Highmaul’s been out for quite some time now. While there have been many successful groups running the various difficulties of this raid, there are still far more people who haven’t even stepped out of Normals yet. With Blackrock Foundry coming up next month, many would-be raiders are scrambling to get into some good groups to either experience Highmaul as it was intended, or simply to obtain that sweet Ahead of the Curve achievement for downing the Imperator past LFR.
It certainly isn’t easy if you’re going at it alone or even with a few friends just short of a real 10 man, and more likely, you’ve been wiping hard and pugging with a lot of idiots. But has it occured to you, that, you know, you’re one of them? The very idiots that you think caused the collapse of the raid? No, I don’t mean to insult anyone, but sometimes, when doing a group activity, we fail to recognize our own misgivings and if we did, perhaps the whole thing would have gone a lot better. Green Jesus knows I’ve had my fair share of that.
If you think that you’ve got what it takes and want to make more progress through this tier’s raiding, then maybe you should look to leading a raid instead of just trying to get in one. It’s not as simple as it sounds and is definitely not a walk in the park. There are many pratfalls and unexpected twists and turns to raid leading, but many of this can be alleviated if you just had the right set of skills. Though I’ve led many raids back in the last expansion, I claim no experience in Warlords of Draenor, and I’m certainly not the best in leading, but I think I know a thing or two and a lot of people could learn the basics before attempting such a heavy job.
Some time ago, a friend of mine, D-Team Derek, wanted to raid in Normals so badly that he decided to set up his own run where part of them would be some of our guildies who don’t make regular runs with the other teams. Planning it out with some pugs that were interested, he set off into Highmaul with eyes that lit up with hope and a halo of confidence. Unfortunately for Derek, a couple of bad metaphors on his supposed raid leading could not save the crapfest that came about of it. I asked and reminded him often of the many pratfalls budding raid leaders have, but whatever bore into his mind that the fact that he had overbearing confidence was enough to lead a people through the current raid tier, which is relatively still new, and come out on top, impeded him to heed my advice.
He knew nothing of the mechanics nor could he speak up about what was going on. He made use of public vent, but he said not a peep except when agreeing or repeating what the MT, who happened to take over, said. They never made it past Brackenspore and Butcher was cleared only due to brute item level strength. Kargath, as we know, is a joke, so no problems there. I surmise that the people pugged in that raid won’t be raiding with Derek anymore. Don’t get me wrong; Derek is a good enough raid member that can do whatever he’s told, but telling others what to do isn’t one of his strong suits apparently.
Taking on the Reins
One of the things that will definitely up your chances in this new raiding atmosphere is if you simply took up the mantle of leader. With the new group finder tool and sites like OpenRaid at your disposal, looking for additional members for your group shouldn’t be a problem. Heck, you can even go at it completely alone and I’m sure you’ll fill up that raid frame quickly. It’s one thing to gather a group of like-minded individuals and quite another to actually lead the bunch.
If you’re aiming to lead your own team, whether comprised of your friends, pugs, or both, learn from Derek’s mistakes. First off, before you lead a team of 10-25 to their doom unknowingly, you, as the raid lead, have to at least know the basics of every fight. Certainly, stacking your small army on Butcher will end up very badly and then blaming everybody for being bad is not the way to go. Know the fight; specifically, know what can kill you, what killed you, and what to do to avoid them in the future. Just at least those thing you have to know. Specific and optimal strategies? You’re still starting out, so you can’t really be blamed for not knowing what the “pros” do. Take your time and just make sure you know what’s what.
While Voice Over IPs (VOIPS) aren’t really required, they help a lot and I’d suggest that you overcome whatever meekness or social anxiety you may have just to get things done. Learn to speak over the VOIP of your choosing and don’t be shy to express commands to your raid. Derek’s silence throughout most of the raid was a continual foreshadowing that the raid was going to end in failure. People always need someone to lead them in an endeavor, and your silence means that they’re screwed.
Please don’t give the excuse that “Oh, the tanks should talk it over since they’re the ones doing most of the work,” or something along those lines. As raid lead, you have to know the basics of the fight and inform them of what you want to happen. If it so happens that others may have better ideas, then go on and give it a shot. You are the one creating cohesion and unity between raid members, so if you cease to give orders or instructions, or relegate the task to someone who is not raid lead, well, it’s probably not going to go so well for you. Remember, no one likes a quiet and indecisive lead.
While we’re on the subject of interaction, a raid leader has to take charge; whatever style or personality you want to exude, it has to be something that commands respect or, at the very least, a friendly vibe. Because if people can hardly tell you’re there, why the hell would they listen to you? If you feel like you don’t have the social aptitude to accomplish such a task, you can get it through the sheer amount of knowledge you have for the fight. But, as always, personality and grit are always much more effective, especially if you are running a progression group, where most, if not all, members have never done the raid before past LFR.
Now, this may sound awful, but as a raid leader who may be taking on pugs, you have to expect everyone to be a complete and utter moron. I mean that as nicely as I can. There should never be a presumption of skill and knowledge when playing with a stranger, and, as lead, you have to know the fight well so that you can explain it to the raid. Even those who are a tad bit experienced with the fights may miss a few things even though they ran it several times in the past. For example, Derek again, who, despite running Ko’ragh with many other raids on normal, did not know that he had the Overflowing Energy Orbs mechanic because he’s never done the mechanic itself before.
In most cases, there’s somebody not pulling their weight. Whether it be their role performance or mechanic failure, some people are just slow learners. While I’m all for giving everybody a chance, they can often hamper the progress of a group and veritably waste everybody’s time. You, as the raid lead, has to have the cojones grandes to do the dirty deed of kicking and or replacing the weak link. Derek made the mistake of being to nice and naive, and just letting everybody do whatever they wanted. Bad move right there.
Which leads me to the last, but not least, of the basic skills you need to lead a raid: Observation. On the many raids I’ve been on, the most successful are always the one where the raid lead is exceptionally observant. In the middle of the fight, he or she would give out orders, advice, reminders, and the necessarily angry swearing on a VOIP or through chat. While doing their role, they would monitor the fight’s progress and are quick to correct those who are making errors. This is one skill that every budding raid leader should learn and, in my honest opinion, the second most important.
What’s the most Important skill, then?
If you haven’t already noticed, the greatest and most important skill a raid leader should have is the basic knowledge of how encounters work. Like it was said earlier, it doesn’t matter if he or she has no idea how to actually get through a boss, but so long as they have a semblance of how things work. After all, how are they to correct and remind people of mechanics during fights if he has no idea what they are? How will they command the respect of their raid if someone else has to step up to the plate due to a lack of knowledge? How are they going to believe your feeble attempt at analyzing the fight if you know nothing in the first place?
Raid leading is an incredibly difficult job, not only because the lead has to make the hard and unsavoury decisions like kicking an underperforming dps, but also because of all the other things he has to manage before and during the raid. It’s not something that can be easily done, nor is it a very desirable role to have, but learning this can help you not only obtain much more awesome gear and the shiny achievement, but it will also help you in your real life.Related: Column, MMORPG, World of Warcraft, WoW Wednesday