Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Raiding: The Team and You

Today's post is about raiding, teamwork and the player. I've had a couple conversations in the last month or so and this topic has really been brewing in my mind for quite some time. All too often raiding discussions focus on strategies, mechanics and the likes, and the core of what really makes a raid team click is left unsaid. Today I really want to talk about that unsaid bit because the attitude and philosophy driving a raid can really make or break the team.

If you've never raided but are considering it, this conversation has some interesting things for you; if you're a long time player who remembers the days of the giant 40-man raids, it might provide a refreshing reminder of going back to raiding roots. Hehe, "roots". Druids. Ahem, grab some coffee and join me!



I'm stating the obvious here but I'm going to go ahead and do it. Raiding is a team effort. Teamwork. In my mind, this includes a lot more than just coordinating adds. Amidst all the gearing, research into classes, stat balancing and whatnot that goes into a raid, there are two underlying ideas that define the raid: attitude and communication. These bring us back to why a good raid member spends five minutes to research his spec in more detail or why the tank takes 15 minutes to talk to his healer outside a raid.


The Attitude

A team effort implies everyone works together towards the success of a goal - in this case, the merciless slaughtering of internet foes. It also implies that as a raid member, the team's benefit tops your priority list while personal preferences come right below that. In other words, raiding has no room for selfishness.What this means does differ on the kind of guild and progression the team is going for -- some guilds require you to do a lot more than others. However, I'm referring to what are the more core standards that apply to all levels of raiding.

More often that not, the reasons for researching your class or spending some time gearing up is usually a result of "because my raid lead told me so" or "because I'll be kicked if I don't". But its not really about any of those things. It really comes down to this: If I'm not at my best, I will be holding the rest of my team back and letting those 9/24 people down.

Keeping in mind the reasons for why we spend time doing something is just as important as what we're doing. And I know that sometimes with all the details of number crunching, kiting and everything else, the big idea can be lost.

Classic example of where this came into play for me this weekend: I bought my tier 12 chest piece. I was literally at war with myself about this, no joke. I had no desire to look like a fashion disaster (call me shallow but how I look is pretty important to me!), but the healer in me wanted to be better. It made me be very honest about my priorities and I had to ask myself, is it alright if I don't get this even though I know I'll be a better healer? Does my team care that I'm unhappy about this? If they don't, heck why am I even healing? Putting the team first isn't always easy and isn't always a no-brainer which is why it helps to remember why I heal and why I raid. I wasn't sure I'd be happy with myself for holding my team back.

Ultimately, the team won out for me but not without a complete stack of Noggenfogger elixir. The result? I look badass as a healing undead, and I'm happy to be better healer for my raid. Bottomline was the team came first and a little creativity was all that was needed for it to be a win-win.

The idea of putting your team's benefits above your own doesn't mean that you can't have your cake and eat it too, as my example showed. Very often you can play in a unique style and be a fine raider as well. There are, however, judgement calls to be made sometimes, and at these times its important to remember the big picture as to why we do this - it goes a long way in shaping the raid's perspective.

The Conversation

Another part that goes largely unsaid but really makes the raid glue together is communication. It doesn't happen overnight certainly, but every little discussion even outside the raid with fellow members can go a long way in building lasting relationships.

Why bother? Because its one step closer to having an understanding that makes it that much easier to kill a boss. Thats why we're here afterall - the killing of internet dragons, humanoids and demons.

Over the last six months of raiding I made it a point to talk to my main tank about any issues I had healing him. Sometimes it was during the raid and sometimes it was after the raid. Similarly, I'd speak up if I needed help on the healing front. It not only helped with refining strategies for future attempts but the team began to sync well together. Example, if one of our tank healers goes down, one of us immediately covers their assignment for as long as we can. Nothing is said, noone needs to ask -- its just done. Similarly if I pulled one of my epic heal goofs, they'd have my back. (Refer to Epic Heal Goofs for more information on these XD )

Any time I doubt this, all I need to do is to PuG a raid or heck, even solo PuG a dungeon and the difference between playing with strangers and playing with a team is all too apparent. So, just talk to them...even if it is just a "Hey, boy was that a tough fight...."

Ideas to Action:

Ideas are important but its not just enough to say you value your team unless it actually shows. At the end of day, one's actions reflects one's attitude and this is no different. Here is a concise checklist of basic things that come up while raiding -- but I've put the why in there to change perspective a little.
  • Gear: Gear makes a difference on how much you can do to contribute in the raid. For basics, all this means is to have appropriate gear for class, spend the time to gem it, enchant it, and balance stats the best you can. From a healer's perspective, it is afterall the means to help you save your raid members. Showing up without the basics essentially says, you don't care about holding back your fellow raiders. 
  • Research: This can be equally important especially when its about your class. If you don't know something, its easy to look up and doesn't take too much time. Example: I know that I'd be holding my raid back as a healer if I don't spend five minutes knowing the importance of haste and haste breakpoints as a druid. This doesn't imply you have to have a PhD on the nuances of your class but knowing a little can go a long way.
  • Addons: Some love them and some hate them and honestly, its fine either way. The key questions to be asking yourself here is whether it would help you be better at what you do? will it help the raid? If honest answers to both of those are yes, its probably worth getting and finding a creative way to make it work with you. 
  • Meters: Some people love meters. I once met a healer who swore by the meters. Ask yourself again, does looking at meters help my team? Does it help the boss die quicker? I've found that majority of the time it takes attention away from the fight and onto something that doesn't help your group in any way.  Playing as a part of the team is much smurfier -- such as kiting adds, covering for a fellow healer etc. If you're looking at meters, you're essentially putting your own progress above the team's. High numbers in anything don't equate to teamwork. And besides, I guarantee boss corpses look better than numbers in a screenshot!
  • Supporting your team members: Didn't expect this one did you. The upshot is that the little things matter. If someone feels they need more gear or more time before moving on, supporting them helps the team way more than putting one's own progression desires on top. Example: Hark back to my tier 12 dilemma. I know that my raid team would go back and kill stuff to help me get the heroic tier 11 chest if I wanted it. They don't have to -- its obsolete content afterall, and Firelands is the new hotspot. Fashion as a reason doesn't appeal to everyone either. But they would nonetheless because one team member being unhappy matters to everyone. Having support when you're in a pickle goes a long way in defining the team.
At the end of the day, its all about having fun in a raid as a team. Thinking about the big ideas that are often taken for granted can help in maintaining perspective and grounding the team when things get tough. I hope I've provided for some interesting food for thought! Thanks for reading and happy raiding! =)

2 comments:

  1. よく書いてあるよ。このようなチームワークこそ、我がギルドの目標とする理想だ。

    ReplyDelete