A Must-Read for the Cataclysm Player

Needless to say, I’ve been enjoying a nice little break from WoW before Cataclysm. Spent time with family for Turkey Day, beat Mass Effect (never played it before), and I’ve been looking forward to the new expansion for the WoW TCG–not for the loot card but to actually enjoy the game.

I came across a great post on the MMO-Champion forums which let me reminisce about my original post here when I was still a guest. I’ve tried to focus a majority of my blogging on how everyone can help each other. The name of the guild I’m in is Team Sport, and that’s what I believe this game is. Hence, when I read the forum post by Daetur, I felt like a proud father. Not because I had any direct impact on him/her but because it goes along with everything that I believe this game should and could be. Instead of making a small link to it in the midst of this text… I’m going to make sure you don’t miss this:

DAETUR’S CATACLYSM FORUM POST

Daetur discusses what each player (Tank, Healer, DPS) can do to ensure the success of any dungeon or raid. He takes the stance that many of us have gotten “complacent” in WotLK with regard to raiding and dungeons. Through my experience, I have to say I agree. We’ve come to expect AoE’ing down 3 packs of mobs, healing through debuffs, and risking death to get a few more casts in. According to Daetur, we’re in for a rude awakening. I’m excited! A few things he mentions:

  • CC is key. We are going to need to CC mobs, and avoid breaking them at all costs.
  • Defensive cooldowns are key all around. Tanks, Healers, and DPS are going to need their cooldowns to help stay alive.
  • Healers need to manage their mana, since it’s now at a premium and no longer infinite.

I can’t help but feel like the whole thing meant to make the job of the healer’s more manageable. Well, it’s true. The goal of any fight is to kill them before they kill you. We may be able to burst to high hell, but if we can’t stay alive doing it, then what’s the point? I’m already bracing myself for the backlash of the “uninformed”: “L2Heal noob.” We no longer live in a world of invincibility. Everyone is reponsible for helping everyone else stay alive and do their job easier.

Remember, I only lightly summarized the forum post by Daetur. I implore you to please read the entire post. You may not disagree, and all of it may not be pertinent to you, but you’ll know what everyone is up against in Cataclysm. Help each other out.

In Defense of the New Tree of Life

In Defense of the New Tree of Life

When Blizzard first announced the changes they were making to Tree of Life in the upcoming expansion, the Druid community experienced its own mini-Cataclysm. The main gripe seems to be more about the loss of another “true” Druid form, than it is about the mechanics of the talent. The reasoning behind the Dev’s decision  is that being one of the maybe two capstone abilities for Resto Druids, Tree of Life was pretty boring. Yes, it gave you a new form, but the benefits of the talent in its Wrath iteration read like a list of lower tier talents. Assuming the math supports the Blue’s statements, the reduced mana and increased healing it offers only bring us in line with other healing classes. Not really the huge benefit you expect from a must have talent.

The new version of Tree of Life as it is in the beta, including the recent announcement that the snare is probably being removed, provides quite a few situational uses for Resto Druids, and makes the talent far more useful and class defining than before. First, lets take a look at what the new talent brings to the table:

Tree of Life:

Shapeshift into the Tree of Life, increasing healing done by 15% and increasing your armor by 120% but reducing your movement speed by 50%. In addition, some of your spells are temporarly enhanced while shapeshifted. Lasts 45 sec. 5 minute cooldown. Enhanced spells: Lifebloom, Wild Growth, Regrowth, Entangling Roots, Thorns, Wrath.

Enhanced Spells:

Wild Growth: affects 2 more targets
Regrowth: instant cast
Lifebloom: 2 applications of Lifebloom
Entangling Roots: instant cast and increase damage by 200%
Wrath: cast time reduced by 50% damage increase by 30%
Thorns: not yet implemented

The first change may not be apparent in the tooltip. The 15% increase to healing should be a larger boost than what you are currently seeing in Wrath, due to the fact that Druid healing power is being brought closer in line with the other classes without Tree of Life figured in. Because it is now a cooldown, the healing bonus can have more impact than if it was a passive bonus like the current live version. But the most obvious, and interesting, change is the enhanced spells. Not only do some our healing spells benefit from this, but some Balance spells as well.

Where I think that the new version really shines is how many different uses I can see for it. It truly went from a set it and forget it toggle, to a spell that can give you different advantages depending on when and how you use it. I really see it adding

Playing Catchup

The most obvious way I see Tree of Life being used, is as a way to catch up when massive damage or some other raid situation causes you to fall behind in healing. The ability  to heal extra Wild Growth Targets, complete a 3 stack of Lifebloom much faster, and cast Regrowth instantly, all combine for a very powerful boost to your healing when damage gets out of control. This also seems to apply to both raid and tank healing, assuming Druids are healing in Cataclysm the way the devs have been describing.

Healing On The Move

Druids are already known for being good healers on the move, but this makes us even better. By using this cooldown in high movement situations, you will add Regrowth to your instant cast arsenal, while also increasing the effectiveness of Lifebloom, and hitting more targets with Wild Growth. While the design of Cataclysm raids will determine how often you will use Tree of Life in this manner, I am sure there will be plenty of times that you are the only healer capable of truly healing on the move. This should be a good way to make up for other classes deficiencies in this area.

Damage Boost When You’re Not Healing

One of the design trends for healers in Cataclysm seems to be dealing damage when your not healing. So the bump to a few of our damaging abilities is in interesting touch. Now I am not saying this is an effective use of your cooldown in most raid situations. However, in times in which you outgear content, or in 5 man dungeons where it is not necessary to have the increased healing every boss, this can give us a nice DPS bump. I see this as more of a fun way to use the cooldown, but who knows what Blizz has in mind for the new raids.

