Thursday, January 28, 2010

On Raids, and the Leading Thereof

I had an interesting experience Tuesday night that involved pugging into a raid that I ended up leading.  At the end, I thought it would make a good blog post and started thinking about how to compose it into a story worth hearing.

So imagine my surprise Wednesday morning when I look at my feeds and see that Tamarind over at Righteous Orbs has posted an article about pretty much the exact same thing.  I'm still going to forge onward, however, because I have a slightly different tack than him.

There was over an hour 'till Wintergrasp, I had done a HoR for my chance at a Battered Hilt and Ephemeral Snowflake, I had completed my daily random, and the weekly raid quest was Marrowgar, which I'll get via our weekly trip into ICC anyway.  Consequently, I was trying to decide if I wanted to hop over to Alrom and keep working him toward 80 or go do the Argent Tournament dailies and make a little money.  I'm always short of the money I want, so I used my Argent Tabard and ported in to start picking up dailies.

Before I got more than 2 picked up, I saw somebody calling for tanks and heals for ToC10.

"What the hell," I thought, "that's my two specs and I can still use a couple of items out of there."  I offered to go and was invited.

Upon informing the raid leader that I was tank/heals with a preference for tanking, he asked me to heal.  A couple more minutes for them to pick up another tank (which actually flipped once found, from a DK to another bear), and we were "ready" to start.

I say "ready" because other than a definition of the tanks, nothing was really said in vent, I couldn't find another definitive healer in the group (turns out it was a shaman), and nobody really talked about a strategy.  AT ALL, despite the fact that they had us all hop into a vent channel.

The shaman was new to raiding (as I later learned), and DID stand in the fire and die.  And rez himself in the fire, and die again.  And got battle rezzed... and died again, but I'm not sure if that was in the fire or not.  Even given that, we lived a surprisingly long time with only me healing.  I do an amazing amount of HPS when there's no other healers to turn half of my heals into overheals.

After that fiasco I guessed we were in for a very long run.

One of our only two ranged dps (don't go there), both of which happened to be warlocks, offered to bring his healer in, popped out and came back on a druid (which gave us 4 in the group, another was kitty), and during the interim I took the time to organize the heals, put the shaman on raid healing and split the tanks between the trees.  I kept waiting, at this point, for the raid leader to lay out some sort of strategy.  Mostly, all that was said was to kill the snobolds and run to the raid if you got one.

We made it through Gormok almost flawlessly on this run regardless, and the worms came out to say hello, and upon this event we ran into problems again.  I don't remember all the specifics, but among other things they weren't both turned away from the raid, and at one point I stood in front of one even though it was turned away from the rest of the raid (I know, I'm a fail druid) and I died.

I actually got battle-rezzed and going again, and enough of the raid lived long enough to kill the first Jormungar.  Soon after one of the two worms died, though, we had the bear tank, a rogue, and me alive, as everyone else had succumbed in one way or another.  The other rogue actually released, thinking it was a wipe.  But when the remaining Jormungar went underground, the bear rebirthed the second tree.  Once our health was stable again (the burning debuff hit both of the healers), I rebirthed the cat druid, and we were back in business with half a raid.

Icehowl was a piece of cake, although he took forever.

It was one of the most stressful boss fights I've ever healed through, and I absolutely loved the challenge of it.  We got congratulated for "epic healz", and thinking back I actually feel bad for not telling the bear what an awesome job he did.

About this point, the original raid leader said something about his DBM being messed up and asked for somebody else to lead the raid, the response to which was crickets chirping over the vent channel.

Despite my experience leading raids and especially ToC10 raids, I didn't exactly leap at the opportunity.  I HATE leading PuG raids, with the rare exception of a weekly raid quest like Patchwerk that involves finding enough bodies of the right kinds to fill spots and saying go.  I like our guild runs - I know everybody, more or less, and they're generally nice people who won't rip into somebody for screwing up, or go all elitist on me, or generally exhibit behavior that would warrant a kicking.  In a PuG, however, there's really no such safety net, and I don't like being the person that has to deal with it.  In addition, our guild folks generally know what they are doing, as even the ones that aren't seasoned raiders know enough NOT TO STAND IN THE FIRE.  Oh, and one last thing - I've never been a raid leader as a healer.  It's a different way of doing things than what I'm used to.

