Appearances to the contrary, the waning days of an expansion are actually a pretty good time to apply to a raiding guild. That’s when attendance gets choppy, the pool and the grill issue a siren call from the deck, people go on vacation, or — having “finished” the expansion — they just take off, period. If you look at the recruitment forums, you’ll see a ton of guilds looking for players right now. If you’ve ever wanted to raid but haven’t gotten the chance, I think there is no better time. The Icecrown zone buff is a fantastic buffer for anyone who’s not emerging with a bevy of best in slot from tier 9, and the raid itself is one brilliant lore moment from beginning to end.
However, applying to a raiding guild — particularly if you haven’t done much raiding in the past — can be on the intimidating side. With that in mind, here’s a guide on how best to present yourself if you’re applying anywhere as a feral or restoration druid.
A few non-druid specific guidelines:
Raiding guilds don’t care about your GearScore.
GearScore is a tool for the rushed, the lazy or the ignorant. It’s not a great metric by which to judge a player’s potential. To be fair, it wasn’t intended to be, but I think all of us are used to PUG raid leaders’ imperiously demanding your GearScore before they’ll admit you to their raid. If you’re as sick of this behavior as I am, you’ll be heartened to see very little of it on any reputable guild’s website, because your GearScore doesn’t tell them jack about whether you’re a player they’d want.
We’ll talk in a bit about what guilds are looking for in cat, bear and tree druids.
Apply to guilds pushing content that your character’s gear can realistically support. Raiders may not care about your GearScore, but they do care about your gear.
- Guilds pushing heroic Lich King will look for players already equipped in ilevel 264, tier 10 with mostly Icecrown-quality non-set pieces.
- Guilds pushing regular Lich King are a little more flexible but will still look for players with at least some Icecrown-quality gear.
- Guilds that haven’t yet begun Icecrown or are still working on the early bosses are generally willing to consider players who haven’t had much access to raid gear.
With the armory and independent achievement tracking sites, guilds have more resources than ever these days to find out if you’re telling them the truth.
Don’t misrepresent yourself when it comes to more intangible factors, either — which I suppose is a roundabout way of saying be honest with yourself. The application process is partly to determine whether you’d be a good fit for the guild, but it’s also to determine whether the guild’s a good fit for you, too.
Make the recruitment officer’s job as easy as possible.
- Always log out wearing the gear for the spec you’re applying as. It’s annoying to click someone’s armory link and find the character in a PvP set.
- Don’t apply until your character’s been maxed out with the best possible enchants, gems and glyphs. You may think it’s expensive and pointless for gear you hope to replace as soon as possible, but all that the guild will see is someone who’s waiting for boss drop RNG to compensate for their own laziness.
- Fill out the entire application. This should go without saying, but the number of people who don’t is disturbing.
- Proofread. An application full of spelling, grammatical or punctuation mistakes is annoying to read.
- List any relevant raid experience. Most applications will ask for this anyway, but …
- Don’t give one-word answers to anything other than very simple questions. “Do you own and use an authenticator?” can be answered with a yes or no (although if you answer no, you should explain why; there’s a good reason why that question’s so frequently asked these days). The answer to “Why have you chosen your current spec?” needs to be more involved.
- Anticipate questions. If your gear or spec are sub-optimal or seem tailored to a specific fight, provide a reason before you’re asked about it. “We don’t have a holy paladin in my current guild, and my tree is currently specced and glyphed for maximum single-target throughput as a result” is enough to head off any questions as to why you’re applying for a raid healing position with a tank healer’s spec.
- Rightly or wrongly, guilds will see the amount of effort you put into your application as representative of the amount of effort you’ll put into raids. Act accordingly.
If you’re applying as DPS, have a World of Logs (or similar record) available.
Many guilds will request or require third-party confirmation of what your toon can do. If all else fails, you can include a screenshot of Recount or whatever, but don’t be surprised if many guilds don’t bother looking at anything that easily could’ve been Photoshopped.
Different roles have different rates of turnover.
Tanks generally have very low turnover. One of the more interesting sociological aspects of WoW is how few guilds ever go looking for a new main tank. If they lose their current main tank, a new one will almost always be promoted from among their off tanks, and the guild will simply advertise for a new off tank. Because a tank’s gear and experience have such an impact on raid success, most guilds are very resistant to rapid change in the tank corps. If you’re applying anywhere as a bear, guilds will want near-perfect attendance and a commitment to stick around.
Healers are a total crap shoot. Heal teams range from tightly knit bands of brothers to backstabbing groups so dysfunctional they make the Kardashians look sane. If you want to get a handle on what the heal team’s like without having to ask awkward questions, you can do what I call the Kill Shot Test. Most guilds put kill shot pictures and/or videos on the front page of their website, and if you see a lot of the same healers over and over again, that’s a good sign.
