Getting into Raiding

This post is aimed the number of people who have not stepped foot in a Normal or higher raid in World of Warcraft, if that is you, great I hope I can help make your first run an enjoyable and successful experience; if not, well then I hope I can still provide some helpful tips to improve your next raid.

The objective is to outline a method to take a character who recently hit max level (110 in Legion) and get them ready to step foot into a Normal on the current raid tier (Antorus, The Burning Throne as I write this), and contribute to the group’s success to get invited back.

In general, I will assume that you are in a guild that raids, as it is a bit easier to get involved in raiding in that setting, and you should be looking to join a guild.

If you are Horde-side on Windrunner/Darrowmere hit up Afterlife we are always looking to expand our raid team.

There are some places where there are recommendations that make things a bit easier, at the cost of some top end-performance; as you move into Heroic and/or Mythic some of it will not work anymore, but you won’t need guides like this so win-win.

If you want some other resources that are pretty useful, you should also checkout wowheads article on the same theme.

 

Thoughts on VR Conferences

I just attended the HR Global Summit, which is the first conference I have attended since the pandemic was announced. It was hosted in a Virtual Reality environment, and it was a very eye-opening experience.

I am not a stranger to virtual worlds, I like many started on BBSs, MUDs, and other text-based adventures before taking the initial steps into the first 3D worlds, I vaguely remember wandering around Meridian 59 when it was initially released in 1996, and then ultimately ended up at MMORPG’s in Azeroth making some of my best friends while playing World of Warcraft.

Virtual worlds and the power to create strong lasting friendships in the digital domain is something I have always known is possible, and strongly believed in that power for virtual teams and that it was only a matter of time before it made the jump over to the business world. Matt Mullenweg’s discussions about how they make it work at Automattic to build WordPress and all the other products is one of the many compelling examples of teams that have made it work.

Even as a true believer I was impressed by how connected to the experience I felt, in many cases, it was the little things that I do not normally notice in their absence were back.

Sound – The natural behavior of sound and getting the context clues of where people are around me is very powerful, hearing a discussion grow louder as I move closer to it transported me to the setting, and the feeling of a conference.

My Avatar – Being able to do some simple customizations to get an Avatar that I thought represented me was a fun process, but also not staring at myself in my video chat window was a world of difference as I didn’t have to worry about that.

Other Avatars – Seeing a crowd of other Avatars moving around, and interacting with space, and watching in the audience gave me a feel of being in the room again, which is very different then a chat commenting.

Technical Issues – Maybe strangely one of the pieces that made it feel like any other conference I have been to, was that occasional bout with technology. Speakers had a few connection issues, sound cutting out, and then the inevitable microphone issues with audience members asking questions. These are a staple of many of the smaller conference room settings I have been in, and something about that made it feel personal.

Where do I think we go from here?

Virtual reality is something that anyone planning an event should consider, I don’t think it will replace steaming events or in-person events (when those are safe again), nor do I think it should. Adding a new medium for connection is great as it allows engagement with a new audience that was not being well-served before, VR is still the domain of an early adopter.

My experience was using the Desktop Client, with a comfortable set of noise-canceling stereo headphones, which should be accessible to anyone. I am excited to see how it can improve with a VR Headset, and the added feedback and reduction of distractions will impact my experience.

What is Raiding?

Let’s start at the very beginning, raiding is broken into 4 levels of difficulty:

Looking for Raid (LFR): I don’t consider this raiding for the purpose of this guide, my goal is to help you progress to the point you don’t have a reason to queue for LFR.

Normal: The goal and focus of this guide, it is fairly forgiving but is the real raid experience, groups must be formed by a raid leader you can find Pickup Groups via the in-game Group Finder Tool, or better yet on your Guild Calander.

Heroic: A step up from Normal, the mobs hit harder and there are more mechanics to deal with, and in general requires a higher level of coordination and accountability with each player.

Mythic: This is the ultimate of the end-game raid content in World of Warcraft, this is where the world first races take place, raids are fixed for 20 players and the lockouts work differently.

I won’t go much into Mythic into this guide, mostly because it works totally differently then Normal or Heroic and no one who needs this guide should find themselves in a Mythic Raid.

