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April 21, 2011

Survival Tips for Raiding on the Run

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Written by: Vixsin
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It’s a situation that no raider likes to be in. (No, I’m not talking about being forced to go out into the sunlight or being DC’ed mid-attempt …) I’m talking about having to reconcile travel plans with your raiding schedule. Maybe you have a boss that wants to send you to the corners of the earth. Or you have a family gathering that you didn’t know about until just a few days ago. Or you’ve been invited to a friend’s house to dog-sit while your friend takes a much-needed vacation (what a great friend!) But, being the dedicated raider you are, you decide to forge on ahead and get yourself prepped for raiding on the road.

Well, the good news is, I know how you feel—this past week I’ve been raiding from a hotel in foggy downtown San Francisco. And although it was a delight to be able to look out the window and see the bright lights of the city through the haze, all the while I was wondering if this remote raiding thing would work out like I planned. Sinestra cutters with a laggy connection = not fun, but I made it through okay after making a couple of adjustments. So, today I’m going to share with you some of my own tips and tricks should you ever feel the need to take your WoW on the go. And while your mileage may vary, this will hopefully make the transition from comfortable home setup to road warrior that much easier.

  1. Advise your team of your change of locale, so that they can make any adjustment necessary. And do keep in mind that there might be a time change to deal with, so the 7pm raid you’re typically used to could be 4pm or 10pm when you get where you’re going. (And yes, telling your boss that you have an … “online commitment” … that means you need to leave the clients’ offices in the mid-afternoon is just TONS of fun).
  2. Make sure your rig has the minimum system requirements for running WoW. Updated minimum system specs can be found on WoW’s tech support website, here.
  3. Confirm that the place you’re headed has DSL or cable internet; if it’s not listed on the online description, call them and ask to speak to their hotel IT manager. (Don’t worry, they’ll find it hilarious if you explain why you’re calling). If there’s no hi-speed internet offered (and you’re that dedicated), see if there are any internet cafes or LAN centers in the area that might be open during your raiding hours.
  4. Copy your Addons and WTF folder from your primary computer onto your laptop. The WTF folder is where all of your profiles are stored for the addons you commonly use; without it, you’d be starting your UI design from scratch. Remember to bring the flash drive with the folder on it with you on your trip—it won’t do you much good sitting on your computer desk at home!
  5. Don’t worry about copying your macros—those are stored server-side so they’ll be with you no matter what computer you log onto.
  6. If you use any peripherals (special gaming mouse, gamepad, etc.), export your profiles for each. Download any drivers or configuration tools onto your laptop before you leave. (I play with a SteelSeries mouse and Razer Gamepad, so getting these two properly configured was important to making sure my “typical” setup could work while I was on the road).
  7. Pack a video, monitor and/or HDMI cable if you know that your destination is equipped with a TV or monitor. Why suffer the effects of an 11” laptop screen when you could be enjoying the view of a 32” LCD? Okay, maybe you like hunching over your itsy bitsy tech like the Quasimodo of raiding, but for the rest of you out there … pack some of those spare cables you have lying around and reap the rewards.
  8. Update your laptop with any WoW patches *before* you leave, so that you aren’t left patching when you arrive at your destination. Encountering a 3GB download 15mins before raid time is not a situation you want to be in. Also, don’t be fooled by the one big patch and forget that there are several that come after it; after you’ve finished downloading the big multi-GB file, log into the game just to verify that there isn’t another patch to come.
  9. Install your UI onto your laptop before you need to raid; and remember: what looks great on your 24” LCD at home will not look as fantastic on your 11” laptop. Also, be prepared to drop a few addons if your typical UI is laden with them. Ones that bit the dust in my transition from my desktop to laptop—player frames (Pitbull), damage meters (Skada), and bag mods (Bagnon). Ultimately, although my laptop’s UI isn’t as clean and ordered as my desktop, aesthetics aren’t important while raiding on the run; functionality is.
  10. Don’t forget to bring a mic! Not being able to communicate during some encounters will really impact your raid team, and also make them think you’ve become complacent and no longer prone to the insta-rages you’ve been known for.
  11. When you log on for the first time remotely, be prepared to have you account locked (which is a precaution that Blizzard takes against hackers). To unlock your account, you’ll need to have access to the email address on file for the account and be able to answer one of the original security questions. You’ll also be asked to choose a new password, which stinks if you’ve been typing the old one for years, since you’ll inevitably type the old one in again and wonder wtf is going on.
  12. Under Interface > Video, drop your settings down to a level where you can consistently get > 30 fps in a major city. If you can endure exotic mount parade in front of the Stormwind/Orgrimmar auction house, you’ll likely be able to handle the chug-a-lug associated with AOE effects. Beware though, if you drop things like “Projected Textures” down to a level of “Fair”, you won’t be able to see certain ground effects like Healing Rain and Efflorescence, and Sonic Pulses just won’t seem as menacing.
  13. If there’s a fight where you play a crucial role (dispelling, kiting, etc.), see if someone else can shoulder the burden for the night. If no one is up to the task, take a page from this Shel Silverstein poem and make them understand—you shouldn’t be doing that crucial role any more. If that still doesn’t convince them, then just suck it up and resolve yourself to doing your job as best as you can.

