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Throughout my time raiding in WoW, I've noticed that a lot of things factor into the success or failure of a raid. Coordination, cooldown timing, proper raid composition and end-game gear can only go so far if your raid is physically or (more likely) mentally exhausted. Playing as both a raid leader and a rank-and-file member has allowed me to find the best times to take a breather and recharge my gaming battery during a raid environment. Here are some of the best times as a raid leader to call a break and some convenient times for raid members to sneak a quick breather that will minimize the effect on the raid as a whole.
10. The Prescheduled Break The prescheduled break is just that: prescheduled. Your raiders know exactly when they will be able to leave their keyboards for that much-needed bio break or to change out the laundry. I've been in guilds that called five-minute breaks on the top of the hour, and I've been in guilds that decided that the two-hour mark was the key to success. Whatever your time, your raiders will know when they are not needed, allowing them the flexibility to plan according to the set schedule.
9. The Flask Break The flask break is similar to the prescheduled break; the break occurs as soon as flasks expire. I find that this system works remarkably well, as raiders spend time, gold and resources obtaining flasks and have a vested interest in how the time is spent using it. I've seen faster and more efficient trash pulls and a bit more boss awareness when using this method, as it's a race against the clock in order to prevent using another flask to obtain the objective.
8. The Pre-Brand-New-Boss Break As much as we'd all like to say that our guilds are ultimately prepared for anything Blizzard can throw at us, we've all been in situations where several people in the raid simply had not done their homework and studied up on the upcoming boss. While I've been in guilds that immediately chastise and belittle those individuals, I find that a quick five-minute break to watch a raid video or look at a written strat often alleviates some confusion from a completely unfamiliar encounter.
7. The Progression-Downing Break WOOT! The raid has finally downed the boss you've been working on for what seems like forever! Whether it was three hours or three weeks, the cheers in Vent can be heard from across the room, and the smile on your face seems to make all the work worth it. That said, hearts are sure to be racing and adrenaline pumping through the vast majority of the raid. A short break will allow everyone to celebrate a bit and calm down so that they are in the game for the next encounter.
6. The Between-Wings Break Raids such as Naxx and ICC have clearly defined wings that allow for a natural stopping point for a raid. After your raid group is no longer working on the bosses within these sections and can down them with relative ease, a quick break to prepare for the next round of encounters can keep the raid from getting monotonous.
5. The Halfway-Through Break Raids such as ToC (and its heroic counterpart) do not have a clearly defined halfway mark. While my guild was working on 25-man heroic ToGC, Faction Champions was definitely a thorn in our side, as there was not a clearly defined strategy that would work week to week (at least for us). Some weeks, we would spend hours on the encounter, while other weeks, we would one- or two-shot it. Regardless, we always called a break after the encounter was over in order to recharge our collective batteries and allow us to progress on in content.
4. The Post-Wipefest Break Sometimes the stars aren't aligned quite right and no matter what you do, the raid simply cannot defeat an encounter. Rather than beat your head against your desk and spew hate and obscenities into your microphone, call a five-minute breather to allow frustrations to fall away from yourself and your fellow raiders. Use the time to look at logs and discuss with your leadership how things can be changed to help with success. I've personally watched many bosses downed after using this break; sometimes people just need a bit of time to reflect.
3. The Trash Break The trash break is most often used by healers in a raid group, although I've seen it used with success by DPS as well. Simply put, if you are a healer, communicate with your fellow healers that you will be AFK for a set amount of time. After placing yourself on follow on a healer, you are free to go about your business. If you are doing this as a melee DPSer, set your follow on a ranged DPSer or a healer to prevent cumbersome snares, AoEs and cleaves from destroying your face.
2. The Waiting-for-DCs Break Disconnects happen. We've all been there, when right before the boss pull, the MT and healer/spouse drop off the face of the world ... of Warcraft. If there is a history of this (and often times there is), you will be able to figure out whether or not there is time to grab that quick drink or a bio break without affecting the raid as a whole.
1. The Loot Break Raiding guilds have potentially hundreds of ways to divvy up that hard-won loot, with the loot master having to maintain a stationary position on the boss to access it. I've been in guilds where looting can take up to five minutes. If this is the case, take a quick peek; if you need nothing from the boss, make your way to the next staging area and stretch those legs and take care of your business ... You've earned it.
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