in the heart of Naxxramas a brave group of adventures fight their
way through the Plague Quarter. Noth the Plaguebringer falls easily
before the group's might, his loot distributed among the conquers. The
cleansing of this foul wing is nowhere close to done though. Heigan the
Unclean, the evil mastermind that created the Plaguelands, stands
before the group preventing them from reaching their ultimate goal;

After a short rest the group pushes forward wiping out all trash in
their path. Ghouls, Slimes, and Gargoyles stand against the
group’s advancement only to be obliterated one by one. A
doorway appears ahead and the group cautiously ventures inside creeping
into a corner to take in their surroundings. Glancing up the group sees
that they have reached their goal, for on a raised platform stands
Heigen in all his inhuman glory.

Food and drink are consumed, strategy is discussed and buffs are handed
out as the group prepares to take on Heigen. The charge begins and the
group faces off against Heigen’s dance of death. Many brave
souls fall, unable to follow the rythum of the dance but Heigen takes
much damage as well. More fall until finally all that remains standing
are a tank, a healer, and one DPS. Failure seems certain, and the group
waits for the remaining few to fall.

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The end is upon you.

Something unexpected and surprising takes place instead. The remaining
three do not fall, they stand and fight, and slowly but surely burn
Heigen down. Their dance steps are perfection and when all is said and
done Heigen comes out the loser in this fight. There was much cheering,
much loot, and many retellings of the story afterwards.

The story above really happened on one of my (awesome) guilds raids
inside of Naxxramas and is just one example of taking a calculated
risk. The wipe could have been called by our raid leader and we could
have run back and tried again. Instead we went on our gut feeling and
sheer determination to eventually persevere over seemingly impossible
odds. While pushing forward and refusing to give up sometimes provides
remarkable results, it’s not always the best course of
action. How then can you decide what course of action you should take?
The answer to this question is not as cut and dried as you may think.

When faced with such a situation there are a few questions you should
ask yourself before you make your ultimate decision to stay the course
or retreat:

  • style="font-weight: bold;">How much time do I have?
    If you are short on time, especially in a raiding situation,
    it’s probably best to call a wipe instead of turning a fight
    into a lengthy battle.
  • style="font-weight: bold;">Are the odds really that
    overwhelming? - Sometimes
    situations seem worse than they really are.
    Take a moment to reassess your situation and decide if things really
    are as bad as they seem.
  • style="font-weight: bold;">Who can help me?
    - This
    factor can make or break an impossible situation. In my story above a
    DPS, Healer, and Tank were all left alive making for an ideal, albeit
    small, group able to defeat almost
    anything placed before them. If you find yourself
    in a less than idea
    group, such as all healers or alone
    surrounded by enemies in PvP resigning yourself to a certain death, or
    making a hasty retreat is advised.
  • style="font-weight: bold;">Which gives me more of an
    advantage? - Sometimes
    pushing forward or retreating can give you a
    distinct advantage. For example if you hold off the mob of enemy
    players in PvP for long enough, your friend may have time to sneak the
    flag through. Or if your pet distracts the angry elite mob that wants
    to stomp your face for just a few seconds you may be able to loot the
    quest object you are after before you die.

Asking yourself these questions and being vividly aware of your
situation regardless of if you are raiding, PvPing or going it solo,
will give you a distinct advantage when deciding what course of action
you should follow. If you have asked yourself these questions and
answered them favorably push on to possibly win the day, or if you find
yourself in a more negative situation don’t be afraid to
admit defeat.

Using the story above once again as an example you can clearly see that
the encounter we faced was quite favorable to us, which was why no wipe
was called. It was early in the night, so our raid had no time
constraints and Heigen was significantly low in health making him an
easy target. An ideal group was left standing, and while there was no
clear advantage to continuing the fight, it did make for one heck of a

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Never hesitate to take a
calculated risk, even in the face of seemingly impossible odds.

However the answer can not completely be obtained just from these
questions alone. Instead a large portion of the answer you seek will
come from an almost sixth sense that most gamers possess that they are
not even aware of. It will take much trial and error to hone this
sense, so don’t be afraid to plunge head first into risky
situations. Failure is as much of, if not even more of a learning
experience than success. Eventually though you will find that you will
be able to enter situations and be able to easily decide if a situation
is hopeless or not.

Learning when to push forward or when to retreat is not an exact
science. Using the method above, and perfecting your gut feeling will
help you make the right calls more often than not. However even the
most seasoned players will find themselves making the wrong decisions
from time to time. Take these failures in stride as they will become
far an few between.

In my opinion taking a calculated risk is almost always worth it, and
will usually pay off in the end just like in the example above. So I
say if you are faced with a risk take it, the worst that can happen
will be a repair bill and a long run back. Besides, losing usually
makes for a better story than winning.

Do you have tips or personal stories on how to know when to push
forward or retreat? Share them with us on our forums!

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our World of Warcraft Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Amunet, also fondly known as Memtron, is an organic life form best known for its ongoing obsession with Blizzard Entertainment's numerous properties. To that end, Amu has authored hundreds (thousands?) of the most popular World of Warcraft guides, editorials, and Top 10 lists on the planet. When not gaming and writing, Amu is busy chasing after her three children in a perpetual loop of ongoing disaster.