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

Archive for the ‘Class Discussion’ Category

100th Post: Paladins, Mages, and Something In-Between

So it’s been about three months now that I’ve been raiding as a paladin, and it happens that this is my one hundredth post at Manalicious! I’ve been waffling about what to write, considered doing a blogaversy style-retrospective of my favourite posts, but I think I’ll save that for my actual blog’s anniversary. I did also want to mention I have been horrible about replying to comments lately, and I’m going to try to get better about it. I do read and enjoy every single comment, and usually I try to always reply to them, too.

On Being A Paladin

This is a preview of a graphic I've been working on for ages with intention to put it on the blog. Secret unfinished image!

It’s ironic and sad for my husband, Voss, that he has such a rivalry going on with paladins. Every Friday when he is able to tweet more, he picks a fight with the paladins on Twitter. It’s actually hilarious to me that most of the people he talks to on Twitter are 1) Blood Elves and 2) Paladins. The cherry on the paladin sundae is that he’s married to someone who also plays a paladin. But, I don’t feel bad about it because being a paladin is fun. I am really starting to settle in to raiding as one. The healing style is in my fingertips, if you will. I have fixed some issues and bad habits and I think I’m doing a better job than ever before. So that aspect of being a paladin is going well.

I think I make better use of my toolbox. My gear has been steadily improving, although both Ragnaros and Domo have stubbornly refused to drop tier tokens while I’ve been in the raid – so now I’m at the point where I expect we’ll be getting heroic shoulder token upgrades and neither myself nor my priest friend will be able to upgrade them because we never got the normal ones. Naturally, I’m unhappy about this. I don’t really have a solution in mind, but four-set doesn’t look like it’s in my future anytime soon. I’ve heard that it’s really not “all that” anyway, so perhaps that’s fine. My fellow paladins may disagree.

Paladins have many neat things that I wind up missing when I am playing a mage (and vice versa). The two speed bursts make up for not having Blink, in my book, while in Retribution spec the Long Arm of the Law gap-closer makes me happy. Playing melee is interesting and it’s definitely been a change from the DPS I’ve been used to in the past. I find myself reaching for Crusader Aura when I am playing any character that does not have Crusader Aura. (Despite world-wide flying, there are still places like the Molten Front where it is incredibly useful).

On Having Divided Character Loyalties

I eased off on trying to re-complete achievements for Vid, realizing that I was burning myself out by trying to regain ALL THE THINGS that Millya already had. Instead of trying to rebuild a pet collection, I collected some more pets until Millya was able to get the Celestial Dragon. Right now I’m doing Brewfest stuff for both of them, but the only thing Millya needs to do is get drunk in Dalaran and then fall off something, so she just needs Brewfest clothing. Vid hasn’t done the achievements at all, but Brewfest is one of my favourite holidays so I don’t mind doing them all again. I also did just enough to get my druid (the original drunkard of my “crew”) a Brewfest Keg Pony.

FOR PONY.

I think I’ve come to the point where I am resigned to the fact that I’ll never have the one character with all of the achievements and things the way that some people do. (Voss, for instance, has all of his raid achievements on Vosskah because he never plays anything else). Me? I will have different achievements depending on the character, and I may go back and re-do some if I feel the urge but I can’t let it bug me too much because I’m too variable to only ever play one character. One of my guildies was teasing me because I said during the My Epic Heals podcast that I would probably play my mage again, and that she is my “true” main. What I really mean, but can’t explain, is that my strongest loyalty lies with her, raiding aside. Raiding is only one aspect of the game, after all. I’ve been playing Millya devotedly for three years, while Vid has only even existed (at max level) for about 1-1.5 years. But her name is also my online identity and I first started blogging while writing about her so… I guess, what it comes down to is that they’re just different. I’m sure I could never abandon either of them. I didn’t expect Vid to become my raiding main, but she has, and she is awesome.

On Being A Mage

My avatar on Twitter.

