The Raid Etiquette Compendium: Pinkies Up, Guv’nors

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There’s been an epic battle raging between Overlord Bunny and a sneak-attack of her Shas, predominantly Fear and Doubt, but also Crippling Depression That Makes Her Sleep 12 Hours A Day Not Including Naps And Eschew Human Contact In Favor Of Videogames And Twitter.  But thanks to a couple of hours spent sitting in front of my inspiration wall, which features some new and very awesome additions, I’ve managed to Tokyo Drift my way through the worst of it.  I don’t take it as a setback or proof that I “can’t do” this — living my life med-free, even for a little while, is bound to come with some mountains to climb.  The fact that I’ve managed to still set my feet on the floor in the morning and that I’m still sitting here in my wildly uncomfortable computer chair blogging about it is a personal victory for me, and evidence that yes, I can do these seemingly small things that a year or two ago would have been completely impossible, thus I am not completely screwed and my plans to rule as The Awesome Overlord Bunny of Irvine are still in place.  I’ve got my ten-hour loop of the Game of Thrones theme all queued up and ready to play the whole way out there.

Of course, I’ve also been translating beating the crap out of my own personal Shas into my in-game activities.  I’ve been no stranger to LFR these past couple of days, and I’m happy to say that I’ve finally gotten a severe bite from the raiding bug.  Not that I didn’t want to raid before, but the newer raids (read: since Cataclysm) just haven’t invoked the same kind of desire in me as Karazhan or Naxxramas.  Compared to the raids of yore, they’re remarkably short, and the core mechanics seem mostly the same: don’t stand in shit, do exactly what Deadly Boss Mods tells you to do, profit.  Up until 5.2, I was able to drop into raid encounters I’d never seen before without reading a single word of strategy or watching any YouTube videos and still be alive at the end.  Quite frankly, I found them boring.  But with Throne of Thunder looming ahead and a plethora of better-but-still-obtainable-for-me loot being dangled in my face, the urge to continue gearing up my shadowpriest and even starting on some of my other characters was too strong to ignore.

Am I going back to my hardcore ways?  Hell no.  Not only am I now a grown-ass woman who has left the borderline sociopathic years of her life known as “being a teenager” behind, but I’ve got stuff to do, dreams to chase, all that good stuff that really doesn’t jive well with being able to regularly spend 12 hours a week on the interwebs.  I don’t want to yell at people, and I don’t want to get yelled at.  But I do want to try and push the raiding aspect of my guild just a teensy bit more, find some new or equally casual raiders who wouldn’t mind helping me build a raid team from the ground up.  Maybe dedicate just one weekend night as Potential Raid Night, and if everyone can make it, awesome, but if they’ve got their kid’s recital or an extra shift at work, no big deal.  I want to step back into my raid leader role and lead a team of my friends and guildies to digital victory.

Proud nerd, yo.

But the very idea of putting the Official Raid Leader Hat back on has made me sit back and think about a few things.  For starters, I’m somewhat anxious that returning to that role will turn me back into the mega-bitch that I know I used to be, sort of like that episode of Community where Shirley unleashes her dark past as the YMCA bully to teach Jeff how to play foosball (started watching for the Inspector Spacetime, ended up staying for the awesome).  Lord knows that I sometimes still get frustrated with The Fiance when he asks me extremely simple questions.  I’m hoping that my awareness of the fact will help me check myself before I wreck not only myself, but everyone else’s enjoyment of the game.  Server firsts for progression don’t really appeal to current-day me.  I don’t care if we’re the only guild that hasn’t downed (insert e-peen boss of the month’s name here).  Maybe that’ll go towards maintaining my non-asshole mentality as well.  And I’m going to need every ounce of it, because most of the people in the guild right now are new raiders, meaning they’re going to need to learn the Rules of the Raid from the ground up.

My plan to hopefully mitigate some of the frustration from the inevitable wipes that shall ensue is to run training raids before anything else.  These will be practice runs in a safe space where the goal is to learn the fights over anything.  If we wipe fifteen times on Empress, then we wipe fifteen times on Empress, and by the end know how to, you know, not do that.  Once everyone’s an old pro, then we can worry about the more “serious” runs with feasts and flasks ready.

