[Healing] Are you quitting on me?

23 December, 2010

Coming up a little rant on healing and then a quick blurb on Halfus Wyrmbreaker

A quick excerpt from one of my first blog posts here at Borsked:

Without [these qualities]: confidence, the ability to work without thanks, adaptability; you are doomed as a healer.  Accepting that you can’t heal and continuing to do so is a disservice to those you play with.  It’s ok, healing is a deceptively hard job.  It is one where mediocrity is celebrated and greatness is rarely noticed.  You know you just saved the raid, but nobody cared, and nobody is really going to care when you say “we wouldn’t have won if I didn’t…” No.  That is your job.  If you aren’t making 3 to 4 raid saving heals a pull then you are not properly utilizing your ability.

DPSing and beating an enrage timer is acknowledged as a group failure.  Seventeen players couldn’t get it done.  Healing is nearly always boiled down to 1 or 2 individuals.  If you cannot handle the blame of a wipe being placed on your shoulders then healing is not your game.

We aren’t the guys putting up the high scores, we’re the ones keeping the machine running.

It would be a moderate understatement to proclaim the current healing model is drastically different than previous expansions. More than ever healers are placed in a difficult position in heroics and raids. A sub-standard DPS or mishandling of mechanics can lead to a significant amount of damage that is (sometimes) un-healable.

But I’m not letting any of you off the hook.

This is what you signed up for. I’m not sure exactly when you clicked through and applied a healing spec to your favorite class, but depending on when that was probably has a lot to do with your current feelings toward the healing game in Cataclysm. It isn’t easy and it isn’t supposed to be easy.

As I had hoped and prayed for on this blog was that Blizzard would force me to intelligently use my global cooldowns. At this gear level, they have done that. If I mis-place a healing rain or cast too many chain heals on single targets, I will pay for it. If I cleanse the wrong players or double-cleanse when I don’t need to, I will pay for it. Every decision affects your mana bar. Choosing the right tool for the moment is exactly what healing is about and always will be about.

I’ve received tells from various players asking why healing is so hard and expressing that they might just go back to DPS after-all (some already have). Good. Wrath of the Lich King healing was too easy and now we’re all are suffering for it. Growing pains and adjustment are always a big part of a significant mechanics change.

I’ll admit that I’ve played poorly in some of our first few raids. Everything from over-healing to healing the wrong thing or simply just not casting enough. What’s good is that we’ve been successful and I can see some room for improvement. Playing a healer is no longer about how fast you can push those buttons but if you can push them quickly while using the correct spells.

To the players out there that are truly dedicated to healing and want to get better: stick with it. Just one week of heroic gear gave me a gigantic boost in my ability to heal through some of the worst situations. Now if a tank mis-pulls or breaks a CC early, I won’t have to scream for cooldowns. If you thought being a good healer before Cataclysm was an indispensable role, the need for solid healing is off the charts right now. You’ll get it, I have faith, but if you’re only going to complain about how hard it is and let groups wipe because you “can’t do it” then just roll a rogue and be done with it.

Rant off.

(editor’s note:  this is not directed at you. maybe you, but definitely not you or anyone in particular)

Halfus Wyrmbreaker

I can still fondly remember those moments before pulling Chromaggus when we sat in anticipation; waiting to find out what combination of colors the server gods had graced us with this week. It’s now the same feeling I get as I round the corner to Halfus’ balcony in the Bastion of Twilight. There are some drakes that both grant Halfus an ability, but also hold their own ability to take it away should you set them free. You get 3 per reset and there are 5 total (2 deactivated for the week).

(editor’s note: this is all for the normal version. The priorities could be completely different on heroic)

Storm Rider: Grants Halfus Shadow Nova. Release the Storm Rider to make the Shadow Nova interruptable.

This is the “Bronze Aspect” (to borrow a Chromaggus phrase) of Halfus. It requires a melee kick rotation to prevent a large amount of shadow damage/knockback.

Time-Warden: Grants Halfus’ proto-drake a buffed version of his fireballs. Release the Time Warden to slow the fireballs (a puff of red fire will appear where a fireball will eventually land).

While this is actually a bronze dragon, it is an easy mechanic to deal with: just move. It will reduce your dps and healing because of the movement, but it’s only a little annoying.

