Thursday, May 7, 2009

Briefing in 3 minutes or less

We've all been there. First night in a new instance, or the first time you're facing a new boss. The raid is alive with energy. Everyone is excited, feasts are popping up, buffs are flying around like fireworks...and then the raid leader starts talking. And talking. And talking.

Ten minutes later and he's read you the entire strategy from wowwike and bosskillers, drawn four virtual maps using pings, and lost 95% of the raid's attention. Your paladins started surfing port two minutes ago, your tanks are still epeening it up, and your rogues are in the middle of a Peggle duel.

At the end, the raid leader asks if there are questions, and you can instantly tell that the only person listening was his cat (and that one raider who knows everything).

Something has to change - and here's a hint - it's not the raiders.

Holding the focus

Studies have shown that the average attention span in humans is approxamately 3-5 minutes per year of age, up to about 20 minutes in adults. This number obviously fluctuates depending on the interest in the task, and the ammount of interaction going on.

I'm sorry to tell you, but unless you're the tactical equivalent of Patton, you were tuned out at the 3-5 minute mark.

How to fix it

Unless you're in the top .1% of the WoW gaming world, rocking the content with Ensidia and Vodka, my guess is you're going to have to explain things a few times. The problem is, not everyone learns the same way. Some learn by reading, watching, listening, or just by doing.

Instead of going over every nuance of a fight, just pick five key elements, and brief them in two or three scentences. Obviously fights like Sara will be more complicated, but (and be honest) are you really planning on getting to phase three on the first shot?

Hold thier hands

Yes, some raiders will resent it, but the others will love you for it. Here's a way to brief a fight like Hodir, which is simple in effect, yet has a lot going on.

1) His big killer is the Deep Freeze. When this is called out, melee stand on the X, ranged stand on the moon. Move with them, don't anticipate. Watch for falling snow.

2) Stay in motion or jump, think the last boss in Nexus. (don't even worry about breifing the Cozy Fires at the start).

3) After the Deep Freeze, pick up your assist targets from the Moon and X. Switch to Hodir when they do. (don't worry about briefing the individual buffs the NPCs give).

4) If you have lightning shooting from your body, this is the one fight where it's ok to run into a group of people. If you have a choice, stand in the light.

5) Lots of raid healing after Frozen Blows. Healers, stand in the light if you can as well.

That's it. That's all that needs to be said - the first time around. Pull the boss and let everyone see the falling snow, the big snow mounds, the light (maybe point out a fire if one is nearby), and feel the raid healing after a Frozen Blow.

If you wipe, hit some clean-up points, but don't spend more than 2 or 3 minutes going over it. Theorycraft all you want on the run back, make the small adjustments, but don't spend 15 minutes talking about NPC buffs.


Keep it short and sweet, and don't sweat the small stuff. Even the players you think are bricks will pick it up, and you'll certainly help keep thier minds on the task at hand.


  1. Excellent points made, sometimes we are our own worst enemies when it comes to going over the details of a fight.

  2. I could not agree more. My guild has one raid leader in particular that will drone on for 10+ minutes on fights that you have done before for one new person. I write all the guides for boss fights in my guild and I post extremely detailed information from moves to strategies etc., but at the end I post a 4-5 bullet point summary for those raiders that need it in TL:DR form.

  3. It seems that most of the fights now - especially for 'normal' mode (10 or 25 man) can be brute forced. Once you've done it you can focus on fine tuning the skills you need to get past it on hard mode.

  4. Short is beautiful. And don't forget that the explanasions really will make more sense after people have tried the fight for themselves once. So very short first, then try and wipe. After that people will understand what you're talking about in your (still short) instruction.

  5. I have a technique that is similar, and sort of a hybrid. I generally try to explain a few major details such as the bosses abilities for those who actually care to know the whole fight, then I launch into specifically what people should be doing. I try to tell tanks, DPS, and healers exactly what they should be focusing on most and only what is important for their role.

    I think the key is differentiating between telling people what the enemies do as opposed to telling them what to do. People respond well when you give them clear conscise instructions. If you explain complicated strategies and expect them to figure out what they should be doing at a given time, then they're just going to get confused.

    For example:

    TANKS: Just tank the boss in the back. When he casts Frozen blows, OT should taunt to pick it up and tank his frost damage. Blow cooldowns on that if you have to.

    HEALERS: There's of raid damage after a flash freeze. When a flash freeze is coming, stand on the snow drifts and any other time try to stand near the fires or in the lights.

    DPS: If anything is ice blocked, DPS it first, then move to the boss. Stand in the light and dodge icicles, but when flash freeze comes, stand on snow drifts.

    A full encounter description is to much for most people to process at once, so giving them just a few points to focus on really does help them focus.


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