Campaign Creations podcast & How to Assign Raid Healers

Podcasting

I just wanted to plug a side project of mine. I’ve been involved with the Campaign Creations community for a long time. They’re a closeknit group of Starcraft and Warcraft 3 mappers (modders). If you liked playing custom user made campaigns, the stuff they carry is top notch. Most of the projects have custom voice actors, 3D portraits, units, music and the like.

Now I’ve teamed up with some of the guys on Campaign Creations to create a CC podcast that would discuss Starcraft or Starcraft 2 related material in addition to upcoming projects or campaigns being developed. This was our first shoot, so BE NICE. I was a nervous wreck to the point where I introduced my two partners but forgot to introduce myself. Oh well, everything is a learning experience, right?

I’m extremely tempted now to run another WoW related talkcast on my blog alongside Doc Holiday where all we’d do is talk about WoW: What we like, what we hate, what we want to see more of, that sort of thing. Like I said, for the time being it is just an idea being floated around. But, I’ve already finished shooting a segment with Doc. All I need to do now is convert it and set it up on site. Expect to see that sometime early this week.

Effective Raid Healing

I’ve had some fellow priests ask me ‘how do I heal a raid?’. It should come as no big surprise that healing a 5 man party and healing a 25 man raid are two different things entirely. But before I can answer that question, another question should be answered first: How should I organize healers in a raid? Ideally, that job would not belong to the raid leader. He’s in charge of telling players what to do, what spells to cast, what mobs to cc, which boss to target, and all that stuff. It would not be fair to place him in charge of the healers because there’s already enough on his plate. The best person to organize raid healing is another healer. But first thing’s first…

Set up a private healing channel

It can be something simple as /join guildnamehealers or /join guildnamepriests or /gnomestastelikechicken. Use whatever channel you want to use and ensure that only the healers in your raid are the ones in it. Raid chat is already cluttered up with instructions from the raid leader or other players spamming crap. Set up another channel away from it. I personally set the text color to a bright yellow so I can distinguish it easier. Either elect a person to assume command of all the healers or do it yourself. But coordination is more important then before.

Know Strengths and Weaknesses

This is very, very important. You need to have an understanding of what all your healers are capable of and what they’re best suited to do. For example, Paladin’s are endurance healers who are able to go a long time without needing mana regeneration. Priests can help mitigate spike damage. Shamans can chain heal multiple targets. Druids… uh, they’re really good, too. So know what your healers can and can’t do. If a player has a slow reaction time, or a really bad computer, you may want to assign him to a tanking target or DPS target who takes a while to go down. Next, keep in mind their strength of +healing and mana per 5 gear. The players with the highest +healing should almost always be assigned to the main tank or a target that’s absorbing major punishment. For example, the mage boss in the Gruul encountered is typically tanked by a mage with a lot of stamina. You’ll want to task a Priest to this to maintain heal over times and greater heals while shielding when the mage absorbs a huge blow. Don’t be afraid to move people around or stack additional healers on another player. Once you get to end game, it’s common to see 4 or 5 healers on the main tank.

Once you’re aware of what your other healers can do, then you can assign them appropriately to whatever tanks you need up. I’m going to show an example healing setup of what we use on a certain encounter. I haven’t decided which one yet. It’s going to largely depend on what boss we go after today (Gruul or Fathom-Lord). But regardless, check back later on in the evening.

Consider this the first part on how to raid heal effectively. Either tomorrow or Tuesday, I’ll take some more screenshots of my raid at different stages of health and I’ll highlight my thought process on my actions. Actually, just check back Tuesday. I realized I have a double shift tomorrow from 10:15 to 23:00. I had a double shift yesterday on Saturday that’s why I had nothing new there. Sorry guys!

