Let the raids begin

For many, summer is a time for short and sweet romances, basking in the warm rays of the sun, an adventure to a new country, and most importantly, a break from the grind of the daily school daze. But for those of us who have our priorities straight, summer means three months of non-stop raiding in the pursuit of purple epic gear and carpal tunnel syndrome.

But if you think raiding WoW's end-game is a laid back affair, you're probably wondering why you never get invited to tag along on runs through the game's most brutal and rewarding raids. Raiding is serious business, and raiders don't take too kindly to folks who randomly go AFK for something as insignificant as a trip to the restroom or a call to the fire department because your house is on fire.

In preparation for the upcoming raid-a-thon, here's a list of raiding pointers. Follow these, and you're sure to have a secure spot in your guild's choicest raids.

1. If a raid starts at seven o'clock at night, server, don't log on five hours before and ask how long until the raid starts every twenty minutes. Server time is the time you get when you mouse over the little sun and moon by your mini map. Figure that out and then do the math.

2. Thirty minutes before a raid starts is a good time to log on, gather reagents, and park your toon. Every minute past the stated start time that you aren't zoned in means people waiting for you. The summoning stone, while handy, doesn't work if no one is there to use it.

3. Don't go into a raid with the clothes on your back and empty bags waiting for the loot to drop in. You will need your basic gear, your back up gear, your "I'm not spec'd holy /prot/resto/feral but I may have to heal/tank/dps" gear, and your resist gear. All of that gear needs to be at 100% durability. That means repair before you go!

4. Show up ready. Bring food with stat boosts. Bring health pots (melee) mana pots (casters), and elixirs. Bring bandages. Bring water (a mage is more than a vending machine). Bring reagents (and every class has them, some of us call reagents poisons or arrows or soul shards but the idea is there).

5. Know the strategy before you go into the instance. Just like professional sports teams have playbooks, most guilds have the strategy posted or linked on their forums. Someone didn't spend all that time writing all that out so they could re-iterate it mid-raid. And while some players carry the entire knowledge database of the dungeon in their heads, most of us don't want to re-explain every detail every five minutes.