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A tale of two raids - Elizabeth Unexplained
Lots of data but no answers
A tale of two raids
Last night I was in a Molten Core raid. Nothing new there, I've been doing Molten core for about eight months now. The thing is, this was a different raid on a different server. Obviously it was a different character for me, but the same character class, so not that huge a difference. This gave me a good opportunity to compare and contrast the two different raids.

For the purpose of this analysis I will refer to the raids as "raid M" and "raid E" after their respective servers. Raid M is the one I've been attending nearly every week for months now. It started in the spring, broke up for several weeks due to drama in the guild sponsoring it, then started again minus the most well-geared members. Raid E, if I understand correctly, has been in existance for a couple of months. Raid E downed Ragnoros for the first time one or two weeks before Raid M finally managed to down him.

The first thing I noticed was that Raid E started on time. I believe that their timescale was invite at 6:30, first pull at 7, raid end by 11. By my clock the first pull happened slightly before 7, but I was looking at my computer time readout, not sever time, which may differ slightly. The raid was not full for the first pull, though I think we were over 35 members. Raid M tends to waste time at the beginning trying to fill out the raid, even though we don't strictly need it to start clearing trash. This effect is especially bad if the normal raid leader can't make it on time for some reason.

Raid E was better geared. Even though raid E has supposedly been around nowhere near as long as raid M, it was clear that raid E had more MC gear and more epics in general. I didn't have time to go around inspecting people, but I would guess that about half the priests in raid E have Benediction, whereas none of the raid M priests have it. (Raid M got its first Eye of Divinity drop ever this weekend.) I noticed at least a few people in tier 2 helms in raid E, which no one in raid M has. There were two other hunters, one with Striker's Mark and what looked like a full (or almost full) set of Giantstalkers, and the other of which had Blastershot and got 5/8 Giantstalkers when the boots dropped. That puts raid E at above the typical gear level for raid M as far as hunters are concerned, though that is partly because the guy in full Giantstalkers quit coming to raid M (shortly after getting 8/8, grrr).

Another general thing I noted was that raid E never did a ready check. Raid M does them a lot. My guess is that this reflects a difference in attitude. Raid E expects that you are ready, raid M just really hope you are. There was no waiting around for people in raid E. I got no knitting done during the raid. There was no time that was clearly being wasted. I tend to get a fair amount of knitting done during raid M. Going off on an aside, the waiting for people has a snowballing effect. If you wait for a couple of people who are AFK, then other people may find that they have to do something AFK. The longer the raid drags on, the more people will need potty breaks. Plus, you are slower to start up because people like me have to put down their knitting, but seriously, I would claw my eyeballs out if I didn't have knitting for those waits. Raid M really needs to crack down on the time wasting, which I think the raid leader is trying to do, but its an uphill battle at this point.

One thing raid E did differently was the raid leader switched to FFA loot during core hound fights and back to master looter after. In raid M you generally have, on average, four calls of "loot the hound" per hound before the the hound can be skinned. I think this holds us up, especially when the guy who is raid leader and main tank of raid M pauses to type it. Raid M typically also loses several core leather a raid because the hound will disappear before its looted. We believe this is partly do to people not paying attention, but mostly due to them being AFK and auto-following other raid members. The FFA loot switch would help raid M, but I think they might be resistant to doing this. In raid M, the raid leader and mater looter are the same person. In raid E, they switch things around so that they are not, so the switch to FFA loot would include more switching than it does for raid E. In raid M, the raid leader is also the main tank, thus the need to have someone else be master looter. In raid E the raid leader was a tank as well, but did not appear to be the main tank. This is a culture difference on the servers. On server M, the top PvE guild had their main tank as raid leader, so now people on server M believe it should be done that way.

Raid E did not stop to redo paladin buffs except before boss fights. Raid M, at least before this week, would stop frequently to renew pally buffs. This is partially a function of the gear differences, and partially a raid makeup thing. Raid E has worse gear than raid M, and it has more paladins. Typically in raid M I have every poissible pally blessing on me except for might, which is useless for a hunter in a raid. In raid E I did not, though I had the important ones for the boss fights. Raid M has got to the point a while ago where they do not actually need those pally blessings from trash, but I think they are only just now realizing it.

