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Group Tactics (Long)
Hello all. It was suggested to me by Shillatae and Eveline that I write up a guide on tactics while grouping, to help us all better understand the most effective way to fight in a group. This is not directed at anyone, and I have enjoyed grouping with everyone who has come with us through instances.

Obviously many people may already know all of this. These are just some things that I think will be helpful to everyone, and that are not immediately obvious.

<insert the obligatory "I have lots of mmorpg grouping experience" paragraph here> I'll spare you guys that at least. Wink

Disclaimer: Everything here obviously assumes you have not pulled something you have no chance of killing, and that you have a competent tank.

Ok, first things first, forget everything you know about dealing damage. Dealing damage is the single LEAST important part of any battle in a group. Is it a necessary part? Absolutely, and DPS classes are important. But they are the last thing added when putting together an effective group, and for very good reasons.

Also, forget everything you learned while soloing. Solo tactics and group
tactics have some major differences for every class, and group fights are not as simple as killing the mob before it kills you. You are fighting as a group, not as 5 individuals.

The real key to any group fight is aggro management. The skills for learning to control aggro and thus control the flow of the battle are not always intuitive and they take a lot of practice to learn. And this falls entirely into one simple concept:

If you can consistently control who the enemy is attacking, you will win with no deaths.

Everything else is

1) damage mitigation
2) healing
3) damage dealing

In that order of importance. And aggro control is about maximizing the
efficiency of all three.

Now to try to explain how aggro works. All creatures have what is called a "hate list". On this list are the people that have done something negative to them, either by dealing them damage, debuffing them, or healing/buffing someone else on that hate list. There is also "pull aggro" which I will explain shortly.

Each person on that hate list has a numerical value associated with them that determines what their position is on that hate list, with the person at the top being the one the creature is currently attacking. In this game, many creatures seem to use special abilities against whoever is #2 on that list as well, such as sleep or polymorph. Every time you do something I listed in the previous paragraph to a creature, there is a certain amount of threat associated with it that increases your "hate", and possibly your position, on the list. Some abilities also allow you to decrease your position on that list, such as fade for priests.

That said, a warriors taunt ability works by giving the warrior a numerical hate value that is just slightly higher than the highest person on the list. This means that taunt does nothing if a warrior already has aggro, but instantly pulls aggro off of another player if he does not(assuming it is not resisted). Some pets also get this ability, and hunters/warlocks should turn it off while grouped with a warrior. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I will just say we've tried it both ways and things go more smoothly with it off.

There is also "pull aggro", which I can probably best explain through an
example. There are two ways to get a creature to attack you: do something to it, or walk close enough. When this occurs others things near the aggroed creature may come as well. This generally happens with humanoids, but seems to happen with everything in instances, regardless.

So I've just shot mob #1 with my gun, and mob #2 and #3 are coming at me as well. Now I have some initial damage aggro on mob #1, but a ranged attack causes far less threat than a melee attack, so if spells are cast on mob 1 before it reaches me, it may go after whoever cast the spell. Now mobs 2 and 3 only have pull aggro, which is almost nothing, meaning if anything at all is done to them, they will go after someone else. They may also go after anyone they reach before me, so it is best to stay behind the puller.

So assuming all three mobs are now attacking me, it's important to get them to keep attacking me. Why? Because warriors take less damage than other classes by FAR, meaning the total DPS of the enemies in a fight is being reduced by over 50% while they are hitting the warrior. This is maximized mitigation. And if the healer only needs to heal the warrior, and for less damage than they would need to heal someone else who was taking the same hits, then that is maximized healing efficiency.

It is not entirely up to the warrior to keeps things attacking him. It is also
the job of the group. There is a time to kill things as quickly as possible, and there is a time to conserve mana. Not every fight is the former. If you are a high damage dealing class and you just used all of your mana to kill something, and the healer has used almost none, then that is a greater amount of time the group needs to wait for you to get mana back than if you were both at 3/4.

What that means is to pace yourself. You do not need to be casting another spell the instant the previous one finished. This also allows the tank to keep aggro easier. The key is to balance mana conservation with aggro control, generally by making sure you dont cast enough to get aggro.

If you are casting on something and consistently pulling it off of your tank,
then you are doing something wrong. If you did not just cast a heal spell and are consistently pulling things off of the tank, then you are also doing
something wrong. If you are not the tank you should not be getting attacked. (bolded because it's a very important concept that many people dont get) The only class I have seen that can't always help this is shamans because of the random effects of the windfury buff, but they're the horde secondary tank anyway.