I’ve also noticed a few things in the raids I’ve been doing that have made me really consider how important raiding etiquette is, not only from the raid leader’s side, but also the raiders.  I’ve seen countless new raiders get chewed out for what amounts to an honest mistake.  Those of us who’ve been raiding since vanilla can sometimes forget that even if something is completely intuitive to us, that doesn’t mean the new guy who’s never set foot in a raid before and just started playing World of Warcraft in the first place three months ago is going to be able to figure it out on his own.  It doesn’t  make him a bad player or an idiot, it just means he hasn’t spent the past eight freaking years of his life playing every single day to the point that he can recognize homages to quests removed two expansions ago (like when I ran down the Lor’danel coast screaming in agony every time I found a dead Auberdine NPC whose name I not only remembered, but could attribute to entire quest lines and locations started by them).  Simply put, if you don’t explain it to someone in the first place, you don’t get to bitch when they don’t know it later on.

That being said, the responsibility doesn’t fall entirely on the raid leader’s shoulders.  Raiders need to also do a little research on their own.  Getting started with this can be overwhelming to someone new to the whole raiding scene, so where to begin?

1. Suit Up!

Raids have an item level requirement for a reason.  If your team goes in wearing nothing but greens, the ensuing failure is going to be epic.  Harder fights require more badass gear, and beyond that, you’re also going to need every stat boost you can get.  Stats are important; focus on the wrong ones, and your character is not going to be able to fulfill their role as needed.  That’s where something called stat priority comes into play.  Websites like Elitist Jerks and Got Warcraft? can help by explaining which stat is most important for your class and spec, and which ones to focus on after that.  How does your gear measure up?  Before you go into your first raid, find out, and make adjustments as needed.  Arcane Reforger NPCs in Orgrimmar and your respective Vale of Eternal Blossoms shrine will allow you to swap out one bonus stat for another.  For example, if your character really benefits from lots of haste, but your gear has mastery on it, and mastery is your absolute worst stat, you can take it on over to the reforger and swap part of that useless mastery out for haste.  It sounds confusing, but once you learn how to play the reforge system, you’re in real good, kid.

Also make sure that your gear is enchanted and gemmed properly.  The only reason to have un-gemmed gear in a raid is because you literally just got the item in the middle of it, and even then, if your guild has the Mobile Bank perk and a steady supply within, it’s an easy fix.  If you don’t have or can’t afford the rare cuts, go with the uncommon ones until you can.  Don’t worry about getting the super-expensive enchants requiring Sha Crystals on blue gear — save that for when you get an awesome purple weapon, and settle for the next step down until then.  Many guilds are able to help their members either by providing the appropriate augments or having a crafter on-board who can make them if mats are provided.  Our guild bank is stocked with both cut and uncut gems, enchants and their required mats, and if we don’t have it ready-made on the tab, chances are we’ve got someone who can slap it together for you.  Belts can have buckles added to them that give an extra gem socket, which is an absolute must once you hit purple gear.  DPS casters and healers can enhance their pants (giggity) with spellthreads made by tailors; other DPS classes and tanks will benefit from leg armor made by leatherworkers.  Inscriptionists can make shoulder enchants for all classes and specs.  The tweaks available to make the most out of your pewpew are endless.  If everyone pitches in and helps each other out, either with crafting items or providing mats, you’ll find yourselves geared in no time.

So where do you get this gear in the first place?  Run heroics, for starters.  Not only do you have the potential to get gear, but you’ll also receive valor points that can be traded in for epic gear from the various faction quartermasters, so start working on your rep.  Completing Isle of Thunder dailies will unlock the ability to purchase an epic belt for gold rather than valor points at Honored with your respective faction, something that’s easily doable within a couple of days or even in one evening if you’ve already bought the commendation on another character.  Inscriptionists can make themselves bind-on-account epic staves and bind-on-equip epic off-hand items for casters.  Tailors and leatherworkers should focus on Golden Lotus rep so that they can obtain patterns for epic robes and gloves (tailors can provide for both DPS and healing clothies, leatherworkers for leather-wearing tanks, healers, and DPS, but also mail gear for all shaman specs and hunters).  Klaxxi rep and kyparite are important for blacksmiths to get their epic patterns for DPS, healing, and tanking plate.  Engineers may get somewhat shafted as far as being unable to make epic guns or bows, but they can make scopes to increase ranged DPS and epic helms for themselves.  Wowhead allows you to search profession and faction databases to see all possible rewards and crafted items, so when in doubt, check there.  If after all of this your gear is still lacking in places, stock up on Elder Charms of Good Fortune (easy if you’ve been doing your dailies) and jump into a few LFR runs.

