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Posts Tagged ‘Top Tips’

While I’ve written a lot about raiding recently, I haven’t talked about the means to do it. Sure you can go with pick-up groups, but for by far the best and most consistent results, you’ll need to join a raiding guild. Between all the drama-laden horror stories about loot and YouTube videos of screaming raid leaders, the guild environment can seem quite intimidating. In reality, it’s the greatest asset of the game! Finding a guild that fits your lifestyle generally allows you to see content with a group of friends at your own pace, and is a much more reliable way to experience the game than PuGs.

Having watched a good 15 to 20 trials in my most recent guild, as well as having been a trial in two guilds myself, I’ve identified some problem areas which prevent people from fitting in and meshing with the rest of the guild. So, without further ado;

Step One: Find The Right Guild!

The first step on your road to happiness and purples is to find a guild whose goals and methods fit your own. Do your research! Anyone can find a guild in /Trade, but the best matches are the ones where the interested party has read up on guild policies, (things like loot policy and raiding atmosphere,) asked guildies questions and generally made sure that it’ll be fun for everyone involved before they join.

Finding guilds themselves can be a tricky process and where you go to find them will largely depend on things like how many times per week you wish to raid. The more hardcore guilds can be found on progression websites (I used GuildOx to find my current guild) or occasionally in General/Trade chat. More casual guilds will generally advertise in in-game channels, but you can generally distinguish between the two by how they word their ads.

Once you’ve found a guild, chances are if it’s decent (read: if it’s worth joining) that you’ll have to go through some sort of screening process. What does this entail? Normally, it’s either an in-game chat about anything from your raiding experience and gear to where you’re from, or an application on the guild’s forums. But applying to a guild which is completely at odds with the way you play the game is a recipe for disaster!

Step Two: Impress!

Making a great first impression is key to getting an invite to your chosen guild. Some guilds will say that they’re full on all classes (or your class) if you choose to apply on their forums, but that shouldn’t stop you persevering – I know from experience that excellent applications for any class are always considered by the management. The three main keys to a successful application are;

  • Be informative, but concise in an application – and use common sense! If the application template seems a little small then the guild probably expects you to buff it out a bit with your answers – if there’s several sections on everything from raiding to whether you prefer your eggs hard-boiled or soft-boiled, they probably want shorter answers. If there’s no template at all, consider everything that you’d want to know about a prospective applicant if you were in charge of a guild. Past raiding experience, explanation of glyphs/gear/talents that might be different from other class members and motivation for playing the game are all great things to include.
  • Keep your spelling and grammar tight. You wouldn’t litter a CV with typos and bad grammar, so why do it on any other application? An excess of spelling mistakes, shortened text (“i gt 2 imprv my gear a lil”) and other basic errors will put any sensible raid leader right off you from the word go!
  • Be honest. In this post-Wrath world, there’s more methods than ever to check what someone has and hasn’t done. If you can’t be bothered to grind your Sons of Hodir reputation, (a huge indicator of in-game effort,) don’t make up some half-boiled excuse about not having the time. Raid leaders can see right through that and it won’t stand well with them. Either set about correcting holes in your profile or be honest about just not wanting to do them.

If you’re just going through an in-game chat, the last two of these points still apply. Don’t spin fairytales about your raiding experience and try to come across as someone who takes pride in what they write, even if you normally cut corners with your text chat!

Step Three: Be There, and Whatever You Do… Don’t Die.

Congratulations! You got invited to the guild. Here’s where the real work starts. Firstly, make sure you turn up to raids. Do it on time, and inform the guild in advance if you’ll be late or not there. I made 10 of my 12 trial raids and 3 optional 10-mans, with good reasons for the other 2 which were given in advance. Follow this example and you’ll quickly gain a reputation as a reliable guy who wants to help the guild progress – the “attending optional raids” thing is great for when you miss a progress raid.

Once you get into the raid, stay focused and concentrate on one thing. Do. Not. Die. These are the three most important words any trial can hear.

