This week's email comes from a player whose guild recently made the always-difficult, always-drama-fueling decision to form an A team out of their raiders. Is creating an A team the right move? When you wind up on the B team, what's next?
I'm a member of a medium-sized guild that has been running two raid teams simultaneously up until recently. These teams weren't fixed; group composition was mixed up every week. I rather enjoyed that, as it meant that I got to play and interact with lots of different guild members, and there was little room for cliquishness.
However, the other day guild leadership announced that this was all going to change. Going forward, most of the officers will be in a fixed "progression team" while the rest of us will be left to our own devices. There should still be enough of us left to form a second team, but we'd pretty much have to make it work ourselves.
Supposedly this is going to be better for the guild since this new fixed team should achieve more progress faster. As someone who isn't an officer it's hard not to feel slighted by this sudden exclusion however. It feels as if what they are really saying is: "you guys were slowing us down, so long".
Hi, Feeling Excluded. I can't blame you for feeling that way. Keep in mind, however, that it's not the "officers' personal progression." Like it or not, it's the guild's progression, and the guild's progression is more important than anyone's personal progression -- yours included.
I know there are guilds out there that successfully run multiple fixed raid teams. My question is... how do they do that without struggling with issues of elitism, cliquishness and so on? And what exactly is the point of being united under one guild name anyway if the different teams are set up to never mingle? In my case, what is the benefit of staying with my current guild over finding one where my raid efforts would receive actual support from the leadership instead of being an afterthought to the officers' personal progression?
I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts,
The idea of mixing teams is a noble goal and certainly has a strong community-building aspect. Unfortunately, it has some drawbacks, too. In the past I've written about the A team/B team question, and I've concluded that for guilds that are serious about progression, it's better to set up your raids this way.
The case for A teams
I don't want to rehash old columns, but I'll quickly sum up why creating an A team is better for serious raiding guilds:
- Better progression translates to easier recruiting
- Mixing teams can mean frustration for your best raiders, who may leave the guild as a result
- Losing your best raiders leads to progression stalls
- Losing raiders means you have to recruit
- Progression stalls make recruiting difficult
Trust me when I say your officers did not make this decision lightly. It could be that their best raiders have been asking your officers to do this for a long time. The guild could have been in danger of losing those players if this step wasn't taken.
Yes, an A team situation can cause cliques, elitism, and all the problems you mention. It will be an ongoing battle for the officers to combat these issues, but the alternatives are likely to be worse.
This argument, of course, is small consolation for you sitting on the outside. Their decision may not have been personal, but it can't help but feel personal.
You can walk away at this point and try to find another guild. No one would blame you.
Or, you can help your new team to do the best they can. There's no reason that your team can't keep up with or even exceed the progression of the other team. It may not happen right away with so much confusion right now and emotions running high, but every expansion and every tier is a fresh start.
If you and your team fixate on whether or not you're truly second-class guild members, it will be hard to achieve your goals. Try to look forward at this point, to discover what you can accomplish if you stay positive and motivated.
One question to ask the officers is what their policies will be moving forward. Do they consider B team raiders as emergency subs for the A team? Will they try to replace people who leave the A team with players from the B team when possible? Or will they look outside the guild to recruit?
Such decisions will have a big impact on both teams and it is better to know what they plan upfront. It's also good for them to communicate those policies now so that no one is blindsided later.
Running two teams in a single guild can have some benefits, though it may be difficult to see them right now. The two teams can exchange boss tips and strategies. Players of the same class, spec, or role can help each other to maximize performance. Your guild will have more resources in the bank. Also, having more players around provides more opportunities to group up for things like Heroic scenarios and dungeons, better LFR runs, summonable Isle of Thunder bosses, world bosses, PvP, etc.
Multiple teams are trouble
For guilds that raid primarily for fun, having multiple teams is just fine. But for guilds that prioritize progression, most will eventually reach a point where they feel compelled to do as this guild did. The difficulty of normal mode raiding these days practically demands it.
Running more than one team almost inevitably leads to drama and hurt feelings. If you want to avoid this drama, my advice is to avoid this scenario. There are three ways to do this.
- Make it clear early on that your guild has one official raid team. This strategy is best for new guilds or guilds who don't officially have two teams yet. Allow players who don't currently raid with the guild or players with alts to form their own "unofficial" teams as desired. You can offer support to those teams, but make sure they know that the guild's priority is always the official raid. This approach sidesteps the A team/B team issue while allowing other teams to form. Yes, it's a bit of a cop-out, but don't undervalue the impact of perception.
- If you have a few too many players for one team, rotate players in and out of one team. Attendance won't be as crucial, so players won't burn out as quickly. Yes, this may slow you down a bit at times, but it will also maximize your options against certain encounters. If you rotate based on who needs loot, you can also maximize your drops. Of course, it helps to have a warlock...
- If you have more than 20 players, recruit a few more and start running 25s. It will be a transition and it will take some hard work from your officers to pull it off, but Blizzard is finally providing incentives for the larger raids again. And you never know -- you and your raiders may find it more fun than you think. You can retain guild unity and provide a strong incentive for your better raiders to help your average raiders to excel. Your progress will probably be a little slower overall, especially at first. However, just the fact that you run the larger raids will differentiate you from the vast majority of guilds -- and that is a great recruiting tool.
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.