Archives for July 2011

Revisiting the Healing Circle

Revisiting the Healing Circle

Ever gone skydiving as a group before? That’s probably a no. I know I haven’t. Would crap my pants if I did.

There’s a whole element of trust that’s going on up there especially when pulling off different formations. People need to know what to do, when to do it and where they need to be. Healing in raids has that similar mindset.

Thanks to Rooster for asking me to fill out one of these for 4.2. It’s certainly been a while!

Name, class and spec: [A] Matticus, Holy Priest (Ner’zhul)

What is your primary group healing environment? 25 man progression raiding

What is your favourite healing spell for your class and why?

Guardian Spirit. Such an elegant spell. A snap of a wrist and what could be dead is instead alive. Under the right circumstances, it separates a mediocre Holy Priest from a truly exceptional Holy Priest. Use it for extra power and brute force healing or use it as a form of finesse. Only the ballsiest of healers would even consider using Guardian Spirit and intentionally stop healing to trigger the proc and resume healing again.

What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?

 Heal. I’ve started phasing it out of my spell usages. It just doesn’t do enough anymore. It’s level of efficiency is amazing but in this environment, that efficiency goes out the window when you’re relying on bomb heals or fast heals.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?

Our flexibility allows us to remain competitive and diverse. We can respond to any number of situations with different spells. We can squeeze into multiple demanding roles. If you’re out there recruiting a healer and you’re not sure which class to go for, you can almost never go wrong with recruiting a priest.

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?

The fact that we don’t have as much fashion selection as the other classes. The spirit cloth is lacking in drops. I know the rest of it comes from valor, vendors and crafting. On a more serious note, I can’t think of any significant weaknesses right now that I can’t play around.

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?

I thrive under high pressure situations. I love having the hard assignments. Anything that involves moving, dispelling, dodging  or other complicated mechanics are the ones I volunteer for first.

Which healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?

No preference! If I had to pick a class, probably Shaman. Can’t go wrong with Shaman. Actually, I’d rather just have their Mana Tide totem. Don’t need the Shaman!

What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?

Druids. They make me look bad. Other than that, from a leads perspective, they don’t offer much raid utility other than Tranquility and Rebirth. Other healing classes have great mitigation or resistance cooldowns that I can use on a larger scale. I can use them pre-emptively and not be wrong. With Tranquility, if I use it too early I end up having wasted healing. If I call for it too late, I’ll have deaths. It’s not that I don’t like pairing with them in raids. It just feels like there is an extremely fine line in maximizing the spell.

What is your worst habit as a healer?

I tend to frontload my spells a lot. By the time we get to the last part of an encounter, I’m usually scraping the bottom of the mana pool barrel. I try to compensate for this by getting a better read of how long the fight is expected to take and coordinating my trinkets and consumables accordingly.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?

Getting blamed for healing problems when it’s not a healing problem. Apparently every problem can be solved with getting better healers. Sometimes it is a healing problem. But usually, the root cause can be traced to movement, coordination or assignments. I’ve written a healing blog for years. I’ve been hired specifically to contribute my expertise to WoW Insider as a healing columnist. Lack of healers has never been a problem because we have so much depth in place. I will never rest until I have a slam dunk healing corps. It’s difficult for non-healers to understand and read how healing meters operate. Because of this, we’re placed under a microscope and compared numerically across World of Logs.

Generally, it’s not a healing throughput problem. It’s a healing smarts problem except it gets magnified when it’s a tank or a healer who makes the mistake.

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing? Y

Yes. Considering Priests didn’t get any significant buffs or nerfs, it appears we’re right where we’re supposed to be overall.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?

  • World of Logs: The logs don’t lie and I can see a list of details of what happened and what didn’t.
  • Fraps: In addition to making kill videos, I use the footage just to watch myself play and see if there’s anything that can be improved on. In between attempts, I’ll watch the videos to see what events led up to a wipe. Sometimes it’s something as simple as using the wrong spell or being in the wrong place.
  • Phoenix Style: It’s a type of fail addon that lists significant debuffs that players get

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?

That Holy Priests are unable to tank healing and Disc Priests are unable to raid heal. We can do them. We may not be the best selection for it, but it doesn’t mean we’re completely crippled. Ask a healer to do the job and let them handle the method.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?

Decision making. Some healing spells are more “righter” than others to use. In other cases it doesn’t matter. For example, when it comes to single target healing you can use several combinations:

Pick one and run with it. If your spell usage is incorrect, at least you’ll know next time. A pattern I notice in new Priests (and new healers) is that there tends to be some cases where they just sit there and nothing is being done. It’s as if they’re overthinking it too much and trying to decide between the next move to use. Unlike DPS classes, healing has many right answers.

