Back in the Saddle Again

January 13, 2010 at 12:51 pm (Raiding)

About a month ago, I made the decision to step away from a guild I had been in for some time, including my officer’s position as the raid leader. The main reasons were that we were having significant problems transitioning from a social/leveling guild to a raiding guild; and as the raid leader I was often forced to drag the unwilling, the unknowing, and the ungrateful through both 5 mans and the occasional foray into Naxx. I often used the phrase “herding cats” although that can often be applied to many raids, particularly 25-mans. I had decided that I wanted a position of less responsibility, and guildmates with more knowledge and a general willingness to raid.

The new guild to which I belonged seemed to be the perfect fit. Not only was I not leading, but I could focus on my little task at hand and let the big guns handle the rest. I think, to date, I’ve managed to pull my weight, given my gear. Earlier this week, there was a guild meeting where the discussion was the creation of a second 10-man raiding team – with the intention of gearing up some of the most recent newcomers (and fairly recent 80’s) to run ToC-10 and ICC-10 the ultimate goal to be running ICC-25’s in the future. With the main 10-man in ICC now, it didn’t make much sense to have someone drop off to lead the second raid, so a call was made for a volunteer to lead the second raid group.

I swear, I heard the sound of crickets on vent. The concept of being responsible for herding the cats and convincing them that swimming across the lake wouldn’t them if they only did these few things seemed to be beyond the desire limit of everyone who might be involved in the raid. Then, before my brain had a chance to stop it, my mouth opened and I promptly put my foot inside.

“I can do it.”

Immediately, one part of my brain was Homer Simpson strangling Bart, who was being played by my mouth. You little…. Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe I’m capable of doing the research, scheduling, and begging for Pugs to come along. I’m versed enough as a speaker to give a fairly concise rundown of the fight we’re readying for. So, why is my brain ready to kick me in the ass?

The first reason is a time issue. The old saw is true, you never learn a subject as well as when you teach it. I can confirm from my time in grad school teaching classes. This isn’t simply going to tankspot. In order to effectively know an encounter, in particular a new one, one must research across the web, piercing together strats and modifying your initial tactics to fit the composition of your group. Obviously, a plan never survives first encounter with the enemy, but you need to have an idea what is possible, and what can be done automatically. Given the nature of my work, time is always a valuable commodity, and in order to do this correctly, I’ll be spending a couple of weeks away from in-game in order to catch up on the knowledge of those encounters I didn’t prepare for previously, and to refresh those I had run previously.

The second is knowledge of your guildmates, their classes and playstyles. A good raid leader knows how the classes and their abilities fit within a specific encounter. The best raid leaders mate this with a thorough understanding of each player’s strengths and weaknesses. Unless your guild is practically a professional undertaking, you’re going to have people with different levels of skill, and more importantly, differing levels of things such as situational awareness. We’ve all met the player who’s great against a single target: rotation down, dps through the roof – until they have to suddenly switch off to the adds. They take forever to get on target, don’t know which way they’re coming from, and the next thing you know, the adds are munching on the healers, and the tank is down. Or the hunter who can kite spiders till you’re blue in the face, leading them around on a merry chase through forests of traps, but couldn’t pull 2k out of his butt with a laxative. The best raid leaders understand these weaknesses, and don’t put the individuals in position where their potential for failure will lead to failure for the group – instead they work around and adjust their strategy. It’s not about a “L2P” moment, it’s about taking good raiders and putting them in positions where they can be outstanding. (I refer to this as the “Gretzky spot” – Wayne Gretzky wasn’t the greatest hockey player to ever have lived because he scored, he was because he made everyone on the ice better simply by playing with his head, and the ability to put a hockey puck through the eye of a needle travelling at 30mph.) As of yet, I don’t have the knowledge of my raid members in general to have an accurate assessment of their capabilities and strengths.

Bottom line? I’ll be leaning on my XO – who was the guy who convinced me to switch guilds in the first place. As retaliation, I’ve convinced him to start his own blog. Ha, take that Torval!


  1. rustbeard said,

    As soon as Torval gets it rolling, I’ll post a note.

  2. Torval said,

    Yeah. You could link it, but there isn’t anything there to read yet. I don’t have time since I’m trying to gear my warrior to tank our group and gear my Druid back to raiding status. Sucks when I put in so much time and effort maxxing out to ilvl 213 and now that’s so last year. Makes me sad panda.

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