Do you ever wish that you could force Ghostcrawler to sit down with you in real life and talk turkey? It would mean something if he could look me in the eye and tell me that everything we are complaining about druid wise (and there is a lot!) is or is not part of their design intent. I’d probably get some kind of PR mumbo jumbo about how it’s a work in progress and such, but what I’d really like to hear is “Yeah, we know right now you might not have a great raid healing toolbox, your mastery really needs a lot of work, and we’d really like to give your some form of value to the raid”. I know this doesn’t solve ALL of the problems, but it would make me feel better.
Now… I’d like to take a little break from the Catacylsm Druid Controversy of 2010 to talk about what is going on in the game for me. Things are going fairly well on Norgannon and the general morale of my guild and server acquaintances is in pretty good shape. We are up against a couple of obstacles at the moment that are not uncommon among many guilds at our level. Progression wise we are putting in our requisite time in against heroic Lich King 10 and 25 man, combating the lame duck expansion blues/burnout, and setting our sights on our goals for Cataclysm. I won’t talk too much about progression right this second because I plan to write a bit more in depth about my HM LK 25 experience and a lot of people are writing similar articles currently. Combating burnout, fatigue and making plans for the expansion are what I’d like to focus on.
We have been very successful at keeping our raid core intact despite the content getting rather stale. We have lost a few as people as everyone has to schedule issues, burnout, and life changes but we have not let that stop us yet. What I will do here is offer a shameless plug to check out our current recruiting needs on the sidebar to the right in case you are looking for a new home. As always we are willing to review and entertain exceptional applicants. We will put as much effort into reviewing your application as you put in writing it! Ok, so the real question is what can you do to keep people entertained? Here is a list of things that we have been up to:
Server Events – Our guild has sponsored some free for all pvp tournaments in the game’s open arenas and handed out some rather significant cash prizes
Herald of the Titans – This is something that has not been achieved on our server yet so a lot of our guildies are working feverishly to procure a suitable gearset to complete this achievement
GDKP – One of our guild members has been orchestrating a well respected GDKP run every week in order to give players an opportunity to gather ICC25 gear for their current alt du jour and put that hard earned gold to good use.
Old Achievements/Meta – We have been dedicating one raid week per month to older achievements and meta dragons. Not all of our members have the Ironbound Proto Drake or the Frostbrood Vanquisher so it is nice to take some time to make sure everyone can get at least one of them before they go away. Similarly we are trying to get some more Mimiron’s Heads while it is still a guaranteed drop.
One of the keys for any guild out there right now is to decide just what you plan to do once the expansion hits (primarily main changes and raid size changes). If your guild has a clear plan of attack and you are keeping players entertained then you should have a lower risk of them going casual or stopping playing altogether. If there is potential turmoil in the future though then you’ll need to keep a clear channel of communication with your players so you can be prepared for it. Here are a few potential obstacles you need to be aware of:
Main changes (class but not role):
If someone wants to switch from one spec within a role to another spec within the same role then that is generally not that big of a problem. You will be forced to look at whether or not that creates a glut within a certain class and whether or not that player is really proficient with that class. If one of your best mages decides that they want to make their feral dps druid their main, but you’ve never seen them to decent damage with it then there might be some cause for concern.
Main changes (role, or role and class):
This is potentially an even worse situation and you really need to know your players when addressing it. If one of your players wants to switch roles (e.g. healing to dps, dps to healing etc.) then you need to make sure they can handle that kind of role in stressful raid environments. You might want to sit and talk with the player and ask some important questions to see if this decision will work for them. What is more problematic is if main changes threaten to over-staff you or under-staff you in a critical position. If a couple of your melee swap to ranged dps it isn’t necessarily the end of the world, but if half your tanking core decided to go dps then you really will be in a world of trouble. Evaluate whether or not your group can support these changes and whether or not your balance will be so far out of whack that you might need to start benching lots of people just to make it work.
Not everyone levels at the same rate and as such you might have a schism when people start hitting level 85. Plan on a date that you would like everyone at max level, within reason, so that the guild as a whole can start raiding together. For WotLK I was the first druid to hit level 80 and I had some of the other 80’s from different guilds asking me to come heal Naxxramas 10 man. I politely declined and kept running 5 mans with my guild mates to help them level but that was personal choice not something that my guild had decided upon. Had I actually gone and started getting epics without my guild mates I can sense there would be some resentment.
I can’t say a whole lot about this one other than to refer back in time to when Burning Crusade was about to be released. In vanilla WoW I was in a 40 man guild that had completed all of the available content and we were very excited about the new expansion until we heard about the reduced raid size. Having a guild with ~45 regular raiders for 40 spots squeeze into a 25 person raid was troublesome to say the least. It was not apparent off the bat because we were running four Karazhan runs a week into the expansion but once the reality of 25 man content set in we started losing players many of whom were very talented. I don’t have any really sound advice for handling this type of change as it is extremely drastic and must be handled with extreme caution. The chance of alienating players is high, especially if you start talking about what certain classes bring buff wise etc.
The most important aspects of a health guild and raiding team is a sense of community. You are a team and whenever you move forward and make changes (be it swapping mains or skipping out on raid nights) you need to keep everyone in mind. While it more pertains to play quality, the following expression does put into perspective the effects of your decisions and how disruptive it can be.
“Your $14.99 a month says you can play the game how you want.
But when you raid, the $359.76 a month from the other 24 players says you better learn your class.”
Embrace the community of your guild and work to keep everyone involved and have healthy goals in mind of Cataclysm.
Next post I plan to talk a little more about community on a large scale and where it has gone as of late.