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April 2011

Friday Five: Five Ways Guilds Can Help Their New Members Integrate

New member! Parachuting in! Handle it!

Earlier this week, I talked about how hard it can be to be the new kid in the raid and guild. Although the bulk of the responsibility for getting to know folks does, inevitably, come down to the new member, there are still some things guilds can do to make transitioning in a lot smoother. And thus, today's five:

  1. Have a guild application that can illuminate the applicant's personality and interests.
    Those former applicants are your new members. If you have a hard-working guild application, current guildies should feel like they've already gotten to know the new member a little bit, which will make it a whole lot easier for them to start making friends in your guild.
  2. Have a welcome committee.
    Seriously! You don't need to bake them a fish feast, but have an officer or a friendly guildie welcome the new member to the guild. They can also point the guildie to any members-only resources on your forums, talk about the trial process (if you have one), and show them where to find the Vent/Mumble server information. Sort of like having someone walk you around the office on your first day of work.
  3. Clearly spell out guild policies and procedures on your website.
    What's your raid sign-up and seating process? When do trial members attain permanent status? Who can take what items out of the guild bank? And for that matter, are items from the guild bank free, or at a fraction of AH cost? These are all things that a new member probably wants to know, but doesn't know whom to ask (or if asking any of these might set off someone's hot button.)
  4. Be friendly!
    A guild with gchat that only consists one one-upping or worse yet, silence, doesn't give your new member a warm welcome. You'd think this would be an obvious statement, but believe me, many guilds are not only not especially friendly to new members, I've seen guilds wherein new members join and walk into a hotbed of hostility from folks who are concerned they might usurp their raid spot.
  5. Plan social events that can help new peeps get to know the old guard.
    Depending on your guild's interests, this can be retro raids, scavenger hunts, group completion of holiday events -- whatever reflects your guild's personality. The point is to have the occasional event planned that allows for conversation, and that can be open to a wide spectrum of your guild community.

What are some of the tactics or activities your guild engages in to make new members feel welcome?


It's Always Hard Being the New Kid in the Raid Team

  WoWScrnShot_011711_155032
You may have noticed some shiny new locales in my screenshots as of late. That's because I'm in a new guild horde-side. They're 10/12, and I get to raid 3 nights per week. A nice upgrade in the raiding department over my prior situation.

That said, like any guild change, it's an adjustment. I've gone from being an officer in a guild that I was in for almost two years, to being the new kid in the progression raid team in a Cataclysm-birthed guild. Easing the transition is the fact that the guild leader is my SO's buddy from way back. So that helps. But it still takes time to get to know everyone and get a sense for the flavor of the guild. And it's easy for a new team member to feel left out of all the inside jokes that you just had to be there to understand. And if you are a highly competitive player, used to being recognized for doing a kick-ass job, it sucks to go back to unknown status.

All this got me thinking about how you as a new guild member can best get assimilated to a new guild.

 3 Ways a New Guild Member Can Get to Know the Guild

  1. Tag Along
    When a guildie asks in G for someone to come along for a heroic, raise your hand. Even if you don't need anything else from justice points. It's in the 5-mans you actually have time to chit chat and get to know your fellow guildies.
  2. Lurk on Vent
    Even if you're not the type to chit chat yourself, if you find that a number of your guildies stay logged in to Vent for hours, that may be a great way to get to know them a little better. And they don't have to know that you're surfing the Internet or reading blogs while you do it. ANd in fact, that may even give you some conversation fodder.
  3. Connect via Social Media
    No, I'm not talking about SPAMming folks with your get rich quick schemes. I'm talking about joining your guildies' conversations on twitter, in the guild forums, on blogs, or even on Facebook. Pick the venues you are most comfortable with, and go raed through the past month or so of activity. Then add guildies to your connections, and say hi. I've been amazed at how much you can learn about your guildies just from being active on twitter.

So, what are your tips for getting to know a new guild?

 


Friday Five: Five Signs That You Need to Give your Main Tank the Boot

Does your raid team wish they could put your main tank on a goblin rocket and send him off to a far away land?


 Ah, the main tank. This is the raid quarterback role. All eyes are on them, all the time. Unfortunately, as a result, and due to how important and seemingly irreplaceable a good tank can be, some guilds bend over backwards to keep them happy. Often at the expense of the rest of the raid team.

