Sunday, September 26, 2010

So, You Think You Can Dance? (part 2)

Back in this post over here, I tried to suggest that raiding is a lot like dancing. Please feel free to go check it out if you didn't have the opportunity before!  I'm very proud of that one.

But in order to get this piece rolling, I need sum that one up a little: You have got to mind the choreography of the raid to be able to accomplish anything, and thinking about it as a dance helps me a lot.

I want to take that analogy a little deeper though.  In addition to keeping up with the choreography, you need to be on top of you own rhythm.

I say rhythm, and I mean rhythm. The scripted events of a raid fight move like the music soundtrack, they offer a few moments in which players have to execute certain series of actions, whether it's renewing your DoTs, or pointing at your left hand, the way Beyoncé does repeatedly in "All the Single Ladies."

She'll show you where to put that ring about 90 more times before the song is over, too. Ring finger spam.
Merinna has been trying to heal against the Lich King in heroic ten man and his Infest debuff is just killing us. It is highly virulent. It hits the whole raid at the same time. It is the main reason we don't get out of phase 1 yet. I have found that if I drop a Riptide when Da King begins his cast, Chain Heal twice and then Lesser Healing Wave the one melée guy who is always standing off by himself, then I can keep the group alive til he does it again 20 seconds later.

If I miss any one of those casts, somebody dies. If I'm running away from danger when that cast sequence is needed, someone dies. If one of the other healers can't land the heals he needs to deliver at the same time, somebody dies.

This is getting down to the nitty-gritty work of raiding. It's the stuff nobody actually tells you about in the descriptions of how to fight a boss.  The most you're ever going to get is, "This is a healing intensive fight." or "This is a dps race." Anybody who tries to get more specific than that risks being seen as one of those L2play jerks, or at least boring most of the raid to tears.

This is the number one, most important part of raiding right here.  No matter what the gearscore e-peens say, skill and experience trump gear every single time. Knowing the rhythm of the fight makes all the difference, because therein lie your dance steps.

Which one do you think is the construction worker?
Except that we call the dance steps "rotations" in WoW. Dance steps would be more fun.

So what's your rotation?  Most players I know will quote from the Gospel According to Elitist Jerks. Those work pretty well when the boss is big and stupid and does little else but stand there and try to kill a tank.  But are those going to work at the Lich King himself? Or about 90% of the rest of the bosses you might meet? Hells no! 

Don't get me wrong, EJ's rotations are fantastic and are probably the basis for every successful raider. But there's no way those ought not be adapted and modified on a per fight basis.

Professor Putricide's fight demands that you save some of your burst capabilities for slime, so it's good to hold back a little when you are working over that boss.  The conventional wisdom calls for busting out your dps trinkets and good CDs at the beginning of a fight so you can use them again later.  But at Festergut?  He's got a decent chance of spewing you with bile at the beginning of the fight, so you save your CDs until after he has done that and there is no chance of you blundering about stunned for 10 seconds of your precious, precious dps burst boost.

In short, if you are not changing up your moves and paying attention to the music, then you are just flailing around. 

Does anybody even have a healing rotation? Ach, I take that question back. In Lich King, druids and paladins have gotten so entrenched in the rejuvenation/wild growth two-step, or the holy light shuffle that Blizzard seems to be pulling out everything they can to knock those off the Cataclysm dance floors.

I confess that I'm not sure what priests are doing (though I see a lot of fail PuGs featuring discipline priests who have been told all they need to do is shield. Wasn't that a Beatles tune? "All You Need is Shield?"). And I must eat my own humble pie: Shaman have a tendency to fall back to the Chain Heal of last resort.

Truth is, the fights in Lich King have just been too easy. It's Dance Dance Revolution set on beginner mode. We healers don't do much more than our oldest moves because Blizzard didn't write very much music to really bust  a groove to.

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