Carrot vs Stick


art by mynxie-chu

So anyone who was following me last night saw that I posted that after a few weeks of attempts and then restructuring, my guild was finally able to down Sartharion with three drakes up.  Hold on a second, *re-reads the previous sentence a few times* ahem, so yes, there was much rejoicing to be had in Duegville.  As the warm glow spread over me though, I thought back over the process that brought us to this point and some thoughts struck me.

Of course, it wasn’t easy, and I’m not just speaking of the fight.  Any guild is going to require weeks of preparation at least simply because it’s not easy to adequately gear out 25 people.  However, it’s not just an issue of gear, but there are other factors as well.  A guild must become a team in order to be able to accomplish these sort of things, wherein each person knows their job and sticks to it, working towards the common goal.  But it’s not always so easy to just throw together a group of people and say “Perform!”  The best gear in the world won’t accomplish a raid if your hunter is off hopping in the lava while your shaman decides to tank out and your DK tank thinks it’s better to be blood spec because that’s where the damage is.  But how do you do that?

For our guild, it wasn’t easy.  The main problem was that everyone was focused and brought their A-game when it came to the loot pinata of Naxx, but as soon as someone mentioned dragons, everyone would suddenly find something more interesting to do on raid nights.  We had a solid core of people who understood that guilds are more than loot machines, but beyond those 15 or so raiders there was a certain lackadaisical attitude towards progression.  So the leadership got together, hunkered down and started trying to actively encourage people to come to raids.

We had just started our DKP system so the most obvious choice to begin with was bonus DKP for progression fights.  Just showing up would net you an extra 10 DKP, plus 10 more for every hour of wipes, plus an additional amount of DKP at the end of the night, even if we hadn’t downed the content.  Downing it for the first time meant 50 DKP.  This was a very big carrot.  It sort of worked in that it brought a few extra raiders to the table for progression fights, but we were still consistently short a full raid on progression nights and always bursting at the seams for Naxx fights.

So the next idea was that there was no longer a single Naxx night, but instead we would turn Naxx into part of the carrot.  We started each evening on progression fights, once we had wiped for a couple of hours on those, then we would do Naxx as a reward for those who had stuck it out and at least tried.  This system worked better and we were able to finally start doing regular progression fights, but that didn’t mean we were a force to be reckoned with, oh no, not at all.

The fact is that the difficulty from Malygos or Sarth 2D to 3D scaled dramatically.  This meant that people who had been coasting through easy raiding content suddenly found themselves having to actually pay attention and make sure they were doing things right.  It wasn’t faceroll time anymore and people are regularly failing at void zones and flame walls.  Now yes, Sarth 3D is crazy with stuff happening all over the place, but fact is, it’s not impossible.  Other people have done it, so why can’t we?  We’re good enough, we’re smart enough, and gosh darnit, people (who aren’t alliance) like us!

So here is where the stick came out.  The first thing that came into play was a death tax.  Basically this meant that if you died to a flame wall or a void zone, you had to pay 25g directly into the guild bank.  Reason was, if you died before a wipe, you contributed to the wipe, therefore, you had to help pay for everyone’s repairs.  We went from about half the raid dying on the first flame wall (sad, but true), to about three or four immediately after this was announced.  After a few progression attempts with this rule in place, people were focused enough that we could sort of forget about the death tax unless for some reason it was just a failtastic evening all around.

Of course, though we were able to get progression shots in regularly, we were still having problems getting full raids on every raid night.  People were still ducking out of the harder content or only coming one night a week for whatever reason.  Again, the stick was brought out and it was decided that you had to come to at least 2 out of our 3 raid nights a week otherwise you were deemed a “casual” member and would not receive raid invites.  A little harsh, yes, but it also meant we weren’t bringing along and gearing out someone who was going to sacrifice the work the guild put into him or her in the interest of just being a “casual raider” (whatever that means).

