Tobold's Blog
Saturday, January 17, 2009
 
Raid leading

Many people who do not work in a management position think that being a manager is a great job: You get to order people around to do all the work you don't want to, and on top of that you get paid better. In reality simple economics tell you that companies wouldn't pay somebody more money, if they didn't expect him to do something not everybody can do well. Management is hard. And being a raid leader is a management position.

I was reminded of how hard raid leading is last night, where we had the usual chaos setting up the second raid night of the week. Some people have IDs, but not everybody who was present during the last raid turns up for the next, and you don't necessarily have exactly the right number and best class composition available to get everyone into a raid. Last night was especially bad, how do you raid with 18 people? And the raid leader trying to sort through this apparently was bombarded by some of the less mature guild members with various requests, like some guy not wanting to raid with a specific other person, or similar nonsense. And at some point he just cracked, threw in the towel, and left the raid. We still managed to get the raid together, and even did the guild's first Sapphiron kill, but the mood was definitely strained. Although I was more lucky with loot this time, and got the token for the T7 chest, I found the raid less pleasant than the previous one, where we all were just having fun and didn't get any epics.

You need quite a thick skin to be a raid leader or manager, and there are lots of soft skills involved getting it right. You *can* manage a herd of unfocused individuals into a focused raid, but it isn't easy. As I do manage people at work, I got a bunch of training courses, and read lots of books; all of which helps, but in the end one needs some natural leadership as well. A typical raid leader might or might not have the natural leadership, he probably didn't get any training to do the job right, and he usually isn't even paid for the work he does. Rather lousy job, if you ask me. So here I'm shouting out a special thanks to all raid leaders out there, who are doing their best to handle lots of difficult situations to get their guilds to advance through the raid content and make everyone happy. It isn't easy, and your hard work is appreciated, even if you probably don't receive enough thanks for it.
Comments:
/warms his heart
 
Yeah, I've slowly come to understand this as well as the guild I started pretty casually has slowly formed into a more, well, raid-focused guild, to put it simply. I just wish there were more ways to know if you're doing a good job or not, more than just whether or not your guild is still there at the end of the day and whether your raid actually happened and functioned. >.<
 
I think this is the reason why many raidleaders are such assholes: It helps. You can discuss those silly requests (like I don't want to raid together with this guy) for an eternity until you can't bear it anymore, or you can silently gkick the first person who tries something like that. Then tell the raid why you did it and you will never again have to deal with something like that. The sad part is: Most people will not even leave if a raidleader behaves like that. They don't want to like their raidleader, they want you to produce results and make the raid go on smoothly. Raidleaders who can do that are rare enought that nobody cares how exactly they are doing it.
I have been in many raids in the last 4 years, but I never saw a really nice guy who never yells at someone being a good raidleader. The raids those people lead inevitably fill with people who play autohit-afk, don't register for raids, only show up when they feel like it and roll on everything that looks remotely like some future patch could enable you to wear it.
Many raidmembers are like childen, they try out how far they can go and if you don't give them their limit they become unbearable, casually driving away those who can behave themselves.

Personally I am struggeling to find out how leadership in 10-man-raids can be organised efficiently. If you try to solve every problem as soon as it arises (so it doesn't become big) you have to be online an insane amount of time. In a 25-man-raid you would simply appoint about 5 officers, but a 10-man-raid where half the people are in a leading position sounds kind of silly.
 
"I think this is the reason why many raidleaders are such assholes: It helps."

No, it doesn't. It makes the rest of the raid send tells to each other, making fun of the raid leader: "Man, this guy is an asshole..lol"

Raids can be ran without being an asshole, trust me. The ones that act that way just can't control their emotions and remember that it is a video game. If some kid is bugging them, kicking them is as easy to do without an attitude as with.

Beau Turkey

www.spouseaggro.com
 
Had you ever thought about trying raid leading, Tobold? And if not why not? (I don't mean it as a criticism, I'm just curious.)
 
Most raid leaders do take a payment in the form of the ego boost.
 
Its hard and not very fun.

The people who don't understand that raid leaders are doing everyone else a favor, not themselves, are some of the worst. They spin conspiracy theories about how you're just trying to get loot for your friend; every semi-controversial staffing decision turns into drama... ugh.
 
