Nova's Guide To : Preparing For Raiding

90 Draenei Shaman
13685
If you've got any questions on this topic, please post here.
I'll try my best to respond in a timely manner. ^^


Disclaimer

I am sticking to my boundaries of experience, research, and logic in writing this
guide - as a human being, I am subject to being utterly wrong at any time.
If you disagree with what I say, then enlighten me as a player to what I can
improve on for myself and the people who read this guide by posting constructively and not trolling. If you convince me of your point, I'll applaud you for whatever revelation you've brought to my attention and revise my guide with all due haste.


-Anonymous

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Table of Contents
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I. Introduction
II. Understand your Role/Class
III. Understanding Encounters
IV. Come Prepared
V. Raiding Attitude and Choosing a Guild
VI. Addons
VII. Resources

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Introduction
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"A winning effort begins with preparation." - Joe Gibbs

There have been many threads lately where I've noted players asking questions. These questions varied from whether or not they were ready for raiding, how to become prepared for raiding, and if raiding is for them. After a bit, I decided to compile all my thoughts into another guide. This is my way of sharing what I think of the matter to the General Forums as a whole and how to help players prepare to take on and tackle Raids.

Link to post about applying to Raiding Guilds :
http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/5911884388
Link to anecdote about Ulduar run w/o ventrilo and why you should use programs like it :
http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/5235711079?page=7#138
Edited by Novalas on 6/26/2012 2:09 PM PDT
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90 Draenei Shaman
13685
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Understand your Role/Class
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A major aspect of Raiding is performing well enough for your group to prevail against each encounter. As a player, you need to make sure that you're contributing to your raid. Your performance has a direct correlation with how well you understand your specific role or your class.
For example :

There are two Healers. Healer A and Healer B.
For the sake of this post, we'll assume both Healers are Restoration Shaman who have the exact same item level/gems/enchants.

Healer A doesn't know that as a Restoration Shaman, (insert heal here) is one of your best heals and needs to be used on cooldown. Therefore, because of their lack of understanding, their healing output is significantly gimped in comparison to other Restoration Shaman who use that heal.

Healer B utilizes the heal along with all his/her other heals. Because s/he understands how to maintain healing output and his/her up-time on his/her spells, Healer B's healing output is significantly higher than Healer A's.

Healer B most likely researched their class specifics before attempting to Heal in the raid environment and understood how their class worked better than Healer A.

Many Raid Leaders enjoy seeing players who understand their role or class because the Raid Leader doesn't have to take time out of their day to explain to the player what they need to do. For example, as a Restoration Shaman, I'm able to heal either Tanks or the Raid quite easily. If I'm in a PUG, it's much easier if I communicate with the other Healers what we need to do.

To break it down, every 'role' has different roles in itself.
There are currently three roles in-game.
DPS
Healer
Tank

Each of these roles have different sub-roles depending on encounters.
These vary depending on your class aswell and what your raid leader asks you to do.

DPS
DPS, DPS (specific target), DPS (burst), DPS (stop), DPS Off Tank

Healer
Tank Heals, Raid Heals, Backup Healer, Mana Battery

Tank
Main Tank and Off Tank

But that's enough about roles.
Lets talk about classes.

As of Patch 4.3, there are currently 10 classes in the game.
They're classified as either Hybrids or Pures

Hybrids

Death Knight - Blood (Tank), Frost (DPS), Unholy (DPS)
Druid - Feral (Tank/DPS), Restoration (Healer), Balance (DPS)
Paladin - Protection (Tank), Holy (Healer), Retribution (DPS)
Priest - Discipline (Healer), Holy (Healer), Shadow (DPS)
Shaman - Enhancement (DPS), Elemental (DPS), Restoration (Healer)
Warriors - Protection (Tank), Arms (DPS), Fury (DPS)

Pures
These classes are all Pure DPS.

Hunter - Beast Mastery, Marksman, Survival
Mage - Arcane, Fire, Frost
Rogue - Assassination, Combat, Subtlety
Warlock - Affliction, Demonology, Destruction

Each Class has three different specializations with the exception of Ferals who technically have four (Feral Tank, Feral DPS).
As a Raider, it's recommended but not necessary to understand how all 3 specializations of your class work. This includes how to reforge, how to enchant, and how to gem each specialization.
The reasoning behind this is that, for most classes, almost every encounter has a certain mechanic that allows one specialization to reign supreme.
As I stated, it's not necessary to swap specializations each time you start progressing on a new encounter but it's definitely worth it. Especially in progression raiding, knowing all 3 specs will help push your raid group to success.

