After Throne of Thunder we found ourselves in the middle of two very distinct situations. If on one hand it had been our most stressful tier where we even got close to being unable to raid, on the other, it had been our best tier yet. We naturally wanted to take attention away from the troubles we had encountered and stay motivated by looking forward to the next tier but with the Summer came even more stress and more attrition, and with a roster already in shambles, we started losing some of our raiders. It was very clear that at that point, our main priority was to reorganize and rebuild our roster in the hope of gaining some stability and if some of the members poached by other guilds weren’t a part of our plans, we also lost some fundamental players that we planned on building the new roster around. However, like anything in this game, we didn’t have the time nor the inclination to stand around sulking and after years of claiming that no individual was ahead of the guild, the time was just right to act on it.
The Warlock problem persisted and we still had Lei Shen to farm and gear up so that was a good start. This time we didn’t have progress looming over our heads and we could deal with some wipes or alts in the raid so we had time to think about what we wanted and look for someone to fit the profile. We had already contacted many Warlocks during progress so there weren’t a lot left but we thought that we could try something a little different and, since we didn’t have the pulling power to poach from guilds around our rank, maybe we would have the chance to find someone good and ambitious in lower ranked guilds or appear as a solution for unsettled players in guilds the same level as us.
However, the rest of the roster also needed some deep remodelling. We needed players, both in number and in skill, and we needed to gain new references we could build the guild around. We did it in two parts: firstly we had a very long, collective look at who we had and what we were missing so we could try to look exactly for what we needed. There were players we were happy with but we had very few people we could rely completely in all aspects of the game. If a member was great at numbers he’d lack communication, or if a player would appear as complete, he’d not be able to cope with attendance. We needed to make sure that we had options for all sectors.
The second part was the recruitment itself. Above all, we were looking for players that could fit in, integrate themselves with the guild and what the guild represented and stick around for the long run. We wanted to make sure that the next roster would be capable of progressing instead of being constantly recycled and starting from scratch every tier. Gear and experience became secondary. We wanted level-headed, intelligent players, capable of putting enough commitment and being humble enough to not put themselves above the rest of the members, in a guild that was arguably going through a time of crisis.
To say our plan worked was an understatement. Some of the people we recruited during this period eventually became core members of our team and perhaps ironically, our recruitment today is being handled by one of them, coincidentally someone that joined with no gear nor experience.
The start wasn’t promising. First, recruitment failed and even if we had, for the first time, an organized effort to scout and approach players, the ones we would approach wouldn’t be interested, even if they were unhappy with their current guild. To make things worse, we kept leaking members including people we had taken for granted for the next tier. Luckily for us, the next patch took a long time to arrive giving us the much needed breather to prepare and work on it. Initially, we were reluctant about the players we got in but since they had been recruited based either on their profile, their ability to communicate (which we severely lacked) and/or their ability to do high numbers, we knew we could work with them and that’s what we did. To say our plan worked was an understatement. Some of the people we recruited during this period eventually became core members of our team and perhaps ironically, our recruitment today is being handled by one of them, coincidentally someone that joined with no gear nor experience.
We also increased our schedule slightly in order to get more competitive against guilds around our rank. This is something we have gradually done every tier since, with very positive results. We also tried to set the example by changing some things in the administration of the guild. We delegated specific tasks to some people for the first time ever, making it less of a group effort and more of an individual one. By doing this we hoped we could communicate things more transparently to the rest of our team, evaluate the work done by our officers and have more accountability if things went wrong to make sure people knew we didn’t have immunity. We also enforced strict rules for PTR for the first time ever, demanding attendance, performance and effort from everyone involved and showing the first signs of establishing some things we still do, like scheduled meetings to discuss each individual boss as a group, before delegating the strategy to one person. We were very inexperienced in this aspect of raiding, and in a way still are, so we tried to copy the things better guilds were doing. Testing has always had limited value but the results were positive and we managed to share the feeling that despite not being a great experience, it was a much needed one, with the rest of the guild.
…the one thing we realized towards the end of the tier was that when you raid this long in the same guild, you either die a hero or live long enough to… start seeing the importance of precedents?
Finally, the one thing we realized towards the end of the tier was that when you raid this long in the same guild, you either die a hero or live long enough to… start seeing the importance of precedents? Yes, this became very clear towards the end of the following tier. If until then we had been doing things that felt “right” since we had a lot of experience, we realized that consistency was going to be needed in order to maximize long term results and for that, every single decision had to be justified. If exceptions are made when you have a sustainable roster for long enough it will always come back to you as a new obstacle. From that moment on we started taking each decision a lot more seriously and making sure that everything we did would not only have minimal repercussions to the day to day of the guild, but also be publicly justified with the well being of the guild in mind.
Since then we are yet to encounter an obstacle that has forced us to radically change the way we do and see things. The changes we went through at the end of Mists of Pandaria set up the foundation that we would build on all the way until the end of Warlords of Draenor. Once again, we finished Siege of Orgrimmar with a better rank and our first top 20 position. We had an incredible tier, atmosphere was finally the priority for almost everyone in the guild and while there were things we wanted to change, we felt we were on the right track. The results from that tier still resonate today and I’ll go over our next step in the next and final entry of this blog post.