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Spendrak
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PostSubject: Casual raider or casual guild?   Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:29 am

nice article:

http://www.wowinsider.com/2008/04/07/officers-quarters-casual-raiding-that-works/

Let me say this up front: You can raid as a casual guild, but you can't raid casually. Raiding as a casual guild means your guild raids, but it isn't the only thing your guild does. You have flexible rules about attendance and fewer requirements for joining. You are more tolerant of those who don't quite know what they're doing yet and try to help your members learn to play their best.

On the other hand, raiding casually means people show up to that night's raid late if at all, their talent specs are all over the place, and they may or may not bring the right consumables, install the right addons, or know anything at all about the zone they want to defeat. This approach doesn't work, end of story. Trust me. I've tried it. It gets ugly very fast.

When everyone steps through that swirly instance portal, your players have to put aside their personal issues. They have to turn off their TVs, shut the door to their room or office, and get focused. They have to come prepared to succeed. That doesn't mean they can't have fun. It just means everyone has to take their job seriously. And no one has to take their job more seriously than your raid leader.
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izzia
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PostSubject: Re: Casual raider or casual guild?   Tue Apr 08, 2008 8:46 am

Sounds familar Smile
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Spendrak
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PostSubject: Re: Casual raider or casual guild?   Wed Apr 16, 2008 10:30 am


2nd part of this article:
http://www.wowinsider.com/2008/04/14/officers-quarters-casual-raiding-that-works/
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Valdr
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PostSubject: Re: Casual raider or casual guild?   Tue Apr 29, 2008 11:38 am

Thanks for the great recommendation Spendrak!

Here are the 4 articles in the series:
http://www.wowinsider.com/2008/04/07/officers-quarters-casual-raiding-that-works/
http://www.wowinsider.com/2008/04/14/officers-quarters-casual-raiding-that-works/
http://www.wowinsider.com/2008/04/21/officers-quarters-casual-raiding-that-works/
http://www.wowinsider.com/2008/04/28/officers-quarters-casual-raiding-that-works/

I've also put all of the content here:

Let me say this up front: You can raid as a casual guild, but you can't raid casually. Raiding as a casual guild means your guild raids, but it isn't the only thing your guild does. You have flexible rules about attendance and fewer requirements for joining. You are more tolerant of those who don't quite know what they're doing yet and try to help your members learn to play their best.

On the other hand, raiding casually means people show up to that night's raid late if at all, their talent specs are all over the place, and they may or may not bring the right consumables, install the right addons, or know anything at all about the zone they want to defeat. This approach doesn't work, end of story. Trust me. I've tried it. It gets ugly very fast.

When everyone steps through that swirly instance portal, your players have to put aside their personal issues. They have to turn off their TVs, shut the door to their room or office, and get focused. They have to come prepared to succeed. That doesn't mean they can't have fun. It just means everyone has to take their job seriously. And no one has to take their job more seriously than your raid leader.

1. Find a Committed Raid Leader

Much like the house where you grew up, a raid is not a democracy. Everyone should feel free to express their opinion, but somebody has to make the tough final decisions and somebody has to be hard on people so the group will improve. A good raid leader knows the mechanics of every class, the personalities of the raiders, and the nuances of every pull and every boss. That doesn't sound very casual, does it? It's not. This is an important point that most casual guilds don't understand as they embark on their first raid: There has to be at least one person who falls into the "hardcore" category, and that is your raid leader.

Leading raids might actually be more difficult than leading a guild. That person can't afford to slack. They have to look at everything with a critical eye, from a person's spec to their casting rotation to the buffs they use. They constantly have to make judgment calls about who is good enough for what. Sometimes a raid leader has to hurt a person's feelings. It's not fun telling that guy who's incredibly likable and generous but can't DPS his way out of a wet 6-slot bag that he has to step it up if he wants to come to Night 2 of that week's Karazhan. And that's just a small glimpse at why very few people want to lead raids.

It's not a job that can be forced on someone. He or she will burn out very quickly when things start to go wrong. You have to find a member -- not necessarily an officer (although that does help) -- who is perverse enough to enjoy this role. You might be lucky enough to have more than one person who's good at this, but consider yourself fortunate if you have just one, because one is enough for a casual guild. You have to schedule your raids around his or her real-life commitments, but in exchange for that you'll have consistent, effective leadership. And that is the primary ingredient for successful raiding.

