While the shape of raiding has changed drastically since World of Warcraft debuted in 2004, you'll still find that raiders in any raid group -- even other players in a Looking For Raid group -- expect a certain level of preparation, game knowledge, and social savoir faire from everyone participating. Players who trip blithely and cluelessly into the LFR or, worse, a raiding guild have no one but themselves to blame if the experience explodes in a messy, contentious drama bomb.
But isn't there a place for new raiders? Isn't the LFR supposed to be a casual, drop-in experience? Absolutely -– but that doesn't mean you can expect to stroll in with zero preparation or forethought. A game that's been running for this many years develops a higher bar for entry-level expectations. It's OK to head into a raid with no raiding experience, but you may find yourself dropped or mocked if you blunder in completely unprepared. Comport yourself with aplomb with these bottom-line expectations for anyone who wants to raid in World of Warcraft.
Before we begin, it's worth examining whether you have the time to commit to raiding. The LFR allows anyone to check out raid content in a very casual environment, true. But if you're after a more focused raiding experience with a guild, you'd be doing yourself and your guildmates a favor by reviewing your schedule to see if you have the availability to sustain a commitment to a regular raiding group. If you do, make sure you're in a raiding group that fits your playstyle, schedule, and goals. If you find you simply don't have the time to make a regular commitment, stick with more flexible LFR raiding.
Before the raid
Stock up on supplies. Aim to be self-sufficient: reagents, food, water, stat food with a spec-appropriate buff, bandages, pots, flasks, or elixirs ...
Have the right gear. You've been gearing up in heroics, haven't you? And you're kitted out with enchants, gems, glyphs and enhancements in every available slot?
Know your class. The basics should all be ingrained and natural at this point. Brush up with a little extra reading here at WoW Insider, on the official class forums, or around the internet.
Tune up your spec. You may want to change out talents designed for solo play to offer more support for your raid team.
Get voice communications ready to roll. Voice communications are expected in most raiding groups, even many LFR groups. Ventrilo and Mumble are today's top choices, with TeamSpeak another popular program. Be ready to at least listen in on at least Vent or Mumble. Players rarely use the in-game voice communications feature. Whatever your raid group chooses, be mindful of voice comm manners.
Load the right addons. Like them or not, mods are a part of raiding. There is plenty of debate of which mods are best for their purpose, but most guilds generally expect a few addon essentials.
Know the fights. The days of heading into raids just to see what will happen are over. Every single other player in your raid group is depending on your ability to understand and execute the encounter plan. At the bare minimum, look up the encounters ahead of time in the in-game dungeon journal. Ideally, visit a site like Wowhead or Icy Veins, or watch YouTube videos of the encounters so that you have an idea of what to expect.
Know your raid's rules for loot distribution. Some raids allow anyone present who needs the gear that drops to roll for it. Various DKP (Dragon Kill Points) systems are common among guilds. Be sure you know what system your raiding group is using and understand how it works before you begin –- you do not want to make an embarrassing loot gaffe or be left frantically asking how to get the drops you want once the raid is underway.
Take care of personal business beforehand. Before the raid begins, take care of everything you reasonably expect to come up during raid time -– eating dinner, taking out the trash, accepting a phone call, whatever. Nobody wants the headache of dealing with adds you pulled because you were juggling a slice of pizza with one hand and trying to mouse with the other. Need help getting it all done? Fit raiding into your busy schedule with tried-and-true time management tip for WoW players.
Head off interruptions. Before the raid begins, make arrangements for taking care of the kids, Mom's traditional Sunday evening call, and anything else you can reasonably anticipate might arise during the raid hours. It's not up to other players in your raid to hold a pull because you don't want to let a friend's call roll to voice mail. Of course you should handle a bona fide emergency, but uncooperative juice box straws or a call from your boyfriend or girlfriend are not things that should disrupt your commitment to this group activity. Honor your commitment to your raid group.
Make sure spouses or parents understand what you're involved in. Most non-gamers have no idea what's involved with raiding and don't understand that you can't step away from the keyboard at any given moment. Explain why you need uninterrupted time for raiding. There's no such thing as spousal/parent aggro; it's actually lack-of-communication aggro. Get talking.
During the raid
Be on time. If you're joining an established raid group, be online and ready at least 15 minutes before the raid's start time. If you miss the time a group traditionally sends out raid invites, you'll most likely be replaced.
Listen up. Once the raid is underway, pay close attention to the raid leader. Be aware of basic raid terminology and concepts. Most important, make sure you understand your specific role in each encounter. It's better to slow up the raid by asking questions before an encounter than it is to slow down the raid by causing a wipe.
Communicate clearly. Know how to get your message across appropriately and effectively.
Mind your manners. Multiplayer manners are grease in the wheels of the MMO social machine. Comport yourself with dignity and class. I also like these manners reminders for young players at our sister site Massively.
Avoid going AFK. If you absolutely must, do it with as little disruption as possible.
At the least, following these tips will ensure you don't become the realm's latest example of That Guy. At best, they'll help make you the raider everyone wants in their group. Raiding can be one of WoW's most engaging and rewarding experiences -– enjoy!
Dodge the drama and become the player everyone wants in their group with advice from the Drama Mamas Drama-Buster Guide. Got a question? Email the mamas at firstname.lastname@example.org.