Oh, and don’t show up to raids in PvP gear.  It never ends well.  Important stats are sacrificed in favor of PvP Resilience and PvP Power, which are vital in battlegrounds and 100% useless in dungeons.  Even if you’ve got the most badass of the epic PvP gear on, you’ll still find yourself woefully undergeared for a raiding environment.  Put in the time and effort to get yourself geared up properly for PvE.

2. Glyphs Are Kind Of Weird, But Ultimately Your Friend

I personally don’t care much for the glyph system and never have.  To me, it feels clunky and tacked-on, but its benefits are undeniable.  Major glyphs will make useful spells and attacks even more powerful, and minor glyphs will make you feel pretty while doing it.  Be sure to at least have all of your Major slots properly filled (again, I say giggity) before you start raiding.  The websites I mentioned before offer advice on which are the best to use, and I strongly recommend that you consult them before making your decision, as sometimes what sounds like a benefit is actually not that great.  Minor glyphs don’t affect DPS at all and are only for cosmetic changes, so feel free to pick and choose as you wish.  You can use various reagents to un-glyph yourself if you make a mistake or decide to switch to another minor glyph.  Once your character learns a new glyph, it’ll be highlighted in the list and permanently usable, so you don’t need to worry about buying another one of the same, which is lucky because certain glyphs can cost a couple hundred gold if you don’t have an inscriptionist at your disposal.

3. Talents Are Also Kind Of Weird Now, But You Need Those Too

No more trees to mess with!  At various levels, you’ll be able to choose between three different spells or augmentations.  Some will be better than others for your particular spec, others will have limited raid use to begin with (usually the first one or two tiers, but don’t blindly follow that for all classes as some may be different) and are pretty much “free choice,” but those same websites that I’m smacking you over the head with will also be able to guide your choices here.  As with glyphs, various powders and tomes can be used to unlearn talents as needed, which is not just necessary for mistakes, but also sometimes to switch talents depending on the fight.  As a result, I’d highly recommend showing up to raid prepared with a stack of these reagents, either purchasable from an Inscription Supplies vendor or craftable by inscriptionists themselves.  They’re pretty cheap, only about 45s a piece for the level 90 versions, so it’s an easy way to come prepared and look like a professional badass in the process.

4. Level Your Damn Professions

Yes, even fishing.  It sucks, I know, but with the exception of Archaeology, you’re going to need every skill point you can get.  I mentioned above how much epic gear can be crafted by the players themselves with max-level professions — alchemists can provide flasks and various useful transmutations of gems for cutting and Living Steel for use in belt buckles and the epic plate chest and gloves, if you max out cooking you can create feast tables usable by your raid party that give some pretty sweet Well Fed buffs, and some of those tables actually do require you to go fishing.  Use your daily cooldowns and learn all the new patterns and recipes that you can.  Not only will you be valuable to yourself, since most classes have at least one self-only perk, such as bind-on-pickup shoulder buffs from inscriptionists and bracer linings from leatherworkers with significantly higher benefits than the ones you can trade to your buddies, but you’ll also help your raid team out in a very big way.  Even those of you who have chosen to go with double gathering professions can pitch in and donate stacks of necessary mats to the guild bank.

If the profession in question is one of the few that still has a particular “spec” you can choose, such as alchemy or now cooking, it may behoove everyone involved if you take a moment to check which specs others in the guild with that particular profession have chosen.  In the case of alchemy, elixir spec means the potential for double procs on beneficial flasks, while transmute spec could mean it’ll be easier to get everyone the primal diamonds they need for their meta gem sockets.  Different cooking paths will offer different stat benefits, and while pursuing all of them at once can be a very daunting task, if six out of your ten raiders take the time to each level one, you’ll have all of your bases covered.

