Dual Unto Others

In a perfect world, we would all be fortunate enough to run with only our guildmates in Heroics and find that perfect unison of one tank, three DPS and one healer that could create that magic and that would ensure those hours of farming gear and Justice Points are nothing short of a blissful experience.

In reality, some have an easier go of it than others. Depending on who is online and who is already spoken for, you may find yourself being one of those stragglers who is forced to throw your lot in with the Dungeon Finder to get what you need. As DPS, the queue times can be unbearable. Not to mention the fact that PuG Heroics already have such a small chance of success that just downing the first boss can be seen as a huge victory.

Some enterprising DPS have decided to use their dual specs to become something that would allow them a much easier time of finding random groups to farm Heroics with – those of tanks and healers. Unfortunately, if not done correctly, this can create an even more painful experience for all involved. So, without further ado, here are my tips on how to use your dual spec to the fullest while trying to do Heroics.

Lesson #1:  Do Your Homework

If you’re planning on playing the part of a tank, healer or even DPS, when that’s not your natural role, you need to at least make sure that you can at least perform said role at an adequate level for the content that you are about to do. You won’t get very far if you can’t generate or hold aggro, if you can’t keep 4 other people and yourself alive or if you are not putting out the DPS to kill things fast enough.

Take a look at what others of your desired class/spec are doing, in terms of talents and rotations. Understand the mechanics and what the abilities associated with that spec are used for. I would put in just as much time learning your dual spec as you would put into your main spec, for something like this. If you’re not going to do it well enough to help your group succeed, then you’re basically doing all of this for nothing and that’s not good!

Lesson #2:  Look The Part

Once you have gotten into the right mindset to really understand the role that you’re trying to become, you then need to make sure that you are just as convincing on the outside as you are on the inside.

If you’re planning on becoming a temporary tank, make sure you have pieces that are fitting for a tank and that you have a generous amount of health and other attributes (like dodge and parry) to be able to take some hits.

If you’re aiming to become a healer, make sure you have pieces that a healer would wear. Anything with Spirit on it is going to be assumed as something that a healer would want, so make sure you have plenty of that on you. Make sure you’re not wearing any trinkets or using any meta gems that would be terribly obvious as DPS caster only.

If you’re in the rare bind of being a tank or healer attempting to DPS, possibly due to too many others like yourself in the guild needing upgrades and not enough runs to support them, make sure you are hit capped or as close to it as possible. If you play a class with CC capabilities, get comfortable using those abilities and become familiar with the symbol assigned to you for marking purposes. Watch your aggro and focus fire the correct mobs down, when it’s time to do that.

Lastly, make sure your gems and enchants go with the role that you are trying to perform, too.

Lesson #3:  Stick to the Script

It can be mighty tempting to want to fall back into your normal mindset in a group. You see that death knight made some strange talent choices or that the feral druid is letting his bleeds fall off too soon. You have experience. You know these things!

Except you’re there to tank. A little advice or a friendly suggestion is fine. Getting into blow by blow explanations and possibly even arguing with them over how things are done is purely bad form.

This rule seems exceptionally true for healers that place themselves into a DPS role. It can be tempting when you see life bars going down to stop what you’re doing and throw heals in rapid succession to save the day. That’s not why you’re there, though. Granted, if the run is on the unmistakable path to a wipe and you feel that you can possibly help save the day, by all means. I would expect any DPS to do the same thing. That should be a rare occurance and not a habit.  However, if you can cleanse something (such as a curse, poison or disease) that your healer cannot cleanse, then by all means, cleanse away!

Things not dying fast enough means the fights go on longer than they need to, which taxes the healing and can cause other problems. In short, do what you came to do, unless the situation absolutely calls for it.

Lesson #4:  Come Clean

There are some professions where you’re not immediately panicked by seeing someone wearing a trainee tag. The cashier at the grocery store. The busboy at a restaurant. That kind of thing.

Then there are those where you really don’t want to know that this is somebody’s first time doing a particular task. The person drawing your blood at the doctor’s office. The pilot flying the airplane you are on. The minute you discover they may not have that much experience is exactly when you start to doubt you’re in good hands.

