Raids – Business or Personal?

What is your ideal raid group?

Mine is a group of highly competent people who enjoy each others company (or at least tolerate each other), are progression-minded, and have the drive to get things done while treating each other with respect. The question is – do raids like this exist? Am I expecting too much?

I think there are two basic categories of raid groups: family style or business style.

The family style raids are the ones where everyone gets along and has fun with what they’re doing. Some people may not have the absolute best dps or raid awareness, but these raids work with what they’ve got because they’re more concerned with the people than the progression.

The business-style raids focus on results rather than people. If your dps is too low, if you die in the fire one too many times, you’re out. These guilds are not tolerant of mistakes and poor performance, no matter how likable the person making the mistakes is. Do your job or step aside for someone who will.

Of course, these two raid styles are very black and white and I think most raids (including every raid I’ve ever been a part of) fall somewhere in the middle. I assume that getting bosses down in a timely manner is something most people hope for, but it doesn’t always happen. What separates raid groups  is how problems are addressed.

No raid aims to progress slowly and wipe to silly things multiple times, but many will not take the steps necessary to reduce the chances these things happen. How do you reduce the chances these things happen? There’s proper preparation – well thought out strats that are shared with the guild pre-raid and discussed and tweaked until they work. There’s proper class balance to make things as smooth as possible. And then there’s the people you choose to bring to raids.

Other people are both the best and the worst thing about raiding. I’ve met a lot of fantastic people and made a lot of friends through raiding. I’ve also come close to being overtaken by homicidal urges towards some people I’ve met through raiding.

I’m a progression-minded raider. I’m competitive. I’m not perfect but I do everything I can to be the best healer I can be – to heal all the things and stay out of all the fires. At the end of a raid I want people to think to themselves “gee, I wish Jasyla was in the raid all the time, she makes things easier.” If they’re not thinking that, I’m not doing my job.

So what happens when the progression-focused, competitive raiders come across people in their raids who don’t have the same level of motivation, understanding and skill? What happens when you run into raiders that make you think “gee, I wish this person weren’t here”? In the guilds who are all business these players will be dealt with. Their performance will be called out and if they don’t improve they’ll be replaced. But in most guilds it’s not so easy. These people stick around for one reason or another. It could be because the raid leaders really have no other choice because there’s no one to replace them. It could be because they’re popular in the guild, no matter what their raid performance is like. It’s hard to tell someone they’re not good enough.

There are more cutthroat guilds out there, who can be ruthless about who they take to raids to ensure the best progression possible. These raids are like a well-oiled machine, killing bosses left and right and getting those server and world firsts. Sounds fantastic. But if you look a little closer, those raids aren’t all sunshine and ponies either. Take the BlizzCon live raid for example. Though Blood Legion’s run of Firelands looked perfect, according to everyone who listened to the raid with voice streaming Vent was full of people screaming profanities and racial slurs. That really taints an otherwise pristine run.

I’d like for the people I raid with to be friends, but at the same time I wonder if that negatively affects progression. Personal feelings create biases and skew perceptions. You need distance to accurately evaluate a raider and decide whether or not they deserve a place in your raid.

Can these things be reconciled? Can you have a group of people who enjoy raiding together and respect each other while still having the determination to cut out the weak links in order to get ahead?

Would guilds benefit from saying flat-out what type of raid they’re trying to run so everyone’s expectations are set?

31 responses to “Raids – Business or Personal?

  1. I don’t really think a *perfect* raiding guild exists today. Like you said, there’s black and white with a grey blur in the middle and that’s where most of us land.

    I think we all yearn for a cutting edge guild that raids like a big family, but I don’t think they exist. There’s a give and take factor for most guilds. They give you progression, but they’ll take the fun away. They give you fun, they take the progression away.

    Personally, I try to stay as balanced as possible. I’ve accepted that I’m not in a top US guild because I don’t think I would have nearly as much fun in it as my current guild. I’d like to think my current guild is a happy medium between the two. We certainly aren’t nearly as hardcore as the top guilds, but I’d like to think we have quite a bit more fun than them too, all while being more progressed than most casual raid teams.
    Juvenate recently posted..Moving Forward

    • That’s my line of thinking too. I know fun and progression is what most people are looking for and I think you just have to find the best balance you can, because it will never be perfect. I see people leave guilds because the grass looks greener somewhere else, but for the most part, I don’t think it is. I’d say it’s next to impossible to find 24-30 other people who are on the exact same page as you are in regards to motivation and skill.

  2. It’s an interesting quandary and, even at higher levels of progression, there’s still always “that raider” who will stand in the fire more often than someone else.

