Officers' Quarters: Humbling Hellscream

Scott Andrews
S. Andrews|12.30.13

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Officers' Quarters: Humbling Hellscream
Garrosh laid low
Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook.

Garrosh Hellscream, son of Grom, Chieftain of the Mag'har, Warchief of the True Horde, is no pushover when you meet him in battle. Nor should he be, as the final boss of Mists of Pandaria. He can break your raid team's spirit faster than he nuked Theramore. One such team is fracturing under the pressure of Garrosh and his freaky Old God souvenirs, and their raid leader is asking for help.

Hello Scott!

I am currently the raid leader/GM for a startup guild on a high-pop server. I was able to create a guild, form a raid team, and get them 13/14 very quickly on normal. However, I recently lost my partner tank (I tank as a warrior) due to RL issues, and had a DPS rage quit during our Garrosh attempts. I've converted a dps to tank (he has sufficient gear), and am having trouble finding the right comp/team to get Garrosh down. We rarely wipe on the first 13, but we are having trouble on garrosh.

I am currently recruiting for the DPS for next week, but it seems like every time we get close, something happens and we have to restructure the raid team. I even lost a healer (loot whore) who refused to even consider of a lockout extension (he's 561 already). All members are 550+ ilvl, all show consummate skill in the first 13 bosses. But I know I might eventually lose a member soon if we don't get the kill soon. What do I do to keep members focused and happy with what we are doing? I am in no interest for gear, we DE 90% of the gear from the first 13. We just need the kill to move onto heroics. How do I keep this team together and get that kill?

Thank you
Disappointed GM

This may come across as insensitive to your problems, but I really think that your guild is better off without the ragequitter DPS and loot-centric healer. These are the types of players who chip away at team morale. The former is prone to screaming, throwing fits, and stressing everyone out even more than they need to be. Delays and disappointments like this are going to happen from time to time, and you need players who can handle them with poise.

The healer simply isn't a team player. Everyone in a raid needs to support what's best for the team and not themselves. Sure, it's not ideal to carry over a lockout to get a boss down, but in a situation like this one it makes total sense. To quit the guild over that shows a me-first attitude that is dangerous to a healthy team.

Allowing these players to run amok can ultimately lead to losing the players that you want to keep around. So don't stress too much about losing them, even though it has cost you here. In the long run, I'm convinced that you'll be better off.

Destroying everything you've ever loved

Now as for Garrosh, I feel your pain. He says that anger, hatred, and fear are the tools of a warchief, and his encounter certainly evokes such emotions. He says he will destroy everything you've ever loved, and if anyone can on normal mode, it's him.

This is a tough, tough fight on normal. My guild has been working our way through 10-man heroics. Garrosh normal was -- and still is -- considerably more difficult for us than a number of the earlier heroic encounters in the zone. It's a weird decision on Blizzard's part. I'm not sure if these easier heroics are supposed to be a gift for beating Garrosh or if beating Garrosh is supposed to prove you can conquer later heroics, or both.

Either way, several elements make this fight unusually punishing:
  • So many mechanics to learn. Not only are the mechanics varied, they change depending on the phase or the specific room you're teleported to. It's impossible to learn all the nuances just from watching a video. You have to experience them firsthand many times to fully grasp what's happening, and that's rough for raids with turnover. Every person's job and their ability to react to mechanics are so critical that one new person in the raid can set you back a long way.
  • Healers are punished for others' mistakes. One mistake can have a cascade effect that drains healers of resources like mana and healing cooldowns. It's easy to get caught taking damage you didn't need to take. This is especially true in the transition phases. If someone misses the faith/hope/courage buff, it's mainly on the healers to keep them alive. You need either consistently alert players or rock solid healers to get through those phases without losing anyone.
  • It's a looong fight, in the tradition of many other final bosses. One attempt can take more than ten minutes, and one mistake by one player can wipe you. That means you get fewer attempts per raid night than a typical boss. The length of the encounter is very counterproductive to the learning curve. Combined with the sheer number of mechanics that must be learned, Garrosh is a challenging fight that will tax the patience, endurance, and skill of every member of your raid team.

Breaking his heart

Be aware of these issues. Talk about them. Make sure your raid team is aware that this is not a typical boss, and talk about how most raid teams have struggled on Garrosh. Explain how the setbacks have been tough, but express confidence that the team can get the job done.

That should help assuage any loss in confidence. It also helps morale when your players can see that everyone is taking steps to get the kill. Here are some such steps:

1. Do extra preparation. You as the raid leader should scour forum threads about how to handle specific mechanics, and compare combat logs from guilds who have beaten Garrosh to your own logs to see where your team may be lacking. Every night you face him, it makes the team feel better if you talk about something new you learned that can help with a specific phase. Ask players to research specific strategies for their own classes and specs. Requesting that people go above and beyond is an opportunity for your players to take a long hard look at their own preparation and how they may not be doing everything they could.

2. Emphasize mechanics over DPS. Tanks and healers don't really have a choice in their performance. However, the majority of your raid is DPS, and they have the liberty of taking a small performance hit in order to make fewer mistakes with the encounter mechanics. Tunneling your bars is not going to do anything but wipe the raid here. Interrupts on mind-controlled players, taunts on grouped minion adds, etc. are essential duties that will cause a loss of DPS. Beating Garrosh into submission is more important than anyone's place on the meters.

3. Don't be afraid to experiment. Just because your strategy is good enough to get you through a phase doesn't mean it's optimal or even desirable. If you find alternatives, give them a try and see if things go smoother. My guild has made a few changes to our strat even after getting Garrosh down. You can always go back to the old strat if it doesn't work out. Your goal is to get through every phase with every player alive. Any minor or major modification that helps you do this will make a kill more likely.

4. Help your healers. Tanks and DPS should contribute every possible healing and damage reduction cooldown they have, especially during Empowered Whirling Corruption. Unnecessary damage -- and avoidable deaths -- should be sidestepped at all costs. Having everyone alive through the final burn phase is the key.

5. Analyze every death. Remind raiders how to avoid it in the future. Reinforcement of the core mechanics can help to make sure everyone understands all the potential dangers and pitfalls. Encourage your raiders to ask questions if they don't understand how or why they died. Don't judge them for not knowing. Help them to grasp the factors involved. This also avoids that awkward silence after a wipe.

6. Remain confident yourself. If the raid leader starts to doubt the team, you are doomed. Keep your spirits high, don't get too frustrated, and be firm but fair when you criticize your raid members.

Here's the good news: you've got the gear to succeed. Now you just need the execution. With enough practice, you will get him down. All the chagrin will melt away into excitement. Also, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the early heroics. They aren't exactly a cakewalk, but they are easier to learn than normal Garrosh. Good luck!

Officers' Quarters keeps your guild leadership on track to cope with sticky situations such as members turned poachers or the return of an ex-guild leader and looking forward to what guilds need in Mists of Pandaria. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to
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