Are you a melee master, healing dilettante?

I’ve been told that there is some interest in my experiences picking up healing as an off-spec, and how it’s going, after all my time strictly playing an in-your-face bearcat.

Now, I try not to pretend that healing is a foreign concept to me. I had, once upon a time, played my Druid as a healer in 40 man situations, before there were such things as tree forms, and I didn’t really enjoy it all that much.

I’ll be honest; part of the reason for my distaste would be that I played Feral through ALL previous content, solo and in groups, even in Blackrock Spire raids, and loved it, even if all the real raiders sneered at my feral-ness. “Feral Druids suck”, they’d say, “If you want to raid with the big boys, you need to go heals.”

I bitched, pissed and moaned about it, and made it as clear as I could that my love was feral, but the gear itemization and Tier sets for Druids at the time seemed to side firmly with the raid leaders… go Resto or go home.

I really wanted to see the fabled 40 man content. It was my choice, I could have refused and been benched, but I decided to go ahead and go Resto for raiding with the guild so I could see what was up with all that funky stuff.

And so, 40 man content was how I learned. And it was kinda sucky. In pre-BC raiding, it seemed to me that, in our guild anyway, out of 40 players fielded on a given evening, 25 or so were real damn good, 10 or so were fairly decent, and 5 flat out sucked.

Learning to heal in Onyxia with 5 idiots in the mix was challenging, fun, stressful, and gave one a greater appreciation for the classics.

I don’t care what you want to say, the fact is that if you are a designated healer, you are responsible for the health and well-being of these people placed in your care. You are the angel of life and death… and when one of your charges dies, even from acting stupid, you STILL blame yourself for not saving them.

It’s stressful to watch, helplessly, as idiots die. Although it is pretty amusing after the fact, if you’ve got video.

Learning to heal in Ony and Molten Core also left me with a desire to SEE what was going on, rather than peeking occasionally past 40 health/mana bars on my screen.

Anyway.

As a Feral Druid, I know I’m experienced in how I do things, and it’s smooth and comfortable. The playstyle feels fluid. Maybe TOO fluid.

When picking up an alt, I learn the playstyle of the different class, and, maybe because it truly is a different character to me, I find it pretty easy to keep the button presses and keybinding combinations unique to each one in their own little worlds. I don’t try to Mangle while playing a Shadow Priest. 🙂

In changing the spec of a character I have only played one certain way for so very long that I’ve worn grooves in the keystrokes, it’s a different story.

I think, in some ways it would have been easier to start a new Druid and raise her as Balance/Resto than it has been to take Windshadow and add a dual spec.

It would have been easier, but not nearly as much fun. 🙂 

When I decided to try healing on Windshadow, the considerations were;

  1. Getting the best gear I could before expecting others to trust their lives to me.
  2. Getting a healing spec that wasn’t just something someone told me to do, but was a spec where I understood why I had chosen the Talents I did,  and what the implications would be for a playstyle.
  3. Learning how to play.

Thanks to wonderful Resto Druid bloggers such as Bellwether, and brilliant fellow guildies Lady Jess, Jardal and Algenon, the spec and gear choices were the easy parts of that to work out.

Obviously, it was very convenient to be able to main tank Heroics and Raids with one fully decked out gear set, and pick up those healing pieces that other players didn’t need. I could gather up the discards that would have been sharded and build a starter set that is the next best thing to a main set.

With judicious crafting, Emblem purchases, Heroic drops and even Naxx gear, my starter set was a mixed blessing. By being so powerful, my early forays into healing, while successful, did not encourage skill, because high Spellpower and Mana baselines let me use brute force and still succeed. This becomes apparent when you see the advice people have for me on healing Loatheb for the 3 seconds, since timing of Lifebloom blooms is a skill I have yet to develop, and it hadn’t occured to me to test Rejuve ahead of time to know that 1 heal tick per 3 seconds of Rejuvenation shows other things like Tranquility would have been much more effective.

Yes, gear and spec were the easy parts. Learning to play is the true challenge.

The in-depth aspects of learning to play will come as I research each ability more, determine the heal to mana efficiency, and plumb what ticks when, and for how much.