Because a few of our semi regulars lost their status, we were forced to take a few weeks off from the only progression we had left, Sarth 3D, and bring in some new trial members who could meet our new standards.  After letting them prove their worth (which they most definitely did), last night we went back in and finally progressed like we had been trying.  The main differences?  Last night people were focused and professional, paid attention, did their jobs, accomplished what needed to be accomplished, and basically acted like a raid team.  The fight, though not easy, felt much more doable than it did in the past, and I could definitely tell after the first wipe that it would be our night.  An hour and a half of wipes, and the job was done.

Now that I look back, I can see that it took an equal amount of carrot and stick to get this accomplished.  At first we tried to be all carrot, and that certainly helped to a small degree, but all it did was encourage people to show up, it didn’t encourage them to do it right.  When the stick came out, it caused people to focus and to understand that though we weren’t going to be a harsh, tyrranical guild, we were going to progression guild and if you weren’t interested in that, well, good luck to you elsewhere.  We lost some members along the way, but normal attrition to real life and burnout will do that regardless, and besides, we gained some excellent ones as well.

So now I ask you, how does your guild handle a lackluster raiding force?  Are they all carrot, hoping people will fall in line for rewards alone or do they bust out the stick and start whacking away at stupidity?  Do you think one is better than the other or does it have to be a fair balance?  Opinions are good, so leave yours in comments!


PS:  Today is Ambrosyne’s b-day, so wander on over to her siteand wish her a very bubalicious year!  Happy Birthday Bubz!


2 Responses to “Carrot vs Stick”

  1. 03/30/2009 at 12:49 PM

    Big congrats Deug! We’re having the same trouble with Immortal at the moment. Getting 25 people to pay attention all Naxx and not stand in stupid things is hard. Suddenly Sartharion and Malygos are our best attendance nights while Naxxrammas rarely has people log on until half way through the raid. Part of our solution is when we have attendance problems every raid night becomes a “mystery raid” so people that skip often miss the fight they wanted that week. That tends to perk attendance up a bit.

    Motivation is difficult, what motivates one group puts another off and so you wind up juggling rewards and punishments until one week a miracle happens and you hit that goal.

    Another grats for you guys meeting yours this week!

  2. 03/30/2009 at 1:11 PM

    First, that is an awesome graphic!

    Second, we had the same experience when it came to Sarth 3D, and our solution was one-part carrot, two-parts stick.

    Basically, we stopped scheduling raid events and scheduled raid nights instead. Sarth-3D was always the priority, so anytime we had a raid make-up conducive to attempting it, we did — even if it meant leaving Naxx mid-wing and relocating to the Obsidian Sanctum. This worked quite well, especially after one of our mages decided to make a public example of himself: after ducking out of what he thought would be another 3-drake wipefest, he ended up missing out on a Naxx-25 farm run. The Turning Tide dropped (naturally), and went to one of our Friends & Family members since he wasn’t there to claim it. The mage had been saving his PR for The Turning Tide for weeks, and would have been next in line if he’d bothered to attend. He threw a very public temper tantrum and signed up for the next raid as “no, sorry, too pissed off.”

    Needless to say, he’s been benched ever since.

    At the same time that we vagued up our raid nights, we started tracking attendance and implemented a 66% (2 out of 3 scheduled raids) minimum for “core raider” status. This bumped a few of our semi-regulars down to “casual raider” (now simply called “raider”) and cost them their guaranteed raid spots. We also reopened recruitment for all non-tanking classes, and filled those newly open spots with people who actually wanted to raid.

    The week after we downed 3D, many of our “missing” raiders started logging on again and signing up for raids. I’ve been wait-listing them, and prioritizing raid spots to those players who got us through 3D. It’s caused some drama and at least one /gquit among the fairweather crowd — but at the end of the day, I want to raid with people who want to raid for the challenge and comraderie, not the lure of loot.

    Thinking about it now, it seems less a matter of carrot and stick than it is making both expectations and consequences known, recruiting like-minded people and phasing out the unlike-minded.

    Good post though. Definitely food for thought there — even if it is rabbit food. 🙂

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