The Substitute Raid Leader

Remember the days in school where your favourite teacher was away?

Maybe she was sick or needed a personal day.

Then the sub would roll in with a giant, CRT television that was Velcro strapped to a cart and you thought to yourself, “YES! It’s going to be one of those days!”

Getting a substitute teacher is like a day off. Subs were mainly there to supervise and hand out homework. Sometimes they weren’t able to teach the lesson plans your main teacher already had in place.

Once in a while, you dice rolled into a teacher who unexpectedly knew their stuff (I once had a Caucasian teacher who spoke fluent mandarin and taught the class pretty well. Not bad).

In your raid, what happens when your raid leader’s out cold? Maybe he stayed up too late watching Starcraft 2 tournaments while excessively drinking.*

* That has never happened. It’s completely hypothetical.

Chances are you have several fall back plans at your disposal:

  • Cancel raid – Worse case scenario. Wasted raid night. Players get to relax and have a night off.
  • Delay – Not a bad option. Instead of tossing the whole night, you end up tossing 30 minutes or an hour. Dismiss your players and have them regroup at a specified time. This allows them to engage in other activities.
  • Run a different raid – Could go knock out a specific raid achievement that doesn’t require a full roster or tackle another boss that has a specific drop that are still improvements for certain players.
  • Down size – Only applicable to 25 man raid groups. Viable option if a progression boss is later on in the instance. You can speed up the process by sending in a small team to knock out some of the earlier bosses that aren’t needed. Downside is that this isn’t applicable to hard mode raiding because you’ll end up being saved to that specific lockout (and it applies to raid size).
  • Run with someone else quarterbacking – Every raid leader needs a number 2. This is their chance to prove they can function as a number 1.

In most cases, the last option is the most viable. A 25 man guild is likelier to have other players capable of stepping in to lead compared to a 10 man

The problem.

Like the substitute teacher, the substitute raid leader suffers from 1 problem:

No one takes them seriously

The newly promoted raid leader is usually one of the boys who’s a raider or an officer not normally known to raid lead.


There’s still a raid going on! There’s still internet dragons that need to be killed!

Just because there’s an absence doesn’t give you the license to mess around card. He might have a different style of running the show but you as a raid team need to give him that support! They may not have the months or years of experience that your primary raid leader has but give them a shot! It’s upsetting to see that when the cat’s away the mice will play. Most of you don’t raid 7 days a week and you have nights off where you can relax and do other stuff anyway. Of the nights where you do raid, your raid leader (whoever it happens to be) needs your undivided attention and focus.

Don’t just dismiss them.

Give them a chance to show what they can do.

Dragons don’t just spontaneously lie down. They still need you and your raid to work together.

13 thoughts on “The Substitute Raid Leader”

  1. We experienced this a few weeks ago our Raid/Guild Leader had some family stuff he needed to do and it was like the world stopped turning, and people forgot how to tank, and dps, and yes heal. If you think anyone can be a good raid leader you are sorely mistaken. (You, being the collective you, not the individual you.)

  2. As a raid leader, the world thing you can do is hog the limelight. It’s really important to delegate raid responsibilities around so that, when the QB is away, few things change.
    In my guild, I don’t call out very many boss mechanics. I don’t even call out too many cooldowns – although this largely depends on the boss, since we tend to split bosses between 2-3 people and have them be the “expert” on each one. I’ve palmed most of the functions of raiding onto middle managers. As the executive, I think about recruiting, achievements, and do loot and raid comp, as well as have the final say in strategy and drama decisions. I’m basically the CEO and HR. Once the raid plan is laid out, the occasional raid can run itself without me.

  3. In 25M, losing a couple key players can actually be more like a college/university level class losing the Professor and some or all of the TAs. When a TA has to step up and fill the role of Professor AND all absent TAs, that’s when it get’s really dicey. Now you’ve got raiders who normally have a dedicated leader for their role in the raid reporting to someone else, who may or may not have the qualification to lead them. Incompetent until proven worthy, in this scenario. Raiders assume their new leader, a melee main for example, cannot possibly know the intricacies of being ranged, healing, or tanking, and many chose not to listen, consciously or subconsciously, which guarantees failure. This failure of cohesion then reflects poorly on the substitute, whether or not it was actually incompetence on the substitutes part that caused it.
    Take it from the substitute: When the cats are away, don’t try to be the new cat!

    •  @JesseSilverstein That’s the problem with “role leaders” or “role officers”, which is why I avoid those, even though we do 25-mans. All my officers are general duties. Some have specialties, for sure, but not split on role lines, and they tend to fall more in their areas of interest. One guy is a nut for logs, and reports back on WoL analysis. One guy is an amazing mediator. One guy does PvP. Another guy is also a main raider in a top 50 raiding guild, and so he’s our strategy guy. That sort of thing.

    •  @JesseSilverstein Yeah,  and it’s super unfortunate when that happens. But it’s down to the sub to do what they can to corral and unify the players. 
      Although your last point would work just as well. 

  4. From my experience, finding a backup RL for a 10man is much easier than for a 25. First off it is of course very much dependant on the raidlevel of your guild. After that however, keeping track of 24 other people, executing/explaining strategy (yes some guilds have to go over strategy every week) is a tougher job compared to having to know what 9 other people have to do.
    Agree on your points though. Give the new person a chance to perform his leading role. Better yet, provide any support you can give. Assist on dividing tasks (healing assignments, movement strategies, CD rotation) if you are someone that knows this stuff. A new RL has to grow into the role gradually. Preferably he/she takes on new micromanagement tasks each following raid. After a while, a lot of things will come natural and the multitasking will no longer feel stressful. Then one day, you wake up and realise you have two interchangeable RL’s. Better yet, you can alternate whenever you want. Giving your RL a break now and then is a good way to prevent burnout (especially on progression)

    •  @MadCast_Prince Hi, you must be new to the internet. The first thing you should know is that not everyone is from ‘Merica here. Don’t panic! Now, I don’t want to scare you, but your lack of ‘u’ and use of ‘z’ instead of ‘s’ in many words is totally freaky to us. I know! Who knew that our language was so mutable! They sure don’t teach you that in school!

    •  @metao  I gotta mess with Matty being that he’s my guild leader and all. I am very well aware of the different dialects of the Engrish language. 

  5. I think a big part of this is guild culture, though. I’ve been in guilds where there’s been a very tightknit core of 10 raiders and any one of them would have taken the “raid lead” role, which was basically to call things out on vent (everyone was pretty responsible). I’ve been in 25-man guilds where the officer core has been really prominent (or lack of beter word) and it wouldn’t matter if one or two of four were away – everyone already viewed the others as leaders.
    Of course, I’ve seen the opposite happen, where raids have basically not been able to function if a single raid leader were away, which is just awful for everyone – the fill-in raid leader can get frustrated, everyone feels sorry for him while at the same time wishing that the raid would just hurry up and end.
    Also, I consider staying up late and watching GSL while drinking a valid reason to miss raids.


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