Slate Dragon: Grant’s Halfus the ability Malevolent Strikes (stacking debuff reducing healing done, 30 second duration, 15 stacks =90% reduction).

Let it stack, switch tanks, tanks will swap when their debuff fades

Nether Scion: Increases Halfus’ attack speed by 100%. Releasing the dragon will debuff Halfus to negate the attack speed.

Whelp Cage: Contains several green whelps. Release them to reduce the damage done by the proto-drake’s fire breath (raid-wide AOE).

  • Generally speaking, if we have 2 drakes, we release them both at the same time to nerf Halfus as much as possible
  • Each drake is burned down and then the whelp cage is opened. Kill the whelps, burn down Halfus
  • At 50% Halfus will gain a shout that will hit you 3 times in a row dealing physical damage on each hit (30 second cooldown).
  • If you need to interrupt Shadow Nova (Storm Rider was active), you’ll need to either heal through it, have a mage blink through the 3rd shout tick, or have a paladin HoP an interrupter of some sort.
  • Keep in mind the berserk timer. We lucked out out this week and the Slate Dragon’s debuff stunned Halfus as he enraged (giving us a kill over 30 seconds after).

(note: I’ve only ever seen 2 Drakes + Whelp Cage. I’m not entirely sure if you can get 3 drakes and no whelp cage)

And to sign off, Happy Festivus, everyone! Festivus:Yes. Bagels: No.

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Halion Post #72653: This is the good Twilight

1 July, 2010

Rebels souls, deserters we were called. Chose a gun, and threw away the sword. Now these towns, they all know our names. Six gun sound is our claim to fame. — Bad Company

You’ve already watched the TankSpot video, you’ve read the brief strat write-ups on WoWHead, and maybe even dabbled in a bit of the lore. Going back over all of that is just going to be a waste of your time, and mineso here are my brief (not) impressions/opinions on the last raid of Wrath of the Lich King.

Overall, I was pleased with the new visuals and layout of the instance. It’s only one room so my expectations weren’t amazingly high, but they did a good job capturing the Red Flight’s theme that you see in Dragonblight.

The mini-boss concept is something that they’ve opened up in Wrath of the Lich King and I hope continues into Cataclysm. The dogs and the valkyr in Icecrown Citadel, along with the drakes in Obsidian Sanctum and Lieutenants inside Ruby Sanctum, break up the trash clear in a good way.  They have mechanics that you actually have to worry about and give your DPS some time to actually ramp up and use their real rotations.

For healers, we get to glance back at the monitor during trash which is nice. So far in Wrath there has been no trash other than maybe Crimson Halls that required any sort of real attention.

Halion Phase 1

Being outdoors in an open grove, you immediately get the sense that you are going to need to use most of the area and do a lot of movement. The first step that I always try to take when setting up a fight like this is try and maximize the raid’s usable space, if possible. The fiery wall surrounding the fight area is a nice border you can park Halion’s side against. The breath and tail aren’t really a problem, and if a meteor or poorly placed “void zone” force movement, you can just walk along the outside rim.

Phase 1 is a big time joke. There is nothing in this phase of the fight that can kill you (even if you try). You can take  a meteor to the face and still live. Why? I have absolutely no idea. If it was so important to move out of it, why make it take so long to land or even give much of a warning at all. As it stands, anyone that’s even barely paying attention will reduce the raid damage to nothing.

Conversely, a raid with lower DPS might have to deal with more meteors and void zones. Our raid comp ended up being 2 tanks (Warrior/Paladin), 5 Healers (Shaman/2xPriest/2xDruid), and 18 DPS (10 ranged, 8 melee), which is very DPS heavy. As we reached 75%, we were consistently getting 2 void zones and 1 meteor. Yawn.

Zone into the Twilight. Don’t touch the Dragon. He bites.

Hallion Phase 2

BloodlustHeroism as soon as everyone is phased in.

Going into this fight, you might ask yourself: “self, how the heck am I going to see the people to cleanse in the right spot while I’m running around dodging this big lazer!?” The answer is simple, just cleanse it right away. We tested fairly early on that the damage done by the void zones (both shadow and fire) in normal mode are easy to heal through for quick bursts.

