I thought the transition back to blogging would be a difficult one, but after one raid down I already have plenty of "blogfodder" to keep me going for awhile. The raid I run with is fairly casual, and I have commented on this before. Last night we were stung by a problem that has been occurring amongst a number of the casual and pug raids out there. One member, not knowing what they were doing, committed the "icecrown sin", and told Wrynn we didn’t need his help. As a result the entire raid had its buff stripped from them. Were this a normal night we probably could have struggled through, but last night we had a concordance of two events that made this new variable very hard to manage for.
Firstly we were running a little bit light on healing. This had been a conscious decision in order to bring in an extra dps and at the same time force some of our weaker healers to have a bit of a workout. Secondly we have made the decision to push for progression content after killing the first four bosses on Tuesday nights. So we have been clearing Blood Princes, and moving on to attempts on Blood Queen. We were honestly doing great, but as soon as we lost the buff it was like we had our legs chopped out from under us.
The Veteran Handicap
One of the difficult things about being a raider who has literally been raiding since Molten Core, is trying to get into the mindset of a player who doesn’t remember when Onyxia deep breathed more in phase two. The fact that we have so much game knowledge crammed into our heads is honestly a handicap towards attempting to lead players who are new to the game. It’s easy for us to relate to things in terms of, it’s like *** Boss, but when a player has never experienced those fights it is hard to compress that package of learned experience into words. I personally find it very difficult to comprehend the fact that we have members who have literally never had a max level character before Northrend. When something goes wrong and it is one of those "classic newbie raider" mistakes, it can be difficult to dial back the annoyance enough to realize that these folks are cutting their teeth on this content with no "formal education" to rely on. So in an attempt to jump start that formal education…
Classic Raid Mistakes
Don’t Talk to Strangers
Since this is the one that bit us in the butt last night, I will lead off with this. Most of us in Stalwart/Duranub learned this lesson back in Blackwing Lair with Vaelastrasz, but the same lesson has carried through most of the Blizzard Raid and Dungeon Content. Talking to any NPC can often cause negative effects for the raid. I realize we are curious creatures by nature, and telling you all never to talk to NPCs is like putting a shiny red button on your desk and saying not to push it. Simply taking the time to ask whether or not a certain NPC is safe to talk to can save the aggro of your raid.
Don’t Stand in Stuff
This is without a doubt the most common raid problem. It plagues both newbies and careless veterans alike. In the long illustrious history of WoW, it has only been good to stand in the fire during one fight. With those overwhelming odds, you can darn near guarantee that if you see crap on the ground, and you are in fact standing in it… that you should get out as soon as humanly possible. A dead player has zero dps, and if you are doing something fundamentally dumb like standing in crap on the ground, no one will fault a healer for simply letting you die. This problem isn’t just a DPS thing however, healers are often times too busy watching the green bars to be bothered to move out of environmental effects. Your most important trait as a raider should be situational awareness. I know I would rather have a player who does ho-hum damage but always avoids environmental damage, that one who is leading the meters but always dead.
Don’t Precast on Pulls
We are so used to having misdirect and tricks of the trade that as a community we have forgotten the fundamentals of what used to be known as the “3 sunder rule”. In classic raiding, the rule was let your tank get 3 sunders up on the target before you opened up. However in the modern era, I am constantly seeing players casting on the target before the tank has even reached it. Aggro is a quirky science, that I can go into more detail on in another topic, but the basics is this: Don’t make your tank work harder than they have to. If you consistently ride that line between control and chaos, you are ultimately going to hurt your raid in the long run. Making sure your tank has acquired the target and has a few large hits in on it before you start casting does not lose you that much dps time, but the general raid stability it gains is monumental.
Don’t Run up on Targets
After playing the DPS role for awhile now, I understand that overwhelming desire to make things dead now! However if you allow your tanks to pull targets back to the raid, you generally have much more stable results. The biggest problem I see here is that a tank will call that they are pulling back, but as soon as the aggro starts everyone runs up on the pack of mobs. This keeps the tank from doing what they need to do, and makes it far more likely that you will pull aggro while the tanks are trying to place things. On the pull the only players that need to be up near the targets are the tanks, and any crowd controllers. If you do not fit either of those roles then please stay back until the tanks are done moving.
