Friday, May 16, 2014

Avoiding Mechanics: Why Are They Even There?

Not so long ago I was in a run that happened to be on garrosh.  Some of the people in the group had been there before but they were having nightmares with it like we all did.  So one of the guys asked me, how did you manage it the first time and I responded, we just avoided getting empowered whirlwinds.

Basically I told him that we avoided mechanics.  Not having to deal with the empowered whirlwinds actually makes the fight much easier.  Same goes for shaman with three tanks.  You get to avoid so many things that "could" bring difficulty but doing whatever you can to avoid the mechanics.

I did a few attempts, 12 I believe, with them before they called it a night, gave some pointers and helped as best one person could but they did not down it.  They managed to get to the third phase once but they where dying, mostly, to empowered whirlwinds.  I felt so bad not being able to help them more.  I've never had to deal with the empowered whirling corruptions.  They have always been completely avoidable in flex and on normal we did not down it until we were capable of avoiding the mechanic.  So while I was able to tell them what needed to be done and how to do it, it came down to the fact that they needed to learn to do it or they would not be getting the fight down.

I've seen many pugs require a certain amount of DPS to push past the empowered whirlwinds or a third tank on shamans, stuff like that.  I don't blame them, I would be the same way too even if my guild never used the three tank method for shaman except for in 25s where we had the people for it.

The thing is, why does the mechanic even exist if it is avoidable?  Why two tank shaman if you can three tank it and make it easier.  Why deal with empowered whirling corruptions when you can push through it and make it easier.

I understand why these things are in game, to give fights some difficulty, but if you are capable of avoiding them, why are they even there to begin with?  All they do is work as a penalty against those that are incapable of avoiding them.  Sure you can do the fight without avoiding them, like I said we never did shaman with three tanks in 10, but it sure as hell would make it easier.

Why are mechanics that can be avoided, and by avoiding them they change the fight in a massive way, in the game at all?

At the end of the run he asked me if I thought the group could do it.  I said I was quite impressed that even with 5 people in there that never even had one attempt on garrosh, for them to get to the third phase once in only a dozen attempts was quite impressive.  So I told him, yes, I think you can do it.  All you need to do is learn how to better handle those empowered whirling corruptions.  As soon as you get that down the fight will be done.  They had the movement down perfect, they were snap fast with mind controls, it was just that one little thing that was keeping them from downing it.

He asked me for advice on how they could get better at it because it was going to get really frustrating having to do the whole fight and wiping late in it just to get a couple of seconds of practice on something that kills them so quick.  I told him, start the fight, go up, do not DPS garrsoh up there.  Let him get some power.  When you come down, he will have the empowered whirling corruption earlier now.  At least this fight had a way to practice it.  They will still wipe, but at least they can draw the mechanic out sooner so they can practice it.

He then asked, do you think my group can avoid the mechanic like you did?  I did not even hesitate, I saw where we were pushing transitions, first phase after 5 axes, second time up at 60 percent, I said no.  Sorry, there is no way your group would be able to avoid it.  You will either need to do the mechanic or wait until people get some more gear and get better.  I suggested he have the DPS practice their rotations on the dummy, because the numbers are not high enough to avoid the mechanic.

Now that is what this post is about.  Why is that mechanic even in the game?  It should be hardwired somehow, something you can not skip, or it should not be in there at all to begin with.

My guild was not any better than his guild when we first downed it.  Heck, his guild getting to the third phase in so few attempts was a lot faster than mine.  Sure, he had some people with experience there like myself, but for a group with half the people there being completely new to the fight without even one attempt under their belt, they did fantastic.  If anything with their performance I would say they are better than my guild.  But we did it because we avoided mechanics and they didn't because they couldn't.  And that is not fair to them.  Not fair to them at all.

So if the mechanics can be avoided, why is it even there to begin with?  His group is getting penalized because they are not over powering it?  All avoidable mechanics do it make things unnecessarily hard on the groups that are not capable of avoiding them.  Can they do it?  Sure.  Should they have to?  No.  If my team did not have to deal with that mechanic his should not have to.

I wish him luck and I know his group will end up getting it down in fewer attempts than mine did if they stick to it, they were doing quite well, but I genuinely feel bad for him.  His guild should have been celebrating downing him that night but a mechanic stopped him from that because he could not avoid it.

