Tough Call: Fighting Progression Frustration

Image courtesy of leonardobc

This week the crew has been hitting our heads against a progression boss, and the talk around the campfire has a decided air of frustration to it. As a leader, you need to be aware of your team’s motivation levels when tackling new challenges. Encounters surpassing your raid team’s ability level can often turn frustration into futility.

But how do does a raid leader handle this precisely?

The same way we handle any problem – with planning and execution.  Sun Tzu, who probably would have been a Vodka/Paragon level raid leader, teaches us:

“The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.”

It sounds simple, and when you’re doing it well, it really is simple.  Knowing what needs to be done ahead of time and adjusting as you go along are the two key ingredients to successful raid progression no matter the size of the raid or the strategy being used.

Below are a few points I recommend keeping in mind when your raid team is approaching difficult content:

Planning For Raid Progression

  • Read, understand and analyze the intended boss strategies as dictated by your raid leaders well in advance of attempting the fight. This allows you to see mistakes as well as make changes easily.
  • Be honest with yourself about the capabilities of your team. Have an idea where your weaknesses and strengths lie. This could be include aspects ranging from movement, DPS, healer skill or people with high raid awareness.
  • Know when to call a wipe and when to extend an attempt to see the next phase. Part of your team being dead might still allow the rest of the raid to practice key mechanics of the fight.
  • Experimentation is good. Figure out what works and what doesn’t when you deviate from a typical boss strategy. It might just be easier for your team.
  • Ensure your team is on the same page. Present a united and focused front for your troops to follow.

Sometimes, though, even our best-laid plans… well, you know what happens.  So the question becomes, what next?  What do I do when my team is getting weary, my strategies are in question, and I need a win quickly?

First of all, do not ditch your plan just because it isn’t working.  A strategy can fall apart in a lot of places. It may be execution, it may be a certain raid composition due to attendance; it could be any number of factors.  Find out where the strategy is failing and decide which elements you can change.  Can you swap personnel?  Slight positioning adjustment?  Time your cooldowns better (this is often a fix in Cataclysm raiding)?
Whether your plan needs a complete overhaul or just some minor adjustments, it is still crucial to address the frustration of your raiders and regroup.

  • Do not avoid the tough conversations. When your members bring up their gripes, listen to them. Answer appropriately.
  • Know the difference between toxic negativity and someone just blowing off steam. Sometimes people just need to vent. However, there is line between getting out some frustration and poisoning the morale of your squad.
  • Give responses that are logical and concise. You need to lay out for your team exactly what you’re doing, why you’re doing it that way,  and why you don’t think it can be done in an alternative way.  The more details, the better.
  • Accept suggestions and give them their due consideration. After all, if the 9 or 24 other people in your raid aren’t intelligent enough to help you with their observations, then you probably shouldn’t be raiding. Applaud valuable and constructive criticism from your raid.
  • Kill the boss and go out for beer!

Remember, the future is brighter.  Your raid will down this boss and will continue downing bosses. Success breeds further success.  Get out there and prove you’re all winners.

Reader Question

Last week, regarding my post on Real Officer Set-Ups, Kalette asked:

“Do you have any comments on how to incorporate this into a 10 man guild with two separate 10 man teams?”

Recently I had a conversation with Matticus about different ways guilds could operate more than one progression-oriented raid team within the same guild. (See Matt’s post here for his thoughts.) My feeling on the idea is that when you’re setting up policies for your guild, (attendance, loot, recruiting, critique, etc) they should apply to everyone playing that portion of the game, not just your raid team.

Clearly each raid needs their own raid leader, both of whom will need to be equally trusted by the GM, and trusted to work alone, because at least one of them will likely be raiding in without you overseeing them.

Beyond that, I think you could pull off a two 10-man raid guild with the same positions mentioned before.  You may have to get creative about which officer raids with which team, but in theory your role officers could oversee recruiting, critique and mentoring for every raider under their domain.  Since we’re talking about smaller numbers, they would each be responsible for roughly the same amount of players as they would in a healthy 25-man team, they would probably just need to be better at analyzing WoL logs parses since they can’t see everyone first hand.

