I read WoW Ladies. I'm not the most faithful or dedicated reader, since I stopped posting to my own LJ years ago, but they're a good bunch, and I learn quite a lot about how other people interact in the game there. One subject that crops up regularly is anxiety or fear about running dungeons with strangers. Having dealt with my own social anxiety issues, I understand where the problem has its roots.
There's a lot of nuance, and etiquette for 5's can vary from server to server and battlegroup to battlegroup. Now that there are cross-battlegroup random dungeon groups, some of that may begin to homogenize. But for someone who has never really grouped with others in a dungeon, it's all new and possibly confusing. The generalities will be summarized here. (Some things may be particular to Bronzebeard-US or the Cyclone battlegroup, but I think most of them apply pretty broadly.)
There are three roles in a dungeon group: one tank, one healer, and three damage (DPS). People who have been soloing almost exclusively are often unaware that the delineations mean that someone who signed up as damage should not try to "help" tank, or such. The biggest point of etiquette regarding party roles? Queue as the role you want to perform. If you don't want to tank or heal, don't queue for the role.
Some things every group member should do:
- Buff. Regardless of your role in the party, if you can cast a buff, do so. Especially when you're running with people you don't know, you may really need that little extra boost. If you're a hunter and you're not leveling a pet (or using one for specific RP reasons), you might consider swapping out to a buff you don't have if your party has what you give. (I keep running with multiple shamans, so my cat is often superfluous so far as buffs.)
- Dispel/Decurse/etc. If you can dispel a debuff, do so. Your healer will be happy not to have to deal with it, especially if it's one he can't do.
- Move out of AOE damage if possible. Some abilities, like Anraphet's Omega Stance, will cover the battlefield, and it's damage you're expected to take. Void zones and most blast-wave like abilities, however, should be moved out of. The common phrase for this is "Don't stand in the fire." (This is why "Stood in the Fire," the achievement for getting killed by Deathwing when he flames a zone, is funny.)
- Crowd control (CC). If you have a spell that can lock down a mob, and your tank or group leader wants you to use it, do it. A very patient warrior taught me to trap about 5.5 years ago now by telling me where to put traps. If you don't have Trap Launcher yet, a hunter trapping should put the Freezing trap somewhere it won't get broken and pull the target into it. Regardless of your form of crowd control, put the spell somewhere on your bars that you can get to it easily. CC-ing unexpected adds can prevent a wipe.
- Communicate. If people don't know who's going to be doing what, disaster is likely. Raid markers (Skull, X, etc.) are shorthand for a lot of communication on trash - see common raid marker usage under "Crowd Control" for more. Some bosses are killed multiple ways, and if your group doesn't seem polite to a relative newcomer and you're unsure of the boss at hand, asking which strategy they intend to use may get you a better answer than asking what the strategy is. Going into things blindly can be costly.
- Repair beforehand if possible, keep a supply of food and/or water on hand, and have some reagents if you still need them for anything. (Glyph of Mend Pet is highly recommended for pet happiness.) If you're going to need flasks or potions, keep them with you. Repairing beforehand is admittedly not always possible if your DPS queue is 40 minutes and you're mid-dailies when the queue pops, but at least repair before you go do your dailies so you have more to work with once you get into your dungeon.
- Let the tank go first. If the tank accidentally pulls something, the healer is usually most prepared to heal her, and the tank is best able to take the damage. If you're the tank, go first. Everyone is probably waiting for you.
- Stay with the group. If you go wandering off by yourself, you're likely to die. WoW is not like D&D; the dungeon encounters generally aren't random.
- Protect your healer. If there's a mob on the healer and the tank hasn't gotten to it, crowd control it, or at least get it off the healer. A DPS dying is generally better than the healer dying, and without a mob on him, the healer may be able to keep you up till the tank gets to it.
A tank's responsibilities are pacing the dungeon by the speed (fast or slow) of the pulling of mobs; pulling, unless a crowd-control or misdirect pull has been arranged; holding aggro on the mobs being fought; breaking crowd control; picking up adds. The tank may or may not mark the crowd-control targets; tanks often do it, but sometimes the group leader will, or crowd-controllers may be asked to pick a mark and mark their own.
