Meet the Raid Leaders: Competitive Two-Day Guilds, Arctic Avengers and Rain
As the Race for World First (RWF) gears up for yet another exciting competition, RWF guilds are not the only ones preparing and getting excited for the next raid tier. Raiders across the world are preparing for the new raid, and only very few of them are actively participating in the RWF. Many more are instead aiming for an entry into the WoW Hall of Fame, have set their goals at getting Cutting Edge (CE) Achievement before the new raid comes out, or are simply enjoying the raid at their own pace. In fact, there are a handful of players that manage to achieve astounding success, while only raiding 2 days a week, 4 hours each.
To learn more about some of the best 2-day guilds from EU and NA, we spoke with raid leaders Unholydeathh of Arctic Avengers (EU), and Please of Rain (NA).
Want to find out more about how their path to raid leading started, their best (and worst) experiences as a raid leader, the struggles of raiding only 2-days a week while still pushing for Hall of Fame, or their thoughts on some of the more recent changes like the simultaneous raid release? Read on!
Table of Contents
- Meet the Raidleaders
- Guild Information
- History as a Raidleader
- Greatest Accomplishments
- Differences to RWF Guilds
- How to Motivate the Raid
- How to Prepare for Raids
- Simultaneous Difficulty Release
- Raid Leading from the Outside
- Spreadsheet Nightmares
- Each Guild as a Meme
- Advice to Aspiring Raidleaders
- Final Thoughts and Shoutouts
“If a player makes the same mistakes a couple of times, instead of bashing him for it, what I do is ask the raider if there is anything we can do to help…Listening to your raiders feedback and really understanding the problems the team is facing is the key to fast-paced progression.” —Unholydeathh
Q-1: Hi! Let’s start things off with an introduction about yourselves and the characters you play!
Unholydeathh: Hey, my name is Borko, I’m 26 years old and I’m from Belgrade, Serbia. Currently, I am studying for my masters degree in computer science, alongside working full time as a software developer. I started playing WoW in late Wrath of the Lich King, and that’s also when I’ve picked up playing a Death Knight, which has more or less been my beloved main character ever since. Throughout my raiding career I’ve always been a tank, adapting to the guild’s needs, and playing whichever tank class was best, on a tier by tier basis.
Please: Hello! My name is Tim and I’m a 30 year old gamer from central Wisconsin. I work for Sierra Pacific Industries in general assembly and have been coaching high school marching band as a Percussion Technician for the past 8 years. My WoW story began back in WotLK, when my best friend Max got me into the game. Back then I played casually as a Warlock and Discipline Priest. I switched to Restoration Shaman in Cataclysm and have loved the Shaman class ever since. However, anyone who knows me will claim that Boomkin is my favorite class in the game ;). Outside of WoW, I like to spend my time either playing Destiny 2, Rocket League, and New World, or working on music for the drumline. I would say being a coach definitely shares similarities with leading a raid team – needing to have clear goals and plans, making sure everyone is on board with the direction the group is aiming for, and keeping rehearsals (or raids) productive and efficient.
Q-2: Both of you are raid leading very successful 2-day progression guilds. Can you tell us a bit more about the guild you play in now and its history?
Unholydeathh: I joined Arctic Avengers in 2015, which was a guild created during Warlords of Draenor by Vayyn and Sylow (GM and Raidleader at the time), on EU-Ravencrest, Alliance. I believe the original AA originated from another server – EU-Karazhan, during WotLK, but I’m not really sure about the specifics. I was instantly blown away by how relaxed the guild was, and since I was studying for my exams at the time to get into university, I was very happy that I managed to find a guild that didn’t raid as much, but still achieved good results. During Tomb of Sargeras, Vayyn decided to stop playing the game and suggested me as the new GM of the guild. I’ve been the GM of the guild ever since, alongside my fellow officers – Tankzorx, Vape, and Memescoper. Unfortunately, as time went on, getting recruits on the Alliance side became more and more difficult, since most of the top-end playerbase was on Horde. We’ve decided to make the swap to Horde after clearing Ny’alotha (with quite a few of Ravencrest Alliance guilds deciding to do the same) and we’ve been residing on Kazzak-Horde ever since.
Please: Gosh, where do I begin!? Rain-Stormreaver is the shell of a guild called Paradise-Skullcrusher, which is where I first started raiding seriously back in the last tier of MoP, and where I met my GM at the time and now one of my best friends, Trademark. He and I led the guild through the transition from 10-man to 20-man for the homogenized mythic raiding going into WoD, which took a tremendous amount of planning and preparation. After calling it quits on Mythic Mannoroth, I continued raiding casually with some friends on the weekends, where we eventually finished the tier. Going into Legion, we decided to pick things up again and get back to more serious raiding, while sticking to the more casual 8-hour schedule. Thus, Rain was born.
