Friday, April 22, 2011

Raid Building 101: The Other Side of the Coin

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.

The intro to my column says the finer and not-so-finer points of Raid Leading. Today it's time to get into one of those not-so-finer points. For every successful raid in an established guild there are many people in the background doing the work that no one else wants to do. There is this thing called paperwork and it is something that can be simply horrible. If you are the main officer or raid leader the sad thing is you are probably going to be the one doing a lot of it. What kind of paperwork am I talking about?  Let’s find out.

Back in the day (which means before I had two kids and my job let me surf all the time at work) I did a lot of paperwork getting our raid setup for WotLK. In fact I pretty much did everything, then I slowly handed off things to people to do. Now I can say a bunch of angry drunk officers do all of the work without me. I actually feel pretty bad for them because this stuff stinks on ice, but it is a requirement for any well oiled raid to have a good documentation, scheduling, recruiting, and promotion system. Let’s jump right away into the kind of torture you might find yourself dealing with. Note that some of these are repeats from earlier Raid 101 columns, but need to be included in paperwork.

First rule of paperwork
Don’t stab yourself in the eyes when you feel like it, you’ll miss your vision.

Second Rule of paperwork
When you feel like the above it’s time to get more people involved because misery loves company.

Have you ever wanted to find a way to please no one all of the time? Start with trying to make a raiding schedule. There are always people who can never raid with the schedule you put up (be it classes that run into the raid start time or a million other reasons) and thus causing the gnawing and gnashing of teeth. The truth is that raiders will adapt to any schedule you put up, even ones that don’t make any sense at all. However do yourself a favor and try to make some sense.

Things to think about with Scheduling:
  • First find the days most of your core raiders can make it.
    • Scheduling for yourself is great, but not if you are the only one to show up.
  • Talk to all officers and raid leaders in your time frame on when they can make it.
  • Talk to the GL to make sure there aren’t any limits on your ability to schedule the raid time as you see fit.
    • Unless you feel like just doing it and hoping you aren’t removed from the guild for raiding Throne of the Four Winds on the third Sabbath of the Month.
  • Try to make two raids if you have enough people so more people get a chance to run, this will help your raid grow.
  • If there is more than one place you can raid during a week set them as different raids.
  •  If there is a raid that is easy and people may PuG a lot such as BH then do that right away Tuesday night so people get the rest of the week to try and PuG that raid.
    • Unless you like failing to get a raid up and running, in that case schedule it for Monday and make people sign up the Monday before.
  • Try to always leave one day off a week for random things like PuGs and such, Monday works great for this because everyone is trying to get those Arena matches and BH PuG runs in before the maintenance window and raid resets on Tuesday.
  • Don’t constantly switch the schedule up, people will get used to it and start planning for it. 
  • Change the schedule when the current tier level gets easy or another one is added.
    •  Naxx became almost a one day run before Ulduar hit.

Example of scheduling
This was our schedule while learning the raids. We started with Tuesday because that is maintenance day.
Note: BH is Baradin Hold, BoT is Bastion of Twilight, BWD is Black Wing Decent. You may want to only have one two day raid a week that is fine.  We’re now at the point where we get to Nef or Cho’gall almost always the first night.

  • BH if available.
  • Throne of the four winds.
  • Check BH again to see if it is available.
Wednesday - Friday
  • Progression raiding: BoT or BWD switched every week.
  • Friday usually ends up with alting people to try and get a kill group because Nef or Cho’gall are the only bosses left standing.
  • Farm raiding: BoT or BWD switched every week.
  • Mostly just want to kill every boss and hopefully get a few attempts in on Nef or Cho’gall.
  • Free day to rest up and do all those other things you want to be doing instead of raiding.

Posting the schedule
If writing the schedule didn’t make your brain bleed then the posting it will surely cause mind melting. At Malice we use guild forums so new forum posts have to constantly be created, filled out, then moved to a completed raid forums for every raid every week for two time slots. At one point I was doing all the posting for both Early and Late raid scheduling AND moving the completed raids out to the completed areas. Be sure you lock things until a week out because a lot of people who sign up two weeks in advance tend to forget they signed up at all. You can avoid this type of paperwork by using various addons or the Blizzard in game calender. Different guilds have different sizes and styles and finding whatever the most efficient system can help ease the paperwork pain.

We’ve talked about rosters before and this is probably the oddest of all paperwork. It can be fun because it’s like a puzzle you have to figure out and you feel good when a group you put together wins. However it can be horribly bad when not enough people sign up or too many sign up (meaning you have to alt nine people because there was just a few raiders short of a second group).

