Monday, July 28, 2008

Becoming an Effective Casual Raider

Once again, I regret to inform you that my ranged weapons guide (as promised on a previous post) will be held off to sometime tomorrow or later this week. Today, I want to get into a topic that I feel is quite prevalent in the WoW community: casual raiding. So here are a few things that I feel you should know about raiding on a casual basis, and to be successful at doing it.

1) You need to be in the right guild

Let's face it. PUGs can become quite the disaster from time to time, and while there are good exceptions, you don't want to wait around and put up with numerous bad experiences before actually having a good night. You want to be raiding in a consistent environment, and a guild will allow you to do such a thing.

What I mean by this is that you have to be in a guild that accepts the fact that you can only raid once or maybe twice a week. There are several types of guilds that allow this: big guilds, casual raiding guilds, and close-knit guilds.

The big guilds are the ones who are normally in very deep content, maybe Black Temple or Mount Hyjal, and have more than enough members to do runs on lower-tier content concurrently while the main group does the newer content. If you end up in this type of guild, you will have an easier time experiencing the content because a lot of the time, there will be raid members who are outgeared for that instance, and is simply there as a service to the "lowbies" or is on standby for the higher tier groups. If you can get into this group, consider yourself fortunate to experience personal boss-kills with relatively smooth precision, depending on the makeup of your particular raid.

The downside to this type of guild is simply that they don't exist on some, if not most servers. You will most likely have to transfer to one if you want to be a part of this type of environment.

Casual raiding guilds are the type that want to experience raid content, but due to the availability of its members, only commits to one or two raids a week, usually at the Kara or ZA level. In these guilds, you will experience content on a less smooth level than big guilds, but you actually get the experience of actually having to work on killing bosses, wiping 6 or 7 times a night, and not have the luxury of having 2 or 3 really skilled players at specific roles to carry the load of the raid. In this guild, you will truly have the same experiences, albeit on a lower scale, as hardcore raiding guilds who make multiple attempts to down bosses on higher tiers.

The downside to this guild is simply that it takes a lot more commitment to be in this type of raiding situation than meets the eye. Every single member has to be on the same page with regards to schedule commitment and raid progress. In most cases, there will be players who simply want to move on from their current level and want to experience the next level in content. You will have to deal with this as a guild, and often the wait for replacement of these members will take a certain amount of time, meaning you will not have raids as you wait for this to occur.

Close-knit guilds are ones in which the core members have been around for a very long time, perhaps since the beginning of vanilla WoW. At this level, the members are extremely understanding of each other, and have enough skill in their level of progression to have one or two casual raiding members in their guild to fill up spots for raids. If you're lucky and show up, you just might get invited. Be prepared to contribute your all into the raid, since they will rely on you as they do with each other. Teamwork and trust is important here, especially on the higher level content.

The downside for these guilds is that they are not likely at all to accept new members. They don't have the size to accomodate farming runs concurrently with their progression runs. You will either have to be at a certain level of gear and experience to be accepted into their ranks, and thus are more suited for those who used to be hardcore raiders, but no longer have the time to raid.

So as shown by the examples above, there are many different guilds to choose from that can almost guarantee you a raid on a night to which you can commit.

2) You will progress much slower than other raiders.

Depending on your guild, you may end up experiencing the same content for quite a while, simply because you won't gear up, either individually or as a guild, fast enough to be adequately geared for a higher level instance. It takes quite a while as it is for hardcore raiding guild in the early stages of raid content to gear up each and every one of its members for the next level.

Let's face it, not all casual guilds will have the size to support farming runs, so gearing up for the next level will be quite difficult. If you have problems with experiencing the same thing over and over again, then maybe casual raiding is not right for you.

But wait! You can definitely work your way around this, especially with regards to picking up gear at the Kara/ZA level. There's always badge loot. Yes, while you may not be able to commit to long raids multiple nights a week, you can definitely do daily heroics on a nightly or bi-nightly basis. A steady stream of heroic PuG's can reward you with a good number of badges in the long run, and you can gear yourself as you wait for your Tier gear to roll in.

While Heroic PUGs tend to go south a lot of the time, at least you can down maybe one or two bosses in a matter of a few hours. That's not a bad thing at all. Every badge counts, and getting 2 badges is better than none at all. On the flipside, you may get lucky, and pug with an amazing group, and do the daily in just an hour or two. 5 badges in such a short amount of time? Sign me up!

