War Machine

Are You Ready To Raid?

Let’s start with some general questions, in no particular order.

  • Gear – Is my gear for each spec is around 460+ (please read the details of this requirement as you might need to be specific about ilvl for each spec independently)?
  • Class – Do I know my class well? Well enough to be able to give a new player some advice?
  • Dual Spec – Am I dual specced and familiar with each?
  • Addons – Are my addons current, specific, and setup for raiding?
  • Enchanting – Have I enchanted everything for my relevant stats and spec?
  • Gems – Are my gems relevant and maxed were possible?
  • Sundries – Do I have all the items I need e.g. buff food, flasks, repair gold, pots, trade upgrades (like enchanted gloves for an engineer), etc…?
  • Research – Have I watched videos, read strategies, and generally done research that applies both my specs?
  • Time – Will I be ready to start on time and do I have the time to go through to the finish?
  • Technical Concerns – Is my connection reliable? Is my latency okay? Can my computer handle the fight?
  • Self-Awareness – Am I prepared to go over my own performance and see if there is anything that can be improved?
  • Mumble – And the setup of – specifically feedback. Will I be a hindrance while talking on Mumble?

Old raiders will likely be looking through this saying pft, I do all that, but some new players might look at this list and say ‘It’s just not worth it’. Firstly, it couldn’t be more worth it. When you down a new boss for the first time you will know what I mean. Secondly, this is not a list of ‘if you don’t know it, you can’t come’. What I am hoping to achieve through this document is two fold. To give old raiders an idea of priorities for War Machine so there is no confusion on expectations. And to give some of the newer raiders a tool to use as a yard stick for raid readiness. Bottom line, we want everyone to have a shot but we are also in no rush. If you don’t think you fit the bill or just don’t feel ready then don’t worry. Like the Army Rangers say ‘No one gets left behind’ and just because we move on to a new boss does not mean we won’t do older content. We are all here to help so don’t just chuck it in and give up because you are not ready at ground zero.

Now on to each area separately:

Gear

Gear Tooltip

Good for hunters, not so good for warlocks.

Be 460+ iLvl for your main spec and if possible the secondary as well. Realistically your secondary should only be a few points behind the main at the blue gear level. At the beginning of an expansion being of a reasonable gear level is more important because most of the other people around you will be of similar gear meaning a drop in that average is far more drastic. The target of 460 we’ve set is very achievable. From my experience, between getting the rep, farming the mats, and running dungeons an ilvl of 460 is quite doable before entering a raid, especially since the addition of scenarios. The hard part here will be to get both specs up to this level. I strongly believe that down the track we will need most players to be able to fill alternate roles so if you start now you’ll find it much easier than later. Try to avoid settling in to the habit of using the same gear for both specs, especially in the case of healers but also something to think about for DPS. Part of the reason why it impacts healing so much is healer gear will not have near enough the hit rating required for big DPS numbers on boss targets, nor will DPS gear have the required mana regeneration for long fights. Offspecs using the same gear might work for heroics but raids are quite a different thing. In a raid 100 spirit could be the difference between getting that last heal off or not. That being said, it is okay to not be up to par with an off spec in the earlier stage of raiding. People just don’t have the time to rapidly gear two specs especially if there is a lot of contention for the drops. Don’t make gearing an off spec the largest focus but also don’t let it slide… you may be called upon!

Another thing to note about gearing is the type of gear you are using. Online there are many websites devoted to items that are best in slot pre-raid and can really help you with gear selections. Something as simple as knowing which will be your first Valor Point item based on how much gear is available in dungeons can make a vast difference in the speed of your ileveling. Make sure you also gear appropriate to armor type. The 5% bonus for having all the correct armor might not seem like a massive difference but it will add up. If you are using a green chain caster DPS head and a cloth 460 is better then maybe, but if the choice is between a 450 chain and a 460 cloth in most cases the 5% buff will be better.

Character iLevel

Here's where to find your iLevel in game.

Note: If you are in a key role like Tank or Heals your gear requirements may be a little higher. Talk to one of the Heals or Tanks we have currently raiding to get an idea of what they think an appropriate gear level should be.