The Molten Front dailies suck. They really do. The second time around, they suck in a way I can’t even describe for fear of being sucked into a whirling vortex of suckitude. I’m doing them again with Millya because she likes achievements but seriously. 150 Marks to reveal more dailies. Then another 150 until you’ve done the same thing. Then 125…three times over? It just seems excessive. Even the first time, towards the end I was really losing steam with these dailies. And I am someone who really likes dailies. I did the Isle of WTF for weeks back in the day. Anyway, Millya will get some more pets and a mount, but I reserve the right to complain about it a bit at the same time. (I know, I do it to myself).

As far as maging goes I have delved into LFD a bit more with Millya as Vid routinely caps VP through raids primarily. I don’t actually mind the DPS wait too much. I do mind the way that groups often treat DPS, like expendable (and stupid) movable artillery. If you’re unclear about which Hatcher you want killed, you don’t get to yell at me when I kill the “wrong” one when you weren’t smart enough to go pick up the hatchlings, regardless of where they spawned! And the reason we wiped on the last boss is not because I “used Time Warp in the Lynx phase and should have saved it for Dragonhawk.” It’s because you are a terrible tank that wasn’t using your CDs, and the healer was a pretty undergeared and slow druid who let you die. Also, when one DPS does 40% of the damage in a run, you should stop giving him/her a hard time.

Most of my LFD runs go well, and are fun. After healing a lot of the time I find it’s nice to relax back into exploding things with fire in the face, fire on the ground, extra big fire, little fire…! By contrast, when I’m soloing and running around the world it will usually be as Frost. My water elemental and I, Speak, are an inseparable team. I actually did go Frost on the last boss in ZG when our group was struggling, though. The added control on the Spirits made a big difference, and I wish I had thought of doing it sooner!

By the way, my elemental’s name is Speak because of this video a friend inflicted on me years ago. Now, I pass it on to you. Don’t blame me if it gets stuck in your head, though. I dun wanna war. Yee, c’mon.

The Well-Dressed Paladin Redux

Transmogrification! I’m a little late to remark on this news, but I don’t think you have to have known me long to know that I am over the moon about these changes. Finally, all the space I’ve been devoting to gear storage is going to pay off! If you’re newish to my blog you may not have read before I moved here from Pugging Pally. I’d like to call your attention to a fashion contest that I hosted last year around this time: The Well-Dressed Paladin. If you go here to the entry where I announced the winners, you can see a gallery of all the creative entries I received.

This seems like as good a time as any to revisit some of the unusual and awesome interpretations of paladin fashion – it doesn’t have to be a complete tier set to look great!

I’ve had a post about mage clothes in the works for ages, so watch for that soon. Meantime, if you’re anything like me, I’d better let you get back to doing old raid content to help get those last few pieces in your closet. I can’t wait to see the choices people make about their gear when they aren’t obligated to display the latest tier because it’s the best raid gear. I actually have a feeling that a good number of folks will still display T12, or whatever the latest tier is – because it’s a symbol of prestige and it does suit the content we’re doing. As for me, I intend to change the look of my gear probably around once a week or so. The cost of redoing it is a drop in the bucket compared to the enjoyment I expect to derive from hosting my own ongoing fashion show.

Update on Settling Into A New Role

I’ve been raiding as a paladin now for just over a month or a little bit longer. It’s been an interesting transition, further complicated by the fact that I feel obligated to re-do many achievements with Vid. I thought it’d be fun to provide a kind of update with how things have been going.

DPS: Now With 100% Rear Boss View

For the occasions when we’ve needed a healer to DPS, I’ve been gearing and working on my retribution spec. Thanks to some help from Antigen and our guild’s protection paladin, I even know what to do (more or less). The only thing I can say is that melee DPS is weird, yet oddly calming. I feel as if I have to frantically spam buttons quite a bit less than as a mage. Oh, I’d definitely be failing if I were just auto-attacking, and that’s not what I’m doing, but it is reassuring to know that my character is always hitting if I’m in range. (Thank you, startattack macros). I’m by no means the world’s greatest retribution paladin, but we still managed to kill bosses with me as a ret (I am the ret). It’s been awhile since I’ve had to go ret for a raid and my gear has improved so I imagine if I were to do it again I would be even better.

