Marking Targets

[edited and revised — the article Marking Revisited summarizes the changes.]

As a priest – healing or melting – it’s highly uncommon for you to be asked to be the group leader in an instance so you can mark the targets. And this in turn stops many priests due to the vicious circle that develops – fear of bad marking means passing up the opportunity means no gain in confidence means fear of bad marking…

Let’s take a minute – or ten – to look at marking targets for the group to help quell that fear.

When you’re marking, at first you’re faced with a host of decisions. Which mob(s) get CC -and what type? What order do you kill the ones you didn’t CC? What order do you kill CC? OMG.PANIC.ATTACK>>> stop. Deep breath. I’m going to start with a simple rule – the master rule.

Mark and deal with them in the order that ends with the least damage to your party. Oh, rule two (which will get discussed): CC to further minimize damage to your party. Oh, I realize that’s not helpful, so let’s get tedious….

[btw. Go to the end to see the “rules of marking” summarized with more detail.]

First thing you’re going to do is to pretend you can’t CC any of the mobs. Now with that option out of the way, you’re ready to make your first pass: What order will you kill mobs?

I’ve written (and discarded) this post several times due to how longwinded it gets. Here’s the condensed version: You should make your decision based on the result that minimizes damage taken over the battle.

Let’s get out of the party for a minute to see this better. We’ll pull a couple of examples to avoid decisions from tunnel vision.

First example: It’s you, alone, and you’re about to engage two mobs: a plate and a leather combat mob. You know, from somewhat bitter experience, that both mobs can do pretty much the same damage. Which one do you kill first? WHY?

You kill the leather mob first. Why? because while both are alive you’re taking twice the damage. And since it’s easier to kill the leather mob fast that’s the way to get from 2x to 1x damage.

Second example: Again, it’s you against two mobs. This time you’re facing a peon and a warrior. The peon is in leather but hits like, well, like a priest without mana. The warrior in plate hits like a warrior. Which one do you kill first?

Plate first. Why? Because the damage from the peon is next to nothing but killing him will take some time. Let’s look at this with some arbitrary math. Say the plate takes 4t time to kill and the leather takes 2t. The warrior does 4d per t damage, the peon 1d/t. Killing both takes 6t time. If I take the peon first, he does 2d (1d/t*2t) while the warrior does (4d/t*[4+2]t) 24d for a total of 26d. If I reverse the order, the warrior does 16d and the peon does 6d for a total of 22d. 4d isn’t much, but it’s still something. Note that in the first example the math goes: plate first is 16d + 24d=40d; leather first is 8d + 24d = 32d.

What we’ve discovered is what I call Damage to Killtime (DK, to differentiate it from DoT). Our first pass always ranks these from high to low.

As a general guideline, unless there’s an extreme disparity in DPS of the mobs the heavier the armor the higher the DK. Obviously, then, if we’re ignorant of a mob’s actual capabilities we can use its armor as a substitute.

Unfortunately, there are complications. Fortunately, we can fit them in.

The complications are what I consider “combat multipliers”. These multipliers come in three basic groups. There are those which increase a mob’s DoK – usually healers (which I’m calling this group), but those which make other mobs hit harder fit here as well. There are those which increase kill time by reducing our groups DPS (fear, sheep, damage reduction auras…) – we’ll call these CCers. And then there are the summoners – the ones who bring new guests to the party. And I’ll point out that some multipliers fill more than one gap — possessors being the best example. (They fit summoner and CCer categories all at the same time.) We’ll call these exponentials.

But, how do you fit them in? Well, you could do complex calculations to determine what the multiplier adds to the mix. But after you’ve done this for a while you discover that it’s nearly constant: The earlier the multiplier dies, the lower the massed mobs’ DoK. Thus REGARDLESS of individual DoK, multipliers go ahead of them on the list.

“Well,” you scoff, “then why did you group the multipliers?”

Because sometimes you have more than one, and I’m trying to help you be prepared.

Exponentials are always, ALWAYS first, unless you know for an absolute certainty the effect on party DoK is inconsequential.

Generally, a healer should always be next in line. They can be bumped if the CCer or the Summoner does multiples. If, for example, the CC is an AoE fear, they are ahead of the healer. If the Summoner adds a new mob every few seconds, it gets ahead of the healer. If the summoner ‘calls for help’ and there is more than one mob in range, it gets ahead of the healer.

And barring the above, sort the CCer and the summoner by the DoK the summoner can bring. If it’s tough mobs or more multipliers, kill the summoner before the CCer. If they’re weak mobs, get the CCer first.

Got that? Good. We now have our kill order. But… what about crowd control?

It’s surprisingly simple — and frequently done wrong. Until you have practice to know the few exceptions, ignore the multipliers and CC based upon DK always start your CC list with the second mob of your kill order.

Renewable CCs are killed last. Non-renewable CCs are placed in the normal order after their CC breaks.

Let’s use a quick example to pull this together. Assume a multiple mob of a warrior, a rogue, a healer and a mage (non-CC), and and you only have one CC ability. Your marks are: Kill order healer, rogue, mage, CC warrior2. If the CC is renewable (sheep or hunter’s trap) then warrior will die last. If it’s non-renewable (sap for example) then warrior gets engaged when he breaks sap so long as the healer is dead.

And now you’ve got it – or at least the outlines. You’re not going to determine detailed DoK without lots of experience, which is that vicious cycle all over again. But you’ve got the basics. Just to help, though, I’m going to give you a ‘cheat sheet’.

The Rules of Marking – Kill order. (* CC prioritization)

  • Exponentials (multiple class multipliers).
  • Multiple multipliers (more than one target/cast/effect)
    • Multi-summoner if summoned are High-DK
    • Multi-CCer
    • Multi-summoner if summoned are Low-DK
  • Healers
  • One-shot multiples
    • summoner High-DK
    • CCer
    • Summoner Low-DK
  • DK
  • Subsort by armor heavy to light. If in doubt about DK assume they’re all equal.

And remember there will be exceptions. Bosses, for example, are usually the highest DK but cannot be CC. But this will still help you think about the process.


~ by Kirk on August 9, 2007.

3 Responses to “Marking Targets”

  1. A teaser for a later post. Marking is not pulling is not tanking. For clues as to this future post, see my Rules of Groups post.

  2. […]  Here you’ll find a nice, long discussion on marking – selecting the order of kill and the crowd control priority.  It’s… off, slightly.   I’ve made edits with in, but you may not want to re-read the whole thing.  So here’s the corrected summary.  If you don’t get it, read the original. […]

  3. […] Endeavors had a good post on Marking Targets and determining the priority. I’m going to switch from the F-keys to numpad for marking and […]

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