/afk

Sorry for the lack of updates, I really haven’t had any further guides to put up, or at least anything that wouldn’t be just wasted space 🙂 My guild is working on Sindragosa 10, which goes as this. First phase, is easy. Second phase is OMG please survive. Honestly, it’s mostly a matter of everybody clearing their stacks when they can, and not falling behind on the frost tombs. The problem is that it’s much easier said than done. Blood Queen seems a lot easier now. Putricide is easy except for the last 15 seconds of the fight. Really. When there’s slimes everywhere and no place to go and a huge AoE is ticking, it’s tough.

So what have I been up to outside of Wow? Well, I’ve been getting back into Magic:The Gathering. I used to play, but I stopped for about 10 years or so. We have a growing community here, so I generally play Friday Night Magic, then come home to raid. To those who play it, I feel like I’m making progress in the metagame playing a W/R controllish deck featuring a Stoneforge Mystic/Basilisk Collar/Cunning Sparkmage package. Oh. And Earthquake. And Tuktuk The Explorer. But going searching for phat loots with my Mystic FEELS like WoW.

What else? Playing some of the Starcraft II beta, which is really good, and will be a “serious” e-sport game. I’m not sure if it deserves it as much as say, League of Legends, but it is rock-solid Blizzard programming and it IS Starcraft.

Speaking of Starcraft, I’ve also been following the exploits of “The Cutest Zealot Ever” (According to TVTropes users), and watching Angel Beats!. Be warned. This show is the ultimate mood whiplash, and it goes back and forth between LOL funny and omg tearjerker/heartwarming. The last episode actually had what may have been a WoW reference even….IN THE MOUNTAINS!!

So, the healing advice here? Honestly, when doing an early raid, I find it can be difficult to stay focused. I find some music you can pop on if you need a little pick me up helps a bit. As I’m into anime right now, I find that my pep up playlist is mostly that stuff. The linked video above (My Soul, Your Beats!), Soriano Days and Libra Me FROM HELL from Gurran Lagann, Ready Steady Go, and some other random things, Spaceman and Mr. Brightside by The Killers, and Gold, Guns, Girls by Metric.

It’s not a good idea to blast music so you can’t hear Vent, but to keep focus sometimes some music or something to get you pumped up or help you refocus can help for a long night of raiding. The best is when the music fits in with the various phases so you actually have some fight music 🙂

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Blood-Queen Lana’thel

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MOMMY!!!!

Yeah, this one is rough. By far the roughest healing of the three wing bosses in ICC. (We took a few cracks at Sindergosa, she’s not that bad.) Going into the fight, I underestimated it. I knew there was an aura, I knew there was a good amount of other raid damage going out, but I figured it couldn’t be that bad. A bit tougher than the Twin Valk’yr encounter, right?

Errr. No. Right out of the gate, it’s a mad dash for survival. The healing actually gets easier as the fight goes on, but right off the bat, there’s no crutches, no assist, no ramping up. You’re just dropped right off the cliff.

The standard damage aura in this fight is about 4k every two seconds. This is more than your Rejuv alone can handle. So it’s going to require a combination of Rejuv+Wild Growth on cooldown+Nourish or Regrowth. (Regrowth is better, really good because of the long HoT, but the extra casting time will hurt.)  As well, both tanks will be taking full damage due to the Blood Mirror ability that matches all damage done to the tank onto the off-tank.  That’s a lot of “base” healing right there.

She doesn’t have that many other damaging abilities, but they’re an effective icing on the cake. Swarming Shadows is a more powerful version of Lord Jaraxxus’s Legion Flames ability. Even if a person kites it correctly, they’ll still be taking a significant amount of damage from the dropped flames. So they’ll need extra healing.  The other main ability is Pact of the Darkfallen, which is one of those abilities that ticks until the affected players come within X yards of one another. The big thing about this one is that the Pact damage is AoE damage, so as the players are running towards one another, they’ll damage any player they get close to. A Wild Growth is very good here to overcome this damage.

