Wipe nights and sustaining your raid

Wipe nights are a common occurrence when guilds bash their heads at progress content; the basic law of raiding is that you steamroll encounters that have commonly known techniques, you are temporarily halted by gear check bosses, and the raid comes to a screeching halt at tough encounters that require complete focus from 25 people to complete.

Examples in ICC right now are Putricide (which requires dodging skills while maintaining high DPS), Blood Queen (where a single person spazzing out at bite time can wipe the raid) and Sindragosa (no, it’s not cool to have 20 stacks of the damage debuff and then get hit by an ice block). And then of course…the Lich King.

The issue with such wipe nights is that they result in many personal problems which can cause you a lot of stress, physical discomfort, angry conversations in raid or on vent, and has in the past even disbanded guilds. Wipe nights are a test of character, and the realization that you all have to learn to beat it is a key factor. But there are things you can do to help yourself get through wipe nights in a healthy manner, without stress, splitting headaches and worn out fingers.

Drink water, and keep yourself fed

When you raid for an hour of two, you would not believe how much moisture you lose just from the stress of playing a game. Even a mild dehydration can cause you to suffer from mild headaches, eye strain, loss of concentration and a feeling of overheating. This in turn can make you irritable, worsens your concentration while playing, and is plain not healthy if you suffer from this repeatedly.

So do yourself a big favor and either get up for a drink regularly (I’d skip the energy drinks and cool-aid, you’ll probably regret that later) or keep a filled water bottle next to your PC while playing. Drinking water is the best way of balancing your moisture levels without fancy sports drinks, it’s cheap, and it also cools you down. It’s ok to have a beer, or drink coffee, or juice – just make sure that when you are actually thirsty, you keep water nearby.

Also, make sure to keep yourself fed. And with that I don’t mean keeping a bag of crisps with you, or eating your dinner behind your PC. An occasional piece of fruit, even crackers, will be sufficient. You’re burning quite a bit of energy without realizing it, and you want to make sure you gain a bit of fuel, but without being so full you’ll suffer for it come bedtime.

Negotiate Bio Breaks

Some people seem to be able to go on all night without a bio break, some go every half hour. It’s quite common for the raid leader to set the bio breaks and announce them beforehand – once an hour seems to be a good average on that. But if you feel you gotta go – then ask politely if you can have a little break anyway. Because not only is your playstyle cramped (haha), repeatedly ignoring the call of nature can eventually lead to kidney damage and a host of other minor problems.

This doesn’t mean you can’t keep it up for an hour or so, just be aware of how your body works and don’t fight it all the time. When you log off, your raid is disbanded, but your body will remain with you for quite some time to come. A game is not a very valid reason  to mistreat it.

Stay calm and keep things in perspective

It’s easy to get upset when the raid wipes repeatedly, especially if a single person could be attributed for these wipes. Emotions flare up, people argue or become sudden experts at other people’s class. If you feel that way, it’s time to take a step back. You see, it’s the raid leader’s job to ensure the raid goes smoothly and that everyone does what they are supposed to do. Anyone can offer advice, but if you start overplaying your role, you’re going to make fractures in your raid structure. If you have an issue, simply inform the raid leader. If people are debating and trying to get thing straightened out, tell you raid leader you will take a few minutes while they discuss things.

Stretch, get a drink, give your pets some attention – do something that relaxes you and gives you some time to cool down. Angry people make rash and uninformed decisions – the easy fix is not to stay angry. Try and place yourself in the other members’ shoes once you are sufficiently calmed down, and then return to your PC. Just like with heroics, the more you try to rush things, the less chance it will be done right.

Always remember what you have achieved, and that this challenge that is currently blocking you is just that – a challenge. If you are butting heads with the Lich King, you are one of less than 5% of the people to actually fight him, and if you get him down you are one of 1% – or even less – to do so.

