20
Apr
09

The triad of raiding

Most of us raid. Yup, you, me, that other guy. And we all know what a good raid is, and what a bad raid is. But if we want to quantify and describe what makes a good raid, how exactly do we do that? It’s quite simple to list things that we see as “good”, for example:

  • No deaths on trash
  • No deaths on bosses
  • Quick pulling
  • No excess damage taken from AOE
  • Achievements pop up for every boss
  • Loot drops
  • No waiting periods
  • No DC’s

Most of these are effects, symptoms if you want to compare to medecin. They are the “what”, rather than the “why”. The “why” is what the raid builds up over time, hopefully spurred on by the raid leader(s). It’s the “more than the sum of its parts” stuff. A raid can have spectacular theoretical numbers, but if it doesn’t come together, most people are going to be frustrated in the end, none more than the raid leader (RL in the following).

The RL has the best and worst of jobs. They get praise when things work out, but they are also the person to feel how cold it is on top when things go badly. The RL has the dubious honour of being responsible for everybodies good time, more or less. Essentially, the RL has to manipulate things, so as to create the “more than the sum of its parts” stuff and the “come together”ness of a raid.

How?

How does a person do that? How does a person manipulate the “why” of a “good raid”? And what does the “why” even contain?

  • Momentum
  • Planning
  • Cohesion

The triad of a raid, which a RL must know about, and must be able to manipulate to cause a raid to be successful. Most of them rely directly on the rank and file, and are only indirectly affectable. Let’s continue by examining what these three words, pulled out of the blue, mean. So, in the following, imagine that you are a raid leader.

Cohesion

A raid group is a team, with numerous small subteams. To be successful, a team needs to have a certain familiarity with itself. It’s not a strict requirement (or pugs would never work), but it helps. Furthermore, a team must feel like a team, have an esprit de corps. This is where the RL comes in…make people feel like part of a unit, rather than just some bunch of people hobbled together in a dank and dark place.

Essentially, building unit cohesion is the task of the RL’s people skills. Some have it, while others don’t. Much has been written, in many places, about leading raids, about officers in raids…I wont go into details here, since it’s a subject for a lengthy debate. There are as many ways of doing it as there are RL’s, and I can’t generalise, much less give any advice.

In general though, I find it pays off to be civil, nice, respectful and most of all, never let yourself get overtly annoyed or angry. It pays off down the line, even if it is at times hard.

Planning

Planning is a two edged sword. Too much of it will stifle freedom and creativity, and too little will result in 10 or 25 headless chickens. How much planning is needed? Just enough to be able to avoid chickens, which to many may seem like “not enough”, but “too much” information will suck the life and joy out of the people who prefer to wing it.

Again, much has been written in many places about it, so I’ll offer you a very general outlook on it all.

Planning is, in my mind, best done outside of raids. Post strategies on fora, link to other strategies or videos. Post the raid composition ahead of time, so that people, if they don’t already, know what they are doing. Use the pre-raid time, when people are getting fired up and waiting in the instance, for group dispositions. Let people with special jobs know, including pulling and tanking. Let them know about special mobs, if applicable. This is also the time to reiterate marking strategies, and to elect a marker.

However, too much of the above will be a point of annoyance as well as spam in an already busy raid chat (or Vent channel). Most hunters will use their mark without you saying. Many mages are able to figure out amongst themselves who needs to sheep which marks. Same for rogues, same for warlocks…same for people applying shouts or blessings. As a RL, you aren’t supposed to micromanage.

Let me say that again: Hands off the micromanaging.

As an overall leader, its your responsibility to say what needs doing. NOT to say who needs to do it, nor to do it all yourself. Yes, this needs raiders to be on the ball, but these are live people. Trust in their abilities as much as your own.

Now, some of you will say “yeah, that’s all well and good, but it’s a hippielike rosy-red description of utopia, real people are stupid and inanely so. So it wont work like that guv.” Correct, it wont work like that in every case. Some people do need handholding or pushing with a cattleprod. However, get one of their classmates or role-colleagues to do it rather than yourself. Or one of the officers. Or the tank. Just don’t micromanage it all.

So far so good, or not (depending on your views). If your views don’t match mine, and I’m not saying that they should, please feel free to comment. I’m by no means perfect, so healthy criticism is always welcome.

Tomorrow we will look at the last leg of the triad, and come to some sort of conclusion.

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