5 Mistaken Beliefs of Raiding Guilds

5 Mistaken Beliefs of Raiding Guilds

887011_57811135

The comments from Wednesday’s post drew a consensus where everyone called for a Gkick. As some readers observed, it’s not exactly going to win the Emmy for Best Drama of the year.

On the other hand, the fact that a Paladin on break is the best I can offer in terms of drama should say something about myself and the organization.

Please understand that I wrote that post to inform and let readers know that no guild is impervious. I did this to inform. I didn’t mean for it to come out as a rant (because there’s far worse things in life then a Paladin leaving).

I’m not going to remove him. I’ll let him stick around in the guild. On the flip side, it doesn’t mean he’s going to get the start when the 2 raiding instances come out. He’ll have to earn his stripes.

Belief 1: Your GM Owns You

Wrong. I don’t own my players. They recognize that they’re all technically free agents. They didn’t sign a multi-year contract to raid. I’ll elaborate on this in the next point. But there is nothing to prevent people from walking away.

All I can say is this. If you don’t want to clear out Heroic Naxx, OS with 2 Drakes, Malygos, and Vault of Archavon within 6 hours, then you don’t want to be in this guild.

It’s all about incentives.

And if a player doesn’t want to do that, I’m damn sure I can find someone who’s willing. When a player’s goal differs from a guild’s goal, no amount of incentives will win them back.

Belief 2: It’s a One Way Street

The relationship between a guild and a member is a symbiotic relationship. It works both ways. The guild serves the individual by providing them with a home, discounted prices on materials, and a supply of other likeminded people to do 5 mans or heroics.

On the other hand, the individual serves the guild by being present for raids, investing their time and money into raids, and just being there.

Belief 3: Your Excuses Mean Something

Whether a player wants to leave because of burnout or they have exams or their wife is pregnant is irrelevant. I realize this sounds quite harsh. But the reality is, no matter what the reason, I’m still going to have an empty hole in my roster for a period of time that has to be filled. I can’t be expected to wait around for 4 months for a player to come back. I’m not going to raid short handed with 24.

Whether a hockey goalie injures his groin, breaks a leg, or has to deal with family issues is important. But the team’s general manager still has to go out and make a trade for a goalie or promote one from the minors because the team needs one.

No matter how you slice it, it all leads to the same result. In this case, it is a net loss of one player for a few months.

Belief 4: Your Spot is Guaranteed

Sorry, that’s not the case here. If a player doesn’t perform, they get replaced. If a player isn’t here to perform, they have to be replaced anyway.

The difference between a Paladin who leaves and one who stays with the rest of us?

It proves to me that they’re willing to stick around and dedicate themselves. Those are the type of troopers I want.

Readers, understand that we’re all expendable to an extent. It’s going to be easier to replace a healer because there are 4 different healer classes to choose from.

But it will be much more difficult to replace the guy who tirelessly draws out maps, sets up strategy and organizes the kill method on a weekly basis.

The hint here is to be be valuable as much as possible. In the end, the Paladin I lost is just one Paladin. They’re a dime a dozen.

My guild is in a good bargaining position right now since we’re ahead of the raiding curve (also coming soon). Finding people isn’t the problem especially when I’m not terribly concerned with a player’s gear level. When I started Conquest, I didn’t have a reputation. I’ll elaborate more on this later.

Belief 5: Gear Makes You Important

I can see this being true to an extent. But in my years of raiding, I’ve learned something. I’m going to refer to this concept as the 30% rule.

30% of loot will be wasted

This factors in upgrades, players leaving, and off spec items. Inversely, this means that 70% of loot awarded will actually be used for raiding and be effective for guild progression. It’s just the way of guilds.

While I may invest a large proportion of gear into players, I know that gear alone isn’t going to win me any favours. But progression will.

We say stuff all the time about guilds rewarding players or just gearing them up for whatever reason. But the reality is that every instance has a “minimum standard of gear” before it can be completed successfully. What the standard is will deviate from guild to guild.

I wrote my recommended requirements for Naxx last week. Note how the comments vary. Some agreeing and some disagreeing. Your guild’s “sweet spot” will differ from mine.

Another example would be Brutallus. A raid DPS of 20420 (post nerf) is required to kill him within enraged timers (another post entirely). Once you reach that threshold, you’re gold.

Reflections

If a player is going to burn out after only 6 hours of raiding a week, then this guild is not for them. What’s going to happen when the second tier of raiding instances are released? How will they handle the wear and tear of progression raiding where we commit ourselves to 12 hours a week?

To me, these early farm raids are a dress rehearsal. If we compare raiding to a season of sports, then Naxx, OS, and Malygos is just pre-season for me.

Remember that when I formed this guild, I had nothing to go on but my name, my reputation, and my promise. I could’ve lied and said that I was a proven guild leader. But I didn’t. I managed to convince around 25 players to buy into my vision and my goals. This was a combination of people that I had raided with for a long time, readers via my blog, people on twitter, and players in trade chat. I had no way of knowing whether or not it would work. I didn’t know whether they would gel together. There was so much uncertainty when I started out.