Every two minutes or so, she’ll walk to the middle of the room and launch into a Bloodbolt Whirl. This launches Bloodbolts at people in the raid, and damages them and the people around them for several thousand. If players are bunched up, this can add up fast, and either kill them outright or put you so far behind in the healing you may not be able to catch up. If you have a Shaman in the raid, a tremor totem will help immensely in dealing with the fear that comes during this mini-phase.

You do have one thing on your side. The main DPS mechanic is spreading “bites” throughout the DPS in order to maximize the DPS buff in order to beat the enrage timer. A side effect of the bites, is that players who are bitten will heal themselves for about 15% of the damage they are doing. It’s not quite enough to overcome the aura damage, but it sure helps. So as the fight goes on, the healing does get easier.

I suggest using your Innervate when you are at about 70% mana or so,  which will be very early in the fight more than likely, so that you may be able to pop it twice during the encounter.

The healing is tough, but once you’re ready for it, it becomes more manageable. So don’t take it lightly. Hunker down for one of your biggest challenges yet.

On a side note, out of the leaked information that MMO Champion has up for the Cata alpha, the only changed talent tree they seem to have is Resto/Balance Druids. Now all this stuff is rumored/Alpha, of course so it’s due to change. But it seems like how they’re going to make Lifebloom really viable again is by providing a talent that would allow Nourish to refresh the duration of Lifebloom.

Let me just say this. Oh, how do I approve of that. It’s a nice, elegant, FUN, mechanic. We still get “punished” if it falls off, but all the same, if you’re tank healing it should be easy to keep up. It’s far too early for a full preview (Expect them frequently once it hits beta), but it’s looking good IMO.

Healing Meters

One thing that always seems to flare up both in-game and on various forums is the effect and accuracy of healing meters. Personally, I think they have their uses, but at the same time people need to be aware of the limitations, and that there are a couple of reasons why variations in healing meter results occur. There are also huge social issues to relying on healing meters, which quite frankly can seriously impact both the quality and even access of healers to your raid.

It’s pretty simple. Healing is not like DPS. You can’t judge it the same way. The reason for this, is that it’s a zero-sum game. Any extra healing that I do, is healing that the other healers are not able to do. Roughly speaking, the maximum amount of effective healing possible is equal to the amount of incoming damage. If the raid takes less damage, then less healing is possible. So as players become better in an encounter, or better geared, and take less damage then the numbers on the healing will actually go down.

I think for a lot of players who are used to the culture of Recount watching, this is a difficult, and sometimes impossible situation to get used to. In this way, they may find that healing simply isn’t satisfying and doesn’t show the necessary progress to keep them motivated. There’s another big problem, in that small variations in reaction time, class,  or the damage pattern can have huge impacts on healing done in an encounter.

Why do I say reaction time, and not straight up skill? Because I don’t think the two things are equal. There are other things that can contribute to reaction time. Lag, computer speed, even UI and computer setup. Some of these things can be realistically overcome, some of these things can’t be.  There is the issue of reaction time, but I’m not a believer that you should need an ultra-fast reaction time to be able to heal in World of Warcraft (or any game for that matter). But those who do have this advantage, might look “good” even though being that good isn’t really that necessary.

My opinion is that minor differences in these aspects, can actually result in major discrepancies in healing meters, because one person is simply getting to the damage first.  This doesn’t mean that the other people suck, or are not doing their jobs. They probably are doing a really good job, and are perfectly capable of doing it without the high healer.  It can mean that the person running up the healing meters is “sniping” heals, that is wasting mana in order to make sure that they are the ones that gets the effective heals off. It can also mean that a healer might not have the experience yet to deal with the content.  There’s nothing wrong with this. It might be that they’ve never done it yet, so they don’t have the rhythms down, or they’re not used to the tools/UI or whatever.

