Raid Awareness is a Learned and Practiced Skill

Italicized quotations throughout are from my old raid leader Sebudai, well-known for his efforts to teach his raiders to be better at playing WoW.

I’ve written many WoW guides over the past years, largely covering the details of min/maxing a particular class, but I always knew I was addressing a narrow slice of what makes a good raider. While there are reasons that players who know the nuances of perfectly optimizing their class’s output and ability use are prized, even they are no substitute for a raider who excels at the most important skill of all: not dying.

Volumes have been written on how to do good DPS, healing, or tanking. If you raid or want to raid at an intermediate or high level, I imagine you have long immersed yourself in that discourse already. There are many reasons why existing WoW guides, forums, and discussions are largely about optimizing those roles. They are the primary way players are measured by themselves and by raid groups. Large parts of them can often be solved with math, leading to simple and easily implemented results. But most important, I suspect, is a widespread impression that I hope to refute in this post: that your awareness and survivability in raids is a part of who you are as player and cannot be changed.

After outlining the basic premise that not making avoidable errors that kill you or other raid members is an area of play you should seek to improve, the bulk of this post is about specific things you can do or practice to accomplish that. Through the survey of techniques discussed—gearing your UI towards awareness, being more cognizant of your encounter routines, and constructive behavior post-wipe—what I most want to convey is a mindset. I couldn’t list out all the factors in the mental game of raiding even in much longer post than this. But if you adopt the ethos that every death is a puzzle to be solved, that somewhere in series of events leading to it is a decision you could have made better, you can train yourself to look for it.

You Are Your DPW: Deaths Per Week

“You guys keep dying in the shadow realm. I don’t die in the shadow realm. You just need to play better. That’s my current assessment of the strategy.”

The MVP of your raid group isn’t the person at the top of the DPS meter; it’s the person who hasn’t died by standing in fire in 3 months. Doing elite DPS is rare, but doing quite good DPS is somewhat common. A player who does quite good DPS and dies regularly to avoidable mechanics is nothing special. A player who does quite good DPS and dies very rarely to avoidable mechanics is the best prize a guild recruiter can find in their applicant pool. Because a raid full of those players, even if none of them are at the top of worldwide log rankings, is going to succeed at what matters. They’re going to win boss encounters.

Raiding at any level, it is a virtual certainty that the limiting factor on the speed at which you learn and defeat bosses is the rate of avoidable mistakes made by individual group members. No matter what other factors are present, multiple avoidable deaths (or sometimes even one) scuttle any attempt at a hard boss. With 10 to 25 people having to play for many consecutive minutes, and a win only being likely if virtually all of them make no death-causing errors on the same attempt, you can’t avoid the math of the situation. Even if you think your problem at a boss was “bad strategy”, realize how much this implicates your raiders’ error rates. Without mistakes, any strategy would take only one attempt to try and reject. Any wipe could be followed by a raid-level strategic improvement. Errors in play during the attempts are the reason a strategy persists for many attempts or even whole raid nights before enough evidence is gathered that something needs to be changed.

I won’t belabor this further except to state it as the premise of the remainder of this article: the most important way you can improve your skill as a raider and your contribution to your group is by reducing your rate of avoidable errors. With that said, the next important point in preparation for the meat of the post is that this error rate is not only important, but that you can improve it as a player.

Your Death Was Not An Accident, And It Was Probably Your Fault

“See how it was targeting me, and I moved, and then it didn’t hit me? It’s like magic.”

Raiding is fundamentally a challenge of mental organization. Your attention is a resource that’s every bit as real as your mana. Spending it on the wrong things causes you to make mistakes and potentially die.

When you stand in fire for 3 seconds and die, the problem is not that your reaction time is inhumanly bad (even if it were somewhat poorer than average, it would be well under half a second). A more correct identification of the problem is that you did not realize you were standing in it for at least (in this example) 2.5 seconds. Some possible causes or contributing factors might be:

  • Your visual scan of the screen has gaps of over 2-3 seconds where it doesn’t stop at the relevant part of your screen (here, your character’s feet).
  • Important features of your UI (for example, raid frames) are positioned such that the threat was not in your peripheral vision.
  • It was a boss ability that comes at a predictable time, and you let some other task take precedence over waiting/checking for it at that moment.
  • Your UI does not produce an alert whose attention-grabbing power is commensurate with the importance of the ability.
  • An irregularity earlier in the attempt resulted in your being in a different position from usual or doing different things from usual.
  • A event you typically use as a warning trigger (for example, a Vent call) didn’t occur.

Every one of these is correctible. If you attribute these deaths to random occurrences, a perceived innate limitation in your skills as a gamer, a fluke (an event with no predictive value), or the like, your progress as a raider faces an insurmountable barrier. The remainder of this post is about how to better address these causes of errors. The two primary methods discussed below are:

  1. Never being unaware of abilities or debuffs that are important enough to kill you, through proper setup of your UI before combat and visual scanning in combat, and
  2. Anticipating your response to boss abilities before they occur, through formation of encounter routines and revision of those routines after wipes.

