Category Archives: Guild

Waiting to be a Hero

I didn’t get the chance to raid in Vanilla WoW. I wish I had. 40 man raids seemed like an insane and exciting thing to participate in. Pandemonium. That’s what I would expect. I did raid in a 25 man guild in Burning Crusade though, so I can imagine the headache of trying to get 25 people logged in, geared, and ready to go, scaled up to 40. OW.

In the 25 man guild I was in, we had about 30 raiders. (Or up to 35 at various other times.) There were 3 guild ranks, just for raiders. They were ranked, the highest being called Thunderfury. If you successfully posted above a certain amount of DPS or HPS you would earn that rank. When forming the raid, Thunderfuries were accepted first, then the middle rank (Sulfuras something) and Warglaive as the bottom rank. Anyone who had all blue/purple gear of the appropriate level could be a Warglaive. The problem was, once you were a Warglaive, the only way to advance your character was through raiding… so you had to wait for a night when not too many Thunderfuries showed up to raid to hopefully get in. If there were 6 spots, and 7 raiders waiting, then you had to roll against each other and hope you weren’t the lowest roll. The system mostly worked, except it was very hard to ensure you were always getting to raid unless you were very lucky or very dedicated.

When I left that guild and converted to Alliance, it was a bit different. I joined a guild as a tank, and eventually switched to healing. But we were a 10 man guild. This changed everything in that we had a fairly solid core of 9 raiders who were always present. Generally we could fill that final slot with any pug and do fairly well. However, over time we gained a few lost a few raiders, as always happens and started having issues with having 11-12 people showing up. When you can only take 10 raiders, this leads to the guildleader having to make very painful choices.

Do you take your friend? Do you take the high powered, but also very annoying person? Do you take the sweet, but oblivious person? Do you take the undergeared so they have a chance to get loot and improve or the overgeared so the raid has the easiest time of it? And oh goodness don’t take them, we already have four people fighting over cloth and no one to take the leather drops…

When I left that guild, I ended up in OLN, a 25 man guild that had about 35 raiders. So each night they would draw lots and split into 25/10 raid teams. That worked for Wrath, but Cataclysm was a different story. We lost some big players, had other players drift away, but couldn’t find *anyone* to recruit. I even talked about our insane solution to this event before. It was absurd. 16 raiders squished into a 10 man hole. By the time we hit Dragon Soul we were firmly down to 10 raiders. It was the end of that guild. We couldn’t recruit, we couldn’t bulk back up, we couldn’t get people who were willing to be on a waitlist just in case.

And that’s the problem with tightly tuned raids. When you can’t just carry one or two people, you have to have a finely tuned team to consistently show up to raid. When life happens, you lose a raider and it could be the beginning of the end for your team.

When I formed a guild with Misstorgo, recruiting was our first and main issue. We had to recruit people who wanted a casual experience, were willing to raid only 2 nights a week, and not cause drama. Through a series of lucky events, we ended up with several of my co-workers forming a core raid team. However, as we progressed through MoP we had several events that lead to losing a FEW raiders and not being able to replace them.

I think over the course of the expansion we changed more than half our raid team three times. More often than not, we would find interested people – but oh they couldn’t play without their two friends… Do you have any idea how awful it is being the 11th member of a 10 man raid team? You feel selfish if you say “No, I want to raid.” knowing it means someone else will have to sit out. You feel terrible not showing up because of course, that’s the one night that someone else can’t be there and then no one gets to raid.

But then, the Third Great Change came from Blizzard. Flex – the ability for the raid to scale based on the number of players – was implemented to all difficulty levels (except Mythic, which is fine because we aren’t hardcore like that) of raiding. 11 raiders? You’re good to go with all 11. 14? Yep. 19? YEP.

This literally changes the most painful and difficult part of running a guild into a non-issue. If we get down to around 12 players, easy, we just recruit a few more. No one has to sit, so there is no danger of them getting bored and finding another guild. The fights seem to actually be a bit easier with a few extra bodies. Missing a person? It’s fine, we have more. Your buddy who only plays a month or two then takes a 3 month break? We can bring him, when he decides to show up, and not worry about having to replace him.

WoW is most fun when playing with friends and now it doesn’t ask you to rank your friends and boot the ones who don’t fit into a 10 man hole.

How WoD Raid Lockouts Work

If you are the raid leader, the raid will despawn bosses until it reaches the first boss you HAVEN’T killed.

So if you joined a raid at Paragons, killed it, then go back later, it will start you at Immerseus. Every boss will be present, the only difference is you will not get loot/be eligible for loot from Paragons.

If you want to create a “Garrosh Lockout” you must have someone who has killed ALL the bosses – without skipping ANY – up to Garrosh. This character now has a Garrosh Lockout. If that character wants to HOLD ONTO that lockout, they need to invite their raid, zone in, then transfer leadership and leave.

They will then continue to hold a lockout.

PSA – If you have a lockout like we did, where a toon had killed ALL of the raid except Paragons, we zoned in, at Paragons. That toon did not leave, but stayed for Paragons, she now has a lockout (despite extending the other one) that has her ONLY saved to Paragons. So if she tried to raid lead again, it would start at Immerseus.

Starting at

What are Raid Lockouts, why do they matter, and how do they work?

