How to Move and Heal

Do you know what one of the leading causes of tank death are?

Healers not being in range.

The other cause is not enough healing (ba-dum-tsch).

Whenever I jump into pickup raids or heroics as a DPS player, I am stunned at the inability of players to move and heal. This is an absolutely essential skill to have no matter what kind of healing class you play. We’ll go over a few tips to help get your confidence up to the point where you can effortlessly heal on the go. There aren’t any big secrets or special techniques. Much of it comes with foresight and experience.

Use your instant spells

HoTs, Renews, Shields, Ripties, Holy Shocks, and even Circle of Healing (Inefficient as it may be)! The moment they’re on the run, you need to be able to keep up with them. In most cases, you do not have to keep them at full health when they’re on the move. You just need to keep them alive with a nice margin of health. Instant spells are enough. Once they stop moving, start bomb healing them back to a comfortable level.

Hustle!

Body and Soul yourself. Switch to cat form. Ghost Wolf it. If you need to haul ass and you have a way of speeding up your movement, do it! Stop what you’re doing and move it!

Plan accordingly

Movement phases during raids can usually be planned in advanced. In the Lord Rhyolith encounter, tanks have to haul the ads from the middle of the room to the exterior. In Beth’tilac, large drones are manhandled to a preset location at the back of the room. If you know the rough location where the tank will be at, you can position yourself closer to that point to minimize your movement.

Leapfrog it

You move. Then they move. Then you move. Then they move. During Shannox, I’ll drop a Barrier on the tank and start moving in a pre-arranged direction. Once the Barrier falls off, they start coming towards me. We keep repeating this pattern where both the tank and the healer alternately move until we get to where we want to go.

Stand closer to them

Many of us have been trained to stay as far as possible away from a boss as DPS players to avoid different attacks or things on the ground. As a healer, being at max range can be a liability. The moment your tank moves the other way, you’re stuck playing catchup. Don’t be afraid of closing within 20-30 yards. This gives you additional flexibility and freedom for the tank.

Use your cooldowns

Even if they’re not taking large amounts of damage, a Pain Suppression of sorts can do wonders. If the tank needs to move, consider using a raid wide one like Divine Hymn or Tranquility. It’s like using a shotgun on a cockroach. It’s overkill, but it works. Wouldn’t recommend this unless you absolutely had no outs.

Have healers at different areas

If the tank is going in a predictable circle from point A to point B, have a healer at each point. The moment the tank comes into range of one of the healers, they’ll be under their responsibility. Don’t be afraid to call for help. If you can’t reach your main tank, say so. Hopefully there’s a healer nearby who will see the tank light up on their raid frames and switch to them until you’re back in range again.

Being vocal

Don’t be afraid to say things like “Stop moving” directly to your tank. If they can’t stop, at least they recognize that they’re on their own for a few seconds before you’re back in range of them. Work with them beforehand and arrange what will happen if the two of you aren’t in range of each other. Your tank can use that as a cue to use a potion or a Last Stand.

If you want some additional practice, step into some battlegrounds and participate in some PvP healing. Now it’s your turn. What other techniques would you suggest for healers on the go? Have any lessons or stories relating to healing and movement?

How To Tank Heal As A Holy Priest

“I am only one, but still I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I still can do something and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

Helen Keller

Holy priests have always had a reputation for being extremely versatile healers.  Somewhere down the line we lost that and I don’t know if that was driven more so by the developers or by the player base, but we did.  We soon found ourselves being trapped in the mindset of being nothing more than Circle of Healing and Renew bots, which meant that we were often competing for raid spots with resto druids, who were practicing a similar style of healing, albeit with Wild Growth and Rejuvenation.  The only thing that really set us apart was Guardian Spirit and even that wasn’t enough to guarantee us a raid spot over a druid or any other class that could do our job better than we could.

With the release of Cataclysm, we found ourselves reclaiming that identity of being extremely flexible healers with the help of an incredible new ability known as Chakra.  For those not in the know, Chakra is a new talent in the holy tree that allows a priest to place themselves into a state that enhances certain abilities and opens up new ones for them to use, depending on the kind of role that they will be filling in a group or raid.  Currently, there are three Chakra states that can be described as the tank healing or single target healing Chakra (Serenity), the AOE or raid healing Chakra (Sanctuary) and the last one being a Chakra that enhance your damage dealing spells (Smite).

Sadly, old habits die hard and there are a still a number of misconceptions out there that holy priests either cannot tank heal or should not tank heal, due our having such strong AOE healing capabilities that many feel are not worth giving up to have us tank heal or heal a single target.  I consider myself extremely fortunate to have an amazing healing lead who is not afraid to try new things and knows her healer’s strengths and to be part of a healing core where my fellow healers are not afraid of change and can excel at things that most people would feel are not possible or not worth it to try and do.

Here is a run down of the abilities you will most likely use and the talents that will help you best in tank healing as a holy priest, in my experience.

Chakra.  The Chakra of choice for tank healing is Chakra: Serenity, which you enter by casting Chakra and then immediately casting Heal right after it.  Recent patch notes from the PTR have indicated that Binding Heal, Flash Heal and Greater Heal are being added to the list of spells that will activate this particular Chakra.  Being in this Chakra takes Holy Word: Chastise and changes it to Holy Word: Serenity.

By simply being in Chakra: Serenity, your chance to crit with direct healing spells is increased by 10% and they will refresh a Renew that is present on the target.  Currently, only Heal, Flash Heal and Greater Heal are capable of refreshing the Renew.  Binding Heal and Holy Word: Serenity are slated to be added to the mix, based on information found in the patch notes that were released last week.  You will want to remain in this Chakra for the entire time that you are responsible for healing the tank.  Being in this Chakra does not lock you out or prevent you from casting other spells, not related to the tank healing state.  You can still use a Prayer of Healing, if the group that the tank is in gets low on health or use a Circle of Healing if those around them are taking damage.

Holy Word Serenity.  This spell can be used a number of ways and has drawn comparisons to being our version of Holy Shock.  One way you can use it is to use it off cooldown.  The buff that Holy Word: Serenity leaves will increase the crit chance of your direct heals on the target by 25% for 6 seconds, in addition to the 10% increased crit chance that you have from being in Chakra: Serenity.  Having this buff on the tank regularly means that any incoming heals that would need to be used have a chance of healing for more and being more effective.  You can also choose to use this more selectively and wait until the tank is taking large amounts of damage, use it first and then take advantage of the crit buff by following it by spamming direct heals.  Either way is fine, but this spell is a core part of tank healing and should not be left out when you’re doing that.

Prayer of Mending.  As always, Prayer of Mending should be used every time it is off cooldown.  Be sure to toss it out either before you cast Chakra or after you have safely entered the correct Chakra state, which is Serenity.  If you don’t cast it at the right time, you may accidentally find yourself entering the wrong state and being in Chakra: Sanctuary, which is the AOE or raid healing state.  This will prevent you from using Holy Word: Serenity, which is only available by being in Chakra: Serenity and your direct heals will not be nearly as effective.

