Balancing stubbornness and flexibility for progression

Back in our twenty-five-man days (and oh, does it feel weird to talk like that) we had an excellent raid leader for several years. He really did a great job most of the time, and the occasions when I disagreed with his strategic decisions were pretty rare. When I did disagree however, the thing that I usually tended to get annoyed with was how seemingly stubborn he could be about going through with his plans no matter what. Every wipe felt like such a huge waste of time then. Why couldn't he see that this obviously wasn't going to work and let us do things a different way already?

Sometimes I was right; sometimes I was wrong and his strategy actually worked just fine. The only point I'm trying to make is that I didn't like what felt like an insistence on doing things the same way over and over, even if we had already wiped a few times. I didn't understand it. Lately I'm developing a whole new appreciation for this line of thinking however...

Our current raid leader is made of a very different cloth and very open to suggestions. I thought that this would be a great thing! I'd just tell him what to do if I noticed a problem, he'd follow my advice and everything would be peachy! Yeeeah, right. Aside from the fact that I'm obviously not always right, there are still eight other people in the raid who also have opinions that are often conflicting. While we're civilised enough to not shout each other down or anything of the like, I'm quickly finding that "let's just try out all kinds of different ideas in rapid succession" actually feels much worse than stubbornly following the same strategy for try after try.

Last night for example we had a pretty bad raid. We had a new drake combo on Halfus Wyrmbreaker and didn't get him down. Worse though, I felt that we didn't learn anything from all the wiping, or at least I didn't, and that's because we kept changing strategy every couple of attempts. Two tanks, three tanks, two dragons out at once, one dragon out at once, dps interrupting Halfus, all dps on the dragon, and so on and so forth.

The problem from my point of view was that I couldn't even tell what was and wasn't working by the time we changed strategies yet again. The thing is, most players will make mistakes, and often they can be completely unrelated to the actual strategy. If someone misses a crucial interrupt, that fact might be related to the strategy, depending on what else that person is supposed to be doing, but it could also just be a random botch. Same with things like a healer forgetting to heal themselves, a damage dealer pulling aggro or a tank taunting at the wrong time. You won't know unless you keep trying to see whether a pattern emerges or if it was just random.

People are particularly prone to making mistakes like that when they are learning a new fight, because they have to pay attention to a lot of things at once that aren't part of their muscle memory yet. And whenever you change the strategy, you force them to learn something new yet again, leading to more chances for random mess-ups... and so the spiral goes on and on, as people get more and more confused about what exactly they are supposed to do this attempt, make more random mistakes, and the raid leader decides yet again that we should probably try something else because clearly this strategy isn't working either as people keep messing up. Never mind that we wiped after twenty seconds because the tank disconnected, not because of anything related to the actual strategy.

Or I don't know, maybe I'm just particularly sensitive to this kind of thing as a healer because healing is such a balancing act right now. As I said before, I'm happy to run myself oom early on during a new fight and then slowly throttle the healing on subsequent attempts to see how much mana I can conserve without letting people die. However, if damage patterns change on every attempt, if I have to move a lot while healing three tanks and on the next attempt there is heavy AoE on top of only two tanks... I just can't get a grip on anything. Last night I actually started to have more mana problems as the night went on, because things started to feel more and more unpredictable and I was just panicking about people dying.

At this point I was really just longing for someone to put their foot down and say "this is how we do it", and even if it's not the best strategy there is, we can at least practice it. I'd rather master a strategy that is less than ideal than discard ten others just because they don't lead to miracles after two attempts.

Clearly it doesn't matter how our raid leaders handle things: I'll always find something to complain about.


  1. Dr Van Howzen of the Azeroth HSE (an organization I'd never heard of before today) had put forward proposals that will effectively mean an end to wiping in instances.

    I somehow feel it would also mean the end of adventuring, though.

  2. I have never been to a raid, but it seems to me after a wipe there are a few steps:
    1)first discuss what went wrong
    2a)Mistakes by people: try to explain what can be better and try again. This step is also part of learning/communicating so the group will eventually behave as a unity.
    2b)If nobody made obvious mistakes and only if there is the group spirit: Change the attack plan.

    One tool which could be handy is to record the run and discuss it afterwards, which i did with a guild run of mine. (For those interested we were teaching Jocko our paladin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFrYMcYWBaI&feature=feedlik )

  3. I guess this is a typical "too many cooks spoil the broth" situation - while being open to suggestions is good, there needs to be a limit and point where a leader IS the leader after all and makes decisions from his perspective. otherwise you end up with utter chaos and the raid waits forever, hehe...

    it's a tough balancing act at times and probably why good leaders are rare to find. nobody needs to be perfect of course, but you need to have a knack for decision making and seeing things through. personally I'd rather give a bad strategy a go and improve it later, than having 10 people discuss stuff forever.

  4. @Dàchéng: Hah, that's brilliant!

    @Mark: Our old guild leader used to record our runs for World of Logs but nobody else has really bothered since our big reorganising of the guild; we just look at Recount during the night. Maybe we should look into getting long-term records started again at some point.

    @Syl: Problem is our raid leader is naturally someone who likes to experiment, so it doesn't even require all of us making different suggestions... ;)