Sunday, August 23, 2009

How to be a Good Raiding Grunt (as told by a former Raid Leader)

In tribute to hitting the enrage with 30% left on Firefighter's Phase 4 (abet post-nerf, but alas, what can ya do), I've decided to outline how I've noticed I've changed in the transition from Raid Leader to Raid Grunt, and also what Raid Officers are looking for in their raiders, such that others might improve their raid demeanor. It's a difficult personality to assume if some of the traits are not innate, but I assure you, some of the simplest ways of impressing your raid leaders come easily. You just need to learn how to control yourself.
This is a no-brainer. Have your reagents, your mats, your consumables, your awareness. If this means doing dailies for an hour before raid in order to buy what you need of the AH, farming for the mats for food and flasks during the day, or simply retrieving the materials from the guild bank, so be it. Always have it done before invites go out. It may be simple enough to ask a fellow raider for a spare flask, a while it may seem like an innocent offense, officers do note it, and those instances tally up.

Additionally, know the fights and what you will be working on. Watch the movies, know the encounter. While each progressive night is a learning experience, it will always be to your benefit to not go in blind. If you are unaware of certain nuances of a fight that may be particular to your guild, ask questions from a more experienced person. Do it in class/role channels, do it in tells, even in Vent if necessary, but ask questions so you are not called out for something you should already know. Which leads me to...
For the love of the Earth Mother, so much pain and frustration can be prevented if only people were to communicate more. Make sure you know your role, and that your colleagues know theirs. Discuss in channels and tells who will be Marking what for a multiple target encounter. If there is any shadow of a doubt about which way you are running, ask a raid leader. If you die, make sure somebody else can take care of any important function you were slated to do.

But I stress that good communication does not cease with the encounter. The number one offense no raider can get away with is AFKing without informing an officer. By doing so, you not only potentially waste your own time by any ill-consequence of your ninja'd AFK, but the time of 24 other players. If it is an non-life threatening emergency, make a brief announcement, and tend to it; if it is a true emergency, hearth out while informing an officer. And there is no excuse for the lack of hearthing - it is ONE click. Before an encounter, everything is better communicated in chat as opposed to vent, as the officers have record of such things as AFKs and questions asked. During an encounter, Vent is best to make sure points get across, since your hands should be too busy dealing with your spells to type. But that said....
One of the most frustrating aspects of trying to lead a raid is dealing with a multitude of Vent chatter when people are trying to communicate vital information to completing an encounter. I know I've had to bite my tongue many a time when I felt it necessary to cry out in Vent some bit of information. Once upon a time, that was what I had to do, and now I'm trying to get used to not doing it. If you are used to it, there is no doubt that it is a difficult habit to break. However, you have to recognize that the vast majority of what people want to say during an encounter is trivial.

If you are not leading the raid, you have no reason to talk casually in Vent during the encounter. When you die, people will notice it - you do not have to say "Oh, shit" or "Fuck me" to make it known. You died, probably stupidly, okay, that's fine. And guess what? Instead of making unnecessary noise over Vent, potentially disrupting the communications of the DR rotation, you could have typed that in raid chat instead. Now that you are dead, you have plenty of time to type! Unnecessary sound bites are one of the greatest culprits of Vent clutter. Nothing useful comes from random expletives shouted over Vent. You can curse all you want in the comfort of your own home - why do you feel it necessary to push down your PTT key at the same time? As a raiding grunt, you should speak over Vent only if asked to, and that brings me to...
So a healer didn't get a heal off in time, so lag prevented you from getting off that spell, so you forgot they changed the rotation this attempt. Oops. Of course it is frustrating to have some stupid mistake cause another wipe, but you losing your head over it will solve nothing. When an officer asks you what happened, they don't want a long winded answer. In fact, that is the last thing they want. Simply state what happened, then shut up. In fact, for the vast majority of the times, all you need to say (and what they want to hear) is: "I was stupid. It won't happen again." I don't care how good your are at this game, I don't care how good you think you are at this game, you will fuck up, and you can't blame it on somebody else. Accept it, fix it, and move on. Trying to cast the fault on somebody else will get the raid nowhere, and only piss off the people who are working hard to make this a successful raid.
Raid awareness is an exhausting task, there is no doubt about it. You are expected to know what is going on around you, who is around you, the status of your pets and/or abilities, and maintain a spell rotation. Rinse and repeat that about 30 times on the same encounter, and you pretty much just want to weep from the sheer amount of concentration you have exerted over the past several hours. However, it cannot be argued that tunnel vision is one of the worst habits you can get into as a raider.

My biggest form of advice to prevent that is to set some tasks on 'automatic': Be able to do your spell rotation in your sleep, such that you don't have to maintain an eye on your cooldowns. Get used to a scanning rotation of certain aspects so you can maintain them. Debuffs still up? Good. Anybody near me that shouldn't be? Nope. Is the boss about to do an ability that I need to be aware of? In 10 seconds! How's my pet health? I would say I look at my shots and abilities about 30% of my encounter time, whereas another 15% is concerned with my pet, 20% with the boss itself, and then 35% with my immediate vicinity. Of course these attention-percentages shift depending on the encounter, but any time you notice you are focusing 100% on solely one aspect of your play, then you are doing something wrong, and it needs to be remedied. If you screw up because of it, fess up and fix it.
Some things in this game you cannot help, but as long as you are doing what you should be doing, and doing such with the maximum amount of effort, then no one can say that you were in the wrong. Know your class' restrictions and abilities, and don't skirt duty when it is asked of you, even when you are uncertain of your performance. If you are told to kite the mob, then pew pew and move! As long as the encounter is a success, and you have no guilt as to your own performance, then you should be proud of your boss kill.

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