DPS generally have medium turnover, and what each guild is looking for will be highly individual to each. Again, the Kill Shot Test is helpful here.
Tanks have it toughest. You will get the most scrutiny out of any applicant, and your gear has to be as good as it’s going to get without access to whatever content the guild’s doing. Cheaping out on enchants, gems or BoEs is the kiss of death.
These are the questions I ask, either directly or indirectly, when I see a bear player’s application:
- Are you properly specced? People dicker over a few talents here and there, but the basics are straightforward. If you are missing rather important talents like Survival of the Fittest, I will probably stroke out before I reach the end of your application.
- What’s your armor, dodge and stamina? Survivability is the first thing you have to worry about as any tank. If you’re applying to any guild tackling Icecrown content beyond the first four bosses, you will start getting hit pretty hard. Aim for around 28,000-30,000 armor, 45,000-50,000 HP and 45-50% dodge before the Icecrown zone buffs/debuffs.
- What are your expertise and hit? When either or both are low, you’ll probably have difficulty holding aggro against geared DPS. At the very least, you should be at the expertise soft cap (26) and, at higher gear levels, getting within shouting distance of the hard cap (56). Getting to the hard expertise cap as a bear is pretty tough and by no means absolutely necessary, but you’ll still see huge threat returns from shaving more parries off the boss’ avoidance table. With the move to DPS leather, it’s become rare for me to see a bear who’s not hit-capped (263) these days, but if you’re not, you should still have a reasonable level of hit.
- What fights do you have experience tanking? This is the big one and the most difficult to overcome if you haven’t had experience tanking for another guild. It’s a pain in the ass to train a new tank on end-game content from scratch, and that goes double if you’re applying to a guild farming heroic content without much heroic experience. If you’re not part of a raiding guild, do whatever you can to get as much experience tanking ICC for PUGs. No matter what, there’ll still be an awkward settling-in period afterward when you’ll relearn fights to conform to how the guild does them.
- Have you researched fights you haven’t tanked? This is mandatory even for the tanks we’ve already got, because there are often substantial changes between the normal and heroic versions of encounters. You absolutely must have a solid grasp of encounter basics even if you haven’t seen them personally.
- What’s your off spec? How well-geared is it? Some fights don’t require more than one tank, and the “new guy” will almost invariably be asked to respec (generally to DPS) first. If you don’t have a secondary spec, or your secondary spec is for PvP or healing or whatever, that puts raid leaders in the awkward position of having to respec a more experienced tank or — more likely — benching you.
- Do you have a full set of gemmed and enchanted frost resist gear? It’s very common for tanks to use this for Sindragosa. I’ve started asking this question after we brought a new tank to the guild and discovered 10 minutes before raid that he didn’t have one.
- How long have you tanked? Tanking is stressful, and it requires a certain personality both to do well and to keep at it for a long time. This isn’t to say that a relatively new tank is a bad one, but I still like to get a sense of how invested you are in that character.
- Why did you leave your last guild, and on what terms did you leave? Every applicant will be asked this, but I’m especially curious when it comes to tanks. It’s still pretty common for guilds to default gear drops and tier tokens to their tanks first in the interests of gearing them as quickly as possible, and they are understandably resentful when they’ve put a lot of time into gearing a character who then skips town.
And yes, this would be one of the reasons why guilds are so invested in getting a stable tank corps. Go ahead; ask me if I’m mad that we gave the Bile-Encrusted Medallion to a tank we later kicked when he turned into an insufferable twit.
Oh, and as an aside, you may want to avoid referring to your non-WoW-playing girlfriend by the c-word behind her back, because the guild’s female players will see each and every single one of your raid deaths as a cosmic sign from the karma gods:
Raid leader: Insufferable Twit, why are you always dying to Unbound Plague?
Insufferable Twit: I don’t know.
Female guildies: *High-fives*
Before patch 3.3.3, I would have asked whether you had a Mangle bot for whatever DPS records you supplied, but that’s no longer necessary.
- Did you provide a World of Logs entry or other third-party record of your raid performance? This one’s close to non-negotiable for many raiding guilds.
- Are you properly specced? As with the bear, speccing a cat is pretty straightforward, and assuming you’re using a PvE spec, the only real differences are between specs with more or less AoE damage.
- Are you hit- and expertise-capped? At lower gear levels, this isn’t hugely important because so much of the cat’s DPS relies on bleeds and specials. It’s more of a concern as you advance to Icecrown-quality gear and your white hits become truly potent. Because you should always be behind a mob, you only need to worry about the expertise soft cap (26). Both the bear and cat are considered 1H weapon attackers, so your hit cap is also 263.
- Are your gem and enchant choices an appropriate reflection of your gear? This is directly related to your passive armor penetration and what kind of trinkets you have. Do you have a trinket with a huge armor penetration proc?
