How not to die

One very important aspect of raiding, no matter what role you play, is to take as little damage as possible. Not just obvious avoidance like not standing in fire (although that is very important) but also making the best use of your class’s damage reduction abilities and any other tools available to you.

When someone dies, don’t automatically blame the healers. A lot of deaths can be prevented by the players themselves.

I’m sure most people know their own class’s abilities, but you might not be familiar with what everyone else can do. This post isn’t just aimed at specific classes, I’m also aiming for healers, raid leaders, and avid combat log analysts so you can tell if all your fellow raiders are doing everything in their power to keep themselves alive and make raids go smoothly.

Obviously some of these skills are more practical than others, so you have to know when to use them. Things like Barkskin can be used often with little impact to your damage or healing output. But on a boss with a tight enrage timer, it’s probably not a good idea to use something like Dispersion or Hand of Protection which is going to diminish your dps just to avoid a little splash damage. If it is a life or death situation (like you’ve missed a stack of the Inoculation buff on Festergut, and a Pungent Blight is coming), take the initiative and save yourself.

Here’s a list of class-specific damage reducing abilities that people can use in raids:

Death Knights:

Anti-magic Shell -Good against magic based bosses. Also refills your runic power bar!

Icebound Fortitude – A 20% damage reduction for non-tanks. Shouldn’t mess up damage rotations as it only requires runic power (no runes).

Bone Shield – Should always be up for unholy DK’s because of the damage buff. If the charges get used up, be sure to refresh it.

Frost Presence – Clearly a dps doesn’t want to stay in Frost Presence for very long.  But for predictable damage, switching quickly for the extra health and damage mitigation can be useful.

Barkskin – This ability should get used a lot.  I see so many druids who go through a whole raid using this once, or sometimes not at all.  20% less damage taken for 12 seconds every minute.  There is no downside to this.  Use it please!!!

Switching forms can be a pain, but when you’re being hit by something or need more health to survive, a quick switch to Bear form will help you live longer.

Deterrence – This ability can save your life in a lot of fights. It can be used to avoid heaps on damage on Twin Valkyrs, from both the orbs and the big AoE.  Can also be used on Rotface’s Slime Spray if you find you’re unable to move out of it fast enough. (Edit: Just tested this recently and it doesn’t actually work 🙁  Sorry!)

Disengage – A different type of mechanic than most spells listed here, but if you’re looking to get out of harmful effects quickly, this is much faster than running. (Thank you Dreddnought!)

Ice Barrier – Frost only, not that I’ve seen anything other than Arcane mages for the last month or two.

Mana Shield – Assuming you have the mana for it.

Frost Ward – Absorbs frost damage.

Fire Ward – Absorbs fire damage.

Ice Block  – I think this is one of the most useful skills out there.  Removes most harmful debuffs and makes you completely impervious to damage.  Lucky mages.

Divine Shield – Removes most debuffs, in addition to preventing all damage for 12 seconds.  If being used by a dps, should be clicked off when no longer needed to avoid screwing up your damage output too much.

Divine Protection – Usually used by prot pallies, but still useful for others. Lacks the damage output reduction of DS. Does not remove debuffs.

Hand of Protection – Also removes most physical debuffs. Can be used and clicked off when no longer needed to reduce downtime. Can be used on others, so it might be a good idea to use one of your self-use only skills first.

Power Word: Shield – If you don’t have a Disc Priest throwing these around the raid, a timely PW:S can save you.  And yes, it can be cast in Shadow Form.

Dispersion – Shadow only.

Pain Suppresion – Disc only.  Will likely be reserved for tanks on most fights.

Feint  – Not just for aggro reduction anymore.

Cloak of Shadows – Have a magic DoT ticking your life away? Not anymore.

Shamanistic Rage – This is usually used on cooldown for mana regen, but if you can line up its use with incoming damage, your healers will like you more.

Shadow Ward – Absorbs shadow damage.

Defensive Stance – Like Frost Presence, not something you want to use a lot, but a quick stance swap can be useful.

Shield Wall – Putting on a shield, flipping to defensive stance and hitting this is rather unwieldy and won’t be done often, but I’ve seen it used to save a raid from a 1% wipe.

Edit: Made some additions to Pally and DK abilities.  Thanks guildies!

Please let me know if I’m missing anything from this list.

Healers take note of the abilities like Feint, Shamanistic Rage and Anti-Magic Shell.  When you see a DPS class with one of these abilities not run away from something like a Lightning Nova, don’t assume they are lazy noobs.  If they’re smart they can pop these abilities and not lose any dps-time on the boss.  So don’t stop healing them out of principle 🙂

And some general tips for all:

Don’t pull aggro – Most classes have threat reducing/dropping moves. Make use of them before the boss comes stampeding towards you. And for heaven’s sake, don’t use Whirlwind as your opener on a pack of trash mobs.

Don’t stand in fire – I just never get tired of repeating this one. I know the old tunnel vision trap is easy to fall into. A large part of avoiding bad things on the ground is being able to see them, so this problem can often be solved with a good UI. Don’t clutter your UI with enough mods and meters that you can’t see half your screen. Also, make sure you can see your health bar (by moving it to a place your eyes automatically track to, or using a HUD) or have some kind of visual or audio notification to tell you when you’re taking damage. If you’re taking unexpected damage, the answer might be to move.

Use your health stones/health pots – I can’t even say how many times I’ve gone through a whole raid without using my health stone. To increase the likelihood of using these things, make sure they get integrated into the way you play. If you use keybinds, have one for your health stone. If you’re a Clique user, assign a mouse-click to it. If you put your health stone on an action bar on the side of your screen that you never look at, you aren’t going to use it.

6 responses to “How not to die

  1. Let's not forget that Hunter trick that pisses everyone off in PvP and should be used in PvE only as your ultimate "GTFO!" button: Disengage!

    I've lost track of the number of Hunters that SHOULD know better WALKING backwards out of Flames.

    • Good one! I will add that.

      • I don't think you should add that one … I mean you add Disengage, you open it up to any speed increasing move … Blink, Charge, Intervene, Wolves for enhance, Warlock teleport thingy, Fade, Feign, Stoneclaw totem :p, Sprint, Dash, etc …

  2. Very help full write up!

  3. To help me survive I tend to lie on the ground sobbing uncontrollably. If that doesn't work I soil myself. It's about that time that the mobs reset, disgusted with my cowardice.

    Sure, I save the repair costs, but my equipment cleaning costs are through the roof! You know how hard it is to get poop out of chain mail?