Renew.  Slap a Renew on the tank and if you are using your designated Chakra state to its fullest, it should never fall off of them.  Talents like Improved Renew and Divine Touch can help make Renew more effective by increasing the healing that it does and by eliminating the usual delay in healing output that comes with using a heal over time ability.

Empowered Healing. Placing three points in this talent increases the healing done by Binding Heal, Flash Heal, Heal and Greater Heal by 15%.  These spells are going to be your bread and butter for tank healing, so you are going to want to have that added boost of healing.  You are also going to want three points in Divine Fury, so that your Heal and Greater Heal have their cast time reduced by 0.5 seconds.  That may not sound like a lot, but compare to it the cast time when you don’t have points in this talent.  Believe me, you will feel and notice the difference.

Surge of Light.  Surge of Light allows you the chance to get a free, instant cast Flash Heal that is incapable of critting each time you use Heal.  Unless you’re facing a fight with unpredictable spike damage, Heal is going to be your core spell for tank healing.  It’s been determined that roughly 1 out of every 17 Heals cast will result in a Surge of Light proc.  That may not sound like a lot, but every little bit helps and Flash Heal is extremely expensive to cast on its own, without an immediate reason to do so.  If you’re still not convinced that this talent is useful to you, Surge of Light was mentioned in the recent patch notes, stating that Flash Heal and Greater Heal will be added as one of the spells that can trigger Surge of Light and the heal generated by the proc will be able to crit.

Inspiration.  This talent is considered a must have, since you probably won’t be throwing shields on the tank that often, if at all and you want some kind of damage reducing ability to fall back on.  More on that later.  It’s also the only ability that warrants you having any kind of critical strike rating to speak of.

Serendipity.  There are times where your tank is going to take a lot of damage really quickly and you’re going to need to act fast.  You want to have options available that will maximize the heals you will need to throw out, while also being mindful of your mana bar.  Serendipity can help you with that and you can customize it to meet your needs.  If your tank is in trouble and you need a heal, use Binding Heal.  If it’s just your tank that has taken a lot of damage, use Flash Heal.  You now have one stack of Serendipity, which will reduce the cast time of your next Greater Heal by 10% and its mana cost by 5%.

If that single heal wasn’t enough, you can follow it up with another Binding Heal or Flash Heal and gain a second stack of Serendipity, which will now reduce the cast time of your next Greater Heal by 20% and lower the cost by 10%.  Two stacks is the most you can have on yourself at any given time.  You are now prepared to do what I call a “Serendipity bomb,” which is what I call using Flash Heal –> Flash Heal –> Greater Heal.  It is extremely mana intensive to do this, even with the reduction in cost from the talent.  This method should only be used for emergencies, not as a regular style of healing.

Other talents that can help for emergency situations are Test of Faith, which increases all healing done to targets below 50% health and of course, Guardian Spirit.  There are two ways you can use Guardian Spirit.  You can use it when the tank is getting dangerously low and allow it to activate, healing the tank by a large amount and allowing you a few seconds to focus on others who may need healing.  Or you can cast it on the tank and follow it up with some heals, which will be enhanced by having the effect on them and get them back up to snuff.  To make the most out of Guardian Spirit, make sure that you glyph for it and it also helps to create a macro that will announce in the raid or your healing chat channel (if your raid has one of those) that you have cast Guardian Spirit and on whom you have cast it.  That will alert other healers that your target needs heals and will prompt them to toss some heals on them, if they are able to do so.

Power Word: Shield.  Throwing a shield consistently on the tank while healing them may not always be the best idea, because discipline priests rely heavily on Rapture as a way to get mana back.  The best people to place a shield on, where it will get absorbed the most are the tanks.  If you have shielded the tank, that means they can’t and that could affect the amount of mana they get back in the long run.  I would coordinate this with your discipline priests if possible, by finding out if they are going to be anywhere near where you and your tank will be located and how diligent they are about shielding tanks other than their own.  Some are more consistent about this than others.  If you do have the all clear to shield at will, save it for when you see them taking a large amount of damage.  I wouldn’t throw a shield every time it’s off cooldown or if the tank is nearly topped off.  Use it as a way to buy yourself some time to heal them back up, either by using a “Serendipity bomb” or other combination of heals to get the job done.

A lot of holy priests may get flak from the community at large for attempting to tank heal, but we’re really not bad at it and in fact, we have tools that can really be useful when we’re called into action as tank healers.  The strength of a discipline priest has always been mitigation and preventing damage whereas ours has always been raw healing and reacting to damage.  Just because we lack the mitigation strengths does not mean we do not have the healing capacity to successfully heal a tank and should not be considered for such a task.  Some have argued that our strength is in our AOE heals, but we only have two extra AOE spells (Circle of Healing and Holy Word: Sanctuary) that discipline priests don’t have access to and one of them is on a 10 second cooldown and you need to be in the appropriate Chakra state to even activate it.  We have obviously been given the tools mentioned above for a reason.  What other reason would there be to have shields or to have Chakra: Serenity, if we’re meant to go back to the Wrath style of healing?

Hopefully, this post will give people the encouragement or the motivation to try out tank healing, if you are a holy priest or to consider a holy priest as viable candidate to do such a thing, if you’re a raid leader or a GM.  What are your thoughts on this topic?  Can it be done?  Should it be done?

Making Dungeons Fun Again

Making Dungeons Fun Again

notank

Want to know a secret? There’s a simple way to make WoW more fun.

Last night I had more fun in a random dungeon than I have for a long time. I was in Stockades, of all places. A Stockades run is usually a pedestrian half hour filled with enemies which aren’t challenging but have vaguely annoying abilities and no loot to make up for it.

The dungeon didn’t magically morph into a Lernean Hydra spitting epics at us. What changed was the group. The tank suddenly left. We were left with a lowish level party of three mages and a priest healer. We also had prison cells full of bad guys cracking their knuckles and asking whether our relatives could stitch this.

We carried on. The three mages had fun using every trick to play mage tennis and help the healer ensure we didn’t become wallpaper paste. The priestie sat there cheerfully swearing as he healed and cackling maniacally every time he physic screamed because he could it saved our clothie hides. Lots of conjured water later we finished the dungeon, all in great spirits.

What does that mean? We don’t need tanks. Nope. Not in 5 man instances.

Right now WoW is based on the ‘holy trinity’ of three roles; tank, healer, DPS. It’s a tradition going back through the MMO and RPG genres. The nay-sayer in me mutters that removing one of the roles would shake the very foundations of the games industry. It wouldn’t; it’s already happening.

The complexity of the roles has been simplified over time. Back in the day groups had to be pristinely organised. Each person performed challenging tasks. Support classes were necessary. Contingency plans were useful if the battle went awry.

