The Hybrid Pedigree

This is a guest post by Mimetir, an oversized owl of a raid leader on The Venture Co (EU). You can find her twitter feed at http://twitter.com/juddr.

I understood little about the game back when I was a young whippersnapper of a hammer-wielding paladin but I did know that those rather unfriendly zombies were hitting my party real hard now and I’d better cast that flashy light spell because no-one else did anything similar. Nowadays my boomkin suspects her claws are actually roots given the amount of times she’s dropped out of form to heal at a critical point. On the rare occasions my guild’s feral gets to DPS, he often finds himself bearing up and growling things off of the clothies. Even so, I regularly hear players bemoan that the hybrid classes are forgetting their utility and simply focusing on their single, chosen role. These comments usually come after an unsuccessful event or fight; a little help in healing from the paladin might have given the edge, or if the cat had just engaged bear’s-behind mode to help the overwhelmed tank out for a few seconds… A hybrid forgetting their flexibility just like a warlock forgetting to soulstone a healer. It’s something so integral to their class that they should do it automatically.

Hybrid classes allow a player to perform any and all of the three roles a group may require. Need a tank, DPS or healer? I can do all of those, says your paladin, druid or shaman. Admittedly the shaman can only tank under certain circumstances such as pre-60 instances, but this flexibility is something which makes these classes very popular choices for groups and also for players. Data shows that many players choose the paladin class, second only to the death knight – no surprise given the surge of DK mains when WotLK hit.

ConfusedKin

Still, some players are not able or willing to play a class to its full hybrid potential. I think there are three types of hybrid players:

  • Those who are able to play different roles or specs for a sustained length of time – these are more common since the availability of dual spec
  • Those who are able to respond to a situation by switching into another playstyle and back out at the drop of a hat
  • Those who cannot or refuse to do either of these things and focus on one task.

I’ve said that a hybrid should know their class’ utility backwards – but should they? If hybrid players are a minority now this suggests that they are a dying breed. WoW is a lot easier to play than its previous incarnations, quibble as you like over the finer points. Perhaps gameplay no longer requires sharp hybrids with an eye always on utilizing their out-of-spec abilities. Mayhap the game has made facerolling, overpowered roles the hero of the day and has sidelined hybrid utility as a luxury addition to a raid. That would certainly explain why there seem to be less active hybrid players out there: Look, we are indeed all just DPS. Do you, as a raid leader or officer, notice more if your hybrid classes or your top DPS dies early on?

Raid setup is a lot more flexible nowadays and most encounters can be downed by any combination of characters. I have heard that level 60 raid setup required a lot more thought and arguably a different approach from the player to what they could contribute with their class. I often wonder whether a willingness to change roles at the drop of a hat is a long-term satisfying playstyle for hybrid classes. The cons spring to mind immediately. Two healers just went down; you the boomkin needs to heal, while the feral waits for an opportune moment to combat resurrect the tree. There goes your rotation. There goes your proc and DPS concentration. There goes the raid’s moonkin aura; the new order of the day is the stress of switching mental gears and trying to find your healing spells in order to keep the raid up. Your place on the DPS meter – sixth of ten. Yet again. Nevermind.

That shouldn’t matter of course – you have just saved the raid from a potential wipe: congrats, have a pat on the feathery back. Now get back to eclipsing.

Having a pivotal role in averting a wipe can be hugely satisfying. I would bet, though, that many hybrids find it wearisome to keep doing so. Speccing into a particular role means that you enjoy doing that and intend to do your best at it. A player constantly carrying the hybrid "millstone" may find that they don’t meet their own spec specific targets or feel that they are achieving their best. It can also be argued that WoW is a more competitive place than it used to be and many players no longer look deeper at performance than your DPS done during a fight, no mind that you spent half of it healing. That, too, can lead to friction in a group and for some players a disinclination to perform hybrid tasks or play that character at all – these are things which should be watched by both the player themselves and a prudent raid leader.

