I love game shows. They’re entertaining, they give hours of mindless yelling at the television, and nothing is more entertaining to the masses than family members screaming at each other (why do you think soap operas became so popular? “OMG! My twin brother stole my fiancé, and now they’re plotting to kill my ex-mother in law, who is also my sister’s best friend who has been dead for twenty years!” *cough* I watch too much T.V….)
Much like your circle of friends, everyone’s family includes different types of people, with different views and opinions. Generally, this makes for very entertaining Thanksgiving dinners. The side effects of spending too much time with your multitude of cousins or brothers and sisters can result in unpleasant yelling, bloody noses, hair pulling, and the ever popular name calling.
Like a family we will have problems. There will be pixleated hair pulling, and angry whispers typed with keyboard breaking ferocity. In the end, I pay my $15 a month to kill virtual dragons and death-dealing zombies with nine other people because I enjoy the success that our teamwork brings us. Other people may join sports teams or book clubs to fill their time. Me? I prefer to support my boss killin’ buddies against the evils of a virtual world.
Unfortunately, finding like-minded people who have the skills we need is a daunting task. Unlike in reality, we as raiders have the option of exchanging the unruly sibling or an angsty aunt for another person who will rotate in and lend us their skills for a night. However, I prefer to try to support a group of people who I know and can trust to heal me or kill the boss instead of trusting that task to a new member each week. You wouldn’t want that new chick your brother is dating to replace Grandma when it comes to making Thanksgiving dinner, would you?
Most people spend more time with their raid group then they do with their extended families. That’s why creating and maintaining a group of people who are not going to want to kill each other every Tuesday night is important: nothing stops a raid faster than a screaming match. I asked one of the foremost officers in my guild, a DPS Deathknigh named Ominous, to enlighten me about his feelings about what makes a good raid group, what are some of the qualities he looks for when considering who to bring to raids, and what happens when a player falls short of attendance expectations.
“Well, the first and most important thing being in assembling a guild that you know will be small; never, ever make anyone on the raiding core a linchpin to the team, meaning if they’re gone, or booted, the team falls apart. You always need to have a backup plan, because real life does happen. If you have older adults who play this game, they’ll tell you in a heartbeat that their wife/husband/kids, etc will come first. So, there may be nights that a sick child takes precedence over your ICC raid, you need to be prepared and willing to fill the void in that case, with another guildie, or even a pugged person.”
If the person starts habitually missing raids, well, that may be a sign something not good is happening in real life, or it may mean they’ve lost interest in the game. In this situation, it’s necessary to replace them full-time, and you must find the best fit for a replacement. One thing small guilds can provide as a benefit, is getting the opportunity to become very close with your core raiding team, and a close team can be a huge benefit in new content, because everyone knows what to expect from every person on that team. However, a close core raiding team, like any “family”, will have it’s ups and downs, and times when you’re at each other’s throat. Some of us raid upwards of 20 hours per week, there are married couples who barely spend that much time together, so inevitably, fights are going to happen, and because people know each other well, buttons are going to be pushed.”
Our guild is now in the situation of looking for good raiders to replace ones we have recently lost, and those that don’t have the right skill set for the intensity of cutting edge content. But how to look for the right kind of person for your raid group? You don’t want to pick up the random person /yelling “LOLZ LOOKIN FER GUILDZ, LEET DEEPS!111!!1!1!” in the middle of Dalaran. That generally leads to unpleasant feelings.
“There are many things that set a good raider apart from someone who just shows up. First and foremost, is attitude. Good raiders come in with a positive outlook on the evening, even if it’s clearing content we’ve done a dozen times in the past few months. If a wipe happens, they aren’t going “Oh my God, we suck, why did you do this, why did you do that, Aarrrghggghh!” Nothing is more frustrating as a raid leader than to hear this in vent. Wipes are going to happen in this game, it’s the nature of the beast. Sometimes wipes happen for accidental reasons, a taunt went too early, too late, someone pulled aggro, etc. Again, this happens in this game, if you can’t handle wiping, sometimes for hours on end, you really should not be raiding for progression.”
