Training to be Hardcore

Recently, I’ve been grappling with the question “How did I get in a progression guild? And what’s keeping others from getting into (or keeping their spot in) these guilds?”

My guild gets about 4 “legitimate” applications per week. “Legitimate” to me is where it doesn’t feel like they “accidentally the whole application”. Of those 4 we really consider only 2, and of those 2 our roster can only accommodate 1 of them. Of those lucky single applicants who get in, some just don’t cut it.

I’m not talking social meshing. I’m talking about legitimate performance deficiencies. The logs in their application were in an environment that allowed them to easily outshine their lesser-skilled teammates. Maybe they took advantage of that to pad meters or obtain special performance-increasing cooldowns from their team. Maybe they joined us 3 bosses ahead of their previous progression and are unpracticed on boss mechanics. Or maybe they aren’t sure how to avoid boss mechanics while keeping up their DPS/HPS/TPS.

Losing Grip

In any case, those unfortunate recruits are not performing and resultantly not getting into raids.  It’s a very heartwrenching thing seeing someone who put their heart and soul into their application get into raids less and less. And when they do get in, their performance hasn’t improved.

You can partly blame raiding’s vicious cycle. Being sat means missing valuable experience in attempts (learning what works, what doesn’t, and timing cooldowns around specific strategies), missing big upgrades, and generally not practicing your class in a serious raid environment. Their competition is in raids getting all of this, putting that unfortunate, un-included raider at a severe and rising disadvantage.

There’s ways to avoid this and really shine. But it requires a significant amount of effort. Some players legitimately seem to not care, and just want to raid with the same perks as those who do hours of research. Some players really want to improve but just don’t seem to know where to start. This article’s for the latter group.

Focusing Your Time Played

The first mental shift you need to make is that raid time- even when not included in the raid group- should be spent like you’re actually raiding. The people in raids are getting their rotation cemented into their muscle memory more than you each second they’re in that raid. Meanwhile, you might be talking to friends or running laps in Stormwind.

Tell an Officer you’re leaving the raid to do individual stuff and get in that Dungeon Finder queue. Get in PVP matches. Smack that training dummy with different specs, ability timing, or gear setups. Never sit idle while your guild’s practicing content. If you’re spending “designated” raid time messing around out-of-game, you’re doing it wrong.

You wouldn’t be alt-tabbed during a raid unless it was between attempts or break time. You shouldn’t be doing it if you’re sitting.

Them Tubes Have Secrets

If you really can’t find anything to do in-game (or can’t stomach any more of it), get onto forums or YouTube and do some focused research.

Let’s say you’re tackling a boss that’s nowhere close to getting downed. Go search “Point of View” to see how people playing your class and spec perform the fight. Get multiple ideas of how you should be approaching the fight so when you do get in, you’re doing things right. If you can’t find Point of View videos for your class, go watch TGN strategy videos, TankSpot, Learn2Raid, and other guilds’ versions.

If the boss is close to dying, don’t waste time studying it. You have a full week until you need to worry about that boss again once it dies. Study up on the next target using the same methods above. If you don’t know the next target, get an Officer (ideally the raid leader) to commit you an answer. If they don’t know, that’s a bad mark against your guild’s leadership.

Play Like a Politician

Even if you’re a fresh recruit, get talking to guildmates who play your class and spec. Talk them up every day when they’re not busy. Don’t make it a deluge of questions where they’ll doubt your competency or level of dependence on others, but do dip into theory and optimization talks often. Doing this means:

  • you care.
  • you’re working to improve.
  • you’re learning their secrets (unless they’re being maliciously secretive to protect their raid spot).
  • you’re going to have new things to research and practice when you’re being sat for raids.

You really can’t lose as you work on transitioning to the core team. Moreso than people playing your class, touch base with your class leader. Let them know what you’ve been practicing, optimizing, or acquiring outside raids. Be involved on guild forums regarding progression fights or class threads (even if you can’t type for a damn), since all the Officers see that chat and know you’re learned up on mechanics.

Political positioning is important, even in games. You can worry about being yourself and all buddy-buddy once you’re in the core team. For now, you need to show people you’re competent, involved, and actively working your butt off each week. Sorry, but you need to bite this bitter pill until you’ve overcome your “negative perceptions”.

Someone Knows More Than You

It’s a bit demeaning to be in a “hardcore” guild and still seek out mentors and trainers, but if your spot’s in jeopardy, you need to do it. There’s no sidestepping the issue. There’s someone out there better than you, and they might even be in your raids.

Find someone willing to work with you, keep tabs on your progress, and hold you to a strict regimen. Just like a gym trainer guilting you if you skip a session, this person’s there to make sure you don’t let the lazy side of you take over as you make the transition to core raider. The best person for this role isn’t a friend per-se. Your mentor can become a friend, but sometimes friends put your feelings and comfort above your need to improve. Your friends might also have a bias since they’ve known you so long.

Your ideal target will be someone in your guild you’re not friends with and is very staunch on high raid performance. Someone who’s outspoken on their opinion on what’s right and can actually back it up with their own performance- ranking on World of Logs, heading class community forums, etc. Someone who can be a total prick to “baddies”. Why? Well, chances are if you consider them a prick and are underperforming in their raids, they’re already critical of you and how you’d improve. They’re probably using you as a bottom bar for their performance and cursing your name each time you’re in the raid, perceiving you as detriment.

These people will give you extremely direct feedback, bias-less (and fresh) advice that’s backed by research and logs, and will finally have an outlet for their hundreds of ideas- you! Better, if you can improve under their guidance, they’re probably the biggest obstacle between you and getting into raids. If they’re good, they’re probably talking to Officers and raid leaders each night about how the raid’s doing. And they’re definitely complaining about underperformers, which may include you.

You being under their tutelage and altering their opinion might be the thing that’ll get you in. If going it yourself isn’t garnering results, bow down to the powers above you and take on a mentor who’ll whip you into shape.

Summing It Up

  • If you want to improve, you need to be ready to put in the time
  • Utilize every second of designated raiding time, even if you’re not raiding
  • YouTube is bar-none the best (and most varied) research tool
  • Show off to the right people
  • Take on a trainer who isn’t your buddy

Doing these things will position you brilliantly for progression. Even if it’s not with your current guild, you’ll adopt some key skills and habits that you will carry with you until you find that raiding nirvana. Be motivated, be adamant, and never give up. There’s bosses to kill.


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