How about a training dummy/event for healers?

OK, so there is this awesome new set of training dummies in the Mists beta that gives someone facing, raid buffs, food buffs and flask buffs, can be killed and has about 50 million health. It’s a pretty damn cool new tool for players to try to more accurately judge their DPS in a raid environment without having to actually go in to a raid. It’s a wonderful idea, a great idea and a necessary idea.

But how about one for healers?

So, lets lay it out there, healing is a stressful job, accompanied by a certain sense of anxiety and dread that accompanies healing a group for the first time. I hear horror stories of people getting booted out of instance all the time when they first start healing because they are new and not perfect. It’s a huge fear. One of the things I always suggest to new healers is to pop into a battle ground. As folks on twitter have pointed out, and I’ve agreed with for years, it helps you sort your UI, and it helps you learn some of the aspects of healing like triage. But it doesn’t teach you everything. Healing a PvP group isn’t quite the same as an instance, especially when you have to manage cooldowns and mana usage for boss mechanics, tanks, DPS and yourself.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t heal in PvP, by all means you should as it’s a great way to test out your UI, spells and what they do as well as key binds, but I still find fighting against another group of people is much different than fighting against a raid or boss design. I just want to make it clear I’m not discrediting PvP healing as a learning tool, but there’s no elegant solution to it. I mean, even Rift has healing dummies to help you gauge yourself.

Now here’s a thought that’s been on my mind for a couple months now. In The Secret World there’s a test you have to take for your preferred role to access nightmare content, and it’s called the gatekeeper. What the gatekeeper does is it forces you to respond to mechanics and use your toolkit. When I stumbled upon this I was immediately reminded of a very old class quest in Vanilla World of Warcraft , and I’m sure some of you will already know where I’m going with this.

Remember when you went for your Benediction priests? Do you remember the difficulty of that class quest and how it made you use everything you had to smartly complete the quest? It was an awesome class quest that worked within the confines of the character class at the time.

So here’s my proposal, lets have something, an event,  that you can go into that gives you NPC party members to heal and a faux boss fight. Through this, players could individually test their mettle, get logs and see if they were having issues without having to risk embarrassment or ridicule. Yes I know it’s an MMO and yes I know there are social requirements to be had, but DPS can go to a dummy and test out their numbers, why shouldn’t other classes get something similar? Why not a faux encounter like the Gatekeeper in TSW that lets you test out our abilities in relative safety. Think of how something like this could benefit healers.

Lets take that a step further, how much would something like this benefit tanks as well, or DPS. It would be an amazing boon. It would relieve so much pressure by eliminating at least partially the notion that you have to be perfect on your first time out. You could test to some extent and get an idea before ever having to walk into an instance. I would wager that if something like this was implemented there would be a lot more willing healers, and a lot more willing tanks. I can’t count how many times people in my own guild have said that they would want to try healing or tanking, but don’t want to do so in a manner that would waste someone’s time while they were learning. It’s nice to have friends to call on to learn this stuff, but sometimes they just aren’t around to help at the times you need them.

Yes you could make the argument that you can learn this while you level up and learn your abilities, but at the end of the day I’d be willing to be the amount of people that level through instances isn’t nearly as great as those that level through questing. Even though questing as a healer or tank has gotten better, it’s more often than not more effective to level as a DPS spec anyways. I’ve had healers message me for advice, and then when they get ridiculed in a 5-man or an LFR, or a new raid they just stop because while they were learning, not everyone understood that and made it twice as difficult.

The Gatekeeper system is one of the best things I’ve seen implemented into an MMO in years, it is something I would love to see re-purposed in other MMOs, if only tooled a bit differently. In our case a repeatable event or quest that lets you test yourself, your new gem setup, your new talent choices, your new reforging or just learning how spells work without the opportunity cost of failing publicly before you’re ready. Lets just make it more of an event and less of a test, make it something healers and tanks could use to get a feel for their respective roles.

Is it  a perfect solution, I can’t really say, but healers and tanks need some love too. Having a new tool for DPS to check their numbers with full raid buffs is really nice, but don’t leave out the healers and tanks, the two most stressful jobs you can choose to undertake in just about any game. I just think adding something like this would be amazing, useful, and combined with everything else at our finger tips would just further strengthen our healers and tanks, and their confidence in their roles.

I’ll write more on this later I’m sure, something more in-depth and detailed, but for now I’m curious to see what you think. Would this be something you’d like to see implemented for healers and tanks?

