Hidden Hard Modes: Agonizing over Attendamedes

Eighty-percent of success is showing up –Woody Allen


This is written not as a warning, ultimatum, or scolding. It is a frank explanation of the brain activity of a Raid Leader (or this one, at least) during the week leading up to a raid, the moments before a raid, and immediately after. My best trait as a raid leader has always been my resilience to frustration when things haven’t gone right. Dealing with new folks, folks that mess up, blatant failure, I’m pretty good at shrugging it off. Two months straight of grating problems have whittled me down. As my steely resolve begins to unravel I wanted to express why. This is part confessional, part catharsis, part informational.

Hopefully this is something you can pass along to your fellow raiders as you see some of these signs creep up in yourself or your own raid leader.

I’ve written it using “He” for the sake of editorial brevity.

Your Raid Leader

Your raid leader is a dedicated individual, as I’m sure you are. While your dedication rests on the play of your character and it’s job for a particular encounter, his rests on the face of your guild. He is dedicated on a physical level. He gems his gear correctly, he knows his role, and keeps up with the rest of those in his class on most occasions. He is also dedicated emotionally. You may think that you are as well, but like how one can fail to understand the connection between mother and child, one can fail to understand the connection between a Raid Leader and his guild.

The guild hasn’t killed a new boss and you feel it. You would like those extra check marks and to see more of the content. He feels it for all 35 players he currently has rostered and the dozens of players that came before him. His decisions affect the play time of all those people, and some of those are much harder from him than simply calling the next Lightning Rod target.

After the last raid of the week your raid leader starts thinking about the next week. He breaks out the logs and starts going through looking for anomalies. Who stood out? Who didn’t? Why did we wipe 5 times here? How did people stack up on this second kill? Why didn’t we get that new boss down? This breakdown is usually superficial, it’s just a quick hit list of what did and didn’t work.

Immediately what springs to mind were what was missing. “If so and so was here, this would have been easy, but we had to teach such and such this job.” Don’t misunderstand him. The person that has to learn is at no fault in this scenario. Sometimes a new person has to step up and fill in.

Everything has a breaking point for your raid leader’s immeasurable patience. One boss after the other, you learn the instance as a group. You develop strategies and individuals with specific tasks are identified. Sometimes you switch it up just so that someone has the practice. Intangibly, this time is also spent building confidence in your teammates. Trust is important, and confidence in the strategy and your fellow raiders breeds quicker, more efficient kills.

The wildcard is attendance. You need to be there. Your raid leader has established a schedule and a recruitment level so that you can have a full, healthy raid every night.


It’s two days after the raid. That ugly Twin Dragons kill and the sound deaths from Atramedes are a little hazy at this point. Your Raid Leader is now firmly focused on the next reset. He is looking at his roster and formulating the perfect raid composition in his head. There are even contingencies put into place. “This fight is easy with 3 mages, but we have 5. Bonus!” He draws out the next strategy and who he thinks will be great at that job.

The day before the reset has arrived. Your Raid Leader is examining your progression. He sees that a good 10 pulls at the most will finish off this raid boss. If that happens, he should be able to work in a full night on your next target and with some luck… maybe there will be more than one kill! Maybe three!

Elation. “You’re getting back on track,” he says.

Until that moment just 20,  maybe 30 minutes before the first raid of the week. That’s when the tells start, that’s when the notification of absences start to roll in. What? Wait? Why?

“It was looking so good! Everything was in place to take out these new things and progress and I’m going to be missing a tank, 2 of my healers, and all of my warlocks!? The one guy was doing a kiting job, now I have to teach someone new!”

His plan starts to unravel.

Instead of starting in one instance you have to settle for old content in another. Now you realize that those two healers you’re missing are priests and you’ve always had cooldowns for a certain portion of this fight! Maybe you’re working out tank healing, but have no paladins! Four of his best aoe players are gone!

He sits down and wonders where everyone is and why they aren’t in the raid.

But he isn’t angry.

Let Down

Attendance issues give your Raid Leader a helpless feeling. He can do everything right. The best strategy, the best composition, perfectly assigned healing and dps. He’s on time and motivated, but without the tools he’s just a guy on the internet floundering to get something done while not punishing those that are available.

He can teach one new tank, two new tanks, three new tanks, four new tanks, five new tanks, but at the sixth one I guarantee that it’s just a scrambly “please do it right, so we don’t wipe again” prayer more than a tutorial. As you progress your raid leader wants your strategy to go from learning to instinct. This fosters new kills as the old kills get easier. If he is constantly having the raid re-learn the same fights you don’t ever progress. He has the raid attempting to climb out of a hole with a rope that keeps getting longer.

The more you go up, the higher the edge gets.

