Stacking Raids for Success, and the politics of raiding

Tribute to Mad Skill!

I wanted to talk a bit about guild management again today, as it was an issue that plagued our otherwise great night last night. This is really in direct correlation with the great news that we got down A Tribute to Mad Skill last night with 47 attempts remaining. We ran into a few problems with positioning on Anub’arak. Our ranged and healers were all standing on the other side of a permafrost when Anub burrowed and as a result were spiking the add tank, leading to his untimely death and a quick and painful wipe.

Screen shot 2009-09-18 at 8.36.30 AM

The fact that we got this achievement along with the methods that we employed to get it were the main source of controversy and hurt feelings last night. A few weeks ago when we got our A tribute to skill achievement and saw that there were T9 trophies in the tribute chest, the officers of my guild started to discuss how we would handle this 10 man now that there were obvious benefits to the 25 man raid. After a lengthy discussion we had come to the conclusion that stacking a raid with some of our best players to get to the tribute chest in as few wipes as possible was the best for the gearing and progress of our 25 man raid.

Our reasoning behind this was simple, or at least we thought it was. If you balance your two 10 man groups for the week with half of your best players and half of your average players, you will have two teams that clear the instance in about 10 to 15 wipes, ensuring that both of your teams get a tribute chest with 2 trophies in it. This gives you a net gain of four trophies on the week. If you stack a raid with your very best tank, healers, and dps, leaving the other raid with average to above average players, you will have a four trophy tribute chest and a two trophy tribute chest, giving you a total of 6 trophies, a 2 tier piece gain. Sounds simple enough right?

The downfall of our assumptions

I want to start out by clarifying that when I say our best raiders versus our average raiders, we are talking about the difference between people that pull 7k dps and 6k dps, our two most capable healers, to two healers that are almost as capable but have not been around as much, or a pally tank (myself) and a warrior tank, both with 50k raid buffed hp, descent avoidance, and the skill to lead the encounters.

So we split our groups up, and when we dropped the people that we generally consider the cream of the crop into the stacked raid, we noticed that we were very ranged centric. This is not to say that our melee are not the cream of the crop, it was just the selection that we had online at the time. This lead us to make a few choices for the last few spots. We needed a dps/healer hybrid that could do both depending on the fight and we needed to fill one last spot. Our choice boiled down to do we take our best DK, who has 95% raid attendance and does sensational dps, or do we take both of our best warlocks who also have 95+ percent attendance but will benefit more from the buffs that the raid was providing.

In the end we sat one of our best raiders, and left him with the other group. Our main group was comprised of a Pally and Druid tank, Pally and Priest healer, with a boomkin offspecing as necessary, Ret paladin, two locks, a mage, and an elemental shaman. Our second group was Warrior and a DK tank, a Resto druid and Priest, healing, an enhancement shaman offspec healing as necessary, a dk and arms warrior, two mages, and a lock. We felt that we put together two strong groups that would succeed.

We were wrong

The group I was in was on the twins when the officers started getting whispers. We had one shot every boss, and in an exceedingly quick and efficient fashion. The second group was wiping on Gormok! Apparently the healers were not really executing the fight well and they were dying to snowbolds, fires, and what not. Eventually we told the raid to call it and we would get some different healers in there the next day, as our best holy priest and second best paladin healer were not online that night.

Screen shot 2009-09-18 at 9.26.12 AM

Thats when the real complaints started rolling in. We three shot anub, got our shiny epics, including a brand new tanking weapon for yours truly (Effective health weapon baby!) and we were in good spirits, however the other raid was no where near as happy as we were. After we started talking to the raiders in the other group we started to understand what they were upset with. They felt that we stacked the main group (rightfully so, as we had), and that they were all given the short end of the stick.

Feelings of exclusion and playing the blame game

After we realized that we had a bigger issue on our hands that originally thought, we got everyone from both groups into one channel in vent and we started to talk it over. The officers started out by telling everyone our reasoning behind the imbalance in the two groups and we took accountability for the issues that were caused by this balance. Then we started to ask for feedback on why things went so wrong. As the people that were the most heated started talking about the problems, what was happening and why they were frustrated, a new picture was painted of what the root cause of all of their problems was. The healers were not doing their job. A resto druid was carrying the brunt of the tank healing, they had a resto shaman healing as well, and a priest that has played his class for a very long time was holy at the request of the officers (another thing we took accountability for).

They realized that the priest should have been disc, but not until after the officers brought the true issues to light. The problem with the raid was they they were so focused on getting the short end of the stick that they didnt try to play the game when it got tough, they just started making excuses. In the end we will not be running a stacked 10 man again (at the overall detriment to the gearing of our raid) so that everyone is happy. The tears of the few have fueled the change of the many.


