Dispelling Myths; Heroics and Raids…

I have a presentation I’m due to give next Friday which revolves around automated testing and some of my experiences with it over the years and what I’ve learned from the various courses or books I’ve read. Yes, I actually read books about testing and automation – it’s what I do for a living and most of the time, I find it reaffirms directions or some of my own thoughts on testing. One of the underlying themes is dispelling the myth that “you can just automate it” or that automation is the solution to all the problems a test team might be facing.

But I’m not going to talk about automation here, I’m saving that for later. I’m going to talk about dispelling the myth about hitting the level cap in WoW.

There has been a fair assumption that once you hit 80, you can jump right into running Heroics and even Raiding. I can say, from experience, how untrue this is. This also isn’t new, this was the case for level 70 in WoW as well.

If you’re hitting Heroics you need to have certain levels of gear on you. You need to have nearly every piece targeting your role in the group and it should be at least blue. You need to have (just about) every piece enchanted in some fashion. All your gem slots filled to further bolster your role.

And then you might stand a chance at completing a Heroic. That’s if the rest of your party has done the same for their character that you did.

That’s right, you have a chance. It’s not a guarantee, it’s a chance.

If anyone in the party hasn’t enhanced their role’s capabilities to the point of the best they possibly can you need someone that has above average gear and enchants to compensate in that same role. Even then, that’s like putting all your eggs in one basket because if they die or get CCed some how your group is now significantly hampered.

I’m not kidding either.

The boss fights in Heroics become do or die. Do in the sense that if you don’t do something, you’re going to die and the group will probably wipe. What you have to do isn’t always obvious either or easy to coordinate. On the bright side, things get easier once you’ve done them a few times and understand what is required. Well, until you go in with a new group of people that may or may not have done it before.

Back to gearing up to a level where you can hit the high minimum needed for your role (be it health, durability, damage output or healing). This sounds harder than it is, but it will require some effort and dedication on your part – no one else can do this for you. That said, there have been people that have done it before you and will have left some bread crumbs for you to follow, you just have to find the trail.

Personally, I hit up the Elitist Jerks class forum and saw a sticky thread for both Protection spec (tank) and Retribution spec (DPS) Paladins. It listed the types of faction I should work on for what rewards and items. It listed ideal enchants for various gear slots and also ideal gems for any slotted items.

In order to gear up, I ran quests for blue rewards, I ran dailies for reputation with factions I needed items from, I ran level 80 dungeons with specific Tabards on to gain rep when dailies weren’t available and I watched the Auction House carefully for cheap components for enchants, gems and other crafted items that I needed. This is one place guilds can help out if they have Jewelcrafters, Enchanters and other crafters – you get the materials together and they make the end product for you. This often saves you a lot of cash buying enchants off the Auction House.

You can do that too. It isn’t hard, but like I said above, no one else can do that for you. If you’re not up to doing that little bit of legwork, maybe you don’t really want to be running Heroics or raiding?

Here’s the painful part. Once you get geared up for Heroics, you then have to replace that gear with stuff you find in the Heroics in order to prepare for raiding.

Again, others in the raid that are highly geared and out put enough to make up for what you don’t can work, but it’s best to have at least the minimum so, once again, the raid isn’t guaranteed to fail if they lose that person that is compensating for people not hitting the minimums.

All that gear you collected, enchanted and slotted is now going to get replaced with better gear that will also need to be enchanted and slotted. Fun, no?

The good news is that if you’re able to run Heroics without anyone compensating for your role output/capabilities, you’re not too far off being able to raid. Adjust a few pieces and you should be able to hit raids. If you’re lucky and your raid group has a lot of experience/gear you might even be able to skip over Heroics with some choice gear picks and enchants. This is less likely to be the case for tank and healer roles, sorry!

Back to Heroics.

The typical Heroic group make up is 1 tank, 1 healer and 3 damage classes (DPS). People who have run instances before might think ‘recommended’ but it is what you need, at least when starting out – you might be able to handle some different group make ups if your group is filled with top-geared folks.

The reasoning behind this is: DPS is key.

NOTE: When I talk about tank, healer or DPS, I mean the character’s talent spec is set for that type of role. A Warrior speced for damage works for DPS, just like a Druid speced for DPS works. Yeah, you could run a Heroic with five Druids if you had Feral-tank, Resto, and three more speced for nukes or feral-dps.

