Running a Raid: 10 Golden Rules (part 2)

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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.

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  • 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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