Arenas/Battlegrounds

Arguably there is no area of the game better suited for situational abilities than Arenas and Battlegrounds. Where this talent truly benefits you in PVP is with its flexibility. Especially with the removal of the snare component taking away the one drawback that would keep you from using it in PVP. Lots of team members taking damage in a 5v5? Pop it and go to town with your raid healing spells. Someone being focused fired? Use it for the extra boost that can often be the difference between winning and losing. Got that last opponent on the ropes and want to help finish them off? This is a perfect time to cast Tree of Life and spam your enhanced Wrath.

In the end the beauty of the new Tree of Life is all its nuances and flexibility. Find the right time and way to use it will be a challenge at first, but in the long run you will gain far more benefit form it than the current design. As far as the loss of a true Druid form goes: Is it really worth it to lose a great spell, just because we don’t want to heal in our ugly caster forms? I hope the answer for most players is no.

Epiphanize is the co-host of the Raid Warning Podcast and is currently leveling a Druid in the Cataclysm beta as well as playing one as his main.

Without a safety net

Without a safety net

For as long as we play this game, no matter how much changes there are things that will always stay the same. Standing in fire is generally bad (there have been very few exceptions to this and the exception does not make the rule). Cleave and Whirlwind are not things you should stand next to. Don’t break the sheep, and my favorite, always blame the hunters. These are simple truths that we have come to accept as we’ve played the game.

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately in the Cataclysm beta recently. I’ve leveled Lodur to the current level cap 3 times now (once as resto, once as elemental and finishing out the one as enhancement) and some of these simple truths are being expanded and brought back to the forefront. In Cataclysm, the developers have a goal to make healing harder and more involved. Our healing spells hit for slightly less than one would expect and mana is at a premium.

You see, previously healers have had an excess of mana either through large base mana pools, stacking MP/5 or getting high returns from intellect and talents. With mana flowing like water, healers have been able to compensate to a certain extent for players who “stand in the bad”. Now, it does not mean that no one died. There are still plenty of things that will kill a person flat out if they aren’t paying attention, but some feel that the game has become far more forgiving than it was in the days of Vanilla WoW.

By making healing harder in Cataclysm, they are doing something they moved away from inadvertently over the course of two expansion. They are placing the burden of living squarely on the entire group, and not just leaving it to the healer to be the sole life-line. I’m not saying healers shouldn’t be trying to heal, but rather just stating that the game is changing. Let’s break it down to the core components in play here as provided to us by the developers;

  • Mana is a concern for healers
  • Healers will be focusing more on triage
  • Fights will be longer
  • Situational awareness will be a factor again with a lot of avoidable damage
  • It will be less about brute force and more about survival and finesse

That is just the short list, since things are constantly changing in the beta.

Mana being a concern and the focus being more on triage is a big thing. Right now healing sort of devolves into whack-a-mole frantically trying to keep everyone up. Come cata however, healers will have to make judgment calls as to how to prioritize heals in order to conserve mana and maximize healing benefit to the group.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. In the Throne of Tides (one of the new 5 players dungeons in the next expansion) the very first boss has a spout / geyser like ability that she forms underneath her. The tank and melee need to move out of this before the ability triggers, or they take a lot of damage. Healing this, I had the tank and a rogue stay in the “void zone”. The tank and rogue both took a massive amount of damage. The rogue was JUST far enough away from the tank to be out of Chain Heal range so I had to decide to drop the nuke heal on the tank or the rogue. Needless to say I picked the tank. The rogue died immediately after my heal landed on the tank (1.7 second cast time for those interested). Had either the rogue or the tank moved out of the ability, neither would have died as I wouldn’t have had to decide who got healed and who did not. A little situational awareness would have gone a long way here.  The boss also spawns adds that need to be tanked and dealt with. One of the ranged wasn’t paying attention and wound up proximity aggro-ing two of the mobs and he was dead before I could even cast a single heal on him. We wiped it after that and tried again, but you can see how paying attention counts for a lot there.

This same fight, at about the 2 minute mark I noticed my mana reserves getting low. The damage throughout the fight was pretty steady, but people not paying attention caused me to burn a lot more heals than I would have liked. The fight in total lasted about 4 minutes or so, but in that 4 minutes I had burned a mana potion, my Mana Tide Totem and ended the fight with around 5% mana. It was a bit of an eye opener. I was forced to figure out which heal was appropriate for what damage in order to conserve as much mana as possible, and had to make decisions on when it was safe to let the tank take a couple extra hits before casting a heal. Spam healing to keep everyone at max just doesn’t work anymore.  Keep in mind this is a normal 5 man dungeon not heroic, and I entered this with ilvl264/277 ICC25 gear. It was refreshing and scary, but not at all impossible. Now this will likely change in the raiding end game, but I wonder how much. The encounters in normal dungeons are already shaping up to be more involved than being simple tank-and-spanks, and one can only hope that the learning curve for endgame will continue along that path rather than decline. After my first run though it got easier, and I ended with more mana, but that is in part because the groups did everything they could to avoid damage and make my job easier. That in turn made it easier to heal through the “oh shit” moments.