Q-3: How long have you been a raid leader, and what made you decide to take on this huge responsibility?
Unholydeathh: I’ve started raid leading in Firelands, after the raid leader of my guild at the time decided to step down and the rest of the raid team nominated me to step up. All I wanted was for us to be better, so I didn’t mind taking on extra responsibilities, as long as we kept improving as a team. At first, I was just calling out mechanics during raids and making some basic assignments for the guild, responsibilities I didn’t mind taking over since I was already doing plenty of boss research of my own. It quickly became apparent to me that being a raid leader isn’t only about that, but more often than not, the social aspects such as dealing with different personalities and conflicts. I believe I was 14 at the time, while most of the guild was in their mid 20s, which made dealing with problems pretty hard as I was a bit clueless on how to handle these different situations. It was a great challenge I was willing to take on, and that’s something unique about raiding in WoW which keeps me going to this day.
Please: I have been raid leading pretty much ever since I started actively raiding back in the beginning of Cataclysm (since 2010). I don’t know if I have a good reason for why I decided to take on the responsibility of it all, other than that I think I am just a more natural leader and have been all my life.
Q-4: What are some of the greatest accomplishments you’ve had in the game, both as players and as raid leaders? What are some of your biggest highlights?
Unholydeathh: I believe our greatest achievement was the fact that we’ve made a long list of friends during our journey as a guild, while sharing some unforgettable moments both in-game and outside of it. Meeting my guild mates IRL was definitely a unique experience that I’m hoping to experience again some time. Watching specific players and the team evolve both as players and as people has made me really proud, and the thought that I had even the slightest influence on that makes me very happy. As for the guild’s in-game achievements, killing both Sylvanas and Sire Denathrius in just two 4-hour raid nights, and achieving the respective Horde Famed Slayer titles, were definitely the highlights of the guild so far. As for my own personal achievements, achieving a Realm First Mythic +15 key in Legion with my guild mates and getting all the whispers in the chat will always have a special place in my heart, as well as managing to kill Kruul in the original Mage tower as one of the first Blood DKs.
Please: It’s so hard to pick my greatest personal accomplishments I’ve had in the game because almost none of it comes alone. It’s a shared experience with the friends and communities you create. The transition from 10-man to 20-man I believe was probably one of the greatest accomplishments I’ve made (with the help of Trademark of course). It took a ludicrous amount of planning to pull that off smoothly and come out better on the other side.
Personally, if I have to try to pick one of my favorite moments, it has to be achieving Famed Slayer for Crucible of Storms and getting realm first Mar’gok in Highmaul, when the game still announced the kill to the whole server.
“Outlining and elucidating your expectations and goals for each tier will alleviate some of the stress that comes with making difficult decisions like extending lockouts. Most decisions you make will be judgment calls.” —Please
Q-5: Raiding only 8 hours a week, what would you say are the biggest differences to some of the top-end guilds that raid more than that in a single day? How do you judge when to start extending lockouts and to no longer farm for gear?
Unholydeathh: I think the biggest difference when it comes to the raiders themselves, is the ability to stay focused and being able to deliver top notch gameplay throughout long raid sessions. In our case, we can definitively feel the tiredness come in towards the back-end of our 4-hour raids. The fact that the top-end players can play for 3-4 times longer than that in a single day is just unimaginable for me. Besides time, another factor that I think makes a crucial difference, is the amount of min-max preparation and game knowledge, specifically in terms of designing spreadsheets, assignments, analyzing defensive/offensive cooldowns, developing their own WeakAuras and even addons (even just looking at the KT practice addon was just insane).
The fact that the top-end guilds develop their own strategies, from scratch, whenever they face a new boss in a raid is quite insane. Whenever we tackle a boss, we have a bunch of public resources available to us such as boss kill videos, logs and WeakAuras, which makes it easy to adjust and copy. Even with those resources available, some of the bosses were rather hard to execute, and to even think that the top-end guilds had to not only go through a similar process, but also had to actually devise the strategy themselves is, in my opinion, often overlooked.
When it comes to making decisions such as extending lockouts, that’s usually a group effort. By the time we reach the final bosses, we already know if there’s a specific setup a boss fight favors and if having more gear is going to make a drastic change. Just with weekly Great Vault upgrades, Mythic+ gear, BoEs etc., we always have more gear than the top-end guilds when we reach the later fights, which usually means that learning the fight and making small tactical adjustments is enough to deliver a boss kill. Generally, we aim to start extending the lockout as soon as we can, usually when we are close to the end-half of the raid. To put things into perspective, in Castle Nathria, killing Stone Legion Generals meant you’re ‘done’ with the raid, since Sire was just a lot easier, especially with the gear we had, so most guilds opted to extend the lockout there. In Sanctum of Domination, getting past Painsmith Raznal meant you’re ‘done’ with the raid, since the other bosses got overgeared pretty hard by the Shards of Domination system, so gear was already irrelevant and it was just a matter of getting to Sylvanas.
