L2wipe: A Casual Raider’s Guide to Hardcore Wiping

June 4, 2009 at 1:23 pm 10 comments

And finally, we nap.Spinks didn’t inspire me to write this post — it’s been sitting in my drafts folder for a few weeks — but she did inspire me to finish it.

In a recent post, A Tale of Two Guild Hoppers, Spinks waxes philosophical about a friend’s decision to leave his new guild after wiping on Mimiron for two weeks.  “Once he’d gotten into the progression mindset,” she writes, “there was no point staying with a guild that had hit a brick wall and being frustrated when there were other options.”

Although Spinks is much more polite about it than the Greedy Goblin, what she is describing is is essentially the same philosophy that Gevlon once espoused: get in, get what you need (be it loot, an impossible-to-solo achievement or a “My guild killed Yogg-Saron and all I got was this lousy…” screen shot) — get the hell out.

Setting aside the issue of personal progression vs. guild progression (and quoting my own comment on Spinks’ blog): two weeks on a new boss isn’t a “brick wall.”  It’s a learning experience.  We too wiped on Mimiron for two weeks before finally defeating him on an offnight — and then went on to one-shot Mimiron and down General Vesax for the first time in the very next reset!  Mimiron may have been a bit of a stumbling block for us, but he certainly wasn’t a guild-killer cut from the same cloth as, say, Lady Vashj.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that current raid content is designed to be accessible.  What I don’t agree with is the prevailing sentiment that accessible should be synonymous with easy.

Wiping is, quite simply, a part of raiding.  It can be expensive and is often frustrating (although I’d argue that with the right people, it can also be a hell of a lot of fun.  If you’ve ever found yourself laughing out loud — not just typing “lol” in raid chat, but stifling real life giggles — because your guildies decided that killing your mind-controlled raid leader yielded a better return on investment downing the boss, then you probably know what I mean).

While it may not seem like it to those of us who watch the kills come rolling in on the realm progression thread, the truth is that even the most successful of the hardcore guilds wipe.  The difference between these “server first” guilds and my own (much more casual, but still progression-minded) Surreality lies in how wipes are handled and overcome.

How quickly can you recognize and recover from a wipe?  And — more importantly — what can you learn from each wipe to ensure that the same mistakes don’t happen again?

Because raid content is more accessible, an increasing number of players are able to enjoy it.  Some  may have raided “back in the day,” but others are new to the endgame and may not realize that wiping over and over again on a new boss isn’t proof that they and their guild or PuG are “terribad”; on the contrary, it’s all part and parcel of the experience.

Be prepared to wipe.

You will wipe in Ulduar.  It may take two or three tries to defeat Ignis for the first time; it may take twenty.  Come ready to wipe, with flasks instead of elixirs, ample gold to repair and twice as many raid consumables (buff foods as well as class-specific reagents) than you think you’ll need.

In addition to being virtually prepared to wipe, you need to be psychologically prepared.  Remember, everyone learns in a different way and at a slightly different pace.  You may be the type of raider who watches the video or reads the strat, and instantly gets it.  Others may need to experience the fight a few times before it clicks for them.

Don’t get frustrated, don’t lose your temper, and don’t lash out at your fellow raiders.  Be patient.  Be positive.  Strive to create a supportive learning environment.  After all, no one wants to fail, so there’s no point in berating those who do — especially since you could very well be next!

If you aren’t prepared to wipe — if you aren’t willing to invest the time, effort and gold in mulitple attempts on the same boss, with no promise of payout or reward; if you can’t control your temper; or if you find yourself contemplating a strategic “disconnect” after a few (dozen) deaths — then you don’t belong in a progression raid.

When you raid leader calls for the wipe, wipe.

This is the one time in your raiding career when it is perfectly acceptable to die in a fire.  Stand in The Bad®.  Cross positive and negative charges.  Commit suicide by Hellfire.  Unless your goal is a clutch DI (and in Ulduar, it really isn’t necessary for anything pre-Antechamber since the combination of spectral gryphons and teleporters make corpse runs trivial), your responsibility is to do whatever it takes to die as quickly as possible.

If you can save yourself a repair bill without delaying the raid — great!  Go for it.  But if you’re a feigning hunter, vanishing rogue or shadowmelding Night Elf, know the fight before you attempt to avoid the wipe.  Some boss encounters won’t reset properly until everyone dies.

