Getting a strong raiding team isn't as easy as you might think. In fact, despite us approaching the end of the expansion, I still haven't figured out exactly who should be grabbing the rights to the spots when we first start fighting Arthas; and this causes me concern every time I log in. When I look over our main raiding group throughout the expansion, I see very few similarities - our team that first cleared Naxxramas was very different to the team that did the job in Ulduar and Trial of the Crusader, and there has been more large changes moving into Icecrown. This very fact shows just how rough it is finding a strong, enduring and appropriate raiding team. So, why on earth is it so difficult?
Well, first of all, it's difficult to classify what a "good" raider actually is. Then, you need to consider the personalities involved and how they actually fit into the roles they hold within a raid. It should be simple. It's not. In fact, getting the right personalities into the right roles is probably the biggest tick in the box you can manage. But, generally, what should you be looking for in the ideal raider?
Skill, output and class knowledge.
Sensible gearing and itemizing.
Comprehension of encounters.
All of these particular boxes would be ticked in the ideal raider, but it's a fact that not everyone can bring every quality and not all at the same time. As a leader, you have to try and prioritise what qualities you want the most and try to limit those that people maybe don't have. Of course, you also have to try and appreciate that everyone is different and will react differently depending on what's going on. It's also worth remembering that not every day is "their day", and a certain amount of sympathy has to go along with that, too.
Then, after you've gotten all that worked out, you have to look at what roles people are filling and if they have the qualities for that role. Your main tank and raid leader needs to be a good figurehead, capable of getting his point across and simply taking charge when things aren't going right. Your healers, essentially, have to be incisive decision makers, taking the best course of action at the right times. Your damage dealers are the ones that need to know the encounters, as they will usually be the ones dealing with rare mechanics for you.
Alas, it's story time.
The three major raids of this expansion have seen me with a different off tank. For Naxxramas it was a death knight, for Ulduar it was a paladin and for Icecrown it's another (though, different) paladin. I will discount the initial death knight as he essentially left the game prior to 3.1 (and death knights were overpowered at the time), and will compare the paladins. First and foremost, there is very little difference in their output - both perform similarly in most circumstances and they produce similar results. However, the main difference is in their attitudes and how they view their part in the raid.
The first paladin was very much a supportive type, happy to take the back seat and simply do what was asked of him with minimal fuss. He didn't like making decisions and would rarely, if ever, deviate from a plan that was going wrong. The second paladin is on the other end of the scale; he has a very clear view of how he thinks things should be working, and will frequently do what he considers best regardless of what was requested. The first paladin viewed himself very much as the off tank, while the second clearly looks at himself as the main tank.
Neither is wrong. Neither is right.
However, the way they fit in with the raid as a whole makes for a very different result when things are not quite going as well as they might. Our first paladin suited me perfectly, because he fitted in with what I wanted in an off tank, let me do my job and didn't push me. The second makes my life difficult often, because he believes he should be taking charge of the raid instead of merely following my lead, but he is comfortable voicing his opinion and taking responsibility.
The comparison should be clear - capability is shared, but one simply "fitted" with me, as a personality and as a role, better than the other tends to.
So, out of the list above, what do I prize above anything else?
1) Skill, output and class knowledge.
I cannot learn or play a class for someone else, hence my reliance that they know what they're doing and can bring it to a raid group. It's number one on my list because of that. Resilience is an absolute requirement for me, too, as you are going to spend a lot of time wiping when you're spending evenings on progression content; people have to be able to pick themselves up, particularly in an intermediate guild like ours. Finally, I like players who can accept responsibility and, naturally, live with the consequences of personal failure - there is nothing worse than someone not doing their job and then listing ten excuses as to why they didn't. Accept the mistake, apologise for it, strive to do better.
In the end, you will earn more respect if you can bring those three points than any of the others, in my opinion (and experience).
But what of the other points?
I consider them desireable as opposed to "must haves".
You can help people to gear up and assist in their decision making depending on raid synergy. Positivity isn't always required, as I can guarantee belief and positivity will be installed by some members of our raid (thanks to Jernau, particularly). Being part of a team is important, but not a huge pre-requisite as it's something that is nurtured over a period of time and comes naturally. Lastly, prior preparation and knowledge of encounters isn't a necessity because I will always spell out exactly what I want from people before every pull and give them time to ask questions before we get to the killing.
Anyway, sorry for the WoT crushing blow. It wasn't intended as one, but I felt the need to get this off my chest. Hopefully some of my raiders will read it and appreciate where I'm coming from.