The Gray Place

The frosted side.

Posted in Raid Leading, WoW by mrfenris on April 7, 2010

See the post below for the “real life” side of my day.

Part II

Last night was our first downing of the Blood Princes.  (Remember we are a social guild, we don’t pretend to be raiders.)  It was a long night in some aspects, but not a bad night by any means.  It actually highlighted a few thoughts I’d like to bring up about raid leading.  Raid leading to me is a combination of knowledge and leadership.  Some of this occurs naturally and some of it occurs through learning.  There are different methods and different styles for various situations and even different types of guilds.

My only real raid leading experience in WoW comes from a social guild background.  We do not auto kick players from the raid who are performing poorly, we do not follow a strict schedule, and we do not screen applicants like a progression focused guild does.  So these observations should be held within context of our guild’s focus.  These are things I’ve learned and am still learning as I go.

I.  The raid leader position is important.  It does not make YOU important.  You are still a guild member the same as everyone else.  You are not entitled to special treatment or consideration.  You do not “control” the people in your raid.  You guide them when needed.  You are responsible for them and their time.  You are not master over it.

II.  You will make mistakes.  You drop the ball on a call out, you don’t pay attention to the enrage, you skip someone on loot.  You are playing your character and handling 9 others.  Things happen.  Identify them and learn from them.  You should understand that nearly every single call you make will be second guessed.  It’s part of the job.  Get used to it.

III.  Respect and credibility is earned.  If you want people to listen to you, you must give them a reason too.  Be consistent, be fair, be firm.  My raiders know whats in or out-of-bounds during a raid.  It’s because I constantly re-enforce what’s acceptable during a raid.  If you make a mistake admit to it.  I taunted the wrong boss last night and caused a wipe.  I told the raid that it was my fault.  I feel I have credibility with my raiders because they know I don’t hold myself to a different set of standards.

IV.  Use the tools you have available.  If your GM does not have a firm PUBLIC raid policy in place you have nothing to fall back on.  Use the rules to support your actions.  You are not the GM.  You are a project manager.

Gather knowledge of the encounters before the raid even starts.  Watch the videos, read the articles, gather information and tactics so you can apply a strategy to the encounter.  There is an entire wealth of information out there.  Use it.

In regards to tools, I also suggest using third-party add ons to help your performance.  I once forgot to check and see if we had a soul stone up.  We wiped because of it.  I found an add-on that lets me monitor buffs, soul stones, flasks, etc.  I have never missed another soul stone.  If you have trouble observing the status of your raid, use a unit frame add-on or healing display.  You can see exactly whose going to need mana or whose out of range at a glance.

V.  Not everyone is going to like you.  You will make unpopular calls.  Sometimes someone doesn’t want to go on add duty.  Sometimes someone does not agree that they don’t get to roll on a piece of loot.  Do not base your performance on these things.  Uphold the raid rules (see number IV).  Refer them to the GM or proper people.  You are leading a raid.  Not setting policy.

VI.  Listen to your raiders.  Don’t obey them.  Measure what their saying.  They might see things you don’t.  They might also not see the big picture.  It’s not weakness to take good advice or accept alternative information.  However raid leading is not a democracy. The middle of a run is not the place for a theory-crafting session or debate.  You are in charge.

VII.  Make the call.  It’s your job to make the decision.  Bloodlust at the start or Bloodlust at the soft enrage?  Combat res on who?  Whose a backup gunner?  All DPS on the boss and ignore the adds?  You are the raid lead.  Make a call, even if it’s the wrong one.  Your raiders will respect you for it.

This also entails telling your raiders what their doing wrong and right.  I hardly ever publically single anyone out if they’ve made a mistake.  But it’s your job to let people know what they are doing that’s causing you to fail.  Be honest and rational about it.  Screaming that your DPS is terrible doesn’t do anything.  Telling them what they are doing wrong fixes the problem.

The same with praise.  Don’t give blanket praises.  “Everyone did a good job”, doesn’t teach people what they did right.  Telling someone they did a good job keeping the orbs up tells them exactly what they did right.

VIII.  Realize it’s a video game.  Every member should be playing because their having fun.  There are times when you need to crack the whip but there are times you need to let them joke around.  After a long night on a progression boss, let a few your momma jokes go around before the next pull.  It will do wonders for morale and playing ability.  Keep them moving, but stop and take a break for the bathroom, drinks, and a general stretch.

IX.  Have a flexible plan.  I always have a game plan for what the night is going to entail.  If it’s a night of old downed bosses, I keep the raid moving fast like a sprint but a little looser than normal.  I focus on different strategies to try new things or assign people in different roles to cross train them.  If it’s a progression night I treat the raid as an endurance run.  I try to keep them motivated and tight, we adjust as we go, and keep moving forward.  They all know when they sign up for a progression night it might turn into a rough slog.

You have to have a strategy which is centered around your raiders.  You might be melee heavy or all casters.  You might have a undergeared alt tank.  Put your raid team in a position it can have it’s best performance on.  Weak on DPS, then don’t do DPS check bosses.  Weak on tanks and heals?  Don’t do hard-hitting spiky bosses.  Do not set your raiders up to fail.

X.  Teach your raiders.  Don’t tell them.  Do not train your raiders to react ONLY to your voice.  You have to teach them WHY they are moving left instead of right.  As a raid leader your job isn’t to narrate the fight or play their character’s for them.  Your raiders should be moving out of the fire on their own.  If you get them used to only responding to your call outs on vent, you’ve done nothing to help them improve as players.  Make them responsible for themselves.  We’ve really been hitting that hard lately in my raids.  You are responsible for yourself first and foremost.

The last thing I’d like to mention is my personal mantra.  It’s what I tell myself when I get overwhelmed, start privately second guessing myself, or have 9 raiders that can’t do anything right…

Fucking Handle It.

You will never get your ideal raid sign ups or boss encounters.  Nothing in life is fair or perfect.  Your goal is to get 10 people over a obsticile the best way you can.  You have people who are looking for you to perform your role well.  If that doesn’t motivate you to suck it up and get back in the fight as a read leader, then your in the wrong position.

Goddamn I love this job.  I can’t wait to keep getting better at it.

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