That said I believe that successful hybrids are still prized raid members. if you can perform whatever is needed without a moment’s notice then you may get a reputation as reliable and a quick thinker – attributes likely to get you a spot in the raid as much as the top DPSer of your guild. And wearisome though the millstone may be, it’s there as a reminder that you’re playing one of the most situationally flexible classes in WoW and that there are always new tricks to learn for a jack of all trades. What do you think? Do hybrid players play their classes as well as they could? Do you as a hybrid enjoy being pulled from pillar to post? Do your hybrid raiders matter more as flexible players or solid DPSers?

Healing Crusader’s Coliseum: Faction Champions

faction-champions

Back from Blizzcon and now well rested. Got some pretty cool announcements coming up. I’m working on a very special project right now that I’ll disclose later.

Anyway, I’ve gotten several requests for tips on Faction Champions.

And it’s just going to be that: Tips. The same day I touched down at Vancouver, it was back to business in the raid machine. After blitzing through Northrend Beasts and Lord Jaraxxus, it’s time to check out Faction Champions from a healer perspective.

Not a traditional fight

This is the key. There is no such thing as aggro management or threat on this encounter. This is an extremely chaotic, fast paced, arena-esque fight. Players that dual spec into PvP may even wish to consider doing so for extra survival or abilities. Your raid group is going to be facing off against 10 champions of the opposing faction (6 on normal). They’re selected from a random pool of NPCs.

  • Death Knight
  • Balance Druid
  • Resto Druid
  • Hunter
  • Mage
  • Holy Paladin
  • Retribution Paladin
  • Healing Priest
  • Shadow Priest
  • Rogue
  • Caster/Healing Shaman
  • Enhancement Shaman
  • Warlock
  • Warrior

Ones in bold are your raid’s targets of interest. Isn’t it rather odd that they’re all healers?

Execution

It’s difficult to provide an exact outline of what your group has to do. The best I can provide is a general guideline. Go ahead and move your group under the Alliance (or Horde) section first before activating the NPC. It’s a good idea to take stock of what class combination you’re group is going to be facing so that crowd control can be used accordingly.

In most cases, our raid group initially crowd controls every NPC as much as possible other than healers. For example, this week we had a healing Priest, the caster Shaman along with the Holy Paladin. We opted to zero in on the Shaman first. Our Warrior tank started working on the Holy Paladin just by keeping him locked down and interrupted. Placing a Rogue or 3 on the Priest is also a nice idea.

Our basic mentality is that if we run down the healers first, then the other NPC’s are a cake walk. The next dangerous Champion after healers is the Rogue based on the speed at which it can kill a target.

This is an endurance fight. Expect to invest around 10 minutes from start to finish. Each NPC has around 2.4 million health (some have 1.9 million).

Communication is extremely important here. If you’re being pursued, say something. Someone might be able to jump in and snare or CC a Champion.

General class tips

  1. Keep the melee NPC’s busy as much as possible.
  2. Death Knights should defensive Death Grip Rogues, Warriors, Ret Paladins, and Death Knights away from the raid and slow them down. Minimize their movement with slows and stuns
  3. Typhoon and Thunderstorm intelligently. Again, use them defensively to keep NPCs away from your healers.
  4. Drop a Fear Bomb if multiple NPCs are closing in on someone.
  5. Crowd control incurs diminishing returns. Example, after casting 3 Polymorphs on one Champion, it’ll become immune to Polymorph. Spread that CC out.
  6. Offensive Dispels are a virtual requirement. Shamans should be Purging, Priests should be Dispelling. Things you want to get rid of are Druid HoTs and Shaman Earth Shields.
  7. If you have a PvP Trinket, consider equipping it for the fight.
  8. Heroism/Bloodlust on the initial pull. The sooner you kill an NPC or 2, the easier it becomes.

For Priests

As a Priest, my limited arena training has taught me two important skills: Running and healing. If you can manage to run and heal at the same time, you’ll be in good condition. I mainly stuck to firing off blind Mass Dispels (targeting an area with a lot of traffic and hoping it connects) and specific single target Dispels. Keep Shields active on players who get focused and are soft. Don’t bother with mana burning or mind controlling.

Use Psychic Scream everytime it’s available. Just run into a crowd and drop the fear bomb.

Your first priority is to keep yourself alive. If you have to run, drop what you’re doing and run. This isn’t exactly a fight where you can sit there and just grind heal your way through.