Things to think about for Rosters:
  • Breathe. Passing out because you hyperventilate over not having enough healers helps no one.
  • Try and remember if anyone usually signs up and didn’t
    • I’ve texted people who are currently in game to ask other people to sign up.
    • I've also texted people directly to ask if they are signing up.
    • With the new mobile app being released soon you can hit up your guild chat and guild rosters list directly from your smartphone.
  • It almost never comes out like you plan.
    • People don’t always show up and it repeatedly makes my face make contact against my desk at a very fast speed.
  • Have a method to the way you alt people.
    • You will hurt people’s feelings and they will come crying to you asking why you alted them.
    • Telling them that you went alphabetically is still better than saying you just ‘felt like it,’ which translates in Drama Monkey lingo as “I HATE YOU AND YOU WILL NEVER RAID IN MY RAID AGAIN! P.S. YOU FAIL AT LIFE TOO! p.p.s your shoe is untied”
  • Make sure you alt yourself sometimes too.
    • Everyone gets alted sometimes so it is up to you to live that message.
    • Besides you might suck so bad that your raiders need a break from you.
  • Have more than one person doing them!
    •  I used to always do all of them and it just gets old after a while.
    • Having more than one person means less burn out.
    • It can also combat the favoritism QQ you might get.

If your guild uses an attendance system for anything like rank promotion points or DKP you will need to take attendance.
  • Have the raid leader take a screenshot of the raid frames at raid start and end.
  • Make sure you post any information that the guild needs.
    • Stating Mervin the Magical Mage raided means nothing if the person in charge of tallying points or attendance has no idea when you ran and what you ran.
    • Make sure to include dates and times as well as what you can.
  • Make sure it’s posted right away.
    • Saying you’ll remember tomorrow usually means you already forgot what you were supposed to be doing and decided to check out the dancing blood elf on the mailbox.
  • Make sure to note if someone only raided one day.
    • Even if it is not required by the guild it is good to know who you can count on to be there the entire raid.

New people to the guild will go and check out your strategy section to get up to speed with how the guild does certain bosses, so don’t forget to update it. Use your super spider sense to seek out officers (or just regular members) that love this kind of work. Handing over a mundane task to someone who makes it a labor of love helps everyone.
  • Any changes to strategies should be posted out in the guild forums. 
  • Make sure you include 10 or 25 man and why you change to a certain strategy.
  • Have your own kill videos if you can present to help them see how you kill certain bosses.
  • Someone has to post the original strategy which requires a lot of formatting.
    • Sometimes people just link the kill video from another site such as Tankspot and then write down in a reply anything the guild does different.
  • Someone needs to move these or delete these when a new expansion comes out.

Officer Discussion Area
Make sure you put a giant thread (if you use forums) or some other documentation discussing three things;
  1. Who was causing trouble in raids.
  2. Who was helping a lot in raids.
  3. Any issues not related to raiders, but the raid.
Someone needs to keep track of if - there are people who may end up being one of your raid leaders some day. You need to keep a list of good and bad people so when they come back crying and all butt-hurt because they got alted two weeks in a row you can look up and say, “Well you were being a big drunk douche the other week so we decided to let you cool off for a couple weeks. Got a problem with it?”

Number three is basically if the raid leaders or the officers in the raid noticed something, (accidental or otherwise) for example did looter loot get messed up, did certain class combos work out for an encounter, etc. It is a good thing to have a place where personnel can put if they can’t show up for a night, or if they accidentally alted someone twice, or they let an alt take loot, but didn’t realize it and they are sorry, etc.

Final thoughts
Paperwork is the oil that keeps a raid moving smoothly.  If no one can ever get promoted or finds out why they got alted they may just stop raiding all together.  Paperwork keeps you informed on issues during raids you can’t attend, how raiders are doing, who is active and who isn’t, and most of all proves that people are showing up and work is being done.  Paperwork is also written in the blood of your real life.  Say goodbye to an hour or so extra of your day just to do rosters or 20 minutes after a raid to write down all attendance and anything other officers should know about.  If you like whips and chains being used on you then you’ll love paperwork.  If you like to inflict pain on your minions then delegate it to everyone else and go get a drink because you deserve it for being so damn cruel.  Oh and if you must, just promote someone to do the paperwork and then demote everyone else who doesn’t raid lead and didn’t want to do paperwork.  They don’t have the pain tolerance for raid leading in your raid anyways. 

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Gordrin is the current Raid Leader of Guild Malice - Early Raid. In addition to being talented at tanking, Gordrin is also an accomplished lutenist. Gordrin can be reached at

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