His main point is that many people who lead raids generally have a lack of patience, and resort to cursing, scolding, yelling, and doing a great impersonation of the Minus 50 DKP guy to bring about a successful raid.
He might be right, that there is a disproportionate number of jerky raid leaders. But he seems to think it’s unavoidable, and even necessary, in order to have a successful raiding guild. I could not disagree more.
Raid leaders who constantly yell, swear, belittle, and call out raiders for mistakes are just lazy. I have done a lot of coaching and teaching, and both require the same skill as raid leading. It’s not rocket science here – you have a bunch of people that need to learn to do certain things in order to succeed, and it’s your job to teach them. Where a lot of raid leaders (and teachers and coaches for that matter) fall short is in their ability to teach. If you give instruction, and your team (or class) fails, it’s easy to give the same instructions again in a louder tone, with lots of four letter words. But there’s a good chance that the mistake will be repeated, because what’s really at fault isn’t the player who made the mistake, but the way the instruction was conveyed.
I’ve been leading raids on and off for about 9 years now. (I just did the mental math and freaked myself out). I cut my teeth on Everquest content. The number of raiders we had to manage made it feel like running a small city. We negotiated with other guilds over who was using /shout for their raid channel, who was using /ooc, and who was using /auction. There was no loot window, so we kneeled on the corpse and typed all the stats by hand, hoping desperately that we could lock the corpse long enough to get the item to those who deserved it. And my raid UI was a scrap of paper, comprised of chunks of 6 names, with lots of crossed out marks and arrows going here, there, and everywhere.Raid leading has come a long long way since then. But I never felt the need to yell at a raid, and I’d like to think that I do ok. Here are a few things I’ve learned:
- Prescreening is important! Be upfront immediately with potential members about what your expectations are, what your playtimes are, and what you would require of them. This isn’t dating, so cut to the chase – what does your guild want with the app, and what does the app want from your guild? If it isn’t the same thing, it’s good to know that upfront!
- People will leave! It’s inevitable that you will have some degree of attrition. What you want to do is surround yourself with some loyal gamers who fill the key roles, and then complete the guild raid force with those who can fill your roster and hopefully play needed classes. People do come and go though. Some switch games, some leave gaming altogether, and some end up going to another guild (although you can reduce this- see above). You can’t take it personally, and you need to manage numbers wisely.
- Adjust to the times. Just like with coaching, the playbook constantly changes. And a good raid leader will work hard to make necessary changes. Voice chat is an essential tool for raiding, but it’s something that wasn’t available when I first started raid leading. Same with the raid UI. But adjusting to how content evolves is also important, and this where the teaching part becomes really important. I remember struggling to explain to a NToV raid that when our monks were clearing drakes, we had to center them in Ary’s pit. A little too close to the side walls, and they’d warp and return with several friends. A little too far out, and they’d chain aggro more roamers. For some reason, we could not manage to keep the mob in the middle. So I decided to use a player corpse, positioning it right smack in the middle of the pit, and using that as a marker for where to place the mob. The goal was to make that drake die and land right on top of the corpse. We never had a problem with positioning after that, and it worked so well, I ended up dragging along a dead gnome all the way up to the back of NToV, and using him as our mob marker for all the nameds. Yes, it’s silly, but it worked far better than me screaming “NOT THERE, MOVE THE MOB HERE!”
- Study and prepare, but don’t be afraid to allow for input. This is a sticky one, because as a raid leader, you want the entire raid to understand that you’re in charge, just for the simple fact that dozens of people giving orders will lead to chaos. But raid leaders are so concerned with being usurped that sometimes they ignore helpful input from the raid, because they view it as a threat to their authority. I look over the roster of our guild in EQ2, and I’m looking at years and years of collective gaming and raiding experience. I’d be a fool to ignore that gem of a resource when I’m leading a raid. It is possible to solicit input and still be in charge. What’s important is the end result – that you are making wise decisions and giving clear instructions.
- Keep it moving. This is the one point that I would say is most important during a raid. And it’s also the one that I always feel I need to improve on. I’m happiest when we have the raid moving at a pace where we are killing stuff as fast as we possibly can without wiping. Standing around will almost guarantee that people will make an early exit, cutting short your raid, and jeopardizing raid turnout in the future. Our guild raids only twice a week, and our raid session is only about 2.5 – 3 hours. So when we raid, every minute counts, and nothing aggravates me more than wasted time.
- Tells work wonders! When someone on a raid makes a mistake, I can guarantee you at least one of two things – A) it was an honest mistake and B) they knew right away that they messed up. So calling out someone by name in front of the raid force accomplishes nothing useful. If I see someone on a raid doing something wrong, I send a quick tell. 90% of the time, they admit to messing up, and have already made proper corrections. The other 9% of the time, it’s due to confusion, and once we work to get to the source of the confusion, it’s a quick fix to resolve it. The last 1% is due to blatant carelessness, but with good prescreening (see above) you can avoid inviting these people in the first place. It’s easier to mash your vent button and scream at someone who messed up, but I don’t think it’s as effective in the long run.
Right now, I’m running a guild that has many former “hardcore” players, but we have much more limited playtimes, so we aren’t gunning to elbow in with the most competitive guilds. Overall, though, I’ve had a chance to lead some pretty hardcore guilds, and I’ve had a chance to help run some very laid back guilds. And through it all, I never felt the need to change my approach to raid leading.
Players have a very accurate B.S. detector. I’ve played with leaders who do yell, but make it work because they are well prepared and sincere overall. I’ve played with leaders who are so calm and starchy, they make Mr. Spock look like Dennis Rodman. I try to aim for a focused atmosphere, with a little humor here and there. I’ve seen all styles work, and work well. Success isn’t measured in how big of a jerk you are – it’s measured in preparation, clarity of instruction, and good decision making. If you can do the basics well, you could run a raid singing it in an opera voice, and you’d still be successful.