Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Building a Raid Team (or a Guild)

My goal with this blog is to post 1-2 times a week, or more if there's a lot going on. I'm already behind; it's been a busy week! 

I'll probably write about raid leading a fair bit; as I mentioned before, I'm a raid leader in a mega guild (7 current 10 man groups, and one is planning to expand to 25 man with Firelands).  I'm responsible for my own recruiting (both in guild and out), and if someone joins the guild to be in my raid group, then they're my responsibility.  So I've spent the past 2 weeks advertising in trade, chatting with folks (in game and on vent) and running heroics with prospects to get a feel for how they're doing (do they stand in fire, use their cooldowns, etc).  So this week I'll write about that process from my point of view, to hopefully help folks who are looking for a new group.  I hope that this perspective will help you see what group leaders are looking for (well, this group leader anyway!).

Making the Initial Contact
By far, I've gotten more interest by spamming trade than posting in various forums and such.  As much as trade spam annoys all of us, it works. I have a macro, and it has the guild name, level, the subgroup name, the time we raid, and what I'm looking for.

First impressions count, and I've gotten a lot of bad first impressions while talking to folks over the past week or two.  Here are some common mistakes that I've seen.

First, I cannot tell you the number of times that I've had someone reply to me and ask me what time I raid, or when I repeat the raid schedule, they tell me that they can't make one or more of those times.  I know it's an unusual schedule (6-9 pm EST, Sun/Mon), but if you read the ad, you should know. Don't waste both of our time by replying if you can't make the raid schedule.

Second, if you are not at level cap (85), or are geared in greens and 318 blues, then I'm not interested.  I'm looking for folks who are ready to go.  At this point in the expansion, you should be geared in 346's or 359's with maybe one or two 333's (I have 333 bracers because the only 346 leather caster bracers refuse to drop for me) if you want to raid.  

Third, if you whisper me with "invite pls", "i do gud dps", or "chk my gear", I'm not interested.  I'm an adult, and I prefer to be around intelligent folks who are thoughtful about joining groups where other folks are depending on them, and the best way to show that thoughtfulness is to talk in complete sentences, with correct spelling.  Certainly, if you want to be in a group with people who don't care to communicate thoughtfully, replying this way will ensure that this mode of communication is acceptable in your prospect group.  To me, it's a sign that you don't really care about talking to me and thus, aren't going to respect your team.

Getting to Know Each Other
After going over the raid team rules (loot, attendance, etc), if everything is agreeable, I go into a vent interview.  I haven't asked a consistent set of questions, and that's something that I wish I had done differently.

The main thing that I tried to ask everyone was what their progression goals are.  If someone wanted to do all of the hardmodes, then my group isn't for them.  If they want a situation where they don't have to commit to attending (my friends are going to the movies and I want to go), then my group is not for them.  I think the expected time/progression question is very important to make sure that everyone in the group will be satisfied with their raiding experience.

Other questions that I've asked have been:

  • What other roles have they played?  I'm curious there to see if someone has done other things so that they have some idea of the other players' experience.  As a healer, one of my pet peeves is when a dps is asked "why did you die" and they were standing in fire, but their response was "I didn't get heals!".  Someone with healing experience understands that there are some mechanics that you just can't heal through, and especially in Cataclysm, sometimes it's better to spend mana on someone who doesn't stand in fire (and become a mana sponge).  That doesn't mean I won't take someone with no other experiences, but I think it's a sign of a well rounded player.
  • Their view on boss progression vs gear progression vs achievements.  I'd like to make sure that everyone is in agreement for whether we should extend the lockout to work on a new boss more, or if we should keep farming bosses that we've already killed (for gear progression) or if we should wipe a bunch of times in a night for a difficult achievement.  My group is striving for a balance between boss and gear progression, with achievements as a distant third (if we get them, cool, if not, then no worries).
  • Research - do they do it, how do they feel about it, all of those sorts of things.  I don't want to spend 10 minutes before each boss reviewing basic strategies (a few minutes making sure that we're using the same strategy is different) nor do I want a mage gemmed for spirit.  
There's usually some free form chatting while we do a heroic together, and we talk about alts or out-of-game hobbies or other games.  The goal here is to get a feel for each other and ensure that we'll be comfortable spending time together.

Evaluating Performance Ability
We then run a random heroic together.  For the healers, I asked my enhancement shaman to get on his pally tank (his average item level is probably around 340).  He's not terribly experienced in tanking, so he sometimes made a few mistakes, and he takes a lot more damage than the raid geared tanks you sometimes see in LFD, so it was easier to evaluate their performance.  Dps and tanks were judged on awareness and cooldown usage (interrupts, survivability, etc), while dps was judged on damage output and tanks on their ability to maintain aggro.  Pretty standard stuff.

After the first raid, I'll be able to go over logs and see how folks are doing.  Some raid guilds ask for a log upfront, but I didn't feel like I needed to for this relaxed group.

Raid Balance
I tried to balance the classes so that we would have most of the available debuffs/buffs to use, and to try to avoid half the raid wanting the exact same loot.  We have a fair mix of classes, and I think I did fairly well here.  The  MMO Champion Raid Comp Tool helped make sure that I had most of the buffs, and I considered loot tables as well (I've tried to not collect 3 or 4 cloth casters).  I also made sure I had an off tank and an off healer for absences and the odd fight. 

Putting It All Together
Our first raid went off with only minor difficulties.  One person didn't realize that 10 man and 25 man raids were on the same ID now, but since I had a fair number of subs listed, that wasn't a problem.  I replaced him and we still started on time.   We killed Magmaw, Omnomnomnomtron, and Maloriak on our first night, which I think is entirely respectable for the first time the team has been together.

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