I got to hit Rhyolith’s feet and run around frantically! I also went up to attack Beth’tilac, which proved to be convenient because I later went up to heal the tank on Beth’tilac. I got to stand there and DPS Shannox, which kind of feels like cheating to me. Even Staghelm from a ret perspective was almost peaceful, but he was still progression then and so I have only healed for our subsequent kills. I think it’s safe to say that I never imagined I’d be melee DPSing in a raid, but it’s fine. 95% of the time I will be a healer; for that other five percent I’m happy to do whatever is necessary.

"What is this I don't even..."

Achievements

Continuing to work on Vid’s achievements has helped me to feel engaged with her, even when I’m not raiding. To me, Vid (as a character) has been something of a sleeper hit. I made her in 2009 for a lark, did the whole dungeon-leveling thing, wrote a blog about it, etc. I never imagined she’d shoulder her way to the front and wind up a main. I always assumed that if I healed full-time it would be as a druid. I was clearly wrong.

As far as achievements go, her pet collection is up over a hundred now, her mount collection is somewhere around fifty. There are a few pets she won’t be able to get for awhile (Midsummer, Love Is In The Air, etc.) but such is life! I finished the Higher Learning achievement with her as I was writing this post. Up next: continuing to kill poor TB foxes and camping the spawn point for Jadefang.

The biggest trouble I have is trying to catch up with achievements as if I’m on a time limit. I want to catch up yesterday and so sometimes my focus wanders as I try to do everything all at once. I finally, finally finished the last Molten Front “unlocking” and so now will do those dailies until Zen’Vorka’s cache sees fit to give up a pet. Meantime, I have to remember that nobody cares about my achievements except me, nobody cares except me (it’s my new mantra).

Blogging

I’ll admit, I did worry a bit that I might lose readers when I switched from raiding as a mage – and perhaps I did. The funny thing is, though, that very little of my content was mage-specific. I wrote the five-man guides (but never updated them for the Zul instances) and a gear guide, but other than that the things I write about are seldom class-specific. Now I’m in this odd limbo where I don’t feel I have anything to teach or say to paladins, nor do I have mage experience in Firelands. It’s tricky how your personal identity can get tied up into your class identity, so I’m trying not to worry about it overly. I’m just going to write about things that interest me, be they mage, paladin, or guild-related, and hope that they’ll be of interest to someone, somewhere.

Raiding

Make no mistake, switching from being a DPS (especially a pure) to a healer is a big adjustment. I heal five-person content a ton but hadn’t healed a raid in about a year. It says something about my guild’s trust in me that they were willing to let me dive in. Especially being somewhat undergeared for Firelands (I did the best I could, but was definitely behind the curve), healing FL was kind of like performing without a net. It’s been a rush, it’s been exhilarating, frustrating, and triumphant. It’s been humbling. I’m still constantly learning how to be a better paladin, but I’m happy with how it’s gone so far. With my usual zeal for gearing, I’ve managed to squeeze every last upgrade out of non-raid content and I can definitely feel the difference. Especially getting a new weapon and the two-piece T12 bonus have made me feel pretty unstoppable in heroics.

The biggest shift is a mental one, and it’s taken some time. I’ve had to teach my brain to recognize mild stress as ‘the norm’ and not freak out and just do its thing. It was funny when we went back one night to eight-man BoT for valor points. Remember, I didn’t do BoT as a healer, only as a DPS. So we’re on Ascendant Council and I lost range on my tank and my brain just kind of zoned out a bit. There was a part of it that thought, “Gosh, tank’s health sure is getting low.” A few seconds later, the other part of my brain screams, “YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE HEALING THAT TANK.” Ohhh right, that’s my thing!