When pulling, a tank should not outpace the healer's (or DPS's, but especially the healer's) mana. If your healer has no mana, people die. Dying slows down a run. If crowd control has been used, in many cases the tank will want to move the remaining mobs away from the controlled targets so as not to accidentally break the others early.
A tank is expected to keep the mobs being fought off the healer and DPS. Sometimes you may find that one of your DPS far outgears your tank, and you may not be able to keep everything off him. Usually the vastly over-geared person has queued with a lesser-geared friend, and he should be polite about the vast gear difference. If he is not, ignore him. The only way to improve your gear is to keep running instances, so keep running them. The gear differences are likely the reason for difficulty maintaining threat.
If you have difficulty maintaining threat against similarly-geared players, you should look for a blog or website devoted to tanking, or your class's specific tanking tree. There may be a suggested ability rotation, gem or glyph usage, or stat priority that will help.
Tanks are expected to pick up adds that get pulled (if they don't get immediately crowd controlled), and being able to will make you a more desirable tank. Some fights will have adds by design; sometimes a trash mob will be feared, or a player or pet will be feared, and you will have new frenemies when they come back. Sometimes the hunter will, ahem, accidentally shoot something.
(Note: With the removal of the toggle in Interface Options that allowed a hunter to turn off automatically switching between Auto Attack and Auto Shot, if a hunter hits an ability right when his current target dies, the game will auto-target another mob in range. Even if the hunter manages to cancel the ability he hit, Auto Shot may still go off and pull it. There is much swearing in the hunter community about this.)
Only the tank should break crowd-controlled targets for the group to kill. Druid tanks may want to hibernate something, depending on the group make up and the pull at hand.
Healers are expected to keep a party alive. This doesn't mean that every death is the healer's fault, per se; tanks and DPS should do what they can to keep themselves alive, as well. Sometimes something happens (feared out of range, player won't get out of a damaging AOE) that there's nothing a healer could do to save you. It does mean that a tank or DPS should not be casting healing spells on themselves most of the time, however.
Healers may be expected to crowd control, generally for a pull rather than mid-fight. Healers are also generally expected to remove whatever curses, diseases, poisons, or magic debuffs they can. Being able to effectively dispel while healing will make you a more sought-after healer.
A healer should do what he can to manage his own aggro, either via Fade or Wind Shear, or whatever druids and paladins can do to keep their threat low if needed. Usually threat isn't a problem for healers, but if your tank is undergeared (or rather, you outgear her) or inexperienced, she may need all the help she can get.
Healing takes some practice, and if you're just starting out, it's good to remember that your #1 healing priority is the tank. You are #2, unless you're actively taking damage, and DPS are #3, 4, and 5. (If you want get detailed, you can prioritize the DPS by how much damage they're doing, if their form of CC is especially important, etc.) Basically, if either you or the tank die, the party probably will too. If one of the DPS dies, the fight will probably just be longer. There is a tipping point - if you and the tank are the only ones left, it may be impossible to kill the boss before you run out of mana. Sometimes recognizing futility and dying is a faster road to success than perservering through the current attempt. (I'm looking at you, 20-minute Heigen kill.)
You'll lose some people just starting out as a healer - your gear probably won't have as much haste, crit, or spellpower (Intellect) as you would like, so you'll likely have some DPS die to AOE in order for you to keep a tank or yourself up. If you're having trouble still as your gear progresses, there are quite a lot of healing blogs and sites that will be able to recommend healing strategies, addons, macros, glyphs, and so forth.
DPS are expected to kill mobs, crowd control, and avoid taking damage as much as possible.
Most DPS classes have a way to reduce their threat in some way. (The plate wearing hybrids are the main exceptions to this, and I think Boomkin may also lack a threat drop.) Hunters can feign, priests fade, rogues vanish or feint, shamans wind shear, mages ice block, warlocks soul shatter, cat druids cower. Find your class's spell and put it on your bars somewhere you can get it while panicking. (Yes, while panicking, because OH GOD THEY'RE ALL RUNNING AT ME is often panic inducing.) It's good to use your threat-drop before the mobs actually start running at you.
