Friday, April 29, 2011

WoW : A healers' journey Pt. 1

Today’s blog is about WoW.
More specifically, the first of what is hopefully to be a small series of my experiences with my newly founded project. The healing-project.
Allow me to be more specific:
To say I’ve been a sworn and dedicated WoW-player is by no means an exaggeration. Truthfully, having tagged along since early beta, it’s a safe bet that I’ve given my part of contribution to Blizzard’s mountain of gold and broken relationships. But as the words of Edith Piaf goes; Non, je ne regrettes rien (aka IT WAS LEIK 2TALLY THE R0XX!).
On the contrary, though, my relationship with WoW has been one of modest breaks and interruptions. We had to agree to go other places and see other people. Naturally, WoW had the advantage of seeing 11.999.999 other people, whereas I had a scarce host of people. To boot, the majority of which had taken of peculiar liking of unimportant subjects, such as children, careers and all that stuff I keep wishing I’d care more about. In the end I was half-way expecting Chris Metzen to giggle in his chair, every time I decided to cancel my subscription, thinking to himself; “Where’s he going to run? He’ll be back…”.
And I would.
And still am.
My real trouble with WoW honestly began around Wrath of the Lich King. In many ways being some of an anticlimax. Not as such because the expansion in itself was bad (which truthfully, I couldn’t say as I never progressed past Naxx) but because a lot of my real life friends from The Burning Crusade quit the game around that time. In that regard, I again refer to the previous paragraph. There are some things more important in life than epics. I’ve heard.
Naturally, when you’re used to play with 10 of your best friends, suddenly accepting pugs and strangers is a daunting task. Too much of a task, really, and when I look back I’m honestly puzzled as to how I managed to stand around in Dalaran doing very little for a whole expansion. I never saw Ulduar, I never stepped into Icecrown Citadel, neither that bland coliseum-thing either. I frankly couldn’t find the enthusiasm.
This very mental enervation struck me at the beginning of Cataclysm as well. I was one of those in my guild that made it to 85 in two days, only to realize I didn’t really like what they’d done to the Warlock-class. I managed to level my old favorite class; the rogue, only to find out approximately the same. This is not me preaching the old ‘Holy shit they nerfed my class!!” as I am well aware that there are several skilled rogues and locks out there. On the other hand, it is no secret that there’s always been pet-classes in each expansions, and to some degree, at varying stages of said expansion. As for rogues, we all know we were sitting up there nice and tight on our DPS-throne, back in both The Burning Crusade and vanilla (and how I still equip my Bloodfang-set just for nostalgia).  At the same time, it was always my impressions that Warlocks had a golden age in end-game raiding of TBC. At least I remember easily achieving very high dps in Black Temple and Hyjal, without that much effort or gear, basically abusing destroy.
As for now, death knights and mages seem to have a lot of fun. And I’m happy on their account. Truly, I am. I would just never roll one, as I don’t favor those classes.
To cut what is left short: I’ve been a sworn DPS’er since the launch of WoW. Watching the white and yellow numbers flow, not standing in the fire and managing crowd control has been standard procedure for me ever since, and I frankly consider myself good at it.
But there comes a time in which it just gets too much. In this case it combines with the fact that I am not keen on the changes and/or it’s getting way too similar. After all, I’ve been looking right up the ass of one boss after another, while manically trusting daggers up his/her/its anus/es. Enough is enough. Anus-stabbing gets tedious, even for the most patient rogue.
And my rogue has the Insane in the Membrane-feat of strength, so patience is something I normally associate with him.
When I renewed my account barely two weeks ago, I decided I was eligible for my WoW-Identity-Mid-Life crisis. I needed a very long holiday away from DPS’ing.
The only alternative was to take on another part of the Holy RPG-Trinity.
How hard could it possibly be to heal? Aka “WY SO HARD 2 HEEL M0RE????”
I’ve always shouted (to myself) at the healers when they did a piss poor job. I know; I’m one of those guys, retardo dps’ers who insist that you should be able to heal me, no matter how much shit is under me. Why should I move when it royally screws over my rotation?

Well, that might be an exaggeration, but try to follow me here.
Back in my raiding days, I honestly had a hard time avoiding the occasional curse whenever I noticed our MT’s healthbar reached the ominous red area, only to expire in that demotivational  *BUUH-DUUM*-sound as the living snot was beaten out of him. In particular I remember my favored sentence “HOW HARD CAN IT BE?”
You might argue that this is the very reason why I decided to see things from another perspective. After all, one would always do well trying to walk a mile in their shoes. If you learn, great. If not, you’re a mile away and you’ve got their shoes.
Healer versus tank. Aka “Instant dungeon queue? Winning!”
The healer has intrigued me greatly since vanilla. I was a priest in beta, and was about to roll one initially had it not been for my friend getting there first. There is a certain feeling and sense of accomplishment to this role, that really makes you think you’ve made a difference, besides having a greater DPS-epeen than the rest. I suppose this could also be said for the tank, but my main problem with tanking is the obvious spotlight of responsibility. You’re expected to lead right from the bat. People respect tanks (I know I do for certain) and often follow their advice and directions. Not to say this couldn’t be done by a healer or dps’er for that matter, but you kind of expect it from the huge armor-clad guy running in the front.
Frankly, I’ve had my share of that kind of responsibility in real life. I don’t want to have it when I relax and game. I love to be the blind passenger, the unseen puppeteer, who makes things works.
That being said, I managed to once level a priest to level 57, healing through a few instances and made some observations. In general, Horde-players were much more nice and polite when I told them this was my first time healing. They also gave more compliments and took the occasional death much more relaxed. In my optic this has changed a great deal since Vanilla, but I tend to encounter more nice people on Horde-side.

