Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

Archive for June, 2011

A Very Bossy Pally Tuesday Art Day

Sometimes, real life and the virtual worlds we inhabit intersect in a delightful way. If you follow Ophelie (the Bossy Pally) over at her blog, The Bossy Pally and the Giant Spoon – then you already know some parts of this story.

I’m woefully remiss in taking my time to write about this, but I wanted to do it just right. When I heard that Ophelie intended to swing through Calgary on her cross-Canada trip, I knew I wanted to meet her! I’ve met folks who had been “only” internet friends before but never another blogger. I met Ophelie downtown and we walked over to Kensington – first for some pho, and second for a mini-cupcake from Crave. They have really big ones, too, but they’re a bit too much for me so I like to get the little ones.

I’m struggling to keep this from being too prosaic – we went here, we did this – but it’s tough. I can tell you about how we went over to the Glenbow Museum and stayed there so long that a lady came to tell us they were closing. And that’s true. I can tell you how we met up with Vosskah later that evening and went for sushi and then a sort of whirlwind driving tour of Calgary. All of those things are true! But they don’t actually describe how fun it is to meet someone you already kind of “know” and connect while sightseeing, commiserating about guild challenges, and chatting about common acquaintances and WoW stuff. It was a total nerdfest and a mini-taste of what it must be like to meet up with people at Blizzcon.

I loved meeting Ophelie, I wish she lived closer and I hope we can meet up again, hopefully along with Fannon and other semi-local WoW-folks. I’m actually in Vancouver writing this right now and we’re going to be meeting two guildies and Rades this week! Both of the guildies are retired raiders but folks I’ve known for over a year in each case and I’m very excited. I’m sure I’ll have more things to say about that after it happens. I have another post lined up for later this week but nobody is going to be reading anyhow, you’ll all be too busy exploring Firelands! (I’m not bitter that yet another content patch lined up with my very seldom vacations, not at all! It’s as if Blizz knows.)

Meantime, I like to doodle when I’m going around – on the train, or whatever. Here are some sketches I did of Ophelie when we went for coffee after sushi with Vince. To echo her words, “I just like food.” We have this in common, and we made sure to have a constant stream of it all day!

Ms. Bossy, Herself

She didn’t actually know I was drawing her talking to Voss, although maybe she suspected, I don’t know.

She is a very mobile person to draw. This is a good thing!

Anyway, so that’s my story. Meet bloggers if you can, they are awesome folks! At least meet Ophelie if you can; you can buy her coffee and ask her about the giant spoon. Have a great patch week and fun ripping up the Firelands. Save some for me!

Now 100% More Holy

You can expect a few smaller “slice of life” updates here over the next week or so. I’m going to be out of town on vacation and I don’t want things completely barren while I’m gone, but I also have to pack and run a million errands before we leave (this compounded by the jerk who threw a rock through our front window last Saturday, but don’t get me started about that).

Anyway, I had my first raid with Business Time last night as a holy paladin. We went to Throne of the Four Winds to do heroic Conclave of Wind again since some people had missed it when we got the kill a bit earlier this week. I was a mage for our first kill, but I’d never healed it before!

To say I was nervous would probably be a fair understatement. The only raid I’d healed in recent history was with another guild, and I knew I could always bow out gracefully if it just wasn’t working out. There was no “out” for this raid, I’d put myself forward as a healer and I won’t play the “I’m sorry guys, I’m not that good yet,” card. I was there to win. (By which I mean kill some pixelated wind lords, not “win” somehow at healing. When dragons die, everyone wins!)

It went well. We were able to repeat the kill. I screwed up some times, other people screwed up some times. I had to learn the rhythms of tank damage. I started out on the Nezir platform healing our bear tank and then transitioning to Anshal, but at some point we made a healing switch and I swapped to healing Voss.

Healing your significant other is interesting. In the past it has served us well, but it’s been awhile. I think it’s good because there is 1) an immediate line of communication since we’re sitting right next to each other, as well as 2) almost a decade of knowing/trusting each other. It also comes along with 3) willingness to say anything because it’s your significant other and not your internet friend. So me healing Voss goes something like, “Okay, moving now.”

“Where are you going? Oh my god, ice patch.”

“You can’t be in front of him!”

“I’m not in front of him!”

“You’re in his frost breath!”

“I’m not in his frost breath! Oh my gawwd use a cooldown.”

“I used a cooldown.”

“I used another cooldown.”

“Okay. We’re good. Okay. I have no mana left.”

“…okay.”

This is a screenshot that doesn't actually include Vid at all, but it's still thematic!

At some point we had a misunderstanding about the way Nezir ought to be moved, as each tank was doing it differently, and we actually pulled off our headsets to run around and do a little pantomime of where we each thought the boss should go. One of our other healers remarked that it was kind of hilarious to see the two of us running in circles and wonder what we were talking about (off-vent) and I suppose it would have been. I realized again that healing takes so much coordination with your team mates. Healer chat was going a mile a minute with questions and comparisons and feedback. Let me say it now:

I loved it.

Really, truly. The cooperative aspect of this role appeals to me so much. I had an absolute blast. I did not play perfectly (far from it) and I will need to make some adjustments to my UI with reminders to use CDs and auras so I can track my own buffs. But still. Holy heck, you guys, I healed heroic Conclave of Wind! I don’t usually post any bragging type things, so it’s not that, it’s really just – I was happy with my performance generally although I know many areas I can improve. Conclave of Wind is really a great acid test because it’s three individual groups each ‘on their own.’ There is no secondary healer to back me up; if my tank dies, it’s on me. Particularly at the end things started falling apart a little bit, but we pulled it off.

