As you all know, I’ve been a tank on my main now for quite a while.
It wasn’t always this way, I played kitty-mode for all of Pre-BC, until the time came to go into a guild that did 40 man raids, and I found that my contribution to the team was considered more valuable as a healer.
Or, to be blunt, “We don’t need any worthless ferals or balance in our raid. Durid is 4 healz if Durid is 4 raid.”
At the time, I’d had 60 levels of feral, and enjoyed every minute of it… but the guild I’d played in was ultra-teeny. Having 4 other players around the same level as myself to do a 5 man run just didn’t happen.
What that meant was I just didn’t KNOW what any other classes strengths or weaknesses were in comparison to mine.
I was told feral was no good in a raid compared to other DPS classes.
True or not, I had no way of knowing.
Nowadays you have umpteen billion news and opinion and theorycrafting sites where players share their opinions ad nauseuam about who is better than who, who does what better, who is where on DPS or heals or whatever the heck for each class and each spec. What spec of Rogue does the msot PvE Raid DPS?
I don’t even PLAY a Rogue and I know that Mutilate builds got a huge buff for PvE raiding, and overtook Combat as “the” raid spec.
Who is better DPS for raiding, Survival or BM as a Hunter? I only know because I read the opinions and analysis of others online, not because I have firsthand knowledge.
Because to know these things, you need to have a common baseline for comparison. You need to have certain gear standards, to say X Hunter with spec and gear should compare favorably to X Rogue with spec and gear. Different gear, but obtainable from the same level of progression, to keep it even. Who does more DPS? How to know if you don’t have them all yourself and geared well enough to find out?
At the time, as I almost never saw 5 mans in Pre-BC as Feral, my gear was not at the same level as the other players when I joined a raiding guild.
So I could not tell, apples to apples, if a feral cat Druid could DPS favorably when compared to a Rogue, or a Hunter, or whatever. I had no basis for comparison. When we went into UBRS, my feral kitty was in greens and a handful of blues, while the rest were in high blues and purples.
So I just accepted the prevailing wisdom, and said with my usual “What the hell, I’ll try anything once for the experience” attitude, that I’d spec heals.
For the first time ever I looked up healing gear choices, studied this whole “Plus Healing” stat thing, and read up on specs and stats and what to gear towards.
I still remember the surprise I felt when I had been working towards my gear for about a week, running some 5 mans in the guild, LBRS, UBRS, that kind of thing, and when I announced my +Heal amount, I was actually higher than other long-established raid healers.
Because again, the available information on the internet to help a player understand the ‘min/max’ of playing and gearing a character just wasn’t really out there. So most players went by word of mouth in game, and in personal guild website forums. Or assumed that a blue in a gear slot was an upgrade because, well, it’s a blue.
Most players knew what they knew through personal experience. And went to Thottbot for gear searches as the only option. That or Allakhazam. /shudder.
It was playing a class and spec and gearing based mostly on the school of “What some guy said in a bar that one time”.
Oh god, even worse, “What some guy said in Trade chat that one time.”
What a strange time.
Anyway, I healed for a while, I hoped I was pretty good at it, but when BC came out I went Feral again for the duration.
The biggest difference, really, wasn’t how the class changed.
The difference was really one of information.
I had played long enough to have formed a huge assortment of bookmarks to WoW related news and information, and where to research and HOW to research on my own.
Personal experience drove what questions I wanted to ask, and having had that time to look for answers had given me the tools to find things out.
I have, since the time I have been aware of the vast community of resources available to help learn how to play and how to gear, gotten much better at how I approach gearing and speccing my own characters.
But my knowledge and appreciation for what each player goes through is still limited by either reading stories on websites, or by having played the class myself.
And I now know I do not properly appreciate what Healers go through as much as I should, because I have never really played one before. Not since before Burning Crusade… and the game has really changed for Healers since then.
I’ve got a DPS Hunter and DPS Shadow Priest to have two different perspectives on ranged DPS issues, both mana and non-mana related, and for understanding of the issues surrounding pet management when the fur starts flying in a raid. I have my Feral Druid for an in-depth understanding of the issues a Melee DPS faces in positioning and mobility, and of course a LOT of experience in knowing what kind of juggling act a tank can find himself in when rage run low and mobs run wild or players top aggro charts and pull off you for whatever reason.
