Being a Raid Leader is serious business.

I think it takes a special kind of person to actually want to be a raid leader.

I’ve been doing it for a while for Sidhe Devils, and I think things have gone okay.

Now, it’s time for a brief break.

Last week, I begged and pleaded for Blusummers to lead a raid into Karazhan, and everyone I talked to said he did a great job and everyone had a lot of fun.

So this week I am sitting back and relaxing on a beach in Jamaica, while he slaves away doing the thankless task of leading another Karazhan on Friday.

Sucker.

Well, I am metaphorically on a beach in Jamaica. Drinking one of those beach-type drinks with lots of spiced rum.

No umbrella in it, though. I do have standards.

Ahhhh. *smiles*

Come back to Jamaica, mon.

Seriously though, being a Raid Leader is a job that someone has to perform if things are going to run smoothly.

There has to be someone that is the final decider of who is going to do what, who decides which classes he needs, and who tries to get those positions filled prior to start time.

Someone who sets start times, objectives, moderates the rules, and researches and lays out the fights and sets forth the plan of battle.

Yes, every player should do their own research on each boss in a raid so they are prepared to do their best, paying special attention to things their class can do.

But it is the Raid Leaders job to know it all.

Maybe you’ll have things in your group broken up, where a guild officer will handle stuff like loot and timeliness, and moderates issues between players, and another person is the official Raid Leader, handling organizing, balancing and leading the battles.

It doesn’t really matter. In the end, someone has to lead the thing.

I don’t know how other folks do things, or prepare for raids. I think seeing the thoughts on preparation and execution from the point of view of a successful Raid Leader in a progression guild would be a very awesome ‘tutorial’ on setting one up yourself.

I ain’t one of those. All I can do is give you my thoughts on how I do things. 

I’ll take Karazhan as my example. Go with what you know, right?

When I sat down and decided to start opening up Karazhan for our guild as a scheduled event, I knew that meant I was going to need to be prepared to lead the raid. Something I had never, ever done before.

And I knew that, when I watched Joppers lead raids in Legatum Ignavis, what I saw him do was know what every classes strengths and weaknesses on each boss were, who he wanted to task to do what, and what balance of classes he wanted to handle each fight. 

He made decisions as to who was going to be going in for which boss, and frequently he would decide that one person would have to sit out for one fight in order to bring in someone else to perform a special task. He would balance a players’ need for upgrades against having the classes necessary to get the job done.

One example is having one person sit out on Illhoof in order to bring a Warlock to handle the imps, if a Warlock is not normally scheduled for the run.

It always impressed me how much Joppers knew about the capabilities of every class out there, and every race’s special abilities, and the details of every fight.

I myself have only ever played three classes to 70, a Hunter, a Druid and a Priest. So that’s what I know. I have no idea how most of the other classes play at 70, except for what I see in instances and raids.

It’s daunting thinking I’m expected to know everything everyone can do. /wince

So I used his example, how prepared he always was, as my goal for being the Raid Leader.

I sat down with a pad of paper with Cassie, and we opened up WoWWiki and Bosskillers to the Karazhan sections.

I did not worry about the trash fights. I have seen them before plenty of times, and I was confident that I knew how to handle them. This proved to be untrue, as we have learned along the way that there are some things that work better than others on various trash fights.

Cassie and I started with the first boss, Attumen, and started taking notes. 

We looked him up on both sites, we read the descriptions, we studied the suggested tactics, and compared that with what we both knew from personal experience.

Then I wrote down what he did at each phase, and what tips the sites gave us for each class to counter those abilities.

We wrote down such no-brainers as ‘Attumen and Midnight are untauntable, so you cannot go over the tanks aggro and have him pull it back. You must watch Omen, and when Attumen mounts in Phase 3, everyone must back off and let the tank re-establish aggro’.

When we made our notes, we broke each fight down onto one page. And that became my briefing page for that fight.

We did the same for each boss after that. We even broke down each fight from Opera.

