How long does it take to learn a new boss fight?

I was wondering how long it takes people’s raid teams to learn new fight mechanics. Does it take 2-3 attempts? Maybe 2 hours of learning for some bosses? Other fights might take 12 hours of practice before the team can execute it well.

In my team there is a distinct ramp up time for everyone to understand all the mechanics and then begin executing strategies correctly. And then there is a limiting factor, me… As raid leader I have to adjust the strategies based on how people are doing, but also understand them and not cause us to fail more than necessary.

I’ll give an example:

  1. I took the team to Throne of the Four Winds the other night and we spent a couple of hours in there fighting the Conclave of Winds.
  2. With a little shuffling of healers around on platforms the team seemed to get a good handle on what was required. This took maybe 3-4 attempts for simple mistakes or misunderstandings to be cleared up.
  3. Then it was a case of me balancing the dps to get the bosses down close enough to each other. It was a shock the first time we killed one of the bosses and then failed to kill the others before the 1 minute timer ran out. One of my favorite addons, Fatality, really helps with this though.

The end of the two hours (well, maybe 90 minutes after I pugged a healer) did not result in killing the bosses, but there were several times that one of them went down. Everyone now has a really good grasp on what to do and understands that the difference between what we did and succeeding will be balancing dps across the bosses better.

Walking away from the raid night everyone felt ok with what we had achieved:

  • a good understanding of the mechanics
  • the ability to execute on the boss special abilities (being in the right place for AoE and adds)
  • we knew that the healers could cope with the damage (which has been tricky at the start of progression raiding this time around)

It was while looking over the logs of the fight that I came to the conclusion that it was mostly where I chose to place the dps that caused the wipes in the end. I felt like the limiting factor in the raid, since I hadn’t realized how short a period there was to complete the fight once one of the bosses dies. I’d read about it, but actually seeing it was entirely a different experience.

So in this case it did take a couple of hours for everyone to get a good handle on the fight. I’m pretty sure that we’ll succeed next time the team goes there.

When I look back over the last couple of years, this pattern has been similar. Any boss with moderately complex mechanics has taken a couple of hours of attempts before the entire group can execute on the things they are required to do. A few notable exceptions are fights like Saurfang, Festergut and Blood Queen in ICC, where the strategies are simple enough that progression is fast for those bosses. There are probably some bosses in Naxx and Ulduar that this applied to as well, but my memory is failing me.

In this first tier of raiding in Cataclysm each boss fight seems to be more complicated than many of the fights in Wrath of the Lich King (same with heroics too). Is it taking your raid groups longer to progress on individual fights?
I’m certain that many of the struggles are gear-related. Are the fights further into raid instances taking less time to master as people gear up from earlier battles? I’m quite interested in hearing about other people’s experiences. Particularly since I think my raid group is like many others – we progress steadily, but we are definitely not ahead of the progression curve.

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2 Responses to How long does it take to learn a new boss fight?

  1. Goodmongo says:

    Too much ‘mechanics’ and the boss fight starts looking like a gimmick. Cata does seem somewhat like that to me. But at least it isn’t like Gruul’s was in TBC days where you needed a special class to have a chance.

    How much time really depends on the people you have. Some that I have played with grasped it (a boss fight) in a single night. Others it took weeks to get them to focus. Also, it depends on how finely tuned the fight is. If the raid has only 2 seconds to respond to something chances are it will take a long time before they are on the same page. if given 10 seconds then there is much more leeway.

    A perfect example are the Twins in TOC. How long it takes for people to know they are black and need to click white usually determined if they succeeded or not. If Blizz tuned that to just 3 seconds then many would never get it in time.

    Finally there is lag and video effects. Take the frost guy (hodir?) in Ulduar. You needed to get on the fallen ice but not too soon. I remember this one person that never timed it just right. She was always early or late. I could never figure out if she had lag or just didn’t see the change in the visual clues as to when it was safe to get on the snow pile. Or maybe she was just real dumb?

  2. Eaosluvchild says:

    Its an interesting question actually.

    I think there is a massive difference in expectations between:
    -1. How long it takes to understand the mechanics
    -2. How long it takes to cope with the mechanics

    In relation to point 1, I get really really really cheesed off when people take more than 2 attempts to understand what they are supposed to do. Its hard not to shout down vent – “are you not listening”!

    Coping with mechanics is a different matter though and for some bosses it can be quite tricky. Sometimes this is gear related in that if you are undergeared (particularly healers and tanks) any slips often can’t be recovered and its a wipe. Also, as a healer, it sometimes takes me several attempts on a boss to learn the rhythym and pattern of fights so that I know when to use certain buffs etc.

    I think the biggest difference here can be made in how self aware your raid members are and how quick their reactions/instincts are. Its hard to raid with people who sit there waiting to be told what to do or panic easily. This is easily the biggest difference between the raid team I am now in (especially speaking for my two fellow healers) and the team I raided with in Wrath.

    As an aside, I find it amazing how many times you have a week where you are struggling to learn a new boss and then you come back fresh the next week and one-shot it! So I think on the issue of how long it takes to learn a fight, there’s a lot to be said for taking a break.

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