Thanks to the recent level squish in Shadowlands, hitting max level has never been easier. You can now hone in on your favorite expansion and play through the stories and quests you most enjoy. Leveling through the newest expansion takes very little time at all. But what exactly is there to do once the cap is achieved?
Primarily, for those seeking the most challenge, that leaves either Mythic+ dungeons or Raids. Each requires its own specific grind and focus to compete at the very top level of expertise. There are even things you’ll want to do outside of the game that will help benefit you in your goals within the game. This then leaves the real question as “How do I attain this level of expertise?”
We’ve provided the definitive guide on how you can achieve your goals in raiding at the top level in World of Warcraft. This guide will be more generalized and not focus on any one class, spec, or even role. Instead, the information provided should help you get better at all aspects of endgame raiding.
Choosing The Right Environment
Do you need to be the best to complete a World of Warcraft raid? Of course not. In fact, many of the raids in WoW can be completed within a pick-up group, or PUG, which is just a random grouping of individual players attempting to achieve the same goal. The higher the difficulty of the dungeon, the more cohesion will be necessary.
Currently, the highest difficulty in World of Warcraft is Mythic, which definitely requires the entire raid be on the same page. The best way to ensure that you’re in a like-minded raiding party is to join a raiding guild. There are an overwhelming number of guilds from which to choose but not all guilds are created equal. You will need to do your research prior to selection to get the “on paper” details of what the guild is all about.
It’s best to keep an open mind with guilds, seeking out a few rather than one. This is because you’ll want to get a feel for the guild while being a member of it to see if the atmosphere clicks. Don’t commit to a guild until you feel that the community’s message fits your own and that the other members are more like minded than not. SInce the focus is raiding, try to steer clear of guilds claiming to be social or laid back as they are not likely focusing on endgame goals as much as they are family friendly vibes.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that raiding is not a focus of such guilds, it’s just not likely a primary one. You need to choose a guild that plays to your strengths and can help sure up your weaknesses. One where you can contribute but will also push you to be a better player.
The more ambitious of you reading this might have your heart set on a mythic world first guild, which is an admirable goal. However, these guilds tend to have strict policies for membership, and rightfully so. You don’t become a world first guild by allowing just anyone to join. If your focus is to impress one of these, you’ll need to take everything in this article to heart and then some. Most of these guilds will look at your Mythic+ progress via an add-on called Raider.io, which we’ll get into later on in the article.
Once you’ve joined the guild you want to move forward with, it’ll be time to develop thick skin and be open to some feedback.
Constructive Criticism Is A Good Thing
No player is perfect. This is something you should drill into your brain from the jump. No matter how good you are, there is always room for improvement. That being said, it’s oftentimes apparent that those attempting to help you improve don’t always use the best words to get their points across.
This sort of thing is common in real life as well. The top most experts are not necessarily those with the greatest people skills, coming off a bit brash and sometimes hurtful towards one’s pride. When a fellow raid member is being blunt in their criticisms, either through an off-putting tone or outright insults, it’s best to disregard their tirade and focus more on the message of intent.
Obviously, no one deserves to be belittled or put down in any real manner. The better raid leaders and guild officers will often pull you aside before giving one on one feedback pertaining to performance. If at any time you feel singled out, before jumping to conclusions that they’re out to get you, take a look at why.
Are you not getting the mechanics of the fight? Do you find yourself struggling with your output, damage or otherwise? Are you not communicating as often as is necessary during raid encounters? Try to understand the opposing point of view before reaching your breaking point. On that same note, don’t allow yourself to become overstressed by irate guild members. This is especially important when referring to those in the same boat as you as far as the guild hierarchy goes.
Just remember that all of the members of your raid are putting in their time to help the guild achieve its goals. Any member not willing to put in 100% has no place giving others helpful feedback, and this goes both ways. Those rants you should take to heart are the ones given by raid leaders and officers. Basic members can provide constructive criticism but if they choose to go about it in a hostile manner, it can be easily disregarded.
