Standing in Fire Gets a Bad Rep

November 15, 2009 at 1:59 pm (5 mans, Grouping, Raiding)

Standing in fire is the calling card of the worst PuG you know, loot ninjas, criminals, Nazis and Satanists. Only the most blind, incompetent, casual, 10 man raiders stand in fire. It’s an unforgivable sin and one which means you will never progress beyond Nexus normal mode (because it has no fire).


Or so you would be led to believe by 90% of the online community and it’s something I don’t understand.

World of Warcraft is not an easy game. I’m not saying it’s rocket science, but the difficulty is pretty well balanced for most people. Most guilds out there are not one-shotting every boss they come across and clearing hard mode raids on the first day. They wipe, they make progress, eventually they clear raids and move on. It’s a good, well tuned curve. Not for everybody, but for most people, and probably for you.

There are lots of sorts of fights out there:

There Gimmick Fights – Thaddius for example, or Curator (Karazhan). Fights where you are essentially learning one trick at which point the fight become simple. There is a single thing you need to know.

There are also (boringly) Tank and Spank fights although they are much less common since Burning Crusade. Patchwerk is the only real one in WotLK and he’s a hangover from Vanilla.

Finally we have the fun, varied interesting fights with lots of abilities and constantly you have to be on your toes. The change in Boss fights since Vanilla can really not be understated. Ragnaros and Golemagg gave way to Kael’thas and Zul’jin. Since then we’ve had bosses like Mimiron, Jaraxxus and Flame Leviathan hard mode (which I think is fantastically fun, you can hate me if you like).

So that’s Gimmick Fights, Tank and Spanks, and modern Variety Fights.

Nowhere there did I mention “Fights with Fire”. That’s because, nowhere in the modern raid game is ‘fire on the floor’ the defining feature of a fight. There are void zones, fire patches, Legion Flames and poison on many of these bosses. In every case however they are doing many other things too. It’s never just about the fire.

Nobody can afford to spend 100% of their attention staring at their feet waiting for fire. If you could then you’ve already got the fight farmed. On a hard progression fight there are lots of other things screaming for your attention (usually screaming “Heal me!”). If it’s not a player then it’s Boss’ cooldowns, or kiting adds, or checking your own abilities, or watching your mana, or watching other raiders, or a host of other things. Fire is a simple thing if it’s the only thing you have to think about. If the fight is a good one, then you have many other things to think about.

I get that it’s annoying, of course I do. As a healer, seeing somebody stand in the fire is a tremendous strain on me. I’m trying to carry you for a mistake you’re making, while still healing the tank. You are putting people at risk and if you do it a lot then I’m going to get annoyed. It’s understandable though! We’ve all done it at some point and we all will again.

Fire is just one way that Boss fights pressure us. Tank damage, raid AoE, Fire, gimmicks, boss abilities, stacking up and spreading out; all play a role in keeping fights hard. Fire just gets singled out. Nobody is on forums up in arms about how the Tank died because healers move out of fire, or because the Tank missed a taunt and an interrupt because of running from a void zone. These things all happen, and people die to them, but nobody gets angry about it because, apparently, so long as you were paying good attention to the fire then screw the consequences of whatever else you might have missed!

I guess what I’m saying is: Fire doesn’t kill people, boss fights kill people. Fire is just one of the ways they do it. Yet for some reason, unknown to me, fire dodging is given some sort of magical significance. Sure, don’t stand in the fire. If you stand in it a lot then maybe give more of your attention to it. If you’re dodging every fire but you can’t keep raid members alive, then maybe pay more attention to that.


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