World of Warcraft defending against the Dark Noob

Recently I have talked about how various simplifications in World of Warcraft have really hurt the good players out there by closing the gap between players that get it and players that don’t. However, even with the simplifications in the game's mechanics there are still a plethora of noobs out there. Knowing that they are in the game, and being prepared to deal with them, makes coping with them a whole lot easier. What exactly is a noob though?

Definition: Noob (also known as newb, noobie, nob) – A player that plays like they are brand new to the game. Does not appear to understand the game, mechanics, or even the roles of players and classes. While excusable in actual new players, noob is saved as a derogatory term for the numerous players that have played for years and still don’t understand even the basics of the game.

My editor suggested the Dark Noob title for this article, and at first I was like, huh dark? I didn’t like it at all as it seemed confusing. He meant evil, as in the proverbial man in black, however, I have another idea. I like to think that people are not evil by nature, just ignorant and uneducated. So I stuck with the “Dark Noob” idea, but like to think of it as a reference to a dim or dark lightbulb over there head like in a cartoon. They are trying to think, but just can’t muster up enough power to light that bulb. So what can we do to help that?

Knowing that there are a whole lot of noobs out there in the game (probably around 25% of all players are noobs), you know going into any PUG group that you are more than likely to get at least one in your group with you. With that in mind, how do you minimize a noob's impact on your (and others) gaming experience? How do you minimize their effect in your group? What can you do to make sure the group succeeds even though that player may be doing everything they can to stop the group from succeeding (without even knowing it)?

With those questions in mind, let’s first look at defending against the Noob, then afterwards look at minimizing the noob experience for everyone.

Defense Methods Against the Dark Noob

In this section let’s look at a few simple ways to defend yourself against a noob. These are all about getting you the best game experience possible and limiting their effect on you and your friends.

Join a Guild – The best defense against the mass of Noobs is to join a guild and avoiding the whole PUG scene entirely. By doing this you will never have to group with random players, instead you can group with players that you can build a social connection with (which should be the core of any MMORPG gaming experience anyway). Sure at the beginning in a new guild you may meet a few noobs, however as you play with them and either teach them or they learn on their own, they will not be noobs any more.

Blizzard has been making it easier and easier for players to find groups and experience content. This includes the cross realm battlegrounds that started it all, then the cross realm dungeon finder, and finally the upcoming raid finder. However, while each of these make it simpler for players to find groups it also greatly increases the number of noobs that will be playing the content simply because they can get in. If you are a skilled long term player, avoiding these systems will greatly reduce your stress and frustration level. After all, just like in real life, the people you should be relying on and counting on in stressful situations are the people you know, not some random person on a street corner.

Communication - Next up, a great way to banish the darkness that a noob causes in a group is through enlightened communication. Simple things like an announcement at the beginning of a LFG dungeon run stating some simple rules and expectations. This should be from the tank, as they may have their own set of rules, but it can be from anyone and then discussed. One I use all the time is:

style="width: 600px; text-align: left; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; background-color: rgb(204, 153, 51); font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;"
border="1" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="2">
/p Hello and welcome to the Gradiel tanking experience.
/p I move fast but stop for healers below 1/2 mana, if you need to stop please
/p call out during a fight and I will not pull. I expect everyone to follow target marks,
/p current kill target will always have a skull, and CC will be marked as:
/p Square = Trap, Star = Sap / Repent, Moon = Poly, Triangle = Hex / Root
/p If you have questions about a boss, ask while clearing trash towards it.
/p I don’t mind explaining before a fight at all, but…
/p …I will vote to kick if you cause a wipe and had not asked for information.

I can easily substitute in any other CC or info into this macro at the beginning of a run. It let’s people know a few things like Pace, CC order, and expectations that people ask for help when they need it. This starts the communication right at the start and many players will thank you for being upfront and stating this.

