Raiding 103: Common Raid Tactics

"Their victories are not flukes because they position themselves where they will surely win,
prevailing over those who have already lost."

Sun Tzu, "The Art of War"

Last Update: 13 Jan 05

Table of Contents

A. Fundamental Attack Strategy

    Standard Positioning

  1. Problem: Many classes are only at their peak performance under certain conditions, such as rogues being able to maintain a backstab position, or mages having line-of-sight for bolt spells.

  2. Solution: The following diagram illustrates our Standard Raid Positioning, designed to maximize the potential of all present:

  3. Methodology: As the diagram illustrates:

      • The Main Tank is positioned in front of the mob, to withstand its main attacks.

      • Rogues are positioned directly behind the mob, to take advantage of their backstab ability.

      • Other melees are positioned behind the mob, alongside the rogues, to take advantage of attacking from behind, focus push in a particular (predictable) direction, and avoid being riposted (particularly by enemies that Enrage).

      • Wizards and Debuffers are positioned behind the Main Tank, because while their position relative to the mob is irrelevant in terms of their own spells, there is a strong possibility of getting aggro, and in such an event, this avoids both "ping-pong", and a change in facing of the enemy (which would ruin the positioning of the rogues, for instance, causing them to miss backstab opportunities).

      • The Mages should send their pets to attack from behind, and may then wish to move to flank the creature, in order to take advantage of Line-of-Sight spells.

      • Rangers, depending whether they are using melee or ranged attacks, may either attack from behind or from the flanks, respectively.

      • The Second (and successive) Tank(s) may attack from behind, like the other melees, or move to near the Main Tank, if they suspect they will (or are scheduled to in the case of "tank swapping") get aggro, again, to prevent the enemy from changing direction suddenly, spoiling position-dependant efficiency such as backstabbing and LOS attacks.

  4. Drawbacks: Obviously, this tactic requires a degree of coordination and teamwork on the part of everyone. Further, it causes 95% of the push to be exerted in one direction (towards the main tank), so they will constantly find themselves backing up, and, when necessary, calling for others back off from attacking while they reposition. Nonetheless, this remains our most common and effective tactic for combat positioning.

B. Clearing Strategies

    Divide and Conquer

  1. Problem: A large number of weak enemies need to be cleared in order to make progress toward the intended main enemy.

  2. Solution: Fight the enemy one-by-one.

  3. Methodology: By using FD-splitting, mezmerization, lull-splitting, and/or charming, the enemies are fought one-by-one, bringing all available force onto each enemy quickly, as the main tank (with an accompanying healer) attacks them and calls for the entire force to assist them in dispatching each enemy.

  4. Drawbacks: Because all damage is being absorbed by very few individuals, healing power becomes a wasted resource. Because enemies will likely die too quickly for damage-casters to be able to do much, nuking power becomes a wasted resource. Consequently, this method of clearing is usually quite slow. However, it is also the most organized. Essentially, it sacrifices speed in favor of control.

  5. Twin-Tanking

  6. Problem: A large number of weak enemies need to be cleared in order to make progress toward the intended main enemy.

  7. Solution: Fight the enemy two at a time.

  8. Methodology: The enemy is pulled two at a time (adds are mezzed, charmed, or tank-mezzed, perferably away from the two main tanks). The two main tanks position themselves close together so as to allow rain spells from the damage casters to hit both, delivering the maximum four potential waves per spell instead of the usual three. Melees follow the assist calls given by the tanks.

  9. Drawbacks: This method requires coordinated positioning on the part of the tanks involved. In the event that more than two enemies are pulled at once, the third (mezzed) enemy may accidentally be hit (and wakened) by rain spells aimed at damaging the two being tanked. This method is faster than Divide and Conquer because it takes better advantage of damage and healing resources, but is a little more chaotic and still somewhat slow.

  10. Multi-Tanking ("Controlled Chaos")

  11. Problem: A large number of weak enemies need to be cleared in order to make progress toward the intended main enemy.

  12. Solution: Use each group or tank to fight their very own enemy simultaneously.

  13. Methodology: Balanced groups must be formed, each with a healer and tank, and ideally a slower as well. As the raid force receives pulls or moves through an area, each tank picks up a separate target and each group acts independantly in killing their own. Damage-casters should be on the lookout for opportunities to (cautiously) make use of AE, PB, or rain spells, as well as spreading their aggro around by attacking enemies being tanked nearby by other groups (once that group's tank has clearly established aggro).

  14. Drawbacks: This is one of the fastest possible clearing methods, because it puts to use as much of the raid force resources as possible. At the same time, it creates a highly chaotic situation where there is a strong reliance on the tanks to divide each available enemy amongst them and ensure there are no uncontrolled stragglers running amok amongst the raid force attacking softer targets (e.g. healers and damage-casters). This metho sacrifices a great deal of control in order to maximize resources and speed.

  15. PBAE Clearing

  16. Problem: A large number of weak enemies need to be cleared in order to make progress toward the intended main enemy.

  17. Solution: Bring the largest possible number of enemies into a stun-lock "kill zone", and use point-blank area-of-effect spells to dispatch them all simultaneously.

  18. Methodology: Enchanters, wizards, and other point-blank spell-casters are positioned in a tight cluster, and a large number of enemies are pulled and brought to them. Enchanters begin cycling as many point-blank stun spells as possible, to create a stun-locked "kill zone", where large numbers of the enemy are forced to stand helpless while the damage-casters use their point-blank AE spells to maximum potential to damage them all at once. Melees at free to attack any enemies they wish, and should focus on "corraling" the enemies to ensure they stay within the stun-locked "kill zone".

  19. Drawbacks: This method is extremely dangerous in areas that might contain unstunnable mobs. As the number of raiders and mobs gets larger, so too does the risk that mobs will find raiders outside of the stun-range of the enchanters and be able to attack and kill them quickly.