Arctic Avengers Sylvanas Kill (volume warning!)
Please: This is going to be a long one. The biggest difference between most top-end guilds and us, largely, is the time spent in raid. However, I want to make it clear that there are a bunch of guilds with players that are just on a different level entirely, skill-wise. Big props to those guilds and players, and I definitely do not want to diminish anyone’s accomplishments here!
Every guild’s success usually boils down to preparation. I had the absolute pleasure of raiding Sepulcher of the First Ones with Avade, and got to talk to him a little bit about the differences in process between a RWF guild like Liquid versus Rain specifically. Outside of the obvious fact that their players are outstanding gamers across the board, the biggest difference, he said, was preparation. The amount of spreadsheets, damage/healing/health/composition calculations, and beta testing a guild like Liquid does, is something you need to see to believe. Even the differences in preparation comparing one RWF guild to another can be pretty drastic.
Extending a lockout is a delicate topic and there are a lot of questions you have to ask yourself and your team. Do we have enough gear right now to finish the tier? Will the upgrades we can still get from Mythic+ and the Great Vault be enough? How much time do we lose to reclearing each week? How will the guild respond to extending right now (as only 20 players will see active play for most nights going forward)? What are other guilds in our bracket doing? Do we want to extend and try to push for a higher rank at the cost of some sanity? How long do we expect to spend on each upcoming boss (aka how long will we be extending for)? Some questions hold more weight than others but all are important things to consider and will depend on your specific guild and the players you have. For us, we know going into every tier that we are a “hardcore” progression guild. We are hardcore in our approach to the game, not the hours we raid, and we will be doing what is best for the guild’s progression and rank. Outlining and elucidating your expectations and goals for each tier will alleviate some of the stress that comes with making difficult decisions like extending lockouts. Most decisions you make will be judgment calls.
For us, in Sepulcher, we had a conversation about extending already when we were still progressing on Halondrus. As most of the power increase came from having tier bonuses, we realized that reclearing the earlier bosses wasn’t fruitful enough to warrant the time commitment each week to re-clear them. The only boss that was really making us consider to perhaps not extend, was Prototype Pantheon, as the First Sigil trinket that dropped there was still a big dps increase for most of our dps. In the end, we decided that the time lost to re-clear for just that item alone, and having to re-kill Halondrus (a challenging boss at the time), was simply not worth the progression time we would lose.
“We have a fun but focused environment because I want to help make raid night something our people look forward to, rather than dread. I’ve found that if people are enjoying themselves, they will play better as a result.” —Please
Q-6: With so little time to progress, every mistake can be damning, cost a lot of valuable time, and we’ve all experienced how quickly players can blame themselves, or each other. How do you keep everybody motivated when the inevitable negative spiraling starts?
Unholydeathh: My emphasis has always been on learning and constructive criticism during raids. When we reach a new boss and we see some new mechanics for the first time, and some raider handles it well or doesn’t do it correctly, I usually talk about it after we wipe. Sometimes, even during the pull, I’d say something along the lines of - “Hey guys, look at raider X over there on the Blue mark with that mechanic, that’s where you want to be every single time”. My main goal with this approach is (don’t mind the badly cited quote): it’s great to learn from your mistakes, but it’s best to learn from other people’s mistakes. This doesn’t have to be strictly about your own raids. Since I follow a lot of streams of either RWF progression or other guilds progressing, I take clips and write down the usual wipe points and mechanics that guilds have most problems with, then I present those clips to my raiders, while explaining what the person in the clip did right or wrong.
Something else I think is very useful to do, is to host a watch-together with your raiders on a referenced boss kill video, and explain in detail what’s happening and why – getting everyone on the same page is crucial for progression to be smooth. I believe this approach ensures we save as much time as possible going into a raid, in addition to your raiders actually doing research of their own. If a player makes the same mistakes a couple of times, instead of bashing him for it, what I do is ask the raider if there is anything we can do to help him out, whether it’s finding/making a WeakAura for him, swapping him off an assignment or calling out the specific mechanic to help him out. Listening to your raiders feedback and really understanding the problems the team is facing is the key to fast-paced progression.
When it comes to being strict during raids, I was never in a super serious guild. From my own experience, the more relaxed the atmosphere was, the better were the results. Although I’d say we’re way more on the meme side, so sometimes it does get out of hand and we play worse, but we usually tone down the memes a bit, put our game faces back on and continue.
As for motivation, setting realistic goals for the team to strive towards has been the thing that worked out the best for us. We really wanted to get a Famed Slayer Title on Horde with our raiding schedule, and we played out of our minds to get those in both Castle Nathria and Sanctum of Domination.