Also, each patch can yield to another specialization reigning dominant in your class. If you're a Pure DPS, you should definitely know how to play other specializations incase yours becomes a little lackluster and another becomes dominant.
An example of this would be Marksman Hunters in comparison to Survival Hunters in Patch 4.3.
Previous to the Patch release, Marksman Hunters were superior. After the patch, the 'dominant' specialization in PvE became Survival.
Edited by Novalas on 5/30/2012 12:08 PM PDT
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90 Draenei Shaman
13685
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Understanding Encounters
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As a raider, it's expected to have some vague understanding of each and every encounter you're planning on doing. The reasoning behind this is that the better you understand how an encounter works, the less a raid group will wipe.
A raiders understanding of an encounter is vital to a raids success.

Q : Where can I find information on encounters?
A : There are dozens of guides written up by high-end progression Guilds that explain each and every mechanic a raid boss might have. Some even have tips on what to do. I will post links in my resource section.

Blizzard has implemented two tools that can help raiders understand how each encounter works. One being the Dungeon Journal and the other being the Looking For Raid tool.
The Dungeon Journal describes each ability that a boss may have, what effect it has on the raider, how much damage it will do (if it does damage), and more.
The Looking For Raid tool is the easiest difficulty of the Raid that you'll most likely be attempting. Patch 4.3 introduced this tool with access to the Dragon Soul raid. The tool allows you to run each boss with far easier versions of the mechanics to gain a basic understanding of how the normal and even heroic difficulty of the raid encounter will work.
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90 Draenei Shaman
13685
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Come Prepared
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There isn't much explaining this. It is as it is. As a raider, you should come prepared for a raid. Depending on how serious of a raider you are or are planning on being, this includes food, feasts, cauldrons, potions, and elixirs.

However, coming prepared doesn't only include materials for the raid. You should also make sure that you're properly gemmed, enchanted, and reforged properly.

Lets talk about gems.

Gems
Make sure to have the correct Gems in each socket. Primary stats always take priority over secondary stats which is one of the reasons that red gems are worth what they are.

This applies to most classes who are DPS or Heals.
Your primary stat takes priority for the most part so, unless your socket bonus provides +20 int, you'll want to ignore the sockets and gem straight red.

I'll give two examples from a Healing perspective :
Example A :
Red Socket, Yellow Socket. Socket Bonus : 10 Spirit.
Ignore the Yellow Socket and simply gem two +40 ints.
You'll gain +20 intellect which is better than +20 of a secondary stat and 10 spirit.

Example B :
Red Socket, Blue Socket. Socket Bonus : 20 Intellect.
Follow the sockets and put a +20 int/spirit in the Blue. The Socket Bonus compensates for the Intellect you miss out.

The same thing applies to DPS except instead of Int/Spirit, you'd put some variation of stats depending on what priorities your class has.
For example, a Hunter in Example B would put +20 agility/hit in the Blue assuming the socket bonus gave 20 agility.

It's slightly different for Tanks because they don't really utilize primary stats for their bonuses other than Feral Druids.
I don't play a Tank so I can't really speak much from their perspective.
However, I do know that as of Patch 4.3, Mastery is almost every Tanks best stat.

Death Knights stack Mastery.
Warriors and Paladins stack Mastery until they reach CTC cap.
After they reach CTC cap, they will stack Stamina.

You'd need to check out your respective Class Forums for most information.

Enchants

I wont go in depth with my Enchants section as much as I did with my Gems but I'll simply state this :
Enchants, regardless of how minute they seem to be, can have a significant impact on your performance.
With full enchants, your DPS could easily increase by 5-10K depending on your class.
Or as a Healer, it could improve your throughput.
As a Tank, it can help out with survivability.

Don't ignore them simply because you feel that they're a waste of time. They DO help.

Reforging

There are several Guides that state what sort of priority you should have on Reforging.
It's arguably one of the more confusing aspects of learning how to play your class.
But, it's quite useful in ensuring that you're hit capped, at a certain haste plateau (Healers/DPS), or prioritizing your stats correctly (Crit > Haste?).
Use it to min and max your character.
Push to your characters maximum potential and squeeze every ounce you can out of your toon.

Professions

Some may argue that this isn't that important but it really depends on how serious of a raider you plan on being. If you're simply interested in PUGs here and there, what your professions are isn't that important. You could have skinning and most players wouldn't mind.

However, in more hardcore raiding environments, most Guilds wont even look at a character who doesn't have "raiding" professions. That is, professions that provide some sort of bonus to the character for having them.