Reading your iLvl: This is a little tricky because iLvl is calculated on the specific set you are wearing plus the best item lvl in slot for any other item you have in you bag or bank. What this means is that a paladin with both heals and DPS but a mixture of good gears for different slots in each might have an overall gear level well higher than the individual spec gears. To see what your real gear level is have a look at the first number in your character sheet under ilevel (before the slash).

Reforging: Blizzard has helped us out a great deal here with reforging. It is now possible to turn that ‘so so’ item into a viable alternative simply by mixing and matching the reforged stats. That is assuming you’re not a caster and haven’t spent all your stats reforged into Hit because of how crazy that target is now. It’s so cheap to simply move some points from a poor stat into a useful one so this opens up many more options, especially in terms of rep gear. You have a healer item from rep? Simply reforge the spirit on that item to something else and bam! A viable alternative for DPS until you can find something more specific. Plus, you can purchase a second one a leave it as is for your heal set. Bam!… bam bam!.

Summary: Gear makes a raider not… but even the best raider cannot function without reasonable and specific gear. Make sure you are at the minimum gear level and the rest of the group will thank you. There are some very talented players in War Machine so if you have any questions about gearing any class there will be someone to help. If you don’t know who to ask, ask an officer and we’ll find someone for you. Remember, WM is here to help.

Dak being photobombed

Hunters. Clearly the best class, even when being photobombed by their own pet.

Class

With 11 classes in the game now and changes constantly being made to how each class works, it would be impossible for us to tell you how to play each individual class (and spec!) perfectly. In saying that, there’s a fairly wide range of classes in the guild and subsequently a lot of experience on how to play those classes. Ask in guild or in our forums if you need help with specifics for your class, someone will surely be able to help or direct you to someone who can. For more general information on particular classes, one of the best places to visit are the official class forums. At the top of each class’s forum you’ll find a number of “stickied” posts, usually one for each spec, which are excellent guides to help you get a working spec, gear, gem/enchant and rotation sorted.

For more higher end theorycrafting and technical discussion on classes, check out places like Elitist Jerks. If you feel like you know your class very well and think you could help out other WMers, please do! But make sure you’re diplomatic and constructive about it – nobody likes being told “you suck, you’re doing it wrong”. Let people know you’re happy to offer advice if they want it, don’t push your ideas onto others.

Dual Spec

Get it, gear it, and learn it. Of course it’s totally up to you if you want to play a dual spec. I have my own personal opinions on Dual Specs but from War Machine you play what you want to play. I guess it really depends on where your focus is.

My personal preference is that everyone dual specs where they can into whatever spec they want.

Personal Comment on Dual Specs:

I love tanking. In WotLK we had plenty of tanks so I spent most of my time DPSing with Bannox (Paladin) which I also found fun. I did get to tank a bit towards the end which was awesome but I was only able to do this because the tanks had alternate specs and could switch to open up a space for a role I loved. Also, the benefit of having a DPS/Tank in the raid meant more flexibility (Lady DW’s weekly comes to mind). I switched to Heals in Cata because… well let’s face it… Pally DPS was poo poo. I really enjoy Healing but still probably prefer tanking (probably because I know it better). Having said that I will have fun in either spec while raiding so it doesn’t matter to me. This is because getting bosses down and having good people to share the experience with is my priority… to that end I ask you this… If having fun and downing bosses is what I want, would I not do everything I could to give us the best chance of success. If learning another spec utility, even if I am not called upon, gives us better flexibility and more of a chance of success… why would I not?

Addons

There are literally hundreds of addons you can choose from to get the most out of your Raiding. I’ll talk about some of them here but if in doubt get the basic three… DBM, Skada/Recount, and Omen.

