Getting Ready to Raid - Druid Style.

Raiding, like many other things in life, is a venture whose results are directly linked to the amount of preparation you put in. There are many facets that contribute to this success.

Before everything else, getting ready is the secret to success.
-Henry Ford

Raiding, like many other things in life, is a venture whose results are directly linked to the amount of preparation you put in. There are many facets that contribute to this success. While the opinion of most players is that your pre-raid gear is the most important area to concentrate on, I personally feel it is one of the most insignificant. Knowledge is the best weapon to wield and it falls directly on each member of the raid to make sure they gather the information critical to making it a rewarding experience for all. 

Know your role –

As a druid the role you’re expected to play could easily be the most diverse of any class. No other class in the game can fill all four roles in a raid like we can, so make sure you know what your guild (or PUG raid – shudder- ) expects of you and plan accordingly. With the upcoming changes in patch 3.1 expect to see more requests for you to fill multiple roles based on raid composition and attendance. Most encounters in the game play very differently from one archetype to the next so the druid will need to invest a little more time than most classes to understand these differences in their preparation.

Know the encounters –

Taking a few minutes to read up on the zone and bosses you’re slated to tackle can have immense upside. Blizzard has done a great job of diversifying their boss encounters in each raid instance. However, there are a lot of recurring themes in these bosses, so prior raid or zone knowledge can be very handy (WotLK raiding seems to be a lot of ball avoidance and being able to move out of black holes on the ground). Knowing the nuts and bolts of each boss encounter beforehand can give you a big leg up on executing the strategy your raid leader implements. Most fights in this game are tackled similarly from group to group, but there is room for variance, so checking multiple sources can be very beneficial. There are several excellent sites that have compiled guides to all encounters in the game. I prefer but due to the popularity of the game there are multiple sources you can peruse. 

Know your surroundings –

Situational awareness goes hand in hand with encounter knowledge. Most bosses in WotLK have one or more abilities that require you to avoid or reposition. Failure to do so will usually result in your death or a raid wipe. Nothing beats seeing these abilities firsthand, but there are many videos out for these encounters. Keep an eye out here at Ten Ton Hammer for upcoming strat videos!

Feral –

One talent tree, two archetypes – the feral druid can fill two raid roles with the switch of a few key feral talents. Whether you are asked to function as a tank or as melee DPS there are several similarities and several key differences to itemization and consumables.

- Target stats
 - Melee DPS
  •     - Melee Hit. The hit cap is 9% or 295 rating. Try and be as close as you can, preferably over 250.
  •     - Critical Strike. Our cat form increases our crit substantially through talents so look to be near 20% crit in humanoid form. 
  •     - Attack Power. Feral druids also get amazing attack power increases when in cat form so look to be around 1700 atk power in humanoid form at the onset of your raid career.

- Feral Tank
  •      - Dodge. The mainstay of what makes druid tanking tick. No other class in the game gets a dodge coefficient like the druid. Look to be near 20% dodge in humanoid form.
  •      - Defense. Defense rating for the druid is mainly purely for the dodge factor, as roughly every 123 defense rating adds a percent to our dodge. You can’t hit what you can’t touch. These two stats along with agility all factor together to create your total dodge amount.
  •      - Armor Class. Our bear form grants us 370% increase to our base armor class. Look to hitting around the 5400 mark in AC in humanoid form.

- Consumables

 - Melee DPS
    - Flask of Endless Rage with its 180 atk power bonus is the flask of choice.   
    - Elixirs of Accuracy, Expertise or Deadly strikes will raise your hit, expertise and crit by 45 respectively. Mate them with an Elixir of Mighty Fortitude for an additional 350 health and 20 health per 5 second regeneration.
    - Poached Northern Sculpin for 40 attack power and 40 stamina is an excellent food choice. 
- Feral Tank
  •    - Flask of Stoneblood increases maximum health by 650 for two hours and persists through death.
  •    - Guru’s Elixir increases all stats by 20 for one hour and makes a good compliment to Elixir of Protection that increases your armor by 800.
  •    - Blackened Dragonfin grants 40 agility and 40 stamina.

