Friday, January 28, 2011

Raid Building 101: The Balancing Act

Raid Building 101 is a weekly article detailing the finer (and sometimes the not so finer) points of building and leading a successful raid group. Be it a world first or super casual, Raid Building 101 has something for you.

So you have your raid posted, people signed up and everyone wants to go. Everyone knows what your raid is about, but now you have to decide who gets to go and who gets to stay. This is a lot harder than you think and no matter what you do someone will be unhappy and stuff will happen to screw up the balance you have created. The mantra I go by is simple: You can’t please every single person, but you can make everyone angry by trying to please a single person.

How do you choose?

There are a lot of things to think about when creating a raid group so I will break it down to a simple thought, what kind of raiders do you have? People generally fall into a few categories.

Types of Raiders:
  • Hardcore
    • Want to always be raiding, will not be happy unless they can get bosses down and get loot.
  • Casual with Hardcore tendencies
    • Want to raid whenever they can, will be happy with getting loot or killing bosses, but want one or the other.
  • Casual
    • They just want to come once and a while and feel like they have a chance to get bosses down or loot. Just getting the chance to roll on loot makes them happy.
  • Casual with no attachment to raiding.
    • They may not even show up and raid like they are just hanging out with people and do not take raiding all that seriously.
Along with these there are personalities:
  • Perfectionist
    • Wants everyone to do everything perfectly, tries to make sure they do not make a single mistake and grumbles about mistakes even on a successful kill. They will want to call people out during the raid, don’t let them.
  • Serious Raider
    • Wants to down bosses, remembers strats and will remind the raid leader of anything he may have missed on an explanation. Also will give his or her opinion on any changes that may help on a certain boss. Ask their opinion of what went wrong in a wipe, they may have seen something.
  • Steady Raider
    • Shows up every time they sign up and follows directions, helps when asked with bosses for calling out or being an assist train target. Generally doesn’t get in fights with anyone.
  • The Cheerleader
    • They always try to keep people going; they mention the good things that happen during wipes and try to keep everyone pumped for the next try. They fill a need in most raids, but make sure they can actually put some skill behind those words or people may find them annoying.
  • Drunk Raider
    • They show up drunk or high to raids, but if they can still perform their functions and keep themselves quiet during the raid they can still be helpful to the raid. Make sure there is a point where you replace them in a raid if they go too far.
  • The Blamer
    • It is always someone’s fault for things happening. Doesn’t matter whose fault it was, but they have to find someone to blame. They may complain openly or in whispers about people. Not always a very good raider either. Try to avoid this type or talk to this type of person to let them know raid leaders are always working to help people out where they make mistakes or have a weakness.
Finally the quality of the raider:
  • Great Player
    • Can play any class very well, they constantly are trying to improve their character and what they can bring to the table. Also may have well geared alts that can fill in if a role is missing. (but do not take an alt over a main of someone else)
  • Good Player
    • Can play their class very well, they are good at one thing and struggle with anything else, make sure they are playing the class they are good at.
  • Average Player
    • Can play their class okay. They aren’t the best, but not the worst, they are average. A lot of casual people end up in this category.
  • Poor Player
    • Have trouble playing their class. Stand in the fire a lot, generally bring down the raid.
These are all things the raid leader has to consider while doing rosters, but it's not everything. Just as important is making sure people that were put on standby previous weeks get a rotation in as well as making sure the group has proper buffs / debuffs.

It is quite the balancing act
Just remember you can change the quality of a poor or average player up to a good player. Great players are just that great players, but they also tend to be hardcore players or casual with hardcore tendencies. So try to figure out where the people who want to raid for you are in the lists and then try to even them out.

Try to match a hardcore / great player with an average player. Chances are just raiding together the hardcore player can figure out maybe a trick or something weird the average player is doing, and help them get to a good player.

Don’t try to put more than one perfectionist in a raid group if possible. If there are make sure it is clear at the start of the raid who will be talking most of the time and calling things out or they may just try and take over duties they see people screwing up on or missing.

Evaluate your drunk or high players at the start of the raid, make sure they are not so far gone that their play is seriously affected.