These professions include :

Alchemy - Longer Flask Duration and Enhancement Flasks (80 stat bonuses).
Blacksmithing - Two extra Gem Sockets.
Enchanting - Two Ring enchants.
Engineering - Several 'toys' that can benefit raiding including speed boosts, massive stat procs on gloves, and artificial bubbles. The tinkers you put on belts can also back-fire, so keep that in mind. OOC utility includes repair bots, vendors, and mailbox. Engineers can be very useful to a raid.
Inscription - Stronger shoulder enchants.
Jewelcrafting - Three stronger Gems.
Leatherworking - Stronger bracer enchant and cheaper leg enchants.
Tailoring - Cloak enchants that can proc and cheaper leg enchants.

These aren't necessary, as I stated, but high-end raiding guilds most likely wont take players who don't have them.

Overall, coming prepared to raids doesn't really mean materials but includes how well you've gemmed, enchanted and reforged your toon.
Edited by Novalas on 7/12/2012 10:09 PM PDT
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90 Draenei Shaman
13685
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Raiding Attitude and Choosing a Guild
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By this, I mean what sort of attitude you should bring to Raids.
There's a stereotype in which players tend to think that Raiders sit around, wiping to bosses, blaming each other and hating each other while attempting to get bosses down.

In most Guilds, that's not the case. In fact, in my Guild, it's encouraged to come to Raid in a happy mood and to enjoy the raid as much as possible while progressing through content.
We encourage our Raiders to be social and crack jokes while we hit each and every boss.

However, we also get serious when it gets to actually attempting bosses.
Our Raid Leader pops a readycheck and it's expected that Mumble goes quiet.
The reasoning for this is so our players can concentrate on the mechanics and not mess up because we want to clean things up professionally.

The raiding attitude that can lead to thorough enjoyment of content, in my opinion, is a healthy mix of fun and seriousness.

One thing you need to prepare yourself for, as a raider, is wipes. It's something not many people are accustomed to outside of Raiding but it's a part of the entire concept of Raids.
You.
Will.
Wipe.

Don't get disheartened though because it's part of progression. After you finally get that boss down, it'll only feel sweeter because of the wipes prior. :)

I'd also like to talk about whom you raid with. This doesn't apply to PUGs as much as much as it applies to organized runs or guild runs.
Many of us play World of Warcraft as a past-time or a game in which we want to enjoy ourselves.
One tip I can give current raiders and future raiders is to make sure you pick a Raiding Guild carefully.
That is, try to find a Guild that's active outside of raids and feels like a community.

Q : Why should I care about that if I'm not interested in the game past raiding?
A : Well, it's simple really. If you immerse yourself in a community, you feel like you're a part of something. It makes the game that much sweeter and each boss kill you get together feels that much better. Also, Guilds that feel like communities are known to be more stable and you wont have to worry about 'drama' shattering the Guild.

Plus, if you're ever online other than raid nights, you'll have things to do. The burn out wont hit as fast. Personally, I clear Dragon Soul in one night. Approximately 2 hours, actually. The day after, we organize Firelands runs. On Thursday, we have a break night. Friday, I run a weekly ICC25HM run (All are welcome, let me know if you're interested. ; )). Saturdays, we run Ulduar25. Sunday is another break night. On Monday, we have an alt run.

I never really get bored of the game in this case. Neither do many of our Guildies. The breaks in between the runs also really help to make sure we don't overwhelm ourselves on Raiding.
But yeah, the point of all that was simple.
Pick the Guild you join carefully.
IMO, Social 'raiding' guilds are better than Hardcore 'no community' raiding guilds.
Edited by Novalas on 6/1/2012 1:17 PM PDT
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90 Draenei Shaman
13685
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Addons
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Addons aren't always a necessity but they sure do help. There are quite a few that can help improve performance while raiding.

Here's a list of Addons that could prove useful :

Deadly Boss Mods - Boss Encounter Addon
Bigwigs - Boss Encounter Addon
(Choose one of those)
*Skada - Tracks combat log (damage/healing output/etc.)
*Recount - Tracks combat log (damage/healing output/etc.)
Omen - Tracks threat. (Not really necessary for DPS but it's useful for Tanks)
Grid/Grid2 - Replaces Blizzard Raid Frames.
Bartender - To adjust your bars and their placement.
Power Auras - This is useful in order to track important buffs.
DoTimer - Times your DoTs.
Fortexorcist - Tracks anything with cooldowns & more.
Tidyplates - Useful tanking addon that tracks threat on targets.

*Skada and Recount are both useful to track not only how well you're performing and how well other players are performing. It shouldn't be used as a tool to show off but rather a useful tool which can be used on improving your own play and studying fellow raiders play. Remember that there's more to it than just the DPS frame. There are absorbs/CC/Interrupts/CC Breakers/Dispels and more to Recount and Skada.

