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Officers' Quarters: Kicking and screaming

Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.

The past 12 months have been some of the toughest for raiding guilds since WoW went live. When The Burning Crusade launched, the PvE path was riddled with speed bumps: lengthy, complex attunements; massive consumables requirements; subpar loot rewards; fast, punishing trash respawns; luck-based encounters . . . I could go on and on. In comparison, the PvP path was smooth sailing: get your 10 Arena games in and you'll eventually get all the loot you want with no additional farming to cover consumables or repair costs. Run the battlegrounds for the other slots at your leisure and convenience. As a result, raiding guilds have taken a beating as more and more players have thrown in the towel. Gradually, Blizzard has undone most of those speed bumps (while making some of the top-end PvP a little more exclusive). Now, in patch 2.4, it looks like they're really getting serious about bringing guilds back into the 25-player dungeons. They're increasing the amount of gold and loot tokens bosses drop and lifting the attunements for Mount Hyjal and Black Temple. If that wasn't enough, they're also bringing Heroic badge rewards up to par with Black Temple/Season 3 Arena gear.

I've got a backlog of e-mails, so I thought this week I'd address two. Both officers are having problems motivating their guilds to give raiding a try. It seems like they have to drag their guildmates into Karazhan kicking and screaming. So maybe the changes in 2.4 will help them out. Let's see if we can, too.

Hi Scott,


My guild is small, we have about 55 toons but most of them are either not that active or are alts of the active members. The leadership of the guild (the GM, the other co-leader and myself) are trying to guide the guild to get ready for Karazhan. I guess our progression is OK: we have eight toons with their Master's Key. But most of those eight people seem to think that the key is all that they'll need before stepping into Kara.

Not only am I a co-leader but I'm the hunter class leader, too. On our forums I've posted links to recommendations for hunter gear and enchants, I've posted my opinions on what pets to use for raiding/instances vs. grinding and general advice on being a hunter. At first I refrained from researching the same information for the other classes since I didn't want to step on the other class-leaders' toes, but after a month I decided that I wouldn't be overreaching myself and found information for the warriors and the priests.

I've presented the idea of setting up two progression teams: two teams of five people who will run instances, gear up and become familiar with each other enough that they'll be more prepared for Kara. The idea was met with enthusiasm in guild chat, but . . . of all the members, only a few actually go to the website and participate in the discussions. In game, people would rather PvP than run instances.

The problem, I think, is that many of the people think that gearing up will be enough. Of course, good gear will make running Kara easier (or less difficult, if you know what I mean), but the best gear in the world won't help if a person isn't familiar with how to play their class while part of a group. [. . .] I play Warcraft because I want to raid and see end-game content, to experience this stuff with people I like and to just have fun. I used to raid MC with an old guild on an old server (I've since deleted that character and that guild has disbanded) and it was the best times I've ever had in Warcraft. I want that feeling back.

Any advice that you could give would be very welcome.

My first piece of advice would be to make sure you get enough people keyed, however you have to do it. Schedule the fragment runs two weeks in advance if you have to. Threaten to PUG the remaining Kara slots. Put a Kara run on the calendar to give people a date to shoot for. Just get it done. Once you've gotten a dozen or so people keyed, give Kara a shot -- as is. Don't worry too much about the minutia of specs, pets, healing rotations, and all the rest. Treat this Kara run like you've just described it to me: Fun with friends.

I can virtually guarantee you'll take down Attumen. As long as your players can crowd control the mobs in some of the bigger pulls and one of your tanks can pick up Attumen before he wastes all the healers, you'll come out of it with some relatively nice loot, some confidence, and (hopefully) the desire to return. With the exception of the trash between Curator and Shade, in my opinion, Kara is a really fun dungeon when you're new to it. Once they have a taste, your members will catch on to that and getting them back in shouldn't be a huge hassle. It should also help motivate those who haven't gotten their key yet.

My second piece of advice would be to recruit someone who has run at least half of the dungeon already, or find a guild that doesn't mind taking you along on one of their clears. Guilds that are working on T5 content sometimes have trouble filling their Kara runs, if they still farm it. Theoretical knowledge from Web sites can't compete with real experience -- you'll have a much easier time with someone in the raid who has seen a successful boss attempt and can describe the proper positioning and tactics without reading out loud from WoWWiki.

Once you hit a wall and can't get past a boss, that is the time to start looking into everyone's spec, gear, and playstyle. Now that your members have a concrete reason to improve, they're much more likely to take your suggestions seriously. You could also run a combat log compiler like WoW Web Stats to figure out who's pulling their weight and who isn't in order to make the appropriate adjustments. For instance, if your Holy paladin is going out of mana because he or she is spamming Holy Shock every time the cooldown is up, you can see that in the stats.

