Archive for the “Raiding” Category

Last night felt like a very, very long night.

I raided for what felt like hours.

Hold on, it really was hours. It really only felt like minutes. The time just sped away on the wings of angels.

Evil little raiding angels with black wings taking delight in the death of online baddies, but angels nonetheless.

After my last post about the LFR difficulty issues, I had some thoughts on how someone who wasn’t a raider could try to take advantage of the fluctuating skill situation.

My thinking was pure speculation, but it went kinda like this;

If I was a raider, then I would know my scheduled raids were coming up. I’d want to be as powerful as I could for the raid. Therefore, I’d want to get my mains into the LFR as soon as I could after a reset, so that I could get my first shot at any ‘free’ upgrades, and get them all gemmed and enchanted and reforged (and transmogrified) before raid time, whenever that may be. 

Some guilds do raid on Tuesday night right after the reset. Those folks might have changed to using the LFR Tuesday night, or they might not.

Why change to an LFR Tuesday? If they raided Dragon Soul normal before the LFR, they might send a good upgrade to a person that proceeded to get a comparable item (at a slightly lower level) the very next night, a wasted opportunity to benefit the team as a whole.

If tank A just got a 384 tier shoulder, do you give a tier shoulder from normal mode to the same tank the very next night, or do you spread it to the other tank instead who is still wearing 378s?

The way I figure it, however the guilds are raiding, the majority of leading-edge progression gamers would probably try to get in on the LFR Tuesday night after the reset to get their ‘free’ upgrades, maybe Wednesday, and be as powerful as possible going into their ‘real’ raiding for the week.

Now, more pure speculation, those same raiding guilds would probably end up queueing as groups instead of piecemeal, since they don’t like idiots any more than casual players do, and bringing your own tank/healers has always been a time-honored method of reducing the chances of failure. Or annoyance that affects performance, anyway. I’m not saying an entire raid team would queue as one, just that the likelihood seems high to me that folks that raid together and know each other well would probably be able to find five buddies online at a given moment to queue with.

Plus, it’s more fun to scoff at other players when you’ve got a group of like-minded friends to hear your snarkiness. I know that’s how I roll.

That was my thinking.

How to put it into action?

If I, as a non-raider, wanted my best chance at playing with serious, talented people in LFR instead of idiots and offensive asshats that spend more time typing hate than targeting adds, then I would want to queue up Tuesday night.

A theory is just a theory until it gets tested. Accordingly, I went into LFR last night to see what it would be like.

I ran the Dragon Soul LFR three times last night, back to back. I played on my Warrior for the first wing, and then on my Hunter for the first and second wings.

Every group went smooth. Every group had complete success. Through the entire night, there was only one wipe.

The first run of the evening had myself, Cassie and two fellow guildies. The rest of the group was composed of non-guilded random people.

There was a little confusion on colors, the whole “green ooze does not aoe in LFR, you don’t have to prioritize it” thing that keeps throwing people used to studying normal mode. Our one wipe came from haste. In the future, mister strange tank, please try not to pull the boss while you rush across the big open space to get to the next trash pull. Shortcuts are fine, shortcuts THROUGH the big boss-circle-area on the floor, not so much. ‘kay?

Even with that, it was a far cry from the runs of just the night before, where everyone had a chip on their shoulder and felt the need to belittle everyone else rather than, oh, you know, do their own part. Unless typing a lot of bullshit equates to skill. /sarcasm.

There were two more runs for me that night, and on each run more members of our guild’s raid teams joined in. Or drove it forward, as the case may be.

I felt some of the raiders out a little, and got some comments along the lines of, “I want to knock the LFR out now so I have any loot before we raid.”

Anecdotal evidence, granted, but clearly there are some raiders right in my own guild that were certainly thinking, “Get in, get it done, get gone.”

Those last two runs?

The first one was the first wing again, smooth and clean. About ten guildies, plus random scattered people. At one point, Baddmojo the guild figurehead and raiding Rogue from Team Wanda broke over 52k DPS. Intentionally. Yes, that is a five and a two, followed by ‘k’, and it doesn’t stand for karat. Yes, I do feel that any character breaking 52,000 DPS on a single boss fight is overpowered and ridiculous. What frightens me is the idea that once raiders really get cooking in Dragon Soul Heroic, 52k might seem… quaint.

The second wing raid was more interesting. We were now in Azuremyst evening prime time for gaming, and we queued with about twelve guildies all together for it, including one tank and three healers.

The raid group we got was forged of just three guild groups.

Seriously. There were three guilds represented in the raid, almost no solo players.

The run was so smooth it went even easier than the first wing.

It became clear early on that the entire raid was formed of experienced raiders knocking the LFR out early.

It was my first time completing the entire second wing from start to finish as one raid. I have seen the middle two encounters a few times, but that was always as a replacement for people bailing in a failing group.

The tone of the discussion in vent was mostly amazement and disbelief that nobody did x stupid, or died to y from not moving out of the fire, or targeted the wrong mob, or ran the wrong way, or whatever.

It was one night, and maybe it was a fluke. But I have to compare the runs last night with the ones scattered over the last week and weekend, and there is no comparison in quality.

Last night just was… nicer, and far FAR more professional.

Not serious, just… no stupid bullshit.

