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Thread: Raid Leading: a guide for Guilds and PUGs alike.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Williamsburg, VA

    Raid Leading: a guide for Guilds and PUGs alike.

    I hope it isn't too presumtuous for me to make this topic, but recently I've seen an increase in raid leaders asking for help/advice. I'll try to keep this trimmed and organized, and any advice from other members is more than appreciated.

    Organizing a Raid
    Deciding on Content
    -10 man vs. 25 man
    -Determining which Raid
    -Understanding the Raid

    Creating the Raid Group
    -Rough Group Composition
    -Necessary Classes for Encounters
    -Covering Necessary Buffs

    Outlining Rules
    -Loot Rules
    -Reserving Loot
    -Performance Rules

    During the Raid
    Organizing the Groups
    -Assigning roles
    -Splitting groups as needed

    Dealing with Trash
    -Avoiding Trash Wipes
    -Condensing Trash Explanation
    -Using Raid Markings to your advantage

    Boss Explanations
    -"Everyone knows this fight, pulling."
    -Explaining a fight on a macro level
    -Explaining a fight on a micro level
    -Assigning roles

    During an Encounter
    -Talk it out!
    -Walk it out!
    -Spit it out!
    -Get out!

    Recovering From Wipes
    -Reviewing performance
    -Quelling displeasure
    -Changing Assignments
    -Altering raid composition

    After the Raid
    Resources to Improve Future Raids
    -Friends List
    -Combat Logs
    -Organizing a Continued Run

    Other Resources
    Dealing with Arguments/Trolls/Poor Performance
    -Individual Discussion
    -When to keep vent/raid clear
    -Evaluating meters effectively
    -Conflict Resolution

    Organizing a Raid
    --Deciding on Content--

    Will I be raiding 10 man or 25 man content?
    It's important to decide for yourself if you posess the capacity to engineer, lead, and deal with the frustrations and complications of a 25 man instance. Clearly the rewards are better and many people feel as though 25 man raids provide a more "epic" and interactive experience, but a significant amount of the difficulty in 25 man encounters stems from the difficulty of organizing the raids and pushing every member to perform. 10 man content has significantly less organizational complexity, but has neither the feeling nor the reward of a 25 man raid group. In addition, 10 man raids allow for slightly more leniency in group composition/personal performance.

    To effectively decide what level of content you intend to raid, first examine the resources you have at hand:
    -How many potential members do I have at this point and time? Are you in a guild on raid night? If so, you likely have between 20-30+ members available to you. On an offnight, you may not have quite so many, and find yourself in need of finding more members.
    -How difficult will it be to find more members? Are you on a server that regularly pugs end-game content, or is there one top-guild mixed with several average players? Is it prime time on the server? What day of the week is it? Many geared/experienced players tend not to run with pugs on tues-thurs if they have a shot at raiding with their guild that week.
    -What is the general gear/skill level of the available raiders? Don't attempt to raid 25 man content if you're in the previous tier's 10 man gear or below. Also, filling a raid with PuGs is significantly more difficult if the members feel as though they significantly outgear the potentially undergeared raid hosts. Conversely, you should avoid bringing players who significantly outgear you based on gear alone. Very frequently, these players are used to a certain way of doing things, or are used to flawless guild runs, and tend to get frustrated when a group doesn't perform to the level they're used to.
    -Do I possess the know-how to lead members who may lack knowledge of encounters?

    What are we raiding tonight?
    Are you going out to steamroll some achievements in good ol' naxx, or are you cracking your knuckles in preperation for togc 10? A surprisingly large number of people start up raid groups before actually deciding what they want to do and wind up having to change their raid composition as they near completion. Choose a raid appropriate to your personal skill/gear level, and plan the rest of the group accordingly. DO NOT expect players to carry you through content merely because you're leading the group.

