Friday, February 22, 2013

Lessons Learned

The boss is dead, the loot is passed out, and doesn't that feel sweet?  Until, scant minutes later, you're faced with the next boss.  When a boss dies, of course you should try to hold on to the muscle memory you developed, one wipe at a time, as you worked on him.  But as you face down the next boss, you should try to also keep in mind the lessons you learned on the previous boss.  While each boss does have its unique ability set and strategy for defeat, you can take bits and pieces from one to another.

The Life You Save May Be Your Own

It seems Tier 14 (Heart of Fear especially)has really been beating home the idea that, as players, we need to keep ourselves alive with whatever tricks we have and not be so dependent on our healers to do so.  Many of the fights in this raid  have really pressed that point time and time again. The Blade Lord with his oh so wonderful Tornado Alley, Garalon, with his massive damage during Crush alternating with Pheromones, Mal'Jarak with the Kor'Thik strike, and of course Ambershaper with the Parasitic Growth. All are instances where you may have to save your own life.  As result, our team has remembered that every class has at least one or two survival buttons they can use.  Barkskin, Deterrence, Ice Block, Dispersion, Die By the Sword, and so many more. Sitting back and reflecting, it makes me wonder how far we've come from mindless spamming heals like there was no tomorrow in Wrath to being capped at mana and having to heal “smart”.

The Life You Save May Kill Your Team

Take a look at some past bosses – regardless of tier or expansion even – and you can find things you've learned from them apply to current challenges. A good example of this is Yor'sahj from Dragon Soul.  In Yor'sahj, we had to throttle back on our heals, even when we didn't want to.  Especially when we didn't want to.  Too many heals on a player and BOOM.  You haven't actually helped them, you've killed them.  Literally. This forced many healers to have to change the way they did things. I see this lesson echoing with similar affect on the Amber Shaper.  The damage done by Parasitic Growth during the Amber Shaper fight increases proportionally to the amount of healing taken by the person who has it.  Which means, in this fight, healing can be even more lethal to someone than the initial DOT damage that is ticking.

Another similarity you can draw on from the past to apply to current content is Valithria Dreamwalker in ICC.   For this fight (which is a personal favorite of mine), the fight was won by successfully healing Valithria.  The DPS were playing a deadly version of keep-away with adds throughout the fight, who would injure Valithria and hinder your ability to complete it.  There is an echo of this type of mechanic on Tsulong.  During the light phase of Tsulong, again the healers try desperately to heal the boss while the DPS play keep-away with adds.  Recalling the delicate balance of pouring as much healing into the boss as possible while keeping tanks and DPS alive very much brings to mind the struggle we initially had with Valithria.

Throughout the history of raiding in Azeroth, how many fights have you seen?  How many lessons have you learned that you have since forgotten?  How many mechanics are you currently facing that echo of the past?  When you hear that echo, when you feel like there's dejavu in play, think back.  Think back to the first time you ran in to it.  And try to recall how you dealt with it.  It's so much easier to learn something that is similar to something you already know.  Then it's just an adjustment rather than something as overwhelming as a “completely new” mechanic.

We learn our classes and their abilities, as well as how to keep ourselves alive and deal with “new” mechanics as we work our way through Azeroth.  Remember when you're struggling with a fight that you may have encountered a similar mechanic before.  Also, always always recall that much more is taken away from a fight that you've wiped on over and over again than from a cake walk.  Take heart from the difficulties.  They are what help you to develop as a raider.

What mechanics or fights have you encountered in the current tier that remind you of things you've conquered in the past?  Do you feel that you had an easier time dealing with them this time around than the first time?  Your feedback is always appreciated!

Until next time, long days, pleasant nights & happy Raiding.