Raiding 101: Preparing Your Guild for a New Tier
In our Raiding 101 series, we discuss tips and tricks for various aspects of running a guild, which can range from guild leadership duties, to raid leading, to growing as a player.
With Patch 10.2 right around the corner, and the new raid, Amirdrassil the Dream’s Hope, releasing the following week, now’s the time to think seriously about any raid preparations you may have left to do! If you’re unsure where to start, join me in this article as we run through a general list of some important steps for guild leadership to consider as they ready up for a whole new season. Want your raiders to ready up too? Of course you do! You can direct them to our Raiding 101 article on raider prep as a great jumping-off point.
Without further ado, let’s discuss how to prepare your guild and your raid team for a new tier!
Table of Contents
Before you do anything else, plan an officer meeting! Now is the time to discuss anything that may result in any noticeable changes to the raid team, or propose any new resources that may contribute to your team’s success. Peek at the list below for some examples of crucial topics to discuss amongst yourselves.
1. Roster ChangesWhile you should be frequently discussing your trials’ progress and the raiders who stand out (for the best AND worst reasons), the end of a tier is a great time to make final decisions on who has passed their trial, who has not improved and needs a talking-to, who is leaving for whatever reason...iron all of those details out as soon as possible, ideally immediately following the completion of your team’s goals for the tier. This is also the time to begin discussing what you want your roster to look like next season, though you should not make any firm decisions on this until your team has had a chance to think over their class choices, as discussed below.
2. Guild FeedbackI always suggest having a full leadership team meeting to review any feedback you’ve received at the end of a tier. This is especially important if you’ve created an end-of-season survey, as we discussed in our previous chapter about guild communication. While a single raider's feedback is unlikely to elicit a rule change, multiple team members expressing the same concerns may signal that it's time to discuss…
3. Loot and Rule ChangesIf you’re making adjustments to your loot system for the upcoming tier, or you have some tweaks to make to your guild or raid rules, think on these changes and discuss them early so that you can alert the team well ahead of time. These changes may be in response to feedback you’ve received, as discussed above, or because leadership has happened upon a system that makes something easier, more transparent, or better for the team as a whole.
4. Discord OrganizationMany guilds create some sort of Discord channel or category for the new raid information. For my team, this means we create a new category and then new channels for each raid boss. These channels serve as the central hub for our beginning boss guides, strategy discussions, RaidPlan links, important WeakAuras, role assignments, and anything else that may wind up being pertinent to progression. No matter how you organize your Discord around a new raid tier, decide how and when to do so with plenty of time to spare. You can always add to these channels, but you don’t want to be rushing to grab boss videos the night before the raid releases! Help your raiders do their homework (and, as a bonus, do your own!) by sourcing early boss guides.
5. New Organizational ToolsSpreadsheets are typically the savior of organized guild leaders. Whether you use spreadsheets to track the guild bank, loot distribution, attendance, notes about raiders’ performances during each raid night, or anything else, start to prep them early! If you use WoW Audit to track your raiders’ item level, enchants, weekly participation, Great Vault status, and basically anything else you’d ever need to know, start preparing that sheet as soon as possible. You’ll likely need to return to any and all spreadsheets multiple times before the tier starts as your roster changes, your guild bank gold and mats fluctuate, your raiders post their upcoming absences, etc.
Immediately after your first post-tier officer meeting, plan to have your raid team begin thinking about their chosen classes for the next tier.
As exemplified below, we have a beautiful spreadsheet maintained by our guild’s spreadsheet guru, and I truly believe this is the best way to organize information about your roster:
Give each member 2 or 3 different slots to account for serious alts or reflect interest in several different classes, and provide them with a section in which to make notes. A roster spreadsheet like this is not only an excellent at-a-glance source of information, but it’s also an easy way to start to welcome your new trials in – ensure they each have a spot on the sheet as soon as they are officially accepted as a trial, and let them know they’ve already got a spot on the sheet waiting for them.
