Preface: A while back, when WotM first came out, I started writing a "how to sherpa" guide, knowing that many people would be writing guides for "how to participate." After a while, I decided that my guide was so similar to those that others had written that I scrapped the idea. I did, however, save the draft, which turned into this post. With Age of Triumph coming at us in just two short weeks, I thought I would share those tips and tricks I've accrued for teaching Destiny content effectively. While this focuses on raids, this can be extended to other areas of the game as well. Additionally, this information applies to people who find them selves in any sort of instructional position, official or otherwise.
Notes to New Sherpas: Hello you brave and wonderful person! I am so excited that you decided to start sherpa-ing! Truly, this is a good time to start learning how to sherpa. While there are a lot of qualities that make up a good instructor, I will touch upon a few here. These are the important things to make sure you're doing each and every raid.
- Be patient – Not everyone that you take with you is a beast at PvE. Not everyone you take with you has raided before. One thing that I like about the raids in Destiny is that while they are challenging and certainly test the limits of player skill, they are not so difficult that only certain people can do them!
- Be personable – One of the most important qualities a sherpa can have is to be a fun person. Often, you're going to be taking five strangers through an activity that requires a significant degree of teamwork. You want to not only be able to lead in the Destiny-related stuff, but you also want to lead the group socially as well. Encourage an environment that peppers jokes throughout the raid, share some lore, maybe start a mid-raid dance party. If people are having a good time, they are going to play way better.
- Leave the fun and hard stuff to the students – sherpas are NOT carries. Your job is to teach others how to handle anything and everything that these raids can throw at them. Some sherpas go so far as to allow wipes to occur that they themselves could have prevented if it feels like they need to carry a part to save the encounter. That's more a decision you have to make about your own teaching style. What is not negotiable, however, is that you should absolutely always give a hard or interesting job to your students. This is their time to learn and show off their skill in a forgiving environment.
- Know the mechanics – This one is pretty simple. You want to feel comfortable with the mechanics yourself. I encourage you to do each job at least once to ensure that you've got it down. You'll be responsible for leading this group of people. Not only do you have to do your own job, but you also are going to have to make callouts in the middle of the encounter. If you're familiar with all of the pieces, this will be much much easier.
- Plan ahead – Budget your time wisely. These raids can run for many hours. I typically tell people that KF and WotM should take between three and three and a half hours if everyone is comfortable with the basic mechanics of Destiny, but I will also budget closer to four hours for the whole raid, in case the group ends up being slow. Have your students introduce themselves, and introduce yourself to your students. It's really helpful also to have everyone refer to himself in the third person. It makes it much easier to figure out who is going where. Decide what your teaching style will be before the raid. Consistency helps the students learn! Have a snack and some water nearby. Plan for a set start time. Just make sure you're ready to raid!
Notice that nowhere on that list did I mention that you have to be perfect! If you make a mistake, don't worry about it, it happens to everyone. Just remember that you and your students are supposed to be having fun, and everything else will fall into place.
Loadouts: You are going to get a lot of questions about what the "best" loadout is for the raid. I like to tell people that it comes down to personal preference. Heck, you could take six bladedancers through any raid no problem. I find that it is much more important that people use what they like than to feel forced to use a weapon with which they aren't comfortable.
Pre-Raid: I would begin assembling the team about 15 minutes before it's time to go. Ensure everyone has gone to the bathroom, has a snack or a drink with them if they desire, and shoot the breeze with the sherpees for a few minutes. Once everyone shows up, introduce yourself, encourage them to introduce themselves, and ensure people have the gear they want to take into the raid with them. Once everyone is all set, you're good to fly in!
I usually take this pre-raid time to explain my teaching style and cover exactly how much we'll be doing in the raid. This is where I tell my students that the raid is fun, albeit chaotic, and that we're going to be getting all of the chests, challenges, collectables, and so on.
During Raid: Keep students encouraged, focused, and progressing. Positive feedback works wonders, as do jokes, lore discussions, and an otherwise jovial attitude. Even if things aren't going well, keeping your chin up is going to hold the morale together for the entire team.
Conversely, if things are falling apart, don't be afraid to offer some constructive criticism. In extreme cases, consider having students switch roles with each other. Sometimes people just have bad days and don't perform as well as they should. It's important that they know that we don't think they're bad people just because they're having a hard time shooting aliens today.
Finally, express to your students how much you want them to succeed, and impress upon them that this is the perfect environment to try something new. Someone has never run the relic for the Templar fight? What better time to learn than in a group who isn't going to judge them with a patient teacher? Tell your students it's totally okay to step outside their comfort zones.
Post-Raid: Thank your students for their time. Tell them you're proud of them for finishing the raid. Maybe highlight some cool or memorable moments from the raid. If they were a group you'd like to play with more, tell them to add you as a friend.
Final thoughts: Remember that if you assert yourself as a competent instructor with a kind heart, these people are going to value what you have to say. It's important not to needlessly tear people down. We were all Kinderguardians once, and they deserve an opportunity to learn just as much as we know. Remember to have fun, let them have fun, and let them learn.