In closing, I would like to leave you with a story that Yalani shared in guild chat the other night, a story about Yalani’s Priest and LFR. The name of Yalani’s Priest has been concealed to ensure the story will continue to have a happy, repeatable, ending.

Turns out, Yalani was in the LFR, doing the first wing.

There was this asshat in the raid, I’m sure that comes as a complete surprise to you, who kept typing elitist smack during the run. You know the kind of thing only too well, I’m sure. Constant criticism and offensive bullshit heaped on others. 

The raid progresses through the bosses until they are on the last boss of the wing, Hagara the Stormbinder.

For those of you that haven’t done the encounter yet, at one point Hagara will stand in the middle of the vast circular platform and channel the Frozen Tempest. Hagara hides in a Watery Bubble, four pylons form at equidistant staitionary intervals along the outskirts of the platform, and four equidistant lines form that transform into Waves of Ice that travel in a clockwise direction around the platform.

If you get hit by an Ice Wave, you take a shitload of damage and, generally, you die. 

Ice Waves are considered extremely easy to avoid. Before the waves form Hagara shoots red beams out to clearly show where they’re gonna be. At that point, you’ve got lots of warning to move your ass to a point in between any two lines.

No, really. When the Ice Waves form and begin moving, you can easily stay right in the middle of two waves, running around the rim of the platform. If you have some form of run speed enchant on your boots, it’s extremely easy. Just run around, destroying pylons as you come across them, and when the last pylon falls the Ice Waves vanish.

It is SO easy for someone prepared for the fight to avoid the Ice Waves that whenever someone new to the run dies by being hit by one, the asshats in the raid WILL mock them and call them stupid, noobs, morons, and all that other stuff. It’s one of those things people like to use to show disgust, as if they were born already knowing to avoid the Ice Waves, and as if it wasn’t the responsiblity of the experienced to make sure the raid is prepared for the encounter and questions are answered before pulling.

So, back to the story.

The raid is fighting Hagara, the Ice Waves form, and the raid starts running around the circle.

Yalani hangs back near an Ice Wave and Life Grips the asshat to her.

Asshat gets hit by Ice Wave and instantly dies.

Said death by Ice Wave is noticed by all, but not why. Immediately, all the OTHER elitists that like to mock people (but not nearly to the extent this one asshat did) just tear him a new one for being a stupid noob dying to the Ice Wave.

Asshat descends into frothy-mouthed nerdrage.

I like to actually picture the asshat seated at his (or her) computer (in his or her mom’s basement, of course), literally frothing in rage.

Well done. Well done indeed.

This is officially my favorite thing of the expansion.  Not the patch, the expansion.

Thank you, Yalani. Thank you OH so much for that. May you continue to bring swift internet justice to asshats on Hagara, and cause them to tread oh-so-lightly in the presence of any Priest they encounter from that point forward.

Comments 13 Comments »

This post has the potential to unleash rage and drama in those that read of it. You’ve been warned.

Nooo….. it’s not about the new BOE Blizzard store pet. Well, not MAINLY about the new Blizzard store pet.

As Steven Brust might say, one word on the new pet.

It is a pet. It will be in the Blizzard store. When you buy it with real money, dollars, euros, yen, what have you, it comes to you bind on equip. You can trade it. You can presumably wrap it in that pretty wrapping paper and mail it to a friend.

You can sell it for gold on the Auction House.

Yes. A Blizzard-sanctioned method of turning real money into virtual gold. You pays your money, you gets your in-game gold. And, depending on pet prices on your server, you takes your chances.

My comment is; so?

A few years ago, I’d probably give a shit. These days, the only victim I see is the account hacker that wants his virtual gold to be the only option you have to buy with your real money. And really, screw The Hacker.

The only point of interest I have in the project is to see how much your $10 will eventually be worth in virtual gold, based on the demand for this pet by people who don’t want to spend $10 of their own real money to get it.

My wife is one of those folks who will pay 20,000 gold for something, and that’s okay, but she already pays $15 a month in real money on the game, be damned if she’ll pay more. And more power to her.

I’m sure your opinion will likely differ, and thus, drama potential one.

But no, that’s not the potential drama I really wanted to talk about.

I was reading Officers Quarters on WoW Insider tonight, and a comment Scott Andrews made touched off this little fireworks ‘splosion in my brain housing group.

The Raid Finder is not just for the guildless. Guilds can also take advantage of this new feature in several ways. The first and most obvious is that it will allow your raiders to get practice time on bosses for your own normal-mode raids. Since you don’t get locked to the instance using the finder, you can see the mechanics ahead of time and still raid with your guild in the same week.

I read that, and for a moment, the aforementioned fireworks went all ‘splodie. Then I felt my brain actually jump the track (over the shark, most likely) and spin aimlessly for a little bit. I failed my SAN check, I tried to disbelieve the reality of the text I had just read, but I rolled a 1. Epic fail.

Scott clearly has spent some time thinking about this topic, and already internalized this, but I’m slow and I’ve been busy.  So maybe I’ve missed the discussion somehow on my feedreader. It’s possible, my feeds have been whittled down to a bare smidgen.

Is Blizzard really just about to release a tool that hardcore raiding guild officers will be able to use to require their members to raid hour after hour after hour in ‘does not count’ practise sessions to fine tune their performance before attempting a boss fight in a raid ‘for reals’?

