Posts Tagged ‘healing’

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Jov sez: Raiding as a Job

February 24, 2009

It’s often said that tanks and healers, as the two highest-pressure jobs in a group, are also the two roles who are most susceptible to burn-out.  It’s also somewhat of an open secret around Snarkcraft that Seri (who has alt-itis anyway) swapped to rogue after a couple years raiding and healing.  Having stepped into her role as both priest class lead and heal co-lead, I often find myself slipping into the thought processes that define WoW as job:

  • I attend every 25-man our guild runs.  While there, I’m not only handing out assignments and focusing on my own targets, but I’m also spreading my attention between the other healers and their targets.  We’ve got a pretty strong healing team, and I’m always trying to make certain that I’m riding the balance of giving them assignments they can do/prefer, while still keeping things challenging and interesting.  If things start to go wrong, however, the problem feels personal when I’m trying to sort it out.
  • I still feel unprepared for some of the tasks I have for other classes.  I need to know proper gearing, enchanting, gemming, speccing, and some idea of proper spell selection for all the healing classes, so I can 1) spot anything in advance that raises red flags to see if there’s a plan for it (I’m happy to let wacky stuff go if there’s a reason for it) and 2) figure out post mortem what went wrong in a certain encounter.  I don’t spend as much time on this as I should (as I’m not NEARLY so good at this side of things as my co-leader), but it’s still there and I feel I should be making the effort.
  • I blog and moderate PlusHeal.  Even in my non-raid, non-WoW time, I spend a lot of time hunched over the computer, coming up with topics and wielding my ban-hammer at goldsellers and spambots.
  • I generally have little patience for truly repetitive tasks.  One of the reasons I love raiding is I honestly find the whack-a-mole aspect of it to be entertaining, or at least more entertaining than farming and Hodir dailies.

WoW may not be a 40-hour a week activity, but it still takes up a lot of mental real estate.  Burnout may not yet be the elephant in the room, but the potential is there.  How am I dealing?

  • If it’s not fun, why do it?  I’m a bad raider and a bad example.  I’ve totally let my Hodir dailies slip, and I only do enough herbing for what I need, without my usual redundancy backlog of an overflowing herb bag.  Most of my income is from Naxx runs.  I don’t intend to stay like this forever, but for the moment it’s helping me stay sane.
  • I’m not playing my alts to level.  I play them when I want to goof off.  Leveling is something that just kinda happens (or doesn’t) in the course of things.  I’m not focused on getting to 80.
  • I’m letting myself get obsessively immersed in other downtime activities.  I’ve watched more movies in the past month than I had in the previous 6.  I’ve also re-read all my manga, and scoured the net for scans of new stuff.  I do what I want to do, when I feel like doing it and I’m alright with that.

So, yeah.  There’s me.  If I do hit the burn-out stage, it won’t be the first time.  Luckily, my burnouts tend to be fairly short-lived and to involve me doing things like showing up for raid in shadow form (back before shadow priests were awesome and were stuck on healing duty anyway) or taking 2-week long enforced no-WoW leaves of absence.

The most important thing is really to remember why I do this.  I raid because I love healing.  I love my guild.  I love the vent and raid chatter.  I’m a heal lead because, while I think I know my stuff, I love to help.  If raiding is a job, it’s a job I love.

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Jov sez: Priests: Regen and You

December 2, 2008

Stats: Joveta, lv 75 Holy Priest, currently specced 14/47/5 for questing, STILL getting shunted to DPSing instances (wtf healer shortage??  Where?!) and occasional heal-pwning.  Due to the Thanksgiving holiday with the in-laws, almost no time was spent this week on leveling.  The only major accomplishment was finally finishing up Tars’ Netherwing Rep, enabling him to have a shiny dragon, too.  Go Tars!

I’m not continuing my “everything” posts this week, as I’m fully aware that I’m now approaching the minority to have not at least crested the Cold-Weather Flying benchmark, and raiding is regularly happening.  I’m posting this now to try and get information together and out there.  None of this originated with me, and I am providing links to all of my sources.  It’s pretty safe to say that most of it comes from EJ, however.

