Melee friendly raids, ah, cool, pardon, come again?

Ah, such wonderful flame-bait, blogger-bait, and diversive material; how-do-we-define-melee-friendly from WoW Insider’s post and the related interview from Blizzard. I’m blogging it as it is an ongoing joke amongst some of the melee folks I regularly chat with. I love it when I hear a fight is melee friendly, especially when it comes from a non-melee (really healer, its not easy up the backside of this giant ogre). The WI blog is a long post, and worth a read if you have not looked.

Then join me here as I meander through my thoughts a bit…

Q. How do you know if a fight is melee friendly?

A. If the dps contribution on excellent attempts or a range of kills does not have melee behind in the overall damage done then the fight is probably not unfriendly to melee or range.

Any other measure is not based on what the players are doing, and should be questioned. It is overly melee friendly if the range dps cannot keep up with the melee, and vice-versa.

Q. How do you design for melee (or range) friendly?

A. At a high level view, not in a minute by minute breakdown.

I think it is ok for fights to have bias. The balance should be across the raid instance content, and also hopefully across the phases; but not stress about within one phase, or even one fight.

I love a good melee fight. Primarily that is because a lot of my time over the years has been played on a Death Knight. Before that I played on a Warlock or a Paladin, but only rarely did dps as the Paladin because early days the Pallys were not so hot in dps. So at the time that Wrath came out I switched to a DK and have only hooched around on a Boomkin, Warlock, or Shadow Priest as range dps since.

Secondly I’ll add to that I’m a little lazy these days in fights, or said another way I prefer fights that have mechanics that make sense, and that when combined form complexity in the encounter.

A principal example is Lei-Shen from Throne of Thunder. I think it is a great fight because:

  • As an end boss it is unforgiving of mistakes. Good. It frustrates the absolute crap out of me that a player can grief his team by repeatedly making mistakes, and sometimes even dedicated players make mistakes (that might feel like griefing), but it is worse when a fight is too easy, and I support end bosses being tough.
  • Almost every attack or mechanic has been used before on the raiders in trash, pve areas, or a previous boss. Bloody excellent. No excuse for not understanding the basics. The complexity comes when responding to multiples at the same time.
  • With the exception of the “blue swirls of ephemeral bad” near the boss, the bad poo on the floor is blisteringly obvious. When one quarter of the floor space lights up and sparkles just after the lightning reactors overload…yes, you, you’re standing in bad stuff. MOVE. B-res pls lol.
  • If done well, both Range Dps and Melee Dps have roles to do which means that no style is significantly disadvantaged. In LFR and Normal that is, I never saw Heroic mode, but can imagine it is as much fun, expect with razor blade thick-shakes and booster rockets.

So in that vein – what other fights are memorable as charming melee fights:

  • Emperors at the end of Mogu’sun Vaults, where the melee needed to do the switch-a-roo side dance or get half pasted to the floor. Range for the most part should have been switched to the other mobs, but sometimes they can stand an ping-ping-ping the bosses. I didn’t like it, but I did like that through education I could dance through it and still Dps. I think that happened once. Tanking it was worse.
  • Some strats require Melee to focus on interrupts to the point where the Dps we do is not as important. That is ok as long as the boss overall is more about survival, and not intentionally a dps race. e.g. Before we over-geared the Council fight in the Throne of Thunder that shitty job of always burning and interrupting Sul was a bit dull. That said, once we could just burn, I loved killing Sul.
  • Patchwork from Naxx…still the definition of stay still and kill. Yeah sure the tanks have some stuff to manage about his hurtful strikes, but that is non-dps’ish things (who’s on threat).

That also means we should:

  • Ignore any mechanic in a phase where the melee’s role is made harder if another role does not do their job properly. e.g. Tank leaves the boss standing in or too near the goo on the floor.
  • Ignore a mechanic which requires everyone to react. Almost all classes cannot dps well while constantly on the move, especially if that movement needs to be fast. I think (?) Hunters and Ele-Shammy can still dps while goose-stepping around bad stuff, but a DK is often badly affected. Thankfully we have disease DoTs to help, and sometimes a pet if we so choose.
  • hate with fiery passion any boss who has a tiny hitbox. Those bloody twin shaman in the new SoO are actually using half of the the gnome character model hitbox. That said, it is a fantastic fight overall. So I’d give it a pass.

