“RNG” and “bad luck” and my blood pressure…

RNG WHAAAAAAT?

Right. I intended to post about this long time ago, pretty much since I read the post over at Paragon site by Lazei. While I agree with Lazei on all points almost completely, some of the reactions to his post were rather negative and in a “STFU you elitist” manner. So I thought I’ll take on the very same topic from the point of view of casual passionate raider. For those of you, not familiar with the post and not really into reading it, allow me to quote the basic thesis of the post:

I’m going to rant here a bit because every time I see someone mention bad luck (or RNG) it makes me angry. I’m pretty sure most raiders hear “bad luck, couldn’t have done anything about it” multiple times in a single raid and I just want tell you that almost every single player who blames bad luck for wiping is a fucking idiot.I hate when people blame luck and that’s the end of it. Somehow the general attitude seems to be that shit happens and there is nothing you can do about it when the players’ attitudes should be “FUCK! That’s not supposed to happen! How can we survive this? Could this have been prevented?”.

Now, I completely and totally back that statement up. As “my” raiders found out, nothing gets my blood pressure up as much as hearing “bad luck” or “RNG”. Why? I’ll explain soon.

Definition of terms

RNG isn’t actually something that causes the wipe. In fact, RNG is just part of the game. Hell, it’s even part of the D&D games you use to play with your friends – it’s simply random number generator. Nothing less, nothing more. It works the same way as a dice – it rolls a number against certain table and determines the result. While I agree that some events or roll results can make your life difficult and/or complicate boss encounter flow, it’s not lethal evil game mechanic put in place to justify a failure.  All boss fights have certain random elements in them but these elements can be pre-countered by thinking ahead and utilizing all your character and player traits.

Bad luck on the other hand can happen and it’s actually something I am okay with – as long as you did everything you could and then some to avoid said situation. Bad luck can happen simply because we are people and no matter how skilled we (think we) are there is always a line we just won’t be able to cross, way above our skill curve.

True raider?

RNG and bad luck is the thing that in my opinion tells who you are. A true raider for me isn’t someone necessarily raiding 24/7 and being in world top 100 guild (although these people definitely have the mindset I am describing, that’s what makes them succesful). Being a true raider to me means improving and always thinking out of the box, not subscribing to rng and coincidence.

Whenever I hear “It was RNG” my blood pressure goes up. You know why? Because whoever says that immediately dismisses the possibility they did something wrong or that there was something they could do extra (or someone else for that matter). Want example?

Anecdotal evidence 1 – progressing Cho’gall normal

The ooze team on 2nd/3rd ooze gets ready to unleash hell (in words of Tropic Thunder – ” I’m talking about a scorched earth, motherfucker! I will massacre you! I WILL FUCK YOU UP! “) and Worship goes off. Two out of three AoE dpsers get mind controlled and the whole raid is stacked on Cho’gall on the other side of the room. We wipe.

Was it RNG fucking us up? No. While worships are the random element of the fight,  this situation could’ve been countered and has been countered from that point on. How? Simply. I wasn’t stacking in the raid, I was hanging with the ooze group, my trigger finger ready to hammer down my Wind Shear bind the very instant I see enemy nameplate near me. And guess what. It worked. That means going the extra step, these are the moments that separate the true raiders from the rest. And I don’t mean to toot my own horn here, I see many things like these done every week by most of the people I raid with – they put in the extra effort to push the whole raid onwards, to counter even the slightest randomness or disadvantage we might face; it’s just that I recall  my moments to shine better.

True raider, second part.

Now, given the example above – if all 3 of us get Worshipped, now that’s bad luck at our level of play. We took precautions and got screwed anyways – yes, someone else might’ve been looking out to provide backup-backup interrupt but if we are to be honest here, that’s pretty much very borderline top of our skill curve, not to mention probably ineffective for 10M raid. Detaching a person who has some downtime at the start of ooze spawn is okay. Detaching another to watch out after this person is not effective; in fact, it’s more worth to take the risk of  “bad luck” wipe than overcomplicate things.

Being a true raider for me is about improving oneself. There is always lesson learned from a wipe you cause, from every death. To quote Lazei once more:

Just to emphasize: bad luck does exist. But you don’t wipe because of bad luck, you wipe because you couldn’t handle it. I realize I’m not the average raider and I raid with a pretty incredible group of players. But the point I’m trying to make is that don’t blame bad luck and just end it at that. Try to learn how to avoid getting in to situations you just were in.

