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The Players Guide to not Stink @ Cataclsym

November 30, 2010

So while reading over at MMO I found this little nugget that I thought we should share. Plesae read and pay attention!


Daetur’s pretentious how-to-better-yourself after learning to play in Wrath post, incoming! Dare ye read it and take its words to heart? Or dare ye troll instead? One will fill me with warm joy and hope for the future, and the other will simply amuse me, so let’s get crackin’!

This is my own comprehensive take on tips and tricks you should get used to before Cataclysm hits, for tanks, dps, and healers. Some of you may very well know these things, even if you have only played during Wrath. However, some of you may have never needed to use or think about them. Everyone has the potential to improve. I have things I need to improve on too, some of which are things I discuss here! I don’t think you suck personally, but I do think that we’ve ALL gotten complacent and rusty with Wrath of the Lich King. Players who started playing in Wrath never got the experience of Classic and BC where we once had to learn many of the lessons that will be invaluable come December 7th. It’s not their fault, but it needs to be addressed.

EDIT: I just want to make one thing perfectly clear. My working definition of “Wrath Player” is not someone who started playing during Wrath. It includes everyone who PLAYED the game during the WotLK expansion. So, yes, this means me. And all of you BC and Classic players. We’ve all developed bad habits from Wrath that we may need to think about breaking before Cata.

Daetur’s credentials: Regular WoW player and raider since Classic; Has tanked, healed, melee and ranged dpsed all current content. 11/12 Hardmode experience. Cataclysm Beta tester.

I play a hunter, a death knight dps, a druid tank/dps, a paladin healer/dps, and a shaman healer/dps.

1.) Be mindful of your positioning. Do these mobs have a knockback? Will you get thrown into other mobs? Is the tank facing the mob away from the group in case it has a conal or cleave? When trying to dodge that fire on the ground, are you running towards another group of mobs? These are things that you will need to be more mindful of in Cata. Extra pulls can and likely will mean wipes, and any damage that can be avoided will make your healer’s life that much easier, and make their mana last that much longer.

——> 1.a) If you do get aggro, run the offending mob TO your tank, not AWAY from him. Root or snare the mob that is aggroed on to you, and then move TO your tank so that the mob will run closer to them as well. This makes it much easier for your tank to peel the mob off of you, and will get you back into safety quicker.

2.) Communicate with your group. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never seen these people before in your life. Ask who you should CC. Ask the tank to pop his CDs because you know you have trouble healing this pull. Ask if you have questions about an encounter (please, for god’s sake). Ask for a mana break. Don’t sit there like a deaf mute along for the ride and pray everyone else knows what they’re doing. Much of the Cataclysm content WILL take some organization.

——>2.a.) Take and give constructive criticism. If you wipe, try to figure out what went wrong and fix it without liberal use of “suck,” “noob,” “fail,” “ragequit,” etc. That will not get you any closer to downing the boss or the trash. It will only destroy any cohesion your group had, and angry players tend to perform worse than calm or happy players. Also, if someone else offers you criticism, don’t take it too personally. “Hey, hunter, can you step up the dps?,” is NOT a personal attack. Take responsibility for your actions! I’ve raided ICC hardmodes and played since Classic, and I still screw up. But, I have the balls to say “Sorry guys, bad tab target, completely my fault. I’ll be more careful,” or “Oh man, I just wasn’t paying attention, my bad. I know what the (fire)(acid)(defile) looks like now, I’ll watch more carefully next time.” And you should too! It keeps groups more cohesive, and makes errors clearer to everyone in the party so that no one has to play the blame game.

3.) Keep your group’s best interests in mind. Pay attention to what is happening to your group members. Is a mob running for your healer or clothies? Root it, slow it, or stun it. Did you get an extra add? Try to help control them- slow, CC, etc.

4.) Be patient! This is all new content, and your group is in leveling gear, not top-tier epics. These fights are not generally easy, and have some new mechanics to learn. If someone in the group needs to have the fight explained to them, don’t complain. If your groups wipes, run back in and try again. I’m sure you had to learn the fight at some point too. If the healer needs to stop for a mana break, don’t keep pulling or get impatient. Trust me, they are working hard to keep your group alive. DON’T expect 15-20 minute runs!

5.) Be observant. Check out new buffs, debuffs, and spell effects. The more you know about what is around you and what mobs can do, the more effective you can be. Mages in particular, watch for TASTY Spellsteal fodder. You’ll be amazed at the buffs you can give yourself and take off of a foe.

6.) Consumables!! Yes, that’s right! Health potions, mana potions, potions of speed! Well, mostly health and mana. Have them! Use them liberally if you have access to them! Mana potions in particular can give healers the extra mileage they need on a tough fight.
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1.) If your target is casting and it can be interrupted, do it! Interrupts- not just for bosses! Interrupting spells being cast by your enemy will often go a long way towards reducing incoming damage. Try to watch casting mobs as you do the dungeon (over and over again, most likely), and try to see what spells are particularly nasty. AoEs are often good candidates for interrupts. This will also save your healer mana!

