revisiting Marking Targets

I’ve not really changed my mind. I just ran into a situation with some pugs and friends combined and it’s on my mind – again.

First – unless you are with a group that is your constant companions, mark. You might have someone who wishes the targets would be marked but isn’t willing to speak out. (Healers are notorious for this.) You might be working with a group that has no clue how useful marking targets can be. Just… mark.

Second – while marking “the right thing” can be extremely useful, just marking ANY OLD WAY will help. Not least: adds. You’ve marked everything, and suddenly something is beating on your healer that ISN’T marked… the clarification helps. Especially if you’re tab-targeting (just find the one that isn’t marked and go.)

More useful – HUGELY useful – is getting everyone on the same sheet of music. A lot of old hands preach about working with a main assist (or what I call the kill team leader), but just using a constant kill order — everyone attacks this symbol till it’s dead, then that symbol, then that one… — will reap large benefits. Add in a constant for crowd control (say, moon is always sheeped, square is always trapped, circle is always sapped) — and make sure the code matches the kill order (so Skull, X, Circle because sap is a one-time, …)

Mark because it will make your group perform better even if they’re not communicating.

Now, choosing what to mark so you go from “better” to “outstanding” takes practice, and can be a bit of an art. And while I wrote a complex and long article on it, I can give you an intermediate level that’s fairly simple.

Make the kill order based on ease of killing.

In other words, you’re facing squishies and tanks. CC the tanks, kill the squishies, then kill the tanks one after another. If you KNOW that one of the squishies is a healer while the other is a DPSer, kill the healer first. If you don’t know, don’t worry about it.

Now, I’m going to point out that most people kill the hard target first. In the end, however, this is due to lazy thinking. They do it because the pullers don’t want to do the extra effort necessary to bring the casting mobs into range. This… may take more persuasion on your part. But again, if you MARK the casters as first to die, the persuasion is easier. The eventual squabble (Hey, quit marking them first because we fight too close to the other mobs! Hey back, that’s why we’re supposed to bring them back HERE – first OR last!) will either cause everyone to bail, or massively improve everything. ummm, please practice tact — it’ll make the latter result a lot more likely.

In sum, then:

Mark your targets, all the time. It won’t really take that long, and actually will speed your group. And…

Until you’re practiced, mark the squishies as “die first” targets. Yah, it feels weird sheeping the executioner and hitting the healer first, but trust me, you’ll like the result.

Have fun.

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~ by Kirk on December 11, 2007.

8 Responses to “revisiting Marking Targets”

  1. Mark because TJ pitches fits and has tantrums when you don’t. That’s what I hear, anyway.

  2. *hands out cookies for the article*
    Thank you. I’m directing some of my folks to this, as a followup on how nice it makes folks behave Even if the order is “wrong” and you skull the tough guys first and then the healers, at the very least, everyone coordinates on one target, instead of splitting things between those who “know” to hit the healers first, and the others who focus on the tough melee mob. Marks of any sort = Healer <3

  3. Yes, yes, yes! I’m not really as experienced as you (or most of your readership, probably). I’m new enough that I clearly remember my first venture into RFC. I was a hunter at the time, and the group’s leader/warrior/tank marked *everything*. Everyone stuck–more or less–to the marks.
    I was shocked at how easy things were. I had been hearing stories about pugs from hell, and this wasn’t anything LIKE that, what were the storytellers talking about?
    Since then, I’ve learned. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even suggest marking until the second “let’s kill everything” wipe, and reflexively make a note (at least) of people who suggest it before me. I’ve been cursed at for asking whether we can please mark after the third wipe, because ‘we don’t need marks, learn to play.’ Maybe we don’t need them, but it will probably make things go faster and with less stress. Maybe all we need is to make conscious effort not to go engage 9 elite mobs at once. If only there was a way to tell everyone which mobs to gang up on…
    On a related note, does anyone know a polite way to say “Listen, if nobody here can tackle one of these mobs one-on-one, why the heck do you think the five of us can each handle three of them at once?”

  4. To answer JC, i think it would go something like… “Can you refresh me on what mob i’m supposed to be focusing on? Normally in my guild, we use the raid icons for that, but i know there are other ways. I’m just not picking up on what you’re using.”

    To digress, my guild consolidated our various ways of marking into a standardized kill order: star, circle, diamond, triangle. moon, square, and X are for CC (generally sheep/seduce, trap, sap/shackle respectively), leaving skull generally unused. I played in a couple of heroic pugs for the first time in, well, months last night, and imagine my surprise when people expected me to use the kill order “skull, X” (with apparently nothing in after that, so i appended “star, circle”).

    The reason we start with star is because, being listed first in the keybind/dropdown list, it just flowed naturally. If Blizzard was going to make a “skull”, why the heck did they make it the LAST one instead of the first one? Damn.

  5. hmm, I just remembered a run tht I did AGES ago where the marker was just unbelievably fast/good at his job. He attributed it to hard practice with Unreal Tournament (/spit) and good macro skills. seeing as you’re on a macro journey at the moment, can you make any suggestions for macro’ing the marks?

  6. @xcal,

    Technically, the answer is “macro, no. Script, yes.” And I’m going to tease and not put it here — it’ll be one of the scripts I create while teaching in the ‘Writing a macro’ series.

  7. When I tank I do the marking. Skull being the first to kill, as normal. X is next. (But I’m scatter brained and forget whether the usual Star or Circle is next. Logical me wants the triangle to be third. But then the circle has to be fourth, since the four cornered blue box is for the Hunter’s trap. So maybe the Circle is 3rd and the Star 4th. I don’t know. Sounds good.)

    However, as I get to the next target in the kill list, I have a keybinding set, backspace, that I tap and this will mark the new target with a Skull.

    (Wondering what to nuke? Nuke the Skull. Always.)

    In the end everything that we kill has been marked with a Skull and then killed.

    Too, it can act as a kind of “It’s Okay to Nuke now” signal. So I get off what I want to generate threat, then tap my backspace key and mark the target I’m on with a Skull to kill.

  8. @Kinless

    Brilliant. I am stealing that. Just… brilliant.

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