No matter your level of play, no matter the time commitment you put into your raiding, no matter whether you class yourself as casual or hardcore – the bolded part above is the one single thing that will move you forward, help you improve yourself as a player. As soon as you start thinking outside the simple assignments of DPS/heal/tank X and start thinking whether there is anything (even standing 2y to the left) you can do to reduce the random elements / dangerous situation of the fight, you’ll grow as a raider. As well, it feels incredibly good knowing you’re the one who indeed saved the day, or who made it easier for their friends to get boss kill.

Fear of being a failure

As in most social groups, being singled out for making a mistake is considered “unwanted” and it takes a little change of mindset to understand that owning up for a mistake you make in raid has usually two simple results:

  1. It gives everyone a chance to learn from your mistake. Isn’t it better that everyone knows “this” is not a way to do it and can avoid wiping the raid next time. In the end, it takes less time to speak up and explain what went wrong than wipe 4 more times before others learn this lesson too.
  2. It earns you street cred. If you make the entry to your new raiding group as person who might fuck up, but always knows why and what went wrong, you raid leader will love you long time. Knowing you have person who can fess up to mistake and provide you with feedback to a certain boss mechanic is priceless.

Conclusion from this is simple – owning up to your mistakes is most of the time is the best thing you can do. Start noticing things related to your character and soon you’ll be able to notice the whole bigger picture of the fight and your performance will increase with every raid. You’ll know where and when to move, you will understand the flow of the fight better. Ever wondered how can your raid leader see all those things, see what went wrong? It’s this simple training. We all started as self-tunneled players and just worked on our perception.

Another important thing to note – you are raiding with friends or e-buddies, people you presumably went to hell and back with in the past while kicking ass and taking names – no one is out to get you and just because you fuck one thing up, doesn’t mean you’ll get insta kicked. We all make mistakes and we all should have the understanding when someone else makes them.

Above said applies for most cases. Of course, if you fail to taunt a boss 5 times in a row, at the very same time into the encounter and wipe the raid for the same stupid mistake – that’s where the benevolence and tolerance runs out.

So you’re saying there is no RNG or bad luck?

No. Same as Lazei, I am saying that while RNG and bad luck might occur (and does), most of the time something is considered RNG or bad luck is just steep learning curve or a thing you should’ve handled differently. The important thing here is to be able to tell the difference at your level of play. It’s okay that your players simply can’t counter immediate random change of fight pace or cover for others when something unfortunate happens. It’s really okay, as long as you don’t play in world top guild. It’s not okay to be completely oblivious to what happened to you though. In current raiding tier, being able to tell the cause of a death/wipe will help you avoid wipe in the future.

Remember, you’re in it together with 9 or 24 other people and you all share the same knowledge base and you share the think-tank to down the boss!

So, how about you? How much do you subscribe to RNG theory?

About Rahana

Long time player, former hardcore now casual raider. Talks into everything, does not pay attention to exact theorycraft numbers. View all posts by Rahana

15 responses to ““RNG” and “bad luck” and my blood pressure…

  • Hunaiam

    Great post, me some others in my guild were talking about just this thing recently and you hit on the points I wish I could have made. A question though, what is “wind shear bind”? Is this a macro? And if so could you tell me what it is? I currently just target and then hit button, but if you have a macro that will do it I would love to have it.

    • alacranmex

      Bind I think in most cases means that it’s keybound. It could be a macro as well.

      Here is a Cho’gall Wind Shear macro I found on Binkenstein’s blog comments.

      #showtooltip Wind Shear
      /targetenemyplayer
      /cast Wind Shear
      /targetlasttarget

      Here is the one I currently use (but the above one should be better) for 10’s. Sometimes it doesn’t work because the person it wants to wind shear is out of range (the above macro should target the nearest player without regards to which number they are in the sequence)

      #showtooltip
      /cast [@raid1,harm][@raid2,harm][@raid3,harm][@raid4,harm][@raid5,harm][@raid6,harm][@raid7,harm][@raid8,harm][@raid9,harm][@raid10,harm]Wind Shear

    • Rahana

      I am using this macro, copied from Vixsin from Life in Group 5

      #showtooltip Wind Shear
      /stopcasting
      /cast [@focus,harm,nodead][@target,harm,nodead][@focustarget,harm,nodead][@targettarget,harm,nodead] Wind Shear

      Of course you will replace both “Wind Shear” with your interrupt ability. The important thing about this is understanding and remembering the interrupt target order – this macro will:

      Attempt to interrupt your FOCUS
      Attempt to interrupt your TARGET IF you have NO FOCUS valid target
      Attempt to interrupt your FOCUS TARGET if your TARGET AND FOCUS are not enemies
      Attempt to interrupt your TARGET’S TARGET if the three above are friendlies.

      And I have this macro bound to Shift+Q

      • alacranmex

        That’s a cool macro. When I used to do arena, I had two different macros and keybinds, one for focus and one for target.