I haven’t done this in current content, it’s just interesting to me how the encounters themselves (and the way I have learned them) are so intertwined with the role I was playing at the time. When it comes to Firelands, I’ve only healed (or melee DPSed them) and so I don’t suddenly forget that I’m healing; all of my knowledge is centered around healing patterns, incoming damage, and needed cooldowns.

Recruiting

It’s been a long time since we’ve had three trial members at once. It’s not something I like doing, really, because each new person takes awhile to integrate into a group. Because of our relatively small number, an influx is especially unsettling and runs the risk of unbalancing the group paradigm. Also, they may not get the kind of one-on-one attention and feedback that we like to give, but I think we’ve managed well enough in this regard. I still reflexively catch myself going to check out recruitment ads until I remember – oh right, I don’t have to do that right this instant! It’s nice. They have been doing well, and of course time is the most important factor here. Everyone will naturally ease up as they get to know each other, given some time.

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

 

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!)

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!

Further Adventures in LFD (Paladin adventures, of course).

A snapshot from Vid's pug life - every single mob in Stonecore descending on us simultaneously.

I ran a pug last night. This is nothing new. Actually, Vidyala – the erstwhile Pugging Pally – dinged 85 some weeks ago and has been quietly running many pugs since then. Of course, I try to run with guildies when available. Guild XP is valuable! But when they aren’t, I pug.

The first pug had me zoning in to Grim Batol, right in front of the first boss, General I-Charge-People-In-The-Face-Guy. This isn’t usually a good sign, because it means that the group probably just wiped on that boss and then their healer left. I assume their healer left, since it turns out that all four other people were from the same guild. I said hello, as I do, and after a few minutes one person said, “No Englis.” Okay. It’s going to be sort of tough to talk about boss strats if nobody speaks the same language, but I figure there’s no harm in trying. Most people know these bosses, yes? Let’s give this a try anyhow.

It does not go well. These people don’t seem to understand the Blitz mechanic, because each time he does it one of them dies except one lone DPS. When I try to tell them of course, they don’t understand me. The tank is not tanking the trogg adds and they are all over me, no matter that I ran them to him. The DPS do not kill them. We all die. I’m starting to understand why they may have lost their first healer.

We pull him again. We lose a DPS to the first Blitz, and then another to the second. At this point it’s just three of us left and almost every Blitz is on me. I hold it together as long as I can but my mana can’t take the length of time one DPS, a tank and a healer will require to kill a heroic boss on their own. I drop group.

Enough time has passed that I’m not on random cooldown anymore so I am able to queue up again immediately and wait ten minutes for a group that I can hopefully communicate with. Soon I see the Vortex Pinnacle load screen.

“Hey guys,” I say. This group all says hi, and then the DK tank declares in party chat, “We have 50 minutes until reset, so lock and load.”

I think, “Oh boy,” but Vortex Pinnacle isn’t a long instance. We’ve got time to do this. What that seems to mean in DK parlance is “Chain-pull forever and never pause.”

I will grant you, Vid is my alt. I do work on and love her as much as I can, but she’s no Kurn or Walks (and nor am I). We have two melee DPS and one mage. There is tons of incidental melee damage in VP. I can keep folks alive, but even using Divine Plea on cooldown is not going to cut it, I need to drink to do that. The resulting series of pulls is something like a snowball rolling downhill and gaining momentum. I am able to regain less mana after each pull, and by the time he pulls the last trash pack just before the first boss, I am completely, 100% OOM. Frustrated, I can’t even start drinking because I’m already in combat. I manage to eke out the pull by judging my face off, Crusader Striking and using Word of Glory as much as I possibly can. It’s not fun.

I say in party chat, “Please don’t pull when I’m completely OOM.” The DK is quick to retort, “I had cooldowns, it was fine.”

