Happy Holy Healing, Hallelujah!

The time has come, the Bear Priest said, to speak of many things. Of buffs and wipes and long cooldowns, of loot rolls and of bling. Of why the Spine is such a pain, and how to heal through things.

If you know where that came from, you may feel a sense of foreboding.

Don’t.

The word I bring you is mostly positive, much as our species is ‘mostly’ harmless.

I, that is me, the player sitting here in this chair, is in a raid team.

Ho no? Ho yas!

And even weirder… I’m raiding as a healing Holy Priest.

Yeah, I may have to give some of you a few minutes. That’s cool, I’ve got chips, I’ll go take a break, be back in a bit.

.

..

Okay, *munch munch*, we all set to continue?

All right, damnit, how do you eat chips and not get cheese crap on the keyboard? Fine, I guess I am destined to live my WoW playing life bereft of cheese-flavored snacks.

What? Oh right, healing as a Priest in a raid.

Yeah, Penumbria has done a little raiding. Only a little. If you really cared, you could even Armory her to look at progression, if only to see that I’ve only raided a few times.

I have a few observations to make, inspired by Allison Roberts’ latest WoW Insider post.

I ran LFR as a Healer from start to finish, several times, and I have healed Dragon Soul 10 person normal a few times.

Point the First: I am here to tell you, without reservation, that it is more challenging to heal LFR than Normal.

When I started with my Priest as a healer in heroics and LFR, it was challenging. But, by the grace of God and the teachings of Tyben, I made it through. I struggled, I actually used my cooldowns and learned what did what for whom, and felt I was doing well.

How is that for a blog name, btw? The Teachings of Tyben. I know I’d read it.

And then came the day I filled in as a healer for Team Snuffleaupagus, and it was, comparatively, easy.

Comparatively.

First, in a real raid the people all stood in the right places, clicked the little buttons at the right times, and used THEIR cooldowns.

That, all by itself, was a game changer.

Before I ran in Normal, I never knew that if everyone that gets a red beam on the crystal on Morchak STANDS ON THE CRYSTAL, the crystal gets much smaller.

I’d never seen it shrink before. Huh.

Also, did you know that it’s not normal for half the raid to be below half their hit points after every Hour of Twilight? I know, right? In an actual raid, where people actually clicky their buttons, they don’t almost die every time for me to frantically spam heals!

This is a new concept for me.

And, oh wow, did you know that in normal raids, when the tank has the hideous amalgamation, he actually holds the thing without ANY stacks until it’s at about 12%, and only THEN drags it through all the pools of blood?

OMIGOD, right? What kind of lame raid is it where you don’t have an amalgamation doing blasting AoE damage to the entire group at 6 or 7 stacks for the whole fight?

And don’t even get me started on the gunship and Twilight Onslaught.

It really does come down to this one, simple thing – healers in LFR are expected to heal other people through being rock-bottom lazy, inconsiderate, stupid motherfuckers that stand in place and shoot, and to heck with the rest of the raid.

I am not surprised that in LFR queue, healers have about a 3 second wait time. No surprise whatsoever.

Point the Second: If people don’t almost die, they get sloppy. 

I have been running all sorts of heroics and even a normal Stonecore, and I’ve seen one common theme in all of them.

Someone will be a little boneheaded, almost every time. Pushing the ‘pull for the tank’ boundaries and taking some hits to the face to spike the DPS charts, ignore the puddles on the ground, don’t run out of Fel Flame, etc.

If you let them drop to almost dead and then heal some but not all of the way back up, they get careful. They manage their shit.

If you just heal them up with uber lightning-fast reflexes… they get sloppier and sloppier until they don’t get out of anything, ever, and you’ve got an extra wanna-be tank.

They slack off on being careful or playing properly… and you get punished more for doing your best.

Point the Third: If you get raid gear, it gets MUCH, MUCH better.

Once you get some actual gear, the comfort curve goes through the roof.

I am not a good healer. Okay, maybe I’m good by LFR standards, but I’m not good by good raid team healer standards.

But I now have decent raid level gear, and I am now finding that I’m careless as hell of mana management, because my regen and tools are great, and my HPS are high enough to keep me from having to cast as many heals for the same effectiveness.

I have begun, in heroics, to be able to heal people through the stupid. And to still have more than 100,000 mana afterwards.

If you got a ton of Valor gear, you could do this too. I am not special. I cannot stress it enough, a Holy Priest in 397 Valor gear is a force to be reckoned with in heroics and LFR. Oh yes, and LFR. Powerful AoE healing? Yes, I think so.

What is it I’m doing, anyway?

This next bit, you can really just stop reading unless you’re actually interested in what I’ve got configured for playing a Holy Priest. Really. No more of the funny. Bah-bye.

There is no secret to what I’m doing. I’m actually still working on adding more tools in, but the basics are my Vuh’Do settings, and a mouse with left, right, middle, and two side buttons.

The mouse button configuration I use as a right-handed player is:

I never said I was an artist. THIS is why I don’t create my own fancy icons, lol.

The point is, these are my fast-response time clicks on a nameplate in Vuh’Do. The only spell I used that isn’t on here is my Holy Word: Sanctuary, which I simply hot key and place.