Use your defensive cooldowns liberally. Pain Suppression and Guardian Spirit will save lives. After I see a big spike on someone, I’ll drop a cooldown on them. If I see 3 Champions close in on a player, I’ll drop a cooldown on them. If I get death gripped, I’ll crap my pants then use a cooldown on myself (No joke. That Death Knight is a pain).

For Druids

This is just from me watching Sydera. Hopefully she’ll chime in here at some point. I’ve seen Druids use their Cyclone in between healing on various NPCs. Reserve Roots for melee NPCs if they’re chasing after people. Go cat form to put distance between you and Champions. If you’re out of tricks, it’s bear form until the Champion gets peeled off you.

For Paladins

Platewearers are usually durable in this one. Have the Hammer stun ready and use it when the cooldown is up. Hand of Sacrifice or Divine Sacrifice and follow it up with a Paladin bubble to help out the raid. The Champions are smart enough to occasionally focus fire on one target.

For Shamans

I reconfigured my totem setup to include Earthbind, Cleansing, and Grounding totem. Every so often, I’d run into a crowd and drop them all down again. Really aware Shamans will know to keep a healer focused and Wind Shear to help with the interrupting process. Bonus points if you can squeeze off Frost Shocks on a Champion who is chasing someone. Do all that while healing, and your raiding group will love you.

Hope this helps! Feel free to comment below with any extra tips or tricks in general or against specific Champions.

Good luck!

Holy and Disc Too Costly for Dual Spec

At least, those are the conclusions I’ve reached when I tried it.

On Monday night, the Conquest raiding crew was getting hammered by Kologarn. We simply could not heal raid damage of that magnitude. Some assignments were changed around and I activated my dual spec to Holy to see if I could help alleviate some of the stress.

But alas, to no avail. Being specced Holy and geared for Discipline means you rocket through your mana insanely quick. My mana pool lasted about 2 – 3 Right Arm deaths on Kologarn before I ran out of tricks. Pots used, Shadowfiended, and Hymns were already used. This is just because of the way my augments are setup. I don’t have enough Spirit gems and enchants. It’s too costly and too much of a hassle to augment when I need to switch to Holy.

So it is with a heavy heart that I used my (free) talent refunds on Tuesday. I set aside talent 1 for Discipline and talent 2 for Discipline.  The basic structures were the same. Some points were allocated differently and there were a few minor changes to glyphs.

  Endurance Disc AoE
Spec 53/18/0 54/17/0
Major Glyphs Flash Heal
Hymn of Hope
Penance
Power Word: Shield
Prayer of Healing
Penance
Minor Glyphs Fading
Shadowfiend
Shadow Protection
Fading
Levitate
Shadow Protection

Endurance

The deal with Endurance spec is that you’re trying to stretch your mana pool to go even further than before. This involves talenting into Improved Healing for the 15% mana cost reductions to Greater Heal, Penance and Divine Hymn. The glyphs also represent the endurance method with Hymn of Hope and Flash Heal. If your Shadowfiend manages to die, you still get some mana back rather than none. This would be more of a progression spec, I think. In case your raid group loses one or two healers, the idea is that your mana supply can hold and last long enough while you compensate for their deaths until they get Rebirthed or until the boss dies. Out of the upper level Disc talents, Grace is one talent where I felt 1 talent point might be enough to maintain the buff considering the amount of heals you’ll be dumping on the tank anyway.

Disc AoE

With Disc AoE, you’re still going to be focusing on one or two key tanks. But on fights with enormous amounts of AoE damage, you won’t be locked out entirely. Your fast Shields should be placed quickly on players who have taken damage. Your Prayer of Healing adds a HoT effect. At least you won’t be as handicapped during Tympanic Tantrums or anything like that.

This is the result of my experiences in Ulduar so far. It’s still going to be subject to some more tweaking.

Ulduar Caster Weapons and Tier Gear: A Primer

Here’s a list of all spellcaster related weapons that drop from Ulduar. Items are sorted in the rough order of progression that raiding groups will be going in. I linked all currently known spellpower weapons and off hands so that your raid group can get a general idea of what item to go for and what items are better off in the hands of other players along with the rough order they will appear in. It seems heroic mode drops slightly more weapons. Loot tables for some of the bosses are still unknown at this time (like Yogg-Saron and Algalon). Read the bottom of the post for a theory of tier gear drops.

