Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Wipe My Own Pull

Fuu and I were having a discussion after our raid on Tuesday about pull mechanics. To set the context, I'll take you back through the last few weeks of raiding very quickly. You may have seen my picture book posts, noting that we've ripped through Naxx, showing many of us our first glimpses at all of the bosses.

I must say, the first time downing of a boss is my favorite thing as a raid leader. It doesn't get any better than that for me. When our alliance first announced that we'd be splitting off into two ten man groups (to adequately prepare for 25-man content), and that I would be leading the second group, I was a little apprehensive. After all, I hadn't really led any raids since Karazhan (we had raided Gruul, Mag, SSC with the alliance and another RL). I knew from experience that it can be stressful, hectic, but rewarding.

You also may have seen my post about the importance of setting a good pace for the pulls. The three qualities of a successful raid I pointed out in that post still hold, but how to manage these with the uncertainty of a casual raiding environment? As happens in such an environment, people get tied up with other things (ofter RL stuff), so the group make-up can vary greatly from week to week.

Here's an aside question... when can you officially say that you have a place "on farm"? Some had been tossing that term around since we'd had a full clear two weeks in a row, the second week nearly all of it in one night with the only wipe coming a the hands of Sapphiron and the unfortunate snow drift bug (which, if you don't know: even if someone is iced near the snow drifts in the back... don't use them as a shield, there is a small area near those drifts there the shield mechanic is bugged. It's probably only 2 character steps out, but, yeah, I found it). I wasn't so sure.

It wasn't that I didn't have confidence in our skills, just that I knew if we shuffled around a couple key spots, we could have trouble as people would have to relearn fights from a whole new perspective. Perhaps to me, "on farm" is when your entire crew knows the fights in enough of a variety of situations that shuffling people around doesn't cause a significant "speed bump".

After this Tuesday's raid, I think it's clear that we're very close to "on farm", but I don't think we're there yet. This week, our normal MT and probably our best healer had conflicts. Those are big shoes to fill. We had several people who were willing and able to step up and did a fine job, but I think it was definitely a learning experience for some of them. With a slightly different make up (we traded a pally healer for a druid and a warrior MT for a pally), you find yourself having to do things just slightly different. It was enough to cause us to slow down a bit, only clearing three wings (plus patchy), which is still very good, it's just not the smooth efficiency we had gotten used to in past weeks.

After the raid, like I said, the new MT (Fuu) and I were discussing why this is. Fuu is a very good tank. Our healers were also both very good. It wasn't like there was a major "skill level" change, just a different mix of folks and playstyles.

One of the small examples that I'd noted throughout the night was the overall sloppiness of the pulls. I think we, as a crew, had gotten lazy with our warrior healer who could charge ahead, thunderclap a group and then bring them back for us to open up with the AoE. That mechanic is just slightly different for a pally tank. She has no charge, her AoE is more of a DoT than the instant burst of the Warrior bringin the thunder. You can probably see where this is headed. Yep, we tended to open up with the AoE and pre-heals just slightly early in a lot of cases. It wasn't ever enough to really cause a wipe, but it seemed like someone would die every few pulls because of this. It also made the pulls a bit chaotic as mobs tended to be running all over the place.

We handled it very well as a group, but it wasn't very efficient. It took more time, and didn't allow us the one night clear that we came in kind of expecting. It's hard to tell everyone at the end of the night that it was still a VERY GOOD run, we're just not to the point of farming yet. We are still learning, despite breezing through last week. We're on the cusp of "on farm". It's a good place to be, but it's not "there" yet.

With that cleared up, I guess there are two main points to take from here today.

First, be careful about raidwide expectations and saying you have things "on farm". Small shakeups can mean small headaches and can become big frustrations if you're not careful. With the good people we have, it wasn't an issue, but I can easily see where it could have been.

Second, in this day and age of AoE tanking everything (I don't think I've done a trash kill order in ages), it may be important for everyone to know the difference between tank's AoE aggro generation mechanics and also for tanks to expect a certain amount of mistakes on the part of the group.

For DPS and heals, this means being extra careful about when to AoE and when to start healing. Glace at the omen (I know since the expansion people have kind of gotten into the bad habit of not watching, since all the tanks have been put on easy-aggro mode for a while). If you get adds on you, run them TO the tank, not all around making them hard to pick off. Calmly inform the OT that you have a problem and ask if they could please remove it. After all, it is still YOUR fault if you drew aggro.

For tanks, this means expecting that you most likely will have a mob or two go rogue on your pulls. Do whatever you can to minimize this. OT's expect this, keep your head on a swivel and pick that dude up for your MT. Our warrior really helps by staying far ahead of the group (I don't think he loots anything, which I'm not sure is a good thing, but I can't tell), that way when he pulls, everything is out of range for AoE, so you HAVE to wait. Sometimes that's easier said than done, but I'm sure there are other little things you can think of to try and help. I'm no tanking expert.

It isn't that we're all dumber, it's just that the nature of pulling has changed somewhat (and probably will continue to change with this next patch). I mean, back in the days of Karazhan, we followed a strict kill order (tank AoE aggro wasn't nearly as good, 'cept for maybe when we had our trusty pally), we sometimes used CC (*gasp* what's that?), and we kept our OT's busy. Remember those days? Yeah, they've changed now, but that doesn't mean we don't have to adapt and can just revert to old mistakes. The lessons are the same, the implementation is just a bit different.
(FYI - The picture had a caption of "Chuck Norris' TP", which I found amusing, if not really relative here)

1 comment:

  1. I also think that sometimes people take certain classes for granted. They dont realize:

    A) How they actually do their job

    B) That person does their job so well that when they are gone, you notice FULL well what someone else needs to do to fulfill that need.

    here is everyone's assignment for this week(end?), read about a class or spec that you know nothing about. I'm pretty sure that you will be suprised at what they can do and have done without anyone else noticing. Unless you have 10 lvl 80s of every class, I'm pretty sure that all of us could learn a thing or two about your trusty Rogue or Priest...