With that in mind, feel free to state that this may not be your primary spec, but that you do feel confident enough to play it and don’t be afraid to ask for pointers.  This will go over a lot better than people assuming that you are a main spec tank, healer or DPS when you clearly are not.

Lesson #5:  Don’t Quit Your Day Job

At the end of the day, you’re doing this because you have to. You may enjoy what you’re doing, out of necessity or because it started to grow on you. But, remember why you’re really there. You’re there to get a shot at some gear that nobody else can use or to farm the Justice Points you need to buy better gear, so you can be ready to raid that much faster.

Do not get so attached to your dual spec that you start insisting on doing it in your actual raids. Do not think that because you made the most of your dual spec to get through a difficult time that you automatically know more about that class/spec than those that have been doing it since a previous expansion.

In closing, the journey towards becoming the best you can be so that you’re ready to raid should be an enjoyable one. You should be looking forward to watching your stats grow and your abilities hit harder or heal for more and it shouldn’t be something that you dread doing.

Slipping into a role that you don’t normally perform is not for everyone. Some people would rather deal with longer queue times than put themselves in a situation they’re not entirely comfortable with. Listen to your gut. If you know deep down that you don’t feel confident in the idea of tanking or healing (or even DPSing) or you know you don’t have the desire to put in the work to really give it your best shot, don’t do it.

Stick to what you know and what you enjoy. If you can still do that, while ensuring you are on the right path to being the best you can be, then you’re doing the right thing and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Thanks for reading and happy hunting!

Let’s Get Reacquainted With Healing!

Let’s Get Reacquainted With Healing!

A lot of things have changed since the introduction of Dual-specs. Players, and indeed raids as a whole have become much more versatile. A lot of times guilds are calling on Hybrid classes that have healing capabilities to heal in a pinch, my guild is no exception and all of my healing capable raiders do indeed have a healing spec ready just in case. With that in mind, it’s become a point of concern that there seems to be a lack of support for these players that are making the transition. Most healing guides deal with players who are just healing for the first time and learning the way around their toons, while a good chunk of raid leaders expect you to know your class well enough to jump in and heal an encounter. The truth is most players who are asked to heal, at one point or another tried it, so it’s safe to assume you have a basic knowledge of it. So where does a player in between novice healers and healing expert go for advice? Well Lodur is here to help you out. Here’s somethings I’ve used to help my guildies make the transition.

Getting Back Into The Swing of Things!

 

One of the hardest things to do after not healing for so long is getting back into the swing of things. You can dust off that shiny healing set, but if you don’t know all the nuances or have had time to adjust to how things might have changed since the last time you threw some healing beams of love around, you need to bone up a little bit and bring yourself up to speed. What I tell all my players making the switch is your first stop should always be the heroics. You can laugh at me all you want, but even seasoned healers have trouble with the new heroics, and it’s a good way to warm up. Especially when you consider the new LFG tool has a wait time of about 20 seconds for a healer. Heroics are always a good place to start as they give you a small environment to practice in and yield you badges which can net you some very nice rewards in trinkets, rings, or even tiered healing gear if needed. After some of the easier ones, queue yourself up for the harder ones. Get in to the new Forge of Souls, Pit of Saron and Halls of Reflection. When you can do those comfortably, it’s time to move up to raid environments. Start with things one tier below where your main guild is raiding. If your guild is raiding Ulduar, might be worth it to try and find a Naxx group. ToC, try to get into an Uld run, you get the idea. This gives you a chance to experience a raid environment again and lets you get your healing synergy back in tact. Healing solo is fine but when you have 2-5 other healers around you, working together is always key. Once you feel you’re ready, then it’s time to get in there and throw down with your guild. After a couple days your rust should be sufficiently shaken off so that you can pinch heal for your raids.

One Instance to Teach It All!