Please note: when I say Discipline Spec, I’m assuming a talent spec containing at least 51 points in Discipline; likewise for Holy.

spiritIn Which Jov Eats Crow

Regen ain’t what it used to be, and straight mp5 isn’t necessarily the devil.  There comes a time in a priest’s life where they may find themselves taking mp5 over spirit.  This is not a bad thing.  Especially since deep-Discipline is raid-viable, mp5 can seriously outweigh the benefits of Spirit.  Quoting from the WotLK Healing Compendium on EJ,

For holy, 9 spirit = 4 Mp5, ignoring spellpower gains entirely. Given spellpower gains, a 2:1 ratio is acceptable.
For disc, 5 spirit = 2 Mp5, with no spellpower gains. Convert cleanly, and make your decision.

What does that mean to you, Mr. Non-Mathcrafting Healing Priest?  Essentially, Spirit is twice as important to a Holy-specced priest than it is to one who is specced Discipline, and most of that is due to the bonus Holy gets to spellpower. If you’re weighing the regen between an item with 20 spirit or 12 mp5, Discipline will do better with the straight mp5.  Use the weights above, and take the item that nets you more regen.

I feel so dirty typing that.

Also, spirit has been nerfed.  The old spirit based regen figures were

5 * 0.0093271 * Spirit * Square_root ( Intellect )

But now we’re looking at

5 * 0.005575 * Spirit * Square_root ( Intellect )

Which means that generally speaking, we’re getting less regen in general.  Ghostcrawler has earned the enmity of the spirit-based healers at large with the following response:

As a few players have referenced, we thought mana regen got to a point at the end of BC where players could just generally ignore it and assumed that mana was just a system you eventually graduate out of (kind of like experience).

We don’t want you to be out of mana constantly, but we do want the risk of that to exist. We balance some spells based on their mana cost for example and when you can always use your most expensive, least efficient spell without consequence, then your cheap and efficient spells don’t compete.

Mana is a resource to be managed, much like health or cooldowns.

Basically, we’re not supposed to be never-ending founts of infinite mana and never were.  The removal of downranking and the nerf to spirit-based regen was done to reflect that.  To Ghostcrawler (on this and other things) I say thbbbt.

replenIntellect is a Regen Stat

Um, it is now.  Thanks to Replenishment and our new reliance on crit, Priests want Int.  Yay Int!

Thus: (ignoring gains in mana pool size)
Discipline: 132 intellect = 1% crit, 31.3 Mp5
Holy: 150 intellect = 1% crit, 30.9 Mp5

Comparatively:
Discipline: 132 spirit = 40 Mp5
Holy: 150 spirit = 46 Mp5 + 43 spellpower

Replenishment is a nifty tool.  Living in the days of “Base Mana” everywhere, it’s really nice to face something that’s based on maximum mana.  Essentially, if you’ve got a Ret Pally, a Survival Hunter, or a Shadow Priest, you’re getting the Replenishment buff.  It’s a 15 second buff which gives you 0.25% of your maximum mana back per second.  How much is that?  Well, it depends entirely on how much mana you can get for yourself.  You get more regen the more mana you have, so buff up!  (And yes, Discipline Priests have an advantage here with Mental Strength.)

Crit is also interesting.  Current theory holds that 20-25% is the “magic number” to aim for when getting crit rating.  It’s not a direct regen stat, but it snags you time Oo5SR through Surge of Light and Holy Concentration procs.  Why 20-25%?  That’s 1 cast in 4-5. Put simply, with that much crit, you’re looking at potentially one Surge of Light proc per tap of CoH.  Needless to say, that’s pretty snacky.

intIntellect vs Spirit

So with the addition of Replenishment, and the fact that Spirit isn’t so OP, you may be thinking to start stacking Int for all your regen needs.  If you are, stop right there! Zusterke from PlusHeal (all my healing readers also read Plus Heal, right?  Right?!) made an awesome post outlining exactly why you should not be focusing on one stat and ignoring all the others.  For the healcraft-averse, the TL;DR can be summed up as:  Don’t stack!  You want a 1:1 ratio between Int and Spirit! That applies to any spirit-based healing class: Trees, Discipline, or Holy.