UI is a Tool to Aim Your Attention

“You should have added ‘Corruption:Sickness’ to your UI. If you haven’t, I can’t prove it but you’re an asshole and we all hate you.”

If somebody pricked you with a needle every time the fire appeared under you, you’d notice it immediately 100% of the time. It would grab your attention over anything that you may have been looking at—it’s something that your brain is hard-wired to respond to instantly. Associating it with an event that needs to supersede all others for priority in your response (move out of it now or you die) is a perfect marriage of a threat with a corresponding alert. This is the principle you want to keep in mind when configuring your actual UI to recreate that result in a more practical, and less painful, manner.

UI is necessarily personal, but a good one is one where you’ve made your addons work for you by showing you what you need when you need it. Good UI is less about which addons you have and more about how you configure them. When looking to improve your UI, you want to look for the config option in the addon you already have that addresses some need you have. Pretty much the only wrong answer to “what’s the best addon for this task?” is “a popular one, with all the settings left at default.” If you haven’t decided or thought about what you need to see and when/where you need to see it, you won’t have a good UI.

One concrete example of UI that should be used by every raider is the presentation of debuffs that kill you rapidly unless you move. The UI implications of this are easy to describe because, as discussed, such an event always belongs at the same place in your mental priority: at the top. So the UI’s purpose is simple to understand. Always put this at the forefront. Unless you have an alert for such debuffs that cannot be missed regardless of where your eyes or your mind are, your UI is failing you in one of its simplest and most important functions.

I took screenshots of the moment I had a certain dangerous debuff (Sha Sear at the Protectors encounter) in both the default UI (for buffs/debuffs), and in my raid UI.

WoWScrnShot_012314_232342WoWScrnShot_010314_010106

The top screenshot shows the default debuff icon near the bottom-left corner of the minimap. The bottom one is my raiding UI.

Not only do people in my raid never have to call out “Hamlet, you’re in the group with Sha Sear”, but this isn’t even hard to accomplish. Setting up this UI widget is a simple bit of preparation. A raider who fails to handle a debuff that can be solved in this way has chosen not to do it. In my view, they shouldn’t be viewed any better than someone who’s playing with no flasks. Worse, in fact, because their poor UI is probably far more likely to cause wipes than a minor DPS loss would be.

Visual Scanning

“I don’t care if you do 0 healing for the rest of this pull, just don’t die to slicers.”

A corollary to the UI discussion is that there’s a lot going on on your screen at any time. You can’t be looking at all of it at once; the best you can do is a sort of rotation that passes through all the important points of interest. Try to start being conscious of where your eyes are while you raid. You might go from your raid frames to your feet and back nonstop, not due to any alert or trigger, but simply as something you always do (it takes a fraction of a second).

At some encounters, not looking at your feet for 2 seconds at the wrong time can kill you. If follows that if your scan doesn’t cycle past them at 2 second intervals at the most, you’re leaving your survival to chance. Maintaining that tight of a visual scan takes very intense focus, but you can ameliorate the constant need for it with good UI alerts, discussed above, and a good encounter plan, discussed below. In contrast, you don’t need to divert your eyes to check your mana nearly that often (you probably have little need to know your mana status more often than every 30 seconds or so).

Once when my old guild asked what information I’d like to see on healer applicants, I told them I’d want to know the best score they could get at this flash game. I was only half joking. If you try it, it should illustrate the concepts of this section. Raiding is often made up of fundamentally easy tasks: reacting to something dangerous in a generous window like 2 or 3 seconds, using abilities in a familiar practiced rotation, using cooldowns at a planned time. The difficulty is in juggling all of it at once.

Note: I borrowed the term “visual scanning”, and the concept, from aircraft pilots, for whom it is a critical skill. Some studies have explored its relation to video games as well.

Keep Your Bossmods Under Control

“Don’t ever say ‘oh shit’ on Vent again. That helps nobody. Say it IRL and don’t push your Vent key.”

The other specific UI example I’ll go into is with regard to bossmods. It is very easy to have far more bossmod spam than you ever need (I surmise this is due to bossmod authors being inclined to show off the widgets they develop and having a strong bias towards turning things on by default that don’t need to be). Since UI is about drawing your attention to the things you most need to react to immediately, then having timers and alerts for everything a boss does causes an inevitable Boy Who Cried Wolf problem when you process the information on your screen. Without curating the alerts you need to have visible, there’s often a timer of some kind ticking down to 0 every few seconds. Realize the significance of this: you can’t know if it’s a timer you need to react to unless you read the small text on the timer bar, a task that absorbs a lot of attention, pulls your eyes away from everything else, and prevents reflexive responses from developing.