But these things are not really things that can be troubleshot by simply looking at the healing meters. You might have to go into spell usage, or check to see if all the UI/Spells are set up and easy to use. But my rule is simply this. Was the encounter defeated, or given the rest of the raid a reasonable shot and defeating the encounter? Yes? Then the healing was good enough. If there are any problems with healing, it should be troubleshot not by numbers, but by feel. How did the healing feel. Were you taxed, or did it feel comfortable? How is the mana looking at the end of the encounter? These are the things that give you the information you need. I’ve healed with healers who do high HPS, and make the healing feel unmanageable, and I’ve healed with healers who do average HPS, and make me feel comfortable.

Because at the end of the day, healing is stressful enough as it is. It really is all about feel and comfort, which is ultimately about fun.  And fun is what it is all about.

And speaking of comfort, over the last week my guild has beat both Putricide and the Blood Queen in 10 man.  Putricide isn’t too bad to heal up until the very end, where it becomes a desperate race for survival.  (On our kill I was actually in Boomkin form)

Blood Queen? She’s a desperate sprint for survival right off the get-go. And while the healing becomes easier as the fight goes on, right off the bat it feels like a kick in the groin and a punch to the head all at the same time.  If you haven’t done this yet, don’t take it lightly.

New Guide: Growing A Tree

Over on the right side, there is a new guide up for new 80’s or for non-resto Druids not at 80 to help with the initial talent/glyph/gear shock that comes with the territory.  Enjoy 🙂

The big healing race (Dreamwalker)

So I finally got to beat the Dreamwalker encounter the other night, so I figured I’d give my thoughts on it.

First, I’m not sure how good we are going into the portal. I have a feeling that every other class is strictly better at it because they have bigger direct heals than we do. I know that doing it, I did substantially lower healing and HPS than the Holy Pally with us. That said, I was still over 12k by the end, so it wasn’t awful (but we were awfully close to the enrage timer. Like seconds to go).

If the DPS is doing their job correctly, the actual raid damage in this encounter is painfully low. So send two healers into each portal to raise their stacks as much as possible. And building stacks is the key. By the end of our victory I was up to 30 stacks or so. Those are some big heals coming out. So here was my flow;

Starting the fight, Rejuv+Regrowth then spam nourish on the dragon. When the liches get a frostbolt volley off, I’d throw a Wild Growth on the raid to help out. Once the first pre-portals spawn (about 15 seconds before the portals spawn, green orbs will appear to show you where they will appear) I move over to them, then continue my Nourish spam.

Once the portal spawns, I go into it right away, holding down the space bar to fly up. I then find the closest orb and fly into it. This is the tricky part. WoW is not good at 3d spatial locating. So I’d have to move into it, then wait a second for it to “pop” then move to the next one. They respawn fairly quickly, so stay around where the rest of your raid is located. This can be the difference between a wipe and a clear. When coming out of the portals, your lone healer may be a bit behind on the healing, so you should help catch them up if necessary. If you are by the group when you pop out of the portal, this will aid immensely in this. Once this is done, Rejuv, Regrowth then Nourish spam on the dragon. When the green orbs appear, move to one. Rinse and repeat.

The key is getting a quick orb when you go back into the portal to keep your stacks up. Go into the portal immediately when it pops, hit space to go up, and find an orb ASAP. It becomes easier with practice, and it probably will take practice in order to be able to do the job good enough to clear the encounter.

Just as a side note, you may be tempted to send a mage or a warlock into the portal as well for the damage buff. I really advise against this. Consistent dealing with the adds is the key here, as you are only really relying on one healer for most of the raid damage. Sending a caster in will increase the damage the raid takes in the short-term, forcing off-healing for the dragon healers. So just don’t do it!

Dealing with spike rhythms (Blood Princes)

My guild has been progressing through ICC over the last weekend, and on Saturday night we dealt with the Blood Princes. It was a good night, the fight took us an hour and a half to learn, and it quickly went from a big wtf to something that was really enjoyable. (Or at least that was my wife’s reaction to it) So I was thinking about writing a healing post on it, however it’s hard to get a flow for that fight. There’s too much random, and often avoidable damage out there that makes pre-hotting fairly difficult. There’s very little edge or advantage there.