- How well did you do on fights like Deathbringer Saurfang and Festergut? Both fights are considered benchmarks for melee DPS, and Saurfang is arguably the best “cat fight” in the entire raid. You should have some of the highest numbers of your career here. If you don’t, what happened?
- How well did you do on fights like Blood Princes and Sindragosa? Melee DPS is somewhat of a liability on these encounters, particularly on their heroic versions (doing heroic Blood Princes with a lot of melee one week was enough to send our raid leader to the nuthouse). Just as I’m interested in seeing how you well you did on good “cat fights,” I’m equally interested in seeing what kind of damage you can pump out on fights where the deck’s stacked against you.
- What raid buffs were available to you for the DPS you’re claiming? Most of the jaw-dropping cat numbers you’ll see on third-party sites are the result of experience, good latency, smart trinket, cooldown and proc exploitation, a high crit rate and getting buffs like Hysteria. For all I know, your WoL record comes from a night when the enhancement shaman didn’t show up, the death knight was selling Hysteria to the highest bidder, your internet sucked or you got bitten last on Lana’thel. Nobody wants or needs a bunch of excuses if you turned in terrible numbers, but when you’re pointing to specific encounters as an example of what you can do, put the fights in context for us. What was going on in the raid that night that had any effect, good or bad, on your DPS? In other words, if we put you in those same circumstances again, how repeatable is your performance?
- Do you have any experience tanking, and if so, what’s your bear set like? You will almost certainly be asked to tank at some point.
- Are you good at “staying out of the fire?” Cats have some of the best “Oh s&%t!” buttons available to melee DPS: Barkskin, Survival Instincts (if you’re an end-game raider, you should have it), Dash, Tranquility if the healers are getting pasted, and — if all else fails — Bear Form and Frenzied Regeneration. If I go through your logs seeing a pattern of early deaths — either one-shots because you did something dumb, or slower deaths where you didn’t blow anything to survive — what that tells me is you don’t take responsibility for your own survival in a raid. As a healer, that doesn’t give me warm, fuzzy feelings.
Due to how quickly healing efficiency outscales tank HP and the demands of the average raiding encounter, guilds are typically more lenient with the gear requirements for healer applicants.
- Are you properly specced? As with the bears and cats, I want to see a player who knows what he’s doing. I’m open to eccentric choices more than most raiders are — I’d be the world’s biggest hypocrite> if I weren’t — but if you’re making unorthodox spec or glyph choices, I want to hear your reasoning.
- Are you haste-capped? This is the biggie. You should be haste-capped, or — if your gear simply doesn’t allow for it — you should be making an obvious effort. A restoration druid who’s far below the haste cap will spend way more time than the rest of the heal team on the global cooldown and thus unable to cast. That doesn’t help your prospective raid on encounters with insane raid damage, and there are a lot of them in ICC. If you don’t seem to be prioritizing +haste on your gear, it could just be that you’ve had lousy luck with drops, but we don’t know that unless you provide an explanation.
- What’s your raid-buffed MP5? Blizzard’s acknowledged that healer efficiency is too good, but that doesn’t mean you get to ignore your mana. Mana-intensive fights like Arthas, Lana’thel, Blood Princes and Festergut can and will run you OOM if you’re not careful.
- How fast are you? This one’s tough to quantify, but it’s getting easier to figure out with the advent of mods like PhoenixStyle. If we PUG with you and you’re consistently one of the fastest healers to heal Incinerate Flesh on Jaraxxus, decurse on Lady Deathwhisper or heal Vile Gas on Festergut, you can probably handle stuff like Pact of the Darkfallen and Harvest Soul.
- What’s your throughput like on fights like Twin Valks, Festergut and Lana’thel? These fights are tailor-made for resto druids: consistent, widespread raid damage that’s not too bursty, where HoTs are virtually guaranteed to have low overheal.
- What mods and macros do you use? The basic UI isn’t that great for healers, although some of the criticism is a bit overblown; a competent healer with nothing but the default raid frames can still blow an inexperienced one out of the water. That said, addons like Grid, Clique, Vuhdo, Healbot, SmartRes and buffing mods will give you a lot more information about what’s happening to the raid, and — more to the point — can be heavily customized. Trees are very dependent on these mods because so much of our healing is through HoTs that have to be tracked closely.
- What job are you used to doing? The vast majority of resto druid are being used as raid healers, but you might be coming from a 5-man healing background or a guild where you were a tank healer, or coming from a raid healing background to one where a guild needs a tank healer. Are you OK with respeccing and reglyphing for the demands of each role?
- Do you have experience on difficult healing encounters? One of the reasons that my guild dislikes revisiting heroic Anub’arak in ToGC-25 is that we’ve picked up a few new healers during our time in ICC, and Anub is a terrible fight for them. If you have — or can get — experience healing things like a three-tree Freya, Firefighter, a hard-mode Yogg, ToGC-10 or -25, or any heroic Icecrown encounters other than Gunship, that’s a big plus.
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