Whew, what a loaded series of questions!

Raid lockouts were originally a Raid ID that said “This raid is this much completed, and can be completed later.” The problem was, people would raid on Tuesday, get X# of bosses in, then plan on coming back the next day, or later in the week. Then some a-hole in that raid would come back early, with different people, and clear to the end. Blizzard fixed this by effectively giving each person on the raid team a unique lockout. So when you can back, the raid leader would zone in, and that was the same raid they had worked on before.

Players could run raids that had downed bosses they hadn’t, but not raids that went earlier than their own lockout. Yes it’s confusing, so here’s an example:

Trial of the Champions – 10 man:

There are 10 raiders and they raid on Tuesday and killed the first 2 bosses (Beasts and Champions) on Tuesday. Wednesday, they come back, but two of their raiders are out. They grab a guildie and a pug. The guildie hasn’t cleared ANY bosses, but because the raid leader is one of the original 8, he zones in to see the Valkyr up and is asked if he wants to be saved to 2/4. The Pug has cleared Beasts, but not Champions, so he also zones in to see the Valkyr up and is asked if he wants to be saved to 2/4.

This gives the players a clear picture of what is going on, where they are starting, and what they are potentially skipping. So the guildie in this example is passing up the chance of loot from the first two bosses. Once he kills the valkyr, he would not be able to go back and do them later. The two members who DIDN’T make the raid could zone in with an entirely new group and would also be 2/4.

Raid lockouts matter to players because it allows us to take the raid in a series of chunks that are better for our specific playstyle. So like Weeping Angels, we raid 2 nights a week, 2 hours apiece. If we don’t clear the raid in that time, we don’t clear the raid. No running over, no extra nights. We all have kids, and spouses we want to see. WoW is a big deal, but not the highest priority. When we got to Garrosh, we held the lockout even when we would have reset because we wanted to kill him without starting all the way at the beginning of the raid.

So how did this change in WoD?

Well, it got a lot more complicated for one. (Bad designer, no twinkie! Simplicity is a goal over complexity.) Now, the lockout is per BOSS per character. So to reuse the above example, I decide to go into a raid that is 2 of 4. We kill the 3rd boss. I am now “saved” to the third boss. But I have to go, so I leave. I am saved to JUST the¬†Valkyr though. So if I try to start a raid later, it puts me at the FIRST BOSS I haven’t defeated. Which is Beasts, the first boss. When I get to the Valkyr again, I just don’t get loot, but I still have to kill them again.

This is a TERRIBLE design.

Players use raid lockouts to skip bosses they need nothing from. So a guild will run SoO, get to the final “wing” and switch an alt out. This allows that character to “hold” the lockout. So the next week, they can start at Blackfuse and finish the raid faster. Get to the meat and potatoes faster. Get to the new loot – FASTER.

The only reason for changing this would be if Blizzard didn’t WANT players skipping bosses like this. But the problem is, their “fix” for that didn’t change that. it just made it clunkier! Now if we want to save a lockout, we have to bring an alt for the first 11 bosses, then switch that alt out, and have them be raid leader the next week, instead of just switching an alt out for a single boss.

I don’t understand the logic behind this. It doesn’t make sense in the scheme of raid lockouts and progression. Following the “new” method, it should just put the players at the boss directly AFTER the last boss the raid leader defeated. If we really wanted a fresh raid, we wouldn’t be extending the lockout! If we wanted a fresh raid later in the week, just have the raid leader be someone who hasn’t run!

I would even like to see the ability to “jump to wing” for raiding. As long as everyone in the raid has previously cleared all of those bosses, when we get ready to go in, the raid leader can choose to start at a specific boss or wing.

Proving Your Way to … Rares?!?!

Blizzard added Proving Grounds in MoP. These were solo battles intended to prove your skill with a specific role. But very few people used them. They awarded you nothing other than an achievement, which is not a carrot most people care about.

The progression of leveling/loot currently goes like this:

Level -> Normal Dungeons -> Heroic Dungeons -> LFR -> Flex Raids -> Normal Raids -> Heroic Raids.

Each of the stages up through Flex raids requires an item level to queue unless you are running with a pre-made group. The purpose of the item level requirement is to check that you are geared and prepared for the dungeon/raid you are about to go in. Does this work? Not really. Dungeons, after the first two months of the expac or so, people outgear them, so even a terrible player will just be carried through on the backs of their group. The same goes for LFR. In a group of 25, there are usually up to about 5 or so people who are just completely worthless and they get carried through.

Does this create frustrating or difficult times? Yes. Should Blizzard be attempting to fix it? Yes.

Well now, Blizzard has announced that Proving Ground will be REQUIRED to queue for Heroic Dungeons in WoD as a fix for the above problem. And I think it is not only the wrong fix, but also shows a lack of understanding as to the problem.

My experience with Proving grounds was I walked in, tried the Bronze, one shot it. Cool. I tried Silver. I got to the final wave (10) and was overwhelmed. So I checked WoWhead, and sure enough, as a Warlock, I *have* to spec into certain skills to be able to succeed. Because you can’t out-gear the encounter, you are literally LOCKED into certain skills and talents. I didn’t have tomes, and I didn’t care enough, so I left.

