Raid Leading 101: Starting your Roster

**Forgive the absence of last week’s post. I got “blessed” by a crazy work schedule that had me away from my desk a lot. Don’t forget that if there’s anything you’d like to discuss or see in a RL101 post, you can always email me**

So, you’ve made the choice between 10 and 25. You know which feels right for you and your friends. Now you need to look at your roster. Your roster is the list of players on your team that you can pull from to make your raid on any given night. Hopefully you’ve got a group of friends that you’ve started with, which will take some of the stress off of recruiting and assembling your team. We’ll start out with the basics of your raid (this is a 101 course, remember). You need tanks, healers, ranged DPS and melee DPS.

Tanks

Tanks are the classes that will take the brunt of the damage while protecting your raid. The classes that can fulfill this role are:

  • Protection Paladin (“Prot Pally”, “Tankadin”)
  • Feral Druid in Bear Form (“Bear”, “Meatshield”)
  • Protection Warrior (“Prot Warrior”)
  • Blood Death Knight (“Blood DK”, “BDK”)

It’s best in a 10-man raid to have ~3 Tanks on your roster (~4 for 25-man). Most raids encounters will require 2 tanks for encounters. Either your 2 tanks will have to alternate who is tanking the boss, one will tank the boss while the other tanks one or more mobs that join the fight, or you’re doing a Council-style fight.

Your Main Tank (or “MT”) should be your most talented tank and will seldom need a DPS off-spec. The other tanks on your roster (“Off-tanks” or “OTs”) should have a DPS off-spec so they don’t need to be totally swapped out mid-fight. Warriors can spec into Fury or Arms, Druids into Balance or Feral Cat, Paladins into Retribution, and Death Knights into Frost or Unholy.

Healers

Healers are the players that you pay to keep you alive long enough to see the boss take its last breath. Classes blessed with this ability:

  • Restoration Shaman (“Resto Shammy”)
  • Restoration Druid (“Resto Druid”, “Tree Druid”)
  • Holy Paladin (“Holy Pally”, “HPally”)
  • Holy Priest
  • Discipline Priest (“Disc”)

For your 10-man crew, count on having ~4 Healers on your roster (~9 for 25man). You’ll always need a minimum of 2 healers (5 in 25-man) for an encounter, depending on how healing intensive it is. It’s best to have the other healers in your roster work on a DPS offspec in case you need to convert to more DPS in an encounter. Priests can spec into Shadow, Druids into Balance or Feral Cat, Paladins into Retribution, and Shamans into Enhancement (Melee) or Elemental (Ranged).

Melee/Ranged DPS

DPS are the players that put the hurtin’ on the boss. They’re primarily responsible for dealing damage to the boss and any adds that may pop up, as well as crowd control, interrupt, off-heal, or help mitigate damage. Here’s the laundry list of DPS you’ll find:

Melee

  • Enhancement Shaman (“Enh Shammy”)
  • Rogue (Subtlety, Assassination, Combat)
  • Arms or Fury Warrior (“Arms War”, “Fury War”)
  • Retribution Paladin (“Ret Pally”, “lolret”)
  • Feral Druid in Cat Form (“Cat”, “Kitty DPS”)
  • Death Knight (Unholy, Frost)

Ranged

  • Elemental Shaman (“Ele Shammy”)
  • Hunter (Marksmanship, Beast Mastery, Survival)
  • Warlock (Affliction, Demonology, Destruction)
  • Mage (Arcane, Fire, Frost)
  • Balance Druid (“Moonkin”, “Boomkin”, “Boom Chicken”, “Lazer Turkey”)
  • Shadow Priest

In 10-man, you’ll want ~8 DPS’ers (~22 for 25-man) on your roster, with a mix of melee and ranged. There will be some fights that will be better for melee DPS or ranged DPS, so a mix will give you a good chance of success. Having any of your DPS players with a tank or heal off-spec is great, but more often than not, you’ll be better off if your tanks and healers are all main-spec.

Summing It Up

A standard 10-man raid will consist of: 2 Tanks, 3 Healers, 5 DPS.

A standard 25-man raid will consist of: 2-3 Tanks, 6-7 Healers, and the rest DPS.

Of course different raids will deviate from this basic model, but in my raiding experience, this is usually what you’ll find. To start out, aim for those numbers. Once you have your 10 or 25, add 1-2 more for each role to solidify your team. Your raiders will need nights off or have real-life commitments from time to time, and those extra people will help keep your raid going consistently.

Coming up, we’ll look at more advanced roster planning, as well as a couple recruitment tips!

