I’m not in a riading guild. I’m in the guild that I’m in because one of the members is a friend from college. I have a real life connection, and I get to be part of a small, very laid back group of kind hearted people. It really is a group of friends.
This scenario doesn’t lend itself to a 10 man Raid, much less a 25 man. So, If you’re in a small guild, that you don’t want to leave, but you’ve also a desire to see end game content, what can you do?
First off, you need to read! Yes, I’ll even make it easier for you to see: READ!!!
I know it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, and you don’t get any Phat Lootz for it, but it can pay out exponentially in the end.
Let Wowhead become your friend. Learn to use it. I mean, really learn to use it. It is an invaluable resource, even if you only figure out how to half-way use it. It has information on Ugrades for your character, Factions, and Instances. It is an indespinsable tool, in your WoW toolbox.
Next, find some blogs to read. There are many good blogs out there. I recommend two to you at this time. I recommend Big Red Kitty and Aspect of the Hare. I recommend them for two reasons. First, they are both Raiders with an enjoyable writing style. Secondly, they have really good Blogrolls, where you’ll find even more good information. If you’ve ever had to research on a Graduate or Post-Graduate level, then you understand the importance of a good bibliography in your search for source material. The blogroll is synonymous with a good bibliography, in this case. No, they aren’t pure raiding blogs. Yes, I’m sure you can find better. But, I’ve found them to be the most enjoyable; and if you’re reading this and not Elitist Jerks, then I assume you may care about that.
Let Wowwiki be your friend as well. Look up every Instance you think you may find yourself in. Especially read up on the Raid Instances you are hoping to run in the future. It can be horribly embarrassing to have a Raid Leader stop and explain a fight that everyone else has mastered, just for you.
Secondly, you need to know about your character’s statistics, spec and gear. Yes, I know that you’re not a hard core raider. But, even those guilds that represent as a “Casual Raiding Guild” expect their people to be adequately geared and played. You don’t have to be the best geared, or else you wouldn’t be a Veeerrryyy Casual Raider. But, you need to have decent gear, because it means you care enough to be properly prepared for the raid instance.
You also need to know your spec. Again, a properly specced character means you care enough to benefit the Raid. You don’t need a cookie-cutter spec. Take the time to find what you’re most comfortable with. But, if you’re dps, don’t spec for healing. Yes, your survivability is increased for leveling, but the reason you are being let into the Raid is gimped from the get-go. For me, this meant giving up health and armor for my pet. A Beast Mastery hunter that is specced for leveling, will have things optimized for the survivablilty of his/her pet. This means points in talents such as Endurance Training and Thich Hide. I like to also have Spirit Bond and Catlike Reflexes. But, in a raid situation; those may not help so much. I’m personally not willing to give up Spirit Bond, but I specced out of the other talents, and added points into talents that help my overall dps. If my pet ever tanks in a Raid, something is horribly wrong.
Stats and Gear or inextricably linked. Yes, some of your character’s statistics are influenced by your class and racials. But, mostly your stats will be influenced by the gear you choose to run with. As a hunter, I care mostly about Agility, Stamina and Intellect, in that order. My dps is influenced mainly by agility. My pet if influenced by my stats, especially stamina. Stamina also ensures my survivability. My ability to rain down special shots is influenced by how much mana I have, thus the importance of Intellect. I desire my gear to give me special boosts in Ranged Attack Power (Attack Power), Crit and Hit Rating. Are other things useful? What about haste, armor penetration, or spell power? Yes, haste can be useful depending upon your play style. Armor penetration is a little, and I stress little, useful; but won’t mean jack in a Raid environment. And spell power? Well… It is true that some of our pets special abilities are enhanced by spell power, but the significance of it is so minute as to be non-existant. (To be fair, I have a trinket that gives +spell power when it is used. However, I have it for the +75 to Hit. It is the best +hit item I have). What about expertise? That allows us to hit high level with a melee weapon. Well, if you’re a melee hunter, you can stop reading. You’ll only be asked into a Raid…Once.
Along the lines of Gems and Enchantments, look around and see what is available. As with gear, Agility-Stamina-Intellect are the main things we care about. However, Attack Power, Crit and Hit Rating are also very important.
On a side note: It has been mentioned in many places about the importance of Crit and Hit. As far as I can tell, it is more important that you reach the Hit Cap (the number you need to miss the least), which tends to be 296 for Raids, and 196 for Heroics (unless I missed something). Once you reach the Hit Cap, then we tweak other aspects, like Crit. What use is the ability to Critically Wound a mob, when you can’t hit it?
I’ve found that both Wowhead and WoW Armory to be useful here. You can research the talent specs of other players to help with your own. You can research upgrades, and where those can be found. These are invaluable tools in your intentional attempt to be Raid Ready.
Lastly, you need to PuG. For those of you that know what that means, you know how horribly painful it can be. However, if you are like me and not in a Raiding Guild, you’ve few options. The best thing you can do is find Pick Up Groups, preferably for Heroics. If you get in them and perform your job well, you begin to develop relationships. There is a good chance that you are running with someone who Raids on a regular to semi-regular basis. This is important. The relationship is important, therefore how you act is important. If you are lucky enough to be invited by them into a Raid Group, then their reputation (in their guild) is on the line. How you act, and how you perform reflects upon you and them.
Don’t take anyone for granted, and be ready to the best of your ability. You don’t want to embarrase them. People forgive mistakes, but it is harder to forgive arrogance, pride, selfishness, and overall stupidity. Those don’t get you invited back.
In conclusion – do your best to be ready. A little research goes a long way. Be kind to everyone, I mean everyone, you meet. There is a real person behind every pixilated character we run into.