And for the love of all things dark and demonic: don’t waste the raid’s time by running away from the boss after the wipe is called.  Most raid bosses aren’t leashed, anyway.  Chances are, you won’t de-aggro the boss, but you will aggro your fellow raiders. (Especially if they happen to be trapped outside the instance portal, unable to zone in, and surrounded on all sides by the two or three or half dozen 25-man Alliance raids that are forming up at the stone…)

If your raid leader doesn’t call for the wipe, don’t wipe.

Once upon a time, I watched from my favorite lockly vantage point — that is, face down on the floor — as eight seven six healers solo’d the last few percent of Gruul the Dragonkiller’s life.  And, no, I didn’t lose count!  They just kept dying, one after the other, to Hateful Strikes.   But our raid leader was laughing too hard to call the wipe, so they kept at it … and, lo and behold, won the day.

I’ve seen it over and over again: a tank dies and it seems the wipe seems imminent — but the cat-specced druid shifts forms, growls, and kitty-tanks his way to victory.  Or the death knight switches to Frost Presence and takes over, just long enough for the Moonkin to shed his feathers for fur, dash across the field of battle and cast the raid-saving Rebirth.

Or the resto shaman ankhs back into the fight.

Or the shadow priest drops out of ‘form to heal while his disc-flavored counterpart soaks up a Mana Tide.

Or Bloodlust comes off cooldown at the crucial moment.

Or the 7K DPS ret paladin realizes that he has a soul stone, and returns from the dead in the last 20 seconds before the enrage.

My point here is that the fight isn’t over until your raid leader says it’s over.  Trust his judgment: if he doesn’t call for the wipe, don’t die just because it seems like a wipe is inevitable.  It often isn’t.

Coordinate anti-wipes, if necessary.

Although we tend to save our ankhs and soul stones for offensive use in the heat of battle, many guilds choose to use them as anti-wipes instead.  If this is the case for your guild or raid group, try to coordinate their use as much as possible.  The last thing you want is for both shamans to use their ankh on the same wipe, since that’s less one anti-wipe or in-combat rezz that will be available for the next attempt.

Recover quickly to minimize downtime.

Generally speaking, wipes aren’t a great time to tab out or go /afk.  The quicker you can recover from a wipe, the sooner you can get back in and try again.

If the raid used an anti-wipe to expedite recovery, don’t release.  Although rezzing the entire raid can be time-consuming, it’s still faster than running back from the graveyard to some out of the way place (like the Four Horsemen’s room or General Vesax’s chamber).

If the raid didn’t use an anti-wipe and the healers are running back, then you should release and run back with them.  Assuming you don’t get lost in the instance (And I don’t anyone who would do that… >.>), it takes the same amount of time for 25 people to run back that it takes for one person to run back — especially if that one person is then expected to mana up and rezz everyone else.

Know where and when to repair.

In Ulduar, there’s a repair goblin in the Formation Grounds.  Just look for the ogre with the goblin riding around on his shoulders.  (It’s a little creepy, but impossible to miss.)

For other raid instances, your closest repair station may not be very close at all.  Communication is especially important in these circumstances, as postponing successive boss attempts while one or two players run off to repair can really eat away at your raid time.

A few options off the top of my head:

  • For Hordelings in Naxxramas, there’s a blacksmith near the Venomspite graveyard.
  • If there’s an engineer in the raid, she can drop scrapbots and/or repair bots.  I’m not sure about scrapbots, but repair bots are definitely a consumable resource: if one is dropped, everyone should use it so as not to waste them.  (There’s nothing more frustrating than hearing someone call for a repair bot on the very first wipe after you dropped one!)
  • If someone has a Traveler’s Tundra Mammoth, he can mount up outside the instance or in an outdoor zone (including the Conservatory of Life and any of the pre-Antechamber areas of Ulduar) to give the raid access to its accompanying vendors, including a portable repair goblin.
  • Mages can port raiders to a capital city for repairs, and warlocks can summon them back to the instance.  Just be sure to leave at least three people behind (including one warlock!) to manage summons.
  • If even one other person is available to assist you, you can summon yourself from a meeting stone, hearth to Dalaran and then accept your own summon after you’ve repaired.