10 Tips: How To Organise A Guild Meet

10 Tips: How To Organise A Guild Meet

Last week I Herded Cats.

Well, all right, not really cats. I’m not a crazy cat lady and my guild members aren’t felines with string addictions. But our annual guild meet up – or Herd Moot as we call it – finished last week. But what does this mean to you?

I know a lot of guilds meet up. I know some would like to and aren’t sure where to begin. I figured I might share a few pointers with you in case it’s something you might ever consider organising with your guild, whatever game you play. Pointers you wouldn’t necessarily think of immediately, and which I’ve learnt both during this Moot and through organising similar knees-up in the past.

It really is worth it. More’s the point, it really isn’t impossible.

We had folks travel from other parts of the UK, and from Finland and Norway. I deduce from the fact that everyone said they didn’t want to leave and some have made a point of saying they’re now actively looking to move here that everyone had a good time. Heck, we’re vaguely considering through the post-Moot recovery haze that we might organise another Moot for later in the year.

So, a few things to keep in mind for you as an organiser – or you as a participant supporting your organiser – to help your own Moot go smoothly.

1. Flexible plans. You’ll select precise times/dates. Be prepared for participants to either choose to travel on slightly different times/days which best suit themselves and their finances, or simply get it wrong, without checking with you first. For example, I organised our Moot for Friday-Monday; it ended up being Thursday-Wednesday due to peoples’ flights. You don’t need to stress if this happens, or worry if you have obligations like work on ‘extra’ days – the group can look after itself for a bit! Stay on top of travel details and keep in mind how many of the group are around at any one time.

2. Intensity. Think about how important it is that your group spends all of the meet together. Think about how long your meet is; if it’s quite short – 24 hours – you might well spend the whole day together as a group. if the meet is a few days then it’s likely to be part-meet part-holiday for anyone who’s travelled. Leaving them some time to themselves over the few days for exploring a new place on holiday might be just what both them and you need!

3. Health. Always ask anyone you’re ‘overseeing’ if they have medical conditions you should be aware of. Reassure them that you won’t make a big deal of it and it’s for your reference in case anything goes wrong or they fall ill. It’s highly likely everyone will have niggling little issues that they won’t think it worth telling you about when you ask, but which will probably come out during your meet when they suddenly remember their bad knee doesn’t like the long walk the group’s halfway through. Give them plenty of opportunity to think of telling you anything pertinent; if you’re planning a walk, tell them in advance, and how far, and if there are options to stop halfway through. For ‘active’ pursuits it’s also useful to have an idea of your group’s general (and lowest) fitness level. We found that half our group weren’t as up for long, pretty walks as others were.

Also, get basic health supplies in. I believe a first aid kit is vital if hopefully unnecessary, and last week found me handing out painkillers to various Cats for migraines to hangovers to general aches.

4. Finances. Your group will probably reflect a range of financial situations. Try to get an idea of the range of your group’s finances early on by talking to individuals quietly and in confidence. Then plan a spread of activities accordingly. Remember that money is a sensitive thing for everyone, whatever their position – don’t blather publicly about who can afford which activities. if necessary plan a couple of options for any one time that differ financially; people can decide for themselves which they want to do.

5. Gaming. You do want to spend some time together playing the game you all have in common – it’s great fun to all be in the same physical space playing it. Even so, strike a balance between ‘real life’ activities which don’t involve WoW/whatever MMO you play, and playing the MMO. For us, that balance was one main evening session and a smaller, less organised session, over 6 days.

6. Booking responsibility. Everyone participating is responsible for booking something. For you that’s ensuring there are arrangements for a place to game. That might be a LAN in someone’s residence, which requires cables and technical equipment, or booking an internet cafe or hotel conference room.

Any participants travelling to the meet need to take responsibility for their own travel and accommodation; unless they really really want to give you their credit card details (big nono for so many reasons). The only help you should give them is to encourage them to book early and have either yourself or someone with knowledge of the area research/suggest some affordable accommodation options and travel sites. Bear in mind some people may not have travelled much and may need more help organising themselves than others.

7. Communication. As the organiser you need to be approachable. Maintain a dialogue with participants in the run-up to the meet. Less intrusive/immediate forms of contact like Facebook are ideal as it gives others the opportunity to reply in their own time, and you the ability to chase them up if they take too long to keep you posted. IM services such as Skype or MSN also work well, particularly the closer the meet is, and particularly if you are having to chase particular individuals for details.

