Friday, May 29, 2009

Sniknej Yoreel!

What? Leeroy Jenkins backwards of course.

That is precisely what happened on a guild Naxx run on wednesday.

We were just getting ready for our second attempt at Kel'Thuzad after a rather unfortunate incident with a banshee knocking back a healer and the worst possible timing for a frost blast ever.

The raid lead see everyone is ready and counts down over vent 3... 2... 1... go. We all run in and some of us slow down and notice our raid leader still sitting in the entrance.

We beckoned to him over vent to get moving, but he was disconnected and we already had a couple far enough to start the fight, chaos ensued. I made a snap decision and hearthed in the nick of time while the rest perished. In retrospect it took a bit longer that I had anticipated to fly back so I think I'll just go ahead and die in the future.

So pretty much the exact opposite of the Leeroy Jenkins incident.

We got it the next attempt though clearing naxx for our second time in just over 3 hours (we only run 3 hours a week).

It got a little hairy toward the end though. We lost our add tank so I ran over to pick the two big beetles up only to find the main tank dead soon after. I blew every cooldown I had and picked up the boss and the healers managed to keep me up to finish off KT. This is why I love my druid.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Healers > Tanks > DPS (25 man)

So it turns out my suspicions were correct, I can heal in a raid. I've asked for the opportunity in the past and last Sunday my wish was granted and there I was healing 25 man Naxx. Good thing I found out a few minutes before we started so I had time to grab a couple enchants I'd been putting off. Got a couple hundred bonus healing off those which seemed nice.

I'd been gearing up for this day since before I left Teldrassil. Up until dual specs I healed as a feral. Good practice I suppose to get used to healing without any fancy cooldowns or abilities. Healed a few heroic after dual specs, but I was so overgeared by that point there was never really a challenge.

So off I go having never healed in a group before, I am used to being solely responsible for the lives of those around me. I was assigned to heal the raid for most the raid and for bosses I was assigned to the primary tank along with a holy pally.

Starting off on trash my first thoughts were that there is always someone to heal. None of the downtime you get in 5 mans. Even tanking and dps roles have more downtime in raiding than the healers. Healers are always going. Between pulls tanks wait with the dps getting ready for the next pull, healers are still topping folks off from the last fight.

I have no doubt right now that healers have the most intense role in 25 man raiding, followed by the tanks then the dps. This is very different from 5 man situations where I would say the tank has the most intense role followed by the healer and then the dps. In 10 man I feel the tanks and healers are about even. This of course assumes an equally qualified tank/healer. Certainly an under qualified player will have more difficulty in either role.

So raid healing is basically tossing a bunch of hots on people pretty much non stop. I keep an eye out for people that require more attention and pump more heals thier way all while keeping a full stack of hots on the tank(s). I noticed very quickly that I cannot cast spells fast enough to deplete my mana, or even get close. I found that a little annoying since I like to try and conserve mana.

Moments I was most proud of were the couple times I had the opportunity to blast a couple instant big heals at people and save dps who pulled aggro from death. That is always fun for me in any healing situation.

I was also quite pleased with my performance on Heigan. The dance is 2nd nature to me at this point so I was healing constantly as I ran. Turned out top for heals that fight, I'm sure because of healing on the move. Turned out 3rd overall, but healing meters are really not good for much given the way healing changes from fight to fight. All I got out of it was that I was compitent.

One place I saw I need work on was on Lotheb where my healing was lower than the other healers and I wound up losing my group toward the end of the fight. It was my first time healing the fight, but I was well aware of the healing timer involved. My strategy was the stack lifeblooms on folks and let them bloom during the healing window, but my timing may of been a little off. I was also sticking rejuvenation and wild growth up, but my group was half ranged and half melee so the wild growth never did get everyone. Need more practice with that one for sure to get the most from the healing window.

The other thing that I feel I was partially responsible for was on a couple of fights I lost my tank right at the end. He died like exactly with the boss on Maexna and Patchwerk. I was looking over the logs and I noticed there weren't any "big heals" between the last overheal and the death. It happened in a split second of course so there really wasn't time to do much since I had use my big instant heals earlier and they were still on cooldown. Next time I will certainly do more overhealing in hopes of sneaking a big heal for moments like that. I was the lowest for overhealing which I was originally proud of given I like to conserve mana, but it seems overhealing has its merits.

Overall it was a fun night and I look forward to healing in a 25 man setting again sometime.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Druid Healing 101

Went off to tank Nexus yesterday to help out a guildie, a resto druid, with gear. Turns out she was geared to the teeth with a mix of 10 and 25 Naxx gear on top of some BC purples, but the healing mace off the last boss was indeed an upgrade for her, yay!