After this, we didn’t have much time in the raid so we went and killed Cho’gall (normal) and ODS (also normal). I honestly thought that just because we now have two holy paladins, those bracers would drop, but clearly this is a logical fallacy. (I was not, incidentally, intending to claim them for myself or roll on them in any way). That means Sin, our other holy paladin, killed Cho’gall 15 times throughout this tier of content without ever once seeing the bracers drop. Thank goodness they’ll be available for VP in Tier 12, because that kind of loot “luck” is enough to make me reconsider being a holy paladin, after all.

ODS also did not drop the ring I was hoping for. It’s a minor upgrade (I have one 359 and one 353) but every little bit helps! I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do with my VP before we go on vacation. Should I go ahead and buy something off-spec (I can’t afford anything main-spec) since I’m already at the JP cap as well? Otherwise those VP are just going to be wasted, so I may endeavour to get them to 700 so I can snag the Retribution relic, probably. No sense in wasting them. I can already begin to see that gearing a retribution off-spec is going to be dead easy. I picked up two OS pieces last night alone, including a chest from Cho’gall and some bracers from ODS. I don’t anticipate having to play it often, but I like to be ready just in case.

No, this will not become a retribution paladin blog. Ever. It just won’t happen. (Sorry Antigen, it’s not you, it’s me.)

Finally, in my random list of paladin-raiding things that aren’t much related; I’m probably going to drop engineering after 4.2. (I’ll drop it when a viable helm upgrade presents itself, so probably not immediately). I just can’t see it being that strong a profession for a healer without the cogwheel sockets, and the on-use intellect tinker is okay but it’s not constant (as, say, jewelcrafting would provide). I imagine it evens out to approximately the same thing but I had engineering as an “alt-fun thing” and not as a serious raiding thing. I’ll be sad to say good-bye to my roflcopter, and in-character Vid will always be an engineer, but I can’t really stay engineering just for that purpose. I wish they’d introduce another tier of engineering helms. I suppose other professions as well suffer at the second tier – Alchemists may let go of their trinkets, etc. Honestly? I just really like the goofy goggles. They contribute to the paladin feeling of field medic/triage to me.

Or, to quote Voss (anxiously), “You, um. You’re sure a MELEE oriented healer, aren’t you?”

Yes, yes I am. “I’m healing youuu—!” /whack

 

Hot Off The Presses: Thursday Link Love

I was recently journeying through Bloodmyst when this happened. Augh, I'm a shadow of my former self...and I'm half the size of this guy here! Also, I have no hooves. What is the world coming to?

Here are some posts I’ve enjoyed from around the community in the past few days! If you’re looking for a read or a laugh to get you through one last work-day before Friday, check them out!

First, Akabeko at Red Cow Rise writes about the Midsummer Fire Festival . It’s not a guide, it’s actually about the festival. I loved the comparisons to ‘real life’ traditions from various cultures.

Rades has some tips (including videos) for folks struggling with the torch catching dailies that are part of the festival. I don’t know about you guys, but I had a harder time with this task than I remember having in the past! Now that I’ve remembered it I’m fine, but initially? Wow. I thought it was a problem of Vid’s for awhile there. (Clearly her, not me.)

Runzwithfire (Do you see my theme, here?) tried his hand at his first vlog. I guarantee you that every blog post would be better if it involved a British accent.

My friend Saif over at Raiding After Dark has a letter to all raiders. I won’t spoil the ending.

Finally, Ophelie at The Bossy Pally is back after jaunting all over North America! I might be biased because one of her stops was in my city, and we hung out, but I love reading about trips and WoW blogger meet-ups. I’m going to be writing about meeting her soon, myself (as soon as I stop procrastinating) but in the meantime, you can check out her trip account here.

A Main By Any Other Name

I went ahead and did it, folks. I took the plunge. I was writing this long entry trying to explain when I realized, why am I justifying myself to the internet at large?

For the next tier, I am going to be raiding as a holy paladin.

Oh hey. And yes, Vid rocks a Gnomeragan tabard. She is friends with gnomes. I'm working on her tabard collection, though. Achievement points are a sickness.

What precipitated this radical change? What’s the future of Manalicious?

First of all, when I moved from Pugging Pally to this new blog space I deliberately gave it an ambiguous name. Yes, it is like delicious conjured pastries and confection. But it could also apply for any class that uses mana. I knew that no matter what I might play, it would always be a mana user. So you might say I future-proofed the blog, which won’t be changing at all.

I know that many folks read here for mage content and/or have me in the mage section of their blogrolls. That’s fine, because I am still staunchly pro-mage. I never wrote that much about theorycraft here. I don’t anticipate this will have much impact on Manalicious at all.

As for why I did it, I have quite a few reasons. Our healing search was not going well. Our healing team has been extremely unstable in this expansion, experiencing nearly 100% turnover. I wanted it to be more stable. I’ve never raided primarily as a healer in progression content. I’m excited about it. I did run the majority of heroic BWD with a friend’s raid. I’m confident I can increase my skill as a healer, and work well with the other team members. I guess that’s a big part of it, too. As a DPS you may sometimes need to coordinate with the other DPS but for the most part you’re running solo. A self-sufficient spellflinger in the middle of the group, if you will. It comes with its own set of stressors. But the longer I play WoW, the more I realize that I greatly enjoy working with a team. The entire raid is a team, but the smaller microcosm of healers and tanks are also their own mini-team.

