Embracing Changing Rosters

This post has been hanging around in my draft posts list for a while, but two recent posts I saw made me think of it again.

Its a fact of every guild.  People come and go.  I doubt very much there are many guilds around who raid with the same roster they raided with in vanilla.  But even the closest 10 man guild made of real life friends is going to experience change over time as factors in no way related to the game have an impact.  WoW is on its fourth expansion and is over 6 years old.  Thats a long time for people to commit to a raiding team.  Its longer than some marriages!

Community burnout
Keeva at Tree Bark Jacket wrote a very good post about the difficulty in finding a group of people to raid with.   I think she fairly well sums up what a lot of people are saying about various aspects of the game right now.  Whats wrong when people are dissatisfied is very often not the game, its the people playing it.  When it comes to raiding, you need a group of people in order to succeed.  You can either pick those people at random each time, which often leads to problems because the attitudes and level of ability of those players will vary widely, or you can raid with a guild.

That guild, however, is not solving the problems for many people.  Keeva says:

I don’t think it’s much to ask really – to want to play with people who have the same goals and ideals. But it seems that finding a group is almost impossible, and you are forced to put up with stuff that irks you on a daily basis, because 25man raiders are so thin on the ground that you take what you can get. The solid player who is a jerk. The nice player who is a bit subpar. The hardcore progression player who is super keen but constantly moans. The person who wastes our time, but we can’t afford to lose his DPS. The guy who’s obsessed with loot and sulks if he doesn’t get what he wants. The one who has been around for ages and thinks he should get special treatment. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the raider grab-bag.

I’ve been in guilds where I’ve accepted raiding with people I don’t like just in order to raid.  I can think of people who fit into most of Keeva’s categories over the years.  In TBC in order to progress you needed 25 people to raid and you had to accept the people you didn’t like in order to raid.  In Wrath I went through something of a transition from a guild where that was the case, to a guild where we didn’t accept that.  Dreamstate was founded on the ideal of raiding being an enjoyable activity – and that meant being with people you liked.  Now I think we are a mixed bag of personalities and probably everyone doesn’t like everyone else, but we have more fun together than I’ve had in any guild since Kara times.

Accepting the inevitable
In tier 11 we lost three great raiders because they didn’t feel we were progressing fast enough.  Other people stopped raiding because of the need to do things in real life.  An Officer left because they felt people should be putting more effort into getting ready to raid.

Losing a big part of your roster will have an impact and the bigger it is, the worse that impact will be.  Three people out of ten was painful, but it could have been worse.  We were actually looking at a second group because we had so many raiders and replaced all three people very quickly.  Losing 14 raiders in a 25 man raiding guild (though I am assuming the roster was more than 25 people) like Matticus did recently.

If you are going to run a guild you have to accept that your roster will change and adapt to that.  You have to not take it personally.  You have to have strategies in place to move on.  No one thought our progress would stop because they left, though we knew it would slow down while new players learned the fights.  No one player is so important that the guild cannot survive without them.  If you can say this about your guild, your guild is robust and healthy.  There are key people in it who we would miss terribly.  But it doesn’t collapse just because someone stops raiding.

How not to look at changing rosters
There was a post by a blogger called Wugan that talked about applying Restricted Free Agency to raids.  Basically, WoW players would be ‘contracted’ into a raid team and could not join another team for a set time period unless their Raid Leader chose to let them leave.  Wugan accepts this would not force people to actually raid, or stop them changing to alts, but feels this would reduce the incidence of people leaving a guild for greener pastures.  It wouldn’t.  I don’t believe for one second this would make the life of Raid Leaders easier.  Think about why people leave a raiding team and how Restricted Free Agency would affect them:

Real life issues – RFA would have no effect because those issues are rarely a choice.  No reasonable person is going to keep raiding rather than go to work, or spend more time with their children.  Major personality clashes – say RFA meant people involved in such a clash did stay (and I find this questionable) – would you really want them to?  All this would do is put strain on your raiding team.  Lack of gear – in every case where someone has left a raid team because of this the raid team was better off without them.  Unless the loot policy was genuinely unfair in which case making them stay is the act of a completely selfish individual.  Either way, one party is definitely wrong and RFA would not be effective or fair.