Now, what does this have to do with non healers? Well to get to the point of my post, my guild constantly reminds players to “help your healers out”. This means avoiding the bad (looking at you here defile!). We expect the healers to heal and do their jobs well, but we expect all the other players to help themselves stay alive. Use potions or health stones, move out of fire, run to your linked partners on Blood Queen, stay vigilant and react quickly. This is not an uncommon sentiment, but some people seem to think they can stand in the fire and squeeze out one more attack while the healer keeps them up. In Cataclysm if you aren’t paying attention and don’t react to the bad things happening around you, it is very likely you are going to die regardless of how skilled your healer is. With all this going on, it becomes more about surviving for as long as possible in a fight. After all you can’t DPS if you’re dead right? So this means when you see a Healing Rain or Lightwell going down, it will be your responsibility to get to it as much as it is the responsibility of the healer to make sure it is placed optimally. It means managing your threat to make sure you don’t gank and doing things to keep the damage you take at a minimal level even if it means stopping what you’re doing for a few moments to stay alive. You will need to do it. It really seems to be shaping up to have more individual accountability by virtue of taking away what I like to call the “Healer Safety-Net”.

If the trend continues into raids, healers simply will not be able to compensate for bad decisions or poor situational awareness. They wont be able to heal through all the damage being done. Instead it will take coordination of the entire group, people paying attention to their environment and an understanding that the game has become dangerous again. We’ve gone from killing boars to resurrecting gods. The stakes have been raised and we will all have to adapt.

So remember to help your healers out, because it looks like that safety net is going away.

10 Reasons People Don’t Heal

10 Reasons People Don’t Heal

I love healing. I have four healers, three of whom I play fairly regularly. I tend to be automatically drawn to healers in games. I’d shift out from Bookin and throw heals if the group’s dying. As plate DPS I run around telling people to stay still so I can bandage them.

Heck, in Team Fortress I default to the medic when my team’s limbs are flying freely.

But I know a lot of people who avoid healing like a Lich-bourne plague. Curious, I asked a few of them why it wasn’t their cup of tea, and thought back over some of my more negative experiences as a healer. I’m sharing these thoughts to see if anything rings true with you, whether you heal or not.

10. Visuals. Mostly we get to watch lil’ boxes rather than the pretty moving pictures on the rest of the screen. I’ll give that a moment to sink in. We don’t actually see the game we’re playing and paying for, whenever we’re healing in a group situation, just some bars going up and down. I can see why people wouldn’t want to watch that all the time. (Tho settling into the ‘healzone’ and watching those boxes can also be a reassuring balm for a healer. Or maybe that’s just me.)

9. Reaction based. Playing a healer requires you to think fluidly rather than do the same things over again, like DPS rotations. While this might be great at times it can also be daunting to commit to constant thinking in a ‘relaxing’ game. Not only that but healing’s very reaction based – current content tends to require quick twitch reactions both on plain ol’ healing and getting out of yon fiery goo. Those reactions aren’t something some people have permanently at their fingertips.

8. Personal preference. I believe there is a “role” in everyone. Some people ARE healer players. Some ARE tanks or DPS. What you play is obviously personal preference. But if you’re getting uppity when playing your feral cat character because you’re finding the rotation an absolute nitwibble, perhaps you’re unlikely to go for another stressful role – healing – as a change.

7. Perfectionism. I suspect a lot of healers are perfectionists. Deep down, we like to succeed in keeping everyone in tip-top shape. I don’t know about you but if people die from anything other than a one-shot, my thought is usually “I could have done better.” Even if that person died while I was a jot busy, like avoiding adds while jumping out of fire and cleansing a ticking disease. And healing the main tank who’s being mushed by an enraged boss. I can see some people might like to avoid engaging their inner perfectionist regularly.

6. People are stupid. Healing setups and assignments are things which some non-healers don’t think about and aren’t interested in learning about, whether or not it would help them support their healers and organise  more cohesive groups. The amount of times I’ve been in PUGs which have said “we need 5 healers anything will do” and we get 3 trees, 1 holy priest and an offspec resto shaman and are then expected to heal a Festergut25 attempt… which leads on to:

5. Blame game. Other members of the group tend to look to us healers first if someone dies or things go wrong. Sometimes the blame’s genuinely ours – everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes, in PUGs or randoms particularly, we’re just the easiest ones to blame – people died after all, and that’s what wiped us. Yep. Can’t be anything to do with the hordes of uncontrolled adds chewing healers’ faces off. Other times people aren’t blaming us at all but asking for information on what we saw and because many healers carry the can of blame we can get used to assuming blame anyway. It’s an uncomfortable position.

4. Responsibility. Healers are often put in a spotlight. Your tank healer is standing in the fire and your top DPS has eaten a nasty DoT. Which one dies? If you falter then everyone will die, if you make the wrong decision then everyone will die. Everyone might die anyway. Those decisions can be hefty responsibilities to shoulder and it’s easy to have a rabbit-in-the-headlights reaction.

3. No influence. Think about it. If any tank says “jump down that hole” you jump down that hole. If a healer tells someone to do the same, the healer either gets told to “stfu”, kicked, or a reputation for being mouthy – before they’ve finished the sentence. Even when the other half of the sentence is “…because if you don’t those adds are going to rip out your ey-ohnevermindthen” Ah, the trials of being an unsung hero.

2. “Meh: Lose” situation. Being a healer’s far from win-win; there’s no criteria for personal ‘win’. If people don’t die then you’re performing adequately – at present. If people die, you’ve ‘lost’ or failed. The closest healers get to winning is on healing meters, which amount to superfluous and unfair competition given that different healing classes perform in different ways. The healing puppetry show is far more than “Heals Per Second – that’s the way ter do it!”