My spellbar is spread out so that my long cooldown spells AND spells that have 10 second or other multi-second cooldowns are clearly visible, so, for example, I can easily see what the cooldown is until the next time I use Prayer of Mending. Maybe there is an addon like Bad Kitty that shows you when the cooldown wears off on your spells, but I’m okay this way for right now. I don’t lose even a second on my PoM. Or my Circle of Healing, for that matter.

It’s been a lot of fun. Really.

My only gripe is, if I’m in Chakra: heal a single target, then having to Shift-Right Click to do Holy Word doesn’t really flow smoothly. I can nail every single other spell fast and smooth, but that one is apparently outside my ‘panic mode’. In a clutch, I Flash Heal or Greater Heal instead, wasting the power of Holy Word. I’m thinking I could swap with PW: Shield, but the fact is, I don’t use any of the Shift level buttons as much as I could. I can Ctrl-click with the best of them, but my pinkie apparently isn’t as bendy as it should be.

But that’s okay. Realistically, in ‘lazy healer’ LFR mode, I can go into Sanctuary, use PoM on the tank, spread Renew around, CoH and spammed PoH on the raid to top them up, Holy Word glowies on the ground for the bad moments of stacking, and Flash Heal and Greater Heal for the serious business, and do just fine. JUST fine.

And when in doubt and it’s all going to shit?

Divine Hymn is your friend, your best buddy, your long lost lover you meet over a cup of coffee after a few years apart and catch up with. It’s got a short cooldown compared to the stuff other healers get, too, so use it.

If I have a moral to this story, it would be this.

If you tried to heal in LFR, saw how bad it was and thought, “Hell with this, if it’s this bad here raiding must suck”, don’t give up hope just yet. With solid gear, good LFR and heroic stuff, and omigod the Valor stuff is OP, you will be a powerhouse.

Second, you will come to enjoy those 3 second queue times. No, really. I run heroics JUST to get past the Valor cap so I can get extra Justice Points to convert into Honor Points to buy heirloom PvP gear for mogging. And come on, you know me and pugs. If I’m willing to queue as a healer in a Stonecore pug just to get some Therazane rep from the killing Ozruk quest, you know it gets pretty damn overpowered.

Really, that’s the main point. If you tried it or are afraid of the learning curve getting in, don’t stress too much. You can always go as Shadow, rack up some Valor, buy healing gear and get healing drops, and step in as a first time healer already in OP gear. If you use the single-target optimized Chakra in 5 person heroics… you will not have to struggle very much, if at all., to learn as you go.

Just remember, especially on Mannoroth… Fade is your very bestest friend. Right after Divine Hymn.

There. I promised Tyben I was gonna write about Holy Priests. That is about all I can say about them, besides how healing as a Holy Priest gives me an ever-increasing opportunity to see people at their very worst, and learn to love the new reporting tools.

Oh yeah, one last thing. Once you get powerful enough to heal ’em through the stupid, ah the Skinner games you can play.

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I may be a Priest, but I refuse to Genuflect

We’re level 85 and we’ve killed Deathwing. For our efforts, we saved the world and got a title.

A TITLE.

I’d like to whisper in the ears of some of my friends at Blizzard who may someday sit around a table discussing the possibility of Sargeras becoming a final expansion boss.

I know, the Dark Titan Sargeras. Right? Not even remotely possible as a boss, right?

If World of Warcraft were a Marvel comic book, then Deathwing would have to be the Galactus to us little people of Azeroth, and by using the Dragon Soul we totally pulled a Reed Richards with the Ultimate Nullifier on his ass. Except we actually pulled the trigger. Try to eat a planet on MY watch and see what happens to you, ya tentacled prick, ya.

Anyway, so Sargeras.

Deathwing is a world shattering terror, and even so, he wouldn’t be much more than a mid-day snack to the all-encompassing might that is the Dark Titan, Sargeras.

But it’s not beyond the realm of imagination that someday we could see Sargeras on the other end of our UI as a targeted boss with a skull level and hit points.

It could happen.

I can even spin an almost plausible web in under 30 seconds.

When Broxigar the Red fell, wounding Sargeras himself, his axe survived and was handed over to our modern-day Thrall by the time-traveling dragon-mage Krasus, who was disguised as an orc shaman at the time.

When Broxigar fell in the past, Malorne was but recently dead at the hands of Archimonde and Cenarius himself was, shall we say, mildly distracted by sorrow.

The magical axe that Cenarius had caused to be created, the same axe Broxigar used to wound Sargeras, was taken almost unnoticed from the world of the past and brought forward.

No big deal, right?

Ah, but now, in our time, Malorne has been reborn! The spirit of nature has been reborn upon the slopes of Mount Hyjal.

What miracles might be possible next?

Could the mighty Ragnaros suffer the final death at last, destroyed within his own realm of fire?

Could evn the mighty Deathwing face destruction?

And if these could fall… might it even be possible to entertain the thought of destroying the one being that represents the ultimate in darkness, sorrow and evil to our world?

The ultimate lord and master of the demons that have plagued us from the beginning, who has sent his pawns against us, who has corrputed others merely to use them as cannon-fodder to throw against us and weaken our resolve?.

