Let’s have a nice, fun discussion about teamwork, shall we?
And no, this is not a QQfest about a recent pug. Just some thoughts to share, and opinions to solicit, on small unit teamwork and roles in WoW.
We’ve discussed mostly tanking related things when we’ve talked about the game here. But we’ve had discussions on DPS and healing as well. In my time in the game, I’ve done instances and raided doing all three.
A 5 person group is the most common situation, based simply on the fact that whether you’ve raided or not, everyone at some point, if they wanted the gear upgrades bad enough, has tested themselves in a group run. And the vast majority of group content in WoW is tuned for 5 players.
A tank. A healer. Three DPS.
The holy quintet of instance runs.
We’ve talked before about how tanks, being the ones to in most cases mark targets, set kill orders, and decide who to pull first, generally have become the ones expected to lead the group.
Is it necessary for whoever plays the tank to lead? No, of course not. Over the years, it has just become part of “How it is done.”
It’s about expectations. Over time, the expectation has become to expect the tank to be the leader.
I know plenty of great players that have avoided playing a tank, not because they feel they couldn’t grasp the intricacies of the role in a group (hint; it ain’t rocket science) but because of the greater requirements they feel exist FOR tanks in groups to perform as leaders.
If you’ve never led a run before, the pressure of what you anticipate a groups’ expectations would be can feel enormous.
But there are more expectations that are learned over time by playing in instances than just “the tank is expected to lead.”
One of those things is that, if you get too close to the mobs, bad things happen.
Over time, even without study, the DPS and healers tend to learn that bad guys sometimes blow up. Or drop rings of fire. Or whirlwind. Or whirlwind. Or whirlwind.
The bad guys can also sometimes whirlwind.
The ranged DPS and healers, if they have any choice at all, tend to move themselves as far away from the tank, and those annoying mobs that can hurt you, as they can.
Melee DPS, give yourselves a pat on the back for braving the dangers of the mob to get in there and get it stuck in, all up close and personal. Not the life of the long range sniper for you, no, you like to see the ring around his collar as you stick the knife in.
If you study the mechanics of threat, it only reinforces this tendency. The closer you are to the mob, the more threat your attacks and heals generate. It’s not a sliding scale, I don’t mean to imply that. I just mean that if you’re in melee range of a mob, your attacks and heals cause more threat than if you performed the same actions (where possible) at long range. So, what do I do if I’m ranged? I back the heck up.
So what happens? In a pug, without vent or other voice communication, unless someone provides specific guidance, if nobody is used to working as a team together, there are certain things you can expect.
The tank will pull the mobs.
The healer will be at max range waiting for the tank to establish aggro, and will be expecting to only heal the tank for the first little bit so as not to pull anyone the tank hasn’t hit yet.
The DPS, if ranged, will be at their extreme range, and spread out a little so each is not in the way of someone else’s line of sight for graphics on what’s happening.
The melee will rush in, either in stealth before or just after the tank, and get behind whoever the tank is beating up to start stabbity stabbing.
Tank tries to establish aggro on all mobs, the DPS kicks into gear, the healer starts healing whoever takes damage.
Mobs die. Next!
It’s what is expected. It’s cruise control instance running. These are static tactics that provide a ‘brain not required’ technique of playing.
Even more fun, the better the gear of the tank and the healer, the less likely anyone ever needs to engage the brain housing group during instance play.
If the tank is really well geared, his tactical consideration is probably along the lines of wondering, “How best can I pull all of the mobs in this room at once? Can I drag them to the next room too?”
In my opinion, the danger of this, besides it not being much fun to drift on cruise control, is that folks that are coming up and learning to play in groups for the first time can see this ‘accepted wisdom’, and stop thinking critically about what they can do besides wait for the tank to pull.
Standing in the fire, while mentioned in the title jokingly, really sets the tone for what I mean.
There are people that play their characters in groups that don’t think to look for the fire under their feet, and if they do see it… don’t let it change what they do. They continue to pew pew, while standing in the fire.
Or, for melee, even when the raid calls out, “Flame Wreath, don’t move”, run to get behind the boss.
It’s action without thought.