It was the case for WoW as much as any other game. It wasn’t long ago tanks alone were juggling single-target tanking on four monsters whilst anxiously watching the one nursing a headache and herding the battle round the confused sheep. Before TBC, I gather, it was more tricky. That type of game play taught players to be creative strategists. It’s in that kind of situation that I met and bonded with my guildmates over hours of wipes and brainstorming.

Things are more straightforward now. More generalised; each of the roles is cut-and-dry in WoW. Tanks are there to hold the monsters’ attention. DPS are there to take them down, usually with little mind of what dies first. Healers are there to keep everyone topped off with heals so huge I’d not be surprised if characters feel like they’ve been dunked in the fountain of youth. Of course, there are fights where there are exceptions – sometimes healers get to top the boss’ health off instead, The roles are plain and appear interdependent.

But the roles don’t need each other to function. Last night my group’s DPS did its job – to deal damage – perfectly fine without a tank regulating us. We just had to be a bit more creative, versatile, and able to think on our feet. These are qualities which haven’t really been challenged in Wrath’s standard system but I’d go as far to say that the creative strategist in me opened one drowsy eye while my mana’ed out mage watched the cooldown on frost nova with her robed back to the wall.

Dare I say it, we also had to work as a team, rather than just have the tank glue everything to himself and everyone else sedately press the usual buttons to floor the next pack. We functioned much better as a social group. Usually the members of a group each have a set task and if something untoward – or just unexpected – happens it’s easy for a group of strangers to feel justified in laying blame on a person who failed or made a mistake with their individual task.

Last night, without a tank and with the group’s tasks shared equally, the potential for blame was removed. Everyone could contribute to everything. Even the healing! Us mages didn’t just sit in the fire expecting the healer to keep us all, four clothies, up AoEing 10 mobs at once. I don’t know if any of us would do that under the standard roles but with that jot of creativity and freedom allowed to us, we did what we could to help tank and heal. And when we did wipe? We all laughed and congratulated each other on a good fight.

So there we go. The roles already look a whole lot different to how they did when they were originally conceived in EverQuest or even Breath of Fire. We just need to take the plunge and get rid of one of the canonical roles. Not much to ask, right?

We’re only talking as regards 5 man groups, here, but just think of the ramifications for raids. What would they be? More creative players graduating from instances and more chaos and raids unlike anything we’ve ever known – I wonder if the outcomes would offset one another. I wonder if WoW could even support such a change, or if it would require a whole level playing field.

What do you think – is this a terrible idea which would do irrevocable damage to WoW, or a great one, with modifications?

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 image originally on flickr, by id-iom.

Why Role Balancing Isn’t Your Average Tentacled Monster

Why Role Balancing Isn’t Your Average Tentacled Monster

tentacle unicorn

Tobold’s post today is a refreshing look at how the holy trinity of tanks, healers and DPSers might be re-balanced. His basic concept is that it should be made more rewarding – more useful – to players to play a tank or a healer, for their own interest. Rather than developers assuming that the laws of odds and sods means that some players will play them because – well, someone has to.

Tobold’s correct in that tanks and healers could benefit from their ability to mitigate being more useful in solo combat. I’m not sure that in order to achieve this it would be necessary to make DPS classes “feel more like the proverbial glass cannon”. Combat could be customizable so that DPSers can still enjoy doing what they do best but tanks and healers can make their mitigation work for them.

Without giving it too serious thought early on a Monday I can think of some brief examples; there could be a mechanic whereby tanks reflect an increasing or scalable amount of monsters’ damage back at them (RPS – reflect per second?). The irritation here is that those monsters who are less damage oriented themselves would take longer to kill. Or there could be an improved “thorns” like mechanic – the idea behind thorns at present being that it does damage when thorns’ beneficiary is hit. The improved version (and the mechanic could be given to any class) could mean that effective use of a tank’s abilities gives him a stacking buff which then accordingly deals damage to the monster – which would stack all the more (and slightly insanely) in aoe/quest situations, probably making it great fun for tanks to quest by gathering all of the monsters on the continent at once. I exaggerate. Slightly.

But what are us healers going to do with our mitigation abilities? Ours is not so much mitigation as reparation. So what, we’d heal ourselves at monsters? Now we get to a deeper layer of difficulty for balancing the roles.

This is where the aforementioned concept of “their own interest” comes under scrutiny. In my mind a fighter’s – therefore a tank’s – interest in surviving battle is entirely different to a healer’s. The fighter charegs into battle wanting to smash those monsters in. Those fighters who are tanks also happen not to mind being smashed back by the monsters. A healer’s interest on the other hand is to hoppity-skip around the battlefield amidst volleys of arrows and magic from both sides in order to patch up their teammates.

The point at which their interest intersects is in doing what they are good at; and, trickily, those skillsets shine most in group situations when there are other people around to benefit from them. Not everyone can get hit over the head with as much class as a tank; and fighters going into battle alone traditionally aim to kill the betentacled unicorn quicksmart rather than let it try to tear their guts out for longer than is comfortable. As to healers – how many rogues do you see prancing around with happy light beams streaming from their fingertips? Healers like stapling peoples’ guts back in, and not just their own.

The difficulty here is reconciling two different experience types. First, redressing the game mechanic practicalities of playing a tank or healer to make it intrinsically self-rewarding for players choosing to play a tank or healer. And secondly, not amputating the traditional ideology behind the role types. The ideology which makes roles what they are; antecedents of cultural mythology celebrated through oral story telling, written classics, and role playing.

One way to approach this may be to remember that it’s not all about the roles. You can take the mechanic to the water but to make it drink from it – make the water more interesting. Perhaps the quest system could be overhauled – it’s overdue anyway.

Instead of quest givers parroting the a-typical “kill fish because I want their feathers to make a pair of sandals”, they could have a wider, more imaginative range of ways we can help them. Something like, “get from here to there in <insert arbitrary time limit> because, er, I dunno, how do you feel about couriering misunderstood baby murlocs? And do it the way that best suits you. You look healery, maybe hoppity-skip along and do your nature thing. You don’t have to slowly attack/tickle everything to death.”

Tell you what though. I remember several RPGs where us healers were the big guns when our band of heroes were wading through undead. Back in my day, undead monsters really didn’t like being healed at.

What do you think? How do you think class/role mechanics should be rebalanced on the ‘experience type’ graph, and why?

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 images originally on flickr, by Don Solo and merwing little dear.

Guest Post: Tanks and Healers Should Get The Biggest Rewards

This is a guest post from We Fly Spitfires.

Tanks and healers are the most important classes for any group. Tanks set the pace of the group, the flow of experience and man the vanguard as they lead the team into battle. Healers mend the broken bones of their companions and keep the tanks a live – without the healers there could be no tanks and there could be no group. These are the two most important classes that exist in any MMORPG. But the DPS? They’re just meat in the room.

