Archive for the “Shaman” Category

Just a heads up. Total Bearwall incoming. Rambling, lengthy post. There is WoW stuff in there, though, I swear! But I’m proud to say that I manage to ramble on for over 4000 words… just for fun. Classic Bearwall action. I know it’s been a while!

People watchers.

I’ve never been that person before.

You know who I mean. People that tell you that they enjoy going to a high traffic area, getting comfortable, settling in, and spending time watching the diversity of folks go by.

The “local color”.

“OMG, did you see that woman with the purple snakeskin capri pants and pink flip flops with the plastic flowers? Wow, who leaves the house looking like that? There’s a trailer park in need of a tornado somewhere.”

Well, I’ve finally found my own version of this. And you are my enablers.

I think I’m starting to play WoW less for the fun of the game, and more for the people watching. 

Don’t mistake me, I still love the game.

But everytime I queue up in LFD, I feel it.

The fascination, the burning desire, the ever-present curiosity…

What incredible jaw-dropping shit is going to happen next? 

It’s people watching – but I swear, it’s even better, because normally you see people in a crowd, and they’ve got their “People are watching me” masks on. They put on some makeup, did their hair, brushed their mullet, and put on their very bestest spandex stretch pants before going to the mall food court.

In WoW LFD, you get the “John Gabriel” factor at play, where everyone is free to be themself. Totally anonymous, especially if they are in a PUG with 4 strangers, all of whom are from different servers than your own, and you’ve got no guildies with you.

Tell me that idea doesn’t make your skin tingle with the desire to plot out social experiments. 

People being themselves, without even the most minimal concern for internet consequences.

All hell can, and sometimes does, break loose.

Disclaimer, and the positive thought for the day;

The amazing thing ain’t that people act like asshats when cloaked in anonymity. The amazing thing is how few people you may run into, out of the vast playerbase, who actually DO act like asshats.

The majority of players you are likely to meet are kind, decent, or at the very least quiet, friendly players. They just want to play the game, have some fun, get some loot, and get on with their lives with the minimum drama and fuss.

Let’s all try and remember that. I may tell stories about amazing stuff that happens, but really, the whole reason it’s entertaining to read those stories is that those are the exceptions, not the normal state of affairs. 

The reason I mostly tell these stories isn’t to demonize people, as much as it is to follow in a grand sea service tradition that does extend to the Marines…

“This is a real no shitter.”

I love sharing these stories. It’s fun.

There is always something amazing waiting, just around the bend. Good, bad or just freaking weird, you never know what’s lying in wait right around the next corner.

Last night I ran two Normal Pit of Saron runs, back to back, in the hopes of getting the mail Spellpower helm off the first boss. I’d really like that hat. Mine is horribad.

These two runs damn near blew my mind. I queued up for a third just on the off chance I could score the hat trick, because this stuff is pure popcorn entertainment. Or as Kiri said in guild chat last night, “I don’t even know what to say to that”.

The first run as a Shaman Healer I’ve got a Death Knight tank, Cassie is with me on her Retribution Paladin, there is a second Ret Paladin on the run, and we’ve got a Mage.

This is Normal Pit of Saron. My expectations are fairly reasonable. A group of people trying, gearing, and learning. Maybe altastic runs, maybe brand new fresh dings.

What I find is, I’ve got an entire crew that’s good… except the tank.

The Death Knight pays absolutely no attention to anyone else in the group, where they are, what they’re doing or, and this is really the point… what mobs may be on them.

He just doesn’t look behind or pay any attention to anyone else but himself and what’s directly in front of him.

He never pops Death and Decay until about the last three seconds of whatever fight he’s on, treating it kind of as an additional DPS technique rather than an AoE threat generating tool.

He was in Frost Presence. I checked. Early on. Trust me, I had to know.

Right from the very start, on the first pull, it began.

The Death Knight avoided the large stationary group at the base leading to the right, jumping down near the water and running up to the single giant Skeleton to engage.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you are even remotely familiar with Pit of Saron, what can you expect?

That the second large group of Summoner and Skeletons, that pats right along there, will roll on up behind you and engage from the rear if you take too long on the Giant Skeleton, or if people hang back too far if the tank grabs the Giant Skeleton and pulls him down and away from the pat area, etc.

So the tank engages the Giant Skeleton right where he is, doesn’t go further. I run forward so I’m at least past the tank and his mob, so I can look back and watch for the pat as I heal. I don’t like being taken from the rear. Read into that whatever you’d like.

