Tanking for Dummies


RNG, my ancient nemesis, we meet again.
March 23, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Humor, Raiding, Rants | Tags: , , , ,

Ghostcrawler has implied that Blizzard has an issue with RNG mechanics, at least as far as players are concerned.  I can understand this on principle: deciding the results of a battle by a roll of the dice is not a fair measure of skill.  I would imagine that this is the purpose of PvP.

That said,  I cannot help but notice that Blizzard has developed a kind of fetish for developing encounters dependent on randomness.  My frustration with this can perhaps only be matched by a priest caught in the sights of a mace-spec rogue.  I must inquire what bright mind in arguably one of the greatest game studios in the world thought this was a good idea.

The subtitle to this post should probably be “or why Tarsus hates Sartharion + 3 Drakes” but the origins of this go back to the revelation that Onyxia’s Deep Breath, probably one of the most widely speculated upon  abilities in an encounter in Vanilla WoW, was completely random.  If you aren’t familiar with this particular encounter, perhaps because you never raided in the pre-expansion game the second stage of the fight employed a mechanic whereby the dragon Onxyia would cause a wall of flame to wash across the battlefield.  This ability, called “Deep Breath” would kill or seriously maim anyone without a substantial amount of Fire Resistance and covered perhaps 2/3 of the area (which 2/3 depended on where Onyxia was at the time).  There were numerous theories governing how many times she would use this ability, the most prevalent of which provided us with one of the more humorous in-jokes for WoW players.  But all this speculation was completely useless because this mechanic, the frequency of which determined the success or failure of many raids, was based on the random number generator.

I contemplated this a lot while we wiped repeatedly attempting to get our hands on a Twilight Drake last night.  Void Zones, though difficult to see, were a manageable problem.  Lava Tsunamis, though panic inducing, killed few people.  Instead, our progress was largely determined by the number of Lava Blazes that spawned.  With the buffs and debuffs the drakes apply, an enraged elemental will be the death of a non-tank.  They are super dangerous.  I noted that they spawned from the fireballs that drop from the sky, but not all time.  They would even spawn if someone was no where near them – indeed, they would spawn in the middle of a Lava Tsunami meaning that we would have an enraged elemental on the loose.  There is a great deal of speculation of how this spawn mechanic works, what conditions could be manipulated to produce fewer Blazes…

You see where this is going don’t you?

Mark my word, a year from now some douche is going to tell 1-up that it was just fucking random all along.  Isn’t that fun?

No it’s not fun, you twits.  The encounter is plenty hard without some damn random number bullshit.  If it’s supposed to be about skill, then let it be about skill.  Stop stacking the deck.

I swear, if the Random Number Generator is the feature of the rumored “hard-mode” encounter in Uldaar, someone needs to get a smack in the teeth.

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7 Comments so far
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I’m not sure deep breath is the best example of the problem of excessive RNG given that it was 100% avoidable, so every death it caused wasn’t so much a death to the dice gods as to the “didn’t know what the [explitive deleted] to do” death.

Comment by yuki

I always thought Prince Malchezzar was the ultimate RNG fight, at least in Burning Crusade. You could be doing everything perfectly, stomping a mudhole in him, and then somewhere in the depths of the servers, a couple of random numbers pick an x/y coordinate for the next infernal that’s in a location that guarantees a wipe. Maybe you’re hemmed in already and it drops on your rage camp, or the tank. It’s just a succession of random numbers, and if they dropped the wrong way, the fight was all but impossible before we overgeared the hell out of it. If they dropped the right way, it wasn’t all that bad.

Of course, now I’m a total slave to the RNG since I’m arms for a few days. 30% chance per Rend tick to proc Overpower, 9% chance per hit to proc Sudden Death, 31% base crit chance to stick Trauma and Deep Wounds…all about the RNG, baybee.

Comment by Lewis

@ Yuki – Saying it was 100% avoidable is true in so far as your raid was run by robots. In reality, if you were in certain positions via her you were just SOL – something that I might add was inevitable given that one of the “theories” was that you needed to spread out to avoid Deep Breath.

@ Lewis – The thing about Prince was that the RNG element was much more obvious. I mean, people had no expectations of the ability to control where the Internals fall. By contrast, both Sarth and Onyxia seem to share the notion that a random element is controllable. I guess that is why they are linked in my mind.

Comment by Tarsus

If you were paying attention to the boss, you ALWAYS had time to run to safety, no matter where you were in the room. The only way to die to deep breath was not paying attention to her positioning or standing around picking your nose when she was casting. Frankly phase 3 with the random fears into lava/cleaves/breaths/her tail was VASTLY more RNG dependent.

What’s funny is that the superstitions about deep breath actually WERE generally good ideas for other reasons. Spreading out reduces the amount of people taking splash damage from her random target fireballs while airborne, while coating her in DoTs made the phase shorter, thus reducing the number of chances for you to fail at dodging deep breaths and saving healer mana.

Comment by Yuki

Amen, brother.

Comment by Charnal

@ Yuki- While you’re correct that it was 100% avoidable, asking it an entire raid of 40 people to avoid it while healing, tanking, and watching for adds to DPS down is a little much. While you or I might be perfectly capable of tanking, watching Ony, and tracking the raid to give out adjustment commands, most of the WoW community cannot do all of this at once. I think it’s a great example of RNG because it couldn’t have been more random, positioning and amount of times used completely determined the difficulty of the fight for a group.

@ Lewis- Prince really only wiped groups like that when not paying attention or when not DPSing hard enough during the “soft enrage.” The randomness of the drops were easily countered by good planning and paying attention to their trajectory.

Comment by kittoes

Sorry, forgot about the original post. I really agree with you that RNG should not determine the difficulty of an encounter from attempt to attempt. RNG is fine in cases such as Thaddius where you have no idea what charge you’re gonna end up with or even things like the fire on Archimonde. All of these things are easily countered by people paying attention to what is going on. The adds hoever on Sarth just randomly screw you, you might do a Sarth where only a total of 10 adds spawn the whole fight one week, then the next you wipe because 120 of the buggers were running around.

The difference is the spread of the RNG IMO. Instead of a variance of having anywhere from 10-60 adds in a fight, shrink that to 30-40 and you have a much more consistent encounter while retaining the desire for a semi-unpredictable fight.

Comment by kittoes




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