Another interesting, and yet ironical fact, is that we gladly post one DPS-meter after another, screaming in nerd-joy when we get a boss-kill in record time. But you very rarely see praise towards the people who keep up the green bars and the boss at his place. Namely the tank and the healer. Only in case one of these fucks up.
My original thought was; that I can live with. So I decided to go for a healer, meaning I had the responsibility, and was more than able to skulk around in the back, making sure those green bars were kept  from running out. Sounds easy, right?

The rules of leveling. Aka “U LEIK NICE HAWT CUP OF REJUVENATION???”I’m a firm believer in two rules.

1) Practice makes perfect.
2) Mistakes are only another way for us to grow and improve.

I once made it to 80 on my paladin and decided to join up with a VOA-raid for fun. Of course I had zero experience with paladin-healing, resulting in a most embarrassing wipe, with a swift (and well deserved) kick from the raid. My shocking epiphany was that healing is, like any other role, an art to me mastered through dedication. How this is done is purely up to you.
I therefore decided to get on with it. Reach level 15 and plow through every dungeon in the game possible in my way to 85. This hellish road trip is what I wish to portray in this blog-series.
Chose your healer. Aka “SOZ, BUT WE REELY WANT A PALLY!”I love priest and think their equipment looks the most bad-ass of it all. But then again I’ve played this class a lot, and if I had to make this seem all new and exciting, I obviously had to go for another route.
Actually that bars the choice solidly, as paladin and shamans were really boring in their respective ways. I love much about paladins, just not their way of healing (I like the concept of group-healing) and shaman is just a weird class. I’ve tried rolling them four times but never made it past level 12.

I’ve always liked druids a lot, but never really had a good reason to roll one. This situation was as good as any, so shortly after, Mosaique the Tauren Druid marched out into Thunderbluff, ready to take on the world of green bars and moronic dps’ers.

The basic steps: Ragefire Chasm, Deadmines, Wailing Caverns & Shadowfang Keep. Aka “LOL CAN I TELE OUT 2 GET A SHEILD??” (True quote btw.)
I was once told that your glory as a healer is immense right up till someone dies. You’re a popular guy, wanted and asked for pretty much all around. All in all, the healer is the friendly neighbor down the road who, silently, always shows up at parties with enough cake for everyone. Everyone knows that if they need anything they can make a stroll down to his house and chances are pretty good that he’ll have it laying around. They’re even better that he’ll let you borrow it. Eventually, everyone grows accustomed to it. It’s when he finally snaps and appears at the party without any cake that he gets the most attention. People start trash-talking, and his popularity drops in an instant. The fatter and merrier people’ve become, the harder the fall. But the popularity? It’s there. As long as you don’t screw up. And people will expect you not to fail.
Popularity is reflected already in the dungeon queues, in which I was used to those 30-45 minutes for dps, and suddenly I wondering if I had to wait for five minutes or more.
Let me, first and foremost admit one thing: One of the biggest hurdles for me was to overcome what I have later termed ‘Healing-anxiety’. Just like normal anxiety, except that you get physiological reactions involving nausea, shakes, pounding heart and shortage of breath. A lot of people encounter this problem in various areas of life, such as job interviews and exams, and for me it, ironically, has chosen to manifest itself in a computer-game. This is something I plan to do an essay on later, but for now, I’m honestly telling you that just signing up as a healer for a dungeon could trigger these reactions. During some personal psychotherapy on myself, it was evidently due to extremely high expectations from myself and my skills. I was also afraid of what would happen if/when I fucked it up and we would wipe.
The really bad thing about this, is that if you give in/up, you’re pretty much only disappointing yourself, which can potentially turn into sadness and depression later. I was aware that whenever I’d turn down a queue because I felt stress, it was followed by a short relief and then personal disappointment in myself.
Disappointment because I’ve always wanted to be a good healer and master what I consider to be a really noble craft. I’m often speculating whether this is merely a side-effect from my therapeutic gene, but the feeling that I made a difference, when everything seemed to come crashing down…that’s everything to me.
And let’s start with that feeling, because I actually did manage to achieve it. More than I bargained for.
Ragefire Chasm
Lesson learned: Tanks without shields and only partly mail-armor are fragile, and should be forced to watch ‘Eragon’ on repeat.
RFC hasn’t changed that much with Cataclysm, at all. Likely this was also the reason why I managed to break the nervousness, as I’ve been there a couple of times, and on my priest it was really easy. That hasn’t changed either, expect the fact that the group was a lot dumber than back then.
I don’t really make demands that people step in with full heirlooms or min-maxed their entire sets. But when you enter and see your paladin-tank wielding a one-hander, no shield and some parts leather, you can’t help getting that sour taste of “Welcome to the jungle”. Add in the obvious aggroing hunter-pet, and the rogue who for some TOTALLY unexplained reason, decides to pull four mobs on his own.
Now, on this level it’s not really that huge of a difference (not compared to just mentioned tank) but I dread how this could’ve turned out at higher level, where swiftmend and rejuv likely won’t cut it.
I imagine he will die.

