Pulling – not my job, but knowing is good

Today, we’re going off into other people’s business. Seriously, you should be just about the LAST person – healer OR shadow – doing the pulling. Though you can have a role…

[I've started trying to put the summary at the end of long posts, and this is no exception. Jump to the end to skip the "WHY".]

In my rules of groups post I mentioned that the tank should decide who pulls. I stand by that, and when I write in the future of tanking I’ll say it again. But who decides isn’t necessarily who does it. And sometimes they turn to, well, the person who won’t ever pull to make the decision. heh – and sometimes you just need to create some order so you quit wiping on first-room trash.

So let’s take a hard look at pulling. As frequently happens, I’m going to start with: WHY?

Why are you pulling? What are you trying to accomplish?

Most people will answer that your objective is to isolate the mob(s) you’re attacking so they don’t draw buddies. That’s actually not bad, but it’s a subset. Try this one instead:

The purpose of the pull is to use position to maximize your combat effectiveness while minimizing that of the other side. Restated – pulling is all bringing only the mob you want to fight to where killing them is easiest for you.

Let’s start with what we’ve already mentioned – pulling them away from the mobs. How often do you see people yelling “back up, back up” after the fight’s begun? (smug pause as it happens to everyone at least once.) It’s usually because of a pat (patroller), but sometimes because the casters didn’t come join the party. The solution should be fairly obvious – pull them further.

Remember, if your team is asking you it’s because they haven’t a clue. Since you’re not an expert, you need a good basic rule till you learn the ins and outs. So this is your first and basic rule:

Pull the melee to double any casters range.

Your chosen battleground should be at least double the maximum possible for ranged combat — nominally 60 yards — away from where the mobs started. How can you learn where this is? Look at your spells’ tooltips and pick anything but mindflay. Now ease toward the mobs till your buttons indicate you’re in range. (Oh, you haven’t set that in your interface? Ok, I’ll get a post shortly on UI settings – if you see a link it’s done and I’ve edited this to add it. Anyway…) Now look at your heal spell – even if you’re a shadowpriest you have those buttons available, but you’ll need to slip out of shadowform for this to work. Have all your party EXCEPT the puller go there. That is where you want the battle to take place. Now, before the pull, take a moment to rearrange.

Rearrange? Yep. See, what’s going to happen is that your puller is going to do whatever, and then work to get the main melee to your chosen battleground. At a minimum, shoot and run. (Misdirection from hunters is beautiful here.) But the mob’s casters are only going to close till they’re in range. If you’ve decided to kill them first (see marking) they’ll stop right around where you started to set this up. Which means, since they’ll run to you, the melee portion of your kill team needs to come to the start point. And all your trappers need to decide at what point on the line they’re going to trap — recalling that if they trap while the mob’s at a distance nobody is going to accidentally break the trap with an AoE. And last but not least you’re not going to be barely out of range – OOPS BACK UP BACK UP – of that patrol.

You can substitute obstacles (corners and pillars) for distance in some cases. Casters and ranged fighters (hunter types) will move GENERALLY toward you till they can see you. The qualifier is because many will move at a diagonal, so you need to ensure that won’t put them in a mob or patrol path off to the side. You also can get by with pulling them shorter distances, but then your kill team needs to get closer to the unpulled threats to kill any ranged mobs. Since the purpose is to kill the mobs as fast and easily as you can, use as much distance as you can.

The second issue of pulling is ensuring you pull as little as YOU want to pull. Less common than ‘BACKUP BACKUP’ but still frequent is “OMG ADDS” or “BAD PULL”. You only marked three, and here come six. Time to step it up a notch…

I’m going to get into timing and position in a minute, but it’s time to put up the mirror. What are YOU doing to help prevent bad pulls? Are you using mind soothe on the nearest unlinked mob to the pull group?

heh – didn’t think of that, did you? OK, let’s examine this a minute.

Mind soothe’s tooltip reads: Soothes the target, reducing the range at which it will attack you by 10 yards. Only affects Humanoid targets level [40 | 55 | 70 |85] or lower. Lasts 15 sec.

Remember the spell combat numbers. If you’ve done NOTHING and you’re equal level, this spell has a 4% chance of failing. If it’s got resistance, that’s a chance again of it failing (the ‘armor mitigation’ phase in this case being all or nothing). But I know you’ve smartened up, so you’ve got a 99% chance (base) of success. And resistance… a little bit of penetration helps if that’s the issue. You takes your chances…

Frankly, a 1% chance of pulling the second group — so long as the party’s ready — is quite bearable. It’s a double pull. You did it from 40 yards away. (yes, 40 yards. BEHIND the puller.) Run to the tank, let him yell, and fade. You’re going to be busy but big, frigging, deal.

