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Officers' Quarters: Thundering up to 25

Throne of thunder
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.

Lately Blizzard has been moving toward making 25-man raids more rewarding again. They've already done so in Asia. Elsewhere, they are trying something new with Thunderforged items, which will drop more frequently in larger raids. Time will tell if this is enough to save 25s. In the meantime, some guilds, like the one in the email below, are thinking about making the leap from 10s.

Hello Scott!

Very long time reader - first time writer! I love this blog - you have given some really awesome advice, and now I'm looking for some myself, oh wise one!

I'm a GL of a 10 man raiding guild. I've seen guilds fall apart around me, and I've seen guilds hold strong through the past 6 months. I'm proud to say that my 2 year old guild is doing fantastic.

So, what's the problem? We're doing perhaps a little *too* well. We've been getting applicants without having been actively recruiting. We've brought in some great members. We rarely turn applicants away - if they seem like a great fit, we work with them to give them the opportunity to raid with us. We run two 10-man groups, but with new members coming in that want to raid, we're having to sit people.

Now there are rumblings and whispers about running 25s.

It makes more sense than to find two more tanks, 3 more healers a few dps and another raid leader for a 3rd 10-man. We've also been looking for more unity. So, my question is how do we make a smooth transition into a 25 man guild? Our members love the 10 man setup but many are also excited about possibly running with a bigger group as well.

I've thought about the obvious factors - finding a couple days a week that everyone can raid, figuring out who we have that are ready to raid in the next patch, leadership roles, and ... probably the biggest drama potential - the loot system. What works in our 10 mans probably won't for 25.

I want to be as transparent as possible with this transition - I want our guild members to have a say in what type of system we actually go with. I'm all for democracy! Of course I'm also worried about possible flame wars - for example some people are in favor of DKP or Loot council while there are very very strong opinions against them. I understand no loot system is infallible - and we can't make everyone happy with it. In early Wrath I led a 25 man raiding guild and it completely fell apart because of loot drama. I'm a little gun shy here, so this is why I'm asking for advice. I don't want the same thing to happen here because I love this guild. We're all adults and so far there have been no issues. It's just when a new tier comes out and all new purple shinies are to be had... well some people may not be able to help themselves...

Should I make the transition? Any advice for making the transition? Should I keep running 10s and sitting people? My guild members are pretty much for either format.

Sincerely,

It's not broken... should I still fix it?

Hi, INBSISFI. Thank you for the kind words about my column. It's always nice to hear that.

Before we get into the raid size issue, there IS such a thing as overrecruiting. My guild was like yours -- we reached a point where we never had to advertise. People just heard about us through word of mouth. You have to be careful in these situations that you don't take on more people than you can keep happy.

Obviously you're going to lose people to other games or life obligations, and you have to anticipate that. You don't want the roster to stagnate. Still, being more selective about players can slow down the influx and ensure that those who join you are the best possible recruits.

Filtering players

The best way to filter players it to require they fill out an application or (more personal but more time-consuming) have an officer chat with them. Using either method, you want to find out what this player's expectations are about raiding, progression, and style of play. Then make sure they know how your guild matches up with those expectations. When it's a mismatch, it should become pretty clear to both parties. (It sounds to me like you're already doing this, but I mention it here for other guilds.)

Some players will want to join even if it's doesn't seem like their ideal community. It can be tempting to take them on, especially if they are highly experienced raiders. Invite them at your own risk -- and make sure they know that you aren't planning to change the guild or its culture to better suit them. In your case it's probably better to turn them away.

Either way, all of your officers should have a say in who is invited and who isn't. You're in the enviable position of being picky about whom you bring on -- take advantage of that to build the best roster that you can.

Super size it

You must handle the size issue very carefully. Part of what brought down my original guild was our struggle with raid sizes. Toward the end of Wrath, we tried to become a 25-man raiding guild again, but when we decided to return to 10-man, we lost a lot of players who had really wanted to run the larger raids. Given, this was in the days of better loot for bigger raids, and a lot has changed since then.

I do think it makes sense if you have a large raiding roster to get everyone in the same raid. Managed properly, a unified raid can build cohesion and a strong sense of common purpose in the guild.

My advice is to treat it, at least initially, as an experiment. Don't say that you're officially changing the guild to a 25-player guild from this point forward. Just say that you're trying it to see if it's better for the guild as a whole.

You should expect a mixed reaction. Some people will hate the bigger format. For them, maybe you could also do alt runs in 10s, or choose one of the three 5.0 raids to always run in 10s on a separate night.

Other players will love the larger raids and won't want to run 10s anymore -- those are the people you risk losing if your experiment fizzles.

Keep in mind that you will need more than 25 raiders to make this work. More players always means more attendance issues. Depending on how reliable your players are, you may need up to 30 raiders to make sure you'll always have enough bodies for all those slots.

You'll also want to encourage your raiders to learn and gear up for multiple roles. 25-man encounters require fluidity in the number of healers you use, and for many fights you'll want to maximize the number of ranged or melee DPS. You'll also need people to fill in for those missing on any given night.

The power of points

As for loot, I would not recommend loot council, since that's pretty much guaranteed drama. I also don't recommend rolling for loot like you might in 10s, either. There are too many people, and inevitably someone will complain when they see someone rolling on something that they "don't deserve," "can't put to good use," "is a much smaller upgrade for them," etc.

For a larger group, some kind of DKP (or EPGP) is the safest bet, and it's not difficult to manage with addons like WebDKP or Quick DKP. This type of loot system encourages attendance, which is exactly what you want to do with a larger raid size. The people who are against it are most often the people who know that they will get less loot because their attendance is poor. Given the choice, you want to reward your high-attendance players over their low-attendance counterparts.

Again, don't make any new loot system official. Just say that you're going to try using DKP and see how it works out. You can always change it later if the majority are not on board.

I'm fairly certain, however, that once people see it in action, they'll buy into it. Done properly, it's incredibly efficient and fair. There's a reason, after all, why most 25-man raiding guilds use some kind of points system. It'll mean more work for the officers, but you'll save yourselves so much aggravation over the loot drama of rolling or council that it's entirely worthwhile.

A priority system like Suicide Kings can work for some guilds, too, but it has its own issues. It's good that you understand that no loot system is infallible, but make sure your raiders understand that, too!

By treating this entire transition as an experiment, you'll allow yourself the option to return to the status quo while minimizing discontent and disappointment, should the need arise. Make sure you give it a solid chance, though -- try it for a couple of weeks at least so people have enough time to adjust. As a fan of the bigger raids, I hope you and more guilds like yours can make it work!

/salute

Officers' Quarters keeps your guild leadership on track to cope with sticky situations such as members turned poachers or the return of an ex-guild leader and looking forward to what guilds need in Mists of Pandaria. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to scott@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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