5 Archetypes of the Healer

5 Archetypes of the Healer

whyweheal

This is a guest post by Lodur

Hello everybody! Lodur, resto shaman from Zul’jin here again. I was running heroic Violet Hold last night when a hiccup with a player and Zuramat the Obliterator almost caused the group to wipe (lag + lots of little adds = low health for everyone).

We were able to stave off a wipe, and as I was ressing the only casualty the tank sends me a tell: “;Lodur man, I have no clue how you can do it. That had to be way hectic”

The statement got me thinking about how I started healing and all the different types of healers there are. I then began wondering how they got into healing.

Mulling it over I’ve come up with a few archetypes that the healers you run into can usually be framed in.

The Archetypes

Average Gamer

This is the guy (or girl) who does it simply because he can, it’s part of the game. This gamer usually has a full roster of alts more then likely created at a time when someone made a statement like "wow, we’re short on healers, we should probably get more". This game is often very easy tempered, very slow to anger or excite and tends to enjoy all aspects of the game.

Signs

  • Proficient for multiple classes and roles.
  • Likeable
  • Normally well read.
  • Well known by guildies
  • Always willing to help out in whichever capacity is needed

The Ex-Healer

This person started as a healer and has probably done more then their fair share of raids doing nothing but playing green bar whack-a-mole. Often times they are suffering from healer burn out and switch their class to DPS spec, or a new class all together, normally one that is not a hybrid and has no healing capability. These people tend to avoid healing like the plague. In extreme circumstances they may go back to their healer for a night’s raid or just long enough till a full time healer logs on, but will quickly return to DPS as soon as the opportunity is afforded them.

Signs

  • Doesn’t want to heal
  • May only heal for a raid or two
  • History of healing

Reluctant Healer

Normally this falls to someone who happens to be playing a hybrid that can heal at a time when their guild needs to fill in gaps. Sometimes this person takes a liking to healing and decides to go healer full time. They tend to learn quickly and climb up to eventually be a solid healer a short time after their switch, but still tend to maintain a DPS or tank set "just in case". They tend to be willing to change their roles from healing back to DPS or tanking whenever offered until they can get a fix for the other walks of life, and then normally return to a healing spec afterwards. It should be noted that a reluctant healer that doesn’t fully enjoy healing but stays that way because it’s the only way they can raid, can suffer from healer’s burnout very quickly.

Signs

  • Rolls on offset gear
  • Doesn’t really like healing
  • Spec flexibility
  • Fast learner

Hero Complex

The Hero Complex is an inherent desire to help others. It is a compulsion to help make their world right. This healer-type loves their role with such enthusiasm that there is almost no other way for them to play the game. They immerse themselves in the world of min maxing and micro-management. Their true joy is saving the day, getting that tank to full from red line and stopping a wipe, or saving that dying DPS that only had 50hp left. If this person has an alt it will usually be a tank or tank type. After all, if you can’t heal them you might as well save them by taking the damage for them. They will jump at any opportunity to participate in any event and generally are very affable, active in raids / heroics and social events, and aren’t afraid to take on roles abnormal to their class. They often refuse praise and can be found exalting the deeds of others around them. They epitomize the team player.

Signs

  • Really likes healing
  • Active in raids and social events
  • Definite team player

God Complex

A God complex is a state of mind in which a person believes that they have supernatural powers or god-like abilities. The person generally believes they are above the rules of society and should be given special consideration. These healers are bad news for raids and guilds. Like the definition suggests they often believe themselves above the rules set for everyone else and believe they should have special rights. They think that they are the best at their craft and refuse, rebuke and often times aggressively and openly oppose suggestions or criticism. In game terms they tend to condescend to other healers commenting often on how others need to step up or keep up. They openly exalt their own deeds with statements like "DUDE I’M AWESOME LOOK AT ME!", and when attempts are made to bring them back in line (or they are told an event or raid is going on that they don’t want to go to) they will often times try to hold the raid hostage until they are either given what they want or the raid fails and has to be cancelled.

Signs

  • Aggressive
  • Stubborn
  • Condescending
  • Holds raids hostage

Optional:

  • May or may not have their own World on the internet


Lodur’s Tale

Thinking over all of this I went back and thought about how I became a healer. When I rolled Lodur, the goal for her was to throw lightning and melt faces. I had been playing a hunter for the vast majority of Vanilla WoW and wanted a change of scenery. Shortly after hitting 70 our guild leader hits me up because they need another healer for Karazhan. I had never healed before but said sure. I did inform him though that I’d rather be DPSing. I grabbed what meager healing gear I had available to me, respecced to good old 0/5/56 and headed in.

Two full kara runs later and I was hooked. Healing was amazing fun and gave me a fresh new look on the game. I still kept my DPS gear (just in case ;] ) but made the decision to stick with healing from then on. I grew to hate speccing out of Restoration and whenever I had to for arena matches I would go back as soon as possible.

