Raiding: Jigsaw Puzzle or Rubik’s Cube?

I’m going to take a break from being Samuel the Rogue today, and talk about being Samuel the guild leader.  With patch 3.1 coming out, and Ulduar on the horizon, I thought I’d discuss keeping a guild together in the storm that is to come.

Recently, another guild wanted to “merge” with us.  Mergers aren’t always a bad thing, but this case, their idea of merger was to absorb us.  The problems with this merger for our guild were the raiding times and the fact that the other guild had over 100 level 80 characters already.  They claimed that they didn’t want to be a giant mega guild, but they were still actively recruiting and attempting to merge with (absorb) other guilds.

I had allowed one of their officers and their leader into our vent server to talk about it, which turned out to be a mistake, because we’d be in the middle of raiding, and the officer would randomly log in and repeat the same lines over and over again trying to convince us to go with the merger.  The guild members in vent were very uncomfortable, so I politely asked him to leave.

The issues we had with his converstation were how he said that his guild “made another guild who they were,” and that if we didn’t join up “everything was going to fall apart with 3.1,” so we should join them in the interest of self preservation.  On that note, boasting and intimidation are not the way to get a guild to want to merge with you. 

We were also informed that their Ulduar progression team had already been made, consisting of only people who had played the game since it came out.  Add that to the comment that they “weren’t elitist” and most of my guys were whispering me that they weren’t interested.

All things considered, part of what he said is true.  Guilds will fall apart,  issues will come up and things have the potential to get nasty in 3.1.  Combating those issues won’t be solved by splitting my guys up in a 130+ member raiding guild.  If you’re like us, and it’s just as important to stay together as it is to progress, you’ll need to combat your problems before they happen. 

Depending on your guild’s circumstances, you are either a jigsaw puzzle or a Rubik’s cube.

I’m sure you think I’m crazy, but I’m going somewhere with this.

–  Raiding with Jigsaw Puzzles and Rubik’s Cubes  –

This is geared for a small or medium sized guild that is close to having enough for either two 10 man raids or one 25 man raid.

Let’s say you have a guild of about 25 people, and you want to get two 10 man raids going into Ulduar for progression.  To fully accomplish that task, you’ll need:

  • 4 Tanks
  • 6 Healers
  • 10 DPS

Your best bet is to have a good mix of classes and specs, but if you don’t, can it be done?  Probably, but it would be very difficult.  Imagine trying to take down Kel’Thuzzad with 2 Prot Warriors, 3 Holy Paladins, and 5 Rogues.  It would be extremely difficult (if even possible) to get past the first phase, and healing through the unavoidable double ice tombs would be very hard.

What I’m getting at here is balance.  My guild is extremely melee heavy in our raids.  It works fine for most content, but it makes other content, like Kel’Thuzzad, harder than it needs to be.  The issue with us is that our melee DPS is more consistent with their availability than our ranged.  Take away that factor, and we really don’t have any issues.

What does this have to do with jigsaw puzzles and Rubik’s cubes?

Jigsaw Puzzle

If your issue is that you don’t have the number of people to fill out the number of raids you’d like, you have a jigsaw puzzle problem.  You’re missing pieces.   Have you ever gotten to the end of a puzzle only to realize that you’re missing a few pieces?  You know that you’ll eventually find them, but of course, it will be much later than you needed.

If you’re a small to medium sized guild and you’re “missing pieces,” don’t panic.  Unlike Naxx, Ulduar is supposed to be much harder to PuG.  The good news is that harder content makes it more likely that players will be available to join your cause, assuming that you’re doing well.  There will be plenty of good players that just won’t have spots in their own guild’s raids, or can’t make the times that they decide to raid. 

These are the players that can finish your puzzle.  You’ll run into them in your PuGs, be they heroics or raids.  If they’re a good fit for your group and they seemed to enjoy themselves, let them know that you’d like to have them back again.  If things go well again, you’re more likely to recruit them than if you shove an invitation their way after a single raid.

Granted, this practice won’t be as easy as it was in Burning Crusade.  In BC, Heroics still had a place in progression, as the badge gear increased in quality over the lifetime of the expansion.  Unfortunately, emblems of Heroism are not getting an upgrade in the near future (or possibly ever), so it’s unlikely that you’ll find fully geared people in heroics, as there is little to no benefit to them.

Rubik’s Cube

A Rubik’s cube is an interesting puzzle.  All of the pieces are there, but you have to get them in the proper order.  If your guild has all of the players needed to fill the number of raids you want, then you’re like a Rubik’s cube.  Your task is to figure out how to distribute your players so that all of the sides of your cube match.

There are mulitple schools of thought on how to split your players.  There are many factors to consider as well.  Finding the balance between all of these really is like solving this puzzle.

If you solve a Rubik’s cube the standard (not speedy) way, you solve it one layer at a time, moving pieces around until they are all in the right place.  At certain points you have to temporarily displace pieces that are already in place to get the rest in line. 

How does this apply to staffing your raids? 

A standard 3 x 3 cube has three layers.  Again, if you are solving it with the most common method, you solve it a layer at a time (top, middle, bottom).  Making sure that you have the proper balance of tanks, healers and DPS is your first concern, or top layer.  If you have four tanks and you put three in one of your two raids, the other raid will not be able to perform.

On to our middle layer, or getting a good class balance.  Despite the “bring the player not the class”  mentality, class balance can improve the synergy of your raids.  Putting all of your Paladins in one raid isn’t as efficient as splitting them up.  Blessing of Kings is a very powerful buff, and unlike most other buffs only available to one class.

The final layer of the cube is the most interesting to solve, because solving it requires really messing up the other parts of the cube.  The interesting part is that when these pieces fall into place, the other parts come back together and everything is in its place.  This is akin to how you stack your players for your groups.  Do you put your best players in one group, or do you balance the groups.  It really depends on your goals; do you want two successful groups, or one fast progression group?

Once you have all the pieces in place, and everything running smoothly, you’re good to go.  Just don’t let someone pick up your cube and mess it up.


Whatever puzzle you might consider yourself to be, if you’re an officer or guild leader trying to stay afloat in the storm that is to come, you’ve got to get your pieces in order.  Keep your guild an attractive, successful and fresh place to be and you’ll likely make it out okay.

– Sam

One Response to Raiding: Jigsaw Puzzle or Rubik’s Cube?

  1. shibumi says:

    As a long time member of a guild (over 15 years) that has travelled from game to game, I certainly understand what you say. Like any group, our guild has gone through changes. Leadership has come and gone, purpose has evolved and yet the core members still are there.

    We too went through the merger and it didn’t work well. It got us into 25 man and then 40 man raids, as we didn’t have the geared folks to do it alone. However it brought grief along with the ability to play.

    Guilds, like families, are oft hard fought structures. Much goes into the organization behind the scenes that others do not see. Not all is roses and sugar, sometimes there are hurt feelers and folks leaving in huffs over perceived ills. This is just how it is – like real families.

    We are still around, still raiding and still arguing on vent and in our webchat, but we argue with a common goal – the betterment of the guild at large. narrower goals tend to drop off, like withered limbs from lack of nourishment.

    I liked your post here – it’s a good one, and I eagerly await the next installment.


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