Two other times in WoW I have been in a similar position – The Legendary Nexus quest in Cata and the Legendary Cloak quest in MoP. I was trying a thing, I couldn’t have help, and I needed to literally change the way my character played to succeed. Both times it was annoying, frustrating, and felt like Blizzard was telling me “We gave you all these choices of ways to play your character, but haha, most of those were wrong and this is the only way to play.” Both times it took me several hours of frustration that I was being forced to SOLO extremely difficult content when I had a GUILD full of people willing and wishing they could help. (It’s especially odd when for the Legendary staff, I literally COULD NOT have done the entire rest of the questline without a guild.)

The problem with random groups is not specifically that people don’t know how to play their class, but rather with the ways of gaming the ilevel system. First off, items in the bags count, meaning many people are queuing based on their off spec gear or pvp pieces they have their bag. Or just flat out wearing pvp pieces. Or they will game the system and queue wearing gear that has no business being worn in that instance. (I am not even kidding, I had a tank in LFR one time who was wearing a GREEN 432 weapon – when the ilvl to queue was over 520 – and no one was willing to kick him because of how long it took to find tanks, so we struggled through a 3 hour LFR instead.)

Further this, the kick timers and troll prevention are needlessly obfuscated, and the punishment timer goes on the person doing the kicking and not the idiot getting kicked. In a 5 man it’s actually not hard to kick people. In an LFR it is. I was in an LFR where we had TWO dps who were in tank spec, one of whom was actively taunting off the tanks and throwing off the rotations. We couldn’t kick both, just one, because the people willing to do something all had timers. Another time I was healing, and the death knight tank was THIRD on the healing list. The other people were just farting around. It had ZERO to do with skill and more to do with them not giving a shit.

See why requiring a proving grounds medal does this not actually address the problem?

There are also other reasons, like: people don’t play solo the way they would in a random dungeon or lfr. Proving grounds is also not balanced for all classes and specs. If it’s not an account wide thing, it means people will have to do it over and over again on their alts.

It’s gatekeeping. This has been proven to be a POOR choice every single time it has been used in WoW. Attunement quest chains? Discovering the instance portal? Even the item level thing has not worked out as intended.

What did work? 1. Luck of the Draw. 2. Determination. 3. Bonus Bags.

So what would I do?

First – require all dungeons be completed in normal IN THE ROLE YOU QUEUE FOR. So with this requirement, it’s like the achievement requirements for LFR. First off, it solves the issue of group play vs solo play. A guild can carry someone through. Even if you are running with your guild, if you are healing, you learn a bit about healing the fights. If I want to queue for heroic dungeons as a healer, I have to heal all the dungeons in normal first. To me, this upholds the pillar of multiplayer, allows for help from a guild, and also allows a path for people who play less seriously to get there without the frustration of gear scaling/spec changing.

Second – WoD’s gear “adaptation” is already going to fix *some* of the ilvl gaming going on. But I honestly feel unless an item is equipped, it shouldn’t count. This comes from someone who has BOUGHT blue pvp gear, held it in my bags just long enough to queue, gotten a drop or two, then re-sold it on the AH. Never equipped, but used for the purpose of queuing.

Third – Change the vote kicking system. You should be able to know if you have a timer because of “too many vote kicks initiated”.¬† For every completed instance, you should get the ability to vote kick without messing up this timer. For every wipe, you should get to vtk without affecting this timer. In LFR, it should take more than 5 kicks in a single LFR to affect this timer. If you are the person kicked, you should get a 30 minute debuff JUST LIKE THE DESERTERS.

 

There are other small tweaks that could be done, but these are big ones. Also, does anyone else notice, this whole thing seems to be “fixing” heroic dungeons when the real problem is LFR, WHICH IS NOT GOING TO REQUIRE SILVER? What are they even thinking? Is LFR going to be removed from the gearing steps? If so, it will have to be the same gear as drops in Heroics, in which case, people will just stop outright, as LFR takes far longer, and you have a greater chance of getting asshats. Not to mention, Heroics drop RARE items… RARES. We have to do jump through how many crazy hoops to get RARES?!? Why? At least in LFR it’s epics! Heroics, even Stonecore, was only awful for the first two months of the expac or so, then the number of people who outgeared it had hit critical mass and it became fairly easy.

When /G goes silent

Last night, I did my usual evening routine. I put my kid to bed, I grabbed a beer, and I logged into WoW. I spawned in and typed my normal greeting: /guild Hey guys! How goes?

<You are not in a guild.>

Wait. What?

Sure enough, I was unguilded. No more Villainous tag under my name. What happened? I opened my friends list and pinged my RealId friend who had also been in our guild.

“What happened?”

“Oh hey, yeah, Spart logged on and just booted everyone today. We are trying to figure out what to do.”

I felt like the rug had been yanked out from under me. The floor disappeared as the floor on Lich King could vanish. I didn’t even have my friends on my friends list. Why would I? They were in my guild. Finding yourself un-guilded, unexpectedly, was bad enough. But the night it happened… that was worse.