The Mage moves a little forward, but not as far as me.

I see the large pat rolling on up. I announce in party chat, “Large pat incoming from the rear”.

The Giant Skeleton drops, the pat takes the Mage from behind, we’re all getting engaged on the group… and the tank takes no notice and runs on ahead, hopping down and grabbing the next two Giant Skeletons. 

This, my friends, is when you perk up, pay attention, and find out if you really have practised your “Oh shit” buttons.

Cassie and the other Ret Pally basically tank the group while the Mage AoEs and I spam heal everyone through it. No real problem after all, group dies, we move forward, and finish off the mobs the Death Knight was on.

Now, you might think that the Death Knight, getting no heals from me while he’s beating on something, might say something. Acknowledge a bit of a scurry there. Whine about health. “Whoops”. Anything.

Nope. Oblivious.

That typified the rest of the run. Death Knight tank that paid absolutely no attention to what anyone else might be doing. And the group tried to adapt.

I wasn’t angry, worked up, or sputtering as the run unfolded. It was Normal Pit of Saron, and I never really felt overtaxed on Healing the rest of the group. It was just, well, amazing. And fascinating. Just how oblivious might this person really be? Is this for real?

See, the thing is, the tank is acting like every other tank you see these days. Full steam ahead, chain pull, fast clear, go go go. The difference is that other tanks that do this at least bother tagging the mobs to establish aggro, and grab the ones that slip on by from over eager DPS. They Taunt. They are aware that there is something that NEEDS to be Taunted.

They at least, bottom of the barrel, wonder why the Healer’s health is dropping… dropping… dropping….

Heheh, on every non-single mob pull, I waited until the tank pulled and whacked for a while, and then when I finally did drop a heal, I still got a faceful of mobs that never got a single tag. 

Ya know, Death and Decay, Blood Boil and all those plague and chill thingies… boy, I thought those spread stuff around. Silly me.

I spent a lot of time with mobs in my face… and on my butt, since the tank never paused once the ones he was fighting were dead, so he’d take off while there were still one or two on me, dazing me, and Cassie and the other Paladin would kinda brush them off me and step on ‘em. Then we’d catch back up to wherever the tank had gotten to. Tank? No clue we’re still fighting back there. No clue I’m getting eaten.

My first actual “cluestick” smackdown rebuttal happened after Krick and Ick died.

The tank lined up on the ramp with the Flame AoE dudes, and I just knew… KNEW what was coming.

And so did everyone else. You could see them kinda… huddle up. I had my own defensive linemen, I swear.

The tank charges in. So does everyone else. I dart forward with them and drop Totem. I wait. AoE kicks in and people start dropping. I cast my first Chain Heal, and here most of them come. Right in my face. The big lady in the middle that does those tasty (I mean ouchie) Shadowbolts?

Yep, all of them cast on me. Boom boom boom.

Yep, I’ve got aggro. From most of ‘em.

Everyone else is working at killing the mobs in that first group, the ones that stay there. One of the teleporting flame AoE dudes is on me like stink on a skunk, teleported right on top of me and going whoomp, whoomp, whoomp.

As I’m chain healing, casting like a fiend, flipping the mobs the bird ’cause we got this and everyone else is coming down to finish them off… I see the tank, all alone, run up to grab the next group.

Yep, no pause, no break, no indication there was a thought in his mind that we might be trying to finish this last guy down here pounding the healer to hell before going up top to grab the next group.

Love that AoE flame, thanks!

He just runs on ahead, far out of range of my heals BTW, and grabs the next group.

We stay where we are, finish off our flame dude, and run on up the hill.

His health is going down, he’s at half before I get there.

I’ve got plenty of time to respond.

I let his ass die. Cold and hard.

I watch as his health continues to drop and then poof! Dead.

I didn’t lift a finger to help him.

Cassie, the other Ret Paladin and the Mage meanwhile are engaging the group.

I heal them through it, without a single problem.

We kill that second group, from start to finish, with two Ret Paladins, a Mage and me, no actual tank at all. And it was EZ mode.

I’ve made the tank see, lying there dead in the dirt, that if he really wants to play games, well, we can move on. It’s okay. We don’t actually have to follow him to certain death. He does not automatically get to pull us all down into death with him.

After the group is dead, I rez him. Nobody says a word. At least, not until the tank says, “Wow, sorry guys.”

Do I think he might have learned to pay a little bit more attention?

Did I at least enjoy seeing him eat a repair bill?

