position and timing and aggro, oh my.
Pursuant to most of the recent posts, a specific example.
We are a party of five going into hellfire ramparts. There are two level 70 warriors – prot spec (tank) and fury spec (declared off-tank). There is a mid-60 mage (ice) and a mid-60 warlock (demonology/destruction). And Zingiber – 70 Disc/Holy priest.
We enter. The first group of four is straightforward. The second pull, things go nuts. In detail…
As the tank pulls with a gunshot at a mob in the left group, the mage sheeps a mob in the right. We are now in an 8-mob battle. But wait, it gets more fun.
The tank grabs and holds three mobs from the left, and the offtank picks up the spare. The mage closes with the three moving from the right and pops a frost nova, takes two steps back and frostbolts one (breaking its frozen status). The warlock and his demon concentrate on one of the others in the frost-lock. So we’ve got two battles going on – warriors on the left, and squishies about 25 yards away to the right. I now have to make an immediate decision as to location. I cannot position outside 15 from both groups – the opening of the way we came puts the squishies out of line of sight, but going to the other side means I’m in detection range of the patrol when he comes.
I choose to be closer to the warriors and ‘at range’ of the squishies. Why? The first mob that’s going to go freelance is the third frost nova. 8 seconds – about 10 after start of battle, the nova breaks and heads for the mage. I’ve thrown two renews (1600 hp over time apiece for 1600 threat), and a greater heal apiece on the tank and the mage (4K apiece, 4K threat), so I’ve got 5600 threat on that new mob – and so does the mage. He’s still busy with the first nova mob. The warlock is just finishing his mob and turning to the third, but he’s going to have to do 5600 plus 10% to that mob just to get it to change to him. I, on the other hand, will draw its attention when I do 30% more — just under 3300 heal points. I’m safe with a pair of flash heals or a pair of renews. If I were close, a measley 560 would be ‘too much’, and ANYTHING makes me the target of preference. The bad news is that the mage is below 50% again. Two flash heals to the mage, and then I plan to wait for dps to catch up.
At this point we probably would have made it except the warlock moved to get a better angle and aggroed the patrol – a beastmaster. He leaves his voidwalker on that third nova and takes on the beastmaster, but the two doggies have nobody hitting them. I have the tank approaching 50%, the warlock approaching the OC point, and the mage is headed back down to 50%. The good news is the mage and the off-tank are each just about done with their respective target. So, I gamble on a Prayer of Healing and an immediate fade.
2000 points of health for EVERYONE. Since I had no damage, 8000 points of healing or 4000 more threat points on every single target. They start toward me, then the fade puts me at temporary zero on their tables – which will stay for 10 seconds or I do something to regain their attention. Target change for the doggies is the warlock – plummeting health and I have to decide whether to let him die (freeing his targets to double-down on the mage) or toss a shield and heal (and pull both the doggies back to me) or run.
The warlock is doing OMG damage so I gamble with a shield and heal. The off-tank doesn’t see the doggies and heads off to rescue the warlock and so does the mage, and the doggies drop my shield in three seconds (one greater heal on the warlock) and me three seconds later (frigging crits). The mage notices just too late and gets the attention of both dogs, and since he’s really low they pop him almost as fast. The sheep is off right about then, and that untouched mob makes it a cascade of death to a party wipe.
Post wipe, the rest of the party decides to wait for me to return so they can be rezzed instead of also running back. While that has the potential to be annoying and deserves a second rant, it DID give me the opportunity to consider what would have happened with other options. If I’d shielded and run, we’d have been in exactly the same situation except I’d have been rezzing the party much sooner. If I’d let the warlock die, however, the off-tank would probably have picked up the doggies. The mage would have refreshed the sheep, keeping it out of the fight, and we’d have pulled it out.
On the other hand, I did exactly that when this happened again (yes, it was that bad). We won the fight, and the rest of the time with that party I got to read the constant complaints – “Do you know what my repair bill is going to be? Are you going to let me die AGAIN?”
Yes. Your repair bill, at worst, will be less than the tank, and if by sacrificing you or the mage or even myself the party wins, it’s worth it.
But it’s a great lesson in the foibles and decisions of position, timing and aggro.