Matticast Episode 8: Patch 4.0.6 and Listener E-mails

Welcome to Episode 8 of The Matticast. This week MattKat, Brian, and special guest Veronica from Ask Mr Robot discuss:

- How Patch 4.0.6 effects healers

- Listener e-mails about raid issues, gearing, and judging tank performance.

Don’t forget you can send us your questions or topic, and be sure to checkout and participate in the listener topic every Wednesday.

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Raid Leading 101: Starting your Roster

**Forgive the absence of last week’s post. I got “blessed” by a crazy work schedule that had me away from my desk a lot. Don’t forget that if there’s anything you’d like to discuss or see in a RL101 post, you can always email me**

So, you’ve made the choice between 10 and 25. You know which feels right for you and your friends. Now you need to look at your roster. Your roster is the list of players on your team that you can pull from to make your raid on any given night. Hopefully you’ve got a group of friends that you’ve started with, which will take some of the stress off of recruiting and assembling your team. We’ll start out with the basics of your raid (this is a 101 course, remember). You need tanks, healers, ranged DPS and melee DPS.

Tanks

Tanks are the classes that will take the brunt of the damage while protecting your raid. The classes that can fulfill this role are:

  • Protection Paladin (“Prot Pally”, “Tankadin”)
  • Feral Druid in Bear Form (“Bear”, “Meatshield”)
  • Protection Warrior (“Prot Warrior”)
  • Blood Death Knight (“Blood DK”, “BDK”)

It’s best in a 10-man raid to have ~3 Tanks on your roster (~4 for 25-man). Most raids encounters will require 2 tanks for encounters. Either your 2 tanks will have to alternate who is tanking the boss, one will tank the boss while the other tanks one or more mobs that join the fight, or you’re doing a Council-style fight.

Your Main Tank (or “MT”) should be your most talented tank and will seldom need a DPS off-spec. The other tanks on your roster (“Off-tanks” or “OTs”) should have a DPS off-spec so they don’t need to be totally swapped out mid-fight. Warriors can spec into Fury or Arms, Druids into Balance or Feral Cat, Paladins into Retribution, and Death Knights into Frost or Unholy.

Healers

Healers are the players that you pay to keep you alive long enough to see the boss take its last breath. Classes blessed with this ability:

  • Restoration Shaman (“Resto Shammy”)
  • Restoration Druid (“Resto Druid”, “Tree Druid”)
  • Holy Paladin (“Holy Pally”, “HPally”)
  • Holy Priest
  • Discipline Priest (“Disc”)

For your 10-man crew, count on having ~4 Healers on your roster (~9 for 25man). You’ll always need a minimum of 2 healers (5 in 25-man) for an encounter, depending on how healing intensive it is. It’s best to have the other healers in your roster work on a DPS offspec in case you need to convert to more DPS in an encounter. Priests can spec into Shadow, Druids into Balance or Feral Cat, Paladins into Retribution, and Shamans into Enhancement (Melee) or Elemental (Ranged).

Melee/Ranged DPS

DPS are the players that put the hurtin’ on the boss. They’re primarily responsible for dealing damage to the boss and any adds that may pop up, as well as crowd control, interrupt, off-heal, or help mitigate damage. Here’s the laundry list of DPS you’ll find:

Melee

  • Enhancement Shaman (“Enh Shammy”)
  • Rogue (Subtlety, Assassination, Combat)
  • Arms or Fury Warrior (“Arms War”, “Fury War”)
  • Retribution Paladin (“Ret Pally”, “lolret”)
  • Feral Druid in Cat Form (“Cat”, “Kitty DPS”)
  • Death Knight (Unholy, Frost)

Ranged

  • Elemental Shaman (“Ele Shammy”)
  • Hunter (Marksmanship, Beast Mastery, Survival)
  • Warlock (Affliction, Demonology, Destruction)
  • Mage (Arcane, Fire, Frost)
  • Balance Druid (“Moonkin”, “Boomkin”, “Boom Chicken”, “Lazer Turkey”)
  • Shadow Priest

In 10-man, you’ll want ~8 DPS’ers (~22 for 25-man) on your roster, with a mix of melee and ranged. There will be some fights that will be better for melee DPS or ranged DPS, so a mix will give you a good chance of success. Having any of your DPS players with a tank or heal off-spec is great, but more often than not, you’ll be better off if your tanks and healers are all main-spec.

Summing It Up

A standard 10-man raid will consist of: 2 Tanks, 3 Healers, 5 DPS.

A standard 25-man raid will consist of: 2-3 Tanks, 6-7 Healers, and the rest DPS.

