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.
Several weeks ago I wrote an article about how Blizzard could help guilds make the transition from 10-man heroic to 20-man mythic raiding. The comments on that article were eye-opening to me. In the interest of promoting dialogue about the new raiding system and supporting the guild officers who will make it work, I'd like to clear up some misconceptions.
Who deserves extra rewards?
Many commenters expressed the opinion that hard mode raiding and the best loot in the game are reward enough. No extra rewards are required.
For your average heroic raider, that is certainly true. But your average heroic raider doesn't have to do much outside of raid times, and then it's mostly just a matter of showing up prepared.
The people who deserve the big incentives are not the average raiders.
The officers and raid leaders deserve the extra rewards. They are the ones who will have to deal with double the recruiting. Double the personnel management. Double the loot distribution. Double the moving parts in tactical situations. This is in addition to everything that an average raider has to do to prepare themselves and their main character.
It's not about making the average raider feel "special" or above anyone else. It's about rewarding the men and women who take time out of their lives so everyone else can tackle the hardest content the game offers.
Behind the scenes
For the average raider in a successful guild, the transition to 20-man will be virtually seamless. They will show up to the first mythic raid of Warlords of Draenor with a full roster, a working loot system, raid times that have been hacked out among 20+ players' schedules, and a raid leader ready to organize all those players into a cohesive team. Most of the stuff that happened behind the scenes to make that a reality will be invisible to them.
Meanwhile, the officers and the raid leader have been working for months to make sure that first mythic raid of the expansion goes off without a hitch.
For guilds who are already running 25-man raids, they will continue to do so. They deserve the extra incentives, too, for all the hard work they've done and continue to do. No one can argue, however, that the 10-man officers who choose doubling instead of disbanding deserve all the rewards that Blizzard is willing to dole out.
I'm not saying that leaders in non-mythic guilds don't also deserve appreciation and rewards. They work hard, too. But from an objective standpoint, their job is becoming easier in Warlords of Draenor, while the job for those in 10-man heroic guilds is becoming much, much more difficult.
More than double the work
Many guilds who used to raid 25-man in The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King days dropped to 10-man raiding in Cataclysm when the raid sizes became, in theory, equal. This was a huge relief for officers and raid leaders. 10-man is far easier to organize and manage. Without the 10-man option, many of them would have stepped down from their positions or stopped raiding entirely.
Those who already downsized know just what they're in for if they decide to double up. Those who have served exclusively in 10-man guilds up to this point can only imagine it, so let me tell you: it's not really double the work.
It's more than double.
Bigger rosters mean far more opportunities for player conflict and drama as personalities clash. They often mean not finding the best possible players for every slot, which can lead to resentment from the better raiders and frustration for those who are lagging behind. You have to help those who need it while soothing the aggravation of those who don't. Scheduling can become a huge hassle, too, with so many more classes, jobs, and families to accommodate.
Bigger raids mean using a more elaborate loot system beyond rolling. The more players rolling, the easier it is for an RNG loot system to become skewed. Skewed loot means unhappy raiders. In order to keep the loot fair, you will need a more organized system, which can easily be one officer's entire job.
Raider turnover will increase. Recruiting will evolve from a thing you have to do once in a while to an ongoing operation. Poaching will become more common as guilds compete over the players they desperately need to keep the raid team on its feet. Raiders who sense the high demand in this economy may push for more and more of your time and effort, or even special perks -- holding your guild hostage to their demands. Make no mistake: leading a large raid team can become a savage affair.
I certainly don't mean to discourage anyone from making the leap. It can be extremely satisfying on a personal level to make it work -- once you get to that point. Blizzard could help you get there. Only time will tell what the developers choose to do.
For those officers who push their guilds through this transition, your raiders will owe you a debt for the sacrifices you make. Blizzard will owe you too, because MMOs like WoW need motivated community leaders in order to thrive.
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.