2. Develop a Fair Loot System

Raiding takes time out of people's lives, time away from other obligations and responsibilities. So they need to feel that they will be properly rewarded for that time. A loot system in which officers and their friends get first dibs is a short trip to Failuretown. Likewise, a DKP system that allows people to build up massive point totals so a new member won't see a drop for months is demoralizing to recruits and makes it difficult to retain them. However, it can be just as bad to propagate a system that allows a brand new raider to outbid a longstanding member with 100% attendance who's been waiting for a certain drop since, well, forever.

What does my guild use? We decided on a modified zero-sum DKP system. The basics are simple. We assign point values to every drop in a certain zone. When something drops, the person who has earned the most points can take it. If that person has 40 points at the time, and the item is worth 100 points, they now have -60 points. They have to work their way back into positive points before they can receive another item. Meanwhile, everyone in the raid receives the 100 points that were spent. Since everyone gets the same total that one person lost, no points have been added to the system. Thus the phrase "zero-sum."

What's great about this system is that veterans can build up points to outbid a newer member or someone with less attendance -- but once they spend those points, they can't receive another item for a while, giving those other people a chance to receive something. Those who attend more frequently will obviously get more points and more loot, but they won't always get everything that they want to take.

We added some very tiny bonuses for showing up on time, staying through a night of wipes with no loot, and participating in a guild-first kill. The bonuses add a small bit of "inflation" to the system, but it's not enough to allow massive point buildups. It motivates people to be timely and to attend when the odds of actually getting loot might be 50/50.

There are many different effective loot systems out there, so take a look around the Web and find one that works for you. If you've used another system that worked well, tell us about it below!

It's up to you whether you want to use a point system for all raids or only for 25-player raids. We do the latter, because there isn't nearly as much competition for a given item in a smaller raid setting. For Kara and Zul'Aman, /random works fine for us. But we tend to have mature players who don't mind passing on drops from time to time for whatever reason. If our members were more self-centered, this very casual method wouldn't work for any raid size.


3. Communicate Your Plan

Once you've found a raid leader and decided on a loot system, unveil your plan to the guild. This is the part where a lot of officers go wrong. They either fail to communicate their exact intentions or they just assume that their members will go along with whatever they want to do. Don't make this mistake.

You need to lay it all out there:
--How will runs be scheduled?
--When will raids occur and for how long?
--Who will go?
--Who will decide who goes?
--What will they base those decisions on?
--What is the immediate goal? (for example, clearing Karazhan or downing Gruul)
--What is the long-term goal ("killing" Kael'thas in The Eye)
--Will we recruit more aggressively?
--What will we look for in recruits?
--Will we have CLs (class leaders)?
--What does it take to become a CL?
--What voice chat software will we use?
--If we need a server for voice chat, who will moderate and pay for it?
--What addons will we use?
--How will loot be handled?
--Who will be the main tank?
--Will we focus on gearing up one tank exclusively at first?

All these issues can quickly become points of contention that divide your membership and cause undue friction. At this point, you've worked really hard to come up with a solid gameplan, but that doesn't mean it's perfect and that doesn't mean it's what the majority of your members want. So after you communicate it to the masses, request feedback and make adjustments where it seems reasonable and necessary.

The most important question to address is probably this:

--How will the guild change as a result of all this?

Most members have anxiety at this stage that the guild will crumble apart due to infighting over raid slots or loot, or that they will be judged unfit to raid and quickly fall by the wayside. Remember your guild's core values, and reassure people that these values won't be discarded for shiny purple tooltips. That's the easy part. The hard part is actually sticking to them in the face of adversity.

Even so, unless you've founded the guild to do exactly this, making the transition to casual raiding will almost certainly mean the guild is changing. It's difficult to anticipate exactly how it will change. Sometimes it means certain policies have to shift, such as always passing on loot that's a bigger upgrade for someone else. (It's a noble idea, but one that isn't always practical.) Sometimes it means a shift in the overall attitude of your members. For example, some people will inevitably take raiding more seriously than others, and they may start to feel like the others are holding the guild back. Changes can occur overnight. They can also creep along in the background, until one day you realize you're haranguing one of your hunters about running out of arrows during a boss fight even though she's just racked up a 50 gold repair bill, gone through 20 stacks of expensive ammo, and stayed up way past her bedtime.