1. Mystery. Many gamers are used to “survive by killing that horde of zombies” or “save the world by sticking your sword in Mr. Mwhahahha until he falls over”. Not “save the world by by enthusiastically patching up your group’s assorted grazed knees and bumps on the head.” For players used to the former mindsets and styles, I gather that rolling a healer and then progressing through a game primarily with friendly and defensive abilities is a bit like “now go and live the same life as everyone else does using nothing but a chinchilla for defence.”

Now it’s your turn. I’m curious about this – do you have any reasons to add as to why you or someone you know won’t heal? Do you vehemently agree or disagree with any of these – or are you not fussed either way, given that it’s just a game? And do you think shedding light on these things will get healers a little more respect – if indeed we deserve more?

This is an article by Mimetir, an owl (and resto shaman) of a raid leader on The Venture Co. (EU) You can find my twitter feed here.

Why It’s A Problem That Healers Don’t Communicate in PUGs

The end is nigh.

Healers don’t communicate properly in PUGs. It’s a can of worms waiting to explode in Cataclysm.

WotLK minted many new practices, including PUGing raids. While the level and quality of communication in PUGs has always been unpredictable, there’s been decline in healer communication since the LFD tool was introduced.

People don’t seem to want to engage in communication unless pushed. I rarely see anyone bring up the topic of healing assignments. I usually wait to see if anyone else will initiate communication to sort tank and raid assignments and then organise it myself. The favourite responses vary from “sure”, “just heal ffs” and the particularly fine “lol Apeorsa tht healing setup is so naxx”.

Considering how players might feel these days I’m not greatly surprised at this lack of communication. As the root of group play, random 5 mans are largely to blame. They tend towards brief and impersonal affairs at best and arenas for bullying at worst. Sure, nice runs do happen – but for some there’s little incentive to be nice with strangers they’ll see once. There are no seeds of trust and friendship, and that dearth puts cracks in the foundations we build bigger PUGs on.

I’m sure some healers think communication in PUGs is unnecessary. From their POV, they’re kinda right. Think of a tree – call him Furtree. He’s used to raiding with his guild. Perhaps PUGs just don’t feel the same – he doesn’t get the mutual comradeship and pride he does with his guild. Perhaps VoA25 isn’t the challenge he’s used to in his guild’s ICChardmode runs. He has no reason to show loyalty or effort; he’s only here for a handful of badges to put a minute edge on already spiffy gear.

As a seasoned raider he might have a lack of patience with less experienced healers, or anyone inclined to ‘overtalk’ the situation – he just wants to get through the fast content as fast as possible. Many of us – including me – have been guilty of these at times. We’re slightly bored by now. I’ve even seen healers hiring themselves out as one-man-band progression healers, effectively amputating dialogue and shared learning.

At the other end of the spectrum we have new, struggling, healers. Imagine Timmy the timid priest who’s hit 80 and has blues and 219s. He wants to PUG for kit and badges, but PUGs can be harsh. Timmy’s more likely to be laughed off than invited to PUGs. When he does get an invite to his first ToC25 and the raid wipes to Burning Inferno because the healers didn’t communicate on Incinerate Flesh, Timmy’s may well get the blame.

Healers not talking mean that new healers don’t learn their own versatility in encounters or specifics behind healer setup. Sure, Timmy can read and watch tactics, but there’s an equation for learning encounters you’ve never seen plus how to heal in the first place which doesn’t necessarily = 2, for new healers.

equation2

A lack of teaching and support from other healers could have several effects. Timmy might get bored because the other healers have it covered. Or Timmy may believe all wipes are his fault and he can’t heal. Or he’ll have been given the easiest job and will think he’s brilliant – then he joins a guild and his lack of knowledge sticks out like a sore thumb. All of these can turn a new healer off of healing. There aren’t many of us to start with!

It adds up to a vicious circle in which there’s no incentive to communicate in PUGs. As in random five mans you’re unlikely to see these people regularly. As in random five mans it’s easy to believe you needn’t be loyal to anything but your character’s gear, for various excuses from improving it for guildruns or because you have something to prove. As in random five mans the atmosphere can be of distrust, which increases the chances to wipe when no-one’s healing the tank, and then snipe at each other with Blame Bullets. Frankly, I’ve found that people are grateful and relaxed if you run groups saying there’ll be oodles of communication.

Communication is the foundation of relationships. By not engaging in it any more than necessary healers distance themselves from possible ‘relationships’ in game – be they new friendships or just networking for team members. We should never, ever forget how to socialise in a game we play with other people.

If that’s not incentive enough consider this. Cataclysm is going to challenge us in ways Wrath wasn’t meant to. Healers may face changes to mana and even role setup. We’re going to need to communicate. It may come as a shock; falling into apathetic and uncommunicative habits now is signing our characters’ – and WoW’s – death warrants.

Crucial tweaks to the LFD system – like cross-realm friends lists – would encourage us all to communicate better. Whether or not that happens we can all take responsibility now, in content we might be bored of. Take fresh interest in ‘healing’ the foundations – just by putting a bit more effort in. For The Cataclysm!

I’m not whining; there are positive cases and it’s not all bad. I’m genuinely concerned. Question is -what do you think? Have you noticed a difference in communication or has it not been too bad where you are? Do you think this could turn into a longterm problem or am I doomsaying? Do you think we’ll be flexible enough to adapt out of bad habits?

This is an article by Mimetir, an owl (and resto shaman) of a raid leader on The Venture Co. (EU) You can find my twitter feed here.