In December, 2012, I got a whisper from a RealId friend asking if I was still working on the legendary staff from Firelands. I told him I was, and I was halfway through Stage 2. He asked if I wanted to go? “Does the pope wear a funny hat?” Of COURSE I do. So I jumped in. Turns out, this close knit group of friends ran old content most every night. Just for fun, achievements, and titles. After 3 weeks, I decided I should transfer servers. After all, these 9 people were helping me get a legendary staff, I should share the rewards, specifically, the mini-pet that the guild gets from the guild achievement for having someone with the staff.

$25 later, I was on a new server, leaving my 21 alts behind. (I have 9 level 85s, and 19 toons over level 70.) We rolled through all the old content. Everything from Ulduar drakes, to Sinestra, to ICC LK Heroic. It was great fun. Most of the guild were people who were friends in real life. Over the course of the two months, I progressed into Stage 3 of the quest and got a few dozen other achievements from other raids. Then, I realized, I was ONE clear from the Staff.

I pointed it out and everyone got excited. We actually PLANNED the night we would run Firelands, instead of just winging it like normal. That way, everyone who wanted the pet, and wanted to see the event could be present.

The night we planned to run Firelands – that was the night our GM logged on and booted everyone.

Heartbreak. I am sure everyone felt much the same way I did. We logged on, ready to have fun, ready to celebrate our guild doing something Legendary, and instead, we were met with abandonment and betrayal.

It’s just a game, but it felt shockingly similar to being laid off at work. The worst part was asking in TRADE CHAT if we had missed anyone in our guild.

I pinged my friend, and discussion was had about what we were going to do, but to be honest, most of us were just hurt. So we formed up a raid, and we only had 5 of our normal guildies. The others had disbursed. I almost cried. So close to the staff, and now so far. My triumphant night had been disbanded just like the guild. Our raid leader, contacted another guild, and asked if anyone would be willing to run Heroic Firelands. Five players stepped up. I cannot express the heroism of these 5 players. They all had Firelord. They had zero reason to help. They did anyway. They gave up 2 hours to help someone they had never met, never raided with. HEROES OF AZEROTH.

Silver linings and heroes aside, the night was still marred by the loss we had all suffered. A few people drifted to an alt guild. A few others ended up in alt bank guilds. Worst of all, the mini-pet I had transferred to allow people to get was no unavailable, to all of us. So now I am left trying to figure out how to guild hop between guilds to get all my new friends a pet.

Here I am, 24 hours later, and the one thing I can’t let go of… This should not happen. There IS a design solution to prevent someone booting everyone else in the guild and making off with a level 25 guild, with bank filled with mats, gold, and gear. Even if the guild had been okay with a dictatorship, most of us now aren’t. We don’t want someone else to be in charge. We want to be able to TRUST the person in charge. Our guild leader, he wasn’t just some guy. For most of the people in the guild, he was a REAL LIFE friend. He was a real life friend who got rejected by one of his other friends and decided he didn’t want to deal with it. He destroyed the guild because another guildie had flirted and then broke his heart. In return, he broke our hearts.

Why can’t we decided to have a guild that has a co-gm or council? Why can’t we chose our own leadership?

There has to be another way. Before the days of guild levels, it would be a simple matter of pestering a GM to restore our stuff and gold. But now, we have to start over or join another group. It’s like, hitting level 90, having your friend leave the game and suddenly you are level 1 again.

Once bitten, twice shy.

Red Leader Standing By!

About 3 weeks ago my 25 man guild finally made the decision to downgrade to 10 man raids. It hurt. This guild *just* went from 10 man to 25 in ICC. For most of Cataclysm we have managed to keep ahead of the raiders leaving and replacing them. Unfortunately, OLN suffers from the fact that we are casual.

We don’t require attendance. We don’t require specs. We don’t have DPS thresholds. We are here to have fun with all our friends, not to chase server firsts. The problem is, only about 2/3rds of our raiders are the kind of people who go and learn every bit of info on their class, min-max, and know every boss video before we ever walk in. the other 1/3rd are very nice people, but aren’t pushing the envelope, can’t be bothered to show up, and our realm sadly does not have a good pool to pull raiders from.

As all raiders are pretty aware, the days of really only needing 8 of 10 or 20 of 25 of the raiders on point are long gone. Even the smallest mistake can lead to a wipe. One person not notice and keep nuking Magmatron? Kiss the raid goodbye. Miss the jump, die in the water, and you were the interrupter on your Nef platform? Game over. Firelands is just as bad. Didn’t see that trap? Too bad, the tank is already dead. Accidentally attacked the wrong foot? Even one person can lead it astray. Regardless of how you feel about this design (I hate it, just fyi), it has had an effect. Finding 10 competent and focused raiders is much easier than finding 25.

So we took our good, consistent, and still present raiders and put their names in a list. 16 raiders. Uh oh. There are only 10 spots. Lucky for our raiders our GM and Officers had no intention of just booting 6 people. However we don’t have enough to form 2 10 mans. So the GM decided we would be rotating people around.

This first week of this was TERRIBLE. We had several people raid 5 days that week, and several people only raid 1 day. The natives were restless. I spoke in a message to my GM and was like “dude, you need a system.” His response: “I KNOW! I just don’t know HOW…” So I decided to apply my game designer brain to this problem.

