April 24, 2010

Raid Rx: Tank and healer disagreements

One way I like to destress from raiding is by doing more raiding. Am I crazy? Yeah, probably. The only difference is that I like to raid on my alt as a DPS class of some sort. If I'm not busy Divine Storming, I'm taking a page from Shatner and unloading bolts of lightning in Icecrown.

The funny thing about joining pickup groups is that everyone seems to know more about everyone else's class than the players themselves do. For one thing, the tanks appear to know more than the healers and the healers know more than the tanks. What gives? Let me outline what happened.There had been a little friction going on in the raid as we were heading up to Festergut. I didn't think it was anything substantial. It sounded like generic pug chatter. Anyway, once we get to the orange gas boss, things started out routinely enough. The healers stood in the center of the room and we had enough ranged DPS on the outside. Spores were synchronized. We hit the third inhale and Festergut started absolutely destroying the tank. I didn't think he was going to make it. Sure enough, several seconds later, the tank died and we all wiped.

The healing priest we had with us became upset. He wanted to know why the bear didn't pop his cooldowns. The priest had a spore up at the time and had to run out to the ranged and wasn't able to heal through the incoming damage. Naturally, the bear tank became livid and roared back asking where his Pain Suppression was.

The priest responded and said, "First of all, I'm holy." But the point was moot as the tank already took off. Another raid ended in a shouting match because of the players involved, no one wanted to take responsibility or bury the hatchet and move on. The raid was effectively shot at that point. No one wants to come in when the first four bosses of Icecrown have been taken down. Most players still want the badges or the gear.

Forget about establishing fault for a moment. Shouldn't the immediate priority be on hammering out solutions instead of identifying fault? Going back to Festergut here, the raid knew that the boss would swing that much harder. There are significantly geared tanks out there who can easily absorb that kind of punishment without having to rely on any cooldowns at all whatsoever. As this is a pug, I'd assume that bad things would happen and prepare for them.

Think about your outs

Imagine for a moment that World of Warcraft was like poker. Look at the cards you're dealt and think about how many outs you have in order to survive or to advance. Going back to the Festergut example, we had access to two paladins: One was protection specced and the other was retribution specced. We had a holy priest and a shaman but there wasn't much he could contribute from a life saving perspective. Lastly, there was our bear tank who had his own cooldowns. We had four outs in the raid. There were four ways that tank could have survived.

Something I've noticed is that unless these are coordinated in advance, players rarely use them! Perhaps they just assume that someone else with a cooldown will use theirs first so that they don't have to. When I play on my retribution paladin, I always keep my fingers on Divine Sacrifice just in case. You never know, right?

I don't know about you or your raids, but I personally prefer having tanks light up their defensive cooldowns first. They can give an advance notice on when their cooldowns will expire. Healing cooldowns can then be overlapped on top to further stretch out survivability.

Check that ego at the door!

It's unfortunate that the raid ended the way it did. I had high hopes that Festergut and Rotface would be taken down. I honestly thought that we had a good shot at them as well.

All I want to say is the next time you sense you're about to become involved in a confrontation or a conflict similar to the one above, be willing to back down. My guess is you want your badges and loot. When it comes to tactics, not everyone runs the same playbook. For the sake of group cohesion, I've even backed down once or twice even though I fully knew I did nothing wrong (and others in the group confirmed that as well). It's nice to be right all the time, but I get annoyed when things fall apart.

Sometimes, the best course of action is to simply take a deep breath and calm down. Instead of looking for faults, find out different options that can be done in the future to prevent this wipe from happening again. And above all, don't aggravate another person for the sake of aggravating them. I don't know why people do this but it's simply unnecessary. Work on de-escalating a situation as it tends to lead to a better outcome for everyone. Maybe we won't have as many players abandoning raids.

The correct play

In any event, I think the best play that could've happened here on Festergut was getting the priest to priest acknowledge that they had to run out of the middle to get the spore on the rest of the group. The tank should have ignited their cooldown and then the priest could have used his after it expired. If only things could have been done differently.

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