——> 1.a.) Bind your interrupt/stun/silence to an easy-to-reach key. If you only ever use ONE keybind, this should be it. I typically have mine bound to my scrollwheel or Shift+leftclick so that I can hit it as fast as possible. Your mileage may vary.

——> 1.b.) You can use a ranged interrupt or silence to help your tank gather spaced out caster mobs. The tank will, 9 times out of 10, greatly appreciate this, and it really helps with add control.

2.) A dead DPS does NO dps! Remember, if you recklessly frontload all of your damage and aren’t careful, you can end up pulling off the tank. If you can frontload 12k burst dps, but only live for 4 seconds, that’s only 48k damage. Compare that to the careful dps who pulls 6k sustained and lives through the entire 60-second fight—that’s a whopping 360k overall damage to your 48k! Please be aware that many tanks have to “relearn” the new tanking style of Cataclysm, and most of us have had our AoE threat capabilities nerfed. Please stay on our target, or the marked target.

——>2.a.) This rule also applies to standing in ‘stuff.’ The faster you move out of it, the easier you make your healer’s life. Since mana will be more of an issue for healers in Cataclysm, the more mana you can save your healer, the better your group’s chances of survival.

——>2.b.) Use of defensive cooldowns, even as a dps, can really save your healer a lot of trouble. If you can anticipate incoming damage (un-interruptible AoE, or you got aggro somehow), pop a CD like Barkskin, Icebound Fortitude, etc. Also, with a bit more freedom in speccing in Cata, talents that increase healing done to you or reduce damage that you take can be very good candidates for your spec.

3.) Be patient! Let your healer drink, let your tank mark and set up their pull, and let someone explain the fight if necessary. Remember, this content will be NEW to nearly everyone from 80-85. It is more difficult that WotLK content, and we will not be in top-end gear. We will be in leveling blues and greens. These fights will take preparation, caution, and learning. Once you know a dungeon by heart, remember that everyone starts somewhere, and that there was a point where you didn’t know the fight. Have patience with the others in your group, and help them learn.

4.) Learn about your classes’ Crowd Control (CC) abilities. Before stepping into a Cataclysm dungeon, please note that some trash packs NEED to be Crowd Controlled (CCed). Familiarize yourself with the CC options available to your class, and the limitations of it. Does it only work on certain mob types? How long does it last? Does it break on damage? Use these abilities liberally to take dangerous mobs out of the fight while you deal with others. This is also a good technique to reduce tank and healer strain, and gives your group a better chance of success. Practice on your own—pull two or three mobs solo, out in the world, and try to keep one CCed the entire time you are killing the other(s).

——>4.a.) Don’t break the sheep! Be careful of cleaves and AoE abilities if there is a CCed mob nearby. Damage often breaks enemies out of CC, and they will then run rampant through your group. One of the WORST things you can do is place a DoT on a CCed target (I’m looking at you, Dks glyphed for increased Pestilence and Blood Boil range—for the record, I am one of you), since it will CONTINUALLY break the CC even if it is reapplied.

5.) Learn to kite! Kiting involves slowing a mob and making it chase you away from or around your group while not hitting you. Mages and hunters in particular are known as great kiters. Death Knights can be quite good at it too, as they have both a taunt and Chains of Ice. This technique can be extremely helpful in situations where there are multiple powerful melee adds that cannot be CCed. If they are too much for your tank to handle together, a dps can often kite one until the other is dead, at which point the tank will take over. Rumor has it that a Heroic boss in a Cata dungeon requires that an add be kited for the ENTIRE fight! Are you up to the challenge?

6.) Follow marks and kill orders! Focusing fire will be very important in Cata. We won’t be able to just AoE down every pull anymore. Usually, Skull will be first and X will be second. Crowd Control targets may also be marked. As a general rule, HEALER type mobs die first, followed by damaging casters, then melee.

7.) You are more than just “big numbers!” Simply because your role or spec is “dps” doesn’t mean you can’t throw out a heal, a dispel, or a cleanse, or even pick up a stray add. Did the healer just die? Does your class have some healing spells? Well, you’d BETTER have those on your bar, because it’s time to show what you’re made of. Pick up the healing and save your group! You can do so much more than just damage and occasional CC. Paladins, use Hand of Salvation on a party member that’s getting close to pulling aggro, or even Hand of Protection the mage! Remember, casters can continute to cast while HoPed, but melee can’t continue to use physical strikes. Misdirect or trap that accidental add pull! Throw out a cleanse to someone, innervate the healer if they’re low on mana! You have these great utility spells, but no one expects you to use them Time to prove them wrong and show that there’s a reason you’re like Wolverine. The best at what you do.

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1.) Cleanse! Many healers in WotLK are more used to healing through debuffs instead of removing them. With mana being more of an issue in Cata, it will often be more efficient to remove damaging or heal-reducing debuffs as soon as possible, rather than try to heal through all the damage. Which debuffs are more expensive to heal through than cleanse will be something you have to learn on your own, but it will be important to keep cleansing in mind in Cataclysm content!