I’d by lying to you if I said I didn’t spend every waking moment second guessing myself.

A new guild does not have it’s fair share of pickings. There’s no reason for star players of other guilds to come play under your banner. I had to build from the bottom up with all sorts of people without knowing what their motives were.

Use these “easy” raids to learn more about your guild. Find out about their strengths and weaknesses. Figure out habits and tendencies. What makes them laugh and what makes them cry.

Oh, one more thing. I want to extend a thank you to all the Paladins and healers who emailed me and sent in applications. I believe that position’s been settled for now (unless they turn out be pure crap, in which case I’ll put the call out again).

Image courtesy of barunpatro

Your Twisted Moments?

From the fine folks at TNB comes a plea for participation:

We want you, our gentle listeners, to tell us your most “twisted” moment of 2008.  A great save, a funny death, an awesome trick, that amazing gift, whatever your best moment  is, share it with us!  We want to know!

How to submit.

You can record your moment and send it to info @ twistednether.net

or

Call and leave us a voice mail at 206-203-4546!

Spread the word, write a post, sing a song and let’s ring in the new year with all the great memories of 2008!

Podcast hosted by the awesome duo of Bre and Fim. This week they have Ego on the show! Be sure to check that out!

4 Joys of Healing

4 Joys of Healing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is a guest post by Gothica, a Holy Paladin from EU’s Scarshield Legion

I’d like to introduce myself by saying from the outset that I’m a healer and I love it! Let me explain why.

Winning

Healing is all about winning. Know why people take healers to dungeons, raids and arenas? Because we make wins happen. We do this by using our heals, making judgment calls about which tool to use and who to use it on. It’s extraordinarily effective and a lot of fun.

Whacking moles

Healing is a minigame within World of Warcraft that is actually pretty fun in its own right. You’re looking at a rack of life bars. Suddenly one drops, heal it fast before it hits zero. You could actually play the healing mingame as a game in its own right which is why the playstyle is called whack-a-mole (after a popular game where you had to club moles off your lawn).

In WoW, you’re whacking moles (reacting to health deficits and healing them) in the larger context of the MMO. After you have whacked your moles, you may find your guild has killed a new raid boss or your arena team has won a match. Sometimes the minigame is so absorbing you barely notice the wider context. Sometimes it is your keen management of the wider context while staying on top of the healing that allows you to succeed where others wouldn’t.

The social side

You are who you heal.

As a healer, the quality of your game experience, your ability to get things done, and the amount of fun you have is very much determined by who you heal. This is both positive and negative.

The negative is that sometimes you will find yourself grouped with bad and rude players. But that’s outweighed by the positive.

The positive is that not only is it easy to meet nice players but that they will actively start to seek you out as you progress your character. After all, they want a competent friendly healer with good gear and will be keen to play with you as you establish yourself. Healers can become very popular, and you’ll be added to many people’s Friends Lists.

Progression

With the possible exception of leveling, healers progress fast in all aspects of the game. You will be able to jump into instances whenever you want, get raid situations that a DPSer of your gear and skill wouldn’t get into and be sought out for arena teams. Most healers can wear lesser gear without it really mattering resulting in us gearing up fast. We generally don’t have so much competition for our loot.

Conclusion

Those are some good reasons to try a healer. It can seem from the outside like a stressful and thankless task. It isn’t. It’s a fun minigame that wins you friends and admirers.

Why do you like healing?

The 6 Signs of Raiding Burnout

The 6 Signs of Raiding Burnout

We’re just a few weeks into a new expansion, so it feels a little strange to talk about burnout. However, Blizzard made a critical miscalculation when they worked on Wrath. They lavished most of their time and energy on quest and 5-person dungeon content–which is essentially single-view for many players. I know I certainly haven’t brought my alts through Northrend yet. However, they spent very little of their design energy on new raids. Naxxramas, which I never saw pre-Wrath, feels dated to me–it was already old the day I stepped in there. It’s something that was very cool for its time, and is fun even now, but just looks like Classic WoW. It’s like Eastern Plaguelands, part 2. For example, take a boss like Grobbulus. He looks like a butt with a face on it, or a face with a butt on it…or just a butt, with a gas mask. How can I help but be a little disappointed, especially when Blizzard is capable of creating a boss as beautiful as Malygos?

The fact that the new Naxx is tuned to be rather easy isn’t the biggest factor in how I feel about it. After all, I loved Karazhan–it was the unique mechanics and the enchanted-castle look of that place that kept me going back for more, not the difficulty level. The only two new raid instances, Obsidian Sanctum and the Eye of Eternity, are one-boss wonders. They’re cool and challenging, but there’s just not enough new bosses there to get the blood pumping.