But I did not write down a dedicated tactic to follow.

I tried to keep in mind that every attempt will be as different as the group that’s doing the raiding, and trying new things is a ton of fun, so why not be open to improvising?

So what we did was make key points about class strengths against various boss abilities, and special things to keep in mind.

Such as noting that Priests can Dispel Holy Fire and Paladins can Cleanse it on Maiden. And that Mages can Ice Block out of it. And that having a Mage cast Dampen Magic on the melee fighting Maiden (but not on the tank, naturally) means they will take less damage from the AOE, without being overly hurt by the reduced healing effect.

Things like that.

And we made specific notes on what each member of Moroes’ dinner party can do, so that no matter what the makeup of the dinner party or our group, I have good suggestions on how to arrange what CC we might have.

Last weekend, we took down Moroes without a single Priest in the group. And since we had no Priests, I looked at our tank and healers, and said to heck with it. We didn’t even use Ice Trap.

We just identified the kill order, and let the Paladin go nuts.

It worked freakishly well, and was incredibly fun.

So I’m not saying, when researching and preparing, to get a set strategy in place and refuse to deviate from it.

I’m just saying, know ahead of time what the boss will really do in each phase, and what each class can contribute as counters. Be prepared to brief the players, remind them of what to expect, and then ask each class to pay special attention to what your notes say they can do in a situation so everyone is ready.

Know going into the run what strategies have been successful in the past, but look forward to improvising and trying your own style of doing things, and having some fun.

So much for the fun. Now we come to the bad part of the job.

Part of being a Raid Leader is determining what you feel you need for a successful run, in terms of various classes, and their gear/stat levels.

And it sucks, if you are in a social guild of friends. You want everybody to go.

But I will see people in chat asking, “How do I know if I am ready to heal in Kara”, and getting a reply (from a non-raid leader or healer), that “+800 healing is fine to heal in Kara.”

Well, is it? Do you know? If you don’t play that class, how the heck do YOU know? And is it good to start for lower Kara, but will end up being too little the further you go?

It’s a trick question, of course. The true answer is, you have to know many things before answering; is he going to be one of only two healers, or three? How is the tank geared? Are we talking only lower Kara, or all the way through Prince, Nightbane and Netherspite?

The person that just says “oh yah, +800 is fine” should be beat about the head and shoulders with a cold, slimy fish. Context, people. Context.

But if that is said in guild chat, and you are the Raid Leader, and you do not say anything in response to “sure, +800 is great, you betcha”, then what is your prospective healer going to think?

He’d probably think that if you don’t have anything to say about it, then the guy must be right, +800 Healing is fine.

And maybe it is. Remember? How many healers? How well geared is the tank? Full Kara clear or just the first half?

Now, before I get off on a tangent, let me say that there are general guidelines to help someone figure out on their own whether they are ‘ready’ for a raid or not, and to help give them a target to shoot for.

Nobody has said ‘thou shalt have 20k armor as bear tank, or thou shalt not run’, but I know that every single character I play, the first thing I want to know if I’m part of a group is, “Will I be strong enough to pull my own weight? Or will I drag the run down?”

And so I want to know what to shoot for as a goal, so that when I evaluate gear upgrades from quest rewards, crafted gear, drops from instances, and reputation rewards I have some idea what to look for.

Ten Ton Hammer has published two articles I like;

As starting places, the minimums, these are pretty good. The Karazhan list is talking about minimums for going up to but not including Curator, and the Zul’Aman list is for minimum stats for the first four bosses only. We’re just talking about setting foot in the instance for the first time.  

This is where we come to the judgment part of the job.

Who can go on a run, and in which class, isn’t dependant on just one persons’ gear.

It all depends on the actual challenge of the fight you are facing, the skill and the gear level of ALL of your tanks, healers and DPS.

All three need to be at a certain level, in order to succeed.

