Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with the Drama Mamas. Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are real-life mamas and experienced WoW players -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your server. We're taking your questions at DramaMamas (at) WoW (dot) com.
At what point does the perfectly optimized spec, spell rotation or gear set (for the sake of the guild) take precedence over a spec, spells or gear you simply prefer (for the sake of enjoyment)? Be off with your trollish, black-and-white responses! The Drama Mamas favor neither the airy-fairy, let's-all-hold-hands-and-sing-Kumbaya crowd nor the hard-nosed, theorycrafting progression rockets. You can hypothesize about what people should do 'til the Beast Mastery pets come home -- but unless you're talking about specific people in specific guilds with specific goals, you're just another victim of the Pack mentality. We'll explain why and show you how to find the line between optimizing for performance and optimizing for fun.
Dear Drama Mamas: Our raid is working on ICC-25. We've done a few hard modes in TOC, back before ICC came out, so we aren't completely terrible. We've cleared everything except for Putricide, the Blood Queen, and the Frostwing Halls. However, my guild leader is noticing more and more that our DPS is falling behind and that a few players are making choices about their characters that are ... well, "not optimal." These include a fire mage who isn't too interested in respeccing Arcane, a shadow priest who's still falling behind even after the buffs, and a holy priest who plays well but makes some odd talent choices.
We keep hitting DPS walls on Putricide and of course the Blood Queen, which is definitely a DPS race. We value the players as much as downed content; however, it would be nice if we didn't have to wait until we overgeared the fight to be able to clear it. What would be the best way to encourage players to retool their specs, gear and playstyles, in the most fair and personable way possible? Thanks, Theorycrafter
Drama Mama Lisa: I'm hoping with everything I have, Theorycrafter, that you are a guild officer -- because the mission your leaders sets for your guild makes this a simple, straightforward matter. With a strong identity, goals and sense of direction, your guild will weather this potentially touchy situation with grace.
Define yourself as a guild. For you and your guild, Theorycrafter, a friendly atmosphere and smooth progression are obviously both important. Let's be even more specific. Where exactly does the line fall? The most progression-minded guilds will cut unskilled players and recruit only those who can push the team forward. Moderately progressive guilds may break content with an A team and bring in weaker players later. More relaxed guilds may feel that experiencing the game as a group takes precedence over progression. There's no right or wrong way to handle this balance, but it is important that you all know explicitly where the guild stands. It's this philosophy that determines how to handle individual performance issues.
WoW Heroes and post the entire guild's scores on your guild forums. Open up threads on how to improve, and link resources (WoW.com, Elitist Jerks, etc.) to encourage discussion. Get tough with the rather epicly named mod EnsidiaFails, which tracks individual screw-ups -- who got hit by the lava wave during Sartharion, who missed the jump on Thaddius, who got hit by the Death Ray in phase 2 of Yogg-Saron ... This installment of our Officer's Quarters column will guide you through how to use "failure" reports to improve your guild's performance.
If you're somewhere in the middle, you can still use the tools and tactics above, albeit with a softer touch. You'll also want to consider your guild's overall size. More members could give you the flexibility to push ahead with a strong team, weave in weaker members in smaller numbers, or even implement an entirely new raid slotting system. You may have to help guild members adjust to occasionally riding the pine.
If preserving your team and its friendships rules supreme, prepare for more careful social maneuvering. The measures listed above can still be a positive here, but use extreme sensitivity running "failure" mods. We've talked in the past about ways of effecting positive change in so-called friendly scrubs and terribads. Some form of "the L2P talk" is inevitable. Take a super-sized dose of patience, stay true to your goals and call us in the morning!
Drama Mama Robin: Hi, Theorycrafter! I am going to assume that progression, while still preserving your team, is a big goal in your guild. So your guild leader shouldn't (and doesn't want to) give ultimatums. I'm going to speak to you as if you were the raid/guild leader (though you're not) and propose a three-pronged attack.
Educate Find guides for each troubled class that give breakdowns for what spec is best for raid DPS, why and how. Also find discussions for what spells, skills, attacks, etc., to use for each boss. A good source for these is our class columns here at WoW.com, but your class officers probably have their favorites. Then provide easy access to the problem players. Yes, spoon feed them with offline reading. Of course, they should be researching their classes themselves, but they're not. Shaming them or being testy about it won't help here, so providing the info in a way convenient to them will get you closer to your goal and have everyone still remain friendly.
Motivate Though you haven't stated that you have a hunter having a problem, Brian's column about specs and raids is really relevant here and can help convince the low-DPS people why they should be willing to make changes for the team. Their choices for fun impact the people they say are friends. Playing however you like is fine when you aren't raiding, because you really aren't affecting anyone but yourself. But if you are part of a team, it's just not nice to expect your teammates to carry you. In random PUGs, I'm all for just "doing enough" because those groups are designed for gearing up and getting better -- and honestly, doing too much DPS in a PUG can be hazardous. Guild raids are a different animal, however, and you really need to try to do your best to not only get past the content but to be considerate of your guildies. Perhaps explaining things to them on these terms will help to motivate them to be there for their teammates.
Fund (What? I couldn't come up with a word that ended in -ate. Fundicate? Goldifate?) Pay for the problem players to dual spec. Sure it's a lot of gold. Yes, your other players probably funded respeccing themselves. Again, it's not so much about fairness here. It's best for the team to get these players DPSing higher so you all can reach your goals. So do some fundraising and gift them the ability to have their fave spec and a raiding spec.
What if they refuse? Well, then perhaps it is time to start recruiting new friends who are willing to play their "bad" specs on their own time; reserve the raid spots for them. Good luck!
Drama buster of the week
They call it "grouping" because you actually ought to work as a group. If you're playing like a soloist, forcing everyone else in the group to adapt to what you are doing, you've missed the point. The mark of an excellent player is the ability to make a weak group workable and a mediocre group sing.
Remember, your mama wouldn't want to see your name on any drama. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at DramaMamas (at) WoW (dot) com.