I, for one, am very disappointed that Ulduar hasn’t hit yet. At the end of BC, I was on top of the world–Illidan and Archimonde fell for my guild right before the patch. Pre-Wrath, I got a little peek at Sunwell up to Felmyst. I had started to love raiding, and I wanted bigger challenges. . . like an entirely new instance full of beautiful, sad giants and lovely starscapes. I hope that’s Ulduar. If it had been me, I would have held Wrath entirely until at least one new full-length raid dungeon was ready.

Are you suffering from early burnout, dear reader? If one of the following six signs applies to you, you may want to see your nearest priest, who will probably prescribe a healthy diet of alt leveling and shameless achievement-chasing.

The 6 Signs of Early Burnout

1. The first time you ever saw one of the Naxxramas bosses, you said to yourself: “Not this guy again.” That, for me, was Heigan, who looks suspiciously like a lot of the trash mobs in Northrend. Hey! I think I killed that guy in Dragonblight. And Zul’Drak.

2. When your fellow raiders drop a train set, you wish that you could teleport them to Stranglethorn arena and kill them all. Choo choo? I hate you. Note to self: learn to PvP.

3. You’re tempted to send the Four Horseman a little note telling them how to better coordinate themselves for easier kills on overconfident adventurers. Note to the 4H: go for the healers, especially the druids. Wait no, scratch that . . .

4. When a boss dies, you run to get another beer–or in my case, Bailey’s–without bothering to see what he dropped. Purples, schmurples.

5. You and your friends have each incurred a repair bill of approximately 1589 gold this week because you’ve been trying for the Heroic dungeon achievements. After all, achievements are the real game, and all the leet players ride red proto drakes.

6. Tuesday is the high point of your week–not because it’s the start of the raid week, but because that’s the day your egg from the Oracles always hatches. I just got my baby Cobra–how did you do?

Discipline With Penance – How it Works

Discipline With Penance – How it Works

1084552_77683005

This is a guest post by Kitts where he posts a response about why Penance IS the spell to use.

I read a number of World of Warcraft oriented blogs: some of them have to do with Hunters, some with Druids, and some with Priests.  I respect all the people who post on these blogs 100%, because their opinions are valuable to me in order to grow as a raid leader and as a healer in general.

As a fan of the priest blog “World of Matticus”, I was surprised to read a Guest Post regarding Discipline priests healing without the 51-point talent “Penance” and reasons why this spell isn’t as effective as any other healing spell in a Discipline priests repertoire.  Furthermore, he uses arguments that generally don’t make sense.  I learned early on, if you cannot substantiate a claim, you should not make one.  By no means am I angered by the words he uses, but I’m always happy to “extol its values” as a spell.

Let’s look at each point Wistoovern makes.  And let’s see what makes sense and what doesn’t.

  • “Stop Assuming you need it - Yeah, it’s a 51-point spell. But do ALL Beast Mastery Hunters use Beast Mastery? It’s not too long ago that Lightwell was at the top of the Holy Priest’s tree, but did anyone actually use it? Taking a talent without making sure that you will use it efficiently is useless.”

I agree.  You shouldn’t take a talent without knowing how to use it.  But in order to learn how to use it within your own special circumstances, it requires experimentation and further study.  And no, not all Beast Mastery Hunters use their 51-point talent but I believe the reasons behind not using Penance are going to be different than using the Beast Mastery talent.

  • “Dual Tasking? – Let’s be honest – priests are not hybrid classes. We’re not meant to do both healing and damage at the same time. We really get to pick one or the other. We do a good job at either one (nice shadow priests, GOOD shadow priests…), but both at the same time is impractical or inefficient. So a spell that can either do heals or DPS depending on who is targeted? This can be a big problem.
  • I Mean Really, Dual Tasking? – There are only two other spells that we have that works like this: Holy Nova and Dispel Magic. However, the priest that considers Holy Nova a crucial part of his healing spells needs a reality check, and Dispel Magic (and Mass Dispel, fine) is not going to be an issue if it’s cast on the wrong target (unless you REALLY had to dispel a DoT or effect off of a player and you miss).”

Ah yes, the dual tasking spell argument.  Wistoovern argues that priests are not hybrid classes and therefore a spell that can either heal or do damage (dependent on target) is a problem.  He also argues that a priest considering Holy Nova to be a crucial healing spell is a nut and that Dispel Magic (or its AoE counterpart) isn’t an issue if it’s cast on the wrong target.

I believe the first point is a fallacy of a definition.  He assigns the idea of a “hybrid class” as one that is able to heal and DPS at the same time.  To be frank, any class that is healing AND damaging at the same time is hurting a raid because you’re not doing either role 100%, not to mention probably doing a mediocre job in comparsion to one specced mainly into that role, and there are no classes at this time who can spec in a way that will perfectly fit both roles.  To me, a hybrid class is a class when specced properly can fulfill two or three different roles in a raid. So that would mean warriors (tank/DPS), death knights (DPS/tank), shaman (DPS/healer), paladins (tank/healer/DPS), priests (healer/DPS), and druids (tank/DPS/healer) are hybrid classes.  Warlocks, mages, hunters, and rogues do nothing but DPS.