The trick to being able to gear up with badge gear concurrently with your kara gear is to take a look at what loot you will be most likely to acquire in the raid, and not aim for that gear slot when choosing your badge loot. For example, a certain dungeon will give you your tier X shoulders, so use your badges on rings and trinkets instead. The whole point of this is to not waste your badges, so that you can gear up faster than you would normally just by raiding alone. Not only does this help you as a player, but it also helps the guild since you'll be contributing more to the raid by your improved character.

3) Casual raiding does not equate to raiding with noobs

In general, raid encounters are meant for a team with 10 or 25 skilled and dedicated players, regardless of how often they raid together. If you do not have the skill to stay focused and put 100% effort into your raid, you will die more often than you kill, and simply put, you will drag your raid down and not get invited again.

As a first-time casual raider, you simply won't have a lot of experience in raid situations, particularly when it comes to practicing boss-specific encounters. But you can take the effor to read up on them. There are a plethora of boss killing strategies on the net, ranging from blogging sites to dedicated strategy sites, to youtube videos. If you truly are interested in being a part of end-game content, then you will be doing this anyways.

The main point is simply to go the extra mile to improve yourself as a player with the time that you have. How about going down to Dr. Boom and practicing your ranged spell/shot rotation? How about doing normal mode pugs using only AH greens? Constraints on your gear will help you not get used to being overgeared for a particular encounter, and will allow you to really focus on skill than relying on gear alone. Any methods that will help you increase your level on the dps or healing charts will increase your chances to doing your role properly in a raid, compared to not putting any off-raid practice at all.

Simply put, if you're in a guild with more experienced raiders, you will have to push yourself more to catch up with them. If you're in a guild with casual raiders, you will need to do as much you can to progress as a guild at your desired pace.

4) Real life comes first.

Above all, being a casual raider means you simply don't have the time commitment to have the hardcore gaming lifestyle. That's fine, because real life is much more important than the game itself, even for the hardcore raiders. If anything, having to juggle all your real-life commitments while being able to do the raid thing is a testament to your real life personality and abilities. But really, not all people have the ability, responsibility, or maturity to be able to do so, and you as a person should know your own limit on how much you can do in a week. Regardless, the time you spend in the game should be time well-spent towards achieving your goals as a casual raider.

Outside of the game, you need to make a greater commitment to your own life when you're not playing WoW. You have to be in top-notch form with your life before even considering being a part of this environment, otherwise you might end up jeopordizing both aspects. At least with WoW, if you mess up, you can still join anoter guild or re-roll another character or server. In life, there is only one server, and you only get one character. Don't ever, ever forget that.

5) Casual raiding can be a very rewarding experience

It's one thing to experience first-kills, or simply being on bleeding-edge content, but there's a little bit of pride that one can instill on him/herself just knowing that they've experienced a certain amount of progression on just one raid a week. Case in point, Part Time Druid has done quite a feat by downing Supremus. Even if you don't go as far as he has, you can still pride yourself in even making it far into the endgame itself despite having real life. If you dont' feel the joy of having downed a certain boss, or being at a certain stage of content, then maybe you're not putting enough effort into your raiding experience, or maybe you're putting too much. If you set goals for yourself in-game, you will feel more fulfilled for having worked to achieve them.

And you'll have a blast doing it.


Anonymous said...

Krizzy, you have been doing some great posts.... I just realised I am missing them because I didn't have you in my reader...

Problem fixed....

Looking forward to the next one!

krizzlybear said...

gnomey, how could you not have had me in your reader!? you've been missing out! ha! jk, thanks for the comment.

it's quite difficult writing the more tangible theorycraft/statistics-based guides because i don't have wowhead available at work, and when i get home, i'm usually doing heroics and hoarding badges for some seriously awesome gear.

but for stuff like this post, i can totally write up because it involves those intangible skills that you acquire through experience and such.

LarĂ­sa said...

Oh I love those kinds of posts really. I wish I had a cleaver comment to add but I can't think of any, you're really right on the spot with this post.

Actually I don't use readers at all so I won't subscribe for any of your blogs. I'm so old fashioned that I actually pay a visit to the blogs I follow.

Then I can't follow "hundreds" of blogs like you do gnome. But I get my daily dosis from the very best ones. And you're one of the chosen, definitly.