Article image2 originally by Tim Trueman @ Flickr

Dragon Slaying 101: Healing Sindragosa 10

Dragon Slaying 101: Healing Sindragosa 10

A few days ago I posted all the tips and tricks I’d heard for killing Sindy on 10 man and some of you then recommended other things I’d not thought of. Thanks for sharing! Some good tips there – feel free to keep adding on the comments – post is here – if you think of anything more.

So we know how to kill the dragon. But how to heal through her onslaught?

She’s got a bit of a grudge against people like you, wandering in and slaughtering her brood. She’s just landed and wants to turn your band of adventurers into a band of red goo on the floor. You’re meant to be healing them through it. What to do? Read on, though I’m going to assume you’ve read the general guide from last week so I’m not going to spell things out: this is purely about healing.

Let’s start at the beginning. Phase 1, where the healing is easy. Why? Quite simply – you won’t be doing much healing.

This might make you wonder whether three healers is too many. I’d recommend having three until your group is really comfortable with the fight. You healers might not have much to do in phase 1 but later on it’s chaotic and there’ll usually be at least one healer unable to heal for a few seconds. Having three healers available makes the chaos a bit more comfortable.

Ground phase critical info:

  • Unavoidable damage: There’s not much. Your main tank will take some damage from Sindy’s physical attacks and Frost Breath. Your raid will constantly take damage from Sindy’s raid-wide Frost Aura. Heal them through it. If you’ve met Lana’thel then compare and be reassured: the damage in Sindy’s encounter will feel a lot less threatening.
    • Class specific tips: most healing classes can make it even less threatening. Shaman, you’ve got frost resistance totem. Paladins, you’ve got Frost Resistance Aura. And Druids – make sure Gift of the Wild is up to give the general boost to resistances.
  • Avoidable damage: There are several colourful ways in which your raiders can get themselves turned into red goo, or at least badly hurt. These things probably won’t happen too often but be ready to heal mistakes.
    • If a player lets their stacking debuffs get too high, they’ll take a chunk of damage. It’s usually heal-able but if it occurs at the same time as another chunk of damage or even a tick of Frost Aura it might be enough to kill them. If you’re a raid leader you could raid warn them to move using a mouse-over-macro (or Vent of course)
    • If people don’t run out of Blistering Cold quick enough they’ll likely be one-shotted or on low health – watch Grid/Healbot as you run from it and be ready to heal anyone who’s a bit slow
    • If DPS don’t watch their aggro as the tank’s threat can be slightly lower here, they’ll die. They’ll also spin the dragon of fortune, possibly killing other people in the process
      • Class specific tip: Discy priests – If a DPS is aggro happy don’t hesitate to pop Pain Suppression on them to give your main tank some breathing space. Likewise – Paladins – if someone’s really going aggro crazy, slap a Hand of Salvation on them.
  • When to heal: If Sindy casts Unchained Magic on you immediately stop casting until the debuff goes away. Your other healers need to cover healing without you until then. You need to do the same for them if they get Unchained Magic. DBM does tell you and place markers on the people who get Unchained Magic but I also recommend letting the other healers know yourself. My healers and I just typed “UM” in party chat if we get the debuff. Then train your dagger or mace skill – the debuff feels like it takes an age to drop.
  • Nothing to do. In the ground phase you may find that no-one needs healing quite often. If that’s the case – and you don’t have Unchained Magic – then perhaps you could DPS a little. I don’t advocate healers DPSing that often but in this case it’s helpful – ideally your group needs to get Sindy to 35% health/phase 2 before a fourth air phases. So throw in a bit of DPS to help get her there, but only if you’re safe to do so.

Air phase healing:

There shouldn’t be any healing in an air phase except at the very beginning and end but people will take damage if they don’t line of sight the ice swirls behind icetombs. Likewise, multiple people may take damage if tombs are broken before all four ice swirls are done. It’s generally easily heal-able. It’s even easier for Paladins who are specced for either Divine Guardian or Aura Mastery.

Be ready to heal people up as they come out of icetombs. The longer they’ve been entombed the more healing they’ll need. Be aware of who’s entombed, too – if it’s the other healers then healing’s solely your task until they’re freed. This makes it doubly important to remain aware of the ice swirls and not get too wrapped up in healing.

Tip: Make sure that players about to be entombed are fully healed: heal them up as they are about to be iced. Shamans’ riptide, Druids’ HoTs and Priests’ Renew should top off their health and keep it there for the first few seconds of air phase.

Phase 2 critical info:

When Sindy hits 35% health she’ll start stacking Mystic Buffet on everyone, which increases their magical damage taken by 20% per stack. Ideally everyone in the raid will reset their stacks by line of sighting Sindy behind an ice tomb – including heparty chat trimmedalers and tank.

First thing’s first. Set up a stack-reset rotation amongst you and the other healers. That is, every time there’s an icetomb two of you should reset Mystic Buffet stacks and heal the raid, and the third healer should stay out to heal the tank, as they will be taking a lot more damage and line of sighting Sindy behind an icetomb also means line of sighting your tank. See the diagram for how my healers organise the rotation.

This rotation can be messed up by a healer being icetombed. If that happens just skip their step and fill in appropriately: for example, if Bob is meant to be healing the tank this turn and Carla next turn, but Bob gets icetombed, Carla stays out this turn to cover tank healing in Bob’s stead.

Your group needs to have only one icetomb up at any point. Be aware where icetomb people are standing before they’re entombed. If they’re standing within 10 yards of you you will also be icetombed. Stop what you’re doing and move away. If you’ve time, yell a warning that they’re standing close to raid members.

