The class leader. It’s not a term bandied around much anymore. With the extinction of the 40-man raid so to has the class leader role fallen by the wayside. However, that doesn’t mean the need for this role been extinguished, even if it is no longer officially recognized.
A good class leader provided an integral function for large raiding guilds. Not only were they responsible for coordinating their four to eight team-mates during encounters, but they also acted as welcoming committees to new members as well as mentors in helping a new player (to the game or guild) find their place within the greater whole. Often, class leaders acted as middle management, providing a comfortable way for members to get concerns addressed to the GM and officers without any one person being constantly bombarded with guild concerns. A meeting between class leaders and the officer core could provide great insight into the health of the guild, as oftentimes, members will tell their mentor what they are unwilling to speak to an officer about.
So, what’s the significance for today’s raiders? Since raids are smaller, having eight officer-types seems to heavy a burden for 25-man guilds to handle–too many chiefs and not enough indians. Many guilds have implemented role leaders instead–tank lead, healer lead, melee/ranged dps lead–to attempt to fill the gap in their management structure, sometimes with great success. The problem with role leaders is they are often not educated enough about all the classes that they are meant to lead–while they continue to be a good resource in a raid setting–outside the raid, they are unable to provide solid mentoring to those under their leadership. Add on top of that the viability of so many specs per class available now. Where once every class had a specific role, now your paladin might be a tank, melee dps or a healer–how do you choose the right person to lead from a ‘class’ position, when oftentimes, most players are only comfortable with one or two of their classes available roles?
First, it is going to depend greatly on the size and composition of your guild. If you’re a ten-man strict guild, you probably have limited mentoring needs. You need every raid member to be self-sufficient and capable of conceptualizing their own raid role with little to no assistance. This post, honestly, isn’t for you!
If you’re in a fuzzy area of growth, or a small (read dedicated raid role) 25-man guild, then you have a small pool of players (let’s say up to 100). Still, if you’re the GM or an officer, even if only a tenth of your players need a little extra edge, that’s still 10 players to mentor between 3-4 officers–time consuming, and not necessarily fun. If this sounds like your guild, I would suggest individually assigning those in need of help to those who are willing to help. You don’t want to formalize any ‘lead’ positions, because you don’t have a big enough player base to justify even unofficial class leaders. Instead, as you get players with problems or questions, you can direct them to people whom you know are good at their roles, and potentially improve your raid team.
For larger 25-man guilds, something over 200 players, class leads may still be the way to go. While class leaders may seem like a waste, with that many members to keep track of, flagging select members as semi-official mentors who will take questions and dispense advise can help smooth out your management. While a class lead will likely not have all the information at their fingertips for every role, they can be a good source of general class information, and as a class lead, will have a good idea of who does play that role well, and can take care of matching up those members in need of a helping hand with other players.
Inside the raid a single raid leader with role leaders as needed is more than sufficient for the size of raid’s today. If you don’t have any role leaders, who may want to consider appointing some of your more versatile class leaders (i.e. they know enough about the fights and the strengths and weaknesses of multiple classes) to help smooth out raid instructions. While it may seem counterproductive, having your raid split into smaller “role teams” can actually strengthen the camraderie of your raid team by providing a safe environment for your raiders to advise, cajole and complain to other raid members with a similar role.
Personally, I currently raid with an active healer and shaman channel. I’ve got two bands of support whenever I need a little extra loving, or to provide a good place to toss off ideas about the fight in general. When members are encouraged to setup class or role channels, just be aware, that having the main tank in the healing channel or the melee dps leader in the ranged dps channel can cause major problems–these are not for you to monitor the pulse of your raid–they are strictly for your raid members’ use!
So, the class leader. While almost universally abandoned in most settings, I think the role has some mileage left to give, especially for larger 25-man guilds. Whether you choose to utilize this management system or not, keeping in mind the pros and cons may help you find a better system, and bring a little bit of middle management back into your guild structure.