And nobody has said squat?

Sure, I know that the loot drops won’t be as good as a ‘for reals’ raid, and I know that it will be easy peasy lemon squeazy mode, but it’s still the bare bones of the real raid, and as the game progresses, it’s still a tool that will continue to grow with the patches and expansions.

How did this slip under the radar?

If you were an officer in a hardcore raiding guild, and your guild was shaky on the mechanics of movement, target prioritization or mechanic flow for a particular boss encounter, are you telling me you would NOT have your raid members get in a few hours practise where it won’t count against your weekly attempt?

I’m sorry, maybe nobody cares anymore, but it wasn’t that long ago that players in hardcore raiding guilds were complaining bitterly about having to run both 25 person raids AND 10 person raids every single week in order to maximize their possible loot drops and point/token earnings. I believe quality of life and balance between game time and real time were becoming factors.

This may not be in quite the same ballpark, but it has the potential, in the first few weeks of any new raid, to be even worse. That raid team that really, really, REALLY wants to smoke the raid bosses first week… well, how many hours are they prepared to spend running the raid on what will be, for all intents and purposes, Practise Mode?

True? Not true? Molehill that just looks like a mountain?

You tell me.

Comments 16 Comments »

The new boss is up and smoking in Baradin Hold, and his name be Occu’thar.

This be what he looks like alive;

And this be what he looks like all deaded and stuffs;

Now, let’s say for a moment that you’re a Druid trying to go all Feathery on Occu’thars’ butt.

For the people doing DPS, there are two things to be real careful of; staying the hell out of the big red circles on the floor (Focused Fire), and being set to drop massive AoE on the Eyes of Occu’thar.

See, the big dog randomly picks somebody and does a Focused Fire that stays on where that player had been standing, burns for a second, then spawns a large red stationary circle (12 yard radius) at it’s gaze point, a circle that does 35k+ damage per second, for several seconds. Needless to say, anybody standing in the bad gets eaten alive.

The other thing he does, is he casts the Eyes of Occu’thar, which spawns one eyeball per player in the room; the eyes travel to each player in a cloud, stick on the heads of the players dealing damage as they burrow in, and then once they are done (10 seconds), they detonate, doing Shadow damage to everyone. If all the Eyes detonate, they are doing cumulative damage. It’s a wipe. You can survive one Eye, say the one on the tank as long as the tank doesn’t currently have the 100% Shadow damage debuff from Searing Shadows.

Before the Eyes get cast, you want everyone but the tank of the moment to be all huddled up close, and you’ve got about 9 seconds to blast the shit out of those eyeballs before running like hell, because immediately after the Eyes pop he’s gonna shoot that Focused Fire right where you’re standing.

You want to have somebody or some place marked that you’re all going to fall in on, someplace close to the melee, so everyone know that when it’s time to deal with Eyeballs, we be moving to ‘x’. We had a big blue square over a melee DPS player for our fall-in mark. We tried a stationary mark on the floor first, but since the doggie likes to cast Focused Fire on you, that meant if the Focused Fire was on the mark, we didn’t have a second fall-in point to run to.  With a melee marked for us to fall in on, the other melee didn’t have very far to run to stack up. All this means is that, with the tanks swapping the big dog back and forth between them due to the Searing Shadows breath debuff, the melee will keep shifting position at least a little. If the Focused Fire circle drops on a melee, you’ll be shifting your movement a lot.

But it worked, damn it, it worked.

So, this is basically what he does.

When you pull him, he’ll do a Focused Fire on somebody. Everybody starts all spread out, using /range with a 12 yard distance if DBM doesn’t have it set up for you yet. That way, when it picks somebody, there is just one person hustling to get out of the circle before it goes boom.

Very shortly after that very first Focused Fire, he casts the Eyes of Occu’thar. Everybody that can, fall in on your marked spot. As soon as the cloud of eyes descend upon you, blast the shit out of them. Then, SCATTER! The first of two Focused Fires that follow each Eye summons will immediately (and I mean immediately) begin. I mean right the heck NOW!

You get away from the Focused Fire circle, continue DPSing the boss. Stay spread out. After a short break, the second Focused Fire cast since the Eyes spawned will appear. You are now safe to immediately fall into position on your Eyes AoE mark, there will not be another Fire before the Eyes are cast. When the Eyes appear, AoE them fast, then scatter again before the next Focused Fire of the cycle hits.

Rinse and repeat. It goes 1 Focused Fire, then a repeatable sequence of; Eyes of Occu’thar summoned, first immediate Focused Fire, delay of a few seconds, second Focused Fire, then stack up for the Eye sequence, then begin again.

There is almost exactly 1 minute between the very beginning of the first Eye summons and midway through the second Eye summons. I know this, because I cast Starfall (1 minute cooldown) in the middle of the first Eye spawn, and it still had 1 second cooldown remaining at the end of the second Eye summons.

As a Moonkin, I understandably felt under the gun to deliver some AoE here. You keep hearing how awesome Moonkin AoE can be. You just have little margin for error, you’ve got to burn all those Eyes down fast.

When the Eyes spawn, you’ve got about 9 seconds that the little bastards have to be dead before you’re running from Focused Fire. You do not have time to screw around with tab-targeting and Moonfire/Insect Swarm. You have to have a clear tactical plan in place for what to cast, when, and why.