Heroic Mode weapons

Weapon Weapon Type Source
Overcharged Fuel Rod OH (Spell hit) Flame Leviathan
Intensity 2H Staff (Spell hit) Ignis the Furnace Master
Scepter of Creation Wand (Spirit) Ignis the Furnace Master
Guiding Star 1H Mace (MP5/Haste) Razorscale
Quartz Crystal Wand Wand (Spell hit) XT-002 Deconstructor (Hard mode)
     
Rapture 2H Staff (Spirit) Iron Council
Ironmender OH (Spirit) Kologarn
Runescribed Blade 1H Sword Auriaya
The Lifebinder 2H Staff (Spirit) Freya
Staff of Endless Winter 2H Staff (Spirit) Hodir (Hard mode)
Scepter of Lost Souls Wand (Haste/Crit) General Vezax

 

Normal Mode Weapons

Weapon Weapon Type Source
Firesoul MH Sword (Spell hit) Flame Leviathan
Plasma Foil 1H Dagger (Spirit) XT-002 Deconstructor
Pulsing Spellshield OH (Shield) XT-002 Deconstructor
Stormtip 1H Dagger (Spirit) The Iron Council
Nurturing Touch Wand (Spirit) Auriaya
Pulse Baton 1H Mace (MP5) Mimiron
Unraveling Reach 2H Staff (Hit) Freya
Icecore Staff 2H Staff (Spirit) Hodir
Ice Layered Barrier OH Shield (MP5/Haste) Hodir (Hard mode)
Pillar of Fortitude 2H Staff General Vezax

Tier gear

All we know right now is that Mimiron drops tier 8 gloves. I’m assuming Yogg-Saron either drops the chest or the helm. I have a sneaking suspicion the other 3 Titans (Freya, Hodir, Thorim) drop the other 3 tier 8 pieces. My theory is unconfirmed, however. But I think it’s a decent assumption that the 4 titans along with the “end” boss of the instance are the ones that drop the tier pieces.

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!

Guardian Spirit Works on Kel’Thuzad

Derevka from Tales of a Priest asked me to issue a World of Matticus all points bulletin:

8:50 PM Derevka: word to the wise, Kelthuzzad CAN be buffed with Guardian Spirit while you are MC’d. We had 10 seconds of “OMG DONT KILL HIM!”

For those of you unaware, if you kill a subject with the Guardian Spirit buff active, they gain 50% of their health back. For most of us, 50% is no big deal. But if you’re sporting a bajillion health, 50%’s a pretty honkin’ big deal that would make Howie Mendel proud.

So if you’re on the last legs of the encounter and a Holy Priest get’s MC’d, make sure you CC him like crazy. If he gets the wings off, try to break it with a Purge or Dispel.

As Wyn always tells me, you can’t spell success without CC!

10 Seconds with Sartharion 3 Drakes

I’m the type of player that likes to relentlessly playback previous events (or wipes) in my head. I try to see if there’s anything I can do better from my perspective or anything I should have done differently. Here’s a 10 second mentally recalled highlight reel moment of a time that happened all too often.

We run a 6 healer setup and I’m the only one on the Sarth tank.

0:00

Vent call: Firewall, move!

*Casts Shield, Renew, and dives narrowly avoiding a wall*

0:02

Vent call: Vesperon landing!

*Casts Penance*

0:04

Sarth tank: I have the debuff!

*Casts Flash Heal*

0:06

*Casts another Flash Heal*

0:08

His attack animation stopped and he’s raising his head.

WAIT! HIS HEAD IS RAIS-!

0:10

Sarth tank: I’m down!

Reflections

Thankfully, that was just earlier on in the night. After I settled in more and got into the groove, I was able to get my timing down perfectly. The problem with me was that I ended up being off in my timing.

The timing was off enough to get our tank 1 shot.

But I managed to fix it. I figured that I was zoomed in too close on my character that I had to adjust my camera more to keep my sights on Sarth. That took up precious time and added increased risk.