The problem is even worse when audio alerts are involved. Sound is a very powerful UI tool. Not only is human reaction time to an audio cue faster than to a visual cue, but it’s completely agnostic to where your eyes were. The catch is, to have a truly instantaneous reaction to the one thing at the fight that most needs it, you should only have one thing at each encounter that throws an audio alert. This is actually a completely practical way of recreating my hypothetical needle-poking feedback mechanism. If a loud chime means you have to move a few steps, and means only that, then after some time at an encounter you can start to do it without even having to think about it consciously. This is the best result. Multiple audio cues with different sounds can also work, but the reflex effect will be slightly less automatic. When every timer in an encounter comes with a bell or whistle, your bossmod is probably doing nothing more than giving you a headache.

My recommendation: the next time (or the first time) you do each fight, go into your bossmod config and turn all alerts off. All of them. After doing a couple attempts like that, turn on timers or alerts for abilities as it becomes specifically clear that you need each one. In particular, you should be able to articulate what you’re going to do based on that alert (“I want to press Barkskin two seconds before Swelling Pride“). Otherwise, think again about whether you need to turn it on.

Good Raiders Are Creatures Of Habit

“Engulfing Flame in 5 seconds, don’t die to this. . . . I specifically told you not to do that.”

UI alerts notwithstanding, the surest way to handle something that might kill you or wipe the raid is to be waiting for it. When you’re thinking of what’s coming next, and even what’s coming after that, not only are your odds of responding correctly very high, but the response will be executed calmly, leaving your attention free to continue thinking ahead. Your goal is to remain in that state continuously for an entire encounter, and much of the intense focus required in raiding at a very high level goes towards constantly updating that mental list of the upcoming events.

When I think back to the hardest fights I’ve done, I can essentially replay the encounter in my head, my own actions in particular. Heroic Lich King (middle phase): run in from the crumbling platform as transition phase ends, but stay to the left or right of the tank to not get hit by the add’s cone attack. Go to the clump spot for first Val’kyr (only actually clumping once add was dead). When the Valks grab 3 people, start running south and keep moving until Defile finishes casting. Circle around to second clump spot. Wait 10 yards away to see if Lich King casts Val’kyr or Defile first (the second one could go either way). If the yell for Val’kyr appears, move onto the raid marker; if not, move out and keep moving until Defile finishes casting. And so on. That encounter was brutal—if you beat it, you probably wiped 50 or 100 times to Defile alone—but once I had that routine, as long as I maintained it on a given attempt, I couldn’t fail it.

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 10.57.36 PM

If you’re not familiar with that fight, that’s okay, the point is what a routine for an encounter or a phase sounds like. It’s not merely that you know the response to each ability. It’s that you know what the order of events is. Most bosses use abilities on quite regular cooldowns, and you want to make the habit of noticing the rhythm. Sometimes it’s easy: Garrosh phase 2 always cycles Desecration, Touch of Y’Shaarj, Whirling Corruption (but, notice how the 3rd Whirl is late enough to always come while you’re moving out of the 4th Desecration). Sha of Pride casts Reflection, then Banishment, then Imprison, then Manifestation, then Swelling Pride, repeating (as a bonus, Sha’s cycle is just over 60 seconds long, so you can close a Rift at the same point in the routine every time).

I sometimes fail any of the above mechanics, as does anybody. A common case is when an oddity earlier in the fight (say, tank having to move the boss to an unusual position) meant I had to improvise. That is unavoidable at times, and a good ability to think on your feet will of course be valuable. But the raider with no routine is in that situation every time. They’re doing something else like looking at DPS cooldowns, a bossmod alert goes off, and they think “Whoa, Iron Tomb (or Corrupted Brew, or Hurl Amber), guess I’d better move!” and look for somewhere to run to. If they even do notice it and dodge it, that is. You want to be person who’s thinking “I’m going to cast these next three spells, then it will be time to move for Tomb, and I’ll cast this instant while moving.” Or “After that spell I’m going to stare at the ground for 5 seconds until I spot the Amber targets, then go back to check on my DoTs.” When you put yourself in the latter category of player by having a plan, then most of the time handling a boss ability is not an issue of reaction whatsoever. It’s doing what you knew you would do, when you knew you would do it. And you’ll do better DPS to boot.

Postmortems

“Who just said ‘unavoidable’ on Vent? Who was it? I want to know who said that so I can back up and list the numerous ways that death was not ‘unavoidable'”

In the ideal case, upon a death or wipe you cause, you give not only an explanation of what caused it, but of what change could prevent it from happening. There’s not always a raid-level change to be discussed; sometimes it was truly an individual error (I was thinking about DPS and didn’t alert myself that the ability was coming), but even then the player should be asking internally what change should be made. Can you adjust your debuff or bossmod alerts (if so, ask for a resurrect and do it while people are running back)? Maybe your routine should consistently use that DPS cooldown either before or after that boss ability on every pull?

Admitting to being the cause of a wipe is laudable. People who won’t do so are likely outside the audience of this post, as they’re not primarily interested in improving the success of their group. But addressing people who do discuss when they’ve made a mistake, you have to make sure not to let yourself off the hook with responses that are useless. If I’m your raid leader and you missed an interrupt, don’t simply say it won’t happen again. Tell me why it’s unlikely to happen again. If you can do that, I won’t feel like we’re playing Russian Roulette with the raid every time your turn to interrupt comes up.