Why? We generally get an influx of trials at the rate of about one or two per week. That means that in this situation, you’ve usually got one or two raids to make an impression before the next trial comes along and we’re watching them instead. As a healer, I’ve always found that the new guy’s tendency to stand in the fire tells me a great deal more than their DPS or their healing done on the meters. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that after activity, (a trial got kicked today for joining and then promptly missing his first raid – the same evening – without a reason,) competency at basic execution is what makes or breaks 90% of our trials. We can live with an average DPS or a healer who misses a dispel here and there so long as he doesn’t repeatedly fail. A tank death is generally a much more acceptable way for a raid to wipe than someone screwing up!

Think about it – it’s what separates the average guilds from the bad ones. The bad guilds will wipe over and over when they get to Twin Valkyrs because people won’t pay attention to orb colours. The average guilds (“good” here referring to the likes of Ensidia) will learn within 2 or 3 wipes that orbs of the opposite colour are bad, and should not be picked up. They then have 25 people who execute correctly, and they down the boss. Guilds can down Yogg-Saron in blues because teamwork and survival is more important than numbers on your profile. Your gear isn’t what impresses me in a raid – it’s how often I see DEAD where your name should be on Grid.

Step Four: Get the Basics Right

You’d be surprised how many people in our raids still miss important things when they’re starting. As an Alchemist, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve got “hey mate, need some Wild Magic pots” whispers just after the start of a raid! It’s the kind of thing that people are often embarrassed about, but never learn from.

  • Flask up! Flasks cost next to nothing nowadays and even one round of SoH dailies normally covers the cost of an entire raid’s flasks for a non-Alchemist. You should have that lovely free +125 spellpower buff from start to finish. Last progress try on a boss for the night and your flask has just run out? Don’t go slacking! That kind of dedication – paying 25 gold for 10 minutes’ raiding – gets noticed.
  • Bring plenty of potions! I normally have at least one stack of Crazy Alchemist’s Potions with me for every raid – the Alchemist’s equivalent of a Runic Mana Potion (plus a bit!). If you’re not an Alchemist, bring plenty of mana potions and use them – that’s what they’re there for, and you never know when that mana pot might turn into a Shadowfiend off-cooldown and a boss kill!
  • Take a stack of food incase you miss the Fish Feast, and stock up on candles/reagents for instances where you don’t have easy access to a reagent vendor. Paladins never seeming to have DI reagents (despite it saving them a repair bill) is a good example of this.
  • Keep buffs up! A tank without Fortitude will not pull, and that slows down the raid. Buff early and often – there are several addons that will track who in your raid doesn’t have a given buff when you mouse over it.

To conclude – prepare for raids, don’t just show up first and ask questions later.

Step Five: Don’t Whine

I cannot stress this enough. By all means express your opinion. Talk to your GM or raid leaders about the raid setup, the way the guild is run or your concerns on any other matter. My current guild actively encourages debate as it almost always improves the guild environment (the last major change being a switch from DKP to Loot Council). But there’s a difference between airing your opinion and whining.

You probably know the guy I’m talking about, and as Mock The Week so brilliantly put it: “if you don’t know who it is, it’s probably you”. Maybe it’s about loot, maybe it’s about being told to do something differently, but whatever it is, his response is never “okay” or a sensible argument of his case. His response is to moan, complain with no good reason and generally be the Guild Diva. As a trial, not doing this is especially important.

Let’s start with loot! If a piece of loot drops and you need it, you roll. If you don’t win it (for whatever reason, be it member prio or a losing roll) then say “gz” and get on with your life. It is, after all, just pixels on a screen. If you get told to do something differently then either do it to the best of your ability or formulate a sensible argument as to how a) you can’t or b) you’d have to stop doing something else. Present it in a measured and calm manner. But don’t whine.

Hope all this helps, and best of luck with getting into the guild of your dreams!

— Roble

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Positioning can influence everything... including the pull.

Positioning can influence everything... including the pull.

They say that the three most important things about buying a house are location, location and location. Positioning is pretty similar, in that a healer’s movements and position can influence everything from extra work for raid healers to the amount of DPS being thrown out. It really is the most important thing to master in a raid, so I’ve decided to bridge the gap between my last article and the updates on the guide (I promise, that Naxxramas Bosses section looks sweet) by talking a little about how you can avoid screwing everything over for your raid!

