Part 8 of a guide for new, beginning, or returning players in World of Warcraft Shadowlands.
Welcome to part 8 of this ultimate guide for new World of Warcraft players. We have covered a lot of ground in the first 7 parts (setting up an account, creating a character, the user interface, questing, gear, items, professions). In this part, we are going to look at dungeons and raids in World of Warcraft. Dungeons and raids are the two main types of player versus environment (PvE) content. It is called PvE because players are fighting non-player characters (NPCs) as opposed to other players (called player versus player, or PvP).
What are Dungeons in World of Warcraft (WoW)?
Dungeons are 5-player content found in every expansion of World of Warcraft. Groups are typically comprised of a tank, a healer, and 3 damage dealers.
The enemies you fight in the dungeon can be a boss or trash (also called mobs or adds). Bosses are strong enemies with several dangerous abilities you have to watch out for. Abilities used by the boss (or other enemies) are commonly referred to as “mechanics”. Bosses also have more health than other enemies in the dungeon and take a longer time to defeat. While fighting a boss, they may occasionally summon additional enemies which are referred to as “adds”.
In contrast, “trash” refers to the small groups of enemies found throughout the dungeon.
Dungeons typically have about 4 bosses — especially in newer content. You can expect one dungeon run to take roughly 30 minutes to finish.
There are several settings for dungeon difficulty that you can choose from. Altering the difficulty to make the dungeon more challenging will grant better rewards for completing a dungeon. However, enemies will also deal more damage and have more health. Additionally, bosses may also have more mechanics that are not used on lower difficulties.
You can change dungeon difficulty in the drop-down menu upon right-clicking your character portrait in the top-left part of the screen. In total, there are four different difficulty settings for dungeons in World of Warcraft:
- Mythic+ (Pronounced mythic plus, also referred to as mythic keystones or M+)
Normal and heroic dungeons can be joined via the looking for group (LFG) tool (‘i’ key shortcut). When using this tool, you can select your role and queue up for a specific or random dungeon. This tool is also nice because it will teleport you into the dungeon upon finding a group.
Mythic modes can also be joined through the LFG tab but work a little differently. Instead of queuing through the “Dungeon Finder” tab, you will go to “Premade Groups” -> “Dungeons”.
Additionally, doing a mythic dungeon requires you to travel to the entrance of the dungeon. Only dungeons after the Warlords of Draenor expansion have a mythic mode. Additionally, mythic+ — or mythic keystones — require you to be max level and require a key to run. What does it mean to have a key? What makes mythic+ different from the other modes?
Let’s look at that now…
Mythic Plus Dungeons (Mythic+, M+)
Mythic+ is a special version of the dungeon that requires a key to begin. After entering the dungeon, keys are placed in the Font of Power pedestal that spawns near the entrance to begin. Keys can be obtained in one of two ways: by running a mythic dungeon without a key (commonly called a “mythic zero”) or from the Weekly Great Vault in Oribos.
If you run a mythic zero, you will get a key for a specific dungeon and likely a +2 attached to it. We will talk more about what the +2 means in a moment.
The other way to obtain a key is from the Great Vault which requires you to have run a mythic keystone dungeon the week before. In this case, you will get a key for a random dungeon at the level of the highest key you completed the previous week. If you completed a +15 last week, you’ll get a +15 key in your vault at reset.
So what does it mean to have a +2 key?
In short, it means that the dungeon’s difficulty has been scaled up to be harder. In addition to adding more health/damage to bosses or trash, m+ keys also add challenging mechanics called affixes. These affixes do things like make enemies explode on death or spawn glowing orbs which deal damage if not killed fast enough. Affixes are changed weekly and are selected from a pool of possible effects.
In addition to affixes, m+ keys also add a timed element to the dungeon. If you can complete the dungeon in time, your key will be upgraded in levels. Depending on how fast you finish, it can be upgraded by 1, 2, or 3 levels. If you fail to finish in time, your key will “deplete” and will drop one level lower for a different dungeon.
For more details on how to get started with mythic+ check out my article: 5 Best Mythic+ Tips for Beginners.
Raids in World of Warcraft
Dungeons and raids in World of Warcraft are similar in that they are focused on killing bosses and trash. However, raid groups are larger than dungeons and consist of anywhere from 10 to 30 people. As far as composition is concerned, there will almost always be 2 tanks; 2 to 6 healers, and the rest as damage dealers.
Additionally, raids take several hours to complete… if your group is able to complete it at all. While many of the mechanics are not much more difficult than those seen in mythic+ dungeons, fights are longer, and coordinating 20 or 30 people can be challenging.
As a result, many groups will have one or more “raid leaders” who focus on coordinating the group. Their job is to make sure players understand their role in the fight and assign players to groups based on those tasks. One thing that raid leaders do is send ready checks prior to pulling a boss.
You can read more about ready checks in the guide I wrote here.
Unlike dungeons (with the exception of high-level m+, raids require a good deal of understanding of your class and role. To defeat raid bosses, you will need to be able to use your abilities to survive as a tank, do a lot of healing per second (HPS) as a healer, or damage per second (DPS) as a damage dealer.
However, the degree to which you need to maximize HPS or DPS is dependent on raid difficulty.
