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 ;-)

11 Responses to “Raid Leaders Suck!”
  1. I agree on every point, and zone out during most explanations, too. I’m glad I’m just a hunter and don’t often need more than a 2 sentance explanation of where to send my arrows and what not to stand in. ><

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. In my opinion a lot of responsibility lies on the raiders to learn the fights beforehand. If you’re doing 25-man raiding, you should know the fight before you zone in. Then, instead of your raid leader being forced to explain the entire fight to you, the pre-fight talk is more of a discussion on “how can we best avoid these mechanics” not “don’t stand in that fire.”

    Also, when people say “I just don’t GET this fight” or “I’m just really bad at this fight” or “I’m really bad, replace me” it’s really not always the RL’s fault. If you’re a raider saying that, why aren’t you sending a tell asking the raid leader what you did wrong? Or looking at recount to see how you died and how you could fix it?

    You also tell your RL to not issue instructions mid-fight, but also to not explain an entire multi-phase fight before beginning the encounter. This seems contradictory. What if you get into a phase you didn’t expect to? Wipe it for no reason?

    You also say that the RL doesn’t know more than everyone else, but that he has to explain the fight to everyone and that you haven’t watched the video. Doesn’t this mean he DOES know more about an encounter’s mechanics than the rest of the raid, who hasn’t read up on the strategy?

    Hmm..long comment. >.>
    .-= shopshopshop´s last blog ..Argent Coliseum Strategy: Heroic Edition =-.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. I don’t mean that they shouldn’t issue instructions mid-fight… I mean that the vent channel shouldn’t be virtually spammed with instructions. There is a huge difference :-) It makes it hard for most people to focus effectively if they are getting instructions hurled at them constantly – the brain can only take so much input before it just gets overloaded and nothing else sinks in. That’s just basic psychology.

    This certainly isn’t an attack on raid leaders full stop. I agree that raiders have to take a certain level of responsibility, but, lets face it, that topic gets discussed so bloody often that it’s very obvious what they need to do. I assume that all raiders research strats. That is another reason why overly verbose explanations are a good way to lose raider focus (we know it all already!)

    In terms of the RL ‘knowing more than everyone else’, I don’t solely mean the mechanics of a fight. Many RL’s seem to honestly believe that they are more skilled players than everyone else. Few of them will admit to this in public, but they either make it revoltingly obvious in their attitude, or they say so in private :-).

    As I said, I could have also put in all the things that raiders should be doing. But, that would have made what was a veeeeery long post much longer, and that expectation should be clearly set by the guild. If you have raiders who don’t do the most basic things, well… you really have no reason to take them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. LOL – so true, so true!
    .-= Krixx´s last blog ..Descent into Madness! Yogg down! Well done!! =-.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. I completely disagree.

    Coming from where I’m at, the first few fights on a boss are going to be learning attempts. We use it to get a feel for the fight from an individual and from a group scale. We find out what works and what doesn’t work. Those are acceptable wipes. In fact, those are progression wipes.

    Granted most raid leaders don’t know how to utilize a two way street or their players. I listen very intently to my guys when there is an issue that arises. At the same time, in some cases, there is nothing that can be physically done. It all boils down to the player grinding it out and find a way to get their job done. Miss an interrupt on Vezax? To the Rogues, that is their job the entire fight. There is no viable reason or excuse to miss one other than a disconnect. If that’s a problem, then my solution is to find an alternative player to take care of interrupts.

    What really annoys the heck out of me is when players die to extremely dumb mistakes after farming a boss for several weeks. I came really close to chewing out two of my players today. Why? Because they got hit by Icehowl. In fact, they ran INTO Ice howl. They were never his original targets. Those guys were given notice. One of them was immediately told to take the night off and to just take a personal day. Wiping to new content because you’re learning it is one thing.

    Wiping to farm content is something else entirely. If my raiders can’t handle that level of pressure that comes with this game, then we part company with no hard feelings. It takes a certain personality and type of player to get through aspects of raiding. Not everyone has it.