C. Fighting Boss Mobs

    Main Tank with Complete Heal Chain

  1. Problem: The raid plans to engage a target whose damage output is so high, it can kill the Main Assist in under 10 seconds (less than the time it takes to cast a Complete Heal). Using faster heals to keep the tank up is an option, but not a very mana-efficient one, and cannot last very long.

  2. Solution: Have multiple healers cast Complete Heal spells at staggered intervals, so that the main tank keeps receiving Complete Heal spells in less than 10 seconds. Two CHers would allow the tank to receive 1 every 5 seconds, while three CHers would allow the tank to receive a CH every 3-4 seconds, and so on. The more CHers in the chain, the faster they can arrive, and the more punishment the main tank can withstand.

  3. Methodology: The healers all join a special channel and determine the order and interval they will be using. Hotbuttons are then constructed that will cast the heals at the correct timing, and warn the next healer to start use their button in turn. The following is an example of such a very simple button:

    /2 SoAndSo GO GO GO!!!

  4. Here's how the button works:

      • /2 CASTING COMPLETE HEAL ON %T - this announces to everyone in chat channel #2 that you're beginning your complete heal on the target (the current tank). This should be adjusted to whatever appropriate channel you want to make the announcement in.
      • /2 SoAndSo GO GO GO!!! - this announces to everyone in chat channel #2 that it's SoAndSo's turn to cast. They should count out the appropriate pause to themselves and hit their button to continue the chain. The channel number and name should be adjusted accordingly to who you wish to tell and in which channel.

  5. Drawbacks: Because of the level of focus and timings involved, it should be assumed that any healer involved in the Complete Heal Chain will not be available to heal anyone else, so additional healers will need to be assigned to persons other than the Main Assist. A CH-chain is, as any chain, "only as strong as its weakest link", meaning that it can only last as long as the smallest mana pool amongst the CHers.

  6. Rampage Tanking

  7. Problem: Some enemies have an ability to "Rampage", inflicting damage on another target in addition to the one they are attacking in melee. The area of their rampage damage varies, but some are even capable of delivering damage to their rampage target from across the zone. The target selected for the rampage damage is not based on the "hate list", but on a separate "rampage list". Because this damage is virtually inescapable and the order of the rampage list is difficult or impossible to change, it is important for the raid to manage this list, and healing those on it, whenever we expect to encounter an enemy that rampages. In the case of "ubermobs" requiring a raid force, whenever fighting them for the first time, it should be assumed that they are capable of rampage until we know different.

  8. Solution: By having additional tanks assigned as "rampage tanks" and healers assigned as "rampage healers", we can effectively manage the damage rampage does. The key in this is to ensure the right people are on the rampage list, and that the healers know who is taking rampage damage.

  9. Methodology: Prior to pulling, one or more tanks are noted as "rampage tank(s)". These people prepare buttons that will announce to the raid that they are taking rampage damage. One or more healers are assigned as "rampage healers". These people should not be involved in Complete Heal chain or other time-consuming activity. A common choice for rampage healers is high-level shaman. The rampage healers must watch the channel and keep their eyes open for who is taking rampage damage, so they can heal them accordingly. As the enemy in question approaches (or as the raid force approaches the enemy), the selected rampage tank(s) fire an arrow or a low-level spell at the enemy, establishing themselves on the rampage list without generating unnecessary (and unwanted) aggro on the hate list. Then, as the mob is engaged, they watch for "goes on a rampage" messages, and watch whether they are taking rampage damage, announcing when they are so they can receive healing.

  10. Drawbacks: There is no serious drawback to managing the rampage damage; it is a simple necessity. Successfully managing it does require at least one healer dedicated to that purpose, but the alternative (rampage damage passed around indiscriminately) is more problematic. If there are not enough healers to assign one to rampage damage, tanks should still be assigned as rampage tank, though they should expect they may eventually take enough rampage damage to die. This is still better than losing high-damage dealers or other essential personnel to the rampage damage.

  11. Offtanking

  12. Problem: While fighting an "ubermob", you are sometimes forced to deal with adds or spawns in the area, possibly ones that cannot simply be mezzed or charmed for crowd-control, forcing you to deal with them immediately.

  13. Solution: While maintaining the Main Assist and accompanying healers on the "ubermob" to keep it busy, another tank(s) (the Secondary Assist or a Tank-mezzer) attacks the add(s) and calls on the raid force to help them kill it quickly, so that they can simplify the situation back to deal with just the one enemy again.

  14. Methodology: When the add/spawn appears, the assigned SA/Tankmezzer attacks it, and announces that he is taunting it (becomes the "off-tank"). A healer not already assigned exclusively to the Main Assist (i.e. an extra healer, or a rampage healer, but not someone in a CH-chain on the MA) targets the "Off-Tank" for healing. The Main Assist will keep attacking the "ubermob" and maintaining aggro and positioning himself. All other raiders will cease attacking the ubermob and call off pets. The "Off-Tank" (SA/Tankmezzer) will then call for the raid to attack the add, which they will do, killing it quickly. Once it falls, the Main Assist will again call for the raiders to re-commence their attack on the ubermob.

  15. Drawbacks: Time taken to kill the add is time that the main force of the raid is not attacking the ubermob, effectively lengthening the time it the CH-chain is required to keep the main tank propped up. Consequently, if other means of controlling the add/spawn is available (e.g. charm, mez), then it will usually be more effective to rely on those techniques so as to not drawn the raid forces damage output away from the main enemy. There will, however, be times when Off-Tanking is either the quickest and safest method, or simply the only viable one.

Frackus Everburning
Agnostic Erudite Arcanist
Founder of Seofon