Our raiders broke down to 3 tanks, 4 healers, and 9 dps. First thing I did was cut “normal” raid nights to Tuesday through Thursday. Previously these were our 25 man nights. So now they are our standard nights. Sunday and Monday, our “cleanup in 10s” nights, became “wipe learning” nights. Sunday and Monday teams are formed based on who is on, and which boss we are trying (so stacking the proper dps for those fights).

Generally the tank situation just worked out. And if all 3 did manage to show up on the same night, they would just discuss it between themselves and sit out. They handled themselves essentially, but we decided to set it up to “rotate” them around. So Tank A tanks Tuesday and Wednesday. Tank B tanks Wednesday and Thursday. Tank C tanks Thursday and Tuesday. But they can switch up as they want or need.

With healers, we were really lucky in that handle fairly well on their own as well. One of our heals even has a super tank offset, so he fills both roles. So that just worked out.

But 9 dps… That makes life tough. They were the hard part.

Joyia’s Plan:

Split the DPS into 2 teams.

Team 1: Warlock, Warrior, Kitteh, Boomy, and a recruit. (Most times it is a great shadow priest, but this spot can be filled with any ranged clothie or mail wearer.)

Team 2: Warlock, Pally, Rogue, Mage, and Hunter.

Then, have the teams switch off nights.

So Week 1: Tuesday is Team 1. Wednesday and Thursday are Team 2.

So Week 2: Tuesday is Team 2. Wednesday and Thursday are Team 1.

Seems a bit complex, but here are the reasons:

1. It stacks the dps to be most efficient in gear drops. With the exception of clothies, each ac is only represented once.

2. It stacks melee vs. ranged and aoe vs. single target. I also stacked the weaker dps with the stronger dps, and the more likely to die with the more likely to survive, so neither dps team is “better” in a sense. They are quite well balanced and hit the same numbers. The aoe vs single target damage makes gimmicks like Rageface still do-able. It balances classes with high burst with classes with slow ramp up.

3. People who run earlier in the week have a good chance of getting several easy bosses and loot. People who run later get 1 or 2 bosses, but have to wipe on progression, however this means they might get to be in the kill group.

4. Even if the week goes badly, raiders know it will only be 1 week before they see another loot drop.

5. Each dps is part of a paired set. So if one warlock is going to miss her night, the RL can just contact the other warlock and ask them to show up. Regardless, most of us are connected on RealID so any holes can be filled quickly.

6. The warlocks are the two toons working on the legendary. Since they are in different groups there is no poaching embers.

7. If you are on the team not running that night, just can just log on at raid time, and check to see if the team running needs any holes filled. If they form up, you can go do dailies, randoms, or even level alts.

 

It just worked for us. Now, 3 weeks in, we have downed 2 new bosses, in two weeks, and are making great strides on Aly. Everyone is learning all the fights. The dps teams are becoming teams and learning to work well with each other. We have even started making red team vs blue team jokes. Because there has still been a ton of overlap on tanks and heals, including alt runs on off nights, with both teams making up the alt run, we are still a community as opposed to cliques. None of the raiders have left, and most seem to like it as well. By taking Sunday and Monday off the schedule, we don’t have to worry about people showing up those nights either, but generally we have 10-11 people on for those nights, then usually someone just offers to step out. 10 man’s are a bit easier to do this with.

Now this doesn’t perfectly fit with every guild. The team balancing just fell into place for us, but with a bit of thought, and even possibly scheduling which bosses are being done on Tuesday and then on Wed/Thurs to balance the number of bosses downed. It’s a slightly odd way of doing it, that might work.

Guild Etiquette Part 7: Updates

It’s been 2 years since I sat down and wrote down what I truly believe are the 6 most important things a GM has to deal with. However, WoW is not a static game. So these things need updating every so often!

Part 1: Newbs

I am more and more convinced that as a guild you have to recruit and invest in people you know are going to be in your guild for the long haul. Not every recruit is going to be this person. But when you identify this person, hang on to them. They *will* *be* the perfect stone that fills in the hole when you lose someone important.

Newbs are great. But remember, even if the newb is awesome, fun, fits right in, and seems like they are gonna be a permanent fixture, they might not be. Never allow your guild to get in the situation of relying too much on a single person. Are the main tank and off tank a “set”? (Friends or even a couple?) Do not, under any circumstances, allow them to be the only tanks. Train and gear other tanks. You never know when people might take a break from the game. Or worst case, decide to hold your guild hostage.

Part 2: Noobs

Still pretty up to date. Of course, I caution GMs to look for “troll” noobs. These are people who do this on purpose. Excise them, immediately.

Part 3: Guild Chat

This is still completely true. Of course there are culture exceptions. Since writing this, I have joined a rather large guild. They pretty much admitted at the beginning that their guild chat rivaled trade. There were multiple players who seem to have Tourettes of the finger. I identified these people and put them on ignore. Easy as pie.

Part 4: Consideration

Be considerate with guild items and repairs. Many guilds now have guild repairs thanks to the Cash Flow perk. Check with your guild about the thoughts on using that for things that aren’t “guild” deaths. In my guild, we have a sufficient amount of funds that the GM doesn’t care. Some guilds might not.

Check the guild website occasionally. Especially on Tuesdays. And if someone says something in gchat you are unaware of, and you ask a question, only to have them reply, I posted on the forums about it… do not pass go, do not collect $200, go to the forums and read what they posted. They are trying to help the guild, be aware and support it.

