Monday, July 20, 2009

Personalising your strategy

Something that is important as a guild is figuring out how to force the square strat into the slightly oblong shape of your guild.

There are a few ways of doing this and this is generally how I and my raid team put together a strat.

Pre Raid
1. Research. First of all we research the boss. Abilities, videos, strats from anywhere and everywhere we can get our hands on. We collate them all on our website in a thread about that boss. I yell and scream at guildies to go read it and contribute. I am lucky if it gets read.

2. We use the strat which we think would suit our raiders. Our officer team have been running together for some time, and have a fair idea what our strengths and weaknesses are at any given time. We pick the strat that plays our strengths and bolsters weaknesses.

3. Yell at everyone to read the forums. Your guild forums are the most important place for strat creation, as it can be done offline during work hours (often people have access to the web from work). Make sure everyone is familiar with what they are about to head into and what their particular issues will be with their class.

During the Raid
1. Get the Raid leaders to run over the abilities and strat before the first attempt. Guaranteed there will be mushrooms in your raid who don't even remember where the strategy forums ARE on your website ("website? there is a website??" *sigh*). Don't take TOO much time over strat at this point.

2. Get in there and have a go. There is nothing like seeing it for yourself for all the research and video watching in the world (and no one ever does holy pally based videos). Raid leaders pay particular attention to what goes wrong, who wasn't paying attention and anything that wasn't realised (there is plenty of stuff that simply doesn't read well and doesn't make sense or isn't even mentioned until you get in there and see it for yourself)

3. Restate strat now that people "get it". This second time around, get into the detail of the strat. (Re)Allocate people jobs, explain the importance of not standing in the fire, now that everyone knows what the fire looks like. People know when to do their jobs now.

3a. Identify where this strat is failing, and shore it up. There are various methods for doing this. We tell people and name them when they stuff up something they were specifically asked not to. We also ask why people die. Now, this is partly to shame people into performing better, but it is also to genuinely find out what went wrong so we can fix it. Now, to do this you need to have a culture of not taking criticism personally and admitting when you screw up (everyone screws up from time to time). This isn't for everyone's guild. Since I don't know any other way that is as effective as this one, this is the model my guild has shifted to. But the long and the short of it is, however you do this (bribery, threats of gkicking, yelling, praising whatever) you need to identify failure points and fix them.

4. Have a few more goes and fix the failings. Perhaps try a new strat. There is more than one way to skin a cat.

5. Take the bits that work for you and write down your new guild strat. Then practise it until the boss dies.

Post Raid
1. Write up the good and bad bits on the forums so you remember for next time.

2. After a few iterations of this, you will have created your own version of a strat that works for your guild. Write it up for future reference.

And raid leaders, this is a sometimes controversial method. Changing a strat mid raid is not what everyone agrees is a good idea. However, I believe that you should not force a strat on a group that is just not working. The morale decline is not worth it. Confusion from strat changing is often seen as a positive step as opposed to beating your head against a brick wall. Also, I have found that sometimes the strat itself is the confusion factor and using a different one hits the right buttons in raiders brains and they "get it". There has to be many judgement calls on the morale of the raid by the officer team before you make big changes.

There have been many raids where we have been bashing our heads against a strat that just didn't work, to have someone in the raid pipe up with a "why dont we try this strat". Everyone goes to read it/strat is explained, the RLs set it up and BAM! boss goes down shortly afterward.

Never be afraid to try something new and never assume that your raiders are incapable of changing their jobs mid raid. They will surprise you. This adaptive method of strat creation outlined above is the best method I have seen to get a boss down in the most collaborative, positive and quickest manner. Raid leaders will always have the final say, but everyone is heard.