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15 Minutes of Fame: More than mere Leftovers Part II


15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes – from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about at 15minutesoffame at wowinsider dot com.

Last week, 15 Minutes of Fame brought you Part I of our exclusive chat with the Leftovers raiding community. The Leftovers are neither a guild nor an alliance. Instead, they're an open-ended uber-community of players on Silver Hand -- both guilded and unguilded -- raiding everything from Old World content and Karazhan all the way up through 7/9 BT.

Check out their phat stats:
  • The Leftovers run some 70 to 80 raids per week.
  • Ninety percent of players who sign up get into raids.
  • Over the past 3 weeks, 661 players (on 1,094 characters) have attended a Leftovers raid.
  • More than 1,700 players have attended or signed up with Leftovers raids since the Burning Crusade launched.
  • The Leftovers marked their three-year anniversary in May of this year with eight Magtheridon/Gruul runs, including seven kills, plus four Molten Core fun runs.
This week, we're back with Part II of our interview with the Leftovers. We chat about the advantages and disadvantages of "open" vs. "closed" raiding groups and the custom tools that make such an immense raiding community practically run itself.

At their current scale, it's obvious that the Leftovers raiding community is anything but leftover players. They have raiding groups of all shapes and sizes hitting content both high and low, hard and soft, casually and on a tight progression curve. We visited with a hive-mind group of their leaders to find out why the Leftovers' pickup raid system has become such a resounding success.

Bleucheese, Level 70 Night Elf Priest
Dulin, Level 70 Night Elf Hunter
Elkheart, Level 70 Night Elf Warrior
Felada, Level 70 Night Elf Priest
Paksennarion, Level 70 Human Paladin
Quinnaria, Level 70 Night Elf Hunter
Senzoo, Level 70 Human Warrior
Toragan, Level 70 Human Paladin

Read Part I of our interview with the Leftovers. (Be sure to visit the comments, as Leftovers members expand on a number of points from the main interview.)

15 Minutes of Fame: What are the limits of more open groups? And also the limitations of closed groups -- which I'm assuming you'd define as a "guild."
Quinnaria: You meet a ton of fun people, for one.
Bleucheese: More open groups have a few issues. The first is scale: it's hard for them not to be centrally planned, and that means you limit how much you can do. The second is that the completely open group has issues with progression. If you can't get a stable core of people that know the fights and know each other, you can't progress, or you progress slowly.
Quinnaria: However, with our system, if charter Bob (to make up a name) has their favorite tank go on vacation for a month, there are many other tanks that want the opportunity to prove themselves that are happy for the change.
Toragan: Guilds often have a serious issue with finding replacements when they lose people through attrition. Our community makes the process a lot easier to deal with. Not that there still isn't a healer shortage (there always is), but the charters have access to a wide range of people in the community.
Dulin: Not wanting to kill one another after raiding with the same people six nights a week for nine months. Closed groups, which don't have to be guilds, tend to inflict burnout on themselves by having to rely on the same people all the time. In closed groups, personality conflicts can quickly become massive issues.

And here in the Leftovers community, personality clashes simply switch to another charter?
Paksennarion: Yep.
Dulin: Exactly.

Is there an implicit push in your charters for continuity? Or is it more organic, something that naturally happens?
Toragan: More something that naturally happens.
Quinnaria: Organic is a very good word for it. People move about freely -- kinda like, well, a buffet. :)
Felada: Yeah, we used to be closed small groups and learned that open is better.
Dulin: I think Toragan's right. It's a natural thing ... and largely, I think it happens as organically as it does not just because people can move around between charters, but also because while the raiding is, obviously, the big "group activity," the *community* of Leftovers goes beyond the raid groups to include anyone who wants to be part of it.
Bleucheese: When you close groups off, a few things happen: first, people build resentments towards one another for which there is no release valve, causing eventual splits and abandonment. Second, when people leave closed groups, they have a hard time recruiting. They don't have a "pool." Third (and very important in BC), how do you gear newcomers in a closed raiding group in Sunwell? You don't. You can't run KZ, SSC, TK, Hyjal, BT and Sunwell.

In general, do most of your charters push toward heavier raiding schedules? It sounds as if members really want to push the progression and interest level.

Toragan: It depends on the charter.
Quinnaria: We have a huge amount of people that love to wander, love to help and have many alts to fill many jobs. They swich characters/specs and have fun again with old characters.
Toragan: Some charters are very heavily progression-minded. Some are a lot more casual.
Paksennarion: The charter I run, Maelstrom, is a good example. We're running two days a week, but we're still making progression because we've got enough people to do it.

This sounds like a huge guild with multiple raiding groups. Why not simply form one big guild?
Toragan: I've often thought of the entire Silver Hand community as members of our community, because any of them at any time can choose to sign up with us. =)
Quinnaria: Take me, for instance. I have a very small family guild. Our guild, we can put together a Karazhan – but Leftovers offers us much more. Not only do we have a way into 40-man (now 25-man) raiding, we met a ton of new folks, made many new friends and conquered content we never would have seen. And each of us were able to choose our level of interest in Leftovers. I became a lead; my boyfriend, he just raids...
Felada: I don't want 600 in my guild. I like my small guild. :D
Paksennarion: There's more than a few people that are the only one or two in their guild that are raiding.
Bleucheese: Regarding guilds, not having a guild is one of our main purposes. A lot of people want to guild with friends and family and do their raiding elsewhere. We don't want to force them to do something like that.
Toragan: Yeah I think Leftovers formed and became popular because you see a lot of small RP guilds and family guilds on a roleplaying server. We provide a community that lets them raid without giving up that small guild of friends. =)
Bleucheese: Also, guilds have too much structure. Again, you get concentrated leadership and you can't possibly run that many people
Paksennarion: Well, a guild with 500-600 active raiders plus alts is almost impossible to administer.