You’ve all heard an interrupter say: “I pushed the button, I don’t know what happened!” The statement may in fact be 100% true. But what you should focus on is that it accomplishes nothing at all. Train yourself to never say it. Same for “I think was lag” or “it must have been a glitch.” It’s possible you could get away with “lag” if you did it very rarely and only when it was the correct diagnosis, but people like that are so rare that it’s probably a bad habit to try. Don’t even get me started on “it showed up as interrupted on my screen.” Any raid leader worth his salt translates this in his head to “I almost pressed the button in time.” If you caused a wipe and you don’t have anything better to say than one of these confabulations, then accept that there’s nothing you can do this particular time to avoid being placed in the Russian Roulette category.

But if you’ve taken the principles of this post to heart, a failure will usually mean you have a meaningful productive comment to make while the raid runs back. Most of the time it’s as simple as having to make an individual adjustment to your routine. Even that’s valuable to describe as it shows the raid leader the wipe was worth something, and it helps other people in your class or role benefit. And sometimes there will be a raid-level change you can suggest to positioning or even something as simple as Vent calls. When you have any of these sorts of things to say during the runback, a good raid leader won’t even be angry about the wipe. Your job as a raider isn’t to never cause wipes—it’s impossible to learn a boss without wiping unless you’re doing trivial content. It’s to make every wipe you cause into one where the raid learns something.

Sometimes There is Fire

“When I ask what killed you, I’m not looking for you to say ‘Why, damage killed me, Sebudai! I died because I ran out of hit points.'”

If a raider of any level asked me how they could improve their play, I wouldn’t start by worrying about whether they use haste or crit. In truth, I’d much rather a newcomer to a raid team read this rather than any guide I’ve ever written about what talents to select for your class or what stat to reforge for. Most importantly, because knowing whether to use haste or crit is easy. When you start playing a class, you can learn that on the first day. But being a good raider who stays alive during encounters is hard. I’ve been trying to learn it for nine years. No matter how long you’ve been playing, what class or role you are, or what level you play at, you too can find room improve these skills for the benefit of you and your team.

79 thoughts on “Raid Awareness is a Learned and Practiced Skill

  1. In my few years of playing I’d entirely avoided raiding until very recently. But I _really_ want to smack Garrosh around, which has meant gradually more ventures into LFR, and then my mostly social guild decided to do some flex runs and really wanted people to come take part. As a result I’ve died a LOT, and at least a few times have felt that by dying I made the difference between wipe and succeeding, which is a horrible, horrible, feeling.

    I could certainly tell you that I was terrible at raiding…..but other than signing up to die yet again, I wasn’t really sure what I should be doing to get better. I was seriously wondering if I should just accept that I wasn’t meant to raid and leave Garrosh to others to smack around.

    This essay gave me some clear and actionable advice. It won’t instantly stop me from being awful, but it gives me hope that I can actually improve. Thank you SO much! (I know this was written mostly for people in regular raid teams, but even the most casual raider can implement it in part)

    • I think the author’s intentions were to improve raiders of any type or skill level. Good on you for wanting to improve yourself. I wish I had more people like you who wanted to do everything they can to improve in this manner

  2. Hi Hamlet,
    This is an INCREDIBLE post. I will be making this required reading for my guild members for ages to come. Thank you for preaching the good word. Amazing.

  3. This post is absolutely amazing. No beating around the bush, full of actionable advice, and well-written. I’m definitely having my raiders read this.

    I admit my biggest pet peeve is when one of my raiders chalks their death to RNG. It is almost never RNG. Even if you get unlucky and have two different abilities target you one after the other, you should have a plan to deal with it, because it’s a possibility. Claiming RNG means you didn’t think or dig enough to find the real reason, or you didn’t have a plan.

    • Unfortunately, sometimes RNG can apply in those situations, especially in SoO with a lot of random mechanics.
      A prime example is Galakras where you can get chain hit by 3 Drakefire (which deals ~ 80k more than my total HP) within half a second. Short of having a bubble on (we don’t have a priest or pally so that’s not an option) there’s nothing that can be done about it.
      Juggs is another case. I’ve seen, several times, players going to move out of the mortar who are killed by the spinning blade (often they are forced to run in a certain direction if they’re being chased by borer drill or running to a crawler mine),. It will chase them down, knock them backwards into the blade a 2nd time, then do a full 180 degree turn, and hit them again, all within a second.

      However yes, there’s very little in the game that will kill you due to RNG.

  4. Great article! I really enjoyed reading it and will sure link it to some of my raid team.

    One thing you didn’t mention was the placement of emergency cooldowns in the UI. I was once told off for not having my HS keybound (but clicking it), and there are other similiar things: Abilities that can save you even though something is going wrong need to have a “premium” place on your action bars.