    Let’s say we have a standard, 25-man raid and you have 15 players who just flat-out excel at their jobs. Then you probably have 5 players who have a bit of a learning curve issue, but once they’ve learned it, they rarely will make a mistake again. Then you probably have 3 or so people who have a bigger learning curve and will never quite “get” all of the fights, but you can still get things done. And then you have 2 people who are good, when they’re good, but they’re not always good.

    That describes just about every raid group I’ve been in, to varying degrees. Even in my more progression-minded time on Proudmoore, we had, as one of the raiders in the guild would refer to them, “the stupids” who would wipe the raid at the worst possible moment. (Last boss before getting Immortal, screwing up the Heigan dance, not kiting appropriately on Anub’Arak, etc.)

    After nearly a year in that progressive raid group (US #205 Glory of the Icecrown Raider – 25), I couldn’t take it anymore. The negativity coming from everyone in the raid group towards ANYONE who made a mistake was just insane. Worse, it was a really abusive environment based primarily on what people had THOUGHT had happened “oh, the tank died, healers failed” instead of what had actually happened “oh, the tank wasn’t wearing the specific Anub’Arak gearset and got hit for 200k in the span of .2 seconds” and the like. Blame was thrown around everywhere and there was no real order due to a lack of officers, because the officers (there were like, three of them) refused to promote anyone to help deal with the various personalities in the guild.

    People got gkicked, but only for flagrantly wiping the raid over and over — or not showing up. The same “stupids” that had cost the guild the Immortal title were still there screwing up 75% of the time on heroic Sindragosa.

    So I left and found a much-less progressed raid group that got up to 11/12 HM on their own before 4.0 dropped and were just a LOT nicer. Like, SO nice. It took me nearly all of the 5-6 months I was there to decompress from being in the other guild and learned to take mistakes in stride again.

    For me, and this is likely a little bit reflective of our guild policies, although I don’t make all of the decisions/etc, the quickest way to piss me off is not to die to the same mechanic 10 times in a row: It’s being disrespectful to the others in the guild and not respecting the fact that occasionally, some people will struggle with certain mechanics. If it poses a large enough issue, we’ll make changes on progression fights. If someone is absolutely, 100% preventing us from getting the kill, then we will swap them if we have any choice in the matter — but it doesn’t mean that they won’t get a chance next week.

    My ideal raid is to raid with 24 other people, whose company I enjoy, who have 100% attendance and never stand in the fire. That’s not really feasible, just from the attendance issue (unless I want to raid once a week), so I make compromises. I like pretty much all my raiders, I have attendance requirements that are absolutely doable but lax enough that if something comes up, things are okay and I’m one of the people who will occasionally stand in the fire, so I try to be at least as understanding about others as they are about me.

    TL;DR: I enjoy my raids with my guild and while it’s not my ideal, it’s close enough that I still look forward to them and enjoy them.

    PS: Yes, I definitely do think things are more difficult without you in the raid. ;) <3!
    Kurn recently posted..Kurn’s Thoughts on Mists of Pandaria

    • I knew I cound count on you to leave a comment longer than the original post. <3

      That's interesting that your Proudmoore raid group, who was more progression-minded (and negative) would keep "the stupids" around for so long. Maybe they needed somewhere to channel all their negativity?

      I don't have an answer for how to balance things so we can progress quickly while still having fun and enjoying raids. It would be a dream to have 25 people who excel at their jobs, but it's not realistic. There will always be a difference in skill levels and personalities. And everyone has their off-nights. Plus it's not feasible to always sit the weaker players out, or what reason would they have for sticking around? Then there goes your bench. However, I think through consistent recruiting (assuming the recruitment market doesn't suck), people may have more of a reason to improve their play if they know there's someone around who could take their spot.

      I wouldn't trade the friendships I've made for an extra boss kill or two, but I'll never stop hoping for improvement.

  3. Back in Vanilla and TBC you could see a clear line between those people who wanted to raid, and those who were family and friends guilds. Now in my eyes, Blizzard is trying to mesh both concepts of both striving to be the best, while having the sense of raiding with a bunch of people you are friends with (who may not be on the same level you are) with the up and coming raid finder.

    No, they probably wont have that killer instinct to play the best they can, but if they clear dragon soul through the raid finder, that would be good enough to them as opposed to being the first to do it. Personally, I enjoy the situation I am in right now. My last guild raided 5 nights a week and just lacked the kind of unity this guild has.