Yes, I did. And I was curious to see if he’d realise what had happened, and if so, if he’d get pissy and leave the run.

Nope, no clue.

But it should get better now, right?

HAH!

The tunnel. The ice. The mobs.

What are the rules?

You know the rules of Tunnel Club.

  1. Nobody attacks but the tank.
  2. Nobody heals anybody unless the tank absolutely no shit needs it. If someone dies, we come back later when the tunnel shuts down and rez them. 
  3. Nobody talks about Tunnel Club. Oh, wait.

Wow. Hard.

So, first time up the tunnel, tank makes a mad dash for the center metal circle.

Yeah, the first time. That’s an artistic writing technique called foreshadowing. See what I did there?

He’s below half health by the time we get there, but I’ve held off, and nobody else did DPS. At the metal circle, the DPS begins to burn them down, and I cast some heals.

The last mobs aren’t even dead yet, the Mage has aggro on a couple the DK hasn’t grabbed, more adds are streaming down the tunnel towards us aggroed on ME ignoring the tank… and the Death Knight takes off for the second half of the run, hell bent for leather.

He doesn’t grab anything as he runs past.

Edit addition: I realise, on re-reading this massive bearwall, that I was unclear here about what was going on during this first run in the tunnel. The DK took off from the metal circle while there were still mobs, many of them on me… and like in all normal groups, even though I had aggro from stuff hitting me, we all as a group took off after him and tried to keep up. The DK enver paused or slowed down to see how the rest of us were doing. Not once. He just ran straight to the end and waited, and the rest of us tried like hell to keep up.

Meanwhile, I’m getting hit. I’m having to cast heals on myself to stay alive. This is adding to healer aggro, making me even more tasty to every new mob the tank is running past, who are all ignoring him to come get me. And the Mage is trying like hell to get them off of me, so he’s getting pounded right beside me as we run, we’re both dazed and falling behind, and next thing you know I’m chain healing the Mage and myself, we get overwhelmed, and die, just as we reach the end of the tunnel. 

The rest of the group, without heals, and swarmed by all the mobs that had been on me, go down shortly thereafter.

Ever notice you don’t have time to slow down and do it right, but there’s always time to run back in and do it over?

Now, there are no recriminations. No harsh words. But also no encouragement. Just a grim determination to keep going.

But not from everyone.

We lose the Mage. He drops group, and we get a new Mage.

We square off at the tunnel, and I say to Cassie on vent, “Let’s just do our thing, and I’ll keep us alive”.

We take off exactly the same as before.

Everything happens exactly the same as it did last time.

With one major difference.

As the Death Knight takes off for the second half of the tunnel run, I stand my ground on the metal circle. I’ve got my totems out, the mobs that the DK ignored are still on me, the ones running down the tunnel towards us past the DK come on down to us, and Cassie stands her ground beside me.

And so does the other Paladin, and even the new Mage.

Death Knight? Runs on up and out of range. Bye? Bye!

We stand our ground, and I heal the group as everyone else kills the adds.

And kills the adds.

Eventually, we run out of adds to kill. They just stop coming.

Eventually, the DK comes down and rejoins us. Bringing the two adds from the tunnel mouth. And a few spawned mini-skellies.

The last two mobs of the tunnel and a few scrubs. Those were the only things he kept aggro on himself.

We killed the few mobs he brought down with him to the metal circle… and the avalanche and spawned adds instantly stopped.

We actually completed the tunnel run, and cleared it, and shut down the snowstorm blue circle of knockback add generation idiocy AT THE METAL CIRCLE.

I didn’t even know you could do that.

We calmly walked up the rest of the way, and as you can imagine, healing the group through the last boss wasn’t even an issue.

That… that kind of run is so amazing to be a part of, it’s hard to describe. You know in your hearth that, if it were on Heroic, it would be a run of frustration, of anger, of pain, of guilt when people died, of abandoned group and just a terrible experience.

But, on Normal… it was kinda fun. Horrifying in it’s implications for any poor group that gets him for a tank in the future, but fun at that time, in that place.

And I’ll be honest. Letting him die, all alone, and THEN stepping in and killing that group on the ramp? That felt epic even as we were doing it.

Homeric, even. :)

You’d think that would be enough for a post, wouldn’t you? Isn’t that enough of an evening to retell?

Oh, hell no. There’s more.

But I’ll be quick about it. I swear. 

The second run was smooth sailing. A rare pleasure to heal. Excitement at times, fun challenges, but a solid team working with you.