Of course different raids will deviate from this basic model, but in my raiding experience, this is usually what you’ll find. To start out, aim for those numbers. Once you have your 10 or 25, add 1-2 more for each role to solidify your team. Your raiders will need nights off or have real-life commitments from time to time, and those extra people will help keep your raid going consistently.

Coming up, we’ll look at more advanced roster planning, as well as a couple recruitment tips!

3 Points of Effective Raid Communication

This is a guest post by Blacksen of Blacksen’s End. Rumor has it this raid leader likes to play funky motivational music before every raid. Don’t forget to check out his blog!

Communication in raids has always been important. For most guilds, this means using some form of voice communication. Several fights require that all raiders are able to hear their raid leader and then make a tactical response. You need to hear about tank swaps on Festergut, Putricide, and Sindragosa. You need to hear requests for tanking cooldowns. You need to hear sudden tactic changes as the fight is moving. You need to hear your other healers when they’re debuffed on Sindragosa. The list goes on and on… Regardless of the fight, really, communication is a key element to successful end-game raiding.

I’ve struggled with communication at several points throughout my raiding career. A lot of guilds pitch that they "want someone who will talk on vent," but the reality is that communication can be intimidating for members, especially if they’re new. For raid leaders, it is essential to communicate effectively with your raid. I’ve found that effective communication made the difference between a wipe and a kill on several occasions.

What to Communicate

What to communicate can be a challenge for a lot of guilds. Whenever anyone says something on vent, be it the raid leader or some key members, the main goal is to have it invoke a significant and positive response. Simply put, you want things said during a boss encounter to evoke a response. Conversely, things that aren’t going to evoke much of a response shouldn’t be said on vent.

Bad example: Don’t call out inhales on Festergut. Very few people will respond (at most, 1-2).
Good example: Calling out tank changes on Festergut. Not only do your tank healers respond, but your hunters and rogues will also switch their misdirect targets.

Bad example: Don’t call out “run-out” after the pull-in on Sindragosa. By the time you say that and it’s both heard and processed by your raiders, the damage will have already been done – your raiders are either already running or already dead.
Good example: Calling out "pull-in soon, get ready to run out" on Sindragosa. Players who would have been tunnel-visioning are made more aware that they’re about to need to turn their camera and run.

Plan it out

Plan out what you’re going to communicate before the fight. One of my most common mistakes as a raid leader is not planning out communication before the pull. In the past, I’ve had an expectation that everyone will know what to communicate, and that’s all we need. With every new fight, however, I find something that’s not really obvious but probably should be communicated. Tell people before the pull exactly when they should talk on vent.

One thing that a lot of people can struggle with is balancing specific calls with general calls. Whenever you’re making a raid call, you need to know when to specify something and when to speak generally.

Bad example: Tanks asking "can I get a cooldown?" The term "cooldown" is too broad. Does intervene count as a cooldown? Raid-Wall? Guardian Spirit? Pain Suppression? Which cooldown do you actually want? The raid needs to specifically know. Asking for just a “cooldown” could result in getting multiple cooldowns wasted by stacking on top of each other.
Good example: Tank asking “can I get Guardian Spirit?” Now we know which cooldown you specifically want.

Bad example: On the Lich King’s Valk’yrs, it would be bad to say "I need a backup stun.” This risks random stuns getting thrown out on all the Valk’yrs by random people. We need to know which Valk’yr needs the stun, and who you want to execute it.
Good example: Saying “Thine, backup on Square.” Thine, a specific raid member, now knows that he needs to execute a backup stun on square.

Specific raid calls are another area in which raid leaders risk becoming unclear. In some cases, it’s better to speak generally rather being specific.

Bad example: Saying “Blistering Cold soon” on Sindragosa. This tells us nothing about the response or how most raiders conceptualize the pull-in.
Good example: Saying “Get ready to run out” on Sindragosa. This tells us what’s about to happen and the needed response.

Bad example: When an aura mastery is needed, it’s pretty cluttering to say “Warel, use aura mastery shadow.” Most of the time, it’s obvious which aura mastery is needed.
Good example: On phase 3 of Professor Putricide, all I need to say is “Warel, go” and he takes care of the rest.

Consistency

Be consistent with raid calls. While a lot of my friends have joked about how I sounded like a broken record player, the fact is that consistent calls lead to a consistent response.

Bad example: On Heroic Lich King, saying "Shadow Trap Ranged" followed by "Trap on healers plus ranged." Each call requires processing – your raiders can’t build an association between the phrase and the response.
Good example: On the Lich King, saying “Necrotic Plague in 3” every single time necrotic plague is about to be cast. This instantly prompts your members to be aware and ready for the impending debuff.

