So You Wanna Lead?

I’ve been there more times than I’d like to remember: PuG raids.  Somehow, they never seem to turn out just right.  Even the ones that clear content, somehow just feel wrong in an unidentifiable way.  I’ve been missing a lot of guild raids lately–I’m required to be babysat by a family member due to my leg injury–not being able to get yourself a bite to eat or a drink from the fridge absolutely sucks.  However, I really LIKE raiding, it’s one of the things I most enjoy in the game, so when I got to raid with the guild on Friday, I was riding high and having a great time.  When I logged onto my bank alt today to find LFG streaming with LF heals ICC-10 from 3 different groups, I thought to myself “I could be getting badges!”

Here’s some tips for you pugging raid leaders–it’s a thankless job, and I’m glad you’re doing it!  Be smart and save yourself from seeing your carefully prepped pug go down the toilet.


When recruiting or responding to a trade announce of a party member looking for raid do not every invite without sending a tell. Seriously, very, very bad manners.  While some people will be so thrilled to get an invite to the raid they want they’ll just say INVITE when you send a tell, others are more discerning and mini-screen groups before accepting invites.  I happen to be one of the latter: I want to know if it’s semi-guild, who I’m healing with, and the general composition of the raid by class.  Why?  Because I’ve freaking run raids, and I know the buffs/debuffs you want for a successful group.  4 paladins, three shamans, a priest, a death knight, and a rogue does not inspire confidence.

If you get huffy with me during my question process, I will not raid with you.  Leaders should be able to handle inquiries without getting their nose out of joint.  Yes, you are the raid leader and have a slot for me, but I am a valuable team member giving up the next however many minutes or hours of my game-time to contribute to a group effort.  Get over yourself, answer the questions, and keep a smile on your face 🙂 I’ll probably say yes even with a bad composition if I like talking to you.

Wait for a Response

Annoying your raiders isn’t going to make anyone happy.  If you’ve posted the vent information and want to make sure everyone is in vent…. why not check?  Most players tend to choose names close to their toon name, and if you have yourself parked in some kind of dungeon or raid channel people will naturally gravitate to it.  If you don’t see ten names in the vent channel, ask who’s missing instead of repeatedly asking “is everyone on vent.”  When you ask “Is everyone on vent,” the first time, you’ll get a chorus of yes’s from those members who have joined.  Thereafter, you’ll get some weird conglomeration of responses based on the season, tidal forces, and whether or not someone /afk’d for a coke.

Ditto for asking for specific roles to identify themselves.  Ask when people join the group and write it down if you have a bad memory.  The 1 for tanks, 2 for healers generally leaves you guessing because not everyone will respond appropriately.  Save yourself some hassle, and be pro-active in your initial group formation.

Alternate Specs

If you want alternate specs, ask before you invite.  I’m dual specced, and I have gear for both roles.  However, whether or not you want me fulfilling both is questionable.  My healing is excellent, my dps is subpar.  People generally apply to a raid with their best role in mind!  If you’re asking someone (healers get this alot) to switch between roles for certain encounters, make sure you’ve taken into account multiple “main” roles for that person when deciding your loot rules for the evening.

Raid Rules

Have an idea of what you want for raid rules before you invite an entire raid.  People want to know how loot will be distributed.  People want to know how they’ll be assigned.  As raid leader, it is your job to handle these details, or at least be prepared to assign someone else to do it.  However, just because you assign something, doesn’t mean someone else is willing to do it.  How many times have you healers heard, “MT is Jo, OT is Nyx, healers, figure it out.”  You know what happens when that gets said?

  • A random healer takes charge and everything is great.
  • A random healer takes charge and everyone hates him/her.
  • A random healer takes charge and no one listens to a word said by him/her, and the healing is totally screwed.
  • Everyone does their own thing, no one assigns anything, and everyone fumbles around for the first few fights until either the healing falls apart of everything goes great.

You, as the raid leader, may get the same reaction, but it is less likely because people know you’re the raid leader–it’s your job to assign stuff (especially for small groups.)

What to Do Along the Way

You’ve formed up your group, got everyone’s roles figured out, loot rules given, and you’re ready to start.  Sometime during the night, maybe even on the first pull, you see something you don’t like.  The tank ran ahead before a ready check, the healer /afk’d without notice, the dps is pulling targets from side rooms.  What do you do?

1.  Don’t ignore it!

If you ignore behavior that you find absolutely dead-wrong people will continue to do it, causing a perceptible increase in your blood pressure throughout the night.  By ignoring things you do not like, you are silently ok’ing said behavior.  Address any “odd” behaviors immediately, but not unkindly, or you will find yourself alone.  Whispers are fine to clear up individual issues, and will be less likely to result in a member leaving from puffed up pride.

