I'm interested in how you are leading your raids. The do's and dont's... I just started to lead raids more regularly myself after raiding for 2 years and it's a lot different from following actually..
The first thing i have to contribute to my own thread is this one:
IUoC (or Intelligent Use of Consumables) System:
1) No consumable until you have ironed out your strat and you are confident that the consumables will turn your last wipe in a kill. Tanks can still be Flasked to give more learning room.
2) Use your flasks first it might be all you needed for the kill. Elixirs are pretty pricy when you are still wiping a few times. And you just might still be wiping a few times... A fully potted attempt might result in a dps pulling aggro at a key moment because he didn't tought he'd do that much more DPS. If Flask only weren't enough then add in Elixirs.
3) Once you got it down a few times but not too sure about goign no consumables... Flask only the tanks and have ppl using only Elixir, less expansive than a flask when you 1 or 2 shot the encounter.
How do you manage invites if / when you have more than 25. Any tricks to speed things up? I found that having an assistant to handle loot while the leader can lead the raid to start clearing the next part help as well..
One thing I have found that has helped me a lot. Don’t ask open ended questions.
For example, don’t ask 25 people “Is everyone ready?”. You will either get a bunch of white noise on TS or raid channel spam as everyone says yes at once, or more likely a resounding silence.
Instead ask “Is anyone NOT ready”.
I used to ask (in a new dungeon) if people would rather go left or right. Now I just say I am going to go right, speak up if there is a big problem with that.
Be sure to make yourself available for comments before and after the raid as well. Many times people feel bad about speaking up in public about something, but if you make it clear you are open to private feedback they open up. From silly things like “I know my name is Sinv, but could you just call me Sin?” to more important things like “I have young children running around, could you make sure Bob does not curse over teamspeak?”.
When in doubt just make a call and tell people to talk about it on the guild forums or after the raid. Endless discussion about possibilities can cause a huge amount of frustration for everyone involved.
The worst raids I have been in have been caused by arrogant dictators who seem to see the raid as their own personal loot generator or ones that have 5 people all telling their version of the strategy and doing 10 ready calls before every pull. You need to make sure you are actually leading the raid but at the same time ensure that everyone feels like it is their run, not just your run.
Speeding up raid invites - Theorycraft an 'ideal raid' spreadsheet based on your guild makeup for each encounter. Figure out what classes are going into which group spots, optimizing things like shaman and shadow priests. Then it's the responsibility of the class leader to figure out who gets those spots. Class leaders can remember how many spots they have for each boss and can adjust spots accordingly. This shifts the drama from player vs. player to class vs. class, which can be theorycrafted ahead of time by your officers.
Speeding up learning attempts - In many situations, time wasted learning a new encounter is due to theorycraft in voice chat moreso than wiping. On one hand, it is not reasonable to be inflexible with a strategy and wipe repeatedly, especially if it's using consumables. On the other hand, it's equally wasteful if you spend 15 minutes theorycrafting on every wipe recovery, especially if there is trash that will respawn. After each wipe, I find it best to focus on the earliest things that failed and discuss how to fix it. Having the raid theorycraft bigger changes to a strategy is sometimes viable, but it's important to stop the conversation after a few minutes and say "OK, let's give this a shot with these changes and see what else we can learn".
Repairing If you have an engineer, treat him well. Repair bots are very useful and you don't want him to drop the profession. Use the guild bank to subsidize repair bots and make sure a few are around for each raid in case the engineer runs out.
Buffing Designate a specific place to buff. In some encounters it is obvious, but in others it's easy for people to be unnecessarily spread out. I usually throw a giant square icon over my head and tell everyone to gather around me.
Theorycrafting - Know your encounters ahead of time. If you are leading a raid and don't know what you're doing, it will undoubtedly take longer.
Take responsibility - Take responsibility when things go wrong. If a group died because a healer could not keep them up, there are lots of people to blame. Did the group members take too much damage? Does the healer need better gear? Is he a feral druid in disguise? In either case, it's your responsibility to make sure the healing assignments are reasonable. If things go wrong, take the blame and fix it. Having a raid pointing fingers at each other is never a good thing.