He will push recruitment and he will get new people into your raid. The chances those folks have done what you’ve done is small, and the cycle above repeats as those raiders become accustomed to a new environment.

Your raid leader is thankful they are there, and he appreciates the patience put forth by existing members to assimilate recruits into the ranks.

But he isn’t sad. He feels good about this next raid week.

Your absence is justified. You had to work late. Your son is sick and needs to be attended to. You had a vacation planned. Maybe you had tickets to a show this evening that you purchased several months ago. The biggest storm of the season knocked out your power, or your ISP just put the clamps on your bandwidth. Your account got hacked two days before you could get an authenticator activated. You caught the flu from the guy that works in the cube across from you.

That’s 8 down and your Raid Leader is deciding which instance to start in.

Are invites out?


9 Responses to Hidden Hard Modes: Agonizing over Attendamedes

  1. Fluffy says:

    THIS. Oh god, so much this.

    I raid lead for a (frankly) casual guild that raids, and more than angering, it’s just straight up disheartening to go from 2 Progression kills (one a one-shot) on night one, to a wipefest on a FARM boss night two, then no shows the next reset. Mostly, even though (intellectually) I can’t do anything about making folks show up, I still feel like I’ve let folks down for not being able to get something together…

    • Borsk says:

      Thanks for reading!

      Anger vs disappointment is a fine line that often gets blurred. For the folks that raid with me, I feel bad for them and for me and how that frustration gets taken out on those that are actually there and ready to go.

    • quori says:

      Just to add….THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS. Oh, and um, THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Seriously…I quit my guild as the GM and RL and walked away. I explained why in a post on my blog…simply put, I was putting in more time and dedication (physically and emotionally) than anyone else. When my officers were then disrespecting me and not supporting me…yeah done.

      Sad as it is to say, I keep coming back to the fact that WoW today is a “Me first, give me mah purplez” environment…more than EVER before.

      Everyone thinks they can do it better.
      Everyone thinks the person in charge is an idiot.
      Everyone thinks they are the best ever at their class.

      On and on it goes. Its actually kind of sad.

    • Borsk says:

      Sorry to hear that it had to come to that. 😦

      It’s easy (maybe too easy) to do in a game where all you need to do is put down the mic, turn off the monitor and all the “virtual people” suddenly disappear into the internet tubes. The more often you do it, the easier it is to do it again and on and on it goes, guild to guild, team to team.

      That is the main reason that guild leaders and recruitment officers look very closely at folks that hop from guild to guild. When we need you to be there, will you be there?

  2. Tzic says:

    That last line makes me cringe inwardly, especially when it occurs while we are trying to figure out how to salvage the night.

  3. Rahana says:

    Great article, summing up pretty much the biggest foe and bane of all raid leaders. As long as I have 10 people on roster, even if it’s not the best composition I wanted to pool for that progress, we can go and try. I can alternate strategies to fit this “sub-optimal” setup and if nothing else, we can practice push phases, cooldowns or whatnot for the night that the encounter-countering class setup is present.

    If I don’t have 10 people to go and raid stuff, I feel like I am letting down the other guys. I start second guessing myself – maybe I should’ve pushed recruitment further, maybe I am doing something wrong that makes people not comfy in raids. While these self-reflections and checks have to be done time to time, if you get into the spiral of thinking it after every other raid, you’ll burn out very soon.

  4. Beruthiel says:

    I could have written this post from start to finish, it is so spot on. We call those “oh god what will we do” nights “Punting”. We do what we can, but when you have to punt one too many times it’s a struggle. Sometimes it’s unavoidable (hello tank that had to get hospitalized), and sometimes you wonder “did they even look at who posted out for the night before deciding they wanted the night off to wax the car.

    As you said it doesn’t really make me mad – just more dissapointed. And it’s all of the disappointments that become disheartening.

  5. Blacksen says:

    Very nice article.

    It happens everywhere and at every level, and it’s basically unavoidable. You feel like if you can just get these 24 people on, you’ll kill the new boss, which will make recruitment easier, and everything will be fixed. But it never happens that way, and you get the nagging feeling in the back of your mind “if only, if only.”

    I read (and wrote about) an article in the Harvard Business Review about resilient organizations, and one of the qualities they found was the ability to improvise. I think raid leaders have to have this quality too: what are you going to do when you simply don’t have a raid capable of downing the boss? Better raid leaders improvise: they find some way to entertain those who did show up, and in some cases, that means sacrificing progression.

    • quori says:

      Saddest thing Blacksen is that the Hard core guilds have a good core of back ups willing to ride the pine and wait.

      The smaller guilds its tough…You still need 14-15 players to form a 10 man, but no one wants to ride the pine.

      Small guild cannibalization is pathetic.

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