At the very beginning, though, there was a ‘learn2play’ aspect I had to decide on, that would affect the rest of my playing of the class.

To use a healing mod, or not?

In the old days of 40 man healing, Decursive existed and let you easily cast Remove Curse/etc when a player was affected. I know that many folks had far more fancy customizations of it, predictive healing and selective downranking so as to heal just right without a single dollop of overhealing and wasted mana, but I didn’t get into it that far before Blizzard crushed it’s functionality.

Hmmm, let me talk about that for a second. I know how things are now, but when healing in 40 man raids, things were tuned pretty tight on healing and mana. Many of you probably remember this vividly, but some of you might have taken up healing long after this stuff. Here’s a history lesson for how healing has changed.

Prior to Burning Crusade, it was not only common but very nearly required for a Resto Druid to have 4 or 5 ranks of Healing Touch on your bar, and to intimately know where their healing min and max values were when coupled with your +healing, and what their various cast times were, so that you could cast a Healing Touch that would do just the right amount of healing needed, for the minimum Mana cost, with the fastest cast time possible.

One of the signs of a master Resto Druid was nailing exactly the right Healing Touch to top off at the perfect moment without overhealing, because healing meters and overhealing meters were zealously watched for signs of wasted Mana.

Now, of course, with more utility from HoTs, and every HT rank costing the same amount of Mana, and with lesser ranks of spells gaining less bonus from +healing/+spellpower, downranking mastery has gone the way of the dodo. For the most part, so has Healing Touch, except for instant cast heals with Nature’s Swiftness.

Should you care? No, I just think it’s good to remember sometimes how things have changed in all aspects of the game… and how hard it was back in the day to envisage where the changes Blizzard was making would leave us in the end.

I think that, if you look at where we started with healing, and where we are now, and how things continue to change moving forward, a case could be made that we should never, ever expect any changes in a Patch to be the final change. Over time, things are always changed and adjusted, and once those changesd are absorbed into the system and we adjust, another small set of changes are made. Blizzard is, through skill or luck, driving change slowly and surely to an ever more interesting end. I think rather than demanding to know when we have finally reached the destination.. we should instead settle back and enjoy the ride.

Sorry. Bearwall. Moving back on topic…

To use a healing mod or not?

Basically, it comes down to a decision.

Do you want to heal by selecting a portrait and then casting heals on that chosen target, and use focus targets, and point and click on button bars or memorize spell numbers for click-selection and hot key pressing….

Or do you want to install an addon that will let you assign various spells directly to mouse+key combinations, letting you cast mouseovers for everything, but will require you to memorize what the hell all those combinations ARE?

Each one has a basic mode, and then ever-increasingly advanced variations and additions.

With the basic point and click heal, you mouseover a character portrait, click on it to select the person, then mouseover the appropriate spell to cast it, then mouse back up to select someone else, and then mouse back down to click a spell again… or spells…

The next advanced step is to have those spells in numbered slots, and then click to select a portrait with one hand while selecting spells to cast with the number pad/bar.

From there, well, the sky is the limit. Utilizing true keybinds for spells, keybinds for character/target selection, focus targets to have two people selectable simultaneously, hot keys, and macros out the wazoo. You can absolutely master healing without ever using an addon, and there are folks that take pride in doing so.

One argument I’ve heard in favor of this, is that when big patch changes come, fancy addons can be broken for days or weeks, and it’s a sad state of affairs when a player can’t raid because his addon is busted.

Choice two is to go with a healing addon to help you streamline target selection and casting.

Healing addons are pretty much designed to let you easily retain movement of your character by placing both target selection and spell casting in a one button, minimal mouse movement control scheme, all controlled with the mouse hand. The other hand can be using other keybinds and the movement keys, etc.