Take logical breaks - Make sure you take breaks at proper times. For example, if you know it's going to take 5 minutes for you to setup groups for an encounter, let people know that they can go AFK and take care of business. If you're raiding for an extended period of time, a 15 minute break at the proper time can help people stay focused. Make sure flasked players log out to save timers.
Of course, you still have to be careful about AFKers
Knowing when to call it quits for the evening is important too. Your raid has limits. Pushing a bunch of people who don't want to be there to re-clear trash and throw themselves at the mob again isn't going to be fun for anybody. Similarly, knowing when your raid is in the proverbial zone will allow you to push a bit past the scheduled end time and get a bit more practice in, or cement that kill.
I think that creating an atmosphere where at least YOU (and preferably you and a few other key players who know what they're talking about) are allowed to be constructively critical is important. Again, I'm sure in highly driven guilds where everyone there expects to be told flat out when they make a mistake and to correct their behavior immediately, this advice doesn't apply - but most guilds have at least a small range of personalities and play styles, and handling different players appropriately when they make mistakes or need to change what they're doing is important. Knowing what works best with each player is important. (This is not to say that you should be afraid of calling people out, it's simply a matter of knowing the best way to do it.)
You need to make sure you are actually leading the raid but at the same time ensure that everyone feels like it is their run, not just your run.
That's very well said. Making a raiding atmosphere where ranged_DPSer_001 who's at the middle of the DamageMeters the whole run, rarely takes damage from a mob, and spends most of the raid mashing frost bolt is still having *fun* and staying engaged can be hard, especially if the only thing you're doing is chain wiping to a mob because somebody else hasn't figured out their part of the fight yet. Pulling it off makes a real difference in how raids "feel" though.
Technically I don't lead raids, I'm just the theorycrafter who comes up with stupid ideas/talks too much, but a couple of tips that help.
I always find that running through the bosses abilities quickly (just 10 second summary) always helps people to focus and pay attention, and calls things forward like "oh yeah, i got gibbed by that last time, need to watch out for it this time" so you don't go through a learning wipe every time you do a boss.
If you have someone who is new to the fight doing an important job, if the person who usually does it/has done it before is online, get them to talk about what to do and get them to pass on any little tips. There's always things that help a bit (like I always save bash for the second add I pick up on hydross as i have more marks, and taunt the second mob at 20 seconds left on debuff once it's at 50% even if it's banished becuase I know it only has 2 seconds left, etc) which people either take time to pick up on, or may never pick up on. I know we had countless wipes at Anubrekan because we had tanks tanking it who hadn't before and it ended up evading, entirely becaues although they knew how it worked, they didn't want to ask exactly how to do it.
In my very limited experience the key to being a good raid leader is properly balancing "I'm the leader this is how we do it" with "Here's the situation, let's have suggestions"
Generally if you're not seeing significant improvement in an encounter within a reasonable amount of time (1 or 2 nights for some 5 attempts for another), all things being equal, the strategy is flawed. This of course assumes that all your raiders are paying attention and (generally) know how to play their class.
Final note: When saying bad things generally talking to a player in private is more productive than calling them out in front of the whole raid. When saying good things public is a more acceptable forum, however be very sure that praise gets spread around. Support healers, while easy to not notice, deserve just as much praise as the tanks ect.
Natural and I lead our raids together and have been leading for about 2 years now, and there's just a few things I'd like to add:
Delegate, delegate, delegate: Nat touched upon our system a bit when he mentioned Class Leaders. Basically, our guild has our raid leader(s) (Nat mostly and me a bit), and then the Class Leaders. The Class Leaders essentially know the people in their class and who should get in for what boss, who is what spec, etc. In essence, Nat says "I want a mage to drop for a warrior" and the Class Leaders make that happen. Nat doesn't have to micromanage and can focus on the "big picture."
Furthermore, I handle all the raid points issues (we use a modified dkp-assisted loot council thing) and consumables during the raids, as well as attendance/queues/etc.
The trick to leading a raid and keeping your sanity is knowing how much you can do and how much you should delegate.
