The other day I was asked by a new raid leader in the guild if there were any tips I could give him. I was in the middle of running a raid myself at this point and I’m fairly certain that whatever I replied with wasn’t all that useful. It was probably barely more then a string of non-sensical letters and yet he said his thanks and carried on.
It occurs to me now that there are number of things I should have known when I started raid leading and that if I’d spent less time trying to figure these out and more time actually leading the team I was with would likely have made quite a lot more progress then it ended up doing. I have written about the most salient points but there are so many different ways to approach raid leading that there are many I won’t have covered. All of them are a vital part of any leaders armoury and learning them is as much a part of your journey as your teams progression is.
Learn your team’s strengths… and their weaknesses
Now, I’m not talking about the roles and classes that the members of your team may have chosen to play. Here we need to know about the people behind the characters. You need to figure out that the Hunter knows his class well but lacks situational awareness and that although the Shadow Priest has never once stood in fire she is seemingly unable to figure out that Stamina is not a good stat to gem for. Once you’ve figured these things out you’ll be able to work with your team to negate the weaknesses and take advantage of the strengths when you’re killing internet dragons.
Know the fights
Admittedly you’re thinking this is a given and you are not wrong. A raid leader needs to know the fights, not only so that they are able to fulfil the role they inhabit but also because they need to ensure that every member of their team is doing it right™. Make sure you know any given encounter from the point of view of all roles. Be certain that you can do this whilst the fight mechanics are hitting you hard and you are spamming heals on the hunter (who is stood in fire) because you can be certain that this is the time that you’ll be called upon to point something out.
Being able to explain the fight clearly and succinctly before pulling is a great skill but it isn’t actually required. You need to impress upon the team as early as possible the need for the members to do their own research and know how the fights mechanics apply to them. You are just there to fill in the details.
Smooth over the bad
Occasionally things are going to go wrong—this is unfortunately an inevitable part of raiding—and when they do you are going to need to step right up, point out who or what went wrong and get the ball rolling on the next attempt. Now most of the group are going to go along with this but the time will come when someone will feel the need to chip in on the blame game. The accusations start flying and before you know it, what started out as a fun evening, has devolved into a slanging match of prodigious proportions.
Do you very best to not let this happen. When you learn the strengths and weaknesses of your team be sure to pay special attention to the character traits of each member. Identify which people are likely to kick off a post wipe hoo-ha and make it your top priority to stop them in their tracks. If your fun evening of raiding turns out not to be so fun after all then team morale will very soon take a turn for the worse.
Praise the accomplishments
One of your toolbox techniques for improving upon the weaknesses is pointing out that things are going well. Did your team just pull off a perfect Ragnaros phase transition? Then tell them so. Did your Hunter manage to avoid all the snowfall during the Hagara frost phase? Make sure they know that you know they did. Anything you can do to make your team feel like they’ve done a good job will result in improved performance when they are presented with a similar scenario and will save you money. Fact.
Keep it fun
Everyone has a different idea of what fun entails. Running your own raid group means you get to inflict your particular brand of fun on everyone else. If you want a team that pushes for progression then make that your goal. Recruit around that requirement and expect to find the type of people that have a similar aim. The same goes for a group that aims for a social experience; expect that your group will be made up of the socialising type. Do not attempt to mix people with different objectives or your raid nights will rapidly become the highlight of peoples calendars for all the wrong reasons.
All the things
On top of all this you will still need to carry out your role. It will do no one any good if, on top of doing all the above, you are unable to meet the Ultraxion DPS requirements or successfully navigate the threat swapping required whilst running through Halfus Wymbreaker heroic. Coupled with this you will need to show a little administrative skill and ensure your team knows where it is supposed to be and when and has enough Seafood Magnifiques to get the job done. Not to forget the recruitment issues any new group is going to encounter1.
I do not expect you will find any of this easy. I have spent a number of years attempting to develop the people skills that you need to become a successful raid leader, though if you were to speak to anyone in my team they will tell you I have failed. I guess I still have a long way to go.
- I have had the pleasure of running 2 raid groups in my time. Both have taken at least 2 months of sweat and tears before they have become stable enough to expect a majority turnout. If you want a stable 10 person turnout raid after raid you can expect it to take significantly longer. [↩]