No, seriously, they do! In my experience, the vast majority of raid leaders and raid assistants have very little understanding of what their role is meant to be. The typical approach that I have seen to raid leading is very similar to the typical approach that I see to teaching, and while it has its place… it is really not useful. What am I talking about?
The chalk and talk raid leader, of course.
The raid leader who sits there and lists off instructions in a dry monotone until you think your ears are going to bleed. Who forgets to emphasise the really important details, because, dang it, you should have read the 10 page long blog post AND the wowwiki strat AND watched the tankspot video. The one who issues instructions constantly throughout the fight, and never fails to say what went wrong after each attempt, but forgets to mention what went well. These raid leaders don’t listen to input from the raiders, because they are in charge, they are right, and they view the raiders as a bunch of uneducated peons who are there to serve the purpose of getting the boss down. And don’t even get me STARTED on loot distribution!
OK, so that might be a little bit of an extreme view. However, most raid leaders I have worked with have almost all of these characteristics, it is just the strength of them that varies. For example, if I had a dollar for every time I heard a raid leader piss and moan about how incompetent their raiders are, how they wished they had a better quality group of raiders to work with, how none of this would happen if everyone was as awesome as them, well, I’d be a fricking millionaire.
As a teacher, I feel I have a lot to answer for. I think a lot of these raid leaders are replicating the experience that they had their whole life – that of school. Raid leaders are JUST LIKE TEACHERS! You want to know what we do as teachers each day? We talk a lot. We try to teach kids stuff. Often, they don’t get it. We then walk in to the staffroom and say how these bloody kids just don’t get it, they don’t want to follow instructions, and damn it, if I worked at that fancy private school in Sydney I wouldn’t have these issues! Hmmmm… does any of this sound familiar?
Want to know what this does to your raiders? This feeling of constant pressure, of not being valued, of never being praised?
1. Raider Anxiety
I see this all the time. Hell, I feel this a lot of the time. There is this constant pressure to perform, and if you aren’t up to scratch, well you may as well drop raid, delete your character, and write a letter saying you are sorry for ever existing and wasting everyone’s time. This happens in raids where your chalk and talk raid leader (conveniently abbreviated to CTRL) misuses damage meters, doesn’t adequately deconstruct boss attempts, and doesn’t clarify instructions where required.
What impact does this have? Well… anxious raiders aren’t going to perform. Imagine two guys at a rifle range. One of them is calmly firing at the target. After each round (or how ever the hell people do this crap), his coach says ‘Good effort! You got 60% of your shots hitting the target, and 15% of them hit the centre. You need to work on keeping your arm steady, but that 15% is a great result. Let’s see if you can improve next time’. Next to him is a somewhat stressed out looking guy. Every time he fires a shot, his coach says ‘Aim for the centre, damn it!’ When you look closer, you see that his finger is quivering from the pressure of having to get it right every time.
CTRL’s often issue rapid fire instructions mid fight. They don’t allow for raiders to think out a fight for themselves, because they do not trust them to do it. They feel that by constantly issuing instructions, they can control the raid and produce a better result. Unfortunately, this sometimes just plain stresses a raid out. Then they make mistakes. Then the CTRL gets stressed out! All of a sudden, instructions are being yelled, everyone is scared and confused, and it all goes to hell.
Lesson: Instructions are important, but must be clear. Do not overload on instructions, and allow people to think for themselves occasionally.
2. Raider Frustration
‘Aaaargh, I am so tired of wiping on this boss!’ ‘I just don’t GET this fight!’ ‘You all suck! /drop raid’
This also happens a lot of the time. I mainly see this happen, not because raiders are incompetent, but because CTRL’s suck at giving feedback. Especially in combination with the above.
CTRL’s often view failure to down a boss as failure full stop. They then say to the raid ‘This is what went wrong’, but forget to say ‘but we did really well at this!’. They also forget to recognise progression on attempts, and this also leads to raiders feeling disheartened. This fosters an environment where people will turn on one another in an instant. People get tired of wiping. People get REALLY tired of wiping and being told how much they suck afterwards. So, anyone who is seen as causing a wipe cops a lot of grief. Some people will just get jack of it all and drop raid.
Lesson: be supportive of your raiders, even on tough nights. Give constructive feedback, and always remember to praise.
3. Lack of Raider Understanding
Want to know a secret? I totally zone out during a lot of boss fight explanations. I don’t do it on purpose, I try to concentrate, but, well, talk at me for 10 minutes and use the same words repeatedly - ‘move here, then do this, then move here, then do this, and for heaven’s sake stay out of that, that and THAT’ – well, my brain just shuts down and starts thinking about the football. Or I read twitter. Or something. Then I end up totally confuzzled because I missed something vital… and half the raid missed it as well. Guess we were all too busy tweeting.
For goodness’ sake, be fricking concise in your explanations! You know, some fights are really difficult. I get that. Any multiphase fight is a bitch. I can almost guarantee though, you will more than likely not get to phase 1326 on your first attempt. Give a clear and detailed description of phase one. Give a brief description of phase two. Don’t worry about phases after that until you have phase one solid, at least. Your raiders should still be reading a strat, so they should have some idea of what to do if the miraculous happens and you get to the end straight away.
Also, type a brief summary of major points in raid chat as you go. That is a basic, yet very important part of teaching someone a strat. Visual reinforcement FTW!
Lesson: Be concise (opposite of this post). Use raid chat/warnings as a tool during explanations.
4. Drop in Raider Confidence
This one is pretty basic, and I won’t go into much detail. Treat your raiders like morons, and soon enough they will act like it. Or get annoyed because they will think everyone else is a moron. You, as a raid leader, are not superior to the raiders. You are not smarter, faster, more skilled, or better in any way than everyone else. It’s easy as a CTRL to forget that – issuing instructions makes people often feel like they know more than everyone. I get that. But it isn’t true.
Lesson: You aren’t better than everyone else! Stop acting like it!
Basically, the most important thing, I think, is the feedback. CTRL’s, like a lot of teachers, suck at feedback. We like to criticise, we like to point out what we should work on and improve. However, a bit of positive feedback helps a lot. It makes people more willing to work hard, to put their (virtual) ass on the line for you, and to put every ounce of effort into a fight.
Now… to wait for an angry CTRL to chew me out over this ;-)