I know that when planning ahead, Cassie and I both spend a great deal of time on WoW Armory and on WoW Heroes, checking out gear lists of the people who sign up, if I don’t already know where they are at. I have to so I know if it’s cool that we have three brand new 70′s on the run.

If you have overpowered tanks or heals, you can expect that you can get by with a lot more beginning DPS players.

Maybe.

Depending on the fight.

Enrage timers make sure you still have to beat the clock on a lot of bosses, and having awesome heals and tanks and no DPS just isn’t going to cut it.

But if you have some folks, or even the majority of folks off the scale on one end, they can usually make up for one or two people that are well skilled but below the listed minimums.

I know I’ve had success before in simply pretending that someone died from a bad infernal at the start of a run, and nine-manning Prince. If you can 9 man it, why not 9 man plus a newer player?

So while I think that every player that expects to go to Karazhan or Zul’Aman should make it their personal objective to do what they can to meet these minimums before they sign up for something, it’s also clear that if your group is strong enough, and it’s all for fun anyway, why not get them inside if there is an opening?

Have fun, go nuts, take it on and take pride in kicking somethings’ butt when it was a little more of a challenge than normal. But do your best to make the run a success, and stack the deck in your favor when you can.

You have to be careful, and you have to be flexible… and sometimes you have to be willing to look at your group, and say, “There just isn’t enough Healing on this run, at this time. We need one more mid-range Healer to make this happen.” 

Or, you need a smart Raid Leader that knows how to be flexible. Unlike me.

You want an example of a situation where a group could have succeeded, and the Raid Leader made the difference in the wrong way?

Let’s take a look at the Karazhan run I mentioned from last Saturday.

We took down Attumen like a walk in the park. Attumen is a fight that requires a very strong tank to withstand damage, and a couple excellent healers. If you have those three people, you’ve pretty much got it handled.

Let’s look at Moroes. We had a Paladin tank the entire thing, with a strong feral Druid as the off-tank.

Again, we had extremely solid tanks, and a couple insanely good healers.

Then we went to Opera, and got Wizard of Oz (or The Crone, however you’d like to call it).

We failed. Three times in a row.

So what happened?

Well, what happened was very simple, in hindsight.

I set things up as though it were a standard run. But we had a few DPS players that were brand new to Karazhan, and still working on gearing up. My Hunter was there, and he’s still not up to where he should be for a full clear. So we were running short on DPS.

Instead of adapting the battle plan to take into account what we had, our strengths and our weaknesses, I went with ‘the norm’.

We had a very strong tank, but I only asked him to take on Tinhead, instead of having him also prepared to take Strawman and Roar.

I assigned the Warlock and my Hunter to keeping Roar feared throughout the fight, and the fire Mage to kite Strawman around.

I had a feral Druid beating up on Dorothee, but ready to pick up Tito as soon as it spawned. 

And I warned everyone that we needed all the DPS we could to focus on burning Dorothee down as fast as possible.

So what happened?

Our DPS, which was underpowered to begin with, had our attention further diffused by kiting Strawman and fearing Roar. So Dorothee didn’t get burned down, and beat the hell out of the healers, and once the healers went down, so did the tank and everyone else. 

The key problem wasn’t in who was in the group, the key problem was that the Raid Leader didn’t take the time to think about what we were facing, to adapt our battle plan to match, and to overcome the obstacle together.

The first wipe was excusable, but the next two? That was me being a dunbass.

I was too worried that people wouldn’t have fun because of wiping, and I stopped thinking about improvising.

In the end, we went on to Maiden instead of beating our head against Oz one more time, killed her (with a feral Druid tanking her), celebrated with one last victory and called it a night.

So, an important lesson learned on my part. 

You need to be prepared to know what to expect from each boss, make notes on what each class can do against them, and have in mind what an average level of gear should be…

Carefully balance your team against your plans for the night, and once your critical positions are filled, don’t be afraid of taking a few undergeared folks to come in and have fun too, because they may just rock your socks off. 

