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OPERATIONS for begginners.

halfhourofpower's Avatar

12.15.2011 , 08:11 AM | #1
Alright folks, operations are swtor's answer to raids and I, for one, am incredibly excited. For those interested in operations and have never done anything comparable, here are just a few things to expect in your coming trials:

Don't stand in the fire. "Fire" is likely the most common effect you'll ever encounter in operations. Essentially, anything referred to as said fire will be an area effect on the ground that deals heavy damage for standing in it. It is a key mechanic and repeats regularly in many encounters. Good awareness coupled with a knowledge of a fight will give you foresight on when to move or be prepared to move from this mechanic.

Wiping. ALRIGHT PEOPLE. Wiping is, of course, dying. If you do not like dying, you should not be doing operations. A misconception many new raiders have is that operations is all about getting loot. While partially true, the real gratifacation for people who are into this gameplay style is the hours put into an encounter and then FINALLY getting that gratifying kill. When starting new content you will be faced with much wiping(unless, of course, you join an experienced raid group who can carry you a little bit until you learn the ropes ).

Threat! Threat, more commonly known as aggro, is a key mechanic that applies to every encounter with mobs(mobs are everything you want dead in an operation. Includes bosses, goons, etcetc). As a tank, you want it all, as a dps and healer you want none of it. Everything you fight will have a threat meter, whoever is highest on said threat meter will be attacked by the mob. Threat is generated by damage so people dealing damage have to watch their threat as to not pull aggro from the tank. If you're not a tank and the boss is attacking you, you're doing it wrong. You'll also probably be dead. Tanks have mechanics built into their AC(advanced class) that enables them to generate additional threat, as they don't do as much damage as pure dps trees.

Tanking, dpsing, and healing.
For a prospective new raider(or operationeer) the easiest way to sort of ease into raiding( is dps as it entails the least responsibility for the groups welfare. DPS stands for damage per second. Essentially, the main things you have to focus on is hitting hard and watching for mechanics and potentially interupting. Interupting is a key mechanic as certain bosses will have interuptable abilities that would otherwise do potentially unsustainable amounts of damage. Usually melee dps are equiped with the most efficient interupt abilities. One key way to maximize dps is to figure out what stats your class needs and focus on gear that provides said stats! Another, and arguably the most important, is resource management coupled with ability rotation. Each class has a unique resource. Those resources would be force, focus/rage, energy and heat/ammo. A comprehensive list on how to effectively manage each resource would require an extensive view on all of the classes. So, if you're curious, I would suggest wandering the forums. I'm sure someone has covered the mechanics! Finally, there are several ways to dps. There are area of effect(aoe) abilities, damage over time(dot) abilities and burst abilities. There are skill trees that focus on maximizing each of these three types among dps. In addition to this, there are two mini roles within the dps archtype. There is ranged dps and melee dps. Ranged, obviously, fires at a range and usually has to stay still to unload all of their abilities(with a few exeptions of course). The advantage to being a ranged is you can switch targets very easily if required as well as being able to fire upon the operation boss if they fly out of melee range. The disadvantage is that your damage suffers whenever you have to move from a mechanic(ie, fire). Melee have to stay up close and personal. The advantage to being a melee is you can move while dpsing, so if the boss decides to go for a jog you can keep up and still maintain effective dps. The disadvantage is that if the boss flies out of range, you can't attack him. The most IMPORTANT THING TO KNOW AS MELEE DPS: STAY BEHIND THE BOSS. Trust me when I say that staying behind the boss is important. Most bosses in operations will have a cleave. A cleave is a move that does a large amount of damage in a cone infront of the boss. If you're standing infront of him when he does this, you will die. There are very few exeptions to this rule.

Tanking requires a lot of focus(the real kind, not the resource). Essentially, as a tank, you have many, many things that you are responsible for. A tank will focus on mitigation stats as well as talents. They have to make sure they take the least amount of damage possible as they will be taking the brunt end of the operations aggression. Awareness is the cornerstone for a good tank. They need to make sure that nothing is attacking anybody else in the group and they have to manage their defensive cooldowns(more on that further down) well. There are two types of tanks, a main tank and an offtank. The main tank is usually the one who has the better gear and can withstand the most damage(though general skill is a variable). The offtank usually tanks either weaker elites(strong guys) that may appear during the fight or a crapload of little guys. Though, it is not uncommon for tanks to be forced to taunt(an ability that pulls aggro) off eachother. What this means, essentially, is that in some fights the boss will put a debuff(a debilitating effect that lasts for a set amount of time ranging from a dozen or so seconds to a minute) on the tank that severely hinders it's mitigation. A few examples would be armour%, health%, stat% reduction. The idea is if you don't taunt eventually you'll be so squishy you'll get one shotted. Tanking arguably entails the most responsibility!

