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Thread: How do pro's deconstruct new content?

  1. #1

    How do pro's deconstruct new content?

    My SOP for learning content is to read the strats on bosskillers.com and watch the Tankspot vids. However, I've been wondering how world and realm-first type guilds deconstruct new raid encounters for the first time when that info is not available, and figure out strategies for beating them.

    I assume it involves logging each encounter, reviewing and understanding the combat log, and developing strats as each new ability or phase is revealed, till the boss is down, then tweaking and tuning that strat till it's on farm?

    I also assume most start this process on the PTR as soon as available, so they're as progressed as possible when the new content hits live?

    Are there any other tricks of the trade for this?

    Also, it seems some top guilds like Ensidia can figure out new fights on the fly, but to do that they must have really good real-time situational awareness, which is something I've been trying to build into my UI but am having trouble with.

    Are there any really good addons that make it easy to understand everything going on in the fight? I've got DBM, but that's about all, and it only seems to warn of an upcoming boss attack/ability, but not so much what it does. Tried Mike's Scrolling Combat Text, but found Bliz's default straight-up scrolling combat text to be more readable.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Something I do is i set my combat log to only show spellcasts, and not filter them at all (since the filter is broken and can't be filtered to enemy only).

    Then I scroll up to enemy casts and click on the hyperlink for their spell. reading tooltips ftw.

  3. #3
    Interesting, thanks. Do boss spell casts include melee abilities like Hateful Strike, or do you miss melee stuff using that method?

  4. #4
    I wrote an addon with the purpose of doing something similar to described above:
    ThatsANewOne : WoWInterface Downloads : Combat Mods

    The screenshot doesn't really do it justice, but basically it will tell you what spells mobs are using. This screenshot is more accurate:

  5. #5
    Thanks, nice addon. However, maybe my monitor is too small and narrow (20.1", 4:3), but I can't watch the action, the SCT (and occasional DBM alerts), a chat/log frame, and my HUD (dHUD) all at the same time. Is there any way to direct that output to the Scrolling Combat Text?

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Kurtosis View Post
    Thanks, nice addon. However, maybe my monitor is too small and narrow (20.1", 4:3), but I can't watch the action, the SCT (and occasional DBM alerts), a chat/log frame, and my HUD (dHUD) all at the same time. Is there any way to direct that output to the Scrolling Combat Text?
    It's not really something you can properly disect in combat. Rather it's something you can look at after every try. Each spell is clickable (ie: you see the tooltip, what it does).

  7. #7
    Does your mod retain the entire log in the combat log window so you can go back to the beginning and click every boss ability tooltip? Thought the combat and chat logs had a limited buffer that can't contain the entire fight, and have to write them to disk instead.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Kurtosis View Post
    Does your mod retain the entire log in the combat log window so you can go back to the beginning and click every boss ability tooltip? Thought the combat and chat logs had a limited buffer that can't contain the entire fight, and have to write them to disk instead.
    It writes stuff down in a separate chat frame. Generally speaking mobs/bosses don't use enough abbilities that you wouldn't see the beginning of the fight by the end of it.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Deconstructing a new fight is a simple iterative process and horribly logical.

    Basically (and ideally you have 5/10/25 people in your raid watching for things) you pull the boss with a Tank and have healers spamming, as the fight goes on you get a list of the bosses abilities (and what the tool tip doesn't say), a handle on spawn timers etc.

    Melee attacks - physical or elemental, spell, does he hit you?
    Spawns adds - how often? is it time based, % of health based, phase based
    AoE / void spawns - How often, what kind
    DoTs and debuffs
    Boss Phases - does he use all abilities at all times, what appears where
    Attacks - What is the minimum time between attacks, what sort of damage, type

    You break the fight down into sections and handle it that way.

    Taking the 2nd boss of MgT as a good example of a horrid boss:

    A CoH priest healer (or a druid HoTting) could keep up the party through the large AoE at the end and the final adds. Most paladin healers could not, however they had the longevity to wait out the DoT at each stage so the 5 minute fight could be done with only the tank taking damage for basically the whole time.

    Its just a case of thinking what can be done and what the ability is, there are a limited number of effect Blizzard can produce with a certain signature (for example you stand 2 tanks in front of the boss, if the 2nd gets hit try 3 or more to determine the value of the cleave limit)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    We throw bodies at the boss until something positive happens, then we keep doing that while making adjustments. when we finally get some good documentation down (normally on textpad, we have a person in charge of making/writing strategies) we put it all together and see how it works.

    The key is the willingness to fail, and the ability to adjust.

