A Raid Leader’s Manifesto

Posted: July 8, 2009 by Kendricke in Guild Leadership
Tags: ,

I saw a post by Suzina over at Kill Ten Rats that reminded me of a post I’d made within my guild’s forums.  In Suzina’s post, she talks about how monsterous she felt after she asked a particular underperforming player to sit out on a raid and he refused.  Later, the raid failed and she felt guilty – guilty because she didn’t kick the player when she knew she probably should have, guilty because she asked the player to leave and he felt badly over that, and guilty because the raid later failed. 

Raid leadership is tough.  It’s one of the hardest positions in any guild, but it’s particularly hard because it requires a cold, calculating aspect that many people find hard to pick up.  It’s truly a thankless job much of the time and it can be one of the more stressful ways to play an MMO. 

I wanted my own guild to understand what it’s like to lead a raid.  I wanted them to understand the pressures I place upon myself and the realities they place upon me each time I form up a raid.  I conveyed these facts to my guild in the following way:

 

The Raid Leader’s Manifesto

I am a raid leader.

Time is my enemy. I recognize that the most important number on any raid is not the mitigation of my tank, the health of my target, or the damage of my raid force – it is time I have left on this raid.

Anything or anyone that interferes with the limited time I have before my raid breaks up is aiding my enemy. Raiders who show up unprepared, raiders who have not read the strategies I’ve written, raiders who do not listen while plans are discussed, raiders who get into conversations during fights, raiders who did not work on their character since the last raid – these are all collaborators I must halt or overcome in order to perform my duties within the time my raid force has alloted me.

As a raid leader, I am impatient. By definition, patience is a virtue that requires time. Time is my enemy. I grow frustrated when the raid is taking too much time. I do not care about dying…I care about dying slowly. I do not care about wipes…I care about recoveries which take too long. I do not care about careful pulls…I care about pulls which hold us up. If I must repeat myself, I am wearied. If I must wait for a recovery, I become irked. If I our raid wipes frequently due to the same mistakes, I grow upset.

When we run out of time, the raid is done. If I have lead my raid well, they will have accomplished something new, performed better, or moved faster than they have in the past. They win when they gain new loot, see new enemies, or learn something different. Any or all of these things are referred to as progression. When my raiders do not progress, I have lost the raid. In order to avoid losing, they must progress…and they must do so within our time constraints.

Whenever I am online, I am either raiding or preparing for a raid.  When I am online between raids, I talk about raiding. I discuss raiding. I ask questions about raiding. I try to get my raiders thinking about raiding. I want my raiders to understand that success in a raid does not start in a raid zone.

Groups are the way to success. Before I ever step foot into a raid dungeon, I know that our raid force’s success has already been largely determined. I realize that the best way to prepare for raids is to prepare raiders and the best way to prepare raiders for raiding lies in groups. I know that we bond in groups. We gear up in groups. We prepare for raids in groups.

Mine is a thankless job. I accept this. I accept that if I am polite and the raid fails, I will be berated. I accept that if I am kind and the raid is slow, I will be judged. I accept that even if the raid is a success, so long as I am not polite, I will be criticized. I accept that when I do well, I will rarely hear it. I accept that when the raid fails, it is my fault.

If I believe I am acting firm, I am being rude. If I ask someone to leave the raid, I am a jerk. If I call out someone on their performance, I am elitist. If I reserve any loot for a critical raid class, I have favorites. If I remain quiet, I am weak. If I chat, I am distracting. No matter what I do, I will never please all of my raid force. No matter what I do, I will always be compared to other raid leaders who do things better than I.

It is irrelevant that the very people who tell me what I am doing wrong as a raid leader are rarely people who have ever been a raid leader. It is irrelevant that the reason a raid failed is due to one person making the same mistakes over and over. It is irrelevant that the target was just too hard for the raid force we brought. Any time we fail the raid and any time I am criticized, the fault is mine.