As things began, I quickly pushed my Eclipse bar into a Solar Eclipse, to gain powerful Wild Mushroom effects. I am currently, stupidly, specced for Lunar Shower, dumbass that I am, so I couldn’t spam my Sunfire like I should’ve on the boss between Eye phases. Why? Because my Moonfire/Sunfire would give me Lunar Energy and push me out of Solar Eclipse.

I tried using all sorts of other spells, like pushing my Starfire a lot, and what I found out was my mana currently can’t handle my all out DPSing the boss AND doing AoE, because I have to use Hurricane each time. I had to carefully eke out my Starfires and Insect Swarms, so as to regain some mana before each Eye.

As I said, I pushed into Solar Eclipse, kept some DPS up on the boss, and waited until Focused Fire was done and we knew the Eyes were next. I started positioning my Wild Mushrooms on the fall-in mark, recasting them on the fly if we needed to adjust. As soon as the Eyes were summoned, I fired Starfall to get the cooldown started in anticipation of the next round, detonated my Mushrooms, backed off a step and kicked off a Glyphed Typhoon (does larger AoE with no knockback), and then I used Hurricane to channel them down the rest of the way.

Then, I ran like hell, of that I can assure you.

Hurricane eats so much mana it’s a sin to use, but there is a reason we have it; sometimes, you just need AOE and everything is on cooldown, and you don’t have time to recast three Mushrooms. 

I really should never have been specced into that Lunar Shower, that kept me from using Sunfire on the boss, and that was a lot of lost DPS.

Every wipe we had was from failure to clear 100% of the Eyes within 9 seconds. Wild Mushrooms just do too much damage in Solar Eclipse to let it fall off. The best solution that I can see is to drop Lunar Shower, and practise the timing on popping Starfall, Mushroom Detonate, Typhoon, and then rapid-casting three more Mushrooms and seeing if the Detonate is off cooldown in time to use it. I really don’t think there are enough GCDs in there to do all that in 9 seconds, but right now I’m too tired to try.

Still, we did it, Occu’thar is dead tonight at the hands of two different Band of Misfits raid teams, and it felt like a solid win.

I hope that all of you enjoyed or will enjoy similar success this week, and dear lord, I pray that you don’t try to pug that. It is enough to break the strong and drown entire cities in the tearful cries of “Get the hell out of the red! No, you’ve got to burn the eyes! Stop DPSing the boss, and kill the EYES! FUCK your damage meters!”

Comments 2 Comments »

Just to be clear for those visiting from search engines… the post title refers to an article about playing World of Warcraft.

MMO Champion dropped a feral bombshell on us this last weekend, showing a video of a wonderful item effect for Feral Kitties.

There will be a staff in the next expansion, Fandral’s Flamescythe, that, when equipped, will cause your Druid Cat form to transform into a gorgeous flaming cat when engaged in combat.

The video highlights this item in use… and it’s stunning.

How do we get this incredible item? Is it a quest chain, or a crafted Legendary for Druids, or some such thing?

No, my friends, it’s not. It’s an epic drop from a raid boss in Firelands, Majordomo Fandral Staghelm, and therein lies the heart of our discussion.

I’m not going to act all stupid and incite a flamewar between raiding players and those who focus on other aspects of the game. Every aspect of the game has it’s own special rewards, and if you want the reward, then you play that part of the game. I’m not looking to ask who is excited at seeing this item go to raiders only or something like that.

PvP, Crafting, Archeology/Fishing/Cooking, Raiding, Exploring, playing together as a guild, killing critters… there are a lot of special items that you can only get by taking part in activities outside of questing. If I were to ask a raider vs non-raider question like that, it would be pandering for pagehits on a polarizing position, a pathetic ploy to pursue.

People who raid and want it are excited, people who don’t raid and want it are disappointed, but hopefully looking forward to the day when Firelands is old content that non-raider 5 person groups can farm for the fun toys they want.

Where I’d like to go with this instead is to muse on how working hard as part of a group to get something while it is still viable adds spice to the game that long outlasts the item itself.

There was another item that was arguably designed for Ferals that I once lusted after. It was also an item you could only get as a raid drop, except at the time Druids couldn’t equip polearms. This particular item was a staff.

I’m talking about Terestian’s Stranglestaff, which dropped from “that demon guy what you used to kill in Karazhan behind the secret door, the one with all the imps that you needed Seed of Corruption for”.

Yeah, you know who I mean. :)

I was a Feral non-raiding Druid, a fresh member of a guild that DID raid, and I wanted that staff. I lusted after those tentacles writhing on that pole. Err, this went in an uncomfortable direction all of a sudden. Hold on, swerving to avoid gratuitous tentacle sex references.

I wanted that staff not only because it was awesome for Ferals, not just because it looked freaking wicked… but also because wearing it would have been a readily identifiable tentacle-waving symbol that I had entered and experienced Karazhan while it was current with a bunch of friends.

I’d have a visible reminder of having done something fun with the guild, a shared experience with souveniers. 

A fun part of the MMO experience, for me, is simply talking with other players and swapping stories, reminiscing about the fun we have had along the way.

Over the years, even though I’m not a raider, I have been fortunate enough to have friends who either formed raid groups with me, or who invited me along as a hired gun. Er, borrowed claw. 