Don’t Turn Your Back to the Next Pack
Just like the defacto tank rule of pulling is to turn the mobs away from the raid, the defacto rule for everyone should be to make sure your back is not facing the next pull. There are many dynamics in the game that cause you to lose control of your character for a short time, be it knockback, fear, or daze. These effects paired with your proximity to live targets add up to be a ticking timebomb for the raid. If you make sure you always have your back facing either a wall, or the path you just cleared, you will minimize the risk of your carelessness cascading into a raid wipe.
Don’t Run From the Tank
I realize I could have simply said, “Don’t Pull Aggro”, but the aggro issue is always a multi headed thing and sometimes you can’t control how attractive you are to a mob. One of the biggest mistakes I have seen is when a player pulls aggro, they tend to run away from combat. I realize proximity plays a key role in aggro mechanics, but if you already have the attention of the target, it is far too late for that manner of triage. The best course of action is to run to the tank and announce as calmly as you can that you have aggro. The tank will beat the mob in the face, and when the “target of target” shows you no longer have aggro, it is safe to move away. There are various reasons that can cause the tank to take a second or two to pick the target back up, so it is very important for you to keep your wits about you, and give them the time needed to reacquire.
Don’t Blow Up the Raid
There are several encounters in the game that involve the mechanic of getting away from other players. Don’t be the guy that blows everyone up. If you are poor at eyeballing distances, I highly suggest a proximity mod. Both Deadly Boss Mods and Deus Vox have excellent ones, that will show you when it is safe to stop running. Equally important to running away, is to pay attention to the placement of the other raid members. Situational awareness is something that never goes out of style. As you are running away it is important to make sure a flock of players is not trying to arrive at exactly the same spot. There will be natural voids in the room, where no players happen to be at any given time. If at all possible, it is best to aim towards one of these vacant areas to free up space in the more populated ones.
Don’t be a “Special Snowflake”
Just like the fact that there are times you need to get away from players, there are a number of times where you will need to clump tightly with other players. These clumps usually start out fine, but as the fight goes on the casters tend to migrate to the outer orbit of the main group. The clump of players should be tight enough that it is hard to pick out individual players. If you are clumping in melee range with a target, your hunters should be forming a second group at minimum range tightly orbiting the main colony. When players filter out from the main group, it becomes more difficult to find the nexus that players need to gather upon. What starts as one player getting some breathing room, quickly escalates into an uncontrolled mess. As the topic says, do not be that delicate and special snowflake that has to do their own thing.
When Failure Comes to Visit
The basic thread through all of the elements above is situational awareness. It is the most important skill that a wow raider can develop, and is a trait that all great players have. However through the course of raiding you will inevitably screw things up. You will eventually do something clueless, which cascades into a horrific raid wipe. When this happens the way you approach your failure makes all the difference in the world.
Admit your Failure
Own up to your own mistakes, nobody likes it when someone sits quietly when they have screwed up. Raid loggers can tell the culprit after the fact, so it is not like you have anonymity in your favor. Admitting your failure is the first step in smoothing the annoyance and aggression that your raid will be feeling.
Don’t Make Excuses
It is human nature to want to try and explain why you screwed up to players. In the course of a raid this does no good, and only serves to waste the raids time while having to listen to your complicated explanation of your failure. You screwed up, you admitted it, and for most players that is all that needs to be said. Making uses for your performance does nothing to undo whatever just happened. The best course is to pick up the pieces and move on.
Accepting a momentary lapse in ability is one thing, but you need to make sure whatever just happened does not happen again. As a player, you need to be able to diagnose the conditions that lead to the problem, and take necessary actions to keep it from happening again. If you pulled aggro, then use your aggro dumps more proactively. If it was a placement issue, adjust where you are standing to make sure it is no longer an issue. Figure out what went wrong, and keep it from going wrong next time.
Be Humble and Thick Skinned
When you do screw up, you are going to take flak from the raid. It is just human nature to get frustrated with whatever is impeding your progress, and right now in the eyes of the raid, you are that impediment. As a player you need to stay calm, keep a humble attitude, and be willing to take a bit of ribbing for your mistake. You screwed up, so own that mistake and handle it with a bit of humor.
One time in Vault of Archavon I was tanking the very last trash mob before Archavon himself. I unwittingly broke one of the above rules; I put my back towards Archavon himself. The trash mob died, blew up, sent me hurdling into the boss, who in a few unhealed swings killed me. The entire sequence of events was rather comical, but nonetheless entirely my doing. I owned up to my mistake, accepted the ribbing from the raid, and we moved on and killed the boss. It doesn’t matter how long someone has been playing the game; you are never beyond screwing up. The great players, are the ones who learn from their mistakes, and keep moving forward towards the goal.