6 Biggest Boss Mistakes
by Tyler Edwards, January 7, 2013
MMO bosses are many things: epic, exciting, terrifying, lucrative. One thing they don't tend to be, though, is smart. After all, they all inevitably end up getting killed by us. Even the most all powerful, mind numbingly difficult boss eventually finds itself falling before the might of the players. They must be doing something wrong to always fail in this manner. When you think about it, there are a number of incredibly obvious mistakes that every single boss seems to make.
6: Being jerks:
Bosses are, by and large, not a pleasant bunch. They like to deride, insult, and generally harass us players. They tell us we're weak, unprepared, or closed minded.
We don't care for that. And gamers are a pretty ornery bunch at the best of times. Your average MMO player is happy to gank, troll, grief, and generally make life miserable for just about anyone they come across. And that's what we do to perfect strangers whom we have no quarrel with. Imagine what we do to those who have hurt our feelings.
Bosses could save themselves a lot of grief by simply being more polite. The more they mock and insult us, the more determined we become to wipe those smug grins off their faces. It motivates us to keep going after them through all the wipes, hardship, and repair bills.
If a boss is unpleasant enough, even casuals who don't normally bother with group content might decide to come after them. Truly hate worthy bosses mobilize all types, and instead of just hardcore raiders pounding on their doors, they find themselves swapped by every newb with a bone to pick.
If they were just a little nicer, bosses wouldn't go through nearly so much grief. You can take it as a life lesson: what goes around comes around.
5: Not adapting:
Guilds rarely, if ever, succeed in killing a boss on their first attempt. Often, it takes multiple tries to master fight mechanics and defeat their opponent. For those on the bleeding edge of progression, this can mean hundreds of wipes over the course of days before they finally achieve victory. It takes a lot of skill, practice, and learning to defeat a boss. Strategies must be formed, adjusted, or even scrapped and started anew.
Unfortunately for the bosses, they go through no such learning process. Apparently suffering from some severe form of memory loss that prevents them from remembering how players have outfoxed them before, they go through exactly the same rote program of moves every single time. A few might randomize certain mechanics, but they never truly change.
Imagine how much more successful they would be if they learned to shake things up now and then. What if they learned to start with their most dangerous phase, ensuring all the healers burned out immediately? What if they learned to cover up that weak spot on their bodies that always becomes revealed in phase two? What if they decided to get rid of those safe spots where players are always hiding from their big AoE?
Group coordination is another lesson they could take from guilds. Imagine if they swapped positions with a buddy from later on in the raid just to troll us...
4: Playing defense:
We've all heard the saying, "The best defense is a good offense."
MMO bosses haven't heard that. Their philosophy seems to be, "The best defense is sitting around in your lair and waiting for a raid of cantankerous players to horribly slaughter you."
Raid bosses have a lot of power at their command. Aside from being pretty tough in their own right, most of them command armies of minions and various monstrosities. One wonders why they don't simply drop all these nasty creatures in the main cities and watch the fun. If the monsters don't kill us players, the lag will.
Players aren't created ready to take on powerful bosses. If just one raid boss were to one day decide to pay a visit to the starting zone, they would never have to fear anything ever again.
They don't even necessarily need to target players. We won't get very far if the bosses are camping all of the gear vendors, flight masters, and quest givers. Nobody really wants to go back to grinding quest mobs for experience and walking everywhere.
In the end, bosses are simply lazy. If they were just a little more proactive, we'd never have a chance against them.
3: No escape plan:
When bad stuff goes down, you always have a plan B. It's common sense. This is why buildings have fire exits. This is why pencils have erasers. It's why cars have airbags, planes have oxygen masks, and the government has a top secret plan to colonize Mars in the event of nuclear war (probably).
But it seems like this most basic level of caution is not something that MMO bosses possess. They're happy to sit in their lairs with no safety exits and wait for us to back them into a corner and slaughter them with no hope of escape.
I guess we can assume they're arrogant. They don't entertain the idea of escape because they figure they'll just mop the floor with us anyway. But you'd think some of them would have learned by now. We've killed hundreds upon hundreds of their comrades; surely they must have heard about that. Do these bosses not have newspapers? Do they not keep in touch?
To be fair, many of them are literally living under rocks; but even so, you'd think they'd have heard something about how we massacred several dozen bosses exactly like them. If they had even the slightest lick of sense, they'd build in an emergency exit so they can hightail it out the moment we start banging on their doors.
2: Having loot:
Let's be honest: we kill bosses for the loot. We're obsessed with the shinies. We live for the purples, oranges, and whatever other colors games associate with high level gear. Sure, some might play for the lore or the challenge, but most people are just out for the phat lewt.
Which makes you wonder what all those bosses are doing hanging on to all that loot. Sure, dragons like their hoards. It's kind of their thing. If they don't have a giant pile of magic artifacts, the other dragons snicker at them, and they can't get dates with the lady dragons.
But at some point, they have to realize it's doing them more harm than good. Every minute they hang onto that [Frozen Claymore of Utter Bombast] brings them closer to death by raid group.
The smart thing for them to do would be to hold a nice yard sale. Auction off their loot to the highest bidders, and they can save themselves a lot of pain (literally) and earn themselves a tidy nest egg. With the extra money, they can retire to a nice haunted fortress and be quietly evil in peace for their rest of their lives.
1: Attacking the tank:
So you're a raid boss, and you suddenly see ten very angry looking people in shiny armor charging at you, brandishing weapons with ill intent. You quickly analyze the group in an attempt to determine which enemy to focus your wrath on.
Most of them wield massive weapons and powerful magics. Your health bar plummets beneath their fury, but they've clearly sacrificed defense in the name of better offensive abilities, so they're vulnerable. You also notice two scholarly types in the back. They wear no armor to speak of and aren't doing a lot of damage, but they keep healing the injuries of their comrades. A mix of crucial and defenseless, they seem to be the perfect targets.
Finally, there's a great brute in heavy armor screaming at you. His attacks are negligible, but his armor makes him almost un-killable.
If you have a functioning brain, the armored fellow is going to be the absolute last one you go after. You could happily one shot all the others - the ones who are actually a threat - while this guy just screams at you impotently. You could then whittle down the tank's health at your leisure, or just drop him in a cage and invite your boss buddies over to laugh at him.
The real question is how all these bosses got to be so important when they evidently lack functioning brains.