Be Open: I'm also the person people talk to when they need to vent or be emo for a bit. It's always important to have an open conversation with everyone in your guild/raid. People will not always be happy no matter what you do, and so they need to know you're open to hearing what they have to say. They also need to know that whatever they say to you won't come back and bite them in the ass. Handling this in a professional, sincere, and positive way is very important.
As Nat touched upon, it's also important to be open to new ideas. We often theorycraft our strats ourselves, then bring it up in leader forums (Officers and Class Leaders) to discuss, and then open it up to the guild. It's important that you listen to everyone's ideas, as sometimes yours won't be the best. It's also important to know when to put your foot down.
Command Respect and Attention: No one is going to listen to someone who let's things get out of hand. Joking around on vent is one thing, but acting immaturely (i.e. killing someone who's MC'd, wiping raids, etc.) basically gives permission to everyone else in the raid to do the same. Remember that you are a role model for everyone in your guild, and they look to you to see how to behave (and yes, I know we're talking about mostly adults here, but it still holds true). It's a bit like the Golden Rule... treat everyone with respect and give them your attention, and they will do the same (for the most part). Nat is very successful leading raids because people listen to him and are willing to follow him and do what he asks. It's why our raids are smooth and successful, most of the time.
Be Positive: We've all seen the "minus 50 DKP!" thing and it gives us a laugh, but being negative on your raiding force is horrible, imo. If you want people to respect you, you can't tell them that they suck ass all the time. It's important to recognize the pros and cons to every member of your raid and cater to those, but you don't have to shove it in their face.
Being positive also makes sure people are laughing and having fun, not getting frustrated/irritated. And if people DO get frustrated and irritated and start yelling at each other, be sure to turn it around into something positive so that it doesn't make the whole experience bad.
Some of these points are because we're also the guild leaders, but raid leading has a lot of the same ideas.
Anyway, good luck, and realize there are ups and downs to everything. Raid leading is work, but it can be fun and rewarding as well.
*edit* one thing I wanted to add: Know your raiders. I know it may seem obvious, but if you don't have the diehard raiders, you shouldn't push them to be that. Our guild is mostly composed of 9-5'ers who work and have outside commitments, and are also all over the U.S. (and some outside the U.S.). We also have some young college kids who have tons of time to play. We know that if we push a raid really late, we'll lose a lot of our east coasters, and if we start too early, we won't have our west coasters. We're hardcore in that we like to push to see content when it's new, but we also don't expect people to pour their life into WoW. It's important to strike the right balance with your particular group of raiders. A lot of that comes with experience and playing with the same people for long periods of time, but it's important to set a goal/standard that everyone can agree to before you raid for copious amounts of time.
I have found that you should never pose an important question to the entire raid. As in "So, where do you guys want to go from here?" or "What do you guys think is the best way to do this?"
These type of questions just beg for people to fight with eachother, and you, about whatever it is you are trying to do. The other problem with these types of questions is that people's personal wants will guide their response. If a boss has loot that one person wants but no one else needs that person might take their own wants into consideration over what is good for the raid.
Especially in Karazhan I've noticed this happens a lot. At this point, my guild skips a lot of Karazhan in order to just get Nightbane, Shade, Curator, Netherspite, and Prince. However, a few casual players expect the raid(s) to do full clears because they want one piece off of some lack-luster boss. We basically stopped asking who wants what and just tell people how it's gonna go.
Another thing, there are a ton of strategies for all the bosses, some obviously better than others. If the strat that you are using isn't working you can often get ideas from other members, but the middle of the raid usually isn't the time to do so. Often you'll find if you start discussing strats in the middle of the raid it'll extend your time and people will fight over certain aspects. Obviously a little tweaking is good if things aren't working but generally that should be done by the raid leader and possibly a co-leader, the entire raid's opinion is just overkill and can often lead to more wipes than anything else.
Like someone said before, stay positive. And also, nip problem players in the ass as quick as possible. I had a priest and a warrior who would complain constantly when we wiped, even on new stuff, because they were always broke and didn't want to pay repair bills. After a couple months of their complaining they didn't get priority in raids anymore, which led to more bitching, and I eventually kicked them from the guild all together. You want to avoid these bad attitudes as they can bring the entire raid down.
