View Full Version : Raid Leading Primer

03-16-2009, 01:36 PM
Lexloci’s Guide to Raid Leading - United Defense Style

This guide is an attempt to lay out what I have found to be our guild's keys to successful raid leading - *results may vary.

Hat tip to Hieronymous and Sarpedon for their input into this document as well as a huge thanks to my guild United Defense of Daggerspine for helping me learn these things the hard way. United Defense is populated with mature gamers and tends towards the more casual spectrum of end game raiding so this guide is written with them in mind.

Meta Point #1: It’s just a game.

First and foremost remember that you and your raid have all chosen to dedicate their available free time to play a game. Your raid’s enjoyment of the game is now in your hands. For long term success it really pays to get to know your raid membership, find out what motivates them, find out why they play, find out what parts of this game they enjoy the most, then push your raid in that direction. For United Defense this means that above all we value having FUN. As a raid leader it is your job to set the tone, be positive, good natured, and a bit silly at appropriate times, crack a smile and have fun, your raid’s attitude will reflect its leadership. Focusing on having a good time also means that no one should feel obligated to be there, while we all do lean on certain players from time to time, feeling obligated to do something you don’t want to do builds resentment and lessens the enjoyment you can take from the game. Similarly, sitting around idle doing nothing is lame, be respectful of people’s time. Focus on the fun of the game and the success you achieve will be much more rewarding.

Meta Point #2: They’re people not pawns.

Behind each character sits a real person at a computer screen - they deserve to be treated as such. When something goes wrong it is not that your raid member is a bad person or somehow stupid or inept, they deserve the benefit of the doubt and they deserve to be treated with respect. It is your job as raid leader to identify the cause of the problem and to communicate an appropriate solution. Yelling at someone may make you feel good momentarily, but unless your rant includes a solution to the problem it’s not going to change anything. So, for example, if you see that your raid is not stacking enough debuffs on Malygos, parse the recount data, find out who is not doing much Engulf in Flame damage via their pet, work with them to get a macro working or ditch it in favor of the preferred spell rotation. Identify the problem and work together to find the solution, they may just have bound it to the wrong button, had a new UI installed that works differently, swapped keyboards that behave incompatibly, had a patch installed that reset their auto-self cast to off, who knows? As raid leader assume that your members have the best intentions, they’re people just like you!


Now, not forgetting that this is a game we play with people, on to the nitty gritty:

1. Authority and Delegation

"The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it." - Theodore Roosevelt

There is one, and only one, leader of a raid; that person is you the raid leader. The raid leader should be defined clearly before the raid begins. Any suggestions on boss strategies, loot allocation, group formation, etc., should be funneled through the raid leader in tells. Having multiple people giving instructions over vent, delivering boss explanations or strategies, or otherwise attempting to divert leadership away from the raid leader undermines your authority and tends to turn the raid down a path away from success. As you must respect the members of a raid, the raid must respect your leadership. While a member may believe they are being helpful shouting suggestions over vent in the middle of a fight, they are not being helpful. They are only adding noise that unnecessarily complicates the fight. If a raid member has a suggestion, have them send you a tell.

That said, no one wants to be just a pawn in the raid leader’s RTS game. There are many tasks that can, and should be delegated. For instance:

- Promote a main tank, not only to tank the boss but also to give out off-tank assignments.
- Promote a main assist to handle marking of the adds, pulling duties and dps priority.
- Promote a main healer to assign healing responsibilities, healing rotations, paladin buffs, etc.
- Have a raid member assigned to wipe prevention, soulstones, divine intervention, etc.
- Have a raid member assigned to handle consumables, mage tables, health stones, feasts, etc.
- Have a raid member assigned to handle tracking mods, fraps, recount, wws, etc.

If you as a raid leader are feeling overworked or if the raid is bogging down due to idle time you haven’t done a good enough job delegating. Do not delegate to a committee; assign raid critical tasks to one person. Aside from the fact that this makes accomplishment of the duty more reliable, it also frees up others to focus more on their tasks.

2. Communication

"You do not lead by hitting people over the head - that's assault, not leadership." - Eisenhower

The primary job of the raid leader is to coordinate the raid members. Coordination can only be achieved if each member of the raid knows what they should be doing. The only way for raid members to know the task they should be doing is when that responsibility has been communicated to them. People aren’t omniscient, they need to be informed they have a duty before they can know they are responsible for it. Through practice less communication is achievable, but during most progression encounters active and continuous communication from the read leader is very helpful. Either call out flame walls, spark positions, polarity shifts, phase transitions, etc., or delegate to someone else the duty to call them out. Be sure to be consistent here, if you call one flame wall out be sure to call all flame walls out, or the one you forget to call will lead to multiple deaths.

Communicate in a clear and calm manner, you may want to yell, you may want to vent out your frustrations on the raid, don't, instead lead. Be decisive. Almost invariably, indecisiveness is far worse than a firm decision that turns out to be the wrong one. Make a decision and stick with it until you have new information that clearly dictates a reversal.

When communicating your plan to the raid, remember that you have between 30 to 90 seconds before you start to see negative returns and raid members begin testing out the bosses ability to see stealth. Come prepared, be direct and decisive, long presentations tend to be forgotten the moment the tank starts taking damage.

3. Planning

“A simple plan executed well is better than a complex plan executed poorly.” - Sarpedon.

