Monday, July 05, 2010

Pods: A Raid Force Management System

Managing a raid force is a very complex task. You have to recruit enough people so that you have redundancy, that you can still raid when some members are missing. You have to have enough redundancy to cover the essential roles. Yet you also have to ensure that everyone gets enough raiding time. Sometimes a player can get left on the sidelines more than you expect, and they end up leaving the guild because they feel they aren't getting into raids enough. You have to constantly recruit and people are constantly leaving, creating new holes in the raid force that have to be filled.

Yet, for such a complex task, most guild leaders operate in an ad hoc fashion. They react to events a lot of the time and things slip through the cracks. This is my attempt at creating a system, a set of rules and heuristics, to help a guild leader manage her entire raiding force in an efficient manner.

The system is called Pods, because the central element of the system is a pod.

A pod is a group of three players who share a similar raid role. The basic pod types are:
  1. Main Tank - players who always tank
  2. Off Tank - players who switch between tanking and DPS
  3. Melee DPS - melee DPS players
  4. Ranged DPS - ranged DPS players
  5. Main Healer - players who always heal
  6. Off Healer - players who switch between healing and DPS

Each pod owns two slots in the raid. So a 10 man raid is made up of:
  • 1x Main Tank pod
  • 1x Melee DPS pod
  • 1x Ranged DPS pod
  • 1x Off Healer pod
  • 1x Main Healer pod

A 25-man raid would be:
  • 1x Main Tank pod
  • 1x Off Tank pod
  • 3x Melee DPS pod
  • 3x Ranged DPS pod
  • 1x Off Healer pod
  • 3x Main Healer pod
  • 1 free slot

Now, since each pod has three players, but two raid slots, one person in each pod sits out each night. Anna sits out first, the Betty, then Charity, then Anna's turn comes around again. Of course, the players can trade nights with each other but only within the pod. Since there are only three players in a pod, scheduling that pod becomes a much simpler problem than scheduling the entire raid force all at once.

For the Off Tank and Off Healer pods, one slot will act as the extra tank or healer on necessary fights, while the other slot will be pure DPS. (Or both slots can go tank/healer if the fight is really demanding). Which player gets which job can rotate just like sitting out.

If only one or zero people from a pod show up, then people from the other pods who are sitting out can be drafted to fill out the raid. If the problem is known in advance, as two of the three players say they can't make a specific night, that fact can be brought to the attention of the officers.

For 25s, the third slot can be given to a DPS player who alway shows up, or just reserved for any missing significant buffs.

With three people for every two slots, each raider is guaranteed a minimum of raiding 66% of the time. Some people may raid more than that, but no one will raid less. As well, each position has significant redundancy, which should ensure that you never call a raid because you don't have enough healers, but enough DPS and tanks.

In addition, the guild can use the pods to guide recruiting efforts. The pods with unfilled spots are the positions you need to recruit for. You don't need to consider the entire guild as a whole, you can just go pod by pod and recruit for each position.

Of course, there are potential issues with this system. For example, since sitting out is determined in advance, people might decide to not show up on nights when they are scheduled to sit. This can cause problems if there are unexpected absences. There would need to be some understanding that everyone in guild who can show up does.

In general, the idea is to have each pod run itself to a certain degree, without needing the officers to get involved all the time. The officers' main job is to make sure that the pod is filled with players, and to intervene in unusual situations.

But on the whole, I think that this system would reduce the effort involved in managing a raid force. It provides redundancy for all positions, while guaranteeing a minimum amount of raiding for each individual.


  1. The interesting thing about dividing things up this way is that the 'off' players for 25s are:

    1 MT
    1 OT
    3 MD & 2 RD or 2 MD & 3 RD (assuming one of the DPS gets the free slot for 25s)
    3 OH
    3 MH

    Which is 11 players, and is easily a complete 10-man raid group. Given that the gear etc in Cataclysm in 10 and 25 is the same, there's no reason why you couldn't have every player doing 25-man two weeks out of three, and 10-man the other week.