Addons can either be complex toolkits that will let you do the world… once you figure out how to get it set up, or can be pretty much set up for you like VuhDo. Either way, the biggest learning curve for them is learning an entirely new way to control your character, and memorizing which key/mousebutton sequence controls what, so that when the shit goes down you don’t get flustered and forget your controls. The more commonly used spells need to have the easiest key combinations, and if you’re learning as you go, then when you decide half way into your playing that Rejuvenation really should have been a mouseover left-click and Lifebloom really should have been mouseover right-click, and Remove Curse really should have been moved to Mousebutton 5 closest to the thumb, and Innervate could be Mousebutton 4 away from thumb… well, time to retrain your twitch reflexes, isn’t it?

And if you play multiple classes, each using the healing addon… hehehe.

It’s a big decision. You want to start something that you’ll learn with and get reflexes started quick. It should be EASY to actually cast the Lifebloom, the difficult part should be learning the intelligent time and situation to use it.

When I looked at the options… I chose to use an addon, because I never had before and I had heard great things about how they could help speed up the casting on multiple targets, which is where a Resto Druid shines.

When I went to choose an addon, I chose VuhDo because I studied configuration choices on Clique, and all the additional addons created to modify the base program, and I compared that to the ‘out of the box’ setup of VuhDo. VuhDo promised me that I could install it, and go straight to configuring my mouse button combinations in a graphical interface style even I, a healer come lately, could use. Healbot, I can’t speak on, because although Paraclesis uses it, I’ve never seen it modeled on a blog, so I didn’t try it. 🙂

See, I still play a Feral Druid as my main. What I wanted was something to quickly bring me within reach of doing healing, without making it the intense focus of my playing. And I wanted to cut down the point and click delay as much as possible. I wanted to be capable of casting a heal faster than the global cooldown would let me, so my slow reflexes were as minimized as possible.

VuhDo allowed me to do that, by letting me setup various mouse combinations and letting me cast all spells as mouseovers on a special health bar setup. I can actually SEE what is going on around me as I heal, and I can even move around and heal on the run after a very short time practicing, not because I’m that good, but because the addon IS a good crutch, and I accept the limitations.

If you are also a Feral Druid, or another melee type, and you’ve been thinking about healing as a dual spec… an addon like VuhDo or Clique or Healbot can certainly give you a jumpstart on doing it with quicker reaction time. You might be gaining that speed by relying too much on an addon, and losing a certain amount of flexibility and professionalism that designing your own network of keybindings and macros would give you… but if it is your off spec, that could be a choice you’re willing to make, just like I am.

Either way, it’s always good to know your options, and to plan what you’re going to do accordingly.

I’d be curious to find out what other healers use to heal, and what they think the strengths and weaknesses of their chosen method may be.

Hmm, since three out of four Sidhe Devils Gone Wild folks have healers, maybe that would be a fun topic for the podcast someday, too. Have people write in their preferences and discuss ’em.

Well, we’ll see.

Have a great weekend!

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The cat is OUT of the bag!

Let the games begin!

Allow me to unveil the secret project…

A brand new podcast!

By all means, hurry on over to our new website, and bask in the glory that is;

Sidhe Devils Gone Wild!

Let me tell you exactly what this is.

This is Bre, Big Bear Butt, Ratshag and Lady Jess complete and unedited, in the pure spirit of that classic 70’s porn.

What is our podcast about? Nothing whatsoever, anything you can imagine, and more than we should ever share.

This is  a podcast that is WoW, unscripted. Four people chatting about whatever comes to mind, all messy and blotchy and without airbrushed touchup.

Did I mention the cheesy 70’s porn vibe? Just checking.

We have a vision for our podcast, a mission statement if you will.

“This is a World of Warcraft podcast that makes whelpling farming go a little smoother, and fishing seem less of a chore.”

An alternate tagline would be, “If you’re going to waste an hour fishing, why not listen to our podcast?”

I truly hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

This… this is a mugging of all things professional.

Just think Seinfeld; the podcast.

If people are pissed at how I’ve treated Blood Elf ladies, wait until they get a load of our Night Elf lady logo!

When do YOU like unwrapping presents?

I am, according to Cassie, simply HORRIBLE at keeping a secret.

Well, that’s true to a certain extent.

After all, I’m only horrible at keeping the secrets she knows about. 🙂

The types of secrets I mean, are when I’ve got a present, and I know what it is, and I want to give it to you… and I really, really want to like, give it to you naw, damnit! I want to see the look on your face when you see what it is!