Speaking of paladins, I can now give poor raid M a break and speak of one of the ways in which they are better (from my perspective) than raid E. Judgement of Wisdom. Everything, but everything that raid M fights gets a judgement of wisdom thrown on it. Not so in raid E. I was really feeling its lack too. I was running out of mana. Now part of this is clearly a differnece between my two hunters. My hunter on server M has better gear, which includes a +9 spirit enchant on her bracers. She has better mana related stats. She also has a slighly different build, 5/5 talent points in efficiencly as opposed to 1/5. My hunter on server E needs judgement of wisdom more. My hunter on sever M seems to be unable to use more than half her mana bar on most boss fights, and that's going all-out. Of course you could make the argument that the vast majority of raid E does not need judgement of wisdom on things... they have the place on farm status without it.

While we are singing the praises of raid M, I must regretfully admit that the main tank in raid M is really kick-ass. His dogmatic approach gets on my nerves. I don't think he should do everything himself. I wish he would delegate more. I wish he would listen more (it took him weeks of wiping on Rag before he listened to us and did the LBRS fire resists buff). But I must hand it to the guy, he knows how to tank. When he is tanking, core hounds stay pointed away from the raid and bosses do not move. The latter is vitally important to me as a hunter. There are a number of nasty effects that can be avoided as a hunter if you stand at exactly 41 yards from the boss. If the boss moves during the fight, then all the hunters have to move too, and find that magic 41 yard range. Otherwise you will either not be in range to fire at the target or you will be in range of those nasty AOE curses. Warren (watching over my shoulder) also claimed that the tank in raid M got Shaz back to the center of the ring faster after blinks. He specculates that tank M does this by strafing, though I will have to watch more closely next time to be sure. To be fair in all this, though, tank M does have good gear. The other tanks in the raid basically passed on any piece of Might he didn't have until he had 8/8. Raid E does not do things that way, obviously, as the gnome tanking Shaz had just picked up her might helm from Garr. Don't get me wrong, raid E's tanks did a fine job too, its just that having a comparison with tank M made me have to admit he is good, much as I want to wring his neck at times.

There were not that many differences in the boss fights. The strategies for Molten Core are well known, it seems that everyone works out of the same play book with only minor differences. The Magmadar fight was one difference. Raid E had all the hunters in the tranq shot rotation, granted there were only three of us. While I hated it when I first got tranq shot, I think I prefer raid M's method of having just two hunters do the tranq shot rotation, and having the others hunters on backup. Its easier to track who's turn it is that way. Once you've done it once, there is no big deal about tranqing Magmadar, you're just hitting a button. Its not like you're missing out on the excitement if you're not in the rotation, at least once the novelty of doing the job wears off, which it did for me months and months ago.

Another minor difference is that raid E had people in four corners of Garr's room for the Geddon & Shaz fights instead of the more loose ring formation that raid M uses. I'm not sure why they do it that way, but it didn't seem to make any difference. What did make a difference is they did a little more clearing before the Geddon pull and then pulled Geddon and Shaz back to back. This was much quicker than raid M's way of clearing, pulling Geddon, running back and clearing more, then pulling Shaz. They also left two lava packs uncleared. Raid M takes extra time to clear all the trash, partly in the hopes of BOE drops, but given the poor drop rate I'm not sure its worth the time, even though we're waiting on a Gianstalker belt.

Another minor difference was in the Sulfuron fight. Raid E tanked Sulfuron in the very back and the priests not being killed a little forward on the far side, whereas raid M does it the other way. Raid E's way seems to be faster, though that may just be that their members are better geared and their offtanks are more skilled. Raid M had major problems with Sulfuron before the offtanks got the hang of bringing the priests to the DPS, and they can still be a little slow about it.

