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.


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.


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.

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.


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.



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!

Kiss My Circle of Healing

Much time has passed since it was released, but I still like the concept of Looking For Raid. I keep running it on varying characters, and overall I have a good time.

The only thing I haven’t enjoyed is the long wait time as DPS, at least on characters that don’t have a farming profession.

Even as a tank, the wait time can go ten minutes sometimes. Maybe the average is three minutes, but I have seen as high as ten. It happens.

Each time I queue, I’d see the Healers with their estimated 3 second wait time and /envy them.

I’d think to myself, ‘I gotta get me some of that.”

Well, I did.

I leveled my poor, long-suffering Priest to 85, ran instances choosing Spirit gear for all upgrades, and built a complete set of spirit healy gear (with just a couple 377 PvP items, like shoulders), and figured I was all set for LFR.

Before I ran LFR Dragon Soul as a Priest healer, I asked around on Twitter for feedback on what spec I should choose, Holy or Disc. Then I specced Holy, actually reforged so I had a chance, and ran a few Heroics to tweak my Vuh’do and learn timing sequences and synergy and this whole ‘Chakra’ thing.

I did pretty well, and yes I am saying so myself.

At least, I did pretty well for Heroics. Kept all the things alive, no wipes, that sort of stuff. Thank Elune we’re able to drastically overgear content now, because obviously I had NO skill or experience in mana management. My goal was to keep the stuffs alive, and I did so, using tools that I know overhealed for a higher mana cost than I needed to use to get the job done, but it was a start. A REAL healer would know what heal to use to get the job done while conserving mana.

The hardest lesson I had to learn as a former Druid Tree healer was NOT to cast spells. I’m used to HoTting things up right before the damage starts. I am used to casting while the bars are all green, doing the preemptive healing thing.

As a Priest, there are a few preemptive heals like Renew and Prayerof Mending and the HoT from Holy spec Mastery, but most are reactive. You have to wait for a bar to start dropping before you react to it and cast some heals. Or see what target the boss is attacking so you know who is gonna be taking the hit. Or know what AoE is about to hit the group and lay down the Holy Word – Sanctuary (also known as pretty sparklies).

It’s a bit of an adjustment, my instincts are to cast, not stand still waiting for the bars to drop. I found myself wishing the tank would take more damage. Maybe that Mage could go stand in the fire for a minute? Please? No? Fine. I’ll just stand here and Renew the tank. Again.

For those not aware, the guild I’m in has three seperate ten person raid teams, named ‘Team Wanda”, “Team Snuffleupagus” and “Team Teddybear.” I’m not in any of them, I’m a persistent floater. 🙂

My next intended step as a healer was to venture into LFR, after a little Mage leveling.

My plans did not survive contact with my friends, for the call went forth from TheRedDeath, Team Snuffleupagus’ Raid Leader.

/guild channel “We need a ranged DPS and healer for Dragon Soul.”

Cassie immediately tells me I should offer to DPS on my Hunter, to which I replied, “My Hunter is my second favorite character to play, I love playing my Hunter just after my Druid. But my Hunter is my worst geared DPS character. So, no. Red needs better than a crap hunter. He’s used to Cross, and Cross rocks.”

So I remain silent, and Red finds a willing ranged DPS quickly (This really noob Mage, omg he was so lemon fresh he squeaked, named Ursimage or something like that. Noob.), but still needs a healer. I don’t know how the subject comes up, but when asked I say that I can’t heal because I actually LIKE Red, and I wouldn’t want to subject his team to my brand new undergeared ignorant healing.

The answer I got was somewhere along the lines of, “C’mon, how bad could it really be.”

Really? You’re going to go there. oooh, that’s just asking for it, man.

So into the Dragon Soul rode the ten raiders, and hell rode with them.

Surprisingly enough, it wasn’t hell. It wasn’t even purgatory. It wasn’t surf and sand and 12 ounce steaks on the grill with a tropical drink with an itty bitty umbrella in it, but it wasn’t bad at all. 

See, Team Snuffleupagus are very good raiders. In fact, almost everyone in Band of Misfits are very good raiders. When someone can’t make a raid night, they never seem to lack for volunteers. They kinda do this a lot, and do it well.

So I joined them with the trash on Morchok, and for the next five bosses we had a lot of fun. The pace was fast and smooth, everyone did what they were supposed to, bosses and trash died, and much joking was had by all. Everyone stayed focused on the goal and hustled without rushing, if you get my meaning. 

By the time Ultraxion died (OMG I two healed on Ultraxion with Silarkias!) I was kinda liking this whole Holy Priest Chakra Healing thing.

All that hullabaloo about Chakra healing, and changing optimization on the fly between single target and AoE healing, plus Holy Word changing states is all pretty awesome once you get into it.

Yes, I know I’m the last idiot left in the game to try Chakra healing out. Sue me, Bears don’t give a Chakra. 

I love playing classes new to me in a game I’ve been playing forever. The whiff of new car smell on a model I know and love, what could be better? Now with Priests being enjoyed, that leaves Warlocks and Monks as the last two unexplored countries to look forward to.

Not only did the raiding with Snuffleupagus go great, but I walked away with 2 pieces of Tier gear. Turns out, their team didn’t have any Paladins, Priests or Warlocks in the group that night, so anything that could dr9op for Tier was destined for me.

Please don’t hurt me.

So, a great night, right? This healing thing, pretty fun. And short queue times! Rock on!

So, let’s try out LFR, how bad could it be?

The horror. The horror.


