Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The fall of leadership

As I told, the effect of WGClean was huge. The M&S was removed, the others acted according to the strategy. The trolling, "lol i play 4 fun" crap was removed from the /raid, the team actually resembled a team.

The question is why the increase was only 30%? Why didn't we start to smash the horde? I remember when the horde was completely locked out from VoA in prime time by Inglorious Gankers. With much worse tenacity. Why can't we do the same now, even with WGClean?

The solution came from the failure of the simplest, yet most effective defense strategy. I ordered all players to gather at the crossroad, front of the keep outer door. They did. I told them to buff. They did. I told them to wait for the horde. They did. When the horde arrived, I told them to attack. They did. We grinded the horde like trashmobs. We got 2lt promotion. I told them to get back to the keep, except my group that goes south.

Except for guildmates, every single player stayed in the crossroads and died. Of course some could die despite perfect execution, for being gripped and stunlocked. But all? And how comes that my guildmates were immune to this effect? The guildmembers at the keep told that the other people did not even attempted to reach the teleporter. They just kept fighting at the crossroads until every single one of them died, promoting the horde, providing sieges from both directions in 5 minutes from start.

Considering that they carried out every single order before and none told "i play how i wanna dun tell me to go keep lol", it seemed that they were simply unable to carry out the order. With attacks, the situation was even clearer. Every time I told some people to guard this or that, they did, but after 3-4 mins they magically disappeared, except for guildmates of course. Also, if I failed to mention something, even completely obvious things, they messed it up. For example I told them to "attack east wall of mid yard from SR", and they did push there, but without any vehicles.

I simply reached the performance limit of the available minions. The destructive tendencies (catapult riding, trolling, ignoring strategy) were weeded out, but they were still unable to think constructively, fill out the holes and adapt. Also, some tasks couldn't be taught to them, no matter how hard I pressed them. If I told them they will be kicked if they do it again, they apologized, promised they won't, and they did. Typically they are unable to resist chasing red letters and staying in one place in absence of the horde. Also unable to resist the urge to build siege train. Finally I couldn't fix 1000 DPS, empty sockets, terrible talents and such kind of crap.

On the other hand my iron-fist approach suppressed individual initiative, even among guildmates. If I told people to attack from SR, they did, and when SR was attacked no one turned back. When I asked why, they told "the order was to attack". I couldn't fix that within the iron-fist framework as it would need such complicated orders as "Attack from SR, bring 2-3 sieges, watch if SR is attacked and if it is, X and Y go back, if you find numerous horde, call for reinforcements which will be GRP4 and after cleaning SR, rejoin the attack, bringing new vehicles if needed and available". In the Inglorious Gankers there was no need for such approach. We just decided who will be west, east, south and acted on our own, adapting the situation.

The leader-minion system leads to mediocre results. Not terrible ones, but mediocre. It will stop the low performance, but also the high performance, making everyone an equal minion. This is an improvement from the M&S, but much worse than the cooperation of intelligent people. Also, it de-motivates intelligent ones as they are bored and restricted by the simple orders. The complicated tasks must be broken down to simple ones by the leader, communicated clearly, enforced properly.

The attacks need fast adaptation as Wintergrasp is favoring defense. You have to outsmart the defense to win. Assuming that the defense do not fail, offense never wins. On defense you simply have to focus on not failing. "Not failing" can be enforced as those who fail can be punished. Therefore the triple-quadruple defense victories due to WGClean. On the other hand on offense if people focus on not failing and not on trying new things, we will hold the towers and the workshops for 30 mins and don't break a single wall. An outcome that happened several times.

As I told already: there is no black and white, there is no "perfect minion" and "perfect rational". By giving and enforcing orders I pushed everyone to the minion side. This was good for dumb ones but bad for smart ones. Also, it needed the active suppression and kicking of other intelligent people, just to uphold my power over the minions, or to be more specific, the "minionated" people.

