Officers' Quarters: Tier transition trouble

Scott Andrews
S. Andrews|12.19.11

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Officers' Quarters: Tier transition trouble
parachuting onto deathwing's back
Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available now from No Starch Press.

For many guilds, the release of a new raiding tier isn't as cut and dry as simply moving on to the new bosses and leaving the previous tier behind. These days, there are a number of reasons to continue with older content: finishing legendary grinds, completing achievements, and downing unkilled bosses on either difficulty. This week, a guild leader feels conflicted about how to approach the raiding schedule with so much unfinished business in Firelands.
Hi Scott:

I'm the guild leader for a medium sized guild. The guild is about 9 months old at this point, and we've had our share of raid member turnaround. Through each generation though, we've gotten stronger. Now that the team is pretty solid and showing up on schedule weekly, a problem has reared its ugly head, and its name is Dragon Soul.

You see, because of the constant turnaround, we were stuck in tier 11 longer than we should have been, and are only now at the point that going 6/7 in Firelands can be done in a couple of hours. We still don't have a Rag kill under our belts. Compounded with that, our Legendary recipient is only in the second collection phase.

But with the new dungeons dropping 378's and Deathwing taunting us, some members of the raid group have voiced in interest in raiding Dragon Soul. One member (who got a Rag kill with another team a couple weeks ago) said he can't wait to kill Rag so we "never have to go to Firelands again." That really REALLY aggravated me, but I kept my cool in Guild Chat.
The plan that was set forth at the launch of 4.3 was to continue Firelands, adding in LFR Guild runs, and reevaluate our approach after the holidays, as we are all expecting attendance to start becoming sporadic here shortly. Personally, I want my guildie to get her legendary before we abandon Firelands, as that is what we committed to do.

I sincerely believe that it won't be long before we have our Rag kill, and from there we can start full clearing Firelands in one evening, using the other raid night to work on Dragon Soul progression. That being said, I have a strong suspicion that approach will lead to us once again having to recruit for an open spot or two. It's not like Dragon Soul wouldn't help me too. I'm a Rogue. The Fangs are MINE! But I'm willing to wait until Firelands is completed and simply being farmed before I worry about them.

So, what now? Do I abandon a promise to a guildie for the sake of progression? Do I put it to a democratic vote from the team? Do I force my will upon the raid team?

Oh, and if you're wondering why this issue is such a concern, it's because I did EXACTLY what your book told me not to: I'm a Raid Leading Guild Leader.


Ha! Yep, it's not always a fun (double) position to be in!

Your guild is not alone in this dilemma. Others are facing the same quandary. My own guild has been raiding Firelands 10-man on off nights to finish up a third staff. It's also given us a chance to help more players earn the meta-achievement (such as myself, since my PC blew up the night we did most of the normal-mode achieves). However, it's often challenging to fill up that 10-man raid. People who were raiding Firelands nonstop since midsummer have had their fill of it, so finding volunteers can be a struggle.

You seem angry that one of your raiders expressed boredom with Firelands. I think that's more an indication of your own frustration with the situation. You're feeling a lot of pressure to move on, so the person who's being vocal about it is making you feel that pressure even more. Don't take it as an insult or as a criticism; that player simply wants to be done with that content, and it's perfectly natural for him to feel that way. I'm certain he's not the only one in your guild who does.

Your three options

Let's examine the three options you mentioned, one by one.

Option 1 Give up on Firelands and begin Dragon Soul. That would probably make a lot of people happy at this point. It might even give your guild a nice morale boost heading into the holidays. The holidays can be a dangerous time for guilds. Players who were waffling about continuing to play WoW may, after a week or two away from the game, decide that now is a great time to quit. Seeing Dragon Soul before the break may convince them to stick around longer.

The downside of course is that your staff recipient will be very disappointed, as well as anyone who really wanted to clear Ragnaros. You always have the option to go back at some point. And honestly, it would help progression to have someone with the staff in your raid. But it's going to be very difficult to convince people to go back once you move on.

Option 2 Put it to a vote. Pure democracy is a beautiful thing, but with major guild decisions, it often creates more trouble than it's worth. A public vote will merely turn players against each other. There could be some heated arguing over the issue. Your staff recipient may also hold a grudge against everyone who voted to move on.

On the plus side, you won't be accountable for the choice, so you're off the hook -- in theory, at least. I'm sure if things go sour people will blame you for it anyway.

Option 3 Force people to stay in Firelands until Ragnaros is down. The outcome of this will all depend on how long it takes. If you go this route, you'll need to emphasize that the notorious lack of raid content between expansions will certainly mean that you'll all be completely bored with Dragon Soul before the Mists of Pandaria roll in. Thus, there is ultimately no point in rushing to the next tier.

You may find yourself losing raiders over it if it goes on too long, and that is a real risk. I think you'll have to gauge the public feeling on it from week to week.

You mention Raid Finder runs, and they are indeed a great way to get people into Dragon Soul who really want to see that content. The bosses aren't the same as normal mode, but at least people will get familiar with some of the mechanics. The slightly better gear will help, too.

But wait, there's more

Here are a few other options that might be preferable to the three above.

Option 4 Use raid lockout extensions to your advantage. It will slow down the staff assembly, but you might consider carrying over a lockout just for one week to spend as much time on Ragnaros as possible. The encounter has a lot going on, so it just takes practice. The upside to this is that if you get him down before the end of your week's raids, you'll have time to look at Dragon Soul. Then you can move forward with your plan to raid both.

If you find yourselves stuck on Ragnaros, you can dedicate the last hour or so of each week's raiding to a Dragon Soul boss. Each time you down a boss, extend the lockout to the next week so you can start working on a new one. The first half of Dragon Soul is arguably much easier than the early Firelands bosses were when that raid was released. It's not unreasonable to think that you might be able to get a new boss down every one to two weeks even with just an hour in the zone.

Option 5 Raid Dragon Soul on off nights. If people really want to see it, then they'll be willing (as long as they're able) to add a night of raiding to their schedule temporarily. This could assuage those who are extremely anxious. Also, the additional gear can only help you to clear Firelands faster (not to mention you can begin the daggers quest line).

Option 6 Dedicate one night to each, regardless of progress, until the staff is done. It's a compromise solution, and like all good compromises, it will leave everyone slightly unhappy, but no one ignored. You'll eventually have to kill Ragnaros to get the staff made, but that will come in time.

The problem I see with this is that people may show up for the Dragon Soul runs and ditch the Firelands runs. However, if you go on with Firelands-only raiding too much longer, you're probably going to experience a drop in attendance anyway. My suggestion to combat this is to give priority to people who showed up to Firelands when you're putting the Dragon Soul raid together. (That depends, of course, on having more raiders than slots.)

Well, as you can see, this situation has many different approaches. If I were in your shoes, I would choose option 6. That solution gives you the best chance at keeping your raiders interested without giving up on the staff and the Ragnaros kill.


Recently, Officers' Quarters has examined how strong new leadership can create a guild turnaround, the pitfalls of promising more than you can deliver, and lessons learned from Scott's own guild demise. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to
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