Long time MMO players will know that there is a basic etiquette to group play when doing raids/dungeons/flashpoints. In this article I want to share some of these basic group behavior rules that MMO players should know.
The purpose of this mutually agreed upon group etiquette has nothing to do with gamers having good manners but rather came from the need to maximize success rates of completing raids. Let’s face it Raids are designed to be challenging. In most cases they cannot be completed solo. Raids are usually designed to be challenging even for a well-balanced group, so it is important that everyone in the group knows their role and follows a basic group behavior.
If this is your first time you are doing a particular Raid you are expected to tell your group members. This is to make sure that someone explains the particular raid mechanics to you. Some raids will have traps that will automatically kill you. Some raids have puzzles you may need to solve individually. Some boss encounters will have strange mechanics that will set half the room of fire. You need to know these things so that you can react accordingly and be a contributing member of your group.
The MMO Trinity
Regardless of your actual character type, in a raid you will take on 1 of the 3 roles. These roles are: Tank, DPS and Healer. The group leader will usually assign the roles to the group members. It is extremely important that you know your role in the group. If you have not been assigned a role you are probably going to be DPS.
A Tank is the player whose gear and abilities allow him to take/absorb lots of damage. This works differently in various games but basically a Tank will have a ton of hit points and good damage reduction. The tank will attempt to get “Agro” of every monster. In the best scenario every single monster and boss during and encounter will be attacking the Tank. Tanks will often have Agro abilities that will force the monsters to attack them.
If there are 2 tanks in the group sometimes it is necessary for the second weaker tank to get the Agro from any Mobs that spawn during the encounter. This is called the Off-Tank. Sometimes the second tank will also help the primary tank by taking the Agro for a bit to let the primary Tank recover.
However many times there is no need for the Off-Tank so make sure you listen to the group leader or ask if you are not sure.
Healers will usually do little or no damage but will instead focus on healing the party. If there are 2 healers in the group the stronger healer will usually focus on healing the tank to keep him alive. The second healer will focus on the rest of the party. The 2 reasons why healers will try not to attack is to make sure that the Mobs do not attack back. The healer cannot do their job of keeping everyone alive if they are running away from Mobs or are dead. The second reason is to make sure they save their spell points/mana/force for healing. Healers are usually sought after in any MMOs. A great healer can overcome many group mistakes.
DPS (Damage per Second)
Everyone else in the party regardless of class and even if they have more armor that damage ability will usually take on the DPS role. This means that while the tank is getting all the monsters to focus on him/her everyone else in the party will try to kill the Mobs or boss (in the right Kill Order). Remember the tank is not good at hitting things; the tanks job is to stay alive. It is the job of the DPS members of the group to do the vast majority of the damage.
The Kill Order
Many MMOs offer allow players to mark Mobs with target icons prior to the encounter. It is usually the Tanks job to mark or specify in which order he wants the DPS to take down the Mobs. Usually the weakest Mobs will be killed first. This is done to eliminate as much of the Mobs firepower as fast as possible. It may take 5 minutes to take down a boss that does 500 DPS, while it might take a few seconds to take down 3 weaker monsters that each do 100 damage per second. A weak Mob can still fire a powerful gun.
You may see that the Tank is switching between several Mobs and not following the kill order. The Tank is just trying to keep Agro to make sure that all the Mobs are attacking him. You should still stick to the assigned kill order no matter what the Tank is doing.
It is important for everyone to follow the kill order. If players divide their DPS amongst many different Mobs, it will take longer to kill Mobs and reduce the total DPS being done to the Tank. When players do not focus their DPS, Raids often fail.
The Hate List
Mobs will usually keep a hate list. The list of players they hate the most. The player on the top of the list will be attacked by the Mob. Player that does the most damage to the mob will often end up at the top of the hate list. Hence it is possible for a Mob to stop attacking the tank and switch to you if you are doing a good amount of DPS. There are several things the group needs to do in order for the Mob to continue attacking the Tank.
First the tank will get a head start attacking the mobs before everyone else joins. This is done to make sure the tank can build Agro and get to the top of the Mobs hate list first. So make sure that you listen to your Raid leader and give the tank a 5 second head start before joining the fight.
Make sure you follow the kill order. The tank will keep the Boss occupied while you take out the weaker Mobs. This will give the tank extra time to build Agro/Hate on all the other Mobs before you join in.
Tanks also have Agro abilities that will force them to the top of the hate list. However these abilities usually have a cool down and are not always available. They are often used if the Boss switches Agro to someone else (like the healer).
If you are doing too much DPS to the Boss and he attacks you, run to the tank and give the tank a few seconds to build up Agro again. This might mean that you actually stop attacking the Boss. Remember if you are not built for tanking you will not have the required damage reduction and hit points to survive the Boss. Also the healer is focusing on the Tank not you, so if you grab and keep the Bosses Agro you will probably die.
Never, ever run around in circles with the boss on your tail. Run to the tank. Healers will often use Area of Effect (AoE) heals on the tank, so the safest place is often right beside the tank.
Some players will have Crowd Control or CC abilities that basically take out a single Mob from the fight for a while. However in Most games the CC ends as soon as you attack the Mob. It is extremely important not to attack Mobs that have been CCd either directly or accidently by using your Area of Effect (AoE) spells.
Heals generate threat. It may be possible that as you are healing the Tank, the boss will perceive you as a greater threat and switch to you. This usually does not end well for the healer. If you are a healer make sure that you pace your heals. You don’t need to keep everyone healed to the max. Save your spell points and your most powerful spells for when you really need them.
In many games bosses will be weaker in the back than in the front. It is always a good idea to attack the boss from the back.
It is often possible to pull a weaker Mob away from the group by doing a Line of Sight (Los) pull. A ranged DPS member will walk closer to the Mob, attack and quickly run back to the group. If this occurs listen to your group leader and wait with the group.
Mobs Area of Effect (AoE)
In many MMOs AoE spells have a little hint/tell before they occur. You may see a circle on the ground around you. That is usually not a good sign. If something new appears around you always move away or else you might find yourself standing in fire. Healers do not like that.
Rolling for Loot
Provided everyone does their job you might be able to take down the boss and actually get some Loot. Many MMOs will only have one or two rare items that drop from the boss. Often MMos will have some kind of a dice roll mechanic where you roll the dice to see who gets the item. Some MMOs will also have a Need or Greed system for rolling. What this means is that a player that selects Need on an Item will automatically win against any player that selected Greed. If two players select Need then the player with the highest roll wins. If all players select Greed, the player with the highest roll wins.
It is very important that you only select Need on items you are planning to use/wear. Make sure that the item is for your class and has abilities that your class uses. Also make sure the item is actually better than what you already have. Rolling Need on items you are going to sell or give to your companion (Ninja an Item) character can get you banned from any future groups.
If you need the item for your primary companion/pet make sure you ask the other members first if they don’t mind if you roll Need.
Not following Group Play Etiquette
It depends how badly you violate the group etiquette and if you caused the group to fail. In extreme cases you may stop getting heals and die. If you continue not to follow rules you may find yourself dead throughout the remainder of the Raid or if the game allows kicked out of the group.
You may get called a noob or something worse. You may get added to group leader Ignore list, preventing you from joining that group again. If doing a raid with guild members you may even get kicked out of the guild.
However on successful raid completion all is usually forgiven. You may still get called a noob though :)
When in Doubt
Communication is important. If you are not sure about something just ask. Group leaders prefer someone that is new and asks for guidance better then someone who causes the group to fail.