This sounds too much like work ;). It's like being an Fleet Commander in Eve, very ungrateful job. Although with a fun group it might be worth it once in a while !
 
Many raidmembers are like childen, they try out how far they can go and if you don't give them their limit they become unbearable, casually driving away those who can behave themselves.

It is difficult to understand why so many people act like this in groups. (Since this sort of problem appears a lot in PUGs as well.) It seems people would eventually figure out that if they try to work more effectively with team mates rather than trying to exploit them for everything possible, that the groups would go a heck of a lot better.

(I haven't actually led a raid but have moderated a forum in the past, and after seeing a lot of the same sort of stuff, raid leading does sound like quite a tough thing to do.)
 
Bad management is easy. A bad manager can get away with terrible mistakes because he holds power over his subordinates and then blame his mistakes on them. Also management personnel collectively often suffer from a clique syndrome where staying "cool" within the management community becomes more important than actually performing well.

Good management is a hard and often thankless job. It takes an enormous amount of patience, an ability to always keep an objective view, and self-reconciliation to the fact that no matter what you do you'll never please everyone.

The most important part of leading a raid is putting one together. A well-assembled raid can practically run itself and and makes my job easy. I try to fill "key" positions with solid and dedicated players I know and trust 1st, then fill the rest of the spots from LFG if needed. I'll take a dedicated and level-headed player who is not likely to suddenly quit or afk over a better equipped one. I won't take someone just because they are a friend of soneone else in the raid but aren't qualified. I'm not a gear Nazi, but I do have a minimum acceptable gear target for every instance and I do check for it. I stay the hell out of any inter-personal conflicts: you can leave if you don't like someone else in the raid. I'll kick people for 2 reasons only: unacceptable performance that is hurting the raid or trying to tell people what to do in my stead (unless you're the MT and I asked you to).

I never ever yell, blame, or otherwise abuse anyone. If I really need to get rid of someone, I'll tell them why politely before I do it. I announce the loot rules beforehand and follow them no matter what. They are open to discussion but not negotiation. I never prioritize loot to specific persons. Loot drama is very unwelcome.
 
Had you ever thought about trying raid leading, Tobold? And if not why not? (I don't mean it as a criticism, I'm just curious.)

Would you want to come home to do in a virtual world exactly what you were doing all day long at work in the real world? I had my own guild once, in Dark Age of Camelot, and it was too stressful. I want my games to be a hobby, and more relaxing, not a second job.
 
I want my games to be a hobby, and more relaxing, not a second job.

Amen to that. In many aspects WoW is a second job imo. Not all, but quite a few. :)
 
There's a rather pointed discussion floating around the wow-related web right now about 10 vs 25 raid content. The issue brought up is that the leadership becomes much more difficult in a 25, and therefore the 25 content is rewarded better. The more difficult organization deserves better rewards. However, the question then becomes "What about the people who do not have a leadership role?" Their contributions to the raid (on an individual basis) are not necessarily any more difficult from the 10 to the 25 level, so why do the 25 man peons deserve better loot than the 10 man peons?

--Rawr
 
To respond to Rawr's post: (keep in mind that I haven't raided, only done smaller groups, so may be missing some information and have to guess some of this from other groups.)

Two big reasons I can think of

1. The "followers" in a group can make a leaders job easier or harder by not doing/doing some of the crap mentioned above, getting themselves prepared well, etc. With more raiders and better leadership required, followers who make the leader's job easier are more important in 25 vs. 10 man raids. (It may also be more tempting and easier to get a way with being a pain in the rear in a larger raid.)

2. Because game mechanics don't provide a way to reward the raid leader over anyone else, the next best method is to give higher reward to everyone.

(The discussion does seem to show some of the absurdities that will pop up in a progression/reward/status based game. In just about any other sort of game, there wouldn't really be a worry about being as exact over something like this.)
 
"1. The "followers" in a group can make a leaders job easier or harder by not doing/doing some of the crap mentioned above, getting themselves prepared well, etc. With more raiders and better leadership required, followers who make the leader's job easier are more important in 25 vs. 10 man raids. (It may also be more tempting and easier to get a way with being a pain in the rear in a larger raid.)"

