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If you've been raiding for any serious length of time you know that eventually, everyone makes mistakes. Whether you're the tank who forgot to face that nasty mob away from the group, the DPSer who broke CC, or the healer that was too concerned with watching the MT's health to notice his own, we've all been there. In most cases, a single mistake here and there isn't raid-breaking, but there are plenty of encounters in WoW where errors can compound and spiral out of control towards a wipe.
For me, there's nothing worse than the knowledge that my own mistake, small or large, was the catalyst that led to my entire raid dead on the floor. It's easy to talk about bringing your A-game to a raid, but as anyone whose ever wiped on a "farm status" boss is aware, knowing and doing are two different things.
If there's a secret to successful raiding, it is this: every player in the raid must know they're not screwing up. This doesn't mean mistakes won't happen, but it does mean that your entire raid is actively working to avoid potential pitfalls and screw-ups.
So how do you avoid screwing up? Know your own bad habits. If you make a mistake, raid wiping or not, own up to it, no matter how embarrassed you may feel. Once you've informed your raid, stop and analyze the root of your error. Were you unfamiliar with the boss strategy? Not paying enough attention to voice chat? Failing to watch your threat meter, your tank's health, or your surroundings? Falling asleep at your computer?
Once you've identified the source of the problem, it's time to ask yourself if this is a one-time error, or part of a pattern. If it's the latter, you must take steps to fix it. A quick example: for a long time on Firkin, I would get distracted keeping up with the dps target and not keep a close enough eye on my sheeps. While a single sheep running around for three seconds before it gets re-polyed is usually not a big deal, no one wants to be The Mage Whose Sheep Always Breaks And Eats the Healers' Faces... especially not me.
After a particularly egregious night of loose sheep in Serpentshrine Cavern last summer, I decided it was well past time to solve the polymorph issue, so I pulled up the trusty Wowwiki and started researching focus macros. In my mage macros post, you can see the macro I use to sheep now, which lets me re-sheep my polymorph focus without ever losing my dps target. The five minutes I spent researching and setting up that macro has paid off tenfold in game, and I am a better player because of it.
Of course, sometimes you'll be able to identify the root of a problem, but you won't have a solution. If the root of your error is boss mechanics you didn't know about, the solution is to read more strategies before you fight an encounter, but what if you were a protection warrior struggling to kill your demon on Leotheras, or a mage having trouble resheeping quickly enough who didn't know about the /focus command?
If you can't find an answer by simple research, or don't know what you're looking for, the solution's simple: ask your fellow raiders. In the case of the protection warrior, a fellow tank could inform him that a prot warrior's best bet is to save spell reflect for the demon's shadow bolts. Similarly, a veteran mage could point a struggling raider to /focus macros and sheep timers. Even if you're not a newbie, it's always better to be inquisitive than to not ask questions and cause a wipe, so don't be afraid to ask!
Everyone has a few weaknesses as a raider, but if you learn your own bad habits, you can work to combat them. You don't have to spend all your out-of-WoW downtime theorycrafting and reading boss strategies to be a good endgame raider, but you do have to be proactive about improving yourself. Just remember: those other 24 people lying dead on the floor aren't all that interested in "I'm sorry." The most beautiful words to a wiped raid's ears are "it won't happen again."
February 7, 2008
image by zoomar