Au revoir, Overflowing

Huge shout-out to Vall, who went out and got this screenshot for me

Ding dong, the witch is dead! And by witch I mean Overflowing affix for Mythic+ dungeons.  And by dead I mean being removed with patch 7.2.  Hooray!
For those who don’t know, Overflowing was the one healer specific affixes for Mythic+ dungeons.  Well, at least, it was supposed to be healer specific.  Unfortunately, due to the nature of the affix, it ended up only really applying to certain types of healers.

The tooltip for Overflowing reads: “Healing in excess of a target’s maximum health is instead converted to a heal absorption effect”.  Jargon aside, that basically means that any overhealing done turns into this really awful shield that absorbs the next couple of heals.  And additionally, that really awful shield doesn’t just absorb the amount of heals that went over, it absorbs 300% of the amount of overhealing.  So let’s say you accidentally overheal your tank by 300,000.  Because of Overflowing, you now have to heal through an absorption effect of 900,000 health points before your healing abilities start actually healing the tank.

The solution seems quaintly simple: don’t overheal! And while the goal of all healers everywhere is to avoid as much overhealing as possible, because of the nature of some healers’ tool kits, that goal not always successful.  Especially if, say for example, the healer stacks crit as their main secondary stat.

Let’s take my Holy paladin for example.  The stat priorities for holy paladins place crit as our number one secondary, as has been the case for quite some time.  And consequently, I’ve been doing just that; right now, I’m sitting at about 38% Critical Strike Chance. However, holy paladins also can get extra crit from multiple other sources.  These range from the 20-45% crit increase during Avenging Wrath (our main healing throughput cooldown), an additional 50% crit chance increase for Holy Shock (our primary healing ability), and a few other specific ability crit increases in our artifact talents.  Long story short, holy paladins have a lot of crit.

This huge amount of crit makes a lot of sense for our healing style.  Holy paladins, in this expansion especially, are the masters of large single target heals.  We have one area of effect heal and no heals over time to speak of, but we can single target spam like a beastie.  However, because we are experts at big, single target heals, we often overheal by a large amount on that one single target.  Especially when combined with our crit, it is not untoured for me to crit heals of 2-3 million health.  And when I’m only trying to heal someone for 1-2 million, that extra chunk of healing all becomes overhealing.

Usually, this isn’t a huge deal.  But now, enter Overflowing.

Let’s take that same scenario where I’ve healed for 2 million but only needed to heal up 1.5 million.  I’ve just done 500,00 overhealing, which translates to a 1.5 million absorption shield.  Wonderful. I’ll need to heal through that shield in order to be able to start healing my target again but if they haven’t taken damage, I run the risk of criting again and creating yet another shield.  Not a great position to be in.  I either have to throw some small, lower crit chance heals on to try to get rid of the shield or just hope that, when they do take damage, it won’t immediately drop them to 10%. And seeing as how Mythic+ dungeons are considered the ‘raiding experience’ of five mans, the damage can get rather spiky.

Or, let’s say they are taking damage and now I need to get through that shield as fast as possible to heal them up.  But I can’t heal them up too quickly because I could break through the shield, crit and overheal, and have to begin the process all over again.  It’s a constant battle with RNG.

So to avoid creating that terrible shield, I won’t heal the tank until they drop below 70%.  I won’t even apply big healing abilities until they hit 50%.  And I’ll have to pray that the damage is smooth enough that they don’t drop from 60% to 5% in the space of a few seconds.

I do proclaim! that Overflowing is the worst affix ever!

It’s an incredibly nerve wracking experience.  And especially when you start getting up to the higher level of Mythic+s, it starts becoming untenable.  I have to keep a super close eye on health bars and shields and which heals I press, along with dealing with all the other mechanics of the fight.  I’m generally a pretty competent healer but this was getting to be unfun.

Now this affix wouldn’t be ‘the witch’ if it had applied equally to all healers.  The problem was, it didn’t.  Holy paladins and holy priests dreaded Overflowing with all their being.  Resto shaman and resto druids especially loved this affix like a dear friend.  Because for them, it was like the affix didn’t even exist.

I’ve talked to a few of my resto druid friends about this (mainly to complain about how awful Overflowing is for holy paladins) but their general experience with the affix was that they’d never had an issue with it.  Because the majority of a restoration druid’s overhealing comes from the little ticks of HoTs, the shields they were getting were tiny by comparison. And those little baby shields were really quickly healed through by the continuing HoT ticks.

Talk about unbalanced.  While some healers would be working their butts off to deal with the affix, others didn’t even notice if it existed or not.  As a result, certain healing classes stopped being brought to those higher level Mythic+s.  Even in my own guild, while I knew it had nothing to do with me as a person, I stopped being asked to run mythic dungeons because I just couldn’t keep up.  And there was no comparative affix that was difficult for those other healers.

Luckily for myself and the other holy paladins and priests of the world, Overflowing is set to be removed in the coming patch. In it’s place is an affix called Grievous, with a description that reads “While below 90% health, players are afflicted with Grievous Wound”.  Obviously, I’m going to reserve final judgement until I actually get to experience the affix firsthand (after all, I did think that Overflowing could be fun at first, what a naive fool I was then). But for now, my holy paladin is satisfied.  Avoiding overhealing is a fun exercise in theory, but in practice, it ended up being a lot more stressful and uncontrollable than I ever could have expected. Can’t wait for 7.2!

Returning to Raiding

Our first N Gul'dan kill!

Our first Normal Gul’dan kill!