And finally, lack of progress – this is the one that I think Wugan was talking about, however.  People leave because they think the grass will be greener elsewhere.  They think progress will be faster.  This is why Dreamstate lost three raiders and probably a part of why Conquest lost 14.  Note that Dreamstate has far slower progression than Conquest at this point in Firelands for all sorts of reasons.  So whatever your progress is, unless you’ve already downed Heroic Ragnaros someone is going to be unhappy with it.

So wouldn’t RFA be a good thing here? Would the player find they could get their progress in situ and have no need to look elsewhere? No.  No matter how much the guild progressed after that point, the individual’s would always have felt they could have progressed more elsewhere.  Instead of dealing with recruiting a new and enthusiastic player who wanted to raid, the Raid Leader would instead spend their time dealing the mass of bad feeling generated by being forced to stay which would gradually poison the entire team.

The individual leaving the guild would feel they are justified in leaving no matter what the reason.  The player leaving for greener pastures feels they deserve those pastures, likely because they are better than the other raiders in the team because they produce more dps or fill a valuable role like a healer.  Wugan the Raid Leader might disagree.  So might Akandra the Officer or Matticus the Guild Master.  But none of that impacts on the viewpoint of the individual.

This is why you should embrace changing rosters.  Because if a person feels so strongly that they don’t want to be in your guild that they are able to type /gquit you are always better off without them. 

I am not encouraging people to leave a guild.  Far from it.  If you are unhappy about an aspect of the guild try and talk to someone about it.  Talk to an Officer and listen to the alternative point of view.  I mean really listen.  People don’t make decisions for no reason.  If you can’t accept that the raid leadership will make decisions you disagree with, then you need to go make your own guild, because no raid team will always do things the way you want them done.

And one thing to note for the people who leave.  The grass is rarely greener.  I will say that the three raiders who left Dreamstate for greener pastures did not find them.  And the 14 who left Conquest probably won’t either.  All they will find is that Matticus dealt with a lot of headaches they didn’t even know existed!    Probably the only case where you will be happier is if you make a radical change in your raiding focus i.e. go from casual to hardcore or hardcore to casual (I actually think those words are hopelessly inadequate to define raiding teams these days, but they will do).  RFA wouldn’t be useful for these players either, because if you want to make that change in focus you are never going to be happy staying where you are and forcing people to stay would just build up that resentment again.

The silver lining
There are positives you can take out of accepting ever changing rosters.

Firstly, those people who leave because the guild isn’t giving them what they want are not a loss to the guild as long as you are running the guild to the ideals you originally set out.  We accept that maybe some of our raiders aren’t going to make us the top guild on the server.  We accept that people in our guild might not cap their Valor Points every week because they have families, jobs and other real life issues to deal with.  We would rather have fun in a raid than have miserable raids with highly skilled players who have bad attitudes.  If you have players who don’t like that and want the guild to change, then its a good thing when they leave because all that does is make people miserable.  The Officers get tired of listening to ‘the hardcore progression player who constantly moans’ because thats not the kind of player the guild is set up to embrace.  If it was a hardcore guild, the Officers would equally get fed up with ‘the nice player who is a bit supbar’.  And no guild likes ‘the jerk’, ‘the time waster’ or ‘the loot whore’.  I like my guild and the people in it, but when those people who left are clearly looking for something the guild was never intended to provide, I can’t help but feel they are better off leaving because its the tensions in expectations that are the biggest problem most guilds face.

Secondly, you get to meet new people and make new friends.  And that is always something worth doing.  Its the reason I like MMO’s above any other genre.  I know people through WoW that I have been friends with for years now, and I make new friends constantly.

Embrace your changing rosters.  They will make your guild a better place to be.

4 responses to “Embracing Changing Rosters

  1. Changing rosters is also a little bit like the personalities of server/realms too. Sometimes you have WoW realms that are full of jerks that think they deserve special treatment just because they are there, and others you find with an enormous amount of high skill players or a vast number of newbies. Neither are really good for the other.

    I suppose this is all pretty much like the real world though. At work you constantly deal with the inept whom see to make fast advancement and exude with arrogance and then you have the hard worker with their head down. You have the slackers, the loud mouths and the know-it-alls mixed in with the skilled and the introverts. I guess that is what makes life uniques and sometimes challenging to your sanity!

  2. Pingback: Finding the right guild for you: approaches to WoW | Caer Morrighan·

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