Running a Raid: 10 Golden Rules (part 1)


So you want to be a raid leader? Well, you gotta ask yourself one question. Do I feel…


I don’t know everything about raid leading by a long shot but I thought I’d share some of my musings on the hows and whys of this arcane practice.

Many players are shouting out on trade but it’s not to bawl their profession at passing trade watchers or haggle over the price of Poached Sunscale Salmon. Much of the cacophony in the traders’ market seems to be about recruiting to groups; quite often to PUGs, so much so that the LFG channel is making a permanent return. That means there are a lot of groups, and many players wearing the raid leader sash these days. So, this post is for everyone – people who raid lead and people who are led in raids.

1) Introduce the raid at the beginning. I call it ‘housekeeping’. You should work out your own style. This approach is fair on the players in the group and particularly important in PUGs – it puts everyone on level ground. They know what is expected of them. You’re also introducing yourself and presenting as a bit more than a shadowy stranger wearing the master looter crown.

Personally there are a few things I like to talk about here. In Herding Cats we have a strict zero tolerance policy against griefing and bad manners – or as my guild leader puts it, ‘That Guy’. I make it clear to the group members that we expect them to be polite and friendly. This gives everyone a fair warning in advance and introduces the raid as a safe place. I then also assure the group that they don’t need 10k DPS, we don’t expect everyone to know all the tactics and that we’ll explain them, but remind them that fun is the main aim of the game. Then we get onto less exciting things such as hush in the librar- sorry, raid spam, and loot rules.

Several times I’ve had players whisper me during the housekeeping saying that they feel they’ve joined a mature raid and they appreciate knowing there are boundaries and safety nets applicable to the whole group.

2) Interaction. Remember that your group will get much further if they trust and respect you – and you them. Talk in full sentences. Keep your tone polite at all times. Join in on banter and jokes. Keep the chatter going – ask people what their favourite chocolate bar is, if you like. Answer questions, particularly as the raid is forming – that’s one of the most likely times for a raid to fold. Above all: pay attention to your group. They will feel like you know what you’re doing and just maybe you’ll feel that too.

People judge on first impressions in real life – they do in instances, too. Make a good first impression and then keep it up throughout. I’ve joined several PUGs recently being led by strangers who have ignored my questions about tanking or healing assignments. Just the other day a random raid leader decided that our PUG didn’t need two shadow priests for Naxx25. These things do not inspire confidence in me as a raider; put yourself in your raiders’ shoes and think about what would make them feel comfortable.

3) Be approachable. Let the group know that they can whisper you or another group member you trust with questions, comments or suggestions. Also let the group know that they can offer suggestions for tactics in raid chat at an allotted time, such as after tactic spam – and that you will listen to the suggestions and decide on the final tactics. This can be a useful group to keep a group interested if it’s a new encounter for the group or even you, or something is proving very difficult for whatever reason.

In Herding Cats we usually make it clear at the beginning that players can whisper myself or Ekatrina if they need something cleared up. If a player has a specific role in a fight – such as dealing with brittle adds during the Ignis encounter – we whisper them to check they’re ok with the role. We also try to get a general idea, group size permitting, how experienced each raider is so that we can keep an eye out for anyone who might need support or to be whispered to check they’re clear before starting the encounter. Some might say this is extra work or babysitting but there’s nothing wrong with it – it can make a new or less confident player feel supported and can avert a wipe for the whole group. Indeed, we’ve acquired several extremely loyal and friendly raiders because we took the time to care for them when they first raided with us.

4) Tactics: don’t assume. Don’t assume for a moment that everyone knows the tactics if you’re in a group with one or more PUGger or new guild member. This is relevant for any encounter. Remember that new players are getting to 80 every day. Some veteran players are coming anew to raiding from other styles of play or have their own idea of tactics. Some players will have suggestions – some of them will be good. Make time for those and take them into account for the final decision on How It Will Go. Explain your tactics for the encounter, even if it’s just the bare essentials of what a player needs to know to not kill the raid.

