Some Suggestions for Starting Casual Raid Leaders

Posted: January 9, 2008 by Kendricke in Everquest 2, Guilds

You read about them all the time:  raiding guilds.  Silently, you lurk the forums of these uberguilds trying to read about the latest kill they’ve managed to handle, to live perhaps a little vicariously through their exploits from afar.  Publically, you might poo-poo the drama or attitude surrounding these “1% of 1%” players.  You may even rail against them on forums.  At the end of the day, a part of you may wish you could be them.

Does the above paragraph describe everyone?  No, absolutely not.  There certainly are a lot of players in MMO’s today who would love nothing more than to see the current raiding model going the way of the dodo bird.  Yet, even then, there seems to be more and players who take up raiding each and every week.  These aren’t the hardcore, all night every night raiders we might hear about.  These are average folks with relatively average lives with relatively limited time to play…who just want to see a different type of gameplay.

I call them Casual Raiders.  I consider myself one.  What’s the difference?

Before we go any further with this, we need to recognize that I’m not disparaging players who do raid more than I do.  I’m not in any way speaking out against raiders who consider themselves cut from a more hardcore cloth.  We all play the game differently, and I’m not here to drum up another episode of “Hardcore vs. Casual”.

Understand that I take my own raiding seriously…when I do raid.  The problem I have is that I simply don’t have the time, energy, or ability to commit to 4+ hour raids four or more nights each week.  Between myself and my guildmates, we have family obligations, demanding work schedules, and a desire to do something other than log in to MMO’s from time to time.

My guildmates and I agreed on a thrice weekly raid schedule.  During each raid, we limit our time to a hard cut-off which takes place three hours into the raid.  If we can’t get it done within three hours, it isn’t getting done.  For top end raid guilds, we’re small potatoes (if that).  We’re not after contested named.  We’re not looking for server firsts.  We pretty much stay to ourselves.

That said, when we do have time to raid, we don’t like to waste it.  Time spent raiding is time we could be spending with our families, working around the house, building new friendships, or even just sleeping (we’ve got members in odd time zones).  So when we do raid, we want it to count.  No one likes to feel as if the time spent during a raid was wasted.  As a raid leader, I take that consideration seriously. If you want to be a raid leader, you should too.

I don’t care how seriously you intend to commit to raiding.  If you’re looking to start building your own guild up toward the goal of eventually entering a top tier raid zone and actually killing raid targets, you need to consider the following suggestions:

Scheduling

Even if you’re running a completely volunteer guild with lax rules and attendance guidelines, you need to accept that raiding requires at least a minimum of committment.  Even if you’re not ready to start a regular weekly “raid night” (something I actually recommend), you need to schedule your raids in advance.  In fact, I’d argue that the more casual the guild, the more important scheduling is.

You need to set a time and date for the raid to start.  If your guild doesn’t have a lot of experience with raiding, you need to be explicit that the raid begins moving at X o’clock and anyone looking to be in the raid should start showing up Y minutes in advance.  Put the date on your forums.  Repost it in your guild’s MOTD.  Talk about the upcoming raid in guildchat.  Bring it up again on your forums.  Make sure to keep talking about the upcoming raid.

As Woody Allen once famously remarked, “80% of success is showing up”.  You may not do very well with your first several raids, but I can guarantee you that you’ll kill 0% of the raid targets you don’t show up for.  If you can’t get people to show up to your raid in the first place, you’re dead in the water.  So you need to make sure you’re members know when and where your raid will be – and that they’re excited about it.

Learning Raids

Depending on your guild’s size, strengths, and experience, you should consider learning raids.  If you’re just starting out raiding for the first time and you don’t have much experience in putting raids together, try starting out with something like Laboratory or Lord Vyemm from the Kingdom of Sky expansion.  It’s relatively easy, involves a large dragon fight at the end, has several logical stopping points, and fabled loot (albeit outdated fabled loot) drops like candy.  More iimportant than any of that, it helps you to teach your raid force basic tactics, such as when to move, when to stop, when to fight, when to hold and other useful bits.

I guarantee you that you can learn pretty much everything you need to know about raid leadership in Vyemm’s lab.  When you’re done there, graduate up to Halls of Seeing or even Deathtoll (provided you put the work into the access quest).  Remind your members that you’re not running these raids because you feel you need the gear (let’s face it, basic group gear from Tier 8 is much better than most of the gear dropping in these zones), but these are good basic raid zones to learn how to raid.  Try to clear each of them completely at least once.

