Taking the Reins: A Beginner's Guide to Raid Leadership

Updated Wed, Dec 07, 2011 by Saia

There will come a point in every World of Warcraft player’s raiding life when they’ll have to lead a raid. Even if it’s just for a single, specific boss, it can still be terrifying. Perhaps the Raid Leader is having a night off dealing with something in real life or their connection has suddenly died. Someone has to step up so you need to learn how and we’re going to teach you.

LF Raid Leader. PST.

The raid leader is the most important part of every raid; they have to be a tactician, a human Wikipedia, a counsellor, a motivator and a mediator, particularly when it comes to boss loot that half the raid needs. It’s a pretty hefty job description so finding a good raider is understandably a hard task. So, if you find a good raid leader, you’re going to want to keep them.

Raid leaders sometimes appear from within their guilds and that unexpected real life crisis can allow the most unlikely of potentials to shine. Oh and you could be that person.

So the first and most important thing is knowledge of the raid you’re attempting. So, say, for example, you’re doing the Firelands and you’re on Shannox when the raid leader bails. The reason doesn’t matter, what does is that you’re prepared for the situation. What do you need to know in order to take the reins.

This is the boring bit but you need to read the tactics. Yes, yes, we know. Everyone’s been in that raid where they’ve either a) never done the raid, b) just been drafted in, c) didn’t look at the tactics or watch videos or d) all of the above. This, of course, leads to a ten minute tactics discussion in which most people fall asleep and then causes the first wipe of the night.

The vital thing is to know all fights from the perspective of all the players be it ranged DPS, melee DPS, tanks and healers. You also need to know names of abilities and what they do so you can explain it to the other raiders. Yes, in an ideal world they should know but that’s hardly ever going to happen. To an extent, the Dungeon Journal makes this a lot easier as you have an in-game reference guide that people can look at or you can refer to, even linking the abilities in raid chat.

Raiding

A truly good raider leader can turn a near wipe into victory!

After reading the tactics, you need to understand the fight. For most people this involves watching high definition, full screen YouTube videos or, you know, doing the raids. With the implementation of the Raid Finder in Hour of Twilight, this is suddenly set to be a hell of a lot easier, especially if you just want to try out bosses and learn their abilities. That said, the majority of the raid group is likely to be composed of guildmates. This is just how things roll since the arrival of guild achievements and actually can play in the raid leader’s favor as they’re going to know individuals strengths and weaknesses.

If someone does do something wrong, never ever chew them out on Vent. It’s better to gently explain or even have a post-raid debrief in which you talk to the individuals privately. You’ll get a lot more respect for keeping a calm demeanour and treating your raiders like people rather than just their roles within the group.

Psychology 101 and Raid Leaders

People-managing is always going to be at the heart of the raid leader’s job description. Raiding is, in some ways, like herding cats but it’s important to get everyone focused and united as a team as that’s the only way the boss will fall. The most important thing is to remember to keep calm, not to yell and don’t let anyone know if you’re frustrated. Basically, you need the patience of a saint as nothing kills the raid faster than being screamed at by a raid leader at the end of his or her tether.

If you’re in a progression raid, then things are always going to be tougher. There’s that push to get the boss down and a night of wipes can be soul-destroying. Here it’s all about management; you need to institute a couple of things from the start like asking people to bring potions, water, food and feasts with them.

Most importantly, gear needs to be repaired beforehand, fully gemmed and enchanted but it never hurts to have some spare repair bots tucked away either. Most guilds also have a certain amount of cash that raiders can access for guild repairs, especially those who do it every night. This can especially help morale many raiders will beg off a final run due to the state of their gear and the lack of funds to repair them.

The goal here is for preparedness. If a raid is supposed to start at nine, let people know they have to be online and ready for invites by 8:45 and not a second later. You could also institute rules about gearscore or item level and sign ups, such as requiring everyone do it by a certain point before the raid.

A good raid leader can really make a difference but the other factor is time. A raiding group can take weeks to gel but once that happens, they can become like a well-oiled machine. As this happens and people get used to how things work, bosses will fall, morale will shoot through the roof and your group will find your raiding nights become a heck of a lot more successful.

Let us know in the comments box if you have any tips or anecdotes you can share.

One thing I have found that really helps a raid group, is to delegate the important jobs. As a raid leader, I set the group, do invites, handle loot, and keep us on schedule. What is very important to note however, is that I've identified what others in my raid group do best. I have a wonderful assistant who is second to none at explaining the fights. When we have a new raid member, I have other members of that role explain important points to them. It's all about delegation, because if you try to do it all yourself, you will burn out very quickly.

great issues altogether, you just received brand new reader. What could you recommend in regards to your post that you just made some days in the past? Any positive?

I am an aspiring raid leader and have lead a few ICC's for achievements and they have gone pretty well so far. I prepared myself by watching the fights and things, but I have been too nervous to try to lead any of the new content. Any tips for how to get some confidence boosters?

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