Part 5: Who gets to go?

Wow, this is so applicable now. My formerly 25 man raid team has been cut down to a 10 man. We have 16 active raiders for 10 spots. After a week of struggling and just switching people out at seemingly random, I decided to take matters into my own hands and proposed a system that divided the dps up into 2 teams. (10 of the raiders are dps.) Then scheduled the boss kills accordingly so that the difficulty was split between the two teams. This insured that each dps would get a chance to see at least one boss kill each week. And then the teams would switch off bosses each week.

Yes, it’s complex. Yes, it’s weird. But it worked. And it allowed us to stack the teams with the proper mix of melee vs. ranged, aoe vs. single target, and armor classes. The tanks (3) and healers (4) generally sort themselves out with no problem as there is usually one night someone can’t make it. It boosted our progress and helped everyone figure out when they would be raiding and when they could play other toons.

Part 6a: Epics

I am now also convinced that KSK is the *best* loot system when you can’t do small group loot council. KSK is essentially a system that randomizies a list of all the raiders in your guild. Then when an item drops, the person at the top of the list gets first dibs. (Of course sticking to people who can use that item.) So if that person takes the item, they get “suicided” to the bottom of the list. If they pass, the next person on the list gets the option. It’s glorious. Easy, simple, and does not allow for inflation.

If you miss a raid with KSK, you simply stay frozen in your spot and the people who did show up move around you.

We even implemented a system that allowed us to punish people who signed up for raids and didn’t show by knocking them down a spot on the list.

When you hit a new raiding expansion, you simply re-randomize the list. When you get a new raider, you just roll them up a random number and toss them in. At the height of loot going out, when nothing was being sharded and everyone was getting upgrades, it took me 2 raids to move from last, back up to first. Loot gets evenly distributed. Everyone knows where they are on the list.

Part 6b: Legendaries

Hello can of worms!

How to decide who gets your guild’s Legendary:

1. “Best” class. The current Legendary is a dps caster staff. First, you should chose a pure dps. Why? Because that’s all they *can* be. They will *always* be using the staff for it’s intended purpose. I love my priest and I love dpsing on her. But most of the time in a raid, I am gonna be healing. The legendary is wasted on healers.

2. Tenure. Do not give the staff to someone who has only been in your guild for <3 months. They could take embers and leave. Or even worse, get the Legendary and leave.

3. Attendance. Don’t pick a person who is known for disappearing for long periods of time. Don’t pick a person who only makes one raid a week. You want to get to a legendary as quickly as possible and try to get more than 1. Focus, and work on getting it for that person who is *always* there and ready to raid.

4. Always make sure the raid has one of the collectors in it. In my current guild we have 2 people collecting embers, because we have 2 teams of dps. No this is not the most efficient way, but it works with our system. We just have to make sure there is always one of the two people in the raid.

5. Someone willing to do the leg work. Legendaries are not easy. They take time, money, and a great deal of extra work. If the person isn’t willing to shell out their own 9k for the sands, then they shouldn’t be offered the staff.

Take these ideas and sort your possible legendary wielders, and have the list approved by officers. Then post it, so the guild knows what is going on.

You never know who is behind the mask…

Without being in a guild with someone or they follow the lovely every character has a similar name, it is generally difficult to connect various characters in WoW to the people behind the name. Recently joining a new guild, I have found this to be wildly true. Learning new people, then learning their dozens of alts has been a challenge.

But what about people who aren’t in your guild? People you generally don’t run with every day? Sometimes they connect themselves, for example, I have several toons named Pandara, Pandari, Pandare, Pandaree and so on and so forth. Clearly these characters are likely connected. Other than that, there really is no way to tell.

So?

Why does this matter? Well, you never know who you might be talking to.

A real Azerothian example. I was leveling my main through Hyjal on launch day, someone I didn’t know whispered me and asked me where something was in a quest. I, in my usual standard annoyance for people who ask others for help instead of doing the legwork themselves, told this person “Look at your map.” And went back about my business. To be fair, any quest objectives are in fact marked on your map in WoW. The person gave me an equally curt reply and that was the end of it. Or so I thought. That night, as I hopped into a guild group with several close friends, one of them commented “Yeah, especially meanie Joyia, who is rude to people asking for help.” Turns out, the person whispering me had been his wife, and she asked me because I had been nice to her previously.

I pointed out that she had not identified herself, nor had she ever played that toon with me, not to mention that the toon wasn’t even in our guild. She was only one of dozens of people who whispered me that day with various idiot questions. I had no reason to be nice to her. As far as I knew she could have been anyone.

Looking back and thinking about it, I was entirely wrong.

I had every reason to be nice to her. I didn’t know who she was. I had no clue as to her allegiances. What if she had been my grandmother? What if she had been R.A. Salvatore (who has been known to play WoW). She could have been *anyone*.

I have even had times where someone was blindingly nice to me on one character only to be exceptionally rude to me on another.

In a world of magic and digital trickery, we need to remember, the people behind the avatars are people. Until proven otherwise, assume they are someone kind and deserving of respect. Perhaps if everyone acted like the person behind that character was someone they liked, the World of Warcraft would be a much nicer place.

Guild Etiquette Part 6: I can haz Purplz?