Who can say what Malorne might feel, having died and been reborn with the spring.

Who can say but that perhaps the earth has learnt to desire, if not revenge, then retribution.

And lo, here and now, at this time and in this place, during an age of wonders and miracles, comes a weapon forged in the heart of life, given form by Cenarius, sanctified by the utterly selfless and heroic will of Broxigar the Red and baptised in the blood of the Dark Titan itself?

Is it so strange to think that perhaps the developers of Blizzard could make se of that axe as a tool in a mad plan of Cenarius’ to take the fight to Sargeras himself… perhaps by striking at him through a way he might not expect… through the Emerald Dream?

You can never really say that it would be impossible for Sargeras to become a raid boss.

Who can tell what the imagineers behind WoW will come up with in the future? Who could say that we might not someday see an Emerald Dream expansion… with Sargeras as the final boss.

If I were to flesh out the idea, the truth is I would start with Sargeras seeking to attack Azeroth by flanking through the Emerald Dream on his own initiative, and of our entering it to face his forces and fight against his growing influence. As bad as things have been within the Emerald Dream, if Sargeras added his influence to it, it really could poison everything from within.

From that point, building up to using Broxigars Axe as the MacGuffin the final hopes of Azeroth reovlve around becomes simple… but that’s why I dislike it. It’s been done too many times. I’d much prefer a proactive, ‘take it to the boss and get him before he comes after us yet again’ kind of thing.

If it was done really well, we might not even get the usual sappy result you often see in fantasy literature, where the heroes try to take action on their own initiative instead of sitting passively waiting to be gobsmacked, and end up being punished for it to make some kind of point that action or movement is inherently evil and sitting placidly is good. But that is a discussion for another day.

Why not tie in an expansion about the Emerald Dream into having Sargeras as the final raid boss?

Let’s just say they do find a way.

We face Sargeras. And we win.

We, the players, with I am sure a teensy bit of help from The Usual NPCs, face down and destroy Sargeras.

After all of that….

We better not just get a title, is what I’m saying.

If we kill Sargeras, do you think it would be too much to ask to be awarded with a Tabard imbued with a spell that makes those around you genuflect when you activate it?

That’s right… I’m suggesting the killers of Sargeras be awarded a Tabard so that others beholding your incredible awesome leetness know to literally kneel before you in admiration.

They can do it. They have the technology. Both the Piccolo of the Flaming Fire and the Tabard of the Protector are in the game.

Or maybe you think that would be a little over the top?

PS… I was also thinking how fun it would be to have a Priest spell called Genuflect, that was a long cooldown AoE heal that, as a side-effect, made those players affected by the healing momentarily kneel. But then I snapped out of my momentary madness. Seriously, wtf was I thinking, even for a moment? What a horrendously terrible idea. /shudder

 

Novel News – Epiphany

This will be the first in a new series of posts. Just like my Cub Report tags, whenever I write a post about the progress of my novel, I’ll use novel news as the tag category. Yes, this means I’m still moving on the novels.

I took my turn-based novel off the sidebar, and began working on finishing steps to get it ready for release as an e-book a while ago.

It’s been a while, and I haven’t talked about the project because it’s been stuck in my head.

All the pieces were there, I liked the story, I love the characters, everything was in place and just waiting on me to give it that push.

And I was stalled dead in the water.

My first issue was, I have come to like the main characters. I’ve heard it said by other writers that the main characters can come alive in your mind, they become real people, and you no longer write about them so much as get down on the page what they really do. They take over with a very real life of their own.

Jessie did that. She is as real as anyone else, at least to me. I feel I know her heart very well, and what she has already endured actually brought me to tears towards the end of the last section I had written and published here.

But Terin had also come to life.

I no longer wanted to write the book I was writing, because I wanted both of them to have their OWN series. They both demanded from me their own time as the entire focus of the story. I didn’t want to keep switching back and forth. I wanted it all, and right now.

Well, I know who’s in charge here. I put my foot down. I have a story to tell, and they’re just going to have to deal with it.

Funny, the story kind of stalled there. Kind of like Terin and Jessie were both pouting… or holding out, each expecting me to cave. Grr.

But I knew I could work through it if I just thought about it. A perfect solution would come to me.

But then, I realized something worse was happening.

I was no longer happy with anything I had written.

Oh, when I read it over, it seemed fine. Lots of editing to make, obviously, tons of things to clean up and cut down and polish. But that wasn’t it. Something was fundamentally wrong with my story.

I finally had a brief, shining moment of revelation tonight.

The problem is, it’s not MY story!

No, not that it was a collaboration. nothing like that. My friends Manny and James did a great job on directing the behavior of their characters, that wasn’t the issue.

The problem was that I wasn’t writing a story wholly in my voice and style, I was trying to give my friends a game experience, a story setting and word style that would make them comfortable.

I was bending my own inclinations in writing and trying to intentionally write ‘heroic fantasy’.

Seriously, is that what I actually write here? Is that what my strengths are? Hell no!

I have done a quick re-read of some sections, and now I see the parts I like best, that flow best for me, are those that I wrote with my own voice breaking out of the mold briefly for what I thought I could get away with, before returning to more ‘traditional’ story elements.

