Sunday, January 12, 2014

Feckless Leader's Guide to Becoming a Good Raider [Updated 6.1]

Our guild has experienced a steady influx of players interested in joining our raids, and it's been fascinating to see the different levels of skill mastery between players. Many of our current raiders are former serious/hardcore raiders who were looking for a much lighter schedule.

Then, we have players who come in not knowing that it's more advantageous for melee to stand behind their targets vs. in front of them. Players who have hundreds of hours logged in on their character but struggle to remain above the tanks on the damage charts. Of course, we see everything in between as well.

That made me think: wouldn't it be nice if we had a sort of a raiding 101 thread in our guild forums? The truly veteran players likely wouldn't need such a guide, but for semi-casual or new players, there's still enough nuance to the raid game that you can't just drop in and expect a victory. On occasion, we've had to bench players who weren't prepared to pull their weight. Granted, we normally ask the player if they'd like pointers, but some people are too shy to request help and would rather work out the kinks on their own.

There is a base amount of performance that simply comes down to player ability: there are people who are naturally good at things, and this translates to video games. Still, accounting for that, my hope is that this information can be useful to players looking to first get into Normal/Heroic modes, whether pugs or guild runs, as most of these suggestions are regularly expected of raiders in Normal modes, and required in Heroics.


Gems and Enchants: You'll want to make sure that all of your armor and weaponry has been enhanced to its greatest potential. All gem slots should be filled when you're lucky enough to get them. Gems can be purchased from the auction house or supplied by a jewelcrafter. The amount of enchantable slots has been dramatically reduced in Warlords, so it's even more important you enchant everything you possibly can.

Potions and Flasks: Flasks will boost your main stat for an hour and their effect persists through death. Plan accordingly depending on the length of your raid. Potions will boost a main stat for 25 seconds, and can be used twice during the course of a boss fight (see Pre-potting). Two stacks of potions should be more than enough for a two-hour raid, unless things are going very badly. 

Pre-potting: Ever wonder why oftentimes there will be a visual and audible countdown prior to a boss pull? Obviously it's to make sure the raid knows when things are starting out. However, the countdown also allows players to use a potion before entering combat, where they essentially consume the potion with 1 second left on the timer. Because the potion was used before combat, it doesn't count against the one-consumable-per-instance-of-combat rule, meaning once the minute-long cooldown has expired, you can consume a second potion. While more important for damage-dealers, doing this can still provide benefits for healers and tanks. 

Food: Feasts seems to be in abundance in Warlords, and purchasing a stack off of the auction house shouldn't set you back too much gold if you cannot make them yourself. For personal food, determine which secondary stat is your strongest and choose the appropriate food.

Class Knowledge

Rotation, Talents and Glyphs: For damage dealers, this is all about making sure you're doing as much as you can. For tanks, it's about putting up threat while maintaining survivability. For healers, knowing priorities and procs at least ensures you're getting the most out of your casts. There are many different guides and blogs out there. Find one you can trust (I've been a fan of the Icy Veins class and raid guides since WotLK and they've never let me down). 

It's not just about knowing which buttons to press and when. It's being effective with that rotation, which is especially important for damage dealers and healers. Doing 30k damage on the last boss in Auchindon does not allow you to make the claim you'll do 30k damage in raids. Not only do damage-dealers need to be comfortable with their rotation, they need to be able to sustain the output. Likewise, healers need to be intelligent with their heals so they don't burn through mana too quickly.

Talent and glyph choices can vary depending on preference, playstyle and encounter mechanics; it's up to the individual to learn what works best for their class in any given situation.

Utility: Every class brings some sort of helpful utility to the raid environment. I'm talking buffs, the ability to battle res, interrupts, crowd control, raid-wide heals or damage reduction, bloodlust-type abilities and the like. Know which ones you bring to the group and be prepared to use them.  

Fight Knowledge

Research: There are multiple places players can go to review boss fights. Good raiders will have some familiarity with the fight. Maybe they've read through a guide, or watched a strategy video. Perhaps, they even ran LFR just to see what the abilities looked like (this is not to be taken as an endorsement of LFR). The point is, they're not going in blind. 

Ask Questions: Even though you know the fight, the raid's leader may favor a different strat and have other ideas on how the fight should be executed. If there's something you don't understand, it's better to say something prior to the pull. Taking thirty seconds to straighten things out is better than having to redo five minutes of the fight because your failing to understand a mechanic has wiped the raid. 

Be Present

In for the Haul: It's always best to make sure you have the time to raid before you enter a raid group. Might seem like a trivial thing to say, but I'm saying it. While it is completely within the player's prerogative to come and go when they choose, leaving after the second boss because the player would rather be doing x tends to inconvenience the other 9+ people in the raid. 

In other words, don't treat these organized raids like LFR. Granted, when run outside of guilds, these groups can often look at lot more like LFR, with people coming and going. Still, if you're running with a guild group, the leader will likely expect you to be there for the full raid time unless you've made other arrangements ahead of the event.

Attitude: Attitude can play a big part in the success of the raid. If you're not running the raid, plan on sitting back and doing your job to the best of your ability. If you notice something's not right, whisper the raid leader or chime in at the right time, and with tact. You might think you're a head above everyone else in the raid group---and you may even be right---but that doesn't mean you need to let everyone know about it. Play your part, be helpful and patient and people will remember you. 

And sometimes, things just aren't meshing, and you need to bow out. You'll want to be careful about cutting out early when in established guild groups. However, in pugs, sometimes it's clear that things just aren't going to happen for the group. In those instances, the time may come to end your involvement. You don't need to type, "lol this group sux, see ya noobs," before dropping group. Bow out gracefully. "Hey all, this isn't working and I've got some other things to take care of tonight. Good luck."


As awesome of a game as World of Warcraft is on its own, I'm a huge advocate for experiencing the game in a group setting, whether that's via PvP, RP, or PvE. This post is meant to be a guide for the raider who is looking to transition out of LFR and join a Normal/Heroic group, and can also be used as a guide for the returning semi-serious raider to see what may have changed in the raid environment since they've last been around. 

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