A guild can be like a second family, so sometimes jokes can be conveyed as insults. Try and decipher which words spoken are playful ribs from words being said in a hostile manner before flying off the handle. Getting to know your fellow members on a more personal level can often lead to a better raid experience. Maintain open communication with all members as a high morale can be a key ingredient to a raid’s success.
It can also be beneficial to join class specific Discord servers to better understand your class. These servers tend to have large communities dedicated to a single class, covering all specs, and discussing better ways to improve performance.
Visual Adjustments and Addons
World of Warcraft’s default user-interface isn’t a cluttered mess, though it does have some unnecessary additions and limitations. No offense to the Blizzard art team but the image surrounding either side of the action bars is virtually pointless aside from adding a bit of decoration. As little as it covers, it’s still taking up precious real estate on your screen that would be best used otherwise.
In a raid encounter there is often a lot going on at any given time. It gets even more difficult when your screen is covered in useless images. To recapture more of your screen it’s suggested that you download an addon such as ElvUI. An addon is something a player can download to upgrade their in-game quality of life. ElvUI in particular, is like many addons in one. You’ll be able to move, remove, and alter defaults on your screen with a single addon.
ElvUI can also help you with how your raid frames will look, your ability bar placement, and other helpful information can be attached to the panels that come along with the addon by default. No matter if you prefer the minimalist point of view or a bit more information displayed on screen, ElvUI caters to both. It’s one of the better UI addons for raiders.
WeakAuras is another addon I would suggest to raiders trying to improve themselves. This addon allows a player to modify the notifications of abilities used by class, events, and encounters. You can also display all of your more pertinent abilities and their cooldowns in a compact package that is more visible during heavy action. Setting up WeakAuras on your own can be very overwhelming. A suggestion for beginners is to navigate to wago.io. This is a community site with already created WeakAuras for just about anything you could need. It’d be better to utilize what the site has to offer while learning how to set up your own on your own time.
For a wealth of information on various boss encounters, look no further than Deadly Boss Mods. It’s very likely that if you’re already raiding, you’ve already downloaded and installed this one. It’s a virtual requirement for all serious raiders and will definitely help you improve your game.
Other suggested addons are Exorsus Raid Tools, which is great for raiders looking to boost their raid leader skills, Details! Damager Meter, an addon that allows you to keep track of your damage, healing, and other metrics during encounters, and MaxDps Rotation Helper. The latter one is great when you’re trying to learn your DPS rotation and press the appropriate buttons in the proper order.
Doing Your Homework On Raid Encounters
The Deadly Boss Mods addon will definitely help you with your raid encounters, but it can only do so much. It’ll tell you when to run but never tell you where to run to. It’ll highlight what’s about to happen but not tell you what you need to do about it (mostly). For these sorts of situations, your only path to improvement is to do some research on the raid encounters themselves.
There are a variety of sites and tools that can help you prepare for any given encounter that you’re going to face once you step inside a raid for the first time. Certain YouTube channels like Ready Set Pull are great video aids for early preparation. The MythicTrap website has a lot of written and gif related information you can use to hone your game based on which role you play.
This kind of research will go far beyond how to survive each fight. Instead, what you’re trying to figure out is where you fit in all of it. Each role has its own set of responsibilities. Even specific classes or specializations might be called upon for certain mechanics giving them a chance to shine. Your best bet is to know what you need to do inside and out on every encounter.
You can even go a step further and understand what all roles are supposed to be doing. Doing so will help you tighten up other player’s performances who may be lacking and avoid unnecessary wipes in the process.
There are moments in every fight where a healer will need to be prepared for members of the raid to take major damage. Knowing ahead of time when this will occur will only help negate the imminent threat. Tanks will want to plan around defensive cooldowns, when to interrupt, when to taunt swap, how to position themselves to the best of their ability, and when to notify healers when they’re most vulnerable. DPS need to adopt a fight or flight way of thinking. Knowing when it’s the best time to pump out damage and when to get to safety is paramount to not only survival, but raid progression.
