Understanding LotRO Raiding Kinships with Aesir of Arkenstone

On Arkenstone server, Aesir is one of the largest, most active raiding kinships. In an effort to gain a better understanding of how raiding kins work and what makes them successful, I asked one of their raid leaders a few questions.

alt="Understanding Raiding Kinships with Aesir of Arkenstone" src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/101369">

On Arkenstone server, Aesir is one of the largest, most active
raiding kinships. Their members run the full range from casual,
PvE part-timers to hardcore endgame raiders to spirited
Ettenmoors enthusiasts. Their former leader, Evintine, is a
particular friend of mine - he often finds a spot for my toons
in his raids, despite the fact that I am in a different kinship.
Their current leader, Haxx, does the day-to-day executive work
and makes the immediate decisions, but the big-impact stuff is
decided by the entire kinship (for example, instituting the DKP
system) or among the officers (for example,
promotions). The other thing Haxx does - which really has
no bearing on his effectiveness as a leader, but does give you
an idea of what Aesir is all about - is torture players after a
wipe by trying to sneak them the Lore-master "Rez of Shame."

Most of their raids are kin-only, since they use the DKP system
for boss loot, and they often run two raid groups at a time;
Khaurin, the officer in charge of DKP, leads the "challenge"
group on Tier 2 content, and Evintine leads the "completion"
through Tier 1 runs.

Khaurin's "challenge" group consists of seasoned veterans, and
the lineup is usually very consistent - each member of the team
knows all of the other members' strengths and weaknesses, and
they are all well-geared and well-versed in the mechanics of the
various classes, making it somewhat easier to tackle the more
difficult challenges of Tier 2 raids.

Evintine's "completion" groups are generally not quite as
well-seasoned - some of them have never raided before, or have
very little experience with larger groups and the more difficult
endgame content, but the goal with them is twofold: firstly, to
complete the raids, and secondly as a kind of "boot camp" for
newer players. These groups may not stay consistent even all the
way through one raid - members have to drop and new people are
brought in to fill the spot. Some of them may have weak gear, or
need to work on their traits and virtues, but what they need
more than anything else is the hands-on learning experience of
what it takes to go raiding. And despite the group's lack of
experience, occasionally questionable builds and weaker gear,
Evintine and his kinsmen make these raids work.

As an example, Evintine drafted me on my Guardian to fill the
tank spot for Ost Dunhoth's Fear wing. I've done it loads of
times on my Hunter, but never on a tank, and I am less familiar
with that role in general. The raid make-up was decidedly less
than optimal (no Lore-masters, only one Captain). It was a close
fight - my Guardian fell three times during the boss fight, and
a Champion died and went link-dead about a minute in - but we
beat it on our very first attempt.

In an effort to gain a better understanding of how raiding kins
work and what makes them successful, I asked Evintine a few


checked="true" alt="Evintine loitering in Moria" style="width: 250px;"

A raid leader
does basically the same thing as a circus ringleader: keeping
the show moving by telling everyone what the clowns (i.e. the mobs) are going
to do next.

Q: What are the long-term goals
for Aesir?

A: The long-term goals for Aesir
are to keep the kin going strong, and keep the members happy for
as long as the kin exists. Being the top raiding kin on the
server is somthing I'd like to have us accomplish someday, but
as long as the kin's having fun things are great as they are.

Q: How is Aesir's leadership

A: Aesir's leadership is organized
with a group of officers that contribute to decision making in
any decisions with some complexity or depth to them that may
impact the kin, such as if a member of the kin is problematic
and needs to leave, or if a new officer deserves a promotion.
The leader is someone who makes quick decisions that are
comparatively low-impact, such as if we should overlook an
applicants age if they aren't 18.  And the entire kin gets
involved in decisions that have a lasting impact, such as
when we implemented our DKP system. This was a kin-wide decision

Q: What do you look for in a
potential recruit, and how do you go about recruiting?

A: In a recruit we look for someone
committed to forwarding the kin as a whole as opposed to as just
an individual. From a raiding standpoint, we look for people who
are skilled at more than one max level toon which they have
properly geared and traited, possess a microphone and are able
to use a Ventrillo client, and able to run the endgame raids
without having computer issues. We expect a fun environment and
don't enjoy people who take the game seriously enough to make it
less fun for the other players. As far as HOW we recruit people:
accepting applications on the website, meeting people on pugs
and then extending an invite to the kin or talking friends into
joining up.

Q: Arkenstone is one of the
smallest-population servers. Do you consider this a drawback
or a bonus?

A: Both. In a way it makes us stand
out being what is presently the largest kin on the server. But
at times it's been hard in the past to fill our ranks.
Unfortunately, the server is at the population level where
smaller kinships cant exist and run their own content, so, as
some of them have dissolved, we've recieved new members over

Q: How do you, as raid leader,
handle drama from malcontents?

A: People are always free to
disagree with me, and I actually prefer people to tell me if
they have a problem with something im doing than to have them
brood silently. Then I will try and help them if I can. In an
event where our interests completely conflict and there's no way
to resolve the issue for the discontent member I may ask them to
leave the raid if they do not find it suitable, or if it's an
even larger problem they are removed from the kin. I don't like
having to dismiss people but you can't make everyone happy all
the time.

Q: How does Haxx, as kin
leader, deal with drama from the kinship as a whole?

