A raid leader’s job is terribly important when you look at World of Warcraft. The raid leader is, at least symbolically, the reason your raid team succeeds or fails.
Thus, the success of your raid team relies on the success of your raid leader. Probably.
Gathered from my own experiences, here, then, are seven things that most (all?) raid leaders need.
1) The desire, vision, energy and time to lead a group of individuals through raid instances. Seems a little obvious, I know, but if you’re missing any of these things, you will fail. If you’re not giving it your all, if you’re not doing everything you can to improve your raid team, you will almost certainly fail.
This means reading strats, tweaking strats, examining logs, explaining what happened on various attempts and fixing the issues that didn’t allow you to get the boss down. Perhaps it will be in the wee hours of the morning, perhaps it will be during your lunch break at work, maybe it’ll be while you’re supposed to be paying attention in class… It needs to be done. If you’re not ready to put in the time and energy, if you don’t have the desire or vision to drag people through, kicking and screaming as they go, then you probably don’t want to be a raid leader.
2) A great support system, both in and out of the game. If your guild isn’t supporting you, you won’t have a chance. Your guild officers need to work with you to build the team. Your officers are a huge part of the team and if you don’t have officers who are willing to work with you, who are willing to help research things or to help talk to people or to help organize people within the raids themselves, forget it.
You also need to be able to vent about your frustrations outside of the game, to someone who doesn’t really know all these people you’re dealing with. It can be a friend, a partner, a sibling, anyone, but the farther removed they are from the game, the better. It’s theraputic to vent.
3) A good understanding of the raid group. Look, you can only work with what you’ve got. If you have a resto shaman who never does anything apart from chain healing the melee, short of replacing them, you have to deal with them. That might mean just assigning them to stand there and heal the melee. Similarly, your group might be collectively terrible at encounters where you have to move (spreading out, collapsing, etc). You have to adjust for this. Change assignments, change requirements, change the strategy so that you give your team (your team) the best chance of success.
4) A good understanding of the game’s mechanics and past encounters. What helped me tremendously as a raid leader was finding similarities between different fights. So when I was fighting, I don’t know, Ultraxion in Dragon Soul, it was a lot like fighting Patchwerk in Naxxramas, with just the extra button push for Heroic Will. Being aware of how council-type fights work is a huge bonus. Understanding that jumping out of fire is generally a bad plan can be useful. Knowing the various cooldowns available to your team’s classes is key.
5) The tools for the job. By this, I mean something like Raid Buff Status, which is amazing to see who’s buffed, who’s not, who’s eaten or flasked, who’s not and the like. I also mean making sure you’re logging your fights, through a combat log parser such as (my preferred) Warcraft Logs. Definitely spend some time going through your logs. Analysis is key to improvement. (What are some of your favourite raid leader addons and tools? Comment below!)
6) The ability to let someone know that they’re just not cutting it. This is one of the harder parts of the job, but sometimes, you have to tell that resto shaman that they need to do more or risk being replaced. There’s no need to be personal about it, although it will almost certainly be taken that way, but rely on facts and be kind. You never know when someone will redouble their efforts because you let them know that even though they’re not doing the job right now, you believe in them. Give them a reasonable deadline to show improvement and if they improve, let them know how impressed you are. If they haven’t improved, at least you gave them a shot.
7) Raid team members to lead. Face it, without a raid team, you’re just another know-it-all in LFR who has no one listening to them. Always treat your members with respect, always emphasize that the team as a whole comes before individuals and know that you are just a few /gquits away from being That Guy ordering people around in LFR. What makes you a leader is that you are leading your team. Your team. Treat them well. Even that resto shaman.
Hope that was helpful! Share with me your suggestions for various addons and such a raid leader might want to use. Tell me a story about That Resto Shaman who insists on just healing melee with chain heal. What are some of your favourite raid encounters and why?