  2. In theory you could do that, but you aren't really taking into account the fact that people don't show up all the time.

    For any given night, I think a reasonable guild could count on maybe 80-90% of the members showing up. In this system that's 12-13 people in a 10-man raid guild, and 29-32 people in a 25-man raid guild. Not to mention that you'll normally have a couple unfilled pod slots from general recruiting/attrition.

    I.e. Dave might need to be away all next week, so both his podmates will raid full-time next week.

    As well, you need people to keep their lockouts free so that you can ensure the main raid always has enough players.

  3. The problem with the "fairness" and sitting out is:
    you have players who show up more and those who show up less, those who show up more might skip a raid here or there because of important irl stuff, the second group is those who just find excuse to not raid whenever it occurs, "irl holiday", "family barbecue", "going out with friends", they just value irl more than raiding, which frustrates the first group and officers, why?
    - if you sit out the more attending people, it means you promote the behaviour of "raiding whenever I feel to", when I feel to, my attendance was so low I'd have a guaranteed spot, and when I don't feel to, a more loyal member will do the job, and the loyal member might think why put more effort if I get less not more for that
    - if you give priority to loyal members, you cannot be sure if the last spots fill up at all, because of the 3 "sporadically raiding" players none might show up, also many of them will quit because "they aren't getting into raiding enough" (sure, you skipped 3 raids already and 4th is your sit out day, then the guy feels "omg I never get to raid"), so you're entering a vicious circle

    In pure hardcore guilds it might be easier because "you don't keep 75% attendance (or some other arbitrary rule) = kick", but not all guilds are hardcore, and the summer vacation time is hurting more the "relaxed, half casual" guilds where officers try to cater to people rather than kick them.

    People might prefer those guilds due to "friendly atmosphere" and "no no-life requirements" but it's a nightmare to solve how to satisfy everyone.

  4. @annonymous: So why can't someone who wants to sit out IRL not switch days, or let raid know in advance? The system covers for redundancy immediately with the replacement pods.

    Furthermore, looking at Gevlon's The PUG, you can make a casual raiding guild so to speak that makes progress.

    I think you are talking about personal experience with other methods, and cannot imagine this working if it is made known up front.

    What I'm saying is, that if someone is stupid enough to not trade their days, and then expect the slot, then I can't imagine wanting to deal with them anyways.

  5. I think this is a brilliant organization system that puts some of the hassle (especially people who want to swap nights) in the hands of the raiders instead of on the raid leader.

    Your combination list misses the tank/heal combo possible with dual spec paladins and druids, incidentally. I doubt that's any big deal to include.

    I forgot my password, and I'm too lazy to look it up so I'll post anonymous. Can you tell I'm a healer??

  6. I'm the "first Anonymous" and wanted to answer @Pangoria Fallstar.

    Yes, in my guild the "trade spots" wouldn't work very well because people are inconsiderate enough to not plan when they're going away in advance, just a recent example, a Warlock says 2 hours before the raid "sorry, won't be there today, my niece has wedding party", and I think, omg, you possibly couldn't know MONTHS ahead when your niece has wedding???

    Another example, resto shaman says on short notice as well he bought new huger TV and is gonna watch movies with GF tonight instead of raiding...

    We're goddamn happy if people bother to announce their absences, but many don't. And yeah, the 25 man runs into the same problem as many other guilds - overbooking for farm night, not enough people for progress night. So we're stuck 11/12 normal in 25 (not a hardcore guild, but we could have kingslayers if people gave a damn).

  7. Not all combinations of healers work. 2 Holy Paladins is pretty rough in ICC10 with all the raid damage going on. 2 Disc Priests? Call it now. A Holy Priest and a Resto Druid? Hope the off healer is a Paladin or Valithria will be a pain in the butt.

    Other than that, it's not a bad system.

  8. great idea, but we had a lot of people in my guild who would rather play pure dps but were also okay with bringing the twink healer - mage or holypriest; rogue or holypala // putting them into pure dps pod could make a night look like lacking healers while there were enough, put them into dps/healer and they would be forced to go their second-most-loved char :/