There are lots of things you can do to keep people interested in raiding so I’ll go through a few of my favorites and mention pitfalls in doing some of it and perhaps how to balance it all out.
There is always the option of progression through heroic modes. The issue is that to do so you would have to exclude new raiders who could use this time to gear up and get used to the way the raid works. I always leave the possibility of once a month or once every six weeks of making a "super group" to go try heroic modes.
Training can mean many things, but for me this is the best time to train in new Raid Leaders and people who want to try a new class or gear their alts (that WILL raid.)
Training New Raid Leaders
Now that the content is known by almost everyone start asking for people to volunteer to raid lead. This person will only be required to setup who is doing what on the boss and explain the guild strategy to anyone new to the raid. Doing this with you in the group allows them to know that they won't screw up and create a wipe night because anything they get wrong you can correct. I've found a few really good raid leaders using the extra time between content patches for this purpose.
Duties of the Volunteer Raid Leader
- This person will NOT be expected to:
- Adjust the strategy on the fly.
- Assign healers to their duties.
- Assign Tanks to their duties.
- Know the name of every ability the boss has.
- This person WILL be expected to:
- Assign DPS to locations.
- Assign DPS to roles.
- Call out things the raid needs to know about during the encounter.
- Explain the Guild Strategy to any new raiders.
If you have good or great raiders in your group, chances are they have an alt/offspec they have really wanted to try out, but didn't think they could ever use them in a raid. This is the perfect time to have a healer swap to his DPS offspec and a DPS swap to a healing offspec. Also a great time on single tank bosses to have a tank go heals or DPS to allow someone else to bring in an alt or try an offspec. Keep in mind not to start replacing people who sign up with their main raider with alts.
Benefits of allowing Alts/Offspecs to start raiding
- Can find people who like doing a certain class more than their current class.
- Allows people to explore options in a raid to see if they work.
- Gears up Alts/Offspecs for use when people are missing from a raid.
- They can always switch back if the raid gets stuck.
- Keeps good players active in the Raid.
Negatives of allowing Alts\Offspecs to start raiding
- Very hard for whoever is making rosters to balance things.
- Alts may not be as geared so a raid may have a hard time on certain bosses.
- Some people find out during a raid that they just can't play a certain role.
- Complaints may come up from people who feel they should have gotten in.
- Long time Tanks/Healers/DPS may stop signing up to "gear up other people's alts"
The lull between content is also a great time to refine strategies, communication, and the skills of your raiders.
- Try new things with strategies to see how they work.
- Put new people in the roles usually delegated to the veteran raiders.
- Try to make a 0 death night and start keeping track of how many total deaths a raid to improve.
- A reward for a zero death night might be a good motivator for people to pay attention when raiding.
- Go for achievements and discuss how a strategy can be changed to accomplish it.
- This will also make players with no need for gear want to keep signing up.
- This is not easy to do if allowing alts/offspecs into the raid.
- Stress who should be talking in vent and who should not.
- This is important for meeting new bosses.
- Make sure the healers and tanks get better and better at communicating things during a raid.
- Having someone else communicate boss abilities to get practice at it so they can be used for that purpose in the next content patch.
- DPS rotations can be improved.
- Tanks can better learn to time cooldowns.
- Healers can find better ways to conserve mana or get good practice at healing.
- Raiders can work on kiting, dispelling, interrupts, spell steals, etc.
- Can even reward for the most dispells/interrupts/steals.
Preparing your raid for the next tier is pretty simple. Just keep people running and getting those last pieces of gear they need. Having everyone going into Firelands with a 4-piece bonus is better than a bunch with 3 pieces who stopped raiding or didn't feel the need. Preparing is also making sure all the classes know what changes are coming down the pipe for them and how they may be used in the next tier of raiding.
Gear up Your Raiders
- Make sure as many of your raiders as possible are still signing up to get a shot at their helm or shoulder tier pieces from content end bosses.
- Also for heroics to upgrade those pieces a bit higher.
- Make sure they have everything they can get before the next content patch is out, including extra trinkets and rings for the reduction in mana regeneration for healers.
Research Class Changes
- Make sure there is at least one person keeping track of changes to each class so they can be listed and discussed before the content patch comes out.
- Failure to do so means it could take a while before people figure out what they need to do to get the most out of the changes.
- Make sure the day of the patch to post a final list on a forum someplace.
Research Boss encounters
- Start posting up PTR strategies for the first few bosses of the new content so people can start reading them and committing them to memory.
- Do not do all bosses because not all the mechanics are the same between PTR and Live.
- The day the content patch hits Live start looking in the usual spots for kill videos or strategies on the Live servers.
Research New Content
- If there is something that has to be done to unlock new encounters or to unlock people to the dungeon everyone needs to know what to do to end up there.
- Raiders should know if they need to help by doing quests or not to help the whole raid progress.
Decide on the Legendary Holder
- Choose and Agree on who is going to be going for any Legendary item first so their is no arguments once the process starts.
- Always have a back-up person or two in case the original person is missing from the raid.
There is plenty to keep you busy until the next content patch. Mostly it is the job of the raid leader to make sure that your raid is ready to go once the patch hits. Everyone should know which character they are raiding on, everyone should know how to get the most out of their class. By this time healers and tanks should be very familiar with each other and everyone should know the voice of who is going to be leading the raids. Failure on any of this can lead to disappointment and large repair bills with the new content. Also if your raiders do not know they need to be unlocked or have to quest to help unlock something they may be very disappointed later when they sign up and realize they could have been helping speed everything along the entire time they were leveling their alt.