I still love being a mage. If I had to DPS, that would be my first choice. I just expect it’s going to be easier to find a great DPS than it has been to find a great healer that is also a personality fit. I’m excited about this change! The reactions I’ve gotten have ranged from dismay through to cautious enthusiasm. I wouldn’t do this if it was going to make me unhappy, truly. It’s just ironic that right after I was writing about how you should be playing your main, I realized that the fact I wasn’t playing mine might be trying to tell me something. I just wish that achievement points didn’t exist. I am going to have to try to stop caring about them, along with my pet collection. Millya’s not going away, she’s just pursuing other things for awhile. I joked that I could be happy playing any character so long as it’s a draenei. Sadly, this is probably true.

My friend Walks once remarked that druid heals are like a hug, and paladin heals are like a punch in the face. The gauntlets are on!

p.s. – We’re looking for a shadowpriest, moonkin, and we’d consider any exceptional DPS. Check us out!

Odds and Sods

I have just a few odds and ends for you this Monday afternoon. First of all, Business Time is recruiting! We’re looking for a dedicated and awesome healer to fill out our roster. You can check out our recruitment thread here for more info. The one class we’re missing is a resto shaman but we wouldn’t discount any other type of healer. All exceptional applicants will be considered. I’d like to note that even though recruitment in this expansion has been crazy and we’ve had to bring more new people on board than ever before, that I’m proud we haven’t had to resort to bringing people “just to make the numbers” that really aren’t a good fit personality-wise. We are a group of friends that loves to get things done and clear heroic content, but people have to fit in with our small posse first. We’ve never compromised on that account, and so BT continues to be a great place to play. You should check us out! The sooner we can find the right person, the sooner we can get ready to hit Firelands together.

Now, for some link love! I’ve read some really great posts over the past few days. First up, check out When The Healer Says “Pull Bigger” over at Heavy Wool Bandage. Glorwynn has summarized everything that makes me irate when I’m on either a tank or a DPS character (naturally, as a healer I never tell my tank to do much of anything besides let me drink and don’t break line of sight). I’m not even going to try to express it, because she’s already said it so well.

Zinn at Jinxed Thoughts has some interesting insights into the difficulties that 10s and 25s have faced so far in Cataclysm. Speaking as someone who has been focused on tens for as long as I’ve been raiding, I think these things are always interesting to analyze and think about. Well worth a read!

Finally, The Daily Blink writes a blog post to follow up the comic Lament Of An Ex-Mage. Remember the private hell of tanks and healers, my DPS friends, lest they forget where their taunt button is located!

How Playing My Alt Was Hurting My Raiding

I once wrote about how I think that playing alts can actually make you a better player. I still believe that to be true. If you’ve played a class, you’ll often better understand the cooldowns and abilities available. This helps with leading raids and organizing rosters. In PvP, it helps you understand how to counter another class because you know what to expect. I am a staunch advocate of alts! I love getting inside another class and seeing what makes it tick – or in the case of my paladin, making a list of spells with various iterations of Hand, Blessing, and Divine to try to keep any of them straight.

There’s just one possible pitfall, and I’m afraid it blindsided me. I think it’s a fairly common scenario. If you’re a raider, your raiding main is decked out in great gear. You take your main to raids, but other than raids, they don’t “need” anything. So… If you’re like me, you play an alt. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and of course, it all depends. There’s no right or wrong way to play a game, there’s only deciding what’s right for you. But if you are a progression raider looking to maximize your play, I’m going to suggest something radical: playing too many alts might be hurting you, as it was me.

On the surface, there wasn’t a problem. I mean, I wasn’t routinely at the bottom of the meters in raids. I think my performance was solid. I continued to enjoy raiding as a mage. I was just playing Vidyala, my paladin, constantly outside of raids. She was the one who needed Valor Points to upgrade her gear! She was the one who needed gear. I get a bit obsessed with upgrading gear, because it’s such a tangible improvement. I’ve geared alts to the teeth only to completely abandon them once they no longer “needed” anything, having hardly used the gear at all. I just like the completeness of it. It also happens that I enjoy healing, and I enjoy five-mans, and so I didn’t see any detriment to this alting – except when I started to take a hard look at my own performance. With the kind of gear I have, I felt I should be performing better. I’d grown complacent. I wasn’t pushing myself to excel and find ways to maximize my damage output, due in large part to the fact that I wasn’t playing Millya as much as I could be.

I decided that I wasn’t satisfied with the state of my DPS or my play. I wrote a whiny blog post (and deleted it, unpublished). I asked myself, “Do you want to put energy into complaining that your numbers aren’t where you’d like them to be, or do you want to put that energy into figuring out how to improve your numbers?” I checked up on mage resources to make sure that my theorycraft was current. I asked our guild’s other mage, Fsob, to look at my World of Logs. He is both my respected colleague and a wizard (har) when it comes to reading WoL. He gave me some valuable feedback that I used to plan my improvement, but the grunt work would have to come from me. I needed to play Millya as much as possible. One of my problems was not casting enough. Especially when a fight is new, it’s easy to get caught up in the mechanics and movement and not nuke as often as you should. To improve this, I was going to have to really focus on it.

I resolved that when I wanted to run a pug, I’d do it as a mage (thirty minute wait be damned). When I ran a BG, I’d do it as a mage. I ran dailies constantly. Tol Barad fears my name. The Argent Tournament is tired of seeing me. I was all mage, all the time – and I got results. Really and truly. Partly through a combination of research and practice, I improved my damage on heroic Valiona and Theralion by 1000 in just one week. I nearly doubled my number of “main nuke” casts, while keeping Scorch casts at the same amount. If you’d asked me before, I would have answered that I was “always casting” on the first V&T fight I looked at. But to see such a marked improvement in such a short time the following week floored me. I hadn’t received any significant gear upgrades in that time. I was just playing better.

"Thanks for killing my worthless minions!"