 

Often times it’s asked if one zone can teach you everything, or rather one instance that can teach you everything about the healing game. When I’m asked this I have a two fold answer. Yes I feel these instances exist and there are two of them. One of course is Icecrown Citadel. Unfortunately it is very likely that this is your guilds primary content right now, and it’s not fully unlocked yet. The other instance I feel that meets this condition is Ulduar. Ulduar has many varied fights, some with tons of AE, some with huge tank spikes, and some with random aggro / damage flinging. It gives you a little of everything, and it’s a great way to limber up before the big show. A Paladin switching to Holy healing Hodir will have a vastly different experience than healing Anub in ToC. I’m sure some of you are wondering why I didn’t say ToC. Well to be honest, ToC is an instance that can be brute force healed. If you have enough Spell Power, enough MP5 or just enough replenishment, then you can pretty much spam heal through the vast majority of fight. There’s not a lot of finesse overall. Even edging into Heroic ToC, it feels to me like it’s just a matter of being able to continuously cast. I’ve done ToC and Ulduar on my Shaman, a Priest that I borrowed from a friend and a Druid and I can tell you from my first hand experience that Ulduar felt harder and made me pick smart spells more than ToC did.

Get By With a Little Help From Your Friends!

 

The process of getting reacquainted with healing on your toon isn’t a very long path to walk. I’ve heard people refer to it like riding a bicycle, you never truly forget how to do it. The learning curve can however be shortened with the help of your guildies. Your guild can contribute in many, many ways. Besides providing bodies for heroics and raids, your guild is also a wealth of information. In my guild the only thing we’re missing is a full time Holy Paladin, but there are Resto Shamans, Holy Priests, Disc Priests and Resto Druids a plenty, so there is usually someone on to help the aspiring healer get things set. . It never hurts to ask for help or tips and tricks. Experienced players when asked questions can help you learn how do eek that much more out of your healing, or different tricks of the trade for your class. Any guild who asks you to take on a potential healing role should also be willing to spend the time needed to make sure you’re up to speed. If this means a week of guildies pitching in to help you learn and gear up they should be willing to do it. I know in many cases my guild has taken the time and run old content to get them up to speed many times over. They can also supply crafted gear for you. I have an elemental off spec, I do this so that in a pinch I can pop over and give the raid Totem of Wrath. My gear for that set is largely due to guildies helping out and making me things.

So what about you? Any tips to share for people reacquainting themselves with healing? What do you think the best instance is to teach a healer everything they need to know? Is there one?

well that’s it for today, until next time, Happy Healing!

On Dual Specs and the Tournament

On Dual Specs and the Tournament

bele_and_lokai_star_trek_phixr

Well, we’ve had a little bit less then a week to get settled into our new found patch. Many things have changed. New talents tree organization for many of the classes, talents and key abilities changed or tweeked and a beautiful new instance dropped at our doorstep. One of the most anticipated changes in the patch was Dual Spec. Dual spec allows for you to change your talents on the fly (as long as you aren’t in combat) at the cost of all your mana and a small GCD effect. So the question is, what should you do with your dual spec?

Here’s what I did with Lodur.

For those of you just tuning in, Lodur is restoration for good, I have no aspirations to take her in any other direction. Here’s my current restoration build

0/16/55

According to talent chic it’s the second most popular build ( I took Healing Way over pushback resistance) I’ll likely stay that way with maybe a minor shift in talents as tier 8 gear comes in. Now after dropping my 1k gold on the dual spec ability, I had to decide what it was I was going to do with Lodur. I could pick up a melting face elemental spec, or a second restoration spec geared towards PvP. Enhancement was not an attractive option for me since weapon itemization in the end game has been lacking somewhat (fast weapons ftl). Well, I went with elemental because currently Lodur is sans arena team. Here’s what I went with for talents.

57/14/0

Pretty cookie cutter spec, but it gets the dailies done. I found this useful on fights like loatheb where too many healers equal too much overheal, I was able to pop into elemental and just toss out some lightning bolts.

When I find myself a solid arena team (lfg arena pst) I’ll switch over to a pvp restoration spec, something like this

0/11/60

I’ll likely play with it after I get into a team and learn what holes need to be plugged, but that’s the plan.

