The Latus Guide To Leading Raids

This deals for semi casual guilds.  If you’re in a hardcore guild, I’m jealous and hate you and this is not really ALL THAT VALID for you, but feel free to use, some points apply as well, just not all.

There are countless sites that deal with the frustrations of leading raids.  Here is my most important observation:

IF YOU ARE A RAID LEADER AND COMPLAIN THAT IT’S HARD TO LEAD RAIDS, OR THAT YOUR JOB IS HARD, STFU.  YOU CHOSE TO DO IT, NOBODY MADE YOU, AND YOU STILL CHOOSE TO DO IT.  OBVIOUSLY YOU LIKE DOING IT, IF NOT, STOP.  SIMPLE.

Now, aside from that, I’ve found that raid leaders can most easily be compared to sports coaches: they see everything that’s happening whereas players often focus on their tasks, they keep track of useless information, they assign players their respective roles, and most of all, they motivate the team and give it a sense of confidence.  This confidence is such an understated role of raid leaders that often they do not focus on that, but without it the group will fail more often than not.  It is why a group that was in much superior gear than my own when I killed Yogg was not even clearing the keepers.  It is also why, when we joined forces, all the bosses fell quickly.  Firstly, the raid leader was able to bring in concrete instructions based on experience, second of all, the group trusted that the raid leader’s methods were good and went along with them.

There are times when a leader, much like a sports coach, will lose his or her group.  Sometimes the damage is momentary, sometimes it is permanent.  If the group does not trust the raid leader, things will fail, and a new leader should be appointed.  A good, responsible leader will also be the first to realize this.  Here are some foolproof ways of knowing a raid is not listening to it’s leader anymore:

  • everyone throws out their own strategies after the raid leader explains what will be happening.
  • people don’t actually do what they’ve been told to do, and not out of lack of skill to do it but out of a conscious choice to do other things.
  • people have to go early.
  • people stop whispering the raid leader constantly with questions.

Of course there are more things you could find here, but these are the obvious things to pay attention to.

 

Here, on the other hand, is the Latus List of things a raid leader should do at all times.  Those of you in the game with me will know Revivify from Raging Spears has been assuming the mantle of raid leader as well and you’ll find that while the voices differ, the styles are very similar with us.

  • be approachable. If you cannot be approached, refer people to someone else in the raid who can field questions.  If you haven’t found someone who is capable of doing that for you, then you have to do it no matter how busy you are.  If people don’t feel they can come to the raid leadership with questions, suggestions or advice, they will tune out of the group.
  • be sociable. For the same reason as the point above, you want to be part of the group.  You are simply assuming the role of raid leader, you are not their actual leader in any way.  A group of people volunteered their time to kill some raid bosses and you volunteered yours to lead them, but you’re all the same.  Developing an elitist attitude is a quick way to lose your raiders.  Sure, it is true that the raid leader is often the most knowledgeable or experienced, hence why the leading, but without the rest of the group no bosses will fall.  Keep this in mind.
  • be fair… with loot. Treat people well in your group.  Do not deviate from your given rules but maintain a sense of fairness.  Remember that every person in your group represents a portion of your success, and that group veterans and new players (even pugs) deserve the same treatment.  If loot drops and the guy who just pugged with you at the last minute wins it, so be it, much to the chagrin of the group.
  • be fair… with blame. Don’t shield anyone from blame.  If your style of leading includes pointing out big mistakes, don’t ever omit anyone for whatever reason.  This goes for yourself as well.  There’s nothing more telling than having your raid leader say “stay out of the fire”, then proceed to die in a fire, and after the wipe pretend it didn’t happen.  If it does, and it will, laugh about it, take the blame and fault yourself for being a noob who doesn’t even listen to the raid leader’s instructions.  If anything, being first to admit your mistakes will raise your stock in the eyes of the people playing with you. That being said…
  • don’t single people out after a wipe. Unless you’re a really hardcore guild, this is not something you want to do.  The people who made mistake know it.  Singling them out over vent or raid chat is going to make them feel awful.  People who feel awful, or embarassed, will often not come back to your raids.  You want to encourage your group, not insult it.  If a situation requires adressing, speak to the person privately, or give it a general announcement over vent… “Let’s make sure to pay more attention to the dark orbs on the right side of the room please, more got through than we can handle.”  That doesn’t blame anyone specifically, but it lets the people there know they did the mistake (which they probably knew already), and it lets the raid as a whole know that you did notice it and you are addressing it or will do so if it persists.
  • do single people out who have established themselves as able to take it and to take jokes. If someone dies on something easy, and they do not usually make that mistake, AND they have proven to take jokes and playful banter, by all means, laugh at them in a friendly way. “Kelebai just confirmed that fire does indeed burn, be sure to thank him for his scientific effort.”  Can come off well sometimes to lighten the mood.  This is assuming Kelebai doesn’t take offense.  You have to be the judge of that, and the judge of how your group is able to accept things like that as jokes.  If you think your raid group is very sensitive, stay clear of this point completely.
  • be confident. Confidence breeds confidence.  If you are sure of something working out, people are going to believe it will work out.  When people believe it will work, it usually does.  Give concise instructions that you want followed and stick to them.  You’re raid leader and you should know things.  Do your research beforehand (through pugging or through reading and videos).  Don’t assume people know anything.
  • simplify.  Don’t be boring with names and numbers. Here are two sentences, see if you can figure out which will be heard and completely ignored and forgotten within seconds.