But a healer… a healer is just something I have not played now in, what? Almost two years?
So, cut to last night.
I am a level 61 Elemental specced Shaman. I have some quests to do in Blood Furnace, and I ask if anybody in the guild wants to do a run in there. I’ll heal.
And Nighthawque, a former feral druid turned Resto Druid since hitting 80, says he’ll throw on his tank gear, still as resto spec, and go.
He had played all of WotLK as feral, he’d tanked at 80 in some of the instances, but he switched to resto and has found he loves the healing.
He was a great feral, and now he’s a great healer. We drag his ass everywhere.
So, okay… a resto specced level 80 in tanking gear in Blood Furnace, an instance run 19 levels below him. With a ranged DPS/Healer hybrid in Spellpower gear.
Not a bad combo, right? Seems reasonable, you Swipe ’em, I’ll keep you alive.
I learned a very valuable lesson in there.
Healers on their blogs just never share stories about the kind of crap they face in runs. It’s truly horrifying.
My first spot of fun was having the Technicians Silence me every time Night pulled them… because they apparently have some kind of Silence thingie if you get too close. And Night took some solid damage from standing on their timed Mines. Okay, gotta stand back out of range. But I can’t stand back there and hang out, because I need to drop my totems where they’ll do Night the most good. Okay, so run in, drop totems, run back to proper range. Okay, this is learning. This is what learning looks like. This is good.
Then every time Night aggroed a spellcaster further in, if I dared to throw down a DPS or heal, it seemed I got a Debuff that increased my cast time by 50%…. and when your big heal spell has a 3 second cast time, that SUCKS. Okay, so prepare in advance just like old school… chain cast, and if Night doesn’t need the heal RIGHT when it’s ready to go off, move to break my own cast without losing Mana and start casting again. Always have a pre-emptive heal ready to pop.
Then we got to the last third, with those huge buffed Felguards the Warlocks carry around.
Those things wipe aggro and go after whoever the hell they want, as long as it ain’t the tank. I can’t remember the actual mechanic, if they go after #2 on aggro list or what, but with only two of us in the instance, Night would aggro one, and it would spend the rest of the fight charging me and STAYING on me every 1.5 seconds thereafter. Night would pull it off, it would charge me again, back, forth, a freaking tennis match.
And it gets real fun when you have a 3 second cast time and you are getting charged and knocked down EVERY 1.5 seconds.
Oh, that’s not so bad when you have Lesser Healing Wave with a 1.5 second cast time. I started using that, of course, and just eating the charges… until you get to the pulls with TWO Felguards, and they are tag teaming you every .75 seconds.
I have to say, not having an insta-heal, a DoT, or anything other than long cast time heals when getting continuously bum rushed by two Felguards gave me a MASSIVE appreciation for what happens on the other end of the healer’s screen when the tank is tanking… and the mob mechanics don’t give a shit.
Aggor from tank? Who cares? We don’t want the tank to keep control of the mobs, that would be BORING. Adding random charges to kill squishie casters is exciting!
I’m not the kind of person who EVER does this, but I have heard plenty of times the cry from tanks in PuGs, “Why didn’t the healer heal X? if you hadn’t LET them die we wouldn’t have wiped.”
Recently, the most recriminations I’ve heard are when pugging 25 man VoA, but it’s not exactly a rare occurance to hear that anywhere.
After seeing just a little of the crap Healers have to deal with last night, the way Blizzard has events set so it just doesn’t matter what the tank does, the healer is taking one in the shorts anyhow, I have to say, I think every player should take the time to play every archtype at least a few times in a group environment at end game
I’m serious. I think the lessons to be learned from having to be sole heals for a 5 man group in an instance, to be melee DPS, to be ranged DPS or have a pet or be the tank for a group is something everyone should do.
If nothing else, maybe some of these pugs I’ve gone on would be less… judgmental when the brown gooey substance hits the spinning metal blades.
Cause lesson learned… you can be doing your best, and sometimes… shit happens. You deal with it, and get rezzed if things don’t work out.