Wrath of the Lich King had many goals; one of these goals was to make raiding more accessible. Blizzard wanted to move away from a raiding model which demanded that victory could only go to the most devoted players with the most time to spend on the content. The developers were somewhat successful with that goal. In Wrath, more players than ever before got to storm the raid instances, throw down against bosses and feel the shame and pain of wiping on a raid boss all night. We should certainly expect more of this kind of content in Cataclysm -- and so we begin WoW.com's Raiding 101 series.
We're talking about the very, very basics of raiding. These are the fundamental building blocks that will get you into the instance, help you kill trash and finally help you defeat the boss. Most of this stuff will seem like common sense to experienced players. That's good news; if it's obvious data, that means you're already on top of the dynamic. But for others, not every aspect of raiding will be obvious, especially to players for whom WoW is their first MMO.
What is a raid?
World of Warcraft has a dynamic called a "raid group" that allows up to 40 people to join a sort of mega-party. One person is the raid leader, and any number of other people are raid assistants. It's generally up to each individual raid to decide how it operates, in terms of leadership, loot and organization. Rest assured, there really is no "right way" to run a raid. There are some "good ways" and there are some "not as effective ways," but no one owns the market in the One True Raiding Organization.
In general, someone who talks about raiding in today's environment is talking the 10-man or 25-man PvE instances. In these instances, you and nine or 24 of your closest friends engage in epic battles against trash mobs and boss mobs. Trash mobs are there as filler, atmosphere and pacing creatures. They usually don't drop much loot. Bosses are, of course, the big creatures at the end who drop the epic gear that everyone wants to wear.
That's raiding. That's the hubbub. Up to 25 people spending their night fighting boss mobs. While that might sound simple, the Blizzard designers are intelligent folks. Every boss fight is different, requires different behavior and will (hopefully) keep the entire experience entertaining for you.
Don't stand in fire
Let's get this out of the way. When raiding, you will have great opportunity to stand in fire. There will be many varieties and flavors of fire. They will beckon to you. They will tempt you. But above all else: Do not stand in fire.
This lesson is the most important thing about raiding you will ever know. More important than roles, more important than leaders, more important than anything else. This is rule No. 1 of raiding: Don't stand in fire. In all seriousness, most encounters have some kind of environmental hazard nowadays. That hazard could even be specific adds that spawn throughout a fight.
If you want to learn how to not stand in fire, I actually suggest PvP. While engaging in the battlegrounds, you'll find yourself trying to react to your environment faster than ever required in PvE. If you can get that speed of play down, then standing in fire will become a breeze.
Read over the boss fights
I'm not sure I can call any of the boss fights so complex that they can't be quickly explained. That being said, if you're leading a raid, it's kind of a bummer to explain boss fights over and over. It really helps if every raid member has taken the time to get at least a perfunctory familiarity with the encounters. You can check out the WoW.com Icecrown Guide. Tankspot has a nice group of videos showing how the encounters go.
You don't need to memorize the fights. They're not all that complex. Instead, what you should pay attention for are three things:
- What is your role this fight?
- What are the phases of this fight?
- What is the fire I shouldn't stand in?
Know how your raid rolls
While I'm a huge proponent of the idea that there is no single right way to do things, there is definitely only one way to do things when you join a new group: their way. Don't wait until everyone's burning through the instance to try and have raid rules, loot rules or anything else explained to you. That may sound kind of harsh, but once you're in a raid, you're not wasting merely your own time; you'd be wasting the time of nine or 24 other people.
Most raids have a website or something where you can review basic raid rules. Swing by and check them out and get an idea of how the raid operates. Do they free roll on loot? Do they use a point system? Is there a single raid leader, or is there a raid council? Take the time to figure it out beforehand, and earn the respect and appreciation of your peers.
Know who is who
Most raids have three things you'll want to know: loot master, raid leader and main tank. You'll also want to know who's "in charge" of giving instructions to your role (healer, damage, tank); it might not be one of those three main people. Keep an eye out and figure out who the raid's healers are. Here's why.
Avoid running out of line of sight from your healers; they're trying to keep you alive, but if you run out of range from them, they'll be better off letting you die. If you (somehow) tear aggro off the tank, run toward the tanks to help them peel off of you. Pay attention to the raid leader's instructions. And if you have questions about the loot system (that you've already looked up), then ask the loot master.
Know the five basics
These are the five basic things you should know when you're starting to raid.
- You need to know what a raid is in the first place.
- Don't stand in fire.
- Read over the fights.
- Pay attention to your raid format.
- Know who the other people are in your raid.
Next week, we'll tackle a few more of the mechanical issues involved in raiding.
Ready Check shares all the strategies and inside information you need to take your raiding to the next level. For more healer-centric advice, visit Raid Rx, and be sure to look up our strategy guides to Icecrown Citadel and Halion/the Ruby Sanctum.