One of our goals for <Hellbent> is for everyone to have fun playing the all parts of the game, but with a definite emphasis on endgame raiding.
Along the way, we have learned a lot about how to run a successful operation in SWTOR, and what is expected of each person on the team. It is important that everyone who wants to try to run Hard Mode or Nightmare Mode (a.k.a. Veteran and Master Mode) operations is also made aware of those expectations.
So if you want to do Hard Modes with us, you need to read this entire page and agree to what is on it. Here is what is going to happen....
There are three essential qualities that everyone needs to be able to demonstrate, a long list of expectations we have of everyone, along with a (smaller) list of falsehoods and bad habits that we want you to leave behind.
1) TEAMWORK This is absolutely essential. In a Hard Mode operation, everyone has a job to do, and everyone has to do their job, or--99% of the time--it means the groups wipes. There is no room for "floaters" in Hard Modes and everyone has to pull their own weight. You need to listen to the Raid Leader, and be ready help pick up the slack if someone else makes a mistake.
2) SITUATIONAL AWARENESS It's everyone's job to watch what's going on with the entire group and not get overly focused on just what you yourself are doing. Fight mechanics are crucial, and everyone needs to be ready to react quickly to what is happening as it happens (and sometimes be proactively acting before something happens). It's important to call out the things that you see (e.g. new enemies joining the fight) for others and vital that you not overlook things that happen that could affect you (e.g. "standing in stupid"). You also need to be ready to change tactics as the situation requires.
3) PROFICIENCYwith your character class and role Hard Mode operations require you to really step up your game. Everyone involved, in order to be successful, needs to become an expert in the particular role, class, and spec that he or she will be using, AND needs to become an expert in the mechanics and flow of every fight in the operation (including trash mobs). Every player needs to learn how to properly gear up and balance stats on his or her character for maximum performance.
You should take notice that not a single one of these essential qualities has anything to do with gear level, character stats, specs, rotations, or the like. As we often say, "It's the Player, not the Gear." General Expectations:
LISTEN TO THE RAID LEADER. He or she is the final authority on strategy, tactics, and loot distribution. We welcome all input, but ultimately everyone must follow the Raid Leader's instructions. The Raid Leader has full discretion to eject someone from the raid for being a disruption, or to call off the raid if he or she does not believe the group is making progress.
ASK QUESTIONS if you don't know what to do, or even if you are unsure about something. Taking the time to ask and answer questions may slow the operation down a little, but it's still much quicker than wiping the group and then asking and answering questions.
ACCEPT THAT WIPES ARE GOING TO HAPPEN. It's frustrating for everyone, we know, but you need to keep that frustration in check. The fact is that whenever people are learning new content, mistakes will be made--and mistakes in Hard Mode usually mean a wipe. Be prepared to have the group wipe over and over again on the same fight. Be prepared to lose much more money to repair bills than you will get back from winning fights--and be prepared for it to happen even when it's not your fault. The rewards for Hard Modes are the accomplishments/achievements and the chance to win top-tier gear. It's rarely a for-profit venture. (However, for Guild Members, we can temporarily increase your access to guild repair funds to help offset some of those costs.)
KNOW WHAT KILLED YOU. Any time you die, look at the chat log to see what it was. If you have no idea why you died, we have no chance of learning to prevent it from happening again (plus you may need to work on your Situational Awareness).
EXPECT TO BE CALLED OUT ON YOUR MISTAKES. We promise that we are not trying to belittle you and that we are not doing it out of malice. We are trying to help you--and everyone else--improve your performance and learn all the little details of the fight so that neither you nor anyone else makes that same mistake again.
LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES. DON'T MAKE EXCUSES. We don't want to hear it. We all mess up sometimes. It's okay, it really is. Admit it, own it, learn from it, and move on. Just don't make the same mistake over and over again, because a single mistake can easily wipe the entire group, and repeated wipes coming from the same issues are frustrating for everyone.
KEEP THE AFK'S TO A MINIMUM. We understand that emergencies and technical difficulties happen--that's not what we're referring to here. Most of the time, the Raid Leader will try to build in scheduled breaks for everyone to take at the same time, and we want everyone to be respectful and stick to those breaks the best we can. Remember: When you go AFK, you are making at least seven other people sit and wait for you. If you know in advance that you will need to go AFK at some point, tell the Raid Leader at the start so that we can accommodate you with a scheduled break. If someone else goes AFK, please do not interpret it as a signal that it's okay for you to go AFK as well.
WE DO CHECK GEAR . . . to an extent. Your gear is not the most important consideration, but it is a quick indication of your character's potential, and we want to see you performing at that full potential. If you are not realizing that potential, then we may ask you to work on some specific weak points before you come back to another Hard Mode. Once again, "It's the Player, not the Gear."
As a rule of thumb: We want to see a bare minimum of full 240 (Iokath) with set bonuses and some 246/248 items, PLUS full augments. The Raid Leader has the final say on whether or not your gear will be too much of a liability for the group.
Also, there are crafters in-guild who can make many essential items for you (like augments), so do yourself a favor and make use of that service if you need to.
WE USE A PARSER. Currently that preferred parser is StarParse, and we want all players using it during HM operations. (For DPS characters, is it a MUST.) We will help you with configuring it to connect with the rest of the group.
WE USE VOICE CHAT. That voice chat is TeamSpeak and all players are required to use it during Hard Mode raids. It's okay if you can't (or, for whatever reason, won't) talk to us, but it's essential that you be able to hear us. If you haven't already, join us at Teamspeak.HellbentGuild.org.
