It came from the PUG: Tanks but no tanks.

The life of a healer in Cataclysm is new, exciting, and often times terrifying. The new expansion does something quite well, it makes healing really really hard. Since hitting level 85, I quickly geared up for healing and DPS just in case a guild group had a DPS slot available. Guild groups have been an absolute delight. Coordinating CC, figuring out new mechanics, and having a blast in new content and trying for achievements. Random groups however have been, to be honest here, full of suck.

This is mostly due not to the new healing mechanics, but to the new requirements in CC management and smart tanking. Over the course of the last week, I have queued for random heroics as a healer at least three times a day. This endeavor has met with slightly less mixed results than I would have anticipated. In the vast majority of cases the tank has been the problem. Not waiting for CC assignments or for the CC to go off. Breaking CC early, or to be perfectly honest here, pulling like a jack-ass. Now what I mean by this is that the tank is either pulling multiple groups, not waiting for the healer to have mana, not conserving mitigation cooldowns for when they are needed and generally ignoring any sort of logic or strategic approach. This is what I like to call the “Wrath Tanking Mentality”, which will be referred to from this point on in the post as WTM.

What is WTM you may be asking. Well, it’s the idea that heroics are stupidly easy, and require no forward thinking. That as soon as you reach maximum level, you are ENTITLED to the loot contained therein, and the actual running of the dungeon is merely a formality. This honestly wasn’t a problem the first few days as Blizzard instituted a gear requirement before even allowing people to queue randomly for the dungeons, but as players figured out how to raise their GS early the queues began to get worse and worse. In Wrath it wasn’t uncommon for a healer to just say “go ahead and pull 1/2 of the zone, I’ll be just fine.” or some variation therein. Honestly as a fresh 80 running heroics, very few reports of having difficulty healing existed. In Cataclysm though, it’s all about conserving mana, using the right heal for the job, and having a group that avoids all unnecessary damage while following CC assignments. As a healer you may have experienced this, but WTM is very very strong right now. I fear that the learning curve may actually be too steep for some people. I fear this, because inevitably what these people do is cry the loudest for dungeons to be nerfed, and they are very very quick to blame healers. Let me share with you some lovely examples from this week.

Day 1 of heroic ready healer

Throne of Tides: First boss

The tank was a warrior with LESS hit-points than my healer. My healer clocks in at 106k health right now, the tank only had 105k This was red flag number 1. I would have vote kicked him on the spot for that, but he had a voting block with two other guildies with him. We make it to the first boss through all the trash and it feels like a miracle. The tank seems to be made of paper, until I inspect them and see they are still wearing some ilvl 251 gear mixed in with sub-par greens. How this person got into the instance is a mystery to me at the time, but I go along with it. After all I’m a shaman and made of infinite win right? The first boss has a couple abilities that will tax a healer, and outright kill a stupid DPS. One of these abilities is a geyser that she casts beneath a player. You have ample time to move out of it, but if you don’t it will deal enough damage that it will one shot you. Funny thing here is, the first time she casts it even after being warned what it was, the tank does NOT move out of it and dies. That’s right folks, the tank. His comment “You suck healer you should have healed me through that.” I calmly explain that it is an instant kill and he needs to move off of it, and luckily one of his guildies backs me up on this. He drops the matter. The boss also has a phase where she summons three adds, two casters and a melee. The mage polymorphs one caster and I hex the other, which is pretty much standard operating procedure at this point. The tank, tags ALL three adds breaking the polymorph and the hex. The tank proceeds to die, and I am promptly vote-kicked from the group. Clearly both wipes were my fault. I write it off, tack myself to a guild group and a call it a night.

Day 2 of heroic ready healer

Halls of Origination: First Pull

The tank was much better off than the first one. Also a warrior he had a considerably larger health total, and his gear looked to be on par for heroic content. I was feeling optimistic about this run right until the first pull. This pull consists of five mobs that all do many different things. Usually the group marks 2-3 for CC and burns down the two biggest threats fast while pulling out of line of sight. The tank for this run however, rushed blindly in. No CC went out, and we had none besides my hex that could withstand damage so it was a wipe. Second attempt, someone in the group explains what we need to do, and this time we get our CC’s off . The tank however goes rushing in and dies a fiery death as he runs out of my healing range. Third attempt, the tank rushes in, and drops group as soon as everything is angry with us. Right gear, wrong mentality. I do some random heroics with guildies, call it a night.

Day 3 of heroic ready healer

Grim Batol: First boss

Interestingly enough, I got in this one as DPS. I forgot to uncheck DPS from the previous night’s heroic runs with the guild. We get to the first boss easy enough, I explain the fight on heroic and we engage. The healer, a holy priest, is doing a kick ass job and things are going great. Umbriss kicks into high gear and smears the tank pretty good. We wipe, go back in, tank drops group. We get a second tank and the same thing happens. I ask if he’s saving mitigation cooldowns (which I already know the answer to thanks to oRA3) and the only response I get is that the tank drops group. We get a third tank and the same thing happens. oRA3 in all cases shows me that the tank is just blowing tanking cooldowns at odd times. Times when healing isn’t tight and damage is manageable. This bothers me quite a bit and after three more failed tanks all doing the same exact thing I just call it a night and go to bed.