What is wrong with you people?

I now know why the healing queue time is so short.

Tanking and DPS are straitforward roles, their enemies are the NPCs.

For the healers, the PLAYERS are the enemy. 

How smooth or challenging a run the healer has is based directly on whether or not the other players pay attention, stand in the healing circles, run out of the fire, move to proper range, close in when appropriate, etc.

If the other players just stand there and don’t give a shit if they’re taking damage, the crowd is thick enough that it’s hard to tell why they’re health is plummeting. All a healer can see is a bar dropping, and take frantic steps not to lose them. If time allows, then a combat log can be scanned to see wtf was going on, but by then it may be too late.

A tank grabs what a tank grabs. DPS kills this, DPS kills that. The worst skill-type behavior I’m used to noticing is how lost people STILL get if nobody holds their hand and calls out colors of oozes.

But I never could have imagined the impact lazy DPS and tanks have on a healer in LFR.

I’m not saying the groups wiped, I’m just saying people doing stupid shit like killing EVERY DAMN TENTACLE on the Spine of Deathwing and spawning every possible add SUCKS.

And then, omigod and then, on the last plate for Spine, NOT HAVING ENOUGH DPS TO KILL THE TENDON, so we have to do the last plate all over again? Really? I’ve never even seen that happen before, not killing the tendon, just wtf. 

I walked away in disbelief.

Sure, there are 25 players in LFR versus 10 in the normal raid I went on, and yes the AoE spells I used have upper limits on effectiveness based on number of people needin’ the healin’.

I don’t care. It really is true. It’s more annoying to heal LFR than normal because it really is that damn annoying to heal through stupid, and there are oh so many stupids to have to heal!

Or worse yet, heal through “I don’t give a shit”.

It doesn’t have to be that damn hard.

Hey, ranged DPS, when it all goes to black and the tentacles flail, CLOSE IN TO THE CENTER WHERE THE GLOWY SPARKLES ARE.

I feel so bad for healers that see the joy other pe0ple boast about in LFR, and then zone in to deal with that crap on a daily basis.

I don’t want to accentuate the negative, but I’ve been thinking on how LFR could be modified or tweaked to make it a little better for healers, and I’ve got nothing.

In my opinion, LFR is tuned just fine the way it is. If anything, it’s tuned so loose that players can stand in the bad shit and get away with it because the healers can keep up.

Maybe we need harsher penalties for bad behavior.

I’ve noticed that when something is an insta-kill, like running into an ice wall on Hagara, why holy crap, people don’t run into the ice wall on purpose anymore. But if it just causes lots of damage for the healer to heal through, hey, that’s not my concern, right? Let the healer deal with it, that’s their job.

Maybe LFR simply needs more things to be insta-gibs. Maybe if DPS don’t kill at least one ooze out of three, everyone simply dies. Or if you stand in the black blood of the earth on Morchok, one tick and then dead, next time move your ass.

I dunno. Clearly, the current system is working, but at what cost? Are people encouraged to learn the mechanics? Do people who honestly want to know what to do see the results of their actions and learn from it?

I knew healing was intense this expansion, and I hoped it would be fun to try, and it is. But hoochie mama, I had no idea LFR was just THAT irritating.

It turns out, you CAN heal stupid, but I don’t want to.

I wonder, is there an addon that marks players that stand in the bad on my Vuh’do bars, so I can see to stop healing them?

You know, I use Vuh’do, I’ve got whack-a-mole going. If someone were to stand in the bad a few times, I’d love an addon that just recognised that, and colored their entire bar something obnoxious like nuclear red so I know not to ever click on that bar to heal it for the rest of the run. Just let him die and die and die until he leaves in disgust.

Tanks excluded, of course.

I’d so love that. Just notify me that they’re acting stupid, even if I can’t see them doing it in the crush of the crowd, so I can save my mana for someone who cares.

We could call the addon “Heal Nazi“, and when it goes off it whispers the affected player, “No heals for YOU!”

Or maybe that’s a bad idea.

Healing follow up

A quick post to thank everyone that commented and offered advise and suggestions concerning my failed attempts at healing last night.

Tonight, I was ready to throw in the towel on healing, and focus on 100% Bear tanking. I even went so far as to spend about 10,000 gold on Bear upgrades before assaulting the randoms.

Your comments and guidance led me to take a step back, respec, really rearrange things on my VuhDo and think about what you said, and I went into Blackrock again with a pug.

It went as smooth as Paula Dean’s favorite snack food.

My mana damn near stayed at 100% during the entire run, Lifebloom stayed on the tank in 3 stacks, I watched for and used Regrowth when the Omen of Clarity procced and almost no other time except when a Warrior looked like they could use some topping up.

I sparingly used Rejuvenation, prioritized Healing Touch more, and even halfway through started using Swiftmend for no other reason than to incorporate that plus Efflorescense into my arsenal.

It was a much easier pace, it basically felt like healing a half speed run, because of the lessened stress of the damage. It gave me time to experiment with what you’d told me in practise, without actually endangering the group.

The only time I felt the need to hurry out of a measured rhythm was when the tank pulled several mobs at once in the Quicksilver flame room, and I think he stood in the fire a little. No harm done, it was good to have to respond quick and see where my instincts took me, a good way to see what habits I really need to break.

To cut this short, I had an extremely pleasant healing run, I received two upgrades, the Intellect/Haste trinket dropped off the last boss for me and I won it, and my confidence in being able to learn as long as I do so at my own pace has been restored.

Thank you all very, very much.