But here we had a well geared healer struggling through Nexus with an overgeared group. I popped up recount halfway to look at what heals were being tossed around only to see regrowth 35%, healing touch 10%, lifebloom somewhere in the middle of those and poor rejuvenation and wild growth way down at the bottom. No sight of nourish. As those familiar with druids might imagine there could be some trouble with healing raid damage and you would be right.

So let's get to it then, how can a druid best utilize their various spells to heal efficiently and easily. I often feel when healing on my druid that I am not alone, those hots ticking right and left on people I healed a few seconds earlier often leave me wondering if someone else was casting heals. Perhaps I am just weird.

First off you have your tank, you will want to plop a rejuvenation on them and keep it there. I generally apply this just before the pull if not right after to give myself a little buffer. Similarly to prayer of mending or earth shield, rejuvenation can be interpreted by the tank as a nonverbal, "I am ready for you to pull". If there is concern about pulling threat then hold off a little, but it is usually never an issue with an experienced tank.

If you find your tank taking a little more damage than your rejuvenation can keep up with then toss on a stack of lifebloom. Add additional stacks as needed to keep up with the damage, no rush. Stacking lifebloom slowly is actually beneficial since you can let it roll longer without a bloom and without incurring any additional mana cost from overwriting existing stacks. Don't reapply after 3 stacks, go ahead and let it bloom.

Now there will be times when a stack of hots won't be enough to keep the tank up. This is where I will throw in a nourish. If there is more healing required I will cast a regrowth and then nourish so there is that one additional heal over time ticking. I will also use wild growth as an additional heal over time. With 4 hots running on the tank, plus nourish thrown in once in a while that will handle most anything.

The same concept applies to multiple tanks it just requires a little more work to keep track of your hots on more than one target.

For emergencies there is nature's swiftness and swiftmend. I use nature's swiftness 99% of the time with a healing touch to let off the largest heal possible, the other 1% I hit it on accident and use it on a nourish. I generally use swiftmend on top of rejuvenation since there isn't the time to cast regrowth in these types of situations. These are for the times when you need to get off a large heal instantly to prevent a death. More often on non-tanks that don't have a buffer of hots running on them.

While your healing your tank other people are probably going to be taking damage. If it is just one person toss a rejuvenation on them and maybe one stack of lifebloom and then move on. If they need a little more toss a nourish on them. If they have pulled threat and need more attention treat them as you would a tank with a full stack of hots and frequent use of nourish. Don't give them too much attention if there are others that need healing, but do your best. If someone makes a habit of taking additional damage then feel free to mock them.

If many people are taking damage it is time to let off a wild growth. It is easiest to just run up and cast it on yourself rather than worry about who to put it on. It figures out who to heal on it's own anyway. If that it not enough alone I will also toss a rejuvenation on top of it and perhaps a lifebloom.

The most important distinction to make when healing non-tanks is whether they got hit once and will be able to recover slowly with a hot or if they are continuing to take damage and require more attention. This is something that comes with experience.

Druid healers are proactive rather than reactive, we heal before someone needs it. Since our hots require time to provide the same effect as a single large heal. Our hots also don't start healing right away, it takes until that first tick for any healing to occur. Which also means if you spam rejuvintation it will never do any healing because it resets the timer.

Often times we are going to have hots ticking when they aren't really needed, but that is to be expected and our overhealing as a result is usually quite a bit lower compared to other healing classes doing reactive healing where they start to heal after the damage has been done.

In general druid healing is very laid back and done at a fairly slow pace. Unless something goes wrong we toss a heal over time here and there and enjoy the view. Enjoying the view is also very important to us since we need to be paying attention a bit more than other healers so we can anticipate where healing will be needed. If you see someone has pulled threat go ahead and get the hots rolling while the mob is still walking over to them. Keeping an eye on what is going on can avoid those situations where a large heal is needed right away, those types of situations a druid is not as well suited for as other healing classes.

Monday, May 18, 2009


I went quite a while on my shaman without any class specific add-ons, but no longer. It all started as I got into instances more and more and found it a little cumbersome to pull up totems and put them back down.

I found myself wishing for a way to quickly put down the totems I had already chosen without thinking too much about it or having to click 4 different places. So I did some hunting for an add-on and found TotemTimers best matched what I was looking for.

