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Officers' Quarters: Leftovers

Scott Andrews
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.

Last week we heard from a raid leader who was weighing the creation of a second raid team. Ultimately, it seemed like a bad idea. This week, we hear from an officer who has already tried -- and failed -- to create a second team. Now he has extra raiders that he's not sure how to handle.

Dear Scott,

I would like your opinion on a subject- the veritable, hated bench.

See, I tried recruiting for a second group in an attempt to make sure that players beyond our core ten were in the guild and seeing raids, but that hasn't worked out for us at all. It's really been a headache to manage and hard to fill (since everybody who responds to my ads is always interested in our weekday heroic runs.

However, now that we've scrapped the idea of having a second group, I could use some advice on how to successfully maintain a 13 or so person roster for a 10 player raid.

It's obviously not fair to those who don't get in to the raid to have to show up just to sit out, so I know I need to rotate them in, but what's a good way to help make sure they don't feel like second class citizens when I DO have to sit them out?

Similarly, how can I avoid hard feelings from say, my core DPS shaman (who's been with me for... years now) when I want to utilize a different class or spec or simply let another raider get some time in the instance?



Hi, D. I'm sorry to hear that your plan didn't work out, but it is not an easy thing to juggle two teams. At least your other raiders can see that you care about their WoW experience and that you're trying to improve the guild for them, too.

The best bench is not a bench

The bench is "hated," as you call it, for a reason. No one likes to sit out of a raid for long periods of time, hoping to get their chance at a boss. It's demeaning, it's boring, and it's a waste of their time. That's why raid leaders should never bench anyone, at least not in this sense. It used to be a widespread practice for hardcore raiding -- and thus many other guilds thought it must be the best method. However, most guilds have moved away from this behavior toward a more egalitarian system.

Raiders will only feel like second class citizens if you treat them that way. You can't act like your "core" raiders are the all stars and these three "extra" raiders are mere fill-ins. The "extra" raiders will come to resent this treatment, and the "core" raiders will always think of themselves as superior to the others. Maybe NBA teams can get away with this, but raid teams can't.

Everyone on your team needs to be an equal member. No one should feel like the last kid picked on the playground. If you have a wide disparity in performance between team members (beyond their gear), this is a big problem -- and one that you and the other officers and raiders in your guild need to address.

You need to get your underperformers up to speed or to let them go. It's not fair to them to string a player along, believing that they'll have a place on the team, when it's painfully obvious to everyone else that this player isn't cutting it. Help them or tell them politely that they can't raid with you.

The system below will not work if the entire raid feels crippled because you swap in a weak raider for a strong one.

Swap system

So how do you manage 13 raiders in a 10-player raid? Very soon, we'll all have the option to bring everybody, but since this will be a step down in terms of difficulty and rewards, some guilds will not want to make this compromise.

I'll explain how my guild does it, because I think it's a good system. I can't take credit for it -- our guild leader and raid leader implemented the process.

When an encounter favors ranged or melee DPS, or two healers vs three, having those extra raiders is handy. You can tailor the raid makeup to give you the best chance to succeed. During progression fights, swapping players can be crucial. If your raiders gear up and learn offspec roles, especially tanking and healing, you can have a huge amount of flexibility. Group makeup is the top concern.

Beyond that, the worst thing about 10-man raids is how much wasted loot there can be. If holy paladin gear drops and you don't have a holy paladin in the raid, that loot will be sharded or used as offspec gear. Enough bad drops like that early in a raid tier can really set you back. Over the course of a tier, you want to maximize your drops. It's a principle that every raider understands and it makes for the second most compelling reason to swap people in and out.

We have a color-coded spreadsheet that shows who needs loot from which bosses. It allows the raid leader to see at a glance who to bring in for which encounters, so the swaps can be made on the fly while we clear trash.

All else being equal, we ask players to /random for the spot, with the understanding that if they sit out a fight, they'll get back in for the next one they need.

So the swapping process goes as follows:
  1. Create an ideal or at least workable raid makeup.
  2. Prioritize the players who need specific drops from the encounter.
  3. Roll for spots.

Make the case

Now, you seem to be concerned about a specific player who clearly does not like to sit out. Maybe this player has never had to sit out, so you're worried about his reaction to this inevitable moment. It's good to be concerned -- it shows that you understand your raiders and you're anticipating problems down the road.

However, no one should be singled out as irreplaceable or unswappable, especially DPS. That leads to prima donna behavior, which is rough on team dynamics.

What you need to do is sell your core raiders on the idea of a larger roster. Tell them how having 13 raiders is going to give the raid added flexibility, make 100% attendance less critical (which avoids burnout), and avoid a crisis when someone has to stop raiding.

Most raiding guilds, after all, have more than the minimum number of raiders. It just makes sense, given all these advantages. Your core raiders may not be used to it, but as an officer your job is to convince them that it's best for the guild. You can't allow selfishness or pride to prevail over the greater good.

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

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