And finally it comes down to it. Epics. why do we raid? Epics. Why do we grind? Epics. What causes the MOST drama in WoW? Epics. (To be fair, Legendary counts here too, but there are so few and they are so hard to get, most of us are in it for the Purple, not Orange.)

Purples, lovely purple colored names that shout our awesomeness to the world. Lovely gear that is usually better looking than the average hodgepodge of blues and greens that make you look like rainbow barf. The look, the stats, the item level, these are the reasons we love purples.

Loot distribution is a variable thing. it is different depending on if you are in a PUG, 5 man all the way up to 25 man and changes depending on the “status” of a raid and the make-up.

1. People you don’t know.
If you have PUGed anyone not in the guild and or “normal” run group you have to do several things right up front. First off, make sure the loot rules are clear. Second make sure they still have a chance of loot, or else they are going to leave.

Good Compromise: In 5 mans I generally set the “loot rules” to: A. Roll Need if you are going to put it on now and/or as soon as you gem/enchant it (main spec). B. Roll Greed for Off Spec and “flavor” stuff, but err to people who are going to use it. I may want said polearm to level my polearm skill with a good weapon instead of a sucky one, but I shouldn’t take it away from someone who will use it as their main weapon for a DPS spec. C. No one is gonna need anything. With ToC this is more and more true. Here we just roll greed on everything. You can sell it, or if there is an enchanter you can hand it to them if they agree to disenchant it for you.

25 mans are a bit different. If you get a good 25 man pug rolling, first you are awesome, congrats, but it can also be a loot headache. A. Need for On Spec. B. Greed for Off Spec. (When considering dual specs you lean towards their “standard” main spec. So if someone is usually a Shadow Priest, they should Need dps gear not healing, regardless of what they are doing for your raid.) C. BoE items – Everyone Greeds. D. If you get an item, your name goes on the RL’s List. You can’t roll again until everyone else in your “armor class” set gets something. This requires a Keeper of the List who can quickly identify the 4 roles (Tank, Heal, Ranged DPS, Melee DPS) and how they apply to the various armor classes (Plate, Mail, Leather, Cloth, All). They group everyone together and then keep track. This also means raiders will wait to roll on a good upgrade over small ones. E. Tier Tokens are exempt. Everyone rolls on a tier token if they can use it. F. If it isn’t claimed (wtf? how did this happen) it gets dis-enchanted and the shard is /rolled for, just like BoE items.

2. Guild Runs:
5 mans – Loot Council and Roll Offs. Aren’t we glad we can trade? Fortunately we can hand off gear easily now. 5 mans are usually either only one player can use it, or very easy to loot council. Loot Council is the act of deciding who can use something more, or one person expressing a great need and everyone else passing. The only trick is, as a guild run, you really should consider passing all de items to the enchanter and then letting them keep any dream shards. Roll for Abyssal, but they use the dream to buy new enchants, unless your enchanter has them all.

25 Mans… And now everything changes.
First off, when something isn’t taken it should be dis enchanted and the mats sold by a trustworthy guild officer to fund guild progression repairs.

What is the reason behind the majority of your guild’s desire to raid? Progression or Purples? If it is progression then you will likely find a mix of DKP and Loot Council to your liking. DKP allows for players to get the specific items they want. This may fill an immediate need or complete a set. If using a zero sum system it also ensures that the only way someone can get exceptionally ahead of other guild members is to not get anything and raid an exceptionally long time. Which logically means they *should* get whatever they want. Loot Council allows a group to decide where the item can do the most good. Gearing the main tank and a spare, gearing the healers, etc first is a form of Loot Council. This can have two drawbacks though. One, there are no backups for these slots that can even hope to fill the void. If the main tank soaks up all the gear then there are no replacements for when real life gets in the way. Two, the people who get this attention tend to burn out faster. They have to be present for a raid to happen. They get all their gear quickly so they lose interest in the raid quicker. If your guild is just farming content, then go with rolls or DKP. This assures the widest distribution of purples among your raiders.

DKP systems:
DKP is a numerical way of tracking who should get the next item. DKP systems are wide an varied. A good system should follow these rules:
1. Easy to understand. If a person looking at your guild wants to know how long they are going to be waiting on gear it is good to tell them up front. This prevent disappointment later.
2. Obvious. When the spiffy sword of uber-awesomeness drops, everyone should be able to tell, without having the loot master explain, who is going to get the item.
3. No one gets too far ahead. No way to “bank” points. There are two things that cause someone to get ahead in DKP. One, they raid every single raid and then some. These people manage to get into pug raids and just badges to get what they need. By the time the guild is getting it, they already have it. To be fair though, these people are working twice as hard and putting into the raid without taking anything away, so they should have a ton of DKP. Two, Horders. These are the players you have to watch out for. They won’t bid on items they clearly need to save dkp for bis items. How to combat them? Well it depends on your guild personality. A view I have seen taken was the GM taking the person aside and explaining that if they didn’t start upgrading their gear they wouldn’t we welcomed back to a raid. Letting an item get sharded because you want one specific uber item and then getting all your other upgrades while everyone else is just passing because they don’t need it is just underhanded.
4. Timers. There needs to be a time limit on the DKP earned. Use it or lose it. 6 months seems to be a wide range for this. After 6 months purchases no longer count against you and earned points are removed.
5. Need is free. Hybrid classes make your raid flexible. Dual Specs do even further. But building three sets of gear instead of just one? Yeah it sucks. By allowing players to need on things for offspec they can gear with items that would otherwise get sharded. Off and Dual Specs. There isn’t a great solution but one is to have your raiders register a main and off spec. They can change this setup with permission of the raid leader. This way they have to bid on certain items and can need on others.
6. Character specific *not* account specific. Why? Should the Raid Leader be able to build 2 months worth of DKP then bring his alt with greens and blues to a raid and get the uber-sword? That’s why DKP needs to be limited to toons not accounts. Also it means if you need an alt toon (switching a dps for heals for example) it doesn’t gimp the main toon to gear the alt.