Not a valid argument imo. A 10-man-raid needs a much higher percentage of people in organising/leading positions to prevent burnout. For example my little raid sports 3 raidleaders, or 1/4 of the raid. Assuming that a 25-man-raid has about 30 players I can't really imagine one having 7-8 raidleaders. And in absolute numbers a 25-man-raid can get away with a much larger portion of uncooperative players.

..I'd really like to hear from a blue why I deserve gear one level below that of a random 25-man-raider.
 
This is one of the things I've always disliked about most MMO's I've played - the level of leadership you need to be successful in the end game. I manage people at work and it is stressful, tiring, frustrating, and most times (in my particular case), unfulfilling. Why would I want that in a game? So I do my best to respect the officers and guild leader. I give them encouragement and thanks from time to time, and I do my best to be drama free.
 
"I think this is the reason why many raidleaders are such assholes: It helps."

Yes it does. Being unapologetic and demanding (some level of expectation) is not the same as cooperation, although there is the familiar cyclical performance feedback mechanism. If the _worst_ thing that happens is people grumbling "this guy is an asshole", that means you are at least doing adequately and probably perfectly (since no PUG is better). There is a time expection that is unspoken, unless raid leaders are overly accomodating. Every time there's a bathroom break, let's stop for safety? The median expectation is higher than that.
 
I think raid leading could be tiresome. You gotta organize raids (knowing not only classes but the players itself), know every strategy for bosses (studying on the web, talking to other guild leaders), convincing people to get consumables, to change builds, doing dkp sometimes,...., AND playing your class the best you can, doing a good job on the raid.

So much work, and where are the rewards? I guess the satisfaction of seeing you guild advancing, the respect you gain from members and from the community.

Thats why I think leading PUGs can be such a pain. At the end of the raid you usually get nothing but the loots.
 
Rawr: the reason the 25 man loot has to be better is to actually make it easier for the raid leaders to get raids together. If it wasn't better, how many people would want to bother with 25 man raids?

And raid leading can be stressful, I sure wouldn't want to be a raid leader more than once a week but when it goes well, it's very fulfilling. Like when you've done a good job at work as a manager, it's nice to feel that you've made stuff happen. And much faster feedback loop than in a several-month long project.
 
I don't feel 25-mans are actually harder to lead. They are harder/longer to put together, true, but the fights themselves aren't any more complex because of additional actors. There aren't any additional roles: tanks are still tanks, dps are dps, and healers are healers. If anything, it's easier to get away with a few subpar performers in a larger group because of greater role redundancy.

What occasionally makes 25-mans "harder" is an occasional "idiot check" boss that allows a single raid member to cause a wipe, since more people mean a greater probability of that happening. But a raid leader has no real control over that.
 
Two things - you think WOW is bad, try EVE where a failed fleet engagement can lead (if you're lucky) to merely a few hours wasted and if not, then the loss of your territory and thousands of hours of play.

Also, I think Planetside had a cool idea with command XP where squad leaders got rewarded with new command levels and abilities to help, like a scanner for enemies in an area, access to a command chat channel, and ultimately a space laser of doom!
 
We have introduced "time sharing" to our raids. 25mans anyway, where not averybody can show up at 20h due to work or family reasons, and others not wanting to play past 22h. Therefore we offer people to chose full time, or 20-22h/22-24h blocks. This has helped a great lot to get more people into raids and also release the stress on people with hard work or families.

Last week we had 6 Naxxraids (10man :) ), with 3 groups starting on wednesday and 3 starting on Friday. This also helps to make it easier for people to book their slots with/without other poeple.

The Time sharing thing is something I can really recommend. At first it may take some time to get people used to it, especially if it hits someone who is used to always raid full time, but overall it is a better solution that not taking someone at all.
 
It's interesting to see people talk of Raid Leaders as middle management types. It ocurred to me the other day when thinking about how my guild has changed since WoW came out and we started raiding, that guilds are becoming almost like employers, rather than a collection of like minded people. I mean people used to join our guild for who we were, and whilst there is still alot of that going on, I feel that now alot of people join guilds because of the rewards.

And just like working for a real employer, if a raider feels his efforts are not receiving the appropriate rewards, they resign and apply for a raiding position at another guild who can.

And whilst my analogy is quite broad, and probably has a few holes here and there, I do find it very interesting (and regretful) in how that how guilds are now perceived more in what rewards they can give you, and less based on the people that you'll be sharing your experiance with.
 
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