Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How to lead a raid?

I expected that "natural leaders will emerge" and no need for dedicated raid leaders. Whenever in a farm raid I'm not needed, I skip it to allow others to lead. There is some progress on this field, but limited. What I missed is the real world problem "structural unemployment". There are unemployed people, there are open jobs but the two can't meet since the job needs education and no matter how motivated the unemployed guy is, he can't make himself able to do the job.

I watched a raid silently sitting behind my girlfriend who attended as a simple raiders. I've seen several leading mistakes that were responsible for low raid performance. I realized that while there are lot of raiding sources about how to spec, how to glyph, how to move at Magmaw, there are absolutely no raid leader sources. The reason is that the most important thing according to socials is "leadership" that cannot be taught. That is only true if you are leading socials and the job is to manipulate their feelings to do what you want them to do.

Leading in an a-social environment needs no "leadership", it is highly technical job, that's why "total jerk" (socially inept) people can lead HC guild raids very effectively. So behold the skills needed to be a good raid leader.
  • Know the encounter and the available class abilities! It does not mean you should know everything. You can ask. I often ask "who can give 5% crit" and such. If you doubt, read or ask.
  • There is no luck, besides putting 3 non-hitcapped interrupters to a target and all miss. Every single wipe should be analyzed. Wipe can be because of bad strategy or personal failure. The personal failures should be identified and punished. Unpunished failure demotivates the others, even to the point of "DC". Ignoring fails also signals the failer that his performance is OK while it's absolutely not. It was weird that on a raid, which was lead by someone else nothing was killed in the first half (1:30). I joined in the break and asked instantly: how much fail money was collected? 1 * 300G! On the next try alone I collected 4 * 300. The try after that the boss died.
  • If you can't punish anyone, change the strategy! If a fined person keeps arguing that it wasn't his fault, maybe he is right. On Magmaw I was watching my girlfriends' monitor. Wipe after wipe because of parasites. She kept telling that they are cornered but the raid leader did not listen. The problem was that the guy with the mark just backed from the parasites until they reached the corner. The underlying (untold) strategy was: "stand on A. Pillar comes to A, run to B. While parasites go from A to B, kill them. Now pillar comes to B, run to A". It did not work due to low DPS. The parasites reached B alive, forcing the team back to the wall, the next pillar cornered them. The boss died when my girlfriend got enough, openly ignored the strategy and started running in circles. While the DPS became even lower and there were 2-3 bunch of parasites in the middle, they couldn't reach anyone because they were circle-kited. Of course the RL should have recognized that the original strat is not working.
  • Using different setup, replacing someone who does not fit to the encounter is another form of strategy change. The worst thing a RL can do is "you saw X guild video, we'll do that". You are not leading X guild's raid. You have different setups, different weaknesses and strengths. I often brute-force 5/6 BWD with 4 healers. No guide told me that. I simply saw that heal is low, people get avoidable damage, but we are ages from the enrage. Also when we had 2 healers on Conclave, I sent a retripala to Rohash to heal a single warlock (while DPSing on Nezir in jump phase). No guide told me that either. On Halfus firstkill we use 3 tanks every time when available. On Maloriak when we had 3 healers, 2 tanks, I sent a holypala to set RF on and tank 2 adds, so only 7 go to the offtank. You must design your own strategy on the fly. This has nothing to do with leadership. It is simply boss theorycrafting.
  • There must be no downtime. Don't use whisper because the others just see you AFK. Discuss everything in /raid. Ready check often. Fine AFK guy. If you have not written anything to chat in the last min out of combat, you are doing it wrong. Update people what's going on, even with a "sec talking to X".
  • Differentiate "practice" try and "kill" try. No point wasting potions or +90 food when you know you'll wipe. Tell the people that now we are practicing, focus on movement. Feel free to use extra healers on practice, even if it makes the boss unkillable due to enrage. It's not only save you some consumables but also change the attitude of the players. "It was a pretty good P1, no one failed" instead of "damn we wiped again (now in P2)".
I really hope this guide increase raid leading effectivity in the guild. Outside the guild I doubt it's too useful. HC RLs don't need my advice, in social guilds several steps (like punishing or even identifying failers) is impossible.

PS: this question is no longer theoretical. We went to Al'Akir and it became clear that I won't be around on the firstkill. So if the guild ever want to kill him, must do so without me.


Squishalot said...

Good points, and not just applicable to a-social raids. It does demonstrate the point that I've been trying to make for a while, that they're relying on your raid leadership.

It'll be interesting to see whether your guild can learn from this and get their act together without you being heavily involved in raid leading.

Unknown said...

I'm having similar experience. In wotlk my guild raided without any watching any tutorial video. We just wanted to increase chalange of the fights so we did so. We still read boss abilities before first try (but no tactics). Now in Cata we are using videos but still I found many fights where we had to deviate a lot from them.

For expample:

Cho'gall - after several hours of wipes we tryed 2 healers instead of 3. We pushed Cho'gall into phase 2 before 4th festering blood. So 4th add despawned. In this way you have to deal only with 15 adds max which helps a lot because there is good chance that everyone will have less than 25 stacks of corrupted blood. Also in phase 2 use interupts on every eye. That debuff can and should be interupted so noone have dmg / healing debuf. We were using little offhealing from elemental shaman (healing rain) after aoe to save our healers mana.

