This is a case study of the transition My Other Mount is Tauren made from a casual leveling guild to a raiding guild. Specifically, this discusses our implementation of a "Raider Rank" -- the step that was for us the most crucial in creating the raiding environment we have today.
Background: Carebears on Taurens Edit
To let help explain why this was a Big Deal for us, it helps to know how we started. We were a casual leveling guild that rolled when Aerie Peak started. 8 of the 10 charter signers were people we know IRL (D&D dorks were easily sold on WoW ^.^). We've always been kinda picky about recruitment, socially speaking - for a while, we went with the "would I invite this guy out to the bar" metric for membership.
We grew exponentially in TBC, largely because we'd formed such a strong social foundation that we were one of very few guilds who actually, you know, survived. We aren't very far in progression (not by a long shot) but we're poking around in the 25-mans. To get there, we set benchmarks.
Everyone - no matter what rank, and pretty much since we got past Curator in Kara - is expected to adhere to the following requirements.
- comes prepared with full consumables: including food, oils/stones/poisons, elixirs/flasks, reagents
- comes fully repaired
- all gear is gemmed/enchanted as well as is reasonable
- is aware of gear/performance benchmarks for the raid instance, as outlined by the raid leader
- is familiar with strategies used, discussed for the raid instance
- comes with a good attitude!
It's a little more strict than some, but we don't have a lot of raiding time (9 hours a week, give or take a cushion) so we don't have a lot of raiding time to waste. We really saw TBC as an opportunity to become what we'd always planned. We were a guild for people who didn't play much, but who played hard when they did. We're a guild for people like one of our warriors, who can list parry/dodge/miss tables off the top of his head but can only make maybe one raid a week.
What Needed to ChangeEdit
Hmm. That's a lot of background. Sorry. :)
We'd heard repeatedly that experience counts in TBC, and we were starting to see it. On nights when we had about 18-20 people who'd worked on the fight previously, we'd clear Gruul's Lair in an hour. On nights when we had a raid made up of 50% first-timers, we might be lucky to get him down at all. That was really the deciding factor for us. We needed to be able to reward, or at least account for, attendance in slotting raids.
There were a couple of principles we decided on in advance. The rank would be entirely attendance based. People in the raid would still be expected to meet the benchmarks we set for the content (DPS performance, healing performance, not-dying to stupid stuff performance) regardless of whether or not they were "raiders." We would set the rank up to ensure that raiders would never fill a whole raid, unless there were no members who wanted to go that evening.
Essentially, creating the rank was a way of making different expectations transparent. Altoholic Andrew has different expectations of the guild experience than Raider Raquel, and in turn we have different unspoken expectations of them. I wanted to make those differences very open, and allow people the opportunity to decide how they preferred to play the game, without being pressured to put more or less time into it than they desired.
Raiders demonstrated their interest in raiding by attending. We decided to recognize that interest by giving them priority on raiding slots.
Specifics: How It WorksEdit
We're starting with the Raider attendance at 60%. That's 2 of every 3 raids for the week, with a little leeway for a party/date/etc. Attendance will be reviewed every two weeks, and raider attendance is based over a one month period.
We have a website calendar signup system. (We're getting a new one, but that's not really here nor there.) Previously, all slots were first-come first-served with final approval contingent on performance. We'll be reserving 20 slots for Raiders, and 5 for first-come first-served. Here's what will happen if, say, 30 people signed up.
- A) All 30 are raiders and they sign up Monday morning. The first 20 can sign up as available, the other 10 need to queue. Come Wednesday, the first 5 in queue are moved into the raid, the next five remain in queue in case somene drops. No Members get to go.
- B) 10 Members queue up Monday morning before anyone else signs up. Throughout the week, 20 Raiders eventually sign up, the other 10 queue. On Wednesday, the first 5 queued Members are moved into the raid. If anyone drops from the raid, the next person in queue (member 6) has dibs on the spot. The raid goes in 20-5; those Raiders cannot bump Members.
- C) 15 Raider slots get filled, and 10 members queue. The queue gets move into the raid sometime Wednesday afternoon. The raid goes in 15-10. When this happens too often, we recruit more raiders.
I'm sure you can think of some of the responses to something like a Raider Rank. This was new. This was serious. Zomg this was HARDCORE! Stratification! What about our roots?! :-D It's the longest thread ever in our policy discussion boards.
