Kael'thas Sunstrider, Lady Vashj, the final challenges in Tier 5 content, and ones that frustrated many guilds for weeks before the removal of attunements, fell, and they fell surprisingly easily. Lady Vashj my guild had been farming for a little while when I joined, yet approaching the fight it seemed far less complicated than so many people told me, and indeed it was meant to be. Typically we approach it more like 6 mini instances, 4 groups of 3 people working to slay the elementals that arise and handle the core tossing as needed, one group to kite the striders around and kill them (with assistance where available from the other groups, and assisting on the Naga) and the two tanks, a melee dps and a healer working on the Naga. Perhaps its our approach to the fight, but the issues with co-ordination and difficulty didn't appear to be there, in fact for many of us that night it was our first time there. Kael'thas was slightly harder, he took us three nights to clear, a total of nine attemts with his death on the tenth, again we split up and converged on the sections we needed to do, the fight simply being a case of each sub-group taking responsibility for its part, and acting without the Raid Leader needing to actively control and command each group.

The final Tier 5 challenge, the Zul'aman Amani War Bear, fell easily as well, our group taking it on the first night we ran it, having a lot of new people in the group that had never played with each other. Again though the roles were understood and we all played our parts. I suppose though that it was really disappointing, my previous group started Zul'aman, and we wondered how you could get a fourth chest, the first took us 19 minutes, the next 13, that was most of our time gone, yet steadily we refined the pulls, worked forwards and got the third chest, and not simply the third chest, we had 12 minutes left on the timer! We kept pushing, and within two resets we were three minutes from killing Halazzi and our first Amani War Bear, then the group dissolved, people lost interest and it all disappeared. Our gear level in the new group is a lot higher, that I can't deny, out average party dps rising from about 950dps to 1100dps, easily putting the bear within reach, what is surprising is that we came together as a group, and even though we approached the instance differently, and my style of running it differed from their previous attempts, primarily in the crowd control - or lack thereof, we did it. Ten people, two mini-tank / healer parties (tank + healer), and six dps split into their crowd control and aoe roles, again the division is clear, its not really a ten person group, its a group of dynamic groups.


So what does this really mean, why do these challenges seem so easy at the moment, and what is it about the way we approach them that seems to work. In my last guild we often tried to work as a group, twenty-five people co-ordinated by the Raid Leader, ok we had separate roles within the group, but the co-ordination and approach were centralised. This guild however tend to delegate, their is still a Raid Leader, but the majority of his task is marking up, and offering motivational speeches, because we expect, and people perform, their tasks correctly and independently. Most high end raiders have done a lot of five mans, heroics, and Karazhan runs, it kindof comes with the territory, yet these don't really prepare you for this in that most five and ten man instances use a fairly centrally co-ordinated style, the tank does something and people work around them, the closest you really got to split focus pre-Zul'aman and Tier 5 was the Moreos fight. So we were basically trained to work as a large group, co-ordinating on a single task in the majority of fights, so was Kael'thas Sunstrider or Lady Vashj really a challenge for a raid used to being split up and delegating responsibility, I have to say no, its like High King Maulgar, except a lot more complex with less reliance on the pull as the decider on victory or defeat.

Taking another example, why was Magtheridon harder in has pre-nerf incarnation, it was a tank and spank fight for the most part, with five groups of two people rotating the cube clicking, the start was compunded in difficulty by more infernals, though enough Warlocks made that very easy, or high enough DPS to down the channelers fast. The new Magtheridon is five groups of one cube clickers, and a few less infernals, in short, not a lot changed. What we see though is that instead of having a group of groups which could be closely split to:

  • Tank Group
  • DPS Group
  • Click Groups
    • Click Healers
    • Click Pair 1
    • Click Pair 2
    • Click Pair 3
    • Click Pair 4
    • Click Pair 5
It was reduced to:

  • Tank Group
  • DPS Group
  • Click Group
    • Click Healers
    • Clickers
The complexity of the encounter was reduced by allowing you to have no-interaction between the clicking groups, and requiring only five competent people to perform the task, its the same phenomenon that can be observed on Kael'thas, Vashj and Zul'aman, by making the groups effective and self-contained the path to success becomes easier. Does this mean all fights can be easily broken down into groups, of course not, fights like Supremus are pretty much a "raid vs enemy" fight, yet others, Naj'entus, Akama, Teron (dynamic group of construct killers), Azgalor, Antheron, can all be broken down into groups, and if those groups perform their task well, even without interacting really with the other groups then a victory is nearly guaranteed. At this many raiders and readers are likely clamouring and screaming about interaction being important, but realistically no encounter should need a Raid Leader because people should react to the fight correctly and fulfill the role that they need to to make it work at any time, lets look at Akama as an example:
  • Left Side Group
    • Tank Group
    • DPS Group
  • Right Side Group
    • Tank Group
    • DPS Group
  • Channeler DPS Group
  • Akama Tank Group
The interaction starts with the channeler group slaying the channelers, the left and right groups work together to kill and slow the adds as they appear, when the channelers finish their tasks the DPS groups move together and kill the Shade, the Tank groups maintain their positions and maintain their roles, when its divided as starkly as this there isn't really a need to communicate mid fight other than to pass on information people might not see, for example the 6th channeler going down which triggers the DPS move to Akama. Essentially this fight can be reduced to a series of sub-fights, and approaching it as such reduces the complexity and risk to the raid as a whole because there is unlikely to be an overlap that results in a tank dying as a healer saves someone else or DPS wasting casts on enemies that are likely to die before their cast finishes, optimisation through minimisation.


I won't say our approach is perfect, in fact is probably highly flawed as it makes people look only at their section of the fight, but it does promote a lot of independent thinking, your group might be your main concern and the scale of it less than the overall fight, but you need to ensure the success of that section or the whole plan falls through. Each sub-group must be capable of independent thought and making up for holes that appear within it, or finding suitable replacements from another group, requiring them to know if they have sufficient capability to cover that hole. I think its a good way to approach a lot of fights though, relying on a Raid Leader to co-ordinate twenty five people means that something might slip, relying on three, five or eighteen groups to be aware of their surroundings and fulfil their tasks is a lot more chaotic, but they chaos makes it more reliable when something goes wrong because the people that know their section best can tell you exactly whats needed to make it work.


LarĂ­sa said...

You seriously have problems with your layout... I hope you could get a hand with it becuase you've got a lot of stuff to tell. You deserve somthing that works a bit better.

Anyway about this post: before I ever started raiding I had very vague ideas what raiding would be like. And at that time I actually always imagined it would be more like five 5-man groups doing stuff in different areas. And that there would be some kind of coordination done by the RL speaking to the subleader of each group, though I didn't quite figure how it was done.

It turned out to be quite different of course...

But maybe the first picture that got inte my head wasn't all that stupid, at least not for some kind of fights.

2ndNin said...

I think I need to completely kill the them and make it work, was trying to up the font size and alter the line-height to make it more readable and less wall of texty.

Yeah, raiding is normally pretty monolithic, but dividing the roles seems to work a lot better as a rule because you don't need (or rely on) your raid leader to control the raid and instead rely on people fulfilling a much smaller and more approachable role. It works especially well with people less used to raiding as they can pretty much focus on their role rather than the fight as a whole so.