Healing requires a steady awareness on the groups overall health. Usually, healing roles will be assigned depending on the fight/group composition. An example on the fight would be a boss who does a lot of AOE(area of effect) damage to all operation members. So the operation group would assign one of two healers to focus almost exclusively on aoe healing abilities and being responsible for keeping the dps and offtank alive. The main tank usually requires a dedicated healer as they'll likely be taking the most damage. Like dps, there are AC's that focus on healing over time and nuke, hard heals. In addition to all of this, healers also have to be mindful not to stand in the fire as well as avoiding other mechanics. Gearing for a healer focuses on increasing heal output as well as resource regeneration!

Cooldowns! All three roles have one thing in common, cooldowns! Cooldowns refer to spells that have a cooldown of a considerable length. Usually ranging anywhere from 30seconds to 5minutes and they usually present themselves in very powerful abilities. Managing cooldowns is an essential part to playing your class efficiently. As a dps, you ideally want to use your cooldowns as often as possible as your longer cooldowns will increase your damage output by a considerable amount. The sooner you use a cooldown the sooner you can use it again! However, there is one condition to be mindful of. You only want to use a cooldown when you know for a fact you'll be able to benefit throughout it's full duration. That is to say, if you know a mechanic that requires a lot of movement is coming up and you won't be able to rotate your abilities effectively, save your cooldown! You get no benefit from a cooldown that, say, increases cast time if you're not or can't cast throughout its duration! Also, there will be some boss fights where one of the mechanics will make them increasingly vulnerable, making them take increased damage for a set time. If you know one of these conditions is about to occur, save your dps cooldowns for that instance and then go crazy!
Tanking and healing cooldowns are a little more complicated. These specific cooldowns focus on increasing healing in a healers case and mitigation or health in a tanks case. While, it may be tempting to pop them all at once(as you will have several) to ensure survivability during a tough phase of a fight it is redundant to do so. The most effective way to manage these cooldowns is to set up a rotation with your healer. For example, say you have a cooldown that increases health by 30% for 15 seconds(on a cooldown of 2minutes) and a cooldown that reduces all damage taken by 40% for 10 seconds(on a cooldown of 3 minutes) and your healer has a cooldown that increases healing done by 15% for 20 seconds(2minute) and a cooldown that increases healing received by a target 30% for 10 seconds(3minutes). What you don't want to do is use them all at once. The most efficient way is when you're in trouble to cast one of these four spells, and one is usually all you need for a tough patch in a fight. The order you use them will be set up by you and your healer or tank . For example, you could start with the increases healing received to target by 30% for 10 seconds first, ensuring the tanks survivability. So when the tank starts to get low and seemingly unsustainable you could pop that and make sure he lives through the damage burst. Then the next cooldown you use in the rotation could be the increased health by 30% for 15 seconds. So when your tank gets low he pops it and instantly gets 30% more health. Now, afterwards you would use the following to cooldowns as needed. The point is not to overlap them when only one is really needed. As I said before, most people starting out will panic and use them all at once to only die further down the road during the encounter. The best part about this strategy is as you use your last cooldown in the rotation the first cooldown should be finished, meaning you can use it again.

Now, that all of that is out of the way, it's time for the most important part of the guide:
IF THE TANK DIES, IT'S THE HEALERS FAULT, IF THE HEALER DIES, IT'S THE TANKS FAULT AND IF THE DPS DIES IT'S THEIR OWN FAULT! Very few exeptions to this. Remember this and you'll all do fine. In any case, good luck to all of you future raiders! If I've missed anything feel free to post what it is and I'll be sure to add it as an edit!
KFC, now with more Jesus!

Kesitah's Avatar

12.15.2011 , 09:22 AM | #2
Very nice summary.

Though I think the rule - which you probably added to the end as a running gag ^^ - "IF THE TANK DIES, IT'S THE HEALERS FAULT, IF THE HEALER DIES, IT'S THE TANKS FAULT AND IF THE DPS DIES IT'S THEIR OWN FAULT!" is in the meanwhile no longer valid. There are so many encounters where it is all your own fault, if you die, no matter if you are tank, healer or DD (Ultraxion "Hour of Twilight" ability for example) as well as encounters, where even as a DPS you need to rely on someone else to "save you" and it is this persons fault if you die (Shard healing at the Baloroc encounter, for example). These sort of things in the meanwhile are not really "exceptions" anymore, but pretty much standard.

I also still have some expansions to your guide:

Enrage: An Enrage is triggered on a certain condition, like the boss still living after 5 minutes or something like that, or like specific mobs being more than 60 meters apart from each other. If the enrage condition happens, it is basically an instant whipe (he then hits 10x his normal amount, or even instantly causes a whipe). There are some bosses though where you can still fight a few seconds into the enrage by using Cooldowns (as explained above in the Cooldown section).

Soft-Enrage: A Soft-Enrage is a gradually happening enrage. For example the boss places "fire" on the ground which is then no longer removed. At some time the whole room will be filled with the fire, and you have no save place anymore. This is called a Soft-Enrage (often Soft-Enrages are implemented by gradually getting-higher damage on the tank or the group, or by limiting available place).