So, in conclusion, if you’re sitting there, looking at this list, and thinking to yourself “that’s a lot of work to put in to make sure that I can raid while out of town”, you’re right. And I guarantee that when you sit down for the first time in that new location, whether it’s 10 miles or 1000 miles away from home, things will feel a bit awkward and off-kilter. (And you will feel slightly embarrassed if room service walks in while your guildmates are cursing up a storm in vent, and then slightly amused when he asks what boss you’re working on.) But let me assure you that, in the end, the extra effort will be much appreciated by your guild and your teammates, even if they never say as much. And sometimes … sometimes … the payoff is absolutely huge.

Sinestra down (about bloody time). 13/13 HM. ^_^

Finally … just, finally.


  1. elle

    Grats on 13/13 HM!

    Amazing feat, I am sure that took the hard work and dedication of your entire raid team, way to go!

    And thanks for the good info, as always =)

  2. Ralphwiggum

    Just as a small addition, your whole WOW install directory is completely portable. If you have a USB hard drive large enough, just copy your whole WOW directory onto it and you can carry your game with you anywhere and even run it right off that drive. The steps for the video settings will still apply, but it’s a great way to have a seamless transition to another (or a new) machine. Keeping a regular backup of this type can not only help when on the go, but if you ever are looking to rebuild a machine or get a second one up and running.

  3. GZ on the kill Vix……After one shotting Nef and Cho this evening our RL thought we did not have the optimum setup for Sine so psotponed till next wednesday…..CRY

    If people dont stop getting killed by cutter soon I swear I will start cutting them for real!!


    • Cutters will always hold a special place in my heart, because nothing is as endearing as a deadly purple laser with 100% boss mod resistance. 😛

  4. Grats on Sinestra!

    I travel regularly for work (at least once or twice a quarter – sometimes for more than a week at a time), and like you accommodate my raid schedule while traveling. I have been known to book my flights around raid schedules, and schedule my appointments to make sure that I’m back to the hotel on time (Room Service is a blessing and a curse). We have a gaming laptop that runs almost as well as our desktops (and that I used as my main computer for two weeks while mine was in the shop), that was purchased specifically for my travel.

    I’ll go ahead add few additional notes that I’ve picked up in my travel experiences:

    Ask your hotel if they have any rooms with “line access” to the internet. Often times they will have a number of rooms hardwired for internet (as opposed to wireless) and you will get a better connection from these rooms. In certain hotels hardwired connections are the standard (Ritz-Carltons and Residence Inns for example). If your hotel only runs on wireless, be sure to ask for a room that is near the wireless hub – the further away that you are the greater chance of a slow connection. Some hotels with wireless will have “booster” kits available to speed your connection up (it’s basically a giant antanae) – if you connection is sluggish don’t hesitate to ask the front desk or concierge if there is something they can do to help.

