The Body and Soul Spec

I’ll admit, I’ve always dismissed Body and Soul as an odd talent that had little to no use in raids. Players should be able to run out of anything dangerous on their own or with the aid of a boot speed enchant if they’re slow. As such, I’ve never really considered it at all.

But ever since that Power Word: Fail round table event held by the Raid Warning guys where Aliena, Derevka and myself chatted, I had to reconsider. Have I mentioned that they’re my personal favourite podcast crew to work with?

The spec

Here it is (14/57/0)

This is the one I’d use as it has many of the traditional elements of a Holy spec. You can shift your points around from Empowered Healing, Blessed Resilience, and Test of Faith accordingly based on your own preferences. Personally, I favor Blessed Resilience but that’s because I’m aware of what kind of an effect it has. You may prefer Test of Faith for the extra throughput (even though it is conditional). If you’re not a Flash Heal or Greater Heal type of player, you might opt for full points in Blessed Resilience and Test of Faith. Anyway, that discussion is for a separate post entirely (hopefully soon assuming Derevka has spare time at some point).

Why would you ever use Body and Soul?

For me, I’ve discovered that it has extra utility in progression fights. The talent a minor run speed increase for 4 seconds which is enough to give players a quick boost when running away. When learning fights for the first time, I often use this at specific times.

In an extremely high level raiding guild, I would argue that this talent is unnecessary. Players can easily handle movement fights and do not require the aid of extra sprint abilities to escape hostile spells. It’s just not necessary. Connections and computers are at peak efficiency resulting in near-zero lag. Situational awareness is so high that players will move without realizing that they had to move.

But not every guild is like that. Not every raid can perform like that. For me, I need to look at every possible edge I can utilize in an encounter. Nothing frustrates me more than a player who is unable to outrun a Sindragosa explosion, or a Necrotic Plague on Lich King or any number of other abilities because of technical problems. Doesn’t matter how good the player is as bad connectivity connections will almost always negate that. I can’t make everyone’s connection super awesome. I can’t magically snap my fingers and create 102 FPS conditions. The next best thing I can do is cast a spell that’ll make people run quicker and get them out of dangerous situations faster. I may not be able to account for lag, but I can at least function as a safety net and buy an extra second or two for that player and help them live when they otherwise would have been lost.

Just keep in mind that it might annoy your Discipline Priest. 

Anyway, it’s largely used on progression fights to help “smooth” things over until a fight “clicks”. You’re giving up potential throughput for increased (but selective) movement speed which comes in handy for heavy movement bosses. Plus it also makes the run back from wipes slightly quicker and I know I won’t be last back! Go ahead and give it a shot. Let me know what you think.

Does Communication Make Us Better Risk Takers?

Does Communication Make Us Better Risk Takers?

My raid on Sunday night gave me pause for thought.

A couple of weeks ago I talked about a few aspects to help healing and raid leading at once. Last night I realised that, of those, communication is vital. Why? Because I think healers are fragile. Even that they can be a danger to themselves. And because last night my raid wouldn’t have worked so well without good communication. Let me put you in the picture.

You’re a healer raid leader about to lead a progresion 10 man. Your group’s bouncing with energy as the run starts. You’ve all got a burning desire to see Putricide go down as you’ve been carrying a grudge against him for a while. He’s public enemy #1 for your group tonight, followed by a vote on Princes or Sindragosa. Holy smokes, things are gonna go well.

Then half the group is hit by disconnection issues as the EU login servers go down.

Two hours later your group is back online, now a bit bedraggled and a whole lot more tired. It’s midnight already for some. You hit Putricide and he goes down in a few attempts. So far so good. It’s late now but the group wants to go to Princes. This is what crosses your mind:

  1. We’ve downed Princes before. It was messy but we can do it again, and the practice won’t kill us. That often. I hope.
  2. We have someone different on kinetic bomb bouncing this time. He’s going to need time to learn it.
  3. It’s midnight, for cripes sake. The elements alone know what time it is for our Herd members in Finland. We don’t have many tries in us.

You’re now in my shoes as of about midnight on Sunday. The outcome was cheery; we got the Princes down in four attempts. But it was messy from 50ish-0%. The successful attempt saw half the raid dead by the end – both myself and the other shaman healer died twice. Our discy priest heroically kept the rest up for 5%. Both shamans had been helping with kinetic bomb bouncing.

From my leader viewpoint communication was crucial. For one thing, there’s a lot going on in that fight and I admit I fail at watching everything.

It’s important to know which Prince is empowered at any time because the entire raid’s tactics change depending which it is, as does the healing output. But watching the empowerment changes is something I just can’t do yet. So I simply have one person dedicated to calling which Prince is empowered when it changes.

It’s also essential to have information in order to make good decisions, right? Right, but it’s more important for healer raid leaders. Each role is inclined towards taking risks, perhaps several times during each fight. Double the risk-inclination means double the chance we’ll make the wrong call; things go wrong or we overburden ourselves, probably wiping the raid.

So I’m realistic – i can’t do everything. Keeping track of boss health is another task I ‘outsource’ to others. As a healer I don’t have time to watch health meters other than those on Grid, but as a raid leader I need to know boss health. For example, the fight was a mess by the time Princes hit 23% health. But I knew we were close, and that was the deciding factor in the split second decision to urge the group to hang in there and pop cooldowns rather than to call a wipe.