I poured over blogs and sites like Elitist Jerks learning everything I could about the ins and outs of my class and the math behind it. Every chance I got I would go healing to learn more about how to be better at my class.

One night I decided no heroic shall be refused my healing! (I paid for that statement dearly when Magister’s Terrace was released) I started out as the Reluctant Healer, but have since moved on to Hero Complex. Lodur is "Resto4Life!" and I don’t think I’ll ever want to spec a different tree, oh, and for the record my main alt is a DK tank =)

So time for you guys to share. What got you into healing? And What archetype do you fall into?

Saving a Blown Pull With Clutch Heals

Saving a Blown Pull With Clutch Heals

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It’s just like any other raid night in Naxx. Your group is relaxed amidst some light bantering after a large pull. The healers have about 50% mana left in the tank and can go a few extra pulls before having to sit down and drink again.

Acknowledging the green light, your tank whips out his gun, locks on to a target, and pulls the trigger. Four mobs come rushing at him as a result of his transgression.

Out of the corner of your eye, you notice a raider standing a bit further away from the rest of the group. Suddenly, his Gnomish form is over taken by a large, black figure.

“Shade!”, You hear yourself breathe into the mic, rather forcefully.

To make matters worse, another patrol is about to run into your group.

Another raider curses out loud as you wince.

Turns out he was off target and tabbed to yet another group of trash off to the side and manages to get their attention.

What was supposed to be a routine pull is on the verge of becoming a blown pull.

Oh crap

This is the kind of situation that healers dread. At the same time, this is also the kind of situation where healers excel. Differences between average healers and great healers are easily noticeable.

A blown pull can look like anything. It can involve any number of mobs or any number of players. It can happen at any time. A series of minor and trivial events continue to add up until it snowballs and overwhelms the raid.

Are you ready for high stakes Whack-A-Mole?

Now what?

This is when your brain shifts to high gear and your fingers start to just react on their own. I’m going to refer to this is the APC process.

Assess – The very first thing a healer does is to look around them. Examine the situation by looking at the screen. Get a visual reference on the mobs and see if you can tell who they are running to or who they’re beating on. Ideally, your raid frames will highlight red on players who have aggro. By now, you should have a mental map of what exactly is going on, who is tanking what, and who has pulled aggro with stray mobs.

Prioritize – This is the fun part. You get to decide who lives and who dies. If the players on your raid frames are flashing red, it means they have threat on some mob. If any one of those players is not a tank, I strongly suggest throwing a shield on them right away. After that, you can only pray that they drop aggro or that they live long enough for a tank to pull them off. Keep your ears open for any keywords.

For example, if you hear the word “Challenging”, you better zero in on that tank immediately.

Cast – At this time, you should have an idea of who you’re healing. You should simultaneously be vocal about who you’re healing. It lets other healers know who to heal and who not to. If they know you’re healing Bob, then they won’t waste their time or overheals on Bob. On the flip side, if Bob happens to be that guy that said Challenging, then other healers may wish to jump in on that as well.

That entire process above should take about a second to run through in your head. There’s too many variables to account for so it’s difficult to imagine what you would do under certain circumstances. But sometimes it helps if you think about what you would do in such a situation if it ever comes down to it.

It’s kind of like being in a mall and knowing where the fire exits are in case there’s a fire. Sure you may not need it. But it’s nice to know where they are just in case.

The key here is to be vocal about who you’re healing. Strong communication can turn a blown pull into a salvageable one.

Image courtesy of tvvoodoo

Single Target Healing in a Multi Target World

Single Target Healing in a Multi Target World

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This is a guest post by Holy Paladin and Disc Priest blogger Ambrosyne of For the Bubbles

By the time I dinged 80 with my paladin, I was about ready to throw in my hat.  "This is insane!" I huffed.  "I feel as if Blizzard hates holy paladins." 

This is likely an exaggeration, but I’m a dramatic soul.  Regardless, let’s take a look at what pushed me to this point.

Aoe damage.  Wrath instances seem to have a lot of it.  Sometimes it’s just masses of mobs, some of which inevitably peel off try to eat the overzealous mage.  There’s also cleaves and whirlwinds and poisons thrown everywhere and rain of fire and blizzards and mojo puddles… 

Sometimes it seemed as if taking heals off the tank for even a heartbeat resulted in a wipe.  Most instances ended up sending my mind into chaos.  Peeking into it you might have seen something like this:

“Aaaah! Poisons everywhere I need to cleanse them!”
”OH MY GOD THE TANK IS DYING!”
*heals the tank”
“OH MY GOD THE DPS IS DYING!”
*heals the DPS”
“OH MY GOD THE TANK IS DYING”
*dies*

The only good thing to come out of this (aside from the fact that I decided to roll a priest) was that I learned very quickly to make the most out of a holy paladin’s limited arsenal.