I managed to solve it by maxing out my camera distance so that no matter where I ran, I’d still be able to keep an eye on his head.

FYI

I use his head as an indicator for when he’s about to breathe. When he tilts back, that’s the time to use the Pain Suppression.

What’s killing us

We lose 1 or 2 people to void zones in the beginning or to a Firewall. There is a bit of inconsistency. Some attempts, the raid group is able to blast through the first drake with no problem. In other cases, people are just getting sloppy or we have bad lag luck (like a player dying to a void even though they’re 15 yards away from it).

The second problem occurs when the third drake lands. Players are killing themselves. Going to see if that can be fixed by having Paladins “tactically bubble” at certain times to lessen the overall raid damage with that Shield talent thingy.

As for me, the 10 attempts where the raid lived long enough for Vesperon to touch down, I was able to squeeze off Pain Suppression fast enough for 7 of them.

That’s a 70% save percentage.

Not good enough Matt. Not good enough.

Single Target Healing in a Multi Target World

Single Target Healing in a Multi Target World

986801_75906617

This is a guest post by Holy Paladin and Disc Priest blogger Ambrosyne of For the Bubbles

By the time I dinged 80 with my paladin, I was about ready to throw in my hat.  "This is insane!" I huffed.  "I feel as if Blizzard hates holy paladins." 

This is likely an exaggeration, but I’m a dramatic soul.  Regardless, let’s take a look at what pushed me to this point.

Aoe damage.  Wrath instances seem to have a lot of it.  Sometimes it’s just masses of mobs, some of which inevitably peel off try to eat the overzealous mage.  There’s also cleaves and whirlwinds and poisons thrown everywhere and rain of fire and blizzards and mojo puddles… 

Sometimes it seemed as if taking heals off the tank for even a heartbeat resulted in a wipe.  Most instances ended up sending my mind into chaos.  Peeking into it you might have seen something like this:

“Aaaah! Poisons everywhere I need to cleanse them!”
”OH MY GOD THE TANK IS DYING!”
*heals the tank”
“OH MY GOD THE DPS IS DYING!”
*heals the DPS”
“OH MY GOD THE TANK IS DYING”
*dies*

The only good thing to come out of this (aside from the fact that I decided to roll a priest) was that I learned very quickly to make the most out of a holy paladin’s limited arsenal.

How A Holy Paladin Can Cope

Beacon – Sweet, so I can heal TWO targets at once with a semi-expensive spell that only lasts a minute!  Sadly a group has five people in it, but we do what we can. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love beacon.  I just wish I could make it magically expand to the entire group.

In a five man you’ll often beacon the tank while topping off the DPS.  This works fine, except on longer fights where beacon seems to eat up your mana, and on fights where the tank is taking really heavy hits.  Beacon alone will not keep the tank up.

Sometimes I’ll beacon myself while healing the tank, if we’re talking something really not fun like the mojo puddles in Heroic Gundrak.  

Learn to predict incoming damage – This is easiest if you run with the same tanks all the time and come to know their gear and play style, but just being familiar with their class and the boss can be enough.  When I deemed it ‘safe’, I would judge for haste, toss a holy light on the tank so that he was at full, and then quickly throw Flashes at the DPS to keep them alive.  They might not have been at full health, but they were still alive.   If I guessed correctly, by the time I cycled back to the tank he was a bit lower on health but in no danger of dying before the next Holy Light.  If I had to, I let the rogue die.  Sorry man (I’m kidding!  I let the DPS warrior die).

Sacred Shield – In most cases, you don’t need to be afraid of rage or mana starving the tank.  The additional flash of light crits are great, and the damage absorption means you have less to heal!  Don’t be afraid to toss it on yourself, either, if you have the bad tendency to get healer tunnel vision.  Or if there are mojo puddles.  I hate mojo puddles, by the way.

Grab the Holy Light glyph – The splash heal sure as heck can’t hurt.

Holy shock - It’s expensive, it has a cool down, but as an "oh no!" button, it’s great.  I have an oh no macro set up for casting divine favor, holy shock, and then flash of light. 

