Saturday, March 12, 2011

Raid Building 101: When you have to MacGyver it

call it? hell no.
Raid Building 101 is a weekly article detailing the finer (and sometimes the not so finer) points of building and leading a successful raid group. Be it a world first or super casual, Raid Building 101 has something for you

We’ve talked about most aspects of raid leading up to this point but one of my favorite parts of raid leading is finding creating solutions around issues that arise either from raid composition being weird, people disconnecting, or having people leave a raid early.  The best term I can come up with is to “MacGyver it.”  When making a change because you either figure out a way to raid or cancel the raid actually works out it can become quite entertaining.  Have you ever had to “MacGyver it”?

Back in Naxx we had a tank disconnect on us because his power went out.  Instead of calling the raid because we didn’t have a tank we decided the best thing to do would be to have a fury warrior help us tank (this was before dual spec).  It was simple, any time we needed a taunt done he would switch to sword and shield and taunt for the shortest amount of time before whatever needed to happen so I could taunt back.  We ended up doing one of our fastest runs ever and he was the one who tanked Kal’thezad.  We didn’t have enough priests for mind controlling Naxx 25 Rezuvious so we used two hunters to distracting shot the boss back and forth across the room while we DPS’d him down.  In Icecrown on Bloodqueen we used a holy paladin to be our offtank so we could get more DPS on the queen to beat the enrage timer.  On Chimaeron we use a ret paladin to tank him because he has great threat (with Righteous Fury on of course) and can still dps, heck a mage could tank Chimaeron.  We’ve used a rogue/hunter combination to taunt and tank bosses instead of a second tank.  We’ve used ret paladins as tank healers, enhancement shaman as melee healers, and shadow priests as ranged healers.  These things can be done, but as a raid leader you have to know what classes are capable of and what your raiders are capable of.

Who can Pinch Tank?
Gone are the days of shield spec’d shaman being your offtank on the Horde side, but many classes have the ability to tank for short periods of time which you can use to take the boss off of a tank for a period of time.  Let’s talk about abilities first.

  • Can taunt with Distracting Shot
  • Can tank with Deterrence
  • Can drop aggro when needed with Feign Death
  • Can generate temporary threat with Tricks
  • Can tank with Evasion
  • Can drop aggro when needed with Vanish
  • Can taunt
  • Can equip sword and shield
  • Can switch to defensive stance
  • Can use Shield wall ability
  • Can build threat pretty quickly
  • Can blink away, slow, freeze targets.
  • Many ways to drop aggro, invisibility, Ice Block, Mirror Images.
  • Can take a killing blow and survive with Cauterize.
 Shadow Priests:
  • Can disperse as a cooldown for reduced damage
  • Can drop aggro when needed with fade
 Ret Paladins:
  • Can use righteous fury for threat
  • Can use Divine Protection to reduce incoming damage
  • Can heal themselves
  • Can use lay on hands
  • Can drop aggro when needed with Divine Shield
 Holy Priests:
  • Can use body and soul to kite a boss
  • Can use guardian spirit to take a killing blow
Let’s talk about the situations you can use these classes in.

so many possibilities.....
Timed Debuff on Tank
A lot of bosses put some type of debuff on a tank for a limited period of time, sometimes all that needs to be done is have someone pull the boss from a far location and have the boss walk towards that person until the debuff falls off and the tank can taunt back.  The best classes to use are ones where you know they can survive long enough.  Hunters are great at this, but a melee with a taunt can be used as well.  The object is just to get the boss away from the tank for the 5 to 10 seconds the debuff is on the tank and let the tank taunt back.  The only issue is if too many classes try taunting diminishing returns can prevent the tank from taking the boss back.

  • Make a primary and a secondary raider for taunting the boss
    • If you are feeling lucky you can use a Holy paladin to taunt the boss
  • Make sure the mechanic is announced 10 seconds ahead of time for people to get in position and get ready.
  • Call for the taunt and let the boss go towards the primary raider.
  • Primary raider drops aggro before boss gets to him and boss will head back to tank.
  • Tank can taunt the boss back as it nears the primary raider if they do not have an aggro dump.
Chance of Failure:
  • Make sure they are far enough away to taunt the boss and not get hit immediately.
  • Make sure they drop aggro as soon as they feel uncomfortable with the boss’s distance, getting themselves killed is worse than the tank taking an extra large hit once.
  • Don’t have more than one person taunting and make sure you call out when to taunt or the tank could eat the damage and die.

wipe? ummmm, hell no
Long Debuff on Tank
Long debuffs on the tank needs to be avoided.  Say you are on Cho’gall and he’s almost dead and a tank dies, you know the current tank used all his cooldowns just surviving the chaos that resulted in the other tank’s death.  Who is going to take the debuff from Cho’gall?  Easy, one of the DPS.  This can be used in many situations where you don’t want a debuff hitting the tank so the best thing you can do is offload the debuff to another raider.

