Tuesday, September 12, 2006

So You Want to be a Raider? Part One

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)
Scholomance (5-man)
Stratholme (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):

Zul'Gurub (20-man)
Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj (20-man)
Molten Core (40-man)
Onyxia (40-man)
Blackwing Lair (40-man)
Temple of Ahn'Qiraj (40-man)
Naxxaramus (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.


  1. Thx very much!

    That is most helpful. Frankly, as you and others have alluded to, the biggest barriers to raiding may be as mundane as a 'fear of the unknown' or 'don't want to be exposed as a n00b'.

    Thanks for the tip that First Aid 300 is basically a prerequisite for a good raider. Ironically my group learned that lesson the hard way in a Gnomer run when we were stuck 'in combat' (bugged). Exited the instance, and reset it, then got stuck in combat again. I was primary healer on that particular run, and if the party members had bandages or food it would have saved some of the waiting for my mana to regen (yeah, that's me, the Tauren standing on the Mana Totem :P).

    Anyway, a couple of questions:
    Could you define the 'gear' terms "Dungeon 1" and "Dungeon 2"?
    Is Cooking also a good skill for raiding? So far, when I'm playing my warrior and tanking I'm getting a stackable +12 stam +12 spir buff off of food at 225 skill. And I know that there are good foods for mana-users too. Comments?

    Again, thanks for the great post!

  2. Update:
    I've done a bit of poking around and found that wowwiki has some info on "Dungeon 1" and "Dungeon 2" gear.

  3. I don't find Cooking that useful for raiding as at 60 the buff doesn't really make a difference. +12 sta is only like 120 health which is a fraction of a hit.

    You usually just go with mage food and water because it is good and easy to get in large quantities.

    On raid specs: I raided for awhile on my priest in MC and BWL with a variety of specs. While I found that I could heal fine with a full shadow spec (did have to watch aggro alittle more), I got tired of getting out healed and getting a "More powerful spell active" message on my Renews. So I respec'd for healing.

    Like the guide, keep it up Coriel. =)

  4. There's no such thing as a skill which isn't useful in raiding. Having 300 Cooking is better than not having 300 Cooking. Tailoring, Enchanting, Smithing, etc. all help.

    However, none of these really approach First Aid in sheer value. As well, levelling First Aid is so easy, there's really no reason you shouldn't have 300 First Aid.

    That's why I list it as a requirement. I will add something addressing other professions in Part II.

  5. It also has to do with being prepared to bandage, as much as the actual bandages.

    A rogue who is ready to back out of combat and bandage is worth more than a rogue who will not look at his health bar and die in combat. The backing out to bandage, also gives the healers a bit of time.

    Basically--unless you are a tank--your health is your responsibility, as well as the healers'. Having 300 First Aid and being willing to bandage signifies that you understand this.

    One time on Razorgore, a mage bandaged me while I was healing, and I was like, "Best mage ever!!!"

    I tend to bandage whenever I'm silenced, or if I bubble (though that's a hangover from PvP days). I don't bandage a lot, but it's useful. They're like health/mana potions. I don't potion a lot, but I keep them on hand.

    To me, it's weighted by the fact that 300 First Aid is much easier to achieve than 300 of any other skill. All you need is a few stacks of cloth.

  6. Excellent post. You've got it down and anyone reaching the start of the end-game now should take heed.

    The part of the talent respec might be a stronger issue though. "Leveling" specs are different from "Raiding" specs for certain (unfortunate) classes. But it will most likely be required as the guilds feel there is an "optimal" approach to the endgame.

    A Restoration Shaman can do a good job healing in a raid. Out grinding rep solo? Forgetaboutit.

    However, the equipment gained through raiding surpasses what you can gain solo. So this "Spec'ing for the good of the guild" is not too much of a loss. Have a raiding character that's spec'd for the guild, and accept your Tier 1 and 2 gear without complaint. Have an alt for running whatever spec/class you want. (Some classes won't have this sacrifice to make. Most Warriors won't be 31 points into the Protection tree to tank in MC.)

  7. Good points are raised in these comments.

    It's probably a good idea going in to understand that raiding comes with some sacrifices:
    -- Probably have to spec / equip to a certain standard
    -- Probably have to meet certain RL scheduling expectations
    -- Probably have some RL computer configuration issues
    -- Going to have to work with several other RL people
    -- Various philosophies abound on the usefulness of skills, talents, equipment...