I end this. I will no longer lead WG, strike that I ask everyone in the guild to not lead either. The iron-fist leadership+WGClean gave weak results. Now lets try just WGClean. Let's liberate the intelligent part in the people. So the new plan: everyone does whatever he wants, there is no leading at all, but we still kick people for destructive behavior:
  • PvP with vehicles instead of using it against walls/towers
  • use catapult when we are attacking (note: since PvP with vehicles is already banned, it leaves catapults for south towers on defense)
  • fishing or other way inactive
  • suiciding, running alone into the horde
I will unban everyone who were banned for different reasons. Let's see now how far we get without oppressing anyone except the M&S. I will announce the above in /raid with a macro. I ask the addon users to use the italics texts for ban reasons.


Sean said...

I've seen this problem before. Sometime ago in Frostmourne (US) - Alliance, a leader (Daish) arose which brought a lot of results. However, there were some battles that were lost because of the situation that you described: people's initiative was supressed (because they looked up to him) and they didn't know what to do.

The solution is regional commanders. There were some people (me included) who took charge of certain sectors of the battlefield. We communicated via /yell or by saying, "those on the west-side do this, etc".

Squishalot said...

I'm initially surprised you don't use siege for keep defense, but given the level of tenacity you get, it's probably not worth it. On balanced servers, single individuals in a siege / demolisher have significantly more survivability than those outside one, and are therefore more productive on keep defense.

At least, this next week, you have sufficient data to determine whether iron clad leadership > liberation. But not sufficient data to say whether WGClean is any use in the first place.

I'll be curious to see if you can restrain yourself from giving orders though...

Leading Works said...

Gevlon, what you needed was middle management. Give the more rational people (guildies?) authority over their area.

This means that instead of (attack from SR). You give orders to your managers (attack from SR, adapt as needed), who give orders to the minions (attack from SR. Now pull back. Now make seiges. Now sneak to the south and attack. etc.)

This is how large multinational corportations can have huge successes even with 90% minion (no creative movement, MANY if not all are M&S) 10% rational leaders.

Honestly, there will always be minions out there, and always it is better to instruct them than let them do whatever. Maybe the ones who aren't fixable should be screened out (e.g. the catapult on minute 25 of offense M&S,) but you want to use some minions since they are cheaper and can be efficient.

In order of effectiveness:
1) Rational Leaders Hierarchy, screened out terrible M&S.
2) Free for all, screened out terrible M&S.
3) Rational King, no sub-leaders/middle management, screened out terrible M&S.
4) Free for fall, no screening.

You were doing 3, and you did prove it was better than 4. You propose to do 2, and I am unsure but think it will be better than 3 -- I bet enough people in the raid who didn't get screened out are smart enough to adapt effectively.

However, you are missing out on option 1, the most efficient and best option. That is what you should try next, not option 2. Or at least try option 1 in a week after you see how option 2 does.

If you do try option 1 and it is the best, I will be impressed, especially since you once said how you hated leading and never would do it. The interesting question is if the efficiency gain in option 1 over option 2 is worth it to you having to lead.

I am fairly intelligent and dislike M&S to a large degree. However, I realize that being a leader in a good leading system (or even a minion in a good leading system) is better than no leading system at all.

Also, I don't mind leading as much as you expressed you do, though I do mind it a good bit. I prefer to be a nearer to the top leader so I am leading other rationals -- people who are more mixed rational/minion are best at the level directly above the minions anyways. Plus since they are usually a bit more social they are more effective leading the other minions, since for a rational giving good social feedback is often harder and more forced/unnatural seeming.

This is probably the best blog comment I've ever made, thanks for helping me get/put into words this insight.

Clyde L. Rhoer said...

I'm a somewhat new reader... prepping myself for Cataclysm. I've been reading this with some interest. Looking at WOWwiki it says there can be 125 people in Wintergrasp. Is this correct? What are the numbers usually like?

Have you considered that you've established a command structure, but it sounds like you have no sub leaders? Perhaps if you had trusted people with good decision making ability leading segments you would have more success?

Running 125 people with a single leader is going to be difficult. Especially in something that is a hobby activity nominally done for enjoyment. I know this from experience. What are your lines of communication like?

Or is the experiment about trying to self-organize with little effort?

Anyway, I've been enjoying reading, and seeing you testing different options and then looking at results.

Ron said...

What your seeing isn't new. Militaries have been solving these issues for ages.

Think of inglorious ganders as a special forces team. Skilled, highly trained and strategizing. They know the situation and can adapt. This is evident by a smaller force being able to take down a much bigger one.