How A Holy Paladin Can Cope

Beacon – Sweet, so I can heal TWO targets at once with a semi-expensive spell that only lasts a minute!  Sadly a group has five people in it, but we do what we can. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love beacon.  I just wish I could make it magically expand to the entire group.

In a five man you’ll often beacon the tank while topping off the DPS.  This works fine, except on longer fights where beacon seems to eat up your mana, and on fights where the tank is taking really heavy hits.  Beacon alone will not keep the tank up.

Sometimes I’ll beacon myself while healing the tank, if we’re talking something really not fun like the mojo puddles in Heroic Gundrak.  

Learn to predict incoming damage – This is easiest if you run with the same tanks all the time and come to know their gear and play style, but just being familiar with their class and the boss can be enough.  When I deemed it ‘safe’, I would judge for haste, toss a holy light on the tank so that he was at full, and then quickly throw Flashes at the DPS to keep them alive.  They might not have been at full health, but they were still alive.   If I guessed correctly, by the time I cycled back to the tank he was a bit lower on health but in no danger of dying before the next Holy Light.  If I had to, I let the rogue die.  Sorry man (I’m kidding!  I let the DPS warrior die).

Sacred Shield – In most cases, you don’t need to be afraid of rage or mana starving the tank.  The additional flash of light crits are great, and the damage absorption means you have less to heal!  Don’t be afraid to toss it on yourself, either, if you have the bad tendency to get healer tunnel vision.  Or if there are mojo puddles.  I hate mojo puddles, by the way.

Grab the Holy Light glyph – The splash heal sure as heck can’t hurt.

Holy shock - It’s expensive, it has a cool down, but as an "oh no!" button, it’s great.  I have an oh no macro set up for casting divine favor, holy shock, and then flash of light. 

Be adaptable – Don’t get your mind stuck on ‘spamming flash of light’ or ‘spamming holy light’.  Read the situation and use what’s best.  In a raid, forget the meters.  Healing meters suck.  You know what a holy paladin on top of the meters is a lot of the time?  OOM. 

Have patience.  A lot of my problems resolved once I started picking up some gear out of the very same heroics that were making me weep.  There seems to be a gear plateau for the holy paladin at 80, beyond which things become manageable again.  Trust me!  If you raid, that too will make your life easier.  You have someone else healing and as a single target healer this is where you shine.  I just love healing Patchwerk.  I look forward to it every week.  It’s like Blizzard gave me cookies for being a holy pally!

Discipline priests, I have not forgotten you!  You too are considered primarily single target healers, and hey, I have one too.  What, I was frustrated with single target healing so I rolled another one?  Yes!  Guess what: you are not as limited as you think. 

If the occasional tossed renew (no, they’re not that efficient for you; yes, they’re still useful in a pinch) and a bouncing prayer of mending isn’t enough, don’t forget prayer of healing.  If it’s on cooldown, use inner focus first!   I sometimes save inner focus just for PoH.  Use your bubbles and borrowed time to your advantage. 

Hopefully my experiences, as frustrating as they were at the time (and still are-I’m looking at you, mojo puddle), allowed me to share some useful information with you.  Stick with it.  All of Azeroth needs you!

Happy healing!

Image courtesy of barunpatro

Don’t Rely on Addons to Heal

A few nights ago, I decided to participate in a Heroic Naxx pug (and you know my thoughts on the subject). But I always go back to it since I like to use my Shaman to decompress.

Like most pugs, we stood around for 30 minutes (literally) for the lead to dish out instructions. The boss we were about to engage was Gluth. We were about to run through the pipe, but we had to hold off and wait for a Paladin.

Now you might think this is trivial. But wait until I tell you why.

“My HealBot is not working properly. I can’t heal without it.”

As you can imagine, that sent a nasty surge up my spine. Here’s a Paladin. He’s been assigned to main tank healing. And he can’t heal without his Healbot?

Is it truly that difficult to do nothing but hit the Flash of Light or Holy Light keys at will?

After the 30 minute brief, we had to wait around for an additional 10 minutes (multiplied by 24 players and thats 240 minutes or 4 hours) for this guy to get his addon going.

Airline pilots have a wide variety of electronics and instruments at their disposal. Most of the time, they can toggle the autopilot. When push comes to shove, they have to take manual control of their plane. Sometimes emergencies happen. Perhaps there’s a circuit fried somewhere rendering GPS useless. They have to be trained to be able to make visual landings of their aircraft under extreme weather circumstances.

Lesson 1

Good healers use addons to heal. But great healers don’t have to rely on them.

