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How do I play in a group?

Tanking, healing and CC assignments can seem overwhelming, especially in very large groups, but "World of Warcraft" has built-in ways for players to keep up with what's happening. One is a set of raid icons, which some players refer to as "Lucky Charms." Party and raid leaders can use these to label specific targets with symbols visible to everyone in the group. There's no hard-and-fast rule about which icon stands for which action, but most players use the skull icon to mark the mob that the DPS should focus on. Some party leaders will move the skull from target to target as necessary, while others will tell the group which icon to target next.

You can also create a simple assist macro. This is a macro that will cause your character to target the tank's target every time you click it -- in other words, you'll attack what the tank is attacking. If your tank is trying to keep the aggro from multiple mobs, be careful -- he or she may change targets to keep the attention of all of them. To create this macro:

  1. Type /macro to open the macro interface.
  2. Click New.
  3. Choose a name for your macro and an icon to represent it on your toolbar.
  4. Click "Okay," then click on the icon you just created to open the macro itself.
  5. In the macro field, type /assist and the name of your tank. You can re-open the macro and change the tank's name whenever you like.
  6. Click the icon you created and drag it to your toolbar.
  7. Close the macro interface.

More complex macros can look a little like a programming language that instructs the game to perform specific actions. You can find lots of useful macros in the "World of Warcraft" official forums, and you can learn more about them from the official macro guide.

Here's how a five-person group can use these tools to move through an instance:

  1. The group leader marks the mobs with raid icons and tells the group which icon stands for which action.
  2. Players with crowd-control abilities CC their designated mobs before or immediately after the fight starts, depending on their particular skill.
  3. A designated player attacks a mob that isn't under crowd control to start the fight. This is known as pulling. Another option is to allow players with crowd-control abilities to pull the group by using their crowd control, but the tank has to act quickly to protect the pulling player.
  4. The group's DPS allows the tank to build threat, or get aggro, before attacking. The DPS will either use their assist macros to assist the tank or move from one icon to the next, killing one mob at a time before moving on to the next one. The DPS works as quickly as possible without generating too much threat and pulling the aggro off the tank.
  5. The healer uses healing spells that will keep the party alive without generating too much threat.
  6. When all of the mobs are dead, the group distributes all the loot and allows caster classes to recover their mana before pulling the next group.

Group play is more than just a set of mechanical steps, though -- there are social elements involved as well. We'll explore them on the next page.