Both of the above examples – knowing when we’re at health-wise in a fight and which tactical stage we’re at also means I have valuable information allowing me to make cooldown judgements. Not my cooldowns – I’m talking about calling Divine Guardian from our paladin tank or cycling the raid’s mana regen abilities when and for whom they’re needed.

The most dangerous risk of all on Sunday, though, was one a healer-raid leader was in the best position to make. On later attempts I had myself and another healer helping our warlock on bouncing kinetic bombs: I knew we could both multitask. Controversial decision? Yes. Bad practice? No.

It wasn’t because I thought our warlock couldn’t learn it by himself – far from it. It was because we had a lack of time, the group was tired and wanted victory in the face of server instability. Not only that, I knew the healers involved could do it without healing suffering too much. It benefited us too: we got a perspective on another aspect of the fight and it probably improved our spacial awareness as were constantly looking round. I admit, it was also really fun in an already adrenaline-fuelled fight.

Later on when it got hectic and our DK died? Not a problem. Rather than completely loose a resource and have a player feel useless, I asked him to watch out for falling bombs and tell me where they were.

So there we go, folks. I say that healers are fragile and inclined to risk: there is a lot resting on us in a raid. Add leading on top of that and it can be a recipe for disaster. But I say organising information ‘feeds’ to and from your team will put you in control of the situation and your raid one step closer to settling scores in Icecrown.

What do you think? Do you agree with my analysis of healers’ potential towards fragility and danger or do you prefer safe-rather-than-sorry? Would you have made any of those decisions differently to me? Do you know which types of information you need more of, or are you still working it out?

This is a post by Mimetir, a druid of a raidleader on The Venture Co. (EU). You can find my twitter feed here.

[VIDEO] Healing Valithria Dreamwalker

My first foray into video editing! I managed to compile the footage and stitch together some audio as well. There are enough boss strategy videos out there that explain what the overall raid needs to be doing on different encounters. My focus here was to target the individual who was healing. I’m not the perfect, top-tier Priest so you’ll catch a glimpse of several misplays throughout the video that I’ve made. All the while, I’ll be narrating the things I’m doing and why I did them. Therefore, it is assumed that viewers know the mechanics of the encounter.

You can tell by listening to the first several seconds that I’m extremely nervous and it took a few retakes when I was recording before I managed to calm my nerves.

The narrations will sound different periodically because I was experimenting with different amplification levels and microphone distances. Initially, I started writing down what I wanted to say at different points and then just recording it into Adobe Audition before importing them back into Movie Maker. About halfway through, I just gave up and recorded the rest of it in one shot on the fly without any serious scripting at all. We used to play a game in drama class that involved doing a bit of improv so I figured I could wing the rest of it. It’s the same thing during any sort of in-class skits, right? Get the rough outline and improvise the rest of it on the fly.

The various voices you’ll hear throughout the video is chatter from vent. I decided to leave them in there largely because I haven’t figured out how to strip them. Also, it’s there as a glimpse into the way my raids operate.

Next video is on Sindragosa which I hope will be infinitely better.

Things I need to improve on

Problem: Expanding into high-def or widescreen at least
Solution: No idea yet

Problem: It’d nice if I could freeze frame for a few seconds
Solution: Software issue? I’m using Movie Maker, but I’m going to see if I can grab an educational copy of Vegas from school at some point

Problem: Zooming in and drawing football-style X’s and O’s
Solution: Ditto the above

Problem: Too tense and nervous
Solution: Two beers

Your thoughts? Again, this is my first video so be nice. Once I get better and more polished, I’ll put subsequent ones on the WoW dot Com Youtube channel. I didn’t feel that this one was particularly up to snuff yet. But, I wanted to at least get my feet wet.

Software: Adobe Audition, Movie Maker, Fraps.

Mixing it up a bit, musings of a mad shaman

Mixing it up a bit, musings of a mad shaman

The question was thrown out there a long time ago about how to re-invent the healing wheel so to speak. Right now the way healers work is the way they have always worked in pretty much every game I can think of (There are exceptions but they are far and few between). Healing has mostly been centered around the consumption, preservation and regeneration of mana or a similar in concept consumable resource. Since DnD (magic points), Magic the Gathering (mana from lands) etc, when you wanted to heal something you used your resources to cast the spell to heal the target. The concept of mana at this point is quite pedestrian.

The idea though is something that you can’t really change. Its is a rock solid equation. Spend x to get y, changing some form of consumable resource into healing or health. So my thought is this, why try to reinvent the wheel when you can just paint it a different color?

So how do you change things up? Well to be honest it would not be that hard to implement different ways to heal.

Change resources

One of the simplest ways to change the healing game is to change the resource with which a healer spends to heal. Like we said, mana has been done to death in about every way possible. Altering the source of ones power makes perfect sense.

