This week's email is from a guild leader in a delicate situation. One of his younger raiders is holding the guild back, but he doesn't want to upset her. Her highly protective father is also a member.
My problem comes in the form of a raider who's enthusiasm and dedication are impressive, but who's ability are not.
I'm Co-GM of a guild that's been together for about a year. In that time, we've gone from only having one or two people on all day to regularly having 10-15 at any given moment. We raid 10-man normal and Flex mode, everyone in the guild who can make it to raids regularly is happy with the situation, and even those who leave for greener raiding pastures always leave behind their alts because they just enjoy the community so much.
The problem is that we are slowly bleeding away some of our best raiders due to our lack of progress.
To supplement our teams, we've started using openraid, labeling our group as 'Flex for Beginners'. The reason we've come to believe this lone enthusiastic raider is a major part of the problem is that, in her absence, we excel. Without this raider present, we rip through content, not wiping on any fight barring catastrophic internet crashes on the part of the tanks, clearing content we've never even seen in Flex before. When this happens, we get requests for Openraiders to come back next week, we get people asking if we'll accept them if they switch to our server, and everyone leaves tired but happy.
The issue is that this raider is geared, enthusiastic, and punctual. She enjoys raiding, enjoys the guild, and is also a tween. She is by far the youngest member of the guild. Her father is also a member of the guild, and is very protective of her. He is seen as something of a bastion of stability in our community, but he is (I must emphasize) VERY protective of her, as he has the right to be. I would suggest just putting her in a non-essential role, but the only roles she enjoys (and has the gear for) are healing and tanking. This is a problem because she doesn't have the reflexes to interrupt a piercing corruption from the Norushen encounter, can't taunt the Sha of Pride when the other tank gets Wounded Pride, can't dispel Shadow Word: Bane on Sun, and can't keep up the heals on the ground or the towers on Galakaras.
What should we do? We don't want to refuse her when the reason is 'you're holding us back'. We don't want to piss off her father, who has many friends in the guild and would not take it well. We don't want to deny this girl her favorite pastime because she's not as good at it as we are. Most of all though, we don't want to make a little girl cry.
Sincerely, A troubled Co-gm.
Hi, Troubled. You are right to be hesitant here. For this column, I'm going to assume that your guild is a social one with a "zero to low" criticism culture.
I'm kind of curious how she landed the tanking gig in the first place, assuming everyone knew her age when she joined the guild. It seems like a bit much for such a young player to tackle.
You might want to steer her toward the healing role, at least for progression fights. It's pretty impossible for a tank to pick up the other tank's slack. It's easier for healers to cover for someone. You could even think about upping your healer count by one if you are flexing above 10 players. As long as you're not hitting the enrage timer, you're bound to lose less time due to lower raidwide DPS than you would to wipes.
I do not recommend an unprompted face-to-face chat with her about her abilities. This could come across as aggressive and inappropriate, depending on how your guild handles issues like this. You also don't want to dampen her enthusiasm by being overly critical or by benching her outright. However, there are things you can do to help her -- and maybe your other raiders at the same time.
1. Figure out what her control scheme is. Established raiders have a control scheme that they're comfortable with, but what if she's been playing with one that's uncomfortable for her and she just don't know that other options exist? It's incredible when you think about how crippling a bad control scheme can be. Imagine raiding with click to move when you aren't used to it, or turning your character with the keyboard, or clicking spells rather than using keybinds. A bad scheme can kill your reaction times to critical events during combat.
Now, you could just ask her. It depends on how that will be perceived in your guild, especially if you intend to follow up with suggestions. A better approach might be to use your guild's forums or social media. Start a nonjudgmental discussion about control schemes. Ask everyone what kind of setup they use. She may not reply to it, but it could get her to think about the way she's playing and if there are better options out there. She may learn about important concepts she's never heard of, such as mouseover macros.
Encouraging your raiders to give the proving grounds a try might also help everyone to find weaknesses in their control scheme.
2. Talk about addons. In the same manner, you can discuss addons with the guild and maybe some of them will spark her (and others') interest. Deadly Boss Mods is a critical one that raiders should be using. Sure, you can get by without it, but if someone is slow to react to abilities, DBM can help them respond faster. Even if you ignore all the large words flashing across your screen, the auditory cues alone can improve reactions.
Another one I highly recommend is GTFO. It beeps at you when you're standing in the bad. I installed it for the first time about six months ago and it has saved me from millions of unnecessary damage at this point. A few key addons like that can make a huge difference in someone's raid awareness.
UI mods are also game-changers. The default interface is not ideal, but mods can be tricky to set up. However, by talking about them and asking everyone to post screenshots of their UIs, it could motivate her and others in your guild to look into streamlining their UI.
3. Ask her tanking and healing partners to help her out. If she's tanking, ask your other tank to call out or make a whisper macro when she needs to taunt. If she's healing, maybe someone like the raid leader or the healing lead can call out on voice chat when it's each healer's turn to use a cooldown. Good communication helps everyone.
Someone who is so enthusiastic about raiding will be motivated to learn and improve. Taking a few small steps to help her manage what's happening during an encounter can go a long way.
It could also help if your other tanks and healers made short guides, directed to the guild in general, about how they approach individual encounters or just their role in general. For example, a list of everything a tank needs to taunt for in the various Siege bosses would be handy not just for her but for all your tanks.
4. Be encouraging and open to her. If she ever approaches you for advice or help, take that as an opportunity to help her as much as you possibly can. Answer every question she has. Walk her through difficult things such as setting up Curse Client step by step. Afterward, send her links where she can find more information if she wants to.
5. Look for other systematic problems in your raids. The problem may not be as clear cut as you think it is. It's an easy answer to blame the weakest link, especially when the raid tends to do so much better in her absence. That doesn't mean everyone else is perfect, though. Recording and reviewing combat logs, in private, can help you to assess who might also need help.
Players who actually enjoy tanking and healing are a rare and precious commodity. Maybe she shouldn't be carrying the raid on her back in a tanking role right now, but you should encourage her to keep learning the tanking role in other phases of WoW.
She may not be a top-notch part of your team right now, but she's so young -- give her time. If you can help her to improve her skills and awareness, she could become a huge asset for the guild in the future.
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.