Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.
"Normal" mode sounds so dull, doesn't it? Who would want to be "Normal" when you can be "Heroic" -- particularly when being Heroic garners better loot and, for healers specifically, a chance at the ultimate healing mace, Val'anyr. Most guilds on my server prefer the larger raids, and who can blame them? Normal mode is often seen as a fun distraction. Something for raiders to pass the time with, or gear up their alts in, when their guild isn't tackling the "real" version of the instance.
Sometimes Normal mode is easier. There's no question that fights like Vezax are much less complicated when you're only dealing with 10 players. It's certainly nice not having to worry about switching tanks on Kologarn or interrupting Auriaya's Sentinel Blast. But sometimes Normal is not easier. The margin of error is a lot thinner when one death means you've lost half your tanks, a half or a third of your healers, or 15-20% of your DPS. And it could be that your raid doesn't have a single battle rez, let alone three or four. Maybe that's why players prefer Heroic raids: Unless you're going after the more difficult hard-mode encounters, it's not the end of the world when you screw up and die.
This week, one guild leader asks, when most serious raiders only want to run Heroic raids, how can someone recruit for a Normal raiding guild?
I'm the GM of a reasonably-successful 10-man raiding guild (we're ranked in the top 90 US guilds according to GuildOx's "Strict 10-man" filter). Like many other guilds, we're seeing a decline in attendance lately (as per your most recent column, "Surviving summer"), and it's become obvious that we need to recruit 4-5 more people of various classes/specs so we can reliably run our scheduled raids without depending on 100% perfect attendance from anyone.
Unfortunately, it's been incredibly difficult to find potential recruits. Most of the people posting on the official Guild Recruitment forum are looking to run 25-man raids. Is there a perception that 25-mans are for "serious" raiders and 10-mans are for "casuals"? We're not a casual guild nor are we bad players, we just prefer the more close-knit sense of camaraderie that comes with a smaller group. The type of players we want to recruit -- experienced raiders who are dedicated min-maxers and really want to push difficult content -- seem to gravitate towards 25-man guilds. Surely we can't be the only progression-oriented raiders who prefer 10s to 25s, right? How can we find potential recruits who feel the same way?
GM of <Business Time>, Moonrunner-US
Abima, I feel your pain. My guild is in a similar situation. We run Heroic raids with other guilds from time to time, but we focus mainly on trying to be the best Normal-mode guild on the server. It puts us in a difficult place. If one thing is true about dedicated Normal raiding guilds, it's that we're a niche market. You definitely have to temper your expectations for the number of quality applications you're going to get.
Here's the good news. Heroic raiding guilds are a dime a dozen. Some are more successful than others. Some are absolutely excellent: They mastered Ulduar in a few weeks and began working on hard modes shortly thereafter. But many others struggle along, barely able to keep their roster intact, sometimes filling in the gaps with PUG players. They get boss kills, and they get loot, but they rarely go after hard modes or achievements. Their players don't interact much outside of raids. If they ever stalled out on raiding for a week or two and the loot dried up, the entire guild would collapse.
For some raiders, that's not enough. Those are the raiders you have to appeal to. You have to emphasize two things: the family-like atmosphere and the push for achievements and hard modes.
The first emphasis is an easy sell. Clearly you value the closeness of your community or you wouldn't be a Normal-mode raiding guild at all. But you still need to make it clear what that means in your recruiting pitch. What do you do differently than a typical Heroic raiding guild? Do you hold special events that have nothing to do with raids? Do you allow your raiders more input in determining the direction of the guild? Tell people about these differences.
The second emphasis is something you can't just talk about. You have to prove it. The biggest problem with serious Normal raiding is getting people to take you seriously.
Looking over your armory, I like that you've gone after some of the wackier achievements, like Not-So-Friendly Fire and Dwarfageddon. You've also managed some impressive ones from Tier 7 raids like And They Would All Go Down Together and A Poke in the Eye.
However, so far the only hard modes you've defeated are Sartharion with one drake and Flame Leviathan with one tower. Now, if you can do those, I guarantee that you can do them with two drakes and two or even three towers. You can also do Freya with one Elder. Try them out! Those achievements can be part of your normal clears without taking up a large portion of extra time, and they convey a message that you're serious about hard modes and about excelling in general.
For now, though, you should probably focus on getting Yogg down before you get too deep into hard modes. Having cleared all Normal raid content without the help of Heroic Ulduar loot will be a feather in your cap. The nerfs this past week should help you with that. Skip some of the earlier bosses for a couple of weeks so you can push right for Yogg.
I don't want to turn this column into armory bashing, so I'll stop there. I'm not trying to pick apart your accomplishments here -- I'm just trying to help you prioritize. Your guild has a lot to be proud of so far!
The bottom line, for any serious Normal raiding guild, is you have to take advantage of getting all your best people in a raid when you have them. Take an extra 20 or 30 minutes to get a hard mode achievement like Knock on Wood when the opportunity presents itself. Then tout these achievements when you recruit. No, it's not the same as defeating the full hard mode would be, but it's an indication that you're heading in that direction.
That will signal to other like-minded players that you aren't just a bunch of lazy slobs for whom putting together 25 players is too much work. That you are, in fact, real raiders in a real raid, and that you do take it seriously -- perhaps more seriously than some Heroic raiding guilds do!