Progressing new fights and instances is something that many high-end raiders take for granted. Progressing a new encounter outside top 10 world is just problem solving issues that you know the answer to. In this article, we are going to address everything that can be done to best prepare for progress and how to simplify raid encounters as much as possible. This is meant for players that are already familiar with their class as playing without high class knowledge will hinder your progress and your parties progress.
Research and Preparation
The best way to learn a boss is to know what it does before you walk into the instance. This is not only limited to the dungeon journal and other basic information, but to the actual application and timings of the mechanics that affect you.
Learning the timings of a fight can heavily affect your talent choice and cooldown usage on an encounter. Knowing the amount of cooldowns you can fit into a boss and knowing when and what you need the cooldowns for, will affect the flow of the fight. On progress, being efficient with your cooldowns is not always necessary as sometimes it is not possible to have cooldowns up for a mechanic without sacrificing something in return.
The best way to prep for a fight is use logs and videos in conjunction. If there are no logs, obviously just watch the video and glean whatever you can out of it. Logs will show the whole story and videos will only tell a portion of that story. In logs, you can view spawn timings, player and enemy locations, and cooldown timings. For information on how to review logs, you can check out this video by Nick and Tettles. Additionally, you can also contact players who have killed or are progressing on that boss and get any advice they will offer.
Im pulling the boss, now what?
This is the enjoyable part for most players. Pulling the boss and learning to optimize your play. Optimizing your play is obviously harder when you do not put in the leg work, so it is best to review the section above for information regarding raid preparation.
Talent choices can be influenced by a variety of factors. Normally there is one cookie-cutter build that players can use and not be a burden using. However, if you are comfortable with your class and spec, you can use some talents to make up for what the raid is lacking..
Using Moonkin in Uldir as our example, most rows could be changed on any fight to compensate for the rest of the raid. Using Mighty Bash on fights such as Zek’voz to extend crowd control on the large adds or on M.O.T.H.E.R. to one-off stun the healer add is something that many players do not take advantage of. If you find yourself not using a talent, or feel a talent is lacking, you can always swap off to something you deem better. This requires you to identify yours and others shortcomings in the midst of progress.
If you find yourself not using your mobility row, you swap to Renewal, if you find that Force of Nature or Warrior of Elune lines up poorly with add spawns, try swapping between the two. If you need burst damage and are running Shooting Stars, even if it is best for overall damage, it is objectively worse than the other two active talents on the row. Being able to think over your options requires strong class familiarity, but if you can change and adapt to a situation, you will be all the more valuable to your group.
So we have done our prep, selected our talents, all that is left is proper execution. This should normally fall into place with all the work you have put in beforehand. However there are several things that can be thought over to better optimize your play.
Learning to change your rotation to best line up cooldowns is one of the more nuanced parts of raiding. Sacrificing damage now for better damage in the future when it matters is a net gain for progress. Raiding has stepped away from perfect rotation and boss enrages, to exploiting damage windows and skipping or beating certain mechanics that would otherwise cause trouble.
Again, using Uldir as an example, players used spells such as Fury of Elune and Force of Nature on Fetid Devourer. Your opener, when done properly, normally sequences these abilities after casting Incarnation: Chosen of Elune. However, if you wait until after you pop your cooldowns, you will not have either spell for the priority targets on the fight. So, to counteract that and still get usage efficiency, you casted both spells before you even applied DoTs to the boss. This is a net loss but is the best ability sequencing you can use in a fight like this. You can apply the same logic to your large cooldowns and trinkets as well.
If you know you will get three usages of your 3-minute cooldown over a fight, you can use them whenever you want as long as you get three usages. If this is an 8-minute fight, you essentially have a minute and a half to play around with. On Zek’voz, you could use Incarnation: Chosen of Elune on pull and on cooldown, or you could save it for add wave one, add wave three, and at the end of the fight. You get the same amount of usage, but you can argue that saving cooldowns for the adds, which are one of the main mechanics of the fight, is more worthwhile than the boss damage the other cooldown timing would provide.
How to fix your own shortcomings
Many times when struggling with a mechanic you feel lost and confused and do not really know how to fix your problem. Being able to identify your issues is the first step in fixing it, but how do you do that?
While normally the best UI is the one you make and are most comfortable with, this is not always the case in raiding. Having a clear center to your UI is almost mandatory for high-level raiding. Trading comfort and neatness for functionality takes some work but having an open space to work with is crucial to dodging mechanics and getting a good overview of the room mid-combat.
One of the first things you can do after preparing for your fight, is disable timers for all mechanics that do not concern you. Disable tracking tank mechanics and meaningless spells such as G’huun’s Thousand Maws cast or Mythrax’s Void Echoes. Instead you track spells that would cause you to react.
Obliteration Blast, Roiling Deceit, and priority target spawns are all things that you react to. If you find yourself struggling with something like Obliteration Blast or Wave of Corruption, try to emphasize it, make the bar bigger, add a sound. Do whatever you need to do to know when the mechanic is coming so you can use your now clean UI to see where it is and how it will affect you.
Weakauras fill in where boss mods fail. Searching or creating your own weakauras can greatly assist you in handling boss mechanics. There are weakauras that monitor your own buffs and play, weakauras that will tell you if you are safe from a mechanics, weakauras that will blare horns at you everytime you receive a mechanic. Identify what mechanics are giving you a difficult time and then find a weakaura that will assist you with handling those mechanics via tracking a debuff, showing a timer, or any of the other amazing things weakauras can do.
While this is not necessarily progression related, reviewing your own play is important for player growth. If you do not acknowledge where you stand, you will never improve. If you find yourself messing up your rotation while handling mechanics, you need to realize that what you are doing is not optimal. Spamming DoTs, misusing cooldowns, being unprepared for movement or priority targets will hinder your progress. Auto-piloting encounters will not lead to success.
Record your play via video or logs and see where you made mistakes. While in combat, make mental notes of problem areas and after the pull think back to how you could correct them. A great player will figure out everything they need to do in a fight and then look to help others with their issues. At the end of the day, you are only as strong as your weakest player. Do your best to help them grow as well and keep confidence in the rest of your team.