Oh, and an special thank you to Nodenugget for recommending the addon GTFO!, which provides audible warnings when you’re standing in bad stuff, and visual warnings if you use Power Auras. It’s a lot of fun, and could be highly useful to pass the word around to all your friends.

Brown Bears Can’t Heal

When Patch 4.0 was originally released, I’d heard that Healing had changed drastically in the game.

I have read Blue posts, both before and after the Patch release, that talked about the state of Mana regeneration, and how Wrath of the Lich King had shown that healers had it far too easy. In Wrath, Healers did not have to watch their Mana apparently, and thus could cast any spell they liked irrespective of what Blizzards’ designers intended.

I’d read that healing was now much more difficult, and also that it was now just right; that a challenge that had been lacking was returned to the healing game.

From the majority of comments and thoughts I read, I gathered that healing was much harder than it used to be, but that it is now exactly where it should be. A challenge, rather than a relaxed route to easy Justice and Valor points.

Of course there were opposing points of view, people who claimed that it was far more difficult now than it really needed to be. But such views have generally been met with disdain and scorn. I’ve seen a rise in claims that such complaints or concerns come from those who didn’t know what real playing was like back in Vanilla WoW or Burning Crusade. I’ve seen the term “Wrath baby” bandied about repeatedly, apparently directed at people who played during the Wrath expansion and committed the unforgiveable sin of liking it.

I haven’t shared any of my thoughts on the subject at all before, because I had not healed any group activity since Patch 4.0, long before Cataclysm itself was released.

I hadn’t healed… that is, until now.

That’s changed. I’ve healed some pugs. I’ve experienced the changes first hand, months after everyone else granted, and unsurprisingly I’ve got an opinion about it.

I have multiple characters that could heal, but the character I have the most experience with is my Druid, so that’s what I went with.

I leveled my Druid to 85 as pure Feral Bear tank spec. No, I didn’t tank my way to 85.

I know it probably sounds silly, but I like playing my Druid with a full Bear tank spec, even when I know I’m going to be solo questing as a Cat through the game. I couldn’t explain why, except to say, you just never know what may pop up. Like a sudden request to tank the CoC ‘Ring of Blood’ style quests in Twilight Highlands. It is, after all, the Feral Druid marching song: Be Pre-Beared!

Sure, I would have done more damage soloing in Kitty if I specced appropriately, but why bother? Fast or slow, they all die regardless.

I had not, not even once while leveling, considered healing something. I was too busy killing stuffs.

Once I reached level 85 it was time to try healing. Well, okay, once I’d leveled all my professions on 8 different characters, and leveled three characters to 85, and did this and that and bunches of other stuff… oh yeah, right, they changed up healing didn’t they. 

I did everything I could in advance to make sure I would NOT hurt other players while I learned how things had changed.

First, I as a level 85 Druid decided to only attempt to heal the first two instances of normals, Blackrock and Throne. No true randoms until I knew what was up. Level 85 does not mean ‘ready to rock’.

Second, I went to Keeva’s brilliant RestoDruid.info website, and carefully read and worked to understand everything she had to say concerning desired Stats, changes to spells, suggested Resto Druid specs and what situations they were for, everything.

Third, after respeccing and accumulating the best gear I could, I set up my VuhDo to incorporate my understanding of the new importance of Lifebloom, Nourish, Rejuvenation and the rest.

Now, my gear wasn’t the best, obviously. I had chosen leather spellcaster quest rewards as I leveled and kept them, IF there weren’t feral items available. I hadn’t gone out and worked at it. What I had done, though, was keep any spellcaster leather I made while leveling Leatherworking, and there was some good stuff in there. My eventual Resto set ended at an average iLevel of about 315. Not good enough to unlock Heroics, but that wasn’t what I wanted, anyway. I optimistically hoped that an 85 Resto Druid with iLevel 315 gear should be able to successfully heal a regular level 82 instance or two while I tried things out.

Right? I mean, that’s not out of line, is it? I know I’m rusty, but I was healing at level 80 quite a bit for fun, and yes, I know things have changed a LOT, but I have the instant responsiveness and visual awareness VuhDo provides, which is more than the default UI would provide for a healer.

Blizzard has to balance content with the understanding that people without VuhDo can successfully heal, right? That there could be as much as a .5 second delay between selecting a party member and casting the appropriate heal?

Yeah, that’s what I tell myself. Right now, I’m not really believing it.

My first healing instance was Blackrock Caverns. About as easy as you can get, and probably the single instance I know best other than Stonecore. I know exactly where to be, how things hit, what to expect, no problem.

Beyond that, I expect that if the instance is designed that an 82 could heal through it, it should be possible that I can do it at 85 with better gear.

I said possible, not likely.

The very first trash pull, and indeed the entire instance, I forgot that according to RestoDruid.info, I should be prioritizing Lifebloom on the tank, along with Nourish. Instead I fell back on old habits and used Rejuvenation 100% uptime, Wild Growth for party heals at an almost 100% uptime, and Regrowth for my “fast top up” spell. Nourish occasionally showed up, but Lifebloom was nowhere, NOWHERE to be found as part of my toolset. Terrible, terrible bear.

By definition, the healing went fine, because I kept everyone alive. I did burn through nearly my entire 67000 Mana pool on the very first trash fight.

There is something obscene about bring given stupid high numbers for health and mana after all these years, only to have the costs of things increased to make those high numbers feel puny and insignificant. It doesn’t feel right at all. The numbers now feel meaningless to me in and of themselves.

