Q&A: How Do I Break Into Raiding?

Copra, a priest from Thunderhorn EU, asked the writers of Matticus such a great question that I thought I would share it with all of you. In his words:

The question is, how on Earth (or on Azeroth, depends on your preferance) are we newcomers going to learn the group dynamics, the class or the requirements of Boss fights? By cutting us out of the instanced content that is the tutorial to raiding 60s, 70s and later 80s instances, there is little hope that the burned out raiders will get replaced by players who are as skilled or as motivated.

Any hints on how to gain that experience early on and how to ‘impress’ the raiding guild leadership before you hit the cap and start making a fool of yourself with your gear and skill?

To share a bit more background, Copra is coming into Wrath of the Lich King with a bit of a disadvantage. He’s a fairly new player who is not yet at the level cap. And yet, Copra, you must take heart! Even brand-new players can break into raiding. However, you can’t really get into a raiding guild before the level cap–the game starts at max level for a raider. Yet, people can, and frequently do, level up new toons and join raiding guilds with them. Here’s my suggestions for getting yourself ready to raid in a few short weeks.

Tip #1: Level fast.

The content of Azeroth and Outlands is enjoyable in its own right. If you had a different in-game goal in mind, I’d say go slow and enjoy the scenery. However, if you want to raid seriously, the first and most important thing you must do is reach the level cap. In order to do this most efficiently, I suggest taking on the kind of quests you can solo. No instances, no group quests, no stopping. When you hit 58, go to Outlands. When you hit 68, go to Northrend.

If you join a guild during the leveling period, understand that you’re teaming up for company rather than instance runs or old-school raids. It might seem like a good idea to have higher-level players run you through stuff, but the XP gain per hour is not nearly what you could achieve with the same time spent questing on your own. The best type of guild to join pre-80 is what’s called a leveling guild. Essentially, these organizations are fun, casual associations of people who like to share the same guild chat.

Tip #2: Save your money.

You can reach level 80 in your underwear–no really! It’s not recommended, but I’m sure there are players who will do it for kicks. It is important, however, not to spend your time or resources acquiring gear at 60 or 70, particularly the craftables. Once the content goes by, its craftables and BoE items quickly become obsolete. You’ll spend days tracking down Frozen Shadowweave, and the return will be negligible. Your gear from quest rewards will be enough.

Tip #3: Hold off on crafting professions.

Most of the gathering professions, with the possible exception of mining, can be raised to the cap while you level without any inconvenience whatsoever. However, the crafting professions are an enormous pain in the booty. My advice is to take either herbalism or mining and skinning as your professions and sell all the proceeds. Bank and bag space are at a premium when you’re leveling fast. At max level, you can decide what your crafting profession(s) need to be and worry about it then.

Tip #4: Respec for success

Research your class a bit, and as soon as you hit max level, spec into the role that is most desirable for raiders. Sometimes there’s one right answer for a class, but most often, you have multiple viable options. I suggest a dps or healing spec. While a tank finds all the pickup heroics he wants, raiding guilds always have too many. I do not recommend a tanking spec if you’re looking to break into raiding on the late side. Healing, however, tends to be in demand, and most guilds can sneak in one more dps. For a class that would be attractive to raiding guilds, my money is on Alliance Resto Shaman. In contrast, rogues and warriors would probably have a more difficult time breaking into raiding late.

Tip #5: Once you hit max level, PuG, PuG, PuG

Many people hate pickup groups. Don’t be one of those players! Sometimes you will meet nice people and great players. At the worst, you’ll learn a lot, because you’ll be working hard to compensate for other people’s mistakes. These max-level PuGs are where you will do your learning. There will be growing pains, but it’s worth it. PuG for 5-mans, heroics, and Naxx-10 if you can. If you’re lucky, someone will recruit you for their guild.