Remember that indecision is a decision and is rarely correct.

If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see?

I need someone to audit me. I tend to be all over the place. Perhaps the most common theme is lack of efficiency. I’m so paranoid of letting players die that I’ll use a bomb heal when a smaller one would’ve done the job. I end up paying the price for it late in the encounter anyway.

Haste or Crit and why?

Haste, no contest. Although Crit isn’t as bad as it used to be.

What healing class do you feel you understand least? They’re all overwhelming in their own ways. Even Priests.

What addons or macros do you use to aid you in healing?

Grid and Vuhdo are the two big ones I’ve traditionally used. For the time being, it’s just Grid. Look into the Grid_QuickHealth.

Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats or do you stack some much higher than others and why?

This really depends on the spec I’m playing. If I’m raid healing as Holy, I’ll dump everything into Haste. If I’m tank healing and Discipline, I’ll invest points into Mastery and Crit.

I’m directing the questionnaire to Lodur and the rest of the Matticast crew. If I have to do it, it’s only fair for the minions rest of the team to do it as well!

Healing Lord Rhyolith


Can’t drive in real life? Maybe you’ll do a better job against Lord Rhyolith.

Imagine if you were driving a bumper car. The catch is that there is no steering wheel. Instead, you have to lean in a certain direction in order to get the car turning. Not only that, the accelerator is locked in place. You can’t stop, you can’t slow down and every few seconds it randomly decides to just give out before restarting again.

Oh, and if you make it to the side of a room, you explode.

That’s essentially Rhyolith. I haven’t even mentioned the numerous fire effects yet.

Your job as healers is to buy your raid group enough time for them to steer him into volcanoes and get rid of debuffs.

Dividing the raid

Drivers: About 7-9 total DPS (As much melee as possible)
Ad control: Everyone else that’s not driving
Healers: 6-8 (Recommend 7 to start)
Main tank: Pick a tank to exclusively pick up Fragments of Rhyolith. Their job is to stay near the center of the room and snap all of them the moment they spawn. If they’re not dead within 30 seconds, their explode and deal half their remaining health to a random player in 25 man (they deal their current health to a random player in 10 man)
Off tank: Infernal Rage are giant fire elementals that need to be snapped and dragged away from the group to the edge as fast as possible. They AoE any players within 12 yards. Their damage gradually increases every 5 seconds but the good news is that the amount of damage they take also increases every 5 seconds. Don’t let that fool you. Kill them fast.

Pick 1 player to call out the foot that needs to be DPS’d. Our caller experienced success when he was positioned to the side of Rhyolith instead of behind him. Rhyolith’s body has a habit of obstructing the view. Going from the side should at least give you a rough 270° degree field of vision which includes the direction Rhyolith is facing.

Dividing the healers

Main tank: 1 healer
Off tank: 1 healer + 1 raid healer who can float HoTs or shields
Raid: 4-6 healers

Phase 1

With his 80 stacks of Obsidian Armor, the firepower in your raid group is going to get blunted until they whittle that armor down by steering the rock dude over exploding volcanoes. The only way to steer it is for your players to DPS the foot that you want him to turn.

For positions, instruct the the raid to stay near the middle of the island (and your drivers are exempt).

Tip: Enable name plates as it clearly labels the legs.

For starters, pick a leg to get started with. We like to open up on his right leg first just to get him gradually spinning around.

Concussive stomp: He lifts his foot up and then stomps the ground. Contrary to popular belief, it appears that jumping at the precise time of the stomp does not negate the damage. There is a slight chance you may resist it.

Volcano: When Rhyolith ignites a volcano, every player is going to 36000 damage or so over 6 seconds to 6 players on 25 (3 players on 10). When a player is hit, they gain a debuff (Eruption) causing them to take an additional 10% Fire damage every 14 seconds. If your own stack goes above 8, use a self cooldown.

Heck, use a raid cooldown until they wear off.

Crater: This is the most dangerous ability. It will catch players unaware. There is a chance that a crater will cause a stream of lava to stream outward. Any player caught in the path takes 70000+ damage. One or two players eating that is no problem. Raid healers can take care of that easily. When you have a dozen players getting ripped by that with the fire debuff, it becomes a problem.

Tip: Designate a specific player or 3 to specifically call out streams when the ability kicks in. With the amount of stuff on the ground, it’s easy to miss.