On a more specific note, if your group doesn’t often use voice software while gaming and you have people coming from other countries, they may be worried about speaking English (or whatever language). One of our guild members was particularly worried about his spoken English; we reassured him as much as possible and I also offered to talk to him on a voice skype chat before the Moot as a ‘practice’/’soft’ speaking run before he got here.

8. Recognition. You’re all about to do something scary: go out of your way to Meet Faceless People Off The Internet. Most people in your group will be nervous to some degree. You should share your details with participants to help them see you’re not a betentacled monster and so that you can stay abreast of travel details on the first day. Mobile/cell phone number exchange is crucial, as is a picture of yourself.  Hopefully by setting this good example you’ll inspire them to share theirs back with you.

9. Visibility. Buy sticky labels. Have everyone wear one with their character name and real name for the first day or two. Sounds geeky, right? Mayhap, but it’s also practical and puts folks at ease with remembering real names and using them. You could commission individual t-shirts or hats displaying names and character information or pictures too, if you really want to push the boat out and add a memorable touch given that labels are easily lost and not much of a fashion accessory,

10. Age range. Some guilds have people of a range of ages playing. Be aware of the youngest and oldest ages you have. You may need to generally think round activities that all age groups can enjoy. On a more specific note – don’t make alcohol a part of your meet if you have folks under the legal drinking age (doh!). If you have really young folks, keep a general eye on them. This all may not be a problem for you; it wasn’t for us as we’re one of many guilds of a similar age range. But it’s easy for age differences to slip your mind when you’ve known people online for so long without actually ‘seeing’ them.

 

I hope some of that is useful to you and your guildies. It might look like a lot of work or a scary concept when laid out in practical tidbits but fear ye not. Guild meets can be really special events creating long-lasting memories and deeper relationships. Particularly if you keep an open mind for practical details!

What about you – are you considering doing something as crazy as this? If so, do you have any questions/worries? Have you organised meets, and have tidbits to add or any stories to share? Or do you think the idea of meeting up with the pixels you adventure is weird and wrong?

This is an article by Mimetir, an owl (and resto shaman) of a raid leader on The Venture Co. (EU) You can find my twitter feed here.

Healing: Priority, Priority, and Priority

Several weeks ago, I mentioned how much I didn’t like two-healing 10 man raids. Why? Basically because if a healer goes down, there’s utmost pressure on the other healer. A raid almost never recovers. With 3 healers, if one dies, you can still pull off a kill. And today, I’m going to write about one of those experiences where I was 2-healing a guild 10-man raid where another healer went down.

Sometimes you hit one of those days where your ego gains a massive boost because you’ve singlehandedly healed a raid down to 0%. The worst case scenario that you’ve planned for countless of times in your head actually happened in a raid encounter and you pull off every pre-planned spell, move, and cooldown with such eye surgeon-like precision leading to an unexpected kill.

And I still can’t believe I pulled it off. Anyway, while the kill is still fresh from memory, I’ll walk you through my various thought processes in the event something like this should happen to you. Healing can be a sleepwalk. Other times, it can be a big kick in the groin. Our healing pairing happened to be Holy Priest and Discipline Priest (I was Discipline for the fight). We determined ahead of time that since we had a Prot Paladin tanking Ooze, they could tackle the dispels.

We were taking on Rotface in ICC 10. Everything began smoothly. It started around 85%, give or take. I had just cleaned off a disease and was in the process of running back in after my ooze had merged. I look up where the group is and see a massive ooze heading in the direction of the boss. Uh oh. Someone’s about to eat it. Then I see Priestly angel wings and I knew our only other healer would have a few heals before she’d be out of action. Our only druid was tanking the boss so executing a battle res was out of the question. There were essentially two things we could do at this point:

  • Wipe the raid: Start fresh, rebuff, get everyone at full strength.
  • Play the stress the @#$% out of Matt game: Essentially, it’s to see how long the raid can do as is with just one healer.

So if you happened to be in Matt’s guild and you had those two as options, which one would you pick?

Naturally, the raid decides to opt for the second option.

At this point, no cooldowns had been used. Everything was still available. I hustled back into position in the middle of the raid. The Ooze Explosion indicator goes off. I swivel the camera and watch for it. But there’s still more to it than that.

Priority, priority, and priority

My thinking instantly turned from “Top off players to 100%” mode to “Keep players from reaching 0%” mode. And I guarantee you, there is a huge difference in spell usage and target selection when that happens. DPS doesn’t exactly become expendable. You still need them. You can get by with 1 DPS dead. But if 1 tank dies, it’s an instant game over. Thus the healing priority shifts slightly towards a greater emphasis on keeping tanks alive.