Well, shit.

Blogger, take thine own advice. I’ve got a voice, and it’s the voice I’m comfortable with. That’s the voice I need to use in writing the books!

So… already, the story is falling into place in my head. It’s a whole new beginning. Jessie and Terin are the same, the basic foundation of the story is the same, but how it’s going to be told, and what happens along the way…

Maybe Terin and Jessie knew what they were telling me after all.

I have some ideas. I have some seriously exciting ideas that are sparking all kinds of boomfizzle in my brain, I just coined that word. It seems awesome from the inside but may be pathetic when out for the world to see.

I’m eager to find out how this goes, and I hope you’ll all come along for the ride.

It’s Not All Sunshine and Roses

I know that, at times, I get ranty and some folks think that I’m just an all-around crabby kind of guy.

Then other times I’m gushing about how much fun I’m having playing World of Warcraft, and some folks think I drank some serious mind-mojo kool aid.

I can understand it probably seems weird if you don’t see where I’m coming from.

“This guy is a freak! He plays the game, but he nerdrages about what some punk did in a raid. If he hates it so much, why not just quit?”

This is an actual sentiment I’ve seen before, and since I have clearly caused some confusion, hey, I’ll do what I can to clear it up.

Why Asshats in Raids Can’t Make Me Quit

I continue to like playing World of Warcraft because it is an activity I enjoy regardless of the presence or input of other people.

Yes, World of Warcraft is an MMO filled with people, and the ability to interact with and continue a story with others persistently can be awesome. But World of Warcraft is not the only game in town, nor is it even the first or only MMO I’ve ever played. It is instead the best role-playing video game with the widest range of potential activities that I’ve ever played, and that is why I’m still here.

The majority of what I like to do can be done solo. Creating new alts, trying fresh specs, whipping up new personalities and playing dress-up with them, devising new in-game goals, crafting, exploring, hunting for gear, taming rare pets… I can do these things whenever I like, as and how I have the time.

The key point I want to make here is that my enjoyment of the game does not depend on the actions of any other people. I do not rely on the moods, attitudes or continued play of anyone else in order to get what I want from the game, or to feel fulfilled by my game play experience.

If I have a raid with people that falls apart, if other people act like asshats in a random group, if whatever concerning someone else happens… it doesn’t affect my core gameplay experience. It doesn’t reduce the fun I find in the actual game.

It’s important to me to make that distinction. I can be in a raid with some total asshats, and I can rant about them for a page and a half here, but it doesn’t affect how I feel about World of Warcraft. The game is not the other people I am around. The other people can be fun multipliers or fun reducers… but the game is the baseline.

If I find myself surrounded by asshats, and I’m not happy… I don’t leave the game, I leave the people. The game, to me, is fine.

Plus, truth be told, I’ve never understood why my ranting on the blog is taken as actual rage. Do people still think it’s healthy to cram down your feelings, hold them inside tight and tense,  and never explore them or release them or work through them? If you don’t like reading my rants here, then don’t read, sheesh. This is my writing space, if you’re offended, then don’t read. Expecting me not to blow off steam on my own website created for that purpose shows a lack of understanding about what a blog is. Ranting doesn’t mean I’m close to grabbing a gun, silly people, it means I’m working through my feelings, exploring what it is that made me angry, and maybe it’s not apparent from the outside, but I have a lot of fun doing it. It is a release, not a winding up.

If I didn’t like the game, but I was surrounded by great people, then I’m sure I would stay in the game much longer than otherwise… but I would be bored unless some of those other people were online. If I logged in and found nobody on, I’d probably feel the slippage of time being wasted without the fun.

If the main source of fun I found in game was playing with other people in group activities, then I might even start to resent other people for not being more active, resent the guild for not raiding more, or resent the other people for not providing me with what I wanted – the only fun I got in game.

It can be hard to remember that it is not the job of anyone else, not friends, guild or game, to entertain you or keep you amused. Once you log in, you must go seek out your own fun in your own way.

Raiding with other People, Old and New

I enjoy a lot of solo play, but I also like seeing the content, experiencing the lore, taking part in the group adventures, and I do like raiding with fun people.

I also enjoy older content where you can blow through it with friends, joking and swearing and generally abusing an hour in Black Temple.

I rage about players I see from time to time, but the other big point I wanted to make was that I’m never raging about poor performance.

I am angry, raging, ranty when someone shows no interest in trying, doing their best, or making an effort.

This is the heart and soul of my position as a player and as a writer about the game, and how I have always approached any guide I wrote or advice I gave.

I do not get angry at poor performance. I get angry at people who don’t give a shit.

If you are stepping into an instance for the first time, excited and scared at the same time, and speak up, I am not the one groaning in party chat before bailing.

If you are there to step up and try your very best, i will be happy to be patient with you and help the best I can. If you are willing to accept some suggestions, I will be there to help guide you.

Most especially, if you have tried to prepare your gear as best you can, with common sense attitudes towards enchants and gems considering how expensive some of it can be, if you have reforged, ESPECIALLY if you have PvP gear but have reforged it to try and be as prepared as you can…

Awesome. Come on in, let’s rock.