He will cast “Fel Fireball”.  This spell inflicts 24375 to 25625 Fire damage and an additional 9263 to 9737 Fire damage every 1 sec for 5 sec. This is always cast on his primary aggro target. Two second cast, interruptable.

He casts something.  Fel fireball.  Interrupt it please, it deals huge damage and strains the healers.

Since this is not aimed at the hardcore, the first sentence will go into one ear and out the other. Nobody -cares- about the numbers.  They barely care about the spell name.  As long as you tell people to interrupt whatever he’s casting, or rather, as long as you assign certain people to interrupt his spell casts, and tell them why, that’s all you need to do.   Legion Flames is another good example.  Use things that will stick in peoples’ minds to explain what to do.  Telling your group of [in]experienced raiders that they will leave a trail of fel fire that damages them and anyone standing in it will be relatively effective.  Telling them something memorable like “legion flames is a debuff that makes you fart green flames” will make them actually remember what you just said.  This point is definitely a judgement call.  If your group seems more technical, go with the names and numbers, if they seem looser and more casual, go with ideas and concepts.

  • lead the fight.  You have a role, it doesn’t end once the pull starts.  You are in charge of paying attention and calling out bloodlusts (unless you trust your Shaman completely to know exactly when it makes sense), you are in charge of making sure people are soulstoned, that AoD is used, that a brez goes out… you are in charge of knowing who needs ghetto buffs (did you just brez an offtank?), which healer may need an innervate. You are in charge of role switches, of tactic changes on the fly, of add control, etc…  You are everyone’s eye on the field.  Your personal performance will probably plummet a bit if you are dps, like myself.  When I am not leading, just pew pewing, I do much more damage than when I am leading.  This is normal.  I’m paying attention to a lot of things and accepting that my own dps drop a bit.  If you are likewise a dps, keep this in mind, don’t try to “win” Recount but LEAD THE RAID.  The advantages here are twofold, one, you… well… win the boss.  Two, most importantly, is that it really, really, really makes the group feel good with your leadership and willing to trust you on strategies.  They see that you’re on the ball and on top of things.  Remember that many players cannot keep track of DBM warnings while performing their role, and yet here they have a leader who is part of the fight and keeping track of everything: warnings, the fight, mob health, who is alive/dead, who needs what kind of help…  It is a huge confidence booster in your raid leader to know they are paying attention to the fight.
  • delegate.  If any of the points brought up here are difficult for you to do, delegate the tasks.  You should have an idea of who can do what.  In my raids, for example, Revivify assumed the mantle of setting up the healers.  I don’t think about them except to confirm that they’re ready, or to ask that some go offspec for given fights.  The rest, Rev has ready.  If Revivify isn’t there, Mystina assumed that role.  Or Morgaina.  Or Thymbul.  Someone is always there and ready to help with this.  Likewise, I ask the tanks to work things out among themselves if they can.  This doesn’t mean you don’t think about it, it just means you have the opportunity to let others worry about it full time while you only confirm that things are going as you’d like them to.

Finally, here is a set of “to do” items when you’re setting up your raid.  Keep in mind this is for those raids that are not 100% guild runs with long established loot rules that everybody knows, this is for groups where some pugged members are, and where some alliances of guilds are taking part.  Our group, for instance, is a majority Raging Spears, and two “friendly” guilds flesh it out, along with remnants of <Eff Eff Ess>.