So, I’ve raided Onyxias’ Lair, Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, AQ20 and ZG 10 when they were current. Not 5 times a week, and not every week, but I did enter them and see them when they were what people had to talk about for current events. I was part of the conversation, and to this day I can bring forth my own “Do you remember when…”. I carried away the only thing you really own with a video game; the memories of fun times. 

Same with Burning Crusade, although for the most part my time there was in Karazhan, Gruuls Lair, Magtheridon’s Keep and a very teensy bit of Serpentshrine.

With Wrath of the Lich King, I got to see Naxx, a good bit of Ulduar, some Trial of the Crusader and Icecrown Citadel. Not on the leading wave of raiding, not consistently and certainly not all the way through, but I got to take part and build those shared experiences with friends.

Does that make me leet in any way? No. But what it does do is bring to mind all of the good times, and when looking back on things, a whole lot of the good times was taking on difficult challenges, and getting drops for overcoming those challenges that I was proud to wear.

I knew at the time, the same as you, that wearing Tier gear or having a Stranglestaff didn’t make me special, I wasn’t posing in front of the Ironforge AH hoping some0ne would gawk in admiration, tears of awe shining on their faces.

What they did was serve as visual cues, little reminders that, “Yeah, I did that, and I remember when we killed that son of a bitch Curator for 3 months before the Tier piece finally dropped that I wanted.”

This staff from Fandral Staghelm will be very cool. It’s a sweet idea that I love Blizzard for adding to the game, a neat goal for Ferals to look forward to.

I’m a little sad knowing that a lot of players who would dearly love having a flaming kitty form will not get to experience it until a long time after Firelands has been out, because they just can’t raid, or they can’t raid on their Druid. I’m likely one of them, getting my Druid raid worthy is a seemingly impossible task. Maybe one day.

At the same time, and even knowing that I likely won’t be able to get it myself, I like knowing that part of the pleasure of having it will be the satisfaction of overcoming a challenge as a group, and having something to chat about in the future. When you see someone pop kitty and flame on like Ghost Rider, you’ll know that they saw Fandral and took part in killing that worthless, traitorous, sniveling little bastard.

Ahem. Sorry. 

I love the items I have earned from questing, from exploring, from Archaeology and crafting, the pets I’ve found and the mounts I’ve had drop.

But there is something to be said for items that you can only get at the conclusion of kicking the hell out of a challenge as a group, and seeing that purple you want drop while you’re still riding that adrenaline high.

Plus, hey, remember when?

Comments 24 Comments »

According to the MMO Melting Pot, a recent hot topic around the campfire is raiding. More specifically, trying to break into raiding for the first time.

Coincidentally, this post is related to the subject. So, if you are interested in seeing what others among the community have to say about getting into raiding nowadays,just head on over to the MMO Melting Pot and you’ll find a nice gateway to the whole thing.

A large part of the content in World of Warcraft is raiding.

Once you hit max level, if you want to continue to take a firsthand part in the developing story and lore of WoW as it happens, you have to raid.

There is other content that gets added, and bless Blizzard for that. Daily quests, new areas to quest in, 5 person heroic isntances, PvP Battlegrounds, new pets, all that sort of stuff.

But once you are max level, the decision has to be made to raid or not. If you decide not to raid, you are doing so knowing that you’re not just giving up on the chance for ever more powerful purple pixels. No, you’re also giving up on the chance to take part in the continuing story of WoW as it unfolds. You’ll see it eventually, through Youtube videos or by running content after a new expansion renders it obsolete. 

You won’t be seeing it, taking part in it, as it’s ‘fresh’.

The nice thing about this decision is that you can frequently revisit it.

A new expansion is a reset. Everything just got leveled, and everybody is going to be questing, leveling, and gearing all over again. There will be new content to learn together and nobody has 8 months jump on you unless you took your sweet time leveling.

In mid-expansion, you get new reboots, as existing content is nerfed, new content is added, and new 5 person instances add boosted gear that the first raiders didn’t have when they set foot in places.

Been three expansions in a row now, I think we can say we’ve got a trend. We start out a new expansion with a level increase, new gear resets, changed stats and abilities, revamped trees, quests and raids. We get in and go through it all to where we can. Then, midway through, new 5 person content is released to give people access to more powerful ‘starter’ gear, giving them a running start at the raids. New raids are released to give raiders on the front lines something new to do. And old content is nerfed some to ease passage into it and help bring folks up to speed.

So, every time one of these waves of change roll through, we can take a look at that decision. Raid or not?

One of the biggest decision points is how long raids take. That, and having enough friends to do it.

Well, these days your average heroic takes about an hour to an hour and a half to run, adding a half hour if you are a DPS player in a queue without a tanking friend along for the ride.

So, what if, instead of running two heroics in a night for three hours, you joined a three hour raid?

It’s a feasible proposition. These days, and I tell you true, if you have a good team you can clear a complete raid instance in 3 hours. Bastion of Twilight or Blackwing Depths, either one, once you’ve got it down a full clear is about three hours. If you don’t have it down, you can still take care of two solid boss encounters and mess with a third in that length of time.

So, you’re thinking about it. You’d sure like to see the content when people are still doing it, and talking about it, and you’ll feel included. You’d LOVE to see all the lore and story stuff and be in the loop.

