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Officers Quarters > WoWMay 6, 2015 1:00 pm CT

Officers’ Quarters: Cold calculations and raiding standards

Raiding standards

Sometimes as officers we have to make decisions that disappoint certain guild members. This week’s OQ covers setting raiding standards for social raiders and the possibility of flexible mythic raids.

Drewbob asked

In the new flex paradigm, how does a fairly casual raid set minimal standards for performance?

I understand about wanting to include everyone, but with the way boss health scales now, if you have people in gear with an average of 670+ pulling 11k or 13k DPS on, say, normal maidens, they are passively making the encounter appreciably more difficult for the rest of the raid. This in turn can cause resentment among people towing the line, hurting morale and creating interest in greener pastures.

Even in a casual guild, the goal is still to have fun, and fifteen other people being clearly held back by one or two or three raid members with an evening of wiping falls on the side of not so much fun. At the same time, it is hard to establish a standard that isn’t arbitrary. Help!

Standards are rules that apply to everyone so they are arbitrary by nature. There’s no way around that. I actually think it’s worse in a certain respect to set “arbitrary” raiding standards for a guild like yours. It creates a “make or break” mentality that runs counter to the spirit of your guild.

In general, you have two options: (a) be completely inclusive and let the chips fall or (b) evolve toward a slightly less inclusive paradigm. Note that I’m assuming here that you have already tried to help your underperforming players learn their class and/or the encounters and they have not shown significant improvement or desire to improve.

To decide, you have to weigh several factors. What kind of raiding culture does the leadership of the guild prefer? What kind of raiding culture do the members prefer? Will you lose more members by being less inclusive than you will by keeping the status quo? Will the members you lose by becoming less inclusive significantly affect guild morale or your ability to carry out your guild activities? The same questions apply to keeping the status quo.

If you opt for such changes, it will also change the nature of your guild — and it’s not a decision that’s easy to reverse, once you’ve made it. But it may be necessary at a certain point. As you said, this problem is affecting the guild’s ability to have fun in raids. To me that’s a pressing concern. If the raids aren’t fun, attendance will drop. It’s likely that the highly skilled players will burn out faster than others, and your raid’s average skill level will plummet. It’s a downward spiral that’s hard to stop once it begins.

What are the standard standards?

If you choose to set standards, choosing which standards to enforce is problematic. It’s difficult to set pure DPS standards like “25K on bosses” etc. since so many factors tie in to each encounter, including the length of the fight, single target versus AOE encounters, etc. Instead, it might be better to work with a more fluid number, such as a minimum of 70% of the average DPS of those at your ilevel in the raid. But then you end up benching someone based on a rather convoluted calculation and that could end up feeling bad for everyone involved.

You can also use addons like PhoenixStyle to track the number of failures (and the manner of said failures) and establish a threshold. For example, a person who gets pinned twice as much as the next person versus Beastlord or sets off a certain number of mines versus Blackhand. But obviously you can’t do this when you’re first learning a boss, and this system could backfire on you if someone who’s normally good has an off night. So again, it’s not a great idea.

Another method is more harsh and more personal, but it can be very effective: cut the worst performers one at a time, starting with the lowest contributor, until the raid wins. You create a highly Darwinian environment by taking this path, but you will end up with the best possible team for that boss. Whether you and your officers want to take such steps is entirely up to you. Some players may be understanding about it and offer to sit for the good of the team. Others will resist.

One final suggestion is to ask all the players who are holding the team back (and by now it seems like it’s obvious who that is) to sit out for progression fights. If you can clear the bosses you’ve learned with them in the raid, then that part shouldn’t be an issue and they can continue to be part of the team, just not part of the “advance guard.” They are unlikely to enjoy being benched, but it is better to lose your worst players than your best, given the choice. This is the cold calculation of leadership that we sometimes have to carry out. It sucks, but sometimes it’s necessary.

The best solution, as I said, is to help your players improve. The above are all nuclear options.

zavandor asked
I think Flex raiding is the best thing happened to this game since the LFD. Do you think that Mythic should remain for 20 people only?

I don’t just think it should — I think it has to. For one thing, Blizzard has already changed the way the highest-difficulty progression raiding works in WoW so many times now. I know “iteration” is their watchword, but at some point you have to settle on something that you know will work and stick with it, for our sanity’s sake.

This was another very rough transition for guilds. Like the 40- to 25-player transition, the new raiding structure in Warlords did irreparable damage to many guilds. I think another huge change anytime soon would be more than the community can reasonably handle.

A fixed size makes the encounters much easier to tune properly, which is essential considering the race for world first that happens with each new raid. Making the encounters flexible would open up the possibilities of raid stacking or raid culling to exploit encounter mechanics and would give raid leaders a headache trying to figure out the optimal raid comp. It would also make the race itself very odd. Who deserves the world first — the guild who cleared the content with 14 players or the guild who cleared it with 23?

Blizzard has stated that the fixed 20-player size makes it possible for them to design mechanics that they never would have if they had to account for 10-player or flexible sizes. Everyone benefits: the raid designers, the raid leaders, and the raid itself.

Yes, it has hurt guilds to make mythic so exclusive. But the alternatives are worse, and heroic is still plenty challenging for many guilds.


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