Don’t get me wrong. I think HealBot is a good tool. As is Clique, Grid, and whatever else you decide to use. At the same time, the next time you go on a farm raid try toggling off and healing in vanilla mode. The point isn’t to see if you like it. Because I guarantee you, you won’t. The point is to see if you can do it. Blizzard will make patches and they will continue to update the game. Addons will break or error out on certain fights. Sometimes updates will come out days or even weeks later.

Would you delay raiding because a key addon you need isn’t available?

I should hope not.

I love my Pitbull as much as the next guy. But if I need to heal by pulling out the raid frames manually, I can. Sure it reduces my overall effectiveness, but at least I won’t be handcuffing the raid.

Lesson 2

Check your addons before entering a raid to ensure that they’re working properly.

This goes without saying. But a 10 second check saves 10 minutes of heartache.

Evaluating Healer Performance

Evaluating Healer Performance

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This is a guest post from Derevka who has been actively blogging on his blog Tales of a Priest. This post is in reply to Healing Meters Suck and tries to tie in some qualitative and quantitative healing performance analysis.

Healing Meters suck? I tend to disagree. Healing meters and WWS Reports provide an insane amount of information and value to a well educated healer.  But now where does that leave us? You have 11 healers signed up for tonight’s raid and only 7 healing slots available — or you have a new recruit healer and you need to evaluate how they are performing. What do you do? How do you go about evaluating healers in a world where the DPSers are e-peening over their DPS and Total Damage Done?

Nearly a year and a half ago, Priestly Endeavors did a post about measuring healer performance. This is a great post, and I encourage everyone to read it.  Perhaps it is time to reflect on what methods are best to evaluate a healer?

Healing Meters:  Recount & WWS

Gasp! Hiss! Boo! There is a lot more to healing than just meters, yes, but don’t forget there is a lot of very valuable information here. The trick is finding the best way for you to harness this data to evaluate yourself and your healing team and learn where can you improve. 

The first thing you need to understand about deciphering healing meter data is knowing the encounter that the data is from.  Looking at a Recount data from Malygos is going to heavily favor the COH Priests and WG Druids, thanks just to Vortex. (While post-3.08 that may change; I don’t think it will skew it that much). You always need to ask yourself "Does this fight heavily favor a specific spec/class over another?". If the answer is yes, you have to both qualitatively and quantitatively account for that information.

Finding out how much effective healing was done by Priest X using COH over other spells can be done in Recount and WWS.  If it is a fight that doesn’t have a ton of AOE damage, and a priest has 20% of the effective healing of the 7 healers, of which 70% was COH, you might have a performance problem here. 
Discipline Priests typically are low on the healing meters since PW: Shield, Grace, and Divine Aegis have no impact on effective healing. How do you evaluate a Disc priest on a numbers game in which they are at a disadvantage? However, with a bit of poking around you should be able to find some good data in there.  On a conceptual level, PW:S is the only spell in the game that guarantees zero "overhealing".

So dive into WWS information. Find out how many times that player buffed the MTs with PW:S then you can gauge the total "effective healing" those shields provided. (I know, not an exact science since you need to weigh in SP coefficients, did the whole shield get eaten, etc. But it does provide additional data that WWS/Recount completely disregarded).

Since we are playing the numbers game using meter evaluation, does that mean it is okay for them to be dead last on the meters with 3% healing done on a fight? Maybe… however, likely not.

Healer Focus and Assignments

Plain and simple: are your healers focusing on the task at hand? Are they sticking to their assignments and trusting their guildmates? Trusting your fellow raiders to do their job is key. You cannot be all things to all people. This often can be easily discovered if you see the healer switching to other healing assignments and slacking on their primary target. Great example would be Patchwerk. You have a healer who was assigned to heal a Hateful Strike Tank, they shift focus to try to get a heal on the Main Tank — BOOM! Your resident Enhancement Shaman eats a hateful strike and dies.

Also data lives on WWS that can also provide good insight, but again keep the encounter and assignments in mind! This report can be found in the "Who Heals Whom" section. The smaller the number the fewer the people that person healed. A high focus number can generally mean the person healed "randomly" and may have deviated from their assignment. On fights that have AOE damage or multiple targets assigned to the same healer, focus numbers can increase for certain healers. A great example is my guild’s Sartharion 2-Drake strategy:  We let the Tenebron’s whelps pop, and AOE them down (and usually have some AOE damage to the raid as a result), and send in a DK , DPS, and 1 healer to heal the damage for Shadron’s Disciple. That healer, typically has a higher than average focus. Again, it is all about knowing which fight you are analyzing.

Ability to React to the Unforeseen

This measurement is very subjective, and not numerical so it is often very hard to guage. When you see it happen, it is usually quite apparent. Sometimes a healer disconnects or dies mid fight, and you need to react. Good healers are able adjust when this happens, take adjusted healing assignments. Great healers excel in these situations. They thrive.

