I’ve talked about running instances from the point of view of a tank that wants to help other new tanks prepare themselves to do the best they can in groups.
I tend to focus on group play rather than soloing, and tanking rather than DPS or Healing. It’s what I mostly think my WoW related rantings on this blog are all about.
It’s what I do. Well, it’s what I do when I’m not doing something else.
I think it’s time to touch on first principles briefly.
I talk about group play in general because when you play solo, no matter how crazed or off the wall you may play, no matter how little you may know about your class spells, Talents, gear or playstyle, the only person’s time you affect is you.
If you want to try to level from 1 to 80 as a pacifist, never harming any other living digital creature… more power to you. Have fun! Send screenshots.
In group play, there are other people present who depend on you to act a certain way, play a certain way, and work towards a common goal together. You’re no longer just handicapping yourself; you’re bringing other people down with you.
So I talk about group play more, because in my mind playing well in groups in a multiplayer game is a higher priority that fine tuning solo performance.
I talk about tanking because it was the single most challenging aspect of the game for me, personally, to learn when I started. I leveled as DPS Cat/Bear, and I raided as Healing at level 60 end game, but it wasn’t until I hit true Bear tanking in BC that I felt challenged… and rewarded for skillful play. It’s that feeling of satisfaction with Tanking as part of a group, and the enjoyment of doing something difficult very well, that led me to write guides and offer suggestions about it, to help others get started in a little seen aspect of the game and share the fun.
So, I talk about group play because I want to help people be the best member of their group that they can for everyone’e benefit, and I talk about tanking because that was the role of a group I personally found the most challenging to learn.
A statement of my tanking belief.
I feel that, as a member of the team in the role of the tank, it is my primary responsibility to do the best I can to be a team player, and work towards the success of the group. Everything else is built on the foundation of being a team player.
Building on the foundations of being a good team player, I feel that as a tank, it is my job to;
- Keep all aggro from mobs on me instead of the team.
- Regain lost aggro as quickly as possible to keep mobs from interfering with other members of the team.
- Be as difficult to hurt as possible to ease the strain on the Healer to keep me alive through a fight.
- Be as difficult to hurt as possible to ease the strain on the DPS to kill all mobs before I and the Healer are overwhelmed.
Those are the core duties of the role. All are focused on being a good team player.
There are other aspects of playing a tank that may not be readily apparent, but when you think in terms of being a good team player, there are lots of things you can see to help.
Remember, my point is to approach the game with the attitude of being the best team player you can; to do what is within your power to ensure the group’s success, and to help everyone towards victory.
Examples of other things you can do as a tank to be a good team player;
- Hold mobs physically stationary whenever possible so that melee DPS have an easier time of getting behind them. Melee DPS have to properly position themselves to achieve their most effective DPS.
- Keep the style of your pull as consistent as possible to help your healer and DPS players anticipate what you are about to do (run in and turn around to face mobs away from the rest of the group, or turn to the side, or mark first and second kill targets, etc). This helps everyone else learn to anticipate what you will do, and be prepared for the best time to unleash their skills without pulling.
- Move mobs and the party out of AoE effects as quickly as possible; don’t just get yourself out, reposition the mob so the DPS behind him are also free from pools/slime/kabooms.
- Watch mana levels in the group and pause for clearly announced “mana breaks” when really necessary, so that Healers do not feel overly rushed from pull to pull. Encourage the Healer or other players to announce when they want a mana break, and do not listen to people who want to ignore the requests of other team members for a mana break. Only the player who is low on mana can decide for themselves when or if they need a mana break.
- Pause before the very first instance pull to allow everyone time to buff.
- Communicate clearly with the group, both with what you intend to do, and also what you would like others to do. Communication also includes asking if anyone is new to an instance, and providing tips before tricky pulls where appropriate.
These things are not written in stone as what a tank must do, but every single suggestion, if followed, can help contribute to a smoother run for the team.
If you are consistent, calm and clear, it helps to cut down on chaos in the party, and players that learn to know what to expect of your pulls will be that much faster in target selection and destruction.
Bringing the same principles to the other roles of a group.
What I listed above applies to tanks. Things to think about, things to watch as opportunities to help as a member of a team. There are many other things that tanks can do to help, as well. That’s why I’ve got a blog, to chat about them.
I’d like to take this opportunity to refresh the idea of good team work and group play in the minds of my readers.
It’s not just tanks that are responsible for being good team players. Every member of the team has a responsibility to do the best they can to contribute to the success of the entire run.
