygagging around.

    You have to change peoples mindset and that is hard to do.

    Thats the first part I think. Weed out people that dont rez, constantly ask for buffs for trash, pull aggro, go afk, talk constantly in vent, ask the same questions over and over,cry about repair costs,dont bring reagents,pots,flasks etc…

    Once you get rid of people that are simply not cut out for raiding you can then work to improve the raid’s output each and every night and once your their you got yourself a raiding guild.

    After that its just a matter of learning encounter and getting better at the class and spec you are playing


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