This is an amazing tool blizzard has given us for raiding. It’s very nice to have a tank who can switch to dps when he does not have to tank anything, or have a hybrid class hop over into healing if things get too rough. It provides an amount of flexibility to the raid leader to fill in gaps or change strategies without having to wait for someone to go respec, summon back, re-glyph etc.

One of the other additions to the game was the Argent Tournament. Wowinsider has been doing a great job keeping up with the dailies Over on WI.com so feel free to check them out for more information.

The tournament feels to me very much like the Sunwell dailies. It’s placed at the far north of the map and has npc’s from all factions. It’s colorful and aesthetically pleasing and has a unique feel. It’s a tight cluster of dailies, that send you to a small selection of area in Northrend to accomplish the tasks set before you. You earn marks that you turn in to gain ranks in the knightly order, aspirant to valor all the way up to champion. It’s nice honestly. You joust, you gather items to build the tournament area, and you search for a lovely maiden’s favor. I’m very impressed with the quest line surrounding the Black Knight. It’s an interesting story so far and I can’t wait to see what else lies in store for it. I’ve just completed  The Black Knight’s Orders, but I’m still working on my next rank of knight. I enjoy this addition to the game quite a bit. Dailies that combine running things down with lances is always good in my book.

So how are you spending your dual spec? What do you think of the new tournament?

That’s it for today’s post,
Till Next time, happy healing

~Lodur

Feel free to follow me on Twitter

Image courtesy of Paramount

Resto Druid Specs and Glyphs in 3.1

Resto Druid Specs and Glyphs in 3.1

contrasting_leaves

For the record, Moonkins are wonderful. I love them, and I love their dance. However, I am not going to be shaking a tailfeather–at least not for a little while. I might be the only crazy tree out there, but I’m going to use both of my specs for healing, at least for the time being. I expect to be in Ulduar tonight, and quite honestly, no one really knows how difficult it’s going to be. None of us have raided with our usual setups on the PTR, and many of us, me included, never made it there at all. We quite simply don’t know how we, as individual raid groups, will confront the challenges. Thus, it’s a great time to take two healing specs–one for raid healing, and one for tank healing. The changes to mana regen and to some individual spells (ahem, Lifebloom) may make your usual healing assignment no longer the order of the day. Are two healing builds overkill? Maybe. But are they fun? Oh yes, for me anyway.

Build #1: Single tank focused

I am working on the assumption that rolling Lifebloom on multiple tanks is good and dead, so that technique is not part of my calculations. My talent build for tank healing focuses on propping up Nourish, Rejuvenation, and Regrowth. The druid tank healer will do a version of what she’s always done: load HoTs on the tank and then cast a direct heal. The only change for me is that this heal will now be Nourish instead of Regrowth. My tank-healing spec is a version of the 14/0/57 build many of us have been using throughout Naxx, so there are very few surprises. Follow this link to see the build, but I’ll mention the key talents here.

#1: Nature’s Splendor
This talent makes direct healing much easier. The longer your HoTs tick, the more casts of Nourish you can sneak in the rotation.

#2: Nature’s Grace
This talent has been updated to benefit Nourish-heavy rotations. There’s no need to worry about Nourish clipping. An extra haste proc, of course, benefits direct healing much more than HoTs.

#3: Tranquil Spirit
Once an optional talent, Tranquil spirit looks better with the new mana constraints. Druid healers who rely on Nourish for tank filler healing should pick this one up.

#4: Nature’s Bounty
This talent replaces the old Improved Regrowth. It is the one change that cements Nourish’s place in the druid’s rotation. Do not leave the trainer without it.

#5: Living Seed
This talent used to account for less than 1% of my healing, which encouraged me to drop it altogether. Now it procs from overheal in addition to effective healing, making it a better safeguard for a tank target.

Glyphs for Tank Healing

I am going to glyph for Swiftmend, Nourish, and Innervate for my tank healing needs. Your mileage may vary. The glyphs of Lifebloom and Regrowth might still be interesting for certain playstyles, but I’m keeping Innervate until I’m sure I don’t need it.