To be honest, if you’re in a raid and you’re healing by the target’s target and that target is not a tank, that DPS (and hopefully not healer) is at fault and depending on what you’re fighting, they’re probably very dead.  If you’re targetting something that’s CC’d and you’re going off of that, that’s your fault.  Also as a priest, I haven’t ran into many fights where I have to shackle something.  Actually— I haven’t shackled anything since Burning Crusade! Simply put, if you’re targetting something that you shouldn’t be targetting, you’re not doing your job.  You’re a healer.  Heal!

Holy Nova is a spell that gets used rarely.  I use it specifically when I’m changing polarities (on the Thaddeus fight) so I can hit my group on the run if we get chain lightning’d.  I also use it when I’m AoEing things to death outside of raids.  But I agree, if (and that’s a BIG if) there are any priests that use it as a “main spell”, they’re doing something wrong.  I honestly haven’t ran into any priest who would solely use this spell.

Dispel Magic… okay, how are you casting this on the wrong target.  You can’t dispel buffs off of friendly players, you can’t dispel debuffs off of an enemy.  I think there are moments where you have to dispel and if you miss, okay, recast.  Not a big deal.  Maybe if you dispel an Unstable Affliction (but the last time I saw a mob cast this was in Magtheridon’s Lair)


  • “Did I Do That? YES! - … Imagine that you go to heal someone in your party, without realizing that you have a mob targeted that has not yet been pulled… but your tank probably won’t have time to pull it off of you. Any other heal, and this would not be a problem – in fact, the inability to use healing spells on enemies can help you.
  • The Hell Does That Mean? – … Target a mob that you have to Shackle, and after they’re Shackled, leave them targeted. When you click your keyboard buttons for heals, the system will TRY to heal your target… it will give you the “grayed-out finger” pointer… just click on your healing target… Advantages: no need to use a focus, and you can still pick up the shack quickly if it breaks. Disadvantages: slightly slower than normal, takes a little getting used to, will not work with Dispel Magic…or Penance.
  • What He Giveth With One Hand... – … And when it comes to pure healing spells, cooldowns can be death (literally). Waiting for a heal to be available – or, rather, a heal that so many people think is just “so awesome” is a crapshoot. If a six-second cooldown can kill Circle of Healing, how is Penance so great with a TEN-second cooldown?”

The first point regards to “accidental pulling”.  If your tank can’t pull off of you, or you can’t quickly PW:S yourself, or get yourself out of that kind of situation… well, I wouldn’t personally run with that person (healer or tank).  If it’s a PUG, you’re only hurting your own name and if its in guild, I’d be a little worried if it happened often.

The second point is in regards to shackling.  Once again, can’t remember the last time I did it, and everything has been peachy keen in instances and raids of all flavours.

The third point is about the recent cooldown addition to Circle of Healing.  Personally, this will (just like Penance) reveal which priest healers are truly effective and efficient in a raid.  Every priest should be using a various combination of Flash Heal, Prayer of Mending, Renew, and Greater Heal when the need calls for it!  I agree cooldowns can be a murder for pure healing situations, but if you’re always ambivilent of what is needed and how to react, there shouldn’t never be an issue.  To cite a cooldown that is 10 seconds long (8 seconds with proper talenting) as a “killer” is overblown. It’s all about how you use the spell, not how much it heals or how efficient it is.

With most things in World of Warcraft and in real life, it’s not the knowledge that you have that is important, but how you use it.  If you spec a certain way and you don’t use certain aspects of it, then obviously you have little idea to what you truly are doing.  If you spec into Penance, you should use Penance. It’s a lovely spell that (as stated in a comment on Wistoovern’s post) stacks the Grace buff on your tank (or off-tank) quicker than three Flash Heal.  Penance is a quick fire solution to damage being taken by any individual in your raid.  And when it is on cooldown, you should be working on healing your tanks or your raid.

We shine the most in situations where we are continuously looking to prevent damage taken.  We cannot rely on the 5 second rule that Holy Priests try to take advantage of.  We cannot overheal and get our mana refunded, we get our mana back through Rapture (the talent that when you heal damage, you gain up to 2.5% of your mana back).

Overall, Penance is a spell that you should use when it’s applicable.  If you do tend to use it incorrectly, if you do rely on it too much, of course that’s an issue! That’s the same for any class that tries to use one spell the most all the time, you tend to get into a lot of trouble on meters and in situational areas.  You cannot just spam a Steady Shot as a hunter now, you may actually have to use your Serpent Sting to make your key ability work the best!  You cannot just spam Frostfire Bolt as a mage because you can get free Pyroblasts when you proc the deep fire talent “Hot Streak”.

Can Discipline without Penance work?  I think it’s possible.  I think without Penance, you’re still a tank healer; you should be more attentive to /stopcasting so you don’t spam your expensive heals.  You are able to grab 3 points (if you forgo Aspiration) into Improved Healing (lowering the mana cost of most of your single target direct healing spells) so that combined with your Glyph of Flash Heal is a nice combination. Power Word: Shield is still important for you if you’re specced deep into the Discipline tree, especially Borrowed Time (this gives you a bonus 25% spell haste after casting your PW:S) for any major Greater Heals you wish to drop immediately.

