This is a short guide to help people get started raiding. Much of the advice is not class specific, however it was inspired by an email I got from a fresh level 80 hunter, who had never grouped for an instance.
Depending on the activity of your server (and your guild, and your playtime), you may get to level 80 with a minimum of instancing, and never learn the basics. This can hinder you if you want to raid in the end game.
- NPCs (like raid bosses) keep track of who they see as the largest threat, and they will almost always attack whoever is highest on threat. They track this by keeping a “threat table”, and every time someone does damage to them, they add threat to their entry on this table.
- Healing someone on this table also adds threat to the healer.
- Tanks are a special type of class that are good at both generating more threat than their group mates, as well as being able to survive the punishment these bosses can mete out. Most tanks can “taunt”, which puts them automatically to the top of the threat table, however this can be resisted, and has reduced effectiveness as it’s used more often on the same target.
- Many classes (especially hunters) have abilities that reduce their threat. Hunters can feign death, which takes them right off the threat table.
- “Pulling agro” means doing so much of whatever you do that the boss decides you’re a bigger threat than the tank, and decides to eat you instead.
- There are typically very few tanks in a group, however the loss of a single one will often result in a wipe, unless cooldowns are used to recover.
- As the tank (and other members of the group) take damage, a healer can keep them alive by casting heals on them.
- This causes threat, however many healing classes can mitigate their threat with abilities.
- Healers are almost universally very squishy, and will die if hit by the boss.
- There are less healers than damage dealing classes in a typical raid group, however they are equally important, so the loss of any one healer is much more likely to cause a wipe than the loss of a damage dealer.
- Often called “DPS” (damage per second). You can refer to, for example, a hunter as a “DPSer”.
- The goal of all PvE raid groups is to kill a boss (or group of bosses) as quickly as possible. These days, most bosses have an “enrage timer”, which when expires, causes the boss to enrage and become many times as powerful as he was to start with.
- The goal of all DPS players is to do as much damage as they can.
- A dead DPSer does no damage, so if there is an aspect of the fight (like a fire or void zone on the ground, or a direction from which the boss can not be safely attacked) that can kill DPS players without requiring them to pull agro, they must carefully avoid it.
- Of all the people in a raid, a DPSer is generally the most expendable.
- For raiding, don’t worry about it.
- It’s an obsolete tactic by which some of the raid’s targets would be rendered harmless temporarily while the raid focused on another target.
- These days, we tend to use area of effect damage instead of crowd control, other than for a few fights.
. . .
Now that you know the overall dynamics of raiding, let’s talk about how to be a good DPS player, and some of our goals.
Goal: do not pull agro.
- Accomplish this by knowing how much threat you have built up on a boss, and making sure you never pass the tank.
- The default blizzard interface will flash your screen red around the edges if you pull, and will display a small percentage number above the target’s frame telling you what percent of the tank’s threat you have.
- If you are at range, you have more leeway, however if you stray into melee range, you will need less agro to pull off the tank. The percentage number will update based on distance.
- There is also an addon called omen that will show you everyone’s threat.
Goal: survive the encounter, and continue doing your job the whole time.
- Before you do an encounter, know it’s mechanics. If it has avoidable damage, be aware of it.
- Install an addon like scrolling combat text, and configure it so that it’s obvious when you are taking avoidable damage.
- Have cooldowns available if survival is in question. If the healers are busy keeping the tank alive through a spike in damage, it can help for you to have a health potion off cooldown if you make a mistake. As you get better, you’ll make less mistakes, and you’ll be able to use that potion cooldown to replenish your ability to do DPS, or to temporarily increase your DPS.
Goal: be able to focus fire.
- If an encounter has a mechanic that makes it important to all attack the same target, get good at paying attention and attacking the right target.
- You can use the default blizzard raid framed- shift click on a name from the raid tab, and drag a person onto your main screen. Right click, and check “show target”. If you set another DPS player (or a tank, or the main assist player) up this way, you will be able to target their target very easily by simply clicking it.
- You can also use the game’s “focus” feature. If you set a tank or main assist player as your focus and have configured your user interface to show you their target, you can click on a focus’s target (as above), or even create macros that will target your focus’s target with abilities. This allows you to have one thing targeted, but use your abilities on another target. Google “focus macros” for more details.
- Learn to remember kill orders. If your raid leader marks things with a raid marking, and then says “kill skull then X”, don’t rely on seeing who other raiders are targeting, just switch to the next target. You can also, optionally, download an addon called Magic Targets. This will let you see all the marked targets. It also shows you who is attacking which targets.
Goal: be able to do your main job and remain aware of your surroundings.
- As a DPS player, you will have a priority list of shots, or possibly a rotation, and will be watching for procs, cooldowns, and who knows what else.
- You can not afford to be staring at your ability buff bars if it will cost you awareness of what’s happening around you.
- Consider filtering your available data and moving the important parts to an area of the screen that will allow you to keep an eye on your surroundings, team mates, and opponents. I use a bar mod called bartender, which I’ve configured to show me my abilities while in combat around my character as a heads up display. I also have power auras set up to show me a heads up warning when I need to be aware of things (like the presence of a proc, or the fact that I’m out of mana)
- [edit: thanks Eidotrope] Install deadly boss mods. It’s not optional, and gives you invaluable insight into the mechanics of a fight. Here‘s a good guide on how to use it.
- [edit: thanks Darkbrew] Read this post on raid awareness.
Goal: put the raid’s well-being ahead of your own.
- If a tank dies and the boss heads for a healer, try to sacrifice yourself to buy the healer some time. They might just be able to pull off a miracle, preventing a total wipe.
- If you have the ability to bring a buff to the whole raid (or you group) that would bring more utility overall than what you sacrifice for it, do so. For example- hunters tend to pick one person and have them spec for improved hunter’s mark, which increases all hunter DPS at the cost of a little DPS from one player.
- Learn how to do the advanced skills of your class, in case they are ever needed. Many DPS classes can, for example, kite, which means holding the attention of something and prevent it from killing you.
That’s my guide to raiding 101. I think I covered the bases, but if you guys can think of anything obvious that I missed, just leave me a note.