A positive attitude. A refusal to quit. A desire to do the best you can, to learn from mistakes, to recover without raging, to persevere… to pay attention and focus on the task at hand.

These things will win you my admiration and gratitude for making a run a great place to be.

If your attitude is poor, if you whine and complain, if you rant about this or complain about that, if you live or die by who did what on the damage meters, if you couldn’t care less about whether everyone is in the instance, if you want to pull to grief the group intentionally…

Intent. That is the magic word.

If your intent is to be a douchebag, then fuck you. I don’t care how geared you are, you are a pathetic loser in my eyes, and you always will be until you attain some maturity and some consideration for others.

I have always approached writing about the game from the point of view of wanting to encourage people interested in improving their game by learning more about the mechanics behind how things work, what the stats do and which are important, how to use abilities to their fullest extent, how to expand your fundamental understanding of the game.

I wrote gear guides because, well, gear does matter, and I love setting goals.

But gear does not matter to me nearly as much as skill, and skill doesn’t matter as much to me as a positive “can do” attitude.

Some of my favorite bloggers recently have been talking about being invited to run in raids, and are apologetic IN ADVANCE because they are sure they are going to perform badly.

Oh, they will try, and do their best, but they are sure they’re going to fail miserably.

I say, “Get your ass in the raid, have fun, and let your fears go. As long as you try, and remain positive and energetic, you will rock that damn joint!”

Get your ass in ICC. You know who you are. Oh, and /hugs.

Consideration for others, attitude, intent.

The longer I play, the more I realize that for me, Looking For Raid is a good tool for seeing content, getting familiar with the basic structure of the fights, and improving gear so that I can better support my actual friends… the people who I know, and who have that consideration, who maintain the positive attitude, who intend to kick ass.

And if all I had to play in the game for raiding was LFR, I’d be fine with my solo play, is all I’m saying.

WTF is with all these Emerald Dragonfails!

I know I haven’t been writing about tanking or even Bear tanking for a bit, but still.

Tanking 101.

Healer aggro, and the counteracting thereof.

Also to be known as “Keep your healer alive, you idiot!”

Look, from the heroic runs I’ve gone on, it’s clear that the old arrogant tank days of Wrath of the Lich King heroics are coming back.

Fine.

There is a simple formula that even the most arrogant tank has to recognize.

Your modern tank has high health and many mitigation/avoidance cooldowns. May even have self-heals. Way to go, tools in the toolbox, AoE threat, very nice, very nice. If everyone else dies, you can survive in some cases for minutes, all by yourself.

All by yourself…

Fine. Goodie for you, Tankie McTanknspank.

The reality is, if your healer dies, no matter how good you are, you are on your own. If there is any bobble in your boogie, any swivel in your sidestep, down your ass goes. And cooldowns eventually do JUST THAT.

The formula is really dead simple; any heals, even bad heals, are better than NO heals.

Hold that thought, we’ll come back to it.

End Time is an interesting instance.

Much like Bubba Gump, you never know what you’re gonna get. Spin the Wheel and see what the boss-o-rama has in store for us this time.

I’ve got my favorites, and I’ve got my flat-out “damnit not again!” bosses.

Sylvanis? I love seeing her. So long as the DPS all focus on the same target and everyone gets out of the bad, piece of cake. No random deathfail involved.

In fact, I love seeing all of them on the basis of their mechanics, although the extra trash on Jaina is annoying. Group after group after group ignores DPSing the lightwells, and it pisses me off.

How hard is it after all these years to internalize the concept “Kill the healer AND their healing toys”? Especially those lightwells. Look, when you see an enemy lightwell, just think of it as a totem. Or a cockroach. And then STEP ON IT!

But despite that, yes, I like them all.

Except the Emerald Dragonshrine, and the Echo of Tyrande encounter.

As the healer, I hate it. I hate it with a white hot passion that could re-ignite failed stars, and a fathomless depth that could crush a liquid-filled diving suit.

As a tank, I love it. It’s a piece of cake.

As a Bear tank, Emerald Dragontrash* is a joy. I put a star on my head, I tell everyone to stay on top of me, and I use my AoE Swipe and other threat generating abilities as I run from circle to circle, my Threat Plates showing me who I’ve got aggro on and who might need a Growl or other form of special attention.

Big Bear’s home for wayward mobs, I gather ’em in, make sure they’re all well taken care of.

If someone runs off and their role is DPS, well, screw them. I told them what to do, I put a star on my head so I stand out in a crowd, my big bear butt is the only huge fuzzy posterior in the domicile… get with the program or die, all the same to me.

But the healer… if the healer slows down, perhaps to drop a long cast-time heal on someone, I stop with them and keep mobs off their back.

That is my job as a tank. I take the hits because I’m the only one specifically designed to take the hits in the group.

I am not super hard to hurt because I’m a better class than everyone else. I’m tough because my class and spec as a tank were specifically coded to make me tough, and the gear designed for me enhances those traits. And I go ahead and wear that gear rather than the pretty cloth dress that goes with my fur.