Class specific tips:

  • Paladins, you can make this phase easier for your whole healing team. Beacon of Light isn’t affected by line of sight. (Paladins, this is not applicable. Thanks for the correction here folks!)
  • Shaman – this may seem counter-intuitive when the healing’s heavy but if the fight’s got messy and Sindy’s on low health, remember to drop Flame Elemental totem. It’ll help on DPS and you can focus on healing. Likewise, Bloodlust/Heroism should always be in phase 2. The later the better: find the fine line between the fight not being chaotic enough and half the raid being dead.
  • Druids – keep HoTs up on the tanks. Also, practice getting precise on range to icetombs. Ideally be no more than 10 yards away from people about to be entombed, to reduce running time
  • Priests – bubble as many people as you can. Priesties of the holy variety – throw guardian spirit up on the tank. If things are really going down the drain then you might buy some extra time by dying, healing for free and without ouchies as Spirit of Redemption, then popping back up with a soulstone or combat res. Discies – consider throwing Pain Suppression up on the tank if there are no threat issues.

 

That’s it, doc. This is one of those odd fights in which there seems little to do, then suddenly a flurry of mad button pressing. I hope some of these tips have given you a heads up or helped you go the extra seven leagues. I don’t play all of the healing classes inside ICC so feel free to share your expertise in the comments; let’s make these two guides all that dragon slayers could ever need inside Ieccrown Citadel!

What do you think? Have you any tips to add? Do you enjoy healing this fight or do you find it boring? Do you think it’s highly luck based or only skill and awareness based? Do you get annoyed if your teammates turn themselves into red goo and you know you stood no chance of healing it?

This is an article by Mimetir, an owl (and resto shaman) of a raid leader on The Venture Co. (EU) You can find my twtitter feed here.

Rot-Face the Music, People!

Rot-Face the Music, People!

The second wing of Icecrown Citadel has been open for just two lockout periods.  There have been the outcries from all sides:

“It’s too soon!”

“Thank God, it’s finally here!”

“Why can’t we just fight Arthas already?”

But my new personal favorite, has GOT to be:

“Rotface is too hard!”

First, let me go on the record that I’m thankful for fights like these.  I’ve mentioned here before, and also when I’ve guest-hosted on Raid Warning (shameless plug), that I loved bosses back in the BC days.  Fights like Leotheras or Al’ar took coordination, teamwork, and dedication.  I remember the guild I was in never took down Al’ar.  Primarily, we lacked perseverance.  We would spend 3-4 attempts on that bird, and then people would gripe about how hard it was and we’d move onto Loot Reaver, I mean Void Reaver.

My point is that in Wrath, we’ve essentially seen easier bosses in raids.  Yogg was hard, Faction Champions held up a lot of guilds, true.  Aside from examples like those, we haven’t seen any fights in ICC thus far that have resembled the challenging nature of a true raid boss.

Rotface as a challenge?  I welcome it.  I think we, as raiders, get tunnel vision too easily.  Most of the fights have been the following:

  • Switching targets to an add or group of adds
  • Stay out of the stuff on the ground
  • Heal through this bout of incoming damage

Hence, Rotface is a breath of fresh air, even if it’s the leading cause of my healer-rage on any given raid night.  Healers, because of the instances of raid damage, have to step it up.  Any combination of the following mechanics will make for a bad experience:

Mutated infection – [UNAVOIDABLE] The primary mechanic for the fight.  Your choice to cleanse it early, though I wouldn’t recommend it unless your raid is totally on their A-Game.  You have to get on top of this as fast as possible because of the Mortal Strike-styled healing debuff.  When I’m assigned to the mutated peeps, I throw PW:Shield, Prayer of Mending, and a quick Penance to pile on Grace.  It’s better to keep them topped off than just keep them alive.

Slime Spray –  [AVOIDABLE] This is a pain in the butt to deal with if people don’t move out of the way.  At roughly 5k each second, multiple victims make healing rough, especially in the later stages of the fight.  It’s a short cast but on a regular timer, so it’s easy to anticipate.  If you keep your raid clumped behind the boss, a simple run-through to the other side is all that’s needed.  Don’t always assume it’s going to the majority of the raid.  Rotface may target the slime tank/kiter.  I’ve seen attempts almost wipe because people ran right into the spray without thinking.

Ooze Flood – [AVOIDABLE] The standard WoW rule of “Don’t stand in the crap on the ground!”  A lot of raiders claim to be taken by surprise, but I don’t buy it.  Not only do you get an audible warning from Petricide, but you see ooze spouting from the pipes before the flood appears.  At crucial moments of kiting or fleeing the ooze explosion, it’s not impossible to miss these entirely.

Radiating Ooze – [SEMI-AVOIDABLE] The only time anyone should be taking damage from this is the person merging an ooze with the big ooze and possibly the player kiting the ooze.  They’ll take damage from their own smaller ooze, which is less, and then momentarily from the big ooze.  I see too many people run INTO the ooze to try to get it to merge.  In actuality, you just need to get the ooze into the 10 yard radius of the big ooze for it to merge.  Even at that, it’s best to wait until your disease is gone to step into that area.  A near-full ooze will tick for a lot of damage, and a half-heal debuff is horrible to try to work through, let alone the tick from the disease itself.  It’s easy to die to this, even with a lot of healers on you.