Lastly, try to split up the buddy-buddy circles that can often pop up. If you know that 2-3 members are generally goof balls and they feed off eachother's behavior you might want to consider putting them in different raids. While we all like to raid with our friends screw-off behavior can often lead the raid's focus away from the task at hand. I don't know how hardcore your guild is but making sure the raids move smoothly, and with the least amount of childish behavior, will give you a much higher success rate.
In all seriousness, I think the most important thing about raid leading is constructive analysis. "What went wrong that time?" is much more effective at correcting your problems than "Oh my god you are all terrible". Pinpointing your weaknesses - and how to fix them - is the most efficient way to improve performance. It's important to have people who you can trust to watch the different aspects of the fight that you can't pay complete attention to yourself, especially those things that are harder to track objectively, like positioning.
In all seriousness, I think the most important thing about raid leading is constructive analysis. "What went wrong that time?"
Paging Sebudai to the the thread, or at least a link to that awesome page of quotes
"What went wrong that time?" isn't always great either. It feels to everyone like you're putting responsibility on them, and in many cases they won't even know what went wrong. Being positive and constructive is very important, mind you. But there's definitely room on occasion for 90% of the raid to be "them who does the listening" and for the leader to be "him/her who does the telling". If you know what went wrong, have a chat to the people involved about it rather than necessarily telling the whole raid "the mages need to decurse quicker".
Of course, I'm particularly infamous for telling people to dispel faster over the full raid channel in vent (my philosophy being if I have time to see an important debuff on someone, wait a second, push to talk and call for it to be removed, it hasn't been removed goddamn fast enough), so maybe I shouldn't talk about that. "DECURSE!" became infamous I think when we were learning Nef and had a few wipes where people were too busy pushing pew-pew buttons to dispel the curse off the tank. "DISPEL!" came when I got sick of healing through stacked up +fire damage debuffs on the dragon packs after Vael. Kara sadly gives me much less opportunity to berate dispellers on the whole, although killing an ethereal spell filcher and watching a late chain heal go through the ceiling because the tank still has the Transference debuff will never get old.
Natural and I lead our raids together and have been leading for about 2 years now, and there's just a few things I'd like to add:
Delegate, delegate, delegate:
Command Respect and Attention:
Know your raiders.
Spectacular summary. These are the five things you need to be able to do to lead well. If you're not confident in any of them, you should probably not be doing the job... if you can do all five, then you're good to go. I'm terrible at most and so I always stick to behind the scenes. :P
I use /raready for this. (it's offered by both CTRA and oRA2)
I disagree with using ready checks frequently. I'd only use them after breaks of some minutes, surely not after a tactical discussion or similar. And I also don't like to force someone to use a special addon. It's really sweet if most use decent Bossmods, so encourage them to do it, but don't force them. oRA is nice for MT targets (some need those to assist, i set them for those who demand it, but never really needed them myself), durability and reagent checks, but it's really not neccessary. Let those who want to use it, use it, but i don't see a reason to enforce it. The conclusion is that you use the built-in ready check which might give a bit less information (clicking speed) but it works for everyone, does not require special addons and saves you from "my ctraid is buggyblabla".
When I was just a member in my previous raid, it always felt like the leaders didn't trust you. Ready checks before every encounter make the raid members feel observed. Asking on the voice chat is definitely more friendly. Sure, it does not help to detect AFK players, but in a good raid, your players should simply not go afk without a reason.
And if they (and everybody in the raid) see that just going AFK without telling aynone caused a wipe, they will never do it again.
I use /raready for this. (it's offered by both CTRA and oRA2)
Why do people not use the build in /readycheck?
Anyway. Many great points been mentioned. One of the best points of a good RL is IMO knowing when to stop. Banging your head against a boss that is clearly out of your leage for 4 hours is not fun. Stop after 2, everyone should have a fine idea of the fight anyway. Knowing to quit on time. The raiders (hopefully) turn up on time, and you should respect that, by letting them go on time (this is a sticking point for me, open ended raids is really not my cup of tea).