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

Archive for July, 2011

What Your Healer Wants You To Know About BGs

Dear DPS,

I understand you. I do. There is a good portion of my personality that likes nothing better than to rip into a good imaginary monster with a gigantic fireball, or to dance circles around my enemy as I beat them to death with spells. I have been the glass cannon. I used to PvP back in Burning Crusade when you had to start out somewhere – with all my PvE gear on. It’s colloquially known as “magic toilet paper,” and for a good reason. I died. I died a lot. But by gosh, I was taking them down with me.

Christian Belt of Arcane Brilliance over at WoW Insider once remarked that he really thought fire mages would be happy enough with a spell that just made them flat out EXPLODE. Yes, it would mean fiery death. But it would also mean fiery, dead enemies. That’s all we want, he opined.

I understand the rush of adrenaline, the high of dropping someone to their knees while you are still standing. It is exhilarating and awesome!

This is a letter from me, to you, though. I don’t know if you’ve noticed me? I’m the one waving my arms in the air way in the back. You may feel a slight tingling as your health returns to you. I did that. Well, more accurately the Light did that. I’m just a vessel. I have this slight problem, though.

This GIANT ORC IS POUNDING MY FACE IN WITH A BATTLE AXE.

This warlock is fearing me to kingdom come while his felpuppy knaws on my hooves.

This rogue has sapped me, now he’s stunned me, now I use my trinket, now he’s stunned me again, now I’m dead.

I’m down on my knees, here. (And that’s no small feat, draenei knees are weird).

I want you to live! Desperately. Ardently. I am trying my absolute best to make that happen, but you’re not really working with me.

You leave me alone by myself at flags. (No problem, guys! I’ll just tickle them when they get here).

I try to join into a battle where you are fighting and you RUN AWAY and suddenly I am surrounded by ten Horde and I die horribly.

I try to defend flags with you and you let a mage free cast at me while a DK charges in from the side and the two of them flatten me in a matter of seconds.

I mean, let’s be frank here. I don’t think I’m the world’s gift to BGs. I don’t expect accolades or for anyone to act like I’m a big deal because I’m healing. I like healing! I want to heal. It’s just that, by virtue of what I’m doing – I need a little help from you in order to best help you. When you ignore my existence, I’m vulnerable. You see, the opposing team, they aren’t like you. They know who I am. Believe me – in seconds. They converge on me like a plague of locusts.

In all fairness, I know that there’s only so much you can do, DPS. I have to contribute here too. I have to do my best to stay alive, and I do. I have been getting more PvP gear each day, upping my resilience so I’m not such a sitting duck. I dual-specced Holy so I could have a proper PvP spec, and it has helped quite a bit. Learning, gearing and preparing for PvP is my thing. That’s not your job to worry about.

I get it, you’re busy. You’ve got a lot going on. Maybe you are even taking out enemy healers, and that’s good too. I am your best friend, and they are your worst enemy. But at the same time as you are homing in on the arm-waving set from the other team, take a moment at the beginning to notice me.

  • If I’m: a druid with a ridiculous amount of mana but not a moonkin, I’m a healer.
  • If I’m: a paladin wearing a spell-ey wearing shield and have an obvious spellpower weapon, I’m a healer.
  • If I’m: a shaman with a watershield or any of the aforementioned paladin acoutrements, I’m a healer.
  • If I’m: a priest not in shadowform, I’m a healer.

Some of those could also be mistaken elemental shaman or shadowpriests or moonkin, but you can always check out their specs, too. I’ll even set my role at the beginning of a BG so that you know me, in the vain hope that my name will enter your consciousness as someone who sincerely wants to help you.

I had a particularly frustrating Battle for Gilneas match where I died so many times it just wasn’t even fun anymore. Some people were offering advice in BG chat, and very uncommonly for me, I chimed in. “It’s tough when you’re trying to heal and nobody is helping you out.”

Expecting everyone to turn on me, I was the subject of unexpected sympathy from a druid. “I know, it’s terrible how people ignore healers in BGs,” he agreed. “Come smoke a blunt with us at LH.”

I took him up on the offer of a place to stand around uselessly – the match had already been decided, and I was less than useless because I am most helpful where there’s actual fighting going on.

Help me to help you, DPS. At this rate you are driving me to only want to do BGs with my buddies (who I know have got my back) but I have no problem healing strangers, too. You just have to meet me halfway.

Love,

Vid

 

You’ve Earned The Achievement: Re-Earn All The Achievements!

