Thursday, October 29, 2009

Learning to Take in the Big Picture

(Alternate Title: Little Green Bars: They're not just for the healer anymore.)

After spending the last two and half years of my time in WoW raiding, most of which was on progression content in one of the top raiding guilds on my server, I've learned to be extremely focused on my task and trusting my team-mates to do the same. Raid content in WoW, particularly in the Sunwell, was so tightly tuned that there was no room for generalists. You had a job, and you did that job, and while you were aware of the other aspects of the encounter you simply didn't have time to worry about what was going on outside of your assigned role. I played a warlock primarily and in Burning Crusade that meant I killed things because we were overpowered and we were the best at it. In particular I was specced destruction and so I put up my curse and then spammed shadowbolt until my target died. I was vaguely aware of the tank's health because I had a target of target unit frame and kept an eye on it to make sure it was not me, but beyond that I wasn't concerned with the status of everyone else. Minimizing the delay between casts and not standing in the fire were the priorities.

Transitioning back to small group play in a completely different game requires a much different degree of situational awareness. Fewer comrades means gaps in specialist coverage. Flexibility is rewarded to a much greater degree. The loss of a party member goes from "Druid, BR!" to "Crap, here comes the wipe." The presence of fellowship manuevers in LotRO take this to an extreme however. A properly executed FM means your DPS is just as responsible for healing and power regeneration as your healers. It means that your minstrel and tank are just as responsible for killing mobs as your DPS. The options available to you from an FM are incredible and they are very easily capable of turning a wipe into an heroic victory. A botched one can also turn a close battle into a rout and a trip back to the defeat circle. The number of different maneuvers available guarantee there is one for any occasion.

And therein lies the problem. Which one do you pick when there is only a seven second window to select the target of the FM, choose your color, and make sure you press that button in right order with the other five people in your fellowship? A hunter sees a mob that needs to die, so he picks damage. A tank sees that his morale bar is low so he picks healing. A healer is running low on power so he picks power regen. Suddenly an opportunity to make a pivotal shift in the battle decays into an ineffective jumble of random colors. How do we learn to see the whole battle when we've been trained to focus, focus, focus? In my opinion this is what is separating us from being a collection of good individual players to being a well-oiled machine that mows down the minions of Sauron.


Cainam said...

Here's my thought on Fellowship Manuvers....

While useful, I have yet to see the tide of a fight turned by a properly executed damage based FM. I have however seen numerous fights turned by a well executed Blue / Green manuver.

We as players have the ability to convert health and power into damage. In my opinion virtually every FM should be a blue green mix. If we're full up, well the Morale gain is a DoT so assuming that we are still taking damage it will help us.

If we're not hurting for morale and power, could a Blue FM be a waste... sure. But in that situation do we really NEED the damage manuver? If we're that high on morale and power couldn't we just burn down the mobs anyway even if the FM hadn't procced.

Blue/Green manuvers are not as sexy as Red/Yellow ones, but they have much more potential to save the group. I think he DPS lost by not performing Red/Yellow manuvers is not something we'll miss. But by focusing on Bluee/Green I think we maximize the chance that we execute the FMs correctly when we need them and help us prevent wipes.

LRNs said...

I see your point. However, on "trash" I don't always agree. Sometimes moral & power are simply non-issues. The red w/ blue kicker, 6-player maneuver can be VERY effective at mopping up a pull and allowing us to prepare for the next one. It does broad AoE damage & brings that spirit out to add to our dps in the next fight.

That said, YES, green/blue maneuvers have saved us from the brink of defeat several times (sometimes on one fight.)

Amaeva said...

The reason for damage FMs is because a completed length 6 one, like hew the stone or the 3R,3Y one is that they do AE. On trash, or early in a fight with boss that had adds, that can be very valuable.

The other thing to keep in mind is that we have only been doing very simple, 2 color maneuvers. The straights do a bit of everything and then have a special effect thrown in. We really, really need to start practicing the length 6 uniques and develop the ability to do at least a few of them on demand. Some of these remove wounds or diseases or fear, or reduce the enemy's armor.

Amaeva said...

Also, the point of the original post was to encourage everyone taking in the big picture. Yes, it's easier to always go GGGBB, and you can't really hurt yourself by choosing that maneuver, but then you also don't have to take responsibility for situational awareness and make an informed decision about something that is as fluid as combat can be. Will always selecting a healing maneuver wipe your party? Probably not, but that doesn't mean it's always the best choice to make.

LRNs said...

There are some amazing maneuvers (that are not really complex) that we've yet to try. Some of them provide the "best of both worlds."

The Lorebook's chart is really our next step.

I encourage everyone to read through this chart and come up w/ maneuvers to try.

Mardigilian said...

Fellowship maneuvers are about team work. Everybody has to do their part. I see two ways to go about doing that. One is to have one and only one person call the maneuver when it comes up. We have vent so it could be done by voice, but that will delay us starting to select colors. A better bet is the leader calling the maneuver by selecting the color for the first half. Leader picks blue, blue-green full house. Leader picks green, green blue. Everybody knows there position in the order. This is what we were doing when we first started doing maneuvers, why did we stop?

The second way is for everybody to be aware of our situation. Is this trash that we want to burn down and move on from? RRRYYY Are we in good shape but seconds away from a tough pull or more adds? RRRRRB Are we early in a fight against a really tough boss? RRRYYY Same situation against a boss that hits really hard? GGGBB Are people running dry on power? BBBGG This method should give us the most time. Everybody knows there spot in the order, and should be lining it up as soon as they see the proc. Most of the situational awareness required is not much more than we already do, but there are two hitches. Everybody needs to make scanning the left side of the screen part of your routine. If you don't see lots of blue and green there, be ready to make some. The other hitch is trickier. We're all getting different data. We've all customized our UIs. Some of us are facing different directions. Some of us are getting information later than others (Curse you Maxwell). Even when we are seeing the same things (like health and power bars) we would have to interpret them in the same way.

As for what maneuvers we should be doing, allow me to engage in a bit of thread necromancy.
There are some good maneuvers out there that we haven't been attempting. They are a little more complex, but we shouldn't have any trouble executing them as planned maneuvers. For random procs I don't think we need any more than 5 maneuvers in our pocket. One for each color, with the option to go for DoT or OB on red.

Nord said...

Perhaps this is not an either/or situation, but rather a progression. FMs require a lot of coordination across a number of different variables. Seven second window. Correct target. Right color. Situational awareness. Getting a named maneuver over a jumble of colors.

That's an immense amount of information to process for folks who, as Jeff rightly says, are accustomed to WoW where it's focus, focus, focus. FMs are brand new to us and we're doing well on them, but there is also room for improvement.

It may be unfair to expect us at this stage of personal player experience to be able to discern the right maneuver all the time. Greg's and my e-mail chain about establishing a leader for FMs can be looked at as a stepping stone along the way. One day, yes, we'll have all this down, but what do we do to get from here to there? What are the means by which we practice this new discipline?

Let's face it. We didn't march into MC or BWL or Sunwell or any other raid in WoW without having played our characters for literally days of "/played." And even then, on our first visits, what happened? Wipe after wipe. Experience comes slowly, but it comes through practice, practice, practice.

Perhaps that should be our new mantra