Don’t Rely on Addons to Heal

A few nights ago, I decided to participate in a Heroic Naxx pug (and you know my thoughts on the subject). But I always go back to it since I like to use my Shaman to decompress.

Like most pugs, we stood around for 30 minutes (literally) for the lead to dish out instructions. The boss we were about to engage was Gluth. We were about to run through the pipe, but we had to hold off and wait for a Paladin.

Now you might think this is trivial. But wait until I tell you why.

“My HealBot is not working properly. I can’t heal without it.”

As you can imagine, that sent a nasty surge up my spine. Here’s a Paladin. He’s been assigned to main tank healing. And he can’t heal without his Healbot?

Is it truly that difficult to do nothing but hit the Flash of Light or Holy Light keys at will?

After the 30 minute brief, we had to wait around for an additional 10 minutes (multiplied by 24 players and thats 240 minutes or 4 hours) for this guy to get his addon going.

Airline pilots have a wide variety of electronics and instruments at their disposal. Most of the time, they can toggle the autopilot. When push comes to shove, they have to take manual control of their plane. Sometimes emergencies happen. Perhaps there’s a circuit fried somewhere rendering GPS useless. They have to be trained to be able to make visual landings of their aircraft under extreme weather circumstances.

Lesson 1

Good healers use addons to heal. But great healers don’t have to rely on them.

Don’t get me wrong. I think HealBot is a good tool. As is Clique, Grid, and whatever else you decide to use. At the same time, the next time you go on a farm raid try toggling off and healing in vanilla mode. The point isn’t to see if you like it. Because I guarantee you, you won’t. The point is to see if you can do it. Blizzard will make patches and they will continue to update the game. Addons will break or error out on certain fights. Sometimes updates will come out days or even weeks later.

Would you delay raiding because a key addon you need isn’t available?

I should hope not.

I love my Pitbull as much as the next guy. But if I need to heal by pulling out the raid frames manually, I can. Sure it reduces my overall effectiveness, but at least I won’t be handcuffing the raid.

Lesson 2

Check your addons before entering a raid to ensure that they’re working properly.

This goes without saying. But a 10 second check saves 10 minutes of heartache.

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

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

deathknight

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

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

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

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

I love healers.

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

I pug a lot.

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

Overall basics to keep your healer happy

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

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

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

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

Anti-Magic Shell and Icebound Fortitude

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

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

Avoidance talents

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

Mitigation talents

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

Healing efficiency

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

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

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

3 Reasons Why I Pick Blackened Sporefish over Golden Fish sticks

3 Reasons Why I Pick Blackened Sporefish over Golden Fish sticks

People choose the paths that gain them the greatest rewards for the least amount of effort. That’s the law of nature."
Dr. Gregory House

I wanted to highlight another one of my oh-so-important thought processes today on why I decide to do some things one way and not another. My debut column at WoW Insider generated fairly positive responses. Obviously I didn’t escape much in the way of scrutiny. I clearly spelled Naxx incorrectly and my eyes are literally glued to my raid frames that are 2 inches in from the left side.

It does make eating rice rather difficult when raiding. But that’s an entirely different story.

A number of comments here and there mentioned golden fishsticks as their delicacy of choice when raiding.

Before the most recent patch, I was a bigger fan of the sporefish than the fish sticks as well, Ego writes. With the new changes to mana regen, I have yet to test the various kinds of food.

And I am very much in the same boat. The patch did bring about several important formulaic changes. I can’t even make my own calculations about the different bonuses and the like (and yes, mathematically challenged Asians are a rarity).

Here you have your Golden Fish Sticks and your Blackened Sporefish. Below you can see an image comparison of where you can acquire these yummy fish from. I won’t get into details about which fish is better than the other. Suffice it to say, Golden Fish Sticks reign supreme in the post 2.4 world. But here’s why I will continue using Sporefish.

 

Affordable opportunity-cost

What I mean about opportunity cost here is the fact that the overall effort required to catch Sporefish is easier than Fish Sticks. There’s a large difference in fishing skill required to fish between the two areas. It takes longer for me to empty out a Highland Fishing pool than a Sporefish pool. Couple that with the fact that it’s easier for me to kill a level 61 hydra as opposed to a level 71 water elemental.

Maybe it’s karma from all the sushi I’ve been eating recently.

PvP Problems

I play on a PvP server. I’m also a Priest in a marked guild. A holy priest sitting in Skettis with nothing but a fishing pole equipped may as well just be holding a large neon pink "GANK ME NOW" sign. It is tough competition especially when the pools are scarce enough as is.

Quantity

Zangarmarsh has four large lakes which have numerous fishing pools. There’s a lot more potential Sporefish pools out there. There are only 3 mid-sized lakes to fish from. I’m not disciplined enough to fly around all three Terrokar lakes to get said fish.

By the way, as a follow up, my Guild has retrieved the lost Hearts of Darkness and epic gems from the perpetrator. According to the GM, that player has had "justice served".