Perhaps the person isn’t paying attention to the environment around them, because they are more concerned with things that affect their status in the group (or what they think affect their status).
Things like standing still and maintaining their ‘perfect’ DPS rotation, because to take the time to move out of the fire will cause their DPS on the meters to drop.
If someone stands in the fire and dies, was it the sole responsibility of the healer to have kept him alive?
You all know the answer. Because yes, the healer tries to keep the entire group alive, but it’s your job to help the healer out by moving your ass, when your ass doth be on fire.
Now, that’s an example that gets seen a lot. You may be patting yourself on the back right this very moment, congratulating yourself on not being the guy that stands in the fire.
But are you also thinking during the rest of the fight?
There is more at play in many instances than attacks that cause AoE effects to be wary of.
Some fights include situations where the adds are not present at the beginning of the fight. After the fight begins, after (usually) a boss is aggroed, adds spawn or path to the area to engage the group.
These new additional mobs can be scattered all around when they appear. There may be quite a few.
When this happens, how many folks take the time to think, “If the tank’s best methods of establishing aggro are based on being within melee range of the tank… maybe I should, just for a few seconds, run forward into melee range of the tank, so any adds I attract will naturally come to the tank from the beginning.”
Do you think about each fight, and think about how you can deal with the situation to help the group?
I can’t tell you how many times I, as tank, DPS or healer, have seen fights like the second phase of Black Knight, where the army of ghouls spawns… and all of the ranged players are spread out at max range from the tank, AND spread out in a semi-circle so that it’s a wonder the healer can reach them all.
Yes, we learn that corpse explosion and the green circle of smoking death hurt bad… but they don’t happen in the first 5 seconds of the fight.
How have I seen most groups handle it these days?
By outgearing the fight so badly that they can continue to perform as normal, tank and melee standing still and eating the explosions and green circle of smoking death while everyone DPSes the entire group around the tank so fast they all blow up at once.
Except… adds run loose everywhere during the fight. They spawn and instantly run to the healer, to the ranged, run everywhere but to the tank. And the rest of the group outgears the instance so bad that they just kill the adds themselves.
This… this is an example of something, but it ain’t tactical thought.
Rarer is when I see groups where the healer or ranged DPS will huddle in close at the start, so that any adds that spawn will congregate in the middle… and give the tank time to gather them all up before backing up and unleashing hell on them.
When do I tend to see that? When the group has marginal gear for the encounter. In order to win, the players look for ways to help out the tank and healer. When they think they don’t have to… they don’t.
What are your thoughts on this?
Do you try and figure out ways to help the tank and healer out, no matter what your gear is?
Do you prefer it when you outgear the content so much that you don’t have to do any thinking?
Honestly, I’m curious.
One of the ‘rewards’ of being extremely well geared is that content that would be challenging as designed becomes EZ-mode.
Is it that point that you look forward to? The point where you can solo Deadmines while yawning?
If the way the instances were set up changed, if instead of being static enemy levels and fights they scaled in intensity with the iLevels of your gear and levels of your characters… if Deadmines scaled at max level to be level 81 trash and 83 bosses… if you could not outgear content anymore, that what you played would always be a challenge regardless of gear or level, would it still be fun for you?
I’m thinking, for myself, that it wouldn’t be. A part of how I run my role playing campaigns is that I like the players to feel the increase in power of their characters. I like them to feel that, as their characters get more powerful, there are still people that used to kick their ass, that they could now go and beat up. To feel that awareness that yes, they are much more powerful than they used to be. I’ve personally played in games before where, if you were level 15, everyone else you encountered was level 15 or higher. You never got to a point where you actually met anything weaker than you. It’s kind of silly.
I think for myself I’d still like to seek out challenges… but it’s nice knowing that I have the option of going and feeling OP in Deadmines if I want to.
That’s mostly what I do now. More often than not, what I do in game is seek a group for Heroic ToC… not because I really want anything there for my Druid anymore, but because I feel there are still things I have to learn about the fight mechanics. It’s still a big challenge. The times I do other, easier content is just to get a drop or two for an alt.
There are actually drops in normal ToC I could use… but I never run that. It’s not as much of a challenge.
What do you folks think?