    • I feel I should thank you for this comment. I know it’s not what you said, but when you said “HS” for some reason my mind read it as “Soulstone.”

      I’ve been playing a Warlock off and on since Vanilla, but he’s been my main this entire expansion. Reading your comment it just occurred to me that I don’t have my Soulstone keybound, and I should! Especially so given that it’s a battle rez. I must say, I’m feeling a bit of shame at this fact.

      I’ve often wondered, but never asked (Another thing I should fix!) how my fellow locks were getting people back up so quickly after a death. Now I know, they’re mostly likely using a keybind and possibly a mouseover flag in that bind. I’ll go create that immediately!

      Thanks again!

  5. Awesome post, I like it a lot. I have actually been annoyed by the amount of warnings I get from DBM that I don’t need as tank, which actually sometimes make me miss my taunt (not good at Sha, even though I’m still at normals, stupid Garrosh won’t die). Of course there are more reasons then that, a lot of them mentioned in this post (ouch). I learned a lot, and learning is always good!

  6. I like to go into a new encounter with every single bossmod bell and whistle turned on for the first pull. It’s way too information-dense, of course, but it gives me an idea of what I can survive and is therefore trivial.

    I’m also a big fan of assigning alternate audio cues to different actions I will need to take. The cheer sound means move now. “Beware” is for damage mitigation. The two-tone horn sound is for a taunt swap. “Run away little girl” is for an upcoming phase change, or some time I need to reposition myself. I usually raid with game sounds off nowadays, just those four audio cues and vent sounds.

  7. This is an amazing post in so many ways. I’ve been raid leading since BC and there is little I loathe more than “I died due to RNG” or “There was nothing I could have done to avoid it.”

    The thing is, THERE WAS! Even if it was because you let yourself get put into a bad position 10 seconds earlier and THEN you couldn’t avoid it. But it was still avoidable because you shouldn’t have been in that bad position in the first place!

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  9. Wonderful. A couple years back I wanted to set up a web site named “Outta the Fire” that covers these sorts of issues. 9 falls out of 10 when I get a UI SS of someone who is having issues, it’s instantly apparent why they have issues. I can go from there. I would encourage anyone who is responsible mentoring another player to request an in-combat SS.

    Excellent article.

    • When I was in a serious raiding guild, a UI screenshot was a standard request on an application.

      One thing anyone can benefit from on their own is simply looking at some pictures or video of your UI in action, sometime when you’re not playing. Things will immediately jump out to you that never struck you as an issue while you’re playing.

  10. This article is amazing. I’ve been raiding for quite some time, though I consider myself a casual raider since I don’t really get into the heroic modes. Even still, this had a lot of useful information for me and I’ve already formulated several changes I’ll be making to my boss mod, and how I react to various mechanics, as a result.

    This article has been linked to in my guild forums, and the leadership is considering making it required reading for all our raiders. A decision that I fully support.

    Thank you, Hamlet.

  11. I was reading on our Guild Forums and this was posted. Fabulous Post!

    Thank you for taking the time to give all of this very useful information and to make such good suggestions.

    I compulsively try to excel at whatever I do, whether it be in game or outside of WoW. While raiding, I make a concerted effort to keep my eyes moving over the screen and have several addon’s that make my job more efficient. However, sometimes, I zig when I should have zagged! In any case, I intend to change some things in my UI before our next raid !!

  12. Great post, so much good info here. This is why I tell my raid team I don’t care about ranking on fights. I care about downing bosses. Reposting for my rank-obsessed raid team. ;)

  13. I stopped playing WoW several years ago, but am currently raiding in FFXIV, and remain subscribed to several WoW blogs – which is how I found this post.

    This is an incredible write-up and the concepts outlined absolutely apply to any game/activity that calls for awareness. Keeping my DPSing/healing face out of the dirt has always been one of my main strengths when it comes to raiding, and it was really interesting to see several of my ‘strategies’ outlined in this post — especially the sound notifications, knowledge of boss rotations, and UI. I don’t even want to think about how much time I’ve spent configuring my UI and regex event notifiers for each boss fight (there are no universal bossmod addons available for FFXIV… yet?), but it pays off. I try to shift as much attentional load onto UI/addons so that in practice, I have much more focus available to react to other players’ mistakes or unexpected events, instead of being occupied with just keeping myself alive.

    Gameplay in FFXIV comes with a predictable lag between skill/ability use and application of skill effects, i.e. feedback is not immediate. It’s very frequently cited as the cause for mistakes, “I was out of the plume but still got hit by it!” …In my opinion if it can be predicted, then wasn’t unavoidable.

    I will definitely be keeping this post bookmarked and linking it to my guild!

  14. As a raider, I very much applaud this post. As a deaf raider, I wish the emphasis on sound management and vent calls hadn’t been given such prominence. The reliance on a vent call by someone else is still a crutch. I’ll give you that audio cues are important. But they are a piece of it. It should equal importance to paying attention to your UI and your event timers.

