Editorial: Jumping Into The Deep End With Raid Leading

_Rebecca’s note: Honestly, you wait for an editorial for a month and two come along at once! They’re like busses. Or patches. Anyway, who is this Ross guy who’s posting an editorial? He’s a friend of all of us at the Pot, a long term gamer and a blogger on and off, young son and hectic life permitting. He’s written here before but is now officially joining the staff to post occasionally. Please welcome him to the Pot – you can read more about him here (his blurb is hilarious) – otherwise, I’ll leave the floor to Ross…._

“If you ever need me to raid lead for an evening, just to take the pressure off, just let me know”

I had to say it didn’t I? Anyone who has ever had any contact with the armed forces, or even contact with anyone who has been in the armed forces will know very well the old adage: Never Volunteer.

Let me rewind a couple of ice ages and put this in some kind of historical context. I raided a little towards the end of Vanilla WoW, just the occasional Core Hound pack wipe in desperate efforts in getting a shot at Lucifron and some shinies. Even back then, I had taken it upon myself to learn tactics for every single boss in every single raid up to C’Thun in AQ40. I worked really hard to get all my attunements (including the damn Onyxia quest chain – Jail Break ARGH!!!) but alas Burning Crusade hit before I could get my backside in gear to raid properly and I was level 64 before I saw Rag go down.

Moving on, I joined a small raiding guild doing Karazhan twice a week for a while until Age of Conan dragged everyone away in the pre-expansion down time so I hopped back into a guild of friends and applied my raiding experience to leading Kara runs.

When Wrath dropped I lost momentum, levelled to 80 just as my friends were getting Kingslayer and practically stopped playing after too many early heroic experiences involving lolboiz and GearScore.

My game of catchup in Cataclysm is still being documented on my personal blog at Return to Azeroth but needless to say I got geared and ready for raiding just in time much to my general excitement.

Raiding was exactly how I remembered it, challenging. I’m told Wrath was pretty straight forward but I never even set foot in Naxx so I have no comparison. It was hard going – lots of fire to stand in, lots of tactics to remember, great fun! Suddenly at the point where we’d gotten to 212 – that is Magmaw and Algalon down and several weeks of Omnotron Defence System wipes that I found out in private that our usual leaders were on the verge of burning out. That’s the point at which I mindlessly volunteered myself. The very next week I was in the driving seat, and ye gods I’d forgotten what it was like.

Now we try and do guild runs but we are literally ten people so as soon as someone cannot make it then it’s off to find a replacement. One of our members has had non-stop internet issues so we’ve always had one stand-in since we started raiding Cata. Of course it’s easy to maintain a policy of behave or get booted but at what stage do you draw the line? I’ve had folks argue about tactics I’ve spent hours preparing because it’s not what they have done with their guild – not kickworthy in my books but then it’s upset the rest of the raid because it’s happened in /raid. So you have to prioritise peoples’ happiness, happiness of the greatest number, happiness of the guests, happiness of your friends and regular raiders – where do you begin?

There’s almost too much to remember as well. Not only do you have to explain tactics (several times for those that weren’t listening – no that’s not fair – a few people always miss one little bit or another though) but don’t forget there’s trash as well – need to make sure they’re not going to kill you. Oh and no one mentioned being an expert in every single class the game offers… I’ve got no idea how paladins work, what a Beacon is, what Timewarp does or why Death Knights run off cliffs. But suddenly people were asking me who to Beacon, when to cast Timewarp and why the Death Knight had run off the bloody cliff. No idea.

Ok so maybe I’m painting a bleaker picture than necessary. I’m getting an absolute thrill out of raiding and even more from leading. We’re now at 412 after 3 weeks under my delicate wing having seen Omnotron fall on my first week in and Halfus on our first go at him the second week in. Theralion and Valiona attempts were slightly abortive due to a short time schedule and some slightly rushed tactics explanations but we still managed to give Algalon his weekly spanking before calling it a night.

All in all I have to say it’s not for the faint hearted, you have to make harsh decisions, deal with endless well meaning (and less well meaning) whispers, share out loot, put in tons of prep for progression content but it’s so damn worth it – I’m completely addicted, I’m not even sure how I could not backseat raid when it’s not my turn anymore. My only concern now is that I’m going to get lazy raiders again soon once patch 4.2 drops. I’m sure I’ll find ways of keeping them busy – perhaps 9 man runs – insert evil cackles here.