I guess that is perhaps the best way to go about finding an add-on. Identify a need and look for something to fill that need. My usual approach to add-ons is I see or hear about a cool add-on then go an play with it. Most the time I end up discarding those.

I'm hoping one day I will identify a need and there won't be an add-on out there. That would give me the incentive to get into creating my own add-ons. Right now my lazy programmer nature prevents me from recreating the wheel.

I've added this add-on to the list of add-ons I use as well.

Killing Trash with Surgical Precision

Cats and to perhaps a lesser extent rogues and even shamans have the potential to pick and choose when an AOE attack would be appropriate over single target attacks. This is because their AOE attacks are of a hit once, damage everything once variety.

While your mages, warlocks and probably some hunters are channeling an AOE mobs might move or die leaving AOE inefficient due to fewer targets. We felines and those with similar mechanics have the choice of not hitting our AOE ability unless it will actually be worth it. Thus at the end of the day we will usually come out ahead even if the channeled AOE types were putting out a higher peak damage.

Sure trash DPS isn't very important, but putting the extra thought into when to do what certainly makes it more fun and interesting and hitting a button and waiting. The higher performance is just a beneficial side effect. :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

From Hitting to Healing

It has been quite the experience doing more and more healing from a mainly tanking and dps background and I noticed a few things along the way that helped me do better.

1. Stop doing damage. I can't say how much healing as a tree has improved my healing as a shaman. Since trees can't do any damage aside from some humorous branch swinging animations it really takes your mind off damage. Even if you can put out damage while healing you really shouldn't. You may have extra mana now, but you might need it in 10 seconds. Don't be the healer that misses a heal because they were DPSing, we mock a guild member to this day for that. That said, once you've got a handle on your healing; go ahead be naughty and do some DPS, it's fun!

2. Watch your own health. I like most have my player frame larger and above my party. This make it really easy to overlook while watching other people's health plummet. Not so much an issue in raids since healers look out for one another. I toyed with displaying a party frame in addition to my player frame for 5 mans, but I decided to just be more cognizant of my health. Shamans have a nice fallback when they neglect themselves which has saved my butt more than once, rest of the healing classes have to be more careful. I'm sensing a trend that shamans are not the best choice for a first time healer.

3. Triage. There will be times you can't heal everyone, those are the times I find healing the most fun. You are the first priority, put the mask on yourself before assisting others. If the healer goes down so does everyone else. After that the tank is slightly higher priority than the DPS. Tanks have quite a few tricks to stay alive if you ignore them for a little bit to heal someone else. DPS usually don't have that luxury. DPS will also usually be taking less damage so taking the time to get a quick heal off on them will keep them in the fight and it will probably only take one or two heals. Don't feel bad about letting someone die to save the group though, in fact don't think twice about it. In those sorts of situations where split second decisions are needed there is no time to dwell on one death, concentrate on healing everyone else.

4. Let them squirm. Healers are all about positive reinforcement, you do something good and you get a heal. We don't want to reinforce a negative behavior after all so if someone is constantly pulling off the tank and/or taking unnecessary damage then don't reward them. I've only withheld heals once in my healing career and it worked great to deter pulling aggro. Keep in mind that it is a whole lot of wasted mana/time to rez someone so it's best to keep them alive, but not much more than that. We wish to help the group move along after all.

5. "Mana"gement. You don't want to make everyone wait every pull for you to drink back to full mana and you also don't want to have the group wipe because you had none. Make use of mana regeneration abilities often keeping them available for boss fights whenever possible. Drink between pulls, even chain pulling at a brisk pace there is often enough time before the tank needs heals again to get a quick drink if you hang back a little. If you do need more time let the tank know since tanks aren't always looking as closely to mana as healers might like. In a tight spot be creative, use bandages; I find the situations where I need to make every drop of mana count the most enjoyable.

6. Avoid healing aggro. Easy coming from a tanking/DPS background right? I know I've been one shotted healing before doing just that. Don't heal your tank right away after a pull, give them a chance to build aggro. Healing aggro is very small in comparison to DPS so you can start healing pretty quickly.

That's about all I can think off the top of my head. I did quite a bit of healing over the weekend in PUGs with a mixture of skill levels. Healed tanks that I would describe as naked mages in terms of mitigation in addition to experienced geared tanks that hardly needed any healing. Is it wrong for me to enjoy the former more? The well geared tanks make up for it in speed though. I was doing an AN run with a very good tank and he pulled the last boss when I had no mana; ok I had like 500, but still. Of course we did fine, that fight is crazy easy to heal as a shaman. I like to think the tank knew that and was making it fun for me.