I started playing in BC before AQ when most guilds were still only just killing Nef in BWL. Towards then end I raided some MC/Ony/BWL on my friend's holy paladin, but not really much at all.
I stopped when BC came out and came back not long after BT/Hyjal and basically only raided T4 before stopping again after SWP was released. I came back two months late into Naxx and raided part of Ulduar normal modes before my guild broke up and I stopped playing again after ToC.
I came back shortly before Cata and found a guild starting and got into their raid core for doing all of Cata normal modes and Heroic halfus, after taking the first month-and-a-half finishing recruiting and getting our first boss down. On my DK alt (or sorta like a main/alt hybrid), I started a guild with a friend about two months ago that has now gotten 12/12. Both guilds are 10-man.
The point is, I've never really done much progression raiding at the start of a new tier or expansion or anything when it's coming fresh off the PTR with bug fixes, slight changes, etc. I've always been going into every fight with a pretty well-planned strat or at least a very good idea in mind of what was going to be happening and only needed to see it happen to get the groove. A lot of the people in the guild I co-GM are in a similar boat.
What can I do on an individual level to help really help my self step up when Firelands drops? I'm usually the very top of the damage meters on my lock with one of the lowest damage taken spots and I'm pretty good at dodging fire without my DPS going to hell in a ham basket. In all of this, though, I'm doing things that I already know what the bosses are going to do. I know what I'm going to have to dodge, when I'm going to have to dodge it, etc. How do I help translate that into progression where I don't truly know what I'm getting into and help put myself in a position skill-wise that is well suited at raiding more than just content that everyone else has already killed a bajillion times?
What can I do for the guild I co-GM and raid lead for to also help them do the same thing? What advice could/should I offer any of them or what can I do from a non-individual perspective with my raid core to help us make up for not already having 6+ heroic bosses on farm like half of the server already does? It would be nice to be able to get into server top 20 (or more?), but that obviously requires more than just avoiding the things you know are coming and pewpewing accordingly.
"In anything, if you want to go from just a beginner to a pro, you need a montage." /w TankSpot WTB Montage for Raiders.
Unless you are in a leading edge guild, you'll find that guides for new raids pop up very early. Sites like this one or learntoraid or wowwiki/wowpedia will very quickly fill up with information and advice. With the dungeon journal being implemented, you can even get some prep done in game (although I'm betting people will still be alt-tabbing to the sites I've listed). Shortly after that, youtube will start having kill vids. These are all information resources you can tap to help you develop your own strategies.
If you haven't got a guild forum, get one. Start posting tidbits of info you find, possible hints or guides or kill vids in forum threads. Encourage your group to do the same. If you get stuck on bosses, encourage people to talk on the forums between raids to try to work out how to do things better.
After that, it's down to how you play as a group and how you cope as a raid leader when the information isn't all there. If you don't have a tankspot video guide, just a page from the dungeon journal and a few tips from a forum, can you come up with your own strategy and make it work. I can think of a few factors here, I'm sure there are others:
- Positioning is often important, but there are often options. Look for mechanics that favour spreading out, facing bosses in certain directions, environmental conditions, etc. Try to plan a way to position the boss(es and adds) such that damage is minimized, movement is minimized but all the other conditions are met. One key tip here: always look at the floor. The encounter designers very often match the mechanics to the environment and vice versa. If there are some marks on the floor, there's a fair bet that you can use them as reference points for the fight in some way.
- Separate the wheat from the chaff. There are going to be a lot of mechanics in most fights, Blizzard like to keep everyone busy, but in any given fight there are going to be some really important mechanics that you'll want to focus on first and some less important ones you can optimise later.
- Find out what went wrong. If you wiped, and you will wipe, you need to know why. Autopsy addons like Death Note, or logging tools like World of Logs are invaluable to help a raid leader understand why you wiped. Once you know that, you can come up with a plan to not wipe to it again.
So long and thanks for all this fish