    Understanding the Raid
    Before you lead any raid, know it as best as you possibly can. Nothing kills confidence in a group faster than a raid leader running through slime to pull Patchwerk or getting nailed by a rocket on Mimiron. You must hold yourself to the same (or higher) standards to which you hold your raid.

    --Creating the Raid--

    Rough Raid Composition
    In a 10-man raid, your group composition will frequently reflect the following:
    2 Tanks
    2-3 Melee DPS
    2-3 Caster DPS
    2-3 Healers
    Dual specs simplify 10 man group composition to a certain degree, and it's possible to "stack" buffs in a group such that you have more ranged than melee or vice versa. In a 25 man raid, however, a group composition should look closer to the following:
    3 Tanks
    8 Melee DPS
    8 Ranged DPS
    6 Healers
    Group composition is a little less forgiving at this tier of content. This will be explored in more detail as we examine specific class requirements and buff control.

    Bringing Necessary Classes for Encounters
    For Razuvious in 25 man Naxxramus, you need two priests. Mimiron is made significantly easier with a warlock/hunter to tank the head in p3/4. Heroic Gormak is significantly easier when you can BoP off impales from the tanks. Blizzard has become more lenient with the concept of class-specific encounters, but that doesn't mean class should have zero consideration.

    Covering Essential Buffs
    There are several buffs that should be covered in 10 mans, and frequently NEED to be covered in 25 mans. Refer to the following chart for examples:

    --Outlining Rules--
    Loot Rules
    Do NOT be ambiguous. State as clearly and definitively as possible what your loot rules are. Are you allowing only mainspec rolls? Are you restricting members to "their" armor type? Are you allowing anyone to roll a spec that deviates from their current spec?

    Reserving Loot
    Reserving loot is an age-old practice in WoW. Keep the following things in mind when you reserve loot:
    -Is the raid you're putting together regularly pugged? If so, you'll have difficulty getting members to come along. It's very easy to run Onyxia 25 with another group if one group is reserving items from it. However, not many servers have regular ToC 25 pugs clearing all content, and it's not unreasonable to reserve one of the better items in the instance.
    -Are you reserving loot for a class that you're short on? Sometimes it's better to just bite the bullet and have some competition on a Dual-Blade-Butcher than it is to be unable to fill your group with capable melee dps.
    -Are you reserving loot from a boss that you seem unlikely to kill? Frequently, you won't hear many complaints when you reserve a trinket from 25-man Algalon the Observer, since most PuGs won't see him. Perhaps you won't either, but dreams are the stuff of legends.

    Performance Rules
    Are you demanding certain qualities from your players? Do you plan to not award loot to members of the raid who die to environmental hazards, or who have 0% damage on snowbolds? If so, state this clearly at the beginning of the raid, NOT AT THE BEGINNING OF THE ENCOUNTER. You effectively blacklist yourself on many realms when you "play God" with loot distribution.

    Is vent required? Make sure you have an effective way to check, even if it means going person by person and asking aloud if they are in vent. If someone is not in vent, don't be afraid to enforce your rule and remove them from the group. "No vent no loot" policies are difficult to enforce and lead to disputes, so it's better to nip it in the bud and find someone more willing to aid the raid's cause.
    Are you removing members who AFK after a certain period of time? If so, don't beat around the bush with it. Outline clearly that you value overall meters in addition to boss meters. Remember, trash needs dps too.

    During the Raid
    --Organizing the Groups--

    Assigning Roles
    State clearly who you have filling which roles. With the advent of dual spec, there is frequently confusion on at least a few raid members' parts as to which spec you need them as. State clearly that "Person 1, Person 2, Person 3 are your tanks with Person 1 as your main tank. Unless told otherwise, MD/TotT to him. People x-y are your healers."

    Splitting Groups as Needed
    Avoid the mistake many raid leaders make when--halfway through organizing the raid--they make a raid warning that says "LOL I forgot type 1 if u r a heal". Organize the groups as you make the raid. Mark your tanks immediately, and shovel all the healers into specific groups to avoid confusion. When the raid begins, organize groups into relevant compositions as best you can to allow effective communication on both the raid and party levels.