This continues on for what seems like many, many days. Now, not every experience was bad and there was some shinning hope here.

Day 5 of heroic ready healer

Heroic Deadmines

This was the first time that the group was all from random servers and guilds. No repeats of anything. The composition was a druid tank, me healing, a hunter a mage and a warlock for DPS. A lot of viable CC in this group, and best of all, they all listened. We worked together through the whole instance. For every one of us it was the first time setting foot in it since the change. We looked up encounters, made up our own strategies and fought all the way to the end. The druid was an amazing tank watching my mana closely and knowing when it was safe to pull and when it was time to sit back and take a break. Honestly I was impressed with the way the group was communicating without voice chat and getting along. Through normal conversation I find out that the group is made up entirely of players from the vanilla days who used to raid 40 man content. This is new and exciting to me as recently I’ve been running with “wrath babies” so it was good to reminisce about the good old days. We get to the end, figure out the cookie fight without looking it up, earn a few achievements and then begin the VanCleef event. I call it an event because, well, it is very much so an event and not a boss fight (coincidently, Kudos to you on this one Blizzard, A plus all the way on this fight). We get through a few wipes and then we realize it’s already 5 am and we just can’t keep going anymore. We drop group, but it was seriously the best healing experience I’ve had so far in a heroic, and one that hasn’t been replicated yet.

Long journey, but here’s the short of it. Healing is much harder than it was before. Most healers in my experience are making the transition pretty well thanks to the strong healing community feeding information into the media. Tanking and smart DPS is an entirely different story now. I don’t say this a lot, but right now the fail boat has a lot of passengers. I know there will always be a string of bad runs, or players that haven’t been keeping up on every change, but it feels as though we really do have a lot of players behind the curve.

Is the tanking learning curve too steep? Is WTM too strong after having used it for two years? What experiences have you had as a healer in the LFG system? Have you encountered the WTM a

That’s it for now, I’m going to head back in to the LFD tool with my head up and my mana potions stacked high. I’ll be sure to bring you back some awesome, and awful stories. Until next time, happy healing and may your mana be plentiful.

[POLL] Do you Clear Out Heroic Dungeons?

Lately I’ve noticed an increasing trend when it comes to running heroic dungeons. It usually involves dungeons where bosses can be skipped and the group just collectively decides to skip over it or they decide to take it out. The tank is often the one that decides this. I’ve started asking in the beginning of runs if we can skip optional bosses (like in Halls of Stone) more as a courtesy than anything else.

The geared main

Understandably, the geared main is going to favor an express run over a complete run. When I’m on my Priest, I have no interest in gaining Emblems of Triumph. I’m only in there to to get my Emblems of Frost as fast as possible. If the group wants to take down some optional bosses, I remain indifferent and will do it anyway even though it might take a few minutes of my time.

The undergeared alt

On the other hand, the undergeared alt wants to maximize their “Emblems per hour” ratio. They’ll insist on killing every boss no matter how far out of the way it is specifically for that extra Emblem. They need the armor and the weapons (and other gear). The quickest way to do that is by spending Emblems of Triumph. Perfectly understandable.

Do you make an effort to skip bosses or do you gun for every boss in the instance? Or do you not care and decide to go with the flow of the group?

What Server Should the Guild be Started on?

  • Other (44%, 8 Votes)
  • Earthen Ring (33%, 6 Votes)
  • Nerzhul (22%, 4 Votes)
  • Feathermoon (22%, 4 Votes)
  • Zul'jin (17%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 18

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Your Wish List vs. The Need Before Greed System

Your Wish List vs. The Need Before Greed System

LEWT2

The other week, as a gift to you from us, we each offered to write and discuss a topic of your choice. Here’s what we came up with!

What do you want for Winter Veil? You want to wrap your boomkin snugly in an Ancient Polar Bear Hide or keep your holydin’s toes toasty in a pair of Mudslide Boots? Well you can’t have it.

Bah, humbug.

Patch 3.3 has hit just in time for the winter holidays – a time when a lot of us players manage to squeeze in extra time being a hero and getting shiny treasures. 3.3 brought a sled-load of new toys to play with in game, including the new dungeon finder system and its potential for random group member loot drama. As a result while using the dungeon finder we are all limited to needing only on items of our class’ armour type. You’re a paladin? You roll on plate. Plate, y’hear, no cloth for your healing set. Certainly no leather for you DPS warrior types! It’s not exactly ideal for anyone gearing up.

It’s the Winter Veil equivalent of a pair of socks: practical, but not exactly what you wanted.

