Bring the Player Not the Class: A Raid Leaders Perspective
Raid leading can be one of the most stressful positions in the game, its that unspoken position most of the time in guilds. In WoW classic you needed 40 people, getting those 40 was intense, sometimes you would bring an undergeared turd just to fill out, because facing facts in the classic Warcraft dungeons it was not unheard of for 20 people to carry the other 20 through.
Then we got the Burning Crusade expansion for Warcraft which first introduced the 10 man raid of Karazhan. But beyond that the attendance requirements jumped to 25, this created great sources of conflict making the leap from 10 to 25 man was a challenge in and of itself. This was due to being forced to have certain classes for crowd control, specific number of tanks, had to have a priest or a paladin on certain fights, which left a lot of folks on the outside looking in. This created huge rifts for many many guilds including the hardcore ones. In fact looking over it all many big name guilds eventualy split up over the drama caused by the switch and the need for specific classes, one of the most notable hardcore guilds was Death and Taxes (granted they had other issues, but this certainly helped contribute to their initial split).
Then Wrath of the Lich King was released. With the latest Warcraft expansion, Blizzard introduced the idea of “Bring the player not the class”. This idea was great, with several exceptions. Many fights were DPS races, and some classes couldn’t put out the dps of other classes. Some fights favored more AoE healers, which left Paladins on the outside looking in. Many fights required more ranged dps than melee, which left others on the outs. Then of course if you didn’t have a Shaman you had to bring them no matter what because of “Heroism”.
Also in WotLK, Blizzard introduced 2 tracks for raiding, 25 man and 10 man versions of the same instance. Many guilds jumped into 10 man Naxxramas the moment they had 10 folks hit level 80. Then the others who hit 80 either had to wait for a 2nd group to start going, get lucky getting in, or wait for the 25 mans to start.
And at first it was bring the player not the class, because you picked anyone available, anyone willing to learn some new content. Then once the guild grew, and you had your choice from 30-35 people for 25 man raids it became more
of do we have too many melee, do we have enough healers, do we need another tank. It stopped being about bring the player not the class. Though it seems Blizzard is trying to do that again, however we still run into the same problems it seems where you need a minimum of a certain type of class.
So you read through the ramblings this far, I promise there is going to be a point. The point is you may have brought the best person for that particular role, however they may not have been the “best”. What I mean by that is maybe they knew their class inside and out, could do their job better than most, but there was something wrong. Their attitude, maybe they were rude to people, had a general pessimistic outlook on things, blamed OP classes, pointed out flaws in raid design, or complained about nerfs to certain specs. It is these things that become poisonous to raid leaders, where we have to find a way to overcome that attitude and keep folks looking at the game as fun, and keeping that positive outlook. However these poisonous individuals will always be around, in any guild you have its a fact of life, like death and taxes, people with poor attitudes will always be there.
Now I will use the term “Poisonous Raiders” and there are a few categories for them, lets break them down
1. The Stupor-Star
This person is an all-star player, knows their class inside and out, knows the raid, knows everything about the game, but they lack one very important skill, people skills. They are pessimistic even if they don’t mean to be. They come off as
rude. They come off as hypocritical. They harp on lesser skilled players, they bad mouth the leaders, the raid in general. This attitude is contagious to others, and causes other raiders to become more pessimistic which in general causes the raid to start slipping, you start noticing as the leader your raid is struggling a little and this person just starts to make comments in ventrilo or team speak about how players aren’t performing, how no one is following directions, etc. Well you get the idea and usually the raid turns south pretty quick.
2. The Finger Pointer
This is the person who is in general a good player, but when things go around its always someone else or something else to blame. Oh that boss is bugged, the raid isn’t tuned, the other classes are OP, my class was nerfed, I have too much lag, my computer sucks. It just gets to be one excuse after another of why they cannot perform, and the tone and attitude is always negative which negativity is like the bubonic plague, all it takes is 1 rat to spread it, and next thing you know you have to quarantine off the entire block.
3. The Self Loather
This is an interesting person and is somewhat tied to the finger pointer, but instead of blaming others, its always woah is them. They aren’t good enough, they suck, they are trying a new spec and aren’t confident, they are sorry for not paying attention. So with them its one excuse after another, but its always them, and eventually people just start wondering why we bring that person to a raid, it seems they are never happy and generally don’t even want to be there because they constantly complain about themselves whether through chat or vent.
As the raid leader its not only your job to push the raid faster and harder than they ever have before, overcome obstacles, but also keep up good morale. Now you also have to deal with the negativity from the 3 Poisonous Raider types. Its a tough juggling act to play for sure.
So the question is if these poisonous raiders are good, can you replace them per Blizzard’s policy of bring the player and not the class?
I contend that you can, and even should, especially if no matter what you do you cannot change their attitudes. As these folks will spread their attitudes to others and only make things worse. These are the folks that also cause the most drama, and often times will cause dissention in the ranks. Recruitment to replace them is in most times your best choice and option, as you can’t let constant negativity infect your other members, it will make you less productive.
In my travels and raids in World of Warcraft I have found that being around good people, fun people generally make the raids more enjoyable. Because at the end of the day its not about beating content (though a nice by-product), not about loot, its about your social interaction with your online friends and family who make a MMO enjoyable. Being around positive people is contagious, and I have been in raids where we have wiped for over 5 hours on the same content, and during that 6th hour because of great attitudes and great comradery we have overcome the challenge and has made the victory that much sweeter. I have also been on the other side of the coin where I have been in raids where we brought the best of the best despite their attitudes and beating new content was good, but you didn’t get the cheers you get on the other side.
I personally have led great raids, good raids, mediocre raids and horrible raids. I have been doing this now for almost 5 years and can say that being in a guild where the people are mean, aggressive and it was just no fun. At the end of the day I would rather enjoy the people I play with day in and out, with Blizzards 10 and 25 man tracks they basically have provided this option that you could do what you want with whom you want.
At the end of the day good attitudes and positive people are who you really want. Good people will make good players, it will make folks want to help each other out, it will make people feel they can ask questions. So absolutely bring the player not the class, but make sure that player has a great attitude and is going to contribute to your guild more than just a warm body filling a raid spot. Because you want your “A-Team” and that A stands for people with great attitudes.