Build #2: Raid Healing with Healing Touch

What I’m going to share with you is a bit unorthodox and is NOT to be used for tank healing. This build only becomes possible if you have another healing spec to switch to for tank healing or multitasking. In this particular raid healing build, I am going to take the opportunity to try out some new techniques. The basic idea is that Ulduar is an unknown quantity. This build de-emphasizes HoT combos, which is the druid’s strength in tank healing or in normal content. This build features a glyphed Healing Touch, which I know from experience can help when 1) the druid is undergeared for the throughput needed or 2) the druid is running around like a chicken with her head cut off. Don’t worry, there’s a second build coming up later that’s a more standard build for raid healing. The basic technique with this first build is to use Wild Growth and Rejuvenation very liberally and to save that quick HT for heavy damage targeted on a small number of raid members. Mana survival in this build depends on not spamming HT, but rather using it judiciously. The reason I’ve preferred it to the similar Nourish is that it has a decent throughput with no prior HoT setup. Regrowth might work in this role too, but it tends to be a little too slow when the healer is surprised by damage. Just as a note, with this build, Nature’s Swiftness gets used with Regrowth.

Caveat: Yes, I know I’m advocating a flash heal as a raid heal. If your team has extra paladins who end up raid healing, it wouldn’t look as good. However, if you’d been reading my guild’s WWS reports for early Naxx or harder heroics back when we were undergeared, you would have seen glyphed Healing Touch kick the ass of Nourish, Regrowth, and Swiftmended Rejuvenation as a raid heal. I credit Sthirteen with putting a glyphed HT to great use (and outperforming me and my conventional build every time).

Naturalist: Clipping be damned. Yes, your Healing Touch casts will be so fast they’ll clip. With this build, I don’t intend to use more than one at a time. It’s not set up for constant heal bombs on a tank. This is more of a run, run, heal, run, run kind of build.

Tranquil Spirit: Necessary for survival with glyphed HT. The spell is a resource hog, and you’ll need every ounce of mana efficiency.

Revitalize: With this build, the druid will be seeding the raid really heavily with Rejuvenation and Wild Growth. This little talent puts the damage buffer of those two HoTs to a secondary use. One of the things that remains to be seen is how effective Revitalize really is. I’m not counting on huge benefits, but if I’m using the affected spells anyway? Might as well.

Glyphs for HT-oriented raid healing

I’ll be using Healing Touch, Wild Growth, and Innervate for this build. I know, no Swiftmend. Believe me when I tell you that I’ll need the glyph of Innervate to sustain any amount of HT usage.

Build #3: Raid Healing Standard Build

I will likely switch to this build when I get more comfortable with Ulduar. It has more mana efficiency than the HT build, and thus it might let the raid healing druid sneak some HoTs onto the tank. My experience with the HT build is that it’s only really great when multiple healers are undergeared or don’t know WTF to do. I’d never take it as an all-purpose build, because it really reduces the druid’s rotation. With this second raid healing build, I will continue to cast Wild Growth and Rejuvenation liberally. Additionally, once I complete the 4pc T8 set bonus, raid healing with Rejuvenation will be positively delightful. I won’t need my direct heals nearly as much. However, I’ll be using Regrowth as a direct heal on targets with no existing HoT and Nourish as a direct heal on targets that already have one HoT. Swiftmend will also be extremely prominent with this build. For healing on the run, both Rejuv and Lifebloom might be cast on the target, particularly if the raid is spread out enough to make Wild Growth wasteful. The key talents are below.

Swiftmend: I can’t emphasize this enough for this build, but well, any good tree has this anyway.

Nature’s Bounty: I need to buff my two direct heals in order to deal with targeted boss effects.

Revitalize: The very heavy reliance on Wild Growth and Rejuvenation ensures the inclusion of this talent.

Glyphs for Raid Healing

My “standard” raid healing build uses the glyphs of Swiftmend, Wild Growth, and Innervate until I get the 4pc T8 bonus. With the bonus, the glyphs become Swiftmend, Wild Growth, and Rejuvenation.

As a final comment, why would I carry two healing specs when one would do? Because now I can! And also, I apparently didn’t get enough fun out of doing dailies with a Resto spec. At least that gives me a little time to look at elf-Syd instead of a tree or a bird.