There is one big exception, is when Keleseth gets empowered, pre-hotting the ranged tank is a good idea. That’s the big danger in the fight I found, is with the ranged tank, but once that is taken care of, healing the fight is actually very easy. But still, when he gets empowered a Rejuv+Regrowth blanket and Nourish on the ready will help a lot.

Druids don’t have the best tools to deal with spike damage. Nourish uses a lot of mana and doesn’t really heal for a lot if there’s no HoTs on the target. Rejuv without the T8 4 set bonus takes too long for the first tick. And Regrowth is a fairly long cast. Usually for a single spike I’ll use Rejuv+Swiftmend for a big heal in about 1s or so. But what about if multiple people are spiked?

I like an immediate Wild Growth. Usually a big spike will be some sort of AoE type effect, and as such Wild Growth can get some/most of the spiked targets. From there, you can use Nourish to its full potential and heal each of the weak people fairly quickly. Focus on the weaker or more important targets (like a healer or someone with an important job for the encounter), and just work your way through. Your healing partners will be helping with this too of course.

Now if you know a raid wide spike is coming, such as a decimate type effect, then that’s a good time to start blanketing the raid with Rejuv, and immediately after the effect lands, cast Wild Growth, or Swiftmend on the tank (if they’ve been affected).

Tomorrow I’ll have my thoughts about the Dreamwalker encounter, which we did last night.

New Healing Philosophy in Cata

As we’re reading through the changes to all four healing specs (some more than others) for Cata, there’s one VERY important point to keep in mind.

Healing simply isn’t going to be the same.

Even without any sort of class changes, the entire healing experience is going to be altered in Cata. People are going to have larger health pools relative to both damage and healing, and mana for healers is going to be more of an issue. I don’t like saying that it’s not an issue right now, because it is for most players in top tier content. It’s weird, sometimes I can go through a fight and barely even scratch my mana pool and sometimes at the end of the fight I really am close to OOM. It’s more about incoming damage than anything really.

But what these changes mean, is that healers are intended to go a bit slower on the heals. People don’t need heals right away. They don’t need to go back up to 100% immediately, and in fact healers will be punished via mana issues for jumping the gun.

Now, personally I’m looking forward to trying the changes. I’m not a naysayer or a Ghostcrawler (He’s the guy running the show right now IMO. He’s the head of systems design. WoW is fundamentally a huge system. Also, he has the job that I’d like to have most in the world. Ever.) hater. Actually I like him. I have confidence that if the dials needs to be turned, they will be turned.

However, there is a dark side of sorts. And there’s no real dial that can be used for this. There’s two factors outside of any systems work from Blizzard that makes these changes very scary for healers.

#1. Healers..real healers, are OCD about keeping those bars full. We are. That’s going to be a very hard thing to change.

#2. This is the bigger problem. It’s all about “Where’s the heals?!?!?!?!?!”. Yeah. This is going to be the problem…not in my guild, where nobody would say that in a bad tone anyway. (There’s a legitimate question, if heals fall behind, on what happened. Did a healer die or get d/c? Or was raid damage very high and the healers could never recover and either had to burn too much mana or simply couldn’t catch up.) But it’s going to be very evident in the trade chat heroes.

It’s a return to the BC days, where raiders were expected to bandage up if they took avoidable damage because the healers would be busy elsewhere. In fact, one of our servers most..infamous trade chat heroes was in my guild at one point..and yes complained because he died vs. Gruul because moving out of rock storms and bandaging would hurt his DPS. Ahead of the curve, he was I’d say (and not in a good way). But this is the attitude you’re going to see in Pugs and bad guilds come Cata.

And it’s going to create a hell of a healing shortage. And people will blame Blizz and GC in particular, but it’s not their fault. It’s the fault of the community at large. It’s the fault of the community at large for not respecting the difficult job that healing is, and that while yes, things are slower, that just makes each of our individual decisions much more important.