Deja-Vroom

It occurred to me as I was flying to Stormspire to talk to Dealer Rashaad about purchasing a parrot, rabbit, dragonhawk and cockroach pet that I might have a problem.

I can’t consider a character “real” until they have achievement points, pets, and mounts.

I don’t know when this started – heck, I played the game before achievement points even existed. I remember that fateful day in October of 2008. I received credit for some of the things I had done, and even things I hadn’t known I’d done. I was annoyed that it didn’t know I had done all of the heroic Burning Crusade dungeons (I only went back to re-do them all for ‘credit’ years later. If you ask me why I did this, I couldn’t even tell you).

I’ve had a lot of time to think about this over the past few weeks, as I’ve been gathering the materials to make another Mekgineer’s Chopper, and disguised as a fel orc doing tasks for the Netherwing (there’s a Broken in those mines who cuts off his own hand and gives it to you, did you know that? He’s so committed to the task that he does this because he knows if he doesn’t, it’ll blow your cover. Now that’s dedication… Do you think he got ten achievement points for it?)

This is a sickness. I earned 100 Valiant’s Seals to become a champion of four more factions so that I could be a Crusader and reclaim the pallycorn that was mine by rights. This may also be my third Crusader character, or not quite, but it’s definitely my second. Yes, I know, draenei paladins (Vindicators!) received a very racially appropriate elekk that robbed me of my beloved horse. It’s ideally suited to male draenei – who’ve been crushing mounts beneath their prodigious bulk since coming to Azeroth – but Vid likes to be a bit more low profile. So now she’s a Crusader, and has a horse (and a motorcycle) and a Cenarion Hippogryph and somewhere in the neighbourhood of sixty mini-pets. You can see where this is going.

I don’t even really mind that I’ll have to do Loremaster again. I’ve been meaning to see all of the “new” old quests in any case. Plus, I really like “The Seeker” title. I tried just focusing on character appropriate achievements/pets and mounts – that’s why Vid has the Legs pet (from Zangarmarsh) and will need the Firefly, as well as riding the Cenarion Hippogryph mount. She’s spent a lot of time in Zangarmarsh over the years (Sporregar rep is naturally on my “to-do” list).

Three hours of farming in Tol Barad has failed to yield another Fox Kit, though. I’m not sure I’ll have the heart to re-do all of the achievements Millya has.

The Dalaran Fountain coins? …ugh.

Another Mr. Pinchy? …This would be the third character I’ve fished him up with.

I think being an achievement hunter and an altaholic may be a dangerous combination. I’ll tell you more about it, as soon as I’m finished my daily Winterspring cub quest. If I do that for enough consecutive days, I’ll get another mount which will put me at nearly fifty!

…please send help.

A dwarf asked me to carry this keg back to Ironforge. It has wings because that's how in touch with the Light I am. I only did it because there's this achievement if you complete all these tasks, though...

Double O Podcast

Ten Vosskahs are better than...?

I have a few post ideas I am mulling over for here, this past week has just been so busy! Vosskah and I joined Ophelie and Oestrus this past weekend on their podcast. We talked about a lot of guild leading-related things and had a good time and a long chat. So you can check that out if you are into podcasts, and thanks again to those two ladies for having us. We both enjoyed ourselves.

How Real ID Grouping is Going To Save Me Time and Money

It's me! With Walks! Neither of us are actually blood elves, but we do a good job of pretending.

You may have heard that Blizzard planned to roll out some changes to the Real ID system to allow you to group with your friends from other servers. Ignoring the whole debate about whether this should be a paid service or not – I am so freaking happy about these changes! I can’t even tell you.

Since beginning to blog in late 2009, I’ve met a number of folks I’d love to play with – always on other servers, of course. Sometimes I even went so far as to roll alts on their servers to hang out, and I’ve moved characters too (especially Horde). In the time that I’ve been playing, I:

-Made my draenei shaman a troll shaman
-Moved her to a friend’s server
-Made my troll shaman a draenei again
-Moved her back to my server
-Leveled a troll mage on a friend’s server
-Made my troll mage a draenei
-Moved her to another friend’s server
-Took a spare Horde shaman I had and made her a draenei
-Moved her to a friend’s server

Do you see a trend here? By the way, if anyone adds up the total cost of those transfers and changes and posts it in the comments I will be miffed at you. I live in a blissfully happy world where I don’t think about how much money I’ve spent on this kind of thing. La la la la I can’t hear you…

