Raid awareness is a learned and practiced skill*

Hi all and time for one of my blog posts.

This time, as we head deeper into Mythic Tomb of Sargeras and we again hit a numerical limit on the number of raiders we can field on any single boss and all the potential difficulties this creates, I’m going to talk about rotation and some of the realities of selection in a Mythic raid dynamic.

Now, a look back through my old blog entries and even some forum posts will show that this is a subject I have covered several times in the past, indeed probably every time we’ve moved to Mythic from heroic and the stresses of the “where do I fit into the raid team” questions start to bite into some of the players who maybe haven’t already understood where they sit in the invisible ‘rankings’ the raid and role leaders inevitably and necessarily put their raiders into.

As we’ve a lot of newer raiders this time around (it’s an old game and people get tired of the grind) it’s quite likely that most of you haven’t seen my previous clarification on this, hence the need to write a new one.

For the following I will cover progress boss fights and not farm content as with farm we will always try to rotate players (within reason) so everyone on the raid roster gets a chance of experience, gear and a bit of Mythic raiding at least.

First off, let’s talk simple mathematics.

Mythic difficulty allows 20 players to confront a boss at any one time, yet, no raid team can contain only 20 players as 100% attendance in the short term let alone in perpetuity from the same 20 people is impossible to achieve.  So, all raid teams need to recruit and maintain enough players to cover IRL absences such as holidays, technical issues and the longer breaks or departures that inevitably come with a voluntary social activity.

This means all 25-30 people are important, the team cannot function with 20 first choices, nor does your first choice player always remain so, he or she can also be overtaken by another player or through choice or inaction become less important than they once were.  However if they continue to sign, remain viable and show up, they get included in the raid plans as we need all the raiders, not just the first 20.

So, please try to understand that nobody in the team is superfluous to the raid team’s need because if you were, you’d have been removed from the roster.

So, those questions again…

“Where do I fit into the raid team’s progress plans?” or “What can I do to have 100% regularity every week, shall I re-roll?”

If you ask yourself (or us) either of these questions then chances are you already believe or know that you’re probably not first choice for your class/role in that spot on progress bosses as there is someone more often picked over you when you both sign.

Like it or not, not all players are equal and there is always a chance that a player we recruit will end up being on the whole a better choice than you.  We all face it and it’s kind of tough when you realise that someone can probably give the team a shorter learning curve or greater chance of success in shorter time than you can and accept this means they might be the better pick when you’re both signed.

It can be demoralising, especially if being ‘the best’ is what you want out of this game/life and doubly so if you can’t bring yourself to accept or agree with the raid officer’s rankings of you and your nemesis in the first place.

People often make the mistake of thinking ranking is about output.  It’s not primarily or even secondarily about output.

They compare output and see substantial similarity or indeed in some cases that they can do more output than the first choice, when they stay alive for the whole fight, conveniently ignoring the fact that the first choice stays alive 9/10 tries and yet they die in the first 3 on half of them.

So then you’d think it’s about mortality.  It isn’t however just about mortality, though it’s true that a dead player does no damage and just eats combat resses we really need for a tanking mistake or a suiciding player and this gets very old, very fast when you’re pushing progress, in truth killing yourself isn’t as big an issue as killing others.

So that brings me to awareness which is to a raid leader the holy grail of raiding ability.

In a nutshell, how well do you know the encounter’s mechanics and/or how quickly do you learn them, especially those that effect your role and thereby not kill/inconvenience the raid when you get targeted?

It’s often very clear who has researched a fight properly from who hasn’t from the very first pull but then again as I get that some people like to learn by doing rather than just reading so I even turn a blind eye to less than perfect recall of fight mechanics as long as you’re the sort of player that makes that “WTF was that?” mistake ONCE and then gets a handle on it for next time.  Indeed I don’t care if you have low uptime on boss or adds whilst you get your head around when to run and how far etc, I have much more patience with that than with players staying in till the last second and clipping half the raid because you’re more concerned about output than not killing your team mates or giving the healers four people to heal a debuff off of rather than the one player that was actually targeted.  Indeed, this is why you’ll usually see me sitting near or at the bottom of the damage charts for every try until we kill it (sometimes afterwards if I died on the kill, hur hur!) as I’m focused on getting my mechanics handling down so I don’t kill people or die myself and only worry about output when this is hopefully sorted and a kill is in sight.