Look at it in terms of supply and demand and stress and responsibility. Tanks and healers are in consistent short supply whereas DPS are a dime a dozen. And there’s a reason for that. Tanking isn’t easy and it comes with a lot of pressure and responsibility. Do it right and the group will sing your praises for days to come yet do it badly and you’re on the receiving end of every criticism and jibe. Healing is much the same and also comes with it’s own set of stresses and strains. If the tank dies who gets the blame? Not the DPS classes that didn’t burn the mob down fast enough but the healer who didn’t heal well enough. They carry the heart and soul of the party on their shoulders and all of the difficulties that come with that.

And raiding? That’s even more stressful. Not only do we even already acknowledge the importance of tanks and healers in this situation. We have Main Tanks and even Main Healers but who’s ever heard of a Main DPS before? There’s a huge amount of pressure to do these jobs right. Sub-par DPS can join a raid (even if it’s not desirable) but sub-par tanks cannot tank one and poor healers cannot heal one.

All of this stands to reason that tanks and healers should get bigger rewards than anyone else. I mean, it’s in our culture to reward those that do the most and work the hardest, right? Call it a Tank or Healer Bonus, and a well deserved one at that. They are more important and necessary than anyone else, rarer to find, and they’re jobs are a lot tougher and far more stressful. They’re like the mommas and papas of any group, bringing the necessary order and structure. Without a tank there is no group, without a healer there is no group. DPS can just be picked up randomly as required.

I’ve got nothing against DPS. It’s fun and there’s nothing wrong with that but they simply don’t deserve the equality of rewards. Tanks and healer should get a little something extra on the side (maybe a nice ‘Thank You Drop’ from the boss mobs they fell) because they have the hardest and most demanding jobs and are traditionally the slowest to level up (unless you turn them into DPS). They require the most effort and who can argue that as a result they should get the biggest rewards?

Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?

Matt Answers Your Questions

As surprising as this may sound, I don’t often get a lot of email. Most of them can be easily answered with a few lines and a link. Some of them require much more detailed responses and get turned into posts. The emails that deserve more than a few lines and don’t require posts, I’ll compile together. I’ll end up doing this once a month or so with emails that either myself or the rest of the WoM team don’t get around to answering.

I got into a discussion with a friend the other day about what is easier/harder to play: a tank or a healer – specifically priests and warriors?

He’s convinced that its harder to play a priest (holy/disc hybrid) and I said playing a warrior tank is harder (I have played a disc priest and prot warrior all thru the Wrath Beta and my live priest just hit 80 a few days ago due to tank shortages). I was wondering if you could propose it out to the general community on what they think is harder to play.

Thanks :)

My gut instinct here says a tank would be harder. But then again, that’s because I’ve never really played a tank. I think if I logged around 72 hours on a Warrior or something I might be able to get the basics down. Tanking and healing are on two separate ends of the spectrum that there is just no comparison at all whatsoever. Both call upon different sets of skills. One guy has his eyes glued to his raid window while the other guy is glued to cooldowns and boss cues.

But I’m sure there’s a few players out there that can tank and heal effectively. What’s your take?

I am the Paladin class leader of my guild and main holy paladin. I have been reading the post about healing Sartharion 3-drakes. One suggestion involved having a holy paladin use righteous fury to help pull threat on whelps. It’s not something we have tried yet, as we have been using 2 add tanks and 1 drake tanks. However the idea is definitely worth investigating to see if it could work for us as well. However, I am unsure of the spec used by the paladin healer to survive the adds. I have some ideas, but i would like to see a definite spec that has worked, without gimping the healing output. I think that healing output is less, which is why it was mention, that the add tank healer will need help, but i would like to be clear on the extent at which you sacrifice healing talents, for survivability.

Also did the paladin use any pvp gear for increased stamina?

From,
Psychotaz

I can’t exactly offer much help here. All I know is that the spec did reduce healing effectiveness slightly but not enough to warrant a panic. I believe it involved picking up Divine Guardian (the bubble spec). To really make use of Righteous Fury, the Holy Paladin needs to pair up with and stand on top of the add tank. The first time we tried it, we used it with a couple of PvP pieces to see if it would help increase survivability. But we quickly found out that it was simply unnecessary. Any Paladins want to jump in?

It’s times like this I wish I had a Holy Paladin on retainer somewhere for a consult.

In our guild we have 2 raider ranks:

  • Noob
  • Raider noob

The standard for raider noob in BC used to be that if someone had 90% attendance for 2 months and solid performance in raids, they would become a raider noob. However, since the release of wrath all of our recruits have been of exceptional caliber, now probably 23 or so of our 28-29 raiders all have very good performance and 90%+ attendance. This has been wonderful but leaves us with a problem with promotions, we can either promote almost the entire core of our guild to raider noob (as almost all of them have been here for 2 months+), but that would severely alienate the few who don’t make it up to raider noob.

We could increase the duration (which is what we have been doing), but that would only be a temporary solution. The last option I can think of is to increase the standard for raider noob (only our clutch healers, top 5 dps etc), but this would require demoting some of our existing raider noobs, which hardly seems fair as well (they are all good players). Any advice you have would be much appreciated.

Well, you’re in a bind. There’s no doubt about that. There is a way but it’s going to involve a lot of heart to heart talking with your raiders. Let them know that the time has come to restructure the guild ranks. Be honest with them about it. The good ones will understand and won’t mind the change in title anyway. A rank is a rank is a rank. It’s just a label. It’s how you treat the players that count. Let your guild know what the problem is. Heck, you could make a third tier rank that says Ubernoob that’s nothing but the best and the brightest. But then you’re just adding on another layer on top of that, right?

Are you sure about the alienation problem or is that what you would feel? Remember that no WoW players are exactly alike. How one person could react to an event can be completely different to how someone else reacts. You can either axe all the ranks entirely (and set one unifying rank), set the ranks based on seniority (length of time in guild), or availability of raiding (my preference). A player that can’t make all raids is automatically a sub for me or if they’ve demonstrated inability to make all raids (or have disappeared for extended periods of time). Otherwise, everyone’s a raider. I run a tight ship with 3 other senior staff and a loot council.

At the end of the day, remind your guild about who they are and what they’re made of. You said it yourself. You have 28-29 skilled raiders with an impressive 90%+ attendance rate. A lot of guilds would kill for that. If they’re married to their rank and title to the point where they’re willing to quit over it, then maybe it’s time that they walk (which also solves your rank problem anyway since it’s one less person to worry about).

Healing Assignments for Resto Druids

Healing Assignments for Resto Druids

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Perhaps more than any other healing class, Wrath of the Lich King has revolutionized the way druids heal. I’m going to take a bit of a look back to where we came from as a way to help understand any troubles druid healers might face at present when we try to figure out what our role in raids should be.

