Thursday, 14 March 2013

Raiders on Reserve

Could not find a picture from my raiding days... borrowed one of Cy's

This started as a response to Navimie's post "When both sides of the story are right" and sort of took on a life of its own, so rather than clutter up her post with all of my opinions and experiences I decided to move it in here.

 To begin, I want to first let you know where I'm coming from. I am not a raid leader. I am not a guild leader. I am not actively involved in a guild at present. My opinions and experiences are not from a leadership perspective: I have never been a raid leader. I have never actively made these decisions and I do not envy those in a position to implement them. What I am is a former raider in a number of different guilds enough to consider myself fairly well educated on the impact that these types of decisions can have on the average raider and the effect they can have on a guild. My experiences are all from the view of someone who observed the implementation of these guild policies and had little no no say in the decision to implement them in the first place.

Through my raiding years I've run with many different raid leaders and guild groups and it's been my experience that they all have their own way of solving the overcrowding issue. While there is no "right" way to deal with it, there are ways which are "less wrong" than others and ultimately the measure of the solution is whether your raiders feel it is a fair solution and leaves the least amount of hurt feelings.

When you have a fair amount of players sitting standby, but not enough to justify increasing your single 10 man raid to 25 man perhaps the most desirable, or obvious option would be to set up a second raid team. Then you can get everyone currently sitting out raiding and no-one would have to be cut from the guild roster. In a perfect scenario you would then have 20 people all of whom show up regularly, and are participating in the raid content that they want to be in. The problem is that the ideal scenario never works out exactly the way you imagined.

Having been recruited to fill out the secondary teams for several guilds the problem I most often run into is that people consider the casual or second group to be a stepping stone or, for recruits, an interview before getting bumped up to a spot in the primary group. I've always found this problem in progression driven guilds who have two groups that are running progression content in which one group is doing significantly better than the other and as a result, a spot in one group becomes more desirable for progression minded players and breeds discontent among members who feel they deserve to be among the better performing team and ultimately results in a high turnover rate for the second group which causes its performance to suffer further. I feel like there are two ways to avoid this:
  •  Having two raid groups with a sense of loyalty and unity among group members. If you have a secondary group of people who all get along, and want to raid together, perhaps with a healthy dose of competition between the two raid groups - with members trying to do better than the other group, rather than trying to get into the other group. I had one guild in particular where a guild officer and raid member had a change in his schedule so he could no longer run with the guild raid team. So, rather than leave the guild he requested that he be allowed to lead his own raid team that would run at different times so that he could continue to raid. I ran with them for several months and he was an excellent raid leader, who put the due care into recruiting a raid team that would work well together. Each week we had a friendly competition with the original raid group, trying to do better than them and in the end it made our team that much better.
  •  Have two raid groups with two different functions. One raid group is for progression oriented players. One group is for causal raiders. Each group recruits independently for the type of raider they were designed for and the casual group is never used as an audition for the progression centered group.

Clearly, 25 man raiding or splitting into two 10 man groups are not for every guild. Many guilds then need to implement a way to place people on reserve without causing friction between raid members and every guild leader and raid leader has their own way that they sit people out and not all methods are created equal.

It's hard to decide who sits out in a fair manner, and even then it's easy to read into being sat out.  Some of the methods I've experienced are:
  •   Performance based rotation -  Toward the end of Wrath I was recruited into a guild that I had been casually running with. They were frequently short a healer and Cy was part of their main raid group so I was frequently drafted in to help pick up the slack. After several weeks of being called in the guild leader asked me what I thought of joining permanently and after I thought about it for a while, ultimately I joined on full time. We didn't start putting people on reserve until Cataclysm when the original raiders that members like myself had been recruited to replace came back to the game and expected their place in raid was guaranteed. As we entered the Cataclysm raiding scene it became evident that people would have to sit out and the raid leader proposed a rotation. His idea was that the first people to show up to raid get a raid spot and if someone was not performing they would be rotated out and a reserve brought in. I feel like singling people out in raid is not ok, and being rotated out of raid because you're not doing well enough is the ultimate form of that, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
  •  Favouritism - In Cataclysm I was recruited into another guild that was looking for casual raiders by the guild leader, not the raid leader.  As it turned out there were a number of other priests in the guild with seniority over me and after several successful weeks of raiding some of them started signing up for raids and suddenly I was passed over every week despite being one of the top performers. The reasons why I was always placed on reserve were never formally discussed but it felt like they were choosing old friends over fairness.
  •  Volunteer reserves - I've seen this work really well and really poorly. It is a great way for a regular raider to "take a day off"; however, often the same people continually volunteer to sit out.

What I think is ideal:
  • Scheduled rotation - Everyone who wants to raid gets to raid equally initially, and attendance is rewarded because raid members who show up every week will get to fill in for members not in attendance.

Like I mentioned, every guild has a way that they handle placing raiders on reserve and they work on an individual level - not every method is for every guild. Ultimately the method you employ should be based on the raiders in your guild and what works for you.

TL; DR Dealing with placing raid members on reserve is hard and the method for dealing with it that works is something that each guild needs to deal with on an individual level. Also, I've been in some pretty lame guilds.


  1. Thanks for that perspective Malk. I really feel that what you and Shab said is the right solution. Now to get the other officers to see that...

  2. It was my pleasure Navi. I'm sure they can be persuaded :)