START EARLY & REMIND OFTEN
Prepare your spreadsheet well before the tier releases so that you’re aware of any recruitment needs and aren’t scrambling to bring in an important buff in the last few days before the new tier. Starting early also ensures that your raiders have plenty of time to think seriously about what they’d like to play in the new tier. My motto for every new tier spreadsheet is “start early and remind often!” Continuously poke your raiders to consider their options, and encourage them to keep abreast of PTR changes as the devs work out bugs and balancing concerns on each class.
RECRUIT TO FILL
As you watch your roster take shape, you should already be recruiting to fill some of the empty spots on your team, especially any buff slots you may be concerned about missing. Recruitment during the end of tier lull is generally much easier than trying to find raiders mid-tier, but if you need additional help, advice or support in your recruitment tasks, take a peek at our earlier articles on preparing your recruitment materials and identifying ideal applicants.
Guild Bank Preparations
The end of season “lull” tends to be pretty dull for guilds who have reached their raiding goals or chosen to give their teams a break. This makes it a pretty nice time for guilds to work on restocking their guild banks; whether you’re asking for gold or materials, ensure you’re encouraging your guildies, especially your raid team members, to contribute!
Many guilds offer AotC or CE sales throughout the tier or towards the end of the tier. As people are hustling to earn their achievements before the new season drops, you’ll often find a number of buyers during this period. Additionally, key sales can be lucrative right at the end of a tier, as many people are scrambling to get some Great Vault keys done on new alts so they can start gearing up before the season ends.
REMEMBER: Gold sales are permitted in WoW, but only if the player doing the advertising is also in on the sale run, and especially only if the guild doing the sale is on the same server as the advertiser. Follow Blizzard’s rules very carefully!
Sometimes you may find people who are bored enough to fly around farming materials for you, and I always encourage you to make use of these guild members! These people are invaluable in keeping the guild bank stocked up with the materials necessary for raid team consumables. Typically, my guild runs a Guild Bank Farm Night on or near the onset of a new tier. Once a week, everyone mails their donation materials or gold to my mailbox, and I go through and tabulate the gold value of all donations. We hand out weekly prizes for the top donator. Making guild bank donations fun, engaging, or interesting is a great way to encourage contributions.
LEARN ABOUT THE NEW CONSUMABLES
Whenever a major raid patch drops, Blizzard typically updates consumables and adds some new recipes. The values of these consumables better reflect the health and damage scaling we can expect as we progress through the new raid, so they’re usually much better than the previous options! You’ll want to be watching patch notes in order to track new recipes and keep tabs on the materials and professions necessary to create them. Wowhead has done all the hard work for us, as usual, by listing all the new profession additions in their Patch 10.2 Overview.
Of course, the most fun and exciting part of any major new content drop is the new raid! As a member of guild leadership, you’ll need to brush up on the new bosses enough to disseminate the information to your raiders and provide them with thoughts, videos, written guides, and whatever else seems necessary.
The Public Test Realms (PTR) raid testing is the highlight of any upcoming patch cycle - this is the first chance to peek at the new raid environment and check out new bosses. If you’re able to participate in some raid testing, jump right into it! The experience is so much fun and very exciting, and you may even end up in groups with some recognizable names, like the content creators I mention right below! All you need to do to participate in PTR raid testing is have a max level character copied over onto the PTR servers. (Be sure you’ve set up some sort of usable UI before you head into the raid!)
On the PTR, you’ll always have access to some ideal gear, profession materials and/or consumables, etc. Log on about an hour before the test starts, and watch Trade Chat, General Chat, or the in-game Group Finder for groups forming, or check with your favorite content creators to see if they offer community raid testing events. The majority of the RWF and high Hall of Fame guilds go in for raid testing together as a part of their regular tier planning. Even bringing a few of your raiders into the new raid for testing days can better prepare you for the fights when they come out on live servers!
If you’re not able to attend any raid testing days yourself (which is understandable), carve out some time to keep up to date on the bosses’ early iterations by watching any dedicated content creator who spends a considerable amount of time in raid testing. Remember: do not take the impressions and guides from PTR testing as gospel; Blizzard can and often does make huge changes to boss fights right before, or even after, they go live!