5. Hit The Books

Most boss fights should have a “how-to” type video up on YouTube, and strategies for each encounter should be available on Wowhead, Icy Veins, and other similar websites.  It is the raid leader’s responsibility to let you know ahead of time which bosses to plan for, just as it’s your responsibility to actually study up on them and at least attain a basic understanding of what to do.  My ability to “fake it” in LFR would make me an inconsiderate asshole in a 10-man (normal) guild raid, because not only is the difficulty level higher there,  but by refusing to take 10 minutes to review the mechanics, I’ve just guaranteed that my willful ignorance is going to get at least myself killed, and probably everyone else.  Making an honest mistake is one thing.  Screwing up because you couldn’t be arsed to read an article is another.

This is also incredibly useful for training raids, but chances are that the raid leader is going to give you a quick rundown as a reminder, anyway.  Even still, knowledge is power.  If everyone shows up to the training raid knowing what they’re supposed to do, that’s more time that can be devoted to obtaining phat lewtz and having fun with your friends.

6. You Are Not The Little Mermaid, Use Your Voice

Maybe you spent hours the night before reading up on strategies, but something’s still not clicking into place for you.  When in doubt, PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST ASK YOUR RAID LEADER.  Any raid leader worth their salt is going to be more than happy to clarify a point for you versus having the raid wipe because you didn’t speak up.  Unclear on how to gear your character?  Ask.  Not sure which glyph is better?  Ask.  Ask ask ask ask askity ask ask.  A great resource for learning your best spell or attack rotations is to talk to knowledgeable guild members of the same class — believe it or not, pressing certain buttons in a certain order can make a huge difference in your DPS output or how awesome your healing is.  Tanks can definitely benefit from learning the most effective way to manage aggro, as well.  Elitist Jerks has lots of information on this available, but for new players, they can admittedly be a bit on the tl;dr side or even confusing, so actually talking to a human being about it can often make a huge difference.  There’s also the Training Dummies, who have a great podcast that covers commonly-asked questions about how to raid and go into some advanced stuff like macros if you really want to kick it up a notch.

Most guilds will use a voice server once they start raiding, which means you might want to invest in a decent headset with a microphone built in for hands-free communication (third time’s the charm, giggity).  The one I use is great and costs about $40, but there are cheaper options available that will work fine as well.  As a general rule, I’d recommend a USB headset over anything, just for the bump in audio quality both ingoing and outgoing.  If you just can’t get a microphone set up or your guild doesn’t have any kind of voice server, make friends with the chat box, and use it.  Use it to tell people you’re AFK once that fifth bottle of Mountain Dew hits your kidneys.  If you’re the tank, use it to verify that the healers are good on mana and ready to go before a big pull.

By the same token, however, don’t abuse it.  If your team is in the middle of a difficult fight that requires concentration, chances are nobody wants to hear your rendition of I Will Always Love You.  Don’t interrupt other people while they’re talking unless it is an absolute emergency.  You wouldn’t like it if somebody cut you off in a real-world conversation, so don’t do it online, either.

7. Keep Your Cool

It’s easy to get frustrated on a particularly difficult raid, whether you’re the raid leader or just a raid member (gig– blah, nevermind, it’s not funny anymore).  The important thing to remember is to not be this kid.  There’s plenty of videos and audio clips of people out there just absolutely losing their shit over the game (previous link is NSFW for language) and looking foolish in the process.  We live in the age of cell phone cameras and streaming audio rips.  If you make an asshole out of yourself on the internet, someone is going to rat you out and everyone will be making memes of your meltdown for years to come.

And beyond the risk of public shame, this is a game that you are playing with REAL people with REAL feelings.  There’s zero reason to tear somebody down because your raid’s not going well or they won the roll for an item you wanted or any of the other thousand instances in which you could even remotely argue that you’d be “justified” in being mean to somebody.  You never know how somebody is going to react to the cruel things you say to them.  That person could be having a really rough patch in their life and you telling them to kill themselves for being a “baddie” could be all the encouragement they need to actually do just that.