My last serious progression raiding guild, circa Burning Crusade, had such a tank. He slowly but surely drove off many skilled raiders who were also great guildies (disclosure: I wsa one such member driven away), negatively impacting their ability to progress in raids. When last I checked in with them, in very late Wrath, the primadonna tank was gone for greener pastures, and they were nowhere near a Lich King kill. From progression raiding group, to a guild unable to get even one ten man kill of the Lich King. That was the cost to the guild for coddling a tank who was a bad fit for the guild-- but able to talk a good game about how the guild couldn't progress without him.

Don't become that guild. You really don't have to. There are always early warning signs that you have a toxic main tank that needs to be neutralized before he disolves your raiding team. Here are five:

  1. Disrespects the other raid members.
    This can manifest itself as talking over other people or shouting them down, fingerpointing at others whenever an issue or challenge pops up, and telling other people how to play their role. Often, this behavior is also related to not taking personal accountability for one's actions and their consequences. Don't chew out a melee for not knowing which add you wanted them to focus on when you 1) didn't tell anyone beforehand and 2) didn't mark a target.  Bonus points if the tank also tells other people how replaceable they are.
  2. You've told more than 1 raid member to just put him on mute on Vent.
    Guildies should not have to put other guildies on mute or ignore. This is not open to discussion for me. Guildies should not have to put other guildies on mute or ignore. Yes, people are people and will have disagreements and different -- sometimes clashing-- points of view. But I have an expectation that I am playing with people who can be mature enough to have a difference of opinion without being nasty and rude to each other. If your main tank is mouthing off and being disrespectful to guildies to the point folks are upset, maybe you should tell the MT to mute himself.
  3. Comes to raids...whenever he feels like it.
    Oh, he missed the raid tonight without telling anyone because he was tired. MMMM'kk. But he wasn't too tired to come online an hour and  a half later to go to another raid? Um, no. He's playing you. By not signing up for raids in advance, and then not always showing up, he's playing a game designed to keep you walking on eggshells, saying things like "don't upset the tank!" How much do you think it upset the 9 people who didn't get to raid when he blew them off to show them their place? And double minus points if he has transferred off the server to go play with a more progressed guild at some stall in your progression.
  4. Is an alt, with a main in a more progressed guild.
    I've seen a lot more of this in the past 2 years, likely because of the ease with which we can get our alts geared up through heroics and badge/points gear. My serious raiding guilds would give an auto gkick to people who were raiding (or applying to raid) elsewhere. Why? Because you don't want a raider who is only half committed to your raid. If you're super casual this may not be an issue. But if you are working on Al'akir, and finally making some headway, do yuo want to call it when your tank bails to go do something with their main's guild? Because that's what starts happening eventually. And again, that leaves your raid team in the lurch.
  5. Thinks (or even says out loud) you can't possibly carry on without them.
    It sucks to recruit a tank for your guild. But that doesn't mean your toxic tank is irreplaceable. None of your raid members are irreplaceable. And if someone on the team has this attitude-- this arrogance, it spills over into their interactions with the rest of the raid team. People don't like someone who wields their smug superiority over them. That's not how to build team camaraderie.

A raiding team full of frenemies may have some initial success, but once you hit the end of the tier bosses, you need true collaboration and teamwork to pull things off. If your main tank is exhibiting a few of these traits, sit him or her down and have a conversation about the importance of working as a team. Don't let a key player unravel the team.


What to Wear: a Shadow Priest's Guide to Zul'aman and Zul'gurub Heroic Dungeon Gear

Patch 4.1 brings us 5-man heroic dungeon versions of a couple of classic raids: Zul'aman (ZA) and Zul'gurub (ZG), with an opportunity to deck yourself out in ilvl 353 epics, which should help ease more folks into being raid-ready from a geaer perspective.

Thankfully, the loot tables will additionally help fill in some gaps for some of the harder to source items (i.e. wands and bracers.) Personally, I can't wait for my new and improved Will of Arlokk. That was always my favorite staff...

Once the item databases provide more details, I'll subdivide the list by instance.

Note that there is also a trinket, usuable by everyone, that calls forth your own posse of voodoo gnomes: Miniature Voodoo Mask.


How Not to Make a Good Impression in Your First Raid

shadow priest Anexxia stares down Cho'gall

On a recent raid night, we somehow ended up one DPS short of a full raid (hold the jokes, please ;p). Thus, we ended up taking with us a member who had just joined the prior evening.

As it turns out, the officer who had invited this person, must not have known them very well, if at all. I say this because if they had, they wouldn't have suggested bringing him in so far into the instance. Why do I say this? Because I'm pretty sure it was his first ever raid instance.