Lets take for example a Paladin. Paladins in tradition mythology are bastions of willpower and determination. Characters in stories that lead in martial prowess in the protection of others while channeling divine gifts to heal the weak or cow the masses of the enemy horde before them. These cavaliers could very easily be represented by that very concept, willpower. A diminishing resource that regenerates on it’s own. It can easily be done similar to how a rogue’s focus works now in WoW. It would make things a bit more interesting I think, and it would eliminate the need for mana pots, replenishment and MP/5. More importantly it changes the flavor of the class making it more interesting to some. This change could also facilitate further role playing opportunities.

You can see why this would be desirable for many people and the mechanics would be easy to work out.

Please also understand paladin was just a random choice here it could work for many other classes.

Change the way you earn those resources

Another way you can mix things up for healers is change the way they earn their consumable resource. Think of it this way, right now you just have mana right? You replenish it over time (and it is never really explained how which honestly I think it should be, but that is a post for another time.) you can regen it through MP/5, through the replenishment ability or various other class abilities. But you don’t really earn them right? What if you change the model to include having to perform certain actions to generate the power to heal. This concept is not anything new and can be found in various other games such as Warhammer Online and Lord of the Rings Online. In both games you perform various tasks that supply you with the power to heal.

Joe’s solution and example

The fundamental problem with any class that uses mana or any consumable resource in any game is that eventually that resource runs out. When the resource runs out two things happen.

  1. The class functionality essentially ceases to exist. Without that resource there is nothing left for you to do.  You have to either use an external source to replenish that resource or wait for natural regeneration to give you enough of the resource to continue on. In WoW think of going OOM and having to drink, use mana gaining abilities such as mana tide totem or evocation, potions or innervates.  MP/5 also counts as an external factor.
  2. When a support classes functionality ceases, it factors towards the termination of the groups momentum. In WoW terms this is akin to waiting for the healer to have mana before being able to continue on with whatever group task is.

What some people don’t know is that I am an amateur game designer by desire. It is what I want to do with my life, I want to make games. Currently I am in the middle of making one game, with another planned after. If you’re interested in details on it. I will be updating about it more frequently on For The Lore’s website . What this means is I think about these things a lot. I am a gamer after all and I want other gamers to like my games when I make them right? So balance and renovation are always at the forefront when I’m making decisions.

In one of the games there are a couple healing classes. And I thought back on all the games I have played and participated in and thought about how I could mix it up and I came up with a couple answers.

To me the overarching answer is hybrids. I’m not saying you should get rid of pure healing classes but hybrid classes are an easy way to eliminate class functionality black holes. They are a pain to balance, but the reward is always worth it. Now I know when you think hybrid probably the first thing that comes to mind is the various classes considered hybrids in WoW (Paladin, shaman, priest, druid and DK). Truth is while those are hybrids, they are not true hybrids. To maintain full functionality for hybridization you need to completely respec. While this is more true in some cases than others it is what keeps them from being “true hybrids”.

To me a hybrid class is one that can flow between multiple roles seamlessly and without respeccing. Perfect examples of this can be found in Warhammer Online (Battle Priest) and Lord of the Rings Online (Rune Keeper). Both games have hybrids that fill both roles period. No respeccing, no hassle. The mechanics of these vary, but you get the idea.  So I’m going to share with you a little bit about two of the healer hybrid classes I have come up with for one of  my games.

These will be short descriptions of each just to give you an idea, more in depth write-ups will be available on for the lore in class descriptions as I complete them.

Monks of zhi bde

The monks of zhi bde are peaceful in nature, tending to the weak and sick with care and gentleness. Their monasteries can be found throughout the land and all who seek shelter or enlightenment are welcome. The monks of zhi bde are however not blind to the world and know that daemons and men can often be found lurking in the shadow wishing to cause harm to those weaker than themselves. The monks have honed their fighting skills to defend innocents from both arcane and mundane threats.

Monks of zhi bde are tireless defenders of the weak. Through use of their sigils and martial arts  they are able to take the fight to those that threaten the innocent while still supporting those they fight along side and those they protect. As they focus, they generate Ki that can then be released to heal the wounded.

In game:

This is a Healer/ DPS hybrid. The class revolves around a basic mechanic. As the monk buffs party members or attacks enemies through use of sigils and chants (a definable resource) they generate Ki(a second definable resource). That Ki can then be used to cast various support spells.

The sigils and chants are renewable and regenerate over time as they are used, Ki that is generated from the use of sigils and chants does decay over time if not used.

The idea is to keep the class mobile, always able to do something, whether it is buffing the party, attacking an enemy or healing the idea is to reduce downtime and keep the game moving allowing players to experience more of the game without having to stop and recuperate.  There are non combat uses for the sigils for those that wish to purely heal in group environments.

This is similar to the model WoW has put in place with DK’s  runes and runic power. Honestly it’s a great idea that I feel would benefit well the hybrid healer.

Field Medic

Where there is conflict and war there is suffering and death. For every army there are those that seek to mend the broken and save lives. Trained in both the arts of healing and the ways of war they stalk the battle field attempting to make their way towards the wounded, often fighting through enemies to get to their target. When confronted by an enemy they will fight with a martial prowess of a seasoned soldier in both melee and at range.

Each action is a measure of control that feeds into the field medics movements as they build momentum.  Every army boasts a slew of field medics, but some serve no nation preferring to sell their services to the highest paying adventuring party or seeking glory.

