Leading RvR raids is very different from leading PvE ones. All of your plans and goals are subject to change. Assuming that the other side come out to play, you will be keeping an eye on what they are doing and changing your plans on the fly. It is a very different proposition.
I led my first keep raid over the weekend. Well, maybe led is too strong a word. I organised the raid and called targets, and everyone else did the rest. It was great! I pretty much just had to name a keep (we were raiding tier 2 keeps) and before I knew it, everyone had run off there, the rams were down, the keep lord slaughtered, everyone posing for screenshots and then wanting to know which the next keep was!
Like any kind of raid leading, the main thing is not to panic and to stay calm. You’re coordinating a lot of people but you don’t have to do all their thinking for them. People also tend to panic if they think the group is going without them or that they don’t know where to go or are being left out. As a raid leader, you have to stay on top of that. Be prompt with invites, be clear with directions. Make sure everyone knows what the raid’s current objective is, and preferably what the plan is after that also. People will be hassling you with tells. You don’t have time for long discussions when you’re leading a raid. Deal with what you can, anything that doesn’t have to be dealt with immediately you can tell the person to come back with later.
Decide how you plan to communicate. In a guild/alliance raid, you may end up using voice chat. Is everyone in the raid on it? Or do you need to type instructions as well. It’s very easy to get flustered using several different types of communication. And people in the raid can get flustered too if they think you are ignoring them. So very important to be clear with your objectives. Even if people don’t get the full experience of you wittering about beer, they need to be happy and clear that they know what the raid is doing.
On an RvR raid, you probably want to send scouts out ahead so that you can find out if a keep is defended or not. People will usually be happy to volunteer for scouting missions. It makes sense to send people with mounts and who are familiar with the area. Keep the raid updated with where the main body of the raid is so that scouts can find their way back to you when they are done. The big decision that you need to make as the leader is to decide what your raid can reasonably achieve. We had two full warbands so didn’t bother scouting objectives other than keeps – even Destruction on a bored night won’t have 2 warbands just hanging out at the Lighthouse in Barak Varr.
And then when the scouts report, you have to decide what to do about it. There’s a difference between “I saw a zone message that the Lord of Spite’s Reach was under attack” and “I saw a warband of destruction players heading to the fort in the Marshes of Madness”. You want to give your raid some good fights if you can, and that means not sending them somewhere where nothing will happen and they’ll have to wait around pointlessly for hours. But you also don’t want to send them off to certain death. The keep lord under attack messages are very sensitive. They could just mean that someone accidentally pulled one of the keep guards. Or that someone was scouting a keep. Or that there were just in the area.
Usually I find it’s best to start with a rough plan (eg. take all tier 2 keeps and objectives) and stick to it unless you get a scout report that reliably pinpoints enemy players. It’s also wise to take the objectives in an area before you take the keep, partly because they give a defensive bonus to any defenders but also because it nets your raid some renown which is a nice bonus for people who have come along to help. But when we did get a report that one of the keeps we had taken was under attack by destruction players by a scout who’d seen the players on the move, I did change my plan and send everyone back to that keep. We were lucky (or rather, I was lucky). We got there while the destruction guys were still working on the door. So my two warbands swept in from behind and it was a slaughter. They didn’t come back.
I think in future I might experiment more with splitting the groups when we have that many. But this was my first raid and it was also the first raid we ran as an alliance, and I was probably a bit too nervous.
And then, we found a defended keep. Oh, Spite’s Reach, how I hate you! The Destruction Keep Lord at Spite’s Reach (it’s the keep in the shadowlands) is an absolute pain. She’s a caster with a very strong AE DoT that goes through walls, and apparently floors too. We’ve had trouble with this before even when there were no defenders. So when there were, it was going to be a bloodfest. Having said that, I was delighted to see that the keep was defended. People don’t come on keep raids because they like killing NPCs. They want a good fight, and I knew we would get one.
There isn’t really a good strategy for taking a defended keep. You do the same stuff that you would normally, except that there are also other players involved. And this means that once you are inside the keep, you have to somehow fight your way up the ramp. The other team will be blocking the ramp and they have a big advantage from the layout and NPCs. It doesn’t help that Destruction seem to get a lot more knockbacks than Order at Tier2 level. So keeps are designed to give a huge advantage to the defenders. This means that it doesn’t take a lot of defenders to keep out a much larger force. And add to that a keep lord with a massive AE DoT and I knew that unless we could storm up quickly, the chances were that the keep would not fall.
There’s no point complaining about this because it will work to our advantage too when we are the defenders.
The defense was very good. And clearly the word was put out because more Destruction filtered in to join them. We killed as many as we could who came in through the postern gate but as time went on it was less and less likely that we would make progress. I could have pulled my force back and taken the Ellyrion keep (by the way, it’s a nice advantage to playing Order that you can pretty much assume most keeps will be Destruction most of the time so you can plan a keep raid in the knowledge that there will be something to do), but I figured we’d had a good romp through T2 dwarf and empire so it would be good practice for people to have a knockdown fight.
And the final thing? Don’t forget to thank your raiders for showing up. You’re hoping they’ll be prepared to do it again, right? 🙂 And if you had any good fights with the other side, you can start a thread on one of the realm forums (WHA I guess is the busiest) to tell everyone else on the server that you enjoyed it and to either thank them for a good fight or jeer, depending on your style. I like the Destro guys to know that we are organised and have alliances and are getting some practice in at tier 2 so they know to expect more from us in future!
But that keep lord at Spite’s Reach needs a nerf!