Please: I think it is a balancing act between playing the fun parent vs the strict parent. There are times where you need to buckle down and be serious, but that can be mentally draining for everyone, which will in turn make the group play worse. On the flipside, if you screw around too much, you will fall behind. We have a fun but focused environment because I want to help make raid night something our people look forward to, rather than dread. I’ve found that if people are enjoying themselves, they will play better as a result. No one likes to get yelled at or make a mistake and then know they will have to hear about it for the next 5 minutes. If you make a mistake, just own up to it (everyone knows or can find out who messed up anyway) and do better next time. If a player keeps making the same mistake or we know a player will not respond well to certain responsibilities, arrangements will be made to not have them in that situation. A great example of this would be Halondrus, where you had to have your best players doing the bomb juggling. If you place the bomb in the hands of a player who will not reliably perform and do the mechanic correctly, you will wipe repeatedly because of it.
Motivation is an important part of a raid leader’s job. Our worst boss in guild history happened to be Rygelon (some of you may know it as the “Rain Rygelon Incident”). It was far and away the worst we as a guild have ever performed on a boss for a plethora of reasons. For one, we didn’t have our star Resto Druid play because we knew that he was going to be out the following week when we were projected to kill it. In hindsight, this was a mistake because it meant that we were learning the boss with a very suboptimal healing composition and it was much harder than we had anticipated. Also, we did not handle quasars correctly, which threw off our timing of quasar deaths from pull to pull, so our raid couldn’t get into a rhythm. Furthermore, we felt like we needed to bring the highest damage classes; however, this mentality should not normally be the case. You are much better off taking your best mechanical players on bosses that require tight execution, and the damage will fall into place with more pulls.
There were a ton more things on a pull to pull basis that went wrong, and as the wipe count kept rising, so did players' tempers. I think it is important to acknowledge and state the obvious so that the tension isn’t being ignored. Saying something along the lines of “I know we aren’t doing well, and tensions are high, but we all need to work together and we will kill this boss” is very important in just alleviating the stress that most people are feeling on difficult bosses.
“I think having mandatory requirements like raid testing, reaching a certain item level or artifact power or doing something before a raid night is VERY unhealthy for a guild that isn’t partaking in the RWF.”
Q-7: How do you prepare for upcoming raids and bosses, especially as you do not have mandatory PTR or Beta testing in your guild?
Unholydeathh: Before I begin I’d like to shout out a couple of guilds and specific people, for their public resources, help and their impact they’ve had on the community.
First, I’d like to shout out Future as the guild which, in my opinion, popularized televising progression on Twitch.tv and had a huge role in the environment we have today – with the top end guilds continuing that trend and presenting to us, in real-time, what they’re going through, and making the RWF as entertaining as it is today.
There are a couple of other guilds I’d like to shout out here, that I have huge respect for, but that sadly aren’t raiding anymore: Group Therapy, Halcyon and Security. I used to scout their public logs and kill-videos whenever preparing for our own raids, and their public resources helped out immensely, and I thank them all for that. As for guilds that are still raiding and delivering insane results while public logging, I’d like to shout out Northern Sky and Honestly, and wish them the best of luck in the upcoming tier. Last but not least, I’d like to specifically shout out Reloe and Causese for their public WeakAuras. Without those, some bosses would’ve been impossible to progress on.
Having all of these resources available is a game changer, and it allows us to come into raids knowing what to expect. To expand on the previous question, for our guild, what I had the most success with, was visual learning. From my experience, I can write essays worth of notes and assignments, but when we actually show up for a raid, chances are, someone got lost in all that wall of text and didn’t actually read what’s important for their role.
As I said, I like to make clips of the usual pain points or mechanics that the raiders seem to have more issues with while I’m watching progression streams, and then I present them to my raiders. This ensures that you get your really important points across. It's easy for the raiders to absorb that knowledge when you present them in short clips. I try to avoid cluttering the general descriptions about bosses with irrelevant mechanics for certain classes, and instead, I send out DMs to people that I expect to do a specific role on a boss, usually with linking the clip of what I mean that should be done. For example, me and my fellow DK friend Tokzik, discussed how we are going to do the grips on Mythic Soulrender privately, instead of cluttering the tactics discussion with our DK specific stuff that only us cared about. If I need Warlocks to do a specific Gateway placement, I’ll DM them about it.