This is all more theoretical and assumptive in nature. I might just try it for myself! But that’s what World of Warcraft is for, right?  We want to try different things, we want to stay out of the boundaries.  I once considered Discipline spec to be out of the box, but perhaps it’s not as “out there” as a no-Penance-build. We’ll see.

Don’t forget to check out Kitt’s Discipline Priest blog and be sure to subscribe!

You Have Freedom

Have you read this post by Elleiras? All I know is that he’s a Warlock blogger.

Yes, I read Warlock blogs in addition to healing blogs. I never know where inspiration strikes so I get my Dwarven mitts on anything that I can read.

In this post, he makes the fundamental assumption:

You pay for your subscription, not your Guild Leader.  You control your characters, your playtime, your actions and your interactions in the game.  Your guild simply does not have the ability to prevent you from doing something that you want to do, nor does it have the power to force you to do anything that you don’t want to do against your will.

In other words, you play this game however you want and even though you follow the flag of your guild leader, that guild leader cannot control you. What us guild leaders can do is try to influence you into doing what we want you to do. But in the end, the choice will always be yours.

In my guild, you can do anything.

You can respec from a healer to a DPS position.
You can skip out on a raid.
You can even take a long hiatus.

The question that remains is how I react to these events. Rules and guidelines help outline what is cool and what is not cool. I can’t control you and I have no desire to. What I have are goals and what I can control is how I meet those goals. Your leaders are the one that decide the path that their guild takes.

I can’t exactly stop players from doing anything they want. But that doesn’t mean I have to include them in the next event. By considering that, I exert a small measure of influence in their decision making.

If a player respecs from Resto to Elemental, they no longer become valuable to me.

If my F-16 fighter jet needs a nut to be fully finished and you hand me a screw, then the jet won’t be able to get off the ground.

Why?

Because I only have a finite amount of DPS slots available. By switching roles, their roster slot has been compromised and I have been forced into the unfortunate position of replacing them.

Just remember that there’s a social cost attached to every action. It’s up to you to decide whether it’s a cost you can afford.

I guess that’s not really being free.

4 Reasons Healing Meters Suck

4 Reasons Healing Meters Suck

Thumbs Down (with Clipping Path)

This is a guest post by Ulkesshern, an EU Holy Paladin from Hellfire

Matticus put a plea out for guest posts and despite it been something I’ve never done I figured ‘Hey, why not?’ and offered up my services and here I am! I’m a Holy Paladin from the EU realm of Hellfire and I’m currently enjoying the delights of the 25 man content.

For my inaugural post I’ve decided to focus on one of my major bug bears, the absolutely terrible creations that are healing meters and the issues I perceive with them.

Issue 1: More Healing does not equal Better Healers

Without trying to oversimplify the job of DPS their job is basically to do damage, the more damage they do the (arguably) better they are, boss health is constant so the more damage they do the quicker the boss dies, the quicker people get their loot and the quicker you progress. However that really isn’t the case for healers. Picture this scenario, you’ve all just hit 80, you’re all predominantly in your old Tier 6 or quest rewards and you head to Naxx.

People are going to be taking massive amounts of damage, Tank mitigation will be low, DPS will be low so the encounters will be lasting longer and as such you’re going to be healing your heart out. Fast forward to the point when you go back with everyone in shiny Level 80 epics. The tanks don’t lose as much health every hit, encounters last half the amount of time and you’re not going to be breaking a sweat.

Then out come the meters!

“Oh wow my DPS is almost double what it was when we started here” cries StabbyStabster your top Rogue.
“Yeah mine too, we’re awesome now” join in the rest of the DPS.

Then someone links the healing comparison.

Well look at that, you’ve healed probably half of what you healed last time and instantly the people who don’t get it start moaning at you for not pulling your weight. The thing is we scale almost inversely with the raids gear level, but in the minds of so many people bigger numbers equals better players.

Issue 2: Situational Situations are Situational

This is something that an amazing amount of people just fail to understand, who you are assigned to heal can greatly affect your position on the meters, and I saw a wonderful example of this in a raid I was in last night. We were twenty manning Patchwerk for the achievement (yes I like achievements). Our tanks were a Death Knight, a Druid and a Warrior and our healing team comprised of 3 Paladins, a Priest and Shaman. The Paladins were assigned one Tank each while beaconing a different Tank, so all 3 Tanks had one Paladin and were the recipient of one Beacon, while the Priest and Shaman were assigned to just go crazy on all of the tanks.

We killed him pretty easily and were impressed with ourselves, and then someone linked the healing meter, Two Paladins at the top, followed by the Priest and then the Druid. Languishing at the bottom was the Third Paladin.

At first glance, it seemed that the Paladin was failed as his healing done was absolutely terrible. However when you thought about it, there were reasons.