    In-game choice.
    It's part of the give-and-take of a flexible gaming platform.

  8. I am curious Coriel on your opinion on the fine line between casual and hardcore raiding.

    As a GM what do you do when say half your guild wants to raid more per week (they are willing to sacrafice RL stuff) but the other half doesn't? (Half play the game for fun and also do RL things, while the other half is much more serious about the game) You risk losing people either way you go.

    You have said many times that raiding isn't that difficult and that anyone can learn to do it. But from my experience there are good raiders and bad raiders in terms of skill. MC requires ~40 people but not 40 skilled people. I have been in raids and heard of raids where half the raid would be good players and the other half dead weight.

    And what about a "corporate downsizing" effect where you kick weak links out of the guild. Every guild has a few people that if removed and replaced with better players (based on skill, drama, age, play time, etc) would leave to faster guild progression. Do you do what is best for this people or for what is best for the guild?

    Just curious on your thoughts.

  9. To add to the previous post...

    I'm in a situation where the small guild I'm in is composed of a father and son, another father and two sons, and a husband and wife.

    Is it unusual to have players essentially in pairs or groups like that?

    Because if yes, there is some risk that RL relationships will affect guilds, like:
    "You kicked my wife (friend, etc.)?!
    I'm outta here."

  10. Kinless, maybe I should have made my point a little bit clearer.

    I fully expect that you will need to respec for raiding. Certain talent trees are better for raiding. However, I'm against respeccing blindly following random internet advice. I think that doing one or two raids with your current spec provides a baseline. When you respec, you'll be choosing points where you need improvement, and you can compare your performance pre- and post-spec.

    For example, most people will say that Illumination (crit heals are free) is a must have talent for raiding paladins. I don't have Illumination, because I very rarely run out of mana on raids. I prefer to use Seal of the Crusader + Judgement of Wisdom, and downrank heal spells. Plus doing this allows me to ignore +spell crit, so I'm chasing one less stat when gearing up.

    (Got to run, will answer other questions later)

  11. Have to agree about the paladin. I have Illumination but it doesn't really come in handy in MC. Priests and Druids handle the heavy healing so I just stack alittle +healing and spam a lower rank of Flash of Light.

    I agree with Coriel (gsh) about there being "raiding" specs.
    (1) You should raid/play with your spec and tweak it to your play style. There really isn't "the one ultimate raiding spec" for each class, just certain talents that can be helpful in a raid.
    (2) I think a serious raider should be willing to respec at least partially to help the guild out in raids.

    Blah, just got back from class so my brain is fried and I can't remember the purpose of my post...

  12. Well i do feel that a respec does help the better of the guild. When i joined my guild i was ret spec'd and was not required to respec but know my roll in the raid i respec'd for the team. Now i am usually in the top 3 for raw heals and have a good % of overhealing.

    Im not saying that you have to respec but, doing it will usually benifet the whole guild and not just yourself.

  13. With end-game raiding, as with many things in life, every bit counts.

    Point is, 300 Cooking DOES matter. Sure, a +12 STA food equates to "only" 120 HP. But that extra 120 HP could easily be the difference between life and death. And no matter your role in the raid (tank, dps, healer), I promise you're infinitely more useful alive then dead.

    As for respeccing, it depends on your guild. There's no question that a holy/disc priest will be a more effective healer than a shadow priest. If you guild is strong enough, skilled enough, geared enough, it probably doesn't matter. But if your guild is struggling to get MC bosses down, that extra bit of healing just might make the difference between success and failure.

    In the end, it's up to you. If you know that a different spec would make you a better asset to the raid, make you better able to fulfill whatever your raiding role is, then you should probably respec.

  14. I think AQ20 (Ruins) is actually notably harder than MC. If I were to rank the raid instances in order of difficulty, they would be...

    Zul'Gurub (20-man) - not really that much easier than MC
    Molten Core (40-man) - a very close second
    Onyxia (40-man)
    Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj (20-man) - starting AQ20 is easy, finishing it is very hard
    Blackwing Lair (40-man)
    Temple of Ahn'Qiraj (40-man)
    Naxxaramas (40-man)

  15. I'd probably agree with you for technical difficulty, but from an organizational point of view, AQ20 is a lot easier. Easier to get 20 people than 40 people after all.

    The ordered ranking is just a general guide.