Be adaptable – Don’t get your mind stuck on ‘spamming flash of light’ or ‘spamming holy light’.  Read the situation and use what’s best.  In a raid, forget the meters.  Healing meters suck.  You know what a holy paladin on top of the meters is a lot of the time?  OOM. 

Have patience.  A lot of my problems resolved once I started picking up some gear out of the very same heroics that were making me weep.  There seems to be a gear plateau for the holy paladin at 80, beyond which things become manageable again.  Trust me!  If you raid, that too will make your life easier.  You have someone else healing and as a single target healer this is where you shine.  I just love healing Patchwerk.  I look forward to it every week.  It’s like Blizzard gave me cookies for being a holy pally!

Discipline priests, I have not forgotten you!  You too are considered primarily single target healers, and hey, I have one too.  What, I was frustrated with single target healing so I rolled another one?  Yes!  Guess what: you are not as limited as you think. 

If the occasional tossed renew (no, they’re not that efficient for you; yes, they’re still useful in a pinch) and a bouncing prayer of mending isn’t enough, don’t forget prayer of healing.  If it’s on cooldown, use inner focus first!   I sometimes save inner focus just for PoH.  Use your bubbles and borrowed time to your advantage. 

Hopefully my experiences, as frustrating as they were at the time (and still are-I’m looking at you, mojo puddle), allowed me to share some useful information with you.  Stick with it.  All of Azeroth needs you!

Happy healing!

Image courtesy of barunpatro

An Event Every Guild Leader Goes Through Once in Their Career

An Event Every Guild Leader Goes Through Once in Their Career

fate

At present, my healing corps consists of the following: 2 Priests, 4 Druids, 2 Paladins, and 2 Shamans. Note that both 1 Druid and 1 Shaman are on a part time rotation. I figure that’s more than enough to handle any sort of outages or benches that need to occur.

But a few nights ago, I received an in game mail from one of my Paladins. Let’s call him Wayne.

“Hey Matt, I’ve decided to take a break from WoW until Ulduar comes out. I’ve gotten what I need to prepare myself for it and I don’t want to burn myself too early. Thanks for understanding.”

The feeling I experienced after reading his in game mail could only be described as “disappointment”. Here was a player that had showed up to all of the raids we asked him to do before the holiday break. He was one of the earliest healers we had in the guild. For a time, he was the only Holy Paladin we had in our raids as our other one wasn’t ready to go yet.

Perhaps in this aspect, Loot Council may have failed as we awarded him nearly all the spell power plate gear until our second Paladin was able to join us.

The alternative would have been to shard upgrades to keep him coming for more. My guild and my friends would know that I would never consider that as an option.

Skepticism

Hmm… - I shouldn’t have to question the motives of my raiders. My experience in the game has taught me that there are some legitimate excuses for going on a hiatus and some that make you raise your eyebrow and go “really?”. This is one of those times. I would’ve been more than happy to accept a temporary leave of absence if a player was going out of town. Life does happen and there’s nothing I can do to change that (nor would I).

Conquest is now able to effectively clear out all heroic level content in the game.

Actually, we took down Sarth with 2 drakes up tonight.

And we’re able to do this within 6 hours. I intentionally split this into 2 days of 3 hour raid nights to avoid wear and tear on my troops.

Short term effects

Newsflash – This reduced our number of active healers down to 6 but I plan to rotate the other 2 healers I have on standby as needed. Both myself and my other Priest were both deep Holy. After some consultations and careful consideration, I decided to join Vonya and respec Discipline myself. This means I have to toss out the 16 Spirit gems in my blues and replace them with some Intellect heavy gems (Dazzling Forest Emerald although I probably should’ve used Seer’s Forest Emerald instead, but alas the AH doesn’t always have what you need).

Feel free to check out my character’s armory.

The impact this has on our healer corps is the fact that we are back up to having 2 solid tank healers who are myself and a Holy Paladin. We still have a strong supplement of Resto Druids, Shamans, and another CoH Priest to maintain raid wide heals.

Long term effects

We are down to 1 Holy Paladin. That’s 1 less set of blessings and auras among other things. I know for the time being I am willing to stand pat on my corps. But I would not be against the idea of recruiting another Holy Paladin for part time purposes. I’ve spoken with several around the server, but they’re all interested in a full time raiding and starting position. That’s not something I can promise. I don’t want to say one thing only for them to switch over and find out that I failed to deliver. I try to maintain a record of meaning what I say.