Hymn of Hope is Removed and New Power Infusion Graphic

Hymn of Hope is Removed and New Power Infusion Graphic

I checked.

I checked all possible trees (including Shadow but I didn’t screenshot that). Hymn of Hope is gone.

Yes, I know there was a new glyph added:

Glyph of Hymn of Hope *new*  — Your Hymn of hope provides 3 times the normal amount of mana per time, but its duration is 50% shorter.

But Hymn of Hope isn’t there and I have nothing new to learn from the trainer.

disc-tree holy-tree  base-line-tree

Below is the new Power Infusion graphic on my Shaman. It sort of looks like the Shaman’s Elemental Mastery but with a bit more flare to it.

pi-1

I’d say it blends with the Shaman set quite well!

Your Guild’s Dual Spec Policy: What Will it Be?

Your Guild’s Dual Spec Policy: What Will it Be?

Two Seagulls

So what’s the question on everyone’s mind?

Will you, as a player, need two sets of specs as enforced by your raid leader?

For most players, one spec should suffice. You were brought into your current guild and asked to perform in a role. That has not changed. What has changed is the ease in which you can switch from one role to another. You can go from raiding to soloing. You can switch between PvE work to PvP relaxation.

All this stuff can be still be done right now.

It’s just pretty darned expensive between re-gemming, re-enchanting, and re-glyphing.

Your guild policy

I suspect it will be similar to mine. After reading about it and thinking about it, I decided the best course of action was to allow players to select whatever secondary spec they like.

Their primary spec is going to be used for raiding. Of that, I have no doubt. If they didn’t want to raid, they’d just let me know and hibernate for a while. The players that are still around do want to raid and there’s no way they’d jeopardize that.

I’m not doing your job for you

I’ve always told my players to select whatever talent points they needed to excel in the role they are asked to do. I don’t have the time or the interest to research every class and spec in the game and tell them what to get. That responsibility is there for them. I can provide them with resources or point them in places to look, but beyond that I am hopeless.

Now don’t get confused between asking a player to switch roles and to pick out talent points. Asking a Panzerdin to switch from tanking to a healing job is going to require him to completely switch out some specs. What I will not do is tell them how to spend each point individually. This is based on the assumption that they want to and are capable of doing it.

Some misconstrued people on Twitter get into a knot when they assume I expect and enforce people to spec a certain way. That’s not true. I expect them to pick a spec that allows them to contribute as much as they can to the raid in a manner comfortable with them. While I understand guilds that enforce specs I’ve never been one to do that unless I desperately felt that it was an ability that is absolutely essential to successfully complete an encounter. And even then, I’d ask first if they were comfortable with the idea.

What if I’m a bonafide raid healer forever? I know if I were a raiding Holy Paladin, I’d select the standard PvE Holy loadout for one spec. But my second? I’d grab the one that stretches down the Protection tree deep enough to grab Divine Guardian. 12 seconds where the raid takes 30% less damage is a make or break ability that can give healers the time to weather the incoming storm. I do this with the knowledge that it offers my guild a second option in the event that it’s needed. Not like I was using it for anything else anyway.

Again, this is assuming I don’t PvP or dabble in other roles.

The other guy we all love to hate

Most guilds have that one annoying player that everyone hates.

You know who I’m talking about. He’s the guy that knows more about your class then you do. He can play it way better than you. He has the raid achievements and the epics to prove it.

But what if you had 24 other players who knew just about as much as everyone else? Constantly asking questions, pointing out strengths, identifying weaknesses and just making people think rationally about what they’re doing is a shift in environment that a lot of players would be unfamiliar with.

With dual specs, guildss can start expecting DPS and healers to start talking to each other more. I can see different players asking each other how they specced a certain way. Maybe they’re asking for advice on what points to take for a second spec after deciding on a role. I know I don’t have the faintest clue on what to glyph, enchant, or augment if I were to grab shadow.

My Shadow Priests ask me once in a while what my thought process was between this talent point and that talent point (like Serendipity vs Test of Faith).

What about off spec loot?

