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Raid Leader 101
Adri prime
adriellyn

Renewal is composed of members at various levels of experience in raiding, and who have varying schedules and thus times available to raid. There are only so many officers with raid-leading experience. This could get to be a problem - if we let it. We also have a lot of talent available in our membership, however, and there's no requirement to be an officer just to lead a raid.

In this note, then, we attempt to distill down some basics for any new or rusty raid leader. A lot of things can be forgiven in a raid leader (RL). How forgiving people will be of your mistakes depends on how you treat them. Our core values list a lot of things that directly affect this, and which are thus especially useful for a potential RL to keep in mind. Kindness, Honesty, Respect, Communication, and Patience are all key (not to slight the other values).

So, how do you get started?

First, know the raid you want to lead. See the guides on TankSpot and Strat-Fu. Keep in mind that their guides make it look easier than it is for a group that's not used to working together, or that's more marginal in how geared they are for the fights.

If those sites don't help you enough, you can usually find supplemental material on WoWwiki or WoW.com. Be aware, however, that those sites are often wrong in their details of how the fights work and what it takes to be successful.

Second, know your needed roster. Blizzard are designing 10-man raids to require 2 tanks, 3 healers, and replenishment from at least one of your DPS. They expect you to need a 'tank healer' and a 'raid healer'. Most raids have places where curing poisons, diseases, and curses will be mandatory. However, not all older raids were done with that same set of requirements, and even Icecrown Citadel (ICC) sometimes fails to meet that exact target. Essentially, you need at least one of your healers to be capable of DPS on some fights there.

Of course, with EoTs giving T9 (tier 9) gear before having to set foot in any raid, going with just two healers to the earlier 10-mans will often be just fine - as long as your group is sufficiently capable. That, however, is often only determined by the experience of trying. When it comes to "over-gearing" raids, we have some healers who might well be able to solo-heal most of Naxxramas - and who have solo-healed some of the fights there.

Third, be sure the expectations for when your raid is to be held are clear. Also, be aware that people don't always show up. Sometimes for last-minute real-life situations, and sometimes you just learn that some people are more reliable than others. Plan for how to handle that. If at all possible, even plan for what happens if you are the one with the late-breaking emergency. While many of the articles on wow.com (the former WoW Insider) are too simplified to be accurate, that site did do a good one on raid understudies.

It helps greatly to have an in-game calendar invitation out about a week ahead of time. Watch to see who accepts, and track how likely you are to be able to make a go of it with your respondents. Talk to any who haven't responded at all - sometimes the calendar button on the minimap just never displays that flashing question mark to let people know.

Even more than for your invitees, you need to be at least on time. If you can't be early, in fact, find someone to co-lead with you who can be, and make them a co-leader on the calendar event. Why? Because it greatly simplifies forming up the raid, and being ready to go on time. The event leaders get an extra button at the bottom of the calendar: Invite Members. That sends out group invitations to all those marked Accepted or Confirmed, and automatically does so as a raid group without having to wait for a party and then convert it. It's really handy.

Fourth, know who's handling your master looting, and have it set up ahead of time. Set the loot rarity threshold as well - if your people belong in that raid, even the blues that drop are only worth cash, and greens are even less meaningful. Set the threshold at least to "rare", and "epic" is usually best. Given a choice, you should have one of your DPS handle master looting, by the way, at least in an instance with trash pulls. You can keep clearing trash down a DPS much more readily than you can if you're down a healer or tank. For ease of sharding, it's even better if that same person is an enchanter, but that's less critical. Do be aware of who's going to do your sharding, though, if it's not your master looter. Don't forget to have people roll on the shards at the end of the raid.

If there are any guests in the run, be sure they understand our loot rules. Given that we're better to non-guildies than a lot of raids, they should be fine with our rules, but it's always better to be sure the rules are known up front.

Fifth, watch for how to improve things. If there was a wipe, try to understand what went wrong. Be careful how you ask (if you need to). It's easy to ask "healers, what went wrong?", but that can sound like blame, even when you just mean "you probably saw more of what was happening than I did." It can be difficult at such moments to remember to exercise tact, but that's also when it's most important.

Be receptive to feedback on alternative approaches after wipes, or observations from your raiders. Sure, especially during a fight, you need to have the final say - but a raid, like a guild, is made up of its members. We have had many a fight where we wound up doing things in a way that's significantly different from what's in those strategy videos - and our way just works better for us.

The add-on Recount can be helpful for looking at what happened during a fight. Another handy add-on is AUtoCombatLog, for posting the "parse" (an analyzed combat log) to our guild record on WorldOfLogs. This provides more of an "after the raid" tool, but it can be a great help. If you're not already registered to be able to upload logs there, sign up for the guild on their site, and let Adriellyn know by PM on our forums or in-game so she can approve your request and promote you to be able to add logs.

And the most important part? Keep it fun! Sure, wiping isn't itself that much fun, but making progress, and finally getting a boss down after a few attempts - that can be much more fun for the feeling of accomplishment than "one-shotting" bosses is. That doesn't mean you should try to wipe, of course wink, but it does mean that you shouldn't be afraid of a few wipes.

On the other hand, if the wipes are not accompanied by learning what to do better, or being able to execute on what you're learning, sometimes you have to know when to call it quits - at least for that session.

Yes, that's a lot to remember. We didn't promise this was going to be easy.

There are a few resources to help out, though.

First, in addition to add-on DBM (DeadlyBossMods), we recommend RBS (RaidBuffStatus). This allows you tell quickly when the buffs are set, or who was out of range when they were started prematurely. The above recommendations for Recount (or an equivalent) and AutoCombatLog are also worth repeating here.

To help out with other people's add-ons (especially those often used by healers), mark your tanks as "main tank" in the raid interface. Yes, each tank is "main tank" - that's how the add-ons work. Remember that your master looter needs raid assist (because if the loot isn't called out in /rw (raid warning) it will be missed). It's best if at least your actual main tank also has raid assist status, for marking targets (unless you're doing so) or just to be able to see the results of ready checks, to know when to pull.

And, one last comment on both resources and helping keep things fun - See Strat-Fu's PULL! A Guide to Faster Raids and its associated video (pointer from inside that article). Also, Strat-Fu, TankSpot, and even Elitist Jerks have forums for helping raid leaders out. And, of course, you can always ask the experienced raid leaders in the guild any questions you might have.
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