Boss Explanations: A Lesson from Twitter

No lie, I’m a twitter enthusiast. I didn’t realize how much of an influence its had on me until I started taking over boss explanations to PuGs in heroic groups. I know healing PuGs isn’t for everyone, but I don’t mind it (much).

Now you see, I’m a pretty efficient guy. In fact, some would even argue I’m impatient. I’ll try to do two things at once if I can get away with it. I plan my travel routes thinking of the fastest way to get somewhere. When I get on the sky train, I choose the car and door closest to the exit at the station I want to get off at. My friends despise it when I move so quickly. But I just really don’t like wasting time. If there is something that needs to be done, then let’s go and get it over with.

In heroics especially, I get a little tired when another player in the group is explaining what abilities are there and what players need to do to counteract it. They leave nothing out at all.

Me, I’m different.

The Twitter Rule

If you need to explain it in more than 140 characters, they’re not going to get it

I’ve started challenging myself to really think about the player and the role that they are. Is it really necessary for a healer to know when they need to interrupt? Does the tank need to know about this random add that gets crushed by DPS players anyway? Ergo, in PuGs, I’ve tried to condense and compact the information into stuff that’s relevant to them.

Don’t use 7 words when 3 will work (Good rule to follow for you new bloggers).

For this to really work though, players need to have certain schemas in place. A schema is basically a concept that lets you understand information in your own way.

Examples of Schemas

  • Void zone: Some dark circle on the ground that’s bad.
  • Cleave: Some attack that destroys all melee.
  • Tail swipe: Stand anywhere else but on the butt of the boss.

I’ve found the results to be promising. Most players I’ve come across seem to instantly just “get it” without the need for further explanation unless it’s a completely new concept for them.

Anraphet (Halls of Origination): Spread out. Stay out of voids. Stack up on Omega Stance. Massive DPS.

Rom’ogg Bone Crusher (Blackrock Caverns): DPS chains. Run away when chains are dead. Watch for ads, AoE as you go.

Drahga Shadowburner (Grim Batol): Burn down fire elemental. Watch where dragon is facing, run through to avoid breath. Avoid big puddle.

General Husam (Lost City of the Tol’vir): Avoid yellow orbs. Stand out of dust on the ground (Shockwave).

High Priestess Azil (Stonecore): Avoid void zones. Kite ads into void zones. Watch for dust on the ground (she throws rocks). Interrupt Force Grip.

Asaad (Vortex Pinnacle): Keep jumping. Spread out. Stack up when he draws lightning on the ground.

Vanessa Vancleef (Deadmines): Avoid fire, ice. Nuke 1st then 2nd boss. Avoid spinning things, nuke 3rd boss. Kill worgen, nuke boss. Kill ads before Vanessa. Use ropes.

Okay, I think went over by 6 characters with Vanessa. Hopefully, my point stands. The reality is that not many players read the full quest text. Like it or not, they read the objectives. By condensing explanations, players unfamiliar to encounters might get a better handle on them.

For obvious reasons, you don’t want to use this approach when it comes to raid bosses. Although, now I’m curious to see if it is possible to condense each role duties to 140 characters or less for raid bosses.

Challenge laid.

17 thoughts on “Boss Explanations: A Lesson from Twitter”

  1. This! Oh so much! I’ve watched long winded explanations put people to sleep or confuse veteran players who’ve done the fight over and over.

    I’ve never thought about it in relation to twitter format but that’s a great challenge! As I pug regulars with my alts, I will definitely practice where needed.

  2. You sort of missed the point on Asaad and Drahga. When Asaad draws lightning on the ground, you don’t simply “stack up” but rather you have to run and stand in the triangle he draws. Also, “keep jumping” isn’t quite the same as “jump when he’s about to finish his static shock cast.”

    On Drahga you didn’t mention that the elemental chases someone and that person needs to kite the elemental.

    • Disagree, Shop. You can stack up when the lightning is drawn. To me, it means the same thing. As for jumping, its something thats nice, but unnecessary (I’m usually healing thus I can dispel it anyway) ^^.

      On Drahga, yeah, if the elemental targets you, run (or IF ORANGE BEAM ON YOU, RUN NAO).

  3. Nice post Matticus. I think there are very few players unfamiliar with mechanics like void zones nowadays, so this makes a lot of sense. Additionally I think Cataclysm has brought with it the necessity for each role in a group to have a better understanding of the other roles; DPS are more aware of healer mana and therefore their own damage-reduction abilities, healers are more aware of the devastating effects of a tank not kiting Throngus during a Mace phase, etc.