You may hate going through and running the zones now, but you’ll thank yourselves later for the early Raiding 101 you put yourselves through.

Research

Unless you’re already involved with a fairly committed raid force hitting top end content, chances are there’s a ton of information out there already about the targets you’re looking to hit.  Google up the name of the zone you’re thinking of hitting.  Search SOE’s official forums.  Look on fansites.  If all else fails – ask.  That’s right.  Put up a post on a forum asking for help with a particular target.  Don’t pretend to be more than you are, though.  There’s nothing embarassing about wanting to learn how to raid, and if you’re up front about it where you’re posting, chances are good that the folks who don’t mind sharing are going to come out of the woodwork to help you out.

Remember, your goal is your guild here – not your reputation with anonymous forum users.  Just ignore the “HAHAH NEWB!@!” posts and concentrate on the ones that provide constructive feedback.  After all, these people aren’t the ones you’re spending your nights alongside online, are they?  If not, you don’t care.  Concentrate on your guildmates and making sure you have less time wasted when you do get to raid.

Gear and levels

If you’re really in a more casual guild, chances are that all of your members aren’t sitting around at level 80 in full sets of legendary class armor.  I’m willing to guess that a good percentage of your members are still working (struggling?) their way up the ranks.

One of the first lessons I learned about raiding is that even if you’re only in raid zones one or two nights a week, raiding really is a seven night a week mentality.  When you’re online, you’re either raiding or preparing for the next raid.

That means you’re out levelling up.  When you’re done levelling, you’re out helping guildmates to level.  When they’re done levelling, you’re all out helping other guildmates to level.  When you’re not levelling or helping other guildmates to level, you’re out hunting for upgraded gear.

Every night you’re actually online, try to hit the instances.  Hit them with guildmates.  Hit them with strangers.  Just hit them.  Work through questlines for the rewards.  Build up faction so you can purchase better gear from their city merchants.

As a raider in Everquest II, you’ll probably want multiple sets of gear.  If you find that you’re getting killed instantly in a raid from an area-of-effect poison spell, then it’s time that you started to beef up that poison resistance gear.  In fact, it’s time to set up several sets of resist gear.  While you’re at it, keep an eye out for DPS gear…or healing gear…or power regeneration gear.  I carry two strongboxes full of gear that I use on raids – swapping before fights where appropriate (build macros for this in advance).

Fun

It’s easy to get serious when raiding.  It’s far too easy to get too serious when raiding.  Just because you’re the raid leader, try not to let it go to your head too much.  Regardless of what you’ve heard online (50 DKP minus!), most raid leaders are fairly laid back in their demeanor.

Your job is to keep the raid focused and moving in a way that accomplishes the overall goals.  Yelling at people publically does not help that, and can be very counterproductive.  You can learn this the hard way (personal experience) or you can try to take the advice now and learn it the easier way.

It’s going to be tough, too.  Members will go AFK without telling anyone.  They’ll wander off and pull the next target while you’re trying to explain a strategy.  They’ll grab hate…again.  They’ll die…again.  They’ll go linkdead…again.  They’ll accidently fire a debuff early before your tank has actually pulled.  They’ll forget the strategy you just spent time explaining and they’ll have questions you’ve just answered.

If you have to talk with someone about repeated issues, wait till after the raid if you can.  If you can’t wait, try to keep it private.  No one wants drama, and it’s almost never a good idea to start a public fight – especially if you only have a limited amount of time left for this raid.  That’s not fun for anyone – not you, not the person you’re lecturing, and certainly not the other twenty-some-odd raiders sitting around watching the situation unravel.

Death

When I first started to raid years ago, I remember a particularly nasty wipe.  After we’d all revived, run back to the zone, and were waiting for our corpses to be dragged (yes, I said this was years ago), our raid leader calmly responded that “raiding is dying”.

Learn these three simple words now: “raiding is dying”.

Learning a new target is hard.  You’re going to wipe.  You’re going to wipe a lot.  You’re going to rack up debt.  You’re going to break your gear.  You’re going to see some really big repair bills.  You’re going to hate it.

Raiding is dying.