In game:

This is a DPS / Healer hybrid and it is a true hybrid. They earn momentum which can shift from offense to defense. For example the more healing they do, the better that healing becomes but their damage dealing abilities are reduced. The more damage they do the better that damage becomes but the weaker their support and healing becomes. When the player shifts gears their momentum swings to the other extreme. When they stop casting all together their momentum is reduced to a state of equilibrium.

Instead of traditional consumable resource, the effectiveness of the class abilities is the commodity payed along with the cool-down of abilities. This is also used as a balancing point for the class as peak performance for either role is back loaded.  This gives players free choice in the middle of an encounter to switch gears as needed and creates a more dynamic game play. While a field medic fully engaged in combat may be keeping up on DPS they are not removed from their ability to heal. It simply doesn’t heal for as much as it would if momentum was in full heal mode.

This is similar to how rune keepers function in LotRO

Again these are rough ideas that will change as I work on the game, but you can see that my intention is to spice things up a bit for healers, and give some options to hybrid players. Again I’m not advocating the removal of pure healers, just offering up ideas on how to shake things up a bit and maybe make things a bit more interesting. It ultimately is still spend x to get y, but x is sometimes time and cool-downs, sometimes another resource entirely.

How would you mix it up if you were tasked with changing the way healing was done?

That’s it for today, hope you enjoyed my musings. Until next time Happy Healing!

Blizzard – “Let healers DPS?” Good Idea?

Blizzard – “Let healers DPS?” Good Idea?

Can you hear it?

There’s a gentle hum in the ether. It’s a grinding of cogs and a rattlin’ of nuts and bolts. It’s the sound of the WoW developers thinking about us healers. Yay, they’re showing us some development love! Ah, but this time, they’re thinking about getting us to DPS. Wait, wut? I’m a healer, not a DPS! That’s like the antithesis of healer, right?

Well, that was my first thought when I read Ghostcrawler’s musings, over on MMOChampion. I’m not going to regurgitate the blue tracker verbatim here as you’ve probably already read it, but for reference the basics are that the devs are thinking about giving us healers some DPS utility. It sounds like their current plane of thought keeps healers away from having a duty to do X damage in a group setting but enables them to do some damage if they want to. That is, enabling us to damage things might make things a bit faster for the group in a Heroic, say, or fun for us if we fancy it.

Of course, this is all speculation at this stage, and there’s nothing  concrete now or definitely going to happen in the future. But if it is an option then it got me thinking. How would I feel, as a healer, about having new and improved DPS options?

The power! Now that you mention it. I mean, we don’t know any details of how much damage they’re thinking we might be able to do. But come on – having your group’s cute, fluffy priest patch the team up and then turn round and smite ye monsters seems a bit well, Heroic. The fluffy priest would be worth the utility of two single-role players. That sounds a little over-powered to me, or at least like a back-door into Hero class status. “Uber-healer” perhaps.

I’m sure the devs have already thought of the potential of too much power, too much utility. Powerful healer class also able to kick out a believable impression of another role? Surely not. So perhaps we’re going to see some kind of power trade-off. A glass ceiling on our healing capabilities to make room for DPS utility, so we’re not too good. Perhaps that ceiling will even be customizable, so that you can decide how much or little you fancy being able to DPS – in return for being a slightly less capable healer.

I wonder whether this could lead to a whole new breed of hybrid. I’m not just talking about a hybrid class, or role, made by Uber healers – although that could happen, exponentially more if it were to be customizable. I’m talking about a hybrid player type. I’m willing to bet that not all healers want or much care to be able to DPS. I know I don’t, for one. Personally I think that healing classes should be about restoring health, not subtracting it. I also think if that’s what the class’ or spec’s lore is centred around, a lot of healers might have a problem with doing damage. Mimetir herself would, as tree. Zap the enemies? No, that’s what lazer-chicken form is for.

Saying that, I’m sure it’d be fun for some healers, and there are probably healers all the way along the spectrum from “meh” to “w00t laz0rtree here I come!”

Either way we’re getting into the battle-lines drawn up between “spec ret if you want to DPS” and “healers should contribute as much as they can”.  Both are fair sides, and the latter gets me thinking about mechanics. An Uber healer putting out twice the threat to usual? Think of your holy pally dropping some huge heals and then nuking the mobs with something suitably vengeful. That’s either going to be one dead Uber-healer, one twitching tank or one game play mechanic in need of serious tweaks. So that the players don’t, you know, break.

Not to mention the brief fate met by a PvP mage who’s missed the patch notes and has just met his first Uber healer in Warsong Gulch. Or team of them in the arenas. I know I wouldn’t be amused if I was that mage, particularly if I then found the battlegrounds were overrun by these new Hero classes. Oops, Uber healers.

It also occurs to me that whatever it does or doesn’t do to healers, cataclysm does bring with it a drive to get us all to start new characters. Do we really want the capital cities to be filled with fluffy but overpowered priests months down the line? Imagine the looting.

So what do you think? Do you want to be able to DPS as well as heal? Do you see any problems with the idea? Or do you have anything you’d really like to see done with it?

This is a post by Mimetir, a druid of a raidleader on The Venture Co. (EU). You can find my twitter feed here.

