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Officers' Quarters: Riding the pine


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

Raids are in many ways like a sports team. Some players are your proven starters. Some are your backups who fill in for the starters. Some are still learning the game and trying to get the right equipment -- they are your practice squad or your AAA team. With enough hard work and dedication, a player can improve his game and become a starter. It's true in sports and it should be for your raid team as well. Otherwise, what's the motivation to work hard?

The opposite can happen as well: a player who doesn't perform consistently can be replaced with someone who's playing at a higher level. But what would you do if you were told you're being benched -- permanently -- just because you joined more recently than someone else? This week's e-mail comes from a tank who went from a starter to a benchwarmer overnight, and it illustrates exactly what not to do as a guild leader.

Heya Scott,

First off, wanted to say I love your article and read it every time I see it. I have a problem with my guild, and am sending you this as possible commentary for your next article.

My guild is a fairly casual one with a very strong group of officers that have been together since the beginning of WoW. Needless to say, they have been through thick and thin. I joined with the guild about 6 months ago, and have since made a name for myself being a solid tank and a steady mind. I helped a lot throughout BC raiding and really feel a part of the guild.

Then WotLK hit.

I play a feral druid tank, which means that I finally get to see equal tanking playing fields. I rushed to 80 (second one in the guild, behind the GL), and started gearing up to prepare for raids. I was easily the best geared tank in the guild. [. . .] I helped out a lot gearing up healers and DPS alike in 5-mans, and was reading up and getting experience in 10-mans with PUGs, so that I could bring that knowledge back to my guild.

We even tried a first attempt at Naxx about three weeks ago, where I was proud to be put as MT. We only did it for about an hour, but I was really happy . . . for the first time in my WoW career, I was the main tank!

Since then, however, things haven't been as good news. The guild leader leveled up his own tank, and geared him out as well, along with a warrior tank who has been in the guild for a lot longer than me. [. . .]

The real problem came around last weekend, when apparently the guild leader decided to try Naxx again. He asked who wanted to go the next day, and got a solid group together. I wasn't online at the time, holidays and all, and when I signed on later that night, I was asked by a senior guild member if I wanted to OT for it. Happily, I said yes.

I spent the next afternoon getting ready for the raid, fishing, grinding mats, all that fun stuff. When the time came, however, all I got was a whisper from the guild leader if I wanted an invite. As DPS. I absolutely hate being kitty DPS, and this really pissed me off. He had given the OT spot to the more senior guild member, even though I had been busting to level and gear up to get everybody up to speed. [. . .] Sadly, I signed off and did something else to get my mind off of it.

However, when I signed on later that night after the run to talk about it, an even more disturbing thing happened. The guild leader told me point blank that he and the warrior were going to be the tanks for all Naxxramas runs, and for all guild raids until they no longer wanted to tank anymore. [. . .] I'm looking at being benched for not only this weekend, but most likely the next couple months at least! In BC, we would have weekly, first-come first-serve sign-ups. But apparently this time he decided to go with a basis of guild seniority, and I got the shaft.

Is this appropriate guild leader behavior? I would understand not getting into a run now and then on a rotation basis, but to be told straight that I would not be tanking anytime soon seems really offensive. I also feel bad for other guildies who have been joining up recently. They have absolutely no chance to be getting into these raids. I'm torn between gquitting, trying to form my own raid groups in guild, or shutting my mouth and pugging. Any advice on this matter would be much appreciated.

Well, I give your guild leader props for being honest with you, but that's about it. Obviously you've worked very hard to be in a position to help the guild and make a quality contribution in your raids. It baffles me to see all that hard work dismissed so cavalierly.

I wonder what your guild's official policy is on filling raid slots. If it is purely seniority-based, as you hypothesize, then I suppose you can't really argue with it. But that is a very weak system. Senior members should be rewarded in some ways, but guaranteeing them raid slots is only prone to make them lazy and ineffective, while newer, hungrier members sit out.

If this really is the new policy, your guild leader should have announced this change and made it official before any raiding happened at all. It's not fair to members who have one set of expectations about raids to learn suddenly that it won't be done that way at all.

I also don't see a whole lot of value in the first-come, first-serve system that your guild operated under in TBC. To be honest, that's the system my guild used for much of original WoW, and it's one of the reasons we would struggle in smaller raids like Zul'Gurub where every person's contribution meant more. Getting into the raid was just a matter of being online when it was put up in the calendar, so people who were online more got into more raids. But that never meant that they were better raiders than others who missed the window of opportunity to sign up. We didn't clear ZG until we decided to assign slots based purely on performance.

No matter what your guild's policy is, you deserve to know exactly what you were doing or not doing that earned you the benching.

But what really blows my mind here is for a guild leader to flat out tell any member that they'll never get into a raid until the existing team gets bored. Honestly, why would you -- or anyone not on the team -- stick around? Is your guild leader so short-sighted that he can't imagine a day when someone on the team can't make it to a raid? Is your guild leader so afraid of competition that he can't handle anyone else ever main-tanking the runs?

What if someone on the team suddenly has to quit the game for personal reasons? No one else ever got the chance to gear up, so whoever fills that slot will be way undergeared compared to the rest of the team. They'll also have zero experience in the zone, which is going to slow down your runs.

The worst part of it goes back to what I was saying earlier: whoever isn't already on the raiding team has zero motivation to work hard, because they will never sniff a raid instance with the guild until someone else decides they don't want to go.

In my guild, we reward those who work hard and prove they're ready to raid with the opportunity to go. That means team members have to volunteer to sit out to give others a chance. Many of my players are generous by nature, so it hasn't been a problem so far. We've managed to work in everybody who's earned a slot so far. And I realize it's not quite so easy in other guilds, but the benefits of doing this pay off in the long run when unexpected things happen with your best raiders. And the other benefit is obvious: it keeps your members happy and motivated, knowing they can earn a place in a raid.

As for our friend the feral tank, I recommend a serious talk with your guild leader. Explain why this situation leaves you no choice but to find another guild if you want to raid as a tank. If he doesn't understand why this new raiding policy is bad for the guild after that, he probably never will.

Sure, you could also try to form a secondary team within your guild if the opportunity is there, but before you volunteer to do that, you should make it clear that you will be leading it and you will have the final say on who goes. Otherwise, your guild leader could step in and dictate that you have to bring certain people just because they've been in the guild longer than others. You could get bounced from your own runs!

I don't mean to hate on guild veterans. Anyone who's been in a single guild for a long time has made sacrifices along the way and probably had to deal with some unpleasant circumstances now and then. That deserves consideration.

But I don't think seniority should trump performance in a raid setting. You'll never keep new recruits that way. Your guild will stop growing, and eventually it will shrink, until you've got no one left but the old-timers -- old-timers with no one to replace them when they quit the game or get bored of a raid zone.

A guild that can't replace old-timers with fresh recruits is doomed to a slow death. Don't let it happen to you.

/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! For more WoW Insider gameplay columns, click here.

Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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