EDIT 12/3 : Zusterke has published a tool to let you calculate exactly how much regen an upgrade/consumeable/anything else will net you.  Available at Zusterke’s Corner: where undead test their brains…

So to sum up:

  • Spirit isn’t what it used to be.  Dependent on spec, you may find mp5 is better.
  • Smart Priests choose Int!
  • But not too much, you’re aiming at a 1:1 ratio between Intellect and Spirit for best regen.
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Guest Post: Tanks on Healers – A WoS Special

October 28, 2008

Jov is being lazy this week, and instead of providing a post herself, is pulling from the husband archives to provide you, dear readers, with a view from the other side of the healing story.

Since Jov is on vacation this week I, Tarsus, her loving and devoted husband have offered to fill in here with an exciting guest post.  To give you some background, Jov and I have been playing WoW together for over three years now (since March 2005 to be precise, when it became clear after a week of playing that just one account would not be sufficient for the two of us), and for most of that I have played as her Tank.  This is because I love warriors as much as she loves priests.  I love tanking, she loves healing, and together we’re the toughest part of a PuG to assemble.

This also means that I can offer some perspective from the other side to you, dear healers.  We tanks have more feelings than just the searing flames of rage, and though our bodies are made of Steel, Bear Blubber, and Flasks of Fortification, or feelings are not, and occasionally you stomp on them.  Or, you know, do a little jig on their burning embers.

Jov and I have a very good understanding on these things, being that after the raid is over and the video card is cooling we still live and love with each other.  For you healers who are not married to your tanks, however, I have some “learning” for you.

1) A good tank will never complain about healing. You got that?  NEVER.  Even if they go without healing and must pop shield wall in order to live long enough to pop a pot because you are doing something wrong they will never tell you how to tell you how much it hurts.  They do this because despite the repair bills and corpse runs they know where their bread is buttered.  Regardless of this the ancient adage remains true: with few minor and specific exceptions if the tank dies it is the healer’s fault. We’ll just never call you on it, remember that.

2) We hate it when you heal the DPS. We don’t hate them because they can generate more threat than us.  We don’t hate them because they’re too busy watching recount to realize they’re about to die.  We hate them because when they get healed, chances are a healer is about to die.  The only thing that kills healers faster than a tank dying is when you heal the doomed aggro-pulling DPS. The enhancement shaman may be wearing mail, but when it comes down to it they might as well be wearing paper.  We try so hard to make sure you live, but sometimes taunt just isn’t enough.

3) Threat does not grow on trees, but healing does. We tanks can stack as much hit and expertise as possible, but chances are we’re still going to miss some of those crucial first hits.  This applies double to fights which have aggro drops and transitions in them.  Try to keep your heals small and controllable.  Big Heals and HoTs right after the tank gets aggro are going to get you killed. We don’t want you to go splat, even if you do things sometimes that make us die a little inside.

4) Unless you are being hit by something, don’t stand near us. In case you missed the memo, being in melee range of a mob increases your threat significantly.  Just remember that this also works in reverse though, so for the love of God run towards the tank if you pull aggro. We like to joke about how often the mage blinks away when Mr. Mob comes looking for his blood but every tank knows that healers are every bit as guilty of just standing there and get eaten. We know this sounds like a hot cold thing, it’s not really, we just want you to live.

5) The good tank is a grumpy tank, so please stop complaining about it. It isn’t that we’re failing at having fun.  It isn’t that we don’t like epics, or getting hit repeatedly in the face (or shield).  We do like these things – that’s why we’re here after all.  But when you’re job is to be the meat-shield (and most tanks can’t do much besides that) it’s hard not to take it personally when people die.  This goes double for healers.  Really.  If a rogue dies and the tank still has aggro, does anyone care?  No.  But if the healer dies, it doesn’t matter what the aggro status is because everyone’s life just got a lot harder.  We tanks are sensitive.  We recognize this.   We see a special relationship between us and the healers.  And then you go and die on us, so we are sad.  So if we seem a little rough around the edges it’s not because we’re not having fun, it’s because we care.

And so therefore…

6) We are tired of the healer Mafia. We know that we’ve had a cozy relationship in the past and sometimes we’ve made somewhat crass statements that were a bit too “friendly”, but we here down at the Tanker’s Union work hard to bring home the purples and we could really use a break from the threats.  Our numbers are dwindling all the time, and what with the shiny foreign undead competition on the horizon, there is just not a lot of love left for the common working tank.  Sure, people don’t talks smack about the tank like they do the effete elite DPS classes who can make their millions and afford many fancy epic mounts, but we thought you were our friends.  You never hear tanks say they’ll stop saving the healers. A grue eats a kitten every time you think about killing your tank.  So if you can’t care enough about your tank, at least think of the kittens.