Another approach is to combine a few roles, and have those role leaders cooperate with each other.  Tanks and melee DPS can easily be combined, and you could put ranged DPS and healing in a group together.  Then each 10-man raid would have one officer over each of those pairs.  Outside of raid, you may naturally specialize and have one ranged/healing role leader who is more attuned to healing and another who is better at the pew-pew, but so long as they can learning from each other, you can benefit from both being specialized.

By the numbers:
1x GM
2x RL
1x each Role Leader

1x GM
2x RL
2x Tanks/Melee Leader
2x Ranged/Healing Leader

I think the key caveat I’d make is that recruiting should still be done on a scale of “does this person meet our guild’s standards”, not just will they meet the needs of Raid A or Raid B.  When you’re fielding two squads who are both responsible for pushing progression and increasing your guild’s standing, it’s important to make sure that every raider meets the criteria to deserve that guild’s name above their heads.
Kalette, great question; I hope this helps.  If not, call me dumb and I’ll give it another look.

As always, leave your questions/comments/paternity suits in the comments.  I’ll lovingly read them all.  Also, if you have a topic you’d like to see addressed in a future episode of Tough Call, just let me know.

11 thoughts on “Tough Call: Fighting Progression Frustration”

  1. Aside from positions with regard to 10 mans, don’t be afraid to mix and match rosters every once in a while. And make sure the playbook for each boss is out there too so everyone’s playing from the same page.

    That doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible. If one group’s slightly ranged heavy or melee heavy, your officers will need to adapt tactics as such.

  2. There is a guild on my server that has 6 10 man raid teams going. They’re 9/12 currently if I remember correctly. I can’t imagine the organization that goes into that. I can’t help thinking that if they ran 1-2 teams that really focused on progression they would be farther along.

    • I agree entirely, BG. One focused squad always has better chances to achieve more. In my experience, most guilds that field multiple raids don’t have equal ability in each group, and have often allowed too many scheduling restrictions from their members. I’m not saying it cannot be done, but a good leader plays this to their advantage instead of hoping progression happens on is own.

  3. Some guilds run 6x 10mans because they like to give everyone out there a chance to see some raiding content. Progression isn’t always a short term goal. Obviously raiding is only fun if you actually can kill some bosses, but there isn’t always a drive to get everything down asap.

    For our own guild, we’d like to get up to two 10man running again, and at that point, we will split our good players and have all players rotate as much as possible each week. That way everyone gets to play with everyone and neither raid is ‘gimped’ more than the other. This does not allow for fast progress, but in its own way, downing a boss in the knowledge that your team isn’t the most optimal, gives a high sense of achievement nonetheless.

    Guild goals just differ 🙂 These officer setup articles are interesting though!

    • I suppose that’s where we are drawing a distinct between “Things the Guild Runs” and “Things that are Run by People in the Guild”. We have alt/back-up 10-mans firing off on the weekends, but it takes no officer investment and is entirely player-run so far, so I don’t count those as “our raids” so to speak. If we ever entered into a situation where we wanted to make sure every player in our guild saw an equal amount of content…I’d go mad. Frankly that’s just not our programming, or the type of environment Tough Call is built for. I applaud your sense of teamwork and self-sacrifice to take along that many anchors, but I’d literally be drunk 30 minutes into that raid.

  4. Back in the ToC era,we would field a 25 man run, a 25 heroic run, 4x 10 man runs, and 2x 10 heroic runs.. It was quite crazy, but it allowed us to have lots of good screening of recruits!

    • Yes, but that was also a unique period of time when many, if not most, of us were raiding the same content 4x per week per toon. That’s also what led a lot of players to hate ToC so much so quickly.

      For purposes of discussion, what I described above presumes we are working with today’s lock-out scheme.

Leave a Comment