Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Putting The Right Raid Buffs Together

Bunny ears... Easter eggs... Orc females...


Sooo... raid buffs, eh?

We all love them, they make those big numbers that we see flash across the screen even bigger than before and it means that we can get smacked around and pulverised a bit more before we're outside the instance, chatting to the Spirit Healer... again...

The big question is, do we need them?  If so, which ones do we need?  Are there any that we can cope without?

This is an attempt to list the raid buffs that are pretty essential to raiding, I'm not planning on covering every single buff; there are a lot of them out there!  This list should go some way to making sure that we can get the job done.

Do We Need Raid Buffs?

Not all of the time, no.  It all depends on the gear that the raid party has, compared to the level of the instance.  If you're running through Naxxramas wearing Tier 10 gear, then missing buffs isn't going to make much of a difference... unless you go and do something really stupid...  An Icecrown Citadel run with a raid team wearing Tier 9 gear is seriously going to want to do whatever it can to maximise its raid buffs, however.

At the moment, raids such as Trial of the Grand Crusader push our guild to the limits of our raiding capability; there's very little margin for error in tactics, excecution, gear or buffs for us.  Even with the best team that we can muster, one slip up we could just about get away with, any more than that and it's time to call a wipe.  In cases such as that, we want everything that we can get.

Which Buffs Do We Need?

For some time now, Blizzard's game designers have apparently been working with a policy that has become known as "Bring the Player - Not the Class."  Now, this is a source for seemingly endless arguements both for and against this design policy, one of the benefits is that raid makeup does not need to be precisely engineered as has been required in the past.  You can possibly get away with taking that Retribution Paladin (or whatever) for the last slot, whereas previously you would have reserved it for that Boomkin that you desperately needed for its Moonkin Aura.  That 5% crit bonus?  The Elemental Shaman that you've got is providing that with Elemental Oath.

A lot of buffs don't stack on WoW, that previously mentioned 5% crit buff is a 5% crit buff whether you brought your Crit Chicken or your Elemental Shammy with you or even if you brought both of them.  So why waste a raid slot on redundant buffs and miss out on a different class's buffs?  As I said earlier, it all depends on how much you need to maximise your buffs to get the job done.

Here's the list... take a deep breath and take it all in...

Armor Debuff (Major):  Acid Spit (exotic Hunter pet), Expose Armor, Sunder Armor

Armor Debuff (Minor):  Faerie Fire, Sting (Hunter pet), Curse of Recklessness

Melee Haste Buff:  Improved Icy Talons, Windfury Totem

Melee Critical Strike Buff:  Leader of the Pack, Rampage

Attack Power Buff (Flat Add):  Battle Shout, Blessing of Might

Attack Power Buff (Scaling):  Abomination's Might, Trueshot Aura, Unleashed Rage

Bleed Damage Increase Debuff:  Mangle, Trauma

Spell Haste Buff:  Wrath of Air Totem

Spell Critical Strike Buff:  Moonkin Aura, Elemental Oath

Spell Critical Strike Buff (individual): Focus Magic,

Spell Critical Strike Chance Debuff:  Improved Scorch, Winter's Chill

Increased Spell Damage Taken Debuff:  Ebon Plaguebringer, Earth and Moon, Curse of the Elements

Increased Spell Power Buff:   Flametongue Totem, Totem of Wrath, Demonic Pact

Increased Spell Hit Chance Taken Debuff:  Improved Faerie Fire, Misery

Percentage Haste Increase (All Types):  Swift Retribution

Percentage Damage Increase:  Ferocious Inspiration, Sanctified Retribution

Critical Strike Chance Taken Debuff (All types):  Heart of the CrusaderTotem of Wrath

Melee Attack Speed Slow Debuff : Improved Icy TouchInfected Wounds, Judgements of the JustImproved Thunderclap

Melee Hit Chance Reduction Debuff:  Insect Swarm, Scorpid Sting

Healing Debuff:  Wound Poison, Aimed Shot, Mortal Strike, Furious Attacks

Attack Power Debuff:  Demoralizing Roar, Curse of Weakness, Improved Demoralizing Shout

Stat Multiplier Buff:  Blessing of Kings

Stat Add Buff:  Mark of the Wild

Agility and Strength Buff:  Strength of Earth Totem, Horn of Winter

Stamina Buff:  Power Word: Fortitude

Health Buff:  Commanding Shout, Blood Pact

Intellect Buff:  Arcane Intellect, Fel Intelligence

Spirit Buff:  Divine Spirit, Fel Intelligence

Damage Reduction Percentage Buff:  Blessing of Sanctuary

Percentage Increase Healing Received Buff:  Tree of Life, Improved Devotion Aura

Cast Speed Slow:  Curse of Tongues, Slow,

Quite a list, eh?

The important thing to note is the no-stacking rule; you only get the benefit of the most powerful buff in each category, so if you've got a warrior providing Battle Shout, don't go hassling your one and only paladin for Blessing of Might and calling them a noob because they gave you Blessing of Kings instead - you'll just make yourself look silly...

On the other hand, if you have enough paladins to go around, why not have one slap Blessing of Might on the people that need it and let that warrior focus on doing what he does best instead of being distracted by having to keep battle shout up all of the time - it works both ways.

The other thing that you will hopefully notice is that a lot of the time, the numbers under each category are the same.  Funny that, eh?  If you look at the "Melee Attack Speed Slow Debuff" category, you'll see that they all slow the target's melee attack speed by 20%.  If you look a little closer, you will see that the classes/specs that are capable of applying this debuff are all four (or six, if you want to be picky) tank specs.  

Are There Any Buffs That We Can Do Without?


Now, your high-end-world-first-type raiding guild will be on the ball and have maximised every single buff that they use.  That's what they do.  No point in wasting talent points in the "improved" version of the buff that you provide, if someone else can provide an equally good buff.  Go back to the trainer and re-spec into something more useful, please...

For us mere mortals this isn't necessary, but a nice balance of buffs would go a long way towards efficient raiding.  Sure, you can put a raid together comprised of nothing other than Druids or Paladins, but it wouldn't be terribly efficient.

And can you imagine being in that all Pally raid and not getting all four blessings?  Because you know that's going to happen... (get Pally Power will you, guys?)

As an aside, three of the buffs listed above are only provided by one class: Priest for Power Word: Fortitude, Paladin for Blessing of Kings and Druid for Mark of the Wild.  Because of this you can get hold of slightly lower powered versions of them from Scrolls or Drums, so there's no excuse not to have them.

I have to admit though, every time I get Caffeine-Free Diet Blessing of Kings from the drums, I pull a sad face for a couple of seconds.


There's a lot going on in the world of raid buffs and it's an bit of a nightmare for raid leaders to set up a group that has a good chance of clearing content.  If you're a Druid/Warrior/whatever and a raid leader doesn't pick you for a raid, don't go getting upset.  Sure, you have every right to be disappointed - that's the appropriate reaction to have, but the decision may have been made simply because you're a Druid/Warrior/Whatever and there are already enough of them in the raid.

The other thing to consider is checking that the spec you've chosen is one that will provide bonuses to the entire raid, sometimes at the cost of personal bonuses.  Raiding is teamwork and most of the time, picking up a talent that will give the raid a 2% bonus to something is far more beneficial than picking up a talent giving a 5% bonus to something that will affect you and you alone.

Bottom line: Raid smart!

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