Now what your experiencing is akin to having normal infantry. These newly converted MS are straight out of boot. They're steadily getting over their bad habits but still need clear concise constant direction. They're capable of getting the job done but need more attention.without it they. Do whatever they were last told to do. Or worse they revert to their bad habits.

You can take a page out of the military handbook and have actual leutenants. Assign a guildie to "lead" each group. In the absence of direct orders from you the lt's are in charge.

Carl said...

I don't see why you must ban catapults on offense. You can use them to effectively provide cover fire for larger vehicles, so the opposing melĂ©e have to stand in the bad in order to attack your tanks, and end up dying quickly. Of course, then you'd have to teach everyone how to effectively use a catapult.…..

Unknown said...

I agree with above posters. You need lieutenants, especially if your group may split up and you can't oversee the entire terrain of battle.

Next to coordination, however, one of the problems seems to be lack of abstraction. A good military (sub)commander knows that the goal of battle is almost never to 'defend' this location, or to 'conquer' that location; the goal of war is to win, or to make the enemy unwilling or unable to fight back effectively (nicely expressed in Capable lieutenants, taking that abstraction in mind, will retreat instead of defending a position against a far more powerful enemy, attack if they perceive a weakness or opportunity, and use every new option at their disposal to win. Of course that is hard, but the more they read and think about WG, and the more experience they get playing it, the better it will work out.

I envision a title for a next post "Whatever I learned of leadership, I learned in Wintergrasp". It's great that you keep experimenting and keep tweaking and improving your leadership methods. Good luck!

David said...

Exactly as Ron said above. When I was in the military, the quality I (and indeed all good commanders) prized most in subordinates was the ability to anticipate and intelligently expand upon orders. There were few people people like that, and they earned promotion faster than average.

This is exactly the situation you are describing - while the commander has a superior overview of the battlespace, there is no way to effectively micromanage every single unit. You have to pick unit commanders who understand your overall objectives and can reliably lead their own team to execute whatever part they are assigned.

After your free-for-all-without-M&S experiment ends, it would be interesting to see if a command hierarchy would produce better results. (If I had to guess right now, FFA will produce poor results, probably worse than authoritarian command. I'll bet 1k on that, come to DmF-EU-Alliance to collect. *grin*)

Visalyar said...

Interesting phenomenon is that the minions behave as if they were drilled. It´s somthing where miltary forces spend month of training, to get their recruits to NOT think on your own.
What you got are classical "jarheads" but as you see their jars are emty. You have two options here

a) educate
b) lead

Well that´s the millitary classic. Special forces that need to go on their own without or with as few as possible communication get educated.
The casual "meatwall" gets to do everything they are told. And yes that includes that they don´t do anything without order.

So from this point on as 'Leading Works' said are the different options. Option 2 "Free for all" only works with information and education. That is the special forces / guerillia tactic.

I´d prefer using that tactic since option 1 "Rational Leaders Hierarchy" needs a good hierarchy and well trained officers. It is not the way to get rid of M&S behaviour, its just the way to direct the M&S behaviour into a productive direction. As soon as the hierarchy falls apart the whole system is screwed.

Oh yes and some added question, the WG battle around 17 o´clock (I think it was then) servertime yesterday was without direct lead? It seemed you were more into giving information than into direct leading (worked well).

addet note: catapults can be quite nice for defense, since you can produce a deadly plague-carpet to fill breaches, worked well on our server... (I see no other option to really use these vehicles)

Gevlon said...

@All the people with "sub-commanders". That will need 3-4 people who are often present in WG and ready to do a very boring job for free. This is something I cannot have.

@Lupius: we have tenacity, so a holy priest's melee autoattack is better than a catapult (it does not inherit tenacity)

Julian said...

What Ron said relates to experience. "Good" experience.
You have to understand that most people in WG you deal with have not a lot of experience with winning.
Therefore, a leader needs to provide them with directions, show them how to win. And while the leader KNOWS that you have to also defend, use vehicles to attack walls, not PvP in catapults, they do NOT know that. You have to tell them.

