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Ol' Grumpy's guide to Cataclysm instance protocols

Matthew Rossi

If, like me, you've been tanking for a while, Cataclysm will be a return to a slower, more deliberate form of instancing. There are pros and cons to this, of course. The positives are:

  • After a few weeks, those jerks who constantly say "go go go" in runs will have died a lot and will either have stopped playing or learned to stop doing that.
  • Same for people who feel the need to pull while the tank/rest of the group is regaining mana and so on.
  • Abilities that haven't seen much use in Wrath of the Lich King will probably make a comeback. You're going to need to learn to Polymorph, Sap, Trap, Hex and use other forms of CC.
  • For the first few months of Cataclysm, at least, there will have to be more of a focus on skill and execution than numbers. Switching targets properly, not breaking CC before it's called for, and using your abilities at the right time will be rewarded.
  • You're going to get whole new dungeons you haven't seen hundreds of times already, with all-new mechanics. Glory in once again having no idea what this pull does.
The downsides, however, are also worth mentioning.

  • The return of CC also means the return of marking pulls. As I said literally hundreds of times back in The Burning Crusade, I did not put all those shapes above mobs' heads because Lucky the Leprechaun promised me a balanced breakfast.
  • Tanks and healers are going to be expected to carry more of the weight in individual instance runs. Frankly, if DPS pulls aggro, breaks CC or otherwise gets attention, it's likely they're going to die. When that happens, don't blame your healer for not healing you and don't blame the tank.
  • Tanks are going to have to relearn asking for CC. No, you can't just tank six mobs. No, you can't. Even if you could somehow hold aggro on them, you'd die. You simply can't play it the way you have been, trying to zerg down every trash pull.
  • DPS players, get ready to wait in the LFD tool. Get ready to wait a really long time. Expect to see queues go way, way up as a result of tanking and healing becoming more demanding. Many people who are tanking now are not going to have the patience to mark every pull and explain every fight. Many people who are healing now will not be able to adjust to the new triage system. You are going to see extended wait times; learn to cope with them.
What am I getting at? Well, be you a tank, a healer or a DPS player, you have it in your power to help make these instance runs more enjoyable and less painful for yourself and everyone involved.

The new old basics

First up, if you're a tank, get used to being expected to mark pulls, explain how you intend them to go and lead the instance. Other players can do this, to be sure, but it almost always devolves upon the tank. So step up to it. And please, try and familiarize yourself with your group and its capacities. If you have a priest healer, a shadow priest DPSer, a fury warrior DPSer and a ret paladin DPSer in addition to yourself as a bear druid, don't ask the shadow priest to sheep. Don't ask the fury warrior for Chains of Ice. The ret paladin and shadow priest have CC options; learn what they are.

Second, learn to ignore that "go go go" guy. He's an idiot. Don't pull until your healer is ready. You can ask, or you can look at his mana bar; I personally prefer to ask, if there's any doubt. Don't rush your groups and don't let anyone else rush them, either. Do not try to be a tyrant. I can't stress this enough. Many tanks, when faced with a situation that is stressful, find themselves treating the group like the enemy. They're not. Control your prima donna instincts.

DPS players, by all means offer to pull if you have a longer range than the tank. But don't pull without asking first; even if the tank can get the mob back, it's just rude and makes chaos more likely. Use your CC intelligently if asked, and please learn to reapply it. Follow the markings, please. Taunts aren't magical bullets that fix all aggro problems. If you're more experienced and a better choice to lead a run than a tank, by all means speak up. As long as you do so without being a jerk, a lot of tanks might welcome someone else's doing the labor of marking and explaining. Just be cool about it; it's often easier for a DPS player to see the whole fight, and good tanks will know that. Don't be overly pushy with this, however.

Healers, make sure groups let you get your mana back if you feel like they're not. In many ways, the healer is the most important person in the group, and in Cataclysm dungeons, the new triage system of healing is going to put a lot of pressure on you until you learn it. No, it's not your fault if a DPS player dies because he broke CC or pulled aggro, or if a tank died because he tried to tank way too much. Don't let these things discourage you. If you have a valid, working form of CC that you can use without taking away from healing, please do.

For everyone, I must tell you, learn to accept a wipe. Wipes are going to happen. In the first few months wipes are going to happen frequently. Instances will be new to players, some players will be new to their class or role, and the mechanics of play are a lot less forgiving. If you're in the habit of dropping group as soon as a wipe happens, don't waste your time queuing up. You'll just end up annoyed.

In general, we're about to see a paradigm shift in how instances work, and being a good group player means being at least cool and somewhat considerate of the other players. Try it and see. It makes runs much easier for everyone.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it; nothing will be the same! In WoW Insider's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion (available Dec. 7, 2010), from brand new races to revamped quests and zones. Visit our Cataclysm news category for the most recent posts having to do with the Cataclysm expansion.

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