Tip #6: Research your class

Read voraciously about your class and spec. There are a lot of places with good information. Read WoW blogs! If you’re here on Matticus, you’ve made a good start. I predict that in a couple of months there will be a rash of “gearing up for Naxx” posts. Read them and follow the advice. When I recruit, one of the things I check for on someone’s armory is class knowledge. Have the right gems, enchants and spec–it will open doors.

Tip #7: Spend your gold

You’ve been using those gathering professions to make money, right? Now is the time to spend it. Improve your gear by buying BoE blues (that you will then fully gem and enchant). If you’re rich enough, now is the time to level a crafting profession. Make sure it’s one that gives your class a special advantage.

Tip #8: Apply to a Naxx-10 guild

By the time you hit 80, the first wave of raiders will have moved past the first tier. However, my experience with TBC tells me that there are always guilds out there that focus on the first instance. There are still active Kara guilds now! Find a Naxx-10 guild that’s no more than halfway through the instance. That way you will get to do all the learning with them. What you don’t want is a more experienced guild. You want to be there for a lot of the first kills so you can have the experience that goes along with all the wipes.

Tip #9: Apply to a Raiding Guild

With Naxx-10 cleared a few times, you have probably gained the basic skills of a raider. Now is the moment to apply for the next tier. This likely means switching guilds. Of course, you’re going to be quitting your Naxx-10 guild respectfully, right? Part of that means not taking uber loot if you know you’re leaving soon. Apply to guilds on and off the server. Look for an organization that has the chops to do 25-mans but isn’t too far beyond Naxx. You might even move laterally, over to a Naxx-25 guild. Alternately, if your Naxx-10 guild has the skills to move on in the 10-man bracket, just stick around and progress with the same group! 10-man progression provides a real alternative in Wrath to the mega-guilds.

Tip# 10: App to Impress

If you do decide to change guilds, make sure that, in your written application and/or your interview, you communicate your enthusiasm for raiding and for the new guild. Nothing impresses me more than effort–make that guild application shine. Note: monosyllabic answers bad, demonstrated knowledge of class good.

And just remember–nothing is impossible. If you have the will to work toward a goal, you will succeed. I bet a player could start today and be ready for raiding in a couple of months. The other lesson is this–the World of Warcraft is immense. If you’re willing to spend time looking, there is always a guild to suit your needs.

28 thoughts on “Q&A: How Do I Break Into Raiding?”

  1. I want to endorse #5. Just about everything that I learned about tanking I learned from PUGs. When I hit 70, my guild wasn’t ready to raid, so I pugged until I could PUG no more. You met terrible people, sure. You also met awesome people. Once you learn to overcome a challenging 5-man with a non-optimal PUG, you’ve made it. It’s a dozen times better than easy rides with better geared guild-mates if you really want to learn about group dynamics.

    Kadomis last blog post..My favorite BC moments

  2. PuG until your eyes bleed, your throat is sore from screaming and you are seriously considering quitting the game. Then you are ready for raiding. Ok, I’m only half serious, but if you want to raid you need to grow thick skin and know what it’s like to wipe.

    On a lighter note, know your consumables. Know which foods, flasks etc. are going to benefit your class/spec the best. Always bring plenty of these, as well as reagents, to every instance. I will always pick a less experienced player who is prepared with full consumables over an overgeared one who always begs for food.

    While you level, work on your cooking and fishing. You save alot of money this way and you will always be prepared with plenty of goodies. You can also make money from these professions since so many people would rather quit the game than level fishing.

  3. Re: No. 8
    I think applying to a small guild, using their runs to gear up and gain experience, then ditching for a progression guild (aka the gear-and-run) can be shady thing to do.

  4. @ Emiri

    That was exactly my reservation when I put it on there. However, this is a guide for the player, not the guild. What’s right for the player and the guild are often different things. I could do a different guide to teach guilds how to retain members over the long-term.