Also don’t assume players know YOUR tactics. There are several fights which can be done slightly differently. Plenty of times we’ve led a brave PUG to Thaddius and said +++++Thaddius—— only to have two or three people adamantly insist it’s the other way around. A lot of the time it doesn’t matter which way round you do the tactics; what does matter is that you make sure that there is one, clear set of tactics.

5) Know your stuff. Have a solid idea of the encounter’s tactics. You might know the tactics from a melee DPS point of view but you need to be able to advise *everyone* in the raid, whatever role they play. Read up on encounters on sites like WoWwiki or watch videos on TankSpot and Youtube. The trick then is to explain the tactics in a clear, concise way that players will listen to.

If you have time and think you will raid lead regularly then I recommend writing documents in advance with your own tactics spam for more complicated fights so that you can copy/paste or read it out during the raid. This is what i did when leading a group into Ulduar, many of us for the first time. There’s a lot going on and a lot of things that players need to keep in the back of their mind, so I split the spam up with an ‘everyone’ section first and then descriptions by group role. This lets ranged DPS, for example, know what will affect them directly and reduces the loss of focus during tactic spam; it also provides for those players who are curious about tactics for other roles. Writing it in advance also allows you to pare down irrelevant information rather than getting carried away during the raid.

In my opinion those are the first five of the widely applicable basics. They are very much my own opinion. i appreciate that everyone has their own style of raid leading and approaches it differently. Not only that, different situations need to be handled differently. Look out for the other five golden rules in the Book of Mimetir coming soon.

What do you think – do you find any of these helpful and plan to adopt them in your next run? How essential do you think careful raid leading is in a PUG and/or a guild group? Do you think I’m too much of a careowl and people should just “STFU u nub”? What’s *your* favourite bar of chocolate?

The Significant Owl Goes Hoot in the Blog


This is a post by Mimetir, an oversized owl of a raid leader on The Venture Co (EU). You can find her twitter feed.

Well, if not significant then *peers around owlishly* the only owl in the blog, at least. And yes, I do shine my beak, thank you. Nothing strikes terror into an opponent more than the eerie glow of an eclipse proc reflected in the beak of an overgrown bird I tell you.

Matticus has kindly invited me to make something of a more permanent nest here as a regular member of the team, along with Thespius. I’m grateful to many of you for sharing thoughts and comments on my posts so far, which have looked at hybrids, looting and social Wrath. I’ve enjoyed the discussions which have come out of you pitching in your two-hapeth alongside mine – so, thank you, and I hope it continues!

Meanwhile I’d like to introduce myself a bit more thoroughly. Sure, I say I’m a giant owl – but who’s the person behind the feathers and what kind of WoW player does it make me? I’ll meander around and about the facts of my life in and out of game for a short spell. Are you sitting comfortably?

I’m an English Literature graduate who has a longstanding and deep rooted dislike of (some) Shakespeare and of Middlemarch. I took great pleasure in studying fairy tales, post colonial texts and war literature. I still love learning and a good old yarn.

This is a big influence on my gaming – it must be said that WoW is a huge and complex game to learn. Three years into playing I’m still revelling in learning and improving in different classes, roles, fight tactics. More importantly I still sometimes feel a bit of the “new player” magic that many of us get upon entering WoW at first – that it’s a huge world to explore with breadcrumbs leading bit by bit through the epic storyline.

As a  British Red Cross volunteer I have worked with refugees to try to help them integrate into society or find their families after being separated from them through war, conflict or disaster. I’m also someone who has lived with a disability for most of my life. These things have taught me patience and empathy with other people – and players – and that people are really just people. Everyone has within them the strength to make what they want of their life and live it.

That extends, too, to WoW. I personally don’t like to turn away from a challenge though at the same time I remember everyone plays different parts of the game, so try to help anyone who asks for it. I try to treat all players I meet equally. I expect – even ask – that to be returned and shared in a group situation. If a player turns out to be A Nitwibbling Little Horror (you know the type of player) in my group, then my boot, claw or hoof quickly helps them out of the instance portal.