Continuing, I say, “I know you guys want to do this fast but we’ll get it done faster if nobody dies.”

“If I had died it would be on my own head,” the DK says.

His DPS DK guildie chimes in, “It will make you a better healer.”

I bite my tongue on any further possible reply and just resolve to do the best I can. I’m pretty mild-mannered when it comes to most pugs – if something is intolerable (people who don’t know a boss that I can’t even explain it to) I might leave, but most times I’ll roll with what’s going on. This riled me.

First of all, it’s the dismissive attitude. Some groups make me feel like a walking first aid station. This casual disregard for what I was saying, “Hey – let me get the resource I need so I can do my job,” made me feel like even less than that. I felt invisible. This was not a tank I could trust. Of course, you can’t have the same affinity with a pug tank you just met that you will have with someone you know and trust. I wouldn’t ever expect that. And perhaps I am spoiled, because the tanks I tend to run with respect their healers.

But for that statement, I probably would have just shrugged it off. It’s as if this guy and his buddies said to me first, “We’ll decide when you need to stop and drink, AND shut up because it will be good for you.”

I heal pugs because I want to be a better healer. There is nothing that forces me to react quickly, think on my feet and become familiar with my tools and tricks more than a pug. It’s why I’m there. I didn’t even need a daily when I ran this VP – I’d done one earlier with guildies. I just felt like healing an instance. So I don’t need some random pug DK telling me what I do or don’t need to do to ‘be a better healer.’ I thought about this the entire run.

Was the breakneck pace and lack of CC making me work hard? Definitely.

Would it ultimately make me a better healer? Probably.

Was I free to leave at any time? Sure, but I stayed out of pure cussed stubbornness. (You’d be surprised the kinds of things stubbornness gets me to do).

Was it fun? Not at all.

Did any of them say thanks at the end for a job well-done? Of course not. I could have been any person with a plus sign next to my name; they don’t care that the intense AoE healing I had to do to keep all those melee up without CC was tough. They’ve already forgotten me, or if they remember me at all it’s to congratulate themselves on “giving that paladin healer a challenge.”

I am ranting about this because it’s not the first time I’ve encountered this attitude. The other day I ran Throne of the Tides with a hunter and mage friend. The paladin tank thought he was pretty hot stuff. Fsob said, “Feel free to mark Moon and I will sheep things,” and the tank said, “It is more fun without CC, I won’t be doing that.”

“No thanks,” I replied, and asked Fsob and Fuzz to CC anyway. Of course they did, and I could actually breathe. This tank did not have the kind of gear or skill to sustain an “all or nothing” approach to current heroics, yet he clearly felt he was entitled to dictate how the run would go. I’m not sure how it would have been without my friends there (both awesome DPS, and both ignoring the tank in favour of CCing). He then proceeded to freak out because “MYYY PAAANTSS!1!!1″ dropped at the end of the run, and then he needed on the +Spirit trinket for good measure, so obviously this guy had deeper problems.

What this all boils down to, as far as I’m concerned, is a simple bottom line: Be courteous to the people in your run, no matter what their role. If your healer says, “Please CC,” and you have CC available – do it. Because not doing it presumes that the healer should work twice as hard because you just want to be lazy.

If your healer says, “Hey, I’d like to drink sometime,” don’t get belligerent and insist that you’re just fine without the healer. I have a newsflash for you! Other people take damage besides the tank. They don’t have cooldowns. They don’t wear tank gear. If I can’t heal them, THEY might die, and you’re just wasting all of our time. I would never, ever pull a mob or group for the tank and then say “It’ll make you a better tank if you have to taunt the mobs off me instead of pulling them yourself.” As a tank, I wouldn’t refuse to taunt something back from a DPS who pulled and say, “It will make you a better DPS.” So don’t flat out refuse a reasonable request I make as a healer, or at least – don’t be surprised when your LFD queue times increase because healers are tired of dealing with this kind of thing and they just wait to run with their guilds instead.

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