What to play in your first Raid

There are a number of activities to get ready to raid, and likely you will already have some of these done, you can consider this a checklist of things to accomplish, they are ordered in how long they take.

My first recommendation is that your first raid is as a DPS Specialization for your class, there are several reasons for this:

  1. In general DPS in Normal have the lowest personal responsibility for mechanics
    1. those that exist are often handled by the more experienced raiders.
  2. There are the most DPS slots
  3. DPS has the most resources and clear-cut ways to improve
  4. Everyone has a DPS spec so it makes it easier to write a guide or everyone

Also, any class can complete Normal, there is no reason for a group to bench you because of a specific class specialization.

Most of the advice will still work for healers the big change is around gearing/rotation,  as a tank you need to understand all of the tank mechanics for all of the fights you are going to do and in general there is a higher level of choreography involved so I would recommend more time on researching the fights.

Things unique to Raiding

Raiding has always been part of the game, but it has changed significantly over the years,  as a result, there a number of parts of the game very unique to raiding.

This is focused on how raiding works now, and what is different between solo/small group content and large group content of raids.

Group Size: Normal and Heroic use the Flex Raid system where you can have between 10 and 30 people in a raid where it will re-scale to your group size. This is an important feature that allows groups to adjust on the fly to accommodate new members or others leaving as the raid goes on.

Cooldowns: Many cooldowns work differently in raids, Tranquility and Divine Hymn Heal for less, Battle Res is on a shared timer (this includes Soul Stone, but not Reincarnation), also group-wide powerful abilities need to be coordinated by the raid leader; Blood Lust is the most common but also buffs like Commanding Shout are often called by the raid leader.

Another twist with raid wide cooldowns, they are also reset upon engaging with a boss, so if there is a specifically hard trash pack the Raid Leader might call to reset the boss.  If this happens make sure you hit the boss with an ability to get your cooldowns back; and try not to die.

Loot Systems: There are several loot systems, some groups use Master Loot, others use Personal Loot.  For your first raid, you likely want to find a group using Personal Loot if you can, but a Master Loot group with your Guild or a Pick-Up Group to learn the Raid is a viable option.

Loot Lockouts: You can loot each boss once a week (resets once a week) per difficulty, but you can be in a boss fight multiple times on the same character. You will just be “Loot Locked” any won’t get loot from the boss, and are not eligible to be traded loot from that boss from other players.

Bonus Roll: I will go into this in more detail in a later section, but coins are an important part of getting loot, as you can use them to re-roll for a loot drop off a boss for a chance at gear regardless of the loot system.  This is loot that is locked to you and cannot be traded so you will want to save them for bosses where you need the most gear.

An important note is that you can Bonus Roll the same boss and difficulty multiple times a week to try to ‘target’ a piece of gear.

Tier: This is going away in Battle for Azeroth (BfA), but Raids are where you get Tier which provides powerful and unique bonuses for your character.

Class Specialization and Mechanics

One of the major differences in raids from the rest of the game is how much time is spent in combat, it is not uncommon for a raid encounter to last 6-10 minutes; this is a totally different aspect of the game then many players encounter as bosses in dungeons often fall over in under a minute, and quest mobs rarely last your opener.

Understanding your class rotation and how to sustain DPS is a key difference in a raid and where many players struggle initially. The good news is there are plenty of guides written on how to improve at this.

I recommend two main sources of class guides for getting ready for raiding, I also recommend selecting the default raid builds for your first raid to get a feel for the class, then after that, you can start to branch out and try different talent combinations as you are more comfortable with the fights.

This include talent builds, rotational advice, your gem and enchantment priorities and the consumables you should use in the raid.  This is all very good advice and will be needed at other points in our journey.

Getting your Gear

Item Level (ilvl) isn’t everything the game, but many groups are looking for a minimum item level and it can be very helpful to have a target in mind before going on your first raid, if nothing else then the additional stamina will allow you to survive raid mechanics more easily and live through some otherwise fatal mistakes.

I would recommend trying to get around 920 before going to Antorus if this is your first raid, you can do it at significantly lower item levels, but it does not take long to gear up before raiding and it can make the whole experience less stressful for your first attempt.

This guide is specifically for the end of the Legion expansion if your reading this in the future (Hi!) the theory might be useful but the specific places will not be.  A lot of this will depend on specifically where you are starting, I find it best to think of it as a bracket model of what works for various ilvls.