“Oh, 1500 more health? Oh well, that’s nothing. Nothing at all. It’s not even worth eating the food, the mob will hit for 8,000 a pop. What, Runic Healing Pots? They don’t even heal 5000, might as well toss ‘em.”

That’s pretty sad. When advancement within the game is based strongly on improvements to stats, the value of those stats need to have meaning. I feel when  you’re reduced to looking at an iLevel, ignoring the number on a stat in favor of just checking which categories of stats are present, “I want crit more than haste, so I’ll pass on this iLevel 300 in favor of this other iLevel 300”, things have gone just that bit too far. Reforging just exacerbates the problem, by making it feel that how much of the stat is moved ain’t important, just move as much as is available over to a more useful category.

Just my opinion as a former theorycrafter for the past whatever years; the numbers aren’t impressive at all, because they do NOT correspond to an equivalent feeling of  capability.

Why not? 5000 strength has to be more impressive than 500, right? It would seem so, but the higher your characters level, the more of a stat you need to gain the same effect. Sure, you ARE more powerful with that 5000 strength… but at 85 with 5000 strength you aren’t as comparatively powerful as a level 60 character with 5000 strength. That’s always felt like a deceptive design practice to me; to visibly give you more of a stat on items as you level, but behind the scenes reduce the effectiveness of those same stats so they do less.

You feel like you’re leaping forward, but mostly you’re just treading water. In Cata, the stat imbalance almost feels like you’re drowning.

It gets too noticeable when the bad guys leap ahead in power faster than you do, even when your stats are getting all bloated and ridonkulous.

Enough about my little soapbox on the stat changes. It’s old news anyway, but it is how I feel, and it certainly applies to my shock at watching 67000 Mana evaporate by casting Rejuvenation and Regrowth during a single trash fight.

I felt, overall, as I adjusted to the changes the run went well. I used the wrong spells from the point of view of mana conservation, I spent a lot of time drinking espresso, but everyone was alive and nobody was ever even close to being in danger of dying. Wow, I could heal a level 82 instance. Cool!

What I took away from the experience was an awareness that the game had really changed from a healing point of view, if the fight takes just a little teeny bit too long and you don’t use the ‘right’ spells, you’re sucking vapor in your mana pool fast.

Even more urgent to consider, this was an 85 healing a level 82 instance. If I’m struggling on that, clearly I need to really get my head wrapped around the importance of Lifebloom and Nourish for tank healing.

It was a bit of a shock, but I wasn’t disheartened. I could make it work. I just needed to improve my gear and practice, practice, practice.

Last night, I accidentally queued up for a true random, and got Grim Batol. Not just GB, but a group that had apparently wiped already, because we formed up in the starting chamber with the three quests, but we ran straight to the drakes and rode quite a good ways into the instance before being offloaded.

I was not pleased. I don’t want to mess up other players while I’m trying to relearn the ropes.

But, the mistake was made, I was there, and I had improved my gear a little more. What’s more, I felt confident I was ready to use the proper healing spells in their place as directed by Keeva.

Our very first pull was complete and utter fail.

Everybody was below half health the entire fight, I abandoned half the party to fend for themselves as I tried to keep the tank at least above 25% health, by the time the fight was over, a Warlock in the group had died, and for most of the fight I was frantically trying to use anything in the toolbox just to get people up to half health.

I still don’t know what happened, but I do know that I put my Lifeblooms on the tank, and used Nourish, and it didn’t seem to do anything much to increase his health at all. If I didn’t spam Rejuve or Regrowth along with Wild Growth, my bad old habits returning halfway through, everyone would have died.

I didn’t stay past that pull. I apologized for being a completely worthless healer, rezzed the Warlock and left them to find someone that knew what they were doing.

I was shocked. And this was on normal!

I would like to keep trying, but after the complete and utter fail of healing a single trash pull at 85, do I have what it takes in this new WoW order?

Maybe I am a Wrath baby. I like tanking, maybe I should stick to that.

I walked away feeling pretty discouraged and demoralized. I knew I didn’t feel ready for the 85 normals, but I didn’t expect to be dropped in one and feel completely useless.

I dunno… am I the only one that feels like, in order to be halfway competent requires a really steep learning curve? Or, and this is totally possible, do I really just suck that bad?

The one that got away

Today, I wrote you a post on tanking techniques.

On styles. Indeed, on the very philosophy behind what makes for a good group and solid tanking.

I included simple things you could do to tweak your own performance to make your groups far better from the tanking side of the game, and some simple reminders for DPS players when joining an unknown tank on how to have a great run.

I talked about communication, and teamwork, and the two main styles of tanking group pulls in detail.

I wrote the “Ultimate Tanking Manifeasto”™, a veritable smorgasbord of words that you could devour whole and yet remain feeling hungry… hungry for more tanking goodness.

This was my War and Peace, my Ender’s Game. My Raggedy Ann and Andy.

I rewrote the project a dozen times over, slaving away, adjusting whole sentences here, striking poorly phrased paragraphs there, crafting the perfect document of tanking deliciousness.

Sadly, you’ll never get to see these words that I describe.

For as I sat back and felt the warm, pleasant glow of having completed the perfect post, I pressed the “Publish” button, and watched as all of my work vanished. Vanished without a trace into the random dashes and dots that make up the modern digital sewer we call the computer.

There, in it’s simplistic maliciousness, like a malign demon of half-assed evil, was displayed before me the WordPress login screen.

