Monday, January 25, 2010

Raid Mechanics

This is the level it’s gotten to – and I’m not talking about the gear.

I tried getting into my first raid recently on the DK. A last minute run into Naxx for the weekly raid, and they’re looking for tanks. Even though I’m still sporting some dungeon blues, I’m sitting at a pretty 27k un-buffed, I’m crit immune – and more importantly – I’m pro. I’ve got flasks, armor pots, BIS enchants, and every little ounce I can squeeze out of my gear.


“We need someone with more HP. The melee DPS have more HP than you do, and they’re going to eat the strikes.”

Fair enough. I mentioned previously that I don’t really care to boost others who aren’t working hard, and I can see where someone putting a quick 10 man run together may not want to bring in what he perceives to be an inexperienced tank. Far be it for me to hold them back or expect to be carried. I of course found it ironic when the whole group broke up because they couldn’t find another suitable tank.

Focus on the reason

What really threw me though was the reason for my denial. They wanted someone with more HPs so they could cruise through the encounter half-asleep, instead of worrying about the mechanics of the fight.

Most of us are intimately familiar with Patchwerk as a boss. What I’ve come to believe however (especially given all the PUGs I’ve run in the past) is that most players really don’t understand the mechanics of the fights they’re doing.

Unless you were some of the top guilds, chances are that even the simplified fights in Naxx (and certainly EoE and Sarth w/drakes) caused problems within your raid. Wipes due to not moving out of the Giant BigTM, getting hit by the Giant BigTM, or maybe not standing in the Giant BigTM long enough (Malygos). These fights required execution, coordinated movement, and an overall understanding of what was actually going on.

With the current gear reset however, and the expectation that you have a T10/264 geared tank for UK, tactics (and mechanics) have been tossed right out the window. Not only do players not want to bother with them, but I believe that there is a deeper rooted problem


I am firmly convinced that many players never understood the mechanics of a fight in the first place.

Because it was the original issue with me getting into a raid, I’m going to use Patchwerk as an example. Also because he is quite possibly the easiest fight (mechanics wise) in the game.

Patchwerk’s abilities are very simple, and very straight forward.

He will hit the MT with a standard strike, and then will strike the person with the highest HP out of the top two people on his agro table (1 of 3 in 25s – hence needing 3 tanks) with a Hateful strike that is more powerful than his normal attack. This strike will not hit the person who is #1 on agro, but instead hit’s the 2nd or 3rd (in 25s) – with the highest health.

Patchwerk also Frenzy’s at 5%, and has a hard enrage of 6minutes. The easiest of tank and spank gear checks.

That’s it – that’s Patchwerk. Nothing else to him besides tank and spank – so why are there issues?

They don’t get it

Back when Naxx was first launched in Vanilla, and even at the start of Wrath, there were a few key steps that melee DPS took to stay alive.

1) Click off Fortitude and Kings if you have to (though Kings was a significant DPS loss in what was a DPS race).

2) Don’t use Judgement of Light

3) Dip your toe in the slime pool.

Woah – what? Intentionally lower my health? THIS IS MADNESS!

Yes ladies and gentlemen, you would intentionally lower your HP so that when Patchwerk does his Hateful Strike, you would have less HP than the tanks – meaning you no longer were at risk of eating the strike. Of course you have to repeat this every once in a while, as there is now (not so much in Vanilla) a veritable ton of raid healing that goes on – even unintentional.

Shamans will use Chain Heal (especially in 25s) as it hits all the tanks. Paladins will use Holy Light, which will splash onto the melee. Binding Heal, Prayer of Mending, Feral Druid aura. All these will slowly raise your health, which means you have to occasionally re-dip.

Such is the mechanic. It’s not overly difficult, and relatively easy to master – yet I constantly see melee getting gibbed either because they don’t toe dip, or they move into the #2/3 spot on threat (for melee). This results in the DPS dying, the fight taking longer, and cries of L2P or L2Tank NOOB being tossed out.

Minus 50 DKP!

So the question comes up – if you don’t understand the mechanics of Patchwerk, how are you going to handle something like Saurfang or Putricide? I’m pretty sure these are the same people that made Netherspite a thousand times more difficult that it was. Or even worse think that using the ledge in HoR is necessary (Dear GC, please make Arthas instagib anyone who does this, and then locks their account for a week).

Where did the mechanic skill go to though? Is this the original raiding ‘skill’ that many Vanilla raiders think has died off in the Wrath generation? Have the constant nerfs, and “everyone gets to see the content” removed the ability to critically think through an encounter? Or did those skills never exist in the first place?

Damn those kids and their fast cars anyway.

Maybe it really is the Hard Modes

With Naxxaramas and two single dragon encounters available so early, plus the complete shift from CC heavy heroics found in BC, it may be fair to place some of the raider issues on Blizzard’s shoulders. Blizzard tried to make the content available to more players, and has largely succeeded in doing so. Gevlon has certainly shown that Ulduar can be completed in nothing but iLvl 200 blues, so taking it down with 245 badge gear shouldn’t pose much of an issue. Much of the content can be brute forced with little to no regard for strategy or tactics – just keep bashing on it until it falls over.

So maybe this is what happened. Certainly there are far fewer guilds with Yogg+0 kills, or even 10m Insanity kills from ToGC, than there are with Yogg+4 kills. Sarth 3D kills are way up with the high DPS output of 245 gear – but even being able to dish out 18k DPS won’t save you from standing in a wall of fire. EoE is still unpopular, though this probably has more to do with a dislike of vehicle fights (and people not knowing how to use them). It’s amazing how difficult it was to teach someone to hit 3,3,3,4 until the encounter ended.

