All posts by Sparty

You Are All Failures

In a world where everyone focuses on success, on ranks, on …………, we don’t focus enough on our failures. We need to fail in order to succeed, any successful person will tell you that. We as players fail, we learn, and then we succeed. And while I am of the mindset that success is the only option(covered in a later blog), our failures need to be stepping stones to that success.

My guild failed tremendously this expansion. We’re one of the oldest raiding guilds in the world, have always cleared content around a US50 level, but we struggled terribly in Emerald Nightmare and now ToV. Part of that is our expectations of players, we don’t add additional days, we don’t require alts, we don’t do split raids, we don’t recruit mercenary type players. Ultimately we enjoy raiding with each other, we have a thriving community, but at the same time, our raiding and boss rankings suffered. This was probably the worst rank we’ve achieved since WotLK.

But why? Well we had a few core players retire or flake out at the end of WoD, or at the start of Legion: A core healing priest, two hunters, a tank, and a half dozen apps. They don’t make loyal raiders like they used to!

Our recruitment wasn’t sufficient, partly because we don’t ever poach players(it’s despicable). And partly because we raid too many days and shy some good players away.

We made mistakes early into Legion with gearing and how we handled mythic+s. We didn’t push low mythics enough but instead pushed players to do higher mythics. At the same time we didn’t have the same amount of ‘time’ in the day to run mythics compared to other guilds. We’re an older guild full of working professionals, we’re not high school kids anymore.

And despite plenty of beta experience, many of our players didn’t anticipate the time commitment to gear up through mythic+s and the AP gain needed in order to survive many of the raids.

And while we made a few missteps at the start of the expansion, we had many successes as well.

EN was the pre-season. ToV was the actual season, and Nighthold is the playoffs. We’ve been building off our failures in EN and ToV to prepare us for NH.

Failure is Strength

In the above failures, they are now my guild’s strengths. We have revamped how we handle recruitment with raid day adjustments and expectations. We had pushed mythics much further as well as set realistic weekly AP goals for players. How the players achieved those goals didn’t matter. We improved our mentoring process for newer applicants. The guild is now stronger due to our failures with a better position to succeed in the playoffs(Nighthold).

Treat each failure as a stepping stone, as progression.

Celebrate Failures as well as Successes

In our raids, we focus on failures as well the successes. Every mistake, every wipe is a failure. How do we learn from each mistake? Each wipe should be an improvement on the last one. Whether it takes you 50 attempts or 500, it doesn’t matter. We learn from each other as to not repeat failures.

As a raid leader, I like hearing from a player that they made a mistake, this is what happened and why, and this is what they are doing to ensure they won’t do it again. That failure is now a success because not only do I have a better raider, but a better player.

Nothing Great is Achieved without Risk

Think about those of you that have taken the leap of faith to join a guild like mine, like Zeroes to Heroes. So many players are afraid of taking that plunge with a new server, a new guild. Nothing risked, nothing gained. Don’t settle in complacency and comfort. Continue taking those risks.

We extended a lockout on Cenarius during a week where most guilds extended in order to solidify a second rank on the server. While we failed there, it would have been a genius move had we succeeded in the kill and not been idiots standing in brambles.

Failure is necessary. We were all noobs once right? We failed tremendously then. We are probably better players now. Those were your past failures. You built on them to be better players.

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Be an adult, learn from them, and move on. Whether it’s guild failures, raid failures, relationship failures, celebrate in them, and then succeed. Because really, long-term success is the only option.

Guilds are a Marathon, not a Sprint

12 Years ago today, we formed one of the oldest raiding guilds in Warcraft. While the guild formally started on that day, the core friendships began well before that. Treat guilds as a marathon that last’s for multiple years. Raiding tiers are different hurdles, different curves but the race is one long journey in which the guilds that survive, the guilds that last, and the guilds that make the best memories, are the victors.

Instead of giving you a history lesson about my guild I want to leave this blog as advice for Guild Leaders, Officers, and Members.

Guilds and teams are not about one person, they are about every person. Would the Edmonton Oilers have won so many Stanley Cups in the 80s without a solid overall team?  From scoring(Dps), to defense(healers) to goaltending(tanks), each played an integral part in those teams back then.  Appreciate those players that you have, whether it be a dps, healer, or tank. Give them opportunities to grow, and constantly challenge them.  And when they do things right, absolutely give them the pats on the back they deserve. Share and celebrate in their success.

Guild Masters are only as strong as their support staff. Without a solid officer team, and solid veterans leading by example, a Guild Master will quickly burn out from all the work that is necessary to run a guild smoothly. I’ve been lucky enough to have a solid Officer and Veteran team for the majority of this guild’s life. But finding those players that have the extra drive, that have the people skills, and want to deal with people’s complaints, is a difficult feat. If a person has that initiative, foster that, mentor them, and slowly ease them into a leadership position. It typically takes me a few months to groom a Veteran or 6+ months to groom an officer. Take the length of time to ensure you have the right people in place to support you. They should be an extension of yourself, supporting you, but also questioning you as needed.