Last Wednesday, I ended an almost 2 month long hiatus and entered my first raid.  While it certainly wasn’t the triumphant return I had hoped for, I am glad that I chose to jump back in.

Nearing the end of November and beginning of December, I made the difficult decision to stop raiding.  Anyone who’s read this blog or knows me in Azeroth has probably figured out that raiding is my favorite WoW activity.  I like dungeons and I like transmog, but I really love raiding.  But back two months ago, my most favorite activity was rapidly become my least favorite and so I decided it was best to (potentially permanently) step away.

The first reason for this came down to something as simple as timing.  I was just so gosh darn busy that I could only make it to a handful of raids.  In some situations, this might not have been the end of the world but in this case, I found that I was actively gimping the team.  We were progressing through Heroic, maybe looking into venturing into Mythic, and I was one of the core healers.  Me being gone or late every other night was severely impacting progression.  So as much as I might have loved raiding with the team, the reality was, I was bad for the team.

The second reason was a lot more personal.  I’m not going to go into the details for the sake of those involved, but I did not feel welcome at raid.  Beginning even before my attendance started dropping off (so the issue wasn’t created by it), I truly felt as if some members of the team, mainly one person, just did not want me around.  I made a few attempts to talk to the person but it wasn’t getting anywhere.  Slowly but surely, the sense of vague animosity changed raiding from something I loved into something I dreaded.  So once my attendance got spotty, it was a lot simpler to say goodbye to raiding because the experience was already soured.

So there I was.  Maining a holy paladin and yet, not healing a thing.  As my hiatus dragged on, I found myself playing less and less Warcraft.  Not because of lack of time, but rather due to lack of interest.  And what’s worse, the friends I had made on my former raid team began to drift away.  I was still in the guild and still relatively active but because I wasn’t raiding anymore, I was no longer people’s first choice to talk to.  To be clear, I was never ignored or shunted.  I doubt anyone did it purposefully; it’s just when you don’t hang out with someone on a bi-weekly occasion anymore, they can slip out of sight, out of mind.  I don’t blame anyone one bit, but I was feeling incredibly lonely.

This dragged on and on.  It got to the point where I was logging in maybe twice a week, and only for a few hours at most.  Eventually, I sat back and took a good long look at the way things were.  Evaluated the problem and evaluated my part in it.  My schedule had pretty much cleared out at this point, so the only thing keeping me from re-engaging with my guild was my own reservations.  And instead of tackling the issue head on, I had decided to run away from it.

I decided then and there that enough was enough.  I loved raiding, it was my thing! And taking a break from it, while it had been necessary at the time, was not something I needed to do permanently.

And there was never a better time than right now to jump back in.  I started logging in again, gearing back up.  There was most undoubtedly a few bumps in the road but eventually I mustered the courage to approach the raid leader about the issue head on.  And then, I was back on the team, just in time for Nighthold.

The animosity from before was still there, but the guilt about bringing my team down was gone.  I had checked my schedule and found it surprisingly clear for months to come, meaning that attendance would not be an issue.  What’s more, my healing was better than it had ever been.  And, the majority of the team was super friendly in welcoming me back.

Still, I needed to talk to the person.  I delayed it for a few nights, thinking that maybe I was just being irrational and I should let it go.  But as one of my friends astutely pointed out, if it bothers me, it’s a legitimate problem.  And if it’s a legitimate problem, it’s going to need to be addressed.

Finally, I sat down and had the talk that had been months in the coming. I’m not sure how it impacted them (I hope positively as well) but I know it really, really helped me.  By no means is everything solved but I’ve taken a step in the right direction.  After nearly three months, I’m finally back home.

I had no idea how much of an impact raiding had on my life.  It’s kind of a silly thing to admit, “yeah, playing World of Warcraft every Wednesday and Saturday really helps me get through the week, y’know?”.  But it is honestly, so very true.  Raiding is my zen place.  Never do I feel more relaxed, more engaged, and more focused than when I am raiding. I truly do look forward to that two hour block at the end of the night.  And what’s more, I absolutely love my raid team.  I’ve come to realize that they are my family.  We may not always agree but at the end of the day, we’re all in it for each other.

And I’ll be all in it for them.

Triumphant Return!

halls-of-valorLong  time no see! No, I haven’t died or been forced to run from the authorities, there’s just been a perfect storm of events that’s kept me from blogging (and playing Warcraft too!).  First it was an uptick of school and other work but the bigger interruption came about a week and a half ago when my computer’s copy of WoW kept encountering a fatal error upon launch.  I spent almost every bit of free-time I had for the past week trying to troubleshoot the issue- I rolled back Windows updates, deleted my cache and WTF folders more time than I care to count, scanned for memory issues, even reinstalled the entire game!  In the end though, it was futzing around with the drivers that ultimately solved the issue and as of Thursday I have been able to play again!

Since getting access to WoW again, I’ve been trying to cover a lot of lost ground.  I recently hit 110 (making me the very last person to do so) and have been plugging away at the very first 110 quests. Friday night I entered my very first dungeons of the expansion with some of my awesome guildies, which is what I want to talk about today!

My wonderful guildie Vin offered to bring me through some dungeons once I hit max level and true to his word, he invited my sorely undergeared butt for some runs. I may have only been ilvl 784 but Vin, Lore, Who, and Romanova were determined to bring (read: carry) me through.