Optimize Your Raiding Time

First off, some benchmarks are in order after reading Kirk’s ideal stat requirements for holy priests, I must respectfully disagree. Mind you, my guild is 3/6 SSC with Mag and VR on farm. Shade of Aran has a Poly/Pyro combination that will blast players for about 7k damage. While he is correct that there is a certain threshold in terms of HP that a player should have, I don’t believe having it as a base stat is necessary as much of the healing gear in the game does not carry much emphasis on stamina. Here’s a screenshot of my stats before and after buffs (and yes, that is 13.3k mana):

Base Stats Base Stats

Next, I wanted to build off of Kirk’s guide on forming a raiding group, I wanted to follow up with making the most out of your raid time. Face it. We waste a lot of time in raids farting around and just slacking off in general when we could be pulling mobs and downing bosses. My Guild has a time window of three hours from first pull before we call it a night. Every precious second of raiding counts. Unless you’re a super hardcore Guild who raids every day, chances are you don’t have a lot of time on encounters. It seems the primary respawn timer is two hours. That’s not a whole lot of time to work with.

The next time you attempt a raid boss, try this experiment. Start timing your raid and see how fast they can ready up before the next pull. This means from the time you wipe, to the time your entire raid team is alive with full health, full mana, and full buffs in front of the boss. Unless your Guild has the discipline of the Queen’s Guards, you’ll be amazed at the time it takes. I guarantee it.

Thankfully, there’s many different ways for you to trim the fat and get as many attempts in as physically possible.

Release and Run Back

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out when your raid wipes. But if you’re new to raiding, here’s a few tell tale signs:

  • Your Main Tank dies
  • Over 50% of your healers are down
  • Over 20% of your raid is down within the first minute of the pull
  • A class with a specific role goes down (ie, mage tanking mage on the High King Maulgar encounter)

Now don’t get me wrong. It is perfectly possible to recover from sloppy mistakes in raid. Obviously if the boss is down to 5% or less, keep plowing away. But back to my original point, let’s try not to prolong the fight. Don’t run around trying to escape him. Run to him, die, release, and run back. But there is an exception to this…

Use Protection

And I’m not referring to a Trojan. I mean use wipe protection. It will save you a lot of time. Warlocks have soul stones. Paladins can Divine Intervention. Shamans have the ability to self resurrect themselves. If you can time it properly, have a Druid battle res a priest or someone and make sure he doesn’t accept it until after the encounter resets. Meanwhile, raid members should move to a safe location away from the boss if the raid leader calls a wipe that is within range of a person who can resurrect. The only players who should not be withdrawing would be the main tank who ought to try and stay alive as long as possible to allow the rest of the melee to get some distance. Once you get that done…

Res Ressers First

I should not have to say it. But I still see it happen so it must bear repeating. A lot of beginning players aren’t aware of this, but always resurrect other players who can res first. Instead of ressing a mage or a warlock, pick up a paladin or a shaman. Just imagine it as a snowballing effect. Try using a res notifier. I believe CT Raid has one built in as does X Perl.
Ressing multiple targets

Now you can res to other players together instead of one other. Then the four of you can res another four and so on and so forth. Ideally, it would just be tanks and other melee running back in through the front door. Typically, they’ll have a lot of ground to cover between the entrance and where your encounter is. Which leads to…

Summon the Runners

Remember back before we had summoning stones? We relied on Warlocks to summon the whole raid into the door steps of MC or BWL. Sometimes it seems as if people forget they have this ability. If there is a Warlock alive, have him start summoning players the moment they zone in. There are instances the trek back to the boss is agonizingly long. You’ll shave precious seconds or even minutes which could be used towards engaging the boss.

Buffing

There’s a neat utility called XRS (X Raid Status, I believe) which comes with X Perl Unit Frames.What it does is scans every player and lists what buffs are missing for them, so players don’t have to keep asking for buffs repeatedly. The raid leader presses the button, and it spits out the list.