But be prepared to modify your plans for each battle based on what classes and strengths you really have along, who is there that is very strong and can handle more than normal, and who might just be starting out, and might need more time or support.

Be prepared to change your plan on the fly. Improvise, adapt and overcome.

Ooorah.

Oh yeah, and have fun!

There, dropped the challenge for ya. Raid Leaders of real progressive guilds, what do you do to prepare?

12 Responses to “Raid Leadering is serious business”
  1. Crashandburn says:

    We’re by no means a progressive guild, but we do have a large variety of mains and alts that enjoy running through our Karazhan which means we may just have the 10 signups and we’re good to go with 2 tanks, 2 healers and 8 dps.

    As the person who generally has to come up with the fight tactics I know what you’re talking about when it comes to having a group that might not meet all the expected roles from the standard tactics.

    I try to think of the tactics for fights such as Moroes or Opera where it becomes more than a tank’n’spank as new every week and that way your not relying on what worked last week with a different group to work this week with this group.

    In terms of dealing with wipes, so long as nobody has done anything particularly stupid I find pointing out what’s gone well as well trying to make a joke about it can help people relax and not get too down about the deaths.

    Finally if we’re going to change tactics I try to do it a little at a time, that way people can carry on doing what worked and we’re just tweaking what went slightly wrong to end up with the boss dead and loot for all :)

  2. Kal says:

    I’m not the full-time raid leader of my guild; I step in when the RL is out, or when he’s sitting. I talk to him a lot too, and we both go over strategies and other things. What you suggest is pretty spot-on.

    What I do to prepare for a raid that I’ll be leading:
    1) Watch movies. Seriously, there is nothing better than watching movies for giving you an idea of what positioning you should have, what the boss looks like and what the emotes are, the overall pacing, spacing, and general feel for the fight. This is especially true on harder fights.
    2) read forums. There’s a lot of signal-to-noise on this, but non-WoW forums are hugely useful for figuring out who can do what on each fight and why they are or aren’t optimal. And what’s needed vs. what’s desired. This is especially true on fights that aren’t simple on the face of it, where strategies are special. Or where things are bugged, like Kalecgos’ portals or Illidan’s phase 2 and ressing/totems/etc. The thing that this really tends to give is why things don’t work; that’s a lot more important to know than whether something doesn’t work.
    3) read specific class forums. I personally read all the tanking forums. That helps a ton with most things. I also read most of the healing forums. I do admit, where I’m weak is exploiting dps strategies, so I’ve been reading more of those as well. Most of these aren’t relevant, but it’s important to know small details – like that a rogue can vanish when being targeted by Teron for Shadows of Death and not spawn the constructs, or that a warlock with Nether Protection should not ever tank anything.
    4) Understand the specific weaknesses and strengths of the players. This is crucial. There are players in our raids that simply suck at certain phases of the game. I like them, I think they’re great, but they’re not good in certain ways. Some times this is totally fine. Other times it will actually end the raid or at least that attempt, because they suck that bad. Thinking about ahead of time who can do what and who can back that person up is really key.
    5) Establish goals. Every raid situation is different, and needs to be approached differently. I will take a very different group if all I care about is clearing content so we can get to progression vs. actually getting loot on the bosses to people that need it. Are you doing progression? Are you doing a badge run? Are you trying for a specific item for a class or set of classes? Are you farming hearts? Are you trying out new recruits? Get a bear? All of these dictate your raid both in the actual classes you take and the people you take.
    6) Try for raid synergy. The difference between a good melee group and a bad one – just with raid buffs – is worth somewhere between one and two full DPSers. The difference between 6 and 8 healers (and what kind of healers they are) can be a huge difference in how an encounter works.
    7) Think about who sits. People don’t tend to like to sit. It’s important to get everyone in, and it’s doubly important to get them in at items they want.
    8) determine what worked and what didn’t before. I look at our WWS a lot. I rarely care who topped the charts, but I absolutely look to see who isn’t doing as well as they should be given other people in the same situations. I look and see how much damage tanks take and why. I try and figure out why priest A didn’t do as well as priest B on the same fight, or why they sucked one week and rocked it the next. Who is decursing? Who is getting extra debuffs? Etc. Recount’s also useful both in-fight and out of fight to figure out what happened and why.

