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Officers' Quarters: Raiding addons aren't optional


Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available now from No Starch Press.

Raiding addons aren't optional. They're just not. I'm sure that many people will disagree with me in the comments below. However, I firmly believe this. I'll explain more below -- but first, here's the email that has prompted me to take this stand.

Scott,

Good news/bad news -- I've recently been promoted to co-guild leader. So now I'm in the position of resolving drama. We are a casual, positive training guild that lets people do whatever they want whenever they want. Our guild rules are basically no swearing; no begging; if you want to raid, get Vent. We are currently running ICC-10 and have just started a second ICC-10 and an ICC-25.

The problem is that our Group 1 off tank refuses to get any addons -- not Pally Power, not Deadly Boss Mods, none, zip, zero, zilch, nada. His computer is less than a year old and he is terrified of viruses and won't listen to reason that downloading from sites like Curse is safe -- and yet won't get an authenticator, either.
I soloed two toons to 80 before joining any guild and didn't even know addons existed until after I joined. So I can understand his point of view. However, now I don't know how I got along not knowing when to "run away little girl ... run awaaaaaay." We finally started a website and include links to the suggested general and class-specific addons. Is it common for guild rules to require certain addons for people that want to be part of the raid? He is doing a good job and hasn't caused any more wipes than any of the rest of us. We have several tanks who are frustrated with the other two groups and would love to be part of Group 1. Do we let him continue on, require him to at least get DBM, or give someone else a chance?

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Rogue Tank

Rogue Tank: First, congrats on the promotion!

Before I get into the addon issue, let me talk about the phrase that sent alarm bells ringing in my head: "a casual, positive training guild that lets people do whatever they want." I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but you can't have it both ways like that. You can either be slack and let people do what they want, or you can set expectations and train your players to be good raiders. You can either hope for the best, or you can strive for it.

Training players requires discipline, and part of discipline is obeying rules. In order for people to obey rules, you have to have rules. You actually have a few now, and requiring Vent is a good place to start. However, I suggest adding a few more.

The reason for rules

Rules don't exist for officers to exert their petty and capricious dominance over members (or at least they shouldn't!). They exist so that your raiders can function as a team -- so that everyone knows what's expected and can adapt accordingly. By doing so, you can establish standards that make your players more comfortable with the other members of the team and the effort they're all putting into it. Increased comfort, as an added bonus, means a decrease in drama.

Raid guilds are defined by the amount of effort they require from their members. You can require more or less, but you have to require some. These standards will also make it easier to decide who deserves a spot in Group 1 and who doesn't.

None of this has to be negative in nature. On the contrary, you're enabling your raiders to succeed -- or, I should say, you're enabling your raiders who want to succeed to succeed.

When everyone is on the same page by following these standards, you'll have less conflict among your raiders. Those who can't or won't abide by those standards are not team players -- and they have no place on a team.

Your off tank is one such player. Prior to 4.0.1, for example, Pally Power helped every paladin to buff the raid efficiently and accurately. Pally Power wasn't just convenient for the player who downloaded it -- that addon made life easier for every paladin in the raid, and every paladin who didn't have it was making life harder for everyone else.

Choices send a message

A raiding addon such as Big Wigs or Deadly Boss Mods is a much bigger deal. It may be true that your off tank is able to overcome this self-imposed disability. I'm sure there are many players out there who feel like such addons are just a crutch for the weak-minded or even a form of cheating. If you feel that strongly about it, I suggest you start your own guild where no one uses such things. For the rest of us, these addons are not optional.

Every choice you make sends a message. In a guild like RT's, most people are using the addon. If you choose not to use it, the message you are sending is this: "I'm special and my needs are more important than the raid's needs." Every time you take more damage than you need to, every time you're a bit slow in reacting to an ability or you're slightly out of position because you had to think about what the boss is doing instead of getting an obvious reminder, you are risking a wipe. Therefore, you are breaking my Golden Rule of Raiding (GRR): Don't waste other people's time.

You could react perfectly to every boss ability, every time. That still doesn't make raiding without the addon the right choice. Everyone else is willing to risk a virus in order to help the team succeed. Refusing to do so is not just paranoid or elitist -- it's selfish.

And yes, requiring them is quite common in guilds that raid.

Structure leads to success

What I suggest you do, RT, is come up with a more formal set of rules for raiding in your guild. Announce your rules prior to Cataclysm and make it clear that such rules will be enforced when Cataclysm raiding begins.

Everyone has gotten used to things as they are now, so keep going as you have been in Wrath and 4.0.1. Unless your off tank is making obvious mistakes that an addon could have prevented, there's no reason to jump down his throat about it or replace him.

You can tailor the new rules to be more strict or more lax according to the type of guild you want to run, but you need more structure than you have now. When you announce these rules, explain the reasons for them so that people understand that this is a benefit to the guild as a whole, rather than an attempt to pick on people.

"Everyone does what they want" isn't a concept that works for a functioning team, because realistically what it leads to is this: A few favored and self-important people (like your off tank) get to do what they want and everyone else has to sacrifice and make adjustments for them. Such teams fall apart when those other people can't or won't make those sacrifices and adjustments.

Announcing the rules now will give your players time to adjust and opportunity for people to find a new home if they would rather leave than work together. With the success you'll have in Cataclysm by raiding in a more structured manner, you shouldn't have a problem replacing anyone who quits. Also, you'll be more likely to pick up team-first players instead of selfish players. It's a win/win.

/salute

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

Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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