Healing: Priority, Priority, and Priority

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Priority, priority, and priority

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then it hit me.

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

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately, I didn’t think about that.

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

*BOOM*

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

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

And people wonder why I sometimes hate two healing raids.

Raid Leading 101: Maximizing DPS Uptime

Raid Leading 101: Maximizing DPS Uptime

Normally, most bosses are kept still. There’s a cleave effect or some other ability which makes it difficult for tanks to herd them around. Every so often, a boss comes along where even though it isn’t necessary to move them, it can sometimes be extremely beneficial. In this week’s Raid Leading 101 post, I want to highlight a little trick that Conquest used during our first kill of Professor Putricide. It’s a really minor adjustment that our raid leader came up with and looking back now, I almost wish I had thought of it first. Who knew something so simple and minor would’ve helped out so much?

Initially, we had a DPS problem. We were having a difficult time burying slimes and phasing Putricide within a timely fashion. We were rocking six healers at the time. The raid was taking obscene amounts of damage and many players were struggling with avoidable damage. I myself hit a streak where I went 9 consecutive attempts being hit by Malleable Goo on the same night. That’s some serious tunnel vision going on.

If we downgraded to five, we’d solve our DPS issue but our stressed healers were going to be stressed even further. We found a way to help resolve these issues and it’s nothing to do with player substitution or gear. It was all due in part to improved movement and positioning.

In last week’s post about Placement and Direction, blogger What’s My Main Again made an excellent suggestion:

If I may make a suggestion on putricide… after the green ooze dies you waste a lot of time moving all the way to the other side of the room. Just have everyone move to the center. Ranged can dps the gas cloud as soon as it spawns and then melee can quickly switch after it targets someone. This also makes it easier to run back into the orange corner for the green ooze.

We’ve actually been doing that for a while, but I wanted to elaborate on that further and illustrate how we tackle it.

The orange ooze

We’ll use the Professor Putricide example.

WoWScrnShot_031010_113848 

When the orange ooze was active, we used to tank Putricide on the far right very close to the green wall. Our melee DPS had to run the length of the room to open up on the orange ooze when it fixated on a target. It was during these parts of the fight that we were able to close the gap on our damage. In order to do that, we made two changes.

First change: Instead of tanking him on the right, we placed Putricide closer to the middle where the pattern is. The orange ooze spawns, it locks on to a target and goes after them. If it happens to be a melee player, they still have plenty of time to hustle it and kite it around the room. Regardless, we cut the distance the melee had to travel to DPS the Ooze by half! They didn’t have to run as much. There was more DPS on the ooze meaning it died quicker which led to more DPS on the boss.

Second change: Instead of simply keeping Professor Putricide stationary, our Putricide tank was instructed to keep Putricide as close to the orange Ooze as possible. The reason? It allowed for incidental AoE attacks from melee to hit multiple targets. Chain Lightning would help. Divine Storm would help. Cleave, and the list goes on. The orange vials that the Professor drops wouldn’t be a problem since the entire melee group is constantly moving alongside the Professor and the orange Ooze anyway.

While it doesn’t seem like much, those two changes were enough to help put us over the top on our kill.

The lesson here is when working on a boss, try to set your tactics up in such a way that will cause the boss to take extra damage. Again, not every encounter will allow for this, but the possibility is there. Put those AoE strikes to maximum effect whenever it is feasible to do so.

If you’re curious, here’s a video of our first kill up:

Conquest_Professor_Putricide from Dannamoth on Vimeo.

This is from the perspective of one of our top mages. Look at how our tank gradually follows the orange ooze around. We have a set path to use when orange oozes are up that involve running toward the green wall, up to the table, then down the orange wall.

Also, excellent use of Invisibility during tear gas phases. Such cheater DPS!

If you look closely at the end of the fight, there’s about 6 or 7 players still alive. Yeah, we barely scraped by on this kill.

Last night, we managed to take down Sindragosa on 25. I want to stab my eyes out. We managed to get a video of it as well, so I’ll see if it can be placed up somewhere.