    After all of that, I try and come up with a specific strategy that we’re going to follow and explain it. A lot of times we’ll go through a dress rehearsal before a fight, and then during a fight try it to see how it works. The map is not the territory, as they say. Sometimes that strategy simply doesn’t work for all sorts of reasons, and you have to tweak it or toss it and start again. Which brings to the last one:

    9) Listen to input. Class leaders and others have a lot of experience that you don’t. They know their class (or they should). They know their spec. Hopefully they’ve read up on it too. They’ll get things that you missed. They can let you know the weird tricks that you might not be familiar with. You’ve got to make sure that you’re ready to listen.
    10) Know when to tell people to shut up. At the same time though, you don’t want everyone talking over everyone else, and it’s important for everyone to have one voice to listen to, one way of doing things. This is probably the hardest job I have.

    Nice article. :)

  3. ARA says:

    Yes I think the “adapt on the fly” is a very hard thing to master, because it means taking a risk… which means risking it not working as well as the accepted strategy, and everyone blaming you for the screw up. At least if I did it the accepted way and we failed, my mistakes wouldnt be so conspicuous. Thanks for writing about it – I should be more conscious to be adaptable too.

    A progressoion guild is different from a social guild in important ways though. So I never have the “+800 heal is fine dude, come along” coming from any raid member at any time. And if it *does* happen, I just override it and thats that, based upon what the co-leader and I think we need. I dont worry about hurting people’s feelings; we try to keep it much more factual/objective than that.

    I’m good friends with some people in a social guild. The most common issue is that they want to progress as a guild, but dont want to lay down the law to each other. Its very difficult to progress at a reasonable speed without laying down the law. When we’re working on a progression boss, we’ll never take undergeared players, so we dont have to worry about adjusting strategies in the way you described.

    On a slightly different note, someone pointed out to me recently that a lot of ex-military types are avid wow-players. I think the hierarchical nature of military organization is a good model in many ways, to ensure successful progression nights.

    I do all the things you suggest too – read up on bosses & trash, and I’m always reading up on other classes – which I think everyone should do anyways. (How many more times to I have to tell the pally not to give wisdom to ferals?). I also write people’s names down, and the marks we’ll be using, and who will do what CC etc, so I dont forget and look stupid. Its basic stuff a lot of the time. Tbh, I’m not at the point yet where I could lead a true 25 man progression run (one where we wipe a lot of times!) but I’m learning a lot from our excellent RLs about it all.

  4. dangirl says:

    Don’t beat yourself up bear, we had a great time all the same. Moroes with no CC was just a hoot and your particular brand of laid back raid leadering was appreciated as always.

  5. Tigerfeet says:

    Sitting down and making lists of the bosses abilities and strategies… that’s and AWESOMELY good idea. I led Zul’Aman for the first time on Monday and was going off of my own personal experience. We didn’t do very well but I don’t think there was anything I could have done differently leadership-wise.

    Unfortunately, if we had done well and downed the first 4 bosses and gotten to the last two I’d have been completely lost as I’d never seen them myself.

    Thanks so much for the article! I’ll now make sure to come prepared :D

  6. Haupt says:

    as a player that plays a Boomkin my group has had to suffer being short one CC through every instance in the game, we have learned to adapt and make the best use out of the toons we have based on the fight at hand.

    The biggest thing is knowing what the enemy can and WILL do to you, and from there go with what you have, we have done Moroes with NO cc and 2 warrior tanks (that is nuts). Wizard of OZ presented a similar problem for us.