It makes me wonder if my guild wasn't as strong in the DPS department as we were, would we have ever downed it?  But if we weren't, we would have kept working until we could avoid it because that was the easiest way to do it.  And that is what I am getting at.  If the easiest way to handle a mechanic is not to deal with it, and it is capable of being avoided, why even add it?  It is a waste of coding time and a waste of player time.

I think that is bad encounter design, that avoiding mechanics becomes the best and easiest strategy to beat the fight.  It is not just skipping the whirlwind on garrosh or three tanking shaman, those are just some examples.  There have been many fights where if you were able to avoid a certain mechanic or bring a certain class it made the fight trivial.  I can name a dozen this expansion alone where if you could push past something with big DPS numbers, or heal through something with some great healing, or have a tank that can do that little extra it completely changes the complexion of the fight.

I am all for being rewarded for doing what you do well and I can see being able to avoid a mechanics because of good DPS might just be considered by some as reward for being better than those incapable of avoiding it.  I just do not see it like that.  I think of it as that group I was in that deserved a win, and knowing if they had the fight I had without the empowered whirling corruption they would have had a kill.

Mechanics like these, ones that can be avoided, have no place in raiding.  Either hard code them that they are not avoidable and everyone needs to do them or remove them.  They add no difficulty what so ever, nothing does really once you figure out how to do it, but they do offer is frustration like the frustration that guy must have felt when I told him my team just avoided the mechanic that is keeping his team form the kill.  As he said, and I now ask, why is it even in there?  Good question Rob, very good question.  So I asked for him. 

What do you think?  Should annoying mechanics that can be avoided by some groups or with certain classes just be removed in favor of more mechanics that everyone needs to deal with?


  1. Your question is a though one.

    I will start with shaman fisrt.

    3 tanking it make it easier cause each group only have to deal with half the mechanics, so technicaly you're not avoiding anything, you're just choosing who is dealing with what, and at the expense of DPS. 3 tanking it may lead you to not meet the dps check (reason why I've seen group failing with 3 tanks and succeding with 2).

    As for Garrosh, well first it you're able to TOTALLY avoid the empowered whirlwind you're overgearing the fight and/or using tactics that were not intended (one tanking/one healing it). And failing at handling it is basically ppl panicking and spreading too much since it does not do more damage than non-empowered ones, it just spawn adds that you have to deal with after.

    But the point of empowered whirlwind (and most Garrosh empowered abilities) was first and foremost a DPS check. If you don't have the DPS to do the first transition without garrosh getting to 25 energy you failed the check. More or less the same as if you failed to get garrosh to P3 before the 3rd transition, you failed another check.

    Mechanics that you can avoid if you performed well are IMO a good thing, mechanics that some classes are better at handling are also a good thing, that what diferenciate classes. The problem come when you get situations like if class X is targeted by ability Y, we're screwed or situation like Garrosh when being able to skip the mechanic can make or breake a kill.

    Mechanincs were some classes are better than other are good when they are predictable

    Good example : hunters being good to bait weapons on garrosh or on belt for blackfuse.

    Bad example : hunters being able to Faign death Aims on Klaxxi.

    Skipping mechanics is a harder thing though.
    I don't really mind for the empowered whirlwind to be skipable on garrosh, in HC you have to deal with at least one anyway, sometime we have a second transition, sometime we don't.

    But Lei shen was a good example of good skippable mechanics : in p1/p2 if you had good dps you could deal with only half of the pillar, whereas with lesser dps you had to deal with more, but nothing game breaking, and you could adapt you strategy accordigly. You had to deal with all of them in transition anyway.

    1. I never thought of shaman as a DPS check, to me it is more as a stay out of crap check. Three tanking it means less crap for people to screw up on. So it does make the fight much easier, as in laughably easier.

      We were well geared for the content when we got our kill, would say between 550-555 most of us, so yes, maybe we over geared it a little. One tank, two heal, nothing insane, it is a one tank fight anyway. It sure seems as if it were designed to be.

      Exactly, Lei Shen made sure you had to deal with everything no matter what. I liked how that was done. Even is you over powered it you still had to deal with everything. For a shorter time, yes, but the fight was the same for everyone. Nice example there.

      I love being a hunter for things like you mentioned but sometimes it does feel like cheating. Static shock, don't worry, I got this.