    It’s like having good parking skills. Not everyone has it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. @Matticus while your approach to raiding is perhaps a little more serious than the average bear’s, I fail to see how you actually disagree with me on the whole. Are you saying your usual approach is to do all the things I listed above? I hardly think that is the case (because most people don’t survive long under CTRL’s – they are just too domineering and obsessive).

    Nowhere in my post did I ever excuse poor player performance. Some people are, unfortunately, outright morons. Some are lazy. Some just don’t like following instructions. None of what I said excuses those people, or any other person who isn’t doing their job properly. However, yabbering over vent at them like an instruction tape on speed isn’t always going to improve the situation – in fact, it will often make the situation worse, and distract other people who were probably doing their job just fine. Best solution – if someone sucks, just don’t let them raid. Easy.

    Wiping on farm content does suck, and is unacceptable. What I find frustrating is when people complain and bitch about wiping on progression content. Some content just takes a lot of wiping. It happens. When the raid leader doesn’t foster an environment where this is understood, it causes a hell of a lot of issues. Like I said, this mainly happens when all that happens after a wipe is critiquecritiquecritique.

    Not to mention – some nights… things just don’t work, and there’s more wiping anyway. I tend to notice this the night after a big football game has been on the TV, or if it’s after a public holiday. Doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, there’s no use jumping up and down about it. Call the raid if it’s that bad, but don’t chew your raiders out over it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. P.S. Anyone can learn how to park… and most people can learn how to be half-decent raiders. Still, parking is easier though! :-P

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. I like your teacher analogy.

    What I just can’t stand is the following scenario:

    Wipe or Bosskill. Four players die, or die too early if the boss then dies anyway. Raidleader asks every single person why he or she has died. Raidleader then critiques every single of the four people. This process takes a lot of time and is in fact just bullying people.

    I had this for months and it was freakin’ ridiculous. We all get killed from time to time, and most of the time it’s just a stupid error, that I know was stupid and everyone else know was stupid. This time consuming Q&A after every wipe just drove me crazy, especially because it just had nothing to do with constructive post-fight analysis.

    Of course same raid leader was never able to pull of decent DPS, because he had to “watch what’s going on” all the time.
    .-= drug´s last blog ..Looking for a guild =-.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. I couldn’t agree more with 99% of your commentary. Raid leaders seem to assume two things walking in 1) Their raiders are idiots, 2) Their raiders are worse players than themselves.

    Some people are visual learners / listening learners, etc. I can’t watch a video. Videos = total garbage in terms of me actually knowing what I’M supposed to be doing. Likewise, any boss strat talk that takes 10 minutes is just too bloody long unless it’s split into tanks you do this for the fight, healers you do this for the fight, etc. At least then the raider has some clue as to when to tune in DEEPLY, and when it’s ok to be in lala land.

    I like reminders during the fight (ok, phase 2, watch the head) but I can’t handle a mid fight strategy introduction / change b/c “omg, I just had a brilliant idea!” moment.

    Once the content is learned, raid leaders aren’t even needed (at least in my experience). RL’s take on an ugly job but frankly, someone’s gotta do it, and most of you actually volunteer for it! That doesn’t make you a better player, just a more masochist one :P Don’t chase off your raiders — they may not come back.
    .-= Windsoar´s last blog ..Future of Hybrids =-.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. @drug I know! Interrogation of raiders like that in a public forum is demeaning and just plain rude. If they screw up (more than once), talk about it in whispers. Hell, remove them if you need to, but don’t make them look foolish in front of the raid.

    Oddly enough, in raids I have been in where people HAVE been supportive, people will own up to a mistake EVERY time. In public. A lack of fear helps people take responsibility!

    @Windsoar I am exactly the same as you! I study raids the way I best study everything else – I read a strat, I take massive amounts of notes on it, then I read forums and blogs for alternative perspectives. Then I summarise my notes into something I can easily look over. Perhaps it takes longer than watching a video, but watching a video just doesn’t work well for me.

    And I completely agree about most of them wanting the job and then pushing people away! :-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. [...] Destructive Reach “Raid Leaders Suck” [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0