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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Officers' Quarters: Casual raiding that works

Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.

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:

1.Find a committed raid leader.
2.Develop a fair loot system.
3.Communicate your plan.
4.Hammer home the need for preparation.
5.Foster an environment of accountability.
6.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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