I don’t actually know what Raid Leading is. If I had to I think I would define it as:
Raid Leading: The silence that preceeds a ready check. When nothing is said on vent or in guild or raid chat.
Well, nothing is said that is related to the actual raid or game. I usually like to fill this silence with daydreams and commentary on my dinner, or even more likely, my plans for desert. But I’m pretty sure that in that silence your Raid Leader is frantically organizing players to change into their off spec, assigning tanks and checking that the healing team are prepared.
Others have defined Raid Leading as: more than just doing a quick boss strategy explanation. This definition seems to me to be extremely misleading. Yes, explaining the strategy is an important part of leading a PuG raid, or a very casual guild that has as many new raiders as regulars, but in a guild raid there really isn’t any need to go over the strategy or fight tactics at all.
I would imagine, although PuG raids aren’t my forte, that Raid Leading a PuG raid would mostly consist of filling the raid spots, choosing and explaining strategies for each boss, and dealing with disconnects and replacements. And maybe dealing with loot.
Presumably in a GDKP run Raid Leading is a similar job. With the collection and distribution of gold added in.
But in a guild run, I think a Raid Leader seems to have a slightly different job. They choose who is tanking, DPSing, healing for each encounter, who tanks what, perhaps even who heals whom. They set the pace of the run: deciding when breaks are taken, when players should be subbed in or out, when it’s time to try something hard, or relax and do something easy. They must identify, on wipes, what was at the root of the problem and solve it.
If they cover encounter strategy or tactics at all, it’s usually only to draw attention to something in the strategy that the raid isn’t executing properly.
Of course, having done none of them (PuG raiding leading, GDKP raid leading or guild raid leading) the job description of Raid Leader seems quite mysterious to me. It’s something that remains just out of the scope of my knowledge.
I’m not sure what the winning formula is for a Raid Leader. But I do agree, as I’ve read in countless blogs, forum topics and comments, that it’s best not to expect your Guild Master to also take on the job of Raid Leader. The success of the guild and the success of the raid can be intertwined, but the actual role description for each is completely separate.
Furthermore, I’m convinced that the best Raid Leaders are players who, Raid Leading aside, have the easiest job in the encounter.
Raid Leading, mid-combat, must require you to really play your own character with just half your brain. The other half, surely, is busy orchestrating the 24 people around you.
In the Burning Crusade our Raid Leaders (in our guild) were, depending on the night, a Hunter and Warlock. This is in the days when Hunters could bind their entire rotation onto their mouse scroll up or down function and when Warlocks spammed Shadow Bolt. And, damn it, they were proud of it. Hunters and Warlocks may not be as simple to play as they once were, but I still believe that ranged DPS make excellent Raid Leaders simply because they have the best view during combat. It makes troubleshooting after a wipe quite a bit easier, and improvisation mid-combat more informed.
In my experience tanks often take on the role of Raid Leader but I believe that this is because they are expected to lead parties from an early age, so to speak, not necessarily because they have the best view. I think some tanks would argue that they can devote their attention to Raid Leading mid-combat simply because, as the tank, most of the time they exist outside of the fight mechanics. Instead of running out of fire, poison and/or void zones often they get to stand still and mash buttons.
In Vitare, our Raid Leader is a tank. And (I think I must have mentioned this like 50 times on the blog – sorry!) he’s been away overseas on and off for the better part of six months. This means that, honestly, for the last six months, we’ve really mashed together our own way of doing things. While no single person currently holds the title of Raid Leader, I think about 5 or 6 people (and, no, not necessarily the officers) have sliced up the role description of Raid Leader and taken on small pieces of responsibility.
At points in time we’ve tried to appoint an “official” raid leader, and some plucky raider will step up to take the title. But, well, they tend to burn out really fast. Not having our own permanent Raid Leader has probably cost us at least three amazing raiders who have all quit the game or guild.
So after we lost our last Acting Raid Leader during last week’s raid lockout, apparently over a particularly nasty disagreement in Group 1, one of the Officers put it out there: we need a new volunteer. What really surprised me was that about three raiders put my name forth, not for an Officer position (something that I have simply refused to do for quite some time), but for the Raid Leader position. This was quite the most flattering comment I’ve received in game, and also the most confounding.