I entered in my name and password, and re-entered my domain, there to find that while IN THE FIRST FIVE MINUTES OF WRITING my sublime article of exuberance, WordPress had logged me out. Or lost my cookie. Or decided I wasn’t really there.

But instead of actually SAYING so, instead of informing me with perhaps a popup or warning, it simply chose to stop backing up my draft automatically, but let me type uninterrupted in perfect ignorance for the next three hours.

Three hours worth of blood, sweat and sky that disappeared in the press of a single, simple button.

Gone before, gone forever, gone ahead into digital oblivion.

Those are words that can never return. Not in the way they were. Not in the form as I imagined them.

No matter what we poor souls may desire, nothing we do can ever capture that perfect magic again. The magificent perfection that was the ultimate tanking manifeasto.

Perhaps in some library of the lost, at the outer boundary between what never was, what is and what might have been it yet resides, saved to a CD-ROM that shines with a golden glow.


It’s really too bad.

It was great. You would have loved it.

I feel kinda bad for you, that post would have changed your life forever.

You would have momentarily achieved a state approaching nirvana, approaching and yet unable to be sustained, because the intensity of joy would have just been too much for one soul to withstand.


You get this.

And thus, the circle is now complete, and the malicious evil that was visited upon me, I have passed on to you.

The Week of the Phoenix

This is going to be a slightly different post for me, but I’d like to ask that you bear with me on this one for a few minutes, because the feelings behind it are very important to me.

I’d like to start, by asking you to try and remember back a few years to 2008, and the story of a young boy named Ezra Chatterton. 

Ezra Chatterton, for those that might not have played WoW back then, was a charming ten year old boy that suffered from a very serious brain tumor.

His story came to light in the WoW community when, through the works of the Make a Wish Foundation and Blizzard, his wish of meeting the designers and developers of his favorite game, World of Warcraft, and spending a day AS a developer was made real.

World of Warcraft was Ezra’s favorite game, because according to the story related by WoW.com, Ezra’s parents were divorced, and Ezra’s main method of spending time with his father was through playing together, and talking together while they were both online in WoW.

WoW was a bonding experience that helped bring father and son closer together, even though they lived quite far apart. 

The story of a father and son brought closer together through a shared love of video games did strike a very personal chord with me, and it was only too easy to imagine how I’d feel if it was my own son that suffered from a brain tumor, and an uncertain future. My little wabbit slayer. 🙂

During his visit with Blizzard, and his day as a guest designer, Ezra, whose in-game name for his Tauren Hunter was ePhoenix, took part in helping design many small features that are still to be found in the game.

He helped design and do voiceovers for a new NPC, Ahab Wheathoof, that can be found in the Tauren starting town of Bloodhoof Village near Mulgore, and also designed the quest Ahab gives you, which is to help find Ahab’s pet dog, Kyle, modeled after Ezra’s own dog Kyle.

Ezra also gave input on, and helped design the Season 2 PvP weapon, the Merciless Gladiator’s Crossbow of the Phoenix. A weapon that still looks really damn cool, and that my Hunter has in the bank. How can you get rid of the Phoenix bow?

Why so many references in Ezras’ story to the Phoenix? It’s because Phoenix was actually Ezra’s middle name, and he took the name his father Micah and his mother had chosen for him, and it’s mythological background, close to his heart.

The lengths the Make a Wish Foundation and Blizzard went to, to bring his dream of feeling what it was like to be a game developer for a day, really was an inspirational, sweet gesture full of heart. 

Towards the close of his  day with Blizzard, he was given one parting gift from the development team; the Ashes of Al’ar that drop from Kael’thas in The Eye, the 25 man raid instance in Burning Crusade. He was the very first person to have the Ashes of Al’ar in all of the game, the exceedingly rare drop that becomes the lovely Phoenix mount, and I think it was very appropriate and wonderful to have thought of.

Not too long after the story of Ezra and his day with Blizzard came to our attention, WoW.com shared the news that Ezra had passed away on October 20th, 2008, after complications resulting from a stroke.

So, why am I bringing this up now?

Well, here’s the thing.

One thing that is talked about a lot these days, here and elsewhere, is how things feel like they’ve changed recently in the game.

With the addition of random Battlegrounds, random Looking For Dungeon tools, weekly Raid quests that get advertised, filled, knocked off and then party abandoned, even pug ICC raids, it’s become increasingly easy in the game to log in, join a series of groups, play in group content for hours, and then log off without ever having shared an actual moment of personal interaction with anyone else.

For me, the story of Ezra is, at least in part, the story of how a video game that is designed to make it easy to bring people closer together CAN be a place where families and distant friends can get to spend some valuable time together that they might not have had otherwise.

Yes, it’s time spent in a virtual world, but it’s time with REAL people that you know, love, and miss, people that you can’t be near in real life at that moment.

The distance between people in game, the ease the random group systems make it to slip away into isolation from other people… these are things I think about often, and Ezra’s story stays there in the back of my head, as counterpoint to what the game can be.

I’d like to try and do something with you, the readers of the blog, as a joint effort to remember Ezra. A little event where we could each get together and remember him, and the joy he took in having the game help him be closer to his dad, by doing something with friends and family.

What I’d like to propose is this.

If you read this blog, and if you are willing to take part in this with me, then approach your guild leaders, raid leaders or officers, and ask them if they would kindly put up a raid sometime during the next week or so to go into The Eye, the 25 man Burning Crusade raid, and try for a Phoenix mount drop, in honor of the ePhoenix.

