I’m taking a vacation from pure boss strats since they are time consuming and time is a precious commodity right now. Plus, both Bosskillers and Tankspot have strats and vids up for most encounters, and I highly recommend them.
After our Hodir kill last night (go us! – Heroic: I Have the Coolest Friends and Heroic: Staying Buffed All Winter) I realized that there is a subject of boss fights that we don’t go over in the strat: how to learn the fight.
Okay, I know, that sounds extremely vague and wanes philosophical, but stick with me. There is more to learning a fight than reading a strat or watching a video. Experience plays a vital role, and as raiders, we really need to be able to take that experience, analyze it, and learn from it.
Here are my steps to learning a fight:
Step 1: Prepare. L2Read
I did just say that there’s more to learning a fight than simply reading the strat, but that doesn’t mean reading about the fight is pointless. I will be honest, I don’t read strats word for word ever. I read and re-read the parts that pertain to me with a keen interest, and skim the rest. If I had to switch to healing this coming reset, I would have to go back and re-read the boss strats with an eye for healing tips. I don’t think this is being lazy; I think it’s streamlining for content. If you try to memorize the entire strat, you will forget something, and it could be something important to your dps or survival. I can say with a fair bit of certainty that our raid leaders raid with the strat printed out beside them, and I run with it pulled up in the background so I can tab out between attempts if necessary. The strats help. Videos are also useful, but I wouldn’t use them in lieu of strats. They work best as a team.
Step 2: Learn. Wipe Number 1 (and 2, 3, 4, 5…)
Have we ever walked in and unexpectedly one-shotted a new boss? Actually, yes; but I can count those experiences on one hand and have fingers to spare. Invariably, we’ll encounter a new boss and fail profoundly (instantly, sometimes). At these times, Ultraking and I will look at each other and one of us will say, “Wipe One–Complete” (Note: we cannot win a fight if we do not pronounce the first wipe. This is law in our house. Don’t judge us.)
We all know a wipe sucks. In our guild, being that we don’t chain our players to their chairs, lock our kids in cages, or play on the toilet, people often use wipes to go afk (guilty as charged). This makes for insanely, irritatingly long recovery periods. As a reminder of common raid courtesy: if you are going to afk (and it’s not urgent) after a wipe, for the sake of the 24 other people in your raid, please try to make it back to the pull spot before you do it. If you can also eat and, if necessary; flask before the afk, even better. This way you’ll be present for buffs and when you get done (please remember to flush), the raid can proceed. But wipes are also a big part of the learning experience. There are lots of questions that need to be asked after a wipe to decide how to improve, and not all of them are up to the raid leader.
The first question probably will come from your raid leader, and everyone else, for that matter: Why did we die? Figuring that out is the first step to figuring out what to do next. Tank died? You can be sure that the tanks and healers will be going crazy trying to figure that out if they’re not busy passing the blame. Enraged? The healers and we dpsers need to find out what’s killing us or keeping us from doing the dps we should be doing, and so forth.
There are questions you need to ask of yourself, because if you don’t, someone will ask you. And it might not be nicely. How did I die? Was it something I could have prevented? What am I missing here? Don’t be afraid to ask for help, it may just be that you need something explained differently. As an example of that, let me offer last night’s Hodir experience:
Attempt number 1: Ambermist dies. (about 3 seconds in). The raid dies not long after. Wipe.
Attempt number 2: Ambermist dies. (about 1 minute in). The raid dies about 2 minutes later. Wipe.
Attempt number 3: Ambermist dies. (about 1 minute in). The raid lasts until half health. Wipe.
Attempt number 4: Ambermist dies. The raid lasts until 1/4 health. Wipe.
[Raid][Ambermist]: This fight is my nemesis.
Attempt number 5: Ambermist dies. At 3/4 health, over half the raid is dead. Wipe.
[Guild Master] whispers: what’s killing you?
[Ambermist] whispers: It seems like something different every time. I don’t know why this fight’s not clicking.
[Guild Master] whispers: talk to ——- and find out what he’s doing. (We don’t really have a druid class lead right now, and even if we did, there are too many different druid roles. I tend to fall back with the mages).
[Ambermist] whispers: okay, I will
***Vent: Okay, we’re taking a four minute break, since people have already decided to anyway***
[Ambermist] whispers: any suggestions on how I can not die so much?
[Mage Lead] whispers: well…
What ensued was a two minute conversation on the importance of moving and really actually watching for icicles and fire buffs. He didn’t give me a strat, because I didn’t ask for one. He told me what he was doing to keep himself alive. That’s what I needed to know. If I had not been poked in the ass or asked for help, I would have spent the entire night dead and a lot of people would have been frustrated with me, including me.
Step 3: Execute. Because Everyone Loves Dead Bosses
Reading the concepts of the fight for whatever reason had not solidified it in my brain as making the moving part of this fight as vital as it was. After that, I literally moved after every single cast. I turned on projected textures, danced around circles, raced to snow mounds, and sat next to toasty fires. We wiped many more times after that, but the times that I died were either to speed up a wipe or when half the raid was already dead anyway. I submit the following as evidence:
Once you’ve figured out what you need to be doing differently, do it. Focus on what you need to fix, but don’t neglect the big picture. You still need to be prepared to battle rez the healer who just croaked, and you need to know when the next phase is coming. Incorporate your own improvements into the already moving raid-wide learning curve. That’s when you succeed.
Winston Churchill did not raid. But he did know a thing or two about experience. We’ve all heard some form of this quote before: “All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.”
Prepare + Learn + Execute = Win.
Good luck out there.