Raid Leading 101 - PVE
The truth is that no guide can teach you to be a good leader, nor will you ever meet 100% of the expectations that your raiders will hold for you. Everybody is different, and learning to accept failure and embrace criticism as learning tools are probably the most important things you can do along the way to becoming a solid leader (both in and out of World of Warcraft!).
I don’t expect this guide to help everyone, nor do I expect everyone to agree with all its contents and ideas. But I do think that most of the ideas presented will be helpful and viable to the majority of people who want to start raid leading, or who just want to become better raid members.
I. Identifying your personal style
II. Choosing your raid content
III. Labeling/Marketing your raids
IV. Selecting your raid members
V. Running the Raid
a. Loot rules
b. Boss explanations
c. Time management
VI. Closure and follow up
I. Identifying your personal style
The first thing you need to decide is what type of leader you are. Are you the organiser, the friend, the bully, or the strat nerd? It’s best to be a combination of these things. You’ll need a variety of skills to successfully lead a raid. If you feel that you cannot bring one of these qualities to the table, especially the organiser, you may benefit from a co-leader. It often happens that two people run the most successful guild and premade groups: someone who organises before the raid and behind the scenes, and one who strictly handles leading the group through the content.
Despite popular belief, you cannot simply be “the bully” and lead a successful raid. You won’t earn any respect that way, and often your raid won’t even get off the ground if you haven’t done any work beforehand in preparation. Likewise you may have memorized every single strategy ever written about a boss fight, but if you cannot choose the correct personnel or communicate that strategy to 24 other people, you won’t be looting many epics.
Identify your strengths and weaknesses, and if you feel you cannot overcome a weakness, find someone who can fill the gap.
II. Choosing your raid content
This may seem simple, but so many times people do it wrong. In a PVE scenario, making Heroic Rag your very first attempt at leading probably isn’t a good idea. Neither is an achievement run. People have very high expectations from achievement runs – anything less than perfection causes extreme frustration and often ragequitting.
Start with a fight that you could solo in your sleep. Make a Molten Core run, or perhaps AQ20. Something that only requires around 10 people (or less, but bring the full 10 for practice). After your first success, you’ll be feeling the buzz, and probably be ready to move on to something more difficult. Try a 5m-dungeon achievement group (ICC, HoT, ZA, ZG). This will give you the chance to do a few brief boss explanations.
When you’ve got the hang of forming the raids and explaining the content, begin running normal mode raid content, or even heroic raid content depending on your confidence level. Current-level raid achievement runs are the most difficult content to run (due mostly to people’s expectations, not necessarily the difficulty of the content). Save those for when you have a good few months of raid leading under your belt buckle.
III. Labeling/Marketing your Raids
OpenRaid provides a very leader-friendly interface for posting your raids. Your job is to carefully read all of the options presented and choose the best set up for your particular raid. Overestimate on the iLvl requirement you want. If you don’t want to deal with “carrying” people, don’t allow sub-level cap players.
When creating the text description of your raid, be clear and concise. Allowing some of your personality to show through is a big plus – it sets the tone for how you will lead your raids. Using correct spelling and proper grammar is important. Someone who can’t be bothered to spell the name of the raid correctly probably isn’t going to come across as the most reliable raid leader.
Be sure to clearly label any requirements you have for the potential members, such as Vent or particular Addons (DBM, Decursive, Omen, etc). If you are requiring certain raid experience, let them know. If you don’t have the experience that you are requesting of other people, be prepared for backlash.
Never assume that the potential members can read your mind. They cannot. If you have an expectation, make it clear beforehand.
Clearly spell out your loot policy if it varies at all from normal Master Looter (Link and roll), Group, or NB4G scenarios. If you are reserving something (for yourself or others), make it clear.
If you are in a position where you need to market your raid outside of OpenRaid, such as on your server’s trade channel or forums, then do so in a responsible and friendly way. Spamming trade channel is not the way to go. If you are advertising your OpenRaid event, remember that you are an ambassador for OpenRaid every time you post that link.
IV. Selecting your Raid Members
Several things can happen once your raid is posted.
You can get overwhelmed with responses, and have a lot of players to choose from. Fantastic! If the content is classic or BC, you probably don’t have to worry about roles. Take people as they sign up – first come first serve. This is what most players have come to expect. Wrath, or of course Cata, content requires a bit more planning. You will need appropriately geared tanks and healers, as well as a balance of DPS classes and types. It may be worthwhile for you to wait until several days before the raid to begin promoting people to Approved. This is preferably to promoting, then demoting, players. This action is not warmly received and should only be used in cases where class balance is of utmost importance.