Weekly Digest: Gorefiend in the Crosshairs, WPDesigner, and Criticism

What’s Happening in WoW

Not much in the way of progression so far. Our Tuesday involved getting down 4/5 Hyjal and on Thursday we cleaned up Shade of Akama in under 3 hours. This means Sunday will be a real progression night and a test to see if we have that guy in the raid or not. I sincerely hope not. But I will have the cameras running for the Carnage highlight reel.

And shout outs to that Warlock who messaged me the other day to pick off a White Remedy Cape (I think) off of me as well as to the Druid who I partied with in doing Heroic Slave Pens. I forgot your guys’ names but thanks for reading. You’re like the only two players I know of on Ner’Zuhl who read my blog. Other then my Guildies of course. I’ve somehow attracted the attention of Blori, the worst warrior on the server. I’ll have to watch what I write more carefully.

What’s Happening with the Blog

Interested in getting some new themes for your WordPress blog? I’m running a give away courtesy of WPDesigner. Check out this post for more details and bring your RP skills.

Latest Blog Posts

5 Barriers of a Raid Healer

My 5 part series for this month looks at the problems that new raid healers may come across.

  1. Indecisivity is Bad
  2. Dealing With Criticism

20 Questions by Matticus

I couldn’t find any victims last week. But this week, I found one! Nightravyn, one of the lurkers on the BA chatroom, sat on the hot seat.

Past Hits

Past columns I have written that still hold true to this day.

Blog Spotlight

Too Many Annas – Most of this blogger’s characters start with An. I haven’t come across many blogging Shamans yet. There are some notable ones out there, of course. But a Resto one is rare. Then again, maybe I’m not searching hard enough.

Matt likes: Raiding and the Resto Shaman. What? You mean there’s more to healing as a Resto Shaman then spamming brain heal?

5 Barriers of a Raid Healer – Part 1: Indecision

5 Barriers of a Raid Healer – Part 1: Indecision

Photo courtesy of dnabil

Each Saturday for the next five weeks, I will be writing about one barrier of the raid healer. Healers are often overshadowed and looked over since we are expected to simply know what to do. With luck, this five part series will help you to become a better raid healer whether you are a varsity or a freshman.

Barrier 1: No definable targets

I want to share with you a real life example. The connection will become apparent soon enough. Whenever I go out to the mall with my friends, we would idly go through every single clothing store in every part of the mall (especially true when travelling with companions of the female persuasion)

The guys would mill about at the front of a store like American Eagle and the girls would actually go into the store to do their shopping (and gossiping). Us men would talk business such as the latest sports news (“did you see that last fight at the game?”), discuss recent stuff in tech (“do you think that video card makes my PC look fat?”) or chat about gaming (“she thinks I pay more attention to that level 70 warrior from Tichon then I do to her!”).

And then 12 PM would strike.

Someone (usually me) would clasp their hands together and say it’s time for lunch! This is inevitable followed by a chorus of “where to’s?”. All that walking around (and shopping bag holding by the guys) does work up a healthy appetite. And no one would have any idea where to go for lunch.

Lack of targets

Everyone had all sorts of ideas. Here’s a typical example:

“Let’s go for dim sum!”
“Fast food sounds good!”
“Food court will be packed. How about the pub?”
“I’m okay with anything. You guys pick!”
“Sushi!”
“I don’t care as long as I eat something in the next 15 minutes!”

(For bonus points, can you guess which one was my catch phrase?)

Does this sound similar to your healing channel? I often find myself unsure of who to heal when I’m the odd Dwarf out in another Guild’s raid. There are no assignments being issued. It’s quite apparent that there seems to be a lack of an infrastructure. No one was taking charge. No one knows who to heal. All the healers are free healing which leads to an occasional tank death or 2.

During the 40 man raid chaos era, I found out quickly that it was impossible to do it all. I restricted myself to a set number of targets. Learn which players are most likely to take damage and stay on target. Don’t wander around with your mouse. Every spell, every action, every movement should be done with a purpose. Heal with a player and a purpose in mind.

This does not mean that it’s against the rules to heal outside your targets. If I notice another player in the raid who isn’t a part of my assignments take a big hit, I will switch to that player to shield and PoM them. That’s generally enough time to absorb another hit and it keeps that person alive long enough for someone else to pick them back up again.

Playing the transition game from 5 to 25 players is a big leap. It can be very difficult to adjust to. The problem isn’t your healing. It’s who you’re healing. And until you get those targets straightened out with your colleagues, you’re going to continue to suck without the proper direction.

Signs of an indecisive healer:

  • You constantly switch back and forth among players which results in raid deaths because you don’t actually heal them.
  • You have a full mana bar almost all the time because of inaction.
  • You feel helpless, dazed, and confused.
  • Your healing is fair, but the difference between you and other healers on meters is a pretty significant difference.

If you begin displaying any of these symptoms, take a step back and analyze your technique. Ask for help. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. There are times I’ve wanted to scream at players in my own raid because we wiped when they didn’t know what to do and they never spoke up about it. So the next time you’re in a raid and no one appears to be taking charge, announce your intentions about who your healing target is. It’s one step in the right direction.