2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back

Each week my guild has been getting just a little bit better and a little bit bigger.  We has a large amount of interest in our guild the first few weeks that we were raiding in the new expansion.  I was talking to several people per day about how we run our group and what we expect of our members.  Some players I turned away, if they had never raided before or if they seemed to have a “my shhht don’t stink” type of attitude.  I wasn’t putting a whole lot of effort into seeking out recruits, they were mostly coming to me.  Things seem to be going in the right direction until a couple weeks ago when our steady stream of recruits seemed to dry up.  I went from talking to several people per day to talking to maybe 1 or 2 per week.

Last weekend I busted my butt to get our numbers up.  I had a goal of bring in 6 new people and ended up finding 8!  It was a lot of time and effort to get this many people but it would be worth it if we could just fill our raid group for both of our scheduled nights.  Tuesday started out well.  We got down the bosses that we killed in the previous weeks and moved on to start learning some new bosses.  We had exactly the number of people we needed to play but our group set up was far from ideal.  We were a healer short and melee heavy for 2 out of the 3 fights available for us to work on.  It was a rough 1 of progression but we got through it, which was more than can be said for the previous week.

Thursday was a different story.  Of the 8 people that I recruited the weekend before, only 2 showed up, 2 had work conflicts and the other 4 were just nowhere to be found.  We ended up running our heroic clear with less than clean execution.  We brought in a few friends of players that were just not great players and we were carrying them pretty hard.  I ended up sitting one of the friends due to poor performance and being dead the whole fight.  We also had one of our tanks leave in the middle of Thursday -_-  tanks should be the most reliable players in any raid group.  It’s such a coveted position, why risk it with absences?  I’m at a lose for which direction to go.

I’ve talked to a few different guilds about possible merger/collaboration but most seem to want to cherry pick our best players and leave the rest, and that’s not the direction that I want to move in.  If only I could get like 8 players that are here on our 2 nights that we have scheduled content…then we could move forward and work on some new bosses.

I keep telling myself baby steps will get us there, but it is super slow and I want to already be there.

A Tale of Two Guilds

I hadn’t been looking for a merger but one seemed to find me. Our guild was doing well making steady progress through the game, killing a few new bosses with each week that passed. My officer and I were hard at work tapping into a health pool of eager raiders. Since heroic raids both were cross-server and flexible in size. We were able to bring in player without too much investment. Many years ago a player could only play with a guild if they were all on the same server. This meant that in order to even get a shot at raiding you had to shell out $25 to move your character to a new server. Time have changed and the barriers that once kept us apart have evaporated…unless you want to do the hardest content. We are close to completing the heroic difficulty of Uldir which would mean we are ready to start those super hardcore mythic raids that only 1% of players experience. We want to get there but we have a logistics challenge – we need more players. Unlike the heroic version of Uldir which scales up and down between 10 and 30 players, the mythic raids are for 20 players and 20 players only. We are a bit short of the mark and my officer and I have been pounding the internet pavement looking for those perfect players for our guild.

When we started building up our roster I talked about how one way to get a big influx of players was to merge with another guild. Merging is a scary thing. You work hard to build up the type of community and culture that you want and if you look to combine forces with another group there are usually sacrifices that need to be made. One of the big questions that is usually at the forefront is “who will be the guild leader?” Back when my guild was struggling in Wildstar we looked to merge with another guild who wanted to retain absolute control and make me an officer. This was a deal breaker for us and something that the other guild was unwilling to compromise on so we ended up not merging.

We have in the past absorbed some struggling guilds and found these type of transactions benefit us greatly.

This merger was messy, as combining 2 groups usually is. There were some people pushed out and a few pushed up. The greatest circumstance that the leadership of the absorbed guild was that the day before we agreed to bring in the tank to trial, one of our current and I would consider him our “main” tank decided that he didn’t want to raid anymore. This left a vacuum in the tank positions that were then able to be filled by the two tanks from the merger.

Tanks are such a crucial position on a guild. Consider them the leaders in their own right. They control the big epic boss battles from start to finish. Ideally you want someone who can be there 100% of the time, can follow instructions and can communicate clearly both expected changes and changes that need to be made on the fly. There is a lot of coordination between tanks so having a pair that can work well together is also crucial. If you have two people that are forced to be partnered on a project and they dislike each other that will cause your guild nothing but problems.