A Paladin tank, a feral kitty Druid, a DPS Death Knight dual wielding one-handers and a Combat Rogue.

Everyone else on the run, aside from the Death Knight, was in pretty new gear. Tank, Rogue, Druid, mostly blues.

That sets it as a challenging run.

The difference? Skill. They did a good job.

I’d like to be clear about this; I have rarely, if ever, seen a better job of tanking in Pit of Saron. That Paladin tank locked down every single mob, positioned himself perfectly for each pull, manuevered where appropriate, stood still where not for the melee DPS.

So, what’s the problem? What made this run unusual?

Well, here’s the deal.

So Forgemaster Garfrost drops Garfrost’s Two-Ton Hammer. I am at work on my lunch and can’t link to WoWhead, I’ll do it when I get home, but the hammer is a two handed mace with tons of Strength, Stamina, Crit, and a red socket.

Both the Death Knight and the feral Druid roll Need.

The Death Knight gets a 9, the Druid gets a 92 and wins.

The DK immediately throws an epic level hissycow.

First, he’s rude and pissed the Druid rolled at all. When the Druid replies, polite as all heck, saying that’s it’s a big upgrade for him, the DK starts telling the Druid that Druids don’t want Str, it’s useless to a Druid, Druids should only ever roll on Agi items.

I inspected the Druid. He had a blue quality mace, not bad, but a long, long, LONG way away from Garfrost’s Two-Ton Hammer in terms of kitty DPS. Not to mention, dump a +20 red Agi gem in it, it’s not bad for Bear tanking. Not optimal of course, but it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. It’s got lots of Stamina on it, and a socket for added Stam or avoidance. What more do you really want when you’re alternative is a blue mace with no sockets, huh?

The DK won’t let it go. He bitches, pisses, moans, whines, tells everyone and anyone in the run how the Druid should never have taken it, it’s no good for him at all, Druids should never take Str, it’s worthless, and on and on and on.

I pipe up, just to say “I’m sorry, but that’s not correct. Feral Druids get Attack Power in both Bear and Cat from Strength. It’s far from useless.”

The DK wheels on me. He apparently feels the need to spank this upstart down and put him in his place so he can keep working on the Druid.

“My main is a Druid” he informs us.

I answer that my main is a Druid too.

He tells us “My main is a tank. You can check with Elitist Jerks that I’m right.”

Then he adds, in a second line, “If you’re a Druid, I bet you’re resto.”

Yes. Yes, he did.

Oh, hell yes he did.

Cherish that mental image with me for a few moments. I’m sitting there, with a lot of folks that happen to play Feral Druids that come visit me regularly on a website, and yeah, I don’t raid, but I have been known to occasionally research a few things here or there. Granted I haven’t visited the EJ website in months, but that’s okay. I do my own research, and when I’m wrong, you guys catch me. I’ve just been told that if I do play a Druid, it must be as Resto. The implication, of course, being that I’m completely ignorant about Bear tanking or feral Druiding. I know things can change, but last I heard Str still coughs up some AP in bear and cat both. Cataclysm ain’t live yet, is it?

As Emilio Estevez said in Young Guns, “Hey! I’ll make you famous!”

And for much the same reason.

But no, this is a fun post, not a name and shame post.

Still, how delicious!

Now, having put me in my place, he continues haranging the Druid.

The Druid finally says, “Ug, here.”

I stop dead. Remember, we’re still playing. This entire conversation is happening while we are playing, killing the mobs after Garfrost. We’re at this point killing the last couple parts is parts draggy mobs before killing Krick and Ick.

I say, “Please tell me you did NOT just give the DK the staff.”

The DK says, “It’s not a staff, it’s a mace, bro.”

To which, all I can possibly reply is, “What possible different does that make, “bro”.”

He did. The Druid actually gave in to pressure, and traded the damn mace to the whining DK.

The Druid asked him to equip it. The DK answers, “I happen to be dual wield specced at the moment.”

/facepalm

The Druid turned over a massive, huge honking upgrade he could have used immediately to someone who isn’t even ready to use it until he juggles a bunch of other stuff. And to someone who lost the damn roll fair and square!

I was appalled. What a complete asshat. Making someone else feel like shit for daring to want an upgrade that was actually perfectly viable for him and try to guilt him into trading it back.

Nevermind that he succeeded, just to do that to another player in the first place.

As I said, the run itself went smooth as can be. Great tanking, good DPS, easy healing. No worries. Just fun challenges.

In Ick and Krick, the Druid and the Rogue each were Pursued; each were one shot. New players to the fight maybe, nobody thought to mention mechanics. They’d done so well up until then.

