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Raid Leading: Sharing the Burden
Posted by Eldershield on 4.18.14

Have you ever been in a well organized raid team? Not necessarily successful (which we'll talk about later) but do you know what it's like to be a part of a team that obviously has their ducks in a row? My hunch is that most raiders have not yet been privy to the unquestionable advantages of a raid team with a useful administration. To me, identifying a player as the team admin is as necessary as having a raid leader, tank, heals, and DPS.

EuphimismWhat exactly a raid admin does and is responsible for can vary quite a bit based on team size, play style (casual, hardcore, etc.), the raid leader, and the organizational talent of the team leaders. However, there are many roles the raid admin can play

Let's take a look at the bones of a raid team. If two things are absolute, it's the necessity of enough players, and a leader. Hopefully we can assume everyone understands the requirement of players, but I'll take a second to describe the need for a leader. If we fill a raid with 10 or 25 players, what are the chances everyone will magically end up in the same place at the right time? When 10 followers enter into a raid group together, we can ask no more of them. They've done their job. They won't "do" anything until they know what to do. They need to be lead, and leaders are the ones who do it. It doesn't mean the leader is the best or brightest among the raiders, it just means he or she has fulfilled the one requirement of all leaders... a decision. There are decisions to be made in a raid and therefore leaders are necessary.

It's important now to bring up the long lost discipline of followership. Followership is a word most people have not even heard. Reading it, you may even question my command of the English language and argue that it's not even a real word. But, look around, entire books have been written on the importance of followership. In fact, in the military (as well as in most organizations) all leaders are also followers. The unique environment of a raid in World of Warcraft almost nullifies this fact. But I would submit to you that any good leader worth their weight ought to be lead not by another player/leader, but instead by a vision, mission statement, principles, constitution, or some form of a team ethos.

Players don't prefer unpredictable leaders. They're usually content with being a follower, as long as they know who or what is leading their leader. Every team should have some form of guild charter, and it should be written by the team leader. It should not include flowery language and a rediculous amount of adjectives. It should be clear, short, and to the point. With a charter in place, it gives members a limited amount of power in that they can hold their team leadership to the values and direction that was previously written and agreed upon. However, charters are not just written to keep a leader in line, but the players also. Leaders owe it to their team to be clear, consistent, and fair. Players owe it to their leaders to perform, prepare, and participate.

Here's the issue I'd like to focus on in this article. I have not been describing the leader who handles the strategy during the raid and dominates mumble during and after boss pulls. I've been describing the leader who handles everything before the raid starts and after it ends. I think the healthiest raid teams are those which differentiate between these two leadership positions. The former, the strategist, is necessary. The latter, the administrator, is not. Many teams have a strategist alone, or a strategist who doubles as an administrator, but few teams seem to have a leader who is exclusively administrative.

Let's take a peek at the more common affairs on a team and classify them into categories of who should be responsible for making sure they get done. This table is illustrates a team with an administrator and a strategist only, but I'll annotate which jobs can (and should if at all possible) be delegated to other players willing to soak up some responsibility.

Develop Boss Strategies
Weekly Roster Building
Dynamically Assess Strats
Attendence Confirmation
Run Combat Logging
Calendar Planning
Leading Pre/Post Pull Discussions
* Social Media *
Identifying Under Performers
* Cheer Leading *
Praising Over Performers
Checking Logs for Issues/Concerns
Preserving Team History
Cooperating with the Administrator
* Ensuring Flasks/Food Available *
* Gear Checking *
* Web Design (if applicable) *
Writing a Charter
Firing Players
Keeping Stand-by Players Informed

* Jobs which can or should be delegated

In general, the administrator should have strengths such as tact, organization, people skills, fairness, and decisiveness. The strategist should excel at critical thinking, game knowledge, mumble communication, as well as decisiveness (in the imminent sense). Both jobs are stressful in their own way, and both should command a certain level of respect within the raid. As I said before, it's not necessary to have an administrator, but that's a lot of added burden to place on the leader trying to focus on the task at hand... killing bosses!