    As far as what kind of guild I prefer, I think the name kind of gives it away, no? ><

    I honestly think the gap of family and business style is going to continue to shrink, with future content patches (a la BoT/BWD/FL nerfs), so that Blizzard tries to meet that happy medium. I just hope that if the family style guild ends up being the standard for guilds, it doesn't deter you on how you perform in them, I know it certainly wont for me. :)
    Srsbusiness recently posted..Previewing the New Talent System: Priests!

    • At the end of Burning Crusade I think my guild managed to balance the friends/progression divide pretty nicely. We did really well in BT/MH, decently in Sunwell, and as far as I could tell, most people got along (there were a couple exceptions though). Of course, I could just be looking at the past through rose-coloured glasses. But I agree that you could definitely tell the difference between a progression guild and one that just wanted to dabble in raiding. The more casual guilds got really stuck before significant nerfs were made.

      I think Blizzard is trying to lessen the gap between the two types of guilds now, but one result is that expectations are getting confused. I think everyone is expecting to get further, kill more bosses faster, whether or not they put in the required effort. Like you, I’ll be aiming to perform at my best no matter what the guild atmosphere, but I’m not sure that everyone else thinks that way.

  4. I’ve probably typed this comment a million times. If you’ve heard it from me before, I apologize…

    If an organization (say, a raid group) expects me to spend hours a week preparing for our shared activity (farming, making consumables, etc.), do significant research about how to do my job, show up at an assigned time three times a week (and keeps attendance records), stay for a prescribed length of time, perform at the highest possible standard while I’m there, not chat/socialize with the other people in the room, submit to a performance review by a leader every week or so, and operate under the constant threat of being thrown out the door if I make any misstep in any of these areas, well, that’s a job and I already have one of those, thanks.
    Stormy recently posted..Alterac Valley

    • And raiding jobs don’t even pay! :P

      I’m not expecting raiding to be like a job or saying that you shouldn’t be allowed to talk to anyone. Just musing on what the proper balance is. Of course what’s fun for me is not fun for everyone.To me the preparation, research and performance aspects are very enjoyable. The people who don’t prepare and perform, however, can ruin my enjoyment.

  5. I like the bit about the sunshine and ponies.

  6. Progression and amt of fun….
    There cannot be one without the other.
    More progression and also mean less fun and vice versa.
    I was in the same 11/12 HM guild Kurn was in and I felt it was a nice blend of progression and fun. And in deed they were super nice, but at the sametime very skilled! (It was fun battling Ygg for healing meter tops… :P)

    My current 10 man guild (my GF and rl friends are in the same guild, I consider them all friends! and I have met a lot of them) is much the same, we like to play but not worry about things too much. Sure could progression be better? But I am enjoying myself, much like i did with my former alliance guild.
    Slice213 recently posted..5.0 Priest Talents

  7. Pingback: Musings in the shadow of Blizzcon — MMO Melting Pot

  8. Thanks for the article. I liked it. It was a nice entertaining read. Specially after weekend i have had raid leading another ALT group. Let me say while i usually have fun in between the serious and family guild type of raids, sometimes i do not have the patience to deal with players who want to come to my raids but A) don’t signup in calendar , B) Whine when didn’t get a spot probably because they didnt do A: , C) They are given a spot but 10 minutes into the run they decided that they are too tired to continue so they asked to be replaced (and dont give you time to say hey ok wait until i have someone who can come) they just drop group and log. and D) ALL OF THE ABOVE.

    I think one of your comment posters called them “the stupids”. In fact i think we all need a good laugh so here is one of my notorious guildies for doing all the above: http://www.askmrrobot.com/wow/gear/usa/hellscream/coejoe#v1
    And before you ask yes i have spoken this guy several times about his gemming/enchanting/reforging even gave him the askmrrobot page.

    But getting back to the subject now. I try to balance out my raids but I think i lean more toward the serious business side even if it is slow progression like say firelands in two days kind of slow. My patience changes depending how my day in real life is going thus trying to have so leisure time before raid like lets say two hours of anime puts me in a better mood than being logged in.

    • My patience also can vary a lot based on my mood. Sometimes I can be really easy going and while other people are ready to scream in frustration, I’m still havng fun. Other times, if I’m in a bad mood, I can find even reasonable progression way too slow.

      On the first day we were working on heroic Domo I was in such a terrible mood. From our very first pull I was upset about something or another and in my mind no one was doing well enough. Of course after talking to others later, most other people thought we were making good progress and took most mistakes in stride as part of learning the fight. What rate of progress is good enough can definitely depend on how I feel that day.

  9. Fantastic post. It is definitely a topic that has been in the back of our minds in Arm of Hades from the first day we switched to 25’s in BC, impacted our switching to multiple 10 man teams in Cata, and continues to this day.