Sparty’s Four Adages to Running a Guild.

“You are only as valuable to your guild as what you put in.

I’ve told people my advice for this year was to ‘fill the vacuum, intentionally, not accidentally and you’ll be indispensable.’  Leaders lead by example. I would have no business correcting players and coaching players if I wasn’t willing to step up to the task I give them.  And as a player, if you want to find out what you can do to help contribute to your guild outside of raid teams, talk to your officers and GM, I guarantee there is always something to do that they could use help with. Make the lives of your leadership easier through supporting them in return.

“I am never happy, and I will constantly challenge everyone. “

For those of you that know me, this is pretty true. I am a perfectionist and I am constantly challenging those around me to be better. You ranked 90th percentile on dps? Ok nice, why not 95th? That was a nice picture and strat you built, but how are we handling X, Y and Z? You were highest dps, that’s nice, but were you highest dps on the targets that matter? How could you be better utilizing your cooldowns? How are you challenging me for my raid spot? Are you in it for yourself or helping make the team better? My goal is to have any player that enters my doors not only a better player, but a better person.

“Success is the only option.

Constant, forward moving progress. Failing as a guild is unacceptable. Your guild is a representation of you. If your guild fails, you fail. And while mistakes or failures happen within a raid or guild setting, failing forward is what is important. Learn from those mistakes and grow. Ensure your guild is stronger after every single wipe, tier, gkick, and mistake. Because the final goal – success, is the only acceptable result.

“Celebrate Success.”

Find what method works for your guild. Pats on the back, whispers, mount rewards, public recognition, hall of fames, or more opportunities for growth. Praise players that need it, that deserve it. It is what we as humans crave, acceptance and recognition. They’ll say they don’t need it, they’ll say they don’t want it, but deep down everyone needs to feel appreciated.

“Is this decision the best for the guild?”

Every single decision I make in a raid or guild setting comes down to that one line. Is this the best thing for the guild? Is giving that piece of loot best for the guild? Is promoting this person, sitting this person or taking a chance on this applicant, best for the guild? If any decision is made selfishly or without thought of the above, then it is not a decision ready to be made. Don’t make emotional decisions, make logical, pragmatic ones.

And when your guild struggles, when you lose players to other guilds, to real life. When you wipe hundreds of times on bosses, when you lose guild ranking on a made-up website. When you feel discouraged and as a leader aren’t enthused about showing up for raid. And when it seems like everyone on your team is unhappy and finding something to complain about, know that we’ve all been there. I’ve been there too.

There’s been times when recruiting was so poor that we had to siphon our casual raid team. There’s been times where I debated dropping to a 10man(from 25). There’s been times this guild has hung on by a very tiny thread and I nearly quit. Players will leave with legendaries, and the guild’s loot. An intelligent member in your raid will accept free flasks from a random player. And there will be times when you wipe on farm content because tonight simply is a bad night.

Trust me when I say ‘we have all been there, and you can recover from every one of those situations.

You’ll have those moments and times in your guild when things are going poorly and you haven’t had a playoffs appearance like the Toronto Maple Leafs. But there will also be times when you have a dynasty and are winning multiple Stanley Cups.

You may lose a sprint, but being part of a guild is a marathon.

This AP System, is it worth it? Or is it a failed Legion design?

This AP System, is it worth it? Or is it a failed Legion design?

My last post touched on it a bit and really the issue wasn’t the system, but the attitude or perception toward it.

Ongoing, and progressive power gains have been part of any RPG. Every single MMO has a variation of a grind, some worse than others. Legion’s ‘grind’ has been a godsend compared to other MMOs. AP is basically a new experience bar. When we leveled from 100 to 110 we got progressively stronger. AP adds much of the same, direct power to your character. Everquest did it through the Alternate Advancement system, Diablo through the Paragon system. Both have been successful in their time both in terms of creating new content, player retention, and dangling the carrot in front of you. We all want to have our avatars stronger, whether its gear or through alternate advancement methods.

And yes content really opens up at max level or experience, but AP opens up the game to much more content and player power.

Content aside, what is that power worth? What kind of time investment is it worth? That answer is both quantitative as well as qualitative.

A 5% increase in healing, damage, or armor, is substantial over the course of an entire encounter. That 5% also scales with your gear. Hurting on Guarm because you’re hitting the enrage due to low dps? AP will fix it. And while the argument also holds true for better gear and better play fixing it, that’s not the point of this message. The average player on Heroic Guarm does 350k dps. Napkin math 5% more on top and you’re doing 17.5k more. That’s more of an increase than any almost any direct item upgrade you can get. But that number scales. Most mythic raiders on Guarm were pushing well above 400k on Guarm, a 20k increase. And as that gear we get increases, and the Artifact Knowledge reaches critical levels of 24,900% gains, that 5% increase becomes 10%. And then 15%. 60k dps increase on Guarm. Imagine if everyone in your guild did 15% more damage. That is specifically why that 35th trait was so important for guilds. It was such a strong power upgrade for arguably not a huge amount of effort.