It sounds like recruiting wouldn't be a bad thing for your guild in any case, if most of the roster is as inactive as you say. With T6-equivalent badge gear potentially available, you might be surprised how many people want to join a guild just starting to run Kara!

The author of the next e-mail for this week is in a tougher spot:

Greetings!

I am a guild leader of a Horde guild on a PvP server. We are almost a year old, and half of us are RL friends. Our guild has a friendly atmosphere and drama is limited. We have about 35 active accounts, and 97 characters listed in the guild. Only about 6 of them are level 70. There are a few members with mains in the 45+ range, but almost every other character is an alt.

We want to start advancing into daily heroics and casual raiding. We have discussed this multiple times and we all agree to it. However, we can't even get a 5-man together to do normal 70 dungeons let alone a heroic.

And that's when I can get them on their 70's. Almost every member of the guild is an alt-aholic, and it's become a pain to talk them into getting off of their level 30's and onto their 70's for a dungeon or even a group for Battlegrounds.

Our guild completely lacks a tank. Our only 70 healer refuses to play their healing character and plays their level 70 DPS character instead, and all our other 70's are DPS as well. We have one RL friend that has multiple 70's, but he uses our guild to level up his characters before he moves them into a hardcore raiding guild.

Everyone talks daily about "Hey, I can't wait till we can start on Kara!" But only 3 of us have actually started the Kara attunement, and all the rest of the 70's have done nothing. When I tried to get them to come start the attunement, all I got in return was "Eh, maybe later, I don't really feel like it right now" or silence.

One guild member suggested I split the guild into a Main guild for everyone's mains, and a "Junior" guild for all the alts. I hesitate on that cause if everyone still plays the alts, the main guild would get empty very fast.

We want to start to recruit, but how can we hope to attract and retain the 70's we recruit if we can't even pull together for a normal Underbog run?

We all want to advance, but everyone seems too lazy or they feel like an alt is better use for their time. How can I light the fire for my friends and guildies to start moving us towards progression?

--FrustratedGL

Off the bat I can tell you this: You can't even run Shadow Labyrinth without some kind of tank and some kind of healer, let alone Karazhan. No tank is pretty much just "fail." One healer is fine for 5-player dungeons (assuming you can convince your sole healer to run it), but you're going to need a lot more than that for a regular raiding schedule. Even if your healer wanted to heal, that person will quickly burn out as every group relies on them to get anything accomplished.

All the other prep work you're describing is moot until somebody steps up and says, "I will tank" or "I will heal." Preferably more than one person, and preferably someone who plays often, but beggars can't be choosers. Maybe you can convince that friend of yours who uses your guild as a leveling service to keep one of his tanking or healing toons around and help you out. If no one from the membership wants to take on these roles, the officers will have to suck it up and do it themselves.

You can try recruiting for these positions, but you're right in assuming that it will be tough to retain new members when not much is happening at level 70 on a day-to-day basis.

I know it's not easy being a tank or a healing spec on a PvP server. Still, once people try it in a dungeon, they might warm up to the role. I certainly never expected that I would enjoy healing after being a hunter for two years, but now I groan when people ask me to play the hunter.

Once you've got the basic pieces in place, it's entirely possible that people will warm up to the idea of running 5-player content regularly. Trying to PUG a tank or a healer is not easy these days -- it's a frustrating process finding one or the other, so I can't even imagine trying to find both at once. That is probably one of the major reasons no one wants to bother putting groups together. With a tank and a healer readily available, on the other hand, groups will come together much easier, your members will see how fun some of the BC dungeons can be, and activity at level 70 should increase.

At that point, you are now poised to recruit some PvE-oriented players and eventually field a Kara team. I won't lie: It's going to be a long road for your guild, FrustratedGL, but it all begins with the officers stepping up and doing what is necessary to move the guild forward. On the bright side, having so many alts will pay off in the long run, since you will have a lot of flexibility when putting a raid together.

As for splitting the guild, that would be a disaster. The basic point of having a guild is the common chat channel. If you have to whisper 5 different people on their alts in the other guild to find someone who isn't AFK for that last party slot, you're really hampering your own goals. You're also fracturing the community. If someone doesn't have a 70 yet, and someone else only plays their 70, those people will never even meet until the former dings max level. I don't see any possible advantage to the split, only disadvantages.

Will the 2.4 changes be enough to produce a resurgence for raiding guilds? I certainly hope so, and I hope Blizzard has learned these many lessons so the same problems don't crop up again in the next expansion. They certainly seem to be on the right track with this latest patch.

/salute

Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas, and suggestions at scott.andrews@weblogsinc.com. You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!

Filed under: Guilds, Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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