Friday, June 24, 2011

Balancing motivating a raid vs knowing when to fold

I very rarely blog about specifics of guild drama. Mainly because I know many guildies read this blog regularly. But something that has been eating at me for the last week came to a head last night, and now I feel like I have to blog about it.

To step back just a little bit, our guild has been working on Chogall for weeks. We started on him a couple weeks back and probably did the best (getting him down to 2-3% or so) the very first night we were on him. However since that night, our hunter Kal has had computer problems, so he has not been online since.

So yes, we have been very unlucky with our raid makeup. Meaning we don’t have a frost DK, a shammy, or a hunter on the adds. We’ve thus been two healing the fight to make up for it with more dps on the adds. This means I’ve had to try to manage my mana really well, which goes successfully sometimes and not so successfully other times.

But all of this isn’t really the crux of the issue. Well, maybe it lays the foundation in that perhaps we just haven’t had the right raid makeup to do this fight. But the crux of the issue for me is as a guild leader, how do you balance motivating your raid through something that is really tough and sucks and requires perseverance vs recognizing that it is just demoralizing and admitting defeat. But this second option is just very very difficult for me to accept.

It’s been hard because I believe that at least half the raid, if not more, has already given up on believing we can do this before the nerf. But even though I complain about this fight, deep down inside I believe we can. When you still think that your raid can do it... how do you motivate them to succeed when they step into a fight already expecting to fail? When people have given up and don’t think its going to happen, what are you supposed to do?

Maybe it takes a really exceptional leader to do such a thing, and perhaps I just don’t have it. I do recognize that I am very much an internally motivated person in all facets of my life. I’m not someone who needs external motivation to cheer me on. Perhaps because of this, I am not really good at verbally and publicly motivating others. So even though I believe we can succeed, if I can’t translate that to others, maybe I just have to accept that I’ m just not a very good public motivator.

The other side to this leadership question is this. Perhaps another mark of being a good leader is recognizing your limits when a group just can’t do something. Perhaps I should not have continually pushed the raid back to Chogall raid after raid. I know that its been demoralizing. It hasn’t been cupcakes and rainbows for me either.

But perhaps I should have recognized that while I believe that we can do it, others are too demoralized. Perhaps I should have recognized that we just don’t have the right makeup and quit banging their heads on the wall. Perhaps good leaders know when to fold, for the best of the guild, even if they don't want to. Perhaps I should stop saying perhaps.

I don’t know. I can see and argue both sides. I’m torn. What’s also been tough is that Jess and I have not necessarily agreed on this. I think Jess has leaned more on the side of believing we shouldn’t continue to take the raid to Chogall and that its too demoralizing. And I’ve been more on the other side that we can do this pre nerf, and thus have convinced Jess to do so.

This difference of opinion came to a head last night. So we had this difference of opinion of whether we should even be there to begin with. But layered on top of that we disagreed on the specific boss strat that we were going to use. This thus made for one of the more public vent fights we’ve had in a while. We’ve had plenty of “fights” to this degree via whispers, but this time we did it on vent. Lorosia told me afterwards that the kids (the rest of the guildies) were trying to block out the trauma of mommy and daddy fighting before them by playing with their archaeology toys. Awww.

I don’t know. It’s been a hard decision for me. And I have one more hard decision to make. We have another raid scheduled on Sunday night, a raid that Jess is not going to attend due to a vacation. I believe that our hunter Kal is going to be back by then as well. If he isn't its a no brainer. But if he is... if he is...

Then what. Do I take the raid back to Chogall YET AGAIN and see how it goes with a hunter? Or do I take the raid to at least see a pre 4.2 nerfed Nefarian? Or do I say that we are doing 3 pulls on Chogall with Kal and see how that goes, and that if it doesn’t work then we go to Nef?

But the crux of the question is this. How do you balance pushing a raid through what has been a demoralizing boss versus recognizing your limits and just accepting defeat?


  1. By changing things up a bit.

    Go check out Nef for the first half of the raid night. Kill something easy (BH or Conclave) to get people's blood up. THEN go back to Cho'Gall and try to make it fun.

    I know that in our raids when things get stressful we cue up some music. Our current favorite are cheesy 80s songs played in montages (Eye of the Tiger, You're the Best Around, The Touch, etc). It gets people laughing and relaxed. Our first LK kill was done listening to Don't Stop Believin' by Journey.

    You guys sound like a great raiding team. I have no doubt you will surprise yourselves at how well you can play.

  2. Unless your raid team is full of professional gamers that are on par with a professional athlete that has the ability to compartmentalize their emotions into a small box so they don't affect their performance, you can't ignore the emotional vibe of your raid. Wether you acknowledge it or not, the emotional well being of your raid does and will affect their ability to perform, particularly focus.

    Do something different. New boss, or try going for an achievement on another boss.

    Do something stupid, on purpose. Never under estimate the reward/relief of doing something idiotic with no expectations as a group.

    Some of my worst raiding experience has been when we've been working on the same boss for a while and vent is absent of it's usual inane banter and friendly jabs. The lifeblood was just sucked right out and it turned into that zombie job you haul your ass to everyday to sit in a box doing the same repetitive task over and over again with your peers. Focus was lost, and while it wasn't the same person making some stupid never before done mistake, no one was on the same wavelength.

  3. That's always a hard choice. We weren't doing well at Cho, either, but then something changed. Our mage wasn't frost, we did have a hunter, but our raid leader had been searching world of logs for Cho fights of similar composition to ours. He approached me first. The log he cited was a resto druid who'd 2-healed it with a holy paladin, and it was a question regarding mastery vs haste, which I answered for him. But it lead to me talking to that resto druid, who said some things I took into our next raid... and omgah, it worked, because we got Cho'gall down that fight.

