Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Casual to Hardcore: A Hitchhiker's Guide to WoW

When most people get started in WoW on their first character, they think very little about the endgame.  Who would think about the endgame when you have 80 levels you have to work your way through to get up to the good stuff?  They are more concerned about what class and race they want to start off with and trying learn the classes and characters.  This was me when I started playing WoW.  I originally started off playing a warlock and played for about 30 levels and liked it, but wanted to try something else out.  I decided to try out druid and leveled my druid up to level 70 during Burning Crusade.

When I got up to level 70, I decided that I wanted to get in a guild that raided.  This was also about the time where I found a great internet show called "The Totally Rad Show".  When I was watching the show, I saw that they had a guild on Executus US called "The Totally Rad Guild".  I decided I would go over and join and at the very least be with people who liked watching the show.  I found that I liked raiding with them but we could never progress in 25 mans at that time.  Of course, in Burning Crusade, if you could not progress into 25 mans, you were running Karazhan and Zul'aman.  We finished Karazhan (This was a video I made of our first Karazhan clear) and was trying to progress in Zul'aman.  After that, I had a change in my job that made it impossible to meet the raid times for The Totally Rad Guild.

After The Totally Rad Guild, I was once again in need of a guild home.  I was trying to find a place when the 1UP show, Legendary Thread, was just starting.  They were starting a guild call "Can't Quit You" on Baelgun US.  I decided to check it out.  They had two raiding teams, one that was on a east coast and one that was on west coast.  I got into the west coast since I was getting off work at 10:30 PM at night on the east coast.  We finished Zul'Aman after the pre-Wrath nerf.  After that, we progressed into Wrath of the Lich King and cleared 10 man Naxx and finished up to Yogg-Saron in 10 man Ulduar.  After that, I had another change in my jobs where the west coast raiding times were too late since I moved to day shift.  Unfortunately, the east coast raiding team was already full and had no place for another tank/DPS.

My next major stop in guilds was a semi-hardcore 10 man raiding guild called "The Knights of Classic Lore".  This was about the time they had faction changes so I got to experience Horde for the first time.  We progressed through and cleared 10 man ToC, but made no progress in ToGC.  We also got up to 4/12 in 10 man ICC.  However, we hit a wall in the Plague Wing and could not beat Rotface or Festergut.  After many weeks, the GM got sick of raiding and decided to disband the guild.

It was at this point that I made a decision.  I have gone from very casual podcast based guilds to semi-hardcore 10 mans.  I felt I was finally ready to try to take the plunge into 25 man progression raiding guilds.  I had a system that could handle it with a quad-core PC. (If you notice on the video above, that was done on a Macbook so the video quality is crap.)  I also tend to follow several people on Twitter, including Matticus.  I was doing some dailies and checking my Twitter feed and saw that Matticus was asking for caster DPS for his guild, Conquest.  I had always been feral OT as I mentioned in a previous post, but I have been messing around with moonkin and had developed a basic starter set for moonkin.  I applied to the guild and was accepted.

I know that is a lot of my personal history, but now comes what I think is the most important part of this post.  When you make the step up to progression raiding, even if it is a hardcore 10 man guild, you have to do several things.   These are just a few of the general things I had to do when I moved into Conquest and I would recommend this for anybody who wants to get into progression raiding.

1)   Be Open to Change - Originally, I thought that I was going to be a feral druid from now until they shut the WoW servers down.  However, over this time, I have changed to being a caster DPS and I love it.  Having duel specs now means that you can learn to play a secondary role that you haven't build  your main raiding spec around.  I knew small basics of being a moonkin when I first started Conquest, but I did not know if I was to a point where I could raid ICC 25 man a a moonkin.

2) Be Willing to Be on Standby - You may not get into the progression fights immediately.  You have to prove yourself and you have to get gear.  You may start off coming in on farm fights and then be replaced for the progression fights.  And this is perfectly fine.  You come in on the farm fights and do the absolute best you can do.  If you prove yourself, in time, you will be in the main raiding core.

3) Be Consistent - When I applied to Conquest, I told them one thing that is vitally important. "If I say I will be there, I will be there."  One of the best ways to impress a GM and a raid leader in consistency.  Just like any job in real life, show up on time, come prepared, and be the best you can be.  And if something comes up, let somebody know.  Twitter makes this incredibly easy.  While I may not be able to get to my guild website on my Blackberry, I can Twitter message my GM and say I'm running 15 minutes late.

4) Be Open to Criticism - I will go one step further and say ask for criticism.  When I first joined the guild, there was another moonkin in the raid, Xstarseeker.  When going through the farm fights, I noticed that I was doing about 3k less damage then him.  During the raid, I asked about what things I could do to improve my DPS.  He took time after the raid to look at my spec, my rotation, my gems, etc. to tell me where I can improve.  Even without getting one piece of gear,  I saw a drastic increase in my DPS.  This only improved as I actually got the gear.   If you are on the other side of this coin, be willing to give advice to new raiders. 

5) Research - Know what sites to go to help improve your job in your spec.  Google helps, but I would really recommend Elitist Jerks for any class.  If you're a healer, I would recommend World of Matticus.  For moonkin, I would recommend looking at Moonkin Repository and Grey Matter for starters.  I'm going to be building a blog roll on sites that I read all the time.  Never stop reading.  If you think you know everything about your spec, keep reading.  There is something that you probably don't know.  Even the highest end people in the highest end guilds constantly do research.

6) System Requirements - Realize that 25 man raiding can be tough on any computer system.  If you have a high lag or a low FPS, it can affect your performance drastically.  Also, realize not every add on is as necessary as you think.  Do I have to have Auctioneer running during a 25 man raid? No.  Do I need QuestHelper running? No.  Try to optimize what adds on you do need.  There is an add on called Add On Manager that lets you set groups of add on to use.  I have a raiding set of add ons and an Auctioneer set of add ons.  Every class knows they will need Deadly Boss Mods (or some equivalent), some sort of raid frames, Omen, and some bar manager.  Beyond that, it would just be class specific mods.  For example, I run Forte Exorcist for my cooldown timers.  I know a lot of moonkins prefer Squawk and Awe, but I like Forte Exorcist since it shows each targets DoT timers. 

7) Compete - I am not somebody who has to have the largest bar on Recount.  If I have it, great.  If not, I just want to be in the running.  Now, due to some fight mechanics, I may not be in the running for the most DPS (Sindragosa says hi) but I want to be at least comparable to the other raid members.  If I'm not, then I know I have to do something to correct it.  Also you have to realize with hybrid classes that you have a hybrid tax.  I expect a mage to pump out more DPS than me.  So if I'm third on the charts with two mages above me, I consider that having done about as much as I could on that fight.  DPS numbers mean little except in the realm of e-peen.  However, it does show the level that I should be performing at and tells me if I have to correct it. This is how I knew that I had to correct something when I first joined Conquest because I saw that I was not matching comparable with numbers of other DPS.

8) Be Laid Back - Progression raiding means you may spend 10 days of nothing but 3 hours of wiping on Lich King.  If you are the person who leaves after one boss failure, progression raiding is likely not for you.  If you are a person who signs out after getting through the farm content because you don't want to get a huge repair bill, progression raiding is not for you.  You have had 9 or 24 other people get you to this point.  Don't flake on them at that point.     

These are just a few steps that I feel are necessary to take the plunge into 25 man progression raiding.  I'm sure there are plenty of others that I can't think of at the moment and some people may recommend more in the comments.  Next post will likely be on early leveling of a druid.  Until next time, you stay thirsty my friends. 

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