Why are guilds killing bosses at a quicker pace? Is it gear alone? Or the damage increases that come with it? It is both obviously, with one additional factor. Stamina. Stamina is increased for each trait you spend, from the first one, to trait 54. The tooltip is actually incorrect in stating that it is ‘up to 34.’

As players are gaining more stamina, they are able to stay alive longer through the unavoidable abilities as well make up for their own mistakes and lack of gear. It’s the same reason I rated Prydaz as the second best legendary. A raid full of 15% more hp or absorb shields (disc priests) is more powerful than everyone with a dps legendary. As a healer with 3.1 Million hp, you notice the difference compared to when you had 2.7 Million.

Those are the quantitative measures. Your heals are that % stronger, you do that much more damage, and take that much less damage. On top of having more hp to stay alive. Because daddy Sparty always says “dead dps does no dps.”

There is no right or wrong pace to complete the game, devour content or increase the power of your character through AP.

So what are the qualitative measures? Bragging rights? The feeling of more power? Should it be a realization of ‘I want to do my best’ or ‘I want to do the best I can,’ or ‘I want to contribute to my guild, my team, my raid?’

Ask not what your guild can do for you but what you can do for your guild. Right? Isn’t that the way it should be?

When players said they would be kicked out of guilds for not having legendaries, I laughed at the notion. Firstly that somebody would be stupid enough to say that, and secondly that a guild would enforce it. That would have to be some disastrously shitty and terrible guild.

Players then said they would be kicked out of their guilds for not enough traits. Again, same reaction as above. Majority of guilds in the world would never do this. Even the top guilds that defeated Mythic Guarm didn’t have a full raid of 35 traits. They didn’t mandate 35 traits for their players. Those players put in the effort on their own accord so that their raid team could succeed. And so that their raid spot was secure.

I asked my own players to be 35 traits for Guarm specifically because we didn’t have the same gear or skill as the top guilds, and because we are the average mythic guild and our AK was that much higher. I didn’t kick players out of my guild for not hitting 35, and I brought players that were sub 35 for the kill. I gave my guild members guidelines of where they should be each week. As of this week, they should be at a minimum of 42 traits. And that’s at a relaxed pace to reach the goal of 50 traits by Nighthold.

“Sparty, you tyrant, that’s insane!” Well when we’re gaining over a million AP daily from world quests alone and the additional traits are just over 2.5 mil… it’s not a lot of effort. It’s a pace of roughly AP world quests daily, a random heroic, or a bunch of mythics throughout the week. If I can manage to find an hour a day to do my world quests, despite having a family, a fulltime job, a stream, a new baby, and a 4 day raiding guild, then the issue again isn’t the system, but time management. Either you’re good at it, or you’re making excuses.

So as leaders of your guilds and raid teams, you want your teams to succeed, and you know that AP is going to help your team no matter what. So how do you motivate your team to do those things? AK aside, I do empathize that people feel it’s a little grindy. Sure.

“WoD created an environment where what was needed was to have something to do.  With the changes in Legion some of the resistance to it has come from not having the extra time to fully gear up and work with alts.  You can’t do that in Legion without slowing down the progression of your main.

We got lazy in WoD and any semblance of effort is ‘offensive’ and ‘forced.’”

So how do you make it the AP gains better or easier?

  1. Use and abuse AK. As of writing this post I’m at 23 (17800%) and gaining just under a million AP in daily WQs. At 24, and 25 we’ll gaining 22300% and 24900% more AP respectively. Do not burn yourself out early with low AK levels.
  2. Set goals. I’ve set a weekly relaxed goal for my guild that I believe won’t burn them out as well as keep them on track for completing their artifacts early into Nighthold.
  3. Do it as a group. WQs are much quicker when you’re with someone else. Knocking a few mythic+s with your friends, guildies, or stream viewers is substantially better than trying to do things on your own. Your time is valuable, don’t waste it. Don’t have friends to do them with? Sparty#1780 is my btag, congrats you have someone to do them with.
  4. One of the fastest ways to farm AP is through running a ton of Mythic 7-9 Maws. See this video: 

  5. Time management. It’s a game, it’s your life. There’s no right or wrong pace to power up your character. Don’t lose out on your real life to gain a few more pixel points. (I’m not missing on seeing my daughter grow to do a few quests)
  6. If you’re not happy in your current situation, whether it’s your guild ‘forcing’ you to hit certain AP targets, or you just don’t like logging in outside of raids, or dungeons, leave. Do what makes you happy.
  7. Use that competitive drive that you have. My guild is starting a contest as of January 1st. We are pairing up players with similar total AP and rates of gain. We’re putting together head to head AP battles. The person that gains the most AP in 17 days gets prizes: Mounts, pets, game time, Steam Gift cards. It’s a way to reward our players for pushing themselves further. Find what will motivate you. Does it feel like a job? It shouldn’t. It’s a game.

Increasing your character’s power is a choice like anything else. Either do or do not, there is no try.