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Officers' Quarters: The art of wiping

Scott Andrews

Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.

It happens to the best of us: We tried our best, and it wasn't good enough. We're no longer epic heroes bravely marching into battle but broken corpses littering the cave of some huge, slobbering monster or the fortified hideout of a powerful villain. We've all been there, and it always sucks (though it can occasionally be hilarious). As an officer and/or raid leader, what you do next can determine whether you find yourself in the same place all over again -- or standing victorious over the fallen body of your foe, sparkling with purple-ly epic awesomeness.

This week's question asks about wiping.

What is a good post-wipe process? I feel that we often just wipe and throw ourselves at an encounter -- rather than pausing and debriefing on what caused us to struggle.

-- Ciacco, Malygos, 70 human rogue

I'm not going to talk about strategy or tactics here -- I'm just going to share what I think is the best way to handle a wipe for the purposes of both morale and long-term raiding success. Here we go:

1) Don't lose your cool.

So somebody forgot to click a box. Your tank forgot to stance-dance. A healer took the wrong beam. DPS'ers shattered each other to kingdom come. Your demon-form warlock tank forgot to equip his shadow resist set. Stupid mistakes are going to happen, especially on the first try of a boss before everyone goes, "Oh yeah, I remember this now."

Flipping out and screaming at people, instantly docking them DKP, swearing, or booting people from the raid (or the guild) might have the short-term effect of getting your raid to focus better on the next try. But the long-term effect will be to make everyone more tense. Tense people will generally perform worse than relaxed, comfortable people. And also, they will hate you.

2) Give everyone a few moments to let the failure sink in.

When the last toon drops dead to the floor, don't immediately launch into a laundry list of what went wrong. Let everyone ponder their own mistakes for a minute or two. If you have experienced raiders, they probably already know what happened, particularly if they were the cause of it. Give them a short time to analyze the fight in their own heads so they can absorb it and more effectively communicate to the raid what they need to do better.

3) Talk about what (if anything) went right.

A little positive reinforcement never hurts. If the rogues did an awesome job interrupting spells or a lone, undergeared shaman kept the tank up much longer than expected, say so.

4) Let people volunteer to take credit for the wipe.

Rather than laying blame, give the person who made the mistake a chance to speak up and apologize for causing the wipe. Everyone feels a bit better when someone confesses rather than when the leaders point fingers. It's a sign of maturity and respect for your fellow raiders to tell them you screwed up. Give your members a chance to do that, even when you know for sure who was at fault. If they don't speak up, ask, "Can someone tell me what happened there?" If they still don't 'fess up, whisper them and ask them about it specifically. If they still don't admit their error, don't bring them to any more raids. Accountability and honesty are too important. But odds are they'll feel more comfortable talking about it in private. Make sure you mention to the other officers or raid leaders that they told you, so they know that person did actually come clean. Don't announce it to the raid. Rather, remind everyone of the importance of remembering to do (or not to do) whatever it is that person failed at.

5) Consult your class leaders.

Talk to your class leaders about what adjustments need to be made. This is the most important part of their job, so don't ignore them. Sometimes a small adjustment you haven't even thought of can be the key to victory.

6) Stay confident.

It may seem hopeless, but given enough gear, consumables, and practice, you will win -- even if practically by accident! Raiders key off the attitudes of their leaders. If they sense you don't believe in them, they will get discouraged. They may not try as hard that night, and they might not come back next time because they feel like they are just holding everyone else back.

7) Don't dwell.

Once you've gone over what needs to be done better next time, get people focused on that next attempt rather than harping on what just happened. I had a writing professor once who would read a sample of your work, pick out the one minor detail he didn't like, and just hammer you with it over and over again until you wanted to smack the giant thick glasses off his wrinkly bald head. Don't be that guy.

Until next week, may you wipe with grace, dignity, and confidence -- or better yet, not at all.


Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas, and suggestions at You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!

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