I’m the guy that wants the kids to at least open SOMETHING Christmas Eve rather than wait until Christmas morning.

Tradition? Hey, we can start a new tradition! Open something, damnit!

In Cassie’s case, I’ll buy her something, and then I have a very hard time not cracking early and revealing what it is. Hints and stuff kind of… spill out.

And she gets annoyed because she likes a surprise, and I ruin it!

I’m fighting that feeling right now.

See, I know what the secret project is. And I know that whatever it is, it’s happening tonight. And I know how very, very close we are to unveiling the surprise…

And I want so dearly to bust it open now.

I actually let the kitty out of the bag at the end of the WoW Insider podcast… after the recording was over, but before we shut the mikes off.

After a WoW Insider recording is in the can, the show goes on for a little, just chatting with the folks in the live chatroom.

We were chatting, and I made sure the recording was shut off, and I told the people that had hung in there what the secret was.

See? I can’t keep a secret to save my life.

Well… I said in general what the secret was. The particulars… the devious little particulars are still secure.

I know they are, because the website we designed has encountered zero page hits. It ain’t been found out, nyuck nyuck nyuck.

Tonight, great evil shall unfold. A crime against blogging professionalism will have been committed.

And tomorrow, well, a bunch of folks will have some news to share with you.

Either that, or I’ll be digging out my backup passport from my cold drop and hitting the road, two steps ahead of the law, and a raving horde of pissed off readers.

Heck, either way tomorrow ought to be amusing.

An Emblem of things to come

This is all pretty interesting to me, this whole Emblem thingie.

Both the 10 and 25-player instances of the Crusaders’ Coliseum drop a new Emblem of Triumph.

Any dungeons that previously dropped Emblems of Heroism or Valor, such as Naxxramas or Heroic Halls of Stone, will now drop Emblems of Conquest instead. Emblems of Conquest can still be converted to Valor or Heroism.

The Heroic dungeon daily quest will now reward 2 Emblems of Triumph and the normal daily dungeon quest will reward 1 Emblem of Conquest.

Here’s a basic breakdown of the item levels for each dungeon:

Trial of the Champion (5-player) normal mode: Item level 200
Trial of the Champion (5-player) Heroic mode: Item level 213
Trial of the Crusader (10-player) normal mode: Item level 232
Trial of the Crusader (25-player) normal mode: Item level 245
Trial of the Grand Crusader (10-player) Heroic mode: Item level 245
Trial of the Grand Crusader (25-player) Heroic mode: Item level 258

In addition, successful tribute runs (Trial of the Grand Crusader only) will result in higher item level rewards from the tribute chest at the end.

Emblems of Conquest and Champion’s Seals will not drop in the Trial of the Champion (5-player dungeon) on normal mode, nor will there be a daily dungeon quest associated with normal mode, though the items that drop in normal mode are quite good compared to other level 80 dungeons.

One Emblem of Conquest and one Champion’s Seal will drop off each boss in Trial of the Champion Heroic mode. There will also be a Heroic daily dungeon quest added to the rotation for this dungeon that awards two Emblems of Triumph.

So, correct me if I’m wrong here, but it seems to me this means you’ll no longer be getting rep with Factions from the normal dungeon daily quest, you’ll now be getting 1 Emblem of Conquest.

Currently, there are four possible normal dungeon daily quests, one each for Oculus, Culling of Stratholme, Halls of Lightning and Utgardt Pinnacle. The quests can currently be obtained at level 78.

Seems to me it’ll be possible for a level 78+ player to begin doing the normal daily dungeons and be getting some Emblems of Conquest in before they ding 80.

I’ll grant you, the number of days it might take you to go from 78 to 80 ain’t that much, maybe you’ll only get in 5 or 6 dailies/Emblems of Conquest before dinging… but it’s still something that needs to be pointed out. And of course, for those that are already 80, an extra Emblem of Conquest ain’t nothing to bark about.

