Friday, November 6, 2009

The Bench: Our Saviour

The Bench. No one likes to sit on it. Everyone plays World of Warcraft to actually play, rarely do we want someone to tell us that we have to sit out that night. But unfortunately, with the inability to scale the difficulty of instances to the amount of people in your party, having to sit out is an inevitable part of playing wow within a raiding guild; game mechanics simply do not allow for more than 10 or 25 people per instance. In a perfect world, a raid guild would have 25 players, all encounters would require the same amount of tanks, the same amount of dps with no bias on melee or ranged and the same amount of healers. Life in game however simply just does not work out that way.

We obviously know that a perfect 25 man "same player group" scenario does not work; even with the aid of Dual Talent Specialization and allowing healers to go dps and perhaps a tank to heal, the need to "afk for real life" aspect of the game also doesn't allow for a raid roster to cap at 25. I have mentioned once before real people play the game with you, not just NPCs. Recruiting more than the allowable 25 man raid instance is a necessity.

After Midnight last night ran into the issue of not having enough available tanks to get a Trial of the Grand Crusader run off the ground. I personally do not like to over recruit. I have ridden the bench before and yes, it is not as fun as being in the action with everyone else. So, having three dedicated raider rank tanks with near 100% attendance, we felt we did not need to recruit anyone additional lest we have someone riding the pine. However, last night it would have been awesome had we had a well geared pinch hitter ready to come in to help the raid out.

Now, we do try to rotate people in and out of our raids. We recruit quality players for our guild and we try to give everyone, as much as possible, the same amount of play time when we can. However, sometimes when I open up a raid spot for a class where we have had players go on hiatus or suddenly change their attendance habits, I'm sometimes approached with the question, why? Why are we recruiting when there is a possibility that X or Y player will show up?

The Bench. No one likes to sit on it, but it is sometimes a necessary evil to ensuring your raid group continues on in a well oiled manner. If X or Y player does not show up, it causes us to have a spot unmanned for the night. Especially in key roles that can be detrimental to your raid that night. In the above example I gave about our TotGC run, we were missing a tank, a key need for the Beast of Northrend strategy; you need more than one and sometimes more than 2 to rotate the impales. Having one or more tanks going MIA from a tight raiding roster can be detrimental to your group.

Blizzard at the beginning of WotLK said "bring the player not the class" the unfortunate reality is that is a half-truism which Blizz admits. While it is easier in Wrath to bring varied types of classes to your raid without qualm, the inherent needs to bring a certain amount of players per type of role is still there.

So how do you treat your "bench"? After Midnight will be looking for a couple of new tanks for our raiding roster to enter the raiding rotation we now have with our current players unfortunately making our nightly bench a little heavier but keeping our raids going. Although I don't like having people sitting out of our raids too much, I've come to realize recruiting more than enough to cover player absenteeism is key to a successful raid schedule at times.

How large is your raiding roster? How many raid groups are you running a night?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Selective Raiding: When guildies don't show up.

What happens when content gets so stale your guildies don't want to do it anymore? What do you do when only a couple of players are not interested in doing the majority of the raids your guild runs, save for the ones that will upgrade their gear?

It's no surprise that hot on the heals of patch 3.3 players are becoming burnt out and bored with the lackluster, lore devoid 3.2 patch. The fear of being left behind in progression and not completing the content before release is stressing the few that are still trying to master it. Yet, because repeating the same 5 bosses (6 including the revamped 4 year old Onyxia) is less than appealing to most, many are looking to these instances merely as a means to gear themselves for the final fight, Arthas.

Many guilds have now abandoned the now out-of-date Ulduar and are treating it like yesterday's news, Naxxaramas. However, there are still several guilds who run Ulduar hardmode achievements as a guild goal since not many have seen Algalon 25 man let alone completed all the instance's hardmodes.

We have been lucky here at After Midnight. We have most of guildies dedicated to what the guild voted for in patch 3.2, continue Ulduar hardmodes as well as focus on Trial of the Grand Crusader. We rarely have had guildies get selective with what they show up to.

How can you figure out if you have players who are trying to pull the wool over your eyes by only showing up to certain raids or the proverbial loot days?

Our guild has implemented a tracking sheet housed by one of our officers. Each raid our officer notes attendance and who steps out of what boss. At the end of the month we trend who has been showing up to what instances and check to see if we have anyone abusing our 60% raid attendance system in this way. There are also various attendance tracking tools you can use as well such as EK Raid Attendance which can automatically take attendance for you at various points of your raid.

If you are in a guild that has opted to continue with Ulduar on top of the "new" content, how do you deal with the players that only show up to what people have aptly named "loot Tuesdays"? Or, how have you reacted when top dps have asked to sit out or have not shown up to the old content because it is beneath them, even if the guild's focus has been to complete it?