  1. Update the raid as to what is going on.  If you’re waiting for someone to log on, say so.  If you’re on the lookout for such a class or such a role, let them know.
  2. Inform the raid as to the plans.  Tell them again what you will be raiding, what you hope to accomplish and if there are any problems that might surface.  An example here is that we went in with two fresh new rogues to ToC.  I know our group cannot kill FC without two rogues cc’ing two healers.  It’s just not possible at this point in time for us.  Once the group was ready, I announced the situation and told everyone that they were free to leave the group and pug their own “guaranteed” full clear, that we were only guaranteeing two bosses tonight.  I assured them there would be no hard feelings and they would get invited the next week again.  In our case, nobody left.
  3. Establish rules.  Take this as a chance to show the raid you’re not some 12 year old leading a “For the Horde!” group.  Ask that vent be kept clear during fights.  Ask that derogatory comments not be made.  Ask for respect among your members and be honest about kicking people who have trouble with it.  This will justify you in doing so if someone becomes a problem, and it will give the impression that your raid will be a moderately pleasant environment in which to spend a few hours.
  4. Establish loot rules.  Be clear.  Loot is the #1 source of all drama.  Do not prioritize one role over another.  Establish main spec / off spec rules, establish recipe rules, orbs, tier gear (trophies, emblems).  If someone has a problem later on, refer them to the rules you explained at the start.

I’d like to get on to point #4.  Here are my group’s loot rules:

  • One main spec item per person per run.  We are all here hoping to down bosses and gear up, and it sucks to have one person walk away with multiple items with others getting none.  Off spec rolls open if main spec already won, or if everybody passes.  Don’t be greedy on off spec items, and keep in mind who your regular tanks and healers are.
  • Crusader orbs are free roll regardless of anything else you won.  No limit.
  • Trophies are limited to one per person per run.  If you won’t have the Emblems to buy an item for the next 4 weeks, consider passing.
  • Recipes will be rolled for by the people at 450 of a given profession first.  If nobody is there at 450, then the role will open to all members of that profession.  If nobody is present, it will be open to all.

This last point about recipes presented a peculiar problem on our last run.  The ToC gods were really happy with us and we were getting a recipe on every boss.  3 leatherworking recipes dropped.  The problem was that only one person was 450 leatherworking.  There was a mage that was 443 or something like that.  On the first recipe drop, the druid Kelebai said he was 450 and it turned out he was the only one.  I reminded the raid of the 450 rule and gave him the recipe.  When the second recipe dropped, I apologized that he’s getting a second one (to the raid), and again invoked the 450 rule.  When the third dropped, the other leatherworkers’ boyfriend approached me in whispers about giving her the recipe since Kelebai got two of them.  I chose not to do so and took about a minute to explain why on vent.  First, I said I wanted to stick to the rules we outlined.  Secondly, I explained why I made the 450 rule:  Getting to 450 is relatively challenging and means the person has invested a fair amount of gold and materials to get to that point.  This is a way to reward them for that work.  Most importantly, it is a way to assure that the recipes can be used right away instead of “one day”.  I brought up that the last points in any profession are often the hardest to skill up, and that we did not want to waste recipes sitting in peoples’ banks.

The boyfriend whispered me and said he understands, and that it IS fair that I’m doing what I’m doing.  Which relieved me greatly.  I whispered the leatherworker in question and apologized that no recipes went her way, but assured her that on the bright side, when she does hit 450 and those recipes drop, she won’t have any competition to roll for them.  I also reminded everyone that Kelebai can now craft pretty much all ToC recipes (since he got another drop the previous week).

A cloth pattern also dropped and I asked for 450 rolls, turned out there were none.  I sit at 449 tailoring.  I pointed this out and cried, but then won the “all tailors roll” where 4 people did.

Keeping this in line with the established group rules was important, and showing the benefits of being there every week served it’s point.  I’m sure everyone was slightly jealous of Kelebai for getting 3 epic recipes, I know I was!  I also know I’m hitting 450 tailoring even if it costs me an arm and a leg this week.

The very last point

A raid leader must know when to call a raid.  We are slated to go for 3 hours, but have gone up to 4, and have gone as few as 2.  Your last job as raid leader is knowing when you’ve hit a proverbial brick wall and are only incurring repair bills.  You cannot confuse this with progression attempts and learning elements.  There is a time when you have to realize that the only thing happening is that the group is getting demoralized and a sense of futility is setting in.  Often, through no fault of anyone’s, this will mean your raid is over.  The very same group could come in next week with not a single gear upgrade and one shot the same boss, but that is not important.  You have to know when to call it.

