Monday, August 4, 2008

Under the Hood Part 2: Assembly of the Perfect Casual Raid Group

Ha!!! I bet you thought I was going to tell you the perfect raid composition for every situation didn’t you? Congratulations…. It doesn’t exist. Raiding is more art than science. I’m not a theorycrafter. I don’t like to sit there and try to come up with the perfect druid/rogue/mage spec. What I like to do though is analyze what makes groups successful and why.

One of my favorite lines to use is, "Reality (or Life) is what happens when your busy making plans." The line my wife likes you use is, "If you want to hear God laugh tell him your plans." So many times raid leaders make the mistake of reading the strategies written on and and really failing to recognize that these strategies were written by the best of the best. These are people who have spent weeks/months coming up with the perfect group and scenario.

Most of us aren’t blessed enough to really see that size and kind of group assemble. The key traits I list below aren’t going to be everyone’s strong points. The point of putting it down here is to give you an idea of the types of people you need to find. Some people are very strong in one area, but lack in others. Balancing out personalities and drawing on people’s strengths can help the group as a whole. In a casual raiding environment you rarely get the opportunity to hand pick 10 people who will always be there. There are no attendance requirements. Casual environments typically put life above raiding.


Assembling a raid group requires all types, but no matter what, pessimism does nothing to help you in a raid. Pessimism is pervasive and can lead to raid groups just generally hating being where they are. The true key to getting a solid raid group is to find people who really have an enthusiasm and drive to be present. Can everyone be enthusiastic every week? No, but the overall mood of the raid needs to be fairly up beat and driven to work. Casual groups tend to maintain very up beat moods in their raids given their overall focus in the game.

Willingness to Learn

Nothing drives a raid leader more nuts than a person who absolutely refuses to listen to them. Are raid leaders GOD? No they aren’t. However a stubborn refusal to listen to advice and criticism drives the raid and the leader crazy over time. This willingness to learn has to flow both ways though. In raiding situations, the raid leader has as much if not more to learn from his raiders than the raiders do from him. Similarly raiders need to be willing to analyze their own ability rotations, specs and gear to find methods to improve. Mages, Priest, hunters, Rogues, etc can learn so much from their peers as well as their raid leaders.


Raiding is hard work. Anyone who tells you otherwise is just flat out being dishonest with you. When you are first learning encounters it requires reading, studying, lots of concentration and thinking. Just like any skill, these things will become automatic over time, but in the beginning when you are wiping over and over it can be daunting. When assembling a raiding group, confidence is key. Confidence must be present in the raid leader for certain. Raiders must develop confidence as well. Raiders need confidence in themselves and their abilities as well as confidence in their leader. Likewise the raid leader much display confidence in their raiders.

We had a fellow who joined our guild a while back who used to drive me up the wall. He’s a really great guy who had extremely large confidence issues. It some days drove me to want to ring his neck. He had issue with confidence in himself and his ability to adjust. He was a good solid player. We had a lot of conversations and mentoring from various people in the guild and over time, he’s become one of the people I’ve come to rely on. He also contains a very strong willingness to learn which has really transformed who he is.

People can transform and confidence is not an immediate trait. This particular raider slowly over time has progressed to more and more of a leadership role and I look forward to seeing them blossom into a true leader as time progresses.


Unless you are extremely blessed you will never have “the perfect” group for every situation in a raid. One key ability you should look for in your raiders is adaptability. The ability to be situationally aware and adapt to things changing is a critical skill. Some players just need time to develop this skill. Some players are very good technical players. They know their class inside and out, but unless you are able to follow a given strategy to the letter, they will falter and freeze at some point.

One of the things I’ve always prided my raid groups on is their adaptability. Our guild is perhaps one of the smallest in our raiding alliance. When we started raiding in Kara, we were lucky to scrape together 10 people to run Kara. So we took who we had. At the time it was extremely heavy on Paladins. So on any given night we’d have 3-5 Pally’s in Kara. Talk about overkill… We lacked a lot of the CC that many groups took for granted. It was months before we had a priest regularly for Kara. This translated to having to develop a lot of very unique strategies for dealing with fights like Moroes, the Opera bouncers etc. The core “well known” strategies just wouldn’t work for our group so we constantly solicited advice and feedback for ways to “fake it” through Kara.

Sense of Humor

Keeping things light can be important in a casual raiding environment. It’s not to say everything has to be a joke, but the ability to give each other a hard time and take it in stride when you make a big goof is part of the picture. That one person who’s incredibly good at coming up with puns can do a lot to lighten the mood when you’re having trouble wiping on a new boss. Sure half the raid group may groan when they hear the pun, but it does a lot to break up tension. Not everyone can tell the best jokes, but one or two good comedians can do wonders for morale in a raid setting.


All in all, you will be hard pressed to really find any one person with all of these traits. However picking a team that can cooperate, get along and has people individually strong in these traits can go a long way to making the raid leader's job easier and the raids time raiding much more productive and enjoyable.