Welcome to every Tuesday ever. I’m going to help shed a little insight on what goes on behind the scenes here in the war room where we make all these kinds of decisions when it comes to rosters and objectives.

Before raid, we ask ourselves the following questions regarding resets:

  • Are our experienced/geared tanks here?
  • Is our belt team (or the equivilent) here?
  • Is or healing where it needs to be?
  • Do we have the requisite fire power?

If the answer to any of that is a no, it’s an automatic reset.

As the GM, it is my sole responsibility to ensure there are no wasted raid nights. If we can’t raid because we don’t have enough people (including open raid players or otherwise), that constitutes as a failure on my part. Everyone here has set aside their time and energy throughout the week for raid activities and my job is to make sure that we’re raiding.

So why do we reset? Why not just give everyone the night off and say come back Thursday?

Let me introduce to you the concept of marginal gains.

Meet General Manager David Brailsford. He had a daunting task ahead of him because he had been asked to do something no other person from Great Britain has done: Put together a GB team that would win the Tour de France.

In 2010, he did just that.

Brailsford believed in the long game. He felt that by sticking to his plan and finding minor improvements here and there, the Great Britain cycling team would win within 9 years.

He managed to do it in 3 years.

How did he do it?

Brailsford believed in a concept that he referred to as the “aggregation of marginal gains.” He explained it as “the 1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do.” His belief was that if you improved every area related to cycling by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to remarkable improvement.

They started by optimizing the things you might expect: the nutrition of riders, their weekly training program, the ergonomics of the bike seat, and the weight of the tires.

But Brailsford and his team didn’t stop there. They searched for 1 percent improvements in tiny areas that were overlooked by almost everyone else: discovering the pillow that offered the best sleep and taking it with them to hotels, testing for the most effective type of massage gel, and teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection. They searched for 1 percent improvements everywhere.

Here’s the full story.

How does this translate back to our roles as GMs?

Every gear upgrade is a net positive even if it’s from heroic to warforged. Every time a player upgrades their items from valor, it is an improvement. When a player makes a gem change, or talent switch, or a glyph which makes things just a little bit easier, it is an improvement. Combined, each and everything little piece adds to the puzzle. It may not seem like it creates an immediate impact, but I prefer to play the long game. That’s why I’ll occasionally ask my players questions about a certain glyph, talent, or even a UI addon that makes things more accessible with information or shortens the distance between your bars for any skills you need to manually activate. Always try to find ways to improve with the aim of making the next fight faster and easier.

I’ll look at a player’s UI and how they lay out their buttons and their key binds. Many players still leave their Q and E keys unbound. Those are prime real estate keys for regular use abilities. Way better than trying to reach over and pressing 7 with your finger or having to coordinate Shift + 4. On their screens, I’ll examine their raid frames and the locations of key information (DBM reminders and timers). Are they in an obvious, yet unobtrusive location? Is there anything that’s obstructing the view of their character? If they were standing in a fire, would it be immediately obvious? That last question is why I practically recommend GTFO for everyone to download since it shrills whenever a player is taking avoidable damage.

Aspects like stats and augments I leave to the other officers. I’m not as well versed with other classes when it relates to damage dealing and what their valued secondary stats are. Sure we’ll audit once in a while, but I trust everyone’s smart enough to find the ones that lead to the most performance gain.

Now I get that not everyone shares that sentiment. Not everyone has the interest, time, or desire to do that. Some even believe it’s futile. I don’t have the patience to really explain or try to convince players of that philosophy. If they don’t buy into the system, then it’s not really my kind of player. Could I replace them? Yeah, but identifying talent does take time and it’s not always an immediate payoff. Like good habits, marginal gains take time to really develop but I’m banking on the fact that it’ll pay off in the long run. Some players will even resist stubbornly by saying “but that’s how I’ve always played”.

Focusing on little things might seem irrelevant or minor, but even a slight performance gain is still a performance gain. It’s the cumulative power that makes it work.

While you’re busy helping your players find improvements, take care to not burn yourself out of it as well. I’ve heard stories of GMs and raid leaders in the past tiring themselves out trying to help every player that comes their way in the hopes of turning them into super stars. An admirable objective, to be sure. But unless you have a whole team of individuals dedicated to player improvement, it’s going to be an impossible job for one person. That guild leader has since burned out of the game and their guild collapsed. So take care of yourself and don’t overdo it.