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Officers QuartersDec 7, 2016 3:00 pm CT

Officers’ Quarters: Don’t blame yourselves, raid leaders

odyn in the trial of valor

For many guilds, attendance on raid nights has been dropping throughout Legion. Some raid leaders, like the one who asked this week’s question, look at their own faults and wonder if they’re the reason their guild can’t get enough people online. But unless you’re doing something very wrong, it’s not your fault, raid leaders. Let’s look at the real reasons attendance is down, and what you can do about it.

Xcution stormz asked
Dear Officers’ Quarters

im a raid leader and officer with a intellect disability but i manage to raid lead fine it’s just that i always ask people if they want to raid and get some yes’s and no’s and thats understandable but the people that say yes dont show up and sometimes i feel it’s my fault in that respect but i spend hours and hours studying strats for fights and so on so my question is should i step down as raid leader and find a guild that will take me raiding or should i look at recruiting more members thanks a bunch hope you can help me

Blaming yourself is the first instinct of many raid leaders, Xcution. I can almost guarantee that it has nothing to do with you, whatever your limitations are. It has become difficult for a vast number of guilds to count on good attendance these days. Part of the issue is that a lot of motivating factors for people to show up for raids are gone — and they’re gone by design. Let’s look at them one by one:

  • Curiosity and desire to see the content. LFR raiding has made it possible for everyone to see the completion of a raid’s story arc. They can experience the bosses and the epic moments of the raid zone without putting in the effort to work together as a team and learn the encounters. I personally don’t have a problem with that, since I think everyone should get to experience WoW‘s story. But it used to be a compelling reason for raiders to keep raiding and making progress through a zone. Now they can click a button and see everything.
  • Gearing up a character with better loot. World quests, Mythic+ dungeons, and even PvP content can eventually provide the same level of gear as raiding, but without the hassle of coordinating 10+ people. Raids used to be the only way to reliably gear up a character for PvE content.
  • Not getting left behind. It used to be that if you didn’t raid for an entire expansion, then you had no chance to catch up with those who did. You had no chance to join a raid team late in the content’s lifecycle unless they were willing to carry you through content. Blizzard has offered more and more catch-up mechanisms in later patches of expansions to ease this burden on players. It’s hard to argue that this is a bad thing, because raid teams usually need more new players toward the end of expansions than the beginning of them.
  • Obtaining unique items. Raids historically provided the most interesting and unique items, such as the fist weapon set from the original Zul’Gurub raid that transformed you into a tiger guy. Or the original Black Bow of the Betrayer that single-handedly fixed hunter’s Burning Crusade-era mana issues. In Legion, by far the most interesting and unique items are the new legendaries, and you can get them anywhere. The jury is still out on whether legendaries were a good or bad addition to WoW. Rossi recently posted his thoughts on them.

black bow of the betrayer

  • Flexible raid sizes. Outside of Mythic difficulty, the number of players who show up no longer matters much. Many players used to show up out of a sense of obligation. They didn’t want to be the reason the guild couldn’t raid on a given night because they didn’t have 25 people. Raid teams with a “critical mass” of 15+ raiders are not usually in danger of missing a night completely due to attendance. The team can raid with whoever shows. Also, no one has to sit on the bench because the team doesn’t meet a certain minimum number, which used to be the case when exactly 10 or exactly 25 were your only two options. Once again, this is great for raiding guilds in one sense, but the demotivating factor is real.
  • Flexible specs/gear. Even if you’re a tank or a healer, most raid teams have players who can step in with an off-spec to cover for you. It’s difficult for one player to make or break a raid night these days. You used to need a full set of gear unique to your off-spec, but now most of our gear translates to any role. The biggest obstacle today is Artifact Power, but since many players have high levels of Artifact Knowledge at this point, investing in off-spec artifacts is no longer an issue.
  • Cross-realm raiding. As a last resort, guilds can bring in PUG players so much easier now with cross-realm raiding and the new finder tool. Players know this, of course. Even if the team is a player or two short of 10, or in dire need of another healer, your players don’t feel like they’re holding the team back too much by not showing up. In their mind, there are always more people out there who can fill in.
  • Expensive consumables and item enhancements. After Warlords of Draenor completely broke WoW‘s economy and caused massive gold inflation, the cost of consumables in Legion has become outrageous. For some players, they just can’t afford to meet their team’s expectations, so they decide not to show up instead. Normal and Heroic difficulties are perfectly doable without the full complement of consumables and enchantments, but many raid leaders insist on them anyway.
  • The allure of alts. Legion offers so much class-specific content: class halls, quest lines, artifact skins to hunt down, spec-specific legendaries, and so on. It feels more limiting than ever before in WoW to focus all of your playing time on one character. Legion makes alts very rewarding, and I don’t regret this direction for the game at all, but it’s yet another factor in the attendance struggles of raid teams.

One of the few remaining motivations to raid is earning mounts, titles, and other cosmetic rewards. These still exist, and in most cases either you can’t earn them after the content has become trivial, or it’s much more difficult to do so at that point. Only a certain percent of players genuinely care about these things, though.

The end result of all of these changes is that players have basically no reason to keep raiding except that they like to raid. They enjoy the experience and the challenge of it. Overall, I would argue that this is a good thing. People who don’t want to raid shouldn’t be forced to raid — that just forces the people who actually want to raid to raid with people who don’t want to raid. Too often, in that situation, no one is happy.

val'kyr in the trial of valor

So what about my guild?

There’s only one way to know why players in your guild aren’t showing up for raid nights: you have to ask them. When you do, make sure it’s a private conversation. If you question the entire raid team over Discord at the end of the night, most players will be too shy to speak the truth. But one on one, in private, they are more likely to provide some insight into the problem or talk about their personal reasons.

If they identify problems that you can fix, then you need to make that a priority. If it’s because the game has changed and they have less motivation to raid, then that’s important to know, too. You can’t do much about that. You can, however, do your best to make raid nights fun and productive so that people look forward to them and want to show up. More on that in a future column…

And, yes, Xcution, you need to recruit. Recruiting is no longer something most guilds can afford to do only sometimes. It’s a full-time job, and I’ve offered some advice on recruiting in the past.

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