What is this guide?
This is a guide to help new players prepare for raiding in World of Warcraft. This guide is aimed at players who have never raided before, but are interested in joining a raid guild and seeing this side of WoW.
What does this guide not cover?
This is not a guide to joining a high end raid guild currently working on an instance like Naxxramas. Following this guide will not get you into Death and Taxes. The advice is aimed at players looking to join a raid guild working on Molten Core.
This is also not a guide to turning your current guild into a raiding guild. For more information on that topic, I would suggest asking in the WoW Guild Relations forum.
Finally, the Burning Crusade expansion will be coming out fairly soon, and may make parts of this guide obsolete.
What are the endgame instances in WoW?
Currently, the non-raid endgame instances in WoW are (listed in rough order of difficulty):
Blackrock Depths (5-man)
Lower Blackrock Spire (tuned for 5, can do with 10)
Dire Maul (5-man)
Upper Blackrock Spire (10-man)
All of the above instances you can do on a regular basis without joining a raid guild. Simply look for pickup groups in the LookingForGroups channel.
The raid instances are (again, in rough order of difficulty):
Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj (20-man)
Molten Core (40-man)
Blackwing Lair (40-man)
Temple of Ahn'Qiraj (40-man)
These are the instances that you join a raid guild for. There are also several world bosses (Kazzak, Azuregos, Emerald Dragons) wandering around which require a raid to defeat.
Why do I need to join a raid guild?
Structure and Numbers. Raiding requires the cooperation of a significant number of people. Currently raids are made up of 20 or 40 Level 60s. Getting 20 or 40 people to work together for several hours at a time on a regular basis requires a specialized structure for support. As well, in addition to sheer numbers, raids need a balance of classes.
Most levelling guilds lack the structure, numbers or class balance to field raids on a regular basis. Therefore, if you wish to raid, it is my advice to seek out and join a raiding guild.
Why should I raid?
1. Loot. Raid instances offer the best loot in the game. Part of the fun of this game is making your character more and more powerful, and at level 60, loot is the means by which character progression is expressed.
2. New experiences. Raiding is a very different experience than the rest of the game. There is a thrill which comes from coming up with a plan to defeat the boss, and then executing that plan successfully.
3. Killing dragons is always fun.
What's the difference between raids and other instances?
Raid boss fights are much more intricate than fights found in other instances. Each boss fight is like a different little puzzle which your raid has to figure out. In my opinion, the pre-60 fight that is most like a raid boss fight is Archaedas in Uldaman.
Am I skilled enough to raid?
I'll let you in on a little secret: Raiding is not that hard. If you can do the 5/10-man dungeons, you are more than good enough to raid. The vast majority of raiders are just as skilled as you. They just happen to be in raid guilds.
There are other qualities which are as important as skill. A good raider is also dependable when it comes to showing up for raids, keeps her cool when wiping and getting frustrated, and is willing to follow orders.
What do I need to start raiding?
Each individual raid guild will have their own requirements. Here are some guidelines that should prepare you for most entry level raid guilds:
1. Level 60 (Purchase all your skills!)
2. 300 First Aid
3. Attuned to Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, and Onyxia
4. Decent gear for your class role
5. Download and install the CT_RaidAssist, CT_BossMods, and Decursive mods
6. Download and install Teamspeak and Ventrillo
Why do I need to be level 60?
All raid instances are tuned for level 60 characters. It is easiest to level to 60 and then start raiding.
Also, it is important to purchase all your skills. You never know when you might need a specific skill. I was once in a raid guild with a paladin who refused to purchase Greater Blessing of Salvation. That was very annoying.
300 First Aid?
Yes. Being able to bandage yourself is a huge boon for the healers, as it provides healing for no mana and no effort on their part. Get 300 First Aid, and keep a stack of Heavy Runecloth Bandages on you. Your healers will love you, and impressing the healers is a good way to stay alive.
As well, it's fairly easy to get to 300 First Aid. All you need are a few stacks of cloth.
What are attunements?
To enter Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, and Onyxia, you need to complete quests found in the 5/10-man dungeons. You should seek out and complete these quests as soon as possible.
You also need attunement to enter Naxxramas, but that is expensive, and is not an immediate concern.
What sort of gear do I need?
You generally should be geared mostly in blues from the 5/10-man dungeons. The best pre-raid gear is found in those instances listed above. In particular, Dire Maul is a good place for gear.
For most classes, Dungeon 1 set pieces (Lightforge, Devout, Shadowcraft, etc.) are good enough for early raiding. The major exception is the warrior class. A Warrior needs tanking gear (+def, +sta, +dodge/parry/block, high armor) as her primary role in raids is that of a tank.
Blues purchased off the Auction House tends to be very expensive. You can purchase greens to fill out your collection, but for the most part, instance blues will serve you better. The one exception is Abyssal Cloth/Plate/etc. Those are very good.
You do not need your Dungeon 2 set to start raiding. However, getting the first three pieces of Dungeon 2 is fairly easy, and they provide solid upgrades.
Don't go overboard trying to find the best gear possible. Epics found on raids will replace your gear eventually. Just try and put a decent set together before you start raiding.
The last element of gear to keep an eye out for is resistance gear. In raids, you will need fire/nature/frost resistance gear for certain fights. Try and accumulate such gear while you are collecting your regular gear. Again, don't go crazy, the best resist gear tends to be found on raids in any case, but anything you can collect will help.
Why do I need mods?
You don't absolutely need these mods, but a lot of guilds require them. As well, they make raiding life easier. Download them and try them out, but make sure you can play without them. Don't rely on them to play the game for you.
Why do I need Ventrillo/Teamspeak?
Again, these programs are not absolutely necessary. Most guilds find that voice communication allows for easier coordination of the raid. You don't need a microphone, but you should able to listen in.
If for some reason you cannot use Vent/Teamspeak (perhaps a physical disability), let your guild know, and most of them will do their best to accommodate you.
What should my talent spec for raiding be?
There are many strong opinions on what talents a raider should take. Every class generally has one talent tree, or several talents, that are specifically designed for raiding. You should be flexible, and willing to respec if needed (note that on your application to raid guilds).
That being said, I would advise attending a raid or two before respeccing. You have your current spec for a reason. Respeccing with an understanding of why you need to change will serve you better than choosing spec X because the internet said X was the best spec for raiding.
As well, sometimes it is important to see what the raid needs, and use that to determine what spec you should take. For example, if none of the other paladins have Improved Blessing of Might, maybe you should consider a spec which incorporates it.
Alright, I'm tired of writing. That's Part One. I'll try to write Part Two later this week, addressing finding a raid guild and what to do on a raid.
If you have any questions that should be answered, post them, and I'll work them into Part Two.