Healing: Priority, Priority, and Priority

Several weeks ago, I mentioned how much I didn’t like two-healing 10 man raids. Why? Basically because if a healer goes down, there’s utmost pressure on the other healer. A raid almost never recovers. With 3 healers, if one dies, you can still pull off a kill. And today, I’m going to write about one of those experiences where I was 2-healing a guild 10-man raid where another healer went down.

Sometimes you hit one of those days where your ego gains a massive boost because you’ve singlehandedly healed a raid down to 0%. The worst case scenario that you’ve planned for countless of times in your head actually happened in a raid encounter and you pull off every pre-planned spell, move, and cooldown with such eye surgeon-like precision leading to an unexpected kill.

And I still can’t believe I pulled it off. Anyway, while the kill is still fresh from memory, I’ll walk you through my various thought processes in the event something like this should happen to you. Healing can be a sleepwalk. Other times, it can be a big kick in the groin. Our healing pairing happened to be Holy Priest and Discipline Priest (I was Discipline for the fight). We determined ahead of time that since we had a Prot Paladin tanking Ooze, they could tackle the dispels.

We were taking on Rotface in ICC 10. Everything began smoothly. It started around 85%, give or take. I had just cleaned off a disease and was in the process of running back in after my ooze had merged. I look up where the group is and see a massive ooze heading in the direction of the boss. Uh oh. Someone’s about to eat it. Then I see Priestly angel wings and I knew our only other healer would have a few heals before she’d be out of action. Our only druid was tanking the boss so executing a battle res was out of the question. There were essentially two things we could do at this point:

  • Wipe the raid: Start fresh, rebuff, get everyone at full strength.
  • Play the stress the @#$% out of Matt game: Essentially, it’s to see how long the raid can do as is with just one healer.

So if you happened to be in Matt’s guild and you had those two as options, which one would you pick?

Naturally, the raid decides to opt for the second option.

At this point, no cooldowns had been used. Everything was still available. I hustled back into position in the middle of the raid. The Ooze Explosion indicator goes off. I swivel the camera and watch for it. But there’s still more to it than that.

Priority, priority, and priority

My thinking instantly turned from “Top off players to 100%” mode to “Keep players from reaching 0%” mode. And I guarantee you, there is a huge difference in spell usage and target selection when that happens. DPS doesn’t exactly become expendable. You still need them. You can get by with 1 DPS dead. But if 1 tank dies, it’s an instant game over. Thus the healing priority shifts slightly towards a greater emphasis on keeping tanks alive.

Analyze the raid: There are two tanks and the overall raid to worry about.

  • Raid frame shows that the Rotface tank (our Druid) takes approximately 7000-9000 damage a hit. She has about 59000 health. 7 goes into 59 about 8 times (roughly). In other words, she can survive 8 melee swings before it’s game over. Rotface swings at a rate of about a second and some change (1.* seconds of which I didn’t know off the top of my head and it wasn’t the time to look it up). I ballparked it at around 9 seconds without a heal.
  • The Ooze tank is tanking a Big Ooze that had already absorbed several smaller Oozes. I knew the Big Ooze was 1 or 2 small Oozes away from exploding. From that, I could further deduce that the Ooze tank would get 2 shot if they were within melee range of it.
  • Raid health was at varying levels due to Slime Sprays and some coming back in from being infected.

I threw shields on both of the tanks immediately (they weren’t at full health, but they weren’t exactly at imminent death either. I figured the shields would buy at least one or two hits). The raider with lowest health was immediately Penance’d.

All of us scattered to avoid the incoming smattering of green stuff in the middle of the room. A few players were hit but still managed to survive because they only took a blow or two. I didn’t have time to think, so I slammed the Inner Focus –> Divine Hymn macro bringing everyone back to the top before rejoining the raid in the middle of the room.

There happened to be a small pool of Ooze between me and the raid. I ran into after hitting myself with a Prayer of Mending (Note: Risky. Don’t actually run into bad things on the ground unless you know you will survive it). Every player that did not have Weakened Soul was continuously chain shielded. Somewhere in my head, I knew I felt super sluggish. I needed much more heals than what I could cast because at the rate we were going, the damage incoming to the overall raid was greater than the heals I could muster.

And then it hit me.

We have a Shaman, moron. We usually blow Heroism at 30%. He’s at 70% right now. Just use the damn thing!”

Sure the extra speed from the Heroism would help with the damage. More importantly, it allowed the heals to go off at a much faster pace.

Anyway, I believe there were a few Paladin bubbles and Divine Guardians going on to help lower the damage. The tanks blew their cooldowns at various points to give me precious seconds to catch up. Now I had to worry about dispels. Infections were either getting progressively faster or the Ooze tank had other things to worry about. This is where you play the balance game and go back to thinking priority, priority, and priority. I could spare them a quick shield and then focus back on ensuring my tanks, myself, and other players were above 20% health or so. While the Infection would slowly kill them, it wasn’t going to be immediate. It gave them time to run out and it’d avoid any slimes that happened to be in the middle. If there happened to be two Oozes dispelled back to back, it’d morph into an Uberooze right in the middle of the raid. I didn’t even look at them to see if they were completely clear. Either I hit them with a dispel, or the tank would hit them. Either way, they were slowly piling up quicker.

