I would like to begin being a raid beginner

This is a writeup I’ve been meaning to do for my guild because I do encounter this situation with some new 80s. As a small, casual raiding guild, we often barely scrape by to get enough people for 25 mans – and can’t always afford to exclude someone “who’s not quite raid ready”. Even if their combat rogue is specced for daggers, swords and maces all at the same time, and shows up wearing unenchanted, ungemmed casting leather. Or cloth. Plus, such players are often the most laid back, kindest people in the guild, which make them well loved outside of raids. Besides, I have so much fun learning and teaching about other classes, it would be a shame to just /gkick them.

From talking with such players time and time again, I’ve come to notice a common theme: I don’t know where to start. There are guides, FAQ for every class, but to someone who’s lucky to get 2 hours to themselves a week to raid and maybe 15 minutes during lunch breaks to check the internet, this information is very overwelming. I have looked around for a getting-ready-to-raid guide that could be applied to any class and found nothing. So I’ve written down the step-by-step method I use for my own toons as well as when I make plans for someone elses toon.

Some pre-notes:
- I’m targetting players from guilds like my own, where performance can very rarely warrant a /gkick. Large guilds, or guilds who raid more intensively are no place for someone hesitantly building their first toon to raid. Seems obvious, but I thought I’d get that out there.
- I don’t have time! is something I hear fairly often. Getting a newly 80 toon ready to raid from a class I know nothing about, takes me about 3 hours of research and 2 hours of application (getting gear together, enchanting, etc). Total. When building an alt that I’ve levelled myself, research is cut down to about an hour. It’s NOT as tedious as you may think.

Easy steps from Zero to Hero!

1- Think about what you want to do
The first question I ask new 80s looking for help is what do you like most about your class? Ask yourself, how do you like to play? Do you want to raid or you want to pvp? Do you want to heal, range dps, tank, melee dps? Do you like burst damage or do you want sustained damage? Do you want to hit one button all time and watch cooldowns? Do you like lots of pretty buttons? You don’t have to make any definite decisions at this step, but its important to know what you enjoy most about your class. After all, you’re the one who’ll be stuck playing your toon.

2- Check the trends
Now that you’ve realised that you like to press a lot of buttons and do burst damage with your paladin, you might want to see what’s out there for pally dps. Or if you really enjoy playing with your mage’s cooldowns, you might want to take a look at the different specs and find the one thats most focussed on cooldown management. Since now you know what you’re after, its easy to formulate questions. You can do the traditional thing and ask your friends of the same class about their mileage. If you have no friends of the same class or want additional information, there are a few internet ressources for you.
WoW Official Class Forums Not for the faint of heart, nor would I advise posting there, but I’ve often found the stickied threads to be helpful in learning about the possibilities of a new class.
Twisted Nether Wiki Lists many, many WoW blogs, sorted by class and spec. Blogs are an excellent way of reading about people who play and love their class/spec and can give you a clearer idea of what you’re after.
Wow.com Formerly WoW Insider, this massive blog has columns dedicated to each class. Most of the time, they are written for the less experienced player, so they’ll give you a taste of whats out there for your class.

3- Decide on a spec
Your spec (talent build) is the backbone of your character, all the rest revolves around this. Notice that the 2(!!!) previous points were leading up to this one? Now its time to make a final decision! You’ve read about fury warriors, love fury warriors, want to be a fury warrior? Then, by all means, become a fury warrior!

There are more than one way to do this. First, the easy way, go to google, type in “fury warrior spec” (or whatever class and spec you are looking for), look at a couple of pages and choose the spec that seems to come up the most often. Fast, easy but unpersonal and more chance of going wrong.

What I like to do when investigating a new spec is pull up a talent calculator and play with talents points. Since I know how I want to play, I choose talents that would be support what I want. Once I find something I like and feel comfortable that I didn’t leave anything crucial out, then I go to google, to the class FAQs, to the blogs, to the WoW forums and compare with their suggestions. Look at their examples, read their explanations. It takes a bit longer, but when I’ve made a final decision concerning a talent build, I feel like I have a deeper understanding of the spec and the WHY? WHY? WHY? which makes the next steps incredibly smoother.