You Gevlon are at the first step of leading a "bunch of M&S". That is giving them orders that they then carry out. They have no idea why, so they might not listen to them all the time, not always do them 100% how you wanted. They input absolutely no brain into this, just do what told to. You can't expect some creativity at this stage, that's why the orders need to be clear and simple and you need to give them often. Left too long without direction, they will do stupid things.

After some time, when your leadership shows good results, the M&S learn. A bit at least. They know that when attacking, you need sieges, that they need to defend when attacked. Not to blindly rush horde just to die. The basic stuff, really. This is the phase of leading a "bunch of educated M&S". You still need to give them directions as they don't have insight into the bigger picture, but you can expect that some of them are going to react to some situations. At this stage, some of them are going to ask questions about things, which brings us to the next stage.

You are now leading a "bunch of people". They know how to do things, when to do them, they learn stuff. They ask the question "why?" and think about the whole situation in WG. They do things to win without you giving them even directions, all you need to say is "Good luck!" at the start and from time to time report them about the situation here or there. That's what you had with Inglorious gankers, but you don't have that here.

It's a progresion regarding player input in WG, from "none" through "reactive" up to "proactive". Good luck thou!

Kring said...

That was what I wrote since you've announced your idea.

> "the order was to attack"

Of course, if punishment cannot be predicted, smart people start to
invest a lot of their time to make sure they are not punished by
the current authority.

And secondly, leadership needs to be earned. You cannot just declare
yourself leader and use your forces to make everyone obey and expect
to be a beloved "Dear Leader".

If you want people to follow you, you need their respect.

Coa said...


They have been told such things repeatedly. At this stage the only thing that could be done is like others have said have people assigned to certain areas who keep telling the people there what to do and Gevlon already pointed out why that isn't particularly feasible.

nextweek said...

Considering that you have weeded out the M&S and replaced them with those willing to learn. You ought to capitalise on that.

Perhaps what you need is a playbook of a couple of strategies that when in Wintergrasp you could point people to. Telling them we are running plan A or plan B, would be better because they can (offline) read why and learn to fit into the strategy.

The biggest problem with PvP is that new people do not know any strategy and just tag along to someone they think does.

Anonymous said...

Watch the Youtube video "RSA Animate - Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us".

You will see how even intelligent, capable people cannot and will not use said intelligence, capability (and creativity) when they have a job that is simply doing what they're told. The same reason why programmers do mediocre work at their company (which they're paid for), while doing fantastic, enthusiastic work on that Internet project for months on end, which they do for free.

People need to become Middle Managers. They need just enough authority to do make whatever decisions they want in their limited circle of power, without diverting too much from the business objective by giving them management/raid leader powers.

Yagamoth said...

I personally do not have any military experience. Many commenter here are linking directly to some sort of army, normal people and special forces. I can't say whether they are right, but there seem to be many similarities.

In my opinion there is too much work involved to promote squad leaders and assign people to them on the fly on each WG.
You can't avoid 'work' in a MMORPG if you want to win. However, unless you are a pro-gamer, the cost-expense-ratio should be at a reasonable level.

Seeing as there are so many analogies to RL in this game, I am often wondering, whether there can't be alternate ways to handle things. Here I agree, that the Lieutnant-approach could lead to a decent success. But let's try to think about other things without the (obvious) analogies to RL.

Sadly, I'm a very uncreative person and could only come up with the usual "Try this when this and do this when.." or "You could - theoretically..." so far. Maybe I can contribute later.

Anonymous said...

Clearly you won't solve the issue of leadership with... more sub-leader, more leading plans.
I honestly did smile when i saw the headline.
It's about a game, not military operations, so the right way should be auto-organising and cooperations based on free will with fuel the motivation to win.

But this of course, needs first the appropriate knowledge of tactics and gameplay, which is missing from most average players... So i should advise getting PvP on something smaller in scales, in which your 10/15-man group would own.

Everything's a speculation,
Your friendly Anonymous

Dissonance said...

Centralized management (even with middle-managers) fails on the long run. The big traditional corporations (Highly hierarchic) end up either falling under the weight of a big command structure, or keeping going by momentum alone.

However, all hierarchic structures end up failing, since people will only rise up only to be average on their position. Under-performers are kicked off or demoted, and highly productive people will go up. You end up with people entrenching themselves on a mediocre position.