Back in the “Good” Old Days

I came of age as a healer during the BC raid content, and I think part of me will always missing rolling Lifebloom stacks on four different tanks during the Hyjal trash waves. Lifebloom spam may have been widely criticized, but at the time it was effective and felt very dynamic for the player. The timing was tight enough to require tank-specific macros, which I miss, because I could always change their icons to a pig whenever I got mad at them (sorry, Brio). However, when healers argue now that they don’t want to be locked into a rotation, they’re probably thinking of something like old-school LB rolling with horror. That was a rotation, all right–but it left me dizzy. I had to keybind Lifebloom twice–both to my mouse clickwheel and to F. The “F” was for when I needed to refresh while turning with the mouse. At the time, there was no way to increase the 7 sec Lifebloom rotation, and the penalty for letting the stack fall off was fairly severe. I never ran into mana problems, but sometimes the tank would take more damage than I liked if their stack slipped off, and I had few ways to play catch-up. If one tank’s stack went, then most likely all four would.

Even some boss fights made Lifebloom spam worthwhile. On Illidari Council, I used to assign Bonkers to roll LB on three tanks, giving him 1 GCD per cycle free to do “whatever he wanted.” Let me add that the healing buffer Bonkers provided to three of the tanks won the fight for us on more than one occasion. Why did I give the assignment to Bonkers and not myself? Because Bonkers is quicker than me. My assignment, keeping up the group on Malande, was a lot easier. The odd thing is, these kinds of assignments seemed great to Resto Druids at the time–1 GCD free? That’s amazing.

Now that I think about it, the Good Old Days don’t seem so great after all.

Broccoli, v. 3.0

Patch 3.0 brought new tools for the druid healer, offering flexibility where before we had none. However, it strikes me that many Broccoli Stalks might be a little bewildered by all our new toys. And if we’re confused, imagine what it’s like to do healing assignments for a resto druid these days. A few days ago I came across this topic on PlusHeal forums, posted by Siha of Banana Shoulders:

So, I’m the healing lead for my guild, and it usually falls to me to do healing assignments.

I’m having some trouble deciding how best to make use of resto druids. I know in TBC I always used to use them for a multi-tank assignment, keeping a bunch of people hotted up with Lifebloom, but I’m not really on top of all the resto druid changes in WotLK yet.

The talented Siha, as always, gets right to the point with her post. I replied in the topic, but I think that the question has enough merit to warrant a full-length post.

So, what do we do with the newly-versatile druid? After looking at my own performance and those of my Cruciferous Vegetable buddies in Conquest, I am convinced that Resto Druids can be assigned in two different ways for Wrath content. I’m going to showcase a couple of meters-topping druid performances to show just how versatile trees are these days

Raid Healing

This assignment is the most obvious for a resto druid. Wild Growth, due to its higher total healing and it’s status as a heal over time spell, suffered less from the recent nerf than Circle of Healing did. With Rejuvenation, Wild Growth, and perhaps a glyphed Healing Touch in the mix, druids have a powerful toolkit to deal with raid damage.

Let’s take a look at the meter breakdown from an expert druid healer on Gluth, which features heavy raid damage:
s13-meter

Now, the meter % alone might not mean much, but let’s factor in healing assignment. Both S13 and I were assigned to heal the kiters on Gluth, and we have similar gear. Why did he outperform me? Let’s take a look at the abilities breakdown.
s13-breakdown

Take a look at S13’s Healing Touch percentage and the amount it hits for on average. That tells me–even if I didn’t already know–that he’s using the Healing Touch glyph. The fact that he’s able to get so much healing out of a direct healing spell also tells me that S13 is fast. He’s really great at reacting to situations. Notice here that he’s also made a lot of use of Lifebloom–nerfed it maybe, but useless it is not. This WWS report is post-WG nerf, by the way. S13’s performance shows how little a healer has to rely on Wild Growth to be effective (and to post good numbers while doing so). If I were to take a look at S13’s targets, I would see a lot of healing on the 5 kiters, but also a decent amount on other members of the raid. S13 is a great raid healer because he’s able to pay attention to a lot of things at once and to accurately judge when he can go a bit beyond the boundaries of his assignment.

Tank Healing

Yes, I know druids have an AoE heal now. That doesn’t mean that we’re not still good at our old role, healing the main tank. I’ve just shown you the WWS from a druid who excels at raid healing. Now, I’m going to show you my own meter performance. I am a tank healer. That’s what I like, and that’s what I’m good at. I’ve been healing a warrior MT so long that I know how the damage hits and what I can do to fix it. I don’t pretend to be the best at anything, but if I’m in charge of healing assignments, I’m going to stick myself to a tank. It’s not usually very showy on the meters, but I’m going to give you a peep at the one fight in Naxx that does let tank healers show off–Patchwerk.
syd-meter

To understand this image properly, you should probably know that Silvia and I were assigned to heal the offtank, a druid, while S13 and Arktos were assigned to the main tank, a warrior. For the life of me, I can’t remember what Kaldora, our holy priest, was assigned to that day. The nature of the fight dictates that there is simply more healing to do on the off tank(s) than on the main tank, so an off-tank healer is going to post higher numbers. Be that as it may, this is nonetheless a good performance from me personally. Let’s look at the breakdown of what I did.
syd-breakdown

First of all, notice the presence of Regrowth. I use the Regrowth glyph, and a fight with heavy tank damage also shows it off. Meanwhile, I keep Lifebloom rolling on the primary off-tank. As for Rejuvenation, I keep it on both the primary off-tank and the backup. At higher gear levels, your raid is less likely to need two offtanks for Patchwerk. I used to post even more impressive numbers when two off-tanks took heavy hits. I would keep up my full hot rotation on the druid and use Rejuvenation, Swiftmend, and a Nature’s Swiftness/Healing Touch on the secondary off-tank. I always say that Resto Druids can heal two tanks as well as one, and it’s very nearly true. This is a lesson I learned in Zul’Aman, and it still serves me well on a multi-tank fight like Patchwerk. One thing an MT healer can never forget is the power of Swiftmend–it’s easy to ignore, but make yourself use it whenever you can. You’ll notice that Nourish is missing from my rotation, even though I have the 4pc T7 bonus. Regrowth is simply better if the damage is high. I will use Nourish on fights where Regrowth might be overheal, or on long fights that might stress my mana.

My message to healing leads is this: resto druids can tank heal. You might think that only a paladin or discipline priest will work, but don’t discount the resto druid, particularly one who’s used to this job. We may have a discipline priest solo-healing the MT on Sarth 3D, but that doesn’t mean a resto druid cannot be assigned to the task. In fact, some days I want to arm-wrestle Mallet for the job.

Glyphs and Talents

As you can see from our performances, S13 and I, despite having almost the same gear, are very different healers. There are slight differences in talents and glyphs that support each of our preferred roles. Here are my thoughts on how to set up a resto druid to excel at either raid healing or tank healing.

Raid Healing

In terms of talents, I suggest Tranquil Spirit to make Healing Touch and Nourish more efficient, a fully talented Gift of the Earth Mother, and perhaps Naturalist for the shortest Healing Touch cast time. As an alternative, you might put either 1 or 2 points into Improved Tranquility. I find this spell very useful when I can remember to use it. It shines on any fight where the raid is fairly close together and AoE damage as high–I’ve used Tranquility to good effect on Loatheb, Sapphiron, and OS3.