What Alts Can Do For You

(Doesn’t) Stand In Bad
If your goal is to maximize your raiding performance, in some ways alts can help you with that. Some things are completely universal – situational awareness, for example. High survivability is something I’ve always prided myself on, and that tends to be true no matter what I’m playing. As a healer, I can usually dance out of something oozey and painful very quickly. As a tank, I can neatly sidestep something coming my way. I believe situational awareness is a skill that can be learned, or at least honed – and you can practice that no matter what you’re playing.

You know the big spider forest in Tol Barad, and how those spiders will spit a big puddle of green goo at you? Did you know that you can usually start to move before the goo hits the ground so that it never hurts you? Half of situational awareness is anticipation. The same thing is true of the dark oozes that play a huge part in the heroic version of Maloriak (and it used to be the case for Trial of the Crusader and countless other raids). You can see the ooze flying at you and actually move before it hits the ground. Forget about getting out of bad – how about never getting in it? Of course, this isn’t possible for everything. There are some things that will hit you no matter what you do, and you really do have to move out of them. That’s something you can practice no matter what you’re playing!

At What Level Did I Get That Ability Again?
Another thing that you can do if you love alts and don’t always want to be playing at end-game is to level an alt of the same class as your main. I know tons of people who have done this! Vosskah has something like four warriors. I have two level 85 mages, as does Fsob. I know that Kurn just finished leveling another paladin. Leveling your “own” class can give you insights into it. The game has probably changed since you leveled up for the first time. Even if you don’t level as the same spec, it can be a valuable experience (and still scratch that alt itch).

I’ve had folks laugh at me for having two mages at maximum level. It’s kind of a running gag for people who wonder why you’d ever want more than one character of the same class, but it’s actually more common than you might think. If you’re playing a class at 85, it’s probably because you enjoy it. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many of the best players I know have “multiples.” They are so passionate about their class that it’s no chore to make a second one. I sometimes wish I could “unlevel” Millya just to do some quests again and revisit zones that I liked. That’s not possible, but leveling another mage alt might be the next best thing.

Playing alts (especially in pugs) definitely accustoms you to the controlled chaos of a raid. Or at least, it accustoms you to chaos!

What Alts Can’t Do For You

I’m Sure Iceblock Is Around Here Somewhere
My pugging has honed my emergency button reflexes. My instincts have me reaching for Hand of Sacrifice so quickly; it’s like lightning! Unfortunately, that doesn’t help me whatsoever when I’m in a raid, because I don’t raid as a paladin. You might have lightning reflexes that are completely useless if your muscle memory isn’t remembering the right thing. (I also happen to have a lightning-fast Iceblock reflex, but that’s neither here nor there). Experienced alters often mimic a “basic” keybind set-up between all of their characters. So if you’re playing a druid tank or a warrior tank, your taunt is the same button (no matter what it’s called). This can help ease the transition between different characters when you do play them. I think there’s no substitute for playing your own character, though.

In a raiding situation, you can’t look down at your buttons and try to remember where you keybound your emergency heal or health potion. Well, you can – but you might be dead first. The faster you can instinctively reach for your key abilities and cooldowns without even thinking about it, the better you’ll do. You also learn a rhythm for when things are available. It’s weird for me to play my second-string mage, Tazya, because she has less haste than Millya and she feels sluggish. I think the effective difference is only a fraction of a second, but it makes a big difference when I’m playing her.

Being attuned to the nuances of your own class takes time, and here’s the thing… the time we all have to spend on WoW is finite. We all have other obligations, families, lives outside of WoW (hopefully!) It can be a fun diversion to level an alt for awhile, but if you aren’t 100% satisfied with your performance and your main, that’s time that you don’t spend improving and learning it.

Practice Makes…Probably Not Perfect, But Closer

I feel that I need to add a huge, honking caveat here. I’m not saying that “You shouldn’t play alts,” or “Playing alts makes you a bad player.” No. All that I am saying, from my own, highly subjective and biased personal experience is that I wasn’t playing as well as I wanted to, and I think part of the reason was because I was playing too many alts. That’s a decision that only you can make for yourself. If I was in a guild where I could casually top the DPS meters in a raid, I’d probably never have worried about it. It’s only when I thought, “I could be doing better,” and started to seek out reasons why that I hit upon this conclusion.

I’m a big proponent of doing what makes you happy; in life, in WoW, wherever. If hitting the fifty character limit is something that’s fun for you, why not do it? Cynwise wrote a great post about making a low-level PvP character just for kicks. If you get tired of them and want to delete them, no harm, no foul! (I’ve been thinking of doing this…with a mage, naturally). For me, what’s fun is progression hardmode raiding. That is my passion, and it’s one that is shared by the people in my guild. If I’m not doing the best I can, then I’m not just hurting myself, I’m letting them down too.

So lately, if you’re looking for me, it’s a pretty sure bet I’m flinging fireballs at trolls, or freezing Horde to the ground in a BG, or running around a grim island off the coast of the Eastern Kingdoms stealing fish from villagers. I’ve been digging through WoL to figure out ways to increase my DPS, and usually when I’m in-game I’m practicing. Diversions like learning PvE Frost as my raid off-spec have kept me occupied. Far from being bored, I keep finding out things I hadn’t thought of before. Besides, playing a mage is never a chore! It’s my favourite WoW thing to do. It’s been nice to see tangible results, too. I’m sure I will always have plenty of room for improvement.

What do you think? Are you a one-character sort of person, or do you wish Blizzard would increase the ten-character per server limit? Has playing an alt helped you improve your main character’s play in an unexpected way? Zinn over at Jinxed Thoughts wrote some great tips for dedicated alters while I was still working on this draft, and the irony wasn’t lost on me! I’ll admit, I still have and love playing a bunch of different alts, I just intend to temper my playtime with equal dedication to my main!