Talking about Threat
One of my first rants on this blog was about Damage Meters. The reason I ranted was because of the effect on a team. I believe that the obsession with reaching the top of Damage Meters indicates that the player is more concerned with scoring a high DPS number than he or she is with being a great team player, and that irritates me.
Let me be more specific. A lot of classes have threat reducing abilities. Paladins have Hand of Salvation, Kitties have Cower, Rogues have Feint and Vanish, Hunters have Feign Death and Misdirect, Mages have Ice Block, etc. Sure, not all classes do, but a lot do. There is no satisfactory reason to ignore the threat reducing tools of a class, because it is not the tank’s job to generate threat that exceeds every player’s maximum possible potential DPS. It’s not, and if you think it is, well, you’re wrong.
There is an excellent addon called Omen, which is a Threat Meter. If you install it, by default it will show you what your threat level is on your targeted mob, in comparison to other players, including the tank.
Even if you do not use Omen, WoW now has an option to enable a flashing red warning on the screen when you are pulling aggro on your target.
Even if you don’t use addons, there is still a way to get an indication when you are exceeding threat.
The most fundamental responsibility of DPS and Healer players as part of a team is to not pull aggro off of the tank. Period.
You can easily do this by using Omen, waiting for the tank to get at least one attack off on your targeted mob, and then opening with auto-attack or a low damage attack. Then you glance at Omen to see where you stand on threat. You do as much damage as you can, up to and not exceeding the threat the tank has on the mob.
If you are capable of doing 7500 DPS, but the tank is not capable of matching and exceeding your threat, then it is your responsibility to throttle back your DPS to the point where you can attack without pulling.
If you, as a DPS player, are not capable of throttling back your threat to match the tank, then you, not the tank, SUCK as a team player.
Because yes, while the tank has taunting abilities, those abilities are better used as emergency pulls when adds run in, or when someone gets a surprise critical strike that pushes them over the top,NOT as something to be used on every single cooldown just for you, personally.
If every DPS player in a group is pulling aggro off the tank, and the tank only has one taunt, then there are two other players that are eating their mobs, and while we can say we don’t care, you pull it you tank it, the fact is, this is creating chaos. It is stressing the Healer. It is stressing the Tank. It is causing the run to be a big, crappy mess.
This is the fault of the player that regularly pulls aggro. None other. And apologizing in advance that you’re going to be pulling off the tank regularly because you’re “lol so leet”, just says to me, “Hi, I don’t actually know how to play my class, but look at all the neat loot my friends got for me!”
Do you think I respect you because of your gear score, when you don’t have any idea how to manage your threat ina group? Or, even better, don’t care? I have far more respect for any player that tries their best to be a good team player no matter what their gear. Far more.
Every player in a group should be starting with the idea, “What can I be doing to help the group succeed?” If you’re not, why are you grouping? Chances are high it’s because of selfish motives. And I have no respect for that, either.
For DPS, here are some tips.
Watch your threat, and take care to not regularly exceed the threat output of the tank. You can use Omen, or again with the addon plug, you can use a Nameplate addon like Tidy Plates with Threat Plates. It works great for DPS as well. If you see you are about to pull aggro, use a threat dump like Feign Death, switch to auto-attacking for a bit, or switch your attentions to a different target.
Be prepared to protect the healer. Try to watch for adds that run after the Healer. Yes, DPS players can and should try to intercept mobs that escape the Tank to head for the Healer. That can easily happen if there are adds that are pulled, but have no threat done to them. Such adds are loose, and will go after the Healer as soon as the Healer creates healing threat.
Some specific suggestions that you used to see all the time; Hunters hanging out near the Healer, and dropping Ice Trap in front of the Healer to automatically grab the first add that runs after him. Warlocks that have their blueberry taunt mobs off the Healer (if it’s out) when they run in. Priests can Shackle if it’s Undead. Paladins can either bubble the Healer, or cast Hand of Salvation on them (or on other, super high threat generating DPS). And on and on.
Be prepared with your own bandages and consumables like Healing Potions. Yes, there is a group healer, and I’m sure they’re doing their best. But every Healer has priorities, and if the Healer is overtasked keeping the Tank or themself alive, you might not get a Heal when you want, and you should be prepared to spot heal yourself.
