Yup, it’s that time again, time to help you figure out how to prepare your raiding guild for the upcoming Mists of Pandaria expansion! If you haven’t done so already, please do read Steps 1 & 2, as I will be referring to that post quite a bit.

It’s taken a bit of time for me to get things going here, because I had my own decision to make and so I’ve been working behind the scenes with the officers (and without them, too) with transitional stuff. That’s a whole OTHER step, though. ;)

So what did I do after asking for people to send me a private message on our forums?

STEP 3: Response Compilation and Preliminary Analysis

I collected their responses in a spreadsheet. Here’s a version specifically for readers of my blog that maintains some privacy for my guildies while still sharing how to use the Google Docs comments. (I added some notes as comments in my original document that I’ve removed from this version, but some are still in use.)

My initial results included three people not returning: myself (I raid as Madrana, so that’s how I’m listed in this), Majikmarine and Cinderhaze. It included two people who were unsure about returning: Ashfrost and Hitoku. There was also one person who did not respond at all. I also didn’t ask our Initiates for their responses (that will happen at the time of their promotion, if they pass their trials). I did ask other Apotheosis members if they would be interested in raiding with us in Mists. Two said yes, Mabriam and Sturm (both are actually former raiders and Mabriam has actually re-applied and is now an Initiate with us).

So I looked at the list and saw:

Tanks: 4 (2 bears, 1 monk, 1 prot pally)

Healers: 8-9 (2 druids, 1 pally, 2 priests, 2 monks, 1-2 resto shaman)

DPS: 10 (worst case) to 16 (best case, with all MAYBEs turning into a YES, interested non-raiders working out and the DPS Initiates remaining in their roles after passing trials)

So compiling all the information is Step 3. Go browse the spreadsheet, look at the comments by highlighting over the various cells. You’ll note that under the Times column, there are just a couple of comments. That meant that most people said our current days/times were good for them. The others indicated that if the times changed, they might not be able to raid or gave a preference to raiding a bit earlier (would be preferred for them, but not absolutely needed) or let us know what days they were definitely not available.

(Judging by my spreadsheet, our raiding times aren’t going to change and will continue to be Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 9pm-12am ET with invites at 8:45pm ET.)

Okay, on to…

STEP 4: Determining what you need.

I said we had four tanks on the roster for Mists of Pandaria: Choryn (aka Dayden), Division (aka Chronis), Kaleri and Mhoe. I honestly have no problem with this whatsoever. I started out Cataclysm with four tanks (1 bear, 2 prot pallies and a prot warrior) and we lost two tanks before T11 was over, so I have zero problems having a bit of a bloated roster to deal with such happenings. So while I wasn’t going to say “hm, we could use a fifth tank”, I wasn’t going to ask any of the four to not be a tank. Each tank needs to have a decent DPS set as well, so honestly, four tanks is fine.

8-9 healers is fine as well. If our resto shaman passes her trial and wishes to continue healing, we’ll have 9 healers. If not, we’ll have 8 to start with, which is fine, considering two of them (the monks) will likely be OP to start with, given that they’re the new class. (Remember DKs and Sarth 3D? I’m anticipating similar levels of overpoweredness.) But 9 healers won’t be a problem either.

10-16 DPS, however, is a problem. On a typical encounter, we have 2 tanks, 6 healers and 17 DPS. We really need to boost that number.

You would think that the next step would be to say “hey, thanks for your responses! Now we know what we have and we’re going out there to recruit stuff we don’t have!”.

But that’s not exactly what I did.

Up until the other day, all the results of the PMs responding to me had been only shared with the officers. I have now shared that information with the guild. I have asked them if their primary choice of healing or tanking has changed based on other people’s first choices and, if so, to please let me know what they’d prefer to do.

I did this because I know that teamwork in a 25-man guild is important. While the DPS and the healers don’t necessarily have to be best friends, the healers do really need to get along well, at least professionally. The tanks do as well. The ranged DPS and the melee DPS should also get along in their particular groups. Further, there’s balance to think about. Having three tanks wearing agility leather, plus a feral druid, plus a rogue means some competition for agi leather. Similarly, two healing monks and two healing druids (plus a potential moonkin) might mean problems for intellect leather.

Informing the players who is essentially on the same team-within-a-team as them allows them to make choices that they may enjoy more. It also gives our MAYBE responders time to see if they can decide about continuing with us.

So until this coming Sunday night, my guildies have a chance to change their minds before we solidify the roster and go in search of specific classes.

PROBLEMS

As you can see, I was really lucky in that I didn’t have 8 people wanting to be tanks or 29 people want to be DPS. If your raid’s first choices don’t all match up nicely like mine did (and you can see, we lose 2 DPS to heals, lose 1 healer to tanking, lose another healer to, well, not playing, so we were lucky), it’s time to start negotiating.

The first thing I would do in the case of a conflict is talk to all those people involved. Say that you have five people who are interested in re-rolling DPS Monks. Chances are, your roster cannot handle five DPS Monks. Maybe your roster can handle three. Here’s a hypothetical situation for you with all five of these people wanting to be a Windwalker (DPS) Monk.

Person 1: Hunter
Person 2: Shadow Priest
Person 3: Rogue
Person 4: Resto Shaman
Person 5: Protection Warrior

Now (and here’s the important part) assuming all skill is equal between the five individuals, I would be inclined to ask for two volunteers to either stick with their current spec (based on balance, of course) or pick a different DPS class (assuming you can handle more DPS). Maybe you’ll luck out and get two people who will happily stick with what they’re doing or something other than a Windwalker Monk.

If no one volunteers, I would be inclined to ask the resto shaman and prot warrior how badly they want to be monks and if they would consider, for the raid’s balance, doing something else. Why? Again, assuming all skill is equal between these people, the hunter, shadow priest and rogue have been main spec DPS for you for X number of months or years. They KNOW (probably…) how to kill things as a DPS. They have the experience. If you had five people wanting to be Mistweaver (healing) Monks, I would want to favour the resto shaman. If you have five people wanting to be Brewmaster (tank) Monks, I would want to favour the prot warrior.

In short, if you’re having roster conflicts, I would tend to favour those with good experience in that role already.

Having said that, if skill is not equal among those individuals, go with your better players, hands down, trying to negotiate with the “less-skilled” players or the ones who haven’t been there as long as others or some other sort of way to separate them. You need to prioritize people for swapping roles and one of the best ways is player skill, but that can also get ugly.

(Have I mentioned that I’m thrilled not to have to negotiate as of right now? No? I AM THRILLED.)

Next time, we’ll get into Steps 5 and 6. Essentially, we’ll see if anyone takes me up on the offer and we’ll look more carefully at Mists of Pandaria recruitment needs.