Further Adventures in Troll Land

For reasons that will be the subject of another post at some point in time, lately when I pug I’ve been pugging as a mage. It increases the wait times significantly and it’s often the result of insomnia. Last night I was fishing and when my LFD window appeared I was surprised. I had completely forgotten I was even in the queue! The pug started off poorly, which I actually prefer. If a pug is going to fall apart within the first few bosses, it’s nice to know.

This pug had a tank with other important things to do. So he stood there, and stood there for about five minutes before he finally started moving or responding to greetings. “Sec,” he said, and continued to stand there. Finally, mercifully, we killed the first troll and he began to run through the hornets and then promptly died. The hornets killed everyone, and the tank made some sound of confusion in party chat.

“You fell off the bridge,” the hunter told him. We all run back in, this time killing the hornets. I figure, hey, everyone makes a clumsy move sometime. Except then the tank stops moving again. “One sec,” he says. The healer drops group. We get another healer immediately and we’re moving onto the next actual troll in the instance. Somehow a hornet joins this fight and eats the healer while the tank blithely keeps “tanking.” The shaman healer uses his ankh and the tank pulls the next trash before he’s even moved off the bridge. We all die horribly. I don’t do this often, but I initiate a vote-kick on Mr. “Defender of A Shattered World.” The reason? “Self-explanatory.” A tank that can’t even make it through the initial Zul’Gurub trash without falling off bridges, AFKing and pulling without his healer is not going to do well.

We get another tank – a paladin – and things go pretty smoothly for awhile. Amazingly we kill the first boss with no deaths, which is fairly unheard of in the ZG pugs I’ve seen. So many things that need avoiding usually kill at least a few people! The raptor boss dies as easily, and we kill the Archaeology boss without occasion for remark. Nobody even dies to the fire gauntlet! It’s all going swimmingly, up until we reach Bethekk (aka the Panther boss). This trash is pretty intense anyway, but some of it is also bugged and will pull through the wall if you use AoE. In a guild group we’ve managed to survive the combination of extra trolls along with existing trolls, but not tonight. We wipe to this trash at least twice, it might have even been three times. Patience seems to be wearing thin quickly judging from the tone in party chat. We apply crowd control liberally to the group at the bottom of the stairs and manage to make it to Bethekk. The actual boss fight is easier than all of this wiping on trash. But the best is yet to come – as we make our way to Zanzil’s area, the tank confesses that he is new to the fight.

Something about saying he hasn’t done it seems to send both the shaman healer and the hunter into a rage spiral. “Oh great,” the hunter says. They give very cursory directions to the tank, amounting to “don’t stand in the fire” and then pull. Somehow, they’re surprised when we wipe.

I can't remember why I took this screenshot, but somehow Millya's making a great "pug expression" for me. She even looks like an insomniac, but that could be my imagination!

The shaman berates the tank for not getting out of fire as quickly as he should, and the tank admits that he was looking down at his ability buttons. Mr. Shamtastic is so busy berating the tank for being terrible, that he stands there typing insults while the tank pulls again – so he’s locked outside of the encounter area, and we all die quickly. Of course, this only makes matters worse as party chat is degenerating into an epic round of the “blame game.” It’s just this shaman’s luck, being stuck with such a fail tank, etc. etc. I interject at this point, “It’s no crime to be new to a fight.” (Thinking of Shintar, I add a smiley at the end.)

“It’s a crime to pull without the healer,” the shaman retorts. I don’t bother to reply. Each mechanic is re-explained for the benefit of the tank, and after approximately four tries (total) we kill him. “The next boss is going to be a bitch,” the hunter grouses. We proceed to the next boss while the shaman and hunter alternate scolding the tank about how he has to do THIS for the last boss and THAT for the last boss or we’ll fail. They seem to be hitting all the relevant explanations so I just let them go on.

The tank assures us that he’s seen the fight, just not tanked it. I add some paladin specific stuff (yes, I tanked it for a pug just the other week! It’s a sickness) mostly related to using Righteous Defense on CD to help keep things from killing the healer. Unfortunately, the tank doesn’t manage to get into the safety bubble quickly enough to avoid the Shadows spell. So we try again. And he fails to do it, again. At this point I can imagine the hunter on the other side of the screen frothing and throwing a fit with his keyboard. But I figure the tank deserves at least a few tries to get this fight right.

“45 mins for these last three bosses!” the hunter rants. The atmosphere in the pug is getting worse, if that’s even possible. Completely contrary to how I would have reacted in his shoes, the tank says, “Let me give it one last try and then I’ll drop group since I’m holding you up, np.” This attempt doesn’t go any better than the previous ones, and we wipe again before even finishing the first phase. The tank drops group wordlessly, and his corpse lies there like a silent testament to the punishing nature of pugs (and perhaps hunters in particular). It doesn’t take long for us to get a replacement tank; this one is a DK that knows the fight and it goes off mostly without a hitch. Every Body Slam hits a chain, which is probably for the best, as I’m sure the hunter would’ve popped a vein in his forehead otherwise.

I guess I am different from many people pugging. I would’ve preferred if the first tank had stayed, figured out the fight and really aced it. But the impatience of the other DPS (and the healer, who was at least as rude) didn’t allow him to do that. The hunter shouted his (expletive) relief when the tank dropped group. In terms of time and money invested, maybe I was a bit relieved too. I’d rather complete a fight than spend a half hour wiping to it. That said, I join pugs fully expecting to wipe and to take much longer than I would if I went with guildies. The next time I look at my thirty minute queue time, I know I have people like that hunter to thank. Why would anyone want to subject themselves to that kind of abuse? Why put yourself in a position where your mistakes will be judged so unforgivably? The answer sure isn’t because of the potential for a mount in a fancy satchel of big fat nothing. (I’ve claimed a few satchels myself, but apparently the loot force is not with me).