This player kept asking what color dot he needed to follow on the mini map and was clearly perplexed when asked to just visually look at his screen to see where folks were standing and moving towards. After partially wiping the raid group by running fire in the opposite edition (he literally ran me down), over Vent he asked repeatedly why the instance wouldn't let him back in. And when he finally was in and we were about to go for what was his third attempt, he asked us to wait when the ready check popped up, and proceeded to ask why we didn't all just spread out instead of moving around on the fight.

I believe we gave him three attempts before we cut him loose. And I don't foresee our taking him with us ever again. Why? A few key reasons:

  • He didn't say he was new to raiding before accepting the invitation
  • He demonstrated an inability to follow instructions
  • He talked over vent almost non-stop through the attempts, distracting the entire team from doing their jobs
  • Despite having no idea what he was doing, tried to tell the raid leader and team what we should be doing differently, on a boss we'd previously killed a number of times.

Start with Baby Steps

Now, I do understand why someone without any raiding experience would want to join a raiding  guild. And why they would be excited to be invited to a raid. And we do al have to start somewhere. But if you have no experience with grouping for raids, unless you are a WOW savant, a difficult boss towards the end of an instance is not the place to do that. You really need to start with an easier fight, and to have prepared for it.

Your best bet for getting your raiding feet wet is Baradin Hold. A slight bit of trash, only one boss, and a likelihood your guild can carry you through the content makes this a good starting point. You'll be able to start to get familiar with the dynamics of coordinating 10 or 25 players to achieve a common goal. And gain an understanding of the tasks your class and role may be asked to perform in a raid.

Once you start to feel like you are keeping up with the group, you can start thinking about hitting some of the entry level raid bosses. But you'll want to make sure you go watch a video of the encounter and read a description of what your role does in that fight, so that you are coming into the raid armed with enough knowledge to give it a good try. Be sure that your raid leader knows you are new to the instance, and ask clarifying questions if you are unsure of what you personally are being asked to do.

I understand it can seem scary to admit to being a newbie, but we were all newbies at one point or another. And a good team of folks will appreciate your 'fessing up, versus not understanding why you are having trouble with executing on something they consider to be on farm mode.

Further reading:


Friday Five: Five Keys to Raiding Success

shadow priest uses gnomish powers to narrowly escape the dreaded elevator boss

It's Friday, and we've got five keys to raiding success:

  1. Raid leaders must remember their raid members are not mind readers.
    If you need someone to do something, tell them -- in advance of pulling the boss. Yelling at someone for not doing something you didn't ask them to do, on a boss they've not seen, is not cool, and not effective.
  2. Select and confirm your raiding teams a few days in advance.
    If you have more people who want to raid than you have slots, this is imperative. It's no fun to log on, revved up to raid, then get kicked to the curb. Many of your raiders are fitting raiding into already very busy lives. If they aren't seated for a raid, and know that in advance, that gives them the opportunity to go do something else offline; it's a lot harder to pull plans together last minute, after not getting in.
  3. Let your raiders know your instance plan for the week.
    THis allows them to watch videos the day of working on a new boss, prep their action bars with any macros, or go out and poke around blogs for tips on how to maximize their performance on that boss your team inevitably struggles with.
  4. Make every attempt a serious attempt.
    Don't pull a boss while someone is AFK. Or before everyone is buffed and ready. Ask folks to get their food buff on and be running some sort of flask or elixir. Hand out -- and use -- healthstones if you are lucky enough to have a warlock on the team.
  5. Keep finger pointing and backseat driving to a minimum during the fight.
    Keep Vent clear! The raid doesn't need to know that the spatially unaware ranged DPS died unless they have a specific task that needs to be assigned to someone else. The know-it-all tank doesn't actually know that it was the melee's fault for whatever minor hiccup (that you just recovered from) happened. Mid-fight, when people start in with this stuff, or worse yet, rambling on about things completely non-related to the fight, it distracts the other raiders from doing their jobs, and can cause a wipe. Do your postmortem AFTER the fight, not as a play-by-play while the raid team is still working on it.

As always, YMMV, these opinions are solely mine and do not reflect those of any specific raiding team, and no fluffy animals or raiders were harmed in the making of this Friday Five. What are some of YOUR tips for raiding success?


Warming the Bench...Mid-Raid

Cho'gall will have your heads!...all of you!

A close cousin to the raid leaders who get thte twitchy strategy changing finger every attempt, the raid leader who can't just make up his mind as to whom to bring to the raid each night poses similar challenges to the morale of the raid team.