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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    For us, it's generally iterative. Our learning pulls on a boss aren't generally taken "at pace", we take our time establishing what happenned, how to avoid it, and then go again and hopefully get a little bit deeper or uncover something new. Sooner or later we get to the point of "here's a working strat as soon as everyone learns their jobs and stops standing in fire", and we start chainpulling until either boss dies, or we hit a new phase with new learning, or it turns out there some flaw in the strat for that phase/fight which we need to rectify.

    We tend to set up initial pulls healer and tank heavy, normally 3 tanks and 6 healers. Most fights end up requiring less, but more tanks and more healers tends to stabilize early pulls until you have a real handle on things.

    Some stuff happens on the fly, some stuff happens after pulls. For a guild like mine (we just finally got down 25man Algalon), we'll often have a fair amount of information in advance, especially on later fights where we've fallen further behind, but I'm strongly opposed to blindly aping other guilds strategies. What works for Ensidia won't always work for us, I much prefer to build our own strats from the ground up, as much as possible. I think, long term, it makes us a smarter and better guild.

    Meloree, <Edge>, Garona

  12. #12
    Great answers everyone, much appreciated.

    Between each iterative attempt, roughly how much are you able to figure out in-game while rez'ing and rebuffing? Do you do alot of analysis there, or do you focus more on making as many attempts and gathering as much data as possible for later offline analysis.

    And do you set a time limit on the raid, so everyone knows how long they'll be committing to figure that content out?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Well, for us, we raid 4 hours a night, 4 days a week, never more, often less, so everyone knows exactly how long they're commited for. On new bosses, we definitely take our time between pulls, discussing what mechanic is beating us, and how to beat it. In general, it's probably less than 5 minutes between wipe and new pull, but it feels like a good long time for deconstruction/analysis, because we normally try to set a fairly fast pace. If we don't beat the boss in a night of attempts, we do a lot of offline analysis, and our forums get fairly busy. I certainly wouldn't ever spend a full 4 hour night just chainpulling blindly to gather parse data, without attempting to also learn what's going on, and adjust and adapt on the fly.

    With Ulduar hardmodes and the flexible way of attacking things, we often did 2-5 pulls on a fresh hardmode for gathering data before going off to do more farm content, so that the next raid night we could go back and kill it. We won't have that particular luxury in CC, for the most part.

    We are able to figure out a fair amount on the fly, we oneshot Northrend Beasts on Tuesday without having been on PTR at all this cycle. It largely came down to everyone playing awake, we pretty much just dealt with all the mechanics as they came at us. Alternatively, I think we also severely overgear the tuning level of that encounter, and brute force has a quality all it's own.

    As a raid leader, you basically make a judgement call pull to pull about what to change, when it's time to throw bodies at the problem until people learn their jobs, and when the strat just isn't working. It's also important not to abandon a strat that just hasn't been learned yet. Learn the difference between "personal failure" and "strategic failure". I'm fairly lucky, in that we have a high-quality group of strategists in the raid, and there's generally a pretty good analysis of anything that went wrong presented by the first person to die in a given pull by the time we're running back.

    That's probably another point that's worth mentioning, it very much helps if people don't go brain-dead when they die, but keep thier eyes open, open the ingame stopwatch and try to figure out some timers, look through thier combat log for new abilities, or even just look around and play eye in the sky for the rest of the raid.

    I haven't really put together a very cohesive post here, it's a lot of point by point things off the top of my head, and what works for one guild won't necessarily work for every guild.

    Meloree, <Edge>, Garona

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Pull boss abilities on the first couple attempts, note add spawns, any aoe's and their ranges (for example the stomp on the magnataur). Make sure people start fully consumeabled. Half-assing it while learning may cause you to fail at a point that would otherwise be trivial with better damage. Generally speaking every fight in this game is a combination of the same abilities you've seen before. Void zones (fire patches etc.), add spawns, a melee range aoe or a full room aoe, debuffs on specific people that have to be dealt with in a specific manner, and conal abilities. You always deal with those abilities in the same manner, so just identify them, then deal with them. The difficulty generally lies in the relation between a fights total HP, and it's assigned berserk timer. So you ID that, determine your required dps (math, oh noes), then tailor your raid to meet that dps (less healers is better).

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    We go in with a raid composition that can hopefully handle any situation on the fly. As stuff is happening, we call out what's happening. We combat log it, we FRAPS it. If we wipe, we'll review combat logs, damage numbers, mob abilities, FRAPS footage, and share what we know. If healing wasn't sufficient, we'll give it a few more attempts to see if comfort and familiarity with the encounter causes healing to be less of an issue. If it doesn't, we add healers. If it did help significantly, we would perhaps drop healers.

    Same goes for DPS and tanking - if a smaller number of tanks can safely achieve the same assignments and sufficient control to the raid, a tank may be dropped to get another DPS or healer in.

