Running a Raid: 10 Golden Rules (part 2)


Last week we took a look at the first five of That Which Should Be Lore to raid leaders from all corners of the World… of Warcraft. Well, all right – it’s only advice from an oversized bird, but here’s to it being helpful or at least entertaining. Here are the other five rules for your perusal.

6: Talk to your raid when things go wrong. Things go wrong. Fact. If they do, take a deep breath; some of your raiders might not. Try to be patient – remember that players often don’t really get a fight until they’ve seen it in action, and anyone can make simple mistakes. Keep an eye on what’s happening in a fight to stay informed. Research addons you can use to monitor performance and stay quietly informed; not to throw blame around, which some raiders might do. Prevent that: it will obscure the real cause behind things going wrong and your raid group may acquire a mentality that splits it into “us/them”.

  • As soon as a wipe occurs I start talking to the raid about it. For example, we wiped a lot on Yogg Saron the first time we met him… her… it.. Whenever a wipe occurred I began with something that went well and was applicable to as many of the raiders as possible. For example, the brain room team working like a well oiled machine when inside and the outside team freeing people from constrictors.
  • I’d then state what seemed to be the problem for the attempt of cause of the wipe. Say for this attempt it was the brain room team needing to be a bit sharper getting out of the brain room so that they didn’t turn into frothing lunatics and try to kill the rest of the raid.
  • I’d go on to things we could improve without laying the blame at any one raider’s feet.
  • Last but not least, I’d ask if anyone has anything to add. If your raid has the right atmosphere people may well follow your lead and approach, and be supportive at best and constructively critical to each other at worst. This helps the raid build a joint safe environment.

7:  Deal with conflict. Conflict can occur between any raiders if the situation is right for it. It may be a single flare like two players conflicting over DPS. It may also be something more drawn-out – perhaps something that starts with one player sniping at another after a wipe, and then the argument gets dragged up and worsened as the run continues. There are a lot of reasons conflicts happen – the crux of it is to remember that people are just people, and will react to the situation and each other differently.

  • To some extent conflicts always involve you as the raid leader, even if you’re not directly involved. If you think a conflict is brewing up then deal with it in whispers to the players concerned before it hits the raid. If a conflict hits the raid and remains unresolved it will quickly get morale down and can lead to players making mistakes – it may lead to the group collapsing.
  • A lot of people don’t like dealing with conflict and that can include us raid leaders. Still, it’s important to sort it out before half the raid vote with their feet. Find a method of conflict resolution you’re comfortable with and one that supports the raid group. As an example, Herding Cats’ approach is to start dealing with conflict before it occurs. If you remember from last week I said that we tell people we expect them to be friendly and that griefing isn’t acceptable. Any troublemakers during the run are then dealt with either by a polite but firm comment in raid chat or a whispered warning from the raid leader or main assistant. Persistent or particularly offensive players are met with a firm hoof out of the instance portal.
  • I’ve found in the past that entire raid groups benefit from conflict resolution. People not involved in the conflict don’t feel that they may be caught in an awkward situation. People on the receiving end of grief feel supported. Sometimes the player causing trouble settles down and is grateful – a lot of the time they’re not troublemaking out of spite, they’re just not thinking.

8: Wear the sash well. Make sure you’re in control if you’re the raid leader. It’s fine if people have ideas they want to contribute to an encounter – being open to that is a sign that you are treating everyone equally, including yourself. But you may get raiders who ‘backseat raid lead’ for whatever reason. Perhaps they’re usually a raid leader and don’t realise they’re stepping on your toes. Perhaps it’s your first time in this encounter and though you’ve done your research, they’ve done it six times on seven alts and know better than you. Perhaps you’re a lowly DPS pretender to the raid leader crown and they’re a tank who believes that tanks rule over all by right.


  • Having backseat raid leaders will confuse the group because everyone will listen to someone different. The consequence of a backseat raid leader yelling directions in TotC10? Two thirds of the group charging in on the arena fight on his orders to mete out justice to the Death Knight while leaving the enemy healers to heal to their hearts’ content before you’ve had time to readycheck.
  • There is a fine line between contributing and backseat raid leading. When I’ve come across this my usual method of dealing with it has been to note in chat that it’s important to have one raid leader so that people don’t get confused and a quick whisper to the backseat raid leader asking him to support you.
  • Also, if you’re delegating to one or several people – say you actually want Bob to help lead – then make it clear that the group should listen to decisions and whispers from you or Bob.