Firstly, he was topping the over healing meters by a large margin. Then realization sets in, he was healing the main Tank, not the hateful strike soaks, and as such there was a lot less damage to heal and because Beacon of Light only transfers effective healing (of which there was very little). Whereas the other Paladins were hitting with ~14k effective heals and getting them beaconed across for about the same, the “bottom Paladins” heals weren’t needed as much and as such weren’t getting beaconed either.

3 Paladins, 3 Targets, 3 Players spamming the same heals with very different results. To some people that means that one of them was failing, a scenario that had entered no ones mind until the meters were linked. Just seconds earlier everyone was congratulating the Healers on such a good job!

At the end of the day, no one died except the boss and it was a good clean kill, only once the meters were show did any doubt suddenly arise as to the performance of healers.

Issue 3: Some Classes outclass Classes

A sad but true truth is that some classes usually end up beating others, Paladins can’t HoT or multi target as well (if at all) as Priests, Shaman, Druids and a lot of players just can’t understand that.

I once had a Guild Master state that “All of our healers are fantastic except our Paladins”. His reasoning? The other healers always beat the Paladins on meters (Late TBC Content). We tried to explain that no one ever died so we were doing our job but it just didn’t cut it, as far as he was concerned, the other classes were topping the meters so they were better and the Paladins were failing. We weren’t failing; he just couldn’t get his head around the different class mechanics and intended roles of the healing classes. Amusingly all the Paladins left soon after.

I daren’t even poke the sleeping bear that is absorption/mitigation effects. I feel for you Discipline Priests, I really do!

Issue 4: Meters are not infallible

Nothing and nobody is perfect (even me!) and meters are no exception, I’ve seen five people link meters from the same fight that have shown completely different results. I’ve seen WWS reports where I apparently wasn’t even there! I’ve spoken to Paladins who make a deal with a Warlock to keep them beaconed and instruct them to life tap like crazy. I’ve played with Priests who did nothing but spam Circle of Healing relentlessly and Shaman who may have just had a keyboard with one button marked Chain Heal. I’ve seen people of all spec that completely ignore whatever healing assignments they have in order to just spam quick heals on someone the second they take damage, I once had a Warlock point out that they really didn’t need 9 separate people to heal him the second he life tapped. I’ve even known people just type random numbers into raid chat and try and pass them off as a meter!

Final Thoughts

Meters do have a place, they’re amazingly useful for DPS, they also do serve a purpose for Healers, but they sure as anything aren’t something you can just glance at quickly and pick out who is top. If no one in the raid is dying our job is getting done and getting done well. If people are dropping like flies then perhaps consult some meters, look at what’s happening though, don’t just assume that the person on the bottom is there because he is terrible!

I’ve had meters running since Kara and I think I’ve looked at them perhaps once, coming top on a little chart doesn’t make you the worlds greatest Healer, doing your job and keeping people alive no matter how much or how little healing it requires makes you a good Healer.

(And no I don’t live at the bottom of meters!)

An Event Every Guild Leader Goes Through Once in Their Career

An Event Every Guild Leader Goes Through Once in Their Career

fate

At present, my healing corps consists of the following: 2 Priests, 4 Druids, 2 Paladins, and 2 Shamans. Note that both 1 Druid and 1 Shaman are on a part time rotation. I figure that’s more than enough to handle any sort of outages or benches that need to occur.

But a few nights ago, I received an in game mail from one of my Paladins. Let’s call him Wayne.

“Hey Matt, I’ve decided to take a break from WoW until Ulduar comes out. I’ve gotten what I need to prepare myself for it and I don’t want to burn myself too early. Thanks for understanding.”

The feeling I experienced after reading his in game mail could only be described as “disappointment”. Here was a player that had showed up to all of the raids we asked him to do before the holiday break. He was one of the earliest healers we had in the guild. For a time, he was the only Holy Paladin we had in our raids as our other one wasn’t ready to go yet.

Perhaps in this aspect, Loot Council may have failed as we awarded him nearly all the spell power plate gear until our second Paladin was able to join us.

The alternative would have been to shard upgrades to keep him coming for more. My guild and my friends would know that I would never consider that as an option.

Skepticism

Hmm… - I shouldn’t have to question the motives of my raiders. My experience in the game has taught me that there are some legitimate excuses for going on a hiatus and some that make you raise your eyebrow and go “really?”. This is one of those times. I would’ve been more than happy to accept a temporary leave of absence if a player was going out of town. Life does happen and there’s nothing I can do to change that (nor would I).

Conquest is now able to effectively clear out all heroic level content in the game.

Actually, we took down Sarth with 2 drakes up tonight.

And we’re able to do this within 6 hours. I intentionally split this into 2 days of 3 hour raid nights to avoid wear and tear on my troops.