To heal S13-style, you will absolutely need to glyph Healing Touch. I am extremely impressed with the HPS of this spell, and it only gets better as your gear scales. In addition, we can all afford the mana at this point. S13 doesn’t run OOM any more than I do. The raid healer has some amount of choice in the other glyph slots. I suggest Swiftmend and Innervate, but if you find that you never use Swiftmend, Lifebloom will also work. The Regrowth glyph, while good in and of itself, won’t do much for you if you’re never assigned to tanks.

Tank Healing

In terms of tank healing talents, the most important one to have is Nature’s Splendor from the Balance tree to extend HoT duration. However, all raiding restos should have this talent. I also use Tranquil Spirit to support my Nourish (in case I ever use it), a fully maxed Improved Regrowth, and Gift of the Earthmother for easier HoT refreshes. I do not have Living Seed at the current moment. It accounted for less that 1% of my total healing when I had it. If I get enough haste to remove points from Gift of the Earthmother, I may try it again. I have a feeling that either 1) Living Seed will do more healing in Ulduar or 2) it will get some sort of buff in the future. As for Replenish, either build should skip it because it’s endlessly terrible, but the tank healer especially does not need it.

In terms of glyphs, I use Swiftmend, Regrowth, and Innervate for main tank healing. The only debateble choice here is Innervate. I prefer it over Lifebloom, but Keeva of Tree Bark Jacket, who also main tank heals often, writes very convincingly in favor of the LB glyph in this recent post. A main tank healer should not glyph Healing Touch. It’s more useful in the large version paired with Nature’s Swiftness.

Conclusions

We’ve come a long way from Lifebloom spam. Whether we’re set to healing tanks or the raid, druids have a variety of techniques now to support their chosen role. We can do it all–just not all at once. If you’re a healing lead, it’s important to get to know your healers. With the new diversity of the druid class, skill and preference start to weigh heavily on how you should assign your druids. So, why not ask them what they like, and what they are good at?

4 Questions to Answer on the Respec Policy

4 Questions to Answer on the Respec Policy

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post detailing the freedom that players had in their own play. Reader Revaan wrote a series of questions that I wanted to answer but I never got around to it until now. I’ll divide that post into two parts: One with a direct Q & A to his questions and the second half with a more detailed thought process.

Q&A

Revaan: The debating about consequences of respeccing seems to make it clear that every guild should have a policy about respecs. Do you require approval from anyone? If so who?

Matt: Yes and no. Players are free to respec on their own time for PvP or just for general farting around. I impose no conditions on their respecs. When it comes to raids however, they’re required to go back to the original spec they asked to be in when they joined the guild. I’ll elaborate more on this later.

Revaan: Do you have some sort of trial period with the new spec?

Matt: I usually give it a raid. I’ll compare that day’s performance with data from past raids and see if there’s a significant difference. If both specs are about the same, it’s a wash. I’ll let them decide what’s better for their style of play.

Revaan: What if the chosen role is full?

Matt: Tough. It’s first come first serve, usually. If there’s a set amount of tanks and another player wants to go Prot, it’s highly unlikely they’ll ever get a spot unless one of the tanks decides to retire or spontaneously gets their account hacked. But that rarely happens.

(Actually, at the time of this writing, I just found out one of my main tanks had his account compromised. Go figure.)

Revaan: Are they first up if that role opens up or will the guild recruit and you need to compete with applicants?

Matt: Typically no. Players tend to have a certain amount of gear invested in them. For them to change roles like that is a messy undertaking for the guild because not only do we have to find a replacement for the spec they switched from, we also have to gear up that player again. It would be as if we were gearing up two players again instead of one. I would much rather recruit from outside but I will never say never. Situations like these are often resolved in a case by case basis.

Explanation

I don’t like asking people to re-talent themselves unless I have a very good reason to do so. I prefer to let players come to their own conclusion about what’s best for them.

Here is a list of the 3 goals for the 3 different roles in the game.

  • DPS: To deal an insane amount of damage
  • Heal: To heal or mitigate an insane amount of damage
  • Tanking: To survive an insane amount of damage

Respeccing within the role

Let me give you an example of a case where I approved a respec.

During the infant stages of Conquest when we were working our way through Naxxramas, we picked up a Rogue named Derek. He’s an extremely bright and skilled player. He wanted to try out a new spec because he had reason to believe that he could increase his DPS output.

I don’t know much about Rogues. But I figured I had nothing to lose. I was essentially trading a DPS spec for a DPS spec.

After the raid was done, I pulled up the Patchwerk notes for that day along with notes from previous raids and compared them.

Sure enough, Derek’s performance improved notably. It was partly due to gear and partly his style. But it seemed the spec helped a lot. Alas, from what I’ve been told, this upcoming patch may nerf it. You Rogues probably know what I’m talking about because I don’t know what I’m talking about. All I know is, he respecced and his damage spiked upwards.

Derek did an insane amount of damage before. After the respec, he did an insanely higher amount.

Allow your raiders to innovate and test new specs that allow them to excel at the same role. I had a Warlock (let’s call him Tom) who tried a new spec every raid for the first few weeks because he wasn’t sure what the optimum spec was.

What’s cookie cutter now could become outdated later.

As my former mentor Blori once told me,

There ain’t a problem in the world that can’t be solved without more DPS.

Inform your GM

Let your raid leader know. I guarantee you that they will generally be supportive (the good ones at least). Here’s the process:

Derek: Hey Matt, I’d like to respec.
Matt: Why’s that?
Derek: I think I can do more damage
Matt: Sure, go for it and let me know what you need.
Derek: Don’t forget to log me for Patchwerk so I can compare it to last week.

It’s that simple.

Respeccing roles

This one I am not as receptive as. A raid composition consists of a simple equation:

X healers + Y DPS + Z tanks = Dead boss.

By changing the equation, you risk rendering the problem unsolvable. A great tank does not necessarily make a great healer and you may find yourself short stacked on bosses from time to time.

It is an extremely tough sell to a GM. But that’s when everything is good.

On the other hand, if your raid has a few key role players absent, requesting a respec could end up being favorable.

If I’m short on healers and a DPS hybrid requests to go healing to help alleviate the stress, I am way more likely to approve it.

  1. Keeps the raid in house. I don’t have to outsource my important roles to trade chat.
  2. Solves a problem with little effort: It’s a good reflection on the guild member.

I guess my underlying philosophy towards respeccing can be boiled down to one line:

If it improves the raid group in any way, ask.

Image courtesy of marcello99

Discipline With Penance – How it Works

Discipline With Penance – How it Works

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This is a guest post by Kitts where he posts a response about why Penance IS the spell to use.

I read a number of World of Warcraft oriented blogs: some of them have to do with Hunters, some with Druids, and some with Priests.  I respect all the people who post on these blogs 100%, because their opinions are valuable to me in order to grow as a raid leader and as a healer in general.