There is some overlap here, and remember everything can warforge or titanforge so it is good to do content that drops lower ilvl’s if you have free time.

700 – 860: The Broken Isles

The priority here is to unlock all of the Argus campaign as quickly as possible.

At this point in the expansion should be pretty easy to rocket up to between 840 and 860 via the world quests and quest rewards. Queue for the highest level dungeon you can, and do those as often as possible for some gear upgrades and do the quest chains in front of you.

You can also find Nethershards on the Broken Shore to get some Dauntless Gear tokens.

This is an area I personally find pretty fun, and I might write a whole post on it in the future.

880: Unsullied Tokens

The best place to gear up is on Argus at this point in the expansion, doing content on Argus has a good chance to drop unsullied Tokens for you or your alts, Open all the Chests you can find, and kill all the Elites for a chance at these tokens, Legendaries and Veiled Argonite.

It is very helpful if you have other characters that these are bound on account (BoA) so you can feed a specific character for raiding if you get lucky on your drops.

880 – 890: World Quests for Relics

Relics can be one of the most difficult items to get, Argus made this a lot easier as there is very often world quests that drop 880 or 890 relics.  The specific traits are unlikely to be ideal for your specialization but they are a good place to get started.

900: Broken Shore World Boss

When the Nether Disruptor is constructed a World Boss on the Broken Shore becomes active and can drop decent gear for the gear up curve.  Also, if it is up over the weekly reset you can get two chance at loot.

910: Veiled Argonite

You should hold on to your Veiled Argonite until you are approaching the cap (2,000), and use it to fill in the slots your missing from other gear, as close to the raid as possible to avoid the situation where you replace a veiled argonite piece with an upgrade or sidegrade right away.

Doing Legion Invasions is a good thing as well as it drops a lot of veiled Argonite per completed.

930: Argus World Boss

The Argus World Boss is unlocked once you complete the Greater Invasion questline from Illidan, and can drop Normal Quality raid gear, this is a boss you should consider using one of your Seals of Broken Fate on as the gear is often pretty good.

930: Timewalking

The timewalking weekly quest offers a Seal of Broken Fate, as well as a Cache of Antoran Treasures from the Normal Raid.  This can be a very quick way to get a piece of raid gear if it is up when you are getting a character ready

945: Emissary of War

The weekly quest for Mythic+ offers Heroic Antoran gear, this is the best way to get gear outside of the Heroic Raid itself.

There is very often a group in the Premade Group Finder that do 4x Mythic Maw of Souls which is enough for the quest and with a good group can take less then 45 minutes, but you can also do this with the other M+ dungeons you are going to do this week.

890 – 960: Mythic+

You should always do at least a +2 Mythic Keystone each week to get the weekly challenges cache as this has a higher than normal chance to Titanforge, and gives 120 Waking Essences.

If you feel more comfortable doing higher level M+ will be more rewarding, new affixes which change the dungeon get added at +4 and +7 and there is a pretty steep difficulty curve after +10.

1000: Legendaries

First, you should ensure you’re doing your class hall order campaign to unlock the ability to wear two legendaries, this will be a huge item level upgrade when you get them.

There are a few sources for legendaries:

Crafted Legendary: Each armor class has a crafted legendary you can acquire, which is alright a good power boost for leveling and if you have lots of gold it can be an option for some players, I would not recommend it in general as you will quickly outgrow it.

The Argus Ring Quest: The last act of the Argus Campaign is to gain a quest to defeat Argus, this can be completed in LFR, and if you have not gotten lucky enough to get two other legendaries this is the one time I recommend doing LFR Seat of the Pantheon specifically for the ring.

Waking Essences: Introduced in 7.3.5 as a way to speed up the acquisition of legendaries, they can be very helpful to new players and alts, there are several sources in addition to the raid itself:

  • Weekly M+ Cache: always gives 120 regardless of keystone level on reset day
  • Daily Heroic: A Daily Heroic provides 30 Waking Essences per day
  • Daily Emissary Cache: These drop between 24 and 60 each

Doing just general PvE content your likely going to do anyway, this should work out to about a legendary every two weeks.

