Right now is the perfect time to figure out your Cataclysm raiding plans. In a great raid right now, or you were in one until people went afk all the time? Now’s a chance to make sure that your fellow raiders are planning to come back as the same roles. Not in a raid, or needing a change? Start looking now, because if you want to raid early in Cataclysm you should be working on your plans now.
First there’s the RL concerns; do you want to raid, how much time do you want to spend, what times work well, and what are your goals? Reversion and I talked things over and decided that yes, at least right now, we want to raid. We figured out what worked for our schedule (no late weeknights, but then again the Nomster doesn’t go to bed until after seven, so no early evening raids either… and then there’s church to factor in…)
Decide what role you want. I knew it had to be healing for me, so that was easy. Reversion is more flexible, willing to play his hunter or his druid. I still love my mage but I don’t enjoy raiding on her the way I like healing.
Now, assuming you’re not changing guilds, look around you. Is there a raid already that meets your needs, and that you meet theirs? Jump in! Is someone else recruiting a raid that you think looks viable? Try them out! It’s almost always less of a hassle to let someone else do the raid leading work. But sometimes that just isn’t possible. Like us – we want to raid together, and we want to bring my brother in, so there’s three right there. And I like ten mans. So it was pretty obvious pretty fast that we needed to put a raid group together.
Fortunately we have a guild full of talented people and not all of them have dedicated raids right now. So it was on to the next step: checking in with the guild.
I would say, never ever start a raid without at least checking with guild officers. I went right to the top and started whispering Troutwort, who thought it was a great idea. We have one really solid raid group in guild. They are established, they get things done, they have fun. I didn’t want to compete with them, I wanted to emulate their success. So we found a raid time that wasn’t on the same nights as theirs – this is key, if you can manage it; try not to be head to head with another good raid. There will be some time when you need to grab a guildie to fill a role, and the other raid is likely to be your source of very capable alt players. Also, you just don’t want a situation where both raids are looking for one more healer to come in, just tonight, on the same night!
Once you’ve got the ok, start making a list of possible raid members and roles. This is much easier to do if you’re building a ten man! And don’t leave this til the last minute. I did most of my recruiting Tuesday night and set our first raid for Saturday. By Wednesday I had 9 slots filled. I didn’t get the 10th slot filled til Friday – and we ended up having to replace one person on the fly.
Now, no plan of battle ever survives contact with the enemy, and your perfect raid roster is no exception. I approached the person I had mentally labeled as my healing partner, only to be told that while he’d really love to come, he was burned out on healing. He redeemed himself by suggesting a different healer though. Other people had multiple alts and we juggled around between what they could bring, what they wanted to bring, and what would be best for the raid.
Leave yourself time to fill in weak spots. In our raid, the weak spot was obvious; my brother’s gear. He’d been in Iraq last year, his gear was ok for entering ICC – but some of our fellow raiders would be pulling 10k dps and we wanted to try heroics. He needed more gear if he was going to tank. Well, guildies leapt to the rescue. A couple of our raiders helped run through regular Halls of Reflection til that stupid shield dropped. Some offered mats to help make the really nice plate tank pants, or get his stuff enhanced. I cut gems, smelted saronite, we helped him figure out how to make his justice and honor points go the farthest – and he entered ICC in much better shape. And then proceeded to get drop after drop of awesome tank loot, the little rat.
Then, go and have fun – but assess how the first run goes. As raid leader you’re responsible for more than your own performance. You have to call out the strategy. Even if someone else makes a suggestion, ultimately you need to say “ok we’re doing it this way”. Some of your raiders may need fight instructions. Some of ours hadn’t been past Putricide; my brother had never yet killed Saurfang. Reversion and I tag teamed it. He did the grand strategy, called things out on vent, and watched the tanky end. I kept in mind which raiders brought what specs and offspecs to the game, looked at meters, watched the healing, and kept an eye on the time.
The result? Our first awesome night of raiding, we went in and knocked out the first three fights on heroic, gave Saurfang a few game attempts before setting him to normal, and then killed the plague wing, Dreamwalker, and the blood wing. We made a decision to come back Sunday afternoon to down Sindy and take a look at the Lich King. Now, these were all guildies; most had run things together before, but not this particular raid comp, and we had not raided with many of them, so we were very pleased with our success. I think we’ve got our raid for Cataclysm…