As a fan of the priest blog “World of Matticus”, I was surprised to read a Guest Post regarding Discipline priests healing without the 51-point talent “Penance” and reasons why this spell isn’t as effective as any other healing spell in a Discipline priests repertoire.  Furthermore, he uses arguments that generally don’t make sense.  I learned early on, if you cannot substantiate a claim, you should not make one.  By no means am I angered by the words he uses, but I’m always happy to “extol its values” as a spell.

Let’s look at each point Wistoovern makes.  And let’s see what makes sense and what doesn’t.

  • “Stop Assuming you need it - Yeah, it’s a 51-point spell. But do ALL Beast Mastery Hunters use Beast Mastery? It’s not too long ago that Lightwell was at the top of the Holy Priest’s tree, but did anyone actually use it? Taking a talent without making sure that you will use it efficiently is useless.”

I agree.  You shouldn’t take a talent without knowing how to use it.  But in order to learn how to use it within your own special circumstances, it requires experimentation and further study.  And no, not all Beast Mastery Hunters use their 51-point talent but I believe the reasons behind not using Penance are going to be different than using the Beast Mastery talent.

  • “Dual Tasking? – Let’s be honest – priests are not hybrid classes. We’re not meant to do both healing and damage at the same time. We really get to pick one or the other. We do a good job at either one (nice shadow priests, GOOD shadow priests…), but both at the same time is impractical or inefficient. So a spell that can either do heals or DPS depending on who is targeted? This can be a big problem.
  • I Mean Really, Dual Tasking? – There are only two other spells that we have that works like this: Holy Nova and Dispel Magic. However, the priest that considers Holy Nova a crucial part of his healing spells needs a reality check, and Dispel Magic (and Mass Dispel, fine) is not going to be an issue if it’s cast on the wrong target (unless you REALLY had to dispel a DoT or effect off of a player and you miss).”

Ah yes, the dual tasking spell argument.  Wistoovern argues that priests are not hybrid classes and therefore a spell that can either heal or do damage (dependent on target) is a problem.  He also argues that a priest considering Holy Nova to be a crucial healing spell is a nut and that Dispel Magic (or its AoE counterpart) isn’t an issue if it’s cast on the wrong target.

I believe the first point is a fallacy of a definition.  He assigns the idea of a “hybrid class” as one that is able to heal and DPS at the same time.  To be frank, any class that is healing AND damaging at the same time is hurting a raid because you’re not doing either role 100%, not to mention probably doing a mediocre job in comparsion to one specced mainly into that role, and there are no classes at this time who can spec in a way that will perfectly fit both roles.  To me, a hybrid class is a class when specced properly can fulfill two or three different roles in a raid. So that would mean warriors (tank/DPS), death knights (DPS/tank), shaman (DPS/healer), paladins (tank/healer/DPS), priests (healer/DPS), and druids (tank/DPS/healer) are hybrid classes.  Warlocks, mages, hunters, and rogues do nothing but DPS.

To be honest, if you’re in a raid and you’re healing by the target’s target and that target is not a tank, that DPS (and hopefully not healer) is at fault and depending on what you’re fighting, they’re probably very dead.  If you’re targetting something that’s CC’d and you’re going off of that, that’s your fault.  Also as a priest, I haven’t ran into many fights where I have to shackle something.  Actually— I haven’t shackled anything since Burning Crusade! Simply put, if you’re targetting something that you shouldn’t be targetting, you’re not doing your job.  You’re a healer.  Heal!

Holy Nova is a spell that gets used rarely.  I use it specifically when I’m changing polarities (on the Thaddeus fight) so I can hit my group on the run if we get chain lightning’d.  I also use it when I’m AoEing things to death outside of raids.  But I agree, if (and that’s a BIG if) there are any priests that use it as a “main spell”, they’re doing something wrong.  I honestly haven’t ran into any priest who would solely use this spell.

Dispel Magic… okay, how are you casting this on the wrong target.  You can’t dispel buffs off of friendly players, you can’t dispel debuffs off of an enemy.  I think there are moments where you have to dispel and if you miss, okay, recast.  Not a big deal.  Maybe if you dispel an Unstable Affliction (but the last time I saw a mob cast this was in Magtheridon’s Lair)


  • “Did I Do That? YES! - … Imagine that you go to heal someone in your party, without realizing that you have a mob targeted that has not yet been pulled… but your tank probably won’t have time to pull it off of you. Any other heal, and this would not be a problem – in fact, the inability to use healing spells on enemies can help you.
  • The Hell Does That Mean? – … Target a mob that you have to Shackle, and after they’re Shackled, leave them targeted. When you click your keyboard buttons for heals, the system will TRY to heal your target… it will give you the “grayed-out finger” pointer… just click on your healing target… Advantages: no need to use a focus, and you can still pick up the shack quickly if it breaks. Disadvantages: slightly slower than normal, takes a little getting used to, will not work with Dispel Magic…or Penance.
  • What He Giveth With One Hand... – … And when it comes to pure healing spells, cooldowns can be death (literally). Waiting for a heal to be available – or, rather, a heal that so many people think is just “so awesome” is a crapshoot. If a six-second cooldown can kill Circle of Healing, how is Penance so great with a TEN-second cooldown?”

The first point regards to “accidental pulling”.  If your tank can’t pull off of you, or you can’t quickly PW:S yourself, or get yourself out of that kind of situation… well, I wouldn’t personally run with that person (healer or tank).  If it’s a PUG, you’re only hurting your own name and if its in guild, I’d be a little worried if it happened often.

The second point is in regards to shackling.  Once again, can’t remember the last time I did it, and everything has been peachy keen in instances and raids of all flavours.

The third point is about the recent cooldown addition to Circle of Healing.  Personally, this will (just like Penance) reveal which priest healers are truly effective and efficient in a raid.  Every priest should be using a various combination of Flash Heal, Prayer of Mending, Renew, and Greater Heal when the need calls for it!  I agree cooldowns can be a murder for pure healing situations, but if you’re always ambivilent of what is needed and how to react, there shouldn’t never be an issue.  To cite a cooldown that is 10 seconds long (8 seconds with proper talenting) as a “killer” is overblown. It’s all about how you use the spell, not how much it heals or how efficient it is.

With most things in World of Warcraft and in real life, it’s not the knowledge that you have that is important, but how you use it.  If you spec a certain way and you don’t use certain aspects of it, then obviously you have little idea to what you truly are doing.  If you spec into Penance, you should use Penance. It’s a lovely spell that (as stated in a comment on Wistoovern’s post) stacks the Grace buff on your tank (or off-tank) quicker than three Flash Heal.  Penance is a quick fire solution to damage being taken by any individual in your raid.  And when it is on cooldown, you should be working on healing your tanks or your raid.

We shine the most in situations where we are continuously looking to prevent damage taken.  We cannot rely on the 5 second rule that Holy Priests try to take advantage of.  We cannot overheal and get our mana refunded, we get our mana back through Rapture (the talent that when you heal damage, you gain up to 2.5% of your mana back).