XRS

The onus is then on everyone else to buff the rest of the raid. The only buff that you absolutely need on trash is Power Word: Fortitude. Otherwise, you can just whisper a player to toss a 30 minute one instead of repeatedly asking for it in raid. This is one of my pet peeves in raiding is people asking for buffs in the middle of trash. Whatever it is, it can wait. It’s just trash. You shouldn’t even need Salv right away if your tanks and healers are able. Hopefully, you’ll be given a 5 minute one in between trash pulls as the raid is steaming along. The last thing players need is a break in momentum. If you’re a buffer and you notice someone is missing a buff, just take the time and give them a 30 minute even if you’re not the person assigned to buff that group. Just do it, and it saves time, frustration, and heartache.

Preparation

Illidan has taunted us by continually saying that we are not prepared. Shut him up by proving him wrong. Mages should start conjuring water and food before everyone even gets to the instance. Bandages should be made before the raid. Most importantly, repair, repair, repair. I cannot count the number of times I’ve had the urge to strangle guildmates for failing to repair. You know there is a raid. There should be no excuse for you not to be repaired 100% on first pull.

AFK’ers

Alterac Valley isn’t the only instance to suffer this problem. Raids will have problems of players going AFK. Even I am guilty of this. But I’ve learned and gotten better. I try to time my AFK’s on trash pulls knowing that my presence is not essential. Bad times to go AFK are the pulls just before the boss, pulling the boss, or during the boss encounter. Do things that you would normally do before going on a flight to London. Make sure you go to the bathroom, and make sure you grab a bite to eat. I’ll admit I don’t have the luxury of eating at my computer on some nights. My family’s quite traditional and is required to eat at the dinner table sometimes during raids. I go there, I wolf it down, I come back during trash pulls not during Tidewalker or Lurker.

Hopefully, these tips will help streamline your raid some more so you can get in an additional 2 or 3 shots at the boss.

Tidewalker down, and more Shamanisms

Two tries, one dead water bubble farting giant. It’s about damn time. All we had to do was get a prot specced pally to tank the murlocs and we were set!

Loot:
[item]Pendant of the Lost Ages[/item]
[item]Pauldrons of the Argent Sentinel[/item]

Update: I made a section purely for Shamans where everything Shaman related will go. I’ve added two of my Restoration specs for both PvP and PvE use. I didn’t explain most of the abilities because I think they’re fairly self explanatory. I added notes on the different points you could off spec.

Priest Efficiency vs Overall Success

There appear to be two schools of thought when it comes to Priests and raiding.

Old School: Mana efficiency, conservation, rhythms.
New School: Doing whatever it takes to keep the damn tank alive even if it means going OOM (Out of mana).

Back during the Pre-BC raids where there 40 people (25 skilled players and 15 afk players), Priests could get away with following the five second rule. With the decrease in raid sizes, I’m going to make the ultimate no duh statement and say that each player has a far greater and more noticeable impact then before.

A lot of Priests seem to discourage the use of Power Word Shield until they absolutely need to citing that it takes up far too much mana for a not-so-great return. I am one of the few priests who did not spec reduced threat (Silent Resolve) or Martyrdom. I placed my 2nd tier points into Improved Fortitude and Improve Shields. Shields are improved by 15% along with an additional 20% of your +healing attached to it. I will explain my thoughts on Silent Resolve in one of my Priest sections later on.

The damage prevention to mana cost ratio sucks: True.
This leads to an impracticality of spamming Power Word Shield: True.

But listen to my next point. Even though the damage prevention scaling is not the greatest, it is important to remember that as your gear is getting better, your mana regeneration increases. You’re gaining more mana back and you can afford to cast it more often. You don’t need to spam it every time the Weakened Soul debuff is active on the tank. But you can spam it on other members of the raid who need it. Good priests don’t have tunnel vision. Even if you cannot afford to expend the time or the mana to heal another raid member, you can blow a global cooldown and shield him and let another healer do it for you while you return to your healing assignment on the main tank.

I can understand in parties why you would be hesitant to do something like that unless it was a dire emergency. But raiding is not quite the same as partying and some players have difficulty grasping that. You have access to a lot more utilities with 25 players then you would with only 5.