Like dungeons, raids in World of Warcraft also have adjustable difficulty levels which include:
- Raid Finder (LFR) – Low HPS/DPS requirements
- Mythic – Extremely high HPS/DPS requirements
The raid finder, or LFR difficulty, can be queued for via the LFG like you would for a normal or heroic dungeon group. LFR is designed for players who want to raid but do not have several hours or a group to raid with. Additionally, the DPS and HPS requirements are low to provide all players with the opportunity to defeat the bosses and see the story.
To keep the content shorter, LFR raids are typically divided into 3 or 4 “wings” with a few bosses each. Also, enemies’ health and damage are scaled down to make it more manageable to complete in a group without coordination or raid leaders.
Normal, heroic, and mythic difficulties are usually attempted by guild groups. However, you can find pick-up raid groups (PuG for short) in the Premade Groups tab like you would for a mythic dungeon. Fair warning though, your results with this approach may be mixed as you may join a group that struggles to complete the content.
While many guild groups are capable of normal and heroic “clears” (means you clear or beat all the bosses in a raid), few are capable of mythic raiding. Mythic raids are extremely difficult. In fact, when new mythic raids are released, professional teams will spend hours upon hours trying to defeat the bosses.
In many cases, it will take them 200-300 attempts spread across multiple days to down the final boss!
How do I start raiding?
So, how do you start raiding? You may be nervous when you first start. Here are 6 tips to help you get started with raiding:
1. Decide if you have time to raid
If you are planning on attempting the looking-for-raid difficulty this doesn’t apply since it is more flexible. However, if you plan on doing any difficulty normal or above, the time investment may be significant.
While there are some guilds that raid for a couple of hours a week, the average raiding guild has scheduled raids for 2 or 3 nights for a few hours each. While you can find groups for normal and above in the group finder, I recommend you find a guild if you want to raid with any consistency.
2. Find a guild
Finding a group to help you can be very beneficial when you begin raiding. There are many guilds across servers that have a laid-back, helpful culture for new players. However, there are also guilds that are considered to be “hardcore” and want to always push the hardest content.
Neither culture is better than the other, but there is certainly a difference. Figure out what type of culture you prefer and find a guild through guild recruitment posts in the World of Warcraft forums, in-game chat or guild finder tools, or even in Discord.
For more ideas on finding a guild check out my article: 9 Ways to Find a WoW Guild.
Once you determine that you have the time to raid and have found a group, it is time to start raiding.
3. Make sure you meet the requirements of the raid
In addition to being the maximum level on your character, you may need to do some work on your gear to prepare to raid. As mentioned above, some raid difficulties require very high levels of healing or damage.
To increase your healing or damage, you need to get better gear. This does not necessarily mean always getting higher item-level gear, but rather, getting the gear with the strongest stats or effects for your class.
In addition to gear, you should have a good understanding of your class, including the best order to cast your spells (rotation). You can increase your knowledge of the best gear and rotation of your character through a Google search for your class and spec.
If you don’t know what a rotation is, you can learn more about it in my article here: What is a Rotation? (World of Warcraft Beginners Guide).
4. Know the fights well
One of the biggest mistakes new players make is to join a raid group without knowing the fights. As a result, they die to abilities that could have been avoided.
When you die in the middle of a fight, you cannot come back until after the fight which makes it harder for your group.
If you haven’t raided before, or haven’t done a particular raid there are still ways to learn the fight mechanics. One of the best ways is to watch guides on YouTube from channels like FatBossTV or Hazelnuttygames.
5. Get the right add-ons
As I mentioned in a previous article, there are many addons that you can download to add functionality to your game. You can download and install add-ons through the CurseForge app. For a full walkthrough of installing addons check out this guide: How to Install WoW Addons.
If you are planning on raiding, you will want to download Deadly Boss Mods (DBM) OR Bigwigs. These add-ons are used to provide warnings for dangerous mechanics in dungeons and raids. There are many different add-ons that we will cover in a future article, but one of these two should be enough to get you started with basic raiding.
6. Learn from your mistakes and don’t be afraid to ask for help
Another major issue you see with new raiders is the tendency to make the same mistake repeatedly. This usually arises from not understanding the fight or mechanics.
If you die to a certain mechanic, it is helpful to ask yourself how you might prevent that death next time and what you could have done differently to survive. Additionally, if you die in a fight and are unsure why, you may want to reach out to a helpful raid member or raid leader and ask them to help you identify the problem.
The best raiders I know are those players, who are always trying to do better, play their class better, and make fewer mistakes.
If you would like to get into dungeons or raids in World of Warcraft and still have questions, feel free to reach out or leave a comment. And again, welcome to Azeroth!
Beginner’s Guide Series
In the next part, we will talk about PvP in World of Warcraft. You can jump to it, or another guide in the series using the list below:
- Introduction to Guide For New WoW Players
- Creating Your Character
- The WoW User Interface
- Questing, Combat, and Movement
- Introduction to Gear in WoW
- Items in World of Warcraft
- Professions in World of Warcraft
- You are here
- Player vs. Player (PvP) in World of Warcraft
- World of Warcraft (WoW) AddOns (for Beginners)
TLDR: What are dungeons and raids in World of Warcraft (WoW)
Dungeons and raids are known as player-verses-environment (PvE) content in World of Warcraft. Dungeons are 5-player content where players fight bosses and other enemies. They require about 30 minutes to complete. There are varying levels of dungeon difficulties scale according to your desired challenge. Raids are larger groups that fight bosses. They can take several hours to complete and are usually organized by guilds. Beginning raiders benefit from learning raid fights, downloading the right add-ons, and seeking to constantly improve their skills.