I’m sure many of you have read Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince ( No? Just me? Okay, well I’m going to go on with this annalogy anyway). In the book Harry finds himself capitan of a Quidditch team that needs several new players. Lo-and-behold one of the best Keepers (basicly a goalie for all you muggles) happens to be a tall, broad-shouldered young man named Cormac McClaggen, who has a big head and a know-it-all attitude. When he is called on the team as a reserve player his lack of patience and poor people skills cause the team to lose one of the matches, because, as he was trying to show another player how to do their job, he ends up smashing Harry in the face with a bat and leaving the team down a crucial player and capitan.
Generally, this is the type of person you want to avoid at all costs in your raiding team. Yes, they’re a good player, but that by no means makes them a good raider. Often times this person boasts in vent about how amazing they are, flashing DPS meters (or healing meters), bragging about their crazy gearscore, and basking in the glow of their own E-peen. These type of players generally seem awesome at first–this amazing person has come onto your raid group making raids move faster and the nights more fun because they are vocal and amusing.
However, as they get more comfortable with their “Leet” place in the group, they will be one of the first to start screaming at other players when things are going south, taking their verbal bat to others faces and causing strife and malcontent. In a ten man group like ours, once you offend a particular sect of that group (i.e. Tanks, healers, DPS), or even one person, every raid this person comes to is going to hurt feelings and make the night less pleasant for most, if not all, involved.
I know, because it’s happened in my raid group. When people are confronted with verbal abuse and harsh words they revert to a “play ground attitude,” gossiping in private channels and whispers instead of openly stating their problem with the person. As we begin looking for new players to fill our spots people with cool heads and patience are going to be invited much more to raids than that explosive DPS with an explosive temper.
What happens, however, when your loving Shaman healer suddenly turns into a ragelogging, emotional maelstrom in the middle of a raid? I asked Ominous to give me his answer from a raidleaders perspective.
“As a raid leader, first question we ask ourselves is ‘What happened that this situation occurred’ (Well, that’s really the 2nd question, right after ‘What the *&%$ was that??’) Is this person someone who has never had an outburst, has always been a good raider? Possibly they’re having a bad day, which everyone has, but the problem needs to be pinpointed, and fast. Or, on the flip side, is this person someone who constantly makes an ass out of themselves in vent, is never prepared, and think they are more important than the tank and healers should revolve around his or her greatness? If this is the case, then this person needs to go, because all they are doing is bringing the rest of the raid, and the guild down. If this person is a pug, give them the boot, ban them from vent and move on. If this person is a guildie, that is handled differently. Since it’s already interrupted the raid, my opinion is to tell everyone to take 10 and let the situation get handled (even though you know everyone is thinking ‘FIGHT! Oooh, /popcorn!’) If this person has done this on a few occassions, you need to ask yourselves ‘Do they provide enough benefit to the raid to put up with this BS?’ The answer is likely no. In these situations, I would gladly take a non-guildie friend who I know can perform, or sometimes, going to a major city and advertising in trade. Anything is better than having the person that blew up be allowed back, and have them do it all over again. So, to sum up, if this happens, quickly analyze the situation and get it taken care of as quickly as possible. If it means finally booting this person from guild, you’ll find a lot of raiders likely going ‘Oh Finally, we’ve been waiting for that.'”
Besides a level head and a cool temper, a good raider is reliable, responsible, and comes prepared to raids. Another aspect of a good raider is someone who works for the ablility of the raid group, not for their personal preferences. Someone who switches between specs when the raid needs it, and accepts that their mainspec may not be their most used spec. Miss Medicina talks about their Third Healer in her article Tribute to the Third Healer. In it she talks about how they owe many of their raiding triumphs to their flexible shaman who is a wonderful healer and DPS.