Despite me never having seen the dungeon before, we jumped right into Heroic Eye of Azshara.  One of the very first things I noticed was that, even despite how undergeared I was, my healing spells were healed for an overall smaller percentage of health.  It seems we are back to a more triage form of healing yet again, which could be interesting, provided the damage isn’t too spiky.  The second thing I noticed after that was just how overgeared my guildies were for the dungeon.  Even though it was far higher than I should have been in, my guildies had me covered.

Eye of Azshara is a very interesting dungeon.  It’s probably one of the most open floorplanned dungeons I have ever been in, allowing the players to pick which bosses they want to defeat when.  And even though I spent most of the boss fights dead on the floor, the fights themselves seemed to be the typical run of the mill dungeon encounters, with one or two interesting mechanics thrown in there for good measure.  I particularly enjoyed the ramp up of the weather in the zone after each boss kill; it really added to the overall atmosphere.

Also, this is the part where I mention seagulls being the spawn of Sargeras.

After Eye of Azshara was finished, we then moved to the Halls of Valor.  First things first, this zone was gorgeous. I got a strong Diablo vibe from the floating structures and the gold and red but dang, was this place just beautiful!  I also really dug the Norse myth tie-in, the Hearth of Revelry and the Fields of the Eternal Hunt in particular.

It did seem a little odd to me that Eyir was mad at us as alliance players, seeing as how we did rescue her from Sylvannas.  Maybe she just lumps all mortals in together?  Regardless, I’m glad we did not kill her champion, or really anyone in the Halls, we just beat them unconscious (out of context this sounds really bad). We’re getting better at not destroying everything!

Oh and the rainbow bridge! The first time I went up it, my guildie Lore told me to look backwards at the beautiful stain glass windows behind us.  So, of course, I swiveled my camera around to take a look.  And then, promptly fell off the edge of the bridge and plummeted to my death.  Yeah, I won’t be hearing the end of that soon.  My second try was much more successful and we finished the rest of the dungeon without a hitch!

While I’ve only done two of the (how many? eight?) new Legion dungeons so far, I am already impressed! The zones were thematic and atmospheric, the dungeons themselves very different from each other, and the boss fights entertaining!  I am excited to try out the rest and maybe venture into a mythic or two!  While I might be super far behind, Legion has been a blast so far!

Prepatch: INVASIONS

WoWScrnShot_081216_154013The Legion has arrived!  With it has come demon hunters and lore and content and, of course, demons!  But of all the new stuff to do, I’d have to say, my absolute favorite are the Legion Invasions.

For those who haven’t done one yet, Legion invasions are pretty rad.  Every four hours the Legion invades two of the leveling zones in Kalimdor or the Eastern Kingdoms. During those four hours players of almost any level can enter the zone and help fight off the Legions demons who have started to overrun the area.

The first phase, Stage 1, involves killing demons attacking the main town of the zone.  Once that stage has been pushed to 100%, Stage 2 begins.  A number of named demons, lower ranking officers, materialize and attack the town.  Once again you defeat the demons and the trigger Stage 3.

Stage 3 is my absolute favorite part of the invasions.  In Stage 3, the Legion decides to full out invade the entire zone.  Huge demonic structures grow out of the ground, enormous Legion commanders walk the zone, packs of lose demons roam this way and that, felfire rains from the sky, it is chaos, it is mayhem, and it is awesome!  In order to push back this invasion, players can destroy the structures by taking out their powering crystals, take down the mighty demon elites, or go around healing and inspiring the denizens of the zone.  Lots of action and lots and lots of Legion!

Once Stage 3 is completed, you end up in the Final Stage.  At this point, the Legion Boss in charge of this particular invasion appears in the main town.  All the players come flying back and together start wailing on the demon lord.  Depending on which demon comes down, the final stage can be a cake walk or it can be a graveyard run.  Once the final demon is beaten, you’ve completed the invasion! Congrats!

The invasions work with a nifty type of phasing in which entering the zone pulls you into a specific version where the Legion has just started invading so you can work your way through.  There are multiple versions of the zone, all on different stages of invasion.  This means you can complete an invasion in twenty minutes but the Legion will still be invading that zone for three more hours so you can swap to an alt and beat the invasion all over again.

WoWScrnShot_081216_154318Man oh man, Blizzard has totally knocked it out of the park with this one.  This is everything I could have ever wanted in a pre-expansion event and this isn’t the only part of it! I love that the town leaders get to shout dialogue across the zone and that you  can recruit the NPCs in the zone to fight.  I love that there are demons literally everywhere and the whole zone takes part.  And most of all, I love that I can participate and actually help out as a healer!

The damage that the demons deal, particularly the big ones, is nothing to snooze at.  Without the aid of a friendly neighborhood healer, it is very very easy to go splat when tanking the final demon boss.  And even before that, I can help push the percentages higher in Stage 3 by rescuing NPCs instead of fighting.  For the very first time I’m getting to play my healer as a healer outside of instances.

As fun as invasions are by yourself, they are even more fun in groups!  I’ve been organizing what I call “Guild Invasion Groups!” where me and all of my guildies who are interested in running invasions all group up and go and kill some demons together.  Like one big bonding experience!  Once we complete the two invasions points on our mains, we then swap to our alts and do it again and again until either we get bored or run out of alts.  I’ve run groups with as many as fifteen people in them and it’s been a total blast!

The invasions also award armor, weapons, a new currency, a pet, and a couple of Feats of Strength but honestly, I would do the invasions if there was no reward at all.  That’s just how atmospheric and awesome I find this event!  Blizzard has really knocked this out of the park.