When DPSing, there are two general methods of targeting: focus fire or area of effect (AOE). When focus-firing, target the Skull-marked mob if there is one, or target the tank's target if there isn't. (Some tanks may say, rather than marking, "Kill X," but not necessarily target it after initial threat gain; focus what the tank asked for.) Focus fire, where the three DPS in the group all hit the same mob, should be your default method of targeting in most groups. Some instances or trash packs of mobs are easier to kill if you just hit them all at once, in which case you can simply use AOE spells. (Many Wrath-content instances are like this.) If you don't have a real AOE, use focus fire methods of targeting. Regardless of what targeting method you're using, don't break a crowd-controlled mob free. If a crowd-controlled mob is wandering among the other mobs of the pull, focus fire rather than AOE-ing.
DPS should debuff mobs in any way they can. This is especially true on bosses, but some trash pulls also see noticeable benefit. Whether the debuff reduces the mob's armor, spell resistance, ability to hit, or whatever, using the tools you have will make the fight that much easier.
DPS with dispel abilities (generally casters) should do what they can to remove curses, poisons, disease, and magic debuffs, at least from themselves, and from others, especially the tank, if the healer can't (either due to class limitations or because he needs all his global cooldowns just for healing).
Usually DPS who are hybrid casters should not be healing. There are some boss fights that may benefit from a DPS switching to heals during a certain period of AOE damage, but most fights need a certain minimum level of damage from all the DPS in order for the boss to die before your healer is mana-starved. Avoid taking damage in the first place if at all possible, instead.
Similarly, even if your class can tank, if you didn't sign up to tank the instance, don't. If you signed up as DPS, damage is your job. If the tank dies, that's when it's okay to switch over, though if you're in tank gear and spec, you're doing bad DPS (usually), so you shouldn't keep it on "just in case." Use a DPS spec and wear any DPS gear you've got. If you have an ability that does a lot of damage but also causes high threat, avoid using it. (Searing Pain specifically comes to mind; I believe Ret pallies also have an ability that's both a taunt and a hard hit.)
Unless the tank asks you to, don't pull "for" them. It's usually annoying to the tank, who may be relying on one of her opening pull abilities for the snap threat to keep the mobs off you. It's especially annoying to the whole party if you and the tank pull different groups.
Kiting is something of a forgotten art, but once upon a time, hunters especially were often called upon to kite mobs. The first classic kiting fight was the last boss in Upper Blackrock Spire, General Drakkisath, a 10-man, often-pugged raid. The two tanks would pick up Drakk's two adds, and the hunter would grab the General and run, heading out over a bridge and back through the halls, often to the Beast's room, but you could take him all the way to Rend's room if you were good before he would automatically start running back. Later fights (the first boss in Blackwing Lair, Gruth in Naxxramas, et al) required some kind of kiting as well. If you are called upon to kite, for whatever reason, just remember: don't fall off the bridge. (You land in Lower Blackrock Spire, among the orc camps on the lowest level. >.> Ahem.) Use any slowing abilities you have and run or strafe; don't back up. Earthbind totems, Ice traps, Concussive Shot, Wing Clip, Hamstring, Frost Nova - all of them can make kiting more feasible. Good kiting can save a party from a wipe after a tank dies, so it's still worthwhile to learn.
Often times a DPS's weakest spot isn't his ability to survive, crowd control, or manage his pet, but his actual damage output. At that point one is probably best served by looking for a blog or website that focuses on your class or spec and looking at talents, rotations, glyphs, gems, and so forth and seeing if you have a bad habit, or lack a good one, that's making a noticeable difference in your damage.
Several classes, mostly DPS, have pets. There are a variety of pet etiquette points for groups that aren't necessarily obvious to a solo player.
Remember to turn off your pet's threat/taunt ability. For hunters, regardless of the variety of pet, this is Growl. If a moving gold border is visible on the icon, the ability's autocast is turned on. To turn off the autocast, right click on it. If you're using a tenacity pet for whatever reason (leveling it, it has a buff you want, etc.), you will probably also want to turn off Taunt and Thunderstomp if you have them talented. Charge is more optional, but the root component can be annoying for tanks, so you may want to turn it off, as well.