Both of them went down very early on, when the boss was still at about 75% health. Between the tank, the Death Knight and myself, we had zero problems completing the boss smooth as silk. It wasn’t a panic… it was a fun challenge. Everyone ended at full health, no issues, and I still had good mana from potions and Totem juggling and Mana Tide and stuff.

But at the end, I made a point of saying that I really enjoyed the run, had a great time with everyone, and would love to run with them again, great tanking, solid playing… except the DK. I told him he was now on my ignore list, and I hoped to never see him again.

He can take that and think what he wants about it. His behavior just blew my mind.

I did whisper the Druid and mention a link to my website, if he’s ever interested in some starter info on getting ready for Bear tanking. He’d mentioned in chat that he wanted to get geared up to do some, and what the heck, some of the stuff I have on the sidebar might be helpful. You never know.

Hopefully, he’ll not only look forward to Bear tanking, but also learn more about the mechanics of the Druid, to feel a little more confident in asserting his right to roll on gear that is perfectly appropriate to his chosen specs and stated goals.

Maybe next time, he’ll be prepared to tell a player unhappy with a roll that he’s sorry the player isn’t happy, but yes, it is a very viable weapon, and he’s grateful to have won the roll, and fully intends to use it.

Seriously. These runs, seeing this side of people, the often good, the rarely bad, and the frequently damn strange… it’s addictive. It really is. You never know what’s going to happen next.

Keeps me on my toes. :)

Comments 44 Comments »

A weekend of Shaman Healing (and occasional Bear tanking) has led me to believe that a lot of people I meet in random groups don’t understand there is a clear priority list to healing.

As a healer, I do not frantically click all the little green bars willy-nilly hoping that somehow, we will all pull through.

I prioritize.

I make sure each and every heal is cast with precision, in order of importance, with an eye to my overall goal of  successfully completing each run.

Many people just don’t seem to understand how the priorities work. It’s very clear to me.

So, I’m going to help explain. This is my Sunday Service to you.

In a random group in LFD or in raids, healing priority goes in the following order;

1) Me.

2) The tank, so long as he is keeping things off of me. If he’s letting me take aggro from spawned mobs, I’m going to reduce heals accordingly until he gets his head out of his ass, or eats some repair bills, whichever come first.

3) My spouse, because if I let her die, I’m never going to hear the end of it.

4) Any other guildies in the run, because I already know I like them.

5) Anyone that’s been nice and friendly in the group. Examples include, but are not limited to; Saying hello at the start, being helpful or polite, typing with proper grammar and/or spelling, sharing any amusing and light-hearted anecdotes, or perhaps even, wonder of wonders, buffing properly or dropping a Mage table. Dropping a Mage table can even bump you to above “4″, if the guildy is being a lazy bastard.

6) Anyone that is a stranger and hasn’t said a word the entire run. I’ll heal you, but I won’t really give a shit if you live or die.

7) Any stranger that has been a jerk or mouthy, or can’t spell, or acts like an idiot… oh, who am I kidding, these people don’t get heals. They never get an intentional heal. They may get the unintended benefit of my Chain Heal, and then only if I really have to cast it to help numbers 1 through 6 above. If I can get away with it, I’ll cast Lesser Healing Wave and Riptide all around you, isolating you from the glorious warmth and love of my heals, leaving you cast out in the cold to suffer. Leave the group, you asshat, and take your spammed Recount with you.

8) Any Warlock that repeatedly Lifetaps below 25% health after each pull. These people seem to think my Mana pool is actually for their sole use, leaving me to blow my Mana on the run to the next group just to heal him back up. Unless he falls into category 4 or 5, he gets between jack and shit, because if he thinks he’s all that evil in using me… then he must admire real evil, like my letting him die from the consequences of his own Lifetap on the next AoE damage pull, right? If he doesn’t appreciate the joke… well, guess he either needs to get a sense of humor, or buy some damn Mana juice with his own gold and leave mine alone. I understand Kungaloosh has a nice kick.

Life will move a whole lot smoother in LFD once you people understand the priorities!

Comments 81 Comments »

Name where I got that (slightly changed) quote from that I used as a title, and get a Big Bear shout out… because if you recognise where it came from after I tweaked it a little, you’re definitely my kind of movie fan.

Yes, that’s a hint. The original line is from a movie. Here’s a second hint; it’s one of my favorite films of all time.

Now, on to the show!