Make it a special occasion that holds the spirit of the game to heart; you and your fellow friends and guild members, and of course your family if they play, getting together to have fun, to bond, and to spend time doing something just to be together as friends in the game.

I know it must seem corny, but it would bring a smile to my face to think of people playing WoW all across the world, seperated by physical distance but together in the game, having fun and giggling and doing silly crap, all inspired by the memory of the young boy who loved the game and the closeness it brought his family so much.

Now, here is the part that will probably sound wierdest, but I’m really serious.

Please, don’t advertise it with my name on it. Please don’t link to me, or refer to me, or have it be attached to me in any way. It’s not a Bear thing. It’s an “all of us” thing.

If you do want to spread the word, please do not mention me in any way. Just take the idea on your own, and mention it as something you’d like to do.

Where the idea comes from isn’t important.

I want this, for the people who agree that it’d be a nice thing to do, to be all about the idea, and about Ezra, and about playing together with friends instead of alone in LFD.  

If the idea of taking a few hours out of the week to remember how precious it is that we can get together with friends and most especially family members from all over the world and have fun appeals to you, just bring the idea back to your guild, and try to make it happen.

Any of you that do this next week, whether you get a Phoenix mount or not, I’d just like to know how it went for you. Whether you had fun, what craziness you may have gotten into. Just drop me a line at my email, and let me know.

If by some chance you do have a Phoenix mount drop, send me a screenshot if you think about it. Cassie and I would love to see it. 🙂

I don’t know, maybe it sounds stupid on the outside. Maybe folks just have much more important things to do, or things to think about. But the older Alex gets, the more I think of Ezra and his father… and of how precious having these few moments to spend together really are.

Tales from the PUG: The Return

Yeah, you know it. Uh huh, that’s right, you know it.

Just when everyone is choking down actual gameplay teasers being released in a flood, here I come with some non-informative post about a PUG run.

Hey, there’s only so much teaser BS a person can take in one day. You gotta have somewhere to go for a laugh, right?

Last night, I returned to the PUG for a turn or two on my Druid.

My lovely, beefy Tauren piece of awesomeness.

As a sidebar, I’d never really noticed how much I had grown to dislike the appearance of my very first, original female Night Elf character. When I started the game and chose my Druid, the male Night Elf options all looked terrible to me, and the Night Elf females looked pretty nice. I didn’t know about the whole “pole dancing” thing yet.

But the face I chose for the Druid just looked… well, vapid. Stupid. Irritatingly so. She looked like a valley girl, like, ya know?

Is it any wonder you hardly ever saw me in anything other than Bear, Cat or Tree?

But my Tauren… ah, my Tauren.

I love him so much, I want to heal in Tauren form. Screw going into Tree, I can’t see those horns!

Okay, anyway.

Oops! First, let me make clear, there ARE Night Elf females I do like. I think my Nelf Hunter Windstar looks awesome. She looks both sensitive and badass at the same time. It’s not Night Elf females in general, it was the choice I made in face design for my Druid in specific. You can’t change faces in the Barbershop. Doing a faction change, for that alone, is almost worth it.

Okay, anyway, anyway. Again.

(You know I do that with my grammer just to torque Kestrel, right? Shh, don’t tell him. Oh, and now some dots, everyone loves my dots…)

((Love you, Kestrel!))

(((Damnit, I spelled Grammar right above… I better fix that… okay, fixed. Moar dots!)))

I’m in a cheerful mood, so watch out, I don’t know where I’ll be driving this bus next!

Right. Where the heck was I? Oh, yeah, right.

[Queue Keanu voice]: Woah.

So there I was last night, all horny and everything, and wanting to build up my stockpile of Emblems.

I created this Hawt Blood Elf Hunter Chick (Which is kinda like a Sexy Blood Elf Biker Chick, but with a reddish colored cat with great big fangs like this ;-<) and she’s got two Heirloom Trinkets, some sexy Heirloom PvE shoulders and a chestpiece, and this big honking double-barreled PvP Heirloom shotgun.

It’s all good, the cute off the shoulder armor with the little red vest is precious, but the shottie? That’s so, like, Dwarf, you know?

Now, if the Shotgun had some taste and refinement, if it had the finishing touches found in a nice Holland and Holland over/under combo, if it came in a fine handcrafted ebony wood case with a few bottles of Mont Blanc, well…

But no, it’s entirely too plebian. It simply will not do.

But I did see just the thing in the latest Tiffany’s collection catalog, this very well shaped Heirloom Bone Bow,  that looked just the sort of thing for a Blood Elf with an eye towards style and sophistication. Perhaps with the 12 1/4″ shafted arrows with Northrend Shoveltusk ivory inlay, silver chased heads and rare black eagle feather fletching?

Yeah, those cost 65 Emblems, and my charge cards are all maxed out. And you don’t EVEN want to go there, but you know, it was Easter, all the stores had their new Spring collections out, what can you do, you know?

So anyway, that’s totally why I need Emblems right now.

Hey, let’s go on a pug!

I went into the LFD tool as a healer, because I pretty much have decided that I will only tank for friends from now on. I play for fun, or to achieve goals for other characters that are going to be fun, and being a tank for the groups I typically get just isn’t all that spiffy anymore.

I love tanking with friends, but strangers? Yeah, not so much.

On the flip side, I try to never be the person that does to other tanks what people do to drive ME to stop pugging as one. You pass it on, right?

I joined LFD, and right away got an Azjol-Nerub group. That’s a good thing, because AN is about as smooth and straightforward and fast as you can hope for in a pug, when it’s all about return on time invested. 5 Emblems, 15 minutes. Sweet!