What's critical is that you maintain self-awareness during this period and try to react to the changes in the guild before they turn into major problems. The best way to react is very often through frequent and effective communication with members at all levels.

4. Hammer Home the Need for Preparation

It never ceases to amaze me, but some people actually believe that, once they hit level 70 and zone into a raid instance, the raid leader will just tell them what to do and they'll somehow eventually get epics without actually trying. I'm not sure if they underestimate the difficulty or if they just want someone else to do the work, but people like this are raid-slot poison. As an officer, it's your duty to make sure everyone knows what is expected of them ahead of time. If you've told them what they need to do and they don't do it, then they really have no one to blame but themselves when they're fishing for Mr. Pinchy while the rest of the guild is fishing for Lurker.

Of course, with a casual raiding guild, you can't always afford to leave people behind. It's easy to enforce preparation when you've got 35 people to fill five groups. But what if you've got 23 people and 2 friends of the guild tagging along? If you send somebody packing, the raid might not even happen (assuming you even have the right class balance to begin with).

For casual raiding guilds, preparation is doubly tricky: You're more likely to have members who don't show up prepared, but you're also less likely to be able to bench someone for showing up without a clue. Repeatedly -- perhaps even excessively -- emphasizing good pre-raid prep will reduce the amount of downtime you face as a result of the unprepared. I have to say, though, being able to summon people directly into an instance has been a lifesaver in this regard (Zul'Aman excluded).

Some people weren't keen on my comparison of a raid to a sports team, but I stand by it. The medium may be different, but the principles are the same. You can't play a football game if you don't know the playbook and your helmet is broken.

It seems this column was destined for lists. Here are some of the things that your raid members should be doing prior to a raid:

--Read the strategies! Only the locked bosses in the Sunwell haven't been analyzed and theorycrafted and reduced to a sterile sum of their inherent stats and abilities. The information is out there and easily accessible. Likewise, study up on the trash, which is seldom as deadly but can certainly slow a raid down and hamper progression.
--Bring more consumables than you could ever possibly need! Buff potions/flasks, buff food, temporary item buffs (wizard oils, poisons, and such), health potions, mana potions, bandages, ammo, reagents (including soul shards), and repair bots are just some of the items you want to stock up on. Some encounters -- Lurker is actually a good example -- can require more specialized consumables like bait.
--Repair your gear! Duh.
--Enchant and socket your gear! Every little advantage helps. Research which enchants and gems are most effective for your raid role.
--Spec like you mean it! Don't come to PVE encounters with a PVP spec. Even worse, don't come to heal with a DPS spec, tank with a healing spec, and so on. Talents are way more powerful than gear. If you can't afford to respec, borrow the cash or do some dailies.
--Install and update the required addons! Five minutes prior to zone in is not the time to configure Ventrilo or download BigWigs. Give yourself some room for error if something goes wrong.
--Go bio! You laugh, but there's always that guy who has to bio after the second pull. Seriously, pretend it's a long car ride -- go before you sit down at the PC even if you aren't necessarily squeezing your knees together.

My apologies for all the exclamation points. Can you tell I feel strongly about this topic? Yes, all of these things take time. But just like a sport or a test or whatever analogy you want to apply, you can't excel unless you put in the effort up front. Officers need to set the example for everyone else, so make sure your officers in particular do what they must to be ready.
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PostSubject: Re: Casual raider or casual guild?   Tue Apr 29, 2008 11:39 am

Welcome to part 3 of my ongoing, in-depth, casual raiding how-to! For parts 1 and 2, click here and here. Last time I talked about communicating your raiding intentions and policies and emphasizing individual preparation prior to a raid. A few people in the comments felt that some of what I recommend doing is a bit too much to ask of casual players. To that I say, every guild is different. It's up to the officers and raid leaders to decide how hard to push the envelope. Only you know your members and the type of experience they're looking for. I can only tell you what has worked for me. But I will also say this: If you push your members a little harder than they're used to, they might surprise you by how they improve their performance in response. If you never push, then you'll never know. You can always back off next time if it becomes a problem.

This week I'm going to discuss two important mindsets to maintain during your raids that can mean the difference between successful runs and demoralizing disasters.