Anybody can read wowwiki boss strategies over vent. The difficulty is adjusting the plan according to your own specific group composition and skill set, and then communicating this plan to the members. Having a short checklist like www.united-defense.org :: View topic - Lexloci's Enormous Guide to Really Short Boss Explanations! (http://www.united-defense.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=240) will be very beneficial. The goal as stated in that thread is to explain everything each individual must know to get the boss dead and nothing more! The more condensed and simplified the message can be the better chance at success. Further, communication of the plan works better if delivered from the perspective of the individual raider, i.e. each raider wants to know “what am I supposed to do for this fight” deliver your explanations to answer that question. For Example:

Bad approach: “Warlord Platypus has this really interesting mechanic where he does Lava Spooge every minute and thirty seconds at any random raid member who is not number one or two on his threat table; this ability hits for 2750 fire damage, and adds a stacking debuff that deals 500 damage per second for 15 seconds.”

Good approach: “High King Platypus targets one raid member and does a Lava Spooge in his direction. If we all spread out, Lava spooge should only hit one person at a time, rather than a whole cluster of us.”

Prior to facing a new boss it helps to have the raid read boss strategies, view kill videos, and otherwise prepare themselves individually, the forums are a great spot to start this discussion. Farmed bosses require bare bones explanations, a short list of the 3 or 4 essential things you must not forget to do is likely all that is required.

4. Execution

“I love it when a plan comes together!” - Hannibal, The A-Team.

The authority is set, the delegations have been made, the strategy has been planned and you are ready to start clearing some trash and downing some bosses. Now for the nitty nitty gritty.

Napoleon said that “when an order can be misunderstood it will be misunderstood” - this holds true for raid leading as well. Be sure to call out commands succinctly and directly, nothing undermines credibility like a dozen people running around not knowing where they should be going. Give clear direction on where everyone should be, where everyone should be going, and what the overall raid plan is.

It’s important to be consistent. Lack of consistency will lead to confusion and poor performance. Raid target marks should always mean the same thing, group separations should go in the same directions (odd left, even right), boss positioning should remain constant (negative left, positive right), etc. If you change things up midstream in the heat of the moment raiders may forget and blow the raid up. By staying consistent you will establish good habits.

One person, and only one person should be in charge of pulling mobs. Pulling extra groups is often a leading cause of wipes, having a designated individual in charge of pulling mobs will set the pace and keep the raid moving.

Be extremely respectful of raiders’ time. Raids should start on schedule, and if the manpower is not present should be called quickly. Effort should be made to reduce the time that people are sitting idle at their monitors whenever possible. Whenever the raid is waiting for something, you should make it absolutely clear what the raid is waiting for and when the raid will likely continue. Silence will lead to boredom, boredom leads to "oops, who pulled the Surger with the Core Hound?" Frequently you will be bombarded with tells and be anything but bored, however it’s important to communicate to the rest of the raid what is going on. Coordinate and plan breaks, much better to have everyone take a bio at the same time then to have to wait for them to finish consecutively. Spend gold on flasks, consumables and repair bots, the added time save is more than worth it. Thank people for their time.

Never show your personal frustration or disappointment to the raid. There will be times that you want to slam your fist down on the table so hard you are either going to break your wrist or splinter the table. Go ahead, do that, but then get back on vent and continue to do your job in a calm, even tone. Set a good example. Be careful about telling the raid you’re drinking while raiding, cooking in the other room, or you’re watching TV in the background. No hard and fast rules here, but discretion is important. If the raid leader appears not to be taking the raid seriously and paying attention, other members will likely follow suit.

5. Recovery

“Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better” - Samuel Beckett

Even with the best geared and most prepared raiders, with the best strategies and plans, there will still be failure. How you handle this failure will likely determine your sustainability as a raid leader. This is what will test your ability to see what occurred and be able to identify the problem. As noted above, don’t forget to give people the benefit of the doubt, they don’t intend to fail. The goal is to identify a solution so that the next attempt will be a better one.

Call wipes. Failure to call a wipe will mean that every individual raider will watch the raid and make his/her own decision about when to give up. Good raid leaders will call out when it's a wipe, and more importantly will call out when something bad happens that shakes the raid to encourage people to keep going. "Main Tank is down, Off Tank step in, healers focus on Off Tank, stay with this, we got this." Consider calling "soft wipes" ... keep trying, but stop taking consumables and using long cooldowns (combat rezes, heroism, etc), the practice may be worthwhile. Be sure to let the raid know whether to release or wait for rez.

After a wipe, identify the problems and propose a solution for the next better attempt. This is a very effective tool from a morale standpoint: after a demoralizing wipe, it gives the raid hope that, after said change, we will succeed on the following attempt. This is also a very effective way of bolstering your credibility/authority. At exactly the time the raid is most confused and disappointed, strong leadership is most welcome and appreciated. Sometimes as raid leader, you won’t even know what went wrong, and in this case any proposed change is better than nothing. “That was a great attempt, but I really think the problem was we didn’t have enough pets out, Blizzard Bears everyone.”

When a raid member makes a first mistake, work hard to allow him to save face when calling him/her on it. If a raid member repeatedly makes the same mistake, rather than directing a one-way criticism at him, open a two-way dialogue. “I noticed that we seem to be having trouble kiting these adds, should we drop an earthbind totem to help out or are there other things we can do to help with this task?”

Know when to call the raid. It can be very hard to know when to call it quits. Extending a raid beyond the point where people are no longer enjoying themselves can yield short-term progression gains, but in the long-term, the guild will pay for this in decreased interest in raiding and attendance. Generally, when you call it, you want a couple of people to chime in and say, “aww, can’t we do just one more attempt?” This is good because it shows that they’re not yet worn out, and will come to the next raid with an enthusiastic attitude.


- Lexloci

04-03-2009, 02:24 AM
I decided to register just to tell you this man..

Great post! I cant stress enough the quality of this information and if you're new to guild/raid leading you should go over this a couple of times, especially the part about punching a table..

Normally this information is acquired through tedious chains of experience and even then there are only select few who could put this in writing.