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  • Home » Cataclysm

    Get Back to Fundamentals for Running Dungeons in Cataclysm

    Posted on Nov 29, 2010 by: Jason Zimmerman
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    Cataclysm 5 Man Dungeons Tips

    Daetur on the MMO-Champion Forums created an entry titled “What Wrath players need to know to not suck at Cata!” I found some good information in what he said, though I think it is less about sucking and more about getting back to the fundamentals of group play.

    I’ve pulled out some of the key points from what Daetur said and I’ve added my own opinions here as well. Since I have been running a lot of low level dungeons on my Priest I’ve experienced a complete lack of the fundamental tactics for a successful dungeon run. You can expect that players new to World of Warcraft are still learning, but most of what I witness is just general laziness and complete apathy from players in heirloom gear who should know better.

    1.) Be mindful of your positioning. Do these mobs have a knockback? Will you get thrown into other mobs? When trying to dodge that fire on the ground, are you running towards another group of mobs? Extra pulls can and likely will mean wipes, and any damage that can be avoided will make your healer’s life that much easier, and make their mana last that much longer.

    ——> 1.a) If you do get aggro, run the offending mob TO your tank, not AWAY from him. Root or snare the mob that is aggroed on to you, and then move TO your tank so that the mob will run closer to them as well. This makes it much easier for your tank to peel the mob off of you, and will get you back into safety quicker.

    2.) Communicate with your group. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never seen these people before in your life. Ask who you should CC. Ask the tank to pop his CDs because you know you have trouble healing this pull. Ask if you have questions about an encounter (please, for god’s sake). Ask for a mana break. Don’t sit there like a deaf mute along for the ride and pray everyone else knows what they’re doing. Much of the Cataclysm content WILL take some organization.

    ——>2.a.) Take and give constructive criticism. If you wipe, try to figure out what went wrong and fix it without liberal use of “suck,” “noob,” “fail,” “ragequit,” etc. Also, if someone else offers you criticism, don’t take it too personally.

    3.) Keep your group’s best interests in mind. Pay attention to what is happening to your group members. Is a mob running for your healer or clothies? Root it, slow it, or stun it. Did you get an extra add? Try to help control them- slow, CC, etc.

    4.) Be patient! This is all new content, and your group is in leveling gear, not top-tier epics. These fights are not generally easy, and have some new mechanics to learn. If someone in the group needs to have the fight explained to them, don’t complain. If your groups wipes, run back in and try again. I’m sure you had to learn the fight at some point too. If the healer needs to stop for a mana break, don’t keep pulling or get impatient. Trust me, they are working hard to keep your group alive. DON’T expect 15-20 minute runs!

    5.) Be observant. Check out new buffs, debuffs, and spell effects. The more you know about what is around you and what mobs can do, the more effective you can be. Mages in particular, watch for TASTY Spellsteal fodder. You’ll be amazed at the buffs you can give yourself and take off of a foe.

    6.) Consumables!! Yes, that’s right! Health potions, mana potions, potions of speed! Well, mostly health and mana. Have them! Use them liberally if you have access to them! Mana potions in particular can give healers the extra mileage they need on a tough fight.

    A couple things on the first section: Patience, where has it gone? It seems to me that there was a time when players had more patience than they do now. You used to be able to wipe and get back in without half the group leaving. So my advice here: find a guild you can fit in well with and run with. This will generally solve the patience issue.

    Also, when you get aggro and a mob comes after you it is instinct to run away. But like Daetur said, run to the tank. This is an important habit for everyone to get into.


    1.) If your target is casting and it can be interrupted, do it! Interrupts- not just for bosses! Interrupting spells being cast by your enemy will often go a long way towards reducing incoming damage.

    ——> 1.a.) Bind your interrupt/stun/silence to an easy-to-reach key. If you only ever use ONE keybind, this should be it. I typically have mine bound to my scrollwheel or Shift+leftclick so that I can hit it as fast as possible. Your mileage may vary.

    ——> 1.b.) You can use a ranged interrupt or silence to help your tank gather spaced out caster mobs. The tank will, 9 times out of 10, greatly appreciate this, and it really helps with add control.

    2.) A dead DPS does NO dps! Remember, if you recklessly frontload all of your damage and aren’t careful, you can end up pulling off the tank. Please stay on our target, or the marked target.

    ——>2.a.) This rule also applies to standing in ‘stuff.’ The faster you move out of it, the easier you make your healer’s life. Since mana will be more of an issue for healers in Cataclysm, the more mana you can save your healer, the better your group’s chances of survival.