But you’ve been away from raiding for a very long time, or, hell, you’ve never been able to raid in the first place.  What do you do?

For that, I’m here to help.

Step One: Attitude

If your goal is to raid with a group of people, even if it’s to pug once the 25% nerf goes in, then you need to develop the right attitude.

The core of your attitude for raiding has to be; be respectful of others, their time and energy, and eager to work together to succeed.

You put this attitude in action by preparing thoroughly BEFORE raid time, showing up to raid ON time, and being attentive and on point DURING raid time.

Step Two: Preparing thoroughly before raid time.

When a raid is scheduled to begin, your goal is to be sitting there online, early, reading and waiting for that invite. There is a ton to do to get to that point, but once it’s done, it’s not that hard to maintain. 

Know your class.

I’m sure you know your class pretty well already. You got to max level, you’ve done a lot of stuff, you’ve got a good solid grasp of things. You have a spec you like a lot, all that sort of thing.

Even so, I strongly recommend you visit several different resources that can help you. 

The first thing I suggest, and this is the one seen most often around the web, is that you visit Elitist Jerks, check out their class forums, and read what they have to say concerning your class and spec as it relates to the most recent patch and raiding.

There is a good reason most people recommend this, because each thread details the basics that theorycrafters have worked out for each class and spec and role.

There are a lot of assumptions in Elitist Jerks threads, though. The threads, and the comments, assume that those who read the discussions and take part in them are cutting edge raiders and theorycrafters themselves, working on advancing understanding of the finer points of the classes and roles.

So my second recommendation is that you take the time to visit WoWhead, and read through the comments for every single spell in your spellbook, and for every talent in your spec. Things change, abilities get nerfed or boosted, or get new features. Some spells that were top dog drop down below something else, or get boosted if you apply a Bleed or something else first.

Read what all the latest comments and discussions are about spells, and you may find people mentioning how useful a certain spell is for one particular encounter, or what combinations are useful that you might not have considered. That is DAMN good info to know.

I also recommend you check out a few blogs that talk about your class and chosen spec. See what other opinions are out there. The point of all this isn’t to form you into a cookie cutter shape so you are Retribution Paladin #3425976, it’s to provide you with knowledge and information of what is commonly understood… and then let you implement that knowledge in the way that seems best to you.

A great list of resources for classes, specs, addons, raiding, all SORTS of stuff can be found at WoW Insider right here.

Improve your gear

One of the hardest things to get ready for raiding is your gear. In this expansion, iLevel gating means that the days of dinging max level and then being ‘run through’ a ton of heroics by your raiding buddies for gear are gone. At least, they’re gone if you try and use the LFG insta-queue to get your runs. You can still get in if you physically enter the instance together at the location… but then you run into an issue many people might have forgotten. If you run a heroic WITHOUT using the random queue, you are locked out of running it again until the midnight reset. The only reason you can get the same instance multiple times in a row on heroic is that LFG randoms can bypass the midnight reset restriction.

So, unless your buddies are willing to take you on a tour of Azeroth for heroic run throughs, you’ve got to work on planning your upgrades and improving. And it will be a pain in the ass.

The first thing to do, of course, is quest to get the gear you can, run normal instances to get upgrades from there, and by all means use crafted and BoE items from the auction house to get a leg up. With the addition of heroic Zul’Aman and Zul’Gurub, there are a lot of new BoE epics dropping on the market, and prices are… er, reasonable. For a given value of reasonable. If you think dropping 15,000 gold is reasonable to get raid ready, then you can get quite a bit of the way on crafted items and BoEs.

There are, of course, alternatives.

When planning your upgrades, don’t forget that doing Tol Barad dailies will earn you some excellent trinkets and weapons. Also, when running your random LFG, don’t forget that when patch 4.2 hits, the current gear that costs Valor points will be moving to the Justice tier. There is a cap to Justice points, and there are good items to be bought right now from Justice, so don’t just get there and quit. Spend some, but if you save up you’ll be able to really get geared fast compared to the first wave of raiders.

So, how to find good upgrades to what you have now, and where do they come from?

There are a few gearplanning websites I like to use, to compare notes so to speak.

I like WoWPopular to see what specs people are using, what gear levels are out there, talent point variations, Glyphs, that sort of thing. There is no analysis for you, simply a quick feel for what the majority of people playing your class and spec are doing these days. If you believe, as I do, that the majority can be bloody idiots at times, then you’ve got the right mindset to use this tool. Use your own judgment.

I love Ask Mr Robot, it’s got a lot of strong thought into it, great links, good filter options, solid research into the math behind their recommendations, and the option to change stat priority weights to suit yourself if you don’t agree with them. One of the biggest strengths of Ask Mr Robot is the optimization feature, allowing you to see not only recommended gear upgrades and where tehy can be obtained, but also gems, enchants, and Reforging guides to maximize your potential.

MaxDPS.com is another good gear planning website with filters to pick and choose where you want to seek your upgrades. They do lists of ranked enchants so you can pick and choose, rather than one recommended ‘best in slot’, so I like being able to have that comparison. They also have their own rotation tips, and again, I like comparisons to see what others think. 

There is Rawr, which is a downloadable program that peforms calculations and functions much like the other programs do, and they have an addon you can install that helps speed importing/exporting your character data to the program. It’s a pretty well developed tool, and has been a favorite of mine for years now.