I think I made an angry poo-poo. It gonna blow!”

And this is where I made a crucial misplay. My first instinct is to run away from the center when I see the Unstable Ooze Explosion go off. I had no idea which direction the Rotface tank was running. I should have slapped our bear with a blind Pain Suppression in the event we ran to opposite sides of the room. Doing so would’ve dropped her down on my mental list of healing priorities. I know they’re not likely going to die with a defensive cooldown up (at least not as fast) and I could work on stabilizing the Ooze tank and everyone else.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think about that.

But she still lived. Maybe someone gave her a Hand of Sac or she popped a cooldown or something. But thank goodness because we actually did run to opposite sides of the room when I glanced at the map. I was out of tricks. No more Hymns, no more Pain Suppressions, but I still had a Power Infusion. I could put it on myself to keep the fast heals going or I could drop it on our Mage to speed up the fight. Out of the question though since right when I was contemplating doing that, they died (Again, proof that you shouldn’t actually think. You should simply react. Thinking leads to death, right?). I figured I may as well Power Infuse myself and started the entire process of priority, priority, and priority again. Pain Suppression had well worn off and we were all grouped in the middle again.

*BOOM*

Hear that? That’s the unmistakable shrill of Omen sounding. It means you have about 3 seconds before you’re dead. I figured it wasn’t the boss. Not a chance in hell I could’ve caught up on threat. Our tanking Paladin was still running around with another large Ooze.

… But it turned out there happened to be a second large Ooze that I didn’t see. It made short work of me. I exhaled and collapsed back into my chair before clicking on the boss. Rotface was at 3%. BOOM! Another DPS dead. BOOM! Paladin tank dead. BOOM! I saw another player fall over. Rotface is down to 1% and I knew we had it.

And people wonder why I sometimes hate two healing raids.

14 Things that can go Wrong and will go Wrong on Sindragosa

14 Things that can go Wrong and will go Wrong on Sindragosa

sindy-hurts

She is the General Vezax to Yogg-Saron. Never has such an encounter led me to curl up in my chair and cry. The margin of error is so small and so minute (my-noot?). There are so many things that can cause failures. It contains of 6 minutes of sheer endurance before you get to the final phase. Anyone with a compromised computer or a laptop or a bad connection will not even do well. On other encounters, you can get away with a disconnect or a death. Here? Not so much. So here I’ve compiled the ultimate list of things that can go wrong when taking down Sindragosa.

  1. Guild leader’s WoW crashes during ground phase (True story, happened to me last night, and miraculously didn’t get pulled in)
  2. Raider inability to run out when Sindragosa chain pulls everyone (I specced into Body and Soul so I could hit the players who had the most difficulty)
  3. Raider inability to mouse turn when pulled into Sindragosa and go in the wrong direction.
  4. Raider runs out to the wrong side when pulled in and happens to be the target of a Frost Beacon in phase 3 thereby getting caught on the wrong side leading to insane stacks of Mystic Buffet resulting in a wipe.
  5. Inability to use own judgment to spread out on the bottom of the stairs when hit with frost beacons. We don’t need 4 guys on one side. It’s 2 left, 2 right, and 1 middle.
  6. People cheating too close to Frost Beacons before they hit resulting in more Frost Tombs.
  7. Melee building up too many debuffs and having to run out when pulled in and not getting a heal because the healers go one way and they go the other.
  8. Healers dying to Backlash because we’re too busy tunnel visioning the raid (I am guilty of this). Fixed it by setting Power Auras to show Instability in big flashing letters, 100% opacity, and 300% size. Manage to cut down the deaths some. It still happens.
  9. Mystic Buffet not clearing because we mis-time our ability to run behind a block and shake off the buff.
  10. Raiders cheating up the stairs instead of staying on the bottom as specifically instructed to before Frost Beacons are hit and then having to run back down and look for an open spot. God this pisses me off so much. I don’t know why people have to cheat up the stairs. I don’t know why waiting at the bottom of the stairs is so difficult to do.
  11. Thunderstorms knocking out internet connections.
  12. People who don’t have the Frost Beacon stand where people with Frost Beacons are supposed to run to resulting in a double tomb or a death on phase 3.
  13. People who are too slow and don’t get into position in time.
  14. Instability on half the healers leading to temporarily reduced healing on the raid, leading to more deaths due to insufficient heals. Like the Backlash problem I had earlier? It’s me getting people up to the survivability levels without realizing I have that stuff.

All I can say is, thank goodness we managed to take her down last week. It’s just unfortunate to have players who have computers or connections that just can’t seem to handle the stress of the encounter. The expansion is also winding down now even though we have Ruby Sanctum coming up and it’s getting a little harder to find raiders.

If we get her down again, I’m tempted to simply extend the lockout so we can focus exclusively on the Lich king.

MS Paint: A raid leaders delight

MS Paint: A raid leaders delight

 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, MS paint is one of the greatest things a raid leader can use. Not just for making fancy diagrams or editing pictures with positioning marks, but also for the hilarity factor. Often times raiding can be quite stressful and anything you can do to add levity and lighten the mood can go a long way to making everyone calmer, happier, and ultimately lead to that satisfying kill. Other times it’s just awesome fun.

