As a GM and Raid Leader you will run across a few scenarios where you will ask, “Are you prepared?” The answer to some of these is a lot harder than merely asking the question but its a decision you must make.
Individuals – Are they ready to join you in current content?
At the micro level, you will have new members join who don’t quite have the gear, or new members leveling up who hit 80 and want to join in on the festivities, but don’t quite have the gear. So what do you do? Well as the GM you have first the unfortunate duty to tell them they aren’t geared enough to join you in top end content.
Now there are two schools of thought.
1. Let members gear themselves up, they are in charge of their own destiny
2. Guide members in the right direction and set expectations for them
So the first option is more for the hardcore raiding guilds, as they don’t have time to stop what they are doing to help each folks, also the thought is if they want to raid with the big dogs, they need to be ready to gear themselves properly. Which I can’t argue with, these guilds are focused on hardcore progression, they are not there to meet the needs of new under-geared members, these folks need to get themselves up to speed on their own and essentially prove their worth.
However for more casual guilds, this approach doesn’t necessarily work, but the thought behind it isn’t that horrible. So what do you do? Well as a GM you explain to the new user what expectations of gear and potentially even skill you expect out of individuals in order to begin raiding with current content. Maybe pairing them with certain individuals who may be farther along and can help mentor the new folks. Pointing them to sites so they can do their own research and/or pointing out issues like not enough hit, not focusing on the right stat can be good nudges.
For both choices there are some tools out there to use to not only help evaluate players but also for players to evaluate themselves.
First is wow-heroes.com. Now I hate gear score, and think its slowly ruining the game. But it does provide a handy feature to show where folks should be spending their time and what they are capable of doing. In the image below, based on your current gear the instances to focus on are near the yellow bar. The red bar instances are doable but may be a bit more difficult getting into and performing at a high level. Green you should have no problems running and getting some upgrades from.
Next is elitistarmory.com. This site you can look up your gear similar to the wowarmory, but you can see if you have the right gear for your spec, if you are missing or have the wrong type of enchants, etc. Its a bit smarter in regards to specific gear than wow-heroes as it looks to make sure you have the appropriate gear, gems and enchants to your specific spec. This helps you pinpoint where you stand, but also you can view how you rank against other guildies as well. As you can see in the below image, the white arrow points to places where enchants are missing, and even where I am using gear that is not optimal to the main spec.
Now for the skill part, well practice, practice, practice. But when you can’t get over that skill hump, check out some websites, most notably elitistjerks.com. The forums there will help you answer questions regarding spec, rotation, gemming, scenarios, and even specific strategy tips in some cases for your specific class and spec. Its worth spending a co0uple hours reading up, it pays off in the end.
Next Level of Raiding – Are you prepared?
So this is more at a macro level. But is your guild, your raid team prepared to take on the next level of raid dungeon difficulty. Sometimes its hard to judge this, other times its quite clear. Several sites offer up “suggestions” of based on gear level for individual players where you will best fair, but nothing really at the guild level. The easiest decision regarding this is if you have the previous raid content on farm, then moving up is a no brainer. However what if you don’t? What if you hit a brick wall and can’t seem to move on, do you venture into new territory for some fresh content to rejuvenate your members, or do you keep pushing?
Most times I find that pushing at least for a half of a night into new content will be good for the members if you are hitting a brick wall, given that your members are properly geared. Properly geared is your judgment call and also another section of are you prepared which we have already looked into. Gear though is only one aspect, the cohesiveness of the raid (i.e. how well they work together) is another big item to understand. Now of course once in the new content if your group is grasping the concepts quickly then clearly this was a good choice, but don’t be afraid to slam the breaks and back up if people are just not ready for the next step.
The best you can do to prepare your group for the next level is communicate your plans, post up and discuss strategies, and set your expectations for entering the new content.
By doing all this you can turn a not prepared into well prepared.