Cleansing people immediately in the Twilight gives you these benefits

  1. Mindless. Your healers won’t have to think a lot about people’s position and whether it’s “safe” to cleanse. The debuff pops up on your grid and you just knock it right back down.
  2. Small void zone. An immediate cleanse creates a void zone that’s about 8ish yards across. Even if it’s dropped in melee, Halion’s hit box is so big that you almost don’t even notice it. They disappear in enough time

Phase 2 doesn’t last all that long (a trend from Phase 1).

Halion Phase 3

Shieldbubblebear Wall while people are zoning in/out and healers are making sure the Physical Realm team is safely ushered back upstairs.

If assigned, zone out into the Physical Realm. Don’t touch the Dragon. He bites.

Your raid is now split in two. We sent the melee upstairs (+hunter) and kept the ranged DPS downstairs. The Twilight Cutter is impossible to get hit by if you’re a ranged dps unless you’re standing right on top of an orb. Conversely the melee are always in danger of getting caught up in their rotation and being zapped.It’s also easier to just say “melee up, ranged down” and you don’t have to bother with pesky group assignments.

Physcial Realm (Top)

One Healer. One Tank. A little bit of fire. We started off with our healing split being 2 down (Me and a Druid) and 3 up (Druid + 2 Priests). We then went to 2 up, 3 down (Me/Druid/Priest), and by the time we killed him we determined that the top can be easily solo healed. Four healers, split between tank and raid, is good insurance for the Twilight Realm which is significantly…more involved than the Physical Realm.

Twlight Realm (Bottom)

Healer tips for those that are new:

  1. If your tank is closely following the beam (like he should be), a good place to stand is right on the bosses front leg. This will keep you in range of him with some buffer if a void zone is dropped oddly, but will also keep your DPS healing targets within 40 yards.
  2. That being said, make sure you don’t get cleaved or breathed on, it’s easy to lose track of which way the dragon is facing while you’re running.
  3. The tank is your number one priority, do not focus on keeping raid members topped off 100% of the time. Make sure you are keeping them in a safe range, certainly, but this fight is over immediately if that tank drops. Dead raid members can be battle-rezzed (also: ankh, soul stone) and take the portal back down.
  4. Riptide and LHW are your best friend. Being soft-capped on your haste is a good thing here.
  5. Communicate with your tank and let him know if you’re out of range for any length of time. Even if it’s only for a little, Halion hits hard enough that an unlucky avoidance streak will equal a wipe.
  6. I found myself hitting my NS cooldown as soon as it came up and waiting on it for a quick burst when I was moving (prelude to Cataclysm and spirit-walking).

One thing to keep in mind if you choose to do a melee up, ranged down strat, Halion’s corporeality will dip under 40% quite often as the ranged DPS will be forced to move as a group much more often than the melee. Just have the Physical realm pause for a bit and let it come back up.

Stay out of the Twilight Cutter and you’ll have little problems. Like I said above, a competent healer can handle the Physical realm on their own. Even with the movement requirements in the Twilight, I never felt overly stretched. Though, after healing Putricide(HM) Phase 3, Halion phase 3 is a bit of a breather.

Impressions

I made the comparison of raids to Theme Parks a few posts back, and that analogy holds true for Halion. Halion is a boss that’s all about making you feel like you’re about to die at any moment, but never actually does anything that will kill you. The void zones aren’t really void zones, you can run across one and live with just a couple heals (if any). The Twilight Cutter is dangerous but the extensive emotes and the slow movement mean you really have to leave your computer to be killed by it.

We obviously haven’t done heroic mode (yet), but I’ve read enough about it to know that there is a lot more potential in this fight. Heroic additions such as adds from meteors, void zones appearing in both realms, and two simultaneous twilight cutters means that if you didn’t have enough things to not stand in before, you can rest assured that you’re available space will be much tighter.

Anyways, as far as the normal mode version of the encounter goes, it was a fun and refreshing take on YADF*. Anything that splits the raid in half is always a challenge of balancing and coordination. You never quite know what is going on so it forces you to actively communicate and keep vent cleared. The vent clogging can get out a bit out of hand as the Twlight Realm will be talking a lot more than the Physical Realm.

The first two phases were just too short for even very average DPS. Because of this, you don’t really deal with any of the mechanics until the last phase and by that time, as long as your tanks stay upright you can limp home if needed. The meteor and void zone timers do not require your movement and positioning to be as strict as I thought they would. Things tend to disappear rather quickly.

