Monday, March 30, 2009

How To Run Your Own Awesome Naxx 25 PuG: Part 2: All the Rest

Since top ten lists = most popular thing on the internet, and me = liking the number 10, here are 9 more thingies I think you should do if you want to lead a Naxx 25 pug that is going to mow down the place, clear everything, and give you and your buddies best in slot gear (and inevitably gear up that one guy who keeps getting lucky drops).

This is the completion of my previous article on leading highly-successful 25-man Naxx PuGs.
If you are wondering why you should care what I think, go look at the previous article's intro to hear how I've been running pugs for months that clear Naxx 25 in 4 hours, blabbity-blah-blah-blah.


2. Tag-team leading. It really helps to have two leaders working together (without stepping on each others' toes). Ideally, you have one really "social" person to handle invites, organization, and announcements, and one "mathy" person to handle strategies and the Spreadsheet (more on that later). When doing loot, one person calls for rolls and handles master looting, while the other alt-tabs out to the spreadsheet to track loot.

It helps if these people are reasonably likeable. Having Obnoxious Know-It-All Uptight Nerdy Guy isn't going to work. No one ever thinks of themselves as unlikeable, so you'll have to either guess at your own likeability based on inferences from people around you, or you'll have to find someone who will tell you the truth about your likeability. Or you could build a time machine, and go back and observe yourself to see if you are annoying. But that seems like a lot of effort just to get a Valorous helmet.

3. Have your own vent server. Or teamspeak, whatever. I don't really need to explain why this is good. You want someone who will be present at most raids to have admin privileges in case you need to boot or mute someone.

4. Keep vent "clear" during bosses. This is where you draw the line between success and failure. If you view raiding as a chance to get together and joke on vent and not pay attention or put in any effort to the game at all, that's fine, but this guide isn't for you. We have a ton of fun joking around on vent and mainly in raid and guild chat without disrupting our ability to succeed. Joking around is our second priority, after success. You can have fun and kick ass at the same time! Don't settle for less!

Let people chat during trash, and encourage people to joke around in raid chat. But during boss explanations, everyone needs to shut up, and during the boss, everyone needs to shut up unless what they have to say is vitally important AND is not already being handled by a raid leader. If you take it upon yourself to call polarity shifts on Thaddius while the raid leader is doing it at the same time, you help no one and just cause confusion and annoyance. However, if you notice that someone is, say, standing in a void zone, please shout something out so they can save themselves!

Here's a handy flowchart on whether or not you should speak in vent during a boss, courtesy of I heart bubbles.

At some point in your pugging career, you will encounter aggressive people who will try to assert themselves on vent during bosses, and this will annoy you and other raiders. Do not be afraid to ask in a firm voice for them to "please keep vent clear" if they are being distracting or disruptive.

5. Be fair. The quickest way to drive away good raiders is to screw them over. Under NO circumstances should you screw over a pugger to give loot to a guildie in voilation of whatever loot rules you set up. Announce some rules, and then follow them. If you want to reserve something, such as certain pieces of loot or the Maly key, announce it at the beginning of the raid and offer raiders the opportunity to leave if they disagree.

6. Be open but authoritative. Be open to suggestions on how to do boss fights or other aspects of the raid. But when you tell people what to do, don't be wishy-washy about it. Pretend to yourself that you are in charge and have authority, and you will appear to others to be in charge. It's OK to ask for input, but remember, you and your co-leader are "the Deciders". If you act too consistently ambivalent, someone more assertive will step up and push you out, or things will devolve into chaos and no one will listen to you. Be sure you want to lead before you try leading. And remember, the more successful your raids are, the more people will want to listen to you, and the less effort you'll have to put into looking like you are in charge.

7. Know the strats ahead of time, and have someone who can explain them succinctly. This is key to appearing in charge, keeping the raid quick and successful, and actually killing bosses. Memorize the strats, explain them quickly, make sure you give assignements for tanks and healers and a kill order for dps. Don't be repetitive, don't take forever to explain, and don't make people wait to long between reaching the boss and the pull, or they will disengage, stop paying attention, and care less about the raid.

For instance, when I explain Sapphiron, I go: "This is Sapph, a big dragon. He alternates between two phases. When he's on the ground, melee stand on his side between his front and rear leg, since he can tail swipe and has an aoe cone he shoots in front of him. Everyone will need to watch out for Blizzards/Chill. They do a LOT of damage, so you need to get out of them ASAP when they randomly spawn on you or move toward you. Stay generally spread out during this phase. Odd numbered groups should go to the left side of the room, even numbered groups to the right. When Sapph flies into the air, you need to spread out and run to the wall [there is currently a bug that makes you immune to the frost nova if you are standing on the grates at the side of the room] and stand on the grate, but it's VERY IMPORTANT that you stay spread out while you are moving. He will hit 3 random people with ice blocks, and anyone too close to them will probably die. If you get a healer killed this way, you bring shame upon your ancestors. Also, healers, be aware that everyone in the raid will take 1200 damage from the aura every 3 seconds. Everyone else, if your health gets low, do the healers a favor and healthstone/pot. They may not have time to heal you."

8. Start with a group you know. Your main tank should be a guildie, and some of the healers should be your guildies too. This helps immensely because you know you can trust the main tank and can talk to him/her easily throughout the instance. The MT and healers make up the backbone of the raid. Tanks also have a tendency to be drama queens, and the devil you know is better than the devil you don't. It also helps if you have a few guildie dps who can impress anyone looking at the meters. :) The stronger your base group is, the more effective the raid is, and the more you attract more good raiders.