Actually, no. Let’s do it. Let’s face that number. That’s nine changes, I think they all cost $25 USD. That’s two hundred and twenty-five dollars I have basically wasted with my indecisive attempts to spend time with friends. It’s a lot of money! But let’s take a closer look at my reasons for doing it. I wanted to have a Horde character. I wanted to have a Horde character on a friend’s server (two different friends, one of whom stopped playing, thus the extra transfer). Then I wanted to have an Alliance character to help out some other friends, on another server. That’s a pretty strong trend here. I wasn’t just doing this on a whim, it was because I wanted to hang out with people who don’t live on my server.

The problems I encountered while leveling alts on other servers are numerous. When my friends weren’t around I was bored or lonely because I didn’t know enough people there. LFD was demoralizing. I couldn’t manage to make money (some servers have an odd economy). I didn’t have access to the resources I ordinarily would and so everything was a struggle. Sometimes that kind of adversity can be fun, but mostly it’s frustrating to me. I don’t want to make a huge venture out of becoming self-sufficient on a secondary server when I spend plenty of time playing and working on my main characters already. We all have a limited amount of WoW time.

So I look at it this way. Should the Real ID grouping feature be a premium, paid service? Obviously, I’d like it if it wasn’t. It’d be nice if it was just included with your subscription. But even if it costs $5 a month (and I think they’re talking about more $3-$4), it would take 45 months of paying for it before I’d equal the amount I’ve spent on server and faction changes. That’s almost four years worth of premium subscription. What is my time worth to me? Because this way, to hang out with Horde friends and run a dungeon, I can level a character on my home server. With access to heirloom items from head-to-toe, the time commitment is much less. I can run a leisurely dungeon with my Horde friends if I feel like doing that.

Or like we did last night, I can invite a friend from another server to finish off a five-man. That screenshot above is from a ZG I ran with three guildies and my good paladin friend, Walks. I know he thinks I’m crazy because I kept enthusing the whole time. “I’m so happy about doing this! I’m so happy you’re here!” I’m serious, too! It’s as if we were “meeting” for the first time. We’ve chatted and been friends for ages but we’ve never once been able to do anything together other than chat. This new feature changes that completely. It basically means the end of LFD for me if I can help it. All of the awesome WoW folks I’ve gotten to know can now get together and do a dungeon together! (If they happen to be playing the right faction, anyhow, but “cross faction Real ID grouping” is a whole other can of worms).

This basically makes it so that all of our guilds suddenly got a bit larger, a bit more flexible. Server-transferring to join another guild? You can still hang out with your friends from your old guild and run a five-man from time-to-time and keep in touch. Don’t want to deal with LFD? Perhaps you have a friend on another server who is just farming herbs and would love to join you and your guildies. Or maybe they need one more person for their own run! Whichever way you look at it, if you use Real ID and have any friends on your list, the Warcraft universe just got a bit smaller (or larger). In case this wasn’t clear, I’m thrilled about it, and it’s a fantastic change for me. Being in a smaller guild, there aren’t always a ton of people online depending on the day and time of day. Sometimes I play at odd hours and would still like to run a dungeon. This is going to be game-changing as far as I’m concerned. I’m also of the opinion that Real ID raid grouping isn’t too far behind, but I could be wrong, hopefully BGs too! If the social aspect of Warcraft is what keeps you playing, make no mistake – this is huge for you.

It’s a feature that is worth its weight in gold to me, too. I’ll happily pay $5 a month to spend time with my friends from different servers. It’s much better than $225, and getting to play with folks I’ve never been able to really play with before? You can’t put a price on that as far as I’m concerned!

Tuesday Art Day: About The Artist

Pre-warning: This post contains a bit of mild art nudity in the form of life-drawing. Don’t read it at work if that would get you into trouble!

Windsoar over at Jaded Alt recently offered some more a-”muse”-ment for interested parties – supplying a blog post idea for bloggers that asked! Here’s the task she gave me:

There’s quite a few things I’d like to ask you to write about, but I think I’ve narrowed it down! I’m sure plenty of your readers are aware of your artistic skills, but I’d like to know more! Is it a hobby or profession, how’d you get started, do you have professional training, and what are your favorite mediums?

I figured it would be only too appropriate to answer this question on Tuesday, the day I usually post art anyhow!