Lastly, let’s talk about how raiders should communicate. Getting raiders to communicate the way you want can be very difficult, but once they get into the loop of things, most of them will execute everything great. The most important concept of raider communication is telling us what needs to happen, not what already happened.

Bad example: On the Lich King, a disc priest calling out “I’m picked up” generally doesn’t mean anything. It requires your raiders to connect “disc priest is picked up” to “oh, this infest is going to be bad.”
Good example: Saying “Watch Infest.” Now all of your raiders immediately know the consequences of you being in a Valk’yr.

Bad example: On Sindragosa, having a healer say "I’m Unchained" means nothing. This requires all other healers to know everyone else’s healer assignment.
Good example: Saying "Watch Group 4" gives us information. Now all healers know the consequence of you being unchained: group 4 needs more healing.

Bad example: Saying “Oh S***” on any fight. Random expletives don’t give us any information and just put people on edge. We need real responses with real information.

Note: Matt is extremely guilty of this. Don’t do it.

Your raiders will also thank you if you tell them exactly what you want said. Tell them the exact phrasing you want. This will lead to a more consistent environment and thus more consistent responses. It takes the burden off of individual raiders for coming up with what you want said, and will likely make them very happy.

Nearly every hardmode raiding guild has a vent atmosphere during fights. If you find yourself wiping due to seemingly random things, see if communication has an answer. Communication is generally an easy problem to address as it has very little to do with tactics or individual skill, but more preparation and consistency. You can sometimes beat the more challenging elements of a fight just by clearer and regular communication

Deep Thoughts, by Wynthea

I am truly blessed in that I have always managed to have consistent friends to group with in the game. My Human Priest leveled with a darling Paladin, and a Warrior has always had my back on my Troll. In fact, if I ever need to run an instance or three, all I have to do is find a willing Druid, Pally, or Warrior, and announce that the two of us will be running _____. I don’t think it’s ever taken more than 5 minutes for us to get our DPSers and go. This has lead me to a startling revelation about our class: Priests do have pets. They are called Tanks. I believe this should be added to our official class description.

Luv,
Wyn

Healers Spill: White Lies we Tell Tanks All the Time

Wiping sucks. It’s going to happen to any Guild of any size at any point. But there are good wipes and then there are bad wipes. I’ve caused my share of bad wipes (but not in my current Guild, obviously, because I know some of them read my blog). Tanks are delicate creatures and have to be treated in a certain way. Even though some tanks might be shall we say aggro challenged, it is better if we merely nod and admit fault even though it isn’t really ours so that the run can be finished. I’ve seen tanks get emo when their ability is questioned and leave the group hanging. Then the group spends a good hour in LFG trying to find a tank to finish out Heroic Slave Pens. Sheesh!

Anyways, I know I’m safe because I don’t think a lot of tanks read my blog (I think).

“Sorry, lag”

It happens sometimes. Our connections do hiccup and we go offline. As healers, we often blame our ISP. Every so often, it isn’t the ISPs fault. You see, there’s this new file sharing technology called bittorrent that we as healers might have forgotten to turn off…

“It’s not you, it’s me”

The tank happens to take about 18000 damage within a space of 2 seconds. There’s nothing we can do about it. 2 seconds is enough time for 1 spell. Sometimes we just can’t keep up with the damage with 1 healer. You just absorb so much punishment that you NEED 2 extra bodies to keep you alive and going. There’s no way around it. On the other hand, maybe I forgot to use my max rank heals.

“It happens to a lot of tanks”

Tanks are used to dying you say? Well, yeah. All tanks are used to it. They’ve died many times and they’ve got the durability loss to prove it. So what if you died? It’s no big deal. Nos Staminitus is a common affliction that affects many tanks. But don’t worry, there’s a special cure. There’s tons of consumables in the markets designed to help get you up. Er, your health that that is.

“Oh your gear is fine”

You look great! Honest! Even though you can’t seem to withstand several crits or crushings in a row, at least your armor is all shiny and stuff! I guess I’ll have to actually work up a sweat to keep you alive.

“You’re the best tank ever!”

I’ve had to say this on more then one occasion. I swear, some tanks seem to have the largest egos in the world. I guess it’s because they’re needed so often. There are some players in the world who have top end gear and top end weapons. But holy cow they just can’t seem to deliver! And I’m not talking about Taurens, either!

Have you ever lied to your tank? Or even your raid/party? Why and what was the situation?

Special thanks to Trackhoof and others who requested to remain anonymous for their input