If you're not a leader your job is to show up on time, be prepared, be awake and attentive, follow the strategy, self-critique, give 100% every pull, and keep a good attitude. Your job may seem complicated at times, but don't forget that your leaders are trying to do their job and your job at the same time. This is where your opportunity exists to be a superior follower. Do your job, and theirs. Of course I'm not implying that you double down on your time commitments and take on a full role as a leader. However, if you look over the list of responsibilities above you might see one that compliments your strengths and you can offer to take responsibility of it. Taking that kind of initiative will earn you a respectable reputation as a raider, and your entire team will no doubt benefit from you helping out.

Depth of Roster
Posted by Eldershield on 4.4.14

EldershieldTen players we currently need to run a raid. Right? Wrong I say! The truth is, poo happens. And when it does you don't want to be caught with your pants down during progression. If you recruit some random player two days before your raid, and expect everything to move on smoothly, you should think again. Even if the player you pick up has the gear, or even the experience to match the player he or she replaced, it's likely there will be a learning curve with your specific strat, dealing with a different class/spec (if it changed), personality issues, tardiness, communication, or some other problem. Most raid leaders know full well that finding the "perfect" replacement for a week while your swing healer goes to his sister's wedding, almost never happens.

But how do you fix this? It's not like finding good "stand-by" players is any easier. Indeed, it takes patience to build a roster with dependable depth so your progression nights amidst absences aren't severely hindered. However, I can tell you that it's not impossible. Here's a few tips...

First, try to find raiders that are a little further than you in progression (in our case, try to find them from within the Convert to Raid community). Focus on players who play a lot, and have a few alts. These guys are likely wanting gear for their alts, and would love to get them on a steady team, rather than pugging LFR's, Flexes, and the occasional normal-mode hail-mary attempts on Monday's with terrible players that end in failure. Good players are good players. Even if you get their alt, they'll likely treat it like a main toon, and benfit your raid.

Second, try searching for players that are burning out at a higher level. Many players have to step down from the pace of heroic progression 4-days a week. These are usually phenomenal players who had a real-life check that took them out of the game. If you raid a lot less, maybe they'll see you as a good opportunity to stick with raiding, but slower to accomodate their new schedule.

Third, try to remember good players from your past that have fallen away from the game a bit. Encourage them to get back into it. Even if you have to spend the time to gear them up, the skilled player is more valuable than the toon. It will be worth it in the long run, and you'll rekindle an old friendship.

Finally, get the word out any way you can. Use social media, forums, etc. to advertise your team. In these pre-WoD months, it should be super easy to sell the fact that your team will be recruiting permanent players if you're switching from 10-man to mythic. Additionally, incentivise people by offering to gear them up a bit. Every now and then, put them on the roster and ask one of your current members who doesn't need gear to take a seat. Don't keep the twinky on the string, you have to actually let them raid occasionally, you can't resort to empty promises, or they'll quickly find another home.

Consistency is a huge part of progression raiding that is often times under-emphasized. Most teams, I would say, only have their official set-in-stone roster about 55-70% of the time. Which means, if they don't have a bench roster at all then they resort to complete strangers 30-45% of the time, which surely takes a toll on the team's progress. However, if you can fill those unexpected absences with friendly faces who have performed well with team before, you won't feel like you're wasting any precious raid time!

The Future of Wreckedified
Posted by Eldershield on 3.22.14

Long term planning is essential for healthy progression raiding. All raid teams should have a loose plan of what they will be doing six months from now, and they should all know exactly what they are doing a week from now. If the goals, ambitions, or schedule is unclear, the raid leader is to blame.

Wreckedified is taking the WoD changes seriously. We still have a great deal of time before these changes take effect, but careful planning will ensure a smooth transition with no suprises, and no loss of progress.

Our goals are to kill Heroic Garrosh before Mythic is forced upon us. So, until then, we'll stay as a 10-man team, and not be in any dire need of recruiting. However, the process of recruiting should start well before the changes, so we have enough time to get comfortable with the 10 players we choose to add to the team. There is a lot of gray area we can play with. Technically, we're accepting applicants right now, with the understanding we won't really need them until WoD.

Additionally, as soon as we know which raid roles are available for the Mythic team, we'll post them ASAP. First selection goes to those players on the 10-man team (If one of our DPS wants to switch to tanking for WoD, then he/she gets a tanking spot). After that, we'll fill spots based on our perception of the recruits. Priority will be given to those players we feel will have the most potential to help the team.