And I can’t wait to see how it will ramp up!

Why I Do Not Use (many) Addons

(Pretend LootCouncil_Lite isn't there, that seems to be a graphical error because it is well and truly uninstalled)

The lonely few addons I use!  (pretend LootCouncil_Lite isn’t there; that seems to be a graphical error because it is fully and truly uninstalled)

This has come up again and again and I’ve finally decided to sit down and address it once and for all in it’s own blog post.  The topic at hand? Why I, Fussypants, do not use (many) addons in World of Warcraft.

First things first, what do I mean when I say that I don’t use many addons?  Depending on who you talk to, that could range from a hundred addons to zero.  In my case, I have a grand total of five addons installed.  Skada, DBM, oRA3, Iskar Assist, and XRP.  Of those five, I currently have just one of them enabled, which is Skada.  All of the rest I have used at some point in Warlords of Draenor but as they became less useful to me, I slowly began to disable them.  Right now, DBM, oRA3, Iskar Assist, and XRP exist in the disabled void.  So when I say I don’t use many addons, I really mean it.

Alright I think we’ve pretty clearly illustrated my lack of addon usage so here’s going to come the ringer.  A lot of times when I tell folks how few addons I use, they assume I don’t have many because I must harbor some deep seated loathing of any and all addon.  I won’t download Master Plan or Vudho or Altoholic because I despise them with all of my soul.  And that’s simply not true.

I do not hate addons.

I just don’t find them very useful in my particular situation.

Again, I’m going to pause right here and reiterate, all of this applies only to me.  These are my feelings and thoughts about my gameplay and I, in no way, assume they apply to anyone else.  If they do, great, we have something in common! But let it be known, I am writing this completely and solely about myself (what a narcissist!).

Ok, back to the subject at hand.

I only use an addon if it does something that I absolutely need in order to play.  I have Skada so I can gauge my performance and see if I am where I need to be.  I had oRA3 to keep track of several pieces of information that I needed for raid leading, chief among them battle resurrection timers and flask and food buff checks.  I had Iskar Assist for the Iskar encounter in Hellfire Citadel (but in reality, I rarely thought to use the addon and instead clicked the new action button almost every time).  I had XRP to facilitate roleplaying, the one time a friend and I rolled characters on an RP server.  And I had DBM to inform me ahead of time when certain encounter abilities and phases were incoming.  Each of my addons fills a specific roles that I need and otherwise would not have.

If I find I need to be able to do something and the default in game UI is not clear enough or I can’t keep track of it on my own, that’s when I start looking into an addon to fill that gap.  That’s how I ended up getting Skada; I needed a way to quantitatively test my specs and see how I was performing.  When I encounter something in game and I can’t play happily the way it is, I start searching Curse for a tool to do the job.

This also means that once I no longer need the addon, I’ll get rid of it.  With Hellfire Citadel soon becoming obsolete, I will be uninstalling the Iskar Assist addon.  I am not currently raid leading so I will probably dump oRA3.  And I know all of the boss fights in HFC well enough that, for the time being, I’ve disabled that too.  Addons are only useful if they are doing things I can’t do by myself.

I am well aware that with certain addons, I could most likely be just a tiny faster, better, more successful, whatever you have it.  But that has never been my goal in game.  I don’t play to be the best, I play to have fun.  Sure, a lot of times being good at what I do is fun enough on it’s own but I’ve never felt the urge to eke out that very last percentage of uberness.  Call me lazy, call me casual, both are probably correct and neither really bother me.

So why fix something that isn’t broken? Why would I install an addon to be just a little bit more productive if I’m already perfectly content where I am?

My healing set up

My healing set up

Let’s use an example.  My most favorite thing to do in game is fill the healing role in raids.  I have one of every single healer and I spend 85% of my times in raids healing.  However, I do not, and will not get the addon Vudho (or any of the alternatives).  People have asked me, and even told me to get a healing addon but at the current, I don’t see any reason to.

As it is, I heal just fine.  I might not be the best, I might not be the worst (at least I hope not!) but I genuinely enjoy the act of healing.  Of clicking in the raid frames and then hitting or clicking a button to heal.  To me, it’s fun! It’s how I relax.  It’s how I challenge myself.  It’s how I game.

If I someday got to the point where I couldn’t respond fast enough, perhaps then I would download a healing addon to help with that.  I won’t rule out that possibility.  But right now, I seem to be doing pretty good.  I don’t really need it and so I don’t plan to download it.

This is not to say I begrudge the folks who have hundreds of addons.  Play the game how you’d like, I’m not going to judge you!  If you use Vudho or Healbot or Grid or Clique to heal, power to you!  If you’ve modded your UI into a completely different form, go for it!  If you have a tracker and timer for every spell effect, go hog wild!

But also, to those folks who play with the basic UI, have a blast! To those folks who use the basic raid frames and in game timer, you do you!  The way you play is not in any way worse. As much as we’d like to joke about it, there’s really no wrong way to play World of Warcraft.  Make your own fun your own way.

And stop telling me to download Vudho! 😛

A Mythic Experience

Not actually the Mythic raid because, as always, Pants forgot to take a screenshot

Not actually the Mythic raid because, as always, Pants forgot to take a screenshot.  But still, this was the area I was fighting in (sans cool sky and portal)!

There are very few things in game that I tell myself I will never do. I love challenges and trying new things so I’ve done everything from Herald of the Titans level locked raiding to pet battling to unrated PvP. But I’ve always told myself that I wasn’t going to raid at Mythic difficulty.  It was just too hardcore, too time intensive, too unreachable for me.  I have the utmost respect for mythic raiders, I just knew that it would never be me.  And I was wrong.