Step One: Know The Fights

Each and every fight requires different positioning – sometimes it’s general, like “spread out 8 yards” and sometimes it’s very specific, like standing underneath the boss on Vezax or stacking on the tank for Auriaya. However, you can’t execute this positioning correctly if you don’t know what it is. Generally speaking, unless you’re in a very casual guild, “not having read up on the fight” isn’t an excuse. Hell, I knew the tactics for Mimiron two months before I actually did it, just because I was interested.

If you haven’t read up on the fight, raids go slower. The encounter has to be explained before every boss, and then you need to spend two or three wipes getting to grips with it having only been given a sketchy description (and I quote: “there’s some lightning and stuff” on Thorim). Sometimes, even people who have read up on the fight miss things – while not exactly positioning-related, Hardened Bark on Freya for my current guild springs to mind. If you’ve read the fight, you’ve got advance warning of all this stuff, and you’ll have a much better chance of not screwing up.

Step Two: Consistency

Whatever the positioning required is, you need to execute it for the whole fight. People move around, people get feared or mind-controlled or rooted and so on – stuff changes during a fight. So unfortunately, we can’t just stand in one spot for the whole fight. Instead, you need to check (ideally every few seconds) to see if you’re still fulfilling the requirements. Range-checkers and the like from DBM definitely help here, and are pretty much essential for fights like Kel’thuzad 25, where there’s a lot of people in quite a small space, and the 10-yard spacing between players is non-negotiable.

Getting stuff right at the start is important. Getting stuff right the whole way through is key. More on this later.

Step Three: Stay in the Middle

More a general rule of thumb than chapter and verse for healers, step three says that you should always be in as range of as many people as possible, and so the reflex reaction is to stand in the middle.  Staying in the middle of the raid means that you’ve got 40 yards of space on either side in which you can heal – whereas if you’re standing at the edge, you’ll only have access to roughly half the raid. Top tip for working out where to stand is to enable Frame Alpha on your grid settings for anyone who’s more than 40 yards away from you. This will “fade out” their raid frame when they’re far enough away, so you can see at a glance how much of the raid you’ve got covered.

As a Discipline Priest, this is especially important. A Holy Paladin might only want to heal the tank, but we want to throw out shields on the raid – and because I do my shields by group, (complementing Prayer of Healing,) I need to be in range of everyone at all times.

Step Four: Don’t Be a Rabbit

I used to be a Rabbit. I was the kind of guy who would move around while he was healing, because standing still just felt boring. I’d jump or move slightly to the side while I was shielding. In reality, this is completely and utterly pointless! I didn’t need to move, and I was just doing it because it felt like standing still made me more open to Bad Things happening.

If you’re standing still in a good position, nothing can go wrong. You don’t need to move. But the second something changes, and suddenly you know that position will be bad in a few seconds’ time, then you start moving. Move to where you need to be, and stop. Don’t jump around and make your other guildies adjust their spacing/position unless you need to avoid damage. Don’t be a Rabbit!

Step Five: Think Ahead and Pay Attention

Step five ties in with Consistency, from earlier. The trick to avoiding unnecessary damage is to know what’s coming, when it’s coming, and what you have to do to react. Think of it like an old Zelda boss from the N64 – he charged up some attack, it was really obvious, and you moved to avoid it. So why would WoW be any different? We get big, flashing neon signs from DBM when stuff like Lightning Nova on Emalon happens, or Sarth throws us a Flame Wall. There’s a massive targeting circle on the floor when Mimiron fires a rocket. We get customised timers to tell us when bosses’ abilities are off cooldown.

So in theory, we should never take unavoidable damage! The main reason that healers take damage like this is because we’re all too busy looking at other people’s healthbars. I’ll be honest, I suffer from Grid Syndrome on occasions too –  we all get it from time to time. Just try to tear your eyes away from it for a split second every few moments, look at the screen, be aware of what’s happening and what you need to do, and I guarantee that your time spent alive will increase dramatically. 🙂

I’m roughly halfway through Naxx bosses (doing each boss’ portrait in Paint seemed like a good idea, but it takes forever!) and I’ll do my best to speed up. Hope this all helped – as always, feel free to leave comments.

— Roble

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