    I think there are respectful ways to be a non-permanent guild member. Every player, after all, must seek his or her happiness–and guilds provide different things. If what a player wants is progress, then the entry level casual-raiding guild might not be right long term. Then again, it might be–some people love that atmosphere, and those guilds can be really fun. Yet, what this person wanted is high-end raiding. The entry-level casual-raiding guild usually has no interest in getting there. As long as the player is a productive, non-greedy member of the guild for several months and doesn’t cause drama, I’d say he’s free to leave when it makes sense to do so.

    There’s always a right and a wrong way to leave a guild. If a person is leaving–back off on taking gear, don’t start drama, and don’t take anything from the guild bank for a while beforehand.

  5. Nice guide, Sydera. I just finished a retrospective of my time spent in TBC, and I followed almost exactly the path that you propose (although not on purpose… I just kind of stumbled my way along).

    When it comes time to app to that serious raiding guild (after getting your teeth kicked in with the Naxx-10 guild for a few months) make sure that you display an in-depth knowledge of your class on your application, and prove that you care about your toon. Spend some real time answering their questions in a thoughtful manner – it really makes a world of different.

    Also, the FIRST THING the guild is going to do after reading your app is load up the Armory, so make sure that you log out in your raiding gear, and make sure that the gear is fully enchanted/gemmed in a sensible manner. (Being properly equipped won’t matter much in the casual raiding guild, but it’s crucial to the raiders).

    Karthiss last blog post..End of the Burning Crusade era

  6. I disagree with #1. Yes, level up quickly through Outlands, but by the time you hit Northrend, you’re at a point where you need to start familiarizing yourself with your character, class, and the dynamics of a group. It’s going to be easy to PuG lowbie instances for the next several months and there’s no reason not to take advantage of that. The player will be showing dedication to increasing their rep with dungeon factions as well as dedication to improving their play at the earliest reasonable point. If I were an officer of a serious raiding guild, I’d be a bit hesitant to bring in someone that’s not only new to the raiding scene, but whose only experience is solo levelling and level 80 PuGs.

    Stay in the LFG channel while you continue to quest, and hop into the instances that are level appropriate for you. If you’re DPS, save yourself a headache by NOT joining a group until they have a tank or healer ready to go though — it’s a horrible waste of time to join one of those groups that ends up spamming “LF HEALER AND TANK” for two hours, but usually if you have a tank, a healer isn’t too hard to find & vice versa.

  7. Interesting post. I started playing WoW a few weeks ago and my druid is close to level 65. Leveling has been fast and steady and so has been the gold income, thanks to jumping on the Inscription bandwagon.

    I was reticent to do PUGs because of all the comments I read on various forums saying they are an big source of suicide and to a smaller degree, facepalms. I will take your advice though and try to get into as many as possible once I reach level cap (what sad news it were to know it was raised by 10 levels when I started) and try to gain as much experience as possible.

    I’m just a bit confused as to what particular piece of gear to get before I start enchanting and gemming – there seem to be so many choices that it’s a bit overwhelming to a newcomer. I guess I can keep reading forums and ask around for that though and experience is bound to kick in at some point.

    Thanks for the post and for the blog, it helps a lot to see the game from another player’s point of view.

  8. @Atea

    You just gave me a great idea for a post. When I get a few free hours, I’ll put together a guide to worthwhile lvl 80 blues–that’s what’s going to be worth spending money on.

  9. @Sydera

    I don’t want to steer too far away from the topic so let me just say this:

    That’s very nice to know, it will definitely be a good help for those of us who are just starting. It’s kind of weird to say but I made so much money on Glyphs that I don’t know what to spend it on.

    I’m all in green and blue gear and I know I could get a tremendous stat boost by buying, enchanting and gemming better gear but… where do I start? It’s not like I can just read a guide about level 70 gear – Northrend quest rewards will make that gear obsolete.

    I’ll be looking forward to your post. 🙂

  10. I’d have to agree that #4 is a fairly easy way to get into raiding, given that you pick healing as your spec. But regardless it’s #5 and #6 that get you the spot.

