Okay, now that we have the basic premise of our discussion laid out, let's get down to brass tacks. Your first raid experience will actually start hours, and possible a day or two before the first pull. The first thing you will most likely do is sit down and talk with your class leader, or raid leader if a class leader isn't assigned. In this discussion you'll get information about how the raid pulls groups of mobs, their kill order, basically any standing procedures they might have. A meeting like this will probably only last a couple of minutes and can be pretty informal. If this meeting isn't set up by the leader in question, please ask for it. This is a huge step in alleviating a lot of the first time "I have no idea what is going on" moments.
The next step in alleviating said moments is to prepare for the raid. As you are starting in Karazhan, some YouTube research may not be vital, but it is certainly advised. If your guild has already made videos on how they approach each encounter, then start your research there. Please, please read up on the bosses before you enter. I know, there is a certain part of you that wants to be surprised. Believe me, I've been there. But learning about the encounter from the vantage point of your corpse is not the way to learn it, trust me. (Let's just say Void Reaver and I didn't exactly get along the first time we met.) WoW Wiki has some great pages detailing the various stages of each raid boss fight. My god, you say, I have homework? Yep, but you will thank me for it when you do step into your first raid and live to tell about it.
Like I said, the meeting and the research may happen days before your scheduled raid. Plan to log in an hour (two is better) before the raid is scheduled for invites. Here's what the day of your first raid should look like:
- Prep Time: Before you log into the game, check to make sure your mods are updated. Mod makers are notorious for tweaking their applications just enough so that they require a new version, and you want to have the newest version of every addon the raid uses. For a list of commonly used raiding mods, check out our Learn2raid article on preparation. Once you have all your mods in place then it's time to log in and grab reagents, repair, do anything you might need to do before the raid starts. If you play a mage you will also need to spend some time conjuring food and water for the group, at least until Patch 2.3 rolls around. This is also the time to grab any IRL snacks or drinks you may need. You're going to be sitting in one spot for several hours with only a few AFK breaks (which are best reserved for bio breaks.)
- Travel: Being that this is your first raid, you want to be in Deadwind Pass to summon others as a sign of good faith. Yes it's annoying to spend that time flying, but since you've logged in early (and you did, right?) you can show how with-it you really are by being at the instance before invites begin. Heck, if you are one who likes to prepare ahead of time, you can grab reagents and such the day before, travel to Karazhan and be there when you log in. How's that for being on time?
- Invites: At some point before the raid the raid leader will start inviting people. The time for invites varies, and some guilds provide a bit of leeway in case you run a little late. Other guilds, however, will replace you immediately if you are not there for invite time, so once again, early is the key.
- Buffing: Once everyone is at the raid and inside the instance (in our scenario inside the room I call Horsehead Hall) then the buffing will begin. If you have spells that provide additional benefits to the group you will be expected to use them. For Karazhan most likely there will be only one of your class in the raid, so you will need to buff both groups, but be prepared in larger 25-mans to pay attention to your assigned group. Note also, that your job will be to keep an eye on the members of the raid at all times and keep the buffs up. If a member of the raid dies or is replaced, rebuffing before you are asked is an excellent way to show you're a raider who pays attention.
- First Pull: Each raid is going to handle pulling differently, and heck, some guilds won't even start with Attumen if they are far enough along to have the instance on farm. This means that you have to keep your eyes open and apply what knowledge you learned in your prep meeting. You will notice that a practice raid moves quickly, assigning loot with predesignated systems, and spending the minimal down time possible. Things will be moving incredibly fast. In the case of Karazhan, the first trash mobs run on a 30-minute timer, so the haste is necessary, but you will find that the raid moves much faster than a 5-man group largely because they know each other, have done the fights many times before, and are very good at what they are doing.
- Trash mobs: Before each boss in Kara there are about 8 or so trash mob pulls. The strategy for each group varies depending on the mobs within it, so pay attention and you'll do fine. It might take a group or two to find your rhythm, but usually if you keep your eyes open and know your class inside and out, you'll have little trouble.
- Boss: What makes Kara so fun is the variety of boss fights. Each boss has a gimmick, some element of gameplay that makes them unique. Since you have already done your research (either through watching videos, reading up on the strategy, or both) then simply acting on your knowledge is your best bet. Now, the first time you fight a boss, even with understanding of the encounter, you are liable to mess up. It's okay to die, this is your first raid. What you want to do though is learn from your mistakes so that the next time you, say, get garroted by Moroes, you will learn to scream your name over vent for healing.
- Loot: Your first time in a raid you're going to be eager to get a nice piece of epic gear, but prepare yourself for the possibility of getting nothing. If you are like me, you've created a shopping list of the items you want off various bosses in the instance. Notice that list does not include every boss. And even with the bosses you do want loot from the percentage can be pretty low on the item you need. Add to that whatever loot distribution system the guild may have, and it all adds up to one word: patience. Be patient and you will get your loot. That's the beautiful thing about raiding. You will be back there again, and the next time the dagger drops, it may very well be yours.
Well, that's about it.
Once you are done with one boss, you repeat steps 4-8 with the next one. Rinse and repeat.
The raid will fight a selection of bosses, or if they are particularly speedy may clear the instance.
In either case you will get some great experiences, get to fight some amazingly inventive boss fights, and get the chance at some sweet gear.
Congratulations, you have just learned to raid.