Zero Advance Tactics
Written by HalonaZAT Wednesday, 16 February 2011 12:54 Last Updated on Thursday, 20 December 2012 10:51
Spend any time around Halona and you’ll stand a good chance of hearing the expression “Zero Advance Tactics” or its more convenient abbrviation ‘ZAT’ used in connection with our raiding activities. What exactly does it mean?
Before explaining exactly what ZAT is, it is useful to consider how the vast majority of guilds approach new game content within the WoW community because it reveals something interesting. Here’s the typical step-by-step approach that details how the majority of players in most guilds experience new game content:
1: Blizzard releases a patch containing some new raid content for players to enjoy.
2: A guild’s raid-leaders visit WoWWiki to review the new raid content and learn what encounters they will face.
3: For each encounter, the raid-leaders will review a range of sites such as WoWWiki, BossKillers, StratFu and YouTube to learn what abilities they will face and what strategy they should use to beat that encounter.
4: The raid-leaders then impart the summary of what they’ve learned to their fellow team-mates.
5: The raid team then approach the new raid content and attempt execute the strategy they’ve been given.
6: They repeat their attempts, refining as they go, until they succeed.
As you can see, this approach to playing new game content is quite a bit different to the way we as ‘game enthusiasts’ (or ‘gamers’) approach nearly any other game. In the majority of cases, we typically prefer to experience games without knowing what’s coming and will rarely refer to an online guide (aka: walkthrough) unless we get utterly stuck and find ourselves unable to progress.
Using the approach detailed above to play WoW steals from the game two of the most enjoyable aspects of playing any game; discovering what the content is whilst actually playing the game and then ‘learning through playing’ how an encounter works before creating your own strategy to use against it. You may not hit the correct strategy first time but you have fun trying different methods and when you finally succeed, your victory is all the more sweeter as a result.
Thus, Halona’s members approach WoW as they approach any other game by tackling a new encounter without referring to any guides, strategies or other reference resources before-hand. Instead, we go in ‘blind’ and make our own observations as the encounter progresses. We won’t lie – it does mean we die quite often at the beginning but that’s how we learn.
Through making our own observations, recording our combat logs via tools like “World of Logs” and openly discussing with each other what’s going in an encounter, we quickly work out what the abilities of our enemy are and form our strategies from there. Normally, it doesn’t take much longer than doing things the ‘traditional way’ but the fun we have both when first experiencing the content and throughout the process as we learn and strategise is immense.
In order to describe how we approach new content to others, we coined the phrase “Zero Advance Tactics” as an easy way to be able to talk about it to others and as a shorthand way to refer to it when reporting on our progress via our website and through other channels. You may have heard the expression “Blind Raiding” and if you have, it’s just another way of describing our ZAT approach that is occasionally used by others.
You can probably tell that our ZAT approach is quite important to us – we even put it into our website address for example! The question therefore is, does it interest you? The two most commonly asked questions we receive are:
1: Does a player need to be really good to attempt the ZAT approach?
2: Why don’t we just play the ‘ZAT’ way on the PTR and play normally on the regular servers?
The answer to the first question is quite simple. The ZAT approach DOES NOT require mega-hardcore super-elite players to succeed. It simply requires good competent players with a solid knowledge of their own class and the ability to pay attention to what’s happening around them, the ability to describe their observations to others and the ability to think about possible ways to tackle content once they’ve seen what happens. Naturally, having a working microphone and the willingness to use it to speak to the rest of the team is pretty essential to make the discussions easy (typing is stressful) but apart from that, almost anyone could play using the ZAT approach if they were willing to do so.
The answer to the second question is simply one of time. We’re predominantly an adult guild and as such, we all have some mix of jobs, family, friends, children and all manner of other responsibilities to deal with outside of the game. There simply isn’t enough time for us to “play at ZAT” on the PTRs and then replay the same content on the proper servers. So we do it once and when we do it, we do it right!
There is one downside to the ZAT approach for some players. It is not the fastest route from “new content” to “new shinies in my pocket” and therefore, if your primary motivation when playing is to collect more loot, then you may find the ZAT approach a tiny bit frustrating. Within Halona, we firmly believe this small sacrifice is completely worth making but we fully understand that games are played by many different kinds of people, each with different ideas and aspirations. That is in fact part of what makes playing an MMO so much fun.
Whatever your calling, we hope you now have a good understanding of what ZAT means to us and why we think its great. However you play the game, may happy fortune be yours. Halona!
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