When your raid force is reviving after their 8th wipe and you’re starting to hear the tension all around, that’s the time to keep your game face on.  Chuckle a little.  Crack a joke “Live and learn.  Die and learn more.  Hehe.”, “I think I just hear it DING!  Hehe.”, “Anyone get the number of that truck?  Hehe.”  Hopefully you’re able to come up with better jokes than I can (I never claimed to be funny), but the point remains the same – lighten the mood.

If your members need a break, give them a break.  Take a few minutes for a raidwide AFK.  Encourage everyone to walk away from their PC’s for a few minutes.  I know it sounds counterproductive to basically “waste time” when you’ve only got a limited amount of raid time left, but you’re not going to do very well if half your raid force is cranky and frustrated.  Give them – and yourself – a break.  Clear your head.  Grab a favorite tasty beverage.  Grab a snack.  Come back to the keyboard refreshed and reinvigorated.

Mistakes will happen.  Work through the problem and try again.  If someone makes another mistake, get up and try again.  On raids, death happens.  It happens a lot.  After all…

Raiding is dying.

 Loot

When you’re running those old learning raids, loot might not seem like a big deal.  After all, most of the gear isn’t all that great compared to current group content and it’s probably relatively easy to just roll for the drops you do see.

At some point though, you’re going to see some hurt feelings over loot drops.  As with most relationships, some of the most frequent and intense arguments are going to occur about money and possessions.  Just because the money and possessions which drop on raids are virtual doesn’t mean the feelings of attachment and entitlement which your raiders apply are any less real.

Lay down some law on this.  You have to set rules regarding loot up front.  Whether you go with a roll system, a bid system, a point system, or a dartboard-on-a-monkey system, just make sure everyone agrees to the system that’s chosen.  Make sure you revisit the topic every few months to make sure members are still ok with the loot rules.  As long as everyone agrees to the rules, you should see less grumblings over lost rolls or bids – and when there are grumblings, you can direct those complainers to the loot rules they agreed to in the first place.

If nothing else, remind your members that (A) a win for any guild member is a win for every guild member and (B) if it dropped once, it will drop again.

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Comments
  1. Taymar says:

    I was one of those who dragged the corpses. 20 people went afk while I dragged. And I remember being well pissed off at not a single thank you.

    This is a good primer. I always went for knock knock jokes in times of stress. My guild has since actually paid someone to remove the “k” key from my keyboard. :/

  2. […] must be the season for casual raiding leaders to get their tips– both Clockwork Gamer and Sanya Weathers at Guildcafe recently posted some great tips for raidleaders in charge of making […]

  3. Keira says:

    Nice guide. I’ve been considering starting to raid causally in WoW, and this makes for some good tips. Though it’s still rather scary to think about joining a guild like that.

  4. Kendricke says:

    What’s scary about it?

  5. tenfoldhate says:

    Great post, Kendricke. I left WoW last year because of my casual-guild-gone-hardcore. I just started playing again and with my first BC toon fast approaching 70 and my old guildies gone back to a “casual” raiding schedule, this provided a lot of food for thought!

  6. Elamri says:

    Raiding is the KENA!

    Hey kendricke, well put.

    Elamri

  7. Hitmaker says:

    Kendricke –

    Three things I think are key that you don’t mention:

    (1) Learn to delegate – don’t try to do it all, you’ll frustrate yourself and everyone else around you. Get folks you can trust and communicate with well and divvy up the duties.

    (2) Communicate, Communicate, Communicate – you did touch on this a bit but it is probably the most important thing. Never assume anything with the exception that you can assume at least one person is never clear on what is going on. Even if you’ve done an event ten times in the last month, just go over things again. Explain your expectations, lines of communication, who to ask what of (class leaders, buff leaders, etc),

    (3) Communicate some more – this is one area where you can proactively help against ninja afk’s – if you are going to need a few minutes with your “raid insiders” discussing things, setting up groups, recovering, whatever… TELL EVERYONE. Encourage them to take 5 or 10 minutes or whatever you are comfortable giving some proactive communique about. It is certainly going to be busy and chatty in your raidleader chat but make sure you keep the raidforce sated with information – especially on when you will be having general downtime.

    Oh… and never KENA with Elamri. I think the Surgeon General will be coming out with something about that soon.

    BTW Kendricke, you would be surprised at the numbers still playing the-resurrection (come on… start a white mage and an old/new chapter of the Legion. People are clamoring for the chance to say “OMG, they killed Kenny!” during Armageddon again.

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