    • I think it was fair to point out that they’re a very valuable tool in a typical UI. There’s nothing indispensable about them, and you can surely find other solutions through carefully setting up your visual UI. But I wouldn’t call them a “crutch” or discourage players from emphasizing their benefits.

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  16. Put this up on my guilds raid forum – kinda sad that zero responses to it after a day makes me wonder whether I am in the right place :-)
    Superb write up – will be implementing whatever I don’t do currently going forward – added this website to favourites after it was linked in wowinsider
    Great work buddy!

  17. I need to disagree about lag stance, While for most Americans and for some other countries lag is not a huge factor for those in Australia it is. Average latency for someone in Australia is 200. Unless you where lucky enough to get fibre optic to the home under the last government. Before Any one try to say it’s a PC issue or it Internet Plan issues it is not. Almost all of Australia internet is over copper wire with a cap of 25 Mb/s and you would only get max speed if you actual sat on top the phone exchange. The average Australians speed is 3 to 5 Mb/s so please don’t tell me lag is just an excuse.

    • IVE raided with 750kbs (half a meg ish) for the past 6 years and i can tell you from experience LAG normally is a cpu issue and not a bandwidth issue. i run around 160 min to 670 max on latency when i die to fire its me NOT the lag

      • I have an intel i7 quad core guess what I still have 200 to 350 latency with sipke of 2 to 3k sometimes, you can only get as much speed as you can form a crappy copper interment line there is no way to make it go faster unless physical I go out there a lay some nice shiny optic fibre cable.

    • I actually still use a somewhat ancient addon for aura tracking, Elkano’s Buff Bars. These days I imagine most people would use Weak Auras–learning to use that is probably your best bet.

      • Thanks for the speedy reply~!!! I’d go check them out for sure.

        This was the take home message for me, I keep dying to raid debuffs as I’m playing on low settings (shitty comp), that upsized icon will definitely help a lot

  18. One of my guildies just sent me this post, and it was a fantastic read. It reinforces some of the things I already do and gave me ideas for any harder raiding I may do in the future. Mastering your class also includes learning how to survive, and finding what will enable you to be present for the entire fight, and not relying on your healers to keep you alive through standing in bad. We’ve posted it on our guild forums for our raiders to read. :)

    -Minnieheals, Wyrmrest Accord

    • Oh, also the GTFO addon has been invaluable to my raid awareness. I think I need it less than I did when I first started raiding, but it’s a great learning tool (and comfortable reminder). It makes different degrees of noises if you’re standing in bad so that you can get out of it.

  19. Very good article! I would like to make some comments about that. I’m usually a tank and I have to prepare to interrupt spells, grab adds and do other stuffs. Something I’ve learnt since I started at Wrath is that the animation a boss does before or during a spell is very useful. For example:

    1) on Ulduar, when Ignis casted “Activate Construct”, you could see a fire bolt flying from his head to the place where the big add would come. An addon could warn you but not tell you from where the add was coming. Cho’gall had a similar mechanic on 10man (on 25 you had 2 adds, one from each portal) to summon the Corrupted Adherents. On this tier Amalgam of Corruption has the same mechanic for Manifestation of Corruption. So you have, lets say, plenty of time to run to a specific place and grab an add, avoiding him to run to any member of the group.

    2) during Cata first tier, I was the tank for Felusion (Ascendant Council) on Bastion of Twilight, and this boss had a peculiar animation before firing Hydro Lance: he elevates in the air, inflate his chest, put his arms to back and then select a target and fire: BANG! That was hard for me to interrupt because it was very fast but paying attention I was able to identify this “pattern” and then get ready to interrupt the spell.

    These details, IMO, are very helpful. Sometimes, when you and the group are learning a boss, it’s ok to ignore your rotation a little bit and just watch the boss. I use Fraps to record fights and I usually played them later to study. It helps a lot!

    Thank you for your attention

    • This is pretty interesting. I think they’ve tried to make engagement with the 3D world frame more important in WoD, especially as newer tech allows for new mechanics (think of dodging the fireballs at Master Snowdrift in Shado-Pan Monastery). Anything that encourages players to handle it by looking at the game world rather than UI is good, but that won’t in any way lessen the importance of UI. It may actually get more difficult to have a UI that gives information you need while leaving attention free to focus on the game world for events that you can’t see in any other way.

  20. exactly my point of view over the last 9 years i raided.Remember in vanilla when we didnt have the dps meter we cared much about the reason of wipes than the dps output we were pulling.At that time its was all about if we killed x bosses its was because we were able to do mechanics well. Thanks a lot to Hamlet for this post very usefull and true.

    Vanille-The Electric Mayhem-Thunderhorn

    • I don’t actually know :P. It’s not a perfect measure of anything since people who found it really amusing and played it way too much one day (like me) will get better scores. FWIW, I did a run just now to see (it had been a while since I played) and got 277.

