Archive for the ‘Raid Leadership’ Category

The Carrot and The Stick   12 comments

There are many ways to lead raids, some successful, some not so successful.  Some enjoyable, some not so enjoyable.  No matter which you choose they will all largely depend on the personality of those that you play with, and their goals.  I know that there are some guilds where leading with the stick is the norm.  Where nightly ranting and berating is to be expected, and where members accept that as being a part of that guild.

For me, I much prefer, and think that you usually get better results, from the carrot.  While I do sometimes get very frustrated on a personal level, I try to keep that out of the raid (unless Brade has his mic queued without me knowing…).  I find that, just like in life, most adults like to be treated as adults, and will generally produce better results when treated as such.  I think providing a pleasant raid experience tends to encourage people to turn up night after night to participate in whatever activity happens to be on the schedule.  I like the carrot.  I like positive reinforcement, and I like open discussion.

That being said, sometimes there is no alternative for the stick.  Sometimes people just need a quick whack to get them back on track.

As an example.  My guild has certain encounters that tend to just have our number.  The past two weeks, this has been Putricide, for whatever reason.  Sure, we get him down, but with no small amount of total stupidity ensuing (sometimes even from yours truly!), and frustration.  For whatever reason, people just fall all over themselves, and the stellar players that we saw all night long leading up to this point, let their stunt doubles drive.  I can think of no other logical excuse for what is happening!  Stunt doubles, I tell ya!

For the past two weeks, we have taken far more pulls than was necessary to finish this task.  And both weeks, I’ve had to revert to letting out my inner-bitch to get folks to focus after an hour or two of just flat out sloppy play.  Both weeks, the pull after the inner-bitch was let loose we netted a kill.  (WTF!  No, Seriously, WTF!).  In both of these instances, wielding the stick netted better results than offering the carrot.  Hell, I even half jokingly asked last night “Should I just yell at y’all before our first pull next week, and skip the bullshit in between?”.

I certainly recognize that sometimes the stick is needed, there is just no way around it.  The problem is…I hate wielding it.  I get inner-bitch’s remorse.  “Was I too hard on people”.  “Did I holler inappropriately”.  “Should I have just let it go”.  Nine times out of ten, the answer is always “no”.  I did the right thing, people needed to be whipped into line and brought back to focus.  But that doesn’t mean that I have to like it.

Quite the opposite, actually.  I much prefer to offer respect, and provide a venue for constructive feedback and growth.  I think that people are more open to fixing performance issues when they don’t have the fear of god (or Beru in this case) in them.  I think that, as a general principle, the carrot is a much better motivator.  At least it’s the one that I have come to prefer.

But…that doesn’t mean that there aren’t appropriate times to brandish the stick either.  However, I think knowing when to make use of it is extremely important.  Because if you swing it constantly, people will start to ignore it or just grow used to it’s sting.  But if you only bring it out on occasion, people know it’s “srs bizns”.  When the usually calm, collected, and friendly Beru is now in your face as if you were Private Pyle, people know that the shit has hit the fan and it’s the splash of cold water they need to regroup…usually.

As much as I hate it, I have to admit that the stick is sometimes a necessity.

Which do you prefer, the carrot or the stick?  At what point do you think it’s appropriate to bring out the stick?

Posted February 10, 2010 by Beruthiel in /rant, Raid Leadership

Holding Out   11 comments

No, you perverts!  I’m not pondering the latest love triangle presented in the most recent Twilight film.  :P

What I am talking about though is choosing how to gear up.  Largely, I am curious on how many people pass over upgrades waiting for that one item they desperately want to drop.

Why am I curious about this?  Well, because we are starting to see a lot of things that I believe to be upgrades for folks head to the shard bin and I want to know why.  I suspect it is because people would rather have item x and don’t want to have other loot on their record that might prevent them from obtaining the sought out item when it does drop. 

For example, I picked up a ring last night from the gunship battle that was a very minor upgrade to my 258 ring, but an upgrade nonetheless.  I had known that it was somewhere on my list of “good things” to pick up at some point, but previously we had seen lots of interest from our DPS casters trying to nab it up, so I had largely just written it off figuring I’d wait for the ring from Sindragosa at some point down the line that itemized spirit over crit. 