It’s pretty much an artist trope to say “I’ve been drawing since I was able to hold a pencil…” but for most of us it’s true, at least it is in my case! It was always what I wanted to do “when I grew up,” tied with writing. If you’d asked me when I was five what I wanted to be I’d tell you without hesitation that I wanted to write and illustrate my own children’s books. To that end, about a year before I graduated from high school I started assembling a portfolio and sent it off to art college. I was accepted and started there the following September, after moving cities.

The first year at college called for taking a variety of classes and electives before declaring a specialization in second year. I’d initially intended to enter the graphic design Visual Communication major (I think most people intend this because they’ve been told “it’s the only way to make a living.”) I ended up changing my mind, though, and specialized instead in printmaking/print media. Over the course of the next three years I learned techniques related to lithography, relief printing, silkscreen, and etching. I took drawing electives.

Here are a few images from one of the life drawing courses I took. I spent many hours doing life drawing throughout my four years! Usually we’d work for six hours a week and six hours at home for the duration of a semester.

(note: I seem to fail at slideshows, though, and this slideshow and the later one contain all the images in the entire post. I compromised by making it a gallery instead!)

At the end of this particular course, we all went to the long, concrete hallway that led to the train station and had to pin up all of our work from the semester. Every piece! There’s pastel, charcoal, brush and ink, conté, ballpoint pen, acrylic paint, and ink pen here. It’s funny because I can look at it now and see flaws but there are still some pieces where I think, “Hey, I really captured something there.” I’m not sure if the photos really show much detail, or if they just mostly show that it’s a lot of drawings.

Contrary to popular opinion, art college was long hours and hard work (I loved it, but don’t ever try and suggest I’m a slacker because I went there!) I could have gotten a degree in other things, I’ve no doubt, but I never regret my art degree.

After college I worked in a few unrelated jobs before leaving them to try and make it as a freelancer. Of course, you’ve all seen my WoW-related art.

I suppose it's self-explanatory, but this is from drawings done one Christmas at my parents' house.

I also draw in my sketchbook (usually with black Pigma Pens, 0.5 thankyouverymuch). Apart from character-related commissions and blog banners, I have als0 had one major project illustrating a reading program for young children. I can’t link you to the program because it has my real name all over it, but here’s an image from it. I worked on this contract for the better part of a year.

Cake: T or F?

That beagle destroyed the cake his owner had so lovingly made. This, incidentally, is something that happened in real life to me – except the cake in question was baked by my friend that had brought it over, and covered in chocolate mousse that my dog lovingly cleaned off. The resulting cake looked pristine, as if it had never been iced, and oddly tempting. The dog was hyper for the rest of the night (but otherwise unharmed). But I’m digressing! I’m meant to answer the first question, here. Yes, I do illustration/art professionally, and am professionally trained! My major was pretty multi-disciplinary despite being print focused. Once I graduated I did very little actual “print” work, continuing in various mediums, which is good because it’s hard to fit a litho press in one’s basement.

When we redid our basement, though, I did set up a room especially for purposes of serving as a studio. Most of my work now is digital and done on my Cintiq and so actually doesn’t take place here. But I still HAVE here, even if it’s not this neat anymore.

Oh, for a studio this pristine again...

The walls have been painted with magnetic paint and I use tiny, very strong magnets from Lee Valley on them! (You put one magnet behind a piece of paper and one in front, they stick together and you have a mobile gallery. There’s a lithograph pinned up here, actually, although you can’t really see it in detail. The stuff in the center is just part of my postcard collection; I didn’t actually draw or paint those.

Windsoar also asked if I have a favourite medium. Of course, I love digital painting.

Here is a painting actually done FOR Windsoar as a gift for her husband. I thought it would be appropriate.

When it comes to getting my hands dirty, though, I am crazy about watercolour.

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I tend to do postcard-sized watercolours because I can do them most anywhere. Other than that, most of my drawing is done in sketchbooks with aforementioned ink pens (pencil is too cautious for me! No guts, no glory! If it turns out wrong, just draw over it or draw it again!)

I think that’s a decent, if disjointed history of my art career. It’s a living I love; I wouldn’t change it for the world! Thanks again to Windsoar for asking and giving me the topic to write about. Feel free to ask me any questions on this most self-indulgent post, and I’ll do my best to answer them if I’m able.

Why Do Warlocks Never Last?

It’s a running joke in our guild that the warlock “position” is like the Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher.

When I joined, we had a warlock. He left in a fit of pique after his performance was called into question. I’m not going to share any more dirt than that, though. The end result was one down!