  4. I think that one mechanic that people should recognize is the idea of a “safe zone”. for instance, on assad you should be able to say “safe zone: triangle” and everyone should know to get in any sort of triangle that they happen to see. Erudax has a “safe zone: eye of storm” or something like that.

    The static cling on assad is so weird and completely unique as far as i know, perhaps properly explaining it in 140 or less is not practical. “keep jumping” means no healing or caster dps, that won’t work. but your a priest, so i’d say stack so that you can mass dispell. the chain lightning is pretty hard to out range anyway so just plan to heal through it.

  5. I like this idea. A lot. I think someone should build an addon that has these 140-200 word descriptions for every heroic boss in Cata so that we can simply click a button while targeting any boss and have it spit out these instructions into party.

    Raids usually take more explaining and different guilds use different strats. But heroic bosses are pretty homogenized. I love it. Someone get on that!


  6. Ooh please please please do this for all dungeon bosses!! I’m quite good at reacting to game mechanics and following strategies, but I am absolutely DREADFUL at remembering them (I seriously need to see a boss about 10 times before I remember what it does and don’t even ask me to remember boss names or abilities.. dead loss..).

    Being concise is definitely a skill. One not many people possess hehe.

    • Looooove cheat sheets. Used to use ’em for school related stuff. Makes sense to have stuff like that written out. Actually, I think my raid leader has a notepad with stuff like that.

  7. I definitely agree with this, usually when I explain a fight or have one explained to me, before the pull I will do this kind of quick summary thing. I usually do the longer explanation first and follow it up with the short one.

    I feel like the long one explains all of the mechanics of the fight while the short one conveys the feel of the fight.

  8. I think such things are only good as reminders. For someone that’s done the fight before, it’s a good explanation. For someone that hasn’t, not understanding _why_ to do something is risking a wipe needlessly.

    On the first boss of Lost City, if a player new to the fight is stuck choosing between exploding a mine or standing in shockwave, what should they do? The obvious answer is to explode the mine to avoid the oneshot, while the mines just do heavy nonlethal damage.

    On Drahga, your twitter explanation completely misses the point of only moving toward the add if it is NOT targeting you. Again, new player armed with a twitter explanation would cause a wipe if they were the first one targeted.

    On Princess, someone following your twitter explanation would likely get hit by a rock because they move out of the small animation, and not the larger blast radius of the rock.

    On Asaad, “keep jumping” will just confuse your casters for no good reason.

  9. We use this for our instructions on new raid bosses. Our raid lead used to read us a book. I need the nickle version, and we’ll figure it out as we go.

    Cho’Gall – Tanks, swap on fury. Take add to back of room.
    DPS – kill big add at back of room, kill little adds ASAP
    Healers – Raid damage in shadow phase, big tank damage in fire phase. Cleanse.
    P2 – kill tentacles, kill boss.
    Everyone – don’t face each other when puking. Avoid the bad. Interrupt MC’d people.

    There you go – Cho’gall in about 140 words for each role

  10. Valiona Phase 1:
    Stack on tail for Blackout, spread after dispel, breath 180 degrees, don’t be in front, avoid swirling zones on transition (122)

    Valiona Phase 2:
    Melee stack on tail, ranged spread, Engulfing Magic stay out of group, arrow for Meteor run in to melee, Felmyst style breath on transition (139)

    Magmaw Melee:
    Stand left, tanked to right, move to center when steam drops. 2 jump on top at emote, target spike, hit 1. Move back left when steam gone. (140)

    Magmaw Ranged:
    Stand right, move left away from Flame Pillar, kite and kill parasites, stay out of steam. (90)

    Red: Stack on tank to split damage, run out if have Consuming Flames. (70)
    Blue: Spread out to avoid multiple blocks, break people out of Ice Block. (74)
    Green: Group up adds and burn them fast (40)
    All: Interrupt ALL Arcane Storm, interrupt Summon Abominations when called (75)

    Phase 1: Stay stacked. Dodge Sound Discs, if tracked, kite to back of room, use gong to interrupt mass AoE. 100 Sound = DEAD. (128)
    Phase 2: Spread out. Move out of Sound Explosions. If tracked, kite around outside. Use gong to reset sound. 100 Sound = DEAD. (131)

    Omnitron and Halfus have quite a few variables to them. Perhaps I can get 70 characters per drake/bot. Cho’gall was mentioned above. Council I’m pondering more on as well. Got it short, but not short enough.



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