The solution, however, comes from the market. Besides some rules made to dampen the effect of negative-sum competition, which leads to a bad service quality, the market works without a central control. However, thousands of M&S create new companies all the the time! How can they be pruned?

It is because only those who grow are allowed to stay. Stagnant companies fall down pretty quickly. Thus, rules that enforce that behavior tend to be highly effective.

Of course, that won't work for WG. But a very interesting experiment would be to create a guild where members would be allowed to stay (or raid) depending on if their performance is increasing or is stagnant.

Zaa said...

I looked in past posts but for the life of me cannot figure out what M&S means! Everyone else obviously knows, I tried googling it--well I'm sure it's not Mark & Spencer!
Otherwise, very interesting time in WoW you are having. I find myself leading WG when I'm in after a fashion, sending people south to become our 'tower rangers', calling out incs, breaches of the keep's walls, reporting trains from either direction, etc. The folks on my server listen well and respond quickly. Our tower rangers have also won the game for us many times.
I am enjoying following along with you and your guild's adventures.

Visalyar said...

M&S = Morons & Slackers

@Yagamoth: I agree at the point that exoctic "leading" should be experienced, but I have a certain lack of ideas.

I´ve experienced that "running" with the M&S can get to success. I did that during BC when I´ve been very active in AV during 23 til 5 o´Clock. I yelled "Free Beer at Spot X!" instead of incoming at X. It worked quite well and with the implementation of the Brewfeast I also made the promise true.

Well not viable in WG. And I´m sick of arranging with the M&S. Things have to change.

Leading Works said...

"That will need 3-4 people who are often present in WG and ready to do a very boring job for free. This is something I cannot have."

You need 3-4 people of a group of X, where X can be however large you want, a group of X people who you trust to lead, to be often present in WG.

They need to be willing to do a very easy job while winning WG for free.

If your does not have 20-30 people who aren't morons who enjoy winning WG, then yeah you can't implement plan 1. But that clearly isn't the case; if you don't have those conditions #2 would not work, you would have a server full of bumbling idiots.

The job of eliminating M&S everyone still has by using the WGClean addon and screening morons -- the only additional cost to them is occasionally type "NE group retreat a bit and heal. Follow me when we attack again."

TL;DR: The leaders are interchangeable and their job is tremendously easy. They just have to type out what they think a good idea is right now. If they "cba to type lol" then you really don't have 20-30 rationals who enjoy winning WG.

Anonymous said...

Your problem is simple, the solution is difficult. It is called small party taskings. A leader in each group that has exceptional leadership skills, and the other members of that team have to be motivated and capable. Good Luck with that. Special Forces are special for a reason. You will have more luck with that during premades. Infantry style zerging at least gives predictable results in WG as you have seen.

Anonymous said...

I think you just found out why in armies there are different ranks with different responsibilities. The General (you) makes the plan and lays out the big lines, telling others what he wants done.

Coming after the general are colonels. They are privy to the big plan and are in charge of executing parts of it (in WG case, that would be defending/attacking east side, defending/attacking west side and attacking/defending south towers).

Then you have the captains that lead much smaller team executing the orders of the colonels (one captain per south towers, one captain to take/keep/harass the closest factories).

All officiers in a battlefield know the Plan but also have the liberty to adapt to the situation.

These officers are the people you have to train to think and react, these are not minions but priviledged people with power.

Might I suggest you break your raid in three, nominating three colonels while you stay the general overseeing everything (or yourself becoming the colonel of the south towers while leaving the colonels of the east and the west giving orders as necessary).

In your post, that means that when you say "attack east wall of mid yard from SR", the colonel of east takes care of the details with his captains. Once the attack is done, the colonels falls back to the Plan.

Anonymous said...

How is "That will need 3-4 people who are often present in WG and ready to do a very boring job for free. This is something I cannot have." any different from "why so serious? I play the way I want to play".

It sounds like you are admitting to being a slacker but your threshold for starting to slack is just higher than average.

On a unrelated note, I fail to see what makes small scale leading in a computer game such a boring task by definition. Maybe you don't enjoy it, but plenty do. Leading offers a unique challenge that combines ability to motivate and communicate with tactics and decision making. That can be incredibly fun.

Anonymous said...