Figure out what you did wrong —

During the recovery, take a few minutes to discuss what went wrong.

Sometimes it’s obvious.  The main tank died because he accidentally shifted into caster form.  Or the paladin didn’t cancel a Holy Light cast quickly enough and missed his Divine Guardian cooldown.  Or the rogue mismanaged his energy and couldn’t get the kick off.  These kinds of mistakes are easy to identify and correct (especially when your raiders aren’t afraid to ‘fess up).

Sometimes, it’s less obvious.  The healers aren’t able to keep up with raid damage, but no one is entirely sure why.  The tanks were overwhelmed by adds that just weren’t dying quickly enough.  No one can pinpoint a specific reason for the wipe; it just “feels” like healing is off or DPS is slow.

In situations like these, it may be helpful to use the in-game combat log or an external tool like WWS or World of Logs to dig a little deeper.  I’ve been running World of Logs’ live updated during all of our Ulduar raids, and am encouraging our officers to use it to troubleshoot issues as they arise.  It’s a fantastic tool.  The main tank healer complains he didn’t get a heal?  Check the World of Logs parse to see what was happening at that exact point in time!  The arena team is wiping over and over again?  Alt-tab to the Raid Deaths report to see exactly who died, and from what.

—and don’t do it again!

As a wise human once said, the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Every wipe should be a learning experience.  It may not be fun (although it can be!), but it should at the very least be constructive.


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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Abi  |  June 4, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Our guild is still at a brick wall with Mirimon in Ulduar-10 and Hodir in Ulduar-25 but everyone is starting to understand the fights a lot more now. My favorite part of learning a new fight is when something bad happens that turns in to not only something good but a total learning experience or strategy change.

    Our guilds MT is a Warrior who kept dropping like he wore cloth as soon as Frozen Blows started and on one of our many many attemps a DK (who is normally a tank but specced for DPS) picked him up and held him through frozen blows causing us to rethink our tanking choice for this fight. It irritated the Warrior tank a bit but we’ve since swapped to the DK tank and run in to very little trouble keeping him alive.. now it’s just beating the enrage timer and getting ALL dps used to utilizing the buffs given by the NPCs and not failing at missing the snow mounds.

    You also addressed my #1 pet peeve with raiding.. when the leader calls for a wipe and people still try to keep themselves alive. I don’t know if it’s to pad their DPS numbers or what, but it’s annoying. If you total the time it took these people to die, we could have gotten another attempt it. It’s also pretty awesome (/end sarcasm) when you zone back in after a wipe to see yourself go in combat because of people using invisibility, feign death, etc., in the worst possible spots only to aggro the boss when the effect ends.

    Overall, I completely agree that wiping is all part of the learning process and that patience is a virtue. If you are easily aggrivated, have zero tolerance for mistakes and can’t afford the repairs/reagents/buffs/etc.., it’s time to find something else to do with your time.

    Fear.Win/Shadow Word: Blog

  • 2. The Renaissance Man  |  June 4, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    We once took down thorim with the final blows being delivered by two resto druids and a battle rezzed protection paladin.

    We wiped 62 times on ten man mimiron before getting lucky enough to not have the tank lose the hitbox joust of phase 4 laser barrages.

    We once had to abandon a naxx25 because a resto druid had the temerity to not die on thaddeus when a wipe was caused. The ensuing bug locked the raid in combat, and set Fuegan and Stalaag roaming free, nuking the raid even though we were attempting to run the plauge wing.

    In short, this post is right on the money.

  • 3. Darraxus  |  June 4, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Great post. My guild is also beating its head on Mimiron atm. People have gotten impatient with Naxx easy mode raids and want it all NOW. I remember taking close to a month or more Moroes, Aran, Gruul, and Morogrim during BC. We didnt have a bunch of people fly ship. People manned up. Raiding got softer.

  • 4. spinks  |  June 4, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    Great post.

    “others are new to the endgame and may not realize that wiping over and over again on a new boss isn’t proof that they and their guild or PuG are “terribad”; on the contrary, it’s all part and parcel of the experience.”

    I think this is right on the money. People read on forums or EJ or wherever that if they’re wiping on normal bosses, they must be ‘terribad’.