2.) Conserve your mana! Mana is not going to last you anywhere near as long in Cata as it does now. Learn which heals are the most efficient, and get a feel for how much each one heals for. Knowing which heal to use when will be essential. AoE heal spam will not cut it anymore.

——>2.a.) Part of mana conservation is triage. Triage is deciding the priority of you ‘patients.’ As a general rule, if SOMEONE has to die, it should be the dps first, the tank second, and the healer last. This means, if you have to choose between saving a dps and yourself, save yourself. Between the tank and the healer does get more fuzzy, but remember that it’s possible for dps to burn something down with heals backing them up if the tank does die.

3.) Predict incoming damage. Watch who the mob(s) is(are) targeting. Having an addon that shows who has threat is quite handy here, or just activate this feature in the standard WoW raid/arty interface. If you see an add turn to a dps, you know that that’s the one that will need heals. You shouldn’t be mindlessly spamming everyone in CASE they take damage anymore. You know the tank will be taking damage. But the key to be a great, efficient healer, is to be able to anticipate who ELSE in your group is going to get hurt.

4.) Be ready for anything. Assume the worst. If you are about to start a pull that you have never healed before, it is safer to assume high spike damage than wait and see. Many healers get a nasty surprise when a new type of trash mobs hits like a freight train and they just weren’t ready for that kind of damage.
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1.) Don’t break CC! Pull mobs BACK and away from CCed adds. This will reduce the risk that CC will be broken by your own AoE tanking abilities and dps’ cleaves. It will help you hold threat because you do not need to watch your AoE and cleaves, and it will help your dps for the same reason.

2.) Mark adds! You should know the drill—Skull on the first target to die, X on the second, mark CC targets with Square, Moon, etc. Focusing fire will be more important in Cataclysm. Packs cannot simply be AoEed down across the board. Typically, you’ll want to have your dps target enemy HEALERS first, then damage-dealing casters, and finally, melee.

3.) Be liberal with your shorter cooldown CDs. Mitigating incoming damage will be essential in Cata. It will help conserve your healer’s mana. A particularly good time to hit your shorter defensive cooldowns (anything under 2 minutes) will be close to the start of a pull, when the most adds are alive, unless there is something special about the adds that makes them more dangerous later.

4.) Use your stuns! Stuns are a great way to mitigate incoming damage, don’t forget it! They can also buy you time to get stable threat at the start of a pull, or stop a mob from running after a healer or dps when your taunt isn’t up.

5.) CONTROL your pulls. Pull with restraint. Most tanks in WotLK (myself included) have gotten very, very accustomed to charging into a dungeon, foaming at the mouth, and pulling the first three groups all together. This is NOT going to fly in Cata, guys. You will get you furry/plate-wearing ass kicked. We will need to relearn how to pull with restraint. When you pull a group, range pull and drag them BACK instead of charging right into them. You can also have CCers pull from range and pick up the mobs as they head towards your group. Try not to aggro any extra mobs.

6.) You are NOT the master of the group. Many tanks in WotLK have become rude and overconfident due largely to their short queue times. I can be guilty of this as well. Many have a tendency to treat the other members of their groups with the expectation that whatever THEY says goes, because the group cannon function without them. Please, I beg of you, if you are one of these tanks, remember that you cannot solo this content. You need your group as much as they need you.
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Wow, are you guys still here, or did you just skip to the end?
If, as I suspect, this was WAY too long and you didn’t care, here’s a brief summary.
Be patient. Be observant. Communicate with your group. Own up to your mistakes. Learn as much about your class as you possibly can, and use all of your tricks. Learn to kite and Crowd Control. Learn to mitigate as much incoming damage as possible, even as a dps. Manage your mana. Think on your toes!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2011 11:10 am

    Awesome read, totally trying to absorb all of the information possible for Cata dungeons since I started playing Wrath and have always typically had high level guildies to help when I was learning content. This is great for someone who is now an equal with her guild members and has no idea where to start. 😀 Thanks!

    • January 11, 2011 11:11 am

      Yeah, they are not exactly 100% harder just require brain usage. We are gonna post again today. 🙂 How are you doing?

  2. inquisitivebibliophile permalink
    January 14, 2011 12:38 pm

    Interesting post, although I think the passage titled “Be Patient” should actually be at the top and bottom…in bold. Actually, maybe it should just be inserted in between every point…in every section. 😀

    Patience goes a long way; not only now when everyone’s still learning mechanics and dealing with the changes to their class, but also as players come back. Not everyone will pick up Cata at the same time and progress at the same rate, so even when you enter a group where everyone’s comfortable with the instance, you might still have someone who’s never been there before.

    • January 14, 2011 12:59 pm

      While I am sure you have merit to your thought. It was not exactly well thought out. Visit below.

  3. January 14, 2011 12:52 pm

    I’m going to have to ask you to stop talking. If someone came back to playing, they’re probably in better shape than someone who played in WotLK, as it lowered the median of skill required to succeed in this game. If they don’t ‘learn’ the fight within a few attempts or have the common knowledge to ask a question, they are foolish and waste others’ time.

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