If I intercept bad guys about to munch on a healer and take the hit in their stead, I am not lowering myself to save the lazy healer who should be healing themselves through it on their own… I am doing my job as intended.

Tanking 101. If the healer dies, we’re ALL screwed.

If you are a tank, you are assuming the role of defender of the innocent, protector of the squishy, and general meat shield about town. You get gobsmacked and abused because you like it, you eat the pain like candy.

And you’re durable. You’ve got to be durable.

But you don’t do enough DPS to down multi-million health bosses on your own, and you may keep yourself alive for a few minutes, but you do exactly squat to keep the entire group of DPS with you alive as well.

Famous last stands using your survivability and mitigation to eke out a win only work if the whole party already whittled the boss down to vapors in the drain.

As a healer, time after time, I see Emerald Dragonshrine, and I follow the same process in an attempt to stave off the inevitable.

I buff. I eat. I mark the tank with a pretty star. I follow the tank, I stand on top of the tank, and as we run from circle to circle I do the bare minimum healing I can get away with in an attempt to minimize healer aggro. I even Fade.

I stand on top of the tank in the desperate hope that when mobs come charging in, the tank will drop a single AoE of something. Anything. And not a “I hit a mob, whee!” attack but an actual honest-to-goodness threat generating attack that pulls stuff off, oh, I dunno, the healer.

But no.

Time after time, I end up getting eaten as we cross the river to the second to the last puddle of light.

Time after time I am reduced to Fade, and then to chain-casting heals on myself as an ever-increasing menagerie of cats and riders masticate my meager manhood, and then, well… I fucking die is what I do.

I die while the tank is obliviously single-target attacking, or, more often, running on to the next circle because hey, yo, there’s a light over at the frankenstein place, let’s go quick to the lab and see what’s on the slab, oh boy, oh boy.

What did I forget? I’m forgetting something. Oh, right, the healer!

It has been a long time since I went over how healer threat works, so perhaps the fault lies not in willful disregard, but instead on an ignorance of underlying principles.

It’s been a while since I wrote a guide, so I may be a bit rusty, but I’m going to give this a shot for old times sake.

*ahem*

AGGRO and THREAT

When you as a tank run up to something close enough, it knows you’re there. It becomes aware of you. If it’s naturally cranky, it’ll try and take a bite out of you just because it doesn’t like your looks.

BUT… until you actually HIT it, you haven’t caused any direct threat to it.

Now, any other mob that it was tied to becomes aware of you as soon as the first mob did. They’ll all come running after you, too.

But here is the trick.

Say that first mob ran up to you, and you smacked it in the mouth. Okay, that mob is pissed at you. It will continue to fight you. If you are the tank, then you do lots more threat than anyone else in your group, so that mob, we’ll call him Frank, he’s gonna stay right on you like a tick on a hound.

Frank’s friends, on the other hand, maybe they didn’t really like Frank all that much anyway. Maybe Frank took them all for big money at the weekly mob poker game the night before, and they really don’t mind seeing ol’ Frankie take a reaming from your tank.

Those other mobs, so long as nobody did direct damage to any of them, sure they will run to the tank and hit ’em, but their hearts aren’t really in it.

They have not had ANY actual threat generated on them yet. They’re hitting on you, the tank, just because. You are the mountain, and you are there to be climbed for shits and grins.

Ah ah ah! BUT, as soon as anyone else hits them, anyone at all, those that got hit will peel off and go after the smartass son-of-a-bitch that just tagged them in the butt.

Now the tank, as we said, inherently does a lot more threat than anyone else. It is super easy for the tank to get that mob’s attention back. A quick change of targets, a growled “Yer mother is so fat she’s a world boss for two continents. Both at the same time.” And back it comes running.

Simple? Easy?

If you hit it, you generate threat. If you don’t actually hit it, then you don’t actually cause any threat, and it’ll go running off to whoever gets there the firstest with the mostest.

The key here is mob awareness. You might think you’ve got the attention of every mob, because they’re all on you at the moment. But if you are only doing damage to one of them, all the others are only pounding on you out of solidarity. Power to the people!

They’re a fickle bunch. They’ll go charging after anyone else that does damage to them first.

But they only go after who they are aware of.

This gets to the heart of what healer aggro really is.

A single mob only knows who the mob sees, knows who hits them… or who his FRIENDS see.

As soon as any member of the group does some damage, casts a buff, HEALS SOMEONE THE MOBS SEE, etc, then the person doing the healing or damage or buffing gets noticed. By ALL the mobs at once.

Damage done generates threat. Simple enough. If I no shootie, then I no cause threatie.

Ah, but what about healing?

Healing done also causes threat.

If you heal someone, it is the same as if you just did damage to every single mob that knows about the person you healed. All of them.

Now, it’s not as much threat as if you did direct damage t all of those punks. The mobs don’t look at each other and say, “Shit, that hurt, lets go git ’em.”

No, the threat your heals cause would be the same as the equivalent amount of damage divided amongst all the mobs that are now aware of you.

So, if the tank is doing proper AoE on a huge group, and you are chain healing the tank, the tank is doing TONS o’ threat to each and every mob, and your single target threat is spread out among them all… in itty-bitty bits. You’ll never pull aggro.