Analyze the raid: There are two tanks and the overall raid to worry about.

  • Raid frame shows that the Rotface tank (our Druid) takes approximately 7000-9000 damage a hit. She has about 59000 health. 7 goes into 59 about 8 times (roughly). In other words, she can survive 8 melee swings before it’s game over. Rotface swings at a rate of about a second and some change (1.* seconds of which I didn’t know off the top of my head and it wasn’t the time to look it up). I ballparked it at around 9 seconds without a heal.
  • The Ooze tank is tanking a Big Ooze that had already absorbed several smaller Oozes. I knew the Big Ooze was 1 or 2 small Oozes away from exploding. From that, I could further deduce that the Ooze tank would get 2 shot if they were within melee range of it.
  • Raid health was at varying levels due to Slime Sprays and some coming back in from being infected.

I threw shields on both of the tanks immediately (they weren’t at full health, but they weren’t exactly at imminent death either. I figured the shields would buy at least one or two hits). The raider with lowest health was immediately Penance’d.

All of us scattered to avoid the incoming smattering of green stuff in the middle of the room. A few players were hit but still managed to survive because they only took a blow or two. I didn’t have time to think, so I slammed the Inner Focus –> Divine Hymn macro bringing everyone back to the top before rejoining the raid in the middle of the room.

There happened to be a small pool of Ooze between me and the raid. I ran into after hitting myself with a Prayer of Mending (Note: Risky. Don’t actually run into bad things on the ground unless you know you will survive it). Every player that did not have Weakened Soul was continuously chain shielded. Somewhere in my head, I knew I felt super sluggish. I needed much more heals than what I could cast because at the rate we were going, the damage incoming to the overall raid was greater than the heals I could muster.

And then it hit me.

We have a Shaman, moron. We usually blow Heroism at 30%. He’s at 70% right now. Just use the damn thing!”

Sure the extra speed from the Heroism would help with the damage. More importantly, it allowed the heals to go off at a much faster pace.

Anyway, I believe there were a few Paladin bubbles and Divine Guardians going on to help lower the damage. The tanks blew their cooldowns at various points to give me precious seconds to catch up. Now I had to worry about dispels. Infections were either getting progressively faster or the Ooze tank had other things to worry about. This is where you play the balance game and go back to thinking priority, priority, and priority. I could spare them a quick shield and then focus back on ensuring my tanks, myself, and other players were above 20% health or so. While the Infection would slowly kill them, it wasn’t going to be immediate. It gave them time to run out and it’d avoid any slimes that happened to be in the middle. If there happened to be two Oozes dispelled back to back, it’d morph into an Uberooze right in the middle of the raid. I didn’t even look at them to see if they were completely clear. Either I hit them with a dispel, or the tank would hit them. Either way, they were slowly piling up quicker.

I think I made an angry poo-poo. It gonna blow!”

And this is where I made a crucial misplay. My first instinct is to run away from the center when I see the Unstable Ooze Explosion go off. I had no idea which direction the Rotface tank was running. I should have slapped our bear with a blind Pain Suppression in the event we ran to opposite sides of the room. Doing so would’ve dropped her down on my mental list of healing priorities. I know they’re not likely going to die with a defensive cooldown up (at least not as fast) and I could work on stabilizing the Ooze tank and everyone else.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think about that.

But she still lived. Maybe someone gave her a Hand of Sac or she popped a cooldown or something. But thank goodness because we actually did run to opposite sides of the room when I glanced at the map. I was out of tricks. No more Hymns, no more Pain Suppressions, but I still had a Power Infusion. I could put it on myself to keep the fast heals going or I could drop it on our Mage to speed up the fight. Out of the question though since right when I was contemplating doing that, they died (Again, proof that you shouldn’t actually think. You should simply react. Thinking leads to death, right?). I figured I may as well Power Infuse myself and started the entire process of priority, priority, and priority again. Pain Suppression had well worn off and we were all grouped in the middle again.

*BOOM*

Hear that? That’s the unmistakable shrill of Omen sounding. It means you have about 3 seconds before you’re dead. I figured it wasn’t the boss. Not a chance in hell I could’ve caught up on threat. Our tanking Paladin was still running around with another large Ooze.

… But it turned out there happened to be a second large Ooze that I didn’t see. It made short work of me. I exhaled and collapsed back into my chair before clicking on the boss. Rotface was at 3%. BOOM! Another DPS dead. BOOM! Paladin tank dead. BOOM! I saw another player fall over. Rotface is down to 1% and I knew we had it.

And people wonder why I sometimes hate two healing raids.