5 Responses to “Stacking Raids for Success, and the politics of raiding”

  1. September 19, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Some of what you’re discussing is a little bit inevitable with progression-type 10-mans run in parallel with progression 25s. We set up 2 very balanced groups each time with 3 healers, 2 tanks, and 5 dps. However, we have 31 raiders on the roster, 4 of which are tanks, and 8 healers. For heroic 10s, half of the dps sit, and that’s not programmed to make them happy. It’s especially hard on low-synergy classes like mages and shadow priests. Our mages do an excellent job in 25mans, but there just isn’t room to squeeze them in to 10s for the most part, when a warlock brings the “scorch” debuff, as well as replenishment, as well as a health buff, as well as CoE. Boomkins are similarily strong, and at least one shaman in the raid is a must.

    In the end, we chose to stack 2 balanced groups for success, and will continue to build our 10s that way for the forseeable future. We have a couple of well geared alt-tanks, the two main healers who had to sit, and a geared alt-healer that have been doing an optional heroic 10 for dps that misses the main run, and how it goes almost entirely depends on what synergy they luck into, which is never particularily ideal, as most of the synergy classes are getting sucked into the main runs. Soon enough we’ll either outgear it to the point that the 3rd run grabs insanity, too, or we’ll bring the 3rd run into the fold and try and build the best 3 way synergy we can, because farming 3 cloaks a week beats farming 2. But farming 2 beats getting zero.

    We never even considered an “a team” and “b team” 10man raid, for a number of reasons. The first of which is that they’d be so close that we could improve both by swapping members around for better raid synergy. The second is that it doesn’t do raid morale any good if they feel like there’s an a-group and a b-group, it’s not very team-building.

    I actually think you’ll find you have better success this week going with not a “good group/average group” setup, but a “well built groups” setup. They don’t need to be perfect, just hit up the “majors”: Sunder, CoE, Replenishment, Fort, Kings, and the shaman-type that best fits your raid for heroism.

  2. September 20, 2009 at 9:48 am

    You need to have a stacked group if you want to progress anywhere. If you keep the groups even, you’ll have 2 groups failing week after week due to a few who can’t keep up the skill.

    Stack one group, swap out people as they get geared, and make note of the weak links each week. People won’t be happy about it, but hey, they have 10 players in their group, train them and make them better instead of whining about it. 15 players can’t be on the ‘A’ team, and they need to get over themselves. Not everyone can be the hero of the guild and invited to every single progression run.

    This is the part where the officers play mommy & daddy, and tell certain members ‘No’ and to pipe down. It sucks, but it has to be done if you want to plow through the raids.


    • September 20, 2009 at 11:19 am

      I’m totally with you, Sedge, you need to stack 10mans even more aggressively than 25s. But I think for a guild like Wrathy’s, which has cleared several 25man hardmodes, what to stack for success isn’t skill, but appropriate synergy. He should have a more than deep enough skill pool, having met the dps/tanking/healing checks on Gormok/Jaraxxus25 to run 2 separate Mad Skill runs in 10s. All that’s left is building them correctly to get it, and I don’t think that comes from “A-team” and “B-team”, so much as make a checklist for each group.

      Shield tank for Anub adds
      Heroism (Which automatically includes preferred haste totem, and spellpower totem)
      Sunder equivalent
      CoE equivalent
      2x interrupts
      Unleashed Rage equivalent

      Most of the other buffs qualify as minor. Hit all those, and you probably win. Miss any, and the dps checks get pretty unfriendly in a hurry. That does mean that your raiding boomkin always has a spot, and your mages are lucky to rotate through one spot per week between them. It’s a bit unfair, but on that you can blame Blizzard.

  3. 4 Wrathy
    September 24, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    A follow up to this post for you two if you are interested.

    We walked all over the 10 man Heroics last night. Honestly I think the issue was more of a lack of leadership, than a lack of gear or ability, or even to a lesser extend synergy. When we talked to the fail group last week, we started to ask questions regarding their struggles, and it became immediately obvious that there wasn’t a leader in the group. People knew what was wrong, however no one stood up to say, hey lets do this, or that.

    This week we planned it a bit differently, we split the officers up equally in both groups, and as a result, both groups got anub down with more than 46 attempts left. And really for my group the only two wipes we had were to people who had not seen the encounter enough. We had our best dps dk tanking, and he had to learn a bit before he got it down.

    With the introduction of leadership into the second group, we succeeded in alleviating the problems of last week. My group made it all the way to anub with out a wipe (but this is a trend since week 2), however the drastic improvement was noticeable when group two got Anub down with 46 attempts left, netting the guild 8 Trophies.

  4. September 24, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Wow, and leadership is one I should have thought of, too, it’s one we kind of do instinctually now.

    I’m the RL for Edge, and in our dual 10-mans I dump ALL of the other officers into the other one.

    Gratz on double-Mad Skill. Next week, Double Insanity.

    We’re still sort of working on that, the other group had a heartbreaking wipe on Anub due to everyone’s favorite “Oh, hey, I’m going to randomly reset targets mid kite and own somebody” bug. Our latest theory is “terrain issue/evade bug”, but it’s really hard to replicate.

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