We found a replacement warlock who was pretty impressed with his own importance. More importantly, he never signed up for raids on time. When he was called on this, he left citing “personality differences.” Two warlocks gone.

Our third warlock was actually a hunter who switched to play his warlock. As a casualty, this was the first one I can take semi-credit for because we had some conflicts, he and I, after I assumed guild leadership. By that time he was playing a shaman, but I think he played his warlock for the longest, so in my mind it counts. Third warlock, gonzo.

Our fourth warlock started out as a warrior DPS and switched to give us greater access to ranged players. He was there for our H LK kill, but switched to playing his DK at the beginning of Cata (and ultimately stopped raiding). Goodbye, ex-warlock the fourth.

Finally, our most recent warlock, who is an all-around great guy and fit in really well, has reached the end of his WoW career and decided to hang up his hat. I can’t do anything but respect his wishes, of course, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad to see him go. He was like the dream warlock. I should have known it was too good to be true!

So that’s five warlocks, all of whom lasted either a short while before leaving, or switching characters, or switching characters and then leaving.

What I want to know is, what is it about warlocks? I grant you that mine is anecdotal evidence, but there’s no single class with higher turnover in the guild than warlocks. We’ve had the same mage(s) for almost two years. Our shaman is rock-steady, as is our druid, and even folks who stopped playing still stayed for a really long while with the same character.

I have a few crackpot theories.

Have you seen me?

Crackpot Theory #1: People playing warlocks have often been playing them for a long time.

As one of the original classes that seems to have always done good DPS, many warlocks have played since Vanilla. This was a reason cited by our recent warlock – seven years of playtime (in one game) is a lot. You’re bound to get tired of it eventually, right?

Crackpot Theory #2: All the warlocks became DKs.

This was a joke, but I’ve definitely seen a correlation between people who play DKs and Warlocks. Either warlocks have DK alts, or they switched to DKs when Wrath came out, or vice versa. Maybe it’s not that warlocks don’t last, it’s just that they all become plate-wearing pet-commanding disease-wielding deathmongers instead? (100% less fel).

Crackpot Theory #3: Something about our guild is repellant to warlocks.

Maybe we have too many Draenei. Maybe the anti-warlock sentiment is too strong, or maybe they just sense our inherent mageliness and think, “Nah, I’m out of here.” I’m not actually sure what it is, or if there’s any correlation to anything at all. But there has to be something, because we just can’t seem to hang onto a warlock!

What do you think? Is your guild stuffed full of warlocks? Have you seen a dwindling of the warlock population? Do I need to try and find a “Care and feeding of your warlock” manual so that I can hang onto the next one (if we can find him or her?) I welcome any and all warlock conspiracy theories.

p.s. – You may have guessed this from the post content, but we’re looking for a warlock. A balance druid or a shadow priest would also be welcome!

Healing Questionnaire: Pally Edition

Now, I wasn’t really around then so I don’t remember this, but apparently there was a healing questionnaire thing that happened over at Miss Medicina’s. Saunder from Non-Squishy Heals is starting it up again, and Shintar poked me to fill it out as well. At the end, I’ll be tagging someone else – it has to be a healer that doesn’t play the same class as I do!

DRAENEI holy paladin. Did I mention the draenei part?

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?
Vidyala, holy paladin extraordinaire!

What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)
Up until recently I was healing five mans like a fiend. Only with the patch (and shortly before it) did I make the switch from being full-time DPS to full-time healer. Now I heal ten-man raids and five-mans and I’m trying to find my feet as a paladin. I think fives are great practice for raiding. I also like to do BGs with friends as a healer, unless the BG is a premade that should really be doing RBGs and they school us repeatedly, again and again.

What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?
I’m going to have to say Holy Shock. Is that a boring answer? It builds Holy Power, which then lets me use my other fun (free!) heals. The Word of Glory buff has made this even more fun. Of course I used it before, but it’s nice now to feel like it’s actually doing something when I use it. Light of Dawn is still not as good in tens, but I also use it where appropriate. I really like the Holy Power mechanic, I feel it added a whole other dimension to the class. The feeling that I got from other holy paladins as I began leveling one was, “Let’s see if you can make it to level cap without dying of boredom.” I hear it’s no longer like that, and so that’s successful design, I suppose!