2. Don’t be such an autocratic ass that your party hates you

Yes, you are the raid leader.  We respect that you’re giving up some of your fun to herd cats.  That doesn’t mean you can treat everyone like a child and expect them to perform, or even stay, to be bullied by you.

3.  Don’t give ultimatums

Things like, “If I see X again you’re gone,” ensures that person will be leaving immediately.

4.  Do not expect people to ‘fess up.

If someone, just for an example, turns off the ICC buff, holding up the entire raid to lecture said raid of the stupidity of one member of your team, and demanding multiple times that they “Name themselves so I know which one of you is the moron,” is not going to get anyone to respond.  If you don’t like a behavior, but can’t figure out where’s it’s coming from, it’s much better to tell your raid, “This happened, and it’s not good because …..  Please don’t do something like …. again without asking me first.”

5.  Avoid raid warnings

“But it makes people pay attention!  It’s big, bright orange across the middle of the screen and it makes noise!!!!”  Uh-uh.  And people become desensitized when you’re telling people every little detail in /rw.  Eventually, important messages like “Spike!” or “Hero/BL” will be ignored by your raiders.  Don’t get carried away with the power ‘mon.

Never, Ever Ask “Everyone Know the Fights?”

You will never get a correct response to this one.  People who don’t have a kill on any toon to their name will stay silent.  People who have cleared enough bosses for an achievement of some kind will link it.  However, just because they made the kill with another group does not mean they did the kill the way you intend to do the kill.

(Segue) When I ran Ulduar, we had killed the keepers within two weeks of release.  None of us ran beta.  Myself and the other raid leader did not read strats.  We formed our own based on our experiences in the dungeon (and all those other handy bosses we’d seen along the way).  When we started recruiting a couple of months later, we discovered that we had some really out there strategies according to our new recruits.  Just because it works doesn’t mean it’s the only way.

Before every boss give a short, concise description of major portions of the fight.  Spikes, fire, and expected placement on Marrowgar for example.  This saves you time, because you don’t have to wait for a non-response before every boss, and it is more likely to get any questions or comments out of the way early. You don’t want to be half-way through a fight, or running back in from a wipe to discover a key component to your strategy wasn’t covered, because someone didn’t know the drill.

Running a PUG Can Be Ok

I’ve run quite a few myself, and they generally end up quite well.  However, I follow my own advice, try to treat everyone with respect (where they can see the type/hear me anyway) and chastise myself is I allow a behavior I don’t like to continue without nipping it in the bud, or asking that person to leave.  When you’re running a PUG, you are responsible for it, but you’re also dealing with all the hassles for a reason: to get the ability to raid.  Make sure you surround yourself with people you can stand, and leave the jerks to find another party.  Alienate your team, however, and everyone goes home unhappy, and possibly with some blacklisted names.

Just a note: While this post is based on my fail pug from last night, it was actually a nice group.  I watched the raid leader make some of these mistakes, and it inspired the post; however, he was definitely a great sport for giving it a go, keeping spirits high, and generally wanting the whole night to go well.  Some days, it’s just not meant to be!


9 thoughts on “So You Wanna Lead?

    • I keep telling myself I'm not that healer… and then no one says anything… and then I overheal until the entire raid is lit up like christmas trees with little chain heal bounces… then I get aggravated that no one is doing their job….

      Then I become that healer. And they definitely hate me. I should learn tact.

    • Those poor kitten herders. You really gotta feel sorry for them after you get done being mad at the mess thay made 😛

  1. I really love this article. The thoughts of lewt had by the raid leader tends to overcome any common sense they may have in putting together a group of people who do not know each other to complete a common goal. There are some things that cannot be stressed enough though, many in this article, especially: be pro-active in your initial group formation.
    and yes, I was part of a 10 man with an entire group of paladins as a druid once, a single ranged (hunter) and the rest melee dps and then another 10 man, end bosses of naxx, ONLY HEALER. I told people that if they valued their life they would remember that THEY SHOULD HAVE FIRST AID. I was awestruck when I found out that a tree can heal Sapphiron and the only think keeping a single heal from being able to down Kel'Thuzad is the frost blast and mana detonation. I kept getting frost blasted.

    • It's easy to get wrapped in the whole power trip of that dark orange text ^^

      Single healing on KT is difficult, and generally requires a dps willing to off-heal if/when the healer gets trapped in ice. I've been in groups who've done it, but it has also been understood by the rest of the party that SOMEONE has to heal 😛

  2. Thanks, my husband and I do pug raids a good bit and this tips are really quite handy… I've been letting him do most of the leading but I'm starting to think I should take the "heal lead" role and let him do the strategy/tank lead stuff. Division of labor and all that.

    • That's actually a pretty good idea 🙂 I know when I'm in tanking mode the healing assigns become a pretty low priority because, I just need them to be there; however, when you're the one healing, it IS VERY important lol

      Zel has a pretty good break-down of healing roles for new raid leaders as well.

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