    In my guild we finally fessed up that the biggest mistake we made was recruiting new level 70s and pulling them into Kara with us to gear up just so we could raid. These guys didn’t go through the 5-month heroic grind of constant wipes and frustrations trying to get badges for badge gear. That’s where I learned my strengths and limitations as a pally healer. We did a large disservice to the guild and to the player by not putting up some sort of requirement before getting them into Kara.

    So my recommendation is to read up on your toon, learn everything you can, know and understand your talents and spells, and then work your butt off in 5-mans.

    kyrileans last blog post..Only a few hours more…

  11. Whoa! Thank you for the very, very detailed answer. Sadly I have to refrain from using it because my main interest lies in seeing all the instances, even the voided ones at the approximate time I’m supposed to. That will be a challenge.

    Then again, I wouldn’t mind hitting the lv55 at the same time as the first wave of Death Knights start their speed levelling: instance quests provide doubly the exp/hr to normal quests and I guess that would be the most interesting way to level through Outlands.

    Thanks again, even though my priest is called Pupunen.


    Corpas last blog post..Revelation

  12. Excellent post!

    @ Emiri- I wholeheartedly agree, but there are caveats here.

    #1) If you’ve been following Syd’s “guide” to the letter, then you’re levelling guild has not been doing all that much for you. You don’t have a crafting profession, so they haven’t been giving you mats, and any instances you’ve been running have largely been PuGs. They’ve provided pleasant company at most, which is great, but not enough if you have higher goals in mind.

    #2) Even then, it only goes to show the importance of not assuming what someone intends to do in the game. Know the players around you. Some have aspirations of being top end game raiders (and they don’t care how they get there), others just want a group of friends to banter with (and they don’t care what they get accomplished).

    Most, in my experience, fall somewhere in between. They want shiny loot, they want to have friends, and they want to see content. You can appeal to their desires, but you can’t really “buy” someone’s loyalty through dungeon drops, and eventually a motivated player with higher aspirations is going to get very tired of running 5 mans and half-assed raiding that they seriously outgear and outskill, while they watch other players that started when they did who are miles beyond them in gear and progression get further and further ahead. If your guild stagnates (particularly toward the beginning of raiding), you will lose the cream of your crop. If that happens, woe be unto you, unless the people around you are extremely devoted to each other.

    You have to either be willing to accept that some of these will leave for greener pastures, or be unwilling to share with anyone but the most devoted and loyal, and the latter does not keep people around at all, except for those very few you have deemed worthy.

    Will there be backstabbers and loot whores? Sure, some people have no conscience, and hide behind the rationalization that “its just a game” to mistreat people, betray them, and abuse their good intentions. These are in the minority, in my opinion, and I think its fair to assume that Syd intends this post for responsible players.

  13. I’d say #6 is the single most important of the points above, closely followed by the knowledge gained by #5.

    I’ve been a heal lead in a number of guilds (in and out of leading raids), and when looking at prospective new healers, the current gear and their app are simply the foot in the door.

    The big things I always looked for were:

    a) Know what stats your class needs most and in what order. There was an obsession in the pally community during BC of “Must have highest +Heal”. They had some impressive numbers of 2600 and 2700 healing, but two minutes into the fight they were calling to be put in the Shadow Priest’s group over the DPS etc. No class (especially healers) can ignore all other stats to focus on one, so make sure you know what stats you need, and in what proportions.

    b) Know the terminology. Not just “tanking” “DPSing” etc, but the theorycrafting stuff. What’s your hit cap (if any)? What’s the FSR, and how often do you remain in it? Knowledge of the more detailed theoryparts of your role will mean that if people try to ask you curly questions you’ll be prepared.

    c) Keep your eyes open. One of the biggest failings of a lot of healers is bar-syndrome. When you relegate yourself to just another bar on the raid frames, you set yourself up for being the noob who doesn’t get out of the fire etc. PuG’s are the best place to learn situational awareness so don’t be afraid to react how you think is appropriate and then see how the other members of the group complain or respond. Being the first to call “Adds incoming” and the last to cause it, is a healer’s responsibility.

    d) The ability to get along with people you hate. You are not the best healer, you are not the worst healer, but if you come across overly proud, antagonistic or abrasive, no amount of healing will get you a raid spot. But conversely, wall flowers are often ignored or sidelined over the people that are noticed.

