Raiding 101: the Spread Defense

I came back from vacation just in time to enjoy some long, long nights of wiping to Archimonde. While doing so, I noticed an issue some of our newer (and to be honest, even some of our more veteran) players were having when attempting to perfect the various spreading and stacking mechanics of the fight.

For anyone who's been raiding for even more than just a tier, you'll surely have noted that perhaps the most common mechanic in WoW raiding is spreading and stacking.  There's often a little twist on it; like only certain people spreading, or stacking on a spot on the ground vs stacking on a person, etc. When it comes to learning to raid, though, you'll find yourself repeating this same basic mechanic in most fights.

As I mentioned, several people were having a lot more trouble with this than I would have thought, so I thought it'd be fun to write down some of the unwritten rules of spreading.  Hopefully these are things you all already do without even thinking about it, but if you don't, now is as good of a time as any to start.

Delirium's Rules of Efficient Spreading:

  1. The Range Meter is your Friend
    When you're raiding, most boss mods (like DBM or BigWigs) will automatically show a Range Meter on fights where it is important.  If not, you can type "/range x" (with x being the number of yards you want to set the range meter for), and you'll see a lovely circle appear on your screen. This circle represents your range. If I type "/range 8" and there is no one within 8 yards of me, the circle will appear green; if there is someone within 8 yards of me, it will appear red (in addition it will show a player's dot if they are close, but not within range).

    This is your best friend when spreading.  It should be somewhere on your screen where you can easily see it. To make this perfectly clear, if you do not have a range meter showing, you are raiding wrong.
  2. Know When to Keep Moving: Creating the Spread
    Now that you have your range meter displayed, and it's time for you to spread, a basic rule of thumb is when you're moving, do not stop moving until your range meter turns green.

    If you run into someone else's range, your meter will be red.  Especially in larger raid groups, this is bound to happen when spreading from a single stack point, and that's ok.  What isn't ok, is once you've moved into someone else's range, stopping, and starting a cast. It is never ok to pursue higher DPS at the cost of raid mechanics, especially when that higher DPS you'll do will  be negated by lowering the DPS of the person whose range you're now standing in, because they'll then have to stop casting and move (the exception to this is if you have a boss on farm, and have cleared with your raid leaders and raid that you are going for rankings, but even in this case, you're not being a good raider, you're just playing the ranking meta-game).

    There are exceptions to this rule, which will be further spelled out in rule 4.  Primarily, if you're a healer and you need to stop moving and cast in order to keep someone alive, or you have an assignment to use a raid-wide CD.  This can almost always be mitigated by planning ahead, however.
  3. Know When to Stop Moving: Holding the Spread
    An odd rule, perhaps, as Spreading is about moving away from eachother, but one of the quickest ways to ruin another player's day, is when everyone has spread out and found a nice spot for themselves, you keep readjusting yourself, and getting within their range.  This applies even more so to hunters and druids, who may often enjoy jumping around.  Calm down, stay still.

    What I think happens, is Player A will be in between casts, perhaps they're now putting up a dot or some instant cast, and they feel like moving around a little bit, because they can. When that GCD is over, they stop moving to start their next cast. If, however, they landed in Player B's range, who is of course busy casting something, Player B must then break their cast, move out of range, and then start over.  So while your movement may not have hurt your own rotation at all, it's very likely it hurt someone else's.
  4. Priority in Spreading is: Healers, Casters, Hunters. 
    What this means, is when all ranged are standing on a stack point, and you all then have to spread, the people who move the least should be healers. If your group is spreading, and your healer needs to stop moving so they can start casting heals, you need to keep moving.

    Next come the casters.  Because, especially on progression when people are learning fights, their DPS will hurt the most from movement, warlocks and spriests will get slightly higher priority in stopping than mages or boomkins, but in general, all casters should move as far away as they need to in order to be out of the healer's ranged, and then get back to damage dealing.

    Finally, we hunters, as always, get the most movement, as we are least affected by it.  Yes, this means Marks hunters also (remember to burn through your focus while sniper training is still up, then while it's down, rebuild focus with cobra shots or focusing shot, which don't benefit as much from the damage/crit buff of sniper training anyway).
  5. Be Predictable and Pay Attention to Those Around You:
    Everyone has a pattern; you might not notice it if you don't look for it, you might not even notice your own, but everyone does. If you see someone always moves in the same direction remember that. The time will come when you need to get away from them and knowing which way they move by default will help.
  6. The other side of this, is you also want to be as predictable as possible, so your fellow raiders can fairly accurately guess where you're going to be. You may not be able to go to the exact same place every pull (everyone hates the player who gets possessive over starting in the exact same place, or always having the exact same role), but you can try to move in the same general way each pull. (Thanks to the Grumpy Elf for this rule)

  7. Move in Y's, not in U's or Zigzags
  8. This one is really more of a tool than a rule, but I'm including it anyway, because I couldn't think of a better place to put this.  Everyone has, on occasion, run into an issue where they are trying to spread, and another person is running in the exact same direction as you.  Then you go to turn back, and they somehow turn back at the exact same time. In this situation, the trick is to move in a Y, instead of turning around or zigzagging. There will pretty much never be a time when two people are in the exact same place, especially when running; but it is fairly common that two people will be running in the same direction.  So which ever side you're on (even if you're just slightly right or left of the other player), you want to turn 30 - 45 degrees from them, and keep running.  If both players do this, they'll be out of range of each other very quickly, without risking getting in the way / in range of someone else behind you.   
These are of course very basic rules, and most players who have been paying attention to raiding for any amount of time should do these things unconsciously, but I'm sure we've all been in groups where normally smooth runs were ruined by someone not stacking or spreading properly. So here they are. Now get out of my gd range!

Vacation Time of Year

Just to let anyone know who happens to stop by here: Thrillofthewild won't be updated for at least another week and a half, as I'll be in the IRL wilderness for some backpacking, camping and canoeing.

Hope everyone is having a good summer, or winter if you're on the other side of the globe!