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8 Responses to “The Latus Guide To Leading Raids”


  1. 1 Perrin November 11, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    One thing that most casual leadership fails at is this:

    Be approchable, be sociable, be friendly, but during a raid you are not a raiders best bud. Not only do you have to be even handed, but people need to know that when you say something, they can’t ignore it just because you’re friends. If you can’t put your foot down and rein people in when they’re shooting off at the mouth, or rambling about the loot they want while you’re explaining a boss, then you really don’t want to be in the leadership role.

    It can be a lonely place at times, which is why officers tend to band together. But as listed at the top, you chose to do it, so you have to take the good with the bad.

  2. 2 Anthony November 12, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Trial of the Crusader’s layout and fights make it a real pleasure to raid lead, to be honest.

    You can get a really good view of the entire room quite easily, and there’s nothing particularly complex in terms of fight mechanics to worry about (especially as a tank).

    If I was any role other than a tank, I’m not sure I could raidlead as effectively as I do without seeing a decrease in my performance, like you said. The main focus of tanking is on knowing what’s going on with the entire fight as it is, and it’s not hard to just pass that along over vent if required.

    One example of the difference effective raidleading makes that I’ll share:
    A while back my guild started running two ten man Trial of the Crusader groups, and ran both on one day (we now run two spread across two days). Up until then, I had done all of the raidleading for our single ten man raids. I led one group, and our other tank (if memory serves) led the other. We split the healers and DPS as evenly as possible, and both had two plate DPS in their offspecs as second tanks.

    My group was just about to down the Twin Val’kyr when the other group downed the first boss. The problem in the other group? People weren’t able to keep track of their debuffs for the two Jormungar.

    As a raid leader, that’s exactly the kind of thing that I’m keeping track of and calling out. If somebody gets the toxin, I tell them to move to the tank with burning bile. If two ranged get the toxin, I tell them both to move to the tank and then curse at the ranged in general for not spreading out. If I have the toxin, I tell one person with the burning bile buff to move to me, then tell them to stay away from the raid.

    That’s not difficult to do; DBM does most of the work for me, I just have to read the names out over vent. However, it’s the kind of thing that makes a huge difference between people living and the raid succeeding or them dying and the raid failing.

    The one mistake I regularly make though is to say “me” when referring to myself, and assume everybody recognises my voice and knows who is speaking. Fine for the people who have been raiding for a while, but not great for the newer members.

    • 3 latusthegoat November 12, 2009 at 4:44 pm

      I try to observe the group to get a feel as to whether I have to call things out like this or not. Usually I remain as quiet as possible (nobody comes to raids to hear a Polish French Canadian accent on vent for 7 minutes of a fight), but if I see that someone has to move and isn’t moving, I’ll call their name out.

      From my experience in all three roles, it is easiest for me to lead as DPS since I have the best view of the whole fight. Tanking is pretty easy on my druid, so I can still do it with ease but often I see Boss Butt instead of the fight itself. As a healer – I’m a healbot lover – I find myself the hardest pressed to raid lead effectively. While my threat output can drop by 10% if I’m leading, as well as my dps if I’m on Latus, my heals simply cannot drop. What happens when I’m raid leading and healing is that either my heals are sub par or my leading is sub par. I cannot combine those two as well as the other two roles for some reason.

      My voice is quick and easy to recognize thanks to my accent actually, so it all works out, and the accent isn’t strong in the way that it makes people cringe at the sound of too much talking, just there to let them know its not someone born in the US or Canada speaking. Really helps. L2accent.

  3. 4 Tania November 14, 2009 at 2:33 am

    Or be the only girl in the group. That can also really help. 😀

  4. 5 Abi November 21, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Found this post from a link on Altadin and really enjoyed the read. As a guild leader and raid leader that often has to PuG a few spots on our 25-mans, I couldn’t agree more with a majority of your points.


  1. 1 The Latus Guide to Leading Raids « Altadin Trackback on November 11, 2009 at 3:20 pm
  2. 2 Stealing from Sari « Tahas's Blog Trackback on November 11, 2009 at 3:45 pm
  3. 3 Bloggerizing « The Undercity Trackback on November 18, 2010 at 7:45 pm

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