Response #1: This creates the "haves" and "have nots."
Here we emphasized that really, the only thing raiders have is slot priority - on a limited number of slots, and only on certain raids. In exchange, they also have an attendance obligation to meet. Responsibility before privilege.
Reponse #2: All the slots will be full, and I'll never be able to become a Raider.
This one was solved with a link to our "vacation" thread, listing all the people who've stepped away for a couple of weeks for exams, job postings, etc. over the last month. We also reinforced that we'd be tracking "standby" attendance the same as regular attendance. Someone really angling for that Raider slot can demonstrate the attendance before the spot ever opens.
Response #3: I'll never get to raid!
Here we pointed out how similar the current system was to our previous one. Those who know their schedules well ahead of time have a very good shot at being able to go. Those who sign up on the same day have less of one. We also reminded everyone that at 60% attendance, there's no way all Raiders will be raiding all the time.
Response #4: I'll never get gear, so I'll never get to raid!
Here we referred to our SK loot system. We use this precisely because it is friendly to our more casual members. As long as someone attends one raid each month (that's our decay cutoff) they will have their spot on the list. So while those who raid often will move faster in the list, no one is "shut out" at all the way they might be in a more attendance based loot system. We're letting the SK list just distribute loot, and the raider rank just tackle attendance.
Response #5: I'm worried about falling behind.
Those who felt this way, we had to remind about the very real limitations built into the game. There's no EZ button to seeing content - it takes time to gear and time to learn. Someone who can only log in for two hours a night, maybe two nights a week will very naturally be "behind" someone who is on all the time. We also used Wytch's experiences (c.f. "TBC Transitioning") here when explaining how this would work out - those who couldn't devote the time to see the content first would still see it, once we're at the point where it can be "farmed." And it often works out that they see it faster that way than if we had all stayed at the slower pace.
Response #6: I'm no longer valuable to the guild/I'm a second-class citizen.
This one was tough. We talked a lot here about what the guild is - is it raiding? Or is it a community? Naturally, everyone said it was the latter. So we pulled up some specific ways everyone contributes to that community: posting goofy stuff on the website, helping each other with advice or quests, simply keeping gchat conversation going, helping on things like "guild farm nights" where we camped elemental plateau for Primal Fires for our resist sets.
Three Months LaterEdit
Our Raider Rank has been in place for about three months, and we've already seen some valuable results. The first and probably strongest has been that members no longer feel quite as pressured by raiding expectations. We've had people join us and just hang out in our Kara off-nights for a while until they feel comfortable with their gear, and then they jump into the larger raids. We've also had people who are working on PvPing for gear, or working on an alt, or who just don't want to raid that night -- and I think there's a little more understanding on everyone's parts that if these players aren't Raiders, there's no expectation that they'll drop what they're doing to fill a last minute opening.
We've also seen a lot more freedom in our membership voting. Initiates joining the guild only make full member after receiving votes from the current membership. Sometimes the process is as time-consuming and painful as oral surgery - we've had people at Initiate for three months or more because they're just not online all that often to run instances/raids/etc. Now with the Member/Raider distinction, people are feeling more comfortable voting someone into membership because they're a cool guy and fun on chat (which is what we were founded on, after all) even if they might need some work to be up to a Raider standard.
The rank has also significantly opened up the communication between Raiders and our raid leaders. We're noticing that people are much more comfortable letting us know that, for instance, they'll be around for every raid this month but can't take a Raider rank because next month is a busy season and they'll hardly be online. It's also helped us immensely in gauging recruitment. As more traditional raiding guilds no doubt already know, being able to estimate someone's attendance is crucial to deciding whether you've got room for that one extra hunter or not.
All of these benefits are things that many raiding guilds start out with - minimum attendance, constant communication about raid availability, etc. But in our quest to walk the fine line between a more community oriented guild and a raiding team, we had to be a bit creative about setting those expectations without diminishing the things we love about the guild. So far, the raiding rank seems to have been a great step in our never-ending balancing act. :)
I can't post this case study without giving due credit to the members of the Guild Relations Forum over the years, whose opinions and experiences helped inform our overall approach to this issue in innumerable ways. It has been a collective learning experience, and thanks are due to everyone who makes that community what it is.
- Written by Anaea of My Other Mount is Tauren - Aerie Peak Server
Original Post: Guild Relations Forum