Unstable Ooze Explosion – [AVOIDABLE] It’s simple.  It’s like the orbs in Void Reaver, except smaller.  Once the ooze explodes, and not before, you should start running away.  From personal experience, try not to be by the tank when it explodes.  If the tank is caught in about 4-5 of those projectile oozes, he or she is a goner.  Don’t run into ooze puddles, and don’t run near other oozes that are still growing.

—–

I highly recommend that you read and know each of the mechanics that I’ve explained above.  These debuffs and mechanics aren’t just for the healers to heal through but for every raider to avoid.  One or two of them together is manageable, but when you’re consistently not paying attention to the different intricacies of the fight, it just makes my soul hurt.

I know there’s a tendency to just want muscle through some of the fights, but on some of these Icecrown fights, it’s imperative to actually know what you’re being afflicted with.  Your little extra focus can get you through that last 30% that most guilds may be struggling with.

 

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!

Resto Shaman Tier 9 and More!

Resto Shaman Tier 9 and More!

By now I’m sure you’ve all heard about the tier 9 sets that have been released. Unlike Tier 7 and 8, instead of having two different levels of gear, there are three levels.

Conquest (ilevel 232)

Triumph (ilevel 245)

Heroic Triumph (ilevel 258)

This is kind of nifty. It adds more opportunity for raiders of all levels to gain tier set pieces. There is no artwork for it yet, but you can click the link and check the stats. The big thing here is the set bonuses.

Instant cast
Increases the healing done by your Riptide spell by 20%.
Instant cast
Increases the critical strike chance of your Chain Heal spell by 5%.

These might not seem like a lot, but these are quite nice as it stands. Lets take a look at the 2 Piece. Riptide already seems to have received a little buff in it’s healing come the patch but lets use the value of the Rank 4 Riptide and according to the 3.2 talent sheet, the current rank 1 Riptide

The spell has two parts we’ll make the assumption that the set bonus affects both parts. The spell initially hits for 1604 to 1736, a 20% increase on that 1925 to 2083 on the front end. After the initial heal it places a heal over time for 1670. With the set bonus that HoT becomes 2004 over 15 seconds. While that might not seem like a lot consider a couple things. First it’s an instant heal and HoT for Shamans, never a bad thing. The new ranks for the spell haven’t been released yet (that I can find, if you see them please link them to me) so you can imagine those numbers will be higher. Secondly combine the 2 piece with Glyph of Riptide which increases the duration of the HoT by 6 seconds (or with these numbers should be another 800 healing if my math is right) and 2 piece Tier 8 , which lowers the CD of Riptide by a second and you have an instant heal that places a 21 second HoT on your target, and it only has a 5 second cool down. I can see that being extremely useful. Oh, and it still buffs chain heal on the target by 25%.
Let’s take a look at the 4 piece bonus now. Increasing the critical strike change of Chain Heal by 5% might not seem like a lot either, but you have to keep in mind a couple things. Before raid buffs I’m packing close to 27 % crit, maybe more depending on what pieces I am wearing. I suspect the vast majority of the Shaman Healing community falls between 25% and 30% before buffs (cursory glace at armory seems to support that theory) in a raid environment you can already get close to 40% crit. Adding another 5% to that is just insane, it will definitely increase our throughput quite a bit. It will also work hand in hand with changes to Improved Water Shield which now procs off of chain heal without consuming an orb. This will do wonders for our mana regeneration along with our healing throughput.

The newest item I’m probably most excited about though so far is not the Tier 9 set (while it is nice) but we have a new Totem. The Totem of Calming Tides is, quite simply put sexy. When you cast Chain Heal you have a chance to gain 234 spell power for 15 seconds. That is just nice any way you slice it. Combine that with the increased crit chance and the fact we’ll most likely be packing enough haste to have 2 second or sub 2 second chain heals and I suspect more often then not we’ll have the buff. There is no information on proc percentages yet, but it’s still very early in the PTR.  It should also be noted that this so far does not just affect your chain heal spell power, but your overall spellpower, meaning when it procs Earth Shield, Riptide, our various Healing Waves and even Healing Stream Totem will gain a benefit. Personally I can’t wait to get my grubby little Shaman fingers on this one.

Along with the Tier Sets we were provided information for Badge Goggles andBadge Shoulders. While they are pretty good I just find myself hard pressed to get excited about them. Maybe after the models are released for Horde / Alliance.

The new totem and the Tier set fits very nicely with the talent and spell changes for Shamans in the coming patch, you can read my initial thoughts on them Here.

For those who don’t remember here they are again.

  • Call of Air – Simultaneously places up to 4 totems specified in the Totem Bar. Can call different totems that Call of Fire or Call of Water.
  • Call of Water – Simultaneously places up to 4 totems specified in the Totem Bar. Can call different totems that Call of Fire.
  • Call of Fire – Simultaneously places up to 4 totems specified in the Totem Bar.
  • Totemic Call has been renamed to Call of Earth -     Returns your totems to the earth, giving you 25% of the mana required to cast each totem destroyed by Call of Earth.
  • Tidal Waves has been changed to -     When you cast Chain Heal or Riptide, you have a 100% chance to lower the cast time of your Healing Wave spell by 30% and increase the critical effect chance of your Lesser Healing Wave spell by 25%, until two such spells have been cast. In addition, your Healing Wave gains an additional 4/8/12/16/20% of your bonus healing effects and your Lesser Healing Wave gains an additional 2/4/6/8/10% of your bonus healing effects.
  • Nature’s Guardian now give you a 100% chance to increase your maximum health by 15% for 10 sec instead of 50% chance to heal for 10% of your total health. Cooldown increased from 8 second to 30 second.
  • Mana Tide Totem now has 10% of the caster’s health. (Up from 5 health)
  • Nature’s Swiftness now has a 2 min cooldown. (Down from 3 min)
  • Improved Water Shield no longer consumes a Water Shield Orb when you gain a critical effect from your spells, now also has a 10/20/30% chance to proc from Chain Heal.
  • Ancestral Healing now reduces your target’s physical damage taken by 3/7/10% instead of increasing its armor by 8/16/25%.