You suspect it’s going to be one of those runs, when you don’t even have five in the group yet, and the tank has already pulled the first mobs.

You know it’s going to be one of those groups, when you just rounded the corner trying to catch up to “hopalong tankaday”, and you get a facefull of ignored Skirmisher all up in your roots.

So, yay, I self-heal through that, while tossing my HoTs around and begin getting down to serious healing. This group, tank included, are taking just a massive amount of fast damage.

Wow, what the heck?

I’m running the Gearscore addon these days, NOT to judge people’s worthiness to be in my groups, but for just this type of situation. By looking at each player’s portrait in the party, I quickly see I’ve got a Paladin tank with a 5600 Gearscore, I’ve got two players, Death Knight and Shadow Priest with 3K GS (or under, actually, both were like right on the edge of 3K) who are both in the same guild, and a Warlock at around 4K.

By way of comparison, my healing gear on my Druid is pretty solid from Emblems and Heroic PoS/FoS drops, and it’s gemmed and enchanted properly, and I’m at 4.8K GS. I’ve even got a Frost cloak. So 5600 tells me that’s someone in pretty good raiding gear, and 3K tells me a couple pretty new level 80s in mostly Blues and a few crafted Epics or drops, and 4K tells me the player is working their way up nicely.

Notice I make no judgments on skill at all here. I’m simply making assumptions on current gear level, where it may have come from, and set a few expectations on where they might be in terms of DPS and survivability.

It’s handy, as I said, specifically for situation like this. Because the tank actually says, while on the first boss, “C’mon DPS, wake up, you suck.”

Well, no, actually, considering the comparative levels of their gear, they’re doing pretty damn good. I’m very impressed with what the Shadow Priest is squeezing out of her gear, that’s a player spot on.

But okay, whatever, we’re moving too fast for me to type.

Boom, we get down to the next boss area, we’re flying along, killing, clearing, boss goes down, moving on.

We get to the two large mobs just before the last boss, and one of the players, the Shadow Priest I think, is back a ways. They haven’t caught up to us, and wonder of wonders, the tank didn’t just run ahead and pull without them.

But he DOES take the time to get bitchy in chat.

“Are you coming or what? We don’t have all day, get over here.”

I take the time to reply, “Since we’re sitting here waiting and you’re bored, how about buffing me with Kings, since you never gave anyone Paladin buffs yet?”

Yes, that’s right. A tank too lazy, too rushed or too ‘leet’ to bother buffing the group, not even doing the new standard “I’m too good to give you the buff you want, I’m giving everyone Kings” like you see most of the time these days. 

I get my Kings, and he shuts up.

For now. Oh yes, for now. But there is still one more boss, and this pull will tell me something.

Gear or skill? Care or indifference? Phoning it in or in it to win it?

One pull. We’ll see.

We clear the two mobs, we all line up on the King, and the Paladin runs in to pull.

Here’s the test. How did he pull?

He ran straight forward to the boss and stopped dead right there, boss facing the entrance ramp, and stayed there.

This is the loser way to tank the final boss in Azjol-Nerub.

Whether you want to call it laziness, ignorance, or just-didn’t-give-a-shit, bad tanks run forward on the last boss and stop.



The last boss casts Pound. It has a long cast time, and when it goes off, he casts it in the direction he had originally been facing when he started casting. Well, most of the time. Sometimes he bugs and does whirl around if his main threat target is behind him, as the tank is supposed to be.

Oh, and Pound’s key characteristic is it does a shitload of damage to anyone standing within an area the shape of a cone in front of him. It’s a cone-shaped AoE.

It’s almost enough, sometimes it IS enough, to kill cloth or leather wearing players.

By running forward and stopping right there, the tank is leaving it to everyone else in the party to be aware of the mechanic, and run all the way the long way around the boss to get behind him, and during that time, of course, only instant cast spells and attacks are going off.

And if the other players aren’t aware of the mechanic, then when Pound goes off, guess what? Everyone standing somewhere in front of the damn bug king gets a big facefull of WHAM!

So, the tank ran in. Stood there. Kept the boss facing the ramp.

Not everyone ran around to the sides and back like I did. The Death Knight and Shadow Priest did, the Warlock didn’t.

The Warlock’s health plummeted to about 500, and my existing HoTs quickly pulled him back up.

The Paladin, who had run through the boss to get behind him when Pound started casting, lols in Party chat.

He did it on purpose, the worthless little prick, hoping to kill someone else.

Why? Why would someone do something like that?

The run had been smooth. The enemies all died. Nobody ran crazy. Everyone stayed on target. There was no chaos. My heals prevented sillyness and unnecessary deaths.

So why?

I tell the tank in party chat, “How about pulling the boss to face away from the party.”

He announces that you can’t move the boss after he casts Pound.

Well, he has managed to be technically accurate, while at the same time avoiding the fact I didn’t say shit about moving the boss DURING the Pound, I said move the boss to “face away from the party”.

On the second phase, sure as hell, he does it again, and the Warlock eats it again, and doesn’t die. Again, the “lol noob” rolls off the tanks’ lips.

I’m making sure that if nobody actually gets one shot, nobody dies.

Yes, not even the tank.

Phase three comes around, I’ve whispered the Warlock, and the only person that eats Pound is… the Tank. Who immediately throws a Party chat hissyfit.

Guess what?

He moved through the boss during the Pound cast, and the boss did his sometimes-seen bug and whirled around before it went off, nailing the tank.