And finally, you can create your own stat weighting filters and get right into the heart of theorycrafting with WoWhead’s own Gear Filter system.  Sometimes, you want to develop everything yourself, and test it out, without being influenced by outside agencies. Well, okay, maybe you don’t want that. Us crazy people, we do that. You don’t need to do that. In fact, please, unless you like being a crazy person, don’t do it. 

Whatever you do, gearing up will take the most time and money. I’m sorry, there it is. It’s not all bad, though. If you’re trying to get as prepared as possible and you don’t actually have a raid team demanding you get off your butt and join them, the new Troll Heroics give you a lot of opportunity for iLevel 353 epics, the factions have decent epic items at Exalted reps, BoE epics are dropping in price all the time thanks to the prolific drop rate in ZA and ZG, and ore prices have plummetted thanks to the JC cut gem price nerf.

There’s never been a better time to TAKE your time gearing up to the top pre-raid.

I know I shouldn’t have to say it, but yes, being gemmed and enchanted is part of being geared. Take the time to quest in Deepholm long enough to at least get the Blue quality shoulder enchant from Therazane, and the rep grind elsewhere for your appropriate head enchant from another faction.

You might not be able to afford the ‘best in slot’ enchant or gem, but there are alternatives that are better than nothing, and much less expensive. If you think what you have will be exchanged soon, then put a cheaper alternative on it. But please… don’t raid naked.

Well, unless you’re a Bear, Kitty or Boomkin. In which case, I heartily endorse wearing a “Raid Naked!” t-shirt.

I’m sorry, I have to say it… it just crossed my mind. I guess the rest of you could wear a t-shirt that says “I raid in the buff!” Sorry, sorry, I’ll go away now.

Get consumed!

You know your class, you’ve got your gear, but when you show up to raid you best be packing a lunch. Identify the best consumables for your chosen spec and class, and bring them with you.

Blizzard has changed things to the point that there are pretty much two consumables you need to worry about; Flasks and Food. There may be others that are class specific like Poisons for Rogues (duh), and there may be situational ones your raid leader will request such as resistances or Potions, but Flasks and Food are your two biggies.

Bringing enough with you to carry you through several wipes. Maybe even 20 wipes. You never know when that raid leader may decide to tackle Ascendant Council for three hours. 

If your raid group uses Cauldron of Battle to provide everyone with a flask, then you don’t need to bring your own personal stack, but you should bring some flasks to contribute to crafting the Cauldron. Again, it’s a ‘contribute to the group’ thing.

If your raid uses a group food item, then you might not need to bring your own, but offer to help with the mats. And a tip? Yes, bring your own. If you’re wiping a lot learning a fight together, it’s unlikely that one person really feels up to spending 1000 gold in food mats in one night all on their own.

My recommendation on Food items is the Fortune Cookie. :)

Make friends with someone that is a max level Inscriptionist with max level Cooking. This combination lets you make Fortune Cookies. The ingredients are Simple Flour and a Mysterious Fortune Card. The Fortune Card costs a Resilient Parchment and a single Blackfallow Ink. Honestly, I’d rather farm herbs for an hour and make 40 cookies than farm some critters for meat or fish. You get the best Stat and Stam buff for your class/spec, plus you get the card and a shot at some gold. Do you feel lucky? Heck, if you hope for loot, maybe you’ll win, maybe you won’t, but at least you walked away with a 100% chance at a Fortune Card.

As a side note, you should always be repaired before raid time. It may be easy to pop back and repair and get a summons after you’re in, but it takes time. Get 25 people all needing to go get food, needing repairs and resummons, needing to go enchant/gem something real quick, and you’ve blown 15 minutes of your raid time on bullshit. Maybe someone in your group does that… but you shouldn’t aspire to be one of them.

Study.

There are two parts to studying to prepare for your raids.

You need to understand the fundamental description of what will happen, when, and what to do about it.

You will also want a clear visual understanding of what it all looks like in action.

My favorite in-depth source for boss fight breakdowns and narrated videos is Tankspot. The Tankspot community is great, and the raid guide movies are just excellent.

Don’t just watch the videos and be done, though.

An additional source of guidance that I really enjoy are the Crib Sheets that Caer Morrighan has been putting up for the boss fights. The Crib Sheets are quick one page refreshers on what you need to remember, front and center, that you can print out when you sit down to raid. You’ve got a ton of stuff to remember, you’ve got trash you’re wading through, there is drama and drujnk chicks in vent, it’s a lot to process. So, have a Crib Sheet for the upcoming boss fight to make sure you don’t forget something important.

Caer Morrighan hasn’t finished all of the boss fights in all raids yet, but nothing stops YOU from watching the Tankspot movies, reading the written notes, and making your own Crib Sheet with things you need to watch out for.

The ones that are done are clear, concise, and well presented, and should serve as fine examples of how you should like your own Crib Sheets to look.

Addons are Fundamental

Everybody has their favorite addons, but we’ve gotten to the point that if you don’t have Deadly Boss Mods, you might as well hang it up and go fishing.

A nice secondary addon setup for more advanced raiders is using STFO with Power Auras Classic to give you visual and audible indications of when to GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE FIRE, DUMBASS. Not that I need any such thing, of course.