Raid E did not use the LBRS fire resist buff on Ragnoros. They didn't need it, due to their better gear. Various members did use consumables, but there was not the systematic handing out of potions that raid M does. Again, unnecessary due to their superior gear. The did wipe the first time, but it was clearly unusual. Several people complained of getting punted into the lava in places where they did not know how to get out. To give raid M credit, they did take the time to tell everyone how and where to get out of the lava in the various locations. On the other hand, raid M only killed Rag for the second time this past weekend, having killed him for the first time three weeks previously, but not trying in between because the raid leader/main tank had availability issues.

The last big difference was the loot system. Raid M uses a zero-sum auction system, raid E uses suicide kings. Loot went a lot faster with raid E. All the items were bid on at once, and there was no back and forth bidding up. Auctions used to take a long time for raid M, though it has been getting faster and we have finally gotten to the point where uninterested parties can start clearing again, but it will never be as fast as raid E.

I have been complaing for some time about the amount of time raid M takes to do the core. This weekend they did it for the first time in one day, it took just under 7 hours. Raid E did it in three and a half. Part of this is organizational difference, part of it is gear. If we could get raid M to clean up the organizational stuff it would shave a fair amount of time and the gear will eventually take care of itself. Of course the expansion is due out in less than two months, so Molten Core might soon lose its importance.
35 comments or Leave a comment
chenoameg From: chenoameg Date: November 20th, 2006 10:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ignoring your warnings.

Makes sense to me!
greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: November 21st, 2006 01:32 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Ignoring your warnings.

Bah, you're married to Nurgh, you practically count as a warcrack addict. So there.
dcltdw From: dcltdw Date: November 21st, 2006 03:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Raid E intentionally rotates tanks, to specifically avoid having the problem that if "the MT" has to miss a week, the raid is screwed.

So some weeks Abbi MTs, and sometimes she's just this random OT. I think Abbi and Mittri are the main tanks, with Linnet and now Nikole as our main OTs. Pretty soon, if not already, I expect to see Linnet as MT -- she's a bit behind on gear is all.

Well, not to mention that it's more fun this way for the other warriors. :)


I'm not sure why we use a 3-hunter rotation instead of 2-with-backup. Tradition? Hmm, actually, I think we use an N-hunter rotation, so that everyone feels included. Would it be considered weird if you dropped out of the rotation? No idea. Certainly wouldn't be bad to chat with people about the reasoning.

There is a vaguely systematic handing-out of consumables, in that after awhile, you learn who-has-what. But certainly, it's not this very orderly trasition of "groups 1&2, talk to Foo; 3 & 4, Bar" etc.

I wonder if Deren will start showing up on the Sunday raids. If so, then you'll get to compare him to Raid M's MT.
dcltdw From: dcltdw Date: November 21st, 2006 04:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, I'm also curious about gear differences.

Yes, most of the priests have their Benediction. I got mine on a different raid, actually. But Quelinaar only has 3/8 T1.

I think we have a big spectrum that ranges from 0-3 T1 all the way up to T2 hat plus the best of ZG/AQ20. (At least for mages, ZG/AQ20 gear is markedly better than 8/8 T1.)
psychohist From: psychohist Date: November 21st, 2006 05:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
The "more hunter" rotation appears to be more standard. It's theoretically more robust: if someone misses, the next person in the rotation advances and does backup, so if everything works perfectly, you only actually fail to tranquilize if every hunter misses.

The problem with that is that it requires the hunters to see whether they miss, and to communicate perfectly. There are mods that help with this, but they are sometimes flaky too. It might make sense if the hunters were doing nothing but tranqing, but if they are also doing damage at the same time, it's a lot of things to think about.

For Elizabeth and me, it's easier for us to just alternate and let others back up, or for us to just back up others who are using whatever rotation they want. Part of that, though, is that we're playing from adjacent rooms so it's much easier for us to coordinate with each other than with the rest of the hunters.
greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: November 21st, 2006 05:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Raid E intentionally rotates tanks, to specifically avoid having the problem that if "the MT" has to miss a week, the raid is screwed.

I thought that might be the case. I really wish raid M would do that because we are so screwed when the main tank can't make it, even though he generally has a friend play the character.

Hmm, actually, I think we use an N-hunter rotation, so that everyone feels included.

