Developing Weak Players

To be clear, this post targets group content where a noticeable amount of coordination is required. That is, situations where individual and group contributions both matter. We’ll be using the example scenario of Guild Wars 2 raiding.

Regardless of exact context, this is a tricky topic. In some sense, it’s social engineering to make other people change themselves, even if it improves their personal skill level. However, with some guiding assumptions, there are methods by which most people can be improved.

If you’re a raid leader, you must essentially take on the role of a coach or a manager. As you’d expect based on examples of successful coaching, not everything goes to plan and not every player has the same attitude towards the game. In general, I would suggest taking the following steps to work through some of the group’s issues.

Identify problem areas

Because we’re looking for actionable items, simply saying “Person A is the problem” is insufficient. What you want to be finding is more along the lines of “Person A is dying to seekers”. Following through with investigation might change the premise to “Person A dies to seekers when healing is insufficient from the druid”. Eventually you’ll be led to something fundamental to what was initially thought to be the problem.

However, this step may be difficult when your personal attention is required elsewhere, and when recordings are unavailable. If you and others in your group are unable to identify what the issue is, then it’s likely that nothing will ever improve. Note that “this person has low DPS” is only the start of identifying the problem, and following through to the point of determining issues with builds or skill usage are much more likely to help solve the lack of DPS.

For some groups, it may be helpful to have each player tally up the number of times their death caused a wipe during a night of raiding, and having them write the reason why they died immediately next to it. By forcing players to take individually take responsibility for their deaths, it can prevent shifting the blame off of themselves. This information should not be made public, as that would serve only to shame the member. It should instead be used as part of another system.

Personal metrics

Not everyone has a good way of determining for themselves whether or not they performed well in a night of raiding. As a result, it can be very subjective without some performance indicators. A simple indicator is the deaths count from above. I would personally rather have a group full of members that die to low DPS numbers at the boss than a group full of members that die from standing in red circles. If the reason for this is unclear, then consider how many wipes you’ll have by taking people who always die in red circles versus how many wipes it would take for people who don’t die to mechanics to learn their rotations sufficiently properly.

Realistically, because death-by-mechanic is fairly well known to be the best target for improvement within a raid group, it should be the first and foremost issue to manage. Once your group is in the position to lose via enrage timers or failed DPS checks, then it’s time to move to another tactic.

Rotations and skill priorities

Learning a perfect DPS rotation is fantastic…in a vacuum. Unfortunately, not all raid bosses will stand still while each squad members pushes buttons in perfect sequence with no interruptions required. As a result, it’s important for each member to know why they’re pushing their buttons at all. In general, not all buttons will have a similar impact on the group, and the ones with highest impact should be used as often as possible.

In GW2, rotations mainly serve as a way to spend a period of time. For example, a Chronomancer has a rotation to spread quickness and alacrity to nearby party members. It has some amount of prerequisites to make it work, and knowing those prerequisites is paramount to successfully using the rotation. As an example, if no party members are nearby, there’s no point in using it because nobody will receive the benefits. Other classes have similar rotations for damage or healing, albeit simple in some cases (1111111 is also a rotation!).

Consider teaching skill priorities and how they relate to the group instead of simply rotations. Members that need to spread boons or send healing are not exempt from knowing their skill priorities and in what times they need to be used. When one knows to do X thing at Y time, then less attention is required to make on-the-fly decisions. Unsurprisingly,  this improves your group success rate.

Communication

In addition to providing the above solutions to players that need improvement, make sure everybody is active in communicating their successes and failures within the group. By giving positive feedback to members who own up to mistakes, you create an environment that supports growth and openness.

Similarly, while inside of a raid instance, it’s important that everybody be on the same page with mechanics and improvised changes (e.g. tank going a different direction). Because voice communications are the fastest way, push for all members to join in on the channel. Directing comments to specific members can help bring people out of their shell, while having multiple speakers in the voice chat helps with bonding for a static group.

Audio cues can also be helpful during many fights. For example, calling out green circles or teleports at Vale Guardian ahead of time reduces the amount of thinking that needs to be done by members. Over time, the callouts will become less necessary, but for newer or weaker members of the team, they can be invaluable. That being said, make sure to point out that becoming reliant on callouts hurts personal development, and that they should be a supplement – not a replacement.

Treat everyone equally

Although the title of this article may lead you to believe otherwise, the content hopefully describes methods that are useful to improve all members of your raiding group – not just the weakest members. Treating all members equally leads to less perceived favoritism, and allows everybody to stay on equal footing. This also means that members who do poorly – and continue to do poorly – need to understand that the time of others has equal value. As can be supported by anecdotal evidence, a leader simply needs to put their foot down when someone fails to pull their weight.

And since the entirety of this post is anecdotal evidence, if you agree with these methods, you might as well agree with that evidence as well. 😀

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