9: Encouragement. Oftentimes people will talk about something going wrong rather than something going right. This happens a lot in WoW too – particularly in any type of raid. Not to mention the fact that some players approach PUGs negatively; a tank might be convinced that an Ony25 run is  a loss before your merry band of adventurers gets to Dustwallow but will sigh and come along anyway. That same tank’s mindset might cause him to slip up on positioning Onyxia and see the unwary and dispirited melee DPSers take a trip into whelpland.

  • So, try to present the positives – but be genuine and don’t overdo it. Let the group know when you’re impressed with something. If something went well, rejoice. The key though is not to forget individual players. If you have time occasionally whispering players when they’ve done something well  – even if they’re doing other things wrong – is a nice way to let them know they’re appreciated. This is important: especially if they’re new to the encounter or your group – or both. It will build trust, teamwork and their own sense of achievement.
  • Crumbs, if they *are* doing something vitally wrong then you can address it with a brief chat. For example, think of an encounter with Lord Jaraxxus; “Just to let you know that you’re doing really well on the dispelling, nicely done. Now if you could also focus on running away when you have legion flames – that will take some of the strain off the healers.”

10: Breaks. Raid groups can be fraught with multiple players going AFK “for 2 min”. Before you know it there’s been an extended break for 20 minutes. Players will be bored and will have lost focus – some folks may leave, which leads to extra time spent finding replacements.

  • You can cut impromptu AFKs down by building in or planning breaks and letting people know they will happen. They can then plan to get a drink, make that vital phone call, fix their addons – whatever – during the planned break time. Whether or not you can announce breaks by the clock or whether it’s better to plan in half hourly blocks subject to how the run is going depends both on your group and the instance.
  • It’s also a good idea to consider breaks tactically. For example, if you’re repeatedly bouncing off of a boss then announcing a five minute break after the next attempt will let people know that soon they can clear their mind. I’ve found that it’s possible for people to come back refreshed and down the boss flawlessly after the break. Equally, a break after a successful fight may sometimes be a good idea to let players relish the victory, but more often than not it’s a very bad idea to waste the free morale boost from a boss kill.

Now all 10 ‘rules’ in the book of Mimetir are up, though there are probably a dozen more basics to talk about. As I and last week’s commentators keep saying, it’s all about individual style. A constant willingness to learn and adapt your style also helps. I think the most basic principle, the one that rules them all, is not to be a brick wall to your group.

What are your thoughts? Do you wholeheartedly agree or vehemently disagree with any of the 10? Do you have any golden rules you’d like to share on raid leading? How do you feel as a raider, not necessarily a raid leader, when reading this? Are you thinking about starting to raid lead?

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  1. Very nice follow-up, not much to add at the moment, will wait for some discussion. Loved the pic!
    .-= BlueberryTotem´s last blog ..Twin Valkyrs heroic down… =-.

  2. much improved over prior five. but I gather where you were going with that.

    setting a tone and keeping people focused, and clarifying jobs and most of all making sure you “capitalize on the highs” and realize “lows happen” in both performance and concentration happen.

    if one person is continually afk, not careing, not hearing the strat. and that one person is gumming up the works, that person needs to go. IMO.

    we’ve hit our highs when shit was clear, people relized meters dont mean shit, and different jobs are done raid wide.

    fail happens when lack of attention, or complaceny hits.

    clarity and focus = king.

  3. “8: Wear the sash well”

    A corollary to this one, for people not leading the raid, who think they have a better grasp of tactics:

    Try to support the raid leader. Make your tactical sugestions as questions, so that the raid leader can say yes, or no, to them.
    “Maybe some of the ranged attackers should help with the big adds?”
    instead of
    “Ranged attackers should help kill the big adds too”

    This way people will not see them as instructions to follow (possibly contradicting other instructions other people have said), unless the raid leader says yes to them.