An example would be the healers for Lady Blaumeux and Sir Zeliek on Four Horsemen. Lets pretend one of your ranged tanks DCs. This healer quickly adjusts, calls out on vent they are now tanking Blaumeux (along with the other ranged tank) and spams heals on themselves until a new ranged player comes to replace them from the front group. No one else dies, as you get your shiny epics from the chest minutes later.
This measurement encompasses the "don’t stand in the fire" rule:  Situational Awareness.

Are you in  Sartharion’s Void Zone? Are you standing in Sapphrion’s Blizzard? Now these points, are easily counted.

The Death Test

Probably the easiest to check, but perhaps the most subjective of all. If your assigned target not die, you win. Generally, yes – but not always. You need to look at the bigger picture. Did they go OOM and another healer have to step up and do double duty? Did they lose awareness and chain a KT Frost Blast to the melee?
Evaluating healers is not easy. I am typically the one to do healing assignments, and often the officer to pass final judgement on a recruit healer.  When I say /promote or /gkick, or when I chose one healer over another healer when making up the raid roster for the evening, I often have a lot of math and though behind those decisions. Using WWS and Recount, as well as many subjective methods.

Ultimately your healing roster and performance is something that should be constantly evaluated. Finding out your flaws, and taking steps to correct them is one of the best ways to improve; diving into the details really is the best way to do that.

Further reading:

Matt wrote a Spiritual Guidance column on WoW Insider several months ago titled: Measuring a Priest. Several of those points still ring true today.

Image courtesy of danzo08

Alts and the Raider: An Officer’s Perspective

Alts and the Raider: An Officer’s Perspective

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Who are all these unsavory characters, you might ask? Well, all WoW players–particularly raiders–have a closet full of skeletons, or, to be more specific, absolutely terrible alts. These just happen to be mine, and not a one of them is as good as my main. There are the few exceptional players who play their holy priest as well as their frost mage, but those are few and far between. For the most of us, we have one character to raid with, whose mechanics we know inside and out, and a motley crew of has-beens, might-have-beens, and never-will-bes to tool around with outside of raid time. Usually, alts are harmless, though my paladin’s mailbox macarenas HAVE been known to cause temporary insanity. However, especially when burnout or boredom threatens, alts start to look pretty attractive. I’ve just taken Isidora the Fail Warlock on a little tour of Borean Tundra. Sure, level 68 mages can kill me one-on-one because I can’t find my fear button. But I can pick Goldclover!

This post explores what happens when raiders get attached to their alts. The fascination can go far beyond leveling a convenient profession or two. It is a truth universally acknowledged that when a guild starts spending a significant amount of time every week on farm content, at least one raider will want to bring in an alt.

Change is Good, Right?

From the perspective of the player, a change of main, or even a few trips to a dungeon on an alt, can help refresh interest in the game. On rare occasions, this can work out well for the guild as well. Sometimes a player is even more successful at raiding on a rerolled character than they were on their original main. I saw this happen in Collateral Damage with Allagash, a wonderful shaman who rerolled from priest in mid-T5 when she saw the potential of the shaman class. Those kinds of Cinderella stories can happen, but what I’m really interested in talking about are the rotten pumpkins that can result from an excessive love of alts.

Speaking Hypothetically

What if I were to decide tomorrow that Sydera has plenty of gear and experience, and that I’d like to start raiding on one of my alts? Maybe, since my guild has only one raiding shaman, I’ll powerlevel Zoraida (now at a stout level 7) and work my butt off to help my guild stack Chain Heal. Or, I’ll decide that even though I’ve become pretty decent at healing, it’s my destiny to hit things in the ankle with an axe. So, I’ll level my retribution paladin from 70 to 80 and add myself to an already bloated melee team. But I’m a good player, right, so my guild will work me in just to keep me. In either case, I’d ding 80 in little more than my underwear (yes, those are healing boots on the ret pally) and I’d want some runthroughs of heroics and Naxx 10 to get up to the minimum standard for raid gear. I’m sure, though, that the whole project would be engaging. Some players seek out just such a long slog so that they have enough in-game struggles to hold their interest. However, at the end of the line, when a new alt is at level 80 and in a basic raid kit, has it been worth the sacrifice?

Giving your Guild Leader a Giant Headache

Nothing causes Guild and Raid Leaders to lose more sleep than the prospect of changing the raid lineup. Anyone who makes a raid roster wants to be able to count on a consistent team, and alts ad chaos to the mixture. Most guilds don’t min/max every situation, so they will do what they can to keep a player they like, even if it means letting a healer come to raids on a ret paladin. However, that player has probably cost their guild a good bit of time and effort for a very uncertain return. Often, the end result is that the new main contributes less to the raid than the old one did.