4- Get gear

Pretty, but not for healing

Pretty, but not for healing

Now its time to get gear to support your character’s spec. Start by looking at what you have. Questing and leveling alone can get you some pretty decent items. Remember, colour isn’t everything, read item descriptions carefully, I don’t care how purple they are, defense on your holy pally’s shoulders is NOT going to make you a better healer. Again, a friend, google, the blogs, FAQs and WoW forums can give you an idea of what stats to choose. This can be annoying since there’s not one clear, explicit way to choose stats, it depends on how items interact together, on math, on personal preference. However, there are some general rules, such as capping hit for dps, considering expertise for melee dps, spell power for casters, healers, etc. that you will need to be aware of. More experienced players will use the dirty word spreadsheet. One day you will too, but at this stage, we have other things to worry about. Our first goal is to carry ourselves, not top the dps meter. Note that most class reference sites will have “pre-Naxx gearing” guides. These guides are lovely. Use them!
Where does gear come from? I suggest using an addon such as atlas loot for quick in-game reference, but all information can be found out of game as well. In order of ease:
- Reputation Just buy it! Start by checking rewards for every Wrath faction with whom you’re honored or above. Unless you power levelled to 80, you should be able to score a few items here.
- Craftables : Blacksmiths make weapons, shields, plate and some mail, Leatherworkers make mail and leather, Tailors make cloth and cloaks, Jewelcrafters make rings, trinkets, amulets. Scribes make off-hands. You can make stuff yourself, have a guildy make them or buy them off the Auction House. Mats can be farmed or bought at the Auction House.
- PVP gear: They don’t call pvp gear “poor man’s epics” for nothing. Farming the honour required to get your paws on PVP gear is silly easy. If you get annoyed in battlegrounds, take part in Wintergrasp. The fights are rather short and the huge scale of the battles makes it easy to hide your shortcomings. The quests add to your honour and you can trade in your WG marks for extra loots.
- Bind on Equip world drops: Just buy them from the Auction House! The more common drops can be purchased at bargain prices but the epics usually go for several thousends. Good if you like to farm gold.
- Heroic drops : This is the most commonly recommended way to get gear, but I hate it. I avoid farming heroics like the plague. If I happen to get a drop from a heroic, then yay! However, I’d rather buy a reputation item or craft an item then pug Hall of Lightning every day for a month only to lose my sexy item to a ninja. I geared all three of my pally specs and my mage without farming heroics and I did great. But if heroics are your thing, then go for it.
- Emblems of Heroism : After farming HoL for a month and losing your item to a ninja, you’ll thankfully have enough emblems from killing heroic bosses to trade in and buy an equivalent to your sexy item.

5- Gem it, enchant it
Now that you’re wearing non-embarassing gear, its time to polish it up! Even if you expect to replace your gear the second you set foot in Naxx, gem it and enchant it anyways. There’s no certainty you’ll be getting lucky, besides, having polished gear shows that you’re putting somewhat of an effort into your gameplay. Nobody likes a freeloader.

Enchants and gems support the stats already on your gear and add that extra OOMPH. When choosing a new item, always consider how many gem sockets it has. Use the same guides that helped you choose your gear when it comes to choosing gems and enchants. Also, if your budget doesn’t quite allow you to purchase the rare (blue-level) gems, you can start with “perfect” uncommon (green-level) gems (as opposed to the regular uncommon gems), since the difference between the two is minor. Still, once you can upgrade, please do. Don’t be a cheapo.

Don’t forget to put a belt buckle on your belt either, and that if you’re a blacksmith, you can add gem sockets to your bracers and gloves.
WoW Heroes allows you to audit your character and suggests enchants when you mouseover the enchant slot for a perticular item. You can even click on the suggested enchant link to look at mats. Suggestions aren’t 100% accurate, but still very, very, helpful.
WoW Enchant lists all available enchants and sorts them by slot. Another helpful ressource if you want to know what’s out there.

6- Choose a rotation
A rotation is the combination of the spells/abilities you use. Not everyone has a rotation per say (healers usually don’t!), but no matter your playstyle, you need to know which spells you are going to choose and when you are going to use them. Again, FAQs, blogs, guildies etc. are your friend. Try different suggestions on the target dummies (if you’re not a healer) or in the BGs. Run a few heroics to see what its like in a group setting.
Recount is a simple addon you can use to have a general idea of your output. It is highly inaccurate, however you can use it to compare different rotations and different situations.

Tossed in with choosing a rotation is choosing glyphs. Most specs will have 4-5 major glyphs recommended for them. You will have to choose the 3 that support your playstyle best. Most glyphs are relatively cheap, so you can indulge in trying them out. However, this far along in the discovering-your-spec process, it should be a fairly safe decision.

7- Pick your consumables
Consumables consist of flasks, elixers (guardian and/or battle), potions, food and bandages. Each give you a specific buff, and you are expected to have used a flask, or two elixers (one guardian and one battle) AND food at the beginning. Potions can be used once per battle and bandages once every minute (I think!) on an as-needed basis.

Elixers are cheaper and the buff received from them are sometimes better than flasks. The downside? You have to use new ones every time you die. I like to use flasks for raids involving new fights and elixers when I know I won’t be dying. Food buffs need refreshing every time you die, but anyone with high enough cooking skill can farm and make their own food. And if you’re lucky, someone will drop a fish feast.

The same ressources you used to pick your gear and your enchants will mostly likely let you know all about which consummables they recommend for your class and spec. I also want to mention that if you’re expected to bring reagents for raid buffs and other utilities (I’m thinking priests, pallys, warlocks, mages and more!), don’t be caught without them.
For further reading on consumables, check out WoW wiki

* * *

Once you feel comfortable with your toon, its time to give Naxx a try! Remember, nothing can replace knowledge, experience and skill, so read about bosses before you fight them (unless you’re in a guild who doesn’t believe in strategy guides), don’t stand in the fire, pay attention to whats going on and keep looking for way to upgrade your gear/gems/enchants/rotation. And before you know it, spreadsheet will become part of your vocabulary.

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