Imagine my surprise last night when the ring was in the chest and nobody sent a tell requesting the item.  I thought to myself “well, I’m sure not going to let it just rot”, and so I picked it up.  But then I got to thinking, why had nobody asked for it?  I mean, I know that it’s a very well itemized ring for caster dps having haste, crit and spell power.  But what had all of the sudden made it so undesirable that where I had 5 tells on it the first time we saw it, I had zero tells on it the third time?

I suspect the answer is pretty simple: Coveted Loot.

People sometimes seem to set their eye on that one  item that shines so bright it blinds them from acquiring other things that would be upgrades for them.  While this is all fine and good, it really starts to irk me when people let things go to the shard bin that would have been an upgrade, and that they will in fact ask for the next time it drops after they have obtained their coveted item.

To be fair, I also set my loot priorities, and when things drop I will prioritize when I ask for them, but I also won’t let anything be sharded that is on my list and is an upgrade for me.  That just seems wasteful and silly!

So I am curious!  Do you hold out or do you take your upgrades as they come?  Would you let an upgrade shard just to have a better chance at something down the road?

Posted January 28, 2010 by Beruthiel in Guild Management, Raid Leadership

Flexibility   3 comments

No, I’m not talking about the way that world class Yogi’s can contort their bodies to do things that shouldn’t occur in nature. I’m not talking about improving your downward facing dog.  I’m talking about being given lemons and making lemonade.

One of the first, and probably most important, lessons that you learn when you start down your career of choice is that the more rigid you are in how you think things should be done, the more stressed and frustrated you become when they don’t work out they way you had envisioned them.  As such, if you don’t learn to think outside the box, and you don’t learn to “roll with the punches”, you end up with an ulcer and more grey hair than you should have at such a young age!

It is equally important that after you have learned these valuable lessons in the workplace, that you let them flow over into the other aspects of your life…including WoW.  The fact of the matter is, there are just somethings that you cannot control. Read the rest of this entry »

What Is The Value of Alts?   13 comments

There are a lot of people out there, and a lot of guilds for that matter, that just flat out hate alts.  I don’t know if they’ve had a rotten experience with them or just enjoy a monogamous relationship with their main toon, but the result is often the same: someone says “alt” and you can just see them cringe.  It does not matter who is behind the character, they just don’t want to deal with an alt.

I think that this is the wrong attitude to have, and that there are a lot of benefits that a guild can enjoy from fostering the growth of their alts. Read the rest of this entry »

How Does Your Attitude Affect Your Raid?   11 comments

Last night we started our raid week as we are wont to do, killing new “farmed” content for gear upgrades before we start tackling the encounters we haven’t mastered yet.  In this case, we started in ICC, clearing up to Putricide.  Despite the occasional lag the first wing went fairly smoothly, however we did have one wipe on Saurfang do to some sloppy play.  I largely wrote this off to the “cocky” factor.  You know the one I’m talking about.  The one where people are largely on auto-pilot and think “we’ve done this I don’t have to think”.  Except that doesn’t really work well on that fight, and it seems to take a wipe to remind people that it’s time to wake up.

As we moved into the plagueworks, the trash was also a bit sloppy.  Not to the point that it wiped the raid, but people failed to kill things before they exploded, completely ignored whether or not the tank had agro before AEing on larger packs, and just all around were a bit sloppy.  Someone commented to me that we seemed a bit sloppy that particular evening, and I told him “eh, it’s just trash, I try not to holler unless it’s wipey and wasting our time”.  When he pointed out that Saurfang was a bit messy too, I gave him my theory on raid cockiness. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted January 14, 2010 by Beruthiel in eh?, Raid Leadership

Milestones   13 comments

I often think of our guild as a giant, functioning machine.  Just like many machines, I am sometimes amazed at how the gears continue to grind and how each individual piece plays its role, continuously turning its cog wheels to catch the next and so on and so forth.  Even though our officer team may be the motor that powers the machine, without each cog, the machine would cease to function.  I am sure that you are wondering where I am going with this.