    A forum thread to dump all of your thoughts and information in to helps, that way the guild has a centralized reference point to look back at and compare and study, particularly if not currently in a raid. Out-of-game theorycraft can help significantly and has played a large role in many of our encounters that we scored early kills on long before any public knowledge was really known about the fights.
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  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Personally when working out strategies time between pulls is important, I need a little bit to try and work out what went wrong if we got to a positive point (ie: we found something new) so you start discussing and going over logs / experiences to find out what it was and how it seemed to work. If you hit a negative point (ie: something happened but no one caught its effects) I find it best to start again fast and have people specificially watching for that point, without a good enough understanding of what "it" was you can't effeectively plan.

    Other major thing is to make sure the group you are with can adapt, spatial awareness on as many people as possible is a wonderful tool (having seen the difference between MgT planning and say Oculus its nigth and day, MgT I had 3 other people in the group helping, Oculus I had a pug willing to wipe ).

  17. #17
    Thanks for the info everyone, much appreciated!

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    I find that looking at death reports in acherus or recount is very useful for discovering what happens when the proverbial hits the fan-whether you can have a special landing simultaneously with a melee (eg thorim US), the tank simply getting smushed (vezax). Then you can help prevent this happening in the future if you know that every 45 seconds the tank needs shielding to prevent a possible one-hit (45k life tank with no shield might be able to be one shotted by an attack combo, but the 7-9k from power word shield would save the tank's life).

    Also as a tank you always have the boss's self buffs in view. I look for + damage, root, buffs that stack. from this you can extrapolate soft berserks (ignis without killing adds=1 stack every 30 seconds, damage from 8 is pretty much unhealable and 10 starts to become one hit territory so the soft berserk on that tactic is five minutes). you dont even need to do the encounter to do this, you know the swing size, you have a calculator, you multiply the swing damage by the modifier and keep doing this until you reach a number that is no longer healable without shield wall. (about 90% of your max health)

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    I've always found it useful to categorize facets of fights. The majority of fights use some combination of a fairly limited pool of gimmicks, and each gimmick tends to have standard tools that deal with it (perhaps not optimally, but well enough that they're a good starting point). I also find it useful to do this since it's an easy way to share knowledge of the fights with raiders who may not have seen the fights, but have seen the fundamental building blocks elsewhere.

    Gimmicks usually break down into three broad categories:
    Unavoidable stuff - Stuff you have to eat, aoe raid damage, soft enrages, raid-wide debuffs, etc.
    Annoying Avoidable stuff - It won't kill you, but it hurts
    Game Over Avoidable stuff - Instadeath or worse instawipe if you muck it up

    Getting stuff in those buckets lets you triage the boss a bit, seeing what you MUST take care of, and then letting you see what would be nice to take care of.

    The actual gimmicks are obviously more varied and specific with all sorts of subgenres, but it's all the stuff I think raiders tend to think about during fights even if they're not doing in explicitly.

    Adds - Various flavors, kill first, ignore, off-tankable, untankable, aggro resets, etc.
    Boss positioning - Knockbacks, frontal cones, warstomps, cleaves, etc. The ur-example being dragons' 'don't stand near the pointy end, don't stand near the tail'
    Don't stand in the Fire/Acid/Poison/Death Puddle
    Stack up/Spread Out
    X is the Bomb - Get out of the raid with the debuff (and recently get into the raid with the debuff)
    Tank Swaps
    Silence/Stun/Fear - Or anything else that interrupts normal healing/tanking for a period

    So when we walked into Northrend beasts for the first time with no good information on it, we tried not to get bogged down in what a snobold does, or the specifics of burning bile. Instead it became a 3 phase fight, where phase 1 was tank swaps, with adds, and don't stand in the fire, phase 2 was spread out, with a boss kite, run to the X with the debuff, and don't stand in slime, and phase 3 was tank'n'spank with a get out of the danger zone.

    Going into new fights, you just try to cover as many of the common gimmicks as possible. You have OT's ready to do Tank Swaps and add pickups. Ranged keeps spread out, and is ready for a 'get out of the raid' debuff. Melee tries interrupts on anything they see with a cast bar, and watches for 'run out or die' explosions. Cleanse/Purge anything you can, and everyone runs out of any graphical effect on the ground. Etc.
    Last edited by Fathom; 08-17-2009 at 11:20 AM.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    In my guild we do much of what some other people have posted, which is throw ourselves at the mob and jot things down / figure it out on the fly and adjust accordingly. General consensus of my guilds leadership is that boss strat sites are a no no and figuring it out ourselves like the old EQ days is far more rewarding, which I totally agree with and quite enjoy.

    We're not top 100 but we're the top horde guild on our server and breaking in to the top 500 world recently

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