Simplify their Expected Contribution – This mainly comes about as a defense mechanism against DPS noobs (which account for most of them). There are a few things you can do to help out here, the first being to not expect or assign CC targets or if you do kill theirs first once onto killing CC’ed enemies. Noobs very rarely know how to focus targets or macro spells to keep CC active and up 100% of the time. Therefore relying on them for CC is asking for trouble. They will almost guaranteed let it break just as the healer has a big cast going and it will result in heal aggro and a wipe unless the tank is very fast.

It is also important to realize that their DPS will likely not add up to a lot, the healer should sacrifice them first if the group gets into trouble. Wasting mana to heal someone that is contributing ½ what the rest of the group does is not a good idea. Note that I am not saying don’t heal them at all, just to prioritize them low on your healing list if you are having issues.

For the tank in the group, be prepared to watch the noob closely, they tend to get into bad positions and pull additional enemies. Get them to stay back further if possible (assuming they are ranged) or be ready to grab adds as soon as they pull them.

If the noob is a healer or the tank, be prepared to go slower. If they are the tank, maybe you marking targets is a better idea, if they are the healer maybe everyone should be extra careful about incoming damage. In either case planning pulls and using as much CC as you can is a great way to limit their inexperience’s effect on the group.

Know when to cut your losses – This comes about mainly with noob tanks and healers. Sometimes it is just not going to work. Give it a little bit of effort, I’m not saying run 20 seconds after joining a group, but don’t take 2 days to finish a 5 player instance. If things are really going poorly and you do not feel there is any hope, say you're sorry but you have to go. Sticking around just isn’t going to get you anywhere. I suggest at least 20 minutes before giving up on a group or 2 wipes on trash or 3 wipes on a boss.

Enlightening the Noobs

Ok, so you now know some defense mechanisms to protect yourself and your group and minimize the noob's impact. Now, how do you go about minimizing the noob's impact on the game for the long term? How do you help the noob?

One thing that is so important to remember when dealing with noobs that it gets it’s own whole section is education. Educating and enlightening a noob does two great things. First it stops the frustration level for yourself if they listen and start playing better, and secondly it will improve their game substantially and up their enjoyment of the game as well. Hey, maybe they will go and learn even more and teach others and help get rid of noobs entirely.

Education is critical for the simple reason that it is unfair to expect them to know everything on their own. Sure, they should know how to cast their own spells, have an idea what their best spells are, how to get from point A to B, but there are some things they need to be taught.

For example, if they have never grouped before it is unfair to expect them to know what most people use the marks for. They may not know that they should base their target off the tank's, they may not know fight mechanics, they may not know to not run ahead of a tank and that the creatures hit harder in groups because they are elites. We all had to learn these things for ourselves at one point in time. These players need to as well. Yes, much of it they should have figured out… but you know what the modern education system is like, do you really expect them to be able to read?

Ok, all kidding aside again, a lot of players get to the end game never having grouped so don’t know what is expected. Not having grouped before as long as they lived through a fight they thought they did enough damage so they never looked at the math on abilities and figured out that doing x,x,y,z provides 40% more DPS than a,b,c,d,e because they didn’t think they had to.

When you run into these players talk to them, don’t just start cursing at them that they are a noob. If you know their class / spec offer to chat for a bit and fill them in. If you don’t send them our way – to check out the class guides, general guides, or even the instance guides for boss strategies.

And who knows; sometimes when you go to help someone you may learn something new yourself. I know I have. The game is so complicated that it is easy to miss something. Sometimes you will go to explain something, look it up to make sure you’re correct, and find out some other bit of information that provides a whole other way of doing something even better than the first.

The Word of the Messiah

I promise you that dealing with noobs with a little compassion, kindness, and sharing your knowledge will get you a lot further ahead than being rude and writing them off. It is hard at first putting up with the same issues time and time again, but just try remembering to have a bit of patience.

Of course mocking them and writing them off can be a whole lot of fun too, but that’s another article…

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Byron 1
Byron has been playing and writing about World of Warcraft for the past ten years. He also plays pretty much ever other Blizzard game, currently focusing on Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, while still finding time to jump into Diablo III with his son.