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"Nuking" (verb infinitive: to nuke) is a simple and very common technique of offense, in which the player attempts to deal the highest amount of damage he/she is capable of generating. The term derives from "nuclear bomb", effectively describing the tactic.
Comparison to "normal damage"
While most players (not healers) are constantly striving to improve their damage by using better tactics, weapons etc, nuking refers to the act of specifically using spells, abilities and sometimes items which are usually saved for special occasions to often greatly increase the player's damage for a very short duration. There are different reasons of why it is not possible to maintain a "state of nuking" over longer durations of time:
- Buff durations - the spells and abilities which makes nuking possible often have a short duration, due to their power. They may be considered "ace" abilities which rises a character's performance over the normal. Examples include the shaman's / , the mage's , the rogue's , and the paladin's .
- Resource cost - this is usually a concern for classes that use mana. Unlike, for example, a rogue's energy, mana is often rapidly spent and requires time to refill. Many spells are powerful, but use large amounts of mana. An example would be the mage's which deals impressive AoE damage (if the mage is Fire-specialized), but uses quite the amount of mana to cast (this is common to most, if not all, AoE-abilities). In order to maintain a sufficient amount of damage over longer periods of time, characters such as mages need to carefully balance their damaging spells with the amount of remaining mana (this is an important part of rotation). Beginning to nuke from the beginning of, for example an instance, would quickly drain all mana, forcing the mage to refill before continuing. In the long run, this would generate a lesser total damage output than gained from constantly using weaker and cheaper spells. It may be compared to running a marathon - keeping a steady pace will yield a better result than running like a madman, then resting, running, and so on.
- A third reason to avoid excessive nuking would be aggro, when playing together with other players. Naturally, as dealing damage causes threat, nuking generates massive amounts of it. In boss fights, where the tank is (usually) prepared to control the mob(s), nuking may be highly useful. On normal trash mobs it may however surprise the tank and endanger the entire group if the mobs begin to chase and attack other players.
There are several situations which may require nuking. In solo-play, examples may be:
- Rapidly attacking and killing a hostile player (PvP).
- Defeating one or more mobs before they get to execute dangerous spells and abilities (the same goes for hostile players).
In group-play, such as instances or raids, it is often highly important to nuke at the correct times:
- If the healer's mana is low and/or about to run out, increasing damage to kill something (usually a boss) may be necessary to avoid a situation where the healer is no longer capable to heal the group, by killing the mobs before that happens.
- Many bosses have dangerous "ace"-abilities which they use when they are about to die. One example is Baron Ashbury's Calamity which he begins to channel when he's at 20% remaining life. Nuking on bosses, whether they have any "aces" or not, is the most common situation for nuking. Spells such as also seem to be intended for it. As it is common to take rest after defeating a boss for refilling mana and the like, the "loss" from using nuking (wasting time by regaining) is also somewhat "removed". This makes boss fights the best situations (in PvE, that is) for nuking.
- If the tank is dead, swiftly killing any remaining mobs still in fight will often be the group's only hope of surviving.
Although nuking is usually combined with damage, one may see the same phenomenon with healing. Simple enough, "healing nuking" (if such a term exists) is the act of spamming powerful - either swift, effective, or both - and costly healing spells in situations where the player itself or/and the group/raid is taking heavy damage. The paladin's is such as spell.