  • Does the ability do instant damage?
    • Yes, use a class that can take the damage with some type of cooldown such as a warrior or a paladin using a defensive cooldown.
    • No, use a class that will be affected the least by the debuff.
  • Does the ability do damage over time?
    • Yes, use a class that can negate the damage for a while, such as a mage using iceblock to nullify some of the damage for a bit.
    • Make sure there is a healer setup to help heal the person who takes the debuff.
  • Can the debuff be wiped?
    • Yes, use a class that can nullify the debuff, using hand of protection, ice block, Divine Shield, etc.
    • No, make sure the debuff does not hinder or possibly kill the raider when they are doing their normal roles.
  • Does the debuff stack?
    • Yes, consider using two or more raiders to split the debuff up if it can cause more damage or death to someone getting too many of the stacks.
    • No, the same raider if their cooldowns allow can take the debuff every time.
Chance of Failure:
  • The wrong raider could pull aggro and get the debuff.
  • The damage from the debuff is higher on a non-tank and kills the raider.
  • The raider taunts too early or too late.
  • Debuff does not get wiped fast enough or there are no cooldowns available to wipe the debuff causing someone else to need to take the debuff or the raider dying.

Helping the Tank Avoid an Insta-gib Mechanic
We’ve used this on the Lich King when someone would die getting sucked inside the sword or fail inside the sword.  Take a class that can take a killing blow and have them get the aggro in order to survive the strike.  This can also be the case with mechanics that do a high amount of damage to the tank such as a dragon’s breath weapon.  In each case someone has to take a strike that would normall kill a tank and somehow survive it.

  • Have an order of any cooldowns such as guardian spirit that can save the tank from the killing blow first.
  • Have an order of DPS that will take and survive the killing blows.
  • A lot of classes have mechanics to survive a killing blow as listed above.
  • Make sure each raider knows the timing of the mechanic and when to take aggro.
Chance of Failure:
  • You may wipe a couple times while the raiders figure out the exact timing on the boss mechanic that instantly kills.
  • Raiders may forget to use their ability until the damage has already been done
  • Raiders may have too long of a cooldown to help with more than one attack.
  • Raiders may take aggro too soon and get killed or lose their survival cooldown to an attack from the boss instead of the killing blow mechanic.
  • Sometimes the raider just needs to take the killing blow to help the tank and raid survive and possibly kill the boss.

wtb heal?
There are also many circumstances where extra healing and/or mana regeneration are needed towards the end of a fight or during a fight.  These situations may be planned ahead for, but a lot of the time it happens because healers die or run out of mana during the fight. Knowing the abilities of other classes and specs can make you as the raid leader that much more knowledgeable. That could be the difference between a wipe and a kill.

  • Can cast Tranquility.
  • Can innervate(although it’s been nerfed pretty good for feral)
  • Can cast Holy Raidience
  • Can cast Word of Glory to heal(20 sec cooldown in 4.1 except for holy)
  • Can cast Lay on Hands
  • Can cast Hymn of Hope
  • Can cast Shield
  • Prayer of healing?circle of healing?
  • Can cast Healing Rain
  • Can cast Chain Heal
  • Can use Healing totems

dps lfg BoT
If things really do hit the fan and a healer dies or extra damage is coming in make sure these classes help heal when they can if you know the damage could kill the raid.  Like Chimaeron when he is casting feud, every class that can group heal should be helping if the healers are getting behind, plan for who uses their cooldowns so they don’t always overlap, but they can help a ton.  I’ve finished a boss fight with only a elemental shaman being the one with mana enough to heal the tank for the last ten seconds of the fight.

Extra DPS is required sometimes as well, make sure your healers have their abilities on another bar or around so they can bring on the pain when they are asked to.  Chimaeron is another good instance for this mechanic, one he reaches stage three where he just wants to eat everyone, DPS is very important, make sure they know what they can do to help DPS targets, every healing class can DPS a little so I’m not going to go through all of their abilities.

Final Thoughts
Having to “MacGyver it” during a raid is often a stressful experience that when it succeeds becomes stuff of legends.  Back in BC we once ended up four manning Magtheridon with one healer one tank and two dps from 30% down (yes this was after the pre-wrath patch).  There have been times where a DPS has successfully tanked a boss for a long period of time or got lucky and dodged that one attack that would of killed them.  I’ve been the last one left alive and solo’d the last 200k(dots from others included) on a boss and died with the boss at the same time and the kill still counted.  As a raid leader you have to know what every class brings to the fight so when the pressure is on, you can clearly call out what needs to happen. Raid leaders should also train up their raiders to have certain things on their actions bar.  For instance most warriors in my raid have a macro to switch to a sword and shield and enter defensive stance if they need to tank a boss if a tank dies.  If you don’t know what each class can do just make sure that you listen to your raiders.  When a hunter tells you he can kite tank an add the entire time if the priest will bubble him once and a while for an extra sprint, remember that and give it a shot.  Good luck and go make some boss kills of legend for your guild that MacGyver would be proud of.

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Gordrin is the current Raid Leader of Guild Malice - Early Raid. While some magicians walk on water, he swims through land. It's also rumored that he can cut through a hot knife with butter. Gordrin can be reached at

1 comment:

Mhorgrim said...

What I like about this is your willingness to at least give a crappy set up a try. I totally advocate this, especially when you do so not with a hell with it, lets just run blind, but actually seeing what abilities you have where to make a bad situation work.

The best part of this is it shows that you don't necessarily have to have a cookie cutter crew to make it through a raid. Thanks for a kick ass posting!