  21. Quite possibly the most excellent thing I have read on this blog, and the first that prompted me to register and provide praise. Thanks for this, will share. :)

  22. Great article. I totally agree that the community have had enough of the “max dps guide and BiS gear-list” articles. The nubs need more L2P articles :)

    I particularly liked the comment about still remembering the routines. Made me think of all my autistic habits as well.
    I was in MC the other day, and caught myself standing in the exact same spot that I used to tank Ragnaros in. I even pulled some of the packs round corners until I realized that I could faceroll AoE zerg the place…
    Or how I always ran over the rock in the middle of Onyxia’s lair and jumped when I pulled. And how I went “WTF?!!” when they removed that rock in the lvl80 Onyxia’s lair.

    While all this seems a little silly, it serves a very important purpose in the high-end raiding scene. It makes fights predictable.
    When you have a whole raid (40 people back then) discipline is king.
    You nailed it pretty good in the beginning. You have this chance of messing up, then you multiply it with the number of people who can mess up, and you end up with a high probability of a botched attempt. Or a prolonged process of proving a strategy wrong.
    If you then on top of that have players that are inconsistent it messes with the other’s routines.
    If you have done 10 attempts moving to the exact same spot in a phase transition and not died, then in the 11th attempt someone snags your spot and it might cause you to get tuned out, die, or cause a ripple effect of breaking routines for many players.

    The closer you can get to perfecting your routines the better.

    People need to think of raid routines and positioning as rotations. Perfecting positioning to be 99.9% predictable for you and, more importantly, your raid members is key to high-end raiding performance.

    If a pool of something is dropped exactly the same spot every time, regardless of who it targeted, it is predictable. If the tank rotate the boss the same angle every time to avoid a pool of something it is predictable, ultimately leading to the DPS figuring out exactly where they can stand so they do not need to move and have no risk of a rail swipe or something -> leading to that extra 1-2% dps.

    And for the really hardcore, learning to focus for extended periods of time makes a difference as well. If you do a 5-hour raid session, you are very likely to be at the peak of progression by the end of it.
    The guilds that go “we wipe for 2 hours, if we don’t get it by then, we will go grab loot in instead”… they will likely never make it.

  23. Very Good article. I always ponderd on the fact of why mid to high tier MMO players were so good at WoW, they have consistent eye movement. They’re not just focusing on one thing, but multiple things at once making them very effective at following mechanics because they’ve practiced it for so long.

  24. Yeah, but an advice for raid leading,

    “Don’t ever attack people in that negative tone on vent. If you do not like how they play, their whole gameplay ethic, get rid of them and stop torturing them and torturing yourself.”

    I’ve noticed most top guilds are not laid back, but are also not forcing themselves. They want to be competitive individually. Forcing it, is not going to increase performance to a satisfactory level.

  25. This is one of the best articles I’ve read about raiding in a long time. People don’t realize how invaluable raid awareness is and tend to make erroneous comments about damage being unavoidable or dying to RNG.

    That sort of attitude starts to get on my nerves at a certain point, because I’ve learned over the years that it’s best to look at what you’re doing wrong *first* and then look at the rest of the raid.

    If you fix your mistakes, other people can fix theirs. The lack of personal accountability I see in some raids drives me sparse, because there is always something you can do better.

    I hope more people read this, because I can’t think of a single person it *wouldn’t* benefit.

  26. An excellent read. I’ve passed it on to my mob.

    One thing I’ve noticed which I’m not sure quite fits into your suggestions is that we do have an occasional problem with people who are actually quite *good* at reacting to something that requires movement – but poor at determining where to run to, so they run (for instance) into drills on Blackfuse, or on top of another raider lined up in the aim-beam on Paragons, or (my favourite) towards a blood-frenzied Thok. Or, as a more general case, out of range of the healers.

    The lattermost of those is something I’ve never quite reconciled how best to handle. Awareness of other players is something we need to work on; obviously, various range-trackers are certainly a boon, but that alone doesn’t necessarily supply all the other information you need.

    Another issue – alluded to in one of your quotes – is that we have one or two raiders who are a bit *too* vocal. Maybe they die, and try to diagnose their issue over vent while we’re still fighting, or they feel the need to notify us about something that’s not rare, and handled easily; “Aim on me” when there’s already five people heading to the beam, for instance. I’m never quite sure where to tread the line with my formal announcements of things. I’ve got into a natural rhythm of announcements for Sha, and that goes quite steadily, but I do wonder if that’s helping people or making them *reliant* on my announcements, when the rhythm of the fight doesn’t really need it.

    Finally, there is my own problem, here. As a RL, as a tank, I tend to try to be aware of an overview of the fight more than others are; I regard that as my responsibility. Which is fine in itself, but when something does go wrong, it’s more frequent than I’d like to admit that, in trying to micromanage a fix for that, I miss something tanky that’s my main responsibility.

  27. Best guide i’ve seen so far :-) Which addon do you use for your bars? I’ve tried a lot but nothing is worth the time to configure it.

