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Roster Riddles

February 25, 2011

I’ve tiptoed around how to post constructively about organizing raid rosters and haven’t quite come up with a solution. A step-by-step guide won’t work, because every guild operates differently. But there are some persistent obstacles that you’ll come across.

Basic assumptions:

casual/social guild
10 man raid group
2 nights a week
25 people in the guild with level 85 mains

Forget buffs and raid roles. From those assumptions, we can estimate several obstacles.

  • 2 of those people have severe technical/hardware issues
  • 3 of them have work or family issues that will complicate their schedules
  • 4 of those people are alt-obsessed and want to raid on multiple characters
  • 10 of them are undergeared to the point of being detrimental to the group
  • 5 of them are willing to run heroics and grind rep on their own to gear up
  • 3 of them will mysteriously disappear after you get them geared up
  • 2 of them previously dated and A refuses to raid with B, while B is oblivious
  • 5 people will adamantly refuse to raid with 1 player who causes problems
  • 1 player will refuse to raid with 6 players because they are “bad”
  • 1 player you have to be kind and supportive to even though they drive you insane
  • 2 players are routinely intoxicated on raid nights, and every other night
  • 3 players are consistently flaky and don’t respond to invites
  • 2 players are overworked in RL and are falling asleep halfway through the scheduled raid time

Once you’ve established all of these issues, good luck! Pretty much the only “solvable” issue is gear, and accept early on that there is only so much that you can do about gear. It’s the responsibility of the individual player to be ready and prepared. WoW, sometimes unfortunately, is an MMO, not a single-player RTS.

First, keep your roster organization secret until you have an idea of how it’s going to work. This will spare you bribery, tantrums, and behind-the-scenes bitchery.

Second, set parameters for yourself on what is and is not acceptable. Imagine a sliding scale of which issues are bearable and which issues are beyond what a raid or raid leader should have to tolerate.

Third, make sure that your goals are in-line with those of the guild. Collaborate with the guildleader, or, if you are GL, work with your officers to decide what your guild really wants out of raiding and what expectations are reasonable. If there’s ever a conflict, you need to have authority behind you and a consensus on what is right.


For technical issues, the raid can get by if a player occasionally crit-errors. But a computer overheating every 20 minutes is going to cripple the raid night.

For relationship issues, try to separate the people who really don’t get along. The extra class buff isn’t worth the abuse that the person and the raid may have to endure. But if someone doesn’t want to play with half the raid because of perceived lack of skill, step on their ego and tell them to get over it. A-string and B-string teams are sources of insult and drama in small guilds. It’s better to balance the roster(s) and push through the fights together.

For gear, set your expectations and make the minimum requirements known. If they don’t meet the minimums, do not bring them. Latch onto the people who are self-motivated and let the lazy folks fall to the wayside unless you desperately need them to fill a particular role. The motivated folks are going to show up for raids. The others won’t. Be supportive, offer to help, but don’t waste your time.

^That said, sometimes including a player and showing interest is the boost they need. See how they respond to running group heroics and collaborating to farm crafting materials. I limit crafting epics to 1-2 per player, and only mains, until they’ve proven themselves reliable. But the encouragement and confidence they get from it goes a long way.

For attendance, establish fair but solid expectations for accepting calendar invites and attending raids. Build in flexibility, but make it clear that showing up late, leaving early, and missing every other week without notice is not acceptable. If it happens, drop them from the roster for a month and bring someone else in.

For behavior, decide what is too much and politely turn down players who are prone to behaving badly. I can handle mild intoxication, the occasional angry outburst, a rampant flirt, and a sometimes weepy player. I will not tolerate blatant drug use, severe drunkenness, abusive swearing, abusive sexual harassment, or public tantrums over the slightest complaint.

For scheduling, be patient. Take a few weeks to work out the kinks and be prepared to PuG now and then if needed. I used calendar surveys to figure out the best nights when my tanks and healers were available, then filled in the DPS. It will take time to balance the schedules and get people into a raiding mindset. Just hold onto your sanity until then.


I attempted two rosters so that I could include every person possible, but it simply wasn’t working. And that’s okay. I scaled back to one roster that raids two nights a week. But I alternate people for the different nights since not everyone is available for both times.

There will be people who are left out. They will feel hurt and upset. There is nothing that you can do at this time. Do not feel guilty. Do find ways to include them: Heroics, battlegrounds, dailies, etc. Do subtitute them in when someone else can’t make it.

If, after all of this, you’ve whittled yourself down to less than 10 people, look at your expectations and see where you can make modest exceptions. Don’t be afraid to draw people from other guilds, be they friends or strangers. A good player, and a good person, is worth your time regardless of whether they are in your guild. A bad player, and a bad person, isn’t. Even if they are in your guild.

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