I take failure personally. Each time we fail, there is something that I could have done differently. I could have explained the strategy differently. I could have benched a different raider. I could have chosen a different target. There is a never a raid which fails which is not my fault. That is the responsibility which is mine as raid leader.

There are no second chances on raids for the leaders. Each raid is a trial. Each raid is a judgement. Each raid is a review. If I perform well, raiders will continue to follow me. If I perform badly, they will stop attending my raids or even seek a new raid force. This is the reality I live with. This is the the only thanks I will ever truly know – that if I do my job well enough, I will be allowed to continue to do my job again in the future.

I am a raid leader.

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Comments
  1. thenewculture says:

    Win. I don’t play Everquest, I’m on the WoW crack, but that’s completely true. Personally, I don’t lead raids, but I’ve done it before, and I know the feeling. I also wish that the people who ran my raids read this. 😛

    Cheers

  2. Mike says:

    Thank you for this insight into the mind of a raid leader.

    You have made me very glad that I am not a raid leader, or, for that matter a raid participant.

    Your hundreds of words, written in the harsh, failure is not an option language of militarism, are absurdly overwrought given the consequences at hand.

    I want my Rangers fighting evil overseas on my behalf, the SWAT team protecting me and my family, the search and rescue team who may save my life, to think, talk, eat and breath in these terms.

    That a presumably grown individual thinks and speaks in these terms … spending the interregnum between raids thinking incessantly about them … is troubling on many levels.

    The most troubling thing about it, of course, is that it reduces what is, at its heart, a social pastime of slaying dragons and exploring new vistas, one without consequence or real reward, into something that mercilessly casts aside the weak, the unworthy, the untamed in favor of those willing to submit to endless hours of tortuous repetition at the command of a nameless, faceless leader, all in the hope of winning a few bytes of armor and a few more points to this or that stat.

    There are those, I’d note, who would argue anyone who would spend endless hours in front of a computer monitor battling imaginary enemies to be weak or unworthy. Being an on- and off-again gamer myself, I certainly wouldnt’ go so far. But there’s a certain poetic quality to the thought, isn’t there?

    No, I’m not a raider, although I don’t begrudge those who are, and I will admit that I have always found having a laugh or tickling the laugh out of my toddler to be far superior to any raid experience.

    But I do have to profess a certain sense of alarm that anyone could take such an inconsequential thing so seriously, and a certain sense of sadness for that person and what they are missing in life.

    Certainly, it’s important at some point in a game to play in an organized fashion, to take on roles and perform them well, if for no other reason than for the pure pleasure of mowing through fields of opponents. And if some want to organize themselves for endless raiding, so be it. It would behoove those who choose to commit less time to the recreation of gaming, or who are not as skillful at quickly pushing buttons, to find more casual companions to game with.

    And maybe it would behoove those who lead these expeditions to lighten up a bit.

    At the risk of being flamed, let me close by noting the obvious.

    It’s just a game.

    • Kendricke says:

      Mike,

      Why would I possibly flame you? In your words here, you clamly and concisely question my maturity, indicate my own social inferiority, and point out how pathetic and sad my life must be by comparison to yours all because you disagree with a playstyle choice I make in an online game.

      What most players do not understand about raiding is that it’s a team event. It’s not about you. It’s not even about me. It’s about coming together and accomplishing an objective together that cannot be accomplished alone.

      When that team comes together, that means there are 12-25 people involved that have all decided to put in a few hours together in order to accomplish those goals. As a raid leader, I have to respect that. I realize that two dozen or more people have come together for a reason in the game – to slay the dragon, to stop the villian, to save the lands once more. Whatever the reason, they’ve chosen and opted to spend their time online in this raid – a raid that I’m charged with.

      Now, I can treat this as “just a game” and squander their time online, leading to frustration and a sense of “why did I just spend two hours doing THAT!?”…or I can treat it as “the big game” and make sure that everyone on my team is staying focused, on track, and working toward the same goal.