    Many of us were extremely new raiders, and as such really didn’t know how badly some of our raiding core was performing. I’ll use the term “green”.

    We had some wonderful people we’d gotten to know in RL and/or through raiding over the years, but unfortunately sanity was at stake for many people, myself included. I don’t want to break the arm off my computer chair when someone butchers their Festergut spore for the 5th time over the course of 2 weeks. At the end of the day, if I am coming into the raid prepared and ready for success, I just could no longer surround myself with people (friends though they may be) who “I don’t like that Youtube thing … I just grab a beer and have some fun”. This sentiment was unanimous from our entire local leadership group.

    Fast forward to the end of Wrath, and we really hit that crossroads you describe. Doing the math we just didn’t have the 30-35 people with the adequate level of engagement to continue with 25’s, nor did we have the heart to tell people we liked that they could remain guilded, but would no longer be part of raiding.

    Going into Cata we opted to break the guild down into 4-5 10-man teams, based on level of raiding engagement. While it has been a royal pain in the arse to try to keep 4 teams balanced and thriving amidst guild recruitment/atrophy and such, I would say on the whole it has been a success.

    As recruitment over the course of this expansion has added some much needed depth of quality people/raiders, we come to another crossroads. If the math says we now have 30-35 quality progression raiders, do we go back to 25’s in MoP? :)

    I don’t think it is impossible to find 30-35 likeminded people/raiders that have a similar level of raiding engagement. To be honest, I think that going into MoP that is exactly where we will be.

    It has just taken years of patience and growing pains to get there :P

    • I’m not so confident. I think it is possible to go back to 25s (despite the fact that I know some people prefer 10s) and I think we could do well, but I don’t think the problems of having a few people who are less engaged or less skilled will ever fully be solved. Even among our 30 ‘top’ players I bet there’s a fairly sizable range of skill. You also never know how people’s priorities and motivations will change with time. We received a real wake-up call at the beginning of Cataclysm. A number of people who slipped under the radar in the world of ICCs 30% buff just didn’t cut it when it came to Blackwing Descent and Bastion of Twilight. Obviously it will depend on how Cata ends and how MoP starts, but I don’t think a few surprises are out of the question as we go into the next expansion.

      It also raises the question of what to do with the other people who want to raid who are not part of the 30-35. Do we all of a sudden have the heart to tell them they can’t raid?

      • Well going into the last few months of Wrath, we announced that people should treat that time like a “try-out” for where they would land in Cata. This set expectations, so people knew exactly where things would stand.

        There is no reason why this process couldn’t again be announced, with the people who don’t make the “top 35″ forming the Casual 10 man group :)

        We should probably save further discussions for March-April officer meetings, eh? :P

        Guess my only point in all this is that I think it is possible to be competent and fun, and while not every personality type will always get along with everyone else, as long as you remove any bad apples consistently you earn the trust of your guildies that the leadership is creating a lasting environment that people want to be a part of.

        • I know. I’m just saying that some people who passed their try-outs and got put on a top team still couldn’t cut it.

          I do think it’s possible to be competant and fun. However, I think everyone’s ideal balance of progression:fun is slightly different. It’s very difficicult to find that perfect fit.

          And yes, we should probably save further discussion.

  10. Ffpmmarc(Mega$

    Great post Jasyla. My guild is working its way through Heroic FL now, and we’re 2/7. We’re a social-progressive 25 man team. We truly enjoy each others company with progression as the ultimate goal. We normally don’t put anyone on the spot if they’ve made consistent mistakes and try and deal with it outside of the raid. We do however expect 90% attendance and showup with some knowledge and preparation of the fights. Beginning of wrath is where I started my serious raiding. I was in a hardcore raiding guild which finished 11/12 heroics. We fought with a horde guild for 1 or 2 spot server firsts. Raid/GM’s leaders yelled and belittled anyone making the slightest mistakes. As cool as it was seeing that banner “Server First” across the screen, I definately prefer the environment I’m in now. Downing bosses, having fun, researching fights and class specs, and no stress when logged off.

    If any of you haven’t watched the Race to World First video, it’s worth watching. It really gives you a look into the world of the Blood Legion guild and how disgruntled they are. As mentioned before, there was alot of yelling profanities at one another on vent in the Live Raid at BC. I also got a chance at BC to sit, and chat with Vodka. They were a much more together guild than BL, however when I asked them how fun the game was during progression, they looked at each other then responded, “It’s alot ofwork”.
    It all comes down to what works for you at this moment in time.