The next interesting thing, of course, is the fact that, while doing a Heroic instance will net you Emblems of Conquest as drops from the bosses, doing the daily Heroic instance quest will get you two Emblems of Triumph as well, which will normally only drop from the Crusader’s Coliseum raids. 

Oh, FYI yes, there are currently 12 different “Proof of Demise” Heroic daily quests, one for the last boss of each Heroic Northrend instance. No, I have no idea why there are only four variations of the normal dungeon daily quest. And yes, they are adding a 13th Heroic daily quest for Trial of the Champion.

Let’s look at this new 5 man instance, Trial of the Champion.

Trial of the Champion will have a normal mode and a Heroic mode.

The loot from normal will all be iLevel 200, the loot from Heroic mode will all be iLevel 213. Yes, this is Magister’s Terrace redux. Not bad, eh?

The Newsflash; normal mode will NOT drop Emblems of Conquest or Champions Seals. It will still drop some pretty nice gear, though.

ONLY HEROIC MODE will have Emblems of Conquest and Champions Seals drop from bosses. And of course, no Emblems of Triumph as had been speculated elsewhere.

So yes, Emblems of Triumph drop in 10 or 25 person Trial of Crusader/Trial of Grand Crusader raids… and from doing the Heroic daily quest. That is it. End of story.

It may take a long damn time to get your Emblems of Triumph just from doing dailies… but get them you will. And Emblem of Triumph gear comes in two flavors; iLevel 232 sets, and iLevel 245. Or is it 245 and 258? I can’t seem to get a clear picture if the Totally Triumphant gear will also be purchasable for Emblems of Triumph.

Either way, holy cow.

So start planning your gear lists and priorities accordingly, my friends.

News Flash: Healing Plague Wing bites!

Tanking is sooooo much easier than healing, I swear.

I love tanking Heigan, for example, because all ya gotta do is hold threat, watch your own abilities and use as appropriate, and dance. Bonus points for shifting out of Bear and tossing Battle Rezes and Innervates as necessary, of course, but come on… that’s all part and parcel of being a Bear tank. If you have problems tossing emergency Battle Rezes, you’re probably doing it right in the first place and don’t get enough practise. 🙂

Yes, I do get a lot of practise.

Healing, though… damn, that’s a pain.

Dancing: check.

Throwing heals around: check.

Dancing while watching everybody else’s health bar and tossing heals around frantically to keep everybody that might have a problem with dancing alive: oh, holy shit!

The first shot we took at Heigan, I’m not ashamed to say I bought it on the dance.

I was prepared to just accept that I screwed up somehow, but half the raid bought it at the same time, in the same place, and it really did look like we ate a big, fat lag spike. I dunno, I’d like to blame it on lag, but maybe I just wasn’t on top of the game on that one.

Second shot, and I have to say, I was dancing on pure instinct. Normally, as a Bear tank, I can spend all my time on the phase two dance running from perfect spot to perfect spot, centered in the middle of the safe zone.

As a healer, I spent the entire time watching the health bars and casting Rejuve, Rejuve, Rejuve, Nourish, Rejuve, Rejuve, Nourish, bam bam bam bam. I basically rolled everybody, all da time.

I ran the dance between the zones purely by instinct, because my attention was totally elsewhere. I’m just a natural born dancer, I guess. It is tons harder to heal multiple people and dance at the same time, compared to tanking or DPS, though. far, far harder.

We all almost managed to live through the second one, too. 🙂 We did far, far better and beat in his little pointy head.

Still, whew! That stuffs intense, yo.

And then, of course, comes the creme de la creme of the healers world, with everything but Yul Brenner.

Loatheb. What an appropriate name, because loathing does come into play, here.

I asked for someone to tell me what exactly the role of the healer was here, what with the whole ‘can only heal for 3 seconds’ thingie.

You know, that never sounded good to me. Call me kookie, but I look at my Global Cooldowns, I look at my cast times, and even with Nourish and Swiftmend and Nature’s Swiftness/Healing Touch, I’m just not seeing this happen for a whole raid.

What, study it from a healer’s perspective beforehand? Why would I do that? Our healers have always been so on top of things, I never had to.

