The triad of raiding, part 2

Yesterday, we looked at the first two legs of the triad of raiding, cohesion and planning. Today we’ll look at the third leg, momentum.


I listed this point on top, since it is also the most important one of the three. It relates directly to the two other points. You cannot, however, influence it directly in a positive way. Unfortunately, you can very directly influence it in a negative way.

So what is momentum then? Like its physical counterpart, raid momentum is the amount of impetus a raid has. Picture the raid as a lorry…when it’s going, it really goes, but it can be stopped eventually, and it will take a while to gain back its lost speed. Especially if the ground it travels on is slippery or treacherous.

To translate it to WoW terms, picture two situations:
1) A raid who has oneshotted three bosses and are rapidly clearing trash towards the fourth.
2) A raid who has wiped four times on boss one, had to wait ten minutes for an afk at the second boss, and are now spending ten more minutes at the briefing of boss three.

Raid one has momentum working for it, whereas raid two is struggling to gain momentum. It’s not hard to imagine both situations, including which situation you’d rather be in. Raid momentum is that magical combination of concentration, feeling of “win”, progress through an instance and peoples self confidence. None of these factors can be directly changed by the RL, but you can indirectly affect them.

At its simplest: keep things moving along at all times, if you can. If it gets too choppy, or it starts heading towards a bad situation, stop for a moment, just long enough for the raid to right itself, then continue.

If you’ve just taken a wing of Naxx, dont call a 15 minute break before the next, and harder, wing. If you have to, call the shortest possible break, to avoid people losing their concentration. And yes, it’ll happen quicker than you think, so instead of 15 minutes, consider a 4-5 minute break. Conversely, if you’ve wiped 4 times on Kel’Thuzad, it might be an idea to take five minutes, for people to break out of their current mindset. In short, you want people to “lose” their current concentration, which is negative.

When you’re on a roll, people will be more upbeat, more positive, more concentrated and they will perform better as aresult. And the effect can amplify itself.

However, be mindful. Momentum is lost very quickly. Too long breaks will do it (as mentioned above), as will DC’s and AFK’s. Perhaps worst of all is the endless briefing.

While you, the RL, may have narrowed the incredibly complicated tactics of boss X down to what you think is a very short list, its still likely to be too long. Google have a point about their 28 words on a page policy. Peoples attention span when faced with many instructions is very short. Keep it concise, keep it precise, keep it simple.

Essentially, you want to describe a boss in the fewest possible words without the essential bits getting lost. Compare these Kel’Thuzad briefings:

“Phase 1: Kill things inbound. Abominations: melee, banshees: ranged, skellies: free for all.”

“In phase 1, we will stand in the circle. Ranged will kill banshees at a distance, since they do a huge knockback. The abominations need to be tanked or they will kill our healers. Tanks and melee will engage them. Skellies need to be killed before they reach the centre of the circle, where they will explode and damage the raid. So they are a free for all. If you see one, kill it.”

It may be a silly example, but the latter briefing will very likely kill your raids momentum, especially if the players know that two more blocks of text that size awaits them. The tank is already surfing the net, and the main healer went for coffee.The former doesn’t say why things need to die like they do, it just says “do stuff to things”, which essentially is the important bit. Leave all the abilities, that aren’t really important, for forums.

Another example of the right and wrong thing to do is the handling of trash by the tanks. Again, two situations that relate to planning (partially) and momentum:

  1. RL marks targets, says “go” before every pull
  2. Tanks mark and pull at their own pace

Situation 1 is, quite frankly, the worst possible thing you can do to your tanks. You stifle them to no end, remove any initiative that they have, and as a result you will at some point kill the momentum of the raid. A tank, a good tank, lives and breathes initiative. Since they are the ones who hold aggro, they are the ones controlling the engagements, period. They shouldn’t be held on a too short leash.

Let’s look at situation 2 to clarify. Here, the tanks are able to mark the targets they consider priority, and they can pull whenever they think it best. So, they can evaluate the situation, most likely quicker than the RL, and they will retain their control and initiative of the engagements. Initiative is, as said, vital, since it governs how well tanks respond to panic or unforeseen situations. The last thing you want is a tank who is too scared to act when a mob patrol appears.

So to put it simply: If you micromanage your tanks, you take away their ability to act independently. And by doing that, you open the door for every mishap to break the momentum of the raid.


A raid leader is like a captain of a ship. You steer the general direction, point out the obvious (“Avoid those bridge pylons”), and try to make sure that people are having a good time. Beyond that, you get your fingers off the controls. You are here to make sure that everybody is on the same page of the chart, not to decide whether the cook aboard serves rice or pasta.

It’s a lot easier to keep a snowball rolling than it is to get it moving after you let it stop. Keep it moving, keep the momentum up whenever possible. Most of all: know when to pull the brakes on a raid. Learn to recognise when momentum would just lead to a very quick wipe. There are exceptions to any rule.

If you’ve made it this far, there’s always the chance you think “gosh, what a load of rubbish!” And it may well be! If I’m dead wrong, please do let me know about it. Any other comments are of course happily accepted as well.


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