    • It’s certainly no fun to have raid leaders who start yelling over mistakes. I dream of a raid where no one has to be yelled at, where everyone is just awesome all the time. I think that’s a fantasy though :P

      I have not seen that video but it sounds interesting. As much as I think of myself as progression-oriented, I do think that amount of time and commitment would be too much for me. I’d like to kill bosses at a good pace, but spending dozens of hours on content as soon as it comes out then having nothing new left for months sounds like a real bore.

  11. Great post, Jasyla! I must admit, I’m more of the “get it done” mindset – I do spend time outside of raids bettering my toon, learning more about my class/spec, learning the fights, etc – I got the progression raiding bug quite early and I’m always wanting more than what I have, in terms of progression. Not enough boss kills, not fast enough, how come we’re #10 on the server, how come that guild is 6/7 heroic AND has the legendary AND the achievements mount while we have none of the above, etc etc ….

    Leads me to believe that what you said is right – there’s a balance between “raiding with friends” and kicking ass, but there will always be one or the other (or both) on the fringes that just make things imperfect. The guild I was in before Apotheosis, I was progressing enough for my taste, but no one cared about going back for mount achievements or old content, and hardly anyone logged on outside of raids. There was no “family/friends” feel. The guild before that was the opposite – we’d have 3-4 alt runs throughout the week, and people were ALWAYS on and joking and a few were top notch players, but the guild as a whole just were not progressing fast enough for my taste. Apoth almost seemed the right fit for me personally, but it was just enough unbalanced to where I was unhappy. I have no doubt it’s the perfect balance for most of the others, as it’s really the closest I’ve come, myself, to finding that “perfect” guild.

    But anyway, great post, once again!

    • Thanks Dahrla :)

      I don’t know that the perfect guild exists. For me, raiding with Apoth is great 90% of the time. I like so many of the people I raid with. I like the joking around that goes on in Mumble. Our progression is generally decent. I really appreciate all the planning and effort that goes into raids and discussion after raids. But every once in a while – maybe it’s a bad mood on my part, maybe someone just made one too many mistakes for my personal tolerance level – I get pretty grumpy that we’re not moving faster and I want everyone to be better. But it’s not too often. The rest of the time I’m having fun. I think it’s unrealistic to expect to not have any bad days in raids.

  12. I miss my guild. We had attendance problems, we had that guy who always failed on DPS, we had people (…well, me) who stood in fires, but we also had fun! WoW is a social thing to me, first and foremost.

    But that guild is no more, thanks to a drama llama, and I am in a “business time” guild. The people are nice, my boyfriend is there, the atmosphere is amazing and there’s no drama since people who don’t perform don’t pass trial. But… there are 4 raids x 4 hours each week, attendance is 100%, there’s almost no breaks, there’s no messing around on Vent. I’ve been here for a month and I’m already feeling burnout. It’s silly, because the people are really, really nice, and I wouldn’t have imagined a guild working on Rag 25 heroic could be so calm. The raids are killing me though, especially since they end at 00:30 and I have to drag myself to work the next day. I’ve been thinking and, for me, this kind of guild doesn’t really work. I really want to kill Rag heroic now, but afterwards I’ll need to decide what to do – either drop to social and try to organize some alt runs in the guild, or try to get my friends together and rebuild our old guild.

    • That’s a shame that your fun guild is no longer around.

      Having a group of nice, calm indiividuals working on Heroic Rag sounds great! Until I read the 16 hours a week thing. Eep. That’s a lot. It’s also unfortunate there’s not much messing around on Vent. It’s not good when it intereferes with raid, but I can imagine a fight like Rag would get quite unbearble (especially if you’re working on him for 12+ hours a week) without a little levity.

      • To be honest, my only problem with Rag is the hours. By 11 PM I’m ready to go to bed… and I’m not a good dodger-of-shit-on-ground even when I’m awake. I just wish they were chattier!
        (I do have to add that I think part of the problem is the 25-man environment. If 10 people tried to talk at the same time… wouldn’t be very productive.)

  13. I dont believe so.

    Their will allways be the weakest link. For a hardcore guild that guy may be someone that any average heroic raiding guild would be proud to have . Sure over time it tends to move towards optimum but since a raiding guild is not continuous group replacements means it will never reach their.

    Part of that is why the initial raiding period and then again heroic raiding caused so much turnover. People did’nt join guilds at level 30 thinking right I want to be killing Kel thezud in naxx 40, in 18 months and this guild will be able to do it. Players needed time to stratify themselves.

    • That’s a good point. I suppose there will always be a few players who are considered the weakest, no matter what level you’re raiding at.

  14. Gretchen Wade

    It all comes down to what works for you at this moment in time. Downing bosses, having fun, researching fights and class specs, and no stress when logged off.