Didn’t Ghostcrawler tell us to Take the Player, Not the Class?

syd-states-clearly-noYes, he sure did. However, when we’re talking about a rerolled character or an alt, there are a lot of reasons for guild leaders to say no. For example, let’s take Sydera. She’s been all the way through TBC and the current Wrath content, and somewhere along the way, her operator learned a thing or two about healing on a druid. When I take my warlock out for questing, I’m less quick to react than I am on Syd. It’s like playing a stranger. I might be able to learn another healer, but I don’t think I’d ever post great numbers as a raiding warlock. For high-end raiding, the absolute optimum scenario is for everyone to play one class of their choice and to build the team based on those choices. Changing things up mid-stream is uncomfortable both for the leadership and for other players.

But What if My Main is Already Geared?

In my mind, this is the worst reason to bring an alt to a raid, unless it’s a raid specifically designated for alts. In guilds with DKP lists, alts can sometimes bid on loot, often sharing a DKP pool with the main. Let’s imagine that a well-established guild has many long-time members with lots of DKP and a few new members with very little. One of these new members loses an item for their main spec to someone’s alt. How are they going to feel? And what will the effect on team morale be? This can be a hard lesson, because we all love our alts and get bored of farm content, but a guild has to think about the good of the whole. As painful as it might be, and as much as I’d like to go to Naxx someday on my alts, it’s best to keep alts out of raiding entirely. The exception, as I said, are raids designed to carry alts. If the guild is revisiting old content for giggles, then why not let everyone take their alts? But if the raid’s purpose is to gear up the players for the next level, you’re much better off with a full group of mains, even if some loot gets sharded as a consequence.

What if I Want to Switch Mains?

Sometimes a change in mains is the only thing that will make a player happy. In my mind, players should seek their bliss–but they should so so while being aware of other people’s needs. I can imagine two possible scenarios that allow a player to switch and keep his or her integrity intact.

1. The player who wants to switch is able to do so in a way that supports the guild.

If one of Conquest’s four resto druids really, truly wanted to switch to another healing class, and was willing to let that class be paladin or shaman, I would support them. Sure, I’d be skeptical until the alt in question reached 80, but I would be willing to do a little extra personal work to support the new character. However, once the person switched, I’d hold them to it. There would be no going back to the former main once the new main had an acceptable gear set. That essentially causes the guild to have to re-make its plans twice. I’ve been burned in the past by asking people to switch to an alt either temporarily or permanently in order to ensure better class balance for a raid. I’ll never do that again–and I’ll keep people from switching themselves to a character they don’t really like if at all possible. I’d only support a change of main if it was permanent and favorable for both the individual and the team.

2. The player switches mains and respectfully leaves for a guild that needs a player in that role.

One of the hard lessons I’ve learned this year is that sometimes you have to say goodbye to your guild–for the good of both that guild and the raider involved. I believe in everyone’s right to find happiness, and if that sense of in-game satisfaction is only available with a new class and role that your current raiding group doesn’t need, well, it makes sense to say good luck and goodbye. There are respectful ways to g-quit. It’s better, in fact, to quit if staying would mean that the guild has to radically change itself in order to accommodate you. My earlier example of healer-to-melee would probably require a wholesale shakeup of Conquest to accomplish. So, have a heart-to-heart with the Guild Master or Raid Leader. Find out if your new main will be able to contribute something useful to your raiding team. If not, give a notice of a couple weeks if you can and then start looking for a new home.

Would I Ever Switch Mains?

Probably not. I’m rather attached to Syd, and I’ve found something I’m good at. Alts are nice for dreaming. I like to imagine what it would be like to Chain Heal with Zoraida in a 10-man, though I’m not likely to get there. I might someday pug a Naxx 10, or go on an all-alt run of old content. That sort of thing is fun. However, when it comes to progression raiding, I might daydream sometimes about switching, but then my better angel kicks in and tells me to get back to lifeblooming. Another question entirely is whether I’d reroll if Matticus asked me to. Yes, I would, because if the guild leader asks, that means it’s best for the team–but he’s not likely to do that. After all, I’m an incredibly slow leveler, and the guild would have to wait a long long time for their new team member.

5 Tips for Transferring Servers

5 Tips for Transferring Servers

connect

This is a guest post from @katagirl, Matt’s fellow guildie and a WoW Twitterati

I’ve been playing World of Warcraft for over two and a half years. In this time, I’ve transferred to different servers twice.

Choosing to transfer to a different server is a big decision, because unlike a haircut or a mini-pet – this will cost you some hard earned cash (or much begged, depending on your persuasion).

There are two different circumstances in which you might be considering a transfer: either you’re transferring with friends, or you’re transferring alone.

With Friends

This was how my first transfer happened. I was leading a social guild on an underpopulated server, and it was difficult to get groups together for anything. The economy was shot, too. Our group was small, but we’d been playing together for a long time. We made the decision to transfer to a higher population server after a lot of discussion. Out of the fifteen of us, six decided to make the move together.