When it comes to researching the later bosses, I usually do a voice-over analysis of a publicly available kill video on a boss, going into detail of what I expect the raiders to perform and what strategy we are following. If I’ve seen other guilds fail a dozen times to a certain mechanic, I make a specific short video just about that mechanic and how you should deal with it. A good example of that would be on Mythic Jailer, in Phase 3, after you took the gateway and were supposed to quickly place your Torments. I had seen so many wipes to just this mechanic from a wide variety of guilds, so I instantly knew that this mechanic had to be explained thoroughly, and I made a short video explaining exactly what to do with this mechanic (how to orient yourself and where to go etc) so we wouldn’t waste any pulls to that. I think we failed that mechanic only three times during progression, which made us breeze through Phase 3 progression.
I’m always trying to make it as easy as possible for my raiders to understand stuff, as well as always trying to be as concise as possible and to incentivize people to do research of their own as well.
Please: Boss preparation is a question I have been asked a lot and there is no easy answer. Before the tier starts, shower your team with as many USEFUL resources as possible and make sure you yourself are as prepared and knowledgeable as you can be. If you send too much information, people will just ignore it, but if you don’t send enough options, the information may not resonate with your players the way it is presented. Personally, before each tier, I will open YouTube and Notepad++ and type out every ability for every boss and how it affects us, when and what phases each boss has, and when we are planning to use Bloodlust.
During the tier you have the RWF to watch and learn from, as well as other guilds who have killed or are progressing the same bosses as you. Building some connections and asking other raid leaders for tips and tricks helps a lot! I want to shout out Omegix from Incarnate, as I often reach out to him to gather additional insight during progression. Many guilds will post their kill videos, which are incredibly useful, along with Warcraft Logs, for figuring out what the best plan of attack is for your guild.
It is important to consider who you are pulling information from, as well. The strategies the RWF guilds use are not always best for everybody else, as they have every available resource at their disposal while the rest of us do not. Try to collaborate with groups around your same caliber.
I would also like to touch on a word you used in the question, “mandatory”. I think having mandatory requirements like raid testing, reaching a certain item level or artifact power or doing something before a raid night is VERY unhealthy for a guild that isn’t partaking in the RWF. I have always just asked that everyone put in as much effort as they are comfortable with, and try to keep around the guild average. If a player is falling behind, you should definitely reach out to them and see if there is anything you can do to help. Your job as raid leader is to help your team be prepared.
Q-8: With the upcoming change to Heroic and Mythic difficulty opening on the same day, do you think this pushes more guilds to adding additional days to their schedule to gear up, and leaving the original raid times solely for progression? How will you deal with this in your guild?
Unholydeathh: Watching the previous RWF and seeing guilds not even attempting a Mythic boss for a long time was probably the most depressing RWF moment I’ve experienced so far, but it did make sense since tier-sets were almost mandatory for progressing through Mythic.
I personally don’t like this change, as it will feel pretty weird and not fun for us, to go into a Heroic raid, while we have a Mythic raid available, and I definitely see other guilds feeling the same. I think it’ll come down to how the new raid is tuned. As far as I understood, Blizzard recently acknowledged that Sepulcher was too hard and they specifically said they aren’t looking to make raids as hard as Sepulcher. Assuming that Mythic content will be designed with every raider having their 4-set bonus complete, not clearing the other difficulties with as many guildies as possible is going to make it impossible to accomplish decent results in the upcoming tier.
As for us; we usually did heroic on an optional off day, and strictly reserved our 2 Days for Mythic progression, which is probably not going to change moving forward.
Please: I think the change to Heroic and Mythic difficulties opening on the same day will be bad for the game overall. It is likely going to create an even more unhealthy stigma around guilds feeling like they need to add more raid time to their schedules. Even for the RWF this past tier in Sepulcher, we saw the competing guilds spending a tremendous amount of time just farming Heroic while Mythic was available (albeit some of this was because of how strong tier bonuses were). This change will likely bring about the same result, with Mythic difficulty being available but everyone just farming splits in Heroic instead, which is a lot less entertaining for the spectators AND players.
Outside of the RWF, everyone else will feel pressured to add more time just to clear Heroic for gear upgrades, while not sacrificing the option to go into Mythic to compete for first kills. With the amount of over-time we are seeing guilds put in already to get extra boss kills, this change is only going to amplify the time investment players will seemingly need to spend in the raid.
I would have liked to see this change go in the opposite direction, where Mythic would be released even a few weeks after Heroic, so it gives everyone time to prepare before Mythic difficulty hits. The competition seems to be shifting towards “how much time can you add to your schedule” and away from “how quickly and efficiently can you clear the instance”.
We recently had our guild meeting right before Dragonflight launched, to go over pretty much everything we were expecting for the first tier, and when it came time to discuss our scheduling, we were unable to find a day that worked for everyone to clear Heroic. With the raid releasing around the holiday season and needing to do some calendar planning gymnastics just to get everyone together at the same time, we will unfortunately be sacrificing some of our 8 hours each week to ensure everyone gets heroic kills for tier and trinkets.