There are more variations of addons that you can check out.
You can download them from Curse.com which is linked below in the Resources section.
Edited by Novalas on 5/29/2012 12:09 PM PDT
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90 Draenei Shaman
13685
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Resources
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Class Information :

Direct Link to all Class Forums - http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/#forum1012661
Source for basic understanding of a specialization - http://www.noxxic.com/wow/
More in-depth theorycrafting - http://elitistjerks.com/forums.php

Encounter Guides :

Site with visual guides - http://www.learntoraid.com/
You can also ask questions in the Dungeons/Raids Forums - http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/1011645/

Helpful Sites :

http://www.mmo-champion.com/forum.php
www.wowhead.com
http://wowreforge.com/Import (Used to help pinpoint reforges)
http://www.curse.com/addons/wow
http://www.wowprogress.com/
http://worldoflogs.com/

Threads by the OP :

Surviving Between Patches :http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/4175829362?page=1
[Suggestion] Stable Slots : http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/5151273841#20
Edited by Novalas on 6/1/2012 1:18 PM PDT
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90 Human Paladin
4930
You may now post.
And critique. <3

i wanted to combo break :(
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40 Night Elf Hunter
9575
Thank you for the informative post, you are a great asset to the general community. Oh, and tailors can do the same thing as Leatherworkers with the leg enchant.
Edited by Snowkight on 5/28/2012 2:44 PM PDT
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85 Gnome Priest
7660
You may now post.
And critique. <3

i wanted to combo break :(


Me too, but I like Nova too much! Lol.
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90 Blood Elf Priest
6110
You're not prepared!
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100 Worgen Death Knight
13075
Resto shammies don't dps :(.
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40 Night Elf Hunter
9575
So, Nova what is a mana battery? I'm confused.
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90 Draenei Shaman
13685
05/28/2012 02:43 PMPosted by Mastin
What order is optimal for raiding? I mean going from easiest to hardest, what do you think the difficulty scale is for the Cata raids?


Difficulty-wise on the normal setting, if I'm understanding your question, is as follows :

Bastion of Twilight
Throne of Four Winds
Blackwing Descent

Firelands

Dragon Soul.

On the Heroic setting, it's slightly different.

Throne of Four Winds.
Blackwing Descent.
Firelands.
Bastion of Twilight.
Dragon Soul.

This is really my opinion though and others may have differing opinions.

05/28/2012 02:45 PMPosted by Whittan
Resto shammies don't dps :(.


Curse the typos! D:

05/28/2012 02:48 PMPosted by Snowkight
So, Nova what is a mana battery? I'm confused.


It was really directed to only Restoration Shaman and was a viable build back in early Cataclysm. It can still work today but not many players use us in that manner.
Basically, we'd ignore all other stats and simply reforge into Spirit.
Mana tide works off our Spirit so all casters within 200 yards would gain 200% of our mana.
So, we'd essentially be a 'battery' for other healers who'd provide heals.

05/28/2012 02:43 PMPosted by Martouff
Me too, but I like Nova too much! Lol.


<3
Edited by Novalas on 5/28/2012 3:00 PM PDT
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90 Dwarf Warlock
17395
However, I do know that as of Patch 4.3, Mastery is almost every Tanks best stat.
Many Tanks gem Mastery and variations of Mastery gems (Stam/Mas?) until they reach CTC cap.
You'd need to check out your respective Class Forums for most information.


DK's stack mastery.

Warriors/Paladins hit CTC cap then wean themselves off mastery (while staying CTC capped) and going for stam.

05/28/2012 02:38 PMPosted by Novalas
Engineering - Several 'toys' that can benefit raiding including speed boosts, massive stat procs on gloves, and artificial bubbles.


Keep in mind, belt tinkers (the ones that offer massive utility like the sprint and bubble) have a chance to backfire. These can quite easily kill you, especially if you're a tank.

Edit: Oh, and how can you forget an Engineers out of combat utility? Jeeves and Scrapbots (and MOLL-E too) are amazing boons to any raid group.
Edited by Awkward on 5/28/2012 2:54 PM PDT
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40 Night Elf Hunter
9575
It was really directed to only Restoration Shaman and was a viable build back in early Cataclysm. It can still work today but not many players use us in that manner.
Basically, we'd ignore all other stats and simply reforge into Spirit.
Mana tide works off our Spirit so all casters within 200 yards would gain 200% of our mana.
So, we'd essentially be a 'battery' for other healers who'd provide heals.
Ah, thank you for the clarification. I'm sure many people will benefit from this amazing guide, Nova. Thank you once again for being an enormous assist to the World of Warcraft Community.
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