My place in the Warcraft player-base has been…up and down…post subscription-cancellation I seem to have become a scrub casual. More than that, I am now a guild officer who’s stated role is to be the voice of the scrub casual. Casual and hardcore have always been ill-defined categories. They’ve always been judgement laden and aggressive. So please bear with me as I recast these terms of abuse as two, equally valid ends of the game playing spectrum. At one end we have casual or not very serious and at the other serious and committed. Serious and committed to what? Well, not raiding any more, for a start, as Voice of the Casuals I am supposed to express the views and wishes of the casual raiders in our guild. Yes, you read that right Casual Raider. So this post will echo the last (Progression vs. Inclusion) in placing raiders on a spectrum spread from casual: placing fun over progress to hardcore: placing progress (and gear) over all. Of course I know, when you get to the World First Race, gear is not a significant issue. So let’s just leave them right out of the equation. I’m not addressing the World First Race, guilds at that level, or e-sport generally.

We immediately run face first into another often ill-defined category: fun. One person’s fun is…another person’s waste of time. Like fishing and pet battles. As with type and style of guild, there are increasingly disparate attitudes to fun. Indeed the definition has been hotly debated, by decreasingly less and less polarised positions, since vanilla. People tend to make a lot of assumptions too. Casual raiders do not want to wipe all night on one boss. Casual raiders do value the progress that is the graven idol of the hardcore. Hardcore gamers can, and often do, like a laugh and fun with their “serious” progression. Hardcore gamers are not all officious, elitist pricks who don’t want to give you a) a fair try, b) time to learn or c) the opportunity to properly gear and demonstrate what you can really do (very mediocre DPS). There’s a sweet spot somewhere between the two extremes that is perfect for the group of people you raid with, your guild. As a Guild Master and Raid Leader it is your job to define whereabouts the point should be and then locate it exactly. Good luck with that.

In my current guild they’ve struggled. Not just lately as some will say, but since inception. I love the old GM and she had all the right ideas to shape a guild that would’ve been just perfect for me. Sadly without 13 years experience of Warcraft (it’s not just me, a lot of people do) and no experience of guild or raid leading we were always a bit shaky in the link between what sort of guild we were and what sort of raid we ran. To the point that (even for a short time) an ‘elite’, selective raid group was formed in the guild to do heroic raiding with a view to progressing to mythic. There is nothing wrong with this desire, it simply has no place in the sort of guild we are. Some nice guys more interested in raid progress than our brand of fun have moved to pastures new. I wish them well, everyone needs a guild that is right for them. Sadly, if you are a GM or RL no one will tell you if you’re getting it wrong. They just leave and you still won’t know why. Even if you have the opportunity to question them, they probably won’t be bothered enough to really tell you why. It would a) take time and b) involve expressing a, perhaps, controversial opinion. And as we all know, say it with me, “The only thing worse than having an opinion (in WoW) is expressing it.”

Like it or not, most do not, the Raid Leader role in casual raiding guilds is more pastoral. If you want these guys to succeed and do their very best (which can be surprisingly good) you’ll need to do more hand holding than shouting. Here’s a suggestion. On a non-raid night plan a DRUNKEN RAIDING event and have a non-RL lead, for example your Voice of the Casuals officer. If the raid is better attended and penetrates almost as far as your normal raid group on focussed progress night then you’re doing it wrong. Your group probably responds very well to a very relaxed atmosphere and with the pressure off is just as motivated to do as well (if not actually a damn sight better) than they do on a night you’re cracking the whip. This is especially true if your raid group is made up of adults, some with kids, many with jobs. Shouting and being stern about wiping simply won’t wash. These people will simply run back, eat, rune up, summon their pet and filter you out, if not actually mute you as you berate them for slacking. They have to bend over and take it from their boss at work you, with the greatest respect, you’re nobody. They will focus more and try harder because they wiped and they want everyone to progress rather than you’re bitching at them.

You and everyone else will know if someone is not performing well or, more importantly, not trying. Wiping and failure are not a crime in casual raiding guilds they are part of the fun and a source of amusement. Not trying and not doing your level best for the group is a crime, I don’t care what you metered you died before the final phase when we actually needed that DPS or you failed to help soak being so focused on your personal DPS. Your DPS was abysmal but you didn’t miss a single interrupt. If you can get your DPS up too…WIN WIN WIN. Encouragement and hand holding reaps rewards with people who have to take shit all day at work. Knowing exactly when (and it’s rare) to lay the law out is the art of moving from being a great RL to being the best RL.

A RL should say nothing most of the time. If you’re duplicating the functions of DBM ask yourself why and what effect is that having on your raid team. If two things happen at once and you can only call out about one how many of your raid die? Would your breath be better spent explaining the key abilities to counter in each phase before the fight and focussing on each new mechanics that caused a wipe in the run back? Or is better telling people not to stand in the green so they don’t need DBM or GTFO? You know what I think. A good RL doesn’t have to tell people not to stand in the fel.

If your priority is progression: killing bosses quickly without wiping (or anyone dying on trash) you may find your raid’s a little light on fun. Surely the reverse is then true? If your priority is fun there with be little progress, people will wipe on trash (OMFG!) and we’ll never, ever progress. No. That’s simply deluded. For all of us: hardcore raider and scrub casual alike wiping all night on one boss and wiping repeatedly on trash is no fun. Fun involves progression. Fun does not involve carrying slackers, people who cannot or do not learn, tolerating the terminally inept. Scrub casuals like myself can tolerate some wiping as players adjust to higher difficulty and learn their own strategies to staying alive in challenging situations and then translating that survival into more polished tanking, healing and damage dealing. Scrub casuals will not find it a unforgivable waste of time of time wiping on trash. They will however come back more focussed, marshal themselves and slap the trash down and berate anyone who over-pulls and wipes them a second time. Fun involves a measure of progress and is reduced by repeated wipes on the same boss. The only difference here is degree. How many trash wipes are funny and when does it become a completely boring waste of time? You’re raid leader, you set the tone, the question to ask yourself is: “Am I setting the correct tone, the tone necessary for this team to progress? Or am I letting them goof off too much?” with the best will in the world, for most RL’s the better question is “Could I allow this team more slack to mess around, relax and get confident, trusting them them to bring their ‘A’ Game when it’s needed?” Listen to the Voice of the Casuals

Well you may not be good looking but you haven’t got no faith
Sometimes you get a mouthful when I only want a taste
Sometimes you kick the devil out but angels smash your face
You can lay the law out baby but I don’t think I’ll behave…