You may not have enough players. OpenRaid provides you with a useful real-time recruiting tool, Quick Raid. There are a set of rules for using Quick Raid that are explained on the Quick Raid page. Please follow them.
If you still cannot fill your raid, try allowing your other raid members to fill the raid group with well-known friends and guildmates. Be clear about your expectations (progress, gear, boss knowledge, vent required with a mic, etc).
Use Trade Channel as a last resort, as these raiders usually have no personal connection with anybody in the group and are the most likely to crash your party with derps and loot drama.
V. Running The Raid
Be early to your own raid. People will be looking for you and start to panic if they don't have that RID request before raid time starts. Post on the event page if you are running late!
The raid has started! Once invites are done, take an attendance screen shot and save it for rating the raid later. Be sure to take another screen shot or make a note of reserves who join the raid later, or write down the names of anybody who "ninja logs" or goes AFK for long periods of time.
Get to work informing your raid of your expectations of them, and some of the important details such as:
a. Loot Rules:
Explain loot before the first pull begins. Be incredibly clear regarding your loot policy. Preferably, type it as well as review it verbally in vent. If you are reserving a particular item for yourself, especially something like a mount or legendary drop, I suggest taking a screenshot of your announcement to the raid that this item is reserved for you. This gives you quick backup if somebody accuses you of being a “ninja”.
In regards to ninjaing items, be aware of Blizzard’s stance on the subject. They do not recognize the term “ninja” in the sense that it is used. There are only “scams”. A scam is a raid leader who clearly defies the loot rules he has presented before the raid. This may be taking a mount for himself after saying it is open roll, or giving a piece of tier to a guildie who didn’t win the roll.
If you join a raid when someone is a Master Looter, it is your responsibility to always ask for a typed explanation of the loot rules, so there is no confusion. If you aren’t satisfied with the response, leave the raid or request another loot setting.
Don’t be drawn into debate regarding “upgrades” v “nonupgrades”, or “main spec” v “offspec”. These are things you should have defined with your loot rules, if they are applicable. Use common sense, an item that is a viable upgrade should not be given to another player for transmog or disenchant.
Be fair in your loot rules. Don’t reserve everything of value for yourself – this will not really endear you to potential raiders. Give other people the opportunity to reserve items that they may be looking for as well.
b. Boss Explanations:
Have a set of notes in front of you the first few times you explain a boss fight. Sketch out a timeline of the fight, with important points highlighted so you do not forget them. Do not get flustered when half the raid chimes in with their opinion. Listen to them, decide if the advice is valid (a lot of times it is!!), and then move forward. It is generally not good to allow debate to start regarding a boss strategy.
c. Time Management:
Let people know up front when, approximately, you will be stopping for bathroom breaks. This should slow down the people randomly going afk for a quick bio. Those “quick bio” breaks can end up costing you an hour of raid time, easily. When you do stop for a break, use the Break Timer function that is built into Deadly Boss Mods. Type /dbm break x, with “x” being the length of the break in whole minutes. Pull promptly when the break is over.
Distribute loot while the group moves on to the next trash pull. Stick to your loot policy and move along quickly.
Schedule more than enough time for the content you are raiding. If you cut it too short, you will lose people in the middle of your raid who have scheduled something else, or need to go to sleep/work/school.
VII. Closure and Follow up
Always try to end the raid on a positive note, even if you’ve spent the last few hours wiping. Remind people that it takes time for 10/25 people to learn to work together on difficult content. Find something to praise – thanks for being here on time and staying the entire raid, thanks for dropping feast and cauldrons. A few words of praise go a long way towards ending on good note in the face of adversity.
Remind the group when your next raid is going to be. Offer to keep in touch on Real ID or encourage them to follow you on OpenRaid. Remind them to rate the raid.
Be sure to rate the raid accurately and fairly. If your girlfriend stood in the fire repeatedly, you can’t put “Exceptional! A+ rock star!” on her comment page. You’re immediately a fraud. Likewise if someone made an honest mistake and apologized for it, it’s inappropriate to blow them up with negativity. As a raid leader, it’s especially important that your feedback be fair, constructive criticism or praise.
Rate the raid as soon as you can, so that the memories are fresh in your head. If you have trouble remembering things, keep a notepad near your computer.
There are infinitely more tips and intricacies to raid leading, but I hope this guide has given you a place to start from. Be patient, fair, clear and concise. Treat others how you want to be treated, and remember in the end that those are real people in the raid with you. Respecting them is the first step to them respecting you in return.