That's fine. Making people feel included is a fine goal. From an effectiveness point of view I now think the two hunters with backup is better. I was late on one because between the dodging fireballs and trying to talk to the husband I briefly lost track of the three person rotation. With a two person rotation you know its your turn if you're not on cooldown, and its just easier to go every time than every third time. Of course raid E is at the point where they can handle a few seconds of frenzy, so its no big deal. Personally I would not have minded doing back up, but at this point I've been main two person rotation often enough that tranqing Magmadar is not new and exciting for me. Actually, the two person thing works really well for us because we're in the same room and can easily say "mine" and "yours" every time the frenzy comes up.
bryant From: bryant Date: November 21st, 2006 04:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is a superb analysis, and it's really interesting to see our raid through someone else's eyes. Thank you!

Some notes:

We also do an Onyxia run (which you're also welcome on, by the by) on Sundays. This is why you see a lot of T2 helms. About half the raid characters had previous MC experience; about half of them didn't have much at all. Some of us have also been doing BWL for a while. That gear's certainly helped, although it hasn't been essential.

Our raid leadership structure is highly diversified. I'm raid leader, which means I organize things, make decisions about loot systems and edge cases, and so on. I also get to be in the MT rotation -- when we started I was the best-geared tank, although that's thankfully less true now. I also ML. I should probably push ML off on someone else, if I can figure out a good candidate.

Wabe/Marco/Tulgey is the strategy and tactics guy, and he runs the raid during the raid itself. I've seen raids with the MT as in-raid leader, and I've seen 'em without, and I vastly prefer without. It's too easy to get tunnel vision as an MT and not notice what's happening elsewhere.

We also push healing coordination off onto someone else, who wasn't there on Sunday night. This may or may not be why there was less Blessing of Wisdom, I'm not sure.

You are absolutely right on the tanking comments, and you'd have seen the same problems if I was MTing. Possibly a bit worse; I hold aggro better but I have worse positioning skills. I was going to say it's not a gear thing, but 8/8 Might does make a big difference given the set bonus. I like the idea of strafing and I'll have to try that next time.

Oh, and the four-group system for Geddon and Shazz is just to make decursing easier. Also it makes pickups easier for Shazz.

Thanks again for the thoughts and hopefully you don't mind the return commentary.
dcltdw From: dcltdw Date: November 21st, 2006 04:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh right, Wisdom! I knew I had one more comment.

Pipe up if it's lacking. Thana pokes paladins all the time. Politely, of course, which is why she still gets healed.

Well, usually. ;)

I wonder if Draeven (the arcanist) had problems. Since, well, arcanists usually have mana problems. Although I swear, if Draeven were being eaten by Magmadar, she probably wouldn't pipe up, "umm, if someone could lend me a hand here, that'd be lovely"... :)
psychohist From: psychohist Date: November 21st, 2006 05:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think the tanking difference is a gear thing, either. The M raid main tank was always that good, even when he had far less Might.

I think it's that he plays from the same room as his brother, who is a hunter. He might have heard, "hey! Don't move!" a lot in the first few raids. By now it's instinct.

I'm curious if there's a tradeoff here. From other tanks that weren't as good, I've sometimes heard, "I had to move into healing range." Is it easier for the healers if the tank moves around, rather than the tank standing still and the healers moving?

greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: November 21st, 2006 06:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hope you found it helpful. I was really glad to get the chance to watch another MC group in action. I've been frustrated with certain aspects of raid M for quite some time. I see a few places where we can improve now. Of course, I have to get the main tank/raid leader of rain M to *listen* to me first. /sigh

We also do an Onyxia run

We have been clambering for raid M to do Onxyia for quite some time. They have so far tried and failed twice, but it was never a regular thing. Perhaps now that they have finally gotten MC down to one (seven hour) day we can finally look forward to a regular Onyxia run. We need the sinews, and we'd like the T2 helms too.

Our raid leadership structure is highly diversified.

And this is clearly one of raid E's strengths. I wish raid M were more like that, currently two guys (the MT and MP) are taking on far too much responisbility and thus other people aren't gaining the necessary skills. We'd be happy to help them out, but I have been getting the feeling that our help is unwanted. Thus my frustration.

