After grinding for hours to hit max level you have seen a number of messages in trade chat, have been whispered by random strangers, or had friends who have asked you to raid with them, and you agreed. You put on your best gear and gather with a dozen other players to enter the gates of the latest raid, and for hours you throw yourself against boss after boss downing some and failing at others. At some point you encounter a proverbial wall where you and your group just cannot proceed any further due to lack of DPS, heals, or tank survivability.
The day might come, or has already come, where your raid leader sits you down and explains that because your performance isn’t meeting expectations, you will have to get out of the raid. Or even worse: No one makes any attempt to improve, and week after week you fail on the same boss for the entire tier.
Let’s be real, that sucks so much for everyone involved. I have been a casual raider for a long time and always wondered how a raider can go from casual to progression and what they have to do. It wasn’t until recently with the Legion expansion that our official guild, Emerald Templars, started raiding somewhat seriously and I quickly realized that I was holding back our team. My option was either to improve myself, or step aside for someone better.
Here is what helped me improve and I know will help you as well:
Proper User Interface
It can be hard to raid when your screen is covered in useless images. In order to know what is happening around you, you need to ensure you can use as much of your screen as possible. While the default UI is okay, it is nothing compared to using addons such as ElvUI. ElvUI allows you to modify every single part of your user interface so you can shrink or expand whatever you need. Tools built into ElvUI allows for all of your abilities to be neatly stacked together to reduce the amount of time you need to look at your spells. The addon has so much to offer that it can be overwhelming at first but there are plenty of guides online to help you.
WeakAuras is an add on that helps you see all of your important abilities and their cool downs. You can modify the notifications as well so that if there is an ability that you absolutely do not want to miss casting then you can have a unique chime play when it is ready to be cast. This is essential for being as efficient as possible during fights. This addon can be overwhelming to set up on your own, but there is a large community run website that features a huge array of easily imported settings to get you going.
Personal Experience: I used the default UI for so long and swore that anyone who did otherwise were tryhards. That was until my raid leader examined my screenshots, sat me down and forced me to update my entire UI. I fought against it so much initially because I had to relearn where all of my buttons and timers were but after that slight hump, everything became easier in terms of watching timers, my own cool downs, and noticing the area around me for boss mechanics.
In order to improve you need to first understand where you are currently and which areas you are lacking in. Addons such as Recount are great, but WarcraftLogs is ideal as you can compare yourself to the best raiders in your class to see exactly how much you cast an ability as opposed to them. It will help you tremendously to see not just how much DPS or healing you are doing but specifically how much you have been casting, if you are over healing, your mana efficiency, how much damage you took and what exactly hit you that way you can take this information and build upon it.
A common rule for all DPS and healers is ABC or Always Be Casting. This alone should help you get better at your role if you don’t already do this.
Personal Experience: I would often listen in on my fellow raiders, all of which were the best at their role in the guild, would discuss and debate changes to their talents, gems, and enchants for an optimal build. Curious, I began to ask how they knew what was best or even new theories. They introduced me to various class specific Discord servers that were filled with fantastic players willing to help each other understand their chosen class, and many helpful guides.
Beyond that, they directed me to the best player recorded on WarcraftLogs and discussed the differences between him and I. Once I found out he used certain spells far more than I did and certain talents, I shifted my own technique and found incredible results.
Be Open to Feedback
In gaming or any real social situation involving experts in their fields, you will find that those who are the best tend to not be very good with people, so it is understandable that when they have an issue or a concern they can be very blunt about things. Do your best to disregard their insults, verbal jabs, or anything else that might wound your pride and focus on what the core of their message is. This also depends the source of the message. If it is someone outside of your raid group who is doing the same damage as you, it might not matter. But if it is your fellow raider, especially an officer, then focus hard on what they are trying to convey.
No player is perfect and we all have areas we can improve upon. Once you accept the fact that you don’t know everything and you can do better, you will start to improve.
Personal Experience: Some of my close friends tend to be experienced raiders and I would notice that they would crack jokes at my expense in regards to my healing. Being prideful man, I always took them to heart and in response I would refuse to play with them. When we raided, I would notice others would join in as well. It wasn’t until I broke down and got super pissed that I forced them to explain why they always gave me such a hard time. They explained that I continued to screw up in certain aspects of my role but thought it would be better to make jokes rather than openly inform me that I was bad. Once we had that understanding and open communication everything flowed.
Know the Fight
Although Deadly Boss Mods and Big Wigs help, they won’t move your character out of fire, or use your defensive cool downs to avoid hard hits. Despite multiple warnings by raid leaders to research fights and watch boss encounters, I would make half hearted attempts. We would then spend the first five wipes learning the encounter when a lot of mistakes could have been avoided.
This goes beyond just surviving the fight. As a healer, there are moments in every fight where major damage is inflicted on the raid, and knowing when that is coming allows you to prepare massive healing to negate the threat of the attacks. For DPS, they need to know what is the best time to stay and fight or to run and survive, even knowing how much damage they can handle just in case they need to not move in order to pump out that extra DPS in clutch moments. Tanks need to plan their defensive cooldowns, interrupts, taunt swaps, positioning, and know when they are most vulnerable to notify healers.
Personal Experience: As I stated before, I am a stupid prideful man and when someone calls me out for dying multiple times to the same mechanic I get pissed. In response I scan the videos for the fight to make damn sure the next person called out will not be me at all and if I am called out it is only ever in praise. Although one person can not carry the team to victory, if enough players know the fight like the back of their hand, everything gets so much easier to the point where you can down bosses with such low item levels.
These are just a few ways to make you a better raider. It will not happen overnight, nor will it be easy. It does get easier though, and once you do learn how to better yourself, it will be like night and day for your gaming. Nothing feels better than being told that you need to show up on raid night because you can not be replaced or to be the first of your friends to down a boss before it gets nerfed.
I hope this helps you out! If you have any other advice feel free to comment below!