Unlike raids, there are no timers on Heroics other than the mana and health your healer and tank have. In raids, if you don’t kill certain targets before a given amount of time they’ll wipe the raid out. Pretty crazy, no? It doesn’t matter if you haven’t lost anyone and everyone is full health, if you take to long some bosses will just blow you up.

In a Heroic, this isn’t the case but the more DPS you have, the better chance you have to killing the boss you’re fighting (or will be fighting) before your healer goes OOM and your tank dies off.

That’s the basic reason. If you have two tanks, your missing a DPS type so your DPS will be lower. Same deal with having two healers.

Heroic bosses have more tricks up their sleeves than they did when they were the bosses in the normal instance. These tricks tend to really hurt and are less forgiving, that’s what makes it Heroic. It’s not simply that the mobs have tons of health or dish out a lot of damage, although that is a pretty good portion of it, it’s that the bosses are so bloody deadly.

Here’s an example of one Heroic boss that was a lot of fun; it took me, some guildies and a PUG several tries to kill this guy, but when we figured it out.. I was happy.  The final boss in Gun’drak takes a fair bit of coordination to kill. This boss has two very vicious abilities.

The first is the good old spinnerama where he’ll spin and move slowly about after who ever has agro. He does some pretty insane damage so you have to run away from him when he’s doing this.

He also shifts into a Rhino at various points in the fight. When he does this, you have to pull everyone in to melee range of him. If you don’t, he’ll randomly charge targets that aren’t in melee range. This charge attack can kill cloth and leather types outright, nearly killed mail types and put a serious dent into plate wearers. The tough part is that he might stick around and munch on the person he charged, then charge back to the tank. That gets messy.

On top of that, he randomly calls some Rhino spirits to impale targets – this is a temp stun with some damage and is unavoidable.

Oh, did I mention he also has a knock back? When he knocks the tank back, you have to make sure everyone advances with the Rhino.

Sound rough? It is. Especially when he drops Rhino form and goes into spinnerama mode while the party is piled in around him. That gets really messy.

Bottom line is, you want this guy dead as fast as possible because it’s only a matter of time before someone screws up or the healer runs out of mana.

That said, running Heroics and playing part in a Raid can be a lot of fun! It’s definitely more challenging when you don’t know what to expect.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Gear up before hitting heroics! (rep items, auction house world drops, quest rewards, and crafted goods)
  • Do your homework or directly ask someone who has done it before, they might be able to direct you or give you advice.
  • Take ownership over your character and the role you want it to play.
  • Use Heroics for gearing up for Raids!
  • There are sites that will evaluate your character and tell you where you can get gear from and what areas you should be able to handle – use them!

NOTE: I use be.imba.hu which tells you suggested enchants, ideal slot gems, gear levels and tells you what is ‘wrong’ with your character. Tough pill to swallow, but take it as constructive criticism.

Good luck and have fun!


3 thoughts on “Dispelling Myths; Heroics and Raids…

  1. Well said. It is a shame that posts like these and the ones on our boards go in one ear and out the other when we try to inform people of this stuff. Some people just need more hand holding I guess.

  2. For me it was a healthy dose of skepticism. I didn’t actually believe it when I saw it. Downside of being so awesome you second guess what others say is ‘hard’ or ‘requirement’ figuring you can just compensate by sheer awesomenimity. 🙂

    I think a lot of people don’t realize it because this often isn’t the case in other MMOs. Once you hit the level cap (or even before then) you can hop right into raiding and still be a worthwhile member.

    EQ1? Yup, you were one of 72 others which left a lot of room for people to compensate.

    EQ2? One of 24 folks.

    DAoC? One of however many it was there.

    In the WoW Heroics and early raids you’re one of five or one of ten people so you being able to do your role is all that more important.

    I think the first time someone told me you needed to hit a minimum was in EQ1 when we were hitting Temple of Veeshan where you needed to get your resists up or you’d be a casualty on most pulls – that didn’t really tend to be the case, at least not when I went through it the next time with a different guild.

    Heck, you didn’t even need to be max level for most of those other games but being max level was a big deal. It’s quite a shift in thinking. In WoW you hit the cap and there can be quite a gap in capabilities of people of the same max level. Gear definitely means a whole lot more in WoW than in other games.

  3. Well thought out post buddy. But it is very true. WoW’s mechanics cater more towards End game “tiers.” You have the initial – you made it tier 1. The heroic tier, tier 2, and then raiding tier, tier 3.

    Without having gear of the correct tier you end up coat tailing on someone else – whom hopefully is a tier above to make up for the difference.

    Ahh… eq 1….

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