You've seen me mentally debate over what to do about performance problems in the raid group.
When you're cruising along, happy with your progress of boss kills, its easy to overlook big gaps in contribution, whether they be quantity and timeliness of healing, ability to build and maintain aggro, efficient crowd control, interrupting boss spell casting, or everybody's favorite, the very easy to quantify, DPS output.
Dealing substitute raiders, it is relatively easy to be objective about analyzing their contribution. When it comes to core members of the team, it is much more difficult. The people on the "inside", we like playing with them and want to continue playing with them.
Then you come up against a wall. When you start to struggle on bosses, there's a threshold beyond which the tolerance for performance problems diminishes.
This week, our wall was Shade of Aran.
First night of the raid week, we cleared straight through to Shade in a guild record amount of Kara in a single night. Wiped a few times and called it a night, as it was late. We know we can beat him, we've done it twice before.
Second night of the raid week, start right in on Shade. Wipe 4 times. WFT!!! Come on guys, we can do this!!!
In analyzing what went wrong, one attempt was botched by a Holy Paladin moving during Flame Wreath, and the subsequent raid blowing up that occurs. He came clean, admitted it. Ok, slap on wrist, lets move on.
When looking at the other 3 wipes though, we see that we're just not killing Aran or his Conjured Water Elementals fast enough. And not everybody has the survivability to stay alive in that fight.
One player stood out in particular. A Mage with less than 6k health unbuffed. Even with raid buffs, that's pretty much a one-shot if Aran ever decides to target. And the pyroblast after the polymorph is insta-kill.
I'd like to say "glass cannon", but then we look at the damage contribution. Roughly equal to the protection warriors in tanking gear and stance. While WWS damage output ranking is not the end-all-be-all of decision making, it is an important factor.
Some perspective....one of our anti-trinity heroic runs illustrated that a Holy Priest was able to put out more damage (granted, playing as a DPS'er, not a healer, but still in his raid healing Holy spec) during a Heroic Slave Pens run than the Mage. Even with a polymorph assignment on each pull to distract from full-on DPS, this should not happen.
For any seasoned raiders out there, this might be a very simple easy situation to solve. If we had strictly valued progress over friendship, this is an easy decision.
But to this point in our raiding career, friendship trumps progress. We really have never done anything severe to players who are not carrying their own weight.
This Mage is a good friend, who we've been playing with for months and months, who has been with us through all our progress in Kara since the beginning. A positive attitude, follows instructions, shows up prepared with enchants gems flasks foods, and is generally fun to have around.
After the fourth wipe, we were discussing the options for what to do differently in the next attempt on Shade of Aran.
Other than the one silly Flame Wreath incident, we are doing everything right. Its just a mater of survivability and damage output at this point.
So we decided to ask the Mage to step out and invited in a sub who has enough Health and delivers more damage.
Emotionally, a very difficult decision. Its not easy to say to your friend, not in these exact words, but essentially "we cant get this done and right now the only thing we can think of changing is you". And I'm sure its not easy to hear that sort of stuff from friends.
The player was clearly upset, which is pretty understandable, although did not make a big fuss.
The next attempt was a dead boss.
And the next attempt after that was a 2-shot of Illhoof in a guild-first kill of that guy.
From a progress perspective, it was the right decision.
From a friendship perspective, a really tough call that I hope hasn't hurt any feelings beyond the initial sting. We are dealing with mature people here, so I suspect it will be low drama, if not entirely absent.
How do other guilds handle these sensitive issues? Where's the fine line between friendship and progress?