Don’t run ahead of everyone else to push the pace. It’s a team effort. If you’re in that much of a hurry to lead, then make a tank and find someone to heal you. If you are not the tank, then it is not your job to pull unless specifically expected to do so by friends or asked to by the tank. It is not funny, it’s not cute, and it’s not helpful. It’s being an asshat in the minds of every team player I know. If you don’t like the pace of the random you got, then only run with friends. If you don’t have any friends willing to run with you, then maybe you need to think about why that is.
There are so many things that DPS players can do to help make a run smoother, it boggles the mind. Heck, I didn’t even mention using CC on loose mobs that the Tank hasn’t grabbed yet, or using other class abilities like Tremor Totem for Shamans when fighting mobs that Fear regularly, (or Priests likewise using Fear Ward on the tank when fighting a mob that Fears), or Druids Innervating Paladin tanks or Healers that are low on mana mid-fight, or…
Well, you get the point, don’t you? If you’re trynig to be a good player, browse your spellbook. You might find something there neat to try.
Priests using Mind Control to have mobs buff the team? Ever try it?
There is more to being a good team player for DPS than going all out on their attack rotation the second the tank pulls, and maxing the DPS Meters.
A few suggestions for Healers;
Watch your threat. Healers DO create threat. You gain threat for the healing that is actually done on your targets, divided amongst all the mobs currently aware of the target you are Healing.
If the Tank is running forward at the group of mobs, and is at max health, then if you cast a HoT, the HoT does zero healing on the first tick, and does zero threat. The threat does not start until there is actually damage to be healed, and only does threat per point healed, not based on the maximum potential healing the spell could have done.
If the Tank is below max health before the pull, you cast a HoT, and the Tank runs forward within the awareness range of the mobs, then if the first tick hits before the Tank has done ANY damage, every mob just aggroed on the Healer, and start running for, or begins casting attacks AT the Healer.
You can prevent this by waiting until a target or the Tank has done some threat before you heal them. Tanks in particular should be allowed to attack once or twice before you unload heals and HoTs on them.
Watch your mana level. Use mana regeneration abilities to top up on the fly, or be prepared to drink between pulls quickly. Others should try to give you time to regain mana, but be proactive in looking for opportunities to keep yourself topped up.
If you queued as a Healer, make healing the entire group your priority, and NOT dealing DPS. If you are so eager to top the DPS meters, queue as a DPS. The group needs to be able to count on your heals being there in an emergency. If you can drop some DPS into the mix, that’s fine, but never let it get in the way of performing your prime duty; keeping the team alive.
A few general suggestions for EVERYONE.
Be repaired, be armed with your proper Reagents, and BUFF PEOPLE. Few things say “lazy selfish bugger” to me quite as clearly as someone that just can’t be bothered to buff anyone else on the run. I don’t care if you think it’s necessary or not, the point is that as a team player, you have a way to contribute to the overall success of the group. So buff people.
Don’t queue up for a run unless you intend to stay for the entire length of the run. Within reasonable limits, of course. If the group is just completely fail, and you try and try to pull things together and people just aren’t willing to listen or work together, then no, I’m not saying stick it out for four hours. I am specifically saying, don’t queue for a group, get a group, start the run, and ten minutes later announce “Whoops, raid time, gotta go, bye!” and drop group. That’s bullshit. If you don’t have ten minutes, then you don’t have time. Don’t queue.
I have never said all this stuff before, at least in so many words, because in my heart I thought everyone that wanted to group, wanted to do their best to be a team player.
I’m writing this in the hopes that people really DO want to be a good team player, but don’t understand how.
What I’m afraid of is that most people that act like selfish asshats in teams do so intentionally, because they really don’t give a damn about anyone else. Nothing will help that situation, except an ever-expanding ignore list.
I’ll end this with one very serious statement.
Having a high gear score does not make you a good player. Putting out 15k DPS, having 100K Health, or being able to heal a Squirrel through a Hurricane does not make you a good player. I will not kiss your ass. Those stats are loot based. Static. They say nothing of how good a player you are, they only indicate what kind of content you’ve run successfully in the past with other people.
What they really tell us is that you’ve run in a group that had some good players in it. It tells us nothing about YOU.
What makes you a good player is how you behave as part of a team, in every team you join. You have to prove yourself fresh every single time you join a group.
In WoW, just as in real life, nobody cares how you played on your other character, on your main, in your raid group, or with your friends last week. All we care about is, how are you playing right now?
I invite all other bloggers to think about what their favorite class can do in terms of being a strong supportive team player, and write a post to help guide folks along those lines.
I know it seems, well, obvious, but seriously, based on the runs I go on it’s past time to be clear about this stuff, and bring team play back to the front of people’s awareness.