WE DO EXPECT DPS PLAYERS TO PRACTICE ON THE DUMMY and keep track of their average Damage Per Second for 5-minute and/or 4-million HP sessions. Knowing your actual DPS number is a significantly better measure than knowing what your gear is.
YOUR COMPUTER OR INTERNET CONNECTION MAY BE A LIABILITY and there is nothing that we can do about that. If your system is not capable of smoothly running the game client along with the Parser and Voice Chat programs, then you will not be able to do Hard Mode runs with us. Similarly, if your Internet connection chronically suffers from high latency spikes that affect your performance and/or frequent disconnections during the raid, we may have to exclude you because of it. It's not because we want to, it's just the reality of the situation.
YOU MAY NOT GET TO USE THE CHARACTER YOU WANT. Group composition is an important part of strategy, and raid teams will often be deliberately constructed to ensure that they have all of the necessary tools and abilities to be successful. In most cases, you will be filling in for one of those specific roles and will need to be able to bring a character class suitable for that role. We will do what we can to accommodate you, but it's possible that maintaining the group composition will limit what we can do.
Myths and Misconceptions: The only difference between groups that succeed and groups that fail is GEAR. In fact, your gear is less than half of the issue. Groups that succeed are capable of doing so because of TEAMWORK, SITUATIONAL AWARENESS, and PROFICIENCY with their class and role. No amount of gear can make up for a lack of those three things--but with those three things, a modestly under-geared group can complete the content. The "knowing what you're doing factor" is never to be underestimated.
It's basically the same as Story Mode, but harder. It is certainly harder. But it is also fundamentally different from Story Mode in that SM is deliberately designed so that the majority of players will be able to complete it--in fact, BioWare wants you to be able to complete SM ops.
This is not the case with HM. The difference in difficulty between SM and HM is much wider than most people think. In fact, many (and maybe even most) players will never be able to complete it. Sometimes, the Hard Mode mechanics are different enough from Story Mode that an entirely different strategy is needed. This is even more true today than when the game first launched, since version 4.0 pared down the mechanics of the Story Mode operations.
(On the flip side, using HM strategies in Story Mode often makes them go faster and smoother, which is why we usually do them that way!)
I've upgraded to full 248 GEMINI gear with augments for my character. I'm ready! Well, that's great, but by itself it doesn't mean you're ready. As we've pointed out above, "It's the Player, not the Gear." Besides the fact that you probably have still some optimization and tuning to do (but we can help you with that), you still need to be able to demonstrate the three essential qualities above.
I'd like to be a Tank. I can just be the "off-tank" while I'm learning. Tanking in Hard Modes (and, to be honest, Story Modes too) is a team sport and there really is no notion of "Main Tank" and "Off-Tank" when there are specific mechanics that have to be executed. At most, there are specific jobs that we may assign to one tank or the other in order to best leverage the strengths and weaknesses of the 3 tank classes. But stacking debuffs and tank swaps are very common in HM fights, so in most cases, both tanks have to be ready to do everything.
For most people who are new to Hard Mode content, we ask them to come as a DPS first. It's the easiest role to teach, and carries the least burden for executing fight mechanics. More than anything else, DPS's need to learn to be experts in their class and spec.
DPS characters need to continuously and consistently do the maximum amount of damage possible, often while having to be on the move, to the correct target(s), while avoiding/mitigating damage to themselves, without depleting their Force/Ammo, and without stealing aggro. (Sometimes they even need to act as a temporary Tank or supplemental Healer.)
The ultimate benchmark for whether a DPS is "good enough" is whether or not the team ends up hitting any enrage timers, because if the group can't collectively put out enough damage in the allotted time, there's really no other way to overcome that deficiency. This is why we use a multiplayer parser.
There's WAY more to being a good DPS than just shooting things.
Expectations for Healers are similar to that of DPS, but there is generally more pressure to perform.
Unlike DPS, Healers need to be more aware of the Tanks and what they are doing at all times, while all the while watching out for the rest of the raid group. Healers need to learn where they need to be and when the heavy damage is coming, along with being able to react quickly to certain events or mistakes by other players.
When other people do make mistakes, the Healers are the ones who can make the difference between recovering from it and wiping.
Many fights also require Healers to be vigilant for cleanses (much more so than in Story Mode) and to be familiar with what debuffs can and cannot be cleansed, because typically a DoT effect in Hard Mode that can be cleansed, must be cleansed--quickly. It'll be too strong to just ignore and heal through.
Tanking in Hard Modes is probably the most difficult role of all. Gear balancing is by far more complicated than for a DPS or Healer, and you need to be capable of withstanding the increased damage that Hard Mode enemies dish out.
Tanks need to fully understand the SWTOR aggro system, and know how to grab and hold aggro against high-output DPS's. Tanks need to be proficient with moving enemies around with pushes/pulls, kiting, line-of-sighting, and rotating stationary targets away from the rest of the group.
Most importantly, the bulk of the responsibility for executing fight mechanics usually falls on the Tanks, so it is crucial to know and be able to carry out those mechanics. Tanking is a team sport (as mentioned above) so the Tanks also need to be able to work together smoothly and cooperatively. But most of all:
It's a game, and we're here to have fun. The fun here comes from the challenge and from pushing the envelope on what our characters are capable of doing. Everything you've read on this page was written in service of helping you to have a positive, fun, low-frustration experience with taking on content that is deliberately designed to be difficult to beat, and giving you (and us) the best possible chance of beating it anyway.
That sense of accomplishment that comes with it? THAT'S FUN.