Unit/raid frames: There are a metric tonne of unit and raid frames to choose from and some even overlap. For example an addon like Pitbull can be used for unit frames and raid frames but can also be coupled with a specific raid frame mod allowing you to use something like grid. Personal preference will dictate what you choose. I used a mixture of VuhDo and Pitbull for a really sharp look. As with anything, until you have used it for a bit you will probably have a hard time guessing which one is best so try them all! I do have some specific recommendations for new healers (like I was a few moons ago). If you are looking at healing then the big three is probably what you’re after (all three have a click to cast function)…

Healbot: Very easy top setup and pretty intuitive from the get go. It’s quite visual but personally not as clean and crisp as the others with a little bit of limitation on customisation. My experience is a little limited on this addon though so it might pay to ask a raid healer who uses it for their opinion.

VuhDo in a small group

VuhDo in a small group

Vuhdo: VuhDo is currently my preference for healing (in my limited experience). It allows very dynamic customisation but is also fully functional ‘out of the box’. A interesting option is the ability to write your own proc checks then lay out a display prioritisation e.g. If you are targeting a player show a yellow box around them unless they have aggro in which case switch it to red and prioritise showing this over the targeted option. This is already setup as default but imagine the possibilities (Nerdness in overdrive).

Grid+Clique: This is probably the pre-eminent healing setup and way beyond my capabilities at this point. Grid is an awesome raid frame which I use for my mage often but to have the click to cast function that the others have preinstalled and localised you need to install Clique,which is game wide. This tool attaches itself to your spell book and allows you to assign key/click combinations for spells that can be cast over unit frames or raid frames. This function can also be used with the default Blizzard UI raid/unit frames which is a good option if your pc is dying a slow death. I really like the idea of this addon except for one small thing. The number of heals I have at the moment mean I need a lot of mouse clicks and combo clicks (e.g. shift + left mouse). As such I prefer to have my right button assigned to a spell like Holy Light which is my main spammable tank bomb. What this means is I need to choose a new combination for right clicking a portrait and inviting/trading/promoting/etc… This is too much of a learning curve for me and would likely not be a benefit. I still use Grid and Clique for my DPS classes because it’s just the best raid frame out there in my opinion. Time consuming to setup but once done correctly you could probably get it to fish for you… it’s that good.

Pitbull: Pretty customisable and very clean. Little bit resource hungry but it’s not a necessity anyway. If you play a class like a rogue or a paladin keeping track of your combo points is much easier if you can move and customise the players frame to where you want. This works with clique also so you can setup Pitbull up as your raid frames if you need consistency. I’ve never tried doing this so I have no idea what it would look like but I am sure there are plenty of tutorials out there. Having said that the general consensus is that it’s a bit of a resource pig for 5+ units so it might not pay to use it this way.

X-Perl: Mac versus PC is X-Perl to Pitbull. I am not sure there is much difference between them. X-Perl might be a little less customisable but unless you are Mr ‘close the door five times’ you probably won’t need that level of customisation anyway.

Get what you want, use it till it becomes second nature. That’s really all there is to a unit/raid frame addon. But based on my limited experience you might want to have a talk to some of the other raid healers and get their opinions.

More General Addons

Skada showing DPS

Skada showing DPS

Meters: In general there are really only two options (or combinations) people use. Before we get into them though a word on meters themselves…. They are a great way of seeing how much damage/heals you’re putting out but also how much damage you are taking. It’s awesome to have this as a tool to analyse performance but remember that meters are not the be all and end all. Comparing your damage output to someone else, especially a different class, is more likely going to be swayed by the different roles within that fight. For example, someone pulling low heals on a tank that survives a fight… did they do a poor job? Or where they simply managing mana efficiently and perhaps the tank was well geared anyway. Unless you are raid leading it’s a tool to manage your own performance. Get on the boss dummies and try out new things. This will also help to see things like a miss or how much you are really critting for. It’s an awesome tool, but it’s just an analytical tool. It will not help you get more DPS once you are in a raid but it will help you improve once you’re out of it.

The exception to this rule is threat meters. In a raid is the only place a tool like that will be useful so keep it close by your field of view and watch it like you would watch your child climbing onto a chair. There are only a few things a DPS needs to watch so pulling off the tank should never really happen. Make sure it doesn’t with a well setup threat meter.