    What he told me was that when you are two-healing it, the pressure is really on... but not for the healers, it's for the dps. They must execute perfectly, keep the corruption stacks down, dont stand in crap and get the adds down... and if we did that we'd cruise through that fight..

    And then we did it. It got better each time, and 5-6 attempt, he was down. Was it because I told our dps they had to be at their absolute peak with only two healers? I don't know, all I know is that it suddenly clicked. Later that night we topped that by getting Al'Akir, too.

    I wish I could give you your click moment, Ker, I really do... now all that's left is for me to wonder about the small probability of us downing Nef with only two raid sessions left to go before 4.2 :;sigh::

  4. This is one of my hardest things to understand. I enter a raid ready to heal. Healing is the most fun thing in the game for me. I get mild satisfaction of seeing what drops off the boss and what I get to shard. But the healing is why I'm there. So after the hundredth wipe on the same boss, I'm still just as excited to keep healing for the hundredth and first attempt.

    I don't know anyone else who thinks like this. I can see that people lose their motivation sometimes, but other times I’m really bad at noticing. If only more people could idk what I do, and memorize exact layouts of places like I do, haha. Glad I’m not leading the raid I’d prolly try the boss way too many times.

  5. Sometimes ya gotta break things up. It is natural for a person to want to feel success. To feel like they are winning. (Charlie Sheen needs to feel it more than others.) Breaking things up after a steady stream of set backs (they aren't failures) requires a new steady stream of success.

    Leadership requires making some decisions, but it also can mean seeing what the others think. If a majority of folks need a break, then take it. Go have some fun. Like previous poster's have said, go do silly things. Have fun again, recharge the battery or an hour or so and then hit the big bad monster again.

  6. @Koalabear: Yeah I've thought about doing a musical raid, which I started back in Kara. I'm having a harder time thinking of songs for the current raid bosses though.

    @Vermis: While we have pro tips galore, we are certainly not pro gamers. :) You are totally right that emotions affect performance and focus.

    @Kayeri: I am really torn with whether I was just pushing a raid group that just can't do Cho. If anyone has done Chogall without a frost DK, shammy, or hunter, I'd love to know.

    @Sakaki: Awww well unfortunately I think most of us are not like you. But that's what is hard about a raid right? Bringing together people who think and act differently, people who are motivated differently?

  7. Note to self: Next time write in Word or Notepad, not in Firefox. When you accidentaly close the tab your entire wall of text (>2 pages) is gone.

    I've rewrote the core of it, if you want me to elaborate on certain things just drop a line and I will expand the point.


    I have dealed with this problem a lot and I generally made the wrong decision. During my time as a raid leader I have continously banged my head against the wall which burned out a few guildies who ended up leaving the guild. I regret that my actions have costed them their enjoyment in the game I can't do anything about that anymore. At the same time it has given me the knowledge of what to do.

    As I accidentily closed the tab earlier I'll go through my main points briefly. As said: if you want a more detailed explanation just drop a line.

    * Do NOT keep banging your head against the wall if your raid does not support it. The enjoyment of a possible kill is NOT worth the loss of players you burn out and might lose over this. The fact that your guild is not a hardcore raiding guild only strengthens this point.

    * Do NOT frontload your easier content that also tends to be more enjoyable. It gives you something you can switch to when you are struggling.

    * Do NOT spend entire nights on a boss: It just demoralizes your raid and the extra progress is minimal. I would recommend taking a "we'll do this for an hour and then move on". You'll slowly learn the encounter without wearing down your raid. You improve every time because you not only play the encounter more often you also get more gear every week.

    * Do NOT waste your hour arguing on tactics. Not only does it cost time, it also demoralizes your raid. Prepare your raid and discuss your tactic to use beforehand: If you can't work out an agreement do something like "we'll do your idea tonight, see how it goes and then evaluate afterwards". Not to say you should do the same thing the entire raid but during a raid your tactic changes should be minor deviations, not complete changes of direction.

    Now we had the general theory now onto the Cho'Gall specifics.

    * It is likely your problem is with either controlling the adds after they spawn or with controlling where the adds spawn to begin with.

    Before they spawn:
    * You will want to make sure they
    spawn at the corrent spot. The closer you force them together at the entrance the better.
    * I just made a quick drawing from my memory of where we placed things but my memory might not be perfect. I stopped playing since February so I have not seen the fight for a few months.
    * Is the link for the Image. It is possible that I remembered the spawn order (first left, then right) wrong: if you then reverse.
    * You will want to kill adds #1 and #4 against the wall instead of free from it like in the drawing. It gives you more room to move around if needed.

    After they spawn:
    * You will want a dedicated person to slow the adds and from my experience the best to use for that is a Moonkin, if you have one. When using a Moonkin make sure he has not only specced into Fungal Growth but also uses the Hurricane Glyph.

    And to end of with another repeat of myself earlier on: I accidentily ate my earlier post which is why this is a bit brief. If you want me to elaborate on a point just say so.

  8. Another tip (since YOU are a druid) is for you to use your mushrooms on the adds as well. Our resto druid does that and it does help.

    Just out of curiosity, what strat are you guys using?

  9. For a ten man, I believe Cho'gall is much easier than Nef. We've been downing Cho'gall for about 6 weeks and we.... aren't downing Nefarion. Our raid makeup isn't really perfect for him, we have to balance the raid groups in weird ways, we have interrupt issues.

    On the other hand it could be fun to just go in and see someone new!

    I can't remember if you've done Al'Akir. If you haven't, consider going to him instead. There's tricky positioning issues but getting thrown off is fun!

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