A few nights ago I finally achieved my mini-goal of hitting 375 Enchanting on my Shaman, and so I no longer had any excuse not to play her.

I queued up once again as a Healer Shaman, and away I went into LFD.

All I wanted was a quick romp in the Heroic sack with some random PUG I picked up in a bar, but, as Ford Fairlane might have said, “I got the bonus plan.”

I got Drak’theron Keep, and in looking at the group composition (as I always do for Totem adjustment) I saw that three of the others in the group were all from the same guild. A Paladin, a Shaman, and a Shadow Priest.

Now, the first thing I did was laugh, and I mean really laugh at the name of this guild.

Get this; Prophet of Cthulhu.

Why did that get me chuckling? For the answer to that, may I refer you to this ancient post of mine, from May of 2008, wherin I plug John Ringo books, throw down the hate on Transformers, laugh about things that lots of people probably take very seriously, get insanely cranky… and way down at the bottom relate a true story concerning myself, some very serious true believers, and the great old ones of Lovecraftian lore.

Okay, so I’m laughing with the guild name of these three, and off we go.

First thing I do, as I said, is see that one of the three, Lardzilla, is a Enhancement Shaman, and I’m examining what Totems he’s dropping in the first coupe fights so I can set mine not to overlap. I also check to see what the Paladin did for buffs, all the things a Shaman has to do to make sure you drop the right Totems. And of course, I get my Tremor Totem set for later, when the fear, she be a flowing.

This causes me to lag a little behind, but I do my best to keep the heals flowing.

Then we get to some lizards, and I’ve got max skinning and seem to be the only skinner, so again, I’m lagging behind a little trying to get some skinning in.

All in all, I’m doing my best, but I’m certainly not feeling like I’m giving off the impression to the others of being bright-eyed, bushy tailed, and poised to let the heals flow.

We blow through the instance, everything is pretty nice, a few times the Paladin scoops up groups that are a bit larger than I’d certainly like, but some frantic healing and Nature’s Swiftness keep everything just fine.

We hit the end boss, finish him off, and I win the epic Mail healing bracers. Score!

I also ding the 25 Emblem achievement. :)

I thank the group for the run, and make the comment in passing that it does get hard gearing up a new alt all over again.

The Paladin, of all people, comments that he knows the feeling from his Druid.

I mention that at least I’ve got an idea about healing and some good toolslike Vuh’do thanks to my other healer, a Tree Druid, and the Paladin says he hates Vuh’do on his Tree Druid, he prefers Lifebloomer instead, an addon I’m not even sure I’ve heard of before.

Next thing I know, the Paladin says, “Hey, when did you ding?”

I tell him I just turned 80 on Saturday, and it’s been a lot of fun.

Next thing I see, he’s queued the four of us up for heroic Forge of Souls, and says, “Here, let’s get you some gear.”

Well… okay, this is an unprecedented level of niceness from three folks that I haven’t seen before. My healing sure as heck didn’t warrant this behavior.

What does that leave?

It couldn’t possibly be… nice people?

Hmmm.

The Paladin queues us up, and it won’t let him. Why? Because despite my efforts, I still don’t have the gear necessary to let me in.

So the Paladin laughs and queues us up for regular Forge of Souls, and away we go!

We did Forge of Souls, and Pit of Saron, back to back, and they were willing and ready to go do Halls of Reflection, if I hadn’t had to go get Alex ready for bed.

And a nicer bunch of people I haven’t seen in a PUG in a long, long time.

Knowing the fights, the enemy tactics, and the boss encounters from both a Paladin tank and Healer point of view helped immensely in making sure I was proactive in my healing rather than reacting in a panic.

And being familiar with Vuh’do and having studied my spells also helped a ton.

But mostly, I had a very well geared tank and a very powerful group of DPS that killed things before they had a chance to hurt anyone too much. :)

Earlier I mentioned an exploit. Mostly, I brought it up just to be able to use that movie quote in the title. :)

We did use an exploit I had never heard of before, in Pit of Saron, but it didn’t actually make my ass drag. OR make my butt slump.

What happened was, as soon as Ick and Krick were dead, the Paladin said, “Everyone mount up, we’re going to do the exploit.”

I had no idea what he meant, but I know what a mount is. I’m kinda crafty that way. I can haz hoofs!

Loot was taken, but even before the dialogue was over and Krick was dead, we were mounted up… and heading up the ramp.

