Monday, November 1, 2010

How to Become a Raider - Part 3: Rotations and Strategy

[Serenitysaz] has come online.

Liltimmy: Sazzy! Teach me how to be a 1337 DPS!!! Oh please, oh please!
Serenitysaz: Hang on their tiger, have you been doing your heroics?
Liltimmy: Yes ma'am! I've even gemmed and enchanted all my new stuff! But my DPS hasn't been too good...
Serenitysaz: Well, gear wise you have a very good start. Everything is for your spec, everything is gemmed and enchanted properly. It just looks like you need some practice with your rotation.
Liltimmy: Okay, where do I start?

This part of my guide will be an extremely broad over view, seeing as though there are a ton of different classes, specs, and roles within this game, each containing their own quirks and subtle changes, depending on which patch we just so happen to be in. Keep in mind there is no 100% right way to play...well, to an extent there is, but I personally think everything is relative...there is what is the current fad, and what you're comfortable with.

There are generally good reasons for DPS rotation and stat fads, and that is because they usually work for the general population of that particular class/spec. On the rare occasion though, you will find the oddball player who will choose to play an underdog spec just because they prefer the "feel" of it, and end up kicking that fad's butt on the meters, which leads me to believe that play style often trumps fads. What being a good DPS (or healer, or tank) boils down to is knowing your class, and doing what you do to the fullest of your abilities. How do you go about that? Well, here's a simple list to help you begin your quest to being awesome.

Do your homework. (Liltimmy in the background: Awww man! Homework?!)

1) Research your class. Find out which specs are currently best for your role to help maximize your DPS/Threat/Healing.

2) Research your rotation. This is most important for DPS!!! A lot of classes have spells that increase the damage of other spells. If their rotation or timing is incorrect, their DPS suffers greatly. Tanks, you may not necessarily have a rotation, but you do have certain spells that help make other moves give you more threat. Learn which buttons you need to hit to gain more threat, which are your defensive cooldowns, which spells are better for AoE pulls and which are for single target. Healers, again you do not have a rotation, for damage does not allow for one, but you do have priority spells. Certain spells often give you procs or buffs that increase healing output. Some spells may mean the difference between a success and a wipe. Learn the difference between these spells!

3) Practice! Practice practice practice!!! The best of the best never stop practicing. Why should you?
    - If you're a DPS, go to any major city and practice on a target dummy until you feel 110% comfortable with your rotation and the numbers you're putting out (Remember, the numbers you get from a dummy are not accurate to what you could see in a raid. It's really just a tool to help you see whether or not what you're doing is improving your output). Also, don't just stand in one spot at the dummy, practice moving and DPSing! Most raid fights do not give you the luxury of standing behind a boss, never having to move. Learn how to maximize your output on the go!
    - If you're a Healer, you have one of two options on how to practice. You can sit somewhere, and spam your self with heals. Pay attention to what spells proc what buffs, which heals are quick, which ones like to crit, and which buttons are for those "oh shi..." moments. The second option is to simply run heroics and get comfortable with the situations thrown at you. While this second option is daunting at first, it becomes easier with time. I also highly recommend running with friends your first couple of times. Tips: If a DPS decides to pull for a tank, it's okay to let them die. Everyone should know their role, and a DPS certainly is not a tank. If it's an accident, that's fine, heal them. If they're just simply being a pain...well, they may throw a fit, but sometimes it's nice to have the power to choose who lives and dies ; )
    - If you're a Tank...well, there is no easy way to practice outside of heroics. I highly recommend knowing fights and pulls before attempting to tank an instance for the first time. Easiest way to learn an instance is to first either DPS or heal the instance you are interested in tanking. Once you feel comfortable with the mechanics of the instance, go ahead and step foot into the queue as a tank. I also highly recommend running with friends your first few times. They're generally more forgiving than pugs, and more often than not they'll give helpful tips.

4) Keep up with the current events of your class. Blizzard is constantly tweaking and readjusting class mechanics so that everything is balanced. If you're not at least semi regularly looking at forums and/or blue posts, you may miss a vital change in your class, resulting in a drop in your performance.

5) Never stop pushing yourself! Even if you're the top DPS, best Tank, or top HPS Healer in your guild, you should never stop trying to better yourself. No matter how good you get, keep working on the first four items on this list. Confidence is always a good thing to have, but don't allow yourself to get cocky. No one is perfect, and there's never anything wrong with trying to improve yourself.

Liltimmy: Wow, this sounds like a ton of work...
Serenitysaz: Of course it does, because it is! Becoming great doesn't just happen for the majority of us. Most of people have to work very hard for a very long time to become good raiders. If you want to become a solid raider, you gotta put in the time and effort.
Liltimmy: Well, alright. I guess I can do all that then!
Serenitysaz: Thatta boy. Once you work all that out, we'll start talking about raids and how to get into them!
Liltimmy: Yay! Finally!