I don’t even know what Raid Leading is. Let alone how to do it!
In hindsight, I think I know why my name may have been put forth. When I finished university and started my first full time job I was surprised to learn, a year in at my performance review, that my manager wanted to pay to send me away to a course called the Young Manager’s Program. I, on the other hand, was campaigning quite hard to do an expensive ASP.net course. I wasn’t the slightest bit interested in pursing a career in management (I’m not now, either) even though clearly my boss thought I was perfect material for management.
After a time I changed positions, changed departments and somehow ended up as the Acting Manager of Marketing for a month when my new boss got married and went away on his honeymoon. I found this particularly disturbing. I had no knowledge, education or background in Marketing at all. Unfortunately, I learned the truth about middle management during this month. Most of the time your day is veered off course by employees and their petty complaints. Not surprisingly, my experience as an Officer in a World of Warcraft guild was pretty much the same: an endless stream of personal complaints from guild members that really had no relevance to anyone else but the parties involved.
My workmates and boss at work all thought I had done a pretty great job as Acting Manager of Marketing. But what it taught me was that I can and will lead, when necessary, but I don’t enjoy it or derive any personal satisfaction from it.
You know how I said above that, in the absence of a full time Raid Leader, the guild seemed to just soak up those responsibilities as a collective? Well I think I soaked up one of those responsibilities. I now no longer play my Shadow Priest with 100% of my functional brain, instead I play my Shadow Priest with about 30% of my brain and use the other 70% to become a live, spoken, Boss Encounters Add on.
Most likely it started way back when we were learning how to defeat the Blood Princes on normal mode. I tended to stand at the 11 yard mark sandwiched between our Discipline Priest and one of our Holy Priests. And us Priests, we like to stick together. Add to that my empathy for healer tunnel vision (I see green bars) and the fact that I really do very little in Blood Princes, that I ended up watching their backs more than my own.
“Flame orb, run Nys!”
This progressed into calling out other random things. I was always the one who marked up the Blazing Skeletons and announced their position over vent during Dreamwalker. And these days I think I must talk more than anyone else mid-combat while I call out all kinds of random things – usually the things that have tripped us up as a guild in previous attempts: from Lady Deathwhisper’s Ghosts to Rotface’s Slime Spray and Festergut’s Pungent Blight.
2) I’m Helpful
This person is always ready to help. In fact, they will always try to help, whether or not the help is actually needed. Has sort of a soothing, neutral voice so that they can be understood on Ventrilo easier, but people wonder if they actually used to sound like that before they started calling out Snobolds in the first place. Most likely a Ret Paladin or a Hunter, I’m Helpful will be the person who calls out everything needing to be called out, whether it is wandering plague on Arthas, Snobolds on a character, the fact Steelbreaker just died, or that someone is standing in a fire.
This person is probably immensely helpful since even though everyone has DBM installed, no one is actually paying any attention to it, and this droning, sonorous voice is probably their wake up call. Deep inside, if people don’t hear this voice, they will be surprised when things actually happen.
As long as I’m not healing (a job that takes significantly more than just 30% of my brain) I’m quite happy to call out these things, tell people when to run away, to even scold players for standing in the wrong spot at the wrong time. I find it very easy to do: I simply hit my push-to-talk key and say exactly what what’s going through my own head. There’s almost nothing that I announce on Vent that I’m not reminding myself about mentally anyway.
But it’s not because I desire to take on the responsibility. I do it because I think it needs to be done. And as soon as someone else starts chanting “ghosts” over me on Vent I’m quite happy to check that off my to-do list and focus on other things.
Cassandri as Raid Leader? I don’t think I could do it. Raid Leading, whatever it is, is so much more than just calling out cues over vent mid-combat.
But knowing that people in my guild think I could do it makes me wonder if I should push myself a bit harder, expand my boundaries. Perhaps I should revisit my level 17 Paladin and queue as a Tank. Never-mind that I get lost in Ragefire Chasm and that I have never tanked or led a 5 man before.