5. Foster an Environment of Accountability

Accountability ties into preparation -- everyone should be accountable for having what they need and showing up on time when they sign up for a run. But it goes far beyond that. It means that each raiding member of your guild should feel like they are part of a team, and when they do something that holds the team back or lets the team down, they should hold themselves accountable for it. For example, if you wander ahead of the tank and pull trash that wipes the group, you should admit that you're the one who goofed and apologize to your guildmates for wasting their time and gold.

It's a small thing, but it never ceases to amaze me how people can do something like that and then try to act like it wasn't their fault. If you think nobody saw it or nobody checked the combat log to see what happened, you're deluding yourself. You're not getting away with anything, no matter what you say. Denying your errors creates an atmosphere of resentment. On the other hand, acknowledging them creates an atmosphere of trust. It gives the raid the opportunity to forgive you, which fosters goodwill and allows people to get over it. Finally, it presents an opportunity for others to learn from your mistakes. If a mage blinks into the main tank and kills him during Gruul's shatter, admitting that error can be a heads up for other mages to be careful who they're blinking toward, which otherwise they might not have considered until they made the same blunder later.

This environment of accountability has to begin with the officers. As a leader, it's often difficult to admit that you're wrong. But it's critical that you do so. It will show people that it's okay to mess up, that even the raid leader can make a mistake sometimes. And it sets the example for everyone else.

Another way to foster this mindset is to have members symbolically commit to being part of the raiding team. For my guild, we simply ask people to sign up as a raider on the forums. It takes 10 seconds to do, but it means that each person who raids with us has committed to doing their best to help the guild succeed. Some guilds ask members to request a specific Raider rank. Any system you use allows the officers to hold people accountable for letting the guild down when they don't follow through with their intentions. In casual guilds where you can't often sit people out, doling out punishment in the form of a raiding ban is self-defeating. However, you can threaten to downgrade a member's status, either by taking them off the raiding list or rescinding their Raider rank until they shape up. That doesn't usually mean a tangible change in their Warcraft schedule. Still, it's a form of public embarrassment that can be more effective than any 7-day raiding vacation.

6. Take Both Success and Failure in Stride

Probably the most frustrating part of casual raiding is the inconsistency. Some nights you'll have a full crew ready to go and you'll blast through bosses like so many flimsy piņatas full of delicious loot. Other nights you'll struggle to fill the slots and those same bosses will seem like insurmountable titans laughing at your feeble attempts to kill them and take their stuff. It's the nature of the beast, though, so try not to let it go to your head. Don't get too cocky after a victory. Likewise, don't get too depressed after a failure. (Although, if your raids consistently fail, that's another story . . .)

The inconsistency does make it difficult at times to move on to new content. It's tough to down Vashj or Kael'thas every week when you never know if Hydross or Void Reaver will die haplessly on the first try or demolish your raid for two hours. On nights where your raid just doesn't seem to have it together, it's tempting to call it quits much earlier than you normally would. But you're doing your members a disservice.

When people know that a struggling run means a short run, they aren't motivated to try harder. It doesn't really make sense to me, and it probably doesn't to you either. But it's a pattern I've noticed and this is the best way I can explain it. People sign up sometimes hoping to just cruise along and let themselves be carried by the better players. If those better players aren't there and you bail on the run, the slackers are happy because then they don't have to rack up a big repair bill -- and they never have to try any harder than they do. When the raid leader makes everybody keep going back for more punishment, however, those same people realize they aren't getting a free pass. It dawns on them that the best way to end the cycle of repeated wipes is to take a stand and do something about it. Some of them might actually wake up and say, "I guess I should figure out why I'm dying every Phase 2." Or, "Maybe it's time to start using these potions I'm supposed to bring." And sometimes, you actually kill that boss (that you've had "on farm" for four months) on the eighth try. It's not pretty, but casual raiding rarely is! And you have the added bonus that some of those slackers will see that trying harder pays off, and they'll try just as hard every time from that point forward.

In a similar fashion, you might be tempted to get ahead of yourselves if success comes too easy. Especially now that most attunements have been lifted, it's awfully easy to zone in to Hyjal or the Black Temple with an undergeared bunch that has no idea what kind of demoralizing wipefest they're blundering into. Seeing new content is always exciting, but make sure you've at least got a fighting chance, or you could cause some heated arguments about who's pulling their weight in the new zones and who isn't.

