I finally hit 80 on my druid, Freja and since I am in The Spousal Unit's raiding guild, I was immediately able to put on some nice purples to help gear myself up. But gear myself up for what? Raiding has become much more accessible to those of us with limited playtime, but do I really want to go there?
Raiding involves more than just a contiguous block of time during which you can participate in a large group activity. Raids need and expect quite a lot from its members – more than just showing up and downing a few objectives, like you can in AV. If you, like me, are the primary caregiver in your household and have many other pursuits vying for your time, you need to consider many factors before making the decision to wade into the endgame.
Do you have the time?
Being able to set aside a contiguous block of time where you are not the primary caregiver is paramount to being able to raid, but just any old block of time free doesn't guarantee that there will be a raid available to you at that time. Sure, 8pm to midnight on a Friday night may be great for you, but is typically not the best time for most WoW players. If you can't make arrangements so that you are only interrupted for emergencies during an available and accessible raid time, then unfortunately raiding is not for you.
Do you know the right people?
Sure, there are successful PuGs progressing through raid content, but these groups also tend toward being
Do you know your class role?
It's not just as simple as "I'm a hunter, therefore I'm DPS. Bang bang." If you have been primarily soloing through your career, you haven't been paying attention to things like threat and butt aggro. As a hybrid, you may have a choice between roles, but just because your class can tank, doesn't mean with your gear and experience that you should tank. And while being a healer certainly opens up more grouping opportunities, a bad healer in a group can be deadly, while a bad DPS often just slows things down. Talk to your raiding group and determine what role you will be playing. Take any advice they have as to what addons and research you need. Also, the class columns here at WoW.com are full of the info you require to be successful. If you don't have the time or inclination to learn about your role, then please don't try raiding -- for the sake of your frustration level and that of those you group with.
Are you willing and able to gear up?
Ok, you have the time, opportunity and skills to raid. But if you are poorly geared, you are just not going to be able to get the numbers needed to properly contribute. Of course, you need to raid to get the best gear for raiding, but your quest gear is just not going to cut it in the mean time. As of this writing, this is the best path to getting good gear, regardless of class, filling in the gaps with craftables (yes, you'll have to run a lot of instances):
- Regular Trial of the Champion
- Heroic 5 man instances for badges
- PuGable 10 mans
WoWiki is the site that The Spousal Unit uses most for his raid strategies. Your raiding group probably has preferred links on their forums for you to study. If the Raid Leader has to stop and explain the strategy before each encounter, you are not going to be wanted back. Take the time during lunchbreaks or whenever is convenient to read up on instances before you run them. If you don't, you'll be wasting everybody's time, including your own.
Can you take criticism?
We learn best from our mistakes and you are going to make a lot of them. People are going to be forcing their advice on you and they are not always going to be nice about it. Of course, you don't have to accept verbal abuse and should avoid anyone who has anger issues. But multiple oops moments on your part are going to frustrate people to the point where they forget to use tact. Just as your fellow raiders are going to try to be patient with you, you are going to have to grow some thick skin and try to follow their advice. If you are going through an emotional phase due to, say, pregnancy or sleep deprivation due to infant, I highly recommend avoiding raiding until after you've had the little one and he/she is on some kind of successful sleep schedule. You don't need criticism about a game when your hormones have that covered, thank you very much.
Is this really how you want to spend your leisure time?
I've saved the most important question for last. Because others depend on you to show up and do a good job, even if you only do it once a week in older content, you have to answer the above questions positively and be willing to keep it up. But if you don't think theorycrafting and grinding is fun, then you really, really shouldn't waste your time on raiding. Really. Your leisure time needs to reduce the stress of the rest of your life and, therefore, should be fun. Don't waste your WoW time on something you think is drudgery, even if your friends and family are begging you to do it.
Whatever you do, don't let fear be the reason you don't try raiding. We all make mistakes, even seasoned raiders. To paraphrase one of my favorite Disney movies, we learn from failure -- success, not so much. If you do think raiding is for you and you think you can successfully balance it with parenting and all of your other real life duties, then now is a great time to go for it. Raiding opportunities abound for casuals and you should definitely take advantage of them. I'm still deciding if I want to put in the work. I'll keep you posted.