What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?
Flash of Light, for sure. It’s a rare situation when one of my other bread and butter heals won’t do, and the mana cost of FH is just too steep to justify it. I imagine they’ll look at making it more useful sometime, or else just conveniently forget that it exists, but in the meantime its button sits alone and dusty.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?
The wide variety of CDs available to paladins make them such a versatile healing powerhouse. I love that we have something for every situation. I am thrilled with both WoG changes (as mentioned above) as well as Holy Light transferring 100% through Beacon. It freed me up to do a lot of raid healing while still watching my tank. I guess that is the crux of what I think is the biggest strength of the class – the capability to do most healing tasks as necessary. Traditionally paladins were shoehorned only into a tank healing role but I don’t think that’s necessarily a given anymore. I know my friend Walks loves raid healing (although he also raids 25s). Now that we have two paladins in our raid… double beacon is overpowered!

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?
I think the only sometimes frustrating thing is that our AoE is all so very proximity-based. We just aren’t effective at AoE healing from a distance, given that both Holy Radiance and Light of Dawn rely on positioning. I don’t necessarily mind this, it’s an interesting mechanic and keeps the healing classes with separate flavour, but it can be a hindrance. For instance, yesterday I had to specifically ask all our ranged players to group up (we ended up just grouping on me) when I know they are most used to/comfortable doing their own thing. It’s no big deal though, and you work with it. Keeping them up was much, much easier when I knew they were all grouped around me.

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?
This seems like an outdated question to me! I’ll answer it for both raid formats. I’m guessing from what I’ve heard that most paladins (in both tens and twenty-fives) are still typically tank healing. Beacon is obviously a great tool for this. I do know paladins, as mentioned previously, who enjoy and can make raid healing work for them. What I described was similar – in the case of multiple paladins, Beacon a tank, raid heal and go crazy. I think if I only ever tank healed I’d get bored, so I like to mix it up. It helps when I don’t LOSE my tank in the middle of the fight and blurt into Mumble, “Where ARE you?” I’m so pro, p.s. thanks for nothing, Shannox.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?
I have no particular preference at this time and am still too new back to healing to really tell you. I can tell you that one paladin and two druids wasn’t exactly ideal. I think, as with most things, a good class distribution is nice. Double Beacon is fantastic, and paladins have enough different buffs that I don’t think it’s detrimental to have two. Priests are another really versatile class, druids have the awesome HoTs and Tranquility. I can’t really say much about shaman because we haven’t had one in ages.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?
I don’t have a good answer for this. I think that two priests or two paladins works fine, but two druids is not as strong. Any other class on its own I’m sure is great. Even though each class has its own strengths and weaknesses, I’m pretty sure you could make it work with whatever is available to you, and that’s my attitude. I’m not the kind of person who would really be upset or fussed about healing with one class versus another, it’s just not my style.

What is your worst habit as a healer?
I think this probably falls under five-man habits I’ve picked up, like blowing all my CDs too early or forgetting them because they aren’t often needed, or running myself OOM really quickly. Since I heal so often in smaller groups (where I AM the only person who can/will heal) I often want to heal ALL THE DAMAGE as quickly as possible. I need to learn to sit back and wait a little bit and trust my other healers (not that I don’t, but you know what I mean). I think I will improve in this regard as time goes on and I learn who will heal what and what to expect from my teammates.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?
Pretty much my biggest pet peeve in anything (including DPSing) stems from one thing: lack of communication. I will be the one asking what I should be healing, whether the healing is working out for everyone, whether the positioning works, or if I should change something. This goes with the rest of the group, too. Do they need to be someplace else? Is what we’re doing working for them? Nothing frustrates me more than glib/unhelpful answers. It’s become something of a running gag in the guild to say “his health reached zero,” as an answer to “What happened there?” and honestly I sort of clench my teeth everytime. I am probably humourless.

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?
Yes, I think so! Obviously Blizzard felt that our mana was a bit extreme – and having healed since the nerfs, I guess I can agree. It’s still manageable, and it must have been a bit high before. Especially if you Judge on CD and use mana regen abilities wisely, we’re still good, and we have a lot to offer a raid in terms of sheer healing throughput, CDs and versatility. I don’t envy any other class their tools, really. I’m happy with where we are at.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?
I go through our World of Logs looking at things like buff up-time, overhealing, etc. A friend also recently connected me with CompareBot, which is another log analysis tool. I like that it will go through and separate out different things like firestanding, CD usage, potion usage, etc. It’s pretty spiffy.