    --Dealing with Trash--

    Avoiding Trash Wipes
    Surprisingly, many groups fall apart on trash as easily as they do on bosses. Make sure your raid members are attentive. Have breaks every few bosses to allow people to grab drinks/bio/call girlfriends/boyfriends. Make sure you're strict with the break lengths. 10 minute breaks after two Naxx wings are not unreasonable.

    Explaining Trash Mechanics
    Unlike boss mechanics, trash mechanics rarely need every raid member to have an understanding of all aspects. Just dispense the necessary information to the raid as a whole, and specifically assign roles (cleansing, healing, tanking) to players directly. Simply shouting "SOMEONE DISPEL THAT DEBUFF FFS" will only cause frustration and either lead to everyone spamming dispells, or no one responding because they assume everyone else did.

    Using Raid Markings to your Advantage
    In a perfect world, all raid members are aware all of the time. In reality, marks are amazing tools. Mark kill targets, mark dangers, mark CC. Don't slack on that. A slacking leader is a slacking raid.

    --Boss Encounters--

    Everyone knows this fight, pulling!
    Don't ever do this. The only time you should say this is if you're raiding something with the EXACT same group every single week and this is your ninth or tenth time on it. ALWAYS explain a fight before pulling. For all you know, that 5400 GS Warrior Tank has never before set foot in OS, and you've effectively secured a wipe on that first flame wave.

    Explaining a Fight on a Macro Level
    Communicate all relevant information. Rather than trying to explain this, I'm going to give an example by demonstrating a Macro-level explanation for Gormak the Impaler, the first "phase" of the Northrend Beasts encounter.

    "During this fight, there are three hazards that affect the entire raid. The first hazard is Gormak's Fire Bomb. Upon casting, it will inflict damage on a player and leave a fire representing AoE ticking damage for the duration of the player standing in the animation. It is priority to move out of the fire as quickly as possible. The second concern comes in the form of Snowbolds, small creatures which clutch a player and stun/damage that player until dps'd down. DPS needs to focus on these as quickly as possible. The third hazard is his war stomp. Ensure you are not casting during this, or you will be locked out of that school for 6 seconds. In addition, you may need to pop a healthstone or potion if you are firebombed close to his stomp in order to survive the damage you take from the stun."

    This covers all relevant information to most of the players.

    Explaining a fight on a Micro Level
    After issuing the above explanation, it's key to talk to the tanks and healers regarding the impales. If necessary, also talk with any other paladins in the raid regarding a BoP rotation. This covers all relevant information in the fight. Trying to give individual assignments during an explanation of the fight as a whole puts you at risk of someone not hearing their assignment or blowing it off as opposed to their understanding/dedication if you whisper them individually or speak with them in a seperate (party) chat.

    Assigning roles
    Before Anub, don't say "one of the ranged needs to shoot down orbs." Before FC, don't say "someone needs to CC the pally." ALWAYS give specific roles. Always. If you need to assign tank healers, assign them. If you need to assign CC, assign it. Don't assume players can organize between themselves.

    I've said this several times already, and I feel compelled to say it yet again. Be. Specific. If you assume your raid members can figure things out themselves, you're doing the entire raid a great disservice. Not, as it may sound, because the raid members are unintelligent, but rather because it is your perogative to create a smooth run. Assign players to their strengths, both by class and playstyle.

    --During an Encounter--

    Talk it out!
    Before pulling, readycheck and announce the pull. Make sure you announce it with enough time for the whole raid to respond. Call for all relevant buffs/debuffs. Let players know when they can begin dps. Let players know when they have to move.

    Walk it out!
    Enforce waiting for a tank to position a boss. Many wipes happen in the first few seconds of a pull when a trigger-happy dps pisses off a cleave boss that would have otherwise happily wandered over to that smelly-looking bugger with a sheld.