  14. I think the most important thing to remember while PUGing is to be nice! You never know who in the PUG may be an officer, guild member, etc, who may be able to give your a good referance to join their guild. And it never hurts to let people know that you are looking to raid (PUGs or a raid guild) because they may remember you and toss you an invite when they have room to do so.

  15. LOL! Noticed I made a misprint in my former comment in my nick. Well, you cannot succeed every time.

    The politeness goes a long way, as it has been mentioned in some of the comments and in WoW loading screen tips. I’ve made some ‘friends’ along the way, but in PUG’s so far it has been impossible to get constructive criticism. Either it’s healer’s fault that the tank died (while healer was fending off the adds) or the tanks fault when the healer died (while tank was trying his darnest to keep the aggro from overheals). I’ve asked for guidance more than once, only to receive similar comments almost every time (‘Noob!’, ‘Learn to play’, ‘ ‘).

    I’m tempted to run to the cap with my horde druid, but that would cut my playing in the ally side to minimum. And cut me from my brothers to some extent.

    I’ll keep pondering this. I think I’ve seen a little glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel, but it needs some effort to come clear what it is.

    Thanks again.

    NE Priest Pupunen
    H Warrior Laiskajaakko

    Copras last blog post..Revelation

  16. I think Pugging is the most important experience before raiding. Pug while you level and constantly pug at cap. You meet knew people. You gain practical experience. And you learn what you’re role is and what’s expected of you.

    If you research your class, find out how to maximize your performance and gear, you’ll get noticed. If you network yourself you can get a better idea of what’s out there guildwise and you’ll have a clear decision as to which guild is best suited for you.

  17. Great guide and tips.

    True story — I started this April, hit 70 late May, and was raiding Karazhan by June… and jumped to Hyjal/Black Temple in August.

    Personal willpower and the ability to learn quickly will get you where you want.

    As I see several others have commented, I’ve got a thing or two to say about pugging. I definitely agree it’s the best pre-raid ‘training grounds,’ but I’d suggest pugging very early. By early, I mean in your 20’s (SFK, BFD etc) or even RFC in your early teen’s. Especially because I was going through the levelling process with my very first character (2 failed Rogues that I quit at levels 8 and 16 nonwithstanding) that gave me the chance to experience old-world content as I went. I never farmed any instances and simply did one or two depending on my level and what quests I had. It might not have been as fast as straight solo questing, but I began picking up group etiquette and the role expectations of a non-tarded Hunter early on and continued to hone them as I levelled. By the time I hit 70 I had lots of experience, and despite the “huntard” stereotype and having no references I quickly was accepted into a T4 guild. I was raiding 3 days after I hit 70.

    I still lacked some rather key knowledge at that time — namely the importance/available selection of gems and enchants and raiding addon “musts,” but guildies quickly filled me in on that.

    After I had my own credentials and skills down pat the rest of my guild/Tier ascension was purely a matter of friends. I met the friends of friends, or people I got along with in daily heroic PuGs. When I ran into drama issues with my first T4 guild, I had better places to go.

    Ainastes last blog post..Better than You

  18. @ Ainaste:

    I have to say I agree. I pugged a lot on my way to 60 especially, because I was in a casual guild and that’s what there was to do in Vanilla WoW, and there are certain lessons about playing in a group that even transfer between characters. However, I think it will be hard for people to get pugs below 70, so I don’t suggest it in the current climate.

    I think that “run-throughs” of old dungeons, where a high level takes a low level through, don’t pay off at all in terms of the low level learning his or her class. That’s mostly what’s available for old dungeons, and you have to call in serious favors to get your guildies to do that.

    However, at 70+, people are going to be excited to run the new stuff. I have every confidence that a new player could learn his class by pugging one or another of the Wrath dungeons every day for three months.

