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WoW Is a Social Game
It has long been argued that, more than PvP (Player vs Player), more than PvE (Player vs Environment), that World of Warcraft is predominantly a social game. As such this means that guilds play a very large role in most WoW players game time. The majority of WoW players eventually end up finding themselves in a guild. As players in these guilds reach the level 80 cap, they often start to think about raiding. Just jumping straight in usually only leads to wiping and frustration, but some basic knowledge, preparation, and organization can help a guild leader to prepare his guild for raiding, and also determine if they're ready to dive in.
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Becoming a Raiding Guild
The transition from a leveling guild to a raid guild is one of the hardest things a guild can do in World of Warcraft. Raid guilds have organization needs that leveling guilds just don't have to worry about. For one, players need to have good gear, solid skills, and appropriate PvE talent specs. Beyond those (mostly) obvious basics are other things like consumables, enchants, and gems. Outside the game, most raiding guilds will require a website with forums and access to a voice communication server, such as Ventrilo or Teamspeak to facilitate communication during raids. Of course, no raid guild can be successful without good management, well thought out goals, and standards for raiders to adhere to.
While everyone has their own style and policies, here are a few examples that are commonly found in raiding guilds:
- Attendance requirements - An example of this would be a guild that schedules four raids per week, and requires every member to attend at least two of them.
- Output requirements - Some guilds will take a potential raider on a trial-run, in which they test their ability with meters such as Recount. For example, they may require DPS classes to attain a certain average DPS, like 2,000. They may require healers to hit a HPS average, like 3,000. For tanks, they may require a certain TPS (threat per second) like 4,000.
- No-Shows, Tardiness - One of the most important issues raid leaders usually have to address early on is people signing up for a raid and not showing up, or, logging on after the scheduled start time.
- Loot distribution - Before entering any raid with your guild, first decide how loot is going to be assigned. This is a challenge in itself, but one of the most important keys to success. You could put together a great team that is very adept at killing bosses, but if people get into arguments over loot because there are no clear rules, it'll break apart the team faster than you can even imagine.
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Over the years enthusiastic raiders have developed software tools to help raid leaders run effective teams. One way to ensure your raiders are putting in the effort is to perform an audit on their character. This will identify ungemmed or unenchanted gear (or not ideally gemmed and enchanted) and sometimes even report problems in talent specs.
One such tool is a website called Be Imba. This tool will load your guild's roster from the WoWArmory and evaluate your raiders. It will identify "low level" items, non-optimal or missing enchants, low-level gems, missed socket bonuses (not necessarily a bad thing, but definitely worth considering), and other gear problems. On top of that, it will assign the character a score, which it uses to suggest the content that character is ready for. The image shown here is an example character report (click to enlarge).
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Raiding User Interface Mods
As a raid leader, over the years I have discovered a variety of UI mods, or Addons, that simplify the raiding process.
oRA2 (o Raid Assist v2.0) - Allows the raid leader to set main-tank targets, displaying who the tanks are, and what they are targeting. Also displays cooldown bars for your raiders' most important abilities, like Soul Stone, Combat Res (Rebirth), and Bloodlust/Heroism. Will also report on the gear durability status of your raiders, and can be configured to check the contents of their bags for things like potions, elixirs, food, and reagents. All raiders must have oRA2 installed for it to work.
Big Wigs - Provides timers, warnings, and other features for bosses. Often comes coupled with Little Wigs, which does the samething but instead for 5-man dungeons.
Omen - A threat meter. Gives a graphical display of raiders current threat level with a target, like a boss. Will give warnings to players when they get close to the top of the meter (which would quickly result in death, if not a complete wipe), and alert when/if the boss switches targets.
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"Out of Game" Management Tools - Guild Website
While Blizzard seems to be adding more and more in-game management tools, until they find a way to let guild leaders convey a massive amount of categorized information, a guild website will still be all but a requirement for any raid guild. There are several services out there just for guild leaders - companies that provide "websites in a box", including hosting, design, forums, and an elaborate front page. Some package deals may also include Ventrilo or Teamspeak hosting. Some of these companies are:
An alternative to easy solutions like these is to do it yourself - a relatively simple task for people familiar with web design. An easy and aesthetic solution is to use a WordPress front page to display basic guild information, announcements, recruiting status, and accomplishments. Sons of Hell serves as a very simple example - this website took no more than 30 minutes to create, and uses a free template for the crude but effective graphics. After that, you can install forums software on your site and link to it on the front page.
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"Out of Game" Communication - Ventrilo or Teamspeak
The ability for everyone in the raid to be able to communicate with everyone else with a simple button push is invaluable. A little while back the ability to use voice chat in groups was added to WoW, but the vast majority of raiders still prefer to use an out of game server. There are several reasons for this: For one, the quality of in-game voice chat seems to be rather low. Options are limited-to-nonexistant, as well, whereas with Vent or TS you can use special effects to drastically improve sound and quality. Another major problem is disconnections - A lot of times someone will disconnect from WoW, suddenly, but since the problem is on the server end they are still connected to a 3rd party voice server and can alert the raid. With in-game voice chat, that ability is lost.