Below, find my recommendations (in no particular order) for creators who take the time to polish their content and release amazing first-look AND boss guide videos:
PAY ATTENTION TO BOSS DISCUSSIONS
In addition to keeping up to date on raid testing and early boss guides, there are some excellent written resources available for anyone looking to learn the fights or simply hoping to read some further strategy discussion on them.
If you’ve read my article on team morale, you may remember me singing the praises of both the Raid Leader Exchange Discord and Viserio’s Discord. In RLE, you’ll find the Amirdrassil channels already set up and full of discussion, including FAQs and Tips and Tricks.
There are a multitude of raid leaders in RLE, from the tippity top RWF and HOF teams to brand new raid leaders needing guidance for the first time. While you’ll certainly find more raid leaders in RLE, don’t discount Viserio’s space for healing-specific AND strategy discussion. You can also prepare to gain access to his Amirdrassil healer CD sheet, which is almost a progression necessity in my eyes, particularly for mythic teams.
I’d also like to mention a series of truly impressive boss guides created by Moriti, a melee-specialist and raider with Temerity. Moriti has an eye for style and is a dedicated raider, PTR tester, and key-runner. Check out her beautiful guides HERE.
Although Moriti has not completed every boss guide for Amirdrassil yet, they will be done before raid release, so keep an eye on that folder!
The weeks leading up to a new season are always extremely hectic, especially for guild leadership, but the stress only increases when the raid opens! Try to remember, though, that this is an exciting time. Find ways to relax and give yourself some quiet moments away from the frenzy of raid prep, or hype yourself up with some boss guides on the new fights.
I often let myself get carried away with the pressure of perfectly preparing myself and my team for a new tier. I know very well how difficult it can be to step away and take some deep breaths. If you're an anxious leader like I am, don't be afraid to delegate some work to your other officers, and lean on them for support through a stressful time. (Many thanks to my longtime officer Vinny for the suggestion to include this section).
Follow the RWF!
Of course, our favorite part of a new tier here at Raider.IO is the Race to World First! As always, we’ll be covering the race 24/7, with live updates and nightly recap videos to keep all the news flowing. Don’t want to sit through splits? We gotchu. We’ll let you know when the excitement truly begins, so join us here on Raider.IO for our RWF Live Coverage, follow us on Twitter, and keep tabs on our YouYube channel for all the excitement!
To get your hype going, take a look at the interviews we just conducted with each of the top three RWF guilds from Aberrus, Liquid, Echo and Method.
Besides the obvious excitement and adrenaline rush that comes with those intense final boss kills in RWF, and the memes that so many hours of splits always generate, RWF is also important for guild leadership because it will allow you to get a glimpse of the raid bosses before your team has to step into the raid. If you have time to check out RWF streams throughout the day or evening, do so! You may learn a lot about damage patterns, organized strategies, and any points of difficulty.
Preparing for a new raid tier can be a long and arduous process, but starting preparations early and moving forward in an organized fashion will make the whole affair much easier!
Remember to meet with your leadership team frequently to work out roster decisions and any important changes so you can communicate these things to your guild. Remind your raiders early and often to start thinking on their class and spec choice(s), and present the roster information in an organized, easy-to-read spreadsheet for optimal tracking. Keep tabs on your guild bank funds and materials, and don't forget to research and accrue the necessary items to craft any new consumables! Of course, most importantly, get studying those boss guides, strategy discussions, and any other helpful resources so you're not leading your team headlong into wipes galore on the first raid night.
Finally…breathe and enjoy the excitement that comes with new content and especially the Race to World First Events. Amirdrassil looks to have a beautiful environment and the fights sure seem like a blast. Happy new tier, friends!
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About the Author
Gogogadgetkat has been playing WoW since late BC, and has been the GM of her guild Propaganda since its creation in 2014. As a career healer, Kat has a number of CEs and old-school heroic kills under her belt, all on a variety of healing classes and specs—she’s a serial altoholic! In addition to Mythic raiding and a little Mythic+, creating safe, inclusive spaces in gaming is her longtime passion; Kat has been an admin for the Perky Pugs community since late BfA, and is also a founding council member and the community manager for the DEIBAJ initiative Liquid Women in Warcraft. She is excited to bring her wealth of experience and love of writing to the Raider.IO team.