      Thanks for the input. Loved the examples. Very good ones.

  2. I wouldn't really say "having above-average DPS to be able to end a phase earlier than expected" is avoiding a mechanic, at least not in the same vein as 3-tanking Shamans.

    And to use Lei Shen as an example, no, you wouldn't have to deal with everything if you went in and fought him now with SoO numbers. Yes, you would in the transitions (and I assume this is what you meant) but if you can push him into transition on only the 2nd corner instead of the 3rd or 4th like was normal at the time, you've avoided powering up pillars and made the transitions much easier.

    In other words, bosses that have phases or transition based on health % will always be easier with super high DPS.

    Juggernaut would be one boss where no matter how high your DPS is, you'd still have to deal with all the mechanics, though, since its phases are timer-based and not health based. (Well, at least until you have enough DPS to kill it before it enters its first Siege mode.)

    1. And what I was getting at is, I don't think this needs to be addressed because having great numbers IS something that should be rewarded. Bosses should die easier, mechanics should be easier to DPS through (ie, adds) or healed through (again, numbers!). Your guild wasn't doing anything special or "tricky" on Garrosh, they were just DPSing as hard as they could and as a result, got to bypass one of the rougher parts.

      I don't think it was necessarily well-DESIGNED that high DPS let you skip this mechanic, mind you. But it's way different than consciously doing something unusual and possibly unintended that cheats a fight and makes it trivial.

    2. In a way you can do something unintended to "cheat" the fight. Many guilds have by one tanking or one healing just to get more DPS in so they can effectively skip or shorten that part of the fight.

      That is what I am talking about, should a mechanic be in there that people will go out of their way, including doing things intentionally, to try and skip it.

      Example. My guild got to garrosh with 2 tanks three heals. We met absolutely 0 DPS issues the entire run from first boss the first week to last boss when we got there. Then BAM, we are roadblocked.

      I made the decision to 1 tank and 2 heal it and to bring 2 more damage dealers in and he goes down a couple of hours later.

      That, in my opinion, is avoiding mechanics. We would have still been banging our heads against the wall if we were still 2 tanking and 3 healing it. If you can do 1 through 13 with 2 tanks and 3 healers than 14 should be designed to be done with the same group and not inspire people to switch things up to avoid mechanics.

      As you said, it is more a design issue. It was not well designed. It actively encouraged under healing it or one tanking it.

  3. I have a pretty simple (and anti Blizzard) view on these things. WHATEVER you can do to overcome a fight is legal, as long as you do it within the WoW client.
    Hacking the client is not OK, but eveything else is. If Blizzard is dumb enough to make a mechanic avoidable (up to and including throwing bombs on the ground to "recreate" breaking ice) you should be allowed to use it and not feel bad about it. If Blizz thinks it's breaking the spirit of the encounter, let them fix it in the next patch. Otherwise enjoy the freedom to solve an encounter your way.

    Rauxis, chosen of CAT

    1. I guess I agree with that. If it is in game then it is fair game.

      But refer to my reply to rades from above for the example I give. This one fight actively encourages people to do things to skip the mechanic. Is that good design? Should it even be in there?

  4. I have the impressions some of the mechanics are there to make the encounter harder at launch. After some time, when the run for "world first" is over, people discover how to avoid them all the better cause more people will see content.

    But mechanics that urge you to change your standard raid layout are simply wrong, cause it goes against "bring the player, not the class". That is bad design.

    Rauxis, chosen of CAT

    1. That is how I see Garrosh, bad encounter design because it not only encourages you to change, but for the vast majority of guilds makes them change because they would not be able to do it otherwise.

    2. I don't know. I think the problem comes when the group DPS is just barely lacking to be able to skip the mechanic.

      I mean when my team first reach garrosh back in september we 2 tanked/2healed it as we had all the instance (except thok and immersseus for obvious reason) and it went just fine. Skipping the EMP whirl was just not possible at all.

      Now, on my days off, I'm helping a group of friend who reached garrosh last week, we have like 20-25 more ilvl than what my main's team had when we got there, we're 2healing/2tanking it and there is no way cutting a healer or a tank will help in any way.

      So for both those groups the fight was well designed.

      I wouldn't say garrosh encourage it more than many harsh DPS-check encouters, just taht you happened to be in a situation that it DID change things for you.