By far, this is the easiest way to make a server move. You’ve got friends to make a new start with.

Off Server recruited/Getting a new start

This is how I got hooked up with Matticus and gang. I’d been following Matt’s blog and twitter for a while, and started having discussions with him when he started pitching the idea for Conquest. One night, I shot him a note that I was really tempted to transfer over and join him. He got a little excited about the prospect of a holy paladin – so we chatted on GTalk, then on Vent. This transfer was going to be a shot in the dark, so I had a lot of questions. Eventually I made the decision to transfer, and I’m glad I did.

When you’re considering a server transfer:

Do your homework

If you’re thinking about moving to join a guild, learn everything you can about them. Stalk their website, their vent. Chat with players and officers. I spoke to both Matt and Sydera the first evening I was considering Conquest. I also spent time listening on their vent.

If you’re moving for a change of scenery/better pvp/better economy, create a character. Watch the Auction House for a few days. Troll trade chat and notice the guilds and trolls. Realm forums are also good, as many guilds will recruit there. Find two or three guilds that may match your playing style and whisper a few random players from each to see what they think about their guilds.

Have a backup plan

One of my biggest concerns about transferring to join Conquest was that once I got here and things got going, my raiding style and personality would not mesh with the others and I’d be miserable. During one of our conversations, I brought this up to Matt. He assured me that if I got here, and it didn’t work out – he’d personally help me find somewhere that fit better. That’s a sign of a good guild leader – he wasn’t stuck on himself enough to assume that everyone would be absolutely happy there. I still checked out the recruitment forums and chatted with a few recruiters in trade chat before I made the decision to transfer. To be honest, Matt’s willingness to make sure I was taken care of even if I decided Conquest was not for me was the one thing that finally cemented the decision to transfer.

Don’t be afraid to be afraid

If you’re a millionaire (and if so, let’s be friends), a server transfer is no big deal. If you’re in school or just making it on ramen and lettuce salads, it’s something that may impact you a little more. It’s perfectly fine to take time to make your decision. Don’t let anyone push you into making a decision on the spot. It’s your fifteen bucks, and you need to make sure it’s a good fit for you.

Ask for advice

Sometimes, you’re too close to the situation to see things clearly. Find a friend (one who isn’t involved in the decision, or has any bias) and talk them through what you’re thinking. They may come up with a problem or a suggestion that you would not have thought of.

Don’t jump in with both feet

This should go without saying, but only transfer one character at a time. Make sure you’re happy with where you’re going before you send two more alts to join your main character. One transfer fee is easier to swallow than two or three.

Ultimately, the decision comes down to you. It’s not a life-ending decision if you decide to transfer somewhere and your plans fall through. There are great players on each server and good guilds. If you’re still unhappy, you can always transfer back in three months.

Image courtesy of gerard79

10 v. 25-Person Content Revisited

10 v. 25-Person Content Revisited

green-vortex

Well, darn. I figured out something last night that should have me eating my hat, or humble pie, or maybe a boiled crow, or else four-and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie. One of my biggest predictions about Wrath of the Lich King turns out to have been dead wrong.
some-very-humble-pie

When I first heard about the 10 v. 25 raid size split in Wrath, I made a logical assumption. To be entirely fair, the conclusion I drew was well-supported by blue comments. I believed that since the rewards would be demonstrably better in 25-person content, as a consequence the difficulty level would also be higher. Either that, or the difficulty level would be exactly the same, the only reason for a reward difference being the Organization Boss that all larger guilds have to face every week.

However, last night I ran two “normal difficulty” raids that took my breath away: Sartharion with two drakes and Malygos. Without a stacked raid, our group–which took out Sartharion 25 with 2 drakes earlier this week after only an hour and a half of tries–just could not make any headway in the 10-man version. We had to settle for just one drake, and since we picked the baby dragon-spawner by accident, that was no cake walk either. And as for the rewards at the end? Nothing anyone wanted, since we had been doing so much Sartharion 25 and Naxx 25. We were pretty psyched to get the achievement, though.

As for Malygos, we took him down with two healers, and boy, was I sweating. Tank healing was tight, and raid healing was even dodgier. Meanwhile, my mana pool dipped to absolutely scary levels–which became an emergency when I made a mistake on one attempt and blew my innervate in the gap between phase 1 and phase 2. In my panic I hadn’t even been checking Mal’s health bar. Malygos is a fight I love on 25s, but I have to say that the 10-man was breathtaking. It’s exactly the kind of challenge I want–one that I know I can meet, or that gives me a chance to make improvements between attempts. It has me tempted to go back again. However, once again the rewards aren’t in proportion to the difficulty. I’d say the loot is about on par with Kel’Thuzad’s from Naxx 25–pretty darn good, but not nearly as nice as the stuff that comes out of the easier 25-person version of the same instance.