Amusingly enough, the Shadow Priest, Warlock and Death Knight had all moved to the side during the cast, and didn’t eat it.

Oh, yeah, I was at the side too. Of course.

What? Hey, of course *I* know about the bug, I blogged about it a year ago. Or something like that. Back when it really hurt to get hit by Pound. Like, in Neolithic times, with the dinosaurs and shit.

The tank is hot. He ran through and got hit by Pound anyway, and that’s not fair.

Now, here is the question I have up to this point.

I’m the only one who has said a word, besides the tank, on the entire run. Not a peep out of anyone else while the tank has acted like an immature child.

Do you think the silence was due to not caring what an idiot thinks, or because they were afraid that if they said anything to show they didn’t appreciate the attitude, the tank would leave and the DPS would have a collapsed run on their hands?

Do YOU adjust your behavior, do you hold your tongue when insulted or ridiculed, so you don’t piss off your tank and maybe have him leave you in a fit of childish rage?

While you think of that, I’ll wrap the run up with a fun moment.

When the boss falls, the tank first rolls the Recount log of Damage done through Party chat, and then says, “God you all suck, I’ve got top DPS and I’m the tank.”

I immediately reply, having been primed for this bit of asshattery since the first boss, “You are a Paladin tank with a 5600 GS. The rest of the DPS has nowhere even close to your gear level, so what is your point?”

At the same time, the Death Knight says, “Well, if I was on my other character my DPS would be a little different, lol.”

The tank replies, “Well, the Warlock has 4K.”

To which I reply, “You are a complete moron. A MORON. Goodbye!”

/leave group.

The Warlock has 4K? This is your answer for being a dick about being a tank with the highest DPS? And a Paladin tank as well?

“Oooh, I only outgear you by 1600 gear score, how come I’m top DPS, you must all suck.”

Damnit, there are days, as I said in guild chat, where I just want to bitchslap the world.

Or, in this case, I’d like every tank with this kind of attitude to line up single file, perform a left face, and I’ll freaking ride down the line on a Harley doing 70 with my hand outstretched, to SLAP THEM ALL!!!

Do you do it? Do you eat your feelings and allow yourself to suffer indignities in silence just for the sake of not bruising a sensitive tanks’ ego, challenging his asshattedness, so that you get your run finished?

I now return you to your informative MMO Champion/Blues Tracker game announcements, still in progress.

Shabby PUGs I can stand, but exploits really makes my ass drag!

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?


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.

Things that make ya go whoops!

Last night, logged in on Windshadow, sicker than hell, thought I’d hang out for a few before an early bedtime.

Of course, the best laid plans, etc, etc.

Soel of Redrum whispered me asking if i could come heal some 10 man Ulduar for a bit.

I plaintively asked for how long?

“Oh, about 3 – 3.5 hours.”

Ummm….. no.

“Well, how long COULD you come?”

About an hour and a half, tops.

“Lemme ask.”

[Insert Jeopardy music while I pray “please say no please say no please say no”]

“Okay, that sounds good. Invite incoming.”

Crap. Now I have to make the little brain cell that’s still alive work.

About two minutes later, Cassie comes downstairs.

“Whatcha doing?”

I’m about to heals in Ulduar.

“Do they know you’ve never healed in Ulduar before?”

They didn’t ask.

“Where are you starting?”


“Do they know you’ve never seen these bosses before?”

They didn’t ask.

“Aren’t you deathly sick?”

Your point is?


We teleport straight to the Antechamber, and begin pulling trash. Redrum has done this way too many times before, there’s not much work for a healer on the trash.

As I heal, I’m happy with my new Idol, Idol of Flaring Growth. Sucker is up ALL the time.

Rejuve, pop. Regrowth, pop. Lifebloom, pop. Wild Growth button… Wild Growth button…

Why the hell ain’t there a Wild Growth pop? There’s supposed to be an earth shattering Wild Growth pop!

Son of a bitch, I bet VuhDo’s last update wiped my custom settings!

We clear trash and at a break, I ask for a minute to resolve some, ahem, “Technical difficulties.”

I open VuhDo’s panel, and check out Control, and then look at Right Click. There it is, Wild Growth.

Hmm, how come the other spell names have the word “Spell” next to them on the panel, but Wild Growth doesn’t?

I flip open my Talent panel.

I scroll to the bottom… something I apparently did NOT do when I did my respec testing last week.

Why look, there’s the Wild Growth icon… all greyed out.

Son of a bitch.

You know, the last time I respecced, I boasted to Cassie that I was able to buy every Talent I wanted, I had magically found the pefect spec. Not a single thing shorted a point like usual.

Hmm, I wonder how I ended up with that extra point.

Gee, I wonder.

I then proceded to have to heal Kologarn with no Wild Growth. It was like someone had chopped off my right arm… and then my left arm… and then my right arm…

Look, here’s a screenshot of a moron facing Kologarn! See if you can pick out the Druid without Wild Growth! Woot!


I proceded to heal Kologarn and Auriaya before we took a break long enough for me to teleport to Moonglade and do a hasty respec. Then it was back in to down Ignis the Furnace Master, and then it was past time for me to go to sleep.

But at least I got to heal Ignis with my damn Wild Growth! Things really heated up once I had that spell on hand.

Damnit, I did that once on my Hunter, too. Respecced Beastmaster moving things around, and said to myself, “Wow, I managed to fit everything I wanted in. I found the perfect spec.”

“Hey, how come I can’t summon my spirit beast.”