  4. Don’t be afraid to be firm. Granted. I’m not talking about yelling and screaming, but I’m constantly amazed when I tell my raid, “This is bush league, pull it together and execute.” And sure enough they do.

    Leadership is about setting a course and having your crew take you there.

    If you follow the rules in these posts your team will respect you and want to perform for you.

  5. One thing I love to see is humor. Being too serious about things, especially wipes, helps a whole lot. “Allight, that sucked. /roll for blame” is an easy way to lighten the mood when things get taxing.

  6. This is all really good leadership advice , on keeping the troops focused on the mission…which is a challenge in the digital arena.

  7. Thanks all for the comments! Sounds like you guys have used or seen some of these used to good effect, too.

    @smeedsc – Yes, clarity and focus are king, along with a few other key factors such as a good balance of fun and challenge. Imo these rules lead on naturally from the last ones – I remember we had a difference of opinion in the last post. How often (and at what difficulty level) do you have trouble with those things such as lack of attenion or over-complacency hitting your raid groups? Do you think these are more common problems in easier or harder runs?

    @Simbaria – an excellent point well illustrated. If someone thinks they have something to add to the raid leading then it’s more helpful for the whole group if they add it as an option to the raid leader’s organisation rather than jump into his shoes.

    @Hallo and vogie – firmness and humour both have their places in raids; they let your raiders feel that your team – and leading – is solid, but that they don’t have to be at a constant high level of stress to perform.

    Keep the comments coming folks! Good to hear that you agree with these rules but feel free to dispute them, or add any that you do/wish raid leaders did – I’m curious to hear how it goes in other groups.
    .-= Mimetir´s last blog ..Juddr: Today’s song-stuck-in-head for me is Who by Fire (Leonard Cohen). How about you guys? =-.

  8. ” “Allight, that sucked. /roll for blame”

    Nice. I’m stealing that for my next raid run 🙂

    Simbaria – Yes, yes, yes, yes! Maybe Mimetir’s next column should be “5 golden rules for not making your raid leader hate you?”

  9. @smeedsc – Yes, clarity and focus are king, along with a few other key factors such as a good balance of fun and challenge. Imo these rules lead on naturally from the last ones – I remember we had a difference of opinion in the last post. How often (and at what difficulty level) do you have trouble with those things such as lack of attenion or over-complacency hitting your raid groups? Do you think these are more common problems in easier or harder runs?

    yessir, and I think some of it was just me being crunchy, and posting after having one of those “wtf pay attention nights”. 😉 apologys.

    Usually its hard mode content. could be as stupid as people dropping gravity bombs in raid, or as bad as no one but two healers decursing in One Light.

    Those are the times, that it gets really frustrating, especially in progressional hard mode raiding. We all know the fights, hell we know the fights before we try them often, just from PTR testing and reading. after a few weeks of farming… or attempts at downing even one we are capable of downing, getting everyone on the same page, focused and at 100 percent is the biggest challenge. Yelling and breaks happen. and then for no reason it just all friggin clicks. This is beyond my understanding, its like they all decided at one time to quit sucking. lol

    what do you do or say prior to it all clicking?

  10. @smeedsc

    For me at least the biggest part of the “clicking” is the feeling that we’re close. I’ve been leading 25 mans since Naxx and after a while you get an feeling for your raid and how they progress. I like to communicate that to my team to A) Let them know that I see the big picture that maybe they do not in their individual roles and B) Have confidence they can pull it off.

    More than once on a progression kill you’ve heard these words come out of my mouth, “Guys, we’re close. We’ll get this in maybe one or two attempts, all we need is for everything to go right together.”

    More often thatn not, I’m correct and the boss goes down on my predicted attempt. It’s just a little reminder to them that if they refocus and execute that they can accomplish what they’re trying to do no matter how long they’ve been wiping on it.

    Now you can’t go to that well too often, but when it works they’ll follow you to the ends of the earth as long as you are honest with them. In the long term the other thing you can do is walk away from a boss. If you don’t feel like it’s going to happen don’t be afraid to give them a “last attempt” and then take them elsewhere. What that lets them know is that if you’re still sticking it out you feel like they’re progressing and can finish the task.

    That and occasionally that last attempt ends up with a kill. 😛

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