I also ask paladin friends about things (and I really never stopped doing this). Sometimes the best resource is just comparison and discussion. I’ve mentioned before, but I think that holy paladins have an awesome community that I’ve always enjoyed. It makes me feel fuzzy and happy.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?
That paladins can only tank heal forever.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?
That’s a good question! Probably (I surmise) it takes folks awhile to get used to being a melee healer at times. I know it sometimes scares or surprises tanks that I am right there in the thick of the action if I can be. The other healing classes are more likely to hang back (and it’s usually a good idea, because of AoE, etc.) but if mana is a concern then being in there to melee is very helpful for us. I love that aggressive dual nature of Holy. You’re healing, but you’ll also hit someone a good one with your sword and can take a hit if need be.

If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)?
Pretty high output, and pretty high overheal. It’s something I’m working on. I think I have really solid throughput, but sometimes I also heal when I don’t need to, so right now mana management is my biggest concern. It’s hard to judge because as I said, I’m still finding my feet. I wanted to make sure I was giving it my absolute all. Now that I know I won’t hold our group back, I can focus on some of the finer details a bit more.

Haste or Crit and why?
Haste all the way. You only really need enough crit to make sure you keep up Conviction, whereas Haste is pretty much always awesome.

What healing class do you feel you understand least?
Shaman, definitely. I healed very briefly as a shaman and now mine languishes at 80. We had a resto shaman for a short time at the start of Cata but now we do not have one. The only resto shaman I know are bloggers. When I did run with another guild I was bewildered and intrigued by the shaman. I watched the effects of Spirit Link Totem with great interest. (I hear it’s since been nerfed, though, aw.)

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing?
I am a Vuhdo gal. For awhile our guild was embroiled in an entrenched Vuhdo vs Grid debate, which I think may have settled now. We may even outnumber the Gridders. I also use Power Auras to monitor CDs and buffs, and some of MiksScrollingBattleText, but I am evaluating the necessity of that right now. I could probably get by with just Vuhdo and Power Auras. A bar addon is also a necessity, as I have a Razer Naga and it makes it easy to set up my bars for use with that. All of my heals are either bound in Vuhdo or set-up as mouseover macros bound to my mouse keys. I keep other CDs (Divine Plea, Judgement, etc.) on my keyboard.

Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?
This is an interesting question. Naturally, I stack Int to the sky, but it isn’t like being a DPS where you can just disregard the other stats. I feel I’d be well-served to get some more spirit, for instance, and that’s my current goal. In the past my gearing philosophy was always: regen until I didn’t need it, then throughput all the way. A stat like spirit is funny because it’s really really useful…until it isn’t, if that makes sense. More throughput is always useful, and depending on damage patterns in an encounter, it can prevent the need for as much spirit since you’ve already healed the because of your awesome, beefy healing. It might just be that I like big green numbers.

That was fun, thanks Saunder. I’d like to tag Beru to fill it out next (although I know she did it when it originally came out, I imagine the answers may have changed!)

Time Warp

I recognize this strange feeling of vertigo because it’s happened once before. Somehow, patch 4.0 managed to coincide with our last vacation. This time, 4.2 did the same! We don’t take many vacations, so I don’t know why this keeps happening, but there you have it. It’s always strange to come back after changes like these because you’re discovering them after the fact and any exclamations you might have are quite moot. Everyone else is “Been there, done that.” If you’re me, you end up asking confused questions such as, “Where in the heck did my guild tab go, why does some random person think my hard-earned keys are only worth two gold, and who put the giant portraits on the dungeon maps?”

It’s been a hectic few days.

Our vacation, I’m happy to report, was excellent in all ways. We had a chance to walk around Vancouver, eat great food (key to any vacation in my books), as well as mingle with Canada Day crowds on Granville Island, meet a long-time guildie and his fiancee, and even see fireworks. Of course, the highlight of the trip for me was definitely the reason we went in the first place: seeing Rush live for the first time on their Time Machine tour. I had heard they put on a good show, but I was Not Prepared. Here’s one of the videos I took. I’m uploading more (some folks on Twitter asked me to) but for right now this one will do! We had really good seats.