The ideal raid group would have the following:
  • A hardcore/perfectionist/great player in the group to help whoever is raid leading or perhaps to raid lead.
  • As many casual with hardcore tendencies/casual players who are serious/steady raiders and are good players as possible, they are the meat and potatoes of a casual guild.
  • A cheerleader should be in there for moral if possible. They can easily be one of the above as well.
  • Only one blamer if you have to take one at all. Any good player recognizes when they screwed up so you don’t need anyone pointing it out.
  • No more than one poor player if you can help it.
    • Note: If you need to evaluate a poor player take them in your raid and evaluate them in the raid environment. Do not tell them they are being evaluated.
    • Afterwards have someone help them or help them yourself with what was going wrong.
    • You can create good raiders out of poor ones.
    • Sometimes that is all that signs up, use this raid then as a chance to help them succeed instead of thinking of it as a raid that is destined to fail.
  • Good mix of ranged and melee
    • In 10 man groups I prefer 3 ranged and 2 melee dps.
    • In 25 man groups I prefer 10 ranged and 6 melee dps.
  • No double stacking of buffs if possible
    • Try to avoid too many of the same class or too many that offer the same buff as this can bring down the effectiveness of the raid, but don’t alt people who should get to go simply because of that if there is no raid boss requirements for a certain class/buff.
    • Raid Comp is a great tool you can use to maximize your buff / debuffs. I always run a group through a raid comp just to ensure I'm not missing something. It also helps me figure out which buff to ask multi-buffing classes to do. For example, I'll have an enhancement shaman drop Wrath of Air if there is a DK providing Horn of Winter. Raid Comp can help you find those finer details.
  • A tank with a dps offspec
    • Some fights do not require two tanks so one of the tanks needs to be able to DPS.
  • A DPS with a healer offspec
    • Some fights may be hard on the healers, but have a really long enrage timer. This may be a good time to have a dps heal to help out and see if that can tip the scales in your favor.
  • A Healer with a DPS offspec
    • Not all fights require 3 healers so make sure one healer can DPS, even if it isn’t that great of DPS.

How to figure out a rotation without making people angry
The best bet for not making raiders angry is to be fair. It’s that simple, give everyone a chance at some point and have a reason to alt them. If you can’t give them a good reason why they were alted and the same guy got to go twice then you will have an angry raider. They will have an answer to any half-assed reason you give. Don’t do enough DPS? They haven’t gotten to raid to get loot to do more DPS. They stand in the fire too much? They haven’t gotten enough raid experience yet. Just use common sense that they can’t argue with. Four people signed up for the same role that has two spots open and one of them has to be a good player who can show the new raider what to do. Soon as the new raider gets up to speed (maybe just one week), then the guy who got two weeks will be alted and another new person will get in. Not much to argue with there. If people miss a few weeks for some reason or another and sign back up know that they may have to get alted simply because there was a set order and the three people who signed up every week get the chance before they do. Signing up and being alted is not the same as not signing up for three weeks. Soon no one will question why they got alted because they know you are being fair and they will get their chance soon enough.

Keep your raid interesting in down times
You clear all the content pretty easy now? Simply go for achievements of older content or current content so it will be a little more fun with goals and rewards still in mind. Go back to Ulduar or Icecrown and work on getting the achievements for the drakes. Go farm for recipes or epic patterns. Go try to get or create a legendary item. It all can still be interesting if you make it that way. Oh and don’t count it against your rotation, because then no one will ever want to do any interesting stuff out of fear of losing their chance at gear and bosses.

Don’t hog the loot!!
We’ll go through looting systems next week and see what works for our guild and what might work for yours. We’ll have the ups and downs of what exactly to do, but if you get all the loot why should anyone else bother showing up when there is no chance to get it.

Last words of advice
Keep your raiders happy! Happy raiders sign up more and kill more bosses and want to progress. Happy raiders stick by you when you make mistakes because they know that you want the raid to succeed. Happy raiders don’t blame each other. Happy raiders don’t mind getting alted because they know you will get them into the raid a different time. Happy raiders don’t complain to the GL about you having favorites or anything else they think they see in your raid.

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