Dumb DPS have a way of blaming the healer role for their own ineptitude. Don’t be this type. No matter what encounter you die in, what you need to be thinking is “What could I do better?” You are only responsible for you and what you can do. If a healer is slacking or a tank isn’t pulling their weight, that’s something for them to fix. This guide is about helping you get better, so no matter which role you play, the focus needs to be on you and what you can do to become a better raider.
Also, stop standing in red!
Optimization Through Data Analysis
By now you should understand the fundamentals of raiding. Some of what has been said already is more common sense than wisdom, and as such, should be drilled into your brain without much effort. To truly take your game to the next level, you’ll need to understand where your failings lie. In order to do this and improve, we’ll need to take a look at the logs.
Always Be Casting. Following the ABCs of combat is a great rule of thumb for both healers and DPS to improve at their respective roles. Keeping things on cooldown for too long is a major decrease in your performance average so don’t hold onto your best abilities for too long.
A great way to know if you’re doing things as you should is to head to WarcraftLogs and compare yourself to the best raiders in your class and specialization. You’ll be able to see how the top performers pull off their abilities and stack them up next to your own. What are they doing that you’re not?
This sort of thing will help you tremendously on not only how much DPS you’re pushing out at the right times or total healing you’re doing but will hone in on how often you’ve been casting, mana efficiency, possibility of overhealing at certain points, or how much damage you’ve been taking because your positioning is poor. The information you’ll find will be your first building block to becoming a better raider.
Locate your character logs by navigating to warcraftlogs.com, You can create a free account and sync your Blizzard account to it for a better experience. However, all you need to do at this time is type the name of your character into the search bar and perform a search. Depending on how many other characters have the same name, you should be able to click on your character from the populated list.
From your personal page you’ll be able to see all of the parses for the raid encounters and where you rank among them.
What you want to work toward is pink across the board. Not an easy task by any means as this would put you at the top of all players of the same class. There are six colors to look for: gray, green, blue, purple, orange, and pink.
Receiving a gray ranking is the worst of the worst. It usually means that you died too early in the fight but if you know that you were still standing tall by the end of it and still received a gray rank, then you have a lot of work to do on your performance.
At the very least, you’ll want to aim for a high blue value, however, as a mythic raider you’ll want to achieve a consistent purple rating or higher. If you notice any of your logs are rated poorly, you can click on it and be taken to a page with all previous logs on that boss.
Getting well acquainted with these parses will go a long way in increasing your performance average. For now, let’s just focus on a single log that has a poor performance average by clicking on the percentile for the fight. Once the log is open, copy the URL for the page, and move onto the next section.
Open a new tab in your browser and type in wowanalyzer.com. Paste the URL you took from warcraftlogs into the reports box on WoW Analyzer and click the Analyze button.
If the URL isn’t working for you, click the Character tab and enter your character’s information there. WoW Analyzer pulls the parses from warcraftlogs automatically. Then you just need to scroll through your parses until you find the one you want to view.
This tool will help illuminate what areas of your rotation and pre-raid preparation can be worked on a bit more using a checklist and suggestions. You’ll discover common mistakes being made during raid encounters and be provided the building blocks to improve your performance.
Begin with the Checklist section and toggle open the Use core abilities as often as possible dropdown. This particular point of interest will let you know which abilities you’re holding onto for too long by giving a percentage. You want to aim for everything being in the green. Red means that this is an area that is in need of immediate improvement. Understanding and utilizing this information can boost your DPS parsing dramatically.
Other sections of the WoW Analyzer page can provide insight on how to overcap your resource downtime and what you should bring to the raid to be best prepared. Take a closer look at the Suggestions section for tips on how to improve in all of the areas you’re lacking. This will be one of your best tools moving forward.