See, if you’re not sure about that second group – it’s so close you’re afraid of a double-pull from the actual puller – a quick mind-soothe gives your puller 15 seconds of significantly reduced worry. If you have never used mind-soothe in instances, I’m not saying you’re a poor contributor — it’s a subtle skill, and if you’ve got a good team you may never have used it. That said, take time to practice. Heck, go to some instance that’s too low for you — take a couple of friends — and practice.

Before we put down the mirror… mind soothe is humanoids only. But other classes can do the equivalent for other mobs. Druids, for example, can soothe beasts. hmmmm.

Social range leads me back to other pullers – yes, you’re out of the spotlight, quit squirming (grin). There’s a mechanism in the game – and no, I don’t have the details – whereby if a mob ‘alerts’ (gains threat) and other mobs friendly to it are close enough, they will alert as well. There are a few things (besides the soothe) that your puller can do to reduce this social pull of extras.

Let me start with the second rule: Pull when the clump of mobs around the target has the greatest separation from other mobs.

Pretty much everyone knows to start the pull so the target pulled is the closest. I mention it mainly for completeness, but want to point out that a straight line (the puller, pulled mob, and nearby mob) gives more separation than a narrow triangle. That said, that’s not the most important point.

Most people recognize that separation between mobs is important. That is, they like to wait (if the pull target wanders in a small set of steps) till there’s as much separation as possible before pulling. In my opinion, that’s the second-most focus of separation.

Often in a group of four you have two linked pairs close enough for a social pull between them. Sometimes getting all four is unavoidable. The best chance for NOT getting them is separation. Not, as stated in the previous paragraph, when the pull target is at the furthest separation. But when the PAIRS are at largest separation.

Watch the foursome. There are often cues to which two are paired – if nothing else, they’re the ones (usually) closest to one another. Wait for the two closest members of the pair to have their largest separation, then pull. Barring the mind soothe, this is the best chance you have of only getting two out of a group of four.

OK, one more rule and we’re done.

Rule three: Pull with nothing.

That is, use the least threat-generating ability you’ve got. There are two reasons.

First, unless you are the tank or you’re able to dump all the threat you’ve generated onto the tank, the tank has to overcome your threat to do his job. Yes, a good tank is going to be able to do this somewhat swiftly. But the easier you make it the less chance something goes wrong (A miss and a resist, for example).

Second, the lower the threat the less likely the neighbors are to notice it. Yep, re-referencing the previous section about social pulling. If you’ve carefully worked to hit max separation between a pair of groups and then hammer with Act of God (no, no such spell), everybody notices. Flea Bite, on the other hand, only gets noticed by the mob that’s bit. OK, I had a little fun, let’s restated this with real comparisons. A 10point shot from a level 1 wand will attract far less attention that a SW:D blast with all buffs in place. The same goes for all the other classes. Your puller, whoever it is, should pull with a rank 1 almost-nothing damage attack UNLESS he or she can ensure all the threat goes to the tank. And even then if trying to pull only part of the mob, starting with a little and following it with a larger misdirect (for example) is more useful.

OK, I’ve kept you long enough. Here’s the summary of points:

Pulling rules for those not practiced:

  • Pull the melee to double any casters range.
  • Pull when the mob (not the target) has greatest separation from neighbors.
  • Pull with nothing, or as close to it as you can manage.
  • And the addendum: You can enhance the pull by soothing the neighbors.
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~ by Kirk on August 10, 2007.

One Response to “Pulling – not my job, but knowing is good”

  1. OK… now keep in mind, this is just my humble opinion because I am a noob but, I think that there is one more extremely important thing to consider when pulling and that is the infamous “kick back” that alot of mobs have. I haven’t healed in an instance yet due to just starting out as a priest, but I do have a 70 warrior that is learning the art of pulling and I have to consider not only what direction I’m gonna get kicked but also remind the healer if I can to stay in range if I’m not up against a wall. This can be difficult to accomplish along with “facing” the mobs so just make sure your communication lines stay open before the pull if it’s a kicker scenario.
    I could be totally off the beaten path with this comment so please feel free to school me. I’s like a sponge oh great guru!!

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