I stayed in the Twilight Realm, but from what I heard over Vent, the Physical Realm is the trivial portion of the encounter.

On hard mode with the adds and additional damage/void zones, it will likely be the more complicated half of the raid. The disappointing thing about normal mode, sadly, was that we only got one upgrade (Caster DPS trinket). The other pieces were given to offspecs/side grades. We’ve spent a lot of time farming hard mode ICC, so that is expected, but it seems like we could have used this boss maybe 2 months ago whenever we were plodding along still with some 251 gear.

My question is: Why not have encounters in all of the Wyrmrest portals? Both Sartharion and Halion were incredibly enjoyable experiences top to bottom. It would end up being a set of 1 encounter dungeons that would form a pseudo-full instance. There were a lot of breaks in content throughout Wrath of the Lich King, adding fights for the Green (with Ulduar?), Blue(with ToC?), and Bronze (with ICC?) flights would have been really cool.

All in all, we notched another boss kill in about 6 attempts. By ICC standards it ranks on the low end of difficult fights, but nothing I didn’t expect. In the next couple resets I hope to get into hard mode (10 man and possibly 25) to see what’s in store to snag some i284s.

Bottom-Line: Very fun and engaging encounter, but lacks a real danger factor once you’ve seen how tame some of the mechanics really are. A nice punctuation mark on a successful expansion.

*Yet Another Dragon Fight


ICC10 Hard Modes: Round 47

29 March, 2010

When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.–Franklin D. Roosevelt

I label this Round 47 because it really feels like it’s been that long since I’ve been able write about our 10 man raid. Due to 10 mans occurring on our off-raid nights, you never know if something is going to perk up and pull one (or two, or three) raiders away at the last-minute.

Been waiting a long time for this could refer to The Lich King’s achievement, or what it’s like waiting to get your entire group back together and ready to tackle the rest of the hard mode encounters.

Standards

My goal starting this week was not to flip-flop hard mode and normal mode. There is some sort of psychological switch connected to the dudes in my 10 man that turns off their ability to play whenever hard mode is no longer active. Trying to flip it back on for the next boss has never worked.

So we turned on hard mode and started slow on Marrowgar (Some dumb shaman kept disconnecting), but got our game ramped up pretty quickly in time to Storm the Citadel heroic style. Our first target was the Crimson Halls, and our long-delayed date with the Blood Prince Council.

As I detailed in my last entry (sometime around the great depression), we had problems with the Council and they were many. To address these, we went in with some basic guidelines:

  1. Cover every inch of the floor. We placed a Shadow Priest on the stage to cover that area and then one ranged DPS west, and one east. If the Priest was targeted for an Empowered Flame Orb, he could disperse if it wasn’t drained enough. Two pet classes on the orbs made handling them easy once the areas of responsibility were covered.
  2. Disregard the Shadow Prison during Taldaram. As long as your stacks are low or gone when Taldaram is active, soaking/draning the Empowered Flames is easy.
  3. Keep the melee clean. Glittering Sparks = 40% Slow = Lots of problems with both kinds of Vortex. Mass dispel them if necessary.

Our composition was identical to our previous failed attempts(Holy Paladins are great for a 2 tank setup). The fight ended in a brisk 4:27 and gave us our Heroic: The Crimson halls(10 Man) achievement.

World of Logs

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ICC25 Hard Mode: Tree Force

11 March, 2010

Who can impress upon the forest, bid the tree // unfix his earthbound root? Sweet bodements, good! — Macbeth

If Trial of the Grand Crusader taught us anything, it’s that Resto Druids can make or break fights with constant raid wide damage. This started back with Steelbreaker Last Iron Council, but we saw very clearly when working on the Twin Val’kyr that the difference between having 2 and 3 resto druids present was immense. Since then we’ve tried to carry several (generally 3) Trees to counteract deaths that occur from a combination of raid wide aura and RSTS damage. So far in ICC25 Normal and Hard mode we have only dipped below 6 healers for progression on one boss (Professor Putricide).

That’s a testament to our DPS, certainly, but a lot of combination kills can be eliminated with a lush green blanket of HoTty goodness.