  19. For healers (and to a same degree tanks and CCs), they shouldn’t skip on doing instances appropriated to their level. If you start healing in RFC, you only have Renew and Lesser Heal to deal, and every few levels you can add a new healing spell to your rotation. If your first instance is The Nexus, you have over 9 healing spells to use, without counting other important spells that you have to weave in between.

  20. @Ravageclaw: that was actually one of my points when I asked about this. Blizzard had at the beginning a cleverly conceived tutorial to raiding, which was called levelling and instances. Now that is broken because the levelling has been made so fast and easy that no-one really bothers to run the lower level instances, especially the harder ones which would teach you something.

    I don’t see PUGging as a solution, but it seems to be the only way to get there with the power levelling.

    My solution is to visit all instances, even though it takes a bit more time. I’m playing for fun, not having fun for playing.

    Copras last blog post..Incoming: plans for a Guild

  21. For both Copra and Ravageclaw, it’s my opinion that a person with good gaming skills can learn to heal/dps/tank, at max level, with all abilities available. This matches up pretty well to my own experience switching roles as well as that of friends and guildmates.

    Learning to heal with two spells has questionable value. I leveled moonkin and I learned to heal once I had the whole toolkit, at 70. It just takes looking up what to do, memorizing the theory, and then applying it.

    In any case, for me the game starts at max level. That’s just the sort of player I am. Everything that comes before is easier, and thus, not worth a lot of sacrifices if you miss something.

  22. Syd, you bring a good point. It all depends on the persons experience. If they haven’t experienced instances, they should start soon. If they happen to be reaching Northrend now, it will be a great learning experience because it’s very likely they’ll stumble with a healer in DPS spec, or reroll.

    Also it’s important that they shouldn’t hold their leveling waiting for an instance run. It’s good to find a group, but it’s not worth holding back.

  23. What it all boils down to is to have fun the way you want it. I’m having my doubts about the way I’m going: part of me wants to rush to the top and start raiding, while the other part wants to see the content to the fullest. Maybe I just roll two toons and do them both at the same time…

    Thanks Sydera for all the advice and insight to the dilemma!


    Copras last blog post..Incoming: plans for a Guild

  24. I started raiding only when my guild was already working on SSC so rather late. My top 5 for starting your raiding journey:

    1. As pointed out before: PuG! It helped me become a better healer, learn my healing tools, get to know tanks and deal with damagedealers taking damage.

    2. Don’t be afraid to apply early/while leveling. I applied to a Guild while around 65 which already had 25 man raids in Gruul up and running. It helped me get a raidspot already knowing my guildies when hitting 70. WotLK has formed many new guilds looking for members, take your chance!

    3. Write a well thought out application. Keep it short but answer everything asked in the application form. Be honest, check your grammar and slip some personal notes into the app. Offer a talk over vent/teamspeak for additional questions.

    4. Think about teaming up for an app. I did so with my girlfriend, do so as well or apply with a good friend. It helps you starting out the daily guild life and many guilds welcome apps of 2-3 people (not-so much high-end guilds).

    5. If you get into a guild an there’s nothing going terribly wrong: try to stick to a guild. Help build up the raid rather than hop to the next guild and progression level. Especially as a shaman there were times nearly every sunwell guild would have taken me even with the crappiest gear. But even if i haven’t seen sunwell pre 3.0.2 i did enjoy my guild and becoming an officer. CAVE: Do know when it’s time to move on if you’re guild just can’t meet your needs but do leave with respect and kind words.

    (6. Be prepared. There WILL be guild drama.)

    drugs last blog post..Addons: The Overview

  25. Biggest bit of advice I can give to any healer looking to raid is to find yourself a pet tank. Once you got one that you are comfortable healing, and you can compensate for eachothers flaws then pugging gets insanely easier.

    Raiding guilds will look at armory and your gear and spec can tell a lot. Where you’ve been, how well you know your class, how broke you are, etc. Always log out in your best gear, always!


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