Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Officer Hour: When to bench

For most hardcore raiding guilds it's easy to decide who goes to a raid and who is benched. The players with the higher numbers, better survivability and class skill are taken over those who aren't up to their level but what casual raiding guilds?
It's tough when you see one member dragging the rest of your crew down. What's even worse is when it's someone you like. How do you walk the line between being a results driven jerk and a pushover who never gets a boss down? In the words of Mr. Spock "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." I'm not a big Star Trek fan but there's wisdom in those words. One the other side of the coin we have, courtesy of Alexandre Dumas, "All for one and one for all!"

Depending on the size of your raids you have 10-25 people counting on each other to do there job. If one person, no matter your personal opinion of them, is keeping the rest back then the only fair thing to do is cut them... right? 9 times out of 10 I would say yes but there are certain exceptions that I think apply. These are especially true for the less than hardcore guilds. Here are a few questions you should ask before deciding to bench a player.

Can the base numbers to complete fights be reached with this person present?
If the answer is yes then you may want to take some of the following questions under consideration. If the answer is no then the player should be benched. If you can't meet the requirements for a fight then raiding is just an excuse to spend money on repair bills.

Does the player bring an intangible to the raid?
Maybe you have a player that sucks at dps but keeps the entire raids morale up through their sense of humor. Sometimes it's worth the sacrifice in numbers to bring the guild comedian. It doesn't just apply to humor though. Maybe there's someone who really lends to group focus or strategy. There are many things other than numbers that a player can bring to a raid.

Is the player a Tank/Healer/DPS
I never let questionable players take on a tanking or healing role. Tanks and Healers are the linchpins of a raid, you have a weak one and the wheels come off. I'm not trying to marginalize the role of DPS but if one dies the attempt keeps going, but if a tank or a couple of healers die it's generally a wipe.

Is there potential?
Can this player be taught? Is it someone you've talked to and tried to help but just won't learn or is it a newer player or someone new to the class just learning the ropes. In general if I see improvement in a player I'm more inclined to take them on a raid as it will help develop them into an asset.

How to say no.
I'd like to reiterate the point that all of the above is moot unless you have the minimum to complete an encounter. Math doesn't lie; 100,000k raid wide dps on a fight that requires 105,000 flat out will not cut it. Many casual raiding guilds are tight-knit and some people will take personal offense to being benched.

During the several years I was a GM I found it caused far fewer problems if I or another officer talked to the person one on one beforehand and explained the situation. Don't be accusatory or hostile but point out that they don't have the numbers to complete the fight.

With most people you'll have things under control at this point but some take it hard when you bench them. For those people it's handy to keep data on what a fight needs and what their current output is. I've never had anyone persist after being shown concrete evidence that completion is not possible with them in the raid. Remember kids communication keeps drama from rearing its ugly head.

How to say yes.
Carrying a dps, especially in a ten man, makes the raid more difficult and can lead to some friction between raiders. If someone takes issue with a person being brought in the best thing to do, once again in a one on one situation, is to explain yourself clearly to the offended player. I generally say something to the effect of ,  "The fight can be done with them in the group and they've done or bring x,y and z that earns them a spot." Don't make them feel like an a-hole for not wanting to bring the player but point out the strengths of the player in question and your reasoning for wanting them along. I've had people fight me on this one before but usually after a bit of explanation they calm down enough for the raid to continue on as scheduled.

Remember numbers aren't everything but they are something. Minimums must be met but exceptions can also be made. At the end of the day raiding is about getting together and accomplishing something with friends. You should do everything you can to facilitate that.


  1. Yes, on all points.

    Coaching players to improve or weighing their raiding strengths against DPS weaknesses/awareness issues works really well for long-term raid cohesiveness. For a smaller raiding community it can be a morale-killer to boot friends in favor of endless new recruits.. not to mention recruiting is harder when you're small and picky.

    Excellent post!

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for the comment. It's something I've had to deal with several times as a raid leader and a GM and I figured some folks might like a little advice from a non-megaraidguild perspective.


Popular Posts