What, I hear you cry? The 3.3 patch notes describe it best;

“Need Before Greed will now recognize gear appropriate for a class in three ways: the class must be able to equip the item, pure melee will be unable to roll on spell power items, and classes are limited to their dominant armor type (ex. paladins for plate). All items will still be available via Greed rolls as well as the new Disenchant option should no member be able to use the item.”

I can see the practical sense in this. It removes some arguments about loot before they’ve even begun. The rogue won’t get miffed at the shaman needing on and winning leather melee gear because the shaman just can’t. Likewise, the death knight who is prone to shiny object moments and rolls on spell power items accidentally – just can’t, and won’t have to explain himself to pitchfork wielding casters. Reducing the potential for arguments is a sensible, if slightly cynical, move in a system which promotes meeting random strangers who have no reason to relate to or sympathise with you.

Yet what does that do to your characters? It might be taboo but we all know that paladins do incorporate all types of armour into a healing set, have done since the beginning of the World … of Warcraft. A paladin friend of mine has recently started gearing up for his holy off spec. He would prefer plate items of course, but any type of item with spell power on it is better than healing with defence rating gear. We had the Azure Cloth Bindings drop for us just earlier today – and he couldn’t roll on them. Sure, he’d only have used them as a stop gap until something better and more, well, platey came along. But until then they would have seriously boosted his off spec prospects and none of the actual clothies in the group showed the slightest interest in wanting them anyway.

The only option for my friend, or anyone looking to boost their off spec with drops forbidden by the loot system, is to greed the item and hope that RNG is kind to them and doesn’t shard it for someone else. Or of course to keep running Heroics, waving sadly at these drops, and waiting until they’ve enough badges to get the badge equivalents.

Take another situation. You’re a tree who is so bored you’ve taken root in the middle of Dalaran and didn’t bat a branch when children – sorry, gnomes – covered you in tinsel and shiny lights two weeks ago. You want to do something different. Something fun. You’ve had the cookie-cutter spec for a while, got the gear, done everything you want to do. So you start playing around building your own spec – something hybrid that allows you to heal and CC or DPS without changing spec. Yes, healing and DPS – you know it happens, especially when people are bored. And Heroics aren’t exhilarating, let’s face it.

Say you want your druid to be able to do all that in one spec – well then, you’ll need to play around a bit with your stat distribution and probably get some new armour. Would you like some hit with that? How about a new party hat – the cloth Sightless Crown of Ulmaas would do the job. Oh wait – you’re a druid – you can’t roll on cloth, even if the rest of the party consists of three death knights and a warrior.

There are still a couple of loopholes, too. To my knowledge death knights and druids are able to roll on loot with block rating on it. A pointless stat to them, but perhaps your death knight tank decides that he is so desperate for something to upgrade from his blue helm that when Second Helm of the Executioner drops it is a must have even though the itemization is aimed more at the group’s paladin who is only tank as off spec.

Well, gratz to the death knight for the upgrade – but it’s only a minor victory for him, and leaves both him and the paladin a bit cold. Should Blizzard further tinker with the need before greed system? Perhaps add class specific tooltips – “classes: paladin, warrior” – to the aforementioned Executioner’s helm. Similarly for every item, and a filter that only allows the specified classes to roll on items with stats meant for them.

If this came into play then it would likely automatically further restrict itemization choices for players. Every rogue of the same playing level would look the same. Every healing priest would be in the same dress, every restoration shaman would have identical mail shoulders for restoration shamans. That Winter Veil tree druid in Dalaran would have even less freedom to play around with his spec and try new things. But at the same time – everyone would get loot cookie cuttered to cater the ‘correct’ stats to their spec.

Say that our off spec tank paladin from earlier wants the correct stats – for his protection off spec – and rolls need on the Executioner’s helm against the death knight tank. Whatever his reason, I’d bet the death knight isn’t impressed with him rolling for his off spec. Would you be, if someone else rolled against your main spec items? We’ve all seen it. Perhaps the need before greed system should take specs into account. A priest is healing in a random dungeon? Right, says the loot system. He can’t roll on items with hit on them like Bracer of Worn Molars, under any circumstances. On the up side he won’t be able to ninja, on the down side he won’t be able to prove he’s trustworthy or improve his shadow kit if everyone else passes on the toothy armguards there.

These are ridiculous ideas, I hear you cry. They’ll never happen! Maybe you’re right, or maybe they’ll happen at some point. I’m just saying that the need before greed system is already restrictive – unnecessarily so, perhaps. I for one am perfectly happy with a holydin rolling on cloth items so long as no clothies need the item, and so preventing holydins from doing it seems a potential waste of an item. It may be a slippery slope we find ourselves on in the name of wrapping classes up in their own specialised cotton wool.

What do you think? Is the need before greed system protecting us just the right amount in random dungeons at the moment – should it be more or less protective? Are you getting infuriated trying to gear up your new fury warrior? Is all this an argument to make a premade group so there aren’t limitations on loot?