What happens when something goes from Progression to Farm?
1. It depends on the make up of the raid. If more than 50% of purples are still going on players main spec and not to off spec or shard, it is still progression for that group, even if it is easy.
2. Once it is farm, let people still spend DKP if they want. Ever wanted something with a low drop rate? You know what I am talking about here. Even on farm these are contested items. Let people spend their DKP if they wish.
3. Alts begin to come out of the woodwork. Ever been on a farm raid that wipes due to low dps? Your alt percentage is too high. Run some ToC or 10s real quick on an off night to help with this, but ensure enough high level players are willing to assist to help with this.

Final words:
It needs to be fun for everyone. It needs to be fair, or at least quantifiable for everyone.
More drama happens from loot than any other. It is going to happen and not always be fair or friendly. Remember those bosses will drop that loot again.
Is it worth it to lose your guild and friends over a piece of gear you are likely to see again? Worth it to eventually not want to play WoW because of the loss of the people who make this game fun?
Don’t be a douchebag.

Guild Etiquette Part 5: Who Gets to Go

Raids are the pinnacle of difficulty in WoW. They are the place where you get the best achievements and the place you get the best loot. Every raiding guild has one goal. Get raiders and kick the crap out of whatever big nasty is the biggest nasty.

As sometimes happens, you can have too much of a good thing. So what do you do when you have 30 raiders show up to a 25 man raid?

Step 1: Is it progression or farm night?
This first question is required for determining who should be in your raid. Progression means you want your best raiders, most prepared, and best geared. If it is a farm night, usually you want to make sure your worst geared players get to go, but hang on to a core good group so it is still easy.

Step 2: It’s Progression.
Sort out the required people first. Tanks, Heals, Buffs. Obviously you need your main and off tanks. Any extra tanks are told to switch to DPS. Tank healers, Raid aoe healers, and then fill in to the “max” number of healers needed, all else switch to dps. Remember with heals once you have your well geared tank heals, all other healers need to be spread out among the healing classes for maximum buff coverage while making sure to err on the side of aoe raid heals. Any remaining heals, switch to DPS. Now you have your vital people. time to whittle down the DPS. First pull your required buff classes that you haven’t already gotten. Ones to watch out for: Warlocks with CoE or Boomkins. Shadow Priests with the +hit buff. Paladins, Hunters, Priests with replenishment. Once you have all these filled out, now you go for your big guns. Big guns are people who consistently top the DPS charts, listen well, and always come prepared. Fill in remaining holes with people who are consistently good at raiding.

Step 2: It’s Farm.
First set aside your tank and heals. Now, ask if anyone is willing to step out. Pull the people with the worst gear and check how many there are. (Worst gear defined as people still wearing more blues/greens than purples.) 5 or less, put them all in the raid. Depending on the awesomeness of your core tank and heals, and possible high dps selection you should calculate how many “dead” players you can take. Assume all of the low geared players will die 2 seconds into the fight and *not* assist in any measure. Some guilds can take as many as 10 dead players. I usually try not to take more than 8. Then fill out as usual, erring towards the lower geared players end. You would rather take 2 DPS that put out 3k each and need gear from the instance than 2 who do 6k each and need nothing. You will still need a few heavy hitters, but try to bump the people who have zero or one upgrade left in the instance.

Step 3: Fair is Fair, roll for it.
Some guilds have all the remaining DPS /random for their spot. This is a fair-ish way to do it. But we all know the people who get screwed on this.

Step 4: Always give out some form of “raid credit”.
Bad rolls, poor gear fall, or whatever, make sure that people who show up on time and ready to raid but get turned away don’t have it happen to them again. If you show up ready to go and don’t get to, give them a raid credit. Think of it as a ticket they can use to ensure their presence in the next raid. Limits should be put on this like it can only be used on the same instance (Naxx for Naxx or Uld for Uld, but no Naxx for Uld) and it has to be used within the next two weeks.

Step 5: Multi-night Raids.
In the beginning most guilds can’t clear a raid in a single night. Raids like Naxx can get split over multiple nights. How do you pick who gets to go then? Always always give first priority to the people who are already saved to the raid.
Have everyone who was on the first raid whisper the raid ID to get their invite. Or simply compare the attendance list. This makes sure the people who cleared the first half get to experience the second half. Once you have them in the raid, identify needs and pull in to fill the holes following the standard selection criteria.

In the end, always choose your dependable people and make sure people get a good chance to raid.