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.
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.
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.