    • Thanks! My action bars are Dominos. There’s actually nothing too fancy being done there, mostly just using it to move bars around and hide them.

  28. I just came across this – as a relative newcomer doing Tanking it is an amazing article.
    First it gets me over the hurt from some of the wipes that were my responsibility while learning new bosses – I am glad to see many wipe out while learning.

    Second it gives me, or reinforces my nascent ideas on how to improve my performance – good ideas I will be putting into practice immediately.

    First on the agenda is some decent add ons for my UI.

  29. Pingback: La survie en raid PvE par Hamlet | Angels WingsAngels Wings

  30. <3 Sebudai. I followed this guy for years as an example of how to play a hunter. These quotes make me both laugh and wish I'd had the opportunity to hear them in person. Love the article.

  31. This is what I’ve always thought about raiding. My guild have a few players who do good DPS but ALWAYS DIE. Doing 300k DPS on a boss is totally meaningless if they die to something avoidable. I also play damage and granted, my DPS will drop if I’m doing everything I can to stay alive, but I still pull decent numbers and – bonus – I’m not dead.

    There’s more to your class (I feel this applies more to DPS too) than doing as much damage as you can. You need to learn what your survival abilities do, but not only that, you need to USE THEM. Mage, for example…ice block if you’re gonna die. Use Greater invisibility before a damage spike or to remove debuffs (bonecracker on Nazgrim is a good one). Ice barrier/temporal shield should be on at all times. Healthstones! Stop relying on healers to save your ass and then saying you died cause “no heals”. It’s not true. Take your survivability into your own hands.

  32. Pingback: WoW Girl ~ ‘Raid Awareness’ é algo que se aprende e pratica

  33. If you want raid awareness, download Ninja Gaiden or Mega Man 1 on the Wii Virtual Console. If you can beat those, you will be one of the best survivors on your raid team.

  34. Big thanks and gg for this post. I’ll be directing all my raiders and prospective raiders to it. Hopefully will make them all understand why I’ve spent two years saying that I hold survivabilty more important than any other quality in raiders. In fact, our guild motto, phrased when we started raiding two years ago, is “All we need to do is avoid unnecessary deaths.” ;)
    Thanks again

  35. Excellent post. And an enjoyable read too.
    The points about planning and mental routine are 100% valid. I got handed the task of dealing with the fire tentacles on DWings back on one of the rare times I raided with my guild, it took me 2 tentacles to start monitoring for the cooldown I had to interupt and also to start socking up on Focus to Triple Arcane them to death. By the time I was ready, the RLer didnt have enough time to say “Tentacle UP !!” before it was already dead. Thats a nice feeling imo.

    Same with Sha of Pride. Its an easy fight for my ranged toons, but I had the most fun there on a DK with average DPS.
    Constant movement requirements, switching to Blood presence and AoEing for Reflections, DeathGripping the large add from the back, prison breaking, watching the floor for dark smudges. Intense, and Exhilarating. And only possible by memorising the routine and knowing what abilities I wanted to have available at what time.

  36. Good post. Solid points that I’ve long believed in, however communicated differently. I believe that the difference between the best players in the world and your average player isn’t just the mastery of their rotation/class, but their mistake rate and the ability to think on their feet when things don’t go according to plan.

    I’ll definitely be directing people here in the future.

  37. I have raided with some high ranking guilds in the past, have many server first achievements including Celestial Defender and even though my DPS might be slightly lower than someone else with the same gear, I’m continually chosen over them due to my raid awareness. Why do I tell you this? Because my RA helps me, a quadriplegic, compete and excel at heroic content raiding. Learn it, be a better player, WIN!

  38. I have only been playing about a year and only recently was brave enough to go into lfr after bad experiences in dungeons. It is a lot to learn, I read and then watch the videos, take notes and then try. Remembering several bosses is not easy but I do see that over time things repeat. I did catch on that not dying was more important than dps and from your guide I may not be fast enough to do much more. I would like to make a better UI but my first few tries with ElvUI and the like ended up with a mess. Is there a tutorial for this?
    It seems like I spend more time reading about the game than playing, maybe that is normal.

  39. so haw bad is a score of 45 in that flash game for a healer ? i find some of these things to be something people should know but i also know that is far from what really happens especially in the looking for raid system

    nice article thanks for writing it

  40. A good read. It can pretty much be summed up by this: If you want to be better at raiding, use addons. I can’t emphasize this enough to my raiders who think the default UI is “good enough” to get by. The default UI is setup very poorly if you want to be successful due to the fact that everything important is scattered all over your screen. Too much eye movement will result in many deaths.

  41. It’s like you’re in my head. Very nice article indeed. It’s nice to see stuff like this being spread to more people in a good way. If only more players/new players would read stuff like this, the recruitment and overall “skill” of the average raider would go up.

  42. Pingback: On Raid Awareness – Developing a Habit | PAD

  43. Pingback: An Article All Raiders Should Read | Guild Reckless

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