When we set out for this expansion we set out a few goals for the members of the guild.  One of those goals was to see all of the content this expansion had to offer before the next expansion.  Last night, our guild hit a milestone in achieving that goal.

Going into this raid week, we had exactly 5 things in the game we hadn’t killed yet: The three new bosses of the plaugeworks, Algalon and HM Anub.  While we did kill the first two bosses of the plague wing the first night we encountered them, which was exciting, that isn’t what I’m hear to talk about.

Last night Monolith hit a milestone in achieving our goals, defeating Algalon and “finishing” Ulduar.  Nine months after the release of the zone, this is a task that only about 1500 guilds in the world have accomplished to date.  We were the second guild on the server, and only horde guild, to accomplish this task.  Was it easier for us than some others because we had better gear?  Yes.  Did that make our kill any less exceptional for us?  No.

Not only did we kill Algalon, but we also hit a progression milestone on HM Anub, getting him down to 19%…in our first night of seeing phase 3, ever.  I have a sneaking suspicion that his days are numbered.  And I also have a suspicion that I’m not the only member of our guild excited by this new development.

When we made the decision to “beat” the raid game, as it were, we sometimes received criticism from those outside of the guild…and, at times, even from those within the guild, but not part of our progression team.  I have to admit that the night one of our friends and family members, who had recently left his guild and accepted a non-raiding spot with our guild…just to get away from his guild, questioned why we were still doing Ulduar and advising me how worthless it was and how we were wasting our time, I was very close to going “Sebudai” on him, and borrowing the “your guild sucked, that’s why you’re in my guild” line.  Alas, I am not Sebudai…and relayed a similar message, just in a far more diplomatic way.

What a lot of people seem to forget is that every guild is different, and has different goals.  That doesn’t mean their goals are “wrong”, it  just means that they are different.  And I, personally, think that is something that should be respected.  Regardless of what anyone else thinks, I’m confident that we’ve made the proper progression goals and decisions for our guild.  Our members generally seem very pleased with our progression, many being more excited about our Yogg 1 kill than most of our TotGC kills to date.  (And quite frankly, it was a much more challenging encounter than most of what we encountered in TotGC).  Hitting the Algalon milestone last night felt very much the same to me.  Zoning into work on Anub afterwards and seeing damn near 25 “Astral Walkers” was proof enough for me that this was an important milestone for everyone else as well, and something that they were proud to have been part of accomplishing.

And for me, Beruthiel the Astral Walker, I don’t need any other justification than that.

ICC 25, GM Surprises and Other Ramblings   5 comments

Monolith entered the 25 man Ice Crown Citadel last night for the first time.  I had spent hours of time preparing for the first four encounters in the zone, and trying to remain reasonable set expectations at killing the first two or three bosses.  When we entered the zone, I asked the guild to focus and take the zone with a vengeance.

And we did just that.  No boss took us more than a handful of pulls, and in our 3.5 hours of raid time, we cleared the 4 bosses available to us.  remember above when I said I was hoping for 2-3?  Yea, that was a lie.  I was trying to convince myself that it would be just fine if that is all we got down.  But I knew that deep down inside that I wanted to have the wing cleared or I’d probably be disapointed…I just wasn’t admitting it to myself ;)

Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring the Tiered Release of Ice Crown.   6 comments

Daelo has just given us some insight on how things will work with Ice Crown Citadel.  It is a very interesting read, so if you haven’t had the time to read over it, I would recommend giving it a gander.

I will repost one of the more interesting things in Daelo’s post below:

The first section that opens will include the Lord Marrowgar, Lady Deathwhisper, Icecrown Gunship Battle, and Deathbringer Saurfang encounters. Progress beyond that point will be prevented for several weeks. Then the Plagueworks will open with Rotface, Festergut, and Professor Putricide becoming available. After another period of time, the Crimson Hall will open and you can then fight the Blood Princes and Blood-Queen Lana’thel. The final Frostwing Halls unlock then occurs after that, making Valithria Dreamwalker, Sindragosa, and the Lich King available. We believe a staggered release of the content will allow players to experience Icecrown Citadel at a sustainable, measured, and ultimately more enjoyable pace.

