Preface – The restructuring of an Elite Guild
In the past week, the best guild on our server lost a significant chunk of their main raiders. The guild has been around since launch on the same server, and has captured 90 percent of the server firsts that actually matter. They have, for the horde side, always been the guild that can get almost anyone they want with the correct amount of persuasion. At the same time, the demands of a top 50 guild are a bit different. Skill is obviously something that one should have prior to applying to their guild, however the time commitment is the true demand and the difference between great wow players and hard core raiders.
What happened to cause such a exodus of a very stable and successful guild? From the outside looking in, my perception was that they lost too much of their core management. A few Paladin Healers quit the game for good, leaving a vacancy to be filled. The fact that one of the paladins was their raid leader compounded the issue. Then, a few days ago, I noticed that both of their main tanks quit as well. Between the loss of their MTs and their raid leader, the hard core players that only cared about server firsts, what gear they got, and how fast they got it, jumped ship and went to one of the guilds competing for second place on the server.
Regardless of the true reasons for four key people to quit the game, the loss of that much “upper management” is a huge blow to a guild. As an officer in my guild, I ask myself what happened to them, and what can I do to prevent this from happening to us. One of the things that my guild has going for us is that we offer a unique perspective on end game raiding that no other guild on our server can. We clear in two nights what the other guilds on the server do in 4 to 5 nights. Our leadership, planning, and active management allows for this, not to mention the fact that we have some extremely skilled raiders.
This blog isn’t really about guild structure, management, and direction, if you wanted to read about that, you would have clicked on the /officerchat link to the right, instead of reading this. So why do I bring up this anecdote? I believe that the example of guild management and a strategy for raider retention is on a large scale a very important concept to understand. And, if applied properly to your core tanking team, will benefit you guild immensely in the long run. For those of you who are no longer tanks, please excuse the following hubris.
I am fairly certain that there are two main cores to any raiding guild with respect to performance and success. They are the healing core and the tanking core. My job as an officer and a Main Tank is to ensure the proper management of that tanking core so that everyone is playing at the highest level they possibly can. Tanks are a fickle and temperamental group of people in end game raiding guilds. They all think, and are probably right, that they carry the raids through progression. As a result the management of the group as a whole is essential to their opinion of the guild, the officers and the success of the raids. The most important thing to remember, especially if you still think you are back in Vanilla WoW, is that there is no main tank.
THERE IS NO MAIN TANK…
This is a novel concept that, if implemented and embraced to the fullest, will make your tanking core a powerful force. Each tank has their strengths and their weaknesses, and you have to leverage them at all times. This means that you need to comprehend what each tanks abilities do, what make them unique, and what make them a powerful asset. This does not just mean you know what icebound fortitude does either, you have to understand what the person behind the computer is great at, and leverage that to its fullest.
Our guild has four tanks that are geared to the teeth. As of two weeks ago, we were all in the top 10 best geared tanks on the server, and our server has 20 plus guilds that farm Ulduar every week. At any given time, we run with a Warrior, a Death knight, and/or a Paladin, and none of us are “THE” main tank, we all are MTs. The concept of compromise and delegation is something that, if embraced, will keep all of your MTs happy and content that they are the focal point of an encounter and the pivotal factor on a clean kill or a wipe.
Understanding the mechanics of fights and incorporating the strengths of each of your tanks in each fight will ensure that each tank feels that they are doing the best job possible. This is once again a battle of opportunity cost when it comes to managing your tanks. Even though a paladin may be the best at something in an encounter, he or she may not be the best choice for the job. You have to understand who is the “least worse” for any given role and give them that assignment. What do I mean by that, well if you have both a deathkinght and a paladin tank that are good at tanking XT, which one of them is the better choice for the adds? Is it easier for a paladin to mitigate all of the add damage, or a dk? This is a simplified example to a difficult problem, but it gives you an idea of how to manage people.
Tank Rotations, Confidence, and Retention of Knowledge
Furthermore, we never really have a “Go-To” tank for hard mode bosses. Sure there are some bosses that are perfect for DKs, and some where paladins shine, you have to ensure that your tanks take turns, so that they feel that they are an essential part of the raid, and not just a trash tanking minion. This rotation benefits the raid as a whole in the long run more than you would think. In my experiences tanking in Pre-BC, I was the first off tank for a guild. Our main tank was always there and always tanked all of the “tank and spank” bosses. One day his work schedule changed and I was standing face to face with Nefarian.
Sure, I had been a tank for a long time, nef was past farm status, and I had all the necessary gear from the instance, however I lacked the confidence. As a result, the encounter was much harder than it should have been. If you build the confidence in each of your tanks equally, you never have to rely on one or even two people to carry the burden of main tanking. This philosophy sets you up for success as well as very smooth transitions when one of your tanks is not present for raids. If all of this is embraced and practiced on a weekly basis you can prevent the larger exodus from the departure of a keystone of your raid.
In the end, your goal as a manager in your guild is to ensure the success and progression of that guild. By ensuring that the collective knowledge of the tanks is not lost due to a departure, you must equally share all of the experiences so that if one part of the core leaves, another can fill the gap and learn from the veteran tanks. This will be one of the keys to consistent and successful progression.