9. Don't be afraid to deal with morons and slackers, aka M&S (shout out to Gevlon) It's a popular misconception that you have to be "nice" to everyone. You don't! Though I tend to be nice to most people, I have no qualms about dealing with Morons and Slackers.

If someone is being stupid and loud on vent, they might be told to keep vent clear and not be invited back to future raids. I have told one particularly obnoxious child to "shut up" in vent before (after whispered complaints about the person from over half the raid), and it improved the raid experience overall for everyone. If someone is being outright disruptive, they can be kicked from the raid. If someone is not performing well, don't invite them back. Let the entire raid know that you expect decent performance. You are the steward of the raid, and it's your job to make the experience as good as you can for everyone. Which means you have to bite the bullet and do the dirty job of sometimes not being "nice". Don't leave it off in hopes that someone else will do it.

Don't let people get away with constant AFKs. If people need repairs, drop a bot instead of waiting for them to hearth then get summoned back. And, under no circumstances should you ever allow someone to run back to Dalaran to hand in a tier token they got during your raid. The statistical benefit is never worth the morale and interest loss to the raid overall from having to wait for this person. And even worse, if you let even one person do, it everyone will demand to do it, and you end up having to wait 1/2 hour after every wing for people to go hand in tokens. Then "just take a second" to gem and enchant them, etc.

Dealing with M&S decisively has, like, a bajillion benefits. Such as:

-Good raiders stay around, because they feel like everyone else is up to their standards and they aren't being annoyed by a moron or having to carry a slacker.

-Your raid performs better

-Your raiders see that you don't accept M&S, so they don't slack off or try to take advantage of you.

-Everyone has more fun!

10. Keep track of performance and invite back good players

This is where the excel spreadsheet (or openoffice, or whatever) comes in.


...Hey, come back!

Yeah, I know, spreadsheet, yawn. Get over it, spreadsheets are your friend, especially considering how pathetic the community building and social tracking options are in the game itself. Set up 3 tabs in your spreadsheet to start.

The first tab is your "friends contact list". Here, put the names of every pugger who performs well and has a good attitude that you want to invite back. Make notes whenever you can to help you keep track of them. Just put their names in one column, and notes in the next column, stretched out wider. This list will be a godsend when you are trying to set up future raids...

...but not as much of a godsend as a "no fly list" on the second tab. This is the list of puggers who will NOT be invited back. Make sure you note why they aren't invited back.

You'll very quickly build a nice database that makes creating the foundations of your pug a breeze. Every week, your group will get better and better. And the best part is, you've dramatically expanded your list of good players who like grouping with you. It makes trying to do heroics or future pug raids much easier.

This is also very useful because if your pugs are successful, puggers will start asking about joining your guild. Keeping track of these things will help you know what to tell them.

In the third tab of the spreadsheet, track loot. Label this one by date. I just put 3 columns: name, item slot, boss. For example: Supermage/cape/Razuvious. It's not worth it to try to record the item name, instead just say "cape", "belt", "sword", etc. You can always look up what drops from the boss to figure it out later. This way you can, at any time, refer back to the list and tell exactly where and when someone got a drop, in case they try to say they didn't get anything or there are other disputes.

Add another loot tab for every new raid. After I get a few tabs, I tend to "save as copy" to archive the previous weeks, then delete them so the spreadsheet doesn't get too cluttered or take up a lot of memory.


Whew! So that's it for my neat top 10 list of the habits of highly successful naxx 25 pugs. I hope they work as well for you as they have for me. May your Slots always be Best In!

BONUS 11th tip: bring feasts! This both makes the raid perform a bit better, encourages buffing, and helps create a positive, friendly, giving attitude for the raid as a whole. Plus, they are relatively cheap.


sn0n said...

how do you handle BoE's? its my guild policy (guild 10 mans) to have all BoE's goto guild.. and go from there handing them out later / AHing them for mats.. etc.. we're starting 25 mans.. and im not sure how i should handle them with puggers who will say "need" and just vendor it..

sn0n said...

AH, not vendor, sorry

Hatch said...

Oh, good question! This is one where you can legitimately land on a lot of different options.

In our case, we treat BoEs as though they were BoP. You can roll on them for main spec if they are an upgrade, and that counts against you on the spreadsheet. If no one wants for main spec upgrade, we let people roll for offspec.

This probably works best when you know most of the people in the raid from pugging with them often, or from a guild you know. There is always that danger of someone taking an item, pretending they will equip it later, then making a massive profit off the AH.

The answer your guild has landed on makes sense as well. It gives you an extra benefit for leading the raid (which you deserve, imo) and prevents someone from gaining a ton of money by pretending they are going to equip the item.

You can also compromise by letting people roll for main spec upgrade and equip it immediately, or taking it as a guild if no one wants for main spec.

Any of those options work, but you have to pick one and be consistent. They both have upsides and downsides. Your guild can gain a lot and keep from getting cheated by taking all the BoEs. But at the same time, it can suck as a player to watch an upgrade go out of reach because it happens to be BoE.

I think it really comes down to how concerned your guildies are about it. We chose to err on the side of giving out main spec upgrades. It seems like the risk of someone AHing it bothers you guys and gals, so taking the BoEs yourself is probably the best choice. Overall, I think you will be happier with it, and I don't think anyone can legitimately accuse you of being unfair. If they don't like it, they don't have to come on your awesome pug run, and instead use their save on a crappy pug that clears half a wing. :)

It's also very nice for your guild to get a bit of extra reward for your efforts organizing, which are sadly not usually well recognized by people who have never led a raid. :) Just make sure you announce it before raid start so no one is surprised when it happens.