MMOs, old Guilds and Intense Nostalgia

Angry is one of those guilds where people tend to hang around.  The group of players hasn’t changed much in the past 7 years since I stopped raiding on their schedule.  At the start of every expansion a lot of people, myself included, return to dip their toes back in the WOW waters and see how the game feels.  Since my guild was done playing through the raid for the week I asked to tag along to the Angry raid and get some more practice on some of the bosses that my guild was stuck on and also practice my arcane rotation.

As the raid group began to fill I saw so many names that I remembered and started to reminisce about Throne of the Four Winds and Firelands some of my fondest memories in WOW.  I remembered our group playing with a quiet intensity pushing ourselves to complete boss encounters and raid achievements.  This was also my first year going to Blizzcon where several of my guildmates met up to see all of the new announcements for our game.  Being a member of this guild was a commitment which formed a bond between us that has persisted through the years.

The Guild Master of Angry is someone that I will always remember for grilling me via in game whispers for 4 hours before he would consider giving me a shot in his guild.  He had his doubts that I would stick around, rightfully so since my husband (boyfriend at the time) was in a competing guild on the same server.  I spent a lot of time convincing this guild that my intentions were sincere and that I had no interest in playing in my boyfriends guild due to how they treated the women that played there.  It took a while but I think I showed that I was in it for my guild and ended up playing with them for a year and a half through two tiers of raids.

The raid started and I jumped right in having much more confidence in my abilities than I did 8 years ago when I first joined Angry.  There was the familiar banter over our voice chat and the calm coordination that was typical for this group.  I chatted with a few people that I remembered about some current game related things and tried my best to tone down my raid leader muscles and let them run their team the way that they did.  I did my best to pay attention and play my role in this group.  I offered some insights since my guild had spent some time on the same bosses the night before.  I took note of what they did better and how they communicated and assigned tasks.  It was a well oiled machine of players that were comfortable with each other and trusted in each other’s ability something that I strive to build in my own guild.  We worked on two fights and were able to kill them successfully.

Once we were done for the night the high spirited chatter in our voice chat surged.  Everyone’s voices were a little bit clearer than I remembered, probably due in part to my muffled memory of that time and also due to advances in voice over IP technology.  I was hit with a wave of nostalgia remembering all of the good times as we chatted about who were the oldest members in the guild and how they came to be members, that time when someone left the guild only to return 18 hours later, and who had the most epic failures when it came to devastating mechanics.  I could have stayed up and listened to the stories all night.  Of course the reason that I don’t play with them now is a difference in schedules.  They end their night at about 1am my time which is a bit too late if I want to be able to function at work the next day.

I remember explaining the relationships that I formed in MMOs and how I wasn’t playing with strangers every night, I had grown to know these people over the years and we had built friendships with our common hobby being the anchor point that held us together.  This was of course back when the internet was a scary place, at least in the eyes of most parents, with predators lurking in every chat room.  It was a hard concept to grasp if you hadn’t experienced it but these people that I played games with and only ever spoke to over the internet were my friends!  We would spend hours together every night fighting monsters and exploring caves.  I’ve made some amazing friendships over the years and there are not many places that are steadfast but Angry is one of those places that will always feel like home.

Mage Consumables for Raiding in BFA

I’m playing a mage this expansion and I know that dealing damage is a much more competitive scene than how I typically play, which is healing.  As a group be are going to be maintaining the stance that you are not required to use the expensive raid consumables this first week.  The normal and heroic versions of Uldir will be out today and we plan to get through all of normal and some of heroic.  While we are not requiring consumables this week I do know that most of my group is competitive and will be using them anyway.  I want to be prepared and will be using my consumables if we are not able to kill a boss in one or two tries.  I may not be using all of the items that I bring in preparation but it is nice to have the option to if I want.

flas of endless Fathoms

If you are going use any consumables at all the best one to start with is a flask.  The great thing about flasks is they will last the entire one hour even if you die.  This is not the case with most of the other consumables which will only last through one death.  Knowing how many flasks you need is a simple calculation of how many hours you will be raiding.  A gain of 238 of our main stat is a huge increase and will definitely help make up for the lack of gear that I was able to get in the first few weeks of the expansion.

 

There are different levels of food consumables and depending on what your stronger secondary stat is you will want either crit or haste as a frost mage.  An easy way to find out your ideal stats is to do a quick sim in raidbots. This will tell you what type of food is best to use.  You can choose a food that will increase a single secondary stat by 41 or 55 points, and you can only use one food at a time.

 

Augment rune

Augment runes are an item that was first introduced in Warlords of Draenor and served as an additional consumable which you could get as a random drop in dungeons, reward from follower missions and can also be bought and sold on the Auction House.  During the first few weeks of a new raid tier the price of these will sky rocket.  Since these do not persist through death you could potentially be using a lot of these on new content.  I have some of these runes but plan to hold onto them until we have a strategy down for a boss and just need that extra damage to hold us over.