STORY TIME!

There I was, logged onto my holy paladin with two and a half hours to kill. I still needed my Archimonde kill for the week to upgrade my ring and I decided I would pug it.  Since I have the AotC for Heroic Archimonde (side note: woot!) and a rather bloated ilvl of 722, I figured I’d give pugging Heroic Archimonde a shot.  I signed up for a couple of groups, linking the AotC, legendary ring, and added *jazz hands* at the end of the message.

One of the raid leaders whispered me back ‘lol’ and shortly later I was invited to the group. I zoned on in and right away I noticed that it was primarily a guild group.  So either I’d happened into their progression group and this was going to take a number of wipes or I’d lucked into a quick clean up group and this was going to be one shot.  I had two hours to kill so I was prepared for either.

What came next was beyond what I could have expected.  One of the members posted their guild’s vent information.  I was about to ask if vent was required when the raid leader explained that the puggies (i.e. non guildies) only had to join the vent if they planned on continuing on for mythic HFC.  Mythic HFC? This group was bound to be good!

As we were setting up to pull, one of the other healers, another holy paladin, whispered me.  They told me that they didn’t need any loot and would give any pally loot they got to me.  I thanked them and we chatted for a bit about drop rates and whatnot.

Then after a short rundown of the fight and a timer, we pulled. Other than the fact that I was playing my very best to try to impress these mythic raiders, the fight was very run of the mill.  We downed first phase, stacked up on the boss, and killed adds, ping ponging all the while.  Chains were broken and banish groups went down and came back up again. We got all the way to the last couple percentage points when an ill timed chain break right before the rain of infernals took out several members of the raid, including the tank who was tanking Archimonde.  But since the Demon Lord was so low in health anyways, we were able to kite tanking him the last couple of percentage points.  A one shot.

While loot was being handed out (I sadly did not get any) I glanced up at the healing meters.  I had top healed that fight! Probably because this fight was cake for the other healers and they didn’t need to put 100% effort in, but still! Maybe I was on par with this mythic heals?

Loot was finished and everyone was ordered out.  My holy paladin friend from earlier whispered me, asking if I was going to stay for mythic. Excited and just a touch nervous, I told them I would. I then alt tabbed out and fired up vent. It took a while like it always does but I finally joined in and entered the channel.

And it hit me.  I was entering a Mythic Raid.  Mythic.  This was no Heroic, with it’s somewhat forgivable mechanics.  This was a whole new level of difficult.  And that brings up another point, mechanics.  What were the mythic mechanics? What were the strats? Oh no, what had I gotten myself into!?

During the first trash pulls, I frantically whispered several mythic raiders on my battle tag list while google searching the strats for Mythic Assault.  With the help of Ambermist, my guildies Syandle and Zanima, and Icy Veins, I put together a pretty solid idea of the fight. Trash was cleared and the raid leader then did a brief but thorough run down of the fight.  I was as ready as I would ever be.

Also not the mythic raid.  I didn't even fight this boss this night!

Also not the mythic raid. I didn’t even fight this boss this night!

The main difference between Mythic Assault and Normal/Heroic Assault seems to be the split. At specific timed intervals during the fight, identical siege weapons would roll down on both sides of the room (as opposed to Heroic and Normal, where there was only one vehicle) and the raid would split to take down these dual menaces. I was assigned left side with another healer and let me tell you, I followed that shaman to the ends of the earth.

The first couple of pulls ended with wipes. I can’t tell you definitively because I was concentrating so hard on healing myself and executing mechanics properly, but it seemed to be that the adds that needed to go down weren’t going down fast enough. All I knew was that I hadn’t messed up a mechanics too badly.  Yet.

The raid leader reorganized the split again and we pulled a few more times.  One thing that was very different from my other raiding experiences was that as soon as we lost more than 3 people and we were out of battle rezzes, we would purposefully wipe it.  Thus we wiped a lot of times but turn around was very fast.  We wiped, we popped back up, we buffed and ate and within 3 minutes we had pulled again.  It was beautifully efficient.

After about forty five minutes, we finally had our breakthrough pull.  Previously, the lowest we had wiped at had been 35%.  But this time, we hit 35% and the percentages kept dwindling down. 30%, 25%, 20%, 15%, 10% we were almost there.
Then one of the tanks blew up.  Frantically, the healers popped all of our cooldowns.  But the delicate balance had been shattered.  The left side collapsed and the adds began streaming right.  The raid leader bellowed for the last couple ammunitions to be fed to the cannon.  As members of the raid dropped one by one, overwhelmed by the sheer number of adds, the percentage of the boss dropped as well.

8%, 6%, we had just a couple mages and shaman up. 4%, 2% it was down to one mage.  And right as that mage’s iceblock broke and the adds overwhelmed them, the boss ticked down to 0%.  Achievements and loot rolls flashed up.  We had done it!

I quickly used my bonus roll and rezzed.  A shiny new shield, proudly bearing the word Mythic, plopped into my bag.  I glanced at the meters and again found that I had top healed.  And then I was barraged by the grats from my guild.

Sitting back for the first time in 50 minutes, I took a deep breath and tried to stop shaking.  We had done it.  And I had helped.  The threshold had been crossed, I was now a mythic raider.  Holey moley!

