Breaking into the raid scene can be intimidating for a new player, especially one who's not done anything like 10-man or 25-man raiding. We can hope that 5-man dungeons provide a basic idea of the general dynamics: healers heal, tanks tank, and damagers damage.
Most experienced raiders use language that a new player won't find in the game interface. Words like "tank" have a relatively obvious meaning, but phrases like "void zone" can be a little tougher to interpret when a new player first encounters them. This raider's lexicon has been built through 6 years of WoW raiding, and decades of MMO playing before Azeroth become an MMO.
This guide is intended to help new raiders get an idea what the heck everyone else is talking about. Be warned that most raids also have their own internal lexicon, too; we can't tell you what everyone is saying, but hopefully we'll get you caught up on the most basic stuff.
- Add phase: Enemy mobs that are not the main raid boss appear during an "add phase." These additional enemies usually need tanked and killed, though sometimes they merely need to be kited.
- Alt runs: Many heavy WoW players have multiple characters. While they consider one character their main focus, they have "alts" on the side. "Alt runs" are intended to get those secondary characters loot and achievements from the raid. Alt runs are usually fairly competent, since people have already completed the raid on their main characters.
- Burn phase: A phase during which everyone's damage needs to be as high as possible, usually because a raid wipe is coming if you don't get the boss dead before the end.
- Chain Lightning: Like many pieces of jargon, "chain lightning" is a specific ability that has become generalized to refer to any effect which jumps from one player to other nearby players.
- Council fight: A raid encounter in which multiple characters share a singular health pull. Fights are designed this way, in part, to force the raid to deal with the entirety of the council's abilities, without being able to simply burn down the most difficult council member immediately.
- Don't Stand In Fire (DSIF): Many raids have environmental effects which you shouldn't stand in; otherwise, you'll take a great deal of damage. DSIF is usually an admonishment to raiders to stay out of these effects.
- Enrage timer: Many raid bosses have an "enrage timer." Simply put, this is the upper limit of time you have to kill the boss or everyone in the raid will die. This usually keeps over-competent tanks and healers from managing a boss forever, taking 30 minutes to kill the enemy.
- Exploding raid member: Many debuffs during a raid encounter mean the sufferer is "exploding." The affected member does damage to anyone within range. If you hear that a "person is exploding," that means get away from them.
- Off tank: A secondary tank, usually responsible for additional enemies or as a back up.
- Must Have Cheevos: Often a phrase used in building a PUG raid, "must have cheevos" means you must already have killed the boss in order to be included with the raid. This can lead to a Catch-22 of circular logic where you can't kill the boss the first time on your own because you must have cheevos to get in raids.
- Patchwerk: Patchwerk is a boss in the old Naxxramas raid. While there were some tank and healer tricks, the DPS were free to simply unload their maximum potential on the boss. No movement or environmental awareness was required. As such, Patchwerk has become synonymous with "DPS test."
- Raid Lock: If you get halfway through a raid dungeon, you have the option to "extend your lock" through the next week. This allows you to pick up where you left off the following week. Without such extension, each dungeon resets (becomes fresh) every Tuesday.
- Shard it: Sharding an item simply means disenchanting it, usually because no one needs the item.
- Soft enrage: Like an enrage timer, a soft enrage timer means that you can't take a long time to kill the boss. This is usually a building, scaling area effect damage that will kill the raid eventually, so you need to burn the boss down before it can do so.
- Tank and Spank: A simple stand-and-fight encounter in which the tank holds a boss in place, and people kill him.
- Tanking the floor: Someone who is tanking the floor is dead. The phrase specifically implies they did something to kill themselves.
- Tank swap: Some bosses place a debuff on the tank which, if the tank takes damage while under the debuff, means the tank will die. As such, a second tank takes aggro from the boss, to allow the debuff to fade off the first tank. Many raid bosses use this "tank swap" dynamic.
- Void zone: An environmental effect on the floor which you should not stand in. Usually, when something's called a "void zone," it's a stationary effect.
Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new player, from how to control your character and camera angles when you're just starting out, to learning how to tank, getting up to speed for heroics and even how to win Tol Barad.