Back when Hyjal was progression content, my guild had a hell of a hard time with Archimonde.  As was reported in Guildwatch on wow.com, we had a whopping 103 attempts before he went down. People kept doing stupid things like you know, standing in fire. The raid leader and most of the officers were getting very frustrated, so I decided it was time to add some MS paint goodness to the mix. Here is what I whipped up:

About two nights later we downed the boss. Everyone having a good chuckle and relaxing helped a ton.

So I placed a call out on twitter for people to submit some of their own MS paint goodness and share some of the silliness with us, here is what I got.

This one is from Kris (Antikris77)

A wonderful representation of the Festergut fight!

Next up is a submission from Krizhek one of my new guildies and a local boy around town here.

I enjoy the consistency of this piece, simple and effective!

Our next piece is from our pigtail wearing warlock of doom Saresa

She broke out the color on this one!

I also received a link from the guild <Devolve> on Altar of Storms – US.  Lakini’s guildie thought that these were wroth noting and they were right! Swing over to Lakini’s blog to take a look at the Visual Guide to Plague Wing and the Visual Guide to the Crimson Halls.

Personally I love stuff like this. It makes me smile and I can look at it as a reminder that we are indeed playing a game and we are doing so to have fun. Sometimes there are fights or just things in general in the game that agitate so much it carries over to real life. Being able to take a couple steps back and add levity to the situation is not only suggested, it is also good for your health in the long run.

So how about you guys? Have any MS paint masterpieces to share with us? Any funny stories involving a humorous picture you created?

Until next time.

Healing And Leading – Chalk And Cheese?

Healing And Leading – Chalk And Cheese?

An interesting quandary materialised at WoM headquarters last week. How do you raid lead as a new healer? Say you’re that new healer. You’ve been raid leading as a hunter for a while, now your guild needs a healer.

Let’s be frank. As a healer you’re spending most of your raid time with your eyes stapled to the raid’s health bars. Your thoughts are consumed with keeping the bars full and yourself out of the various patches of burny death.

As a raid leader you need to be spending most of your time watching the encounter as it unfolds. The boss, the adds, the players. The stuff healers hear of only as fable. The two roles don’t mix. Right?

Wrong. You can get these two roles to mix to create a fun and workable role. rather like steel and magic mixing to create the glee of downing a boss and seeing that it’s dropped your pixelated holy grail. All it takes is a combination of factors to get it working in your favour.

1. Healer, heal thy user interface

Here’s the catch regarding Ui and addons: you don’t need hundreds. Give yourself enough to facilitate thinking.

  • Space.You may feel cluttered or suffocated if your user interface has too much going on. This leads to distraction or panic so avoid it! Keep addons to a minimum and spend some time outside of the raid environment thinking about your UI. Is Grid bigger than it needs to be? Probably. Are your minimap and KG panels stealing screen real estate? That might be fine if you’re comfortable with your role(s) but not while you’re getting used to a new mental environment. Do you have more addons cluttered around central areas of your screen than tucked away in corners? Yep, can’t see the DPSers if I tried. Do you have target frames showing as a healer? Not needed.
  • Control. I’m going to assume that if you are a raid leader of a regular group then you actively lead. Get a couple of useful raid leading addons to provide information and keep you in control. Addons like obituary, raidbuffstatus, failbot and skada. Don’t load up on addons or you may start feeling like you’re not in control of the raid. For example, it may take you twice as long to give the go ahead to move because you feel obliged to check 20 new-fangled addons between each pull. Addons are a helping hand for different situations, not a catch-all crutch to excuse you doing the job of leading.
  • Don’t do it all at once. Don’t download 20 new addons to try to master the raid leading and then go raiding without trying them out. You’ll get in a tizwaz. Download your new raid leading toys one or two at a time and play with them outside the raid to see if you get on with them. If not, get rid of them and try something similar – there are usually several versions which basically do the same thing, like skada, recount and WoW Web Stats.

2. Watch

  • Ask around your guildies, your friends, your realm forums. Look for organised runs (or PUGs with a conscientious healer-leader (rather than loot-bot).
    • Watch them and see how they lead. Try to go as DPS so you can see what they miss and think about why.
    • If they’re approachable – like a good leader should be – wait until a good moment and ask them if they mind giving a brief run down. Ask how they raid lead and what help they have from other people or addons.
    • A good time to do this is during a break or after the run – not after a boss, as they’ll be handing out loot, nor during a fight, as both of you should have your fingers poised over your healing buttons rather than having a heart to heart.
  • Your screen. Is it big enough? Healers tend to have more on their screens by nature, what with Grid and whatnot. If you have a small screen things are going to be squished and your eyes and brain will miss things. Check your screen’s contrast and brightness settings, too. Are they high enough that characters are leaping out the screen? If you’re having trouble picking things up as a healer then have your technology help you. These may sound silly but there’s research out there to suggest monitor set up is important. Google for Joel on Software OR Jeremy Zawodny and large monitor.
  • Zoom out. No really. Zoom out, you’ll get more on the screen. Either zoom out with your mouse wheel or type /console cameradistancemaxfactor 20

3. Listen

Your eyes are not your only source of information while raiding. I personally find that I still can’t watch everything all the time. That’s fine. Not only that but the pretty health bars tend to be my visual priority both in and out of encounters  It’s healer instinct. So I get data and information through listening, and it’s a vital accompaniment to the visual information.

