Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How To Win Raiding

Those of us who enjoy the raiding aspect of the game are always seeking to raise our games, step up our efforts and engage in other sports/corporate cliches. In short, we want to be the best raiders possible. However, raiding guides usually deal in rather obvious tips like "Stay out of fire" and "Always have a food/flask buff." Those might help, but if you really want to become a truly pro raider, you need the advanced secrets of raiding.

That's what this piece is about. How to squeeze out the extra throughput that average raiders simply don't attain. Read on.

Select The Right Music

The right music in the background will make or break you as a raider. Average raiders listen to the default encounter music within World of Warcraft or to nothing at all. The finest raiders in world ranked guilds select the proper pop/rock/hip-hop/electronica/R&B/soul music to push them to higher levels.

So what is the proper music? That's a trickier question, as it doesn't follow simple rules. This isn't something basic like gear itemization; this is complicated. It has to be a playlist that energizes you at the right times but provides some chill cooldown when you need to recover your intensity. Ultimately, this is a difficult one to spreadsheet, though I'm working on it*.

*Preliminary research is revealing that balearic dance-pop is likely the "primary sound" that will be the baseline against which all other genres will be weighted, for all classes

When Forced To Move, Jump While Moving

You move faster when jumping. This has been empirically proven*. Further, jumping when casting an instant spell supercharges it slightly (though it's a non-stacking buff, so don't jump multiple times before casting it). I think Elitist Jerks had a thread on this at some point. In any case, I've never seen anyone specifically deny this. If you have to get out of poison, jump while moving to your new position.

*"Empirically proven" means "it feels true."

I shouldn't need to explain this...the faster you move, the sooner you can start DPSing or healing again. And stronger spells are always nice*.

*There is a reason restoration druids always top the healing meters.

Mentally Tack On A "Loot Phase" To Every Boss

Beth'tilac has three phases. The phase which she spends her time atop her web, the phase in which she descends to attack the raid directly and the phase in which you collect the loot she drops. Rhyolith also has three phases. Etcetera. When discussing boss strategy, it's important to know that this is the phase you need to reach*.

*This also makes explaining the fight to new recruits much easier--just get to phase 3 (or whichever phase is the loot phase for a particular boss)

Bonus Patch 4.3 Exclusive Tip: Dress For Success

This is really not a tip you can put into effect right now, but it's worth discussing since you'll soon be able to address this issue. Currently, Blizzard has introduced an RNG obstacle in raiding--the negative effect of ugly raid gear. Some tiers the gear is decent in appearance, some tiers the gear looks designed by a bored monkey. You have no control over this and Blizzard intends for this to be an RNG's filed under "demoralization effect" (distinct from disorientation, fear and stun effects).

However, patch 4.3 will introduce ability meant for prepared raiders to remove this randomness from encounters, much as tanks push crushing blows off the table. You'll be able to modify the look of any visible piece of equipment you wear to any other similarly-slotted piece of equipment that you own, with a few restrictions. This means that it is incumbent upon you to create a fashion style that will remove the demoralization effect any time that your raid gear looks terrible. If you don't do this, you cannot honestly claim to be giving your raid your best effort.


  1. Haha, I also jump while moving, although I heard that your character doesn't actually move while in the air but counts as standing where it last was on the ground. They might've fixed this for Cata, because I haven't had any issues with it. (Btw my captcha was "prons").

  2. Yeah, I haven't had any issues with that in Cata, where it still counts me as in the bad even though I've jumped away. At least, I *feel* like when I jumped out of the lava towards the pillar against Nef, that the damage stops instantly.

    Also, "prons" means you win at captcha. Congratz! :)

  3. I think you understate the negative effects of visually unattractive gear on the average player's concentration and skill level.

    In fact, my thesis is that the wildly varying *apparent* skill levels one encounters in chance encounters such as PuG raids and especially in 5-player groups formed via the LFD tool is directly related to the individual members' ability to ignore the appearance of their armour.

    It is, after all, exceeding hard to select the right DPS target, move out of fire or avoid the patrol (pat. pat! PAT! *wipe*) if you can't actually look at the screen for more than fraction of a second without tearing up or covering your face in disgust.

    One further tip for those who are proactive about pushing the envelope and are looking to institutionalise best practices in their raid: communication is key.

    We all know that voice comms are a boon when managing the important aspects of a raid ("Whose Crusader Aura is that? What do you mean, 'brb lol'? Hello? HELLO!?"). Advanced players will be accustomed to using voice comms to manage complex encounter mechanics, like stacking up, spreading out and moving out of fire.

    To take it to the next level, you need to take responsibility for managing your raid. An early example can be seen in the infamous "moar dots" raid encounter animation, but you can go further. Shouting "heal the tank, heal the tank" at your paladin is a 5-9% throughput buff, depending on gear. Repeating "stay alive, Tank!" increases dodge and the effectiveness of block (very good for shield tanks). I've heard said that variations on "gogo more dps" and "nuke it" can lower the GCD for casters and increase melee swing speed, but as this usually happens during the burn phase I've not been able to check.

    So many simple things we can do to improve -- I'm so glad someone is finally telling it like it really is.


  4. Thanks for the communication tip, I'm extremely chagrined that I didn't remember to put it down myself because you're absolutely right that it's crucial.

    Sometimes even a very basic "Stop failing" can make the difference. You don't have to be Winston Churchill to reap the benefits of communication.