Q-9: As part of the RWF, we’re seeing more and more guilds having their raid leaders do their jobs without playing themselves in the form of the “21st raider”. Is that something you have considered as well? Do you have any additional players outside the raid to write weak-auras or addons or do log analysis, that help you be more time-efficient?
Unholydeathh: Throughout all of the Shadowlands raids, I’ve always sat myself for the end-bosses and just contributed as the “21st raider”. There are a number of reasons for this, which I’ll try to explain.
First of all, I’m a tank, so I usually don’t have the best view of the fight to begin with. Although I have historically been able to tank and still see most of what I had to see and call out, in reality, you’re playing completely different mechanics than the rest of the raid team, and you’re usually “up close and personal” with the bosses model which makes it super hard to see anything. Just being able to watch the raid from a ranged PoV is like a night and day difference.
Secondly, I’m not a fan of hard-assigning everything, I like to make calls on a pull by pull basis, sort of how Max does it for Liquid. For example, if the raid is looking healthy, I might skip a Rallying Cry call, even though we “soft-assigned” it to a mechanic, and maybe it helps us live through another overlap later. Our guild is very good with improvising stuff, and it’s definitely one of the stronger qualities that we have. Don’t get me wrong, we do assign a lot of stuff, but we much prefer to “just wing it”.
Third, and final, major point – it’s way easier for the players inside the raid to actually focus on their own personal gameplay, when you’re holding their hand from outside the raid while dedicating your full focus on making calls. After a wipe, your team can just keep pulling unaffectedly, while you take a quick look at the replays, logs or anything else that you wanted to check, getting full use of your raid time.
We don’t have people outside the raid doing any other analysis, but after our raid time is done, we do have constant discussions about tweaking our strategy for the next raid. This is what makes this game unique and beautiful. You’ve got a group of people, all contributing towards a common goal. For me, finally achieving a hard boss kill always feels amazing, regardless of whether you are in the actual raid or on the “outside”.
Please: There have been one or two bosses since I have been raid leading, where I have sat myself and played the “21st man” because compositionally it made the most sense to sit me or it was just easier to have me call from outside. Tectus in Highmaul is the only one that I remember off hand, but whenever we have tried to have me out, the group as a whole tends to just play worse.
We don’t have any additional staff to specifically handle analysis or WA management. All of that is handled by myself and the other officers. Shout out to my boys Nuul, Daisk, and Chasel.
“Most of the recruits we get are usually some ex-hardcore players that had to deal with more IRL commitments over time. They no longer have the same time/motivation to play the game but still want to achieve decent ranks in-game and have fun with time-efficient progress.” —Unholydeathh
Q-10: Has there been any noticeable difference in your guilds recruitment over the last few raid-tiers? Is it easier or harder to find players that align with your guild’s ideals, and what is it you look for in new applicants?
Unholydeathh: Most of our recruits are usually by word of mouth or returning raiders. That being said, even with ‘external recruits’ being rare, I think that staying Alliance would’ve still been way harder recruitment wise than Horde. We’ve had friends of our own guildies wanting to come and raid with us, but not wanting to make the swap to Alliance, back when we were still residing on EU-Ravencrest. Essentially, we were always hoping that Blizzard is going to do something about the top-end faction balance that has been a problem for years, and we were almost sure that after BFA, they’ll make the game cross-faction. If my memory serves me well, I believe Blizzard stated that cross-faction is something they don’t foresee as a feature, as it’s been one of the key lore points of WoW. The moment they’ve confirmed we’re going into Shadowlands without cross-faction, we’ve decided to make the swap to Horde, and since then, recruitment did increase in quantity, but not necessarily in quality. We have an internal meme in the guild, which is also partly true, that most – if not all – of our recruits used to be Alliance at one point of the game – “Thank god we went Horde to get all these recruits 😀.”
Most of the recruits we get are usually some ex-hardcore players that had to deal with more IRL commitments over time. They no longer have the same time/motivation to play the game but still want to achieve decent ranks in-game and have fun with time-efficient progress.
When it comes down to what we’re looking for in an applicant, I usually look at experience/guild history, briefly at logs, and then I reach out to the people I know that might’ve played with the person applying to get their opinion on the applicant. If they seem like a good fit, I usually like to hop on voice with the applicant to try and understand their vibe a bit. I’d like to shout out my old GM Vayyn here, and say I’ve continued using one of his questions that I like to ask each applicant (also an internal meme in the guild). It goes like this: “Picture yourself in a Mythic Raid with 19 clones of yourself. How many times a week would you raid, what would your world rank be? What would be the weak points and the strong points of that guild?” There is no “right answer” for this question – the officers and I just love to hear different people's responses, and we think it can really tell a good story about the applicant and the applicant's aspirations.