Has Blizzard Made A Big Mistake?

Clearly, I think they have, or I wouldn’t have written this post. Knowing what I know now, there’s no reason to separate Emblem loot by normal/heroic raid tier. I think I definitely earned an Emblem of Valor or two for that Malygos kill. I had heard before that Sartharion with 3 drakes was absolutely monstrous on 10s, and I thought that was just a freak thing. But based on my personal experience, I’ve come to think that the phenomenon is more widespread. Nothing in Naxx–either version–is all that difficult for my guild, but I do remember that Kel’Thuzad is harder on both healers and melee-heavy groups in the smaller size. Like it or not, I’ve come to the conclusion that raids who run 10-person content only deserve the same compensation as 25-person raiders.

What Can the Developers Do About It?

A lot of people in this game min/max, and it looks like right now, the biggest rewards for a person’s time and effort come out of 25-person content. This is a disappointment to me, because I want the game design to lead me–and my fellow raiders–to the hardest possible content. The game needs to lure us there with rewards and encourage us not to be lazy. I also want everyone to get fair compensation for what they do. I just feel bad about getting better gear for less work than a smaller guild might do. A 10-man guild who clears Sarth with 3 drakes has absolutely played better than I’m capable of right now–and they get a Heroes’ glove token, while I’m wearing a Valorous one? Ludicrous. Moreover, assuming that Ulduar-10 is harder than Ulduar-25, could that mean that a raid really needs i-level 213 gear to do it? The gear gap between 10-person raiders and 25-person raiders is pretty noticeable. As promised, it is very nearly a whole tier of difference. I think I had smaller upgrades, say, between T4 and T5 than I did between Heroes and Valorous.

For Ulduar and all future raids, I urge Blizzard to do one of two things.

1. Eliminate the i-level gap for 10 v. 25 person gear along with the Emblem difference. Put either equivalent or exactly the same items in each tier. The dichotomy was a nice idea, but the dungeon difficulty doesn’t actually support it. Clearly, I never favor lazy solutions, so I’d rather have totally unique sets in each dungeon size tailored towards the attributes that tend to be more important in that particular raid size. For small raids, survivability and mana regeneration/total mana might be key, whereas you might want higher damage output for the larger raids.

2. For the love of Pete, make the 25-person content different from the 10-person content. It’s not enough to adjust the health and damage values. Make the encounter feel different. Add lots of chaos for the 25s so it feels more on the difficulty level of the 10s. Give every one of those 25 raiders something to do, as in the Lady Vashj fight. I would even go so far as to give the bosses different mechanics–think about, say, the difference between Mechano-Lord Capacitator from Mechanar on Normal v. Heroic. Make the 25-person raiders earn their higher i-level sets.

Don’t Be Lazy

The solution to most of the problems I’ve seen in Wrath so far can be summarized with this adage. Wherever the developers have cut corners, things didn’t come out so well. No one’s complaining about the design of the leveling content or 5-person dungeons. That’s because they clearly show that Blizzard lavished time and attention on them. The same is, unfortunately, not true of the dual-tier raid system. I think it’s time to bring it in line.

A Quick Note About New Dispel Mechanics

Here’s an example:

Silent Resolve now reduces the chance your helpful spells and damage over time effects will be dispelled by 10/20/30%. (Old – Affected all spells)

Great. What’s that mean?

Your Renew and your Shadow Word: Pain will have a chance of getting a resist when an enemy tries to get rid of it. For example, a Shaman would have a 30% chance of getting his Purge resisted when trying to remove your Renew.

Psychic Scream, on the other hand, should be removed immediately. If I blow my Psychic Scream on an enemy player, and his teammate hits the Cleanse button to remove the fear effect, it will fall off immediately.

What does this mean for PvE players? Probably nothing.

It will affect PvP. You’re better off asking Braids how that will work.

Poll: How do you Keep in Touch?

I asked this question Twitter a few days ago. I’m including a section in my E-Book about how guild members interact with each other out of the game (if they do). So I’m looking to gather some data and some stories.

Here’s the question:

How else do you communicate with your Guild members (outside of WoW)?

Has there been an event or a time when interacting outside of the game helped your guild out? Or hurt it?

And yes, you can select more than one option.

For me personally, I receive text messages from other players who have something unexpected happen. This way, I’m not left wondering last minute what happened to a player who said they’d be there. Perhaps they’re stuck in traffic or they realized an assignment was due today. It’s not a requirement. But it’s certainly very courteous for them to do so.

What about Cataclysm excites you the most?

  • The New "Old" World (51%, 672 Votes)
  • Guild Leveling (16%, 213 Votes)
  • Goblins and Worgen (13%, 166 Votes)
  • The New Story Line(s) and Lore for Azeroth (12%, 162 Votes)
  • I'm still enjoying Wrath too much to care (7%, 94 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,307

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