There are other elements that gate access along the way. Players may not attempt any Heroic versions of 10 player encounters until they have defeated the Lich King in a 10 player raid. Similarly, players must defeat the Lich King in a 25 player raid before they can attempt a Heroic 25 player encounter. So players must master every normal difficulty encounter in Icecrown Citadel before attempting Heroic difficulty.

The Lich King may not be attempted until Professor Putricide, Blood-Queen Lana’thel, and Sindragosa are defeated. Furthermore, the Heroic difficulty of The Lich King encounter may not be attempted in any week unless the three aforementioned encounters have been defeated in Heroic difficulty that week.

Interesting.  So, Blizzard is going to be gating the content, similarly to how Sunwell and ToC were released.  Not only that, but you won’t be able to do hard modes for what appears to be months after the first batch of normal mode content was released.  Blizzard is definately forcing a progression chain with this release format.

What do I think about it?  Well, I think I like it.  Maybe.  I think that as long as the encounters are engaging and challenging enough to warrant an average progression raiding guild the amount of time given to clear the content it’s going to work out very well.  But I do have a fear: what if the content is as face-rolly as ToC was?  What if it only takes us a night or two to clear everything.  What are we supposed to do then, while we wait for the next portion of the zone to unlock?

In addition to the tiered release of the zone, we will be seeing a return of limited attempts:

The Ashen Verdict provides reinforcements and material for players to assault Icecrown Citadel, but this support is not endless. Raids will have a limited number of attempts total each week to defeat the four most difficult encounters in Icecrown Citadel: Professor Putricide, Blood-Queen Lana’thel, Sindragosa, and the Lich King. As these boss encounters are unlocked, the number of attempts available per week will increase. The initial number of attempts provided for defeating Professor Putricide is only five. When Blood-Queen Lana’thel unlocks, the amount of total attempts remaining will increase to 10. Then when Sindragosa and the Lich King unlock, 15 total attempts will be available to defeat all four bosses. After a raid has exhausted their attempts for the week, the Ashen Verdict must withdraw their support and the four most difficult bosses all despawn and become unavailable for the week. The limited attempt system is a feature of both Normal and Heroic difficulty.

Ok, I’m going to start out now by saying I’m not a fan of the limited attempt methodology.  I understand why Blizzard is implementing it, but I also pretty firmly believe that it hampers a good number of guilds that don’t need this kind of artificial choke point.  (Hi…we suck at faction champs, we know this, please punish our further progress in the zone because we can’t PvP, thanks!).  One thing that I am pleased about, and I think assuages some of my concerns with this system, is that as time goes on the available number of attempts increases.

I guess generally, I think the system is going to work well, if it’s been done properly.  I also think that Blizzard is absolutely buying themselves time with tiered release of the content.  It definitely has the feel of Blizzard deciding when we will see things, and how long it should take us to get there.  I don’t necessarily think that this is a bad thing, per se, but if they have overdone it, I think people are going to be frustrated.

So…now the million dollar question: When is it going to be released?  Well, here is my take on it.  I 100% believe that the 3.2 protodrakes are going to be removed with 3.3, as new drakes have been added to the 3.3 content.  Blizzard has already stated that they will give us a month’s notice before removing the drakes.  To date we haven’t received that notice.  Therefore, I think that it is highly likely that there is at least a month before we see 3.3 release.  (Yes, I know the downloader is available already, but we’ve seen downloaders available well ahead of patch dates before).  Of course that puts us right up at Christmas Holidays.  Will Blizzard release a major content patch right before the Holidays?  Your guess is as good as mine.

So, here is my best guess:  The patch is either going to hit on December 22 OR not until after the New Year.  I, personally, find it unlikely that they are going to unleash a major patch that will hinder their employees ability to enjoy the holidays.  So I think we are going to see it some time around January 5, but I wouldn’t take that to the bank.  I’ve been wrong before, and I’m certain to be wrong again!