If you're using a Tenacity pet regularly in instances for some reason, you can actually make macros to turn the abilities on and off. The commands are basically just /petautocastoff
/petautocastoff GrowlAnd similarly make one to turn them all back on while you're soloing. This was more useful, really, prior to having multiple stable slots to tote around, but if you take your bear or turtle everywhere, they may be helpful to have still. The commands should work for any pet that gets an action bar.
It's generally bad form to have your pet on Aggressive in an instance. Defensive used to be a no-no, but it is the default de jour. Passive is always fine if you're worried about your pet wandering off and will remember to send it to attack.
One of the most common pet "oops" moments comes when the party jumps down off something. The classic example was taking the shortcut in Upper Blackrock Spire and jumping into Rend's arena from the balcony, rather than coming through two additional trash packs in the hallway. A pet would not jump, and it would run around and bring those two packs with it. If you have to jump off anything, especially if you're unsure which way your pet would go, dismiss it first. Similarly, pets sometimes have trouble with elevators or other movement mechanics (the whirlwinds in the Lost City come to mind). Dismissing them will let you resummon on the other side, rather than having them stuck out of the fight.
If you have multiple pets available to you, consider switching them out for a buff or ability that will make a fight easier, even if it's a minor DPS decrease. In Molten Core, a warlock's Felhound could be a huge help with Baron Geddon's mana burn, since it would dispel debuffs. Some hunter pets offer buffs now that can affect an entire party or raid. If, like me, you find yourself running with three shamans, it might be worth swapping your cat for another pet, since one of them will probably be dropping a totem that provides strength and agility. (Probably not your wolf, though, if you have an elemental shaman, since elemental oath will provide the crit buff.)
Don't expect your party's healer to heal your pet. Mend pet was made a HoT for a reason. Your pet will probably get a lot of splash AOE healing, and its ability to reduce about 90% of the AOE damage it would take will keep it from getting killed too often.
Crowd control (CC) is used to make a large pull easier by incapacitating some of the mobs until the party is ready to deal with them. If there are unexpected adds of a type you can crowd control, you probably should. If the tank wants to pick it up immediately, she will.
Good crowd control can make or break a group. Some tiers of content were made with the use of crowd control in mind. (See especially level 60-70 dungeons and levely 80+ dungeons.)
Regardless of who does the crowd control marking, there are a few common conventions:
- Skull - first kill target; not crowd controlled
- Red X - second kill target; not crowd controlled
- Blue Square - hunter trap
- Moon - mage sheep
- Orange Circle or Yellow Star - usually rogue sap
- Purple Diamond or Green Triangle - usually shaman hex or banish (elementals)
Not everyone can crowd-control everything. Some mobs, additionally, may be immune to one or more forms their type is normally susceptible to. (Only long-duration, at-the-pull crowd controls are listed here; there are things like Gouge, Frost Nova, etc. that are short-duration, in-combat control methods that may help situationally, but aren't set up using raid marks prior to a fight.)
- Mage - Sheep (Polymorph) - Humanoids and Beasts (and Critters, but, you know...)
- Rogue - Sap - Humanoids, Beasts, Demons, Dragonkin
- Hunter - Freezing Trap - Most things
- Shaman - Hex - Humanoids and Beasts
- Shaman - Banish (Bind Elemental) - Elementals
- Druid - Cyclone - Damn near everything
- Druid - Sleep (Hibernate) - Beasts and Dragonkin
- Warlock - Seduce (Seduction) - Humanoids
- Warlock - Banish - Demons and Elementals
- Priest - Mind Control - Humanoids
- Priest - Shackle Undead - Undead
- Paladin - Repentance - Demons, Dragonkin, Giants, Humanoids, Undead
Taking harmful spells off of party members is often thought of as a healer's job, but several classes, healers or not, can do so. Not every class that can remove one can necessarily remove another, and who can dispel what changed with Cataclysm.
- Priests - Magic, Disease
- Mages - Curse
- Shaman - Curse, Magic (resto talented)
- Druid - Poison, Curse, Magic (resto talented)
- Paladin - Poison, Disease, Magic (holy talented)
Loot etiquette is something that varies most widely server to server; whether or not it is considered polite to need or greed certain BOEs, disenchanting, crafting materials, etc. is something best discussed beforehand if there are issues. Regarding boss loot, however, there are some more widely accepted points of etiquette.