Looking at those and looking at the set bonus I’m definitely starting to get excited. I’ll report more on it after I get some time in on the PTR, Lodur is transferred over on the PvE server for the PTR and will be getting some play time tonight after my raid and tomorrow for sure. I’ll update this when I get some more information on how the talents are working and how it feels in a raid environment, particularly hard modes.

What do you guys think of the Tier set and the Relic? Are you going to transfer over onto the PTR and try the new talents out? Are you looking forward to hard mode as a Shaman healer?

Until next time, Happy Healing.

Sig

Official 3.2 Patchnotes for Shamans

Official 3.2 Patchnotes for Shamans

Ok so yesterday I posted what the Devs were saying, but now they are officially up on the forums. Lets see what shamans have cooking for the patch and PTR

Shaman

  • A customizable totem bar will now be available for shaman allowing the storing of 4 different totems. These totems can be placed on the ground at once in one global cooldown for the combined mana cost of all 4 totems.
  • All Shocks now have a default range of 25 yards, up from 20 yards.
  • Base health increased by approximately 7% to correct for shamans having lower health than other classes.
  • Chain Heal: Jump distance increased to 10 yards. In addition, the amount of healing now decreases by 40% as it jumps to each new target, instead of 50%.
  • Ghost Wolf: Can now be learned at level 16. While in this form, snaring effects may not bring the shaman below base normal run speed.
  • Talents
    • Enhancement
      • Shamanistic Rage: Cooldown is now 1 minute, down from 2 minutes. Successful melee attacks now have a chance to generate mana equal to 15% of the shaman’s attack power, down from 30%.
    • Restoration
      • Ancestral Healing: The buff from this ability now reduces the physical damage taken by the target by 3/7/10% instead of increasing the target’s armor.
      • Cure Poison and Cure Disease: Combined into a single spell, Cure Toxins.
      • Earth Shield: Dispel effects will now remove charges of Earth Shield rather than the entire aura.
      • Healing Way: Redesigned. Rather than providing a chance of increasing Healing Wave spells on a friendly target, this talent now innately increases the effectiveness of the shaman’s Healing Wave by 8/16/25%.
      • Mana Tide Totem: Totem health now equal to 10% of the shaman’s health.
      • Nature’s Guardian: Redesigned. Now has a fixed 100% proc rate, has a 30-second internal cooldown and increases the shaman’s maximum health by 3/6/9/12/15% for 10 seconds.
      • Nature’s Swiftness: Cooldown is now 2 minutes, down from 3 minutes.
      • Tidal Waves: No longer reduces the cast time of Lesser Healing Wave by 30%. It instead now provides +25% critical strike chance to Lesser Healing Wave, along with the previous 30% cast time benefit to Healing Wave.

Lodur’s thoughts:

Oh my! We knew about the totem bars, and we knew an increase in health was comming. 7% increase will be very nice for our survivability in PvE as well as PvP

Nature’s swiftness – We already knew about but it’s nice to see it in print

Ancestral Healing – Great googly moogly thats awesome. I have to say reducing incomming damage by 10% that’s just amazing! And it scales ridiculously well with content. I mean Disc priests used to only get 3% from grace.  This change has made me excited (I hope this one stays! think of this with chain heal!)

Cure Toxins: With us having Cleanse spirit this change is kindda meh for restoration Shamans, but really awesome for odd PvP specs.

Earth Shield: More of a PvP buff but still pretty slick.

Healing Way: This is very handy. The change to this talent will let you roll your Healing Wave around a bit and I’m certain more people will use it now as a result. Maybe not much more, but a bit.

Nature’s Guardian: Also more of a PvP fix, but I’ve seen some Shaman pick it up for progression fights, which isn’t a half bad idea. The change to it could see more use esepecially in hard mode fights with lots of raid wide damage.

Tidal Waves: A lot of Shaman I’ve been talking to haven’t taken a shinning to this one yet. Personally I think it’s a great thing. The extra crit will let you get Ancestral Healing out there and its a fast heal to begin with. I like this change.

Improved Water Shield: 30% change to be triggered by Chain Heal is nice. Not losing an orb is even better. There have been too many hectic fights where you forget or just can’t spare the GCD to toss Water Shield back up. This takes care of that and lets you keep it up a bit longer, which will help your overall mana regen.

Chain Heal: We new the increase in range as well as the lower number on the healing reduction, but seeing it there is a comfort for sure

I can’t wait to test these out!

*edit*

I forgot to mention the replenishment nerf.

Replenishment: This buff now grants 1% of the target’s maximum mana over 5 seconds instead of 0.25% per second. This applies to all 5 sources of Replenishment (Vampiric Touch, Judgements of the Wise, Hunting Party, Enduring Winter Frostbolts and Soul Leech).

Also at the same time MP5 gear will be getting… more MP5

I do <3 me some MP5

Who wants to do some hard modes? What do you guys think so far?

I’ll update this post as needed, but until then, Happy Healing,

Sig

  • Improved Water Shield: This talent now has a 10/20/30% chance to be triggered by Chain Heal, and the charges of Water Shield are no longer consumed by this talent.