Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Casual Raiding or, "It's Possible to Mix Oil and Water... Just Stir Really Hard"

My last post was about my guild and some members who wanted more hardcore raiding than we were offering. They were good members, by any guild's account, but we weren't the guild to fulfill them.

That scenario is one of the main reasons you need to be careful about recruitment and leadership in a casual raid situation. I'm going to give you tips from my own experience on how your casual guild can best break into raiding. Nothing gospel-esque, but these are things I've found to hold true.


Recruiting for Casual Raiding

The first step, if you have 10 or more members in your guild now, is seeing if people are willing to use alts or reroll their main to make up a 10-man raid group. If people seriously want to see the inside of a raid instance, it would be best if everyone came to a compromise that would get people in, because it's better to keep everything in-house as much as possible. (You're looking for 2-3 healers, 2 tanks, and dps.)

But it often happens that you can't bludgeon people into changing their spec -- or your whole guild is made up of rogues -- and in these cases, you have to consider adding outside people to your little garden of friends.

The good news is that it can happen. The bad news is that it takes a while to get a really steady, dependable group set up. You have to actually make friends with people outside your guild, keep in touch with them, and be ready to pounce if they leave their current guild. This isn't just about acquaintances, either. You need to find people who want the kind of guild that you have and who would fit in well enough to stay for the society while you're still trying to recruit.

You want to consider age, personality, level, class, spec, and expectations of the people you recruit.

Age -- I've found the young crowd (14-17) to be quick to catch on but easily bored. They'll almost always be able to show up for a raid and not wipe everyone, but they'll also be the ones constantly asking to do something in gchat when you're not raiding. They have a lot of free time and WoW is how they fill it. If you're their first guild and you get along well, they tend to be pretty loyal. When you get into older players (40+), they tend to be either your most mature and proficient raiders or computer-illiterate (which means they have trouble understanding game and class mechanics). Older players are typically your most amazing social gamers -- generous, kind, patient, and interesting.

Personality -- This is why you make friends first. You need to be alert for clues about what this person wants from the game. If it's raiding rather than close personal relationships, it's best to move on. Raiders tend to use casual raid guilds as stepping stones to break into hardcore guilds. Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?

Character -- You want a high level player, both to see how he or she plays in difficult encounters and so you don't have to wait on them leveling. If you're full on dps, you don't want any more dps, so you'll need to see if the recruit is willing (not just capable) to heal or tank.

Expectations -- You cannot tell people "we want to start raiding" and get them to join based on that, then make them wait 6 months while you try to work out the kinks. It doesn't work. They have to be there for friendship first. You need to be able to fulfill their expectations of your guild, or they'll get disatisfied and leave. If what they expect is an amazing group of people who are working to raid 10-mans in 3 months, you're set. If they expect to raid in 2 weeks, they'll leave.

Leadership for Casual Raiding

WoW Insider had a good tip for casual raid guilds -- the raid leader should be a hardcore raider. Someone who can keep people focused, moving, and in line. I'm not talking about someone who busts everyone's chops and curses people out for making a mistake or even wiping the raid -- I'm talking about someone who keeps order and busts chops when people think it's funny to wipe the raid. (Accidents are one thing, costing everyone 20g in repairs is another.)

A hardcore raid leader will set up proper expectations for the team, which is where the rules come in.

Rules for Casual Raiding

Loot: If your guild is trustworthy (which it should be if you were careful in your recruiting), you don't need dkp. We declare our raid spec (ex: holy priest vs shadow priest) and roll on gear for just that main spec. We also limit it to one per person per raid. If it's down to disenchant or off-spec, then it goes to off-spec (main spec > off spec > disenchant). This is easier to manage in 10's, and we found Suicide Kings to be nice in 25's, but SK is more work than just rolling.

People should know what they need from the raid and what they'll be rolling on if it drops. If they don't, just chat with them and let them know the best items for them. Not much of an issue if the guild is small.

Focus: We have a "no talking in Vent" rule once the raid starts. This is to keep us focused -- because at the end of the night, it's discouraging to have wiped on the trash before the first boss seven times because people aren't paying attention. People want to succeed and have fun, but "fun" in the form of distraction during a raid means that the people who want to accomplish something are miserable. And no one should ever have fun at the expense of someone else. (I've heard people say "My guild goes in and we don't get anything done but we all have fun." I'm pretty sure "all" is an overstatement. If there is someone in the raid who is trying to lead or who cares about seeing a boss downed, and I acknowledge that in some places you might very well have 10 people who don't care but if there is even one person who does care, then the rest of the raid goofing off is going to lead to some sort of drama. I guarantee it.)

Also with focus is Assignments. The raid leader should mostly take care of this (just in 10's; 25's need more leaders to coordinate), but sometimes things like healing assignments can be delegated to someone competent. Either way, everyone should know what they're doing.

Preparedness: We require that people show up on time with reagents, spec, repairs, and gear all in place. This isn't about being strict, it's about politeness -- not wasting the time of 9 other people while they wait for you to get your stuff in order. In casual raid guilds, sometimes it's hard to enforce this properly because very often you can't raid without that last person. I've always thought a good strategy would be canceling the raid if someone shows late and is completely (and insultingly) unprepared.

I take this from a story about a family of two parents and 7 children, and whenever the parents went out to eat with their children, if one of the kids misbehaved, the whole family left the restaurant, just walked away from their dinner, and everyone went to bed hungry. So by the time they had kids 4-7, the eldest kids kept the little ones in line. It wasted some money and some food, but in the long run it taught the kids to behave. I don't know how it'd work in a raid, but I think the social pressure of having 9 people annoyed at that one person who didn't show up ready to go would help cure future unpreparedness.

Enforcement: Don't worry about causing drama by enforcing respectful behavior (because that's what rules are for) in your members -- if they care so little about your guild that they'll gquit over being held accountable, they aren't worth the stress.

Forgiveness: My guild has the policy that Real Life is greater than WoW (RL>WoW). If someone is late because their car broke down or halt the raid because their kid needs to be disciplined, it's cool. Nobody stresses over it. It's one of the best differences between raid guilds and guilds built on friendship. Real life happens, and friends understand that.

Schedule: This goes along with preparedness -- scheduling a time and day to get even 10 people on at the same time is often painful and is the main reason you don't want people to be late or goof off -- it's disrespectful of everyone's time. It is hard enough to make the schedule -- you want to get the most out of everyone while you have them.

Don't Make Too Many Rules: Our rules center on the issue of respect, as yours should. Don't bombard people with rules they don't need, but do let people know that you'll call them out for disrespectful behavior. Address issues that need addressing, but you don't have to make rules to cover every eventuality. For one thing, that many rules are hard to enforce. For another, most casual guildies don't like a lot of militaristic restrictions.


That's all I can think of right now. Anything you want to add? (I've been adding here and there.)


  1. Loved the "family in a restaurant" analogy. ^_^

  2. Yay for casual raiding!

    Should probably ask this on the forums, but... are we back to rolls instead of SKDKP?

  3. are we back to rolls instead of SKDKP?

    We'll keep what we've always done for 10's. We haven't decided if we're changing 25's yet. :)

  4. I like your blog. I'm guessing you mainly raid with Dustfire? Casual raiding is hard, because there are always people who are more into it than others and there usually ends up being some resentment. We're dealing with similar things in my guild on Moon Guard.

  5. Yes, Dustfire is my main and my only raider because she was the one I rolled to play with friends/family when we were invited to Zuluhed.

    The other two are too low level to raid, but Plum will be my PVP main and Birdfall will focus on holiday achievements. :)


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