Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.
With Wrath nearly in our hands, it's time for us as officers to go over a mental checklist and make sure we're adequately prepared for this expansion. (Please no Illidan jokes -- poor Arthas has no catchphrase and it only makes him angrier.)
I can't possibly tell you what should be on that checklist -- it all depends on the type of guild you run and what your guild's goals are. You do have goals, right?
However, here are three questions that you should start thinking about -- if you haven't already . . .
1. How will you distribute BOE raid drops?
Epic BOE raid drops aren't new. World bosses in Outland had their loot changed to BOE to encourage guilds to go after them. But it's been a long time since most guilds have had to deal with them on a regular basis -- not since Molten Core, if memory serves. They weren't too difficult to manage back then. With 40 people tagging along, odds are someone in the raid wanted whatever dropped. If not, the drops were all class-specific, so the number of people who could request them was relatively small.
But today, gear has changed significantly to maximize the number of possible specs who can use a particular item. Also, these epics will be dropping in 10-player raids where the chances of no one needed it are relatively high.
To me, no loot issue has a bigger potential for drama than this one. At first glance, it seems straightforward enough. If someone in the raids wants it, they should get it. And if no one does, you stick it in your most secure bank vault and put it up for grabs.
But I've done a whole lot of raiding over the past three years and I've seen the weird circumstances that can crop up over loot, so I don't think we're going to get off that easily.
What if someone brings an alt to a raid, but then a piece of gear drops that they really want for their main. Too bad? Maybe. What if you asked them to bring that alt because you needed a tank. Does that mean they get to roll for two different toons for the entire run?
What about off-specs? Should someone in the raid be able to take a BOE item for an off-spec over someone else's main who wasn't able to go? What if that person is parked outside, sacrificing his or her time in order to be ready when someone else needs to leave?
What if someone on an alt wants to roll on it for an off-spec while someone else's main wants to roll on it for an off-spec for their alt that the raid wasn't able to bring? An extreme example, but it illustrates just how complicated this can get.
And then there are the scenarios where no one in the raid wants the drop, so you bank it. But then who gets it? This is a much easier question to answer if you're in a small, close-knit guild or a guild based solely around progression. But for large, diverse guilds like mine, it's a real head-scratcher.
Do you offer it to the longest-tenured members first? The highest-ranking? The most active raiders? Should you disqualify someone from asking for it if they don't raid? These are questions my officers and I are struggling with right now. So I don't have easy answers for you.
Personally, I'm leaning toward raid participation being the biggest factor. That is, after all, where the drops come from, and it is where they will do the most good for the guild. If multiple players are equally active, you can always form a party and have them /random for it.
But even in this scenario there's potential for drama if someone wants to go to every raid, but you just don't have a slot for them every night. Also, the most active raiders are the least likely to need the drops in the first place.
Regardless of what you decide, make sure you have a policy in place before that first BOE drops.
2. Will you enforce raid participation over achievements?
Wrath brings with it a smorgasbord of new content (yes, that's how smorgasbord is spelled -- weird, huh?). At first, everyone is obviously going to gorge themselves on the new zones, quests, dungeons, raids, battlegrounds, arenas, etc. etc.
But some will reach a point where they're sated with what Northrend has to offer. They will want to go back to the nerfed raids of vanilla WoW and Outland to bang out their remaining raiding achievements.
Much will depend on where you are progression-wise versus available content. However, is achievement farming an acceptable reason to skip a Northrend farming run?
It seems like a reasonable thing to do. But if you allow it, it could become a slippery slope. Farming runs, as necessary as they are, become boring after a while, especially if you already have every drop you need in the zone and all the gear those badges can buy you. And achievements are a convenient excuse.
Not every guild needs to have a policy for this, but it could be a source of conflict down the road.
3. How will you integrate Death Knights into your raids?
When The Burning Crusade launched, all those Blood Elf paladins and Draenei shamans had a long way to go before they were ready to raid. By the time many of them got Kara attuned, others in the guild were ready to move beyond Karazhan into 25-player runs, so there were empty slots for those new hybrids to fill.
Death Knights present a more immediate problem. Sure, some will power-level their DKs to be ready when their guilds start raiding. But others will come along a few weeks after the other classes hit 80. Many guilds will still be in the process of learning Naxx at this time, with dedicated teams that have geared up and learned the early encounters.
All of a sudden you could have two or three Death Knights who want in on those runs. If you're raiding with 25, there's probably going to be room for them whenever others can't be there. But for guilds progressing down the 10-player path, it could be difficult finding space.
Again, I don't have an easy answer. I imagine that your guild already has policies in place to determine who gets a slot and who warms the bench. You're almost always better off sticking to your guns when it comes to policies like this rather than making too many exceptions. But if all your DKs are getting left in the dust, you might have to step in and get them into some raids. They're going to need the practice!
And that brings me to my next point: those playing DKs won't have nearly the experience with the class in a group environment that players of other classes do. They could certainly struggle with DPS or tanking in their inaugural raid. I would urge raid leaders not to be too hasty to bench them. You're going to want their buffs, debuffs, and utility sooner or later!
Has anyone come up with good solutions to these three issues? Please share them below!
I'm sure other problems will crop up that none of us can even anticipate right now. The best we can do is try to be flexible when necessary and inflexible when our rules matter most. Good luck to all the officers out there for a fun and drama-free Wrath of the Lich King!