What worries me is that subcommanders are needed in order to have people perform some self-understanding tasks, for example using a vehicle to attack a wall or such.

However, after seeing what I saw the other day, nothing can surprise me anymore.
I decided that I'll deffend one of the towers. There wasn't a happier druid when I saw a mage approaching, and I remember thinking to myself: great, with tenacity and a mage, we can deffend this tower.
And we did. We killed incoming horde and some catapults. Then the mage told me that he had gotten his 10 horde kills at that tower needed for his Wintergrasp Ranger achievement, and just left. The fact that 4 hordes were rapidly approaching our tower meant nothing to him while he merrily rode away.

I seriously thought that he was going to help me kill the horde here and now, and get that achievement in some 5-6 games.

Some battles are just not worth fighting, and I understand completely why Gevlon is quitting on leadership.

Dracon said...

"lol i play 4 fun."

You need intelligent players, not minions. Ones who know the difference between just obeying orders and playing the game intelligently. If you treat everyone as a minion, they will behave as minions. If you treat everyone as if they have something to contribute and listen to their ideas, they will behave intelligently. As others have suggested, trusted sub-commanders would help.

Gregulator said...

When giving your WGClean parameters, think carefully about how you are phrasing them. People respond very differently to being told to do something, and being told to not do something. You may want to find a way to include both, so that both groups feel clever for rebuking one while following the other. It's also good to have a reason, however flimsy, so the reader can pat themselves on the back for agreeing with it (who likes to follow rules without reason?).
For example, your rule:
•PvP with vehicles instead of using it against walls/towers

•use catapult when we are attacking (note: since PvP with vehicles is already banned, it leaves catapults for south towers on defense)

Can be phrased as
"Use catapults on defense to attack the south towers; but you're better at killing players than they are, so don't use vehicles against players!"

I stroked their ego in the rule for bonus points.

Anonymous said...

Is it a matter of needing subcommanders, or is it a matter of people believing that if they do anything other than exactly what the raid leader says, they'll be kicked? In the latter case, the people whom wish to stay in WG but not risk being kicked might be simply responding to orders rather than thinking and responding as they believe appropriate for fear of being dropped from the raid. Could be you've turned some of the good players into nonthinking sheep.

cheeze whizz said...

Gevlon your problem is that you are not a very good leader.

First stop calling your team mates minions. This shows a basic lack of respect to them. Even if you don't respect them you need to at least pretend you do.

2nd the trick of effective leadership is praise as well as punishment. Your addon is cool but when ever some one (especially a non guildy) completes a task you need to be publically praising them.

3rd you need some officers who can help co-ordinate. You cannot lead the entire battle yourself.

You consistantly call out M&S who don't bother to learn the skills to play effectively. Well you are a guild leader and you are now a M&S because you need to learn effective leadership skills and you haven't bothered doing so.

Anonymous said...

Why do you bother kicking people who are fishing? If I am gathering, why do I care if I am kicked? So your tenacity is not improved if the gatherer is kicked. And there is a small but non-zero chance depending upon my mood I might get annoyed enough if kicked to die a few extra times or ride a vehicle off into the sunset just to hurt raid performance. Kicking gatherers seems to not be worth the effort providing no benefit and some slight downside.

I do not understand the "3-4...for free" comment. If the 3-4 subcommanders want to win and they are not socials, then they do their job. Whether the ungrateful, ignorant and undeserving rest get a win as well does not bother rational people, just socials.

Anonymous said...

"2nd the trick of effective leadership is praise as well as punishment. Your addon is cool but when ever some one (especially a non guildy) completes a task you need to be publically praising them."

Ok, maybe I'm dellusional, but aren't we talking about a random pug in Wintergrasp here? Gevlon isn't raising a child or trying to house break his dog; he's trying to win Wintergrasp.

If an adult person, or atleast a teenager, of an IQ that doesn't put him in the "special" region cannot grasp the simplest of an idea how to act in a battleground and expects to be praised from strangers in order to do a non-idiotic thing in a virtual world, then we have a really big problem on our hands.

Ismaris said...

@Gevlon - Who says it has to be free? The military's motivation for officers comes in the form of relatively higher compensation and rank/authority. In this case, having authority might be reward enough.