        The two macros I replied with above I only use on Cho’gall. It allows you to interrupt the worshipped player without actually manually targetting them.

        • Rahana

          I found this macro to be absolute gem really. Focusing Halfus, focusing Maloriak – lets me interrupt easily, just by hitting the bind. My focus frame has 1 cm high health and 1 cm high castbar, too :D

  • Vixsin

    One of my first guilds heavily subscribed to the “it’s a bug” theory of boss kills. If ever there was a mechanic that couldn’t be handled by the group, the claims would start about the boss being bugged. “Oh he must be bugged ‘cause I was totally out of that fire” or “maybe the lightning is bugged because it isn’t supposed to chain like that”. And we’re not even talking a top 10 progression guild here, just an average (or slightly below-average group). But every time we struggled, that excuse bubbled to the surface. Let me tell you, that team discovered more “bugged” bosses than all PTR testers combined.

    • alacranmex

      Hilarious! I think Chimaeron is bugged because last night when I stepped out of the group as Feud was being cast I died immediately.

    • Rahana

      Haha. Yeah. I think Blizzard should hire your old guild to do after PTR testing :)

      Bug happens tho, like Wednesday of 4.1 and Magmaw not allowing for second spiking phase to land the spike. That was a bit of a bummer.

  • alacranmex

    I liked the Paragon post as well, and I read it when we were wiping quite frequently in ph1 on Al’akir.

    Nothing like coming back up onto the platform only to land in a Squal line. Lots and lots of people blaming bad “RNG”.

    It’s funny how the RNG gods start to favor you with a lot of communication and practice.

    • Rahana

      Yeah. Communication and practice goes a long way. Finally everyone I raid with is starting to realize the few golden rules like:

      Only stupid question is the one not asked.
      It takes less time to explain some detail than run back and rebuff AND explain the detail.

      Yeah. I landed in squall line once :( cost me 100g for the guild bank. But hey, I at least knew I fucked up, and that’s the point.

  • Top Roster

    Completely agree with this post and wish I could have put it so eloquently. I detest players who blame RNG on a boss fight. All mechanics are made to be avoidable. Bosses are designed in this way and I hate when players do not even try to adapt their play to counter abilities.

    • Top Rosters

      Edit: I run a WoW blog over at toprosters.com and would love to put a proposition to you Rahana. I cannot seem to find an email ad here so I would be very grateful if you could mail me at mail[at]toprosters[dot]com. Thanks a lot.

      • Rahana

        Thanks for the poke, my About page was missing for some reason. Well it’s back now and I mailed you anyways.

  • Zamir

    We usually find that the process of going from initial strategy to final tweaks that result in a first kill involves discovering all the worst-case scenarios from “bad luck” that you didn’t expect, and either explicitly strategising around them or preparing mentally to deal with them.

    It can be frustrating if you get a first kill with “good luck” then go on to have “bad luck” on what should be a farmed encounter, but again that’s often a chance to tighten up and refocus on stuff which slipped under the radar previously. Eventually folk get familiar enough with a fight that things can go hideously wrong and still be recovered.

    Of course, some bosses have more brutal combinations of abilities/timing than others, and some “RNG” can push the required skill envelope to ridiculous levels. At that point it becomes a trade off between what’s worth investing time in overcoming and what’s simply best written off as one-in-a-million RNG and mostly ignored.

    And finally – if a group is really demoralised, a bit of blaming external forces like RNG can be helpful! Gives folk a chance to vent, to direct their anger and frustration at something other than themselves or their fellow raiders. If this then motivates folks to try harder to beat the evil RNG, then that’s great. Heck, even if it just prevents everyone from finishing the raid depressed and apathetic, that’s great. It’s nice to have the scapegoat, and often there is a little degree of truth to it.

  • Gorbag

    Once in a while running back from a wipe I’ll say on vent “that one was bad luck, we got this. Remember X Y Z next time.” the bad luck might have been timing on boss mechanics, a healer distracted by a spiky tank hit, or any other combo of things. When we know the mechanic and somebody just dropped the ball, calling it bad luck and writing it off reassures the rest of the raid that things are in hand and keeps them from getting jumpy about their own assignments. It also let’s me refresh everybody’s memory on some mechanic that may have been overlooked while other problems were being solved. Sometimes the breaks all go the other guy’s way and the best thing to do is scratch the attempt and start fresh. In my experience, knowing the difference between a tactic that’s failing and one that needs more practice is one of the more challenging parts of raid leading. I agree that luck/rng is a poor excuse for sloppy play, though, and people who throw out excuses instead of being active in finding solutions quickly become tiresome to raid with.

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