    So we had the one tank take Strawman AND Roar, Second tank on Tinman (kiting), Dorethy has no agro table so we just go wild on here and suffer through a few hits from her annoying dog Tito. As soon as her and her annoying mutt die we start on Strawman or Roar and lastly Mr I can’t walk anymore. No CC at all.

    Just trying to help you see the fight with a different set of eyes.

    I figured I owed you since reading this blog was were I learned about the pole on prince and taught my whole guild recently.

  7. Hediwg says:

    Hey there! Great post! I am the GM of our guild and also wear the raid leader hat. It is a “thankless job” as my husband calls it. I’m a holy priest and he has a hunter and druid tank. He’s the one that has me addicted to your blog by the way. I think you guys are in the same boat as us with having too many ppl for one kara and just not quite enough for two groups, or even worse – having enough but ppl not showing up for the raids.

    Anyway, you’ve inspired me to start my own blog and it’s probably terrible, but I’d like your opinion on my “1% question”.

    Thanks!

    Hedwig

    http://wowpriestblog.blogspot.com/

  8. Bludgeoness says:

    Trying different strategies on bosses new and old is the fun part of raiding. I’ve cleared kara a jillion times now and to tell you the truth it got real boring doing things the same way over and over again. The most memorable experiences in there were times that things didn’t go as planned, or the group wasn’t optimal. My favorite times were when we had to try progression content with a non optimal group because thats who we had.

    The first few times I OT as a bear for the dragonhawk boss in ZA was interesting. Basically we ran around like headless chickens trying to keep track on the birds and the boss, and the exploding thingies. Since our guild basically had only a warrior and a bear tanks we had to improvise. Most guilds run that with a pali that can keep all the birds on him. The strategy that we settled on, was that the warrior would tank the boss somewhere near the middle. Myself (druid) and a hunter would kill a hatcher immediately (always the same one to prevent confusion) then we’d run over and he’d almost kill the other hatcher. I’d go bear (with a little fire resist gear on) and start picking up birds. We’d let him hatch 4 times before we killed him. I’d do my best to keep as many birds on me (frost trap helped here) while the dps would single target them down. next time we’d let him let out all the birds on that side. Always killing the same hatcher. We’d repeat on the other side. Usually our dps would bring him to lower than 30% before the 4th hatch so he’d release all the birds. AOE taunt ftw!

    Anyways, we were successful, and had the 3rd timed event on farm. All with just kara and badge gear. Later we were running with another guild, about half ours and half theirs, and we showing them how to successfully clear ZA. They’ve done the animal but had never downed hexlord. It was a little bit of a mess because they all got naked on the way to the eagle boss. I guess there is a strategy where you run up, die and rez, then rez the whole raid, buff and do the gaunlet backwards avoiding the birds. Well we had always just powered through it. And since I was tanking and it was timed, it was pretty funny. Half the raid was naked running through the gaunlet. Since you sorta half to chain pull that, only people who died, or got out of combat luckily were able to get their gear back on. Well we succeeded without wiping. Perhaps we should have talked strategy before going for the timed event….. Bear was cake as usual and then we got to the dragonhawk. We told them our strategy and went for it. Missed the timed event by like 30 seconds… Probably because of that naked stunt! Anyways, their guild leader started to tell us that their strategy for the dragonhawk was to use a pali for the birds. Our response was, that’s nice, but we dont have a prot pali our way works as you clearly saw.

    Basically these lessons have taught me that often a well thought out, practised strategy with a group that have raided together can usually overcome the acceptable normal strategies in a fight. Hell, I’ve single tanked the last half of kara so many times because our other tank had to go, or wanted to bring in their dps alt.

    Use the good people you have, not the classes you want. Sometimes it may be hard, but it’s just that much better when you succeed.