This may or may not be why there was less Blessing of Wisdom

It was actually the nifty-cool judgement effect I was most missing, see my below response to Dave.

Oh, and the four-group system for Geddon and Shazz is just to make decursing easier.

I was noticing that I was getting decursed a lot faster on raid E. Of course, I also had a priest and a pally in my group on raid E. In raid M the hunters are all off by themselves in group 8, and we know better to expect heals. (Its also a waste of redundant trueshot auras IMNSHO.) I am used to doing Geddon from about 80% health without any mana because I have had to spam trueshot aura to dump my mana to avoid death. By the time I am decursed, usually I have already dumped all my mana. Raid E decursed me before I could (reflexively) hit the trueshot button more than once.

Thanks again for the thoughts and hopefully you don't mind the return commentary

I'm glad you liked it, and I absolutely love the return commentary. Its helped me understand the differenced even better.
psychohist From: psychohist Date: November 21st, 2006 06:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, one thing I think got left out of the original post.

Elizabeth pointed out that raid E allows priests to do damage when they aren't otherwise occupied. Raid M seems to believe in stricter role separation. I like the more flexible approach and I think it's part of why raid E could move faster.
dcltdw From: dcltdw Date: November 21st, 2006 06:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very loosely speaking, Raid E's predecessor made the switch from "healers never DPS" to "yeah, feel free", and the speedup time was *startling*.

I suspect Raid E could be more aggressive about healers doing more DPS, too. That's how we'd get from 3.5 hours to 2 hours. Although having lots better gear (lots of T2) would be a big enabler to that kind of aggressiveness.
mjperson From: mjperson Date: November 21st, 2006 09:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Speech system?

Do you and psychohist have objections to thing like TS and Vent (many people do), or do you just not have them?

I've found the increase in efficiency such aids provide is astounding. Raid E is pretty good (often, not always) at keeping all the important stuff echo'd on raid chat, but they do often forget.

My best measure was when we were playing Starcraft regularly, we generally had fairly balanced teams. But the first time thatwesguy and I started talking to each other, with no other change, we were suddenly able to wipe the floor with all four of our opponents in a 2v4 fight instead of having tight close games of 3v3.

WoW is obviously a different thing, but communication efficiency just speeds everything up across the board.

psychohist From: psychohist Date: November 21st, 2006 10:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Speech system?

We have objections that fall into roughly two categories.

The first is that, for us, this is a roleplaying game. We're both gamesmasters, and gamesmasters need an outlet to actually roleplay sometimes; this is ours. By all accounts, using a voice server interferes significantly with roleplay immersion. Even if roleplay weren't a factor, most voice server conversation in the raids on server M is reportedly idle chatter and joking around that we'd just as soon not hear.

The second is, and I understand this is a controversial position, that we feel that voice tends to act as a crutch, impeding the long term progress of the raid. Ideally you want everyone to know what to do and when, without being told. A voice server tends to make them dependent on reminders, impeding the learning process.

Raids that use voice servers tend to vehemently deny this. Raids that don't use voice servers tend to confirm it. Given that avoiding voice servers seems at least as common among the guilds with Naxx on farm as among Molten Core guilds, I don't think voice servers add to raid effectiveness.

PvP is a slightly different situation, since a PvP encounter may be significantly less scripted than PvE encounters. Even there, though, a lot of the most successful teams don't use voice for tactical coordination; members of teams that work together all the time already know what to do.

Note that there's a big difference between a voice server and actual two way communication, such as being in the same room. If you're in the same room, you can usually tell if the other person actually heard you. The big weakness of voice servers is the same as that of raid chat: you don't know whether the other person was paying attention, focusing on something else and missing what you said or typed, or was AFK getting a snack. With raid chat, at least they can scroll back up and read it later.
greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: November 22nd, 2006 12:17 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Speech system?

To clarify things a bit: yes, we have objections to voice, but raid M's problems are not due to lack of voice. Everyone but us (and occasionally one or two of our guildies) is in vent. We fought for the exception and won, largely because in the beginning raid M could not afford not to have us.

I don't think my not being in vent caused any problems for raid E, though if you think I am sadly deluded please tell me why.
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