I grew up as the only child of a small family in a seaside town in England. I’ve played computer games since an early age – my parents bought me a Nintendo and we collected consoles as they appeared. I played many of the best, earliest RPGs with my mother – think Final Fantasy II/IV, Secret of Mana, Suikoden, This may conjure an atmosphere of peaceful safety of a gamer in training in your mind…

Perhaps that’s so, looking at my time on Ravenholdt. One of my mains is a fury warrior named Gramm – he’s guild master of a small, family-type guild. We try to be a place of safety and friendship for players of any sort, so long as they have something of the ‘bimbler’ about them. And yes, my mother also moved from console RPGs to WoW. I’m not sure if she thanks or curses me for getting her hooked on it.

Online gaming has had its claws in me for ten years now. Scary thought. Most of those years were spent playing tick based games such as Planetarion. I was one of the founders and then leaders for a long, long time of an alliance – a group not unlike a guild. Over time the alliance became a strong community and many of us became friends, with ensuing alliance meets in different countries.

This has translated straight to WoW and raid leading. My other main characters are Mimetir, my boomkin, and Apeorsa, a newly minted resto shaman. Their guild is a small group of real life friends. We aren’t big enough to run guild-only raids so we have a wider network of players we have met at random, enjoyed running with, and regularly keep in contact and raid with; we meet new folk all the time. This style of running means raid leading can present different challenges to a guild-only run.

I’m now living in Edinburgh after an unexpected and happy turn of events during a guild meeting. This, apart from anything else, reinforces my belief that WoW and similar online games are not to be scoffed as communities. I happily stand as proof that it is entirely possible to meet and build solid relationships with new friends and even your “other ‘alf” in these games – and it’s no bad thing to be brought together partially through a mutual love of gaming.

So that’s me, pretty much. I’m thoroughly enjoying blogging and contributing to this site. Watch out for my thoughts on the “link achiv or no raid” style and why I disapprove of it, to what extent micro managing in raids can do as much harm as good – and, well, whatever else takes my fancy, hitting a blog near you.

Oh, and … Hoot.

Social Study: The Wrath Effect Part 2


This is a guest post by Mimetir, an oversized owl of a raid leader on The Venture Co (EU). You can find her twitter feed.

We broke off looking at the Wrath Effect last time for a chance to let the ringing die from our ears and to gather our thoughts. Thank you to the many of you who shared your opinions – and latterly, posts – both here and over at Larisa’s and Tobold’s blogs last week – all very interesting reads. Last week we left off pondering whether some of the content was worthy of existence in the World.

Of course there is a point in the content existing. For everyone who drops out of an Archavon kill there is someone else who’d like to be there, experiencing the content, maybe even for the first time. That may seem difficult to believe, though. WoW’s accessibility has created an illusion which some players subscribe to: an illusion that almost everyone is a hardened and seasoned player now. It masks the fact that everyone plays differently, for different reasons and has differing amounts of experience. I believe that the WoW community has become less tightly knit over the past few months and there is a gulf growing between player groups of different experience levels. This week I’d like to look at the effect that WoW has upon players.

I think it’s important to remember that the game isn’t as easy as we might believe. Hard modes have been introduced to provide serious raiders with more challenge and incentive to keep playing, though as many people pointed out last week those Hard modes are not necessarily engaging to all. Meanwhile, PUGs – love them or hate them – have enjoyed a renaissance in Wrath, to the extent that many players PUG any and all raids. Some of them can be difficult to PUG. Think of Onyxia 25. The tactics mostly remain the same to the classic encounter but have been tweaked enough to keep some more experienced players on their toes for now, and the encounter can be a monster to come to anew. Now factor in a group of 25 people who mostly don’t know each other. So why, for the love of epics, is there always someone in the group who says "lol this is easy no tactics goooooooooooog"?

I think that the very fact that people are happy to PUG these raids is having an effect on guilds. Many guilds have a high turnover of players; perhaps some guilds find that raiders have less incentive to be loyal or reason to show up. Some smaller guilds which have existed for a while and are fairly stable may be having the time of their lives – they can access the content. Sure, they may need to collaborate with a similar guild to get raids going, but hey – they meet new friends. Life is good. Newer small guilds meanwhile may be having a problem getting a foothold on the server. Established guilds already have working relationships with other guilds set up and some players don’t feel the need to join any guild, let alone one treading water.