Ways to regenerate your mana:

By yourself
Super Mana Potions
Food: Blackened Sporefish
Flasks: Mighty Restoration, Shattrath Flask of Restoration, or Unstable Flasks of the Physician (Gruul’s Lair only)
Oils: Superior Mana Oil, Brilliant Mana Oil (If you have the time to grab Large Brilliant Shards)
Elixirs: Major Mageblood and another elixir combination of your choice
Shadowfiend

By others
Shadow Priest: Vampiric Touch
Druids: Innervate
Shamans: Mana Spring Totem, Mana Tide Totem
Paladins: Blessing of Wisdom, Judgment of Wisdom
Other: Spellsurge Enchants

With all of those effects, there is a lot of mana being returned and Priests can last for a long time.

The stinginess amazes me. I’ve witnessed tanks or other important impact players go down because a priest wanted to let their heal cast finish. If your tank absorbs a huge hit which drops them from 100% to 15%, you better take a step forward and backward to cancel your heal and light up your Power Word Shield, Renew, and Prayer of Mending. Otherwise, that extra half a second that you wait to let your heal finish could mean the end of your raid. Don’t even think about it. Just react! It’s okay. I don’t think I’ve ever met a raid leader who would get pissed off at a Priest for allowing the tank to live. So what if he’s inefficient? So what if he doesn’t end up with full mana? What kind of Priest ends up with full mana at the end of a raid? A lazy one, that’s who. I would take an alive tank paired with an “oom” Priest over a dead tank and a topped off Priest any day.

This has been one of the few things that have constantly frustrated me. When I raid with another holy priest in Karazhan and we have separate healing assignments and his assignment dies, I ask him: Did you shield him?

His response: No, I don’t like PW:S. It’s inefficient.

Who cares if it’s inefficient? The end result justifies the means.

I remember during Blackwing Lair on the insane 30 minute Chromagus fights, Priests would take turn taking breaks from healing to spirit their way back to full mana. I consistently blew Major Mana Potions, Dark Runes, and Tubers to prevent players from collapsing. I don’t think many new players know what they were, but they’re just consumables which returned mana on different cooldown timers.

If you need to Shield spam your tank, then Shield spam your tank.
If you need to max rank Flash Heal spam your tank, then you do it.
If you need to pull aggro on other ads to keep your tank alive, then macro an unequip on your weapons and bite the bullet.
If you need to heal without mana, keep a stack of bandages handy (No joke, I’ve healed ranged DPS with bandages but it paid off with the guild first boss kill).

At the end of the day, if one person in your raid is left standing and that big bad beast of a boss is not moving, then you can relax knowing that you have succeeded. No matter what happens, your duty as a Holy Priest is to the health of your raid and your tanks. Everything else is secondary only to that primary goal.

Hydross of SSC has an approximately 9-10 minute enraged timer in which he goes berserk and starts going all Tie Domi on the raid. Innervate has a 6 minute cooldown. I know that I am able to last for a long time without an innervate until the 8-9 minute marks. I made a deal with my druid where I would blow as much mana as I could within the first minute or so of the fight. My 600 damage smites or 800 damage mind blasts aren’t going to pull aggro off our tanks. If they are, something is definitely wrong with the tanks and I should just gquit. After I finish spamming Shields, Smites, Renews, or whatever will get me down to about 60% mana, I whisper him to light up his innervate on me. Voila, I’m back to full mana, Hydross is down to 80% instead of 83% and I’m back to heal mode.

Be creative, guys. Think of ways you can help the raid even when there’s nobody to heal. Improvise and think on your feet. I will stress this one more time, do what you need to do to win (short of cheating or exploiting… those are big no no’s).

Voidreaver down

The guy’s a pussy. Heal through the poundings and everything will be okay. Guild first for us. NOW we’re ready to try SSC again. Definitely will have several bosses down by the end of August.

[item]Girdle of Zaetar[/item] – Crappy leather healing belt. Went to the Druid OT.
[item]Pauldrons of the Vanquished Champion[/item] – T5 shoulders went to the Shaman.
[item]Pauldrons of the Vanquished Hero[/item] – Hunter won these ones.