      I choose not to disrespect my raiders in that way. I know my raiders are people on the other side of a computer screen somewhere else in the world. I know they could choose to spend their time in any other way than listening to me tell them where to set up for the next pull. I know that every minute they’re on my raid is a minute they could spend elsewhere. I respect that choice…that sacrifice. I respect that they want to be on that raid. I respect the time they are spending. I respect it enough that I do not want to waste it – that the time of my guildmates’ means a great deal to me.

      If you don’t enjoy raiding, that’s your choice. I don’t begrudge you that choice. I don’t judge you for that choice. I don’t condescend to you for that choice. I do not attempt to stipulate to you how you should live your life differently because you choose not to play games in the way that I do. I prefer to live and let live…but I appreciate your educated opinions on the subject just the same.

      At the end of the day, there is a very deep satisfaction that comes not only in the in-game rewards of raiding, but in the feeling one gets from being part of a team. No, I don’t rush out to the park on the weekends anymore to join in on team sports – a torn knee prevents me from activities I used to enjoy. However, online I can still run and jump in the same ways I used to…and I can still find that joy one only finds in winning “the big game”.

      So, while you sit back and smugly pass judgement on my life wrapped in the safe anonymity that only the internet can provide you, “Mike”, I’ll be online this weekend helping my guildmates take down a nasty Naga we’ve been working on for a few weeks now. You know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  3. Suzina says:

    “At the risk of being flamed, let me close by noting the obvious.

    It’s just a game.”

    Saying “it’s just a game” isn’t really the flame bait in your post. The invitation to flames comes in such phrases as “That a presumably grown individual thinks and speaks in these terms … … is troubling on many levels. ”

    In my blog, I spoke of my difficulty benching a weak link on the team. It’s hard, because I need to think of the team, yet I also need to think of the feelings of the one who’s holding the team back.

    Raiding is not a solo activity. It is a team effort. As a team sport, it necessitates a certain amount of social responsibility to your fellow team mates. To win, you live and breath the game. You work out on a daily basis. Your coach helps you do something bigger than themselves, and if they do it right, their spirit is as tested as the strength of each team-mate’s muscles. But the reward, the trophy, the kill, and the glory are remembered for a lifetime.

  4. Luc Sulla says:

    Football, basketball, hockey, baseball, etc are all games, and yet are taken seriously by those who participate in them. Are all of those individuals sad and unenlightened to the fact that it is ‘just a game’?

    What people fail to realize is that we all understand it is a game. We all obtain enjoyment in different ways, from the same game. Just as in a pickup game of football, some people enjoy just being on the field, running around and tackling people. Others enjoy planning out the play, then executing it to perfection. Still others prefer to win – that, for them, is the enjoyment of the game.

    Not to be too blunt or harsh, pull your head out of the gaping chasm you are sitting on and try to look at things from other people’s points of view, please 😀

  5. I’m not a big raider but the raids have done have been very interesting from a social interaction point of view. Raider leading is almost like being a manager in real life – you can just shout at people or remain silent, you have to manage their actions towards a common goal. I guess it’s why some employers look favourably upon people putting that sort of stuff on their CV. Never catch me doing it but I’ve seen some CVs with it on 🙂

  6. […] Being a leader is truly a thankless job. […]

  7. Xeavn says:

    Awesome. I like it. I have never been a raid leader, although I have many times had an opinion to forward to an officer or raid leader on how they were doing. I guess you could say I have usually been part of the problem. Needless to say its a very good insight into trying to lead a raid.

  8. Jmo says:

    Amazing post by the way. I’m reposting and linking to this on my guilds sites and on my blog. Great read.

  9. Ferrel says:

    Great article there Kendricke. You’ve pretty much captured the essence of our craft. I’ve explained nearly the same thing in guild meeting after guild meeting but there were always players who didn’t listen or just don’t want to accept it.

    I’ll have to start pointing members to this article in addition to all the other required reading.

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