By definition, progress is going to be slower for a casual raiding guild. It's a good thing most casual raiders aren't in it for the progression and the loot. We do it for the fun of it, right? But that's an issue for next week -- I'll wrap this topic up with part 4 next Monday.

This is it, folks. This is the final column in my four-part feature about how to take your casual raids to the next level. For parts one, two, and three, click on the purple words with lines under them.

I've noticed in the comments under these features that a few people seem confused about the difference between casual and hardcore raiding. One reader from last week, Ger, put it best:

The point of "casual" is to concentrate on WoW being a fun game more than a chore, but if you want to raid then be prepared to take some dang responsibility and not be a liability to 9 or 24 other people.

That one made me laugh. It's a bit of an exaggeration, yes, but I like that definition. Let's recap what I talked about previously, and follow that up with some more suggestions.

Here are the six suggestions I've already covered:

Find a committed raid leader.
Develop a fair loot system.
Communicate your plan.
Hammer home the need for preparation.
Foster an environment of accountability.
Take both success and failure in stride.

To those I will add three more.

7. Never stop recruiting.

Sometimes I envy the hardcore guilds. In some ways they have it easy. Whenever I see a recruitment notice from a hardcore guild, they usually say something like "BT guild needs one Shadow priest" or "T6 guild needs one Protection paladin and one Resto shaman." For my guild, our recruitment ads are more like this: "Recruiting: All classes and specs."

That's because hardcore guilds have far less turnover than we do. Casual raiding means striking a balance somewhere between having no rules and having too many. Some people will always want fewer rules and some people will always want more. Some people will think you're not progressing fast enough and some people will think that everything is happening too fast. Factor in all the real-life stuff that goes in with a little bit of poaching and the conclusion is inevitable: You're going to lose members.

So for most casual guilds, the day you stop recruiting is the day you start shrinking.

The hardcore guilds also have it easier in that they can much more easily predict who is going to sign up and show up for their raids. They can get by with 35 to 40 members. My guild has far more members than that and yet we still have trouble filling out 25 slots on some nights because no one is required to show up. So we're constantly on the lookout for new people.

8. Never stop training.

One of the burdens of a casual guild is this constant influx of new membership. Unless you're lucky enough to get people who have already run all the raids you're working on, you're going to have to help them learn the encounters.

You'll also have long-time members who are just getting into raiding, and old raiders who just haven't been pulling their weight. Giving up on your own members is not an option for me. We have experienced raiders who know their class inside and out. They might get sick of it, but it's up to them to show these inexperienced or ineffective members how to excel at their role. A casual guild needs every single person who raids to be a genuine contributor, and there's only one way to get them there: personal involvement.

Evaluating raid performance is critical. You can't offer someone the best possible advice without knowing what they're actually doing during each encounter. I've written a whole column about this already.

9. Never stop having fun.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you that hardcore guilds don't have fun at all. They do. It's just that, well, casual raiding guilds are better at it. The vast majority of casual raiders are not going to be on the bleeding edge of content. We're not going to be the best-geared on the server. We're not getting any first kills, other than our own firsts. So having fun is the only way we can compete with those hardcore guilds. Fun is a casual raiding guild's #1 commodity.

I judge the success or failure of our raids largely by how much fun people had, not whether we actually made progress or not. Sure, it's nice to down a new boss or farm an entire instance without a wipe, but not if the raid leader is making everyone's night miserable.

Like most casual raiding guilds, we've lost a number of members over the years to more progressed guilds. And some of those people have gone on to be very successful as members of the top raiding guilds on the server. Others have come back. They aren't coming back for the loot, that's for sure. They come back because, as they say, "The game just wasn't fun anymore."
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Spendrak
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PostSubject: Re: Casual raider or casual guild?   Mon Nov 03, 2008 1:25 am

/bump

something to keep in mind Wink

btw, I'm betting a dollar on less than 2 weeks for the first handful of boobies to hit 80 ...
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PostSubject: Re: Casual raider or casual guild?   Mon Nov 03, 2008 3:38 am

/bump
great article /thumbsUp
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http://www.wowarmory.com/character-sheet.xml?r=Nagrand&n=Jaka
imzra
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PostSubject: Re: Casual raider or casual guild?   Mon Nov 03, 2008 1:47 pm

/batbump
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