  • Your raiders are a goldmine of information. Ask their opinions about what was going particularly well or badly during encounters – whether or not you got the boss down. If you’re a hands on raid leader be sure to consistently make final decisions after a group discussion and let people know the outcome. Just because you’re a squishy healer doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to make decisions as a leader any more.
  • Keep tabs. If you have team members who are new to the group or the instance – or have a particular role such as kinetic bomb bouncing on Blood Princes – then try to keep tabs on how they’re doing, both in performance and morale. You can achieve this both by asking one or two trusted raid members to keep an eye on them, and also by having a quiet chat with the player himself. Both methods are likely to give you different answers and as such a bigger picture.
  • Instant calls. You’re looking at the pretty bars and don’t know what health the boss is at? Ask one of the DPS for a report. You see on Grid that one of your tanks has too many stacks of a debuff and you need the other tank to come back from faerie land and TAUNT THE NITWIBBLE NOW? You have two dead DPS, the enrage timer is short and you need the tree druid to CR the optimal player? You can make all of these calls and be provided with immediate information.
    • Be clear on whom you’re addressing. If possible use voice-chat programs such as Vent. I’d recommend organising it for your guild if it’s not already in use. If voice-chat is off the menu trying pre-typed macros so you don’t have to type mid-fight may help.

4. Learn

You do need to be able to watch the rest of the screen. A few tips for getting used to that:

  • Practice. No really, practice. Run some Heroics and focus on watching the characters and the monsters more than the bars. Also try zooming your eyesight out, as it were. Don’t focus on one box, one bar, one character. Try to see the whole screen.
  • Practice more. When you’re comfortable with that and bored of seeing the dungeons, take a step up. Heal a couple of raids which are lower level than what you’ll be raid leading. There will be lots more information, DBM warnings and fires to get in or slimes to deliver. Practice the same as you did in the heroics.
  • Flexible frames. If you want, you could also move your Grid/healbot/raid frames as near to the centre of the screen as you reasonably can without obscuring your character. Most encounter-crucial DBM warnings and character-movement happens near the centre: it’ll be less distance for your eyes to travel. Don’t get too used to it tho. Your aim is to gradually move the healing frames further away from the centre as you get better at keeping an eye on the rest of the raid.

5. Keep your perspective

  • Set ground rules. Do this and you’ve already done 50% of the work for raid leading, with no danger of eye strain. If you tell the group that loot is on a 100-75-50-25 rate and you expect raiders to behave in a friendly and polite manner or you will kick at the first sign of trouble, then you can be safe in the knowledge that you know what you’re doing. Literally. By stating rules and then staying in the raid both you and the rest of the group have agreed that that is how you will proceed, and that you’re respectively cool with that.
  • You’re doing an admirable thing. Remember that occasionally. The fact is that you’re willing to lead a team of people in a stressful situation, mostly for the first time. Raid leading in a new role – DPS to healing, healing to tank, whatever – means you’re learning at least some of the art of leading anew. Good on you for doing it.
  • What’s the worst that could happen? Serious question. Ask yourself what your nightmare scenario is if you get it wrong. Then ask yourself what “it wrong” actually is. I’d be willing to bet my beak-polish that your nightmare scenario doesn’t lead to a permanent or irrevocable situation, except that you’ll have learnt something. The beak-polish also says that “it wrong” is something in a game.
  • Healers are actually in a good position to be raid leaders. The fact that we watch the pretty bars means we are privy to a constant feed of information that other raid leaders don’t have time to watch. A tank probably doesn’t have time to keep track of Curse of Torpor or Death and Decay problems in Lady Deathwhisper. It’s no coincidence that if a raid wipes, raid leaders tend to come to healers first as a source of information.

 

A lot of these may sound like basic information but when you’re coming to raid leading fresh as a healer, a lot of it is just about thinking. Not as a healer, but rather putting a bit of thought into adapting your playstyle to encompass both healing and leading. Remember that it doesn’t take much to make the two cross: many general raid leader responsibilities like giving tactics or calling heroism don’t change; your role has changed, not the encounter. If you put some thought into helping your own visual centre and talking with your raid and role models you’re halfway there. Practice is the other half.

So, what are your thoughts and opinions? Have you been in this position or are in it now, and how are you dealing with it? Have you already been putting some of these to good use, or have been inspired to try something slightly differently now? Are you a grizzled healer-leader veteran with tricks up your sleeve to share?

This is a post by Mimetir, a druid of a raidleader on The Venture Co. (EU). You can find my twitter feed here.

Article image originally by Jackson Boyle @ Flickr

A movie list for Matticus

So, this isn’t a sweeping post about movies Matt is in or can quote. This is favor I’m asking you, our readers.

It has come to light that there may be a series (read a lot)  of movies from the 80′s and 90′s that Matt has not seen.  So Here is a quick question for you. If you were to make a list of MUST SEE movies from the 80′s and 90′s what would you suggest to someone? Help me make a list of movies that Matticus MUST see :)

Thanks for your help!