Valdas said...

I am a guild/raid leader myself, and there are good sources for guild leadership, some of them are in your blogroll, there are few examples I read a lot:,,, (my favorite) and

And, to be honest, I learned much about leading from You :)

Seng Wai said...

While there are few raid leader resources out there, they do exist:

There's Blacksen's blog (, a MMO Leader portal ( and a section in worldofmatticus (

Some of these also contain guild leading articles.

Camiel said...

Being a leader means you can't always be nice, because you may have to tell someone he is doing it wrong or underperforming or even remove someone from the raid. That alone disqualifies many people from being a leader. The best raid leaders I have had were total pricks, but they got the job done.

The worst leader you can have is the one that after a catastrophal wipe just says "OK we will try that again", without any change to the strategy or any analysis of what went wrong the last time. This even applies to a 5-man hc.

Anonymous said...

I've been in this situation:
Was raid leader, but didn't used to explain a lot of things, just the basic things that can wipe. And if a wipe happened tried my best to explain why.
Eventually I couldn't take part in every raid, and a new leader emerged, they liked him more because he told them exactly where to stay.
First raids where OK, but then they started to wipe on farm bosses, basically because new leader was incapable of changing the strategy due to lower DPS from new members.

Anonymous said...

I just want to point out that lots of raid strats are first kill strats when there are better alternatives.
Magmaw-Moving whole group is stupid, you loose dps. Stack all ranged and healer's in melee. Only a hunter or a ranged with a snare stand out , pillar will always spawn at that particular raid member.So that he/she can move to the other spot while rest of dps aoe the adds.
V&T- p2 - the pug killer , healer and melee stack , range spread out equidistant around the circumference of the room. Run in to melee and share the damage when targetted by meteor. If a healer gets that magic aoe damage debuff , he runs out and another ranged runs in for him.This way your whole ranged stack is not moving and hence losing dps to movement so while one ranged move to avoid bad, rest are dpsing.

Just my 2Cents

Dàchéng said...

"We went to Al'Akir and it became clear that I won't be around on the firstkill"

Can you expand on that? What made it clear that you won't be around for the first kill?

Stubborn said...

I've been reading your site for a month or so now, reading as your new guild idea has really taken off. I find a lot of what you do questionable (as I have a character named "Paladi" who wouldn't even be able to get into your guild, I believe, though I am in no way an M or an S).

That said, I really think several of your last posts have been excellent. Your analysis of the fellow who you may have mistakenly turned away really hit home, as I am sometimes overly vicious to pugs in heroic dungeons who, it sometimes turns out, truly just didn't know better (and I'm a teacher by trade, so I really should have at least checked).

This post, too, is an excellent guide, and I disagree that it'd only be useful for your guild. While it's true that some guilds won't "punish" players and other guilds may find it common sense, I'd say that you'd be surprised how often people are "punished" in non-conventional, hidden ways instead of directly and overtly, which is far more effective and how little common sense there is out there.

Then again, no you wouldn't. That's one of the core tenets of your guild, that you only play with people who at least have common sense (and thus are neither M's nor S's - I'm going to use those w/ different conjunctions as often as I can).

At any rate, you've really changed my mind about your leading style and the grand experiment you've started. Kudos to you.

Azuriel said...

HC RLs don't need my advice, in social guilds several steps (like punishing or even identifying failers) is impossible.

[citation needed]

Ironically, punishment in social guilds is both easier and (can be) more severe. There are no gold fines in my "social" (e.g. normal) raids because they are irrelevant and promote the very behavior, excuse-making, that you say the fines are supposed to discourage. If someone fails in my raid, they usually take full responsibility immediately, if for no other reason to "save face" in front of their peer group. Hell, there are usually others that pipe up with things they did wrong even when it was clearly the gong-clicker or whoever that wiped us; from an amoral point of view, they could be coming to the defense of the person who failed by lessening their individual burden, perhaps in the hope when THEY spectacularly fail others will do the same. Or perhaps less cynically, everyone simply accepts personal responsibility for their own actions. Regardless of the Why of their behavior, the end result is they are highly motivated to improve, all without a fine.

As for your other claim about leadership, you are similarly, objectively wrong. Reading the "rules of amoral leadership" presupposes the willingness of doing the job to begin with. That internal willingness to actually do the job is what people refer to as leadership. You are correct is saying the job itself is not hard - I find it easier to raid lead than to put the raid together to begin with, making sure we have X class/spec, what schedules gives us the most raiders, who we're sitting out because we have 11 people, etc, so I delegate that part to other people.

Honestly, Gevlon, as I said last post, you are being blinded by your own premises. Studies have shown that Public Speaking is the #1 fear for Amercians, higher than death. In a world where that is true, how can you possibly suggest raid leading even amoral raids involves no "leadership," with all the implicit meaning the air-quoted word contains?

You fancy yourself a scientist, yes? Go make a new rule: no one can raid lead two times in a row. Leading is easy after all, you have the necessary steps right there. Hell, you have a no-Vent rule so even the leery public speakers have no excuse. Test your claim.

My hypothesis: outside yourself and one other person, people in your guild would rather not raid at all than become a raid leader themselves in spite of the ease and comfort of your labyrinthine rules.