There are players that always see mechanics and debuffs on them, and move out in a timely and safe manner and then again there are those that don’t unless shouted at and drop shit on others or wipe us to a non-negotiable raid wipe mechanic.  I’m not saying that almost all of us don’t have this happen to us sometimes, or have bad raids where we perform worse in this regard or RNGesus hates us with a passion and seemingly wants us to have all the mechanics, one after the other, every try as this does indeed happen to most of us as some point or another.  What I am talking about however is those that have it happen more often than others in the team, those who are more likely to miss WAs and DBM warnings as they are hardwired to focus on only one thing, usually doing as much damage as they can to the boss to the exclusion of all other visual and audible stimuli.

It is typically the player who frequently falls into this category who, when there are alternatives that don’t make the same mistakes, that finds themselves becoming a second choice for progress rather than a first.  It’s a harsh but inevitable truth that this is hard enough without knowingly making it harder by increasing the personal error average of the team as a whole.

Now, I’m not saying that a progress kill is impossible if we field a less aware player over their more observant comrade, just that there will certainly be a longer learning curve, more accidental wipes due to missed cues and mistakes and therefore more raid days and tries spent on each progress boss which on a two day per week schedule basically can mean settling for 8/10M on new raid release rather than 10/10M being a realistically obtainable goal in the limited time Blizzard’s 77 day release schedule gives us.

Path of least resistance, shortest route, call it what you will but that’s the reason it’s not just about taking turns or who sat last time when we look at a combo for a boss fight.

Now, with this in mind it is possible to move up or down the ‘priority’ rankings through your own efforts rather than just hoping that the current first choice will leave.

Raid awareness is a learned skill, it’s not a natural ability you are either born with or shit out of luck.

Sure, some can find it easier or harder to learn but we can all improve that area of our play, indeed focus on it to the exclusion of other metrics (newsflash, whilst learning to prioritise this skill your output will decrease!) before you can rebuild this lost output ground on a new, firmer footing.

There are things that can help you prepare such as:

1.  Watch videos and read class specific encounter guides prepared by other players where you don’t just get to see a fatboss like outline of a fight but get into detail of what you can do to maximise your raid efficiency and survivability.  Talents, gear, these all have a role to play outside which are you best output items, if you’re prone to dying, find which might save you, if you’re slow and kill others then find those that speed you up.  Start with your class Discord and there will almost inevitably be links there to class and encounter guides where someone will tell you what talents to take and what gear to use for each encounter.  Trust them, chances are they have even less real life™ than you do.

The biggest improvement however is in raid, knowing when you have an ability, what to do when you have it are non-negotiable, this is why we raid with DBM and WA as mandatory add-ons as there at least you have the tools to get the info the average raider needs.  If you have these and these obviously aren’t enough there are other improvements you might try.

2.  GTFO – If you’re dying to something you’re not sure about it’s often because you’re standing in something that does damage.  If you have GTFO it makes a god awful noise every second you are in there so you can take 1 stack instead of 3.

Voice Packs – DBM comes with voice packs these days (downloadable separately) and indeed the best and recommended set-up is to have a voice pack and then dial back all the duplicate visual warnings so you can focus on what it is telling you (often says what to do when you have a mechanic as well) and filter your screen of spammed text messages.

4. Filter other distractions – turn off game sounds you don’t need, don’t have game music on or listen to music whilst raiding.

All of the above is up to you of course, we’re all different and find different things helpful and others superfluous or distracting, however if your problem is awareness and you don’t try to improve it by changing something that’s obviously not working well for you then you only really have yourself to blame.

At the end of the day, all our raiders usually get to kill all the bosses, whether you are there for the first kill or the third really makes little difference in the long run to the raid team, all of whom are required to get us to the end goal.

I can understand if it does make a difference to you, but in reality that’s just pride messing with your head and whilst I try to take onboard as many of the hopes and expectations of our 26+ raiders as possible, I don’t have any extra room to accommodate their egos as well.

Hope this helps explain why none of our raiders are worth less than others, but also why we will try and field the best group we can when we need to push a progress boss or avoid spending 12 wipes on Mythic Gorgoth because people keep screwing up non negotiable mechanics.

Thanks for reading.

* The title isn’t mine, but taken from a most excellent and still 100% valid blog post from 2014 that forms the basis of the way I approach player evaluation.  You can read it here and I highly recommend you do as he’s a far better writer than I.

Founder and Warlord of Weekend Warriors.
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