Sunday, January 23, 2011

Raiding Fallacies

A Fallacy: "We can attack Deathwing with a giant magnet and pull his jaw off!"
A Fallacy: A falsehood that based on incorrect thinking, particularly in logical thought (which, let's be honest, is not a strength of many people, probably not for me either). What's not necessarily in this definition, but is perhaps inherent with the problem is that Fallacy is often taken to be The Truth by people who don't go far enough as to really peer into the problem.

Let me provide a quick example of a specific fallacy that came out of Lich King (and still persists to some extent today):

"You need a 5500 gearscore to do ICC"
Bull Hockey.  The way this went from just bad information to a full blown fallacy was that people would be bellowing in the LFG channel, "LFM: must have 5500gs" and so somebody would later ask, "What GS do I need to go to ICC?" and some helpful person in guild would say, "Hmm.. I think I heard 5500."  Fact is, when ICC came out, the top gearscores were between 4800 and 5100. I know Merinna started kicking ICC butt with a GS of 4885.  The only way that one would get a gearscore of 5500 would be to acquire ICC tiered epics, and regardless of what the dinky little add-on said, Blizzard's gearing philosophy has always been that you need gear from the tier before to successfully enter a new tier of raiding.  The fallacy here is that people listened to scrubs in trade chat rather than really examine what was possible.

Other, more common fallacies:

"The Way to Do It"
In the middle of fighting Magmaw recently, somebody logged onto an alt in the guild and asked what was up, and said something like "Oh, you have to have a frost DK and a hunter."  How is that the way to do this fight? Ask some more questions here:
  • Would Blizzard design a fight that requires such specialized personnel? (Answer: No, at least not since Instructor Razuvious).
  • What magical abilities do a frost DK and a hunter bring to this fight and are they the only ones who can do that? (Answer: Slowing abilities and um, something about being able to see the adds better against the white background of a frost trap. Slow abilities are not unique to a frost DK and as for "seeing the adds better" That's nice, I'm sure).
Blizzard routinely says that there is never "THE way to do a fight." It's just that we listen to Tankspot, or that snotty British guy on YouTube describe something and then turn our brains off.

That Plan Didn't Work That Time, so It's Not a Good Plan
Even a good plan takes a few tries to execute well.  I see this fallacy rear it's ugly head usually late in a raiding evening when we have been trying hard to kill a boss for a while and somebody suggests a significant switch up. The group runs the plan once and it's not any better than the previous tries and inevitably somebody says, "Well, that didn't work." Why not?  If you've given one plan several tries, why would you dispose of another plan after only once? Under these circumstances, this fallacy is born of frustration, and is perhaps easy to understand. But the smrt ("I am so smart, I am so smart. S-M-R-T! I am so smrt" -- Homer Simpson) raider should avoid this trap.

Your Healing/DPS is too low
Sometimes the dps or healing really is too low. But there are usually a lot more things at play than the recount numbers in most situations. For example: a paladin healer on a tank will almost always have the highest healing numbers. If he doesn't, then he's doing something wrong. Regardless, it doesn't give him license to suggest that others, healing splash damage on the raid, or whatever, aren't performing up to the same standards. I'm a proponent of banning meters for all but the raid leaders. There are group-wide marks that must be hit and this is why raid leaders need meters, and it has relatively little to do with an individual raider's specific number. .

Confusing Your Experience with The Way It's Done
This is similar to the Fallacy of "The Way to Do It," but it's based on using your own experience as the exclusive template for how to do something.

WoW players have a difficult time learning from each other. It's part of the l33t problem: We often refuse to learn from each other because to do so would be a tacit recognition that somebody else was perhaps more clever than we are.  This can lead to all sorts of stupid acting out on the part of players, who occasionally roar over vent channels and you can practically hear their spittle flecking the microphone.

The word "easy" needs to be banned from WoW. Most of the time, people who go swaggering about shaking their e-peens calling a boss "easy" only do this a few months after they overgear the fight to begin with. But ultimately, the problem is that any way you figured out how to do a fight was dependent on a certain group of class/speccs with just the right combo of players behind those chars. Just because it was easy and done once (or twice, or three times) before means very little unless you are doing it with the same group as the times before. 

Skill is more Important than Gear
Actually, this is generally a truth, not a fallacy-- until some players get a hold of it and use it as justification for not taking their gear seriously.  Blizzard routinely programs a fight for us that is a straight up gear check. Almost no amount of skill will overcome these bosses if the raid is not well equipped as well.  Players who show up at a raid with substandard gear that is not gemmed or enchanted properly. thinking that they will get by on their uber-skills are really looking to be carried. Good raiders know better. They know that a fair portion of their "skill" is demonstrated in the preparation of their gear for a raid and just don't accept the notion that one can do great raiding while wearing greens.

"We Didn't Beat This Boss the Other Night, so Why Should We Try Again Now?"
This problem is a legacy of Lich King as well. Basically, there was only ever one progression route through existing content during the previous expansion. If you raided and got stuck on XT in Ulduar, you were dead in the water. There was no place else to go except back to that big stinking robot to try and try again.

This is not the case in Cataclysm. Right now, one can adventure into Blackwing Descent, Bastion of Twilight, or... the windy one in Uldum I can never remember the name of. So, if you get stuck on a boss in any one dungeon, you can go to one of the others for a change.

That ought not be the default plan, however. There are always things that are different since the last time you fought a boss. Even if it's not your character's gear, it's the player's attitude, attentiveness, or focus. (Though, a players attitude, attentiveness or focus could be worse than the previous raid too). There will be times when it certainly is a good idea to stop with one fight and go try and other, but there are also many times when it would be better to stick with what you are doing and not give up.

A raid fight will finally...just click, even though nothing has apparently changed. That was certainly true of my experiences with Yogg-Saron and The Lich King in the last expansion. We spent weeks working on those fights. With Arthas, we were attacking him 5 nights a week and making only the barest progress. And then one night, on our second pull, that bastich died on us. And he did so every other time after that.  This is just how things work, and it's rewarding when that "click" comes.


Raiding in Warcraft is an adults' game. We have to think hard, sometimes to come up with the strategy that will work for our group. And since so much of raiding is relying on clear thought and calm execution, we need to make sure we don't fall into thinking traps that limit our options so much.

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