But… what if the tank doesn’t do any damage to the group? What if he’s just smacking one mob all by it’s lonesome?

What if… let’s just run a hypothetical here.

What if there were 8 mobs all running in from all sides, the tank hit only one of them, and the healer then cast a heal on the tank?

The mobs come running in, see the tank, and the tank hits one. They all go for the tank.

The healer casts a heal on the tank, the mobs now ALL see the healer because you healed the tank, and your heals on the tank caused actual points of threat on every single mob, and all those mobs that were only aware of the tank but hadn’t actually been hit? They peel off the tank and come running right for YOU.

And as 7 mobs begin whaling away on you, you heal yourself, doing more threat to all of them, and then more, and more, until you’re glowing like the sun trying to survive, other DPS try to pick them off of you but they do straight DPS and threat, not the magnified threat of a tank so they can’t pull off your supernova of healing threat generation (because your threat is incremental, it just keeps adding onto the threat value before so long as the mob is alive, growing and growing with each heal), and the tank, your only hope of pulling the group off of you…

He’s in monte carlo drinking a daiquiri.

Now let’s go on to case two.

Say you have a group of bad guys come in, the tank DOES do AoE threat to all of them, and most of those mobs are burnt down.

Just one or two mobs remain, they’re almost dead, and the pool of light you’re standing in winks out.

The tank decides to run straight for the next pool, and everyone follows. It’s not a big deal, he has aggro on those mobs, so they’ll chase him. You’re fine.

As the next group of mobs comes running in, they meet the ones chasing the tank, and while running along, they compare notes.

The old mobs tell the new ones about this asshole tank up ahead… but the tank has one of your HoTs on him, and thanks to the old mobs, the new ones become aware of the tank, and of YOU. And guess what? You’re the only one generating actual threat as each tick of your HoT heals for another point of damage.

So instead of running after the tank, all those new mobs run after… yep, you guessed it.

This is basic healer aggro. These are the fundamentals that every healer and tank should understand.

If a healer heals any target that mobs are aware of, the mobs then become aware of the healer and the healer causes actual threat to them. Unless the tank or someone else does something, the healer WILL pull aggro.

Just running from circle to circle, doing nothing at all to any mob until you reach a circle, doesn’t cut it.

Maybe I’m being harsh. Maybe this is all pretty behind the scenes kind of stuff, and it’s not easy to find or understand how it all works.

I know not everyone spends time wondering and testing how the game rules actually function by forming groups and trying this stuff out.

“Okay, now I’m going to pull this group, and then hit just one mob with auto-attack. You see if you can eat that Pine Nut Bread.”

“Okay, now try and mount.”

“Okay, now buff me with Fort. OOPS! Okay, there they all go after you, Fort pulls aggro. Mark it down and burn ’em out, next group up!”

I dunno.

What I do know is, I died three times today out of five End Time runs that all netted me Emerald Dragonfail.

A fourth time, I simply managed to heal and Fade enough to survive eating the entire pack of mobs. Tank was oblivious.

The fifth time? Tank did it up RIGHT. I never even took a hit.

One in five tried to keep me alive. That’s just embarrassing.

All that being said, it’s still fun as hell being a Holy Priest. I’m part of Team Snuffy now, and we did normal Dragon Soul this evening. I had a blast, we managed to kill Deathwing and everything, and I got my Destroyers End title as a healing Holy Priest. It felt great.

It just gets frustrating sometimes. Yes, powerful gear is great, it eases many things, but just because someone put together a really powerful tanking set and followed a recommended spec from a website doesn’t mean they can tank. It’s not about the gear, it’s about understanding how to put that gear to good use.

I’d rather run with an undergeared tank that knew what they were doing or TRIED to do it up right any day of the week. At least then, while I’m chain healing them, the mobs wouldn’t be nibbling on my damn face!

Recommended Reading

A while back, I asked for your suggestions on archived posts, or other things that I should add on the sidebar lest they should be forgot.

I haven’t forgotten all of the comments and suggestions you took the time to offer me. It’s just busy as hell around here. You know, little things like vacations and new jobs and shitstorms of drama, all that good stuff.

I’ll truly get to implementing your ideas, this post is my promise and proof that I haven’t forgotten.

One thing that was suggested was that I place a “Bears Favorite Books” list on the sidebar.

I’m going to end up removing the “Now Reading” plugin to put a list up, which will work better all the way around. Frankly, I read far too many books in a short amount of time to keep the damn thing updated. I go through a few a day most days, who the heck can remember to login multiple times to update that I dropped one on the floor and picked up another? Or that I’m bored with where I was on one, and happened to pickup a Sin City trade in the bathroom for a mid-book break?

Sitting down, nailing an “Absolute favoritist books” list? And then updating it when I truly add a new ‘absolute favoritist’? That I think I can manage.

And there, all of that build up is just to say, I HAVE an update to the non-existent list of favoritist books that is only in my head.

I read a book a week ago. One of you recommended it in a Tweet to me, I reserved a digital copy through the public library for Kindle, and finally got it a week ago.

The book is Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

I started the book late in the evening, which was a bad move, since that meant I couldn’t put the damn thing down until about 4 AM. No skimming, no speed reading, I devoured every single word with loving attention.