A very nice addition to your addon list, and one I’ve recommended for years now, is using Tidy Plates with the Threat Plates addition to give yourself visual indications of your threat status with every mob in the room. If you are DPS and one turns bright red because you thought the tank was on it and he really wasn’t, why, Feign Death and LIVE! Or Misdirect and keep pew pewing, of course. If you’re the tank and the nameplate starts going red, you know it’s time to Taunt, and I mean right now, bceause somebody is playing a game of silly buggers. Remember to yell at them later. 

Look at the pretty slideshow!

Maybe you’ve got a computer that suffers lag or skips/stutters the image when graphics get intensive. Boss fights are the epitome of gratuitous spell affects. Your screen blows up with pretty lights.

If that is the case, then consider stepping down your graphics settings as much as possible so that you can just see the bare bones of spell effects to know when bad stuff is under your feet, but otherwise shut down the bells and whistles.

The sad truth is, while it may not look as pretty, the current content highlights precise timing and fast reaction speed. If your screen lags, you are most likely already dead. Either that, or you have learned to move with the force, Luke. You want to give yourself every advantage you can, and if your connection can lag, do yourself a favor and reduce the resources you’re pouring across that pipe. 

Step Three: Show up to raid on time

Raiding is playing with a lot of other people. What was true in raids years ago hasn’t changed; if you’re late, you’re wasting everyone else’s time. If they are late, they’re wasting yours.

Don’t just aim to pop online on time. Especially if you’re the new raid guy, or someone being given a chance with an established team, or even forming your own brand new raid team, set the standard yourself. Be early, get to the raid instance yourself in person, and be ready and waiting not only to start, but if your guild is high enough level, be the person that says “Okay, as soon as the raid leader invites everyone, I can cast the summons to bring everyone here right away.”

Chatting in vent is great. Sharing some news, getting to know one another catching up, that’s an important part of bonding as a team.

Here’s a tip; you can do that while marking, CCing, and clearing trash. No need to blow the first half hour just getting there.

Step Four: Be attentive and on point DURING raid time

Here is the secret to raid groups. You may feel intimidated, you may feel behind the curve. You may feel woefully inexperienced and noobish.

The rest of your group may have raided for ever and a day, they raided in Everquest, they raided in Vanilla, they raided every day since beta. They have every title in the game, and seen everything. They’ve been everywhere, man.

None of that matters. None of that matters at all.

Every time an expansion is released, every time the level cap is raised, every time new raid content is added, every time abilities are changed and Talent trees are modified, everyone has to learn to raid together all over again.

You are not fighting against 6 years of raid experience. You are at day one, the same as everyone else. What you might have to deal with is 5 years of friendships in a raid group you want to join, 5 years of friendships and drama you know nothing about, but the skill and experience of being a raider… don’t worry about that at all.

Pay attention. Be on a caffeine high, get calm, cool, collected, mentally prepared and enthusiastic in a “I have totally GOT this” way.

Listen to what the raid leader says. Make notes if you have to. Ask questions at the approriate time if you don’t get it, or if the strategy does not mesh with what your researches and movie watching indicated.

If you are forming your own group, speak your instructions in a calm, clear, concise fashion. Concentrate.

Standing in front of the boss, doing finall buffs and ready checks, is NOT the time to down a fifth of scotch or smoke a fat one, puff puff pass.

WRONG TIME FOR THAT SHIT.

If you step up and have the right attitude, if you prepare yourself well in advance, you are on time, eager, enthusiastic, positive, are geared and understand what your class can do and how to do it, have studied the encounters and are ready to contribute, then you’ve got just as good a shot as everyone else to make it.

Am I saying that if you do this, your guild’s raid group will welcome you with open arms?

Hell no. 5 or 6 years of friendships and drama are almost impossible to deal with. But that has nothing to do with your being able to raid, and everything to do with personal dynamics.

What I will tell you is that if you do all of this, if you are serious about stepping up and launching into the wave of raiding to see what is out there, to immerse yourself in the lore, to follow along and see what this game is like when yo’re riding the wave and able to speak with everyone else about the content that is actually current, then you will find there ARE raid groups out there that would kill to get you.

I’m serious. That would freaking KILL to get you.

All you have to do is apply yourself, let them know up front the steps you have taken to be ready to go and what you are willing to do to contribute and kick ass, and ask them to give you a shot. Put me in coach, I can do it!

Failing that, you can try and form your own group and be the raid leader or shief sideline cheerleader.

If you take that route, don’t forget the key. It doesn’t just apply to you; you need to be looking for others who are willing to have that exact same commitment, that respect for others and their time and effort, that you are bringing.

If you are lately come to raiding, I hope you will share your experiences with breaking into it, both good and bad. Share how things went for you, the troubles you faced, the challenges you met, and maybe the things that simply stopped you from being able to raid at all. What have I overlooked as an obstacle that is just too hard to overcome?

Above all, I wish you well. Raiding is NOT for everyone, but it is very rewarding to take part in things, see what this stuff is, and actually have a clue what the hell people are talking about.

Comments 8 Comments »

World of Warcraft™ and Blizzard Entertainment® are all trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment in the United States and/or other countries. These terms and all related materials, logos, and images are copyright © Blizzard Entertainment. This site is in no way associated with Blizzard Entertainment®