Conversely, hard modes require you to be on your game. Fights like Hodir require quick DPS, high movement, target switching, and buff watching. Getting all the NPC buffs and standing in a light beam can make or break that fight – though the same can be said for moving out of/onto the ice in a timely fashion. While the three minute kill is commonplace today, it’s still startling how many players can’t master the Deep Freeze mechanic.

You need to adapt quickly

In progression (world, realm, or just personal/guild) raids, you need to be able to quickly analyze what effects the boss is using, and how you should be reacting to them. On our first Festergut 25 attempt we tried to use the same spore distribution that we use in our 10s – everyone bunch on the boss. When this wiped the raid, we quickly adjusted our strategy. While we still don’t have him down in our 25 alliance raid (I suppose it’s not really a PUG) – we constantly get closer. Of course we still have players who fail to grasp what the boss’s abilities are and how to counter them.

My guess is we will have a fight similar to the Council fight from BT – which was dubbed the “Super Bowl of not standing in the Giant BigTM”. Ok, maybe that quote isn’t exactly right, but you get the picture. While the Princes is a council type fight, I’m really looking for a fight that continues to challenge a player’s ability to stand in one place for very long. I love insta-gib mechanics that quickly remind you that standing in one spot is a bad idea.

So what can we do?

Really, there’s nothing that can be done at this point. Smart players will quickly stand out, while the idiots will still be standing in fire and not using an offhand with their caster dagger. As long as guilds and other players are willing to help brute force others through content, these players will continue to show up in your heroics and raids – and continue to think they are doing a good job.

Mongrr just put up a good post over at Save the Lightwell (see sidebar) about player fundamentals being the things that get you through a raid when things go sideways – and that’s exactly what I’m talking about here. Knowing what you ‘should’ be doing, predicting boss moves and damage (much easier thanks to things like DBM), and trusting your fellow raiders to do their job.

In the end the best thing we can do with bad players is try to educate them. In the end though, many won’t respond well (don’t tell me how to play) and will just need to be cut. This goes back to knowing what your goals are – and bringing someone who is constantly out-healed by the tank just doesn’t do anyone any good at all.


Know your abilities, your raid abilities, and the mechanics of the fight. As a footnote, while I wasn’t able to tank Patchwerk, I tanked Sarth+0 and Onyxia the next day. I did receive quite a bit of flak from the folks in the Ony encounter due to my gearscore – but I was rewarded at the end when my healer publicly announced that I was easier to keep up than many other tanks. This comes from knowing the fights, using cool-downs proactively, and trusting your skills and other players.

If you’re not the kind of player who can learn mechanics on your own, use the resources available. Blogs, wiki’s, TankSpot, and more. There’s no excuse for un-educated raiding.


  1. I think the biggest misunderstanding is not the raid leader's grasp of mechanics. The fact that he knows that health, not threat, is what prompts the hatefuls shows he knows all he needs to know about the mechanics of a remarkable simple fight.

    The lack of understanding lies with you, and your grasp of the capabilities and motivations of your typical pug raid for the weekly.

    First, the capabilities. It's a pug for patchwerk, the epitomy of the tank and spank. I'd be willing to bet that they probably weren't using vent. Communication is very poor. Hell, either corraling everyone into vent, or typing out the plan you listed, in order to get people to understand the hoops they'd need to jump through in order to deal with the presence of your tank would almost certainly take more time than telling you no and finding a new tank. And that's assuming that people are willing to pay attention to said plan, which, it being a pug for patchwerk, is highly unlikely.

    As for the motivations, their motivations are the same as yours are when you do the daily on your paladin. They want frost. They don't want to jump through a bunch of hoops making things much more complicated then they really need to be to accomodate someone's desire for some achievement, or to carry someone's undergeared alt in a vital position on a fight that's based pretty much solely on gear. I think you mistook them for people who cared.

    Here's the fact of the matter. Standards are for guilds. If you want to do the weekly on your undergeared alt, get your guild to carry you. You infringe upon the likelyhood of sucess for a guild run in a much smaller manner than you do of a trade chat pug. Expecting a quality group with high standards out of a trade chat pug for patchwerk is like expecting a tornado to blow through a junkyard and assemble a flawlessly functioning Rolex. It might happen, but don't hold your breath for it.

  2. Divine Plea I sympathize with your post, and I note that your example of Patchwork was merely a focus aid in discussion.

    The Renaissance Man excellent counterpoint as well.

  3. @RM - I'm not complaining that I wasn't picked for that particular raid. I knew what they were after, and I've done the same. I only used it as an example because I've been in many PUGs (long before the weekly raids) where someone died on Patch, or any other boss, because they didn't understand the mechanics of the fight. I certainly don't hold it against them for wanting someone with 50k (though when the raid folds because you can't find one...).

    Look at your average PUG which fails on Marrowgar because they don't understand the killing of spikes is > killing Marrowgar - or that getting out of his Bone Storm is > that one second cast you'll get off.

    Players have been able to brute force through content for a while now - and I'm really hoping the Frost Wing kicks us in the teeth.

  4. I've noticed that certain fights tends to be the stopping blocks for guilds and they're usually the ones that can't be brute-forced, the ones that require a greater amount of raid coordination and awareness.

    I finally did Blood Princes last night and it was a blast. Sure I was running around like a moonkin with her head cut off, but I can't remember a recent boss fight where I had to be so alert and yet felt so in control. I just loved it.

    But at the same time I can see how a raid that can't be bothered to learn the fight will fail again and again. I'm not on a very progressed server, so the majority of guilds haven't down Blood Princes yet (10 or 25), let alone the Plagueworks.

    I like the fights that make me feel like a good player, not just a good dps, and Blood Princes is definitely one of them.


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