Friday, May 23, 2008

Hello, my name is ____ and I'm starting Karazhan!

I see these sorts of posts crop up all the time on Cromfel, Maintankadin, in the Ret EJ thread, and on the official forums. "Hi, I'm starting Karazhan/SSC/Hyjal/(insert instance here), and would like to be ret! What stats do I need to enter [instance of choice]?"

While people can wildly quote you numbers that they pull out of thin air (and I've been guilty of doing so), no one can say "you can't do Tempest Keep as Ret without X of attack power and Y of crit! Going to a tier 5 instance with less than that is fail!" It is true, some encounters require a raid to put forth a minimum amount of damage in a set amount of time otherwise the boss either a) grows unmanageable (Gruul at higher growths - tank will get demolished), or b) enrages after a point, going berserk and slaughtering everyone summarily. However, you can zone in to Serpentshrine Cavern with 24 other people, and most often somewhere between 12-15 of them will be DPS'ers. You're not alone - one person's slack can be collectively picked up by the rest. Is it advisable to have gear of quality befitting your level and the content you're attacking? Yes. But there are more pressing matters to address.

The most important thing about starting a new instance, especially with a new spec if you're transitioning to Ret from Prot or Holy, is to read about the fights before you go. Know how a melee DPS'er is going to contribute to a fight; know which fights require movement so you know ahead of time if you'll need to ask for a re-judge of Wisdom/Light from the Holy's; know how long each fight should last on average, so you can time your Avenging Wrath/trinkets appropriately. Having insight into these sorts of things will keep you aware, alive, and DPS'ing. Going into, say, the Gruul encounter with tier 6 gear but never having read, done, or seen Gruul will get you killed on the first or second shatter, or after you overtake the off-tank and eat a hateful strike, and all that gear would mean nothing as you lay in a pool of your own spittle after you keel over. Knowledge is power!

That is not to say that it's smart to waltz into Black Temple in quest greens and think you're going to survive the Naj'entus encounter and put out anywhere near decent damage just because you know what happens. Instead of saying "I need X stats to raid this content!", step back and take stock of your gear. If your set is mostly quest greens/blues with a smattering of rep rewards, you're ready for Karazhan. If half your gear is from Karazhan or season 1 PvP vendors and you're starting to look kinda purple, you're ready for Gruul's Lair or Magtheridon's Lair. When you've got most of your slots covered by tier 4 quality gear, you're set for Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep. If half your gear is from SSC/TK or season 2 PvP vendors and the rest is covered by tier 4 stuff (meaning you've eliminated the blues and greens), you can probably handle the beginning of Hyjal and Black Temple. When your average item level is at or above tier 5, dive head-first into the rest of the tier 6 content, you'll be fine. The only restriction is to have a weapon that's no more than a tier behind. Don't tote that [Gorehowl] into the Teron Gorefiend fight, at least use a [World Breaker] or something.

Hard numbers and benchmarks mean nothing. An extra 75 AP or 1% crit is not going to push you from mediocre to elite. What's important is that you know what you're getting in to, have some gear from the tier immediately previous to the one you want to go to, and keep your skill rotation tight to maximize your efficiency. If you understand the stat priorities and have chosen appropriate gear, and have acquired some drops from the content immediately previous to what you're looking to raid, you'll be fine. Waiting until you get that extra 50 attack power before raiding a boss is just folly. Stop stressing the details and just try it!

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