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ICC25 Hard Mode: Them Bones

10 March, 2010

Try to recover, but we collide with each other. We spin out of control–Kotov Syndrome, Rise Against

And now the real fun begins. Progression over the past two instances has been considerably different, from a mental point of view, than every previous tier. In Black Temple when we finally downed Illidan the feeling in the raid was “woohoo we just beat the game!”  Now that has completely changed. You down The Lich King, the (supposedly) final boss of the expansion, and you say to yourself “sweet! now we can start raiding for real!”

In a way this is like a second round of leveling. The goal (for raiding focused players) when starting a new alt is getting that character leveled, prepped, and ready to get into a raid instance. You get your ratings as close as possible to their minimal caps and collect some crafted/5-man gear, but you can’t really do anything until you hit 80. The same thing happened in ICC25. We worked decently hard to get those 12 bosses down (at least the later ones), and we finish the instance. Well, not really. Now we can actually start to raid at a level we’re accustomed to.

We have some hard modes to do. Will we achieve a Lich King 25 Heroic Kill before Cataclysm? That is certainly our goal and last night’s raid was our first big step toward achieving it.

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You’re a bad healer because…(Part 2)

24 February, 2010

I bought a parrot, and the parrot talked, but it did not say I’m hungry, so it died – Mitch Hedberg

“You’re a bad healer…” is a multi-part series on the dynamics of raid healing in WoW.  Part 1 focused on what persona it takes to be an effective (and consistent) raid healer.  Part 2 will focus on how to make you more efficient as a healer through the use of mods/macros and overall best practice.  Part 3 (and possibly more) to come where we’ll take a look at a few specific fights that tend to give healers trouble.

Many will tell you that healing in an MMO is more of an art than a strict science, and they would be right to a degree.  There is no set rotation and the variety and distribution of your heals will change from fight to fight.  All of this is true, but there are a few fundamental metrics that you can analyze to improve your healing. This is what happens when someone takes damage in a raid:

  1. The healer recognizes the damage
  2. The healer chooses a spell to cast
  3. The healer begins to cast the spell
  4. The spell is cast, the player is healed
  5. Check for the next healing target

The time it takes to get from 1 to 5 is where all of your focus should be when healing. Some of these can be improved before you even step foot into a raid instance.  Which of these gives you the most problems? Depending on your experience level and the encounter, it could be any of the above.  Pinpointing where to improve is like a Chef improving a recipe they’ve been making for years.  It takes practice, experience, and a little creativity to get the job done.

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You’re a bad healer because…(Part 1)

15 February, 2010

Good healing isn’t about preventing a fall,  It’s about bracing for impact.

This is part 1 in a series on healing (and more specifically raid healing).  Part 1 will focus on what it takes in a person to be a great healer.  Part 2 will focus on the tools of a quality healer.  Part 3, Fights that tend to give healers fits.

You can google “wow how to heal…” and find 2.8 Million results. No really, go google it, you’ll find plenty of resources trying to teach you how to be a more effective healer and how to not look like a complete fool when trying to get a regular raiding spot as a healer.

First let me give you the perspective not of a healer, but of a raid leader.  As everyone knows there are 3 types of people in a raid: tank, healer, DPS.  Tanks and Healers each have a job with a binary result.  Either someone lives, or they don”t.  You either have enough healing to keep everyone alive, or you don’t.  There is no surer way to have a guaranteed raid invite (or to be kicked quickly) than to be a healer.  Quality healers that know their stuff and actually enjoy healing are the rarest Warcraft players out there.  If you find them, you don’t let them go.

Healers don’t need gear.  They don’t need spreadsheets.  Good healers need a raid frame setup, a brain, and a set of balls.  Healers and tanks can’t distinguish themselves by healing more or tanking harder.  We only get credit for being exceptional, and even then it’s kind of a wash.

Saving The Day ™

There’s always that scene in a disaster movie where an unsuspecting nameless pedestrian is walking aimlessly as the city crumbles around him.  The Hero of the story is running around looking for his lost son (or wife or daughter) and sees said pedestrian walking just 15 ft beneath a concrete overhang about to collapse (they’re probably holding a baby).  He takes a glance at the concrete, a glance around to see if anyone else is there to help (there never is), a glance at the baby, and then quickly runs over and tackles them out of danger just as the two ton slab falls and crushes the side walk.

The man gets up and yells at the Hero, “what the hell did you do that for-“before glancing at the wreckage where he used to be standing.  The Hero mutters a “you’re welcome” before jogging off to find some other random victim.

That is good raid healing in a nutshell.

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