    Keep track of the hotels you’ve had good experiences with and bad experiences with – especially if you travel to that location regularly! This will also help you if you are traveling to a new area – you can often select a chain you have had good experiences with and find that the service is relatively similar. For example, I have found that Marriott Brand hotels tend to have better internet than Hilton Brand hotels, but in my last few Hilton stays it seems this is something they are aware of and improving. Kimpton Hotels (i.e. Hotel Monaco) have always had excellent internet, and Ritz-Carltons have been hands down the best (I almost wouldn’t even know that I was travelling!).

    Try to avoid convention center hotels as much as possible when there are large conventions occuring! (Unless, of course, you are attending the convention). Conventions mean LOTS of people sucking up that hotel’s internet bandwidth, which means you will have peoriods of time where you won’t be able to do much other than browse the internet with your connection.

    If you have to “log into” the hotel’s internet, be sure that you either a) do this at a time of the day that won’t affect your raid – so you aren’t kicked off the internet mid-raid; or b) sign up for enough internet for the duration of your stay. Even if it’s not an option on the website, if you contact the tech support for the hotel (or the front desk/concierge) they can likely hook you up for the duration of your stay so you no longer have to log in/pay daily.

    And I’d also stress what Vixsin said about LAN centers. If you find that you have a horrible hotel, internet wise, don’t be afraid to see if there is a LAN center in the area. Call ahead and let them know you’ll be coming in with your own equipment and explain what you will be doing (raiding) – this is important as a lot of LAN centers have rules about outside computers for virus reasons. A lot of times, though, you can talk to the owner/manager and explain your situation and they will be fine with letting you play on your laptop. I’ve also found that if you ask politely they can find a secluded little corner in the back for you to play so that you aren’t surrounded by a ton of people while you are trying to concentrate :)

    Ok…so that was more than a few things and brevity isn’t something I’m good at 😛 Anyhow, great post Vixsin! And something that is near and dear to me – obviously! :)

  5. Firestyle

    Dude, your in sanfran. Make sure to eat at the Slanted Door. It’s worth missing a raid.

    • <3 Slanted Door. But if I'm really in the mood for Vietnamese, I'll head over to the Emeryville Public Market and grab a big bowl of Phở. Visiting the city is always difficult, because there are so many great places to eat and so little time!

  6. Firestyle

    It’s Vietnamese food.

  7. About macros, they won’t work anymore if you change client langage. Being in France and playing with the english client, if I play in an internet cafe all my macros are broken.
    Zahia´s last post ..Flowchart- Choose the good earth totem

    • Great tip! I hadn’t even thought of the effects of different clients. The one time I went overseas I made a promise to my S.O. that I wouldn’t spend our vacation hunting down internet cafes. But I tell you, each one we stumbled across in Paris and in London was that much harder to resist!

  8. Bodoth

    Damn you Firestyle… my mouth started to salivate when you mentioned the Slanted Door- the food there is incredible. I moved out of SF a few years ago but when I go back I make it a point to get back there.

  9. […] Life in Group 5 throws out some handy raiding tips for those who wish to raid on the run. […]

  10. […] Re: Traveling? Don't count on playing For those considering playing while on the road, Vixsin wrote a nice post about what to expect Survival Tips for Raiding on the Run | Life in Group 5 – A Resto Shaman Blog […]

  11. […] Survival Tips for Raiding on the Run: Vixsin posted some great tips for raiding away from your usual base of operations. […]

  12. Liz

    Thanks for this post! I have to travel for work usually once a month. If I’m going by myself I do my best to schedule around raid nights. Sometimes I’m able to, but sometimes not, just depends on the destination. And if I’m with a group, forget it. :( I don’t have the balls to say I have an “online committment.” My boss doesn’t even understand Facebook!

    Unfortunately, in my line of work, I tend to be visiting slightly more remote locations so I wind up driving a lot…in a more western time zone… makes it hard to get to raid on time, sigh. However, next time I will follow some of the other tips here about asking for a room with better internet! I hadn’t even thought of that. And in my experience, Marriott internet is usually pretty bad. (Or at least just very overloaded.) Maybe I’ll try some other chains.

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