Loot was distributed and we took a quick break.  I used this time to again frantically whisper my Mythic raider friends and find a new guide. Reaver it seemed was not very different for healers on Mythic which was reassuring for me.  Everything just hit like a truck.

We again began our pulls, but it was not to be.  Barrage is an instant kill on Mythic difficulty and unfortunately too many people were getting hit by it.  Myself included, I was hit an embarrassing 2 times over the course of 11 pulls.  In addition, several members of the raid began to experience terrible latency.  We got the boss to the first air phase a few times before the raid leader ultimately called it a night.

After  the raid, I whispered the raid leader for a bit, thanking him for the invite.  We shared btags and I offered my services should he ever need a healer for anything.  I’m not hold out to be re-invited for Mythic HFC again but hey, the door is still open.

Even though we did not get Reaver down, I still consider the night to be a huge success.  That raid was the first time I had felt nervous in a raid in a very long time.  I had kinda missed that feeling.  It was a completely new and satisfyingly challenging experience and I’m so glad I got the chance to partake.  And I got a mythic kill and a shield to boot! Woot!

Huge thanks to La Familia on Sargeras for bringing me along! And big thanks to all the people I whispered for fight advice!

Fussypants’ Introduction to Healing

WoWScrnShot_061815_225617It’s that time in the expansion cycle.  Folks bored of their mains have decided to take up new classes or even new roles.  And you have made the excellent decision to take up healing during this expansion break. Well, you’ve come to the right place!  Welcome to Fussypants’ Introduction to Healing!

ABOUT THE GUIDE WRITER: I am a career healer through and through.  I raid regularly on a Holy Paladin and a Mistweaver Monk and semi regularly on a Discipline Priest.  I have also dabbled in Restoration Shaman healing (for Herald of the Titans runs) and Restoration Druid healing (more in PvP than PvE).  I heal raids almost exclusively and have extensive knowledge about dungeon healing.  Now, on the matter of dpsing… well it’s a good thing this is a healing guide!

WHAT IS HEALING?

In the broadest sense of the word, healing is restoring the life to your allies.  But I mean, that definition is very vague.  That sounds more like a deep philosophical thought than a job in World of Warcraft. Yes, healing is making sure your allies don’t die but it’s so much more than just that.

Healing can be best described as reacting.  Reacting to the damage going out (or that will go out) to your allies and making sure that your allies don’t die.  Healers, out of all the other parts of the trinity, have to be the most on their feet.  The damage going out can change at a moments notice and healers have to be ready to react.  Healing does not have a set rotation or a tank swap mechanic.  Sure there is an ability priority, but the spells you cast depend entirely on what is going on in the raid around you.  Healers are reactionary.

So before you ever try to seriously attempt a healing class, I would recommend taking a good look at yourself.  Do you have fast reaction times? Do you react well under pressure? Can you make decisions quickly? If you answered no to these questions, odds are you won’t find healing very enjoyable.  Healing can get frantic and chaotic and if that sort of thing stresses you out, I would say healing is probably not for you.

At this point, you are probably thinking “By gosh, this healing thing seems more terrifying that I thought!”.  But don’t worry, its really not as bad as it might sound!  I describe it this way so you know what you are getting in to.  Healing is really a completely different style of play than DPSing or tanking.  It’s not scary, its just different.

Priest HealingTHIS IS THE PART WHERE I TELL YOU HOW AWESOME HEALING IS

Healing can also be incredibly empowering. Sure, when you dps you influence the outcome of the raid, but when you heal, you actively decide it.  How and who you heal can mean the different between life and death.  Many times, you will have to make a choice between which person you save and which person you let die.  And when you do a good job healing, you can tell.  When you down a boss and no one has died because of your clutch heals, it’s an awesome sense of success.

Skill can also get you farther on a healer.  A good dps is limited really by how strong their gear is.  There is a mathematical number that dps cannot get higher than, no matter how amazing they are at their class.  But with healing, there isn’t the same sort of number cap.  I’ve been in so many raids where, despite my lower gear, I was the top healer because I casted my abilities on the right people at the right time.  Now, I’m not saying you can heal better than someone in Mythic gear when you are only in greens, but skill is a much bigger factor.

And finally, healers are highly sought after.  When you role a healer, you will have faster queues and better chances of getting into group content.  People want you.  I always joke that the reason I became a healer was the faster queues, but there is honestly a lot of truth to that!

So you have decided you want to pick up healing.  But before you jump in, here is the basics to healing.

THE LINGO

Every healing class has slightly different spells and thus slightly different acronyms and names for their spells, but here are some general terms that you will need to know.

HoTs ~ Healing over Time or Heal over Time spells.  An example of this would be a Shaman’s Riptide or a Priest’s Renew.  These heals provide a chunk of healing spread out over a period of time.
Rez ~ You probably already know the meaning of this spell, but just as a refresher, a Rez is any spell that brings a player back to life.  It cannot be cast in combat and has a relatively long cast time.  As a healer, it is generally your job to rez all the people who die once the fight is over.
LoS ~ Line of Sight.  As a healer, you have to be in the line of sight of the person you are healing.  Especially in small cramped environments this can be harder to maintain, so make sure you inform those you are healing if you can’t see them.
OOM ~ Out of Mana.  All healers require mana to cast spells and this is the acronym you use to let your group know that you need a second to drink up and get your mana back.
External ~ A damage reduction spell you can cast on other players.  Players, especially tanks, will often call for an external when they are taking a lot of damage.  Healers mainly are the ones who cast externals, so make sure you know which ones you have.  An example of an external would be a Druid’s Ironbark or a Paladin’s Hand of Sacrifice.
Absorbs ~ A healing spell that instead of returning health to a player, it puts a temporary shield on them. Absorbs do not actually heal any damage back, they prevent any future damage (for as long as the shield holds). A classic example of an absorb would be a priest’s Power Word: Shield.