Granted, the tank wasn’t entirely without fault here. Before queuing for these instances, he could have prepared himself by reading the fights over quickly. When you put yourself at the mercy of a pug, you want to have all the defense you possibly can – which to me, means not having to rely on them for probably inadequate boss explanations. When the hunter’s explanation of a boss fight amounts to “Stay out of fire and get the red cauldron,” you have to be sure you’re missing something. Even so, there’s no call for treating other people like this. If your time is so valuable, then don’t pug, it’s that simple. Spare the rest of us who are actually willing to patiently work through difficult content with a group of strangers. We recognize that coordinating such a group isn’t always easy, but we’re willing to allow for that. Sometimes you have to wonder if folks like this hunter even remember that it’s a game they are playing – that they’re supposed to be having fun.

Business Time Raid Guide: Heroic Chimaeron (10)

This is the second post in a series of heroic tens encounter guides. The first one covered Heroic Halfus. It’s called a Business Time raid guide because that’s my guild. I don’t take credit for the strategy contained herein;  I have written it out and compiled it based on guild member input and our forums. In fact, entire sections here were written by guildies . The tank healing section was written by one of our resto druids, Ullariend. The tank taunting section was written by Autoriot, our rogue, and reviews and information were contributed by other healers as well. Theirs is the toughest job on this fight, so it is only natural that they had more to say!

Overview

Chimaeron is generally accepted as the “next” heroic mode to tackle following Halfus. Your mileage may vary; we actually defeated both Heroic Maloriak and Heroic Atramedes before getting a handle on Chimaeron. This fight is very similar to the normal version of the encounter and puts a lot of pressure on the healers and tanks. It is a definite gear check. If your healers do not have the mana regen and the throughput to last the fight and keep your raid and tanks alive through Feuds, you won’t succeed. If your DPS is not able to put out enough damage (especially in phase two) it will likewise be impossible.

What’s unique to this fight is that a “Break” or tertiary tank is not optional. This can be any plate-wearing DPS (DK, Warrior, Retribution Paladin) or possibly a cat druid – any class that is able to taunt. This player serves the function of taking the Break debuff so that your real tanks don’t have to, because there’s another twist. During Feud on normal mode, Chim is too busy fighting with himself to attack your tanks directly. In the heroic version, Nefarian interrupts Chim and admonishes him to get back to the business of killing your raid. This means that you’ll need a tank for each Feud that does not have the Break debuff.

The other change from normal is that past 21%, Nefarian emits a shadow aura that will damage your raid for 2K damage each second. As in normal, the raid is unhealable and so this acts as a soft enrage for the battle. If you trigger the final phase with your raid too low in health, you won’t have enough time to DPS him down before you die from unavoidable damage. The key to this encounter is managing your healer cooldowns, tank taunting, and carefully coordinating when you will push the final phase, at which point it’s all on your DPS.

Abilities/Effects

These are Chimaeron’s key abilities.

Caustic Slime – Deals 270480 Nature damage and briefly reduces chance to hit for all enemies in an area. Damage is split between all enemies within 6 yards of the impact crater.

Massacre – Inflicts maximum damage to all players.

Feud – Unable to perform melee attacks while his heads are fighting each other – until Nefarian interferes.

Break – Chimaeron attacks viciously, breaking through his target’s defenses. Increases Physical damage taken by 25% and reduces healing done by 15% for 1 min. Stacks.

Double Attack – Chimaeron will strike twice on his next attack.

Mortality – Chimaeron goes into a rage, rendering him immune to Taunt effects but increasing the damage he takes by 10%. Reduces healing effects for all enemies by 99%.

Special Notes

This fight is unique in that it requires a DPS player to act as a tank. Make sure that the person handling this task is comfortable with their taunt button and understands the mechanics of the fight so that they know when they need to taunt and why. Tank gear is not necessary and in fact will likely make it impossible for you to beat the enrage at the end. Your DPS can wear their normal gear and spec, but they may need to swap stances or forms in order to taunt. Our warrior stance dances from Defensive stance to perform his taunts. Because of their role tanking, your Break tank is likely to be one of the first to die when Chimaeron switches phases. This is actually of great benefit to you if you have a battle rez available. Once your Break tank goes down, have a (druid, preferably) battle rez him or her. They will join the action at full health, and their additional DPS will prove invaluable.

An alternate strategy is to actually have three geared and specced tanks – giving one additional target for Chimaeron to chew through in P2. This isn’t the strategy we used but could be a viable option, although it will put additional strain on your tank healer who will have to top off not two but three tanks just prior to the transition. The battle rez in this case would be saved for the first DPS to die in P2.

Raid Composition

  • Two tanks
  • One Break “Tank”
  • Three healers
  • Four DPS

Healers that have strong AoE healing are very helpful for the Feud phases, and DPS that are able to reset aggro or delay pulling help with the final phase. In our case, we have two mages that save Mirror Image, and a rogue that can evasion tank for a time after the tanks have died. Any delaying tactic could make the difference between a kill and a wipe here! Note that this does not include kiting; it’s not possible to kite Chimaeron and so you may as well stay put with him.

See below for legend.