    It’s a shame. And I agree totally, raiding for me is all about teamwork, going in with a friendly group you know and working at it, through all the wipes, until you get that brilliant moment when suddenly everything goes right and you get a first kill.

    But, even though I’m happy where I am, I get a pang when I realise I may never see a 25 man Yogg Saron kill. So I do understand why people get frustrated eventually (although I do think 2 weeks was a bit impatient 🙂 ).

  • 5. Lewis  |  June 5, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Ulduar isn’t some new and cosmic level of “zomghard.” If anything, it’s still easier than some BC content even though all the numbers flying around have an extra zero behind them. It took our raid three raids in four weeks (one cancelled due to lack of attendance) with about 12-14 attempts total before we finally dropped Auriaya on 25 last night–with no deaths, no less. It took us considerably longer than that to get our first kill on Al’ar in Tempest Keep, not to mention Vashj or Kael’thas (who we never did get despite almost two months of trying, until after 3.0 came out).

    Raiding can be tough but the rewards are worth it. Hey, I don’t like eating 60-100g+ repair bills every raid night as an offtank, but it comes with the territory, and it’s not like I can’t get that money back in about an hour doing dailies.

  • 6. Lewis  |  June 5, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Oh, and something Spinks brought up…I hate when a further-progressed raid looks at one that’s just starting out and fighting their way through, say, Razorscale, and starts saying “lol, noobs.” No, WoW raiding isn’t rocket surgery, but it still takes time and effort to learn the fights and execute a strategy. Starting out doesn’t make you “terribad.” Not learning as you gain more experience and making the same mistakes over and over and over again, now that might.

  • 7. Knife  |  June 5, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    I loved this post.

    Blizz is trying to not make the same “mistakes” again. The problem is, their old mistakes weren’t mistakes.

    Case and point- BC- when they removed attunement from Kara, Kara was easymode once you got into it (a month? two? maybe?). From Kara, you jumped to Gruul/Mags, two 25s that were ridiculously different from anything in Kara. Then you have the ABSURD difficulty jump from Kara -> SSC/TK. You can’t compare Prince/Bane to Vashj/KT.

    The bandaid was ZA. The first 2-4 bosses in ZA filled in enough gear to guide you to T5 content. Blizz doesn’t want to have to use a bandaid again (the only problem is, ZA was an AWESOME instance and anyone who didn’t think so is wrong).

    Soooo they made Nax easy. Nax is Kara minus Opera, Prince and Bane. That’s why people complained (that and the fact that it was exactly the same instance from before…). Ulduar isn’t meant to be super-hard. It’s not meant to be KT/Vashj. They dont’ want to bandage their game again. Ulduar is meant to be Opera, Prince, Bane, Gruul, Mags and the first X bosses in T5 instances.

    Once people realize- oh crap. I used to wipe on Gruul. A lot. Oh and Bane…prince…mags…they’ll become a lot more comfy wiping on Mimiron (especially considering he’s what…the 13th freaking boss in the instance?).

    Checkout wow-heroes. Despite the fact that it’s often ridiculously wrong with it’s ratings, look where Ulduar is one the continuum of WotLK. Dead center. Looks to me like there’s going to be more, better instances in WotLK then there were in BC…

  • 8. Matticus  |  June 6, 2009 at 1:26 am

    I tell the players that decide to leave us that they’re free to go at anytime with no hard feelings. Because I know they’re not skilled enough to get into the higher end guilds and I know they won’t be satisfied with the lower end raiding guilds. They end up coming back as soon as they realize this and how easy they have it.

  • 9. Baelor  |  June 8, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Ulduar has certainly got me used to wiping again. 🙂
    1 Yogg kill does not make for easy repeats.

    Great post.

  • 10. Troutwort  |  June 12, 2009 at 8:53 am

    This is the best section “If your raid leader doesn’t call for the wipe, don’t wipe.”

    Those examples you gave are exactly what makes it all work, and how you tell great players from the average ones. Those moments are the best though, those clutch saves are the memories you never forget. My priest has downed a few bosses solo or with only the tank left and I’ll never forget those moments. I’ve had people say to me before, “A great healer knows when to switch to DPS to win the fight.”

    Good times and great post!


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