Each spec will also have it’s host of lingo related to specific spells.  Generally these are just acronyms for specific spells.  An example of this would be a shaman’s HST, meaning Healing Stream Totem.

Druid HealingGENERAL HEALING TIPS

  • The tank is your top healing priority.  If a tank and a dps are both taking damage, always heal the tank first.
  • Know which heal is your ‘filler heal’ and which heal is your ‘oh shoot heal’.  Every class has a slow cast low mana ‘filler’ heal and a fast cast high mana ‘oh shoot’ heal- know which is which and use the ‘filler heal’ when there is less or predictable damage going out and the ‘oh shoot heal’ when there is high or bursty damage.
  • Don’t be afraid to use your cooldowns! In fact, pop them often and early.  If you always save your healing cooldowns, you will find yourself at the end of the fight without ever using them.
  • When you don’t need to be casting healing spells, don’t be.  Overhealing can be a real problem so in the effort of conserving mana, only cast healing spells if people are damaged or are about to be.
  • Carry mana potions or drinks on you at all times. Managing mana is a huge part of being a healer so you need to have supplies to get your mana back
  • Pay attention to your environment.  Healers can often fall into the trap of tunnel visioning those little green bars but often times, what is going on in the game world can be the cause of damage.
  • Dispel all things. With a few exceptions (and these are mainly raid mechanics), if you can dispel something, do it.  This will save you mana in the long run.

Each healing class heals in a different way. Here is a brief little run down to help you decide which class is for you!

The powah!!

Holy Paladin

Holy Paladins excel at single target and burst healing.  With their Beacon of Light, paladins make excellent tank healers and are very strong in smaller groups. Holy paladins heal mainly by casting medium sized single target heals (Holy Shock and Holy Light) quickly on a number of targets.  They also have a secondary resource called Holy Power, generating it with Holy Shock and spending it with Light of Dawn and Word of Glory.  Paladins have amazing burst capabilities with Avenging Wrath and when played correctly, rarely ever have mana issues.

The biggest strength of a paladin healer is their single target healing. They are arguable the best dungeon healers and are very strong tank healers.  Paladins also bring Devotion Aura and their Hand spells to the table, which are fantastic at preventing or reducing damage.

Holy paladins are weak at multiple target healing. Their multiple target heals are less effective than the other healing classes so they cannot heal up a number of people at the same time.  Sustained raidwide damage is the hardest type of damage for them to heal through.

Holy Paladins are a nice mix of reactionary and preemptive healers.  Their burst and single target allows them to quickly return someone to full health but their damage reduction spells are best when casted before damage goes out.  Also, their mastery makes it beneficial for them to heal targets even when they are at full health if damage is eminent.

As a paladin healer, I would recommend this class highly for newer healers.  The spell priority is easy to learn and plate armor means that paladins are less squishy than the other healers. Holy paladins are the easiest to pick up yet can be highly customized by their glyphs and talents.

And I mean, I’m kinda biased because this is my main.

Mistweaver Monk

Mistweaver Monks are arguably the most unique healing class in game right now.  Unlike every other class, they channel Soothing Mist on a target and can instantly cast Surging Mist and Enveloping Mist during the channel.  They ‘weave’ this in with casting Renewing Mist, a HoT that jumps from player to player across the raid.  The last major ability they have is Uplift, which heals all the players who currently have Renewing Mist on them.  Mistweavers have a secondary resource called Chi which they generate via Surging and Renewing Mist and spend with Enveloping Mist and Uplift.  The Mistweaver playstyle is highly mutable, depending on which talents you take, making the spec very customized.

Mistweavers are very strong multiple target healers but also have very strong burst on a single target.  Their big cooldown, Revival, is incredibly powerful and can bring a group from almost dead to full health. They also can earn back mana through their Mana Tea.

Mistweavers struggle in sustained single target healing.  While they can burst very high, it is not sustainable for long amounts of time.  Mistweavers are also generally harder to learn than other healing specs, and switching between single and multiple target healing can take some getting used to.

Mistweavers are mostly reactionary healers. They can respond almost instantly to damage with their instant casts and big burst.  But they also can sustain a low amount of healing almost indefinitely in between damage spikes.

Mistweaver healing is one of my favorite styles of healing outside of paladining.  The playstyle is truly unique and the talents offer a lot of customization.  And I will forever be an advocate for Fistweaving as I think melee dpsing to heal is one of the coolest things ever.  However, I would recommend trying out a different healing class before monk.  The playstyle can be very hard to get down and mana is an ever present issue.

Discipline Priest

Discipline Priests are the masters of absorbs.  Through their various shield spells, they can prevent damage on multiple targets or give their allies a few more seconds of life.  Discipline priests are best when healing with other healers due to the nature of their absorb spells.  A discipline priest’s big ability is Power Word: Shield and their single target healing comes mainly from their Penance and Heal spell.  The last major ability disc priests have is a spell called Archangel.  A free crit on a 30 second cooldown, Archangel greatly augments the disc priest’s ability to heal groups.

Discipline priests are very strong at preventing damage, so they are not particularly powerful in single target or multiple target healing.  They simply make it so that damage never lands in the first place.