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Jov sez: 3.0.2 — The New Game

October 21, 2008

So, it’s been a week since the big patch; things seem so different, don’t they?  They do because WoW is a very different game at current.  Regardless of level of progression, it’s very noticeable that things are a lot easier.  My caveat to what I’m about to start talking about goes here:  I’m not in a guild that had “beaten the game” before the patch.  My e-peen is big for all the old-fashioned reasons, not for any that involve Muru pre-nerf.  My credentials are those of a solidly mid-progression raider.  The changes made to raid environments directly benefit me, and my impressions are colored by that.

Okay, so, all that done with… what are my impressions?

  • I need a nerf.  Seriously.  I’m OP.
  • 2-hour BT clears are a good thing.
  • So are raid-wide buffs.
  • Who’s that at the top of the WWS by a huge margin?  Oh, right, that would be me…
  • Carelessness can still get you wiped… sometimes.
  • I don’t know what some priests are doing that they think they’ve been nerfed.
  • The changes are awesome for getting past “stuck” issues with bosses.
  • The Line Boss is the new Elevator Boss.
  • Blizz is totally rewarding me for bad-priesting and it is awesome.

Okay, okay…  My impressions you all might actually care about:

  • While I remain unconvinced that GS is worth dropping Meditation for at this stage of the game, I’ve seen it can be done, and can be done well.  That being said, you’ll pry Meditation from my cold, dead fingers.
  • As a 14/47 spec (differing from my suggested due to misspent points from server lag… I just decided to stick with it and try it out), I could do nothing to run myself out of mana.  I spent all of BT face-rolling CoH, with a smite or flash thrown out when I got a Surge proc.  My mana went nowhere, and I used 3 biscuits all night.
  • BT feels much more like what it is for us: the instance we farm to get gear for people so we can go do the actual raiding in Sunwell.  Being able to clear it in 2 hours is like a gift of 2 free hours we can spend elsewhere.  It also helps with a lot of the frustration of “Here we are again, just like last week, another Wednesday down the drain.”  People were relaxed, laughing, having fun and not taking things so seriously.  There’s time to actually work on the bosses we need to work on, even with our 3-day schedule.
  • We couldn’t get Kalec down pre-nerf.  There were some heartbreakingly-close attempts, but with raid comp availability, we spent a lot of time mindlessly throwing ourselves at him.  We wiped so much, we forgot how to do anything but wipe, attempts always felt doomed from the start. We downed him the same day as the 2-hour BT clear, with minimal raid deaths, on our second attempt.  There was much happy screaming in vent.

There are a lot of complaints out there now about Blizzard dumbing down the game with these systems of nerfs.  People who beat the game before 3.0.2 feel somewhat insulted that Blizzard is discounting their hard work in making things accessible to everyone.  People who’ve been working through content feel a letdown that Blizzard suddenly made things too easy, taking away all sense of accomplishment.

I have one thing to say to both of those camps:  QQ.  If you downed KJ before Tuesday, you have the pride in knowing that you beat the game, you’re awesome, and that all the rest of us out there needed the nerf to do what you could do with out.  If you’re upset that suddenly Kael or Archi or Illidan are easy, you should have gotten them down before the patch.  If you couldn’t, you’re the person the change was designed to help.

And to both as well: if you don’t like it, hang up your DKP and stop.  Everything is going to reset in three weeks, anyway.  Then, we can all move on to Naxx, which Matt assures us isn’t so easy.  That, at least, should make everyone happy.

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Jov sez: What Trash Says About You

September 23, 2008

No, I’m not talking about McDonalds bags or kitty litter, I’m talking about instance trash. This is actually a bit of a tie-in with Seri’s post about apping to a raid guild. It was prompted by problems our guild has faced in the past with new recruits, so I wanted to bring it up. There is more to joining a raid guild than having the gear for the content. Finding the right “fit” is a process, and very open to pitfalls. I think we all have a tendency to just go shopping for a guild at the right level of progression, without thinking first about what sort of raid environment we enjoy. I’m not just talking about the people and vent chatter, I’m also talking about the actual process of raiding. Knowing what you need and want is your responsibility to consider before accepting a guild invite, and should be brought up by you in the interview process. The simplest, and perhaps most telling, would be to ask how the guild handles trash.