If you queue for a particular role, that is considered your "main spec" for that instance. If you normally tank or heal, but queue as DPS, it is generally considered rude to roll "need" against the person actually tanking or healing the instance for items of that spec. Similarly, if you are tanking or healing, it is rude to roll "need" against the DPS in the party for a DPS item.
This does not mean you can't roll need on something - it's better gear is used rather than sharded. If it's not for your active spec, however, ask first. If no one else needs it, it is perfectly acceptable to roll "need." Someone's chance at a shard does not have priority over a piece you will use in your other spec.
Greeding on a piece is generally always acceptable, unless an arrangement is made at the beginning of the instance for some purpose. It is straightforward - you don't need the piece, but may want it for cash or enchanting materials. This is the point of need and greed, and it should broach no arguments.
Skinning, herbalism, and mining in an instance are best arranged either at the beginning or when the first gatherable object is encountered. Gatherers rolling on ore nodes, herbs to pick, or corpses to skin, generally alternating thereafter, is a common arrangement. If you are an enchanter, rolling "need" to disenchant something is extremely impolite, and will likely get you vote-kicked or /ignored. Leveling your professions is often seen as "greed" rather than "need."
If you're playing solo, you probably don't need a lot of addons, unless you like to customize your interface. There are a variety of addons that can make your life easier in group play, however. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of other addons which can, in some way, make your WoW life easier, or at least your interface prettier, but they are mostly a matter taste.
WoW has built in threat warnings now, but if you prefer a compact little box with bars representing your relative threat, there are two widely used ones. Omen is one of the oldest and widely used threat meters. Skada, which is also a damage meter, has a threat meter function, as well.
Damage meters can be a blessing or a curse, depending if the DPS are watching them instead of their threat, but they can be useful for finding out how you're doing so far as DPS, dispels, overhealing, threat generation, and a variety of other data, depending on which on you're using. Two common ones are Recount and Skada. Skada is more lightweight and modular; Recount gives you pie charts if you want them. (Mmm, pie...)
Bosses have generally always done their special moves on predictable cooldowns, but there was not always an emote or warning associated with them provided by the game. (Now there usually is.) Deadly Boss Mods and Bigwigs are two of the more common boss mods, which will give you timers for boss ability cooldowns, alerts about events in the fight, and generally help you notice what's going on without you having to watch your chat box for a boss emote. Most are customizable, and you can choose which abilities and bosses you are notified about.
There are several addons which can help you heal in a group, either by changing your party or raid layout, providing pre-written macros for you to put on your bars, or creating special ability bars. Among the most popular are Healbot, Vuhdo, and Grid, often in combination with Clique. Decursive is still popular for dispelling.
Voice chat can make a run easier mostly by smoothing communication, but if social anxiety is a problem for you, it could be a nightmare. If your group is using Ventrilo or Teamspeak or Mumble but you're not comfortable talking, don't. As someone who has a serious phone phobia, I recommend baby steps. Even if you never get to the point of being comfortable talking, you may be able to get comfortable with listening in. This can be helpful if strategy is getting relayed verbally, but not always entirely transcripting into party chat. Many PUGs don't bother with voice chat, either because it's unavailable, or because waiting for all members to install software or configure to connect to a server is inconvenient.
The common voice chat options are Ventrilo, Teamspeak, and Mumble, and there is built-in voice chat for WoW, although its quality is at times questionable. Skype is probably also an option, but I've not seen it commonly used.
- WoW Insider - general WoW news, plus class and spec columns, often with links to other resources.
- Elitist Jerks - theory crafting for all classes and specs.
- WoWwiki macros - Macros, including links to the class macro pages.
- Tank Spot - for boss fight strategies and other WoW information.
- WoWhead - item, mob, and ability database, as well as having write-ups for many bosses and a blog for WoW news.
- Curse and WoW Ace - common addon sites. CT Mod and Deadly Boss Mods are specific addon bundles, but self-host.
- tank|heal blog wow|