And lastly I didn’t like too much:

  • I think Garalon might have been better for range, except if you were one of the saps doing the pheromone sprint.
  • The Celestial Bosses on the Isle of Collecting Coins are shitty, especially that mid-phase stage for the giant Ox, cow or whatever the shaggy thing is. It spends the better parts of two minutes running around the area where the range can blather away happily but the melee need to stand well back unless we wish to be crushed like grass. I do like killing that cow. Revenge.
  • I think there is a case to answer for Elegon being a tad too much running in and out, and not enough stabby-stabby.
  • probably any boss who paths through their own pools of goo, like Prof Putricide, should be slapped. Hey, an old boss, but I do remember running around and around those pools to get the blobs.

Anyway, hope you are loving whatever you’re Dps’ing. And if you’re not a Dps then a double thank you too, just to keep you from crowding the boss’s behind.

Happy killing, TyphoonAndrew


5 thoughts on “Melee friendly raids, ah, cool, pardon, come again?

  1. “Hunters and Ele-Shammy can still dps while goose-stepping around bad stuff,.. ”

    I believe Warlocks can, as well, at least with Incinerates. This makes me sad when I play my Moonkin or Shadowpriest and struggle with any sort of heavy movement encounter (I’m looking at you, Tortos), especially those without multi-dot targets.

  2. Ranty essay incoming… as always, feel free to delete if it doesn’t meet content or length guidelines.

    Yeah, I actually did a double-take when I read that comment on WoW Insider… I’d only done the first 8 bosses at the time (now 11) but when I did a bit of an analysis on them (I’ve done melee, dps and healing on the 8 so I know them pretty well), it came out that 5 are at least somewhat melee-unfriendly, 2 are either neutral (if your raid strategy supports it) or somewhat melee-unfriendly and 1 (ONE!) is neutral. Having done the next 3, I’d say 1 is mostly neutral, 1 is moderately melee-unfriendly and 1 is very melee-unfriendly (friggin’ dinosaur).

    How I’m definining melee-unfriendly fights is when melee has additional requirements that ranged doesn’t have to worry about (interrupting, as you mentioned, is an example), or when there are mechanics that are more likely to kill melee than ranged or at the very least inconvenience melee more than ranged (Celestials, all of ’em) or when melee is required to be out of attack range while ranged are still able to attack (friggin’ dinosaur).

    Things like Defensive Stance on Nazgrim I *like*, they affect everyone equally… but that fight generally (raid strat-depending) requires melee to switch to adds for the rest of the fight, which based on how my raids have done that fight, means running 100yds across the play area… ranged just turn around. Half the time they’re dead or mostly dead by the time I get there, then I have to run back to the boss. Fun, that.

    All other things being equal, melee is always going to be more “difficult” to play because they have to worry about boss positioning… not just whether in range or not but whether attacking from the front or back (especially when attacking from the side… friggin’ dinosaur). Ranged almost never have to worry about boss position or orientation, that’s almost always an issue for melee unless the fight is MECHANICALLY CHANGED to neutralize that issue (Ultraxion, for example). Hunters actually used to be blockable when attacking from the front, which is something I don’t think many people knew… but that went away. Yet melee still has that issue and druids in particular can’t even do their normal rotation if they aren’t behind the boss. Fights with a mechanic to stack on the tank? Sorry, druids.

    Then add in mechanics like short-cast boss-centred abilities with a 10yd or 15yd range… if you hesitate for half a second (for any reason, legitimate or not), you’re dead. What’s the equivalent ranged mechanic that shows up on nearly half the fights? Add in boss cleaves and careless tanks (LFR, I’m looking at you), something else that’ll wipe out a melee group and ranged and healers don’t have to deal with (and nothing better than getting a “hey melee, watch the cleave next time” afterward from the peanut gallery out there). Melee have a bit of an easier time with cone attacks, though, they can afford to move fractionally later and still get out of it. Many of those attacks are short enough not to hit ranged, though (as in your example of Emperors in MSV). Mechanics where you need to be x yards apart are also a bane for melee… even by increasing the size of hitboxes (another artificial change of mechanic that had to be put in due to the natural issues that melee experience), it still makes it very difficult to spread appropriately when necessary. It would likely be impossible if you had too many melee in the raid. That same issue would never happen by having too many ranged.

    If a tank dies and next on the threat list is a dps, if it’s a melee dps, they’re dead. If it’s a ranged, they’ll likely have a few seconds to react and hit a cooldown.