The next most important thing for maximizing healing, mitigation, and DPS is to focus on one target at a time. I cannot stress this enough. If everyone attacks one creature, then the tank can hold aggro easier, resulting in more damage to that creature, and less damage will need to be healed. 1 dead creature and 2 fully healed creatures deal 33% less damage than 3 half-dead creatures.

This can be best accomplished by using the assist command. If you dont know where it is, check your key bindings and find the hotkey. Target your tank and push it and everyone will be on the same target. What this also does is it means whichever person is concentrating on preventing the enemy from running only needs to focus on one enemy at a time. The most common form of death in an instance is from being overrun, and runners are one of the biggest causes of that.

Now focusing on one target requires that no area-of-effect (AE) abilities are used. In an instance you should not be AEing elites. They have far too many hit points for it to be effective, and it means things are attacking you instead of the tank. AE's are meant for the non-elite swarms that are encountered in instances. It may not seem like there are a lot of them right now, but trust me, AE's will be badly needed in the highest level instances.

As for dealing with enemy casters... I know a lot of people see a fireball hit their tank and they immediately want to start shooting/nuking that caster. We tanks appreciate that sentiment, but the need for it is situational. If the enemy caster is far away, especially in another room, do NOT attack it or send your pet after it. This could bring even more enemies to your group, and again, the primary danger in an instance is being overrun with too many enemies.

One last thing that falls under damage mitigation... crowd control. When I say focus on one target, I am talking about damage and debuffs. If your succubus can seduce something or you can polymorph it, please do so to one that is not being attacked. It may also be good to mention that you've done it so the warrior does not accidentally cleave and wake it up.

Hmmm, now I get to try to sum all that up:

1) Control aggro above all else.

2) Fight in support of your group, not as an individual trying to kill one

3) If you are not the tank then you should not be attacked.

4) Learn to get a "feel" for when you will and won't pull aggro on yourself.

5) Do not AE elites.

6) Do not attack things your tank is not attacking, especially things that may bring more enemies.

7) Focus on one target at a time.

8) Use crowd control.

There is also a very good post on the main WoW forums regarding this, with some more specifics about each class.


Thanks for reading, and I hope this helps folks out.
Very GOOD tactics my friend. I knew some of this but its good t point them out so more ppl can learn how to play in a group. Big Grin
The Truly Bovine Expert

maybe we could get this moved to the strategy section? It's a great guide and gotta still be useful.
(( HAH! I wish I could copy and paste that to macros in-game to lecture every single pickup group I have ever been in! Hehe ))
Why isn't this in the strategy place again? Good info for the noobs, dude. But...

Kosath Wrote:That said, a warriors taunt ability works by giving the warrior a numerical hate value that is just slightly higher than the highest person on the list. This means that taunt does nothing if a warrior already has aggro, but instantly pulls aggro off of another player if he does not(assuming it is not resisted). Some pets also get this ability, and hunters/warlocks should turn it off while grouped with a warrior. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I will just say we've tried it both ways and things go more smoothly with it off.

Warrior taunts (and druid growls) do not work the same as hunter growls and warlock torments. The latter is essentially a straight boost to threat, like sunder armor or revenge but without the debuffs or damage. The former, however, adds NO threat. It simply forces the mob to focus on the taunter for a few seconds (I think it works to multiply threat from anything the taunter does during this time, but I am unsure).

You'll notice this difference if you have a mage nuke a mob, then do nothing. Have the warrior taunt the mob, then do nothing. The mob will fight the warrior for those few seconds, but at the end of it will return to the mage. BUT if you do the same thing will the pet versions- assuming the ability generates enough threat to gain aggro- he will hold it indefinately if no one does anything else.

Also, if a mage blows the crap out of a mob, a warrior/druid taunt/growl WILL pull them off for those few seconds, but a pet one won't (in fact, it'll probably do nothing, heh).

If pet growls worked the same...man...pets would offtank ALL the time! Maybe even main. Ha. Right. Well, soloing would be easy-heasy anyway.

This was probably superfluous information from me, but...meh. I used to be confused by the nature of taunt so I say it's relevant! Muh!

Edit: It's in both places, eh? Hm.

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