As such, Disc priests are very preemptive healers.  Since they work to keep damage from ever happening, disc priest require a deeper knowledge of fights.  They heal best when they know when the damage is coming.

Discipline priests, when played right, can be extremely powerful healers.  The playstyle is very fast paced and rewarding. While this was nerfed pretty hard in Warlords, they also can theoretically heal by damaging their foes via Atonement (although this is not very powerful).  The disc priest is an easy healing class to pick up but I would recommend choosing a different class to start out with healing.  Because disc priests heal in such a different playstyle, they do not teach the the habits that most other traditional healers use.  All the same, it’s a very fun class to try out!

Big thanks to Cloud for the discipline priest edits! There’s a reason why you are our guild’s top healer!

I have a LOT of healing screenshots

I have a LOT of healing screenshots

Restoration Druid

Restoration Druids are slow and steady, as they maintain HoTs on a number of players.  They have high mobility and low cast times and can sustain their healing for a very long time.  Resto druids also benefit from a host of talents that allow them to change their style of healing, depending on the encounter. They really are the Jack-of-all-Trades for healers.

Because resto druids heal primarily through HoTs, they excel at sustained healing.  Resto druids are also very powerful multiple target healers and have a very strong healing cooldown in Tranquility.  And, when played right, they rarely struggle from mana issues.

However, resto druids are weak at burst healing.  They cannot maintain single target high intensity healing for very long before they run out of mana.  Druids also have a large number of abilities which can be harder to maintain.

Preemptive healing is the resto druid’s forte. While it might be tempting to spam Regrowth, resto druids perform best when they allow their HoTs to ramp up and heal over time.  Just like disc priests, a deeper knowledge of the fights and when damage will be going out is important to resto’s success.

Resto druids have a variety of builds available to them, which allow them to customize their heals like almost no other class.  So if one build does not work for you, another might.  And especially in some of the high movement fights, resto’s ability to move and maintain their healing make them very valuable and very powerful.  Resto druids are a good entry level healing class as well, but it is important to remember that they heal preemptively instead of reactionary.

Big thanks to GenVG, Serephita, and Glar for the resto druid information! They were the source of all the resto information found within (as I am not familiar enough with the class to provide such info)

Restoration Shaman

Restoration shamans have a good blend of active and passive healing.  They have a few HoTs but they also have many abilities that require active casting.  Shaman have a toolkit that allows them to ‘set and forget’ to heal lower priority targets while they focus on those taking more damage.  Their toolkit allows them to adapt to a variety of situations.

Shaman are amazing at large group healing.  With a variety of multiple target heals, they excel at keeping large numbers of players up.  Resto shaman shine especially when players are stacked up in one spot.

On the flip side, shaman are very weak at small group and single target healing.  Their abilities are designed to blanket an entire raid group and they simply do not have a lot of spells to quickly heal up a single target.

Shaman are also very reactionary healers.  They see the damage going out, thrown down the appropriate totem, and begin healing up the damage.  They have little in the area of damage prevention which means all of their healing happens after damage has already been taken.

As the resident shaman healing in my guild puts it, resto shaman are communist healers.  They share all their healing with everyone and excel at healing everyone all at once.  Shaman also rarely have mana problems, allowing them to really pump out good numbers.  Shaman healers are a very good candidate for beginner healers as their toolkit is easy to pick up.

Big thanks to <oTQ>’s resident shaman healer Worldhopper for all the shaman advice! Again, I did not know this class well enough so all this information is courtesy of her!

Holy Priest

Holy priests are the very image of what comes to mind when you say ‘healer’.  All of their spells outright heal up a target- little of that absorbs or HoT business for these priests.  Holy is very much the Jack-of-all-Trades, having a tool for almost every single situation.  Holy priests also have powerful healing cooldowns and great proc synergy if played correctly.

Holy priest’s greatest strength lies in that it has a heal for almost every situation.  It has two direct single target heals (Heal and Flash Heal), three multiple target heals (Prayer of Healing, Binding Heal, and Circle of Healing), a set and forget reaction heal (Prayer of Mending), a HoT (Renew), an absorb (Power Word: Shield), a very powerful ‘oh shoot!’ button (Guardian Spirit), the healing spells granted by each Chakra, and two powerful long cooldown heals (Lightwell and Divine Hymn).  Holy priests have the spell for every occasion, the trick is deciding in a split second which spell is best.

However, Holy’s strength can also become it’s weakness. There is a very high skill barrier in learning which spells to use when.  Often times, poor spell choices result in going OOM rather quickly.  Holy priests need to know the damage pattern of the fight very well or be super quick on their feet.  Holy priests have all the tools, it’s learning how and when to use them.

Because holy’s heals directly replace heal that has been lost, holy is a very reactionary style of healing.  There are a few abilities that you can preemptively toss out but most of holy’s healing comes after the damage has been dealt.

Holy is very much the iconic healing class.  Heck, half of their spells have the word ‘Heal’ in it! But don’t let this fool you. Holy is a very complex and very versatile healing spec that, when played correctly, can really pump out the healing.  While it is not the simplest healing class to pick up, it has the most tools for each situation.  Also I mean Spirit of Redemption is kinda awesome fun!

Big thanks to Cloud, resident priest in my guild for providing me with knowledge on Holy healing!

I hope this guide proved useful to all you up and coming healers out there! While this was a beginners guide to healing, I would also strongly recommend visiting Icy Veins for more in detail explanation of each class.

Good luck and may all your bars be full of green!