Wednesday, September 8, 2010

So, You Think You Can Dance?

C'mon, Daddy-o! It's the Jets Raiding the Sharks!

How to Raid is such a loaded topic and I don't mean to bring it up as a way of yelling at nubs or chastising the people who make a PuG Eye of Eternity impossible to accomplish. So often, though when you get to a new fight with a group you don't usually run with, a large part of the raid is going, "This is easy! Why can't you people do what you are told?"

There is often some ego in statements like that, but sometimes I think the problem is experienced raiders being unable to communicate what it is they do to players with less experience or skill.

I do not want to hold myself out as a skillful, experienced raider telling everyone how it is done. I just want to offer a new way to look at a raid fight that might help.

Raiding is like a large movie musical dance production.

Raiding requires a sense of rhythm: doing certain actions at a certain point in time often in tandem with the other dancers/raiders in your group. In a fight against a WoW boss, or in a stage production of West Side Story, unless everybody sticks to the same basic choreography, the whole thing is going to end up with some broken bodies lying on the floor. 
Let me offer an example from a recent raid:

One fight against Sindragosa: We were trying a plan in which during phase 3, the ice tombs were to be placed in just the right spot so that they shielded the rest of the raid from the stacking debuff.  But one guy ran too far and the shield didn't work for the group. Another guy didn't run far enough and froze the raid. A third guy ran off in a completely different direction. He thought he was helping because there was somebody else standing too close to the tomb spot, but it left the whole raid exposed and we lost time trying to figure out where he went.  All of these resulted in wipes and all of these are classic cases of not following the planned dance steps.

There is another key similarity between The Dance and The Raid:  Practice.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice practice. How do you defeat the Lich King? Practice, practice practice. All our guilds cannot be Paragon or Ensidia and some people can just dance better than others.  But both Paragon and the New York City Ballet practice their guts out before they get the glory.

I think that perhaps most guilds still raid at the level of the Torrance Community Dance Group, and for us, that practice is even more important.  We have to find the rhythm and learn the steps and go, "One, two, three--Kick!" just like the best of them.

One final parallel lesson we can take from the world of dance: There are sometimes opportunities for jazzy improvisation or glorious solo performances.  But for one thing, these are best left to the most skillful and well-rehearsed, and for another, you just can't have too much of that going on, especially at the same time or else it all becomes a train wreck.

This is the number one problem with PuGs: Too often, the experienced raiders only know the dance steps their main's guild uses and are not good at compromising with each other's choreography.  Half the raiders think they (and only they) are the star of this particular fight. And the inexperienced raiders? They are getting mixed up among all these other people calling out their own steps.

"My guild does it 1-2-3 Kick!" says the dwarf in leotards.

"No way!" goes a gnome warlock, fitting a tutu onto his felguard. "It's supposed to be Kick 2-3-4!"

"Noobs!" screams a night elf hunter. "You guys are supposed to do Shoulder-Hip, Shoulder-Hip while me and my silithid pet perform a romantic interlude center stage."

The raid leader, trying to maintain control says, "We're just going to do this the easiest way: 1-2-3 Kick! But in phase two, we'll need a 1-Kick, 2-Kick from everybody! So let's just give it a go."  But as the fight starts, somebody (probably a rogue) jumps out in front of the tank.

"I think this fight needs a bit of ... Skiddly-dee doo wow! Bibbity-humgitity-bop!!"

Unfortunately, that last "bop!" part was a flying leap that nobody else was expecting so the rogue crashes on the ground, and the boss, who is not a fan of scat anyway, mashes in the rogue's skull.

Meanwhile, a mage has been spamming Kick-Kick-Kick-Kick and pulls aggro. A couple of healers who weren't quite paying attention before thought they were doing 1-Kick-2-Kick from phase 1, and they ran out of mana. The hunter, denied the spotlight, has gone AFK, and is watching her screen, muttering, "That'll show them to turn their backs on my darling silithid!"

The wipe is not quite here yet, but you can smell it in the air.

There's a lot more I have to say about how much dancing and raiding are alike, particularly on a personal action basis. But that is best saved for another post. (I already cut and pasted a lot of it out of this one).