I’ll admit, the book had me worried at the beginning. I didn’t know Ernest Cline from Ernest Heming… oh wait, I’ve read all of Hemingway’s books. Umm… I didn’t know Ernest Cline from Ernie Pyle. Er, shit, Ernie and Bert?

Okay, it turns out I know a lot of Ernies well.

At the time, I didn’t know Ernest Cline, is what I’m getting at here, and thus when certain forays were made into literary territory that threatened a descent into tired science fiction tropes, I didn’t have a lot of faith or trust in his being able to avoid them.

I admit it. I started out with a sci-fi fan chip on my shoulder, with my finger pointed at the book, daring it not to suck.

I just got a flash image of an authoritarian figure, pointing at a book on the ground, with the caption “I DARE you not to suck!” stuck in my head. No, I don’t know why, my head just works like that.

Thank GOD I stopped concentrating on the finger, or I would have missed all of that heavenly glory!

Seriously. Enough from me.

Read the damn book.

Mannyac? Read the book.

Friends? Read the book. I dare you to allow yourself to be entertained!

I gave it a week without returning it, read a bunch of other stuff to cleanse my palate.

Yep. I started reading it again today.

Go get it. Read it, borrow it from the library.

I wonder if there is an audiobook, I’d like to listen to it in the car. I bet there is, there is an audiobook for everything these days.

I think it would be worth, and this is a hell of a leap for me, I think it would be worth my paying actual money to buy it for future re-reading. In hardcover.

Damn, I hope they make a movie. I can’t see how they could, but I hope somehow they do.

What are you doing here? READ THE BOOK!

The Cub Report – Happy Easter!

In a previous Cub Report, I mentioned that Alex was a huge fan of dragons, dragon mounts, and the golden dragon mount in particular.

We redirected his love of dragons (seriously, he brings home books about dragons from the school library) by running his Death Knight through the Culling of Stratholme timed run, and getting him a nice dragon mount that way.

He was quite happy, and everyone went on about their lives.

Easter time came, and with it the Noblegarden Egg Hunt.

Alex decided that hunting for eggs was the appropriate action for a worgen Druid, and proceeded to camp out in Goldshire for eggs.

His goals? Well, his first goal was to maintain rabbit form uptime as close to 100% as possible. The angst he displayed when the buff began to wear off was adorable… to a point. Thankfully, with the egg basket reward, he could have buffed run speed without being in a form other than bunneh.

Alex also decided that his chosen method was a mix of both camping and chasing… chasing until he found out just how vicious grown adults can be over digital eggs. Holy crap, people. Really?

His reason for collecting? The white bunny ear hat, the BLACK bunny ear hat, and the, of course, yes, the 500 egg mount.

Sigh.

Over the last week, Alex collected about 150 eggs. Oh yeah, and Cassie and I gathered the rest on his character. We made him finish it out, and then he went and did another 50 to get those black ears.

So, he has a mount, and he has black bunny ears (which he wears) and he has the white ones he got as a drop, along with four pet bunnehs, one for him and three to send to his alts.

It was a bunny extravaganza. He also has about ten of those bunny wands, so it’s going to be a long year of bunny parties.

He now cannot fly or fight for an hour, because he won’t do anything to cause his bunny buff to drop early. I fully expect his Druid to remain unplayed for the next six months, just so he is still a bunny.

Oh yes, and the Easter Bunny brought one other thing for Alex as well.

There might have been a golden dragon found inside one special egg.

He was just thrilled beyond words! He was having a sad face because he didn’t want to play his Druid and lose the bunneh buff™, but THIS caused him to forget that completely in his excitement!

The Easter Bunny gave it to him, and he is very happy, but we all know that the Easter Bunny has help, right?

In this case, the Easter Bunny was helped by a wonderful reader named Kyre, who decided to go out of her way to make a little boy’s heart light up with gold one day.

Now, Kyre decided to send Alex a golden dragon mount, and while he was told it was from the Easter Bunny, Cassie and I both know who it was that did that for him, and from both of us and from Alex too, thank you very much for your generosity.

And now, let me be the first to tell everyone else, please don’t send us any gifts. While it was very sweet and he is very happy, at the same time we have an arrangement, you and I.

Come closer, that I can whisper it in your ear.

I write stuff, and so long as you find it amusing, you read it. No gifts needed, no monetary encouragement required, no ads to skim past.

Sound good? I never feel that I am offering you top value in my writing here, so offering me gifts makes me feel just a little bit like a thief. I’m just writing this prattle, and you’re giving my son a moose. Er, pony. DRAGON! Right, dragon, sorry.

I think we got the better end of that arrangement, is what I’m saying. Not fair to you, not at all.

Now, once I get my fantasy novel completed to my satisfaction and in e-book form, then you might see me pandering here, okay? But until that time, this is all just between friends, you and I.

We’ve got an arrangement.

Now, that being said, I’m going to go buy Alex the new golden dragon pet, so he can have the pet next to him as he flies. He is going to freak!

Thank you again to Kyre, and also to everyone that continues to read, you are all my family, and it pleases me no end that we all get to be dysfunctional together.