Recount: Recount is a very good tool for all facets of data collection other than threat. This addon does seem a little heavy on the resource but that is mostly due to the ‘chatty’ nature of it. Recount will converse with others who have it and average out results. This means everyone running with Recount (assuming the setup is the same – like adding pets) will see the same thing. Also it provides some interesting graph information real time but that sort of thing does take up a fair amount of space so use it if you need it but I’d suggest sticking with the basics. Also, I’d suggest hiding it in combat. If you are looking at recount during the fight you are probably not focussing as much as you need to on the fight mechanics. The information will still be there at the end so stick with what is important now and keep your eyes on the mechanics.

Skada showing Threat

Skada showing Threat

Skada: This tool is very light yet can often be out in terms of results from Recount and other people running Skada. The amount that it is out by is negligible so I wouldn’t worry about it too much. One of the great benefits of this tool is its ability to switch modes in and out of combat. You can have it swap to THREAT in combat and swap back to DPS once out. I personally use Skada to save resources and for its clean and crisp look.

Omen: This is purely a threat meter. If you don’t have Skada you must have Omen. I like Omen and it is very customisable but there is no need to have it with Skada really. If you like to have two separate windows for both threat and DPS/heals you can create a second window with Skada.

In this case use whichever combo you like… but do use them, especially as DPS. Those who pull aggro from a tank who is on your target really have no excuse. The line ‘he wasn’t holding enough aggro’ won’t fly at all. It’s your job to watch you’re meters so make sure you don’t go over the threat line. In comparison to tanking or healing you really only have a few things to watch out for so in my opinion it’s hugely fail to pull off a tank. DON’T DO IT. If a question comes up about your DPS and you were holding back for threat you can mention it then. Otherwise ‘WATCH YOUR THREAT’.

Boss Assist Mods: There are probably more but the main two are DBM (Deadly Boss Mods) and BigWigs. I personally use DBM but there was no real thought that went into selecting it. I’ve never used BigWigs so I can’t really discuss it intelligently. Regardless of what you choose these addons are a must for raiding. They will literally yell at you to move out, interrupt, or dispel stuff but they’ll also let you know about key actions happening and timers on new things coming up. Having a mod like this will dramatically increase your raid awareness. Remember to set it up for the best viewing as it applies to your UI. Do not raid without it. War Machine’s “official” assist mod of choice is DBM and we recommend you use it over BigWigs as DBM communicates with other users of DBM in the group allowing it to sync timers, warnings and whatnot between all players.

These are really the basic addons you will want. There are others out there that are specific to classes like CombustionHelper for fire mages and DotTimer for… well… just about anyone really. There are simply too many to even start on going through them all. On a side note though, if you are a caster and not using Quartz you are likely hurting your DPS by as much as 20%. Getting the next cast off during the latency of the first is a huge increase. Quartz FTW and remember though, Google is your friend. Watch YouTube videos on building User Interfaces and read forums dedicated to recommended addons. You can’t have them all but maybe something will strike your interest and in most cases, after shopping for addons, you’ll probably end up removing the superfluous ones one by one for performance and screen space.

Enchanting/Gemming/Reforging

There is no chance to cover off all the possible requirements for each spec here but there are thousands of posts across hundreds of websites devoted to this. Having said that don’t always take everything you read as gospel. Often the people who are posting have yet to work everything out so avoid the blind leading the blind. Go with what works for you but definitely do the research. To help you there are a few places I would visit to get the most out of my character.

Elitist Jerks – http://www.elitistjerks.com/
Ask Mr Robot – http://www.askmrrobot.com/wow/

Sundries

Flask and buff food could make or break a run. The difference of 500 DPS to take that boss down before the enrage timer could come from simply having the right food. Some people argue that flasks are too expensive if you don’t have an alchemist. I would ask you ‘what are you saving for?’ Those who want to raid will bring the best possible self buffs they can. It’s okay to run out towards the end of a night if the raid has gone over but halfway through smacks of not being prepared. Also make sure you have the right food and flasks for your Dual Spec. Often you will be in one role through a whole boss encounter so three flasks for each spec should be enough. You won’t normally use them all in one raid night. Any little thing you can do to up your productivity on the night will greatly help the team so it’s really important to be ready with the right stuff.