What do you think?  Do you like the tiered release?  How do you feel about the return of limited attempts?  What is your guess for a release?  Inquiring minds want to know!

Posted November 18, 2009 by Beruthiel in Guild Management, Ice Crown Citadel, Raid Leadership

What to do with Shadowmourne?   3 comments

*Updated to reflect 11/18 datamined informtion for Shadow’s Edge and 11/19 for Shadowmourne.  Updated information is courtesy of mmo-champion.  Updated information will be notated in Orange.

Orange does strange things to people.  It always has, and it likely always will.  In order to prevent any sort of drama that tends to follow the orange pixels around, anyone that intends to step foot into Ice Crown Citadel should start thinking now about how to award the newest legendary, Shadowmourne.

Right now we know very little about the weapon itself, and if it’s very much like Val’ynar we won’t know much more about it until the time is upon us to make the decision to award the weapon.  Great…once again we need to semi-blindly pick a good candidate without all the best information to base the decision.  Bleh.  Well, let’s review what we do know about Shadowmoune:

  • Shadowmoune is a two handed axe.  This will limit who may wield this weapon to 4 3 classes: Death Knights, Paladins, Warriors and Hunters.  However, based on the proc (explained later) we can effectively rule out this being a hunter weapon (more on this below).  *edit: Datamined information confirms that this weapon will only be equipable for Warriors, Death Knights and Paladins.
  • The weapon proc is stated as such: “Your weapon swings have a chance to drain a Soul Fragment from their undead, demon and elemental victims.  When you have acquired 10 soul fragments you will unleash Chaos Bane, dealing 6849-7560 shadow damage split between all undead, demons, and elementals within 8 yards.   *edit: “Your weapon swings have a chance to drain a soul fragment granting you 40 strength.  When you have acquired 10 soul fragments you will unleash Chaos Bane, dealing 1900-2100 shadow damage split between all enemies within 8 yards”
    • The language “your weapon swings” I think pretty clearly indicate that this is intended to be a melee weapon, and effectively rule it out as a stat stick for hunters.  Feel free to disagree with me on this, but I am willing to bet that hunters will not be on the class limitations of the weapon.
  • It seems from the pretty cool lore behind the weapon that there will be quests involved to upgrade the weapon to its maximum potential.  My guess is that there will be three stages/quests for the weapon.  Some of the things stated about Shadowmourne:
    • To contain the energies that dance across its cold edges, Shadowmourne must be hewn from piles of impure Saronite: the hardened blood of the Old God, Yogg-Saron, treated only by master metal-shapers.
    • To fuel its power to kill, it is vital that Shadowmourne be drenched in the souls of the most potent servants of the Scourge as they are slain, one by one, with the unfinished blade.
    • To help break through the Lich King’s armor, Shadowmourne is to be adorned with fragments of the Frozen Throne, originally crafted by Kil’jaeden out of the ice from the Twisting Nether.

So, how do you decide who gets this weapon in your guild?  What is the best way to go about making this decision?  Let’s take a look at some of the things that Monolith is looking at in making our decision.

Read the rest of this entry »

Getting it Right.   1 comment

Running a guild is more than just recruiting (oh god), leading raids and dealing with bullshit.  One of the most important things that comes with running a progression raiding guild is making decisions on prioritizing content.  Now, if you are in a cutting edge guild, it’s pretty easy, because you just have to push to the next thing available.  However, not all guilds can be cutting edge, and not all decisions can be so black and white.  For those of us still trucking along with Ulduar when ToC came along, we had a decision to make: Keep at what remains in Ulduar or can Ulduar and focus solely on ToC.

There are plenty of guilds that opted to never step foot in Ulduar again, and just focus on the ToC content, and that is fine, if that is what worked for them.  We decided, however, to take Monolith in a different direction, and it’s this decision that I’m proud of, and think that we “got right”. Read the rest of this entry »

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