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How do you prepare raiders for a new expansion?

Anne Stickney

Raiding last week was tough all around for my guild. Between completing all of Dragon Soul on heroic, the release of Diablo III, and the simple nightmare of trying to field a 25-man raid guild these days, it's not easy to keep everyone's spirits high. My guild does a remarkable job with it, but the main issue isn't really the content itself, which we can easily clear. It's keeping raiders interested and logging on so we have a full team to work with.

Mists of Pandaria is just over the horizon, however, and for the first time since I joined the guild, we've got a fairly substantial amount of time to farm until we're blue in the face. Heroic Lich King died at the end of Wrath of the Lich King, but we didn't get more than a few weeks to breathe before we were all hurriedly leveling through Cataclysm and preparing to throw ourselves at the raid grind all over again.

With my previous raid guild, we pretty much called a halt to raids after umpteen Black Temple clears, a few months before Wrath of the Lich King launched. While Sunwell seemed interesting to me, the rest of the guild -- who had all been around far longer than I, mind you -- didn't feel up to the challenge. It does make me wonder, though, how different raid guilds handle prepping for that new expansion experience. Is there protocol to follow?

How do you prepare raiders for a new expansion ANY
Kurn over at Kurn's Corner wrote a pretty good post with one method of expansion preparation for guild leaders looking at making the leap into Mists. For now, she's only gone over steps one and two, but it's a pretty interesting look into guild/raid leading and what goes on behind the scenes. While I love raiding and love my guild, I don't love the idea of being an officer at all -- so the steps Kurn goes over really opened my eyes to exactly how much work a new expansion is for guild and raid leaders.

Think about it -- you're not just planning what your guild is going to do, but you have to figure out what the heck you've got to work with, too. And with a new class being launched with Mists, you have to incorporate any players who want to make the jump to that new class, all the while making sure you've got all your other bases covered. And then you've got to figure out who is staying and playing the new expansion, who is going, and then figure out what holes you need to fill -- all while juggling whatever raiding happens to be going on with current content.

To me, that sounds like a logistical nightmare, but Kurn breaks it down in a way that makes it far more manageable. I'd suggest if you're in a raiding guild and wanting to raid in Mists that you give Kurn's guide a read -- that is, if you don't already have your own strategies in place. And if you do have your own strategies, by all means leave a comment, because I'd like to see how many different ways players handle this sort of situation.

How do you prepare raiders for a new expansion ANY
As for my guild ... well, we're all kind of tired, to be perfectly honest. Dragon Soul wasn't anywhere near as grueling as Icecrown Citadel, but I think we were all far less tired when Wrath ended than we are right now. And perhaps that's part of the issue; while Dragon Soul was a pretty cool raid, when all is said and done, it doesn't seem to have lasted nearly long enough. If my guild is tired and we just finished clearing it on heroic, I can't imagine how guilds that have been clearing it for months must feel.

Our guild leader and officers made a decision the other night, however. Because we're clearing content so efficiently and because we can clear Dragon Soul with relative ease, we're cutting our raid nights back from three to two, giving everyone an extra day off until Mists of Pandaria comes out. I'm actually really pleased with this, because it gives me an extra night to spend with my family and work on my writing. It's pretty much what we didn't get between Wrath and Cataclysm -- a little room to breathe. I'm happy we've made so much progress this expansion, and I'm looking forward to what's yet to come.

I'm still wondering though about those other guilds out there, the ones that have been clearing this content for months, and if they do the same thing. So I'm curious: Those of you who raid, what does your guild do when preparing for an expansion? Are there certain things your guild or raid leader does, like Kurn and her wonderfully organized list? Are there things that raiders do to blow off steam? How do you handle an up-and-coming expansion?

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

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