Friday, July 30, 2010

Healing Through It (Blood Queen and Sindragosas)

I joke with healers that we're often responsible for healing through lots and lots of things. Except it's not a joke. Or... it only kinda is.

The Blood Wing - Know My Hunger

Princes didn't give us much heartache all things considered, even if we ignored them for months (and months) while we were kiting things around in the Plague Wing. Blood Queen, however, was another matter.

The Blood Queen almost destroyed our guild. The queen started fights, incited nerd rages, and got people kicked from our guild. She scared away raid applicants, created new vent and wipe-calling rules, and organized walk outs. For more than two months she's terrorized us (two minute cooldown), and even on the weeks we couldn't get to her, she was still lurking overhead, reminding us that if we do get down Putricide this week, we'll be bowing before her.

Everything gave us troubles. Bite-addon insanity, bloodbolt whirl death traps, red triangles of doom, (creative) passive-agressive use of shadow trails, and the bites. Oh, the bites! I lagged, my target ran away from me, I got feared, 2 FPS, I didn't know who I was supposed to bite, I thought I had another 30 seconds, I never got the whisper, wait do I got to the bitee or does he come to me?, but you told me to bite the MT, and the ever popular "So what do I do when I get bit, again?".

We did some crazy things. Folks switched offspecs. My holy priest dropped her shadow off in favor of Discipline, and wins the "excellence in a new spec for a progression boss" award. We had healers make minor changes to glyph and spec, we had DPS make major changes to their offspecs to be available to heal (and I really appreciate it, even if they made all those changes for just one night). We recruited, we brought alts, we declared new mains, and we made it happen. Hurray for 30%!

A First Peek Into the Frost Wing

The best way to celebrate a victory on a boss you've been working on for months is (obviously) to go bang your head on a brand-new one. And herein lies the good news. We didn't get Sindragosa down, but we owned the hell out of phase 1.

All the people who had done this fight on ten had spent time warning everyone in G chat (for months) about how hard Sindy is gonna be, how this is gonna take REAL coordination and if they think BQ/Put/Princes is hard 'just wait till you see the frost queen'...

Compared to the BQ, our Lady Dragon is not frenetic, at least from a "healing through it" perspective. BQ is a fast fight, Sindy is slow. Five of the six healers had already beaten Sindragosa on 10, so I was ridiculously optimistic about Sindragosa. I knew our hardest parts would be Blistering Cold and Ice Block placement. The stacks of debuffs were absolutely no problem. Even the Phase 1 ice blocks were well-handled (turns out that stuff we've seen before is easier to learn than altogether new mechanics...).

I thought I would be prepared (cleverly) and I coordinated with all the paladins to give specific players their Hand of Freedom cooldown for Blistering Cold. It was a great idea, in theory, except for I failed often enough at it in the first few attempts I had to use it for myself.

Blistering Cold was not a problem at all once we elected a hunter to Aspect of the Noob. It really works. The tank gets stunned but nothing a roll of hots couldn't fix while the less mobile healers are fleeing.

I'm sure we'll spent weeks on Phase 2, but I'm prepared for that. Suffer mortals, as your pathetic magic betrays you!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

you might be a healadin...

You might be a healadin if it takes more than two biscuits to get full mana.

(That's more than a minute of drinking.)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

on loot whores

When I was a child, I thought I was clever because of things I got away with. At some point I got older, and with some reflection (as well as observing young ones thinking they are getting away with things), I realize that the adults in charge of me probably knew what I was doing, for the most part.

I feel this way about raiders who try to manipulate loot systems. They may think they are being sneaky trying to justify a sidegrade into not paying for it, but the officers are watching. Just because no one calls it, doesn't being it wasn't noted, every time it happens, for weeks.

And if, by chance, that raider decides to start bragging about their exploits, that's when the party is over and the sidegrade option gets removed. If no one wants to pay, it gets melted.

Instead of saying that the raider has ruined it for everyone (it hasn't ruined the system for folks who only take what they truly need), I would just like to say this:

Are you so bad that you have to cheat at World of Warcraft?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Healbot, Unashamed

I usually get smart remarks for using Healbot from some of the healers in my guild. I love Grid as much as the next enthusiast, but this weekend I switched my last character who used Grid (my priest) to Healbot.