Yet you do, in fact, administer that many people -- it's just divided up into subgroups
Paksennarion: We don't administer it to the same level, though.
Bleucheese: "Administer" is probably a strong word. :) "Herd" might be a better word? And we don't even do much of that.
Dulin: Actually, that's the great part: We don't really administer it. We just kind of... aim it. It's like steering a runaway train by leaning left or right on the top.
Paksennarion: If you could have a guild join a superguild, that would be much closer to it. But even then, that doesn't get everyone.
Felada: It's more like herding cats.

Any plans for a Horde equivalent?
Felada: We thought about the Horde.
Paksennarion: The system will support it actually, but there's never been a lot of movement on that side for it.
Quinnaria: We've had people mention it, but it has never taken off.
Toragan: Well we have the tools for it but we've never gained the interest to jump-start it Hordeside.
Dulin: I think the problem with trying to recreate Leftovers, either on another server or Hordeside, comes down to critical mass. Once you've got enough people that you can run more than one 25-man raid a week with regularity, it'll snowball -- but less than that ...

Do you run any PvP events, BGs, Arena teams, etc.?
Felada: We have unofficial PvP. We have a forum for that, where peeps can post something at this time, but nothing official.
Bleucheese: We occasionally do PvP stuff and have a number of people doing Arena.
Toragan: There's a forum for setting up PvP, and folks will often use the in-game channel to grab folks. Officially, however, we just organize PvE content.

What else seems noteworthy about the way Leftovers is set up and run that you'd like to share with other players?
Bleucheese: One other thing is our shared loot system -- shared across all charters. That is one of the things that allows people to move from group to group. It's a variant of Shroud that allows us to fight inflation and rewards newcomers. Oh, another thing: the raid calendar on the site probably does more administration than we do.
Dulin: But Bleu, that means you do all the administration, 'cuz you wrote it.
Quinnaria: Yeah, Bleu deserves a TOTAL big hug for that thing. Before that, a charter's lead did it all with paper, pencil (and a cruddy self-made Excel spreadsheet, if you were me).
Toragan: Yeah, the tools that Bleu created pretty much run the site and the charters far better than any of us could. ;)
Felada: Yeah, and he got the point system working.
Bleucheese: This level of scale would be impossible without the website tools, allowing anyone to sign up to any raid and allowing groups to slot. A crucial thing the calendar does is detect "slotting conflicts" when the same person gets slotted to conflicting raids.
Dulin: (Bluecheese created) the raid calendar and slotting application and the points tracking database, IIRC. The website itself is the brainchild of one of our leads emeritus, Galthron, who also deserves major props for being the web admin for us for so long.

Have any of you ever participated in a raiding alliance similar to this on another server or another game? Have you spun off chapters to other servers?
Toragan: There's often been interest from other servers, but the problem is (that) to kick off something like Leftovers, you have to have a strong starting base of people.
Paksennarion: No, but I believe there's a charter that transferred over from another server to start running with Leftovers. Let me see, I know they're 5/9 BT and 4/5 Hyjal [Editor's Note: Last week's comments updated the progression to 7/9 BT and climbing.] -- still haven't gotten Kael, but did get Vashj. They're one of the more progressed ones.

Well I hope you're ready for more. I imagine you're going to get a real surge of interest from this article.
Bleucheese: Crap, we didn't think of that!
Dulin: LOL
Felada: haha
Senzoo: Great, more work. LOL
Quinnaria: Well, they're welcome to come -- open arms and all that. We'd love to help them out. Our forums are open to those that have any such questions and want any advice. Well, what we can give other than "Hold on to your hats"?
Toragan: We've already been growing by leaps and bounds. Eh, what's a little more? LOL Honestly, the more people in our community, the stronger it is for all of us. =)
Felada: The only thing that slows us down is the lack of raiders or class.
Paksennarion: Not even class, more roles.
Felada: Yeah, roles.
Toragan: It's mainly the percentage of healers vs. tanks vs. DPS. But then that's something everyone suffers from.
Dulin: Far as I'm concerned, (players on other servers are) welcome to use any of our rules and procedures they like, and good luck to 'em.
Senzoo: Yeah, I think from what I read awhile back, we were pretty unique overall with both numbers and system.
Bleucheese: I would be really curious if someone has done anything really like this hybrid system between open groups and raiding guilds, and if there is any raid group out there that has achieved this scale. I'm sure they have, but I just don't know where to find out. :)
Dulin: If there is, I'd love to hear from them. It'd be nice to be able to compare notes with another group like this.

Well best of luck, folks. I'll bet you'll get plenty more interest and involvement to come.

Learn more about the Leftovers at their web site.

Whet your appetite on more 15 Minutes of Fame with interviews of WoW players of every stripe, from well known figures to the player you run into the mailbox every evening.

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