Short term effects

Newsflash – This reduced our number of active healers down to 6 but I plan to rotate the other 2 healers I have on standby as needed. Both myself and my other Priest were both deep Holy. After some consultations and careful consideration, I decided to join Vonya and respec Discipline myself. This means I have to toss out the 16 Spirit gems in my blues and replace them with some Intellect heavy gems (Dazzling Forest Emerald although I probably should’ve used Seer’s Forest Emerald instead, but alas the AH doesn’t always have what you need).

Feel free to check out my character’s armory.

The impact this has on our healer corps is the fact that we are back up to having 2 solid tank healers who are myself and a Holy Paladin. We still have a strong supplement of Resto Druids, Shamans, and another CoH Priest to maintain raid wide heals.

Long term effects

We are down to 1 Holy Paladin. That’s 1 less set of blessings and auras among other things. I know for the time being I am willing to stand pat on my corps. But I would not be against the idea of recruiting another Holy Paladin for part time purposes. I’ve spoken with several around the server, but they’re all interested in a full time raiding and starting position. That’s not something I can promise. I don’t want to say one thing only for them to switch over and find out that I failed to deliver. I try to maintain a record of meaning what I say.

As for Wayne, I’m not going to think about any actions for the present. Those are his choices to make and I have to react accordingly. I can’t help but feel anything else but disappointment right now.

To me, it’s just another day behind the desk.

PS – If you’re a Holy Paladin looking for for a home and not expecting a lot of raiding hours, get in touch with me.

Image courtesy of TouTouke

Keeping your Healers Happy: a Death Knight Tank’s Perspective

Keeping your Healers Happy: a Death Knight Tank’s Perspective

deathknight

This is a guest post by Scourge of his self titled Death Knight blog, The Scourge!

First of all, I’d like to thank Matticus, Wynthea, and Sydera for allowing me to guest post. I have been reading this blog for a long time and followed SYTYCB intently. I didn’t participate at the time for two reasons. One, I don’t heal and two, I didn’t have a niche to discuss. Wrath changed one of those drawbacks.

I originally planned on continuing to tank on my Feral Druid but I rolled a Death Knight for fun. Next thing I know I’m the 3rd level 80 in my guild as an Unholy Death Knight and I specced to tank.

Now let’s talk about keeping your healers happy. Some of this advice will apply to all tanks and some to Unholy Death Knights only.

I love healers.

I love the two healers in my small guild
I love all the healers that are on my friends lists from guilds past
I love all the healers that I pug with.

I pug a lot.

My first goal in every Heroic or raid is to complete the run. The second is to make my healers so happy that they want to heal me again. As I write this, patch 3.08 is still on the PTR and keeping healers happy as a DK isn’t always easy. It seems the damage we take can be inconsistent. For some reason healers like consistency, I figure Matticus and crew can tell you why.

Overall basics to keep your healer happy

  • First: Make sure you are geared for the content you are running. That means defense capped, plenty of health, armor and avoidance, proper gems, chants, and glyphs and a kitchen sink. You never know when you’ll need the kitchen sink.
  • Second: you better be specced properly for the job. When Ghostcrawler says all DK specs can tank he doesn’t mean spend 71 talent points willy-nilly however you want and you’re golden. There are clear mitigation talents in every tree and you need to have them if you want to tank.
  • Third: come prepared. Food, pots, flasks, repaired, all standard stuff. But if you want to get on a healers friends list, which makes pugging a heroic real easy, you need to be prepared.
  • Fourth: Healers get mad when other players take unnecessary damage because they have aggro. Now Ron White says you can’t fix stupid and any DPS who focus fires secondary targets get what’s coming to them, but you should provide enough AOE or set up enough CC so you are the only one taking non AOE damage.

Death Knights take inconsistent damage because we try to avoid it altogether. Let’s face it we stack parry and dodge to avoid incoming damage and reasonably geared have around 50% avoidance. That’s a coin flip. Every time the boss swings we either get hit or we don’t. Right from the start we are inconsistent in the damage we take.

Death Knights also have a number of talents, spells, and abilities that either increase our avoidance or pump up our mitigation for a short period of time. These also lend themselves to taking inconsistent damage.

To start us out, let’s look at the two abilities all DKs have.

Anti-Magic Shell and Icebound Fortitude

Both of these are on a one-minute cooldown and provide great mitigation. For 5 seconds, Anti-Magic Shell will mitigate 75% of the magic damage a DK is taking, while Icebound Fortitude will reduce all damage by 50% currently for 12 seconds. Fantastic mitigation while in use, if we use these whenever the cooldown is up that creates sudden drops in the damage we take which may lead to greater over healing. Whoops. Healers don’t like wasting their mana.

That leaves talented mitigation abilities. Any DK tank worth their salt will have at least 3 of these, some may have four. We’ll break these down into avoidance, mitigation, and healing efficiency.

Avoidance talents

The avoidance talents are Blade Barrier and Lichborne. Blade Barrier procs off of using both your blood runes and increases your parry by 10%. A good tank will have this up just about the entire fight, which contributes to the coin flip. Lichborne, on the other hand, adds a flat 25% chance to be missed and has a cooldown. Needless to say, when your healer is charging up a big one and the tank pops this and the boss misses a couple in a row the healer may have wasted their time and mana.