And the question that every raid leader hates to answer but has to for the sake of their guild is how should off spec loot be handled? This is something that’s still under discussion. It’s always good to hear everyone’s perspective.

But in the end, it’s up to the GM to decide on one. You can’t please everybody. And the GM has to pick a policy that follows in line with the rest of their organization.

Now the Bank of Matticus is a large corporation that requires resources to continue functioning. It helps  sponsors enchanting materials for the guild. In the future, a path is being explored where it can be used to help sponsor guild repairs.

It needs a way of generating income.

Some pointers

  • Main spec (role) will get a clear priority
  • Assuming no main spec raiders need an item, players that would like to use it for offspec can obtain it
  • Players that would like more than 1 item for offspec will be asked to compensate the guild accordingly. This could be in gold (like 100g), an Abyss Crystal, a stack of Infinite Dust, or half a stack of Greater Cosmic Essences.
  • This cap resets after one week. So a player can get a free off spec item once per week (on top of any main spec items needed)

This addition is still under debate. But I expect to have a decision rendered before this week’s raid.

The aim of this is to discourage players from attempting to assemble 4 or 5 sets worth of gear. I’m sorry, but no one needs that amount of equipment. It’s absolutely wasteful. Want a healing and Moonkin set? Absolutely, that’s no problem. Grab a few items here and there during the weeks where no players need it. Donate a couple of hundred gold and an abyss into the bank. Augment your gear with stuff from heroics or normal level raids.

You don’t need a tanking set, a cat DPS set, a moonkin set, a PvP moonkin set, a Resto set, a dreamstate set, and so forth. That’s absolutely greedy and unnecessary.

Will You Be Dual Spec-tacular?

Will You Be Dual Spec-tacular?

Duality by vladstudio

Duality by vladstudio

Less than two weeks out from the Wrath of the Lich King release, I find that one of the upcoming changes I am most excited about will hit not with the expansion itself, but with an upcoming content patch. At some future point, many of us–particularly hybrid classes–will have the flexibility we’ve always dreamed of. The promise is that each character will be able to maintain two stored specs and switch between them easily. You won’t be switching during combat (imagine the exploits) but in a complicated dungeon, for one fight you could be the healer, and the very next you could be the tank or even (gasp!) dps.


There is every chance that this change will revolutionize gameplay, particularly for healers. Most of us would jump at the chance to heal for a 25-person raid and then tear through our daily quests as a long-feathered, wide-hipped, booty-shaking, snuffle-hooting Owlbeast. I know I would. However, I’m even more interested in the long-term effects of dual spec capability on the raid environment.

Of course, even with Matticus’ fascinating insights into raiding Naxx on the Beta, we still don’t have quite enough information to make fully-fledged (get it, a feather joke) healing strategies. However, that doesn’t mean that my evil little tree-brain isn’t working. As the healing lead for my guild, the following is my diabolical plan to take the fullest possible advantage of dual specs.

1. All healers will maintain a raid-viable dps spec and a raid-viable healing spec.
2. All healers will take appropriate dps gear at the off-spec dkp price and appropriate healing gear at the on-spec price.
3. All healers will practice both play styles in a raid environment.

Why is this plan such a winner? Read on to find out how the dual spec system will save your raid–and the world!–from much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

1. I can adjust the number of healers for each fight.

Based on what I’ve read on Matticus and elsewhere, it seems that Wrath of the Lich King raid encounters require, on the whole, less healers than Black Temple or Sunwell. My guild–and probably many others–recruited its healing corps with the latter two instances in mind. At the moment, we have at least 12 healers who raid on a semi-regular basis. Our healer retention has been excellent, and many of these players have switched part or full-time to alts for raiding in order to keep their spots. However, even with this partial solution, we sometimes have 10 great healers sign up to raid. My solution for Wrath? I’m not about to force people to respec dps or to reroll warlocks and enhancement shammies. Instead, we’ll share the dps and healing roles, and everyone will get to play what they want at least some of the time. In addition, I don’t fully trust the developers not to put in some fights that require 5 healers and others that require 8 in the same instance. With dual specs in place, it will just be too tempting.