RNG: The main source of legendaries is randomly from the content you are doing anyway, more current content has a higher chance to drop legendaries, while we do not know the exact amounts, it seems that Argus has the highest chance to drop them with Invasions, World Chests, Elite Mobs and the World Boss all offering high chances.

Blizzard has done some magic on the backend to make it very likely you will get 2 very quickly if you are doing the above content, with the first 4 coming fairly fast but a noticeable drop off between legendary 4-5.

Equipping the Right Raid Gear

There is another section about gearing up, and one about class mechanics how is this one different?

With most of the gear you get from the open world you don’t have much of an option to target it to any specific piece, so you end up collecting a lot of gear, what you wear for stats can make major differences in your raid performance and is an area that can be challenging.

The quick and dirty answer for open world and even very basic raiding is if you are not sure just put on your highest ilevel pieces and hope for the best, It should be good enough for your first raid, but if you want to go the next step you should sim your gear, because it sounds more complex then it is and I believe its less complex than trying to figure out stat priorities.

This is actually easier than ever with new websites that help with this, there are two you should look into:

It takes a few minutes to step and normally requires getting some add-ons but it makes selecting gear a lot easier and reduces how much you have to think about it, every new piece of gear is just a new simulation, but as it takes into account your talents you should ensure that you have selected the raiding build before you run a batch of simulations.

Research the Fights

A big area that can show your commitment to raiding and make you feel more comfortable in an encounter is some upfront research.  Some people learn differently than others so there are a few methods I would recommend pick what works for you.

If you have not ever raided before then many of the concepts can be rather challenging and the encounter details rather long, so try not to get overwhelmed by all of the detail.

For most players actually playing in the raid for the first time will provide the most learning, but doing the research ahead of time will give you the tools to understand the pace of the fight.

The Dungeon Journal, not just for dungeons, this includes a host of information that is quickly broken down; and major abilities are called out.  If you do nothing else you should at least read this, and focus on your role in the encounter.

FatBossTV are the authoritative video guides and do a good job breaking down the mechanics, these are often released right at the start of a raid tier, so the strategy they suggest might not exactly match the real world tactics from your guild so defer to the Raid Leader, but it should give an overview of the mechanics.

Wowhead Raid Guides, also written by the FatBossTV crew they are longer form and go into very deep detail on everything going on, they can be hard to parse if you are new to the encounter but can provide very good information.

A good place to start is with the Role Responsibilities section and then work backward.

LFR, if you have the time LFR can give you an idea of the general flavor of the fight, this can be a bit of a hit or miss scenario as LFR is often missing at least one major mechanic but it can give you a good baseline for the pace of the fight in general.

It can add some context to the above methods, but you shouldn’t expect LFR knowledge alone to be enough.

User Interface Considerations

There is a lot that can be said for your user-interface and is an area which can make a huge difference in performance but there is very little that I would consider mandatory for a first time raider, and if you have not used it before getting too many new things just before your first raid is going to cause your performance to suffer.

So, make sure you have the basics and then as you decide to raid more look into improving your raid user interface.

Boss Mod: This is essential to a new raider, and if you have never raided before I strongly recommend DeadlyBossMods as it provides more direction then BigWigs (the other option) and is better if you do not already know the fights.

GTFO: DeadlyBossMods covers some of this functionality, but GTFO covers more bad stuff on the ground.

Discord: Not an add-on, but if you are raiding in a Guild voice coms are almost certainly going to be available; you shouldn’t ever have to talk but it is very important to be able to hear the raid leader, and it is often much easier for them to answer any questions by speaking rather then attempting to type it in, even if you ask the question in text.

Extra credit

If you want to add some useful tools to your user interface and won’t be overwhelmed or have some extra time to get used to them. You should look into:

ElvUi: this is pretty much the consensus best-consolidated UI pack, you can find layouts and profiles on wago.io from many streamers.

WeakAuras2: there is a ton of functionality on this add-on as it allows for the sharing of many UI elements, from class rotation helpers to HUDs you name it, you can also find packs on wago.io. of specific note is the T21 WeakAuras collection.

ExRT: Exorus Raid Tools add a ton of functionality for tracking raid cooldowns, attendance, buffs, WeakAuras2 and more. Your raid leader almost certainly has this installed, it can be neat to check out.