Positioning

Everyone needs to maintain a minimum distance of 6 yards because of Caustic Slime. We position one healer in a central location (indicated by the green circle). This is where the raid will stack for Feuds, and that healer never moves. Put one of your least mobile healers here. Other healers arrange themselves nearby and the rest of the ranged DPS are arranged around the room (I always go to the far left because it’s easy for me to Blink into the group). The dot marked with a purple diamond on the left is the “Break” tank and the other tanks are in green. We only have two melee DPS at a time but if you have more you may need to adjust positioning to ensure everyone is six yards apart. His hit box is gigantic, so this shouldn’t be a big issue.

Strategy

Your Break tank should begin the fight by talking to Finkle Einhorn. Here is what the tanking should look like from that point. (You have a Break Tank, Tank A, and Tank B).

Fight starts, Break Tank (DPS)  is tanking everything but Double Attacks.
Tank A taunts to take every Double Attack (watch the timers).
Break Tank taunts back immediately following the Double Attack (it looks like a big swoosh in the air). Be careful not to taunt too soon!
Feud starts, Tank A tanks everything and uses a CD for Double Attack. Tank A does NOT collapse with the rest of the raid. All healers must keep the raid close to full as usual, plus heavily focus on this tank.
Feud ends, Break Tank is tanking once again
Tank B now takes Double Attacks.
Tank B will now tank everything in Feud, using a CD for the Double Attack and staying away from the collapse point.
Repeat, always rotating the Double Attack/Feud tank each time so that their stack of “Break” falls off.

The RNG of this fight is how often feud happens. They can happen every 2-3 massacres (not counting the one right after Feud), so if you get them back-to-back too often, you’ll run out of tank and/or healer CDs. This is what the tanks will be doing, while the healers are spot healing members with Caustic Slime and then keeping the raid alive for Feuds. This healing is very intense and all DPS raid members should consider glyphing or talenting anything that will increase their healing received or grant them a self-heal. Draenei are able to use Gift of the Naaru, and our entire raid bandaged during the Feud phases. Feuds should happen more or less often enough to allow you to bandage each time. Every little bit counts!

Once Chimaeron has approximately 25% of his health left, the timing gets tricky. Ideally, you want to push him into the next phase at the very end of a Feud so that your healers are able to top everyone up (but prior to a Massacre). If you wait too long, the raid will be too low to execute Phase 2 correctly. He transitions at 21%. We DPS right up until about 24%, wait for the next Feud, and then time it so that Phase 2 begins before he can Massacre.

At this point, all healing is useless. Your healers should go into “DPS mode.” Your tanks should try to live as long as they possibly can. Use heroism and any other DPS cooldowns, and as mentioned above, have a plan for DPS to juggle the aggro long enough to kill him. If you are a mage, you should use Mirror Images at the very beginning of the encounter and then rather than using it on CD, save it for this phase. If your DPS can BURN HIM DOWN, you’ve won!

Healing! Slime! Orange Fog! Our healers tell me this is their absolute favourite fight! Honest.

Tanks
Timing is everything for this fight, and watching your aggro. This isn’t something a tank usually has to worry about, but when it’s not your turn to be the active tank you must ensure that you do not pass the current tank’s aggro. Even if that means you have to stop white-hits, that’s what you have to do. If you accidentally pull Chim before your turn, you are likely to receive a stack of Break or a Double Attack making it impossible for you to tank when it IS your turn or killing you outright. We have someone announcing who is the current Double Attack tank at each transition so that healers always know precisely who will be taking the heavy hits.

Use a cool-down as soon as Feud begins. The healers (at least 2/3) will be moving into place and preparing to heal the raid. You will be taking heavy damage. This was one of the major blocks we had to deal with as we were learning this fight, and we would often lose tanks at this crucial phase. If you are using your CDs appropriately to help healers and coordinating with your fellow tanks, you’ve got your part of the fight squared away. If you have any cooldowns available to you at the beginning of Phase 2, use everything you have to live as long as you can (but not at the expense of skipping out on these CDs during earlier Feuds).

DPS
I’m going to be honest with you here: Prepare to be bored as your raid learns this fight. There will be many learning wipes, and it will feel out of your control – because it is. Your primary goal is to 1) live, and do everything you can to keep yourself alive and 2) do not push the transition into P2 early or late. You won’t get to practice that until your raid actually gets here, though. Once P2 begins, then it’s all up to you and you must kill him and kill him as quickly as you can. You will learn the rhythm of the fight and when to use your cooldowns so that they’re available to you in the final phase when you most need them.

As our gear has improved, we spend some time standing around at the end; the first part of the fight isn’t exactly a DPS race (although of course you want to get him down to 25% ASAP). The fewer Feuds your raid has to deal with, the better your chances. Above all, remain patient and remember that your tanks and healers are juggling some pretty crazy feats. If you are a hybrid DPS, your services may be useful in off-healing during Feuds (Healing Rain, Tranquility if you are a druid, etc.) Coordinate these with the healers.

Soon, it will be Phase 2. An incredible amount of burst DPS is needed to push Chim from 24% to 21% at the end of the last Feud. If you push him too soon, the raid might not be healed up. If you don’t push him quickly enough, a Massacre will happen and it’s game over. Once you’ve successfully transitioned, check Omen and your raid frames so you can see who is still alive, and who has threat, and whether a really big hydra is soon headed your way. Plan to use any threat reduction you have to live as long as you can.

Healers
This is a somewhat gimmicky healer fight. Some healers enjoy that (most of the healers I’ve talked to hate this fight). There’s something about seeing almost the entire raid at 1% health that gives healers the shakes. You’ll want to give specific healing assignments as well as have a plan in place for coordinating healing cooldowns on the raid during Feuds.

