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Officers' Quarters: The standby experience

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

"You're on standby tonight." No one wants to hear these words when a raid is forming. It's aggravating, frustrating, and downright depressing sometimes. This week's e-mail comes from a player who's had it with being on standby. I will talk about what she can do to help herself, why raid leaders do this to you, and how the standby system can work better for everyone involved.

Hey Scott!

I've been reading your column for a few months now and I particularly enjoy it. However, I thought I'd never find myself writing to it.

I'm in a bit of a conundrum.

You see, my guild of which I was a member of for quite a few months and enjoyed hanging out with and raiding with broke up. Those of us who were still around joined a good raiding guild on the server. I've seen the leaders and the officers in action and I'm impressed. The guild is fairly large and compared to my last guild, foreign. My previous guild was very friendly and explained things to me. I'm fairly new to this game and especially raiding (I raided Karazhan only a few times as compared to some people's many, many, many times.), but I pick up on things quickly and try to be as useful and helpful as I can. At the moment, there are more than 25 people signed up to raid and the leaders pick who gets to go and who sits on standby. They also use a DKP system, which I am fine with.

My problem is with the standby system.


I completely understand that there are only 25 spots in a raid and not everyone who signs up gets to go. The officers decide who gets to go and who doesn't and that puts a cap on how much DKP you can earn. Obviously they have some regulars that get to go all the time, which means they have high amounts of DKP. If I am continually made to sit on the sidelines, I gain nothing, even though I said I would be able to go. And in the event I do get to go, I probably won't win anything because the regulars have top pick on several pieces of gear because I flat out can't afford it. I don't mind not getting new gear but complaining about my performance because I don't have anything from the latest content is an argument I don't want to run into. People who are on stand by generally need to stick around all night, finding other ways to amuse themselves without becoming too committed, which is absolutely no fun and has no reward.

I am more than willing to put forth the time and effort to going into raids every week, but I don't like the fact that I will not be rewarded until players with a similar gear spec (Casters for instance) get every last piece that they need before I can even get one. [. . .]

How long should I wait to raid until I find a different guild to go to? This server is small and there are not a whole lot of other guilds I want to be associated with so the point where I become that frustrated that I quit will either cause me to transfer servers and start over or quit the game altogether. And I really don't want to do either because I will miss my friends and the game.

Do you have any advice?

Signed,

Frustrated Raider

Hi, FR.

I'm going to address your specific situation first. A few questions for you to think about:
  • How far behind are you, gearwise, from the average raider in your new guild? Have you upgraded to epic gems in every slot?
  • Are you actively running Heroics for badges now that 3.2 is out? Do you have the necessary reputation to purchase the best helm and shoulder enchants for your spec?
  • Do you find yourself getting confused during raids? Do you read strategies and watch kill videos ahead of time?
  • Do you show up prepared with all the consumables, reagents, resist gear, and offspec gear sets that you need?
  • Do you cause distractions or frequently AFK during the raid?
I ask these questions not to insult you, but to highlight some reasons that you might be stuck on standby to begin with. As a new member, you need to make a good impression on your officers and raid leaders. One Hodir attempt where you get frozen multiple times or one night where you're begging people for flasks can leave a bad impression that's difficult to shake.

In addition, the fact that you are an inexperienced raider can really work against you in these situations. Make sure to speak with a class leader or other veteran raider about what your guild's expectations are. Then do your best to meet them every raid night.

The worst thing you can do as a new guild member is complain publicly about the guild's policies or its officers. You'll be labeled a troublemaker/drama queen and it will take a lot of hard work to overcome that reputation.

Instead, I suggest asking the people who fill the raid slots how you can improve. Do not ask them while they are filling the raid, or while they are raiding. They have enough to deal with at those times. Wait for a moment when the officers are just hanging out. Then have a private conversation with them about what you can do to be more valuable to them. As long as you don't frame this conversation as a complaint, they will be impressed by your initiative.

Other than that, you just have to wait your turn. It sucks, but if you want to stay with your friends, you'll have to deal with it.

Now, let's talk about standby from an officers' perspective. Standby is awesome for us. You never know when you're going to lose someone for the night, for any of a thousand different reasons, and it's really handy to have people waiting around to take their place.

Standby isn't nearly as necessary for a 10-player run. Fewer people generally means fewer issues. But for 25-player raids it's almost a must. Without players on standby, you could face multiple, long pauses where you try to fill a suddenly empty slot. You might even have to call the run prematurely. If that happens too often, your players won't want to raid with your guild anymore. Soon enough, no one in the guild will be raiding.

However, for those players waiting around, it's really no fun at all. So how can we improve the standby system both for them and for us? Here are some ideas.
  1. Let them earn DKP or other incentives that help them to get loot when they do get a chance to kill bosses. It doesn't have to be the same amount that people inside the instance are earning. After all, the raiders on standby aren't paying repair bills or using consumables. But it should be enough that they don't feel like they're completely wasting their time if they don't get in. If they have a gathering profession, invite them to gather materials for the guild bank and compensate them with a modest amount of DKP or other loot advantages.
  2. Make sure your raiders communicate about what time they might need to leave. If you have a better idea when you might need someone on standby, they can make more productive use of their time. Of course, some players like to pretend they can stay the whole night, and then some "urgent matter" suddenly comes up. That's because they think you won't take them if you know they can't stay the whole run. There isn't really a way to prevent this except by keeping tabs on who tends to leave early and handling the issue accordingly. Or by recruiting honest players . . .
  3. On that note, let them run the short Heroics. Runs like the Trial of the Champion, Violet Hold, and Drak'Tharon Keep each take less than 20 minutes with a decent group. As long as you have some idea when you might need a standby player, they can plan to be out of dungeons and available around that time. They'll be earning badges that will help them gear up and make a better contribution when they get their chance.
  4. Think about rotating players in and out. Once you have a raid on farm, maximize your loot drops by rotating out players who don't need the loot for those on standby who do. As long as you have a warlock in the raid, and your players know the fights adequately, it won't slow you down too much.
  5. Keep track of those on standby and try to avoid putting them in that situation every single week. You're going to lose them sooner or later. No one can deal with that much standby without shopping around for other guilds. Not to mention, once they finally do get an invite, they won't be very experienced with the encounters. Reading strategies and watching videos can only convey the technical details of the fight. Nothing is better for learning an encounter than raw experience.
  6. As a purely voluntary option, allow raiders to give you their phone numbers or IM names so they can be on standby without being logged in. It's an extra step for the raid leaders to contact someone, so your members should understand that they might be passed up if someone else is online and they're not. However, some nights it's just nice as a standby to have the option, even if it means it decreases your chances of a slot. Just make sure people know that when they get called up, they need to get online immediately (barring a real-life emergency, of course).
  7. If a player has virtually no chance of getting into a run, for whatever reason, don't put them on standby week after week as a way of blowing them off. Tell them how they're falling short or why you don't intend to bring them. Then tell what they need to do (or stop doing) to earn a slot, even if it's just a standby slot.
I realize that some of these ideas are counterproductive for raids. Many times, you have no warning about losing a player mid-run. You want to refill that slot ASAP and continue on. However, by making the standby experience more pleasant, more rewarding, and more convenient, you'll increase your chances of actually having players standing by. They'll be willing to do so more often and for longer stretches of time. And they'll be less likely to use that time to tab out and guild-shop!

/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: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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