Farming Vader: MMA vs. MMO

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“We need another DPS,” my brother, Alex, tells me, as he wraps his hands.

We’re at our local mixed martial arts gym. That was the deal we had made – I would help him run his Star Wars: The Old Republic guild, but he had to start taking classes with me. I figured the two would balance out our social lives.

“Which are those again?” I ask, adjusting the straps of my gloves.

“Pretty much everythi- Ow. Am I doing this right?” he holds his left hand out to me.

I take my gloves off and check his hand. He’s wrapping it too tight – I loosen it for him.

“Are you guys talking about World of Warcraft?” some little guy who overheard our conversation asks. When I say little, I mean height wise. His arms do not look little.

“No,” Alex sneers. “We’re talking about Star Wars.”

“You sparring?” the guys asks him. I can sense malice in his voice. “I need a partner.”

“No!” I say, quickly. The last thing I want is for my brother to get his ass kicked at his first
class. Especially by some World of Warcraft player.

After the jump, raiding for dummies

“I could have taken that guy,” my brother says as we walk to the heavy bag area.

“Alex, please,” I tell him. “You’re a total noob.”

You’re the noob,” he shoots back.

“I am,” I admit. This is my first time playing an MMO for real, meaning I plan to hit the level cap and fight the end game bosses. This is not the first time for Alex. He raided in WoW for years, but quit because of “chronic incompetence among guildmates. Also, pandas.”

Because of his frustration with past guilds, Alex wants to now start leading raids, but he isn’t interested in “all that other guild stuff”. He knows a ton about MMOs and raid mechanics but not a lot about building a community and looking after it. Which is where I come in. I spent two years as an RA in college – guild drama has got nothing on freshmen floor drama. Basically, he’s the Guild General and I’m the Guild HR Officer.

That also means it’s my job to run recruitment.

“So what’s a DPS again?” I ask.

“DPS stands for damage per second. Their job is to deal out damage.”

“That’s what Gunslingerina is,” I confirm. Gunslingerina is my smuggler. Get it? Like a ballerina. But with guns.

“Yes, that’s what your character is. Me too – although my class, Commando, can also be a healer,” he tells me.

“Then why don’t we just make one of our healers be a DPS?”

“We could do that, but then we’d need to recruit a new healer, which will be harder, especially in this game.”

“Why is it harder?” I am fountain of questions.

“Because Star Wars doesn’t have any macros, or add-ons. In WoW, you could turn on an in-game program that would pretty much do all the healing for you. Star Wars requires you to manually choose your party member and which heals to give out. It means there are fewer skilled healers out there. Wait, am I doing this right?”

He’s been hitting the speed bag but doing it incorrectly. You’re supposed to hit with lighter strikes continuously and keep it bouncing back and forth, to build arm endurance and rhythm. Alex has been punching it once very hard, allowing it to stop, then punching it again. I see the World of Warcraft guy grinning at us from across the room.

“No, do it like this,” I show him how. “One more DPS, then we’re good to go?”


“Well, what?”

“A raid group is composed of eight or sixteen players in Star Wars. Right now we have seven
people, so we need one more to do eight mans. Eventually we’ll want to move up to sixteen,” he tells me.

“Back up a sec – I’m still not clear what other people do. We’re damage, some other guys heal, what’s left?” I ask.

“Okay, let me explain the whole picture to you. Every boss – and every enemy, actually – is defaulted to attack whoever is doing the most damage to it. The damage you do is called your ‘threat’. Just like in real life, if four people are hitting you, you want to stop the one hurting you the most. Do they have 4 on 1s in UFC?”


“Damn. They should. Like four little guys vs. a fat guy. Can you kick people in the nuts?”

“No, that’s been illegal since, like, 1999.”

“That’s dumb. Anyway, most guys that do a lot of damage also don’t have a lot of health or strong armor. Like with your smuggler – she only wears medium armor. If a boss hits you, he’ll probably kill you almost instantly,” he stops talking briefly to kick a heavy bag in the nuts region.

“That’s where tanks come in,” he continues. “A tank has special abilities that build their threat to
higher levels than the amount DPS players put out. So the tank stands there and, well, gets hit a
lot. And the healers make sure the tank – and everyone else – survives.”

“Then why are the fights hard?” I ask. “If everyone just does their job, then everything should go
smoothly every time.”

“Yeah, it should,” he says. “Except almost all boss battles have other things going on that make them unique. Like, there’s one monster, Gharj, who you fight in a lava pit, and he keeps destroying the rocks you’re standing on so you have to keep moving or you’ll fall in the lava and die.”


“Yeah. That’s why learning the bosses is just as important as being good at your role. It doesn’t matter how much damage you can do if you’re swimming in lava because you were too slow.”

“That sounds awesome. But we still need one more DPS before we can fight them, right? Are DPS players hard to find?”

“Nope – every class in swotor-”

“In what?” I interrupt him. It sounded like he said swhoa-tor, which seems like something a surfer yells before wiping out.

“Swotor. That’s what the devs call it for short,” he tells me.

“Ah. Yeah, let’s agree to not call it that in public.”

“Fine, whatever, but every class in Star Wars can spec to be a DPS, so technically we just need to find one good person to join our guild,” he says.

“That should be easy, right?” I ask.

“Oh, Rudy. You have so much to learn,” he says. He tries a head kick on the heavy bag to further
emphasize his point, but he isn’t limber enough to kick that high, and ends up falling on his butt. I can hear the World of Warcraft guy laughing.

“There’s a metaphor in here, somewhere,” I tell him.

“I know,” he says, from the ground.

Next week: finding one more DPS

Rudy Basso, an accountant with an English degree, is living proof that your major really doesn’t matter that much. His series Farming Vader will appear here every Friday. You can find more of his writing (and occasional acting) at Cows Come Home.