A few weeks later...

Liltimmy: Saz! Saz! My DPS is better! All my gear are heroic epics, and I'm out of stuff to buy from the gear vendors! Can I raid now?
Serenitysaz: It's definitely an option for you now Timmy! Now that you're properly geared and know how your class works, we can start teaching you the finer aspects of raiding.
Liltimmy: Oh boy! I can't wait!!

Alright, so you've done your homework on your spec, your gear is set up properly, and you've learned your rotations/priority of spells. Very good! The next thing to learn is your role in a raid and boss strategy.

First you must take a role at your class and spec, and figure out exactly what your role in a raid is. Here's a general break down of classes/specs and their roles.

Tanks: Protection Paladins, Protection Warriors, Feral (Bear) Druids, Blood Death Knights - Tanks go and make fun of the bosses' mothers. They don't let mobs eat their healers!

Ranged DPS: Mages (all specs), Hunters (all specs), Elemental Shaman, Shadow Priests, Warlocks (all specs), Balance Druids - Typically these guys stand back and nuke whatever mob just so happens to make a funny face at them. Ranged tend to get a bit nervous when enemies get too close.

Melee DPS: Retribution Paladins, Arms/Fury Warriors, Feral (Cat) Druids, Unholy/Frost Death Knights, Enhancement Shaman, Rogues (all specs) - These people love to run up behind bosses and mobs and give 'em a gentle pat on the butt. By gentle, I really mean a good swift swat! Melee prefer things up close and personal.

Tank Healers (aka Single Target Healers): Holy Paladins, Discipline Priests - These guys are the primary caretakers of the raid's tanks. Their sole purpose is to make sure the tanks stay alive!

Raid Healers (aka AoE Healers): Restoration Druids, Holy Priests, Restoration Shaman - AoE healers worry about the general health of the raid. They are not responsible for the lives of those who stand in fires/goo/void zones.

You also need to familiarize yourself with the buffs and/or debuffs that your class brings to a raid. Paladins, you bring four different buffs to a raid, please learn to give those out properly. Druids and Priests, you both also have raid wide buffs that should always be given out. Warriors, you have two different shouts that should be used...if there's a Paladin giving out Blessing of Might, no need to use your Battle Shout, but instead use your Commanding Shout to help boost the health of the raid. DKs, you all have your Horn of Winter, which should be kept up at all times (this will disappear though if you have an Enhancement Shaman in the group). Shamans, please learn which totems to use properly in what situations. Matter of fact, here's my quick guide on totem usage here. Shaman should also be aware of when the raid leader wishes Heroism/Bloodlust to be used, and if there's more than one Shaman, be sure you know which one is popping this buff. Hunters and Rogues need to be aware of their threat transfer abilities (Misdirection/Tricks of the Trade), and should be using them as much as possible. Ranged and melee classes should get to know the debuffs that their classes/specs can put on a boss, and be aware of other classes that may put on similiar debuffs.

Next you need to familiarize yourself with the fight(s) of the raid you plan on participating in. You can, and should, do this prior to getting into a raid. There are many online resources you can use. is an excellent source if you're the type you can learn best by watching others (they're also over on Youtube...I have Ciderhelm linked here, but doing a search for Tankspot and the name of the fight will also work). These folks do an amazing job at explaining all the different mechanics of the fight and the abilities of the boss. If you're more of the reading type, look up the fights over on Wowwiki. A little preperation ahead of time can go a long way with making sure you perform your best in any raid.

Be aware that certain fights may require certain classes to do things that they may not normally do. Occasionally a Ranged DPS may have to tank something, or healers may have to heal NPCs instead of just the raid, or only one Tank may be needed for a fight so that the other Tank may need to switch to DPS or heals for the fight. This is where knowing the fights ahead of time will help with prepairing to deal with whatever your raid leader may ask of you.

Liltimmy: I don't know if I can do this Saz, it sounds like so much to remember!
Serenitysaz: It is a lot to remember Timmy, but with a bit of preperation, and a good deal of practice, it all gets easier.
Liltimmy: What if I screw up?
Serenitysaz: We all make mistakes when raiding, and everyone takes some time to learn how to actually raid. Give it time, be patient, and be sure to get yourself into a raid with friends for your first couple of times. Don't get down on yourself, just keep practicing!
Liltimmy: Oh boy, well...I think I've learned everything I can. I guess I'm off to my first raid!
Serenitysaz: Good luck Timmy! Remember, relax and have fun!!
Liltimmy: Okay!

Saz kicks back and drinks a glass of Dalaran Wine.

World of Saz 2011

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