All this went through my head once, twice, maybe three times.  Then, at the continued silence, I finally said, "Kaethir can lead if nobody else wants to."

Of course, being the first one to speak up meant that I got handed the reins.  Yay me.  I found out very quickly that we had a fairly knowledgeable, nice, and well geared group, and ended up not minding leading this raid at all.

I can skip the play-by-play from there on out.  I took the time before each boss to lay out the general strategy (with some help from the more seasoned raiders in the group.)  We only wiped one time the rest of the way, on our first attempt at the faction champions, despite only having one ranged for permafrost and adds during Anub, three folks learning the fights as we went, and our shaman healer being new to raiding at all.  The warlock got lucky, as a LOT of dps caster gear dropped, with him being the only main spec to use it.

It was one of the more enjoyable PuGs I've gotten into, despite the fact that I got handed the lead I didn't want.

Tamarind waxes poetic about what calls people to lead raids and why, despite the fact that it can be stressful, people come back and do it again.  I won't comment directly on what he said, but he made me think about why I'm willing to do this when the call comes.  To me, it's really quite simple.  I know the fights, I know what people are supposed to be doing, I like helping people learn, and perhaps the most important thing of all...

If I'm the one leading, I can't complain about the quality and/or skill of the raid leader.  Perhaps, a bit more bluntly, if I'm the one leading, we're not going to screw up because there's no strategy in place, or because the healers aren't assigned, or some other silly thing (although I have been known to occasionally leave a point or two out of the explanation of a fight.)  Having cut my teeth, so to speak, leading guild raids in an environment where I could make a few mistakes as a leader and not get reamed for it, I've developed the confidence that I know what I'm doing enough to lead others, provided of course that they're willing to be led.

Finally, a request to all those out there that want to get a raid together but don't want to lead...  find a raid leader BEFORE you start the instance.  It will make things easier.


  1. The moon is clearly in its raid-leading phase! Congratulations, though, yours sounds like a very positive - albeit quite stressful - experience.

    I suppose the difference is you seem to know what you're doing more than I do, and that you've had some practice in a friendly environment. Perhaps that gives one confidence. As it is, I'm constantly bracing myself for the incoming ream...

  2. I just reread my post and wow I must have been half asleep writing it. I'm only 3/4 awake now so if I think about it I'll come back later when I'm fully awake and edit the awesomely crappy grammatical errors.

    I'll admit, I was far more comfortable leading because I'd done exactly that raid as a raid leader with my guild more than once, so I knew enough to get most of the really important parts across, and had a good pug group that would help kick my memory when it failed.

    I hadn't considered it before, but I suppose if somebody had raised a stink I could have just handed them the lead... it wasn't my raid to start with ;)

  3. Yep, it seems its "raid leading posting time". Very interesting post, by the way, and nicely written.
    For me, the reasons to lead raids are similar to yours. I do enjoy helping people. And i want to go see things where we currently have no raid going - and hate PuGs. As such, i am surprised to hear that leading a pug raid can actually be an overall not negative experience.

    Coming from the few pug raids i have been in - i always had the feeling that leading one is a bit like weeding a flowerbed - with the weeds on steroids and time on fast forward. Before you reach the end of your patch, stuff springs up at the beginning again which needs to be gone.

  4. I hate leading raids. I'm amazingly bad at it, as I just assume (bad on me) people are going to know what the f--- to do, and do it.

    That being said, I got tasked to lead my normal weekly 10-man when the regular lead had a gerbil die, or something.

    It, uhhh, went surprisingly well, considering we had 3 PuGs that had never raided ICC, one who had never -raided-, and our normal lead was also the MT, which made things interested.

    Every fight was a one-shot, but everything went so totally off-script that I honestly swore Blizz was just knocking the bosses down out of pity.