Players don’t feel the need to join any guild. A curious thought mentioned in the comments by several folks commenting on last week’s article. It got me thinking – is that why the high profile of the top guilds on my characters’ realms seems to have dropped off? I remember back in the day when the guilds were strong and the players proud, trade chat would be full of people who knew each other – chatting, sharing an in joke, rejoicing when a black sheep returned to WoW. There were tight community microcosms of different player types, and trade chat and guilds were windows through which to glimpse them. I don’t see so much of it these days. It seems that many of those players are either subdued, rarely on their mains, or have checked out of trade chat and WoW. It feels like the windows have been closed and boarded up, not so much as a breeze passing between different types of players on a realm.

Perhaps the question in many players’ minds is "how best to find a sense of worth in this content?" For many players that’s no hard question to answer. There is a plethora of content of which raid instances are a small part. A player might sneak off for some rare monster hunting or seasonal fun – or focus on mastering the cooking achievements. Easy or not, Wrath has a lot more choice that a player could immerse himself into than WoW ever has previously. I wonder how much of that content is really passed over by the average player. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about raids and their effect but WoW is an entity of many parts – something for everyone, perhaps.

Yet there is a darker answer to the question above. Sometimes the answer seems to be to cultivate a mindset of being in constant competition. If the competition against the content isn’t enough then it becomes a contest with all other players; especially strangers, whom are often met with the increase in PUGs, high turnover guilds or guild collaboration runs. DPS meters are used to measure this competition – they are always spammed, usually repeatedly, by the people at the first or second spot on the meter. I’ve often seen such players go on to publicly pick on players at the bottom of the DPS meter, sometimes carrying on for the rest of a lengthy raid.

These spamming players may be dealing with their own lack of confidence in the game – and perhaps what they feel is their reduced display of skill – by boastfully declaring themselves better than others. I find myself wondering where the fun of a game is for the player on either side of the DPS meter in that situation: there isn’t any for the bullied person at the bottom and – well, is there any fun had by the person at the top?

This is just one way the inter-tribal competition has seeped into player interaction. I often heard stories in Wrath’s early days of players badgering others in the street to tell them that their gear was rubbish – no provocation or reason behind it.

Another favourite seems to be to bluntly tell another player that they are a bad player based on half a Heroic without knowing anything about them as a player or a person. Occasionally dialogue will occur – accusations of rudeness perhaps – and an argument ensues. The conversation leaves both parties insulted and a bit less … human. This extends to real life, too; an older player I know was approached by a stranger and a heated discussion followed. Upon finding out that she was an older player the stranger said they hoped she would drop dead.

Players sometimes forget that behind that other character they are denouncing is another person whose pride in their independence, character and achievements may be diminished both in and out of game: everyone gets something different out of it. Yes, WoW is just a game, yet many people escape to it to have fun and are proud of their achievements in it. They don’t stop thinking and feeling, don’t stop being people, while playing a game – regardless of whether they are a casual or hardcore, or anywhere in between.

I think that this forgetfulness is a trope which has remained throughout Wrath and now players of many ilks find themselves less satisfied with both the content and the social experience because the lack of connection between game and player is projected into the community.

I’m not painting every player in the community with this dye; there are so many shades of grey that it would take a thesis to examine them all. Many players do still find the game fun. Groups of players still exist in solid groups, guilds, tribes; whatever you want to call them. Like-minded folk still find each other. It just seems more of a struggle to do so when you have to clamber through the mud of a bloodied battlefield.

What do you think? Remember that this is about the game as a whole – including all types of content.

How often are players eyeing each other up over a broken bottle neck? Do you find yourself with new friends or impatient while playing: is the foam at your mouth the only remnants of your Vanilla/TBC war paint? Have you come to the content anew –what do you think of the community you’ve found? How has the performance of your raiders, however experienced, changed? Has the mood changed in WoW at all?