We reached the top of the ramp just as the two shadowcasters appeared to head down, and they ignored us as we kept on going to the other side and stopped on that first landing halfway towards the tunnel, where it takes a dogleg 90° to the right. The two groups on the ramp spawned after those two reached their positions… and ignored us, safe at the top landing.

We only had the two groups of icicle guys and their minions to deal with before the tunnel.

I don’t mind the ramp, but I’ll admit, I wasn’t crying a river of alligator tears about avoiding that particular fight when I don’t know everyone I was with, and my healing power is a might on the low side just yet.

Anyway, we blasted through the whole thing, I was very careful of my healing during Overlord Brands, and I got the nice Mail healing chest piece, and of course emblems and stuff.

More than that, we chatted a bit during the run, and I really was amazed at how you can sometimes just bump into the nicest people.

Things like this really serve to highlight one lack which I wish Blizzard could remedy.

We already have an ignore list that works cross-server, and if you put somebody from another server on it, it prevents you from being queued with that person in a random again in the future.

That’s all well and good.

What I wish is that there was a cross-server friends list, where if you find yourself grouped with some really nice folks, you could exchange friends lists.

You put them on your list, they put you on theirs, and if the random generator sees two people who BOTH are on each other’s friends list, it matches them up together by preference, if possible.

Just a thought. It’s nice that we can prevent future occurances of playing with the same asshats, but I’d love it if we could increase the chance that we would play with great folks we’ve had fun with again.

So, to Khaotix, Karalov, and Lardzilla of Prophet of Cthulhu, thank you very much for being really nice people, and great players, and for being kind to a complete stranger in a pug.

Bravo. You all rock.

Comments 24 Comments »

Normally, I present info from the uni-directional point of view of da tank, and tank alone.

I certainly try and keep an open mind and look at things from different angles, but until I’ve been there, it’s hard to have specifics.

This time, I’ve got a few things that playing a new healer in heroics has brought to my attention that I thought would be fun to discuss.

First, I’m not really new to healing. I dual-specced my Druid quite a while back, got setup with Tree healing, and I love it. It is the absolute perfect accompaniment to the Bear tanking mindset; highly mobile, pre-emptive, heal them before they even know they needed it kind of healing.

As a Bear tank, one of our strengths is the mobile AoE. We like to run and gun. :)

As a Tree healer, our greatest strength (in my opinion) is the predominance of instant cast HoTs. We can also run and gun. We’re all about running and.. well, and leafing along. Why look… synergy.

As a Tank in instances, if I see I have a Tree healer, I know that I can remain mobile and healing can continue as normal. I’m not irritating the healer by always being on the move. I watch mana levels on the party as I pull, but I know that I won’t be leaving a swearing healer in my wake.

I’ve got a Priest that I had healed with a few times back in Burning Crusade before I went Shadow, so I know about that a little bit. And Cassie has a max level Paladin that she plays Ret and Holy in groups, and who has raid healed a few times, so I know a bit about that healing style from watching her and hearing her side of things. I know that being a healer whose main healing spells have relatively long cast times can be annoying, and even stressful if the tank doesn’t take that into account on things like Culling of Stratholme.

Now, I’ve just completed a slew of heroics as a new Shaman healer to give me a fresh perspective.

Here is the one suggestion I’d like to make when you go in to tank with an unknown healer; remember that not every healer uses instant cast spells.

Yes, every healer can follow along and keep up when tanks hustle through instances. Tree healers have an easier time of it than the others, but just taking the Shaman as an example, Lesser Healing Wave is pretty darn powerful, and with appropriate levels of haste on your gear, it’s relatively speedy. Riptide is a nice instant cast, and Nature’s Swiftness plus Chain Heal or Healing Wave gives you another big instant hit if things are moving fast and you just CAN’T take 2.5 seconds minus haste to get a normal Chain Heal off.

But the thing is, while all healing classes can heal on the run and do it very well, remember that there is a timing sequence here, and as has been pointed out by so many people, tanks set the pace of the run.

Everything flows from the tank. The tank runs fowards, the rest follow along. We’ll not linger overlong on DPS that run forward to attack before the tank does to hustle things along, okay? There is a special place in hell reserved just for them.

The tank runs forward, as I said, followed by the DPS who engage the mobs, followed by the healer, who catches up, stands still and remains poised to heal. Or immediately launches into healing and healing and healing.

If the healer has long cast time heals they want to use, they may begin pre-emptive casting, and then move at the last moment to interrupt their own heal so as not to waste mana.