As for Wayne, I’m not going to think about any actions for the present. Those are his choices to make and I have to react accordingly. I can’t help but feel anything else but disappointment right now.

To me, it’s just another day behind the desk.

PS – If you’re a Holy Paladin looking for for a home and not expecting a lot of raiding hours, get in touch with me.

Image courtesy of TouTouke

Warning: Bad Targeting can Lead to Raid Deaths

Warning: Bad Targeting can Lead to Raid Deaths

targeting

"Great ability develops and reveals itself increasingly with every new assignment."

- Baltasar Gracian, The Oracle

I bet this is something not many healers even think about. I’m not here to talk about your raid frames or your raid UIs. They all represent the same thing (health bars).

But a good healer knows better then to simply rely on clicking health bars to heal or to target their fellow raiders.

Targeting methods

There’s two different ways to target your allies.

  • Raid frames: This is the method that just about every healer is familiar with. Simply put, you click on the player’s frame, and you hit the heal button.
  • Heads up: This method involves you directly clicking on the target on your screen. As in selecting their character model. It can take some practice to do. The reason why it’s called heads up is that you have to keep your head “up” on to the screen instead of glued to the frames.

Why should I care about the heads up method?

A fair question to ask. I can easily heal players at will by clicking on their frames, you might say to yourself. But if you keep your head up on the action, you can make an estimated guess as to who the next person to get hit will be. Or give the impression of having really fast reflexes!

It’s like being psychic and being able to to tell the future!

And in the end, being able to predict where the damage is about to go to can only make you a better player. Don’t pigeon hole yourself into using one method or the other. Learn when to use each one.

Allow me to illustrate.

Kel'Thuzad's room, phase 2 with a player ice blocked

This is Kel’Thuzad’s room. Specifically, we’re witnessing yours truly in action during phase 2. See that Ice Block? That is not a friendly one. Any player trapped within loses 104% of their health in 4 seconds. Note that it’s a percent not an absolute.

You have 4 seconds to react. Or else they die.

What’s faster?

Looking for the raid warning, running towards the player, targeting them in raid frames and then healing them? Or targetting the big chunk of ice in the middle of the screen and dumping spell after spell in a desperate attempt to keep them alive?

Your brain takes time to function. Sure we all make split second decisions and react accordingly. But in a situation like this, you take more time waiting for the cue and finding the player in your raid frames as opposed to just clicking the big blue block.

Why is that?

Because the less tasks that are involved in a goal, the faster the goal is achieved. The brain is an interesting part of our physiology and it takes time to “shift” between tasks.

But that’s an extreme example!

Okay, that’s fair enough. I did talk about trying to predict who would take damage and Kel’Thuzad is a bad example of that since it’s nearly impossible to predict ice blocks.

Let’s take a look at Sartharion’s fire walls.

His basic attack is that he sweeps that area from right to left and vice versa with a giant wall of fire that has gaps where your raid can hide.

If you have an absent minded raider or just a really slow person, you can reduce the damage they take. A quick Shield and a Prayer of Mending helps to ensure they live through the worse parts of it. Raid frames can’t exactly tell you that your absent minded raider is about to get slammed with a fire wall. But at least they’ll live through one this time due to your diligence.

Practice, practice, practice!

For some players, targeting heads up can be difficult. Perhaps their mouse sensitivity isn’t high enough or its too low. Maybe their screen resolution doesn’t allow for enough room. Maybe you just don’t have enough real estate or open room to click on stuff.

But trust me when I say that it is an awesome skill to learn to be able to run and gun heal your party. Practice healing while moving. Practice it from different zoom settings. Try it with the zoom as far away as possible and click on the little dots that is your party. Learn to work the mouse to angle around large player models or objects. PvP battlegrounds is a great place to practice heads up healing since you can tell who’s about to engage players within your area.

Try to activate health bars by pressing Shift V. This allows you see the health of your party as the bar is located above their characters in game.

Be diverse as much as possible in your targeting methods and you will go a long way toward being the best you can be.

Image courtesy of theRIAA