Motivation to Raid

In my years playing, I’ve seen many answers to this question that tend to boil down to one of the following:

  • for loot to be able to take on harder content
  • for loot to PvP with
  • strictly for the challenge of beating content
  • to play with friends

Ask me, and I’d say I fall  into the first category.  I don’t PvP, and I want to experience all the content the game has to offer.  But unlike many people, I am happy to continue running content with my guild so long as we keep on challenging ourselves.

Of course, the question isn’t really complete, nor are the answers of much use to a guild leader.  It doesn’t take much skill to get a group of people together to progress through a raid instance and take down the final boss.  What you really want to ask is “What motivates you to keep raiding after you’ve achieved the superficial goal that was your first answer?”.  What drives your raiders to go back in and keep killing bosses after you have the loot you want?

The second question will illicit a multitude of responses from people, and those responses will tell you far more about the person.  As a guild leader, you owe it to yourself and to your guild to understand what motivates your raiders to raid.

Raiding as an Investment

If you’re like me, you may see continued raiding of an instance as an investment in the next tier of content.  I’m not just talking about gear, as any reasonably sized guild will see everyone decked out in the current tier long before the next content patch comes out.  I’m talking about the investment in keeping the guild functioning as a cohesive unit.  When new raiders come together, it takes a little while before everything meshes smoothly; as you lose members and gain new ones over time this process has to be repeated, though it should be less disruptive each time.

Once things are going smoothly, you need to keep practising, not unlike a professional sports team.  You can’t expect to return for a new season with nothing but your final playoff victory under your belt.

When the next tier of content comes out, you will be able to move into it as a cohesive unit.  Raiders who view raiding as an investment are more likely to pass on loot that is a minor upgrade to get other people geared up – not because they necessarily want someone to get loot before them, but because they recognize that a raid group is only as strong as its weakest link, and passing on loot provides indirect benefit.

These types of raiders are the easiest to maintain, but there are things to watch out for.  If you go backwards in progression (repeatedly failing to clear a boss that was considered to be “on farm”) or have to cancel raids, you may risk losing members of this type.  Likewise, if their tendency to think of the group first is abused by people joining the guild, getting geared up then jumping ship, they may become demoralized.

Keep pushing the guild as a whole and making measurable (not necessarily rapid) progress and you will have no problems retaining and maintaining these types on your roster.

Raiding Strictly for Loot

Everyone raids for loot to a some extent, even if they may claim otherwise.  Some raiders raid only for the loot though.

I’m not talking about the best in slot fanatics – they’ll keep raiding for a single slot drop with a 1.5% drop rate for months.   I’m referring to people who are happy to complete their tier set and then take a break until the next patch comes out.  Members who join a normal raiding guild to get gear just to jump to a bigger guild to get their heroic gear also fall into this category – they are always considering the time invested to gear reward ratio, and moving on when another guild can offer them more favourable terms.

Some of these raiders you can’t really hope to retain – they’re going to soak up what they can, presumably hiding their intentions until it’s too late.  But you may run into people who join a guild for gear but learn that there are other reasons to raid.  Perhaps they’ve come from a history of guilds in which performance wasn’t recognized, either materially or just with a compliment.  Little things can encourage such people to become a part of the guild instead of viewing it as simply a vehicle for phat lewtz.

There are some policies you can put into place that encourage people like this to stay.  Having a generous discount on gear for alts that no main spec wants can be paired with an understanding that if their main is required for balance purposes, then they will relog without question or protest.

Think of these raiders as opportunities for your leadership style to shine – show them that there is more to raiding than epics, and maybe they’ll come to the conclusion that being part of a team in the last tier’s gear beats being a well-equipped guild hopper.

Raiding Strictly for PvP Gear

As I mentioned, I don’t PvP.  It brings out a really nasty side of me.  So my thoughts on this type of raider may be way off.

My understanding is that due to poor itemization on the part of Blizzard, PvE gear dominated the early arena seasons in this expansion, and probably still does in battlegrounds today due to the wider range of players and lower need to be competitive.  Patch 3.2 looks to be buffing resilience significantly, so PvE gear probably won’t be as desirable in arenas (if indeed it’s that popular in 3.1).  That being said, there are people who favor PvP over PvE even though they raid regularly.