    ——>2.b.) Use of defensive cooldowns, even as a dps, can really save your healer a lot of trouble. If you can anticipate incoming damage (un-interruptible AoE, or you got aggro somehow), pop a CD like Barkskin, Icebound Fortitude, etc. Also, with a bit more freedom in speccing in Cata, talents that increase healing done to you or reduce damage that you take can be very good candidates for your spec.

    3.) Be patient! Let your healer drink, let your tank mark and set up their pull, and let someone explain the fight if necessary. Remember, this content will be NEW to nearly everyone from 80-85.

    4.) Learn about your classes’ Crowd Control (CC) abilities. Before stepping into a Cataclysm dungeon, please note that some trash packs NEED to be Crowd Controlled (CCed). Familiarize yourself with the CC options available to your class, and the limitations of it

    ——>4.a.) Don’t break the sheep! Be careful of cleaves and AoE abilities if there is a CCed mob nearby. Damage often breaks enemies out of CC, and they will then run rampant through your group.

    5.) Learn to kite! Kiting involves slowing a mob and making it chase you away from or around your group while not hitting you. Mages and hunters in particular are known as great kiters. Death Knights can be quite good at it too, as they have both a taunt and Chains of Ice. This technique can be extremely helpful in situations where there are multiple powerful melee adds that cannot be CCed.

    6.) Follow marks and kill orders! Focusing fire will be very important in Cata. We won’t be able to just AoE down every pull anymore. Usually, Skull will be first and X will be second. Crowd Control targets may also be marked. As a general rule, HEALER type mobs die first, followed by damaging casters, then melee.

    7.) You are more than just “big numbers!” Simply because your role or spec is “dps” doesn’t mean you can’t throw out a heal, a dispel, or a cleanse, or even pick up a stray add. Did the healer just die? Does your class have some healing spells? Well, you’d BETTER have those on your bar, because it’s time to show what you’re made of. Pick up the healing and save your group!

    The biggest thing to takeaway from the DPS section is to not front load your damage, do not aoe right away, and follow kill orders. We’ve gotten into a habit of pulling very large packs of mobs and using nothing but aoe.

    This might work for the players who currently out-gear the Wrath Heroic content but in low levels and for 80-85 this will create problems. We’ve developed bad habits and we’ve trained a new generation of players just getting started in WoW to follow the same bad habits.

    The tank should not pull 10 mobs, then the dps unload all aoe spells and abilities, then everyone has aggro and is taking damage and the healer is out of mana by the end of that pull. This technique is just slowing down the runs because 1) The DPS players have won’t be nearly efficient enough to aoe large packs down. So you are actually killing slower this way and 2) The healer having to constantly stop and drink is also slowing you down.

    We need to get away from pulling entire rooms and get back to playing smart, marking targets as needed, crowd control as needed. This will actually speed up your run.


    1.) Cleanse! Many healers in WotLK are more used to healing through debuffs instead of removing them. With mana being more of an issue in Cata, it will often be more efficient to remove damaging or heal-reducing debuffs as soon as possible, rather than try to heal through all the damage. Which debuffs are more expensive to heal through than cleanse will be something you have to learn on your own, but it will be important to keep cleansing in mind in Cataclysm content!

    2.) Conserve your mana! Mana is not going to last you anywhere near as long in Cata as it does now. Learn which heals are the most efficient, and get a feel for how much each one heals for. Knowing which heal to use when will be essential. AoE heal spam will not cut it anymore.

    ——>2.a.) Part of mana conservation is triage. Triage is deciding the priority of you ‘patients.’ As a general rule, if SOMEONE has to die, it should be the dps first, the tank second, and the healer last. This means, if you have to choose between saving a dps and yourself, save yourself. Between the tank and the healer does get more fuzzy, but remember that it’s possible for dps to burn something down with heals backing them up if the tank does die.

    3.) Predict incoming damage. Watch who the mob(s) is(are) targeting. Having an addon that shows who has threat is quite handy here, or just activate this feature in the standard WoW raid/arty interface. If you see an add turn to a dps, you know that that’s the one that will need heals. You shouldn’t be mindlessly spamming everyone in CASE they take damage anymore. You know the tank will be taking damage. But the key to be a great, efficient healer, is to be able to anticipate who ELSE in your group is going to get hurt.

    4.) Be ready for anything. Assume the worst. If you are about to start a pull that you have never healed before, it is safer to assume high spike damage than wait and see. Many healers get a nasty surprise when a new type of trash mobs hits like a freight train and they just weren’t ready for that kind of damage.

    These are all solid tips for healing. I especially recommend that players have an addon that shows threat. I use Vuhdo and have it set up so that as soon as someone gets aggro it says AGGRO in red letters on their frame. This way I know someone is about to take some damage and I can prepare for it.