Council Fight: A Council Fight is a fight with 3+ bosses at the same time, each of them having individual boss abilities. The raid needs to cope with all those abilities at the same time. Often classes which are not tank have to tank one of the bosses using specific encounter mechanic which allows them to do so.

Patchwerk Fight: Named after famous Boss "Patchwerk" this is a fight that does not have any difficult mechanics, but is just about "beating the enrage counter". The raid has x minutes of time to remove y Health. You can exactly calculate what DPS you need to beat the encounter. This is also referred to as "Gated Raid Encounter". The purpose of this kind of (often called "stupid" mechanics) is to ensure that raiders need some gear from the new raid instance before being able to beat the "Gate" and progress to the later bosses in the instance. Sometimes also referred to as "Brutallus fight", after another famous encounter.

Movement Encounter: This is the opposite to a Patchwerk fight. A fight where it is tested, if everyone knows when to move appropriately and where to go. Usually these fights are less about damage, and more about exact execution of the tactics.

Heal Check, DPS Check, Awareness Check: These (sometimes jokingly used) references mean encounters where the most difficult parts are to the healers ("Heal Check"), the DPS ("DPS Check" or Patchwerk Encounter) or an encounter which principially is quite easy, but has some simple mechanics and if you overlook it you are dead ("Awareness Check").

DubbaCV's Avatar

12.15.2011 , 12:28 PM | #3
First, this is a good start to general raiding/operation running advice. However, I do have a few sticking points I think need to be addressed.

Quote: Originally Posted by halfhourofpower View Post
Gearing for a healer focuses on increasing heal output as well as resource regeneration!
For all classes in this game, especially healers, resource regeneration is static. Energy and Ammo have deteriorating regeneration mechanics (lower the amount of resource available = slower regen rate vs. more resource unused = faster regen rate) while Force is a constant 8 Force/second. This cannot be modified in any way by the current stat model. However, regeneration rates can be either permanently or temporarily modified by talents and abilities.

Quote: Originally Posted by halfhourofpower View Post
Now, that all of that is out of the way, it's time for the most important part of the guide:
IF THE TANK DIES, IT'S THE HEALERS FAULT, IF THE HEALER DIES, IT'S THE TANKS FAULT AND IF THE DPS DIES IT'S THEIR OWN FAULT! Very few exeptions to this. Remember this and you'll all do fine. In any case, good luck to all of you future raiders! If I've missed anything feel free to post what it is and I'll be sure to add it as an edit!
LMAO! However, I have a few modifications to this. If the tank thinks that defensive cooldowns are "OH *****" buttons when they are suddenly at 10-45% health and still die after they've popped them, it's the tank's fault they are dead. Defensive cooldowns are meant to be used ON COOLDOWN or saved to be used to PREEMPTIVELY reduce an EXPECTED phase/ability of extremely high damage (i.e. high DoT stacks, 90% of target health attack swings, etc.). When you have a defensive cooldown that is usable every 30 seconds, you better damn well be using it every 30 seconds. If you have a cooldown that reduces damage done by X% (assume high here) but is only available every 5 minutes, then you better know when the boss is ruin you and use the cooldown to easy the load on the healers.

For healers, if you have big heals that have a longer cast than most but are a big huge (and often expensive heal) then you better know when the tank is about to get smashed and queue up that cast time so the tank doesn't die to the subsequent shoulder punch. Also, refer to above about cooldowns. When you know there is going to be big raid or tank damage, plan CD usage accordingly. Don't blow alacrity/surge/power/crit CDs once everyone or the tank is at 10-25% and expect to survive (unless such low health is a mechanic of the fight). It just doesn't happen. Want to ease your stream of healing on the tank? Stack your HoTs and damage mitigators on your favorite meatshield to reduce the heal sizes you have to put out for each they take a blow to the head.

DPS, especially true of hybrid classes, use defensive CDs when it would be appropriate. Learn when to expect certain boss mechanics. Sure you probably don't NEED to do it, but your healers will thank you for it. Oops! Didn't get out of the fire fast enough? Pop a self-heal (once out of the fire) or mitigation ability (whilst still in the fire). Also, for your "I WIN!" cooldowns (dps boosting cooldowns) be sure you know the best times to use them during the fight. Should you start the pull with them? Are there specific dps burn periods? You need to understand these things; otherwise, if you die it is almost always going to be your fault. If a healer lets you die because you are notorious for standing in the fire, then you better learn how to get out of it. Little secret, every healer has mental heal-priority list based on how players perform. You want to be tying or beating other DPS for third place (tanks and heals are first and second, not necessarily in that order) otherwise you're going to have a lot of down time in operations.

There are a number of other nuances (i.e. maintaining/clipping DoTs, interrupt rotations) for DPS players, that make them that much more successful, but those are more specific to each class and group composition. I won't cover that here.

For the TL;DR crowd, know your class abilities and stay out of the fire FFS!

halfhourofpower's Avatar

12.15.2011 , 12:40 PM | #4
Thank you both for your replies! I'll fix up the guide later, giving due credit to you both for your portions.

Thank you for the corrections on healer resource regeneration!
KFC, now with more Jesus!