So Ceraphus is two! well, not Ceraphus himself, but his blog. Quite an achievement really, I’ve now been blogging myself for almost five months and I’ve got to say, it’s not as easy as it sounds; the time taken to, not only, write and edit posts, but maintain the blog site, advertise new content and generally get to grips with things is quite taxing, to keep it up for two years is some achievement. Hats off to you. Anyways, enough of the gushing. Ceraphus has decided to use his blogoverary to highlight some other writers works, and that’s where I come in. I’m Mystic, for the last few months I’ve been rattling around on my own blog Please Feed the Troll covering all sorts of things, primarily priest focused, but as an ex-guild master, raid leader, DKP-bodger, website-administrator, Ventrilo-gibbon and much more, who’s since kicked back and became a casual player I though I’d take the time to have a look at WoW through the eyes of a casual player, who has been to the hardcore raids and got the T-shirt.
Recently Ceraphus posted an article telling you, the raider, you are NOT prepared which took a look at what a raid leader could do to coax raiders into a better state of preparedness. I’m in the same guild as I’ve been since the year dot, it’s still a reasonably hardcore raiding guild doing both 10 and 25 mans, so I’m going to turn the tables and look at how I (or you) as a casual player can make sure you’re there for your guildies should they need to be helped out occasionally. I suppose this is equally valid to you if you’re looking to PUG raids; I tend not to, but it really gets my goat when people turn up to them blatantly not having the first clue about to play the game.
First of all, what do I mean by casual, who helps out in raids? Well firstly, my work and person life commitments mean I can’t commit to spending a decent length of time online on any set nights of the week, it just varies so much when I can be available. Additionally, quite often having to get the train at silly o’clock in the morning means my days of raiding till well past midnight are long gone. I do have a reasonable amount of time online, it’s just so unpredictable I wouldn’t want, nor, expect any raiding guild to accept it. Instead, when I am online and available for the evening, I will make sure the raid leader knows I’m available ‘if needed’ the if needed bit is crucial in my eyes; just because you are available doesn’t mean you should be automatically raid, I also tend to remind the raid leader that if one of the regular raiders comes online he can feel free to drop me – some of you might disagree with this, if you’re there to fill in an empty slot why should you be replaced if someone ‘better’ comes online? simple (for me) really, I don’t want to hold up the raids progression, I enjoy helping out in raids and playing with guildies, but I can enjoy myself just as much doing something else and help them out more by allowing myself to be replaced – besides, having always been willing to be replaced, I’ve never actually been subbed mid way through because a regular raider came along.
Now how about that preparedness? What should you expect to do, and what leeway should the raid leader give you as you’re helping them out of a hole by filling, an, errr, hole, in their raiding roster. Well pretty much everything you’d expect a ‘full’ raider to do, in my view, except for two things; firstly your gear. You don’t raid, you can’t be expected to have gear on a par with your hardcore buddies. On the same token, I wouldn’t even offer my services if I was in pre heroic greens, you might be the worst geared of the raid, but worst geared is expected, terribly geared is just unacceptable; lets not extract the urine! Secondly experience of the encounters, you really should know the basic strategy from one of the guide sites, and probably best to ask someone to run you through the encounter on Vent if there’s time but there’s no substitute for experience; if you’ve never actually done an encounter before, no amount of reading or watching videos of other guilds encounters will fully prepare you. This is where the trade off comes, the raid leader and raiders need to understand that you’re here to help them out, you’re going to balls it up occasionally, even regular raiders are pone to the occasional oopsy, but an occasional balls up (providing it is only occasional) is better than being a man (or is that a troll?) short.
As far as enchants, gemming and inscription goes, you might not be able to afford (or get your hands on, the top level enchants, Maelstrom Crystals are still in reasonably short supply on most servers so it’s understandable if you have the lesser enchants, but you really should have a good understanding of the stat priorities of your class and make damn sure you’re gemmed, enchanted and glyphed to the best of your ability. On the consumables front, Blizzard have made a big effort to take the grind out of collecting the potions, flasks and food for raids, most serious raid groups will look to slap feasts down and use guild cauldrons, but don’t rely on this, make sure you have a supply of food, flasks and potions to support whatever your weaknesses are. What I’m trying to say here, I suppose, is make an effort, but don’t feel you have to go to the lengths that would turn you in to the hardcore raider that you’re clearly not. As someone who’s lead many many raids in my time, there’s nothing more aggravating than being slowed down by someone who clearly expects the other 24 people (it was 39 others in my day don’t you know) to carry them. You might be casual, but that’s no excuse for being slack, I’d far rather take a skilled casual on who can help out occasionally than a lazy ‘raider’ who’ll turn up for every raid and do very little.
I’m assuming at this point that helper-casuals, will generally be DPS, as tanks, and healers to some extent, in raids tend to be a little more, how can we say harder without sounding derogatory? erm, specialized. Set your expectations, don’t expect to be top of the DPS meter, you won’t be. I try not to be bottom of the DPS meter (no you can’t count the tanks) but this is my secondary aim. Think about what would happen if you weren’t here; there would be 24 people, with a slot free – that slot would do no DPS at all, but it would also require no healing, and more importantly not cause anyone else to die. Many, if not most, of the raid encounters require the DPS to not ‘do stupid stuff’ make sure you’re not that DPSer, keep out of the crap, and ASK the raid leader, or another raider you trust to help, what the “gotcha’s” are to be avoided. So that’s it for me, actually, I tell a lie, my top priority is to have fun, this is critical for me really, if I’m not having fun, then it’s not worth it (I sometimes wonder whether some harder-core players actually enjoy the game anymore); secondly do no harm, you being there shouldn’t be worse than no one being there; thirdly, set yourself reasonable targets for your own performance, and look to achieve it.
I’ve had some great fun helping out in raids, it generally tends to be 25 mans (as it’s easier to get 10 people together than 25), which inevitably are harder to do, but knowing you were there for a guild first kill, as a casual, gleans probably more enjoyment than when I was raiding. I often wish I had time to raid properly again, but actually, on reflection, I’m probably happier as I am.