Since I've been doin
g a 25ICC alt-run every week and switching between my druid and priest to round out the healing comp, I've noticed that my druid and paladin get several more frames per second than my priest. Considering at best I get 7 FPS in a 25-man, losing 5 means I am running at 2. That's not really what I consider playable.

I switched to back to Healbot, which is my Very First Healing Addon(tm). On my priest, it's a bit of nostalgia because I sud
denly feel like I should be back in Slave Pens or Kara, twitching fearfully in my hybrid disc/holy spec and blues. It didn't take much time to get back into the swing of things, in fact, I was quite surprised how little I had to do to get healing. It was a most pleasant experience.

Why I'm not ashamed of my Healbot

1. Healbot doesn't
hog. Of all the healing addons/raid frames, HB bogs my computer down the least. If you're having troubles, you'll probably want to experiment with several setups to find the best, but don't discount Healbot as it doesn't take much effort to run.

2. Healbot plays nicely. Healbot shows you incoming heals from other addons, assuming that healer has a mod, too.

3. Healbot submits to your creativity.
I choose to leave my frames looking much like they did back in BC, but that doesn't mean yours have to look that bad! Healbot has updated quite a bit, with lots of options: what you can show, what you can hide, how big you want it, skins you can use, and what colors you can adjust.

4. Healbot knows. I never told it to track my Beacon or Sacred Shield or even Hand of Sacrifice, or count down over the icon when it's almost expired so I know I have 5-10 seconds to refresh. I never asked for tank cooldowns, lucky charms, or encounter specific debuffs, but I have them. Healbot understands my druid, too, showing all my hots and how long they have left.

This weekend I came into an exciting discovery. Healbot knows priests, too! It tracks Power Infusion, Pain Suppression, Guardian Spirit, Inspiration, and Prayer of Mending. The Power Word: Shield indicator is two icons rolled into one - when there's a little plus sign on the corner of your bubble, that's the Weakened Soul still active on the target. When the shield is absorbed, Healbot shows the Weakened Soul debuff, and counts down when it's almost over. That is Improved Happiness for me, it's a way to plan out my bubbling and be ready for new shields on the folks who need them the most.

Other addons can do that too, but I didn't have to beg for it, because...

5. Healbot stands alone. When Healbot is updated (mine lets me know upon login, which is great because I often don't update unless something breaks), there's only one addon to download and I don't have to worry about one plugin causing problems with one another.

I think no matter what addon you use, it's important to understand how our UIs can either get in the way or facilitate healing. Addons can solve (or cause) problems by creative use of space on a small monitor, calling attention to things we might otherwise forget we have, or distract us from more important things in an encounter.

Last week in raiding, my paladin cast 3,601 direct heals. It would have been possible without an addon, I'm sure, but with the sheer amount of activity required by healers, I wouldn't find it fun without a helpful interface to press my buttons in. Whether it be standard UI or healing addon, we all use a healing interface to interact with the game world. Mine is Healbot.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

31 is the new 51

There's no reason to still be upset about RealID publishing your real name and your WoW habit to the world, on the forums and via addons. Look, here, it's shiny new Cataclysm information!! Just forget about what happened yesterday...

(I told Blizzard a minor played on my account, problem solved).

I'm actually a bit excited about this 31-point tree business. Not so sure if I like having to commit at level 10 (that's great for my alts, but when I was new to this game I had no idea what I was doing.), but the idea of talents being more buttons to push and changes to how our buttons work is so much better than "for the next five levels, enjoy your +1% bonus to something". This sounds refreshing and great and awesome (and all of that).

We still haven't seen paladin previews. Against my better judgment, I am hopeful that the information delay is because Blizzard is hard at work on holy paladins, purifying our talent trees and creating new fun ways for paladins to heal.

Even without the blinders of optimism on, I still see the talent point reduction as a positive thing for holy paladins, in fact, we're already in pretty good shape assuming they cut the right things. We only have a handful of "talents" worth taking, especially once the +healing, +crit, and +intellect are purged. I didn't mind these talents, but we've been warned for a while now that they are going to disappear.

