My challenge mode group scored Gold on Temple of the Jade Serpent with 8 seconds left to go on the clock. Yay! We’ll be entering Mogushan Palace next week. I can smell that delicious transmog coming soon.
The public test realms for patch 5.2 have been open for a while now. Raid testing has been sporadic but ongoing throughout the past few weeks with a few boss previews already completed. There are sessions where I end up with excellent testing groups and other days where I just want to throw my hands up in the air and go “Why bother?”. For example, I was in a group where one of the players refused to get Ventrilo because Mumble was far superior and was adamant about it. Another player left after 10 minutes because they had a live raid. Raid testing periods are usually available for a limited time only so every minute spent looking for replacements is time spent not checking out the new encounters.
I love the test realms. There are no boss videos. There’s no WoWhead comments to peruse. There’s no strategies on Icy Veins. Everyone starts on equal footing. Everyone is given a chance to “solve” the mechanics of the raid boss. You know just as much about the fights as the server first realms on your realm.
It’s just you and your wits.
That’s why I love the public test realms. I can never compete at the world stage. But being on the PTR gives me a small thrill and a glimpse of what it’s like to figure this stuff on my own without having to rely on anyone else.
That being said, there’s a few things I want to suggest to you if this is something you seriously want to do. In order to minimize downtime, reduce your own frustrations and seriously contribute to testing, follow the list:
- Impatience: I’ve been in groups where right after the first wipe, a player leaves after callously throwing out “u guys are bad”. It’s the test realm. We’re learning this stuff now so we’ll have an easier time with it later. Be prepared to wipe.
- Approaching with a negative mentality: Go in there with a sense of wonder. Keep an open mind. Be surprised. Feel awe at your experiences. Don’t be afraid to try new tactics and strategy if what you have isn’t working.
- Testing when you have other things to do: Raid testing usually occurs anywhere between an hour to three hours. Make sure you allocate your time accordingly. If you’re too busy because you have errands or a live raid to do, tell your group ahead of time so they can prepare to bring a sub in for you when you leave!
- Not bringing consumables: You don’t even have to farm on the PTR. Just make a premade character matching your main and then mail the potions and flasks from that character to the character you plan to test with. Instant food, flasks, and potions!
- Not knowing where the testing areas are: This is the most basic of information. It’s usually posted in the blue posts. Or you can go around a little earlier prior to raid testing and explore a bit – You know, what we did in the old days! getting added to the group 5 minutes after raid testing start and then asking how to get to the island and where the instance isn’t going to look good. That raid group can find a replacement outside the instance as there’s always people waiting to sub in for random groups.
- Logging in late: Raid testing starting at 10 AM? You better login at 930 and start hunting for a group. The earlier you go in, the better the odds you have for getting into groups that are forming.
- Not knowing what’s going on: We have a dungeon journal now. Gone are the days of wiping multiple times in order to figure out what the exact boss abilities are. We’re much better equipped to find out what attacks and spells bosses will bring to bear against us. This then frees us up to start planning tactics to counter the abilities and how we should setup our raid positioning.
- Having a ton of addons installed: For many of us it’s difficult to play with the default UI. I had to spend a good half an hour remapping all my keys. I spent another 5 minutes adjusting my raid frames. I felt I was severely diminished without the use of timers. Eventually, I settled on Ellipsis. That’s the only addon I have installed right now to help me track my Shadow DoTs. Using your full live UI might not be a good idea because it could break at anytime and compromise your raid testing group
- Having one (or no) voice clients installed: You should have both Ventrilo and Mumble installed and configured. These encounters offer an added levels of complexity and voice chat is a necessity. You’ll find groups that only have Ventrilo or only use Mumble. You don’t want to be that guy that has to keep the group waiting while you download and setup the client that you don’t have installed. You might end up finding yourself dropped from the group if they find someone else that’s already prepared with the right client they use.
- No enchants or gems: This is usually applicable to premade characters as it’s expected your main is ready to go. I had to enchant and cut my gems throughout one of my earlier testing sessions because I completely forgot about it. I was woefully unprepared. As we were wiping and getting ready for the next pulls, I would frantically throw whatever enchants on my gear until the pull. I kept doing this until I was as happy with my gear as I could be. I don’t think anyone noticed but that sure would’ve been embarrassing trying to explain it!
- Not give the developers your feedback: Even a simple “Holy crap, this is awesome” is nice. It’s an affirmation to them that they’re doing the right thing. However, if you can afford to be more specific, you should. Comment on how your class or role feels responding to various attacks and abilities. Talk about the damage that’s coming in or going out. Does the enrage timer feel too tight? Is it too easy? Everyone’s gear is normalized up to 502 but it doesn’t mean it’s going to get reduced down to it so do keep that in mind. How do boss abilities look to you? Does the raid wipe mechanic actually look like it’s going to crush your whole raid or does it need more punch? Details will allow them to make the best possible decisions before patches go live.
Lastly, knock yourself out and try to have a good time. You’re seeing a preview of this content in it’s unfinished form. Usually maps or certain labels aren’t there (Remember the doodad door from Naxxramas?). It’s all exciting stuff and I can’t wait for this patch! So much to do and so many new bosses to crush!