      Essentially anything based on health% will in some way encouraged changing comp to be able to push it earlier because it will ALWAYS cause some mechanics to happen less often but.

    3. That is where we were when we first got there. We were a tiny bit off. So we kept doing it trying to get better pushing more so we could skip it.

      I guess if we were not in the position where we could skip it even with switching things around we would have managed another way in time. But I just do not like that the option to skip it was there, if you know what I mean. It made it feel as if we could wipe 20 more times or 30 more times or whatever and learn to deal with it or we can tell one tank he will not be in on the first kill and kill it. I hated being in that position and for that reason alone it was bad. In my opinion of course.

  5. I'm taking the complete opposite approach to this question by asking my own:

    Do you like fights that can only be done way or do you like fights to have flexibility so a raid can tailor their strategy to account for their strengths/weaknesses?

    Me, I like some flexibility... not enough that two raids can do the fight in such different ways that someone couldn't move from one to the other and use previous experience but enough that a raid, say, without heroism, can still succeed.

    Looking at Shaman, I've never 3-tanked it on normal but my raid 3-tanks it on heroic... far as I know that isn't required but is the typical strat from what I've seen. Our raid has enough dps to 3-tank AND 3-heal it and succeed (with some difficulty, mind you, it isn't an automatic one-shot, but usually due to people failing mechanics rather than not having enough dps).

    If our raid was better at mechanics (particularly avoiding them) then we'd probably 2-tank it and probably 2-heal it. We aren't, though, so we muddle through as best we can with what we have available.

    I wasn't even aware you could avoid the empowered whirls on Garrosh... it's not something I've ever noticed. Empowered whirls were never what wiped us, at least not since I've been doing that fight, but we do get them... we just cooldown/heal through them. If a raid has the dps to avoid them what's the problem? I don't have an issue with fights becoming easier with experience and gear and even shifts in strategy (thinking about Spoils in particular, I could see a bunch of different optimal opening strats for different raids, especially on heroic). With less gear for H Spoils you'd have to open multiple boxes at once to beat the timer... with better gear you'll be able to wait until one is killed before opening others... or maybe open more for more AoE opportunity.

    Choice is good, options are good and fights that don't handicap additional gear are good. Who liked Spine once you had gear when you had to stop dps for 2 minutes until enough bloods spawned? That was a more fun fight when you had less gear, at least during that phase... that's basically what you're arguing for here.

    1. In a post that comes a few after this that is answered. I like that fights can be done different ways. I think it is important that they can be done different ways. If only one way worked then there would always be only one perfect solution, one perfect team, or a better way, if they could only be done one way and one way only, my guild would still be stuck on horridon. lol

      Being able to adapt and do it your way is one of the keys to making a good encounter.

      Sounds like your group is like mine, we often three heal things we shouldn't "need" too because we can. But to make up for something slow to move out of the bad people, or tanks that might miss a cooldown or two, having that third healer just makes things easier.

      That was annoying on spine. Had to be careful not to kill the tents because 2 shots would kill them and you had to stand there and wait for bloods to spawn. Blah. But, in the end, that is the way the fight was intended. It was intended that you needed to collected 9 bloods on the guy and kill him. More DPS didn't allow you to just ignore that entire aspect of the fight.

    2. Ok, I'll hang tight until I read that subsequent post.

      Regarding Spine, what they needed to do was build in a mechanic where killing bloods more quickly caused them to spawn more quickly. Something that simple would have made that fight smoother over the gearing curve. Mind you, I despise any fight that requires a stop dps, including Naz during def when adds are dead. I hate standing around... if I wanted to do that, I'd go back to tanking.

    3. Standing around is never fun. Spine always felt like that. Stand around waiting for bloods. Then burn everything you possible can. Then stand around again. At least it was never bad after the first phase, but it was always boring. Honestly, the blood aspect of it should have been removed completely. Made it so it increased the damage the add took, but it was not needed unless you had lower DPS. Once the add was low enough it exploded. There, fixed the blood issue.

      Sometimes the answer to smooth things out is rather simple blizzard just never thinks in the direction of "what do we do in the future". They always design everything as this is the be all end all.

      Look at professions for that, look at skills for that, look at anything in game. They design everything as if it is the last thing they are ever adding to the game.