The bread-and-butter talents from our current tree...


Holy Shock. In a world where spell selection is key, we might find a use for this spell. If anything, see "stuff to do while not healing" below under JotP.

Infusion of Light.

Divine Illumination. I'm a huge fan of extra buttons to push, especially mana-saving ones.

Judgements of the Pure and Enlightened Judgements. I think it's important that holy paladins have a compelling reason to judge, and need the extra range to judge while not in melee. If Blizzard is encouraging healers to do stuff other than heal, this is the place to start (that, and an instant cast exorcism-come on!)

Aura Mastery
. Unique to paladins and full of flavor! My biggest complaint about this ability is how situational it is: overpowered when the damage/ability matches my aura, and useless when when it doesn't.

Beacon of Light. I'm sure we aren't getting its current incarnation, but this is still a neat talent.

Light's Grace. This talent is awesome.

Divine Favor. It's mandatory, I don't use it as often as I should, but since its off the global cooldown there's really no reason not to have it macro'd to something.

I count 10 different talents for a total of 24 talent points spent on meaningful things. The rest is "boring" by Cataclysm design goals, or PvP talents (I pvp on my priest, not my paladin, so my experience with paladins is "he bubbled dispel it now dispel it now"). I'm not opposed to this change. Holy wouldn't look half so bad with only 31 talents.

Misplaced Meditation

I almost didn't notice that the initial priest and druid cataclysm talent previews were lacking Meditation and Intensity, while blue posts indicated that shamans and paladins would be getting similar abilities. It left me confused, but with the revelation that the talent trees are going to be far smaller, I wonder if this is three points we won't have to spend. I didn't like the idea of all four healers just having the same mana-savings mechanic, especially since it seems that every caster (dps and healer alike) has talents to help manage the blue bar. Instead of straining our mana via global mechanics then allowing everyone to spend talents to increase it, it makes more sense just to balance mana pre-talents and have our talents do other, more active, things. Is it too late to pray for an in-combat, out-of-combat mana system?

And what about this whole "paladins will want spirit" thing... Oh Blizzard! So much new information, but so much information you have yet to give us!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Mistakes I Will Not Be Making in Cataclysm

#1. Too many dungeons. (Or, I declared a main three times this expansion which is also a terrible idea). Over WotLK, gathered most of my emblems through heroics. Each tier, I jumped back into five mans to farm those daily new emblems and dozens of old emblems I didn't need any more on my main, while my alts jumped into those heroics to farm the old emblems to get themselves caught up. For too much of the expansion, I was doing the same daily three different times. Never again.

At the start of the expansion, Mayhem and I did a lot of heroics. A lot. We put together groups to get specific drops. We had best-in-slot gear from heroics. I think the one mistake we made in all of this was that we spent way too much time "preparing to raid", without realizing that the best thing we could have done was just jumped into Naxx10 when we had badge and crafted.

69 Cyanigosas? That's too many dungeons!

That's not to say that doing heroics of some form won't be necessary or helpful; however, I will not be grinding like I did. I ended up each tier with unneeded badges on my main, because I pushed too hard at the beginning to get all that badge and crafted gear ASAP (and then I pass on raiding drops. I may have the highest PR in the guild, but nothing to spend it on). I will be more patient with gear in Cataclysm.

A part of this mistake is how much time I spent gearing up my alts to raid and then not raiding with them. My druid is all but retired now, after grinding her gear up to raidability she went into ICC10 and 25 a mere handful of times, totally disproportionate to the time I spent getting her ready for it. That is my fault, I won't make the mistake again.

That's not to say I won't be keeping up three characters in Cataclysm (I still ponder working on my shaman so I have all the healers, and I have a young mage I'm obsessed with). But I didn't play my mains in Wrath as well as I could have, and I'll spend more time playing and less time grinding to play. Since LFD has become a major part of the five-man experience, what heroics we do will be spent doing the instance instead of waiting around in town looking in trade for more dps. And when I'm done with a heroic, I'll be done. Find someone else to heal; 69 Violet Holds is too many.