We have one of those in our current raid group as well. He is a dependable Officer who has a healing, DPS, AND a tank set, which he all performs exceptionally well. His mainspec is meele DPS, but he’s been filling so many offspec roles for us that he had six new pieces of feral gear to try out in ICC and has only gotten about 30 minutes to test them. He can out heal me on some fights, and compete with our top DPS. In bear form he has at least 58k health in raid buffs and has saved my butt many a time (He also happens to be my boyfriend, but that doesn’t count, :P). People like this are the flexibility every raid team needs. I have nothing agains pure classes, in most cases they out perform their hybrid counterparts because there are less sides to them that people need to properly gem/spec and learn how to play. However, I firmly believe that when looking for players something to consider is whether the tool you have just added to your tool box is a swiss army knife, or a jack hammer. Ominous again elaborated on my theory of interchangeable raider parts:
“Now, getting down to the nuts and bolts of the raid group, especially if you’re in a small guild, you likely know everyone’s playing style, and know what the expect. However, there are going to be fights that require swapping out. You obviously can’t take 4 melee fighters into Deathbringer Saurfang and expect anything less than 56 Marks of the Fallen Champion in about 9 seconds, so, people need to be prepared in a smaller guild to swap in and out as needed…This is not a personal reflection on you as a person, or as a player, it’s what is required for the fight. Likewise, now with duel spec’ed talents, some people perform multiple roles, tanking and DPS, tanking and Healing (those crazy druids can do everything). So if your raid leader says “Hey, you’re not doing so hot on DPS, I know your healing gear is awesome and you’re a great healer, can you try that and let’s bring the other healer to DPS because they’re insane on damage” You shouldn’t look at that as a negative reflection upon yourself, the raid leader is simply asking you to perform a different role to attempt a successful kill… In a small guild, people need to be ready and willing to switch roles as needed, or swap out and let other players of different classes in. As a raid leader, you need to ensure this is done smoothly, and to ensure that each person being swapped realizes this is for the good of the group. In the situation where you’ve wiped countless times, and it’s obvious this person just doesn’t get it, then yes, they need to be willing to go “You know, I realize I’m not doing so hot, I understand why I’m being replaced”. It’s not fair for 9 other people to be brought in for nothing more than 100g repair bill and countless frustrations because you can’t understand the fight mechanics after 18 attempts.”
This last point brings me to the end of this very long first addition to my “Run Back” series. Criticism. No one likes to be berated constantly for something they do for fun. Most of us are tender souls and gentle hearts that will not react well to “Holy shit, you suck! You are the worst healer ever!!” On the flip side, just because you don’t LIKE hearing that you totally let the tank eat floor that time doesn’t mean you have a right to freak out when you come under scrutiny. Taking constructive criticism is not only for the benefit of you, it is for the benefit of your raid group. Hey, your Mother made you eat your veggies not because she liked to have to tell you fifteen hundred million times that peas were good for you, but because you needed to eat them to grow big and strong. You need to swallow your peas before you can get to the lovely loot desert. Now that you’re an adult you eat your vegetables because they’re healthy, not because your Mom is calling you at dinner saying “Pheadra eat your spinach, it makes your bones nice and strong…” (or so I assume anyway). Self criticism works the same way. Learning your limits, when you’re having an off night, or when you simply cannot perform the role and admitting to yourself and your guild family that you cannot do your job tonight may be as lovely as eating a hunk of steamed brocoli to a six year old. But your raid group will respect that you don’t want them to /facepalm for you all night, and it may be the chance new members need to show off their over looked skills.
If you’ve ever watched family feud, or those old Nickelodeon shows where a family would have to work together to get through a obsticle course you know that standing alone never works. Fitting into a raid group whether you’re the newbie or the veteran tank takes many skills, and personalities may sometimes clash. Knowing how to play, how to be humble, and how to be a good raider and friend will help your team be successful is your progression and your video game happiness.
Next time I’ll give you a view into what you can expect when that sack of flesh drops those shinny weapons, and how different guilds deal out their raiders piece of the loot pie.