    All ranged (except maybe shadow priests) have SOME sort of sub-optimal but spammable cast on the move (Lightning Bolt, Incinerate/Shadow Bolt, Moonfire, Scorch, etc)… melee out of range of the boss does virtually no dps and I can’t think of one spammable melee ranged attack no matter how crappy it is (even things like rogue throw, which does about 900dps, has a small cast time and can’t be used on the move; anything worth hitting has a cooldown, likely a lengthy one). Why the hell isn’t crackling jade lightning a cast-while-moving ability for dps monks?! Heaven forbid they do more than zero dps while away from the boss and moving.

    Also, multi-dotting for ranged vs cleave for melee. Which one’s more flexible and applicable to more fights?

    As melee, it’s nearly impossible to see all spell effects on the ground, bad ones included. “Fixes” for that have been “coming” for months/years.

    As you’ve indicated, the boss running or being run through his own crap is another situation… fights like Spoils, for example, melee is 100% at the mercy of the tanks knowing how to give their melee enough room to move, while ranged can just find a safe spot and pewpew whatever they want, at will. Not exactly equivalent difficulty.

    If I’m bringing a toon into a fight for the first time, I’m much better off bringing a ranged, I’ll die less and be more useful for the early attempts by being able to focus more on dps and less on insta-kill mechanics. I tend to bring a melee, though, since I have a stubborn streak along those lines. I do realize I’m doing it at my own peril and that of the group, though.

    Then there’s gear, which is a whole other kettle of annoying for melee.

    Having to deal with TWO separate stat caps, hit and expertise, and often having (not optionally, HAVING in some cases… rogues, enh shammies, fury warriors, DW DKs and WW monks (yeah, they can run 2H but that’s often different stat priorities and even rotations and in the case of WW monks, same stats and rotations but a straight 5+% dps loss)) to deal with getting TWO weapons of an appropriate type, while any caster has 2H options (not a lot for pallies, but generally more than zero) that’ll work just as well as MH/OH and may be superior. Shadow priests / ele shammies / boomkins can also use the same weapon for dps and healing, perhaps with a slight stat loss if there’s hit… but even 2H melee plate dps who want to tank (DKs excepted) need an entirely different weapon to tank despite still using a Str weapon. I really feel for Assassination and Subtlety rogues… basically the only two specs in the game that want daggers (Combat can use one but they can make do without one). Since only two specs use them there generally aren’t a lot of daggers in loot tables in the first place… and they need TWO OF THEM. What’s the ranged equivalent to THAT mess? Now imagine having 2 or 3 in a 10-man raid… no wonder the rogue population is so small, they’re probably all still running i463 weapons and re-rolled mages.

    SoO may be the MOST melee-friendly raid in a while (I’d probably argue that point) but that’s far from the same thing as BEING melee-friendly or even melee-neutral. Basically the entire game as structured is melee-unfriendly, even down to the elite mobs on Timeless Island… ranged can do everything that melee can do (except be in melee on the few fights that have a mechanic preventing it, most of the time they can literally stand in melee if they want) while being able to do all that at ranged, too, with easier weapon acquisition and fewer instant-kill mechanics that require twitch reflexes.

    Almost no fight requires any melee dps but it would be a rare raid indeed that could succeed with all melee dps.

    I’m probably not even including all factors in the argument, these are just the ones that occured to me right now. It’s really not even a debate, I don’t think.


  3. I’d argue that Garalon actually preferred melee, with the leg mechanics and all. Our melee DPS was always two times higher than the ranged for that fight. Ranged got screwed because they were always moving, whereas melee can still perform their full DPS rotation while moving as long as they’re in melee range.

    Or you could just roll an Enhancement Shaman. Spells + Melee rotation means we can still perform 1/3rd of our rotation at ranged.

    But as a melee DPS, the Dark Shaman can go sit on a tack. Between all the crap on the ground, and the slimed, there’s often periods of time where I pretty much just sit back and spam Lightning Bolt at ranged because otherwise I would die, even with all of my off-healing and defensive cooldowns.

  4. Garalon seems to have a heap of running from leg to leg, where I know some range could at least sprint every second change. But true, you can strafe around the boss from leg to boss to leg.

  5. I love a good rant, and thank you for posting such a long contribution. 🙂 The loot factors was something that I didn’t think of. Rogues do seem darn rare these days. I think they rerolled monks.

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