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Officers' Quarters: Alt run aggression

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.

Alt runs can be tricky things in this age of shared lockouts among raid sizes. No longer can we bring an alt who's saved to a 10-man raid to our main character's 25-man run. Scheduling alt runs can also be difficult. There's only so much time in the week where players' schedules mesh. This week, a guild leader tells the tale of the alt run that caused a firestorm and asks what he can do to resolve the situation.
Hey Scott!

I wanted some of your lights on a recent issue I'm being faced with. Basically, the point is twofold: misunderstandings and the limits of our powers as officers and GMs.

Here's the rundown: I'm GM of a casual raiding team (Friday/Saturday night, 6 hours of so, two 10 man raids at most) who was originally built to offer those that could not afford to raid during the week an opportunity to raid decently without most of the pressure of attendance. That was a couple of years ago and we've been doing pretty well for ourselves.

Just last week, one of our members (let's call him Hoots) offered an alt raid on Monday night, which was decently successful. The day after, there was an argument with an officer that basically amounted to "we should focus our activities on the weekends, since we're a weekend guild." The argument kinda escalated when another member jumped on the officer, accusing her to forbid weekday raiding, to which the officer freaked out and the argument went off tracks. It went to the officer council the day after, and we actually punished the trespasser (take a memo).
Anyways, we then went to the topic of "other" raids. The officer that got in the argument was adamant that members could create raids on the weekdays, but should not disturb our regular raiding schedule, nor be considered official raids. She stated (rightfully, I think) that it was sad that members that could not raid in the week could not enjoy alt raid in a guild focused on weekend play.

Fair enough. I offered to create our own, weekend afternoon alt raids to offer more possibilities to our players. My issue is that the same officer insists that this weekend alt raid takes precedence, and becomes "official", leaving the weekday runs as "personal initiatives", and I'm torn over the idea: it's a fine line between putting the guild priorities forward (i.e. weekend raids) and implying that we disavow and are displeased of the weekday raids, especially after punishing a player that had supported the weekday raids. Further, there IS bad blood between the officer and Hoots, as she has suspicions that he is gathering a support group to have his way with the guild, and I know for a fact she will be blamed for any perceived attack on the weekday raid.

I think my best option is to indeed throw support behind the weekend alt run, as it is consistent with guild policies, but I'm considering how to avoid generating more animosity than absolutely necessary. Luckily, nothing has come to a head, besides me and the officer arguing back and forth the virtues of making the weekend alt run "official". We've considered the aftermath should the weekend run fail due to the weekday run, and this might seriously come to a head between "players accepting the guild's policies" and "guild flexing to members' desires". I think I'd avoid laying the smackdown on the weekday raid, but will probably remind how the "weekday raiders" are penalizing those that cannot afford to raid on weekdays (especially those that ARE connected on weekend afternoons, most often on heroics or AFK'ing away). I fear anything worse would be too harsh. Any tips and tricks on how to sail through this storm?

Thanks!

Weared GM
Two points:

1. Initiative should be valued and encouraged. Hoots didn't have to start an alt run, and before he did, there were no alt runs (I assume). By creating official, competing alt runs on the weekend, you will undercut him.

Guild leaders need members/officers who want to put in an effort to make the guild better. If you discourage Hoots, you discourage all future such endeavors, which could mean more work for you in the future or a guild that offers less.

I don't know what your policies specifically state, but punishing him for leading the run seems highly counterproductive to me.

2. Guilds are not obligated to provide alt runs. Unless your guild policy specifically states that alt runs will be offered, then they should be considered optional across the board -- both for the officers to provide them and the members to attend them.

Neither the weekend nor weekday runs should be declared "official." If you do that, you're essentially committing to provide that run from that point forward. You'll hear a lot of complaints if you decide not to support it at a future date. Depending on your existing membership and available raid leaders, you may not always be able to make these runs happen.

A middle ground

Based on those two thoughts, I recommend allowing Hoots his Monday run. However, explain to your guild that anyone who wants to raid with alts on the weekend may do so as long as they don't interfere with the main raids. Make it clear that all such runs, including Monday's, are unofficial. That way, you're not really taking sides, but you're also not actively discouraging Hoots' effort to improve the guild with additional activities.

It sounds like this other officer is vehemently focused on disallowing any guild activities during the week. I know that your guild is weekend-focused, and that's actually a great way to find a niche for your community on the server. You don't want to lose that unique identity.

However, that shouldn't mean that you must ban any and all activities during weekdays, unless you really want to, but I see that as a detriment to the guild. Clearly there are players who can participate during weekdays, so why not allow them to? It's true that not everyone can participate in a Monday run, but as I said, you're under no obligation to provide such a run in the first place. Nothing about the guild's main weekend activities should change as a result, and those are what you've promised.

As far as this bad blood goes, I recommend that you "sit down" with these two players in a private voice chat room and mediate a discussion of their differences. Otherwise, their arguments will only continue to disrupt the guild.

Evaluate the cost

As you stated, you don't want to hurt your main raids. For that reason, I would be wary of weekend alt runs. The main runs should be the priority and the focus, and anything that is a detriment to them should be evaluated carefully to make sure the trade-off is worthwhile. In this instance, I'd say it's not.

Multiple raids with different characters in the same day seems like overkill to me. I know I couldn't focus for that long. If you see a rise in the number of mental lapses during your main raids, it may be that your players can't actually handle the extra run.

To me, it also seems like a recipe for rapid burnout, particularly if you're running the same content twice in the same day. Maybe when your main raid moves on to tier 12 and your alt runs stay in tier 11, it won't be so bad.

The Monday schedule is actually advantageous to the main raid, because those alts would not be saved to raid IDs until after you've done all your main raiding for the week. That way, if you need an alt to fill a role for the main raid, that character would still be available. Alt runs during weekend afternoons would lock out all of those characters.

It's certainly a balancing act. Just remember that alt runs are a bonus, not a mandatory offering. They're not worth this kind of drama.

The real crux of the issue here is how you will define your guild. Will you discourage or outright disallow weekday activities? Or will you allow the scope of the guild to expand? That is something you need to decide and address before you can truly move forward.

/salute

Recently, Officers' Quarters has examined how strong new leadership can create a guild turnaround, the pitfalls of promising more than you can deliver, and lessons learned from Scott's own guild demise. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to scott@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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