Raid Leading at a Casual Pace
With the changes to end game, more and more players are raiding than ever before. So how does this translate to guild structure? Well more and more guilds are casual, with working professionals, college students, parents, etc. People who have some time for gaming but can’t let it take over their lives. A while back I talked about Guild Leadership, however now I want to focus on Raid Leadership.
As being part of a casual guild that raids 3 days a week, it takes a different mindset than raiding with a hardcore guild that focuses purely on progression, forced specs, mandatory consumables, etc. First off your members are different, they are as I described a bunch of folks who have more than just WoW going on, so in order to lead them you need to understand them.
First up is most of these folks come online to escape the daily grind, as a way to have fun and relax. So you have to remember that yelling over them to perform better is not the recommended approach. Being stern is fine, but remember you are leading a bunch of folks who are looking for a good time.
So set up boundaries and expectations. What do you expect during raids? Are boss fights different from dealing with trash? How so? Maybe vent is a party during trash, but once you hit boss fight, vent gets quiet except for a couple people. Maybe you expect folks to have a raid spec, but their second spec you don’t care about. Or perhaps you tell folks that you don’t care what their spec is, but that as raid leader you will move folks around in order to build the most optimal team. This gives people freedom to play how they want but also sets the expectation that during raids you are trying to put forth everyone’s best foot forward.
Another big one is penalties for not showing up? This is usually a big one for more hardcore guilds. However maybe for the more casual guild that raids, as raid leader you want to give people incentive for showing up. Maybe free enchants, gems, even loot system perks like more DKP if you are in such a system.
Another big thing with these types of raiders is drama. Most if not all prefer a drama free zone. As raid leader you can minimize drama during raids by once again setting expectations. Be on time, what the loot rules are, what the plan is for the evening, what strats you will be using on boss fights. Doing that provides little room for people to bicker and argue, and it will happen though, its almost guaranteed. So talk to the parties using whispers, ask to talk to them during break privately regarding the dispute. This limits the amount of drama to only those folks.
One of the most important things is to treat everyone with respect. You are going to run into people of differing skill sets, and since this is a casual environment you need to work sometimes with people on a one on one basis to find out peoples’ strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you have someone who is not very good at movement fights, so find a way where they limit their movement. Maybe one tank is better at multiple mob tanking than another. Use these pieces of information to your advantage to build a winning team out of folks who want to succeed, but simply may not have the time to put in as others. Talking down to people, being arrogant. The old saying you catch more flies with honey, is very true in a casual raiding guild. Be constructive when providing people feedback.
So in the end remember if you want to raid lead a bunch of casual players, the best thing to do is make sure the game remains fun but keep the team focused at the same time. Be lenient on people when they have school work, have to stay at the office late or have their kids’ recital to go to. Be understanding of holidays, sometimes not having enough people show up. All you can do is lead those you have, give incentive to people to show up, and provide a fun atmosphere which to see content.
I want to leave a top 10 list of raid leader “rules”, I would come up with my own but Guildmasters.com has posted an excellent article that I find it hard to improve upon.
1. Speak calmly. It sounds cheesy, but the calmer you are the more focused everyone else is. Stress or fear is motivational tool, but it degrades and backfires. Even the most hardcore bad ass guilds out there, speaking calmly most of the time will be far more beneficial than yelling.
2. Know everything you can. This is broad, but it is important. In less you have a genius helping you out, otherwise, you gotta be the genius. Know every move of every class. Get an idea of every boss fight and trash pull. Understand everything you can so you can properly lead everyone. It isn’t to say you have to be an expert healer, expert tank and expert DPSer, but at least know enough to know what you are talking about.
3. Teach etiquette on loot. My previous blog about loot ethics goes over this well, but I would advise the raid leader to be on the look out for those who are being greedy and those who need the gear. The worst thing a raid leader can experience is a top heavy raid with half the people in great gear and the other half is horrible gear.
4. Require your raid to research. Post youtube videos of the boss fights before hand, require everyone to watch it. Or, you can ask everyone to take a 5 to 15 minute break before a new boss pull to watch or read about the boss fight.
5. Accept criticism. Have an open mind to all situations, but don’t allow it to topple your authority. Listen to those who have something to say (in private) to you and use that as a tool to better your next decision, whatever that may be.
6. Don’t belittle your team. The #1 way to alienate and piss almost everyone off (except the brown nosers) is to belittle everyone. I know, some people might think this method of leading is the best because it keeps everyone in check. Wrong. Everyone has a limit and eventually they won’t keep quiet.
7. Require vent and mod usage. Your raid members should understand that voice communication is standard and should have a working mic. They also should be using all the common mods, in this case for WoW, threat mods and raid boss mods should be required.
8. Set goals and reward for surpassing it. If you use DKP or some other sort of system then make a goal for each raid. If the raid beats that goal, reward them extra points. This works great from my own experience leading raids, but remember to make them realistic to reach.
9. Use log sites. In WoW, I know of a few logging sites that will parse your combat log and show vital information. Everyone should use this on your raid to better themselves and to figure out what they did wrong and when.
10. The last attempt speech. Quite possibly one of the most powerful powers a raid leader can utilize. The last attempt speech is a ritual in which you can suddenly wake everyone up once they realized that they had wasted their entire night wiping to a boss and suddenly – you win. It should be laden with Braveheart references
Remember, being a raid leader is not just a hobby, but also work. Your blood, sweat, and tears will bring your raid victory or folly based upon the way you lead it.