I was doing some thinking lately about raiding, more specifically raiding in the new 4.3 raid. With a new raid and new heroics to get gear from, 4.3 is looking to be full of cool things. It is also the perfect time for someone who is leveling at the moment and is interested in raiding to prepare themselves to do so. Between crafted gear, VP/JP gear, BoE epics, and the new heroic gear, someone can go from a freshly dinged 85 wearing greens and quest blues to a nicely geared ready to raid 85.
But getting the gear is only the first step to get yourself ready to raid like a pro. In fact getting gear is usually one of the easier things you can do. My warlock hit 85 on a saturday and couldn't even run regular heroics. So I got to work and between JP gear, BoE epics, and crafting gear, he was only a few points of shy of running trollroics which would up his item level/stats enough so that if I choose to take him into a raid, I can pull my own weight. After some luck with heroic drops he was ready for trollroics!
I know several people are in this boat, finally 85 and wanting to raid in 4.3 so I decided to come up with a few things to do to prepare themselves to raid.
1. Read up on the Boss Fights
There are many sources of information for every boss fight in the game and a few for bosses that are still on the PTR and being tested. Tankspot, Wowhead, Wowpedia are just a few sites that have information about bosses and their abilities. There are also many bloggers out there who are kind enough to create guides on their blogs for fights. Even ingame you can open up the dungeon journal and read through what abilities each boss has. While you may not be able to figure out how the boss fight goes exactly, you can definitely figure out which abilities are super bad and which are good. If an ability says that it will do a boatload of damage to a specific area...you should obviously not be standing in areas where there is a noticeable spell effect.
2. Check your gear out
There are plenty of gear guides out there for all the classes and it'll usually take only a few minutes to find one for your class. If you're wearing all trollroic gear, there might be a badge piece that is better for your spec or a crafted piece that is a bigger upgrade than something you are wearing. It never hurts to look and see if you are wearing the best that you can for your raid.
3. Enchant your gear
I know most people are afraid of spending a ton of mats/money on enchants on gear that they will upgrade as soon as they step foot into a raid instance. I am not saying to get power torrent on your blue weapon; what I am saying is that there might be an enchant a step below it that is not as expensive. Hurricane for example is a decent pre-raid weapon enchant and while it is not the best you can get, every little bit helps in a raid. Another example is stats to chest. If you are wearing a blue chest piece, get +15 stats and save +20 stats for an epic piece. If you are wearing a tier 12 chest, you will probably not upgrade it any time soon, so its worth it to spend the money on the more expensive enchant.
This goes hand in hand with enchanting your gear. Once you have a good set of gear you should reforge stats to best suit your spec. There are plenty of sites out there that can suggest what you should reforge stats into, askmrrobot and wowreforge are two such sites. They may suggest that you reforge a stat like hit off one piece of gear and reforge another stat into hit on another piece but the way they work is that they aim to reforge your gear into the most optimal way possible. This is especially true for things like hit rating as once you are capped, any percent over that cap will be wasted.
5. Buy Potions, Flasks, Food
Now I know in my guild we provide a feast buff and flask buff but some guilds don't offer these things and you will need to buy your own before the raid. if you are a class that would rather have haste, mastery, etc. instead of the buffs that the feast provides, you should also buy your own food. Some people prefer to use elixirs to get more optimal buffs and that is perfectly acceptable. Potions other than Health/Mana are also useful. There are many that give a buff for 30 seconds to a stat and they are great for burn phases, execute phases, or just whenever you want to up your dps a little more.
6. Prepare Vent/Mumble/Teamspeak
There is nothing more annoying than joining a raid and getting vent information and having to waste time downloading the voice chat program. Also irritating is that once you have the program downloaded and you get into the server, you find that you are either too low or too deafeningly loud. You should see if you can configure whatever voice chat program you will be using before the raid to cut down on time spent fixing settings during the raid. It takes a few minutes to get this setup and it is well worth the time. Your raid member's ears will thank you.
7. Update your addons
Getting into a raid and then either locking up or having your UI mess up because of an out of date addon is very frustrating. Have it happen on your first raid of the patch...is even worse. Check your addons to make sure that you have the latest version of each before logging in to get your raid on. Some addon authors will update their addons to be compatible for the current patch and some will not have an update ready. It is up to you to make sure that your addons won't cause ui troubles once you log in. A good idea is to read through the comments people have left on the addon sites for an addon, they can give you a clue if there are any serious issues with the addon in this patch and if it is worth it to just turn off the addon until its been updated. Most important: Don't dorget to turn on out of date addons before logging on! Some addons may not have had an update in sometime but they are still functional and by not turning on out of date addons, you will not have access to these addons.
8. Talk to your fellow raiders
If it is your first raid, you can always talk to some of the people who you know will be at the raid. They can give you a good idea of what to expect from each fight and may even suggest helpful tips to get you through the raid. It is also a good idea to talk to your raiders so that you can start the path to being a member of the raid team instead of just being the new guy. If you read something about a boss fight that you are not sure about, talk to someone about it. Your raid leader should be able to clarify any issues you may have or they can suggest who you should talk to. Now this should be done before the raid if possible as whispering people mid raid about stuff may bug some people. This doesn't mean that you should be very quiet and not ask questions during a raid, if you have a question ask! Better to get an answer about a fight and be thought a noob but not mess up than to stay silent and cause a wipe.
Remember that no matter what happens, it is only a game and you are not involved in a life or death situation. Being nervous can happen but don't let it cripple you and affect your performance. If it is your first raid, people will probably assume you're new and give you a little slack. All most people want from their fellow raiders is for them to pull their own weight and do their best. Breathe often and focus on doing your best. If you cause a wipe, try to find out what you did wrong so you won't let that happen again. Don't beat yourself up so badly that you never raid again.
10. Be yourself
Don't go into a raid and try to be someone you're not, most people will able to tell and it'll just make you look bad. You're new and you know it, your raid knows, and even the mobs know it. Don't go into a raid and start bragging about how great and wonderful you are, that will just annoy everyone. If your raid group is the group that you will be raiding with often, you want to get to know these people and the best way for them to get to know you is for you to be yourself. To thine own self be true or something or other.
Well those are just a few of the things I would suggest new raiders should do before they start raiding. Now this list is not the end all be all of raid preparation, I am merely listing the first 10 things that sprang to mind when I thought of things I would tell new raiders that they should do to prepare to raid with us. If anyone has any more suggestions to add, feel free to leave a comment or hit me up on twitter and I'll edit them in. Until next time, Good Raiding to you all!
*Goes off to queue for the LFR where I will lose every single tier token roll to the same DK...AGAIN*
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