The topic of raid leading came up on my guild board today and I started writing a huge block of text that was turning into a rant and I ran out of space. I wanted to expand on my own experiences as a raid leader and I figured this could make a great topic for today’s post.
I’ve been a raid leader in every expansion of WoW except Catalcysm of course. I’ve leaded for casuals, casual raiders and hardcore players, most of the time with good success and one time it ended in a spectacular failure that saw the guild disband and nearly made me swear off WoW forever. With retrospect I now know that the issue wasn’t entirely raid related but rather raiding became the focal point of the tensions that existed.
You can find a lot of guides out there to help out potential raid leaders with how to prepare a raid, how to check performance, how to recruit for raiding, etc… What I find often missing is tips relating directly to the position of raid leader and what the title carries.
1. Thinking you’re only responsible for your own performance
As a raid leader, people make you accountable for the overall performance of the raid. At the end of the night, it’s not the individual wipes that are remembered but rather the success of the raid as a whole.
Raid leaders are expected to handle the raid to assure success. There’s some truth in that too. By accepting to lead the raid, you are responsible for invites, discipline, removing bad raiders and doing everything to make the raid succeed. If a raider performs badly all night long, it’s your job to handle said raider.
The pitfall here is that you need to understand the added expectations out of you. Not only are you expected to be a top raider, but you are also expected to make the raids succeed.In many cases this will extend to the overall guild as many guild are as healthy as their raids are.
All of this to say that when things go badly… you are the first person expected to fix them and you are also the first blamed.
2. Trying to do it alone
Long lived raid leaders have all learned to delegate responsibilities around the raid. Someone might be in charge of spreadsheets, another one invites, someone to make certain calls on vent and someone to handle loot for example. The raid leader then acts as an overseer to it all and get directly involved on critical points and to make small adjustments.
Not only does this keep the added work to a manageable level but by spreading responsibilities around it helps also making everyone directly involved in the success or failure of the raid. Raid leaders who go at it alone usually crumble under the responsibilities and the expectations of their guildies.
3. Not knowing what your raiders expect of raiding and you
What? Raid leaders should lead raids you say? They make the raids succeed and work toward that goal? What else could they expect?
WRONG! I made that mistake in Wrath and it led to the destruction of the guild, the worst moment of my WoW gaming and lots of resentment and bad feelings. It’s easy as a raid leader to get trapped in a sort of tunnel vision where your first and only concern is beating a raid. You want to improve performance and are always searching for ways to do so.
Worst, when I asked the guild leader and raiders back then if they wanted to progress the same as me they all said yes and most changes I proposed where met with approval… so what exactly went wrong?
I was expecting a commitment to raiding that they were not prepared to give. Where I wanted to do invites based on performance, class balance and gearing promising recruits, they wanted to raid with their friends first. They were not prepared to split long-standing raiding groups even if some of the raiders prevented us from moving forward.
Progression was not their first concerns even if they said otherwise. Or better put, it was not on same priority level as it was for me.
So, you should raid lead in accordance to your raiders expectations. If your idea of how a raid should work does not fit your raider simply step down or move somewhere else. It’s pointless to try to change a raiding group expectations of what raiding should be like.
4. Being a super officer
Raid leading is big enough job all by itself that you don’t need the added responsibilities of being an officer and handling day-to-day activities. Many guilds saddle their raid leader with bank duty, recruitment and a slew of other things to do because they could somehow affect raiding.
Don’t fall into this trap. Again, long-lived raid leaders are those who focus on the raid and what happens in it and leave the rest to others. The day-to-day officer jobs of a guild are better leaved to other. Simply focus on what you have available and don’t fret over controlling everything.
5. Not trusting others
A final piece of advice so often ignored. Many raid leaders work on the principle that someone has to prove themselves first. They assume that if a raider makes a mistake it’s because they suck or haven’t prepared themselves or whatever else reason.
In short, they don’t trust their raiders to know how to raid by themselves.
Don’t do that. Not only is it incredibly stressful for you to try to assume the worst all the time, it’s also incredibly stressful on your raiders. Start by assuming the better in others and work you way down. It’s a lot easier for everyone.