A: I'm happy to say that Aesir
seems to have less drama than I expected a kinship of its size
to have. Conflicts between members are often resolved quickly,
either by officers or the members themselves. If two people
have a real problem with each other, we keep them civil until
cooler heads prevail. A few times an argument has lead to one
party or the other from moving on from the kin, but this is a
rare occurrence. Haxx and the rest of us work to minimize drama
as a whole, often placating people until we get a clear enough
picture to resolve whatever is wrong.

Q: With such a wide range of
player types, how do you accommodate the needs of the many
without alienating the few?

A: We strive to accommodate as many
people in as many ways as possible but, as I said, it's often
impossible to make everyone happy at the same time. My largest
example is from when we decided to implement DKP, the officers
themselves weren't entirely unified about how (or even if) we
should put in a DKP system, but enough of the kin was for it
(the votes yielded over 80% for and less than 20% opposed) that
we decided to implement the system, despite some people being
unhappy with it. This caused a few people to stop raiding, but
even more raiders, who had previously stopped because they felt
random rolls were unfair, decided to step up and get back into
the raiding. And there were more of these than those we

Evintine posing heroically in Ost Galadh style="width: 250px;" src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/101368">

This is what
Evintine typically does when he's not playing the theme to
Night Court on his horn.

Q: How do you balance the
political aspect of leading a kinship with actually having fun
with the game?

A: See, to me it sounds like you're
saying politics are bad. I actually like trying to make people
happy. Two of the three times I was leader of Aesir, I was voted
to be so - once by the entire kin and a second time by the
officers when we lost our present leader. I've stepped down on
three separate occasions due to inactivity or stress from real
life making me feel like I couldn't be there enough to do the
job well. The position of leader is certainly stressful, but I
have always been surrounded by many smart, level-headed people
to make it easier on me.

Q: Did you find that being a
kin leader made you a target for certain things? (For example,
rivalries with competing kins)

A: Hah, yes I've had a few problems
with competing kins - one officer from a rival kin went so far
as to tell me my kin is where they shop for new raiders, which i
found amusing, since to my knowledge we only had one ex-Aesir
member in their kin, and they were made to leave. You'd be
surprised that some people take this game seriously enough to
attack other kinships in order to steal their members,
approaching members and officers and offering false information
from outside the kin in order to paint the leader or other
officers in a bad light. This game is not a game where only one
kinship can survive or even thrive, there is no real point
in making enemies of other kins or groups. As far as I see
it, the more friends you have the better off you are, and many
aggressive kinships have suffered while we have thrived with
that philosophy.

Q: Lately, you've been
mentoring a lot of new and inexperienced people in very
difficult raids. Do you find that frustrating, rewarding or

A: Simply put, both. But since you
expect a more complex answer than that, I would say that I enjoy
it while it frustrates me, because the thing is a lot of
inexperienced people are inexperienced because they haven't had
the opportunity to gain any, not because they are bad players.
Many players have the potential to raid with the best of them,
but never will because no-one has ever given them a real
opportunity to do so. Unfortunately some people regardless of
what you do for them will never improve. We have to tell these
guys they can no longer raid until they improve themselves
somehow. We don't kick people for being bad raiders, we just
don't like to fail because someone's dragging us down.

Q: How do you maintain your
patience when new players continually mess up during raids?

A: When someone's new on a raid
there is a lot to take in all at once, and they should be
expected to mess up. Oftentimes, on more complicated boss
fights, we wipe over and over until the strategies are
understood by the entire raid. The good thing about new people
who are putting in an effort to learn is they WILL eventually
understand what to do, and hopefully they will even do it! But
until they figure it out you can't get angry at them or you risk
alienating them from raids.

Q: If
you can remember that far back, what was the first moment that
made you love playing a Minstrel?

A: I have been playing a healer
since I first picked up WoW. In the 7 years since I have never
lost the love I feel for being in the center of the group in an
effort to keep everyone alive. It makes me feel more in control
of the situation than any other class, and I built my minnie so
I have as much control over as many things as possible, even
adding an item into my build that allows me to wipe out status
ailments from my fellowship. From neither a tanking nor a DPS
perspective do i feel more... central to the group than when I'm
healing it.

Q: Tell me about your first
Igash kill.

A: Grand Stair was the first, what
at the time was "endgame" content to us that we cleared as a
kin. The first time we found Igash, I was level 54, our kin name
was "Stone Alliance," and my group consisted of members of Aesir
that are no longer playing or in one case no longer in the kin.
We fought him several times before we got an idea of what
we were doing, but once we did it was still a tough fight for an
inexperienced group of underleveled toons from a fledgling kin.
Igash tore us up pretty bad before he went down and by the end
of it we were screaming excitedly into the voice chat. The sense
of accomplishment I felt then has only been duplicated twice:
Aesir's first Watcher kill and Aesirs First Lieutenant of Dol
Guldur kill.

Q: What's with the circus
ringleader outfit?

A: It's unique, its flamboyant, and
it stands out. I think it embodies me nicely.


Aesir is recruiting on the Arkenstone server. If you would like
to learn more about them or join the kinship, sign up on their
website at Aesir-Arkenstone.Guildlaunch.com 

If you want to have your kinship profiled on Ten Ton Hammer,
let Gunky know in our forums.

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