WoW: The Virtues of the Effective Raider, Part Two
World of Warcraft correspondent Dave Powell gives tips, hints and non class specific advice for players who are new to PvE raiding.
This is a continuation of a two-part article wherein I list virtues which all raiders should have or at least strive for. Previously, I elaborated on being able to think critically, research your class, and develop the sort of attitude raid leaders love in their team.
Reflexes are vital to effective play, especially in the vital tank and healer roles. Although some people bring straight-up better reaction times to the game, there are several ways in which you can assist your own.
- Turn with the mouse, not the keyboard. Hold down the right mouse button, flick your wrist. Now ban yourself from ever keyboard turning again. This is old hat for many players, but I'm always surprised to see how many players still don't do this.
- Keybind everything you can. Since you no longer keyboard turn, you've freed up two buttons there. Z and X really don't do anything that useful. Then you have the numbers 1-6 within easy reach. Beyond that, you have the SHIFT and CTRL keys to modify any of those buttons. All of that should easily allow you to keybind your top abilities. Although I recommend this for everybody, this is essential for tanks.
- Don't turn your nose up at addons. There's no need to load yourself down with a million of them, but some addons really do make your life easier. DPS casters and healers love Quartz, which shows you a 'red zone' of lag delay, letting you hit abilities that much earlier. Mods like MiksScrollingBattleText let you know when your cooldowns are ready so you can hit them that much earlier. As a healer, use an addon like Grid so you get the information you want as clearly and as quickly as possible. You can go without these, but if you want to crank up your reaction time some well chosen mods are a good place to start.
- If you're running on an older system, don't be scared to crank down video settings, especially in a raid. Video lag is a killer. I find the best way to reduce lag is to reduce the view distance to minimum. You never see very far in a raid environment anyway, and the difference is phenomenal.
This means being able to look at several aspects of your gameplay at once, rather than using a singular focus and blotting out all other information. The most obvious form of inflexible thinking is using damage meters to judge their overall quality of play. Damage meters are a useful tool for analyzing one aspect of your play, but don't really say anything aside from how much damage you can crank out during a fight. They don't account for your ability to manage aggro, reduce incoming damage, and coordinate with others of your class. These are just as important as your dps.
Healing meters are even worse, as they are slanted toward certain classes over others. A discipline priest who relies heavily on shields just isn't going to put out the same numbers as a shaman. Over-healing can be measured, but is obsessed about by players - even if they have no mana issues. The trick is to understand that these meters are useful, but not the be all and end all of raiding.
Flexible thinking is not just limited to meters, which are the most obvious contenders. Raid leaders and players often levy harsh judgements on certain sections of the raid, such as healers or dps without thinking of their own play. If the raid wipes, it can happen for an endless variety of reasons, but lazy or inflexible thinking leads to snap judgements on who is, or is not, doing their job. Healers could get blamed for a wipe when the dps is at fault for taking too much damage, for example. The trick is to understand every aspect of a raid and strive for objectivity, rather than defaulting to stereotype and personal bias.
Inattentiveness causes more wipes than anything else I can think of. When you're in a raid, the raid is your priority and nothing else. It's very easy to allow yourself to zone out staring at a health bar, or get caught up in whispers. Get used to constantly looking around and keeping on your toes. If you find you keep zoning out and missing major queues, look to addons like MiksScrollingBattleText. Add some annoying sounds which warn you when something bad is about to happen. Alternately, you can just roll a healer. I don't think I've encountered anything in the game that requires as much concentration as healing.
You'll notice a general theme throughout all of this. It's really just about caring about doing better, and not letting your emotions get the better of you. When running raids, I nearly always see the same three issues keeping people from performing effectively. The first is simply being new, which is just cured with time. The second is apathy, and just being content to be a part of things. The third is when players get over emotional and proud, refusing to change the slightest thing for fear of damaging their ego.
From here, if you take what I say to heart, your first step should be securing resources on your classes. Keep in mind there are dozens, if not hundreds of good warcraft sites out there, so find one you like and get cracking. Once you have your mitts on some good guides, take a look at where you stand, and figure out what you need to improve. Set clear goals. If your output (dps/healing/tps) is poor, figure out if the issue is with your gear, rotation, or spec. Ask questions, start reading, and employ critical thought in order to filter out the information you need, and go from there. Taking the steps to becoming a really good player is not difficult, but you have to make a bit of a time investment - even if you're just browsing forums while on flight paths. With that, I bid you good luck, and happy raiding!