Raid leaders have to constantly toe the line between offering constructive criticism to individual players and making sure that they don’t feel singled out.  If the sentence about to come out of your mouth contains any kind of obscenity, chances are you need to rephrase it.  For example:

RIGHT: “Hey, XxSephirothxX, can you turn Growl off on your pet?”
WRONG: “OMG YOU FUCKING SCRUB HUNTER L2PLAY TURN OFF YOUR FUCKING PET MORON”

But if you’re on the receiving end of the criticism (and it falls under the “right” category), you need to understand that the raid leader is telling you what to do for a reason.  They’re not picking on you or trying to imply that you’re bad at the game.  Everyone makes mistakes, everyone gets confused, and nobody is going to get any better unless somebody lets them know what they’re doing wrong.

It’s also up to raid leaders to make sure that they are providing a safe and fun environment for their team.  If someone is getting abusive either in voice or in chat, they need to be dealt with.  Repeat offenders should be banned, temporarily or otherwise, from raids.  It doesn’t matter how well-geared they are or if they’re good players; if they’re making everyone else miserable, they’re not worth the stress.

8. YOU ARE PREPARED

Beyond gear, glyphs, and spec, you should always show up on time, gear fully repaired, and with a supply of flasks, buff food, and any other items your raid leader might request, such as repair bots from engineers.  It’s just common courtesy.  If the raid starts at 7:30 and you don’t show up until 8, that’s half an hour of everyone else’s evening that they’ve spent just waiting around for you, assuming they didn’t replace you with a substitute.  Sometimes emergencies come up, like you get stuck in traffic on your way home from work or your kid is sick, but if you’re constantly showing up late for no reason, you’re being inconsiderate.  If you know you’re going to be working late or unable to make the raid at all, post a quick note to that effect on your guild’s forums, or let one of your guildies know if you have them on Facebook or some similar form of contact.

Don’t show up under the influence, either.  The number of people who can actually play well while drunk is extremely low, regardless of how much drinking-and-gaming prowess you may think that you have.  Going AFK every ten minutes to pack another bowl is also annoying beyond belief and wastes everyone’s time, not to mention TOTALLY ILLEGAL HI POTENTIAL EMPLOYERS READING THIS.  You should be focused on the raid as much as possible.

9. A Few Quick Ones That Don’t Go Anywhere Else

  • Don’t take loot, either from raids or guild crafters, and then /gquit for greener pastures.
  • Main spec always gets priority over off-spec.
  • Ask about need or greed for vanity items, like pets or mounts, before you roll.
  • If you show up to raid, stay for the entire duration (unless prior arrangements have been made or there’s an emergency).  Don’t just come for one boss and leave if they don’t drop your loot.
  • Don’t argue with the raid leader.  If you’ve got an alternative strategy on how to down a boss, talk to them before the raid, or afterwards so that they can decide whether to try it out next time.
  • Don’t stand in shit.  Seriously.  I can guarantee you that this will be a very important part of the strategy.  There are very few exceptions to this rule.

A lot of this probably sounds more like a how-to list rather than etiquette.  The truth is, by following these tips and tricks, you are showing proper raiding etiquette by putting in a serious yet still reasonable effort, which basically says to your guildies “Hey, thanks for giving up your evening so that we can all get loot, I’m going to do what I can to help out with that, too.”  It may sound like a lot to ask of anyone, but even in a casual raiding environment, endgame content requires a little extra preparation than regular questing.  Some people may not be able to put forth the time or the gold to devote to such endeavors, and that’s okay.  I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again — not everybody is able to or wants to raid, and that’s ok.  Raiding is not a requirement to be allowed into the World of Warcraft.  Play the game how you want.  Everything I’ve mentioned above pales in comparison to the list of rules I had to follow when I was a hardcore raider.

Obviously, with the cross-country move looming over my head, getting set raid nights together isn’t going to be feasible for a while.  But in the meantime, let me take this opportunity to shamelessly plug my guild again!  Torchwood Institute, horde-side on Uldum!  We’re level 25, have seven bank tabs, and are just here to have fun.  All levels welcome, all classes welcome.  We have punch and pie.

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