Put yourself in this position:

You're in the middle of doing a 5-man, or your dailies, or whatever it was that you had planned to do with your WoW time tonight. Then out of the blue, your raid leader asks you to please come and help on Boss X. You agree, and are summoned in so fast you don't even have time to read a refresher strat. Which is fine since after one go at it, you've got a new role to play (i.e. you are now the OT or a healer -- whatever your OS is.) An attempt later, you hear over Vent "Sorry Bud, we are going to bring in X instead" and find yourself removed from the raid.

Do you...

    A. Log out of the game in full nerd rage.

    B. Sit in Org for an hour pondering what you did wrong

    C. Stick pins in your raid leader voodoo doll

    D. /gquit

I've seen all of the above (well except for the voodoo doll -- people tend to keep that quiet) happen in this totally avoidable situation. As a raid leader, you need to be well versed in the strategy you are using for a boss, and know, in advance, whom you need to make that happen. If you think you are going to want someone to come in with an offspec to facilitate that, you need to tell them in advance, give them a couple of minutes to prepare by watching a video or reading a strat from that perspective, and give them a couple of attempts to learn that new role.

It's incredibly insensitive to ask someone to drop what they are doing to come help you then not give them the respect of the ability to give it a good shot by not allowing them time to prep. Chances are your weary raid team could use a bio or make-an-adult-beverage break anyway.

When raid leaders make a habit of this behavior, they may find those last-minute calls to help out will go unheeded. Which makes sense. No one wants to help out someone who treats them as a disposable cog in the raid machine, versus as a person.

 It's a fine line to tread between being responsive to changing raid dynamics and asking folks to fill a variety of roles and being a jerk. How has your guild managed to achieve that balance?


Can Progression Raiding and Alts Productively Coexist?

Don't mind me Atramedes, I'm just sightseeing, said the shadow priest as she crept closer...

We're at a point in this tier of content wherein serious raiding guilds are well on their way into defeating the heroic modes, but many more casual raiding guilds are finding themselves stuck at 9/12 or 10/12 on regular mode. So you know what that means -- folks are starting to want to bring their alts. Worse yet, the people who want to bring their alts are typically the folks who've geared themselves out thanks to having attended all or most of the runs (yes, I'm looking at you MT/Raid Leader/Core Raid team members.)

A guild leader's first impulse is probably to say "OK..." when their raid leader comes to them and says "I don't want to bring my geared out toon to raids any more; I really want to play Character X." But there are a number of reasons you should think twice before sealing that deal:

  1. Often this is not the first-- or the last-- time this player has pulled the old switcheroo. Are you prepared for them gearing up this character then cycling in their next alt?
  2. You've just set a precedent. Now that you've let them swap out to their alt, why can't player X do the same?
  3. So, player Z who has stayed on their main and lost a lot of loot to the swapping player, and is now losing more gear to their alt is starting to hate them.
  4. A raid team wants to feel like a team, not a loot delivery system for the raid leader. It can be hard to respect a leader who is continually fine tuning a situation to their advantage-- raid synergy be damned.
  5. Typically, no matter how much we love our alts, they will not perform nearly as well, or have the same utility as our mains on whom we've spent months raiding.

In my raiding history, once the alts started coming in, progression ground to a stand-still. Tempers flared. And frequently, good players left my raid teams.In many of the cases, this behavior was tolerated because it was done by the raid leader-- and everyone was afraid of losing the raid leader to the extent that no one spoke up about it. But there was a lot of discussion going on in the background amongst the raiders it affected. And none of it sunshine and kittens related.

To be clear, I'm not saying a raid leader shouldn't grab someone's healer alt if a raid won't go without that happening. But allowing players, at their request, to swap characters at this stage in the game, after gearing themselves up? That has a real possibility of derailing your progression momentum.

So, What Can You Do to Avoid a Blowout?

If this issue comes up in your guild, you can't just ignore it. It won't go away. But there are a few ways you can diffuse the situation.

  • Start up an alt raid.
    You probably have enough experienced raiders with moderately geared up alts who want to raid on them. Put them all together, and let them start re-clearing the raids. Bonus points for this approach making folks work for it, versus coasting off mains' hard work.
  • Put it to a vote.
    If someone is truly adamant about wanting to make a switch, put up an anonymous vote on your forums and let the raid team decide. And do the same for if EP/DKP is allowed to roll over or if there will be a penalty spend or freeze for a specific timeframe to discourage the loot and run syndrome.

How has your guild dealt with these situations?


When is the Right Time to Change up Your Raid Strat?