  9. Bobhain says:

    I would like to run with Crashandburn, I’ve never seen a 12 man raid in Kara before ;^)

  10. Crashandburn says:

    Gah, int buff on the rogue please. But then again with a feral druid that’s like a tank and dps, so could count as two ;)

    I of course meant 6 dps, must remember to check maths as well as grammar and spelling ;)

  11. Clapus says:

    Oh I am so ready for Kara. I have made one run into Kara with my feral druid, Clapus. A PUG no less with the most patient tank ever. He was well geared and not too excitable. We one shot Attumen, Morose, Big Bad Wolf, Maiden, Curator and Shade of Aran. Illhoof whipped us badly, several times, and when we quit for the night it was 4:30 am.
    I have yet to have as much fun playing WoW, but you are right. The right raid leader is so important. I’ll keep doing 5-mans until I feel ready to lead a raid myself. Besides the Mrs is a resto Shammy,Shazira +1700 healz, she won 4 rolls on that first Kara run and got her first peice of T-4 gear.

  12. Amava says:

    Fun post, as usual. Thx for the blog.

    Regarding prep for raid leading, I’ll share a few tidbits that I use. Background: my guild is pretty casual, and we’re all very late comers to WoW, all joining well after TBC was released. We raid 3 nights a week, no attendance requirement, you’re even allowed to show up on raid nights and say “nah, i dont really feel like it, i just wanna grind primals, kkthx” with no hard feelings. We’re done with Kara, other than in-guild alt PuGs, we’ve cleared ZA, Gruuls, and Mag, and have killed Lurker Below and just yesterday, Void Reaver. We’re planning on pushing progression until the minute WotLK is released. Ok, there, enough background.

    In such a casual environment, I have an interesting job as the Raid Leader. I really never know in advance who is going to show up for a raid.

    The very first thing I do is make sure I sorta understand the fights as explained in WoW Wiki or Boss Killers or some such. YouTube vids are nice here also. This only goes so far, as you never really understand a fight until you’ve experienced it first-hand.

    I write down on a piece of paper any key abilities that are needed for the fight, such as consecration or magic dispel/cleanse, etc. As I’m filling in my raid, I’ll have to be sure I have someone who can do those key activities.

    Next up, I think up a minimum number of tanks that we’ll need. I write blank lines on the paper for each tank. When filling in the roster, I’m ok if I go over, but I try to think of minimums to start with.

    Then, I move on to healers. I think about what type of damage we’ll be taking for the fight. If its primarily a tank or two absorbing all the damage, I’m going to need to start with one or two solid Single Target healers. If its going to be a survival fight with wide damage across the raid, I’ve got to start with AoE healers. I then put blank lines on the paper for the minimum number of healers that I’d like to have, similar to the tanks above.

    That’s how I start off about an hour before every raid.

    Once we’re in the raid, that’s when the real fun of strategy begins. I have a rough idea of what I’m looking for, but I don’t really know the specifics of classes besides Hunter.

    So I rely upon my raid members. When we’re in the raid, looking for 2 more DPS for 20 minutes, I usually fill the down-time by asking my players to tell me about their toons.

    For instance, we’re filling in the raid for a Magtheridon run. There are some mobs in there who heal eachother. I know at a high level that I need those heals interrupted, but I’m not 100% sure how to get that done.

    I’ll start by asking the team “anybody got something that can interrupt dark mending?”. One of my Rogues chimes in that he can kick the heal. I ask him to tell me a little bit about kick, like what kind of cast time and cooldown and stuff. One of my Mages says she can spell steal. I ask her to tell me about how that works. Once I’ve got the info, I can make good decisions about the assignments.

    By doing this during countless raids over the months, I’ve learned tons about the other classes, and also get the team involved in our strategy, which is full of win. Plus, it kills some of the agonizing down time of having 23 players sit around looking for 2 more to get the raid going.

    Last tidbit, if you’re still reading this. I’m very clear with my team up front about how much I know of the fight. If its a progression attempt, where its virgin territory for me, I make sure they know it, and ask them to be patient with me. The team is usually very responsive to this and we all go have a great time learning and wiping together.

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