    1.) Don’t break CC! Pull mobs BACK and away from CCed adds. This will reduce the risk that CC will be broken by your own AoE tanking abilities and dps’ cleaves. It will help you hold threat because you do not need to watch your AoE and cleaves, and it will help your dps for the same reason.

    2.) Mark adds! You should know the drill—Skull on the first target to die, X on the second, mark CC targets with Square, Moon, etc. Focusing fire will be more important in Cataclysm. Packs cannot simply be AoEed down across the board. Typically, you’ll want to have your dps target enemy HEALERS first, then damage-dealing casters, and finally, melee.

    3.) Be liberal with your shorter cooldown CDs. Mitigating incoming damage will be essential in Cata. It will help conserve your healer’s mana. A particularly good time to hit your shorter defensive cooldowns (anything under 2 minutes) will be close to the start of a pull, when the most adds are alive, unless there is something special about the adds that makes them more dangerous later.

    4.) Use your stuns! Stuns are a great way to mitigate incoming damage, don’t forget it! They can also buy you time to get stable threat at the start of a pull, or stop a mob from running after a healer or dps when your taunt isn’t up.

    5.) CONTROL your pulls. Pull with restraint. Most tanks in WotLK (myself included) have gotten very, very accustomed to charging into a dungeon, foaming at the mouth, and pulling the first three groups all together. This is NOT going to fly in Cata, guys. We will need to relearn how to pull with restraint. When you pull a group, range pull and drag them BACK instead of charging right into them. You can also have CCers pull from range and pick up the mobs as they head towards your group. Try not to aggro any extra mobs.

    6.) You are NOT the master of the group. Many tanks in WotLK have become rude and overconfident due largely to their short queue times. Many have a tendency to treat the other members of their groups with the expectation that whatever THEY says goes, because the group cannon function without them. Please, I beg of you, if you are one of these tanks, remember that you cannot solo this content. You need your group as much as they need you.

    The big adjustment for tanks will be restraint. Sure it’s fun to pull an entire room and see how how many mobs you can grab at once. But guess what? If you can’t hold aggro on them all, you are doing a disservice to your party. Even if you can hold aggro you are taking more damage than necessary and causing your healer to work harder than they should have to and burn through mana faster than they should have to.

    I do also see tanks with a God complex. If you find yourself running with a tank like this who tells you to shut up or get out because you need them more than they need you, simply put them on your ignore list and you won’t have to worry deal with them in the future. As a tank myself I can say that — we aren’t that special. Just because we are fewer in numbers doesn’t mean that we have the right to act like the group can’t live without us.

    The moral of the story is patience, communication and getting back to the fundamentals. Like I said, if you are in a good guild you can solve the patience and communications easier than a PuG, but if you don’t follow the fundamentals of group play then you will still struggle as much as the worst PuGs.

    The original post.



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    • Meyegot

      Everyone 5a.) Also make sure you have the gear to do your function. Nothing worse then a hunter without a bow , or a pally tank in healing gear.

      DPS 5.) Spells, and hunter shots, have a range on them for a reason. While melting face is fun and funny it is also a good way to die in a few hits and cause your healer unneeded healing as you wouldn’t have taken damage further back. Only stand close to the mob if needed, or bringing and add to the tank, otherwise stay out of harms way.

      Tanks 7.) If you have a range way of pulling do not stand near the Healer and pull back to them. Give your Healer room to move around and adjust positions as needed in a fight. Also when going to a mob remember to make sure LOS with healer is maintained as in if you cant see them you more then likely will not be healed as they can not see you.

    • Rico

      After a few days in dungeons/heroics I can say this post is pretty accurate. There is one thing I’d like to criticize/argue with and one thing I’d like to add.

      The healing priority: Tank > Healer > DPS
      I realize the post said the Tank/Healer line is fuzzy but I think it has become more distinct (especially in heroics). I’ve had several fights where the healer went down early and I was able to use my CDs appropriately to still allow for a boss kill. (I’m a druid tank) The mobs just simply hit too hard to expect a healer to keep a rogue up. Your chances for survival are much better with a healer down than a tank down. Just my experience.

      What I’d like to add: Let the tank pull back to LOS casters.
      It seems to be natural instinct to get as close to the pull as possible (especially with melee dps). The tank should communicate what they are doing. If they say they are pulling back, then stand back around the corner. Wait for the mobs to come to you. This helps keep unnecessary heals happening during a pull – and consequently causing healer aggro. It also gives the tank a bit more opportunity to get aggro.