Overall, Penance is a spell that you should use when it’s applicable.  If you do tend to use it incorrectly, if you do rely on it too much, of course that’s an issue! That’s the same for any class that tries to use one spell the most all the time, you tend to get into a lot of trouble on meters and in situational areas.  You cannot just spam a Steady Shot as a hunter now, you may actually have to use your Serpent Sting to make your key ability work the best!  You cannot just spam Frostfire Bolt as a mage because you can get free Pyroblasts when you proc the deep fire talent “Hot Streak”.

Can Discipline without Penance work?  I think it’s possible.  I think without Penance, you’re still a tank healer; you should be more attentive to /stopcasting so you don’t spam your expensive heals.  You are able to grab 3 points (if you forgo Aspiration) into Improved Healing (lowering the mana cost of most of your single target direct healing spells) so that combined with your Glyph of Flash Heal is a nice combination. Power Word: Shield is still important for you if you’re specced deep into the Discipline tree, especially Borrowed Time (this gives you a bonus 25% spell haste after casting your PW:S) for any major Greater Heals you wish to drop immediately.

This is all more theoretical and assumptive in nature. I might just try it for myself! But that’s what World of Warcraft is for, right?  We want to try different things, we want to stay out of the boundaries.  I once considered Discipline spec to be out of the box, but perhaps it’s not as “out there” as a no-Penance-build. We’ll see.

Don’t forget to check out Kitt’s Discipline Priest blog and be sure to subscribe!

4 Reasons Healing Meters Suck

4 Reasons Healing Meters Suck

Thumbs Down (with Clipping Path)

This is a guest post by Ulkesshern, an EU Holy Paladin from Hellfire

Matticus put a plea out for guest posts and despite it been something I’ve never done I figured ‘Hey, why not?’ and offered up my services and here I am! I’m a Holy Paladin from the EU realm of Hellfire and I’m currently enjoying the delights of the 25 man content.

For my inaugural post I’ve decided to focus on one of my major bug bears, the absolutely terrible creations that are healing meters and the issues I perceive with them.

Issue 1: More Healing does not equal Better Healers

Without trying to oversimplify the job of DPS their job is basically to do damage, the more damage they do the (arguably) better they are, boss health is constant so the more damage they do the quicker the boss dies, the quicker people get their loot and the quicker you progress. However that really isn’t the case for healers. Picture this scenario, you’ve all just hit 80, you’re all predominantly in your old Tier 6 or quest rewards and you head to Naxx.

People are going to be taking massive amounts of damage, Tank mitigation will be low, DPS will be low so the encounters will be lasting longer and as such you’re going to be healing your heart out. Fast forward to the point when you go back with everyone in shiny Level 80 epics. The tanks don’t lose as much health every hit, encounters last half the amount of time and you’re not going to be breaking a sweat.

Then out come the meters!

“Oh wow my DPS is almost double what it was when we started here” cries StabbyStabster your top Rogue.
“Yeah mine too, we’re awesome now” join in the rest of the DPS.

Then someone links the healing comparison.

Well look at that, you’ve healed probably half of what you healed last time and instantly the people who don’t get it start moaning at you for not pulling your weight. The thing is we scale almost inversely with the raids gear level, but in the minds of so many people bigger numbers equals better players.

Issue 2: Situational Situations are Situational

This is something that an amazing amount of people just fail to understand, who you are assigned to heal can greatly affect your position on the meters, and I saw a wonderful example of this in a raid I was in last night. We were twenty manning Patchwerk for the achievement (yes I like achievements). Our tanks were a Death Knight, a Druid and a Warrior and our healing team comprised of 3 Paladins, a Priest and Shaman. The Paladins were assigned one Tank each while beaconing a different Tank, so all 3 Tanks had one Paladin and were the recipient of one Beacon, while the Priest and Shaman were assigned to just go crazy on all of the tanks.

We killed him pretty easily and were impressed with ourselves, and then someone linked the healing meter, Two Paladins at the top, followed by the Priest and then the Druid. Languishing at the bottom was the Third Paladin.

At first glance, it seemed that the Paladin was failed as his healing done was absolutely terrible. However when you thought about it, there were reasons.

Firstly, he was topping the over healing meters by a large margin. Then realization sets in, he was healing the main Tank, not the hateful strike soaks, and as such there was a lot less damage to heal and because Beacon of Light only transfers effective healing (of which there was very little). Whereas the other Paladins were hitting with ~14k effective heals and getting them beaconed across for about the same, the “bottom Paladins” heals weren’t needed as much and as such weren’t getting beaconed either.

3 Paladins, 3 Targets, 3 Players spamming the same heals with very different results. To some people that means that one of them was failing, a scenario that had entered no ones mind until the meters were linked. Just seconds earlier everyone was congratulating the Healers on such a good job!

At the end of the day, no one died except the boss and it was a good clean kill, only once the meters were show did any doubt suddenly arise as to the performance of healers.

Issue 3: Some Classes outclass Classes

A sad but true truth is that some classes usually end up beating others, Paladins can’t HoT or multi target as well (if at all) as Priests, Shaman, Druids and a lot of players just can’t understand that.

I once had a Guild Master state that “All of our healers are fantastic except our Paladins”. His reasoning? The other healers always beat the Paladins on meters (Late TBC Content). We tried to explain that no one ever died so we were doing our job but it just didn’t cut it, as far as he was concerned, the other classes were topping the meters so they were better and the Paladins were failing. We weren’t failing; he just couldn’t get his head around the different class mechanics and intended roles of the healing classes. Amusingly all the Paladins left soon after.

I daren’t even poke the sleeping bear that is absorption/mitigation effects. I feel for you Discipline Priests, I really do!

Issue 4: Meters are not infallible

Nothing and nobody is perfect (even me!) and meters are no exception, I’ve seen five people link meters from the same fight that have shown completely different results. I’ve seen WWS reports where I apparently wasn’t even there! I’ve spoken to Paladins who make a deal with a Warlock to keep them beaconed and instruct them to life tap like crazy. I’ve played with Priests who did nothing but spam Circle of Healing relentlessly and Shaman who may have just had a keyboard with one button marked Chain Heal. I’ve seen people of all spec that completely ignore whatever healing assignments they have in order to just spam quick heals on someone the second they take damage, I once had a Warlock point out that they really didn’t need 9 separate people to heal him the second he life tapped. I’ve even known people just type random numbers into raid chat and try and pass them off as a meter!

Final Thoughts

Meters do have a place, they’re amazingly useful for DPS, they also do serve a purpose for Healers, but they sure as anything aren’t something you can just glance at quickly and pick out who is top. If no one in the raid is dying our job is getting done and getting done well. If people are dropping like flies then perhaps consult some meters, look at what’s happening though, don’t just assume that the person on the bottom is there because he is terrible!

I’ve had meters running since Kara and I think I’ve looked at them perhaps once, coming top on a little chart doesn’t make you the worlds greatest Healer, doing your job and keeping people alive no matter how much or how little healing it requires makes you a good Healer.

(And no I don’t live at the bottom of meters!)