Restoration –
The masters of heal over time spells, restoration druids are formidable tank healers. Druids can also assist in raid healing with Wild Growth and quick instant heal spells. Traditionally druids have stacked a lot of spirit for insane mana regen. Patch 3.1 will change the coefficient of spirit in relation to mana regeneration, we will also see a change to how we keep HoT’s active on tanks. Currently Lifebloom can be kept up on multiple targets and since it ticks every second most players were holding three stacks on their targets. 3.1 will see the cost of the spell doubled, however allowing it to “bloom” now refunds half the mana cost associated. Mana Regeneration outside “the five second rule” is being decreased via a health nerf to the amount of regen spirit grants us, so grab up the MP5 gear!

- Target stats
Keep in mind these are PRE-RAID targets! Getting as close as you can will help you stay alive and move forward.

  •  - Spell Power. Around 1200 bonus healing is a reachable goal in pre raid gear, much less than this and your effectiveness begins to wane.
  •  - Mana Regen.  I would shoot for around 225 regen while casting, lofty goals but come 3.1 it will be staggeringly low.
  • - Haste. Haste is a tricky stat and is most powerful when your mana regen is at a high level. Temper your haste amount in relation to mana and healing effectiveness. You will notice most healing leather in this expansion has a lot of haste,  and while it can be amazing at making you a more complete healer, it can also drain your mana pool much too quickly.

- Consumables
  •  - Flask of Pure Mojo increases your mana regen by 38 per 5 seconds, lasts 2 hours and persists through death. With the release of 3.1 this is far and away the flask of choice.
  •  - Elixir of Lightning Speed and Elixir of Mighty Mageblood is a great combo for a more experienced and geared player who doesn’t need to worry about persistent effect.
  •  - Mighty Rhino Dogs provide 16 MP5 and are my personal favorite, best with mustard.
  • Cuttlesteak with its 40 spirit and Firecracker Salmon with 46 spell power are also very good choices. All three mentioned foods also grant 40 stamina.

- UI Mods
  •  - Omen is a great threat meter and a must for all raid participants. Many will tell you that only DPS and tanks really need to worry about threat meters, however a smart healer will look at all available information during a raid. A threat meter can warn you of a player who will need healing as they pull agro from a tank as well as let you know if your heals will create the same issue before a tank has secured the mob.
  •  - Deadly Boss Mods. An up to date, well made boss timer that provides invaluable information for all end game encounters.
  • - Decursive is a mod that helps you prioritize and organize your de-cursing and is a must for any restoration druid.

Balance –
 The Boomkin is a capable damage dealer that is amazing against single target mobs and has situational effectiveness against large groups of trash mobs. Besides formidable personal DPS, the boomkin form gives your raid party increased crit % and a nice haste improvement, insuring you a spot in every raid.

- Target stats

 - Critical Strike.  15% in non shapeshifted form is your target. Crit is THE stat of the balance druid and most of your best talents increase it in one way or another. 15% doesn’t sound like much but in your base form its roughly 450 crit rating.
 - Haste rating. Haste is also a favorite stat of WoW devs and you will see it on almost all upgrades you come across. Look to be at around 250 pre-raiding and expect this to jump very far, very fast.

- Hit. In the nuts and bolts of final DPS tallies you won’t even be a blip on the radar without having your hit maxed out. Fortunately for us we have 4% in the bag with talents. Hit % needed for current raid bosses is 17%. Shadow Priests give you 3%. Assuming the points spent and the shadow priest in raid, you need 10% or 263 hit rating. You should be near that when you begin raiding.

- Consumables
  •  - Flask of the Frost Wyrm grants 125 bonus spell power and persists through death.
  •  - Elixir of Lightning Speed or Elixir of Deadly Strikes for 45 haste or 45 crit ratings respectively, whichever you need most improvement in. Couple it with Elixir of Spirit for a nice 1-2 punch.
  •  - Firecracker Salmon, Cuttlesteak or Imperial Manta Steaks are the foodstuffs of choice for the boomkin.

-  UI Mods
 Virtually the same as Restoration as you need to keep an eye on your threat generation and you may be called upon to de-curse.

"The will to win is worthless if you do not have the will to prepare."
— Thane Yost

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