The leader can never close the gap between himself and the group. If he does, he is no longer what he must be. He must walk a tightrope between the consent he must win and the control he must exert. –Vince Lombardi

The dynamic of a raid leading position in World of Warcraft is one that I believe is unique among all other team-based games. Aside from handling loot (and it’s additional overhead, i.e. dkp) and coordinating your bench players, there are several plates spinning even before you reach a boss. Everything from keeping the pace up through the trash to making sure everything is assigned and in order for the boss coming up soon.

The goal of the raid is to kill bosses, collect loot, progress through the content, and do it all while having a good time.

Re-read that sentence again and note the and. If one of the above tenets fails, then the goal cannot be completed. You can’t kill bosses, progress, have a good time and not get any loot. Take out one or many and the raid is not successful.

Sidebar: Wipe nights violate the above goal, but, obviously, are very important to progression focused raiding. Wipe nights on new/harder bosses are the equivalent to practice in team sports. You are working on strategy and fine tuning what you need to do to beat the upcoming opponent. It doesn’t have immediate rewards and isn’t always all that fun, but the first kill on a hard boss always gives that little zing of invigoration that only a first kill can give.

Typically a team engaging in competition will have several coaches, captains (leaders on the field of play), and the remaining players. Raiding’s twist is that everyone suits up to play. The raid leader is the coach, the tanks and officers become captains, and the other players look to them for leadership and direction. All still have an even stake, yet all are now participating equally. A coach standing on the sidelines can call a play and give it to his Quarterback to run. If it fails, the coach can find the reciever that ran the wrong route, grab his facemask and give him a stern, spit-laden talk on the sidelines.

But what if the coach was that receiver? Well, he just got Borsked.

Borsked – Get so annoyed at the raid for dying to an easy mechanic that you call them out on it. Then die to the same mechanic due to unavoidable circumstances – Kro,Paladeathshamage in <BRM>

Basically, the attempt immediately following your curse filled rant about how stupid it is to be dieing in void zones will be the attempt that your cat jumps up on your desk and knocks your mouse away. Then a void zone will be cast on you that will not only kill you, but spray egg out through the monitor directly onto your face.

BRM Raider Reply: How does the egg come out of the monitor? Through the power switch? I don’t think that would even work, monitors get hot and would probably cook the egg!

The 25th raid member, the 3rd hunter, one of the melee, their job is simple. DPS the boss, heal my assignment, don’t get caught in the fire. After leading raids for a long time, stepping into someone else’s raid, be it a PUG or alt-run with another guild, you start making up things to do to keep your brain occupied. It is liberating, but as a raid leader it makes you realize why people get distracted or screw up an easy mechanic.

For about 21 people every boss fight, the fight is monotonous. They watch themselves make big numbers pop up and do little else. A raid leader or tank stay focused because they have to. They are watching things from several angles. For them, getting distracted for too long means something important is missed and a wipe shortly follows.

The reason that most (normal mode) boss fights in Wrath of the Lich King are simple is because they require little if any teamwork. Many of the boss fights involve 25 individuals standing, performing what they always do, and the boss dies. The more teamwork and inter-player coordination a fight demands, the more difficult.

If you want to see a fight that goes from boring/easy to ridiculously hard by adding team elements, look at Mimiron. Mimiron normal mode is an exercise in individual responsibility. For nearly the entire fight everyone stands and waits for an ability to target them, then they move. Don’t get hit by rockets, don’t walk on mines, stay out of the lazers, keep spread out.

Mimiron Hardmode (Firefighter) is a completely different encounter. On top of the normal mode abilities, the fire spawning in the room must be coordinated and moved in a decisive manner. If one group of people misplace the fire or move it to an area that impedes another, the attempt will fail. It takes a lot of practice and is widely considered the most difficult boss fight in Wrath of the Lich King (hard mode Lich King aside).

The burden on every player in an encounter like this is very high individually and communally. It isn’t boring. There are lots of things to watch out for. Leading a Firefighter kill is a challenge unlike many other in gaming. You must direct the raid from phase to phase, progressing, learning, getting each piece down. However, you don’t get to sit on the sidelines or up in the coach’s box telling players where they need to go. You need to do it all while being 1 of the 5 or 6 healers, 1 of the ~17 DPS tasked with beating the 10 minute enrage timer, or 1 of 2 tanks doing the tango with a robot in the middle of a blazing inferno.

The WoW model for difficult fights is generally 8 to 10 minutes (or more) of focus at a time. To play at a high level requires a significant amount of dedication and skill. This demand for resolve in a 25 man raid setting is the reason 10 man raids have become incredibly popular in Wrath of the Lich King. As a raid leader of a 25 man guild, you accept the responsibility of leading and playing at this high level.

You accept it gladly.

There will be moments when you screw up greatly. You’ll shut down and get mad at yourself for not knowing a certain portion of a strategy. At the end of the night after it’s all over you’ll think “why didn’t we do this…” or “had so and so not dc’d on that one attempt.” Your job, just like after taking a void zone to the face, is to stand up confidently, and go at it with 10 times more enthusiasm the next raid. Coaches and, by extension, raid leaders don’t blame the other 24 players for not playing correctly. They go back to the drawing board and figure out how to modify the strategy to get everyone playing to the best of their ability.

Borsked moments keep you humble. They make you remember in the back of your head as you watch a cooldown timer that there’s still fire, that you can’t tunnel vision and blame anyone else. You might get a guaranteed raid spot as the raid leader, but you also get the added scrutiny and responsibility of playing mistake free.

The real question is, if you weren’t leading, would you still hold yourself to the same standard?


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