This week's e-mail is straight and to the point:
Great question, Michael! When you have too many raiders, it's supposed to be easy to put together a raid, right? It's often harder than it seems, and you can really stir up drama by making ill-considered choices.Dear Mr. Andrews:
In your latest Officer's Quarters article you mention filling raid slots by seniority is not a good system. What is a good system for filling raid slots? What would you recommend?
Let's examine the various systems for filling raid slots.
Like I said last week, I hate this system, but let's talk about why. The problem is twofold. One, you're locked in to those players who have been around longer. Whether they are any good or not, or whether you can put together a reasonable group synergy, they have the priority so they get the slot.
Two, it doesn't always allow you to try out new recruits or give more recent members a chance. If you have high-attendance veterans, you'll keep those veterans happy, but your new blood could be on standby for weeks or months. Will they stick around for that? Many won't.
Assuming you're grading performance accurately, this method will give you the best chance to have a successful run. Performance evaluation can be tricky, however. Is a player more valuable if they do more DPS but tend to stand in the fire, or if they do less DPS but rarely make mistakes? Communication and problem-solving can also be incredibly valuable when you're trying to learn new bosses. Some players are the total package, but not many.
You'll have to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each player. Drama can crop up when a player thinks he or she is better than another, but the raid leaders disagree. Besides that, no one likes to hear that they aren't good enough.
You'll need mature, thick-skinned members to pull off a performance-based system. Hardcore guilds can certainly get away with it. Less serious guilds may run into problems. However, if a player is holding the raid back with slacking or lack of preparation, he or she shouldn't be in the raid anyway.
The other drama issue when choosing based on performance is attendance. When low-attendance but high-value players get slots over less talented regulars who show up every week, you're going to hear complaints. If you're using this system, attendance should be brought into consideration as well. Attendance often equates to better knowledge of the encounters, so it's not really a hindrance in most cases.
Some guilds like to swap players in and out of a raid based on who needs what from each boss. This method will optimize the loot you're getting. However, people who already have the drops they need will miss out on a lot of emblems. They might feel unfairly punished for gearing up quickly.
The other big downside to this method is that you're often swapping out people with a good gear set for people with lesser gear. That may stall your progression in the short run.
In the long run, your players are going to even out on gear at some point. Then you'll have to figure out some other way to decide who gets to go.
This method requires some effort from the officers. In a nutshell, you keep track of who has to sit out one week and make sure they have priority for a raid slot next week. It's pretty simple in theory, but more complex in practice. Is it worth subbing in the Holy paladin who had to sit out last week for the Resto shaman who's gotten a slot for the last four weeks in a row, knowing that you won't have Bloodlust if you do?
This system requires generous members who will sit out for multiple weeks when necessary for the good of the raid, whether it's for synergy, a particular buff, another ranged DPS for Saurfang, etc. Dual specs can be a huge help, as long as people have adequate gear for both roles.
In general, rotation slotting is one of the fairest systems you can use. You just have to make sure everyone who gets a slot is good enough for the raid you're running. Players will grow impatient if subbing in one or two particular people always means extra wipes.
Remember, too, that your raids will generally be slower. You'll have to explain certain fights to newly rotated players and it may take time for people to adjust to different roles. For example, say you usually have a death knight tanking Keleseth, but that player has been rotated out. You may have to use a warlock who's never done it before.
Too many DPS? Lowest roll sits. It's hard to argue with the dice. Making people roll for slots takes the decision out of your hands. So in that sense, it's an easy, simple slotting system.
Their are some hefty drawbacks, however. For one thing, the dice ignore gear, performance, attendance, synergy, and every other consideration you might want to think about when you're setting up a raid. For another, players with bad luck may never set foot inside a raid zone. They'll get frustrated pretty quickly. They'll stop blaming the dice -- and start blaming you.
If you run a raid zone with multiple groups on separate IDs, sometimes you have no choice but to organize the groups by schedule to make sure you have the right roles filled for each. A great way to survey your raiders is by using a Google docs form. Here's a sample of one.
Post a link to it on your guild's Web site and ask every raider to spend 5 minutes filling it out. The form will generate a spreadsheet where you can view the responses. Then you can see which nights are best for each player and form (hopefully) two productive teams.
Notice I haven't yet said which of these methods I prefer. That's because they're all legitimate choices you can make, for better or worse. Which system is best depends on what your guild values most and what your raiding philosophy is. If progression is king, then you'll probably use some sort of performance-based system. If your guild isn't in a rush, then a rotation system might be your top choice.
You can also combine these various methods together. For instance, you could use a performance-based system that uses random rolls as a tiebreaker or a rotation-based system that takes gear needs into account.
Whatever system you go with, don't ignore feedback from your members about whether or not they like it. If you listen, you might obtain some valuable advice or figure out some tweaks that can improve the experience for everyone. Don't be afraid to change your mind if your current system is causing more problems than it solves. And don't get frustrated -- keep in mind that having too many solid raiders is a good problem to have!
How does your guild fill slots? Do you have a unique system? Tell us about it below!