I’d just roll on in, ask the healers if they knew what to do, and they’d lift their heads temporarily from the smack they talk in their private healer channel (thought I didn’t know about that, eh?) and make shooing motions for us to get a move on.

So, here’s how it was explained to me last night.

Healing effects only work for that brief three seconds… but you can cast your HoTs on the target whenever you’d like.

SOOO…. if a Tree were to dump a Rejuve on everyone starting at such a time during the lockout that they would still be active for that critical three seconds when the window opened up… and Regrowth for the extra squishy… and you were poised to nail some Swiftmend/Nourish action when you could actively cast and have it work during the three seconds, it’s not that bad.

Really?

Well, heck, I can do that.

I think.

More or less.

Well hell, whattaya know, it worked!

But not without heart failure. And I think Luis died.

But I successfully healed in Loatheb. Luis dying is a small price to pay.

I feel all spiffy now!

I could talk about what a great job the guild did, how much they kicked ass, the healing, the tanking, the blistering DPS… but what the heck, you hear that stuff all the time.

I will say, I do have a newfound appreciation for the job healers do, and a frowny face for the way Blizz likes to stress out healers. It’s hard to look at any proposed healer nerf after seeing stuff like that, and not want to smack someone in the mouth for making their job that much harder.

On the other hand… it sure is fun to win!

Yo man, you look like you could use a sandwich!

I’ve been looking for fun in all the wrong places, looking for fun with too many alts, now, looking for fun….

Actually, I’ve just been messing around with some different stuff for a change.

Love my guild and I ain’t never leaving, but while the summer quietus goes on, and we have a slack schedule to accomodate the real life woes of guildies, I’ve started a few small alts on Horde side for quiet time, doing quests in lore I’ve never seen.

One of those alts, I’m happy to say, is a troll hunter.

“A Hunter?!?” I hear you say?

Yes, that’s right a troll hunter. Yes, yes, I do have a level 80 hunter on Alliance, what’s your point? I love hunters.

I have a lot of druid alts on various servers, placed strategically for optimum play opportunities when my home server goes down (a situation that hasn’t happened for some time), but never before, ever, have I had a troll.

I have rolled various horde alts and deleted them, one felt too slow, one felt too clumsy… but the Troll Hunter feels just right.

How do I define ‘just right’?

Simple. If I can be chatting on vent with folks, having fun, and grinding mobs without minding the leveling/killing at all, if killing poor unfortunate NPCs still feels fun and even amusing after kill #2796, then it’s a groovy toon.

So, anyway… I’ve got this level one Troll Huntard, sans any kind of Heirloom item whatsoever, and I’m going to town in Orcville, Durator, Republic of Thrall.

As I’m rocking along, smiting Orc peons and making them gather wood faster, I’m chatting with Breana on vent, and sharing with her my thoughts on making this toon.

Bear; “So, I wanted to make a Hunter, and various races sounded cool… a Tauren Hunter could be a lot of fun… but finally I settled on Troll.”

Breana; “I’m glad you didn’t make a Blood Elf Hunter.”

Bear; “Oh, I couldn’t do that. The Blood Elf Hunter is so passé. I mean, really, the entire race is anorexic.”

Breana; “I agree, they’re all too skinny.”

Bear; “You know, the fact is they all look like they could use a sandwich, they need some fattening up.”

Bear; “I know what I’ll do, I’ll make a macro that says /say %t, you’re too skinny, you look like you could use a sandwich.”

Breana; “You will not.”

Bear; “Bet me.”

So, whenever I’m in Ogrimmar, moving from Auction House to trainer to bank, etc, I keep my eyes peeled.

My standards are simple. If I see someone that is playing a Blood Elf, that is NOT a Paladin (since they have no choice), and that is female, I hit them with my macro as I pass.

I also carry food with me in my bags. If one stops and say “Wut?”, I open trade and offer them a “sandwich”. (Boar meat and bread).

I have gotten stunned silence, and one guy that thought it was the funniest thing he ever saw… and one guy, level 80 Hunter, that thanked me and took the sandwich fixin’s, and then did a /eats sandwich emote.

I’m finding it more fun to do this, than to actually play.

I think I’ve lost my mind.