    Spit it out!
    You have a debuff! Call out for a specific player to cleanse you. Someone's standing in fire! Call them by name and tell them to move. Adds are incoming! Call out to the offtank.

    Don't wait until something is a problem to vocalize it. It might annoy people at first, but they'll eventually get used to it and likely appreciate it.

    Get out!
    If it's a wipe, wipe it. Don't drag out a fight with two dps, one tank, and three healers alive in a 25 man while the boss is at 50% health. Even if you're doing well, that healer going OOM at 3% is going to mean the 5 minutes you spent thinking you'd do something awesome turns out to be one of the raid's biggest frustrations.

    --Recovering from Wipes--

    Reviewing Performance
    Why did you wipe? Check combat logs, recount, anything that could suggest why you died. If it's not obvious at first, look harder. There's almost always a fairly obvious reason that may not be readily apparent. Just blaming the healers as a whole creates animosity if it's just one healer who slipped up one time. Focus more on fixing the problem than assigning blame!

    Quelling Displeasure
    Nothing kills morale like failure. Do your best to improve morale before it hits a low. If it was a good attempt, say so. If it was a poor attempt with an easy fix, say so. Don't say things like "What the fuck are you guys doing? You're all so bad!" unless you want the raid to fall apart.

    Changing Assignments
    Not everyone is good at every facet of their class. If a ranged fails to position orbs properly on anub, assign a different ranged to shoot them down. If your tank healer is unable to keep up with incoming spike damage, get a different tank healer. Don't think someone's bad because they're not dispelling enough. Stick them where they're strong and get a different dispeller.

    Altering raid composition
    Sometimes, you only need two tanks. Sometimes you need more healers. Dual specs help guarantee you can switch members' roles if needed. Be liberal with this, and understand fights. If you are constantly wiping because of a few individuals, replace them. Don't be bashful. You're leading a raid and they are underperforming--plain and simple.

    After the Raid

    --Resources to Improve Future Raids--

    Friend Lists
    If someone performed well and you got along, and they are not in your guild, add them to your Friend List and encourage others to add you. They may not run with you every week, but most people remember good PuG leaders.

    If someone was uncooperative the entire time, do not invite them to a future group. It matters very little if they were the top performer, a negative attitude kills raids very easily and swiftly. Be liberal with that ignore list.

    Combat Logs
    If you were stuck on one boss, make sure you log combat and upload that log to WWS or WorldofLogs or some such. Examining those logs in detail frequently reveals where fights went wrong and you can figure out how to fix it more easily.

    To Be Continued at a later time!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Aww man... I came here expecting a post all about the Namescore mod... I walked away dissappointed.

    In other news: there is actually a forum about leadership and such, keep scrolling down.
    "If the world is something you accept rather than interpret, then you're susceptible to the influence of charismatic idiots." -Neil deGrasee Tyson

    Twitter @Aggathon || @Tankspot || Twitch.Tv/Aggathon

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Extremely well put, even though we do 99% the same things in our 25 man guild, still a very awesome post. GG! (really mean it).

    One thing I found funny "Don't wait until something is a problem to vocalize it. It might annoy people at first, but they'll eventually get used to it and likely appreciate it" couldn't be more true, even my OTs found it annoying that I was announcing taunts and incoming trash at the beginning of our days, mainly because I'm the MT and one of the 4 GMs and lesser ranks/roles might think on the start "this guy thinks he is uberpro compared to me" or "he thinks I can't tank". None of those things are true it's just we feel it's our duty to announce it. Long story short, after even the 1st month of raiding everyone loved it and even occasionally get whispers like "@!$* almost forgot to taunt, thanks for announcing dude".
    -- Me tankz Chukky Norriz without def cap --

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Thank you for this post. I'm looking to run an Ulduar PUG, since there are not many if at all running on shattered hand and this is going to help me prepare and be as noobish. Thanks again!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Ret and Prot paladins can cover the ap debuff.

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