I’m going to risk making a sweeping generalization by saying that people who are in the game primarily for PvP are not as likely to put the guild or the raid group first.  Like daily quests for a dedicated PvE player, raiding is something they do in order to do the thing they really want to do.  I’m not pulling this out of thin air – I’ve observed this behaviour in many guilds before, but as I don’t PvP myself, I don’t get much of a chance to see PvPers who don’t join PvE guilds.

Be aware that for these raiders, raiding has to be a significant draw to continue to be interesting.  Endless farming of PvE content only takes away from the time they could be spending endlessly farming honour.  Don’t let your raiding momentum slack if you have a large number of these players in your guild.

Raiding Until It’s Been Done Right

I’m a bit of a perfectionist when I raid.  I can’t stand it when people say “good job” in raid chat after we’ve lost more than half the raid and pulled off a kill by the skin of our teeth.  That type of thing isn’t a good job, it’s a horrendous bodge of a kill that we can be thankful for but should not be proud of.  The last time I was farming Naxx in a guild, trying to get The Immortal was one of the only things that kept me going.

The tenacity of players who want to see everything go down cleanly means that you usually don’t have to worry about attendance.  Like the investment raiders, they want to walk away from a raid knowing that something was achieved – even if that something was just a cleaner kill this week than last of a boss that drops loot nobody can use.  The same style of leadership will attract and maintain these raiders as investment raiders, but recognize the subtle differences in what they consider to be “measurable progress”.

Also be wary if you have a large number of these raiders when you plan to rotate content off your raid schedule.  If someone has been showing up faithfully to Naxx for three months helping to get everyone trained and geared because they want the immortal achievement, they might not take it so well if you move Naxx to a non-official raid or drop it from your schedule entirely.  You’re not going to pull off that achievement in a PUG raid, so once the guild stops trying, the member’s chances of getting their title disappear.

In the same way that Blizzard gives advance notice that things like the raiding proto-drakes will no longer be available after the next patch, give plenty of advance notice that you’re going to stop attempting to get certain achievements during guild raids.

Raiding Because your Friends Raid

Some raiders might not really know why they raid, other than that someone that they know and/or trust in-game said that they should.  Many people start off raiding this way, but find their own reason to keep raiding.  Others just keep doing it for the social aspect of raiding.  The problem is that while you can set expectations and requirements for the other raiding types, people who are doing it to be with friends might not come along so easily.  They may not see the point of re-gemming and re-enchanting gear to keep their stats in balance, or spend time reading about DPS rotations or boss strategies.

If you occasionally bring friends and family members to your raids, then this won’t be a huge problem – a well-trained group can pick up the slack for a few underperformers.  But if your raid group is a core set of competent raiders padded by layers of social raiders, then progress may be slow.  This can feed back on itself, demoralizing your core group.

If your guild is not super-hardcore, some of these raiders can present an opportunity for you to develop them into a more serious player.  Sometimes we forget that we were all once like this – unsure of what was going on in a raid, trying to mimic a more experienced member of your class, and frantically whispering a trusted member of the group with questions.  Try to put yourself in their shoes; think about what questions you would be asking.  Pair them up with a helpful member of their class.  Don’t do all the heavy lifting though – if they show interest in taking their game up a notch, be clear as to what they need to do and what areas you need to see improvement in.  This can be as simple as them having read a strategy or watched a video before they show up to a raid so that they don’t slow down the entire group while you explain things.  As they progress, keep setting the bar a little higher until they are performing at the level of your other raiders.  By that point, they will hopefully have found their own specific motivation to keep raiding.

The Raiding Ambivert

Just as few people fall squarely into one psychological profile, it’s unlikely that more than a handful of your raiders are so neatly defined as I have suggested above.  The archetypes will still be present, but mixed together in varying proportion.

You can’t hope to cater directly to the needs of every raider in your guild.  The best you can do is to get a feel for the drive that the majority of raiders identify with, and have your guild’s purpose centre around that.  If two motivations are present in your raiders in close proportion, consider catering to the second in some official capacity (alt runs for gear, clearing old hard modes until you’ve done them cleanly, etc.)

On the other hand, if you find that no one motivations is dominant in your members, perhaps the guild has lost its sense of direction.  You can’t effectively be a “casual raiding RP PvP” guild all at the same time – at least not with the same group of people.  There will be simply too many conflicting opinions on what the guild should be doing, and progress along any of those lines will be slow.  Should you find yourself in this situation, it might be time to consider splitting the guild alone interest lines, keeping communication and relations open but allowing each split to concentrate on the thing they do best.

Until next time.

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