Two examples to illustrate what I feel are two ends of a spectrum:

The Meticulous Style

This is many group’s default, at least while learning content. Every pull is marked, every tank and CC’er has their target, everyone is careful. There is very little FFA healing, each healer assigned to a specific person or group/party and sticking with it. It’s also very much healing by the rules. Lots of cancel-casting, letting hots tick without being overwritten, there’s a general focus on doing what is needed and conserving resources. Healing is not a competition, you’re doing what is most needed to get the boss down cleanly. This style is very good when things go wrong, there’s usually a back-up plan in place. Also, this style is very friendly to low-healer groups. Doing content with fewer than the recommended number of healers pretty much demands this style of gameplay.

The Aggressive Style

This is almost the opposite of Meticulous. It’s perhaps best considered a controlled chaos. This is much more common on the instance you’ve farmed to death and just want to get through as quickly as possible. Tanks fight each other for aggro on multiple targets (Tank A decides he wants all his targets, plus a few of Tank B’s) AoE occurs more often than single-target DPS, and beyond assigning tank heal assignments, the rest is FFA healing. Most pulls have a “seat of your pants” feel, and you spend a good deal of the evening riding the line of something going very wrong. This sort of style usually occurs with a very strong, overgeared group. However sloppy it may look, however, it is done by people who know their capability. Tanks will steal targets, but not more than they know they (and their healers) can handle. Healers will cross-heal with abandon, but only as far as they know their mana will stretch.

The Problem

As is probably obvious, problems can occur when someone who is used to raiding with a group who uses one extreme applies to a group who goes the other way. If you were happy with the style of raiding of your previous guild, you need to also ensure your application goes to a guild which follows the same style. (If you’re not happy with the style, by all means, find a guild of the opposite style to apply to.)

If you are a meticulous healer, you’re healing by-the-books, the right way. Your target is staying up, you’re doing everything the right way. However, if you join an aggressive guild, you’re either going to be bored (because someone else is always going to have a heal land first, or overwrite your hot) or going to cause red flags with your class lead when WWS reports your effective healing numbers are half that of those who share your spec/assignment.

Conversely, if you’re an aggressive healer and join a meticulous guild, you’re going to spend your time feeling like you’re surrounded by a bunch of slackers. You’re not going to want to watch the DPS’s health slowly climb as hots tick, you’re going to want to give ’em a boost now. You’re also likely to cause just as many red flags with your class lead for your flagrant cross-healing. At the end of the day, your healing numbers may blow everyone else out of the water, but you’re going to cause people to worry about your conservation and what will happen if things go wrong.

The Solution

Neither healer nor guild in either of my previous examples is wrong, they are only wrong for each other. Where the wrongness occurs is before the first raid, it’s in the interview, or even the application. It is the applicant’s responsibility to know what their style is, and to find out if that meshes with the guild they are applying to. Guilds also have the responsibility to be open and upfront with what sort of healing environment they will provide.

No guild is going to follow either style 100% of the time, nor are they always going to adhere to the extreme. Most guilds are probably somewhere in the middle. Know where you stand, so when you apply, you know you’re not setting yourself up for failure.

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Jov sez: Priests and Wrath

September 18, 2008

Okay, I’m reeeeeeeally getting tired of all the doom and gloom going on with regards to priesting in Wrath.  I know there’s QQ’ing from every class, but really…  IT’S NOT GOING TO BE THAT BAD.

What are the problems?

Time and again, I see the same things mentioned.

  1. Doing away with racials.
  2. No new spell “variety.”
  3. No longer the “utility” healer.
  4. Spellpower means warlocks and mages are stealing our gear omg.
  5. Base mana.

Doing away with racials.

Priests were the only class in the game that got special spells per race.  Per the min/maxers out there, I was an idiot for playing a night elf instead of a dwarf back when I was still alliance.  Fear Ward is necessary, fear ward is mandatory, dwarves or gtfo.

Guess what, Fear Ward is a base class ability and has been for a year.  Racials going the way of the dodo is nothing new. Instead of quashing diversity, this was done to enable us to play what we want, and still be viable because we have the “must have” talents.