Your role, your pride

Remembering what you are achieving is especially important when it comes to DPS. Healers heal and tanks tank – but DPS effectiveness is directly measured via a little number that somehow expresses their total usefulness. Except it doesn’t. In many fights you will have to use other (non-damaging) class abilities to survive, and you still need to remember and execute the strategies you use.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are expendable “just because you are DPS”. Fact is that DPS is just the best-supported role in the game, so anyone can switch to DPS with relative ease. Everyone had to DPS to level up, even healers and tanks can do it – just worse. Being a tank is for example less supported in the game. You have to get a specific talent spec, learn strategies and crunch numbers, tweak your gear. In raids you have to position, survive, and generate threat. Good DPS will do all of the above, but bad DPS who fail at that can still do good damage- and that is what most are measured on.

Now comes the time then to put this in perspective. Imagine a raid where you are continually the number 15 on DPS – 14 others beat you all the time. Does this make you a bad DPS? That depends.

If the 14 people above you deal 6K+ and you deal 2K, then probably you’re not geared, not putting in the effort or in some other way doing it wrong. If you are number 15 with 8K DPS and everyone else is doing 8.5K, it seems to be just a measure of 14 people being better, but you still being awesome.

The moral of the story?

Your position on the damage meters only displays your damage ability compared to others in the raid. I was routinely at the bottom when I just joined Unity. I was doing 3-4K with everyone else doing 6K and I felt awful. When I joined a pug raid my3-4K DPS put me at the top. Yet I was never kicked, asked to leave a Unity raid or criticized for my low DPS, even though I was so low on the meters – because I listened, survived and improved.

I considered myself the “worst of the best” so to speak – the ones above me were awesome, and I was good but just not that good. I had room to improve, and I did. Trust me, if you start thinking about yourself this way, and also give others the room to improve, you will see a marked development in others as well.

Keeping your time

A last tip on wipe nights that will help a lot is aimed specifically at raid leaders: do not exhaust your members. While you may really want to progress, and want to push your raid to its limit, never forget they are real people. And real people cannot concentrate fully for 4 straight hours.

People will tire, their hands will start to hurt, they might say nonsense in vent as their brains are shutting down. They will forget to buff, become confused, run into all the wrong fires. They will get slow, easy to anger and you might hear them sigh a lot on vent. You might not actually think it, but forcing yourself to concentrate after a few hours will start to hurt, badly.

This will have long-term effects.

Signups will lag behind, people will take a break from WoW in general, people will stop being chatty and funny. You might see people slacking on consumables, or refusing to come to wipe nights. This is natural. What happens here is burnout. Too long without a success, no matter how small, will demoralize and shatter your raid.

Wipe nights need to be shorter than average raids. If you normall raid for 4 hours with 2 bio breaks, consider halving the raid time for a wipe night. We clear almost everything in ICC in one evening – this is fine, it’s a fun evening. Then the next evening will be hours of wiping on Lich King. This is also fine. It’s progression.

But those nights are shorter, since it’s a continually repeating fight, inching forward towards success. Improvement comes in little steps, so it might seem like you’re going nowhere for hours. When you see the raid sinking, and people get too tired, stop wiping. Consider going to a quick and simple raid (Like VoA, a time-old favorite) and get some quick success and change of scenery. People will wake up a bit, and any bad feelings of wipe nights are lessened by the quick wins.

I was amazed at how well this works out for Unity, and perhaps it might help you keep people focused and interested longer for wipe nights as well.

Conclusion

Wipe nights are hardly ever fun, they are competition and a challenge. But there are ways to stay sane in the process – and the above are tips I give from personal experience, practices observed across several raiding guilds and my own community. Keep a positive attitude, mind your health, be honest and don’t be afraid to take a step back.

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One Response to “Wipe nights and sustaining your raid”

  1. […] your raid healthy and happy!) I really liked what Natarumah over at Twisted Faith wrote about  Wipe Nights and Sustaining Your Raid. Breaks, people, it’s not that hard! Ultimately I believe you have better attempts after […]

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