The final consumable that I would use would be one of the battle potions which grants great increase for a short period.  You always want to make sure that you are timing these potions effectively.  I’ll be using these along with my Icy Veins during our initial burn phase making sure to use it a couple seconds before the boss is engaged and then again when I have cool downs available.  You are able to squeeze two uses out of these potions if you time it correctly but they are expensive.

One thing that never seems to change with the game is that raiding is an expensive expensive.

WoW’s broken recruitment tools and how to fix it

World of Warcraft has an in game guild search/recruitment tool.  To use this tool you need to not be part of a guild.  Open the guild interface (default hotkey is “I”)  and you will be prompted to search for a guild.  Click the “Find a Guild” button and that will open up a basic search function.

Find Guild

What we are offered is a simplistic compartmentalizing of our potential new social groups.  We check the type of play that we are interested in, our availability and role.  Then we click the Browse Guilds button and are faced with a list of hundreds of guilds to sort through.  Honestly, who has time for that?

Browse Guilds

While this may be an adequate system for those not looking to get invested in their guild (or this game for that matter), this is not a great way to narrow down your pool of potential guilds.  I really hope Blizzard makes this a focus in the future since I know if I have a hard time finding a guild that fits how I like to play, I typically leave a game after a month or so.

Fix #1: Allow characters currently in a guild to use the recruitment tool.  If I’m browsing for a new guild, I’m not usually going to leave my current one before I have a new one lined up.  Compare this to job hunting.  Does everyone only look for a new job when they don’t currently have one?  Of course not.  That would be an absurd criteria to fulfill in order to interview for a new company (sorry we only are considering unemployed applicants), so why is being unguided a requirement to use the guild finder interface in our game?

Fix #2: Add more robust search criteria.  The search criteria is entirely too broad and on my server if I select one interest it narrows down my search to at least several hundred guilds to scroll through.  I would probably guess that most people that use this tool wind up not finding a great fit due to the large volume of guilds they have to spend time sorting through and end up finding a guild through other methods, be it the forums or the dozens of other sites that try to create a solution for this problem in the game.

  • Schedules:  Allow for guilds to put in their exact schedule via a drop down for each day of the week.  And also allow players to do the same with their availability.  For ease of use, include timezone so that players don’t need to try to figure out what time a guild plays in their own local time zone.
  • Search Key Words:  If you want a guild that is currently raiding or new player friendly that should be an option to search in this interface.  We shouldn’t be limited by 5 check boxes, the results end up being overwhelming to search through.
  • Location:  Allow a checkbox to include different realms, a specific realm or any realms and also the option to include different factions.  A lot of players are willing to pay blizzard to transfer a character.  Why not make it easy for them to do so!?

Fix #3: Allow players to be contacted by guilds. I see so many posts on the guild recruitment forums from players that say “this is what I’m looking for, post your guild info in the thread”. Wouldn’t it be a great option if a player can flag themselves in game as “looking for guild”?  In my experience a player doesn’t like doing a ton of work to play a game.  Make it easier for them!

Fix #4: Request to Talk…in addition to request to join  So many of us out there want to speak to someone who would be a future member.  I remember before joining my raiding guild in Cataclysm times, I spent over 2 hours chatting with the GM before I was extended an invite.  And while that was a bit excessive, I want to be able to say to recruits – “Hey! This is our plan for the guild, this is what we expect of you, and do you have any questions for me?”

  • Discussion Interface:  Attach a chat interface specific to each potential recruit tied to their request for more information.  Allow all of the officer rank members in guild to view these questions and respond to create a sort of chat log that can be checked on and responded too – even if the player is offline.

As a guild leader, I spend more time than I would like trying to find and communicate with potential recruits for my guild.  I would rather be spending my time actually playing the game instead of working extra hard due to having poor tools that are supposed to help me.  I spent 5 hours last weekend posting to player’s recruitment forum posts, adding their battle tags only to have none of them add me back and it felt like a whole lot of wasted time with no progress made towards finding people for my guild.

There are a lot of players out there that play MMOs and crave that social aspect of existing in a virtual world.  I know that this is very much a quality of life improvement but it is my belief that as WoWs player get older and as we have jobs, kids and other real life obligations in our life, we will gravitate towards games with systems that make the overwhelming task of finding people to play with less time consuming.  I know that I personally want to play games with cool people, help me find them!