Mitigation talents

For mitigation DK tanks will have either Bone Shield, Unbreakable Armor, or even Anti-Magic Zone. Once again, all three have a cooldown and provide excellent mitigation when active. BS can by glyphed and kept up around half the time in most boss fights. UA increases the armor damage reduction even further, while AMZ drops a stationary bubble everyone can get into to avoid all the magic damage flying around.

Healing efficiency

Blood tanks (yeah I know lolbloodtank, for now) have a couple talents that help with the healing load. Mark of blood will give back 4% of damage dealt by the boss for 20 seconds out of every three minutes and Vampiric Blood will increase healing efficiency by 50% when its in use. Want to see a big fat heal, crit a blood tank when Vampiric Blood is up.

The trick to keeping your healers happy with all these talents at our disposal is to use them judiciously. Pop them when you know there is an incoming damage spike, whether an enrage, adds, or whatever. The other time to use them is when your healers are low on mana; just let them know you will be giving them a break. Nothing says healer love like telling them the next 16,000 in damage won’t need to be healed and they can score some non-casting MP5.

I’d like to close this guest post with a shameless plug. My blog titled The Scourge has several posts dealing with achieving and maintaining the defense cap, talent discussions, and tanking strategies.

Warning: Bad Targeting can Lead to Raid Deaths

Warning: Bad Targeting can Lead to Raid Deaths

targeting

"Great ability develops and reveals itself increasingly with every new assignment."

- Baltasar Gracian, The Oracle

I bet this is something not many healers even think about. I’m not here to talk about your raid frames or your raid UIs. They all represent the same thing (health bars).

But a good healer knows better then to simply rely on clicking health bars to heal or to target their fellow raiders.

Targeting methods

There’s two different ways to target your allies.

  • Raid frames: This is the method that just about every healer is familiar with. Simply put, you click on the player’s frame, and you hit the heal button.
  • Heads up: This method involves you directly clicking on the target on your screen. As in selecting their character model. It can take some practice to do. The reason why it’s called heads up is that you have to keep your head “up” on to the screen instead of glued to the frames.

Why should I care about the heads up method?

A fair question to ask. I can easily heal players at will by clicking on their frames, you might say to yourself. But if you keep your head up on the action, you can make an estimated guess as to who the next person to get hit will be. Or give the impression of having really fast reflexes!

It’s like being psychic and being able to to tell the future!

And in the end, being able to predict where the damage is about to go to can only make you a better player. Don’t pigeon hole yourself into using one method or the other. Learn when to use each one.

Allow me to illustrate.

Kel'Thuzad's room, phase 2 with a player ice blocked

This is Kel’Thuzad’s room. Specifically, we’re witnessing yours truly in action during phase 2. See that Ice Block? That is not a friendly one. Any player trapped within loses 104% of their health in 4 seconds. Note that it’s a percent not an absolute.

You have 4 seconds to react. Or else they die.

What’s faster?

Looking for the raid warning, running towards the player, targeting them in raid frames and then healing them? Or targetting the big chunk of ice in the middle of the screen and dumping spell after spell in a desperate attempt to keep them alive?

Your brain takes time to function. Sure we all make split second decisions and react accordingly. But in a situation like this, you take more time waiting for the cue and finding the player in your raid frames as opposed to just clicking the big blue block.

Why is that?

Because the less tasks that are involved in a goal, the faster the goal is achieved. The brain is an interesting part of our physiology and it takes time to “shift” between tasks.

But that’s an extreme example!

Okay, that’s fair enough. I did talk about trying to predict who would take damage and Kel’Thuzad is a bad example of that since it’s nearly impossible to predict ice blocks.

Let’s take a look at Sartharion’s fire walls.

His basic attack is that he sweeps that area from right to left and vice versa with a giant wall of fire that has gaps where your raid can hide.

If you have an absent minded raider or just a really slow person, you can reduce the damage they take. A quick Shield and a Prayer of Mending helps to ensure they live through the worse parts of it. Raid frames can’t exactly tell you that your absent minded raider is about to get slammed with a fire wall. But at least they’ll live through one this time due to your diligence.

Practice, practice, practice!

For some players, targeting heads up can be difficult. Perhaps their mouse sensitivity isn’t high enough or its too low. Maybe their screen resolution doesn’t allow for enough room. Maybe you just don’t have enough real estate or open room to click on stuff.

But trust me when I say that it is an awesome skill to learn to be able to run and gun heal your party. Practice healing while moving. Practice it from different zoom settings. Try it with the zoom as far away as possible and click on the little dots that is your party. Learn to work the mouse to angle around large player models or objects. PvP battlegrounds is a great place to practice heads up healing since you can tell who’s about to engage players within your area.

Try to activate health bars by pressing Shift V. This allows you see the health of your party as the bar is located above their characters in game.

Be diverse as much as possible in your targeting methods and you will go a long way toward being the best you can be.

Image courtesy of theRIAA