Effective habits of world class guildsMarch 9, 2010
Last night was another progression night on The Lich King. We hit ICC about 8pm and were up on the King’s platform by 8:20. It was a great night full of hopeful optimism. Everyone was primed. Everyone expected a quick kill. When we had left off on the Lk on Thursday, we had been successfully hitting the end of phase three and everyone was just finalizing the learning process. It seemed that all that stood in our way was perfecting Val’kyr positioning.
So, when we got up there, we learned the big change from Thursday was we had a new Main Tank learning the fight. The DK who had been respeccing to Tank this fight cheerfully stepped aside and the Bear Tank who rolled in off vacation took his spot. I was really impressed with how fast our beloved Bear was learning the stages and positioning, and he rarely made the same mistake twice. He really is a great Tank. After about two hours of learning the ropes and other minor readjustments, it really felt like we were back on track with where we stopped last Thursday. The Raid Leader was asked if we could take a break, but decided we didn’t need it because with a little more persistence and some luck, he felt that we’d have that fight down.
Well, as to be expected, the player base got more and more fatigued, and avoidable mistakes started happening. For the first time we hit the end of Phase three and immediately wiped to Endless Winter and the cone shadow damage thingie (only ten of us in the raid had the kill on 10man and we were all caught off guard). Occasionally we lost key people to spell misses for Necrotic Plague. Val’kyr positioning got crazy when one of the raiders who was being helpful and marking collapse points for part of the night ran out of Elune Stones. Several people got tense as we tried to gather on the side of the middle without using any defining marks and started speaking over each other in vent to “go here” and “MOVE to the SIDE” forgetting that only they knew which “here” or “the side” they were talking about.
Well, to say the least, it was a challenging night. But I think that our experience is pretty typical of most top-end guilds and no better or worse than most. However, over the last five years of playing this game, I have met some pretty smart strategists and gamers. From conversations with these brilliant people, and from being one of the few players still around who has killed every single boss in this game and seen the same old mechanics repeated in new fights many many times over, you pick stuff up, you know? You have either seen it done or heard about it, and from running with new people on different realms you learn that there is always more than one good way to do anything.
One of the things I love about this game is it’s excellent combat structure and the ability to use your brain over brawn to complete many of the encounters. The best of the best raiders out there use as many “crutches” as possible to simplify and streamline encounters so their excellent player base can do what they do best: down the encounters FAST. So, I thought I would share some basic concepts about techniques that I have learned over my five years of raiding that would have helped last night’s raid – and might have even got us the kill we wanted last night. And yes, I offered all these suggestions to an officer before I posted these here.
Here is my list of four ideas that would have helped us kill the Lich King sooner
A) Most people know that Healers do not stack hit gear. Dispels and Cure/Abolish’s can and do miss which causes dispels to occasionally.. well.. miss. I have seen log files showing misses can happen up to 34% of the time DESPITE what people think they should do. The blue posters on the forums know about this and they gently remind us that its all part of the RNG; some fights will be better than other fights and the tooltip for Abolish Disease clearly states that the spell is an “attempt”. As well, not all spells that land on a player are level 80 spells. One of Blizzard’s little fun tricks is to have a level 83 spell land on a player, thus requiring hit gear to avoid the miss RNG. Repeating the mistake of expecting classes that aren’t hit capped to perform mission-critical dispels such as Fusion Punch on the Steelbreaker tank, removing the Mind Control in the pre-nerfed Yogg, and curing the Necrotic Plague disease the Lich King fight is leaving too much RNG to chance. While healers are fine for most dispel jobs, such as Faction Champs in ToGC, or Hodir’s Freeze, if you want a sure kill on the progression fight, raid leaders should request that hit capped DPS like a a ret pally, shaman or a shadow priest be put on that critical job. Greyson over at Fusion (a top 50 Guild) got a chuckle when I told him that most guilds don’t make anyone but healers do that job.
B) Not using raid symbols or flares or Elune Stones to mark positions on a new boss fight just makes the encounter harder for everyone REGARDLESS of skill or aptitude. Might uses them, (a top 20 Guild) and in many world first videos I see these things thrown all over the boss’s floor or floating over player’s heads or whatever. Easily seen markers are not a crutch for bad players, and regarding them as such is just simple egotism that has no place in a top end guild. Symbols and markers are put in the game to help us. They make scanning the raid and repositioning faster for excellent players, and allows the less experienced players to keep up with the rest of the raid and not hold people back due to learning curve confusion.
C) Slotting someone new, no matter how talented they are, into the most critical spot of a complex, multi-stage progression boss fight that is still being learned and expecting them to not stumble or wipe the raid as they learn the fight is not matching expectations to experience and reality. No one, no matter how great they are, can walk into a boss fight as epic as the last boss in an expansion, and perform it perfectly without a few hits and misses. Well, maybe Chuck Norris can, but real humans cant. Failing to match expectations (of a quick kill) to experience (newbie) by training the new person about the positioning and the way the mechanics work with a few attempts as DPS, or by taking them on a ten man run before launching them into your 25man progression fight, is not fair to the rest of your team. Which leads me to my next point..
D) Denying modest breaks and expecting response times and reactions to be as fresh four hours later as they were at the beginning of a night is bad leadership and somewhat neglectful of the health of your raiders and the loyalty they place in your hands. Repeating the same pattern by only allowing breaks on farm nights, and not on progression nights when top performance and raid-aware game play is super important can be detrimental to fast progression. Announce when the breaks will happen, and start raids on time. If someone is still in IF or /afk when we pull, or needs to go back to the bank because they forgot whatever, be brave and drop-them-from-the-raid. Really. You can do it, and you know what? Guild members will benefit by seeing the effort to be prepared and on-time being rewarded by being slotted for runs. Plus the guild itself will gain a reputation for being punctual that will attract raiders who are mature and responsible. I know several top 100 guilds that take 20 minute breaks on progression nights. Its the farm nights that are usually the fast get-in-kill-them-all-and-get-out sort of nights.