Tuesday, July 16, 2013

3.18. Know Your Role

Blain shows off his Vengeful Nether Drake,
Shattrath City

The End To Bending

"Why can’t I see the officer forums any more?"

"Because you're not an officer anymore. That should have been easy to figure out."

I waited to see if I'd get some push back; no response. I clarified further.

"It's all or nothing now. If you're an officer, you need to meet the commitments I've listed out."

"I already told you I can't commit to every Friday and Sunday."

"Ok, well...??" I didn't need to finish my sentence. He got it.

"Yeah, but I can still help out."

I took a deep breath.

"Look, part of what I'm doing here with the restructure is trying to nip that double standard in the bud. When Wrath launches in a couple weeks, the new ranks will require officers to be present both nights of the week in raids. You were the one that told me you weren't comfortable committing to that kind of a schedule in Wrath. That's cool. You can retire a free man. But now I need other officers to fill those shoes, and they are committing to that schedule. So, they are the ones that benefit from those perks."

Blain chuckled at what most certainly appeared to him as a sudden overnight change in formality.

"I'm not asking for invite or kick privileges. I just think that I can still give you some advice here and there."

I wanted to bend the rules. But bending is what got me in trouble in the past.

"Hey, I'm all for it, but right now, I don't have a pseudo-officer rank available. And if I go bending the rules for someone, you know how that will come back and bite me in the ass. Someone will bitch about how 'Blain gets special treatment', or they'll whine about how they have to follow the rules but you don't. I've been fighting off double standards for four years, now. I gotta do it right this time."

He took a deep breath in Vent and gave me one of those delayed "alright" responses, the kind that dripped with "you're making a big mistake" undertones. I didn't want to cut Blain out of the officer channels and forums. He had a lot of value to deliver, especially in the raid leadership advice department. But when he told me he was stepping down from the responsibilities of raid leadership at the launch of Wrath, I had to walk-the-walk...which meant full demotion. Officers would be treated no differently than Raiders. As much as it pained me to.

If an opportunity arose where I could slip Blain under-the-radar into leadership legitimately, we'd revisit.

From Class to Role

My initial attempt at rebooting the guild with a new outlook on the game seemed reasonably successful. There were no mass exodus to speak of, no attempt to overthrow me and take over the guild vault. Players seemed content and excited for the next tier of content. There was no sign of the dreaded "grass-is-greener" syndrome which plagued our best players in the past; players who felt their effort and skills went unacknowledged. On the contrary, the best and brightest of my crew were being identified, gaining promotions, seeing more raids -- they were earning prestige and they were proud of what they had accomplished. They were proud to carry themselves as one of the Elite of Descendants of Draenor, and strove to fulfill its duties. I was satisfied that it kept them returning. This was, after all, the long-term goal: Build a solid foundation of reliable, skilled players who were fiercely loyal to raiding and progression. This foundation would support the weight of raiders unable to deliver the same commitment, but still wished to participate and see content. This was the yin and yang that made Descendants of Draenor work; the secret sauce that allowed us to compete with hardcore guilds without encumbering our players with an oppressive schedule.

But there was room for improvement.

Transitioning into Wrath from TBC, we still clung to the age-old Class Officer paradigm first proposed in Vanilla. Each class had its own officer, overseeing the troops that shared the same class designation. In a guild where we had enough players to field two full 40-Man raids per week, there was a huge number of players that had to be managed. The only logical way to accomplish this was to delegate responsibility. And in those days, my officers had officers. But this paradigm had no business in the new world of 25-Man raiding -- our headcount no longer demanded an officer pool of that magnitude. It was time to adjust this way of thinking. When 3.1 launched and everyone's mind was focused on Ulduar and the secrets it kept beneath the storm peaks of Northrend, I went back to the drawing board and pulled the trigger on the decision to move to Role Officers.