Sometimes, the raid group will have someone who can provide the group food and/or flasks, but do not rely on there being such a person in the group. If there is, great. Make sure you show your appreciation to that person, too – it’s not easy getting the mats together to create the group food or flasks.

Research

Being that we are a casual guild that just so happens to raid, we don’t expect you to be an expert on every fight. If you sign up for a raid with us however we do expect you to have done some research on the fights we’ll be encountering. For bosses, read up on popular strats on Wowhead (they’re the comments that are in green text, generally), watch videos (I recommend Tankspot’s videos), and talk to WMers that have been there before. The last step is especially useful as we may have some adjustments to strategies to suit our particular group (or raid leader’s whim).

As with all aspects of War Machine life, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Just don’t do so mid-fight!

Time

Be on time. In most cases we won’t know who is in the raid until closer to start time but having everything ready to go and your cup of coffee made before the invites go out will speed up the start somewhat. I have not seen invites go out before 8:20pm server for a regular raid night so you have until this time to get prepared. Do make sure you are online 15 minutes early though so putting together the raid does not hold up the start time. Once invited you should probably make your way out there immediately. We don’t want to get into the habit of sitting around waiting for a summons. If you like you can always be outside the raid already in the hopes of getting an invite but this is certainly not a requirement. The only person who really shouldn’t be heading out right away is the person forming the raid. This is just in case there are pugs required and he/she will need the trade channel. Once in, heading back off to grab stuff when everyone is zoning is probably not the most effective use of time. If there is an explanation of a boss you have done a hundred times then maybe but there could be specific details in the explanation to group makeup and assignments so the preference would be to stay there and listen.

Real life gets in the way sometimes, and often unexpectedly, but on the whole if you sign up for a raid night you should have three hours of completely free time to raid with. Downtime for people to take care of things that pop up is absolutely fine but having to leave a run after an hour because you organised a party on the same night… no no. It can be very hard to replace people later in the evening so please be prepared to spend the whole three hours in the raid. None of the raid leaders will get frustrated by people needing to do stuff, especially things like putting kids to bed or answering the phone/door. Casual means casual after all. That being said we all do have to remember that for some people they have been waiting five days to get back in and there are only three hours to raid. Since we are not hardcore most get their raid fix within these times. Holding up the raid to finish washing your hair is probably a bit on the nose. Remember also that a 5 minute break is just that: 5 minutes. You don’t want to be the one person that can’t make it back on time when nine other people managed.

Technical Concerns

World of Warcraft has comparatively low system requirements – this comes from being a number of years old. However, over the expansions and patches Blizzard has improved the graphical engine considerably which has upped the strain the game can put on your system. Turning graphic detail settings down can help to improve matters but beware: turning certain settings down too low will make some spell effects harder to see or even invisible, which can hinder moving out of stuff in boss fights for example. Turning down your view distance is one of the best ways to improve your frame rate without affecting visual cues in boss fights. Be wary of messing with particle detail settings though. Additionally, if you are running a lot of addons you can find some severe slowdowns especially in boss fights – if in doubt unload anything you’re not going to need for the fight. For example, you don’t need to have Auctioneer loaded while you’re fighting Elegon!

Much harder to resolve than frame rate issues are lag problems. This can be anywhere from temporary to fairly permanent, from lag spikes to general slowness, and can dramatically affect your response times in raids. Figuring out the exact cause can be tricky – it could be your router, your ISP, your PC or even your network cable. Common causes that are relatively easy to rectify include making sure that there’s no heavy traffic going over your internet connection at the time (torrents, streaming video, etc), switching to a wired connection if you’re on wireless, and closing any applications you have running in the background. If none of those resolve the situation, you may have to talk to your internet provider to see if there’s any known issues on their network. There’s a number of technically minded people in the guild that are happy to try and help you through problems you might be having, so feel free to ask.

As this is a guild and as such is about the experience of the players as a whole, if you find you’re having computer performance or latency issues in a raid we expect you to speak up and volunteer to step out if need be. We don’t like having to ask that of you but the problems you’re having are affecting the enjoyment of the other 9 or 24 raiders and we have to prioritize the group over the individual. If the situation were reversed I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be held up waiting for someone’s issues to come right either. Rest assured, we do notice when someone “takes one for the team”, and being a team player reflects well on you as an individual.