Yes, racials are neat.  They’re fun.  But they really don’t encourage variety, simply because they’re either good, or you’re an idiot to play X race because of useless Y racial.

No new spell variety.

Oh look, most of our talents don’t give us anything new.  They just increase the effectiveness of our current spells.  That’s soooooooooooo boooooooorrrring.  /yawn

Give me a break.  When 2.0 launched, our new spells were essentially just some additions to the Disc tree which were pretty PVP specific, and CoH.  We got clear casting, but that’s not really a new spell, it’s just something to make us…  more effectiveThe grass wasn’t any greener then, either.

This time, we get Penance and Guardian Spirit.  One is a channeled (and therefore instant cast) spell that damages or heals depending on the target.  The other is almost a mini-BoP.  And even if they suck?  It’s beta. By definition, the process of balancing and rebalancing.  How they appear now is not necessarily how they’ll appear in November, or even in January.

As for spells, yes a lot of the spells we’re getting are refurbished racials, but do you know how awesome it will be to have access to Hymn of Hope and Desperate Prayer, without having to be a human or draenei?  This goes back to the point above, but this actually encourages diversity; we’re not being pidgeon-holed for the sake of min/max spells and racials.

We’re no longer the “utility” healer.

So, what you’re really saying is we no longer have a guaranteed spot because we can fill any role in raids.  We’re going to have to actually work for it. And you’re QQ’ing.  Okay.

I’m honestly glad that Blizzard seems to be moving away from the “this class is best at this, this is best at that” thing.  It used to be Priests were the “utility” healer because we could do everything, where most other classes had one strength, and struggled for the rest.  Tank healing?  Fine.  Raid healing?  Fine.  5-mans?  Fine.   We were Swiss Army Knives, and we were invited to raids because we could essentially caulk any hole in the healing roster.

Well, now…  everyone can do that.  I think that is awesome.  The fact that every healing class can now spec to do any healing role in a raid is great!  We’re not going to be banging our head into content, stuck for months because we can’t find the right type of healing for a boss.  We’re not going to be facing the articficially-inflated demand for certain healing classes over others, simply because raid healing is king.  Hopefully, we’re going to avoid most of the “this person sucks, they’re a loot whore, have a lousy attitude, but I really need someone who can face-roll CoH” that guilds face currently.

We’re going to have to learn our class, and if we can’t, a single spell is not going to be enough to keep dragging us along.  This is incredible.

Spellpower means that warlocks and mages will be stealing our gear.  zomg.

Yes, yes it does.  But we’ll be stealing their gear too, so it all balances out.

This is primarily a pugging issue.  Presumably in raid, there will be a system of loot distribution which will keep things relatively on an even keel.  However, this has always been a pugging issue. Everyone has horror stories of the hunter taking caster loot, or the mage taking healing pants, or the warrior taking pally plate.  This happens, has happened, will always happen.  Some people are dumb, some people are greedy.  Reducing the “variety” in gear types isn’t going to make this any more or less an issue.

Base Mana

If Circle of Healing now costs 21% of my base mana, I can only cast it 4 times before running OOM! Um, no actually.

Base mana is not your mana pool.  One way of thinking of it is mana naked (I hear the sighs of relief now) but in reality, it’s your mana without any int modifiers.  That means no racial or talent modifiers to int, either.  It is a per class, per level amount.

Currently, Circle of Healing R5 costs 450 mana, untalented.  As a lv 70, my base mana is 2620 and 21% of that is 550.  Yes, it’s more expensive, but it’s also being changed to be a “smart heal,” meaning it will heal people in range most needing it regardless of if they’re in G2 or G4.   There’s a trade-off, but one I’m pretty content with.

So what’s the problem, really?

Really?  There isn’t one.  This is the exact same thing that was showing up when TBC opened and priests were being told all healing would be done by pally/shammy/druids, and to go shadow or gtfo.  Stuff is changing, but different doesn’t mean bad.

Stop being chicken little.  If you’re tired of priesting, that’s fine, be tired of priesting.  Roll something else, play your alts.  Make another healer because you think it will work better for you.

Don’t go running around screaming that Blizzard is breaking the class.  The class is fine, lrn2play.