Here’s a basic overview of how I prepared for day one of heroic raiding in the Emerald Nightmare. Many of these steps are repeatable tasks you can do yourself, even if you are starting the day before the raid opens up.
Knowing what is heading your way from the seven bosses of The Emerald Nightmare is probably the most important step you can take at this point. Here are some resources I used:
- Dungeon Journal - Seriously, before anything else, open the in-game (or wowhead copy) dungeon journal and read about the bosses to get a good idea of what each encounter will be like and what your role’s job is. Starting with it will give you a good frame of reference for more in-depth guides. You can also take a look at the loot from each boss to create a checklist of what loot you are hoping drops (especially relevant if your guild uses Master Looter and you need to figure out what loot you want to prioritize going for).
- Wowhead Encounter Guides - These guides are the best written guides I have seen for the Emerald Nightmare. They provide a good overview of what to look for and do in the fights, I recommend them as your next step.
- Fatboss Legion Beta Ecounter Videos - In this video playlist, Fatboss covers each of the seven encounters with a video. This is the best collection of encounter video guides that I have heard of. More may be available in the coming weeks.
- SpartySmallwood’s Preparation Stream - I had this on in the background while playing today to reinforce the concepts outlined in the above guides. He did a solid job of covering the encounters and shared this link of useful Emerald Nightmare weakauras.
- Discussion with other players - After all that, I spent a bit of time discussing the encounters with guild mates and friends. Finding someone who plays your spec and discussing it with them can be a great way to make sure you are fully prepared. If your guild deviates from public strategies, make sure to pay attention to that.
Right before a new raid is not a great time to make drastic changes to your user interface - hopefully you did that weeks ago, so you are now comfortable with your UI setup. However, before your enter raid, you want to make sure your addons are up to date and look at the boss-specific settings of whichever boss mod (such as Deadly Boss Mods or BigWigs) you use. The mod may be set to alert you to more or less than you want to know, and you can change this to suit your needs. If you are using boss specific addons or weakauras, you also want to make sure that they are set to display when and where you want them. Customize your UI - don’t just accept the defaults!
Spec: Talents and Rotation
Hopefully you have been mastering your rotation for the past several weeks. But now is a good time to take one last look at the public theory-crafting available for your class. As a Balance Druid, I am thankful to the folks that put together this FAQ. It links to a bunch of superb resources including two great guides. This one outlines the Boomkin opener and covers talent choices for each fight. I hope that finding a great resource like this is as easy as you as the Balance Druid community made finding this for me - it was as simple as checking the pinned comments in the Balance Druid discord (see my list of class Discords). The night before raid is a good time to run a few dungeons or practice on a target dummy to make sure that you are very comfortable with the mechanics of your class, so you can focus on the mechanics of the raid encounters in raid.
You have gotten most of what you can from world quests, heroics, and mythics at this point. However, it’s worth checking out whether you can improve your gear with crafted or world drop BoEs if you have the gold to do so. I decided to get five crafted/BoE pieces, all of which are just about as good as I can get outside of mythic, and a few of which will last me well into mythic despite the lower item level. Crafted gear, BoE rings, and BoE trinkets can come with perfect stats for your class. I recommend prioritizing a neck piece and rings. Secondary stats seem to scale at a lower rate in Legion than in prior expansions. The first piece I bought was my Dawnlight Band (of the Fireflash). I upgraded it to 850, and my stat weights showed that it was better than all but one mythic ring that drops in the Emerald Nightmare because of how much better haste is for balance druids than the other stats. The Sylvan Maelstrom Amulet for Druids is especially great, as it gives not only (potentially) perfect stats, it gives a free bonus of versatility for outdoor encounters, which may include “outdoor” fights in raids! Here is an album showing my overall gear, crafted pieces, and artifact weapon progression. The other four pieces are an Imbued Silkweave Flourish, a set of Dreadleather Bindings, Fran’s Intractable Loop, and my artifact, the Scythe of Elune (I had some good luck with warforged relics before raids!). The good news here is that you can decide to purchase crafted gear after a week or two of raids to fill in if you want to save gold, and the gear is only going to get cheaper. If you think you might be interested in crafted gear, I recommend scanning your realm’s auction house for upgrades. The biggest cost of crafted gear is Obliterum to upgrade the gear to item level 850, and it may take a while to find crafted gear with perfect (or close enough to perfect for your liking) stats. The necklace, cloak, and rings I had I all intend to keep for a long while, and I enchanted them with the best enchantments available: Enchant Cloak - Binding of Intellect, Enchant Neck - Mark of the Hidden Satyr, and Enchant Ring - Binding of Haste. I used a Saber’s Eye of Intellect on my ring and Quick Dawnlight on my necklace. Interestingly, before the lowering of gems from +250 of a secondary to +150 of a secondary, Quick Dawnlight would have been better than the Saber’s Eye. I had used a cheaper Quick Azsunite on my belt as I hoped to replace it before raiding. I have since upgraded it to a Dawnlight. While a few thousand gold for a piece I want to replace soon is a bit expensive, it’s really just a few potions worth of gold… Too see what enchantments and gems you might want to use, check out the wowhead World of Warcraft: Legion Enchanting and Jewelcrafting guides. Don’t forget the shoulder and glove enchantments for use outside of raids.
Before you enter raid, you want to make sure you have all the consumables you need to succeed. For each class, that can include potions, flasks, health potions, food, and possibly even Defiled Augment Runes. For balance druids, the best available are Potion of Deadly Grace, Ancient Healing Potion, Flask of the Whispered Pact, and Azshari Salad. Potions are very expensive this expansion, so good luck with those. Check the wowhead guides to World of Warcraft: Legion Alchemy and Cooking to see what consumables are best for you. Vantus runes will be an important consumable you want to coordinate with your guild. You may also want to grab a few Tome of the Tranquil Mind for changing talents on the fly.
That’s most of what I did to prepare over the past few days. What are you doing to be Ready for Raiding? Best luck in the Nightmare!