Self-Awareness

For a new raider the experience of raiding can be a huge learning curve, but it’s important that we do learn. Getting better in a raid environment is as much about experience as it is about research so no one expects you to be perfect from the get go. Most, however, will expect you to learn from your mistakes. I can’t tell you how many times I pulled aggro during a tank swap or stood in the fire too long, but the more I did a fight the better I got at avoiding those things. At the end of a raid night the officers will normally discuss what worked well and what were some workable areas from an overall view. I encourage y’all to do the same on an individual view. Did I oom early? Why was my DPS lower at the end of the fight? What happened to my heals when the tank went down? There are useful places to go for this information not the least of which is http://www.worldoflogs.com/. Most of our raid nights are posted there for us to review results. If you are not a fan of looking at data like this then ask someone who is. They can pick up trends in performance for you (I’m an analyst by trade so I’m happy to help here). Also, when a raid leader asks ‘what happened there?’ and you know it’s your fault, say something. Sometimes the raid leader will know very well what happened; they just want to make sure the characters responsible are aware also. This is not so they can yell at you, it’s just to be sure that it’s something a player is aware of and can work towards fixing. You’re not always going to see everything so being open to feedback is an important part of raiding. If you don’t know it’s broken you won’t fix it. Having said that it’s not always your job to adjust something…

e.g.

TANK DIES!!!

“Heals Fault!!!”

In most cases it could be any one, or multiple of the following impacts:

  • Tank is undergeared
  • Healer is undergeared
  • Someone not on right assignments or no assignments given
  • Healer is the wrong class for main tank healing in this fight (movement, speed, etc…)
  • Tank not cycling cooldowns effectively
  • Healer stood in a mechanic that oomed them
  • Tank stood in something that cause too much damage
  • A boss mechanic is being ignored by DPS
  • DPS too low to get adds down quickly
  • A boss mechanic (debuff, etc..) if being ignored by the raid as a whole.
  • DPS pulling threat or standing in stuff and using too much of the healers’ mana
  • Unlucky timing on damage (It happens)

We all need to be self aware and open enough to go through a list like this and honestly assess which applies to us and what we can do to fix it. War Machine is a great bunch of people and we are all here to have fun and learn. No one is going to eat your lunch for saying ‘I’m not sure I can do this, do we have any alternatives?’

Ventrilo Mumble!

No real need to discuss this. No Mumble no raid. You don’t need to talk (and some raid leaders even prefer that you don’t :)) but you do need to listen. The backbone of a good team is effective communication and the message ‘all run right!’ might be a little laborious to type during a Magmaw encounter. Get it, install it, and use it. Instructions for downloading and installing Mumble are at http://mumble.warmachineguild.net/ . Mumble has a number of benefits over Ventrilo including faster response times, better sound quality and improved admin functionality. It also auto-normalises people so they are audible without any tweaking to levels. Do remember to keep the line relatively clear of banter during a boss pull. On trash it doesn’t matter much but bosses require focus. One thing that I would suggest fixing though is feedback. If you have feedback for whatever reason then get it fixed. Feel free to jump on Mumble to test it before the raid – there’s bound to be someone lurking there during most of our on-hours.

Summary

Raiding is huge amounts of fun and for me it’s what I get the most pleasure doing. It’s not for everyone though and if it’s not for you that’s okay. If you just want to try it out that’s awesome too. But if it’s for you it will be a hugely rewarding experience getting the boss we’ve been working on for a month finally down. Do what you can to get ready for it and give it your all when you’re in. That’s how the others in the raid will be treating it… as a fun but challenging event, kind of like a B grade sports team consisting of mates who really want to win the game and have a beer at the pub afterwards. As always just get involved. You will find out pretty quickly if raiding is for you, or even if a less progressive focus raid might be the go. Either way I challenge you all to get in and give it a go if that’s what you want.

Just be prepared…


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