Once Lord Rhyoliths’ stacks drop to 10 or less, your group doesn’t need to worry about steering as much. Enough armor has been shaved off to the point where you can bring him down to 25%. That triggers the second part of the encounter.

Phase 2

The last phase is extremely straightforward. Once you get to that point, you essentially have the encounter in the bag. He can now be tanked. Regroup your tank healers on your main tank.

All healers

Pay attention to your individual stacks of Eruption. I found that if exceeded 8 stacks, the damage would be almost unbearable and a wipe would be imminent. Raid cooldowns are needed until the stacks drop off.

The biggest threat are the fire veins that seem to sprout from volcanos. Between that and the decreased fire resist, players will die if they’re not watching where they’re standing. You might be able to eat the initial burst. I’ve had to do it once or twice to close the distance to a tank. I certainly don’t recommend doing it unless you know what you’re doing, have little to no stacks and have a self heal (or a healthstone) to negate the damage.


Desperate Prayer really helps here. Watch the ground for any fire veins before using your hymns.


Lay down Healing Rain somewhere around the middle of the map. Your players can spot the blue circles and stand on top of them easily.


Not uncommon to see Rebirths being used on the encounter. Get away from any craters or volcanos before using them. Watch the ground for any fire veins before using Tranquility


With so much rampant fire damage going around, there is no wrong time to use Aura Mastery throughout the first phase.

Lord Rhyolith Resources


Plus Heal thread

Getting Rid of the Ready Check

The ready check is an easily understood command which has one question for players to answer.

Are you ready?

Traditionally, raid leaders use ready checks to ensure everyone has their buffs, cauldrons and consumables. It’s a last minute reminder for everyone to see if anyone has any questions before going into the pull. Anyone steal a ninja AFK to wash their hands or sneak a drink? The alarm would sound informing players to rush back to their desks or switch programs back into the game.

What if your guild stopped using it? What would change? How would the players and the atmosphere change?

In an upcoming interview with Mel, one of the powers behind the guild of <Edge> and a blogger at Sacred Duty, does not utilize ready checks at all. Here’s a brief excerpt where he explains his reasoning.

Rumor has it that your raid group does not utilize ready checks. If it’s true, how come?
Ready checks are an opt-in system, and opt-in systems deflect responsibility.  Instead, we make the choice to assume that everyone is at keyboard and ready to play when we’re raiding – when they’re expected to be.  We’ll often be discussing strategy during runbacks, so it’s a bad time to just take off the headset and run AFK anyway.  If someone has to take an emergency break, the onus is on them to inform the raid, and then we wait.  But I don’t see a reason to waste 20 seconds on every pull just to ask if everyone is actually at their keyboard, when I could just be informed that someone isn’t there for the one pull that it’s an issue.

This isn’t a completely foreign concept to me since my guild utilizes a sign out system for attendance. We’re not the only ones as other progression oriented guilds do the same thing. Making the assumption that you are ready instead of asking if you’re ready is presents an interesting shift in dynamics. It places a bigger emphasis on players to really speak up if they’re not sure about something or if they need to step out momentarily. In the long run, if you multiply the time spent on ready checks before every pull on a per week and per month basis, the time really does add up. It’s definitely one way of shaving off precious seconds on a raid night.

I’m considering implementing this in Conquest. I might just try it out for a week and see how we respond collectively as a group. It might end up being a positive change for us.

On a side note, a warm welcome to Morynne who has joined the guild!

Matticast Episode 24 – Firelands Primer, Second Chances, and Starting Over

On Episode 24 of The Matticast, BorskMattKatChase and Brian discuss:

– Firelands Tips and Tricks from Week 1

– Giving Second Chances

– Starting Over (Blowing Up Your Leadership Structure)

Don’t forget you can send us your questions or topics, visit the PlusHeal Forums, or tweet us with the hashtag #matticast

Subscribe to the show: iTunesRSS


Beth’tilac and Lord Rhyolith down [VIDEO]

After being shut out on day 1, the crew managed to storm back and take down both Beth’tilac and Lord Rhyolith. Adding a 7th healer helped and so did reinforcing the discipline of avoiding all the nasty stuff going on. Volcanoes and lava streams hurt. Don’t be on the business end of them. The Beth’tilac kill was from my perspective. I’ll do an annotated version later on with a voiceover narration by me just explaining what was going on through my head at the time. Our strategy was modified and involved a straight 100 to 0% burn on the final phase.

Lord Rhyolith kill is from the perspective of a Mage.