Cataclysm's introduction of the Raid Finder, or LFR, has certainly affected all levels of raiding. But will it eventually bring about the end of small, casual raiding guilds, as one officer fears? Or does it mean that he needs to change his approach?
I'm an officer in a small, casual raiding guild. By "casual" I mean we only raid two nights a week from 9-12, and typically we run a 10% nerf behind when it comes to clearing content.
Our niche has always been as a "friendly community that offers members the chance to experience content in a laid-back atmosphere." Here's my question . . . what do you see as the impact of LFR (and to a lesser extent, LFG) on casual raiding guilds such as ours?
Personally, I've always viewed it as a negative. LFR erodes the need for community in the game. Meanwhile, for the casual raiding guild, the biggest draw we can offer to players on our realms is our sense of "community".
Hi, NGFL. To answer your first question, yes, this is a very common problem. However, it may not be for the reasons that you think.
Hard Core guilds are still needed for players to experience Heroic Raids. Mega-Guilds have perks of their own that frankly we can't compete with. And then there's us.
We struggle to get groups together because we don't have an excessive number of people ... and we struggle to down content in raids because we believe in giving all our members who want to raid the opportunity to raid -- even when they're not very good.
I know one answer would be to "recruit", but how can we recruit based on our reputation as a "a good group of people" when reputations on servers have become almost non-existent?
Anyway, my real question's are:
- Is this a common problem among small, casual guilds, or is it specific to us?
- What role, if any, does LFR play in the decline of the small, casual raiding guild?
Nice Guilds Finish Last
LFR has been a game changer. Players no longer have to rely on guilds in order to see most of the raiding content that Blizzard has to offer. This is a good thing for you, actually. It means that people who don't really want to be in guilds won't be anymore. They won't feel obligated to join your roster to raid, dragging down your community with antisocial attitudes.
However, LFR is not a substitute for the guild experience in any way. When you queue alone, it's an isolating way to see content. If you're seeking moderate challenge or teamwork, LFR will not scratch that itch.
You can, however, use LFR to your advantage. Schedule a night to run it with guildmates. Treat it as a guild activity. It's a lot more fun to run the raids that way. It can be a community-building exercise. And if you and your guildmates are talkative and friendly in raid chat, it can be a recruiting tool as well.
Don't underestimate your strength
You say that your biggest draw is "community." You talk about that like it's a bad thing. I think you are underestimating the appeal of a friendly, close-knit community. Sure, some people will value progression over all else in a game like this. You'll never appeal to that kind of player and you shouldn't try.
Many players out there are more interested in finding a group of people that they get along with. There's a reason, after all, that I get so many emails from players agonizing over whether they should remain in their current guild with their friends or join a progression raiding guild. Leaving a community that you thoroughly enjoy is very difficult.
Likewise, not everyone wants to belong to a guild with 300 players. Some are overwhelmed by that. You have a niche that makes you different from other guilds. Don't shy away from what makes you unique. It's not inferior. It's just different.
And realm reputations still matter -- transfers are expensive!
Is "casual" the right term?
It's not LFR itself that is causing the biggest problem for small, casual raiding guilds -- it's that normal raids are more difficult these days because LFR exists. When you look at bosses like Elegon, Garalon, Horridon (why are the 'ons always the nasty ones?) and the Council of Elders, these are challenging encounters in normal mode. Is there room in normal raids for a guild like yours?
I'm sorry to say, but no. I don't think it's realistic to raid normal modes the way you do it anymore. Specifically, I don't think you can take any player into a normal mode raid just because they want to go.
Before people start writing angry comments below, let me explain. I've always maintained that a huge difference exists between a raiding novice who wants to learn or an average but prepared player, and the player who wants to be carried through content with minimal effort. As I've written many times, casual raiding should not mean lazy or selfish raiding. Too often, casual raiding guilds encourage this behavior and call it a virtue because they're not "judging" anyone.
In normal modes, Blizzard expects raid leaders to have somewhat organized groups and to set certain standards for the players that you bring. The word "casual" is misleading. Perhaps we need to redefine terms. If we call LFR "casual raiding" and call normal modes "guild raiding," then maybe that will clear up the relative expectations.
For "guild raiding," you can't afford to carry players like you can in LFR, especially in 10-man raids. You need some minimal guidelines about what players should do in order to raid with the guild. Basics such as gemming, enchanting, flasking, and reforging bad stats can all make a huge difference with a tiny bit of effort. First and foremost, however, your raiders should want to try their best -- even if their best is not amazing. They will improve with practice because they're trying to improve.
Now it could be that your guild has members who want to improve, but they don't know where to find reliable advice. No one is encouraging them or offering them solutions. You can still be "nice" even after you set certain minimal guidelines for participation. You don't have to be a jerk about it. Start a dialogue about resources that people can use. Keep it friendly and supportive. Offer help to the people who want to be helped.
You can recruit based on the model of a small community in which you all help one another to excel in a friendly and constructive way. Right now your model seems to be (and I'm just assuming here based on the email) encouraging players to raid without any guidance or guidelines at all.
In your model, the players you attract will tend to be the lazy ones. They know upfront that they are guaranteed a raid slot no matter what. If you recruit based on the model I suggest instead, you'll tend to attract players who might be new to raiding but who are eager to learn, or who try their best but have limited time to raid. These are the players who will help your raid team and your community rather than hinder it for their own ends.
In my experience, "guild raiding" is the model that works best for a guild like yours. You'll retain more players and have more success in raids. I would also argue that you'll have more fun, too.
Officers' Quarters keeps your guild leadership on track to cope with sticky situations such as members turned poachers or the return of an ex-guild leader and looking forward to what guilds need in Mists of Pandaria. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.