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Guild Guide: Improving your guild's performance in World of Warcraft

How to help your guild get better when moving through content in World of Warcraft.

There's a new expansion for World of Warcraft in August, and that means a whole lot of additional content for your guild to take on as a team. Maybe you run a casual raiding group, maybe you prefer dungeons, maybe you're a PvP guild - it doesn't matter. No matter what sort of guild you're in, you've got stuff to do, and that means that it's time to make the rest of your guild get competent.

Yes, I know, you were expecting a "git gud" joke in there. No need to be so predictable.

Helping your fellow players get better is a lot harder than it might seem, though, and simply screaming at them to get better is not a strategy that works. You've seen it not work in countless pick-up groups, and it's just as unsuccessful on your friends. So here are some tips to help your guildmates get better at whatever content you intend to take on in World of Warcraft, whether it's high-level raiding or just weekly challenge runs on low pressure.

Make your intentions clear

This is something that's useful to set forth right away, For some players, any overtures that imply they need to get better at the game are met with disdain, like you can't possibly expect to have fun while focusing on improvement. These are, unfortunately, usually the people who are the worst part of the group, but that's neither here nor there. So it's important to outline your expectations for the group as a whole and for individual players.

Part of this is the play level you expect - flawless play, optimized specs, best possible gear, or solid play even with sub-optimal specs. But it's also important to outline what you're trying to do (help people get better) and what the expectations of a run are. You don't get to go on an improvement run and then complain that you're being asked to improve, and you don't get to whine when people don't want you on runs because you refuse to improve.

I do recommend setting aside designated practice/improvement runs for this sort of instruction. The point there is not progress so much as understanding - you all want to see how you're doing and see what areas you could stand to improve upon. Anyone heading along for a run like that knows that critique, analysis, and feedback are to be expected regardless.

Make sure everyone is on the same page for addons

Getting better at WoW requires a certain amount of data, and it also requires everyone to know what everyone else is doing. I'm not going to say that your group needs to necessarily be running a specific addon or voice chat application - maybe you all like Mumble, maybe you like Discord, maybe you think that Skype is all right for some reason. But if you're going to be using a voice chat app, you need to be using the same one, and you need to make it clear that you're doing so before the run happens.

The same goes for mods. If data from DBM is considered important to your group, everyone should have it installed and up to date. I've seen raids try to coordinate wherein some people have it and some people don't, and it's messier than just requiring it or leaving it to one side. "Recommended" mods usually aren't; have requirements you expect people to be using and expect no one to use anything that isn't required. It may be blunt, but it's more straightforward in the long run.

It's also important to consider that different mods lead to different environments, and there's some stuff that you might not need for your guild's environment. DPS meters, for example, are only useful for two things when trying to get better - seeing who is lagging behind in encounters that need people to produce more DPS, and distributing party members according to their strengths. If you're not running into those problems, you probably don't need them, and you might even want to have the meters only for people in charge of improving performance.

Recognize that there are different causes to problems

Let's say that you do have a DPS who is lagging behind the rest of the group by a significant margin. Your first step is to sit that member down and figure out why. There are lots of possible reasons, and very few of them are just "get better." Only one is, in fact.

Check out the player's item level as well as their actual items. It could be that your DPS Warrior is wearing a lot of gear with Versatility, which isn't really helping him all that much; it might also be that he's just been unlucky with drops on the past few runs. Even if his rotation is fine, he's going to lag behind if he's several levels below the other DPS and stuck with secondaries that don't help him.

Also check on whether or not the mechanics of the encounters are solid for him or not. There are fights which are just plain unfriendly to melee DPS, and it's easy to miss that if you're in a raid with mostly ranged DPS. Heck, your tanks might have habits that are transparent for ranged DPS that make melee DPS harder to manage. You only know if you pay attention.

Assuming that it is a problem of the player and not extraneous factors, take a step back and determine what the problem is and why. Telling someone to up their DPS is a bit like telling someone mired in poverty to make more money - it's technically advice, but it focuses on the what instead of the how. Sit down with the player in question and make sure that they know their rotation, then find out which parts of their rotation are proving problematic. Sometimes, just knowing a better rotation for abilities or priorities is all it takes to make a big improvement.

Keep it congenial

There's an attitude that runs through certain improvement pushes that I've seen in various guilds, that what matters is a clear. If you want to be in the guild, clear. Optimize your rotation, optimize your build, be the best or there's no space for you in the guild. And the fact of the matter is that such an attitude is fine. If that's what the guild is together to do, first and foremost, it's the right attitude to have. If you want to be involved in that guild, you clear content, or you go find another guild.

That does not mean that you should be a drill sergeant in the runs and it doesn't mean that you should be shouting that in the middle of runs. Because very few things turn a group off from working to clear content faster than feeling like they're being yelled at for just playing the damn game.

By all means, you have the right to say that someone isn't cutting it. You are allowed to have standards and make sure that people are living up to those standards, otherwise they're out. It's a true statement of life, even; either you're clearing bosses or you're not progressing. It's a simple reality that needs to be accepted. But you can push that mindset as an enemy or as a friend.

In business, it might be different. But in a guild in a game you're playing for fun, you don't have to get up like Alec Baldwin every night shouting, "If you want to raid here, clear." You can be fun to be around and even congenial. In the long run, it's going to be a better motivator.

Published Jun. 15th 2016

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