Please: I would say recruitment ebbs and flows, but I don’t think we have had any major differences in recruitment over the last few tiers. We have an application form that we occasionally get some superstars from, but a lot of our recruitment comes from word of mouth and referrals. We fill a niche spot of 8 hours on the weekend, which caters to players who have busier weeks from working, or other commitments, so there is a lot less we have to worry about in terms of players going elsewhere because of scheduling.
When considering a new recruit, I have a pretty long interview process and screenings that I make sure the applicant passes. A few of the most important qualities I look for are the history of the player (both gameplay and attitude), do we get along well in the interview, and do they seem to share my goals for the guild. Logs and other performance measurements are usually less important to me than “do I think this person will vibe with the team”, but we obviously need to maintain high caliber players in the game numerically. If an applicant's attitude might be problematic, we simply will not have them on the team.
If we get an application or referral that I am interested in, we will set up a voice interview where we will get to know each other for a while and just talk. I want to hear about their history with the game, what they are looking for in a guild, and their approach to progression raiding as well as during farm, when progression is over. We’ll then talk about their application, and I will explain who we are as a guild and what we’re all about (raid atmosphere, loot rules, required addons, what it means to be a part of <Rain>, communication etc.).
Our goal as a guild is to clear each tier as quickly and efficiently as possible, on our time schedule. With that in mind, we also can’t introduce a player that would potentially be volatile to the friendly and inclusive atmosphere we want to foster. We have rejected a lot of applications that have stellar logs, but upon deeper digging we have heard bad things about their attitudes, commitment, or language. I have also had uncomfortable interviews with players who checked all the boxes on paper, but then in the interview they were hard to talk to or did not see eye to eye with our ideals.
Q-11: Some boss fights are fun to play, but a nightmare to prepare for with spreadsheets, assignments etc. Are there any bosses in particular, that you remember, that fit this description?
Unholydeathh: I think, in recent history, Mythic Anduin fits that description. It was a fight that required a lot of specific assignments, such as hard-assigned positions of each raider’s position during Phase 3, and to some extent even Phase 1. It required a specific CC rotation, Interrupt rotation and assigned DPS cooldowns especially for the Kingsmourne groups. Even though there were a lot of assignments to be done, the fight was, in my opinion, awesome. I know people generally don’t like gimmicky DPS increase bosses, but I didn’t mind it on Anduin.
I typically don’t have an issue with assigning necessary things for progression, however, when it comes to farming the raid and you start rotating new people who haven’t killed the boss before, the encounters with many hard-assignments become very tedious, as you need to edit a lot of spreadsheets and assignment, and that’s not fun. This is something I’ve historically been bad at and something I’d like to see myself to improve at. I often throw in the towel and just ask my raiders to adjust with the original plan we did during progress, but I think designing clean raid notes or using the Visual Note addon or the RaidPlan website can help with this problem. We usually have our other raid members remind me if something needs adjusting, so shout out to my raiders keeping track! Regardless, as far as I understood from one of the recent Blizzard Dev interviews, they saw the amount of assignments required as a problem and are willing to try and design bosses to have less of these, which is good news in my opinion.
Please: There’s really nothing to add to Unholy’s response here, great minds truly think alike!
Q-12: If you (or your fellow guild members) could describe your raid leading style with a gif, meme, or pop culture reference, what would it be?
Unholydeathh: Just wing it bro:
Please: This won the guild vote:
Q-13: Is there any advice you would like to give new or aspiring raid leaders? What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned since you’ve taken on this mantle yourself?
- Setting realistic and achievable goals and making sure everyone is on the same page, even if you fail to achieve them. Don’t lose motivation, rather, try to identify what went wrong and learn from it.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, it’s how you learn. You need to try and gain experience by trying to deal with all kinds of different problems. It’s a very valuable social skill to have.
- Listen to feedback and criticism, never take anything personal. Assume you are all working towards the same goal and have the best intention whenever criticizing each other.
- Try to be the raid leader you’ve always wanted to have. Try to listen to a lot of raid leaders on different streams during their progression. If you hear them handling a situation well, think about that and try to adapt it to your guild if you think that to be possible. Similarly, if you hear something you think they did wrong, think about that as well and try not to repeat this mistake.
- Don’t be afraid to distribute responsibility – it is much easier to have an officer or even a raid member help you out with something. If you’re struggling with, say, calling out a mechanic because you’re overwhelmed at that point, trying to do it all on your own, just ask another member of the raid that you trust to help you out, and delegate that responsibility to them.
- Show to your guild that you care, show your passion for the game or for the group of friends you’re playing the game with. If you’re coming into the raid and don’t want to be there yourself, your raiders will feel that bad vibe, which is going to make it un-fun for everyone.
