Sunday, May 15, 2011

Raid Building 101: The Brick Wall

Raid Building 101 is a column 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.  

We've talked about almost everything I can think of so I will be writing columns based on things that are currently happening with my raid.  There is a time when you seem to get stuck in progression.  For some reason that last boss just won't die, you've gone through all the steps to try and correct it, but it feels like you are just spinning your wheels getting no where.  Some call it stalled progression, but I call it "The Brick Wall."  There are a few ways to get through it, but smashing your head against it usually isn't one of them.

When progression stalls for a few weeks it feels hopeless.  You've downed Cho'gall and everything else, but Nefarian keeps laughing at you.  You can punch and kick and bang your head against the wall all you want, but unless you have some type of plan you'll just get bloody.  One night things are looking good and you make it to phase 3.  The next night you can't even get through phase 1.  It is one of the most stressful and frustrating places for a raid leader to find himself and most of the options for getting out of it are not easy. First you need to figure out what might be causing the progression to stall.

Issues that can stall progression
When a lack of experience stalls the raid
  • In a casual guild like mine you often cycle raiders constantly out week to week.  This can cause progression to stall because with Cho'gall and Nefarian experience is a huge requirement.
  • Every week you deal with a new crop of raiders who go through the one to two hours of the same mistakes the last crop made.
  • Because of being cycled out when a group comes back to the boss they may have to relearn what they had already figured out the last time they raided.
  • A new person to kite the adds every week often leads to wipes when healers or the raider doing the kiting gets killed.
When a lack of gear stalls the raid
  • Same with above, when you are in a casual guild and raiders are constantly cycled week to week some people just get really unlucky with gear drops and may not have enough gear required to down a tier boss.
  • Different tanks fall over dead faster from not having as much life or avoidance as other tanks.
  • Healers with less gear can't keep up with the healing requirements.
  • DPS just can't push enough damage during different phases of the fight to effectively get to where you need to be when phase 3 hits.
When a lack of motivation stalls the raid
  • People who have the best gear and the most experience just don't feel like signing up because they are waiting for the firelands in 4.2.
  • No one seems to be in a hurry to down every boss leading up to the progression boss.
  • Raiders don't show up the last night for more attempts on the progression boss.
  • Raiders don't seem to be in a hurry to get buffed and back into another attempt and think that calling the raid early would be better than getting more repair bills.

Fixing the issue
All the above can happen at any point during a raiding cycle for any tier.  Sometimes they all happen at the exact same time.  Each requires their own way of handling things to make sure current content gets cleared ahead of new content coming out.

Lack of Experience
  • Try to shuffle the sign-ups to make sure some really experienced people can be teamed up with the least experienced people to help everyone get up to speed on a boss faster.
  • Consider not going to BoT at all so you can maximize attempts on Nefarian.
  • Consider using a raid lockout so an entire raid can be spent learning the fight.
Lack of Gear
  • Try to shuffle the sign-ups to make sure raiders in a raid that do not have to roll against each other for loot.
    • An example would be only one healer and one DPS class that actually needs cloth gear matched with other cloth DPS or Healers that do not need any gear.
  • Consider having the first day be for people to gear and the second day be for geared people to try progression.
  • This just takes time and a little bit of luck getting the right drops.
Lack of Motivation
  • Consider stating the raid will not progress to the new content until the old normal mode content is cleared.
  • Remind those that stopped signing up that they may be alted from future content raids if they take a break from raiding simply because they got all of their gear.
  • Leave easier bosses up in another raid to be done the last day after sufficient attempts on the progression boss.
    • This way even on progression nights there is a chance for loot.
Final Thoughts
When a raid hits "The Brick Wall" it is often hard to get it to push forward and this is when you will find out who your core group of raiders really are.  There will always be a group of people who have gear, but really want to see that last boss of the tier dead before new gear comes out that makes the boss kill seem too easy because you out gear the tier by the time you go back to clean them up.  Make sure you note these people as you will need a good group of core raiders to figure out the fights the first week or two of any new tier before you bring the general raiding groups into the dungeon.  We call these Exploritory Raids and they have no sign-ups and are set for the first week a new tier comes out because of server restarts, hotfixes, and bugs often causing issues with a raid so no general raid is setup for that week.

Gordrin is the current Raid Leader of Guild Malice - Early Raid. Gordrin can be reached at

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