One of the hardest things for me to do is to cancel something that is scheduled. Our guild cancels raid very infrequently, largely because I’d rather find a way to make it work than saying “sorry guys, we didn’t plan well enough so we aren’t going to raid tonight”. I tend to take it personally. We try to have fairly good foresight into attendance issues on certain days, and adjust our scheduling, but sometimes we just don’t get it right.
Now, we are fairly fortunate in that running a guild comprised 98% of working adults has the perk of having a little bit less of the “summer” fall out, largely because when you work year round, there aren’t huge “summer” changes, outside of vacation time. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t times where there is slim picking as it comes time to get your scheduled raid going. And meeting the end of an expansion, coupled with summer, will still meet some lack of attention when it comes to raiding.
So, what do you do when faced with a less than optimal situation when it gets to raid time? Well, I have learned that it’s best to punt. Or, make lemonade, as it were.
The number one thing to remember is that sometimes shit happens, and there is nothing that can be done about it. You just make the best of what you can.
So, exactly how DO you make lemonade? How do you know how far to punt the ball?
It’s pretty easy, when you can’t do what you had originally planned, you find an alternative way to have participatory guild activities and keep interest in the game. This can be done in a variety of ways:
1) Instead of cancelling a raid if you are short a handful of people, look for alternatives to keep the raid engaged. For example, this Sunday when we were short handed for HM Putricide work, went to our guild’s “wishlist” and started working through that. We went back to Naxx and made an attempt at “The Immortal” (p.s. no amount of gear will save you if people botch Thaddius!), we went and cleaned out the Sunwell (finally!), we hit TK up for someone missing it, and we re-visited AQ40. And you know what? It was a blast. It was very relaxing, and overall I think a lot of people had a lot of fun. For being a “non-raid” it was a huge success.
2) Instead of cancelling a raid if you are short a handful of people, ask “what can we do with who we have here”. While it may not be what was scheduled, sometimes you can still complete different raid goals. A good example of this is achievements. Specifically things that might be needed for the meta, if you are working on those. Don’t have a full 24 people, and have 2 healers that found out last minute that they only have 90 minutes raid times? No problem! It doesn’t equal hard mode work…but it can equal working a meta achievement for success! And can still be a lot of fun!
3) Instead of cancelling a raid, consider asking friends and family members if they’d like to join you. While this isn’t likely to be feasible for HM work, we have reached out to our friends and family members to fill gaps when we needed a few bodies to help us complete our roster. This generally works out well for both parties!
4) Listen to what your raid is telling you, either explicitly, or through their actions. Having a hard time getting people to show up for a third night’s worth of HM work? Perhaps three nights of wiping is too much. It is especially important to try to be in tune as you get to the summer/pre-expansion slump. Really, at this point, what’s the huge rush? If you are at the point that you are really not at risk of not completing the goals set for this expansion, taking an extra week or two to get to something won’t be the end of the world. However, pushing too hard to get there may be the breaking point for someone.
5) Take a night off here and there. Sometimes an extra night off is just what the doctor ordered. If you aren’t pushed for time, and it fits in your schedule and extra night off never really does any harm! Raiders are likely to come back refreshed and raring to go.
6) As the expansion winds down, integrate some “fun” things into your raid time. Open your raids up to alts, and give perks for mains still participating. We often did this with Black Temple and Mount Hyjal. Well geared alts were welcome to participate, guild bank repairs were turned on for mains, and mains got priority on loot items. The raids were a huge success, and everyone was happy.
7) Most importantly, keep your guild engaged. More than anything else, I believe that people come back for the experiences that the guild offers. Throughout farmed content, shiny purples will only go so far. If you really want to beat out the summer doldrums and end of expansion fatigue, keep your members engaged! And this doesn’t have to be through raiding, necessarily. But through any number of guild activities.
There is no doubt that keeping things moving through the summer months, and at the end of an expansion can be difficult, if you look for creative ways to keep people engaged, you should find that guild retention will stay fairly strong. People that are still having fun will tend to keep logging on. Having fun doesn’t always have to mean killing the latest boss, or even the latest content. And remember, sometimes you will have to punt, and that is ok! Sometimes the best raids happen when you punt…and lemonade is always tasty!
How about you? How are you keeping your guild engaged in this difficult transition period? What are you struggling with?