RFC was also a great way to try out and see the difference from priest to druid. While not entirely transparent yet, I’m at least telling myself that my HoT’s are stronger and I have to get used to playing a bit more reactionary. On my priest I often delighted in Power Word: Shield to save idiotic aggro-pulling rogues and clothies, whereas now I have to pay a little bit more attention.
Lesson learned: This instance has really improved for the better. The rest of your pug-group don’t give shit about you till their health-bar is empty.
The second conclusion is an exaggeration, but began in my second run of Ragefire, in which the tank for some reason decided not to pick up any strays that went mad on healing-aggro. That also accounted for a wide majority of DPS’ers, mind you. It seemed as if, as long as they lived, it didn’t really matter I was getting gang-banged behind the scenes. After all, as long as everyone was still standing, it was likely a sign that I could handle it.
Healing and typing “TANK! Pick up add, please!” is kind hard, when you have to heal a tank taking too much damage, yourself in leather, and idiotic rogue who pulls adds. Just saying. Might be an additional lesson learned: Make a macro spamming that. Maybe make one in green, saying the same just more politely.
Nothing terribly bad really happened in this instance, and I even decided to run it a couple of times. I was much luckier with my tanks here.
As a side note this instance has always been one of my all time favorites, and it’s good to see that it’s still just as good. I still miss mr. Smite, but you can’t have it all, I assume.
Wailing Caverns
Lesson learned: Still takes a lot of time. Hunter pets make for surprisingly good turtle-tank-power, when your original tank leaves. I love rejuvenation.
Wailing Caverns is a nice instance. Cozy, almost. Long, yes, but interesting, and the first time I really started getting those ‘WAH!TANKLOSINGHEALTHFAST!!!”-moments. Nothing bad really happened, though, and the degree of moronic dps’ers significantly dropped. The obvious ninja-looter appeared, though, and despite hating ninjas as much as the next man (after all, I’m a pirate-guy) I really didn’t want to start a fight about it at so low level. Our main tank left, though, which didn’t really bother me, as our retradin managed to tank better than him. Frankly, when we pulled out our hunter’s turtle “Turtle” (so much for originality after all) it did really well on some bosses.
Shadowfang Keep
Lesson learned: Shit got real. Despite wanting to see new instances, you pretty much tend to return to the green bars. Casting heals while being gang-banged by ghouls is hard.
I’ve been to the old SFK on my priest, a long time ago. I was eager to see the new setup. However, I must’ve gotten unlucky with my group, as the morons kept pulling as if they were paid for it. I barely saw anything from the new instance, as my gaze was ever fixed on those quickly-dropping bars.
Again, you must seriously start to hate those players who insist on pulling shit on themselves, no basically no matter what kind of armor they wear. It goes without saying that they expect you to heal through it, which isn’t totally implausible with good mail dps’ers, as long as you’re quick.
We had a situation with commander Springvale, in which an idiotic caster decided to pull a trash-mob. I don’t get it why groups won’t clear the entire room before pulling, honestly. Nonetheless, I actually felt a bit proud for saving the situation nicely, without any deaths.
The final encounter was close. Not sure exactly what went wrong, but I imagine people standing in barrage was serious business. Not that I’d have problems with that, but the fact that the tank didn’t pick up the ghouls meant I had to spend a lot of time just keeping myself up. As none of the dps’ers seemed to give a shit either.

It’s a these situations that you get so tempted to just let it stand, die and shout at the morons. But then again, it was a healthy challenge, and the paladin tank managed to at least kick in a lay on hands, which saved us the final seconds. And I got my fancy new staff, with +30 spellpower enchant.

Coming up next.
Chapter 2: Kinder garden: Follow Mosaique the Cow, as he ventures forth in the name of Nature, into new challenging content. Will he defeat and conquer the mighty Hogger of Stormwind Stockades, and the entire army of the Scarlet Monestary? Or will add-ignoring tanks and retardo-rogues be the end of him?
Don’t miss the next chapter!

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