  1. Healer – Tank healer
  2. Healer – Raid healer/Targeting Group 1 for low health
  3. Healer – Raid Healer/Targeting Group 2 for low health

The RNG of this fight makes it impossible to determine exactly when Feuds will occur, but you can plan a sequence for when they do occur. This will vary depending on what healers you have available to you. Our raid plans for one druid to use Tranquility on the first Feud, and the second druid to use Tranquility on the second. Discipline Priests could of course use Power Word: Barrier (and Discipline priests in general could buy you some extra time in the final phase, because “reduced healing” does not apply to shields, and such a priest could shield the whole raid.) The healing for the final Feud is something that will vary depending on your group’s overall DPS. I’ve been told that when DPS is high enough, it deemphasizes the need to have the entire group at maximum health (because the burn will be completed before the soft enrage). If your group’s DPS is a bit lower, you will definitely want to make sure that healing CDs are available to top the raid off as much as possible before the second phase.

The Caustic Slime can sometimes hit two people in the same group. If you are assigned to heal Group 1 and no one in your group is affected, you should help out the other healer and try to discuss beforehand how you will do this. (i.e. make sure your raid frames show people in the same order and agree that outside of your own group you will heal the person lowest on the list, or similar. It doesn’t matter how you arrange it, just so that all of the targets are covered!) I would add that making sure your frames are set up to display relevant debuffs (Caustic Slime, < 10K health) is pretty much mandatory here. You will need to get a feel for which of your heals can bring someone above 10K without wasting too much mana, because when learning this fight mana can definitely be a concern.

Paladin Specifics
Our paladin recommends using Avenging Wrath for the first Feud, Divine Favor for the second and then continue to rotate the two when they are off CD (but it’s unlikely you’ll have a CD for each). He recommends saving Guardian of Ancient Kings for the final “top-off” Feud. Beacon should be placed on the Double Attack tank.

Paladin healers should also activate Righteous Fury for this encounter; this will generate aggro throughout the fight so that you will be the next target after the tanks die. What you’ll want to do is at the start of P2 run to a corner, when he gets aggro on you let him run towards you and BoP yourself. He will run back to the stacked group, cancel your bubble and he will run back to you. This helps buy the DPS some valuable time.

Druid Specifics
Our raid healing druid recommends Glyph of Regrowth for additional healing. As mentioned above, strong healing CDs might be needed at the last Feud, and our druid used Tree Form along with Wild Growth and Tranquility at this point. The following is also druid-specific, but focused on tank healing.

Tank healing

Your responsibility will be to keep the Break Tank above 10k, to top up the tank following Double Attacks and Massacres, and heal that tank during Feuds.

Break Tank: Chimaeron has a 5 second swing timer, so you will need to heal 10k every 5 seconds, except where the Break Tank skips a swing due to double attack. Lifebloom, so long as you don’t let it fall off will be enough to keep the break tank alive. It does cut it pretty close, but there have been two times in all of our attempts where Lifebloom hasn’t been enough. Unfortunately, I can’t give advice to other classes for the best spell to rely on for this

Tanks: The tank taking the Double Attacks must be completely topped-off after a Massacre before the next Double Attack. If the tank is missing any health, and does not avoid or block the first swing, it can take them below 10k causing the second swing to kill the tank.

During Feud that tank should be healed as quickly as possible after the Massacre and kept topped off. The tanks should be using cooldowns during this phase, but they can still take a huge amount of damage very quickly, and the closer they are to full health the more likely they are to survive.

Massacre Timer Awareness

These two jobs sound simple enough, but it can be difficult to get healing out fast enough to get the Tank topped up in time, and to have enough mana to maintain the throughput for the full duration of the fight.

The key to getting through the fight is watching the ability timers in whatever bossmod you use. You should always be aware of when the next massacre will be cast. Doing so will allow you to do two things:

1. Get a head start on topping off the Tank by pre-casting your largest heal on the Double Attack tank so that it lands immediately after the Massacre hits.

2. Save mana by knowing when you don’t need to top up the Tank. When a Double Attack will be followed by a Massacre you don’t need to top the Tank off, just get them to 10k. If there are less than 10 seconds till the next Massacre when the double attack happens you will be okay.

Druid Glyphs for Tank Healing

I strongly recommend Glyph of Healing Touch for tank healing. Since you will be using Healing Touch so much, this Glyph will reduce the CD of Nature’s Swiftness so that it is available every Feud. A +50% instant Healing Touch is very helpful for topping the tank up following the Massacre that begins the Feud.

Glyph of Regrowth is often recommended for druids, but I have found there is little benefit to it with the healing strategy I have described. You will not need to use Regrowth on the Break Tank to keep him healed above 10k, Lifebloom plus passive healing like Healing Stream Totem and Vampiric Embrace will do this on its own, so casting Regrowth on the Break Tank is wasted. The Tanks will rarely have the Regrowth HoT effect on them when they take damage as you will be relying on Healing Touch to top them off as Regrowth is too mana inefficient for that task. (Regrowth should pretty much only be used to trigger Nature’s Grace every 60 seconds)

Pro-Tip: Don’t have the “Interact with Target” function bound to the same key as your Push-to-Talk key. When you are standing within melee range and try to say something in vent, fun things happen. And by ‘fun things’ I mean everyone dies.

Conclusion

Heroic Chimaeron is a gear and coordination check for your entire raid. Most wipes will happen as your tanks grow accustomed to the taunting and timers involved, and as your healers learn to balance intense healing with mana conservation. If you can execute the first phase of the fight and learn to anticipate and manage Feuds, you’ll soon be tackling P2 which is a really easy burn comparatively. Good luck, and if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments!

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