What Is A Raid Lead?

As many of you know, from my previous posts, I have fallen into the Raid Leader role of my guild.

I am also a classic type A personality – I cannot stand to fail at anything.  I may not be perfect, but I am gosh darned not going to let my team down.

So I scoured the internets for any information that was out there – What is a raid leader, and what does s/he do?

What I have come to realize is that Raid Leading is not so much about *leading* the raid, its about orchestrating the raid.  Let me explain.

Internets, I am here to tell you that I have no friggin clue how to mage.  I have no clue how to do priestie heals.  I certainly don’t know how to hunter or lock.   The intricacies of druids escape me.  But, internets, I do have a vague idea of what they *do* in raids.

From my very first raid, way back about 8 months ago in Naxx (I know, long time ago, sheesh 🙂  I realized that raids are a living and breathing entity all its own.  5-mans are not even remotely similar to what you experience in even 10 man raiding.  And why is that?

Well, for one, the fights are usually a lot more complex.  But beyond that, in 5 man (even heroics) to some extent you can pick up the slack of one that falls.  The fights aren’t as intense as in raids.  But in a raid, everyone pretty much can ONLY do what they are tasked with doing.  People, if my Pally healer goes down, I have no chance in hell of keeping the tank alive with my ret heals.  AT MOST, I will delay the inevitable for long enough to get a b-rez up on the pally healer.  The same goes for a healer or a tank stepping in for other roles.

But outside of that, when you have 10 people who need to do something as a unit, its a bit like a collection of body parts – sure they are capable of doing great things.  But without a brain to tell them what to do, and when they are going to hurt themselves at worst, and at best, just do nothing.

Ok, that analogy wasn’t all that great.  I’m not saying raiders don’t have brains and that they can’t do what they are supposed to.  But it is the lack of central unity that would be the downfall of the raid if there was no clear defined leader.  And that is where the Raid Lead should step in.

There are three key qualities that your Raid Lead should have:

– Motivation to learn, and ask questions

– Ability to logically problem solve

– The ability to give constructive criticism, and receive it, without pissing off other raiders.  People skills, basically.

I’m sure that many of you are probably going to do a double take on the above requirements being so… short.  But, if you have a good candidate, and you boil everything down, it will fit into one of the above categories.

I mentioned above that I didn’t know how to mage.  And that is true.  If I were plunked down in front of a fully geared mage, I probably wouldn’t pull above, say 2k dps.  I just don’t know the intracacies of the class beyond pewpew.  But that isn’t to say that I haven’t learned about mages.  I know they can’t cast and move.  I know that they have periods where they can really throw down the dps, but only for short periods, and that generally cramps their dps for the rest of the fight because of mana management.

That, my friends, is probably the most key quality for a raid lead.  If he dosen’t know (or learn about) the advantages and disadvantages (or rather, strengths and weaknesses) of his raiders, then they are not going to be utilizing them to their fullest extent.  Problem solving, yes, they need.  But to an extent they can lean an his raiders to help them problem solve.  But if they can’t learn you should really consider asking them to step down.

One quality you absolutely DO NOT want in your raid lead:

– Control Freak

Yes people, if your raid leader is a control freak, you are never going to get anything done.  Argueably you can say that this is what the upper echelon of raiders need.  But I’d argue you are wrong.  It’s not so much that the raid lead is the control freak, its the individual players.  They want to have absolute control over their characters, what they do, when they do it.  But I digress.

If you have a raid leader with the above quality, you are going to notice, without a doubt, that you are going to spend a LOT of time discussing what went wrong, why, how you can fix it, etc.  There is a time and place for that.  But 10 minutes of discussion just isn’t it.

Alright, so we know what kind of a person the raid leader should be, what do they actually do?

I mentioned above that the RL orchestrates the raid.  That is, in truth, even a little misleading.  Orchestrating is certainly a style that some raid leaders use.  DPS this, ok move here, do this, pop heroism now, big heals here, etc…  An orchestrator is going to constantly be talking in vent, issuing orders, making sure his vision of the raid comes to bear.  This type of raid leading is particularly effective with groups who are unfamilliar with each other, PUG’s in particular.

No, most raid leaders are not orchestrators.  What a raid leader does is more like facilitating.  I am helping the raid to its job of downing the boss.  If that means I need Mage A to hold off on mana consumption for phase 3 so that he can burn X boss down, then that is the instructions I issue.  I don’t tell the Mage, “Use arcane missles on phase three.”  No, I tell them, “We really need to burn (boss) down on phase three.  Can you keep your dps a little light so that you have the mana to burn him hard on phase three?”  I am allowing the mage to do his/her job.  But I am telling the mage what the raid needs.  This concept is applied to everything, from tanking to healing.  I am not calling out “big heals on (tank).”  I have healed, and it irritates me to no end when a person tells me how/when to heal.  Saying, however, “Phase 2 is really going to pump out the damage, healers need to be on their toes, especially for (tank).”  I am allowing the healers to do their job, but I am telling them what the raid needs.

The two reservations I have for the physical button press for a specific spells are Battle Rez (not ankh for shammies), and heroism.  They are key spells to the raid.  Heroism can be used to pump up heals, or DPS.  Battle rez is critical because of the value it has to the raid.  In both cases, they have to be used in a way that best benefits the raid, not just the person using it.  For that reason, RL should always be the one to call out for these two things.

On that same token, when we wipe, I review the resources I have to figure out why.  Then I make adjustments.  We need to change positioning, DPS is not best utilized, you do this, I’ll do this, or sometimes, wow, that was just bad luck.

I could sit here and dole out what you need to be doing, in an itemized point by point basis.  But that is not what raid leading is about.

When you boil everything that a Raid Leader is down into one word – facilitator.

Just remember, ohh wise one, everyone is going to look to you for answers.  It’s ok not to have them.  Yes, there is your dirty little secret aired to the world.  What is not ok, is not tapping into the knowledge of your players.  Ask them what went wrong.  Then make adjustments to allow the raid to do what it is there to do – down that boss.

But before you go jumping blindly into the shoes of your guild’s RL, remember that it is a LOT of work.  You have to continue to do what you do (DPS, Tank, Heal), but you also have to be aware of the raid around you, and what it is doing.  Not to mention the preparations ahead of time, research, planning.  But there is nothing like scraping the guts of Anub’arak off the bottom of your shoe when you realize that you helped your guild, your raid, down him for the first time.

Here is to Arthas’ head rolling in a couple of months.

2 Responses to “What Is A Raid Lead?”
  1. Tutunkommon says:

    Hail, Mighty Raid Leader!

    I am glad to get a bit of a glimpse into what raiding might be like prior to actually joining the group. Since I am still a fresh 80 grinding heroics, I will do my best to provide ‘sapling heals’ until I grow into a full tree!


  2. Elyndynne says:

    pew pew….lol….pew pew…..I’m going to leave lots of useless comments =*)

    I need to be a better raid leader. I’m still on the upswing, but let’s see if it works out. At least I have the motivation to get the team together, keep it organized. I just wish I could tame the dissention in the groups.

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