- Help your members out, instead of bashing them for their mistakes. If someone is failing a mechanic, instead of asking them “how do you fail this?”, offer them a solution to the problem they’re facing. Create or find a WeakAura to help out with a mechanic, call it out for them, ask them if there’s anything you can do to make it easier for them. It is way more productive and constructive this way.
- Putting in the prep-work and really understanding your biggest problems, identifying what part or mechanic your guild is worst at, and keep trying to improve in those departments.
- Raiding in WoW is a team effort! The least you can do when you see your raider make a good team play move, is to let them know you’ve noticed that, and that they’ve done a good job. Put big emphasis on the team, rather than personal gain.
- First and foremost: You have to enjoy raid leading. If you don’t enjoy it, or are miserable doing it, that feeling will trickle down to everyone else and everybody will just have a bad time.
- You have to remember that on the other side of the pixels is another human being. Don’t lose sight of that when saying things or making decisions.
- You are going to make mistakes and not everything you do will be perfect. That is okay, as long as you learn from it and grow as a leader.
- Surround yourself with people who share the same goals, but are also able and willing to challenge your ideas.
- Conflict resolution is a soft skill that you will need at some point along the way. Don’t let issues between players fester.
- In general, you want to take the better player over the better class. By the time most of us reach any given boss, raid composition is a lot less important than what you see in the RWF.
- It is often more important that your guild can survive until the enrage of a boss first, and then fix your damage second. Damage comes with comfort.
- There is no perfect answer or formula to running a guild. You have to find what works for you, as unhelpful as that sounds.
- Talk to your raid team! Ask them what you can do to better help them. A good example of this came to light a few tiers ago, when we started something we are calling our “VoD Review.” I will hop on discord an hour or so before the raid and pull up the videos that I used to study for an upcoming boss, share my screen, and just talk through it with whoever shows up. We will go over positioning, timings, how to handle a tricky mechanic, all the things that I normally did by myself – but after talking to some players and figuring out that we could do this together, our progression speed on the harder bosses really picked up. Sire Denathrius is a perfect example of how our VoD Review sped up our progress, with everyone having a much better grasp of how the last phase movement worked before we even got there.
“There’s something magical about listening to passionate people talking about WoW, and I could have hours-long conversations about various aspects of the game or the community behind it.”
Q-14: Thank you so much for allowing us to gain insight into what it takes to lead some of the greatest 2-day raiding guilds in the game! Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share?
Unholydeathh: I’d like to thank Raider.IO for this wonderful opportunity for me and other raid leaders to present our thoughts. I hope you all had fun reading this interview, and I'd be happy if anyone found some of my thoughts interesting or useful. I enjoyed every second of this interview and I’m looking forward to reading other Raid Leader’s thoughts on these topics. Collaborating with Please on this interview has been an absolute pleasure and I’m wishing him and his guild Rain the best of luck in the upcoming tier and onwards!
There’s something magical about listening to passionate people talking about WoW, and I could have hours-long conversations about various aspects of the game or the community behind it.
As for some of the more personal shoutouts, I would like to thank every single member and ex-member of the Arctic Avengers community – nothing would’ve been possible without you and I think that together we’ve managed to create something very special ♥️. I’m lucky I had the opportunity to meet you guys, and the memories we’ve created throughout the years will always have a special place in my heart.
Shout out to Kesther and Vayyn, you both taught me a lot about this game and Raid Leading in general and I’m very thankful for you both for giving me the opportunity to trial in your guilds at the time.
I’d also like to give a shoutout to Necy, Deadly, Yaina, and Ines for being my first group of close friends that I’ve met playing this game almost 10 years ago!
Please: I would like to thank our raid group and the entire Rain Community with a quick special shout out to Xivei for helping me touch up some of these responses. World of Warcraft is a community driven game and none of what we do can be done alone. I want to also thank Raider.IO, Seliathan, and VitaminP for giving us this opportunity to share our thoughts on what goes into leading a Mythic raiding guild.
I am honored to have been chosen for this series, and I can’t wait to learn more about other guilds! Quick shoutout to Unholydeathh for being incredibly well-spoken in this joint interview. It was a real treat to meet and collaborate with you on some of these questions, and I wish you and all of Arctic Avengers the best of luck going forward <3.
Also: Blizzard, PLEASE just keep Boomkins #1 to give them one less thing to complain about 24/7.
- Find Unholydeathh on Raider.IO
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- Find Please on Raider.IO
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About the Author
Seliathan has been playing Rogue for over half his life, since the initial release of WoW over 16 years ago. After a long career of Raid Leading, Theorycrafting, and pushing Mythic+, Seliathan enjoys creating all kinds of PvE content on Twitch, co-hosting the Tricks of the Trade Rogue podcast, contributing to the Raider.IO RWF Coverage, and writing guides for Icy Veins.