Many websites offer tested and proven talent builds for varying situations. Icy Veins and WoWHead are some of the more popular websites that can assist in ensuring you have the best build for every encounter. However, the single best way to know which talent build is working at all times is to head back to the logs.
On WarcraftLogs, you can look at what other people of your class and specialization are using to perform at such a high level. While on the main page of the site, click the triple line stack (hamburger stack) in the top left, choose which raid you want to view, and then click Rankings.
Filter the page according to your own class and spec by clicking All Classes, and from the dropdown menu select your class and spec.
At the top of every boss category, it will list the most common Talents, Trinkets, and whatever borrowed power is currently being used in the expansion. Currently, that would be Covenants.
Check out the top players and what they’re running, then compare it to what you’re currently using. If the differences are noticeable, make the necessary adjustments. You can also check out the rotations, CD usage, and even the potions being used by the highest echelon of players.
To do this you only have to click on the character’s name, which will take you to their guild page, then locate the character and click the name again. You will be bombarded with plenty of information to help improve yourself.
Character Build Comparison
At first glance, you’ll be shown a breakdown of the character’s top damaging abilities. Ignore this for right now as we’ll come back to it later. Instead, click on the Summary tab.
Here you can see just about everything pertaining to this character including currently worn gear, the talent build, borrowed power, and stats.
Open up a new tab and repeat what you just did, only this time seek out your own character. You can now line things up and compare all of the information to get a better understanding on why you may be performing as you are.
Focusing too much on one stat, especially if you’ve already hit the soft cap, can hinder performance. Try to get your stats to mirror a top player’s as closely as possible. The same can be said for all other pieces of information like on-use Trinkets, talent builds, and borrowed power.
Stick to looking at the top five players of your class’ specialization in order to get a better grip on where you’re in need of improvement. Gearing can be difficult, so don’t stress too much if yours doesn’t always line up with other players. Instead, you should optimize your current stats by simming yourself using either Raidbots.com or SimulationCraft.
Head back to the Damage Done tab to check out the ability breakdown we first saw when opening the page.
Do this for all characters you have open to compare. The focus here should be that your abilities used should be inline with the other top players. What I mean is that your top three damaging abilities should match other players’ breakdowns. Gear and fight duration will have an impact on the amounts, but so long as you are using the right abilities most often, things should line up.
Hovering over the abilities will give you a better understanding of how hard they were hitting. Prioritizing single target spells during cleave or AoE situations will show up in the breakdown comparison, which should help set you on a better path moving forward once you take the time to understand what you’ve been doing wrong.
For a more in depth analysis, we can look at the top performing players’ casting timelines.
Take this time to thoroughly go over the top players’ rotations by clicking Timelines in the top right of the screen, and then selecting Casts. Aside from precast, as this will not show up on the rotation, look to see how well you match up against the top players.
Notice any differences in your timeline? Below is an image of the top Marksmanship Hunter during the Mythic Council of Blood encounter in Castle Nathria.
The timeline will show exactly what is being cast and at what point in time it’s casted. Studying this closely will help you perform better in certain parts of every encounter that you may not have known about otherwise. Things like popping all your cooldowns early for stationary abilities during a fight with lots of movement. This will obviously drop your performance level down a few pegs. Scroll through the timeline and identify at which point you should hold off and when it’s best to go nuclear.
Even after all of this reading, this is still considered the basic fundamentals of becoming a better raider. This doesn’t take into account natural talent, proper keybindings, and learning curve. Becoming a top raider doesn’t happen overnight and it will be a long and arduous undertaking for anyone just starting out.
Things do get easier as your experience grows. So, take what you’ve learned here and apply it to your gameplay and you’re sure to begin performing at a better rate. Adopt the philosophy that you can always improve and you’ll be on your way to becoming a better endgame raider.
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