Mana on a long cast is spent when the spell goes off, and not at the start of casting. As I’m sure everyone knows, you can begin casting your 2.5 second long heal while everyone is still at full at the start of the pull, and if the target just happens to take damage, you can let it go off looking like a healing genius… and if the target’s still at full, you can hop in place and break your own cast to save mana. No harm done, right?

I’m only bringing this up because if you, the tank, run up and grab mobs, then the DPS runs up and opens up on them, then the healer runs up and stops and begins casting… if the mobs are dead 2 seconds later and the tank takes off again, that 2.5 second cast time heal ain’t going off before your butt is out of range. At the very least, if everyone runs off the millisecond that the mobs are dead, and the mobs die like they have been from the uber-DPS people have these days, then sometimes not everyone is healed back up from party damage. Ya’all take off while the healer was still casting his second spell.

Now the healer has to start running again to catch up, not everyone is at full, and start falling back on super fast casts and instant casts only to try to get folks topped up before the next pause, or start out at a negative on the next group.

Does it matter? 90% of the time, no. But it can be stressful, and why should you stress the healer for nothing?

When it does matter is when the tank grabs tons of mobs because, oooh look, I’m a rock star, the DPS gleefully blows them up, and then the tank, at 50% health, Feral Charges himself directly at the next big pack, or packs, or even better rounds a corner and charges the boss when you were still trying to get your long cast off. 

Healers just love it when you start a boss fight when everyone is still at around 50% health or less, and the healer has been chain casting to catch up.

Again, it’s not a big deal, no reason to whine, most healers will be bored if you slow down too much.

There is a lot of satisfaction to be felt in running at top speed as a healer, keeping everyone alive and near full all the time without needing a pity break. It’s something the healers I know take pride in, in not needing everyone to be waiting around on the healer.

But it’s something to be aware of if you’re the tank, and the only thought in your mind is “Gotta get the aggro. The aggro. Gotta get the aggro.”*

You may be having a great time running around grabbing lots of stuff, and holding aggro, and having a fast run. The DPS may be loving the pace.

But the healer may just be feeling a little stressed having to chain cast long cast time spells non-stop, and not getting a moment to catch their breath because if they ain’t casting, they’re drinking for two seconds before getting up and running along after you again.

Really, all it takes is saying, “Hey, if my pace is too fast, just let me know, okay? I can hold off for a second for mana or heals. No problem.”

I bet if you say that, then again, you’ll almost never hear anyone say anything. But at least the healer knows you give a shit.

And it can also help you identify asshat DPS that throw a hissyfit at the very idea you might pause for anything, anything at all. I like to know who they are for my ignore list. :)

For the record, I’m not going to post my Shaman’s name or a link just now, because while it’s not any big secret (or all that hard to figure out), my gear right now ain’t anything anyone needs to see.

I ran a bunch of heroics, but I took most of yesterday off to do something else; level Enchanting on my Shaman from 0 to 315, on my way to 350.

I got stopped by the need for a gazillion Arcane Dust, but since none of my gear had been enchanted yet after just dinging 80, I just cast them on myself over and over.

I really don’t need somebody following a character link, and then being an asshat because I’ve got a +1 Stam enchant on my bracers, or a Mana Prime on my chest piece, ya know? I’ve been buying the big ticket end game enchants on gear that’s going to last, like my Zom’s shield, but that’s about it.

Once my enchanting is done, yes I’m sure I’ll replace those enchants. If I was in all epics, then I might leave them just to freak people out, but when my gear is all starter stuff, I don’t have any room to have stupid enchants as a goof.

Anyway, I did have a lot of fun healing on my Shaman, and aside from my very first run, they were all smooth as could be. Well, aside from a Drak’theron Keep run, bt that was mostly due to some mid-run sillyness and joking. :)

It was pretty amazing, how much of a difference there is in a tank’s pace. A little pause between pulling big groups of just a second or two, no more, makes a huge difference on a healer with long cast times in staying on top of everything without feeling too rushed.

Halls of Lightning, Oculus a couple times, Utgardt Keep, Utgardt Pinnacle, Gundrak a few times, Drak’theron Keep… I saw a nice range of places, and they were all fun. None of them were any problem at all, but tank pace and placement counts for so much in making the difference between a fun run and a stressful one.

More updates will follow… after my Enchanting gets better. :)

*For those that remember those old Dunkin Donuts commercials with the old guy that walked around in a daze waking up to go and make the donuts… “Gotta make the donuts, the donuts, zzzz”

Comments 26 Comments »

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.

Why?

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.

Why?

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.

Comments 30 Comments »

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