2. My healers will become better players.

Yes, this belongs to the category of what I like to refer to as “L2P Raiding Solutions.” It’s going to be hard to switch from doing what Ghostcrawler referred to as “playing the UI, not the game,” to actually targeting a boss or, even more incredibly, assisting off a designated player. I look forward to this process. I need to go through the learning as much or more than anybody. An expansion, as I see it, is a great opportunity to get better at the game, and I know there’s going to be a learning curve. By, let’s say, next February, I want to be that player that people trust to do whichever task, dps or healing, is most necessary. Those players already exist, but I’ve had too much tunnel-vision to be one myself.

3. No one will feel stuck.

Sometimes all of us need a little change, a little breath of fresh air. I think that dual specs are going to help ward off healer burnout, and to demonstrate that, I’m going to resort to a very mundane metaphor. Let’s compare two real life humans–Level 30 Scholars, let’s say, and for the sake of argument, we’ll call them Sydera and Briolante. Now, Syd owns about 10 pairs of shoes she can wear to work, and she never wears the same pair twice in a row. Brio wears the same pair of admittedly very nice dress shoes every day. At the end of six months, whose footwear is in better shape? Variety is the spice of many things, my friends. If I know that I can cast gigantic Starfires on one of the bosses on a given evening, all the while hooting to myself in owlish glee, I’m likely to heal for the rest of them with good grace. Many healers feel victimized and put upon–our job is rather stressful, and blame sticks to us like cat hair on cashmere. What a nice relief it will be to sometimes focus on the boss instead of the little boxes on my Grid!

Dual Specs are Wonderful! But Why Do We Have Them?

I’d like to spend a few moments speculating about the underlying reasoning behind the dual spec change. It goes against many of the trends laid in place during Classic WoW and BC. First, WoW has always made players pay for flexibility. As we all know, the Vanilla WoW design for hybrids could be summed up by the hackneyed refrain “jack of all trades and master of none.” Moreover, gold costs for respecs–used more by hybrids than other classes–used to climb to obscene levels in Classic.

In BC, the fate of hybrids improved somewhat. Aside from a few broken specs (notably Moonkin and Retribution Paladin), hybrids became raid viable, but also just as limited to one role as any “pure” class. Respecs were of course possible, and in BC they top out at 50 gold, which still cannot be considered a reasonable price for mid-raid respecs.

Maybe it’s my own selfish featherbrain, but I think that the changes we’re seeing to how respeccing works–which is basically the removal of the penalty for changing your mind–have a lot to do with the perceived fun of playing hybrids–bringing us closer to the jack of all trades model again. I think this change might even have more to do with healers than other classes. We know that, my own freakishly healer-heavy guild aside, healers are often in short supply. For Wrath, Ghostcrawler has laid out the possibility that raid healing might be overhauled entirely, just as was done with tanking. The idea, in general terms, is to make raiding “more fun.”

What is more fun, in the developers’ minds? Based on the druid class changes for 3.0, I can take a guess. Despite what some healers find entertaining, Blizzard doesn’t want us to be tied too closely to timers or set-in-stone rotations. Pre-3.0, I used to cast something–usually an instant, and many times Lifebloom–every time the GCD was up. This means that I can spare about half an eyeball for the raid environment, and I haven’t even seen many raid bosses. I spend too much time looking at Grid with one eye and the ground–for nasty AoE effects–with the other. To a certain extent, this is necessary for proper focus–I’m not sure that Briolante spends much time gazing longingly on, say, Archimonde’s face either, even though he’s up there tanking. Here’s a quote: “Demon crotches get old after a while.” The developers want play to be variable, engaging, movement heavy, and reactive rather than proactive. As a druid healer at the moment, I feel that I’m supposed to entirely change my playstyle, and old habits–like maintaining Lifebloom rotations–die hard.

At least dual specs are actually fun! Many times, the developers seem to design away from fun by putting arbitrary limitations on things–the recently removed movement speed reduction for trees comes to mind, as does the prohibition on flying in Northrend until level 77. It is my hope that, whatever they do to healing, the dual spec possibility keeps me from entirely losing my mind, or, should I say, my feathers.