The concept of a Role Officer wasn't new to us; we had been running with a Healing Officer throughout Vanilla (Haribo) and The Burning Crusade (Breginna). It was one person whose sole responsibility to keep their group organized. For healers this was essential, especially in the early days of raiding. Very specific assignments had to be made for specific players -- these players would be healing the main tank only, these players here would be responsible for FFA (Free-For-All, healing anyone that needs it). And for Healing assignments, the officer had to be smart enough to know who their team was, what each class's strength or weakness was, and more importantly...which players were stronger than others. My healing officers had a great track record because they knew better than to assign unskilled players to roles of significant importance. The raid leader didn't need to bother with the granular details of the assignments; the healing officer would handle it on their own, making fixes and adjustments as needed. The healers even had their own dedicated channel to discuss assignments and work out their own strategy, without distracting the rest the raid.

It was a clean system that worked well for our Healers. It was now time to make it happen for our Ranged, our Melee, and our Tanks.

Your New Leaders

The first order of business was to tackle the logical promotions. I started with Cheeseus, the new rogue who I'd considered for promotion since the early weeks of Naxxramas. He approached me with my own concerns; we were on the same page. We both agreed that we needed a single unified leader to guide us down the path of efficiency and success. He would become that new raid leader. Next, I had to assign a healing officer. I needed someone I could trust and whom I felt approached the role with a fastidious eye. Unfortunately, my healing officer from The Burning Crusade, Breginna, was no longer available to commit to the schedule I demanded of officers -- every Friday and Sunday, no exceptions. This turned my attention towards Kelden, a reasonably new Shaman to DoD who had proven himself over many Naxxramas runs that he fit the bill. Like Dalans, Kelden also had little patience for ignorance and stupidity -- he wanted healing done a certain way and had no problems telling other players how to do it. Meanwhile, the ranged DPS would continue to be handled by Eacavissi, who had formerly held the title of Warlock officer. When I gave him a list of his newly refined responsibilities, his concern to me was that he knew nothing of Mage, Hunter, Elemental Shaman or Boomkin intricacies. I quelled his fears -- managing the role is less about what the perfect Fire Mage rotation is, and more about ensuring all the Mages know what they must do when the shit hits the fan.

On paper, the new structure was as clear as the Durotar sky: one melee officer, one ranged officer, one healing officer, and one tank officer, all reporting to one raid leader...whom in turn, reported to me. The problem: I didn't have the all the heads I needed to fill those roles...at least, heads that I could trust. Some players were going to have to wear multiple hats. By this time, we were taking two to three tanks per raid, and in multiple discussions, Cheeseus had expressed to me that there was little need beyond that. So, did it make sense to promote someone randomly, just to manage three tanks per week, two of which would be myself and Dalans? It was overkill, so I vetoed a Tank officer promotion. Dalans and I would be more than enough to manage a single additional tank each week. That left me to make a final assignment of melee officer. Nobody in my eyes was quite ready for this promotion yet. And when I brought it up to Cheeseus, he expressed to me that he was far more comfortable spoon feeding players himself than relying on someone he didn't know or couldn't trust. I proposed that the logical solution was to have Cheeseus himself run the melee officer role while leading the broad group at the same time. He concurred.

After the promotions were complete, two previous officers remained jobless. Both players were important to Descendants of Draenor, yet neither had a responsibility in this new structure. How I planned on handling these remaining two would come down to a single deciding factor:


Blain said...

Yep, I have to say, after that 6 month break it was definitely a different ship, haha. Those days during Wrath were very tough for me to keep my thoughts to myself after running the show for so long! Lots and LOTS of whispers at that time. :)

I lost my Tyrant rank too (for the time being (OMG SPOILERS!!)). :(

Shawn Holmes said...


Quit giving away the story!

Kelden said...

It's all down hill from here. =(

Brett Easley said...

"Dalans and I would be more than enough to manage a single additional tank each week."

You mean one additional tank each week would be able to manage Dalans and I. ;)

Ryley Foshaug said...

@ Kelden - It goes uphill for a while longer before it starts to slide downhill and to this day I still feel our single biggest problem was that we ran out of content and got bored. It took them way too long to release Icecrown Citadel and then it was subpar compared to Ulduar.

Then again my perspective is mostly from the view of the Eh Team and less from 25-man. 25-man was my breadwinner and a great experience but 10-man was my passion.

Dalans said...

"You look like a Brett Easley."

Also, typical Blain crapping in the punch bowl...