Meeting Awesome WoW Folks

We’ve known our priestly (formerly hunterly) friend Zierlyn for, oh – around two years now! We played with him on our original server. We raided Naxx and later Ulduar (and Naxx again, it’s a long story) together. He was one of the folks I sorely missed when we left, and was quick to snap up when we saw the opportunity for him to come to Business Time. Unfortunately his schedule doesn’t allow raiding but I still love being in a guild with him and it was so awesome to meet him and his fiancee. We went to the library, and to Granville Island, and later to an all-you-can-eat sushi/Korean BBQ place (and much later, to Denny’s, one of the few places that will let you nurse a single drink for hours and not really care about the space you’re taking up). I wish we lived closer so we could hang out more often. Still, I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth and I was very happy to have the opportunity. I’ve never actually met specifically someone I met through WoW before, so this was completely new. At one point we were driving along in the car (I was in the back) and I was just listening to Z talk and it was so weird because I know his voice! But it wasn’t coming through a microphone. But now I know him in person too! This is as articulate as I’m able to be on the subject. I can’t describe how cool it is to meet someone you “know” and get to know them all over again, but I’m sure those of you who’ve had the experience know just what I mean.

After our trip was over, we made a point of staying a night in Rade’s city so that we could meet him, too. Rades is one of my closest online cohorts and I was equal parts nervous and excited to meet him. What if we didn’t get along in person! What if it was weird? I needn’t have worried, because it was totally natural. He even had a really nerdy sign made for us so we wouldn’t miss him. “Welcome Vid and Voss!” Again, I only wish he lived closer so we could all hang out more often.

I have also had questions about the status of Rades’ tusks and green skin. Well, folks, I have an inside scoop for you. Rades is not, as is popularly believed, an orc. No, I have uncovered his true identity. He’s a robot.

Proof.

Specifically, it seems he’s an Autobot. I found several indicators. I’m surprised, I always thought he’d be a Decepticon. I did make a point of drawing everyone I met, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing the images of folks without their consent so hopefully other pictures of random things will be able to suffice. We did also do this:

Unfortunately, our raid on ICC didn't go exactly as planned...

This, for clarification, is a special edition of the WoW TCG that Voss and I picked up in a comic store on our trip. ICC Raid edition! It has pre-made decks intended for use by four players. One person plays the Big Bad himself, the Lich King – and the other folks play Jaina, Tirion, and Sylvanas respectively. We only had the three of us so Rades and I shared responsibility for Tirion. All did not go according to plan. The LK deck, as it happens, needs to be ridiculously powerful in order to counteract the efforts of three other players. Which is great! Except none of us had ever played before and Rades and I made some key tactical errors, resulting in Fordring’s death. We managed to get LK only down to about 20 HP (from 60) before we were overwhelmed. I think if we played again we’d stand a much better chance because now we know how stuff works. I’ve only recently been dabbling in the WoW TCG anyway; I’d like to play it some more. It was pretty fun! I think that building a deck around your own hero would be rewarding.

If only we could get geography to comply, then I think we could clear ICC properly! We DID manage to kill Sindragosa, though, and that was a victory we both relished. Hey, I’ll take what we can get! Sadly, our time with Rades was all too short, culminating in many hours spent at Denny’s (yes, Denny’s again) talking about anything and everything and eating a very late-night breakfast. I think the biggest revelation of the evening was just how truly evil the man I married really is. Folks, I am married to the Lich King. The man enjoyed killing our heroes so much. He has no soul.

Playing Catch-Up

I neglected the blog woefully while we were gone, but I think you all were so busy seeing Firelands that you probably didn’t notice! We got back on Sunday and were able to squeeze in dailies before the day rolled over, so I’ve been trying to get up to speed on those. I really enjoyed the lead-in quests (no spoilers!) Then yesterday, in typical “all-or-nothing” fashion, I ran seven heroics so I could cap my valor points for the week. Success! I also happened to score the bracers from Zul’Aman, finally. It took about 16-18 runs all-told, so I suppose that’s not too bad. And I was able to cap my points, which was the important thing. Tonight is our first raid of the new content, and I am excited! I’m sure I’ll have more to say about Firelands (again, long after everyone else has already said it) once I’ve seen it.

I did pay for and enjoy mobile guild chat and the mobile AH while we were on our trip. I managed to make a bit of money with gems I’d pre-cut before I left, but again I missed out on the ridiculous AH rush of a new patch. Regardless, it was nice to be able to pop in and chat for a bit during downtimes of the vacation and it made me feel less disconnected now that we’re finally home.

Let’s not talk about all the blog posts I missed while I was away, though. I may just have to call those a loss and mark everything as read. I’ve missed commenting on my favourites, but trust me, it’s not you, it’s me!

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