If the shadow priest's gear is broken, it's probably time to change the strat.

This weekend, on twitter, @slowpoker said something that resonated with many of us:

STOP CHANGING THE MOTHERFUCKING STRAT. CAN'T PRACTICE WHEN YOU CHANGE IT EVERY FIVE ATTEMPTS

Amen.

When someone posts on twitter in all caps, and curses, you know it's serious business. So raid leaders, please stop and reflect for a moment, before the the next time you utter the phrase "Let's try a new strat..." and answer these questions honestly:

  1. Did you succinctly explain the strat?
    No, I am not asking if you droned on for 5 minutes about all of the boss abilities. I don't care about the boss abilities. I want to know what I am supposed to do, when I am supposed to do it, and where I should be. If you want an example of some well-written strategy descriptions, go check out Jaded Alt's blog.
  2. Did all of your raid members know their personal special role to be fulfilled, if any?
    "OK, someone needs to kite the adds, and I need two of you to click the chains" does not fulfill the above. Why? Because it doesn't assign a specific person to a specific task. Thus, no personal accountability. "Someone else will do it...." all your raiders think quietly to themselves. And then, no one actually does it.
  3. Did your raid team actually execute the strat?
    Now this is where things can get heated. But answer this honestly: did folks actually play out their roles as requested? Or did they do something sorta similar, but not quite the same? If the latter, then the strat hasn't actually been tried out and deemed unworkable for your team. I saw a lot of this in ICC. FOlks claiming we needed a new strat for Rotface and Festergut when in fact, multiple folks were not even coming close to executing the decided upon and communicated strat.
  4. Have you spent some time using the strat, and not gotten close?
    OK you're executing the strat perfectly, but you're not getting closer than 35% on the boss, ever. That's when it's time to take 5 and evaluate what your issue is. Are your healers overtaxed? Is someone standing in the fire? Is there a sub-10k DPSer in the raid? Is someone talking on the phone while raiding? Try to isolate the failure points. And NOW, you're ready to change up the strat. If you're getting down to less than 10% each time, however, you need to work on your close, not change up the strat.

 In my five+ years of playing this game, and coming up on my five-year anniversary of the first time I set foot in Molten Core, I've found that the most important factor in raiding success has been practice. Having the same folks playing the same role, over time, is what makes raids go more smoothly and efficiently. The more practiced we become in our roles, the better we get at them. What once felt like a chaotic fight eventually feels like a well-orchestrated ballet, with every raid member playing her part.

So the next time you get the itch to change up the strat for a fight your team is just learning, please just pause for a moment and determine if that's really necessary, or if you are just unnecessarily stressing out your raiding team.

Resources

For my Alliance guild, I compiled a list of Jaded Alt's posts on Cataclysm Raid strats, because they really are that good. Here it is for your reference:

BoT


BWD


Throne of the Four Winds


Friday Five: Five Fake Patch Notes That Shoulda Been Real

I'm a smidge tardy with this week's Friday Five, thanks to having spent the better part of the week out of town. But I did get home in time to see some of Blizzard's April Fool's handiworks. And thius, this week's five:

  1. Appearance tab.
    Acknowledging the continued requests of our players, an Appearance tab has been added to the game! The Appearance tab will finally, at long last, allow players to customize the look of their non-combat pets. Simply summon a non-combat pet and use the Appearance tab to change its look to that of any of the other non-combat pets you own. Summon, customize, and play!
    NOTE: of course, we'd *really* like to see this come true for characters, not pets, but still.
  2. Acknowledgement that there's not a lot of choice in the talent trees.
    Talents are now automatically chosen for a player based on the main specialization chosen.
  3. Super herber status.
    Druids now perform an area-of-effect knockback when harvesting herbs, looting, or skinning (does not remove Flight Form).
    NOTE: none of my druids are herbers, mind you, but this would be too funny.
  4. Mirror images now more magey.
    In addition to their current spells, mage Mirror Images now can randomly cast Frost Nova, Ring of Frost, Portal: Dalaran, and Mirror Image. Mirror Images summoned by Mirror Images can also cast Mirror Image. Mirror Images summoned by Mirror Images that are summoned by Mirror Images can also cast Mirror Images. Mirror Images that are summoned by Mirror Images that are summoned by Mirror Images that are summoned by Mirror Images…
  5. Priest class conversion.
    Evangelism now has a 2% chance to convert all surrounding party members to the priest class.

BONUS: Female warlocks are now correctly called witches.

What were your favorites?