Monday, May 23, 2011

WoW: A healer's journey Pt. 2

So, time for more blogging. At long last, I hear some of you shout back there.
I am not going to deny it. Let’s just say as of late I’ve been rather busy graduating from university (I’m a psychologist now, weee. Who’s disorderly?) and moving in together with my better half. It takes time, you know!
So, fond of a nice reprieve from my usual duties around the house, I finally had the chance to sit down and play some more, now that I can go from moving around boxes to filling them up. The green ones, that is.
That’s a joke. Since health-bars are green. And sometimes people call them boxes.

Hawr.

But yes, I managed to reach 60. Did so yesterday, as a matter of fact, and I decided long ago that this would be the milestone for the second chapter, and the summarization of the first steps of the this hellish voyage. There is really a lot to say, I think, so let’s start out with my general thoughts on healing pre-outland, and from thereon be a bit more specific regarding the various instances.
(Druid) Healing and you. From nourish to wild growth. My impressions.
If you haven’t read my former entry (which you should) about my WoW-Healing project I will briefly summarize. Being sick and tired of the dps-role, I lived through my mandatory identity-crisis and decided to roll up another core-class. Whereas tank involved way too much responsibility and the fact that I actually had to pull mobs OFF retarded dps, healing seemed much more enjoyable. At least due to the sheer fact that I can just as easily let the 13-year-old brat stand in the fire and die horribly, while I pop a beer and laugh like a demented maniac in my chair.  On the downside though, is the fact that I don’t really get to see any new instances, as all I ever do is watch those all too-rapidly-draining green bars.
Ah well, can’t have it all.
So I set out as a druid, mostly since I’ve played priest for so long that I couldn’t bare another go, I love aoe-healing too much to be a paladin, and nobody cares about shamans. I set out from Mulgore with nothing but a few heirlooms to my obviously feminine name ‘Mosaique’ and uttered; “I want to be a healer!”
And boy what a long and strange journey it has been.
As you might’ve read in my previous entry, healing is first and foremost a drag when it comes down to whoever you’re teaming with. In the case you’re pugging (like me) in order to learn it the hard way, you’ll likely end up with people who are pants-on-head-retarded and define ‘fun’ as chain-pulling two groups, while standing in poison and screaming for you to heal more. As if it was a whole novel idea.

Sadly, Blizzard has not yet implemented the upcoming PTR-spell “Heal Stupid as Fuck” in their repertoire, and in the meantime you will likely have to accept the company of moronic drones whose sole purpose in life is to piss off as many healers as possible, and preferably whine loudly about it before they leave the group. There is a reason why the majority of people in pugs are pugging, often alone.
That being said you WILL encounter some very nice and friendly people (see my entry on Razorfen Downs for more information about Analpinch the Tanking Crab). Just don’t count on it. I’m frankly very eager how this will (d)evolve as time progresses in outlands, especially with the unstoppable wave of trolling kids with freshly rolled death knights, insisting on tanking for the first time in their life. Mind you, I am not laying claim on the sole truth in this matter, but it is my wholehearted recommendation to everyone insecure of their new role (maybe with DPS’ers as the exception) to start out from the beginning. You see, what makes this advantageous is the fact that you have a very limited repertoire of abilities to manage, which gradually improves as you move up in the system. Healer-wise, I decided to use Healbot (Yes, I know there are haters out there. Go suck it. It works for me.) which is a nifty little tool that allows you to bind your various spells to a combination of mouse-buttons and Shift, Alt and Ctrl. If you’re like me (and the majority of other mortal beings) you’ll likely not own the new WoW-mouse with more buttons than I have fingers. In my case, setting it up initially so I was spamming nourish with left-click, then rejuvenation with button 1 and regrowth with right-click worked wonders in the beginning. Swiftmend was on my wheel, and as I progressed I added decurse to my button 2, innervate on alt+wheel and wild growth on alt+right click. Bress went for alt+button 2, and I intend to put Lifebloom on alt+button 1. In that way single-target hots will always be associated with button 1.
Healing as a druid didn’t seem like that much of a bother on 1-60. And it became progressively easier as you leveled up, which might seem a bit contra-intuitive. I imagine this has something to do with the fact that people are getting better and better gear on their alts and the resto-tree includes some really nice talents for the job. I am not saying I couldn’t have done it without them, just that it would have been a lot harder.  Let’s go over them in turn. Please be aware that this is my own personal opinion. I am in no way trying to be ElitistJerks here.
The Tools of the Trade – What Mother Nature Gives (and withholds).
Nourish. “Because standing around doing nothing as a healer looks bad”.
Poor man’s choice and yet to save my ass so many times. If this spell was a person, it’d be that friend of yours who usually comes over and shares beers at the party. He tends to pop up now and then, and you tend to rely on him if you just need something to fill out time. And in some circumstances he will make a huge difference, which you will likely remember for a long time.
 I’m not sure whether it was good gear or dumb luck, but the rare times my mana was devastated, yet my regeneration managed to ensure quite a lot of nourishes .This spell also seemed quite strong at mid and early levels, meaning I could solely rely on this as a basic. Naturally this comes with a longer than usual cast-time, but it’s death-cheap (life-cheap?) mana-wise. With a rejuvenation on the target, this spell becomes a Chuck Nourish, and heals for significantly more. Don’t be an idiot like me and forget that fact. As I progressed this usually ended up as my “Don’t know what to do now, so let’s just cast something”-spell. Alternatively, I usually threw it at dps’ers I didn’t care that much about.
Rejuvenation. “There. Now, shut up.”
Know those people that you just keep turning to when in trouble or doubt? They’re called friends. And Rejuv is your friend. You keep using it, spamming it and applying deliberately. You make sure he’s never neglected, and you’ve had so many adventures together. And hey, even the people around you likes him, cause he tends to be one of those social guys with whom you can easily place some responsibility. You know he’ll get the job done.
Alright, you get the picture.
I’m told that at the current state of Cataclysm, rejuvenation-spam is not as viable as it used to be in raid-environments. I am not really in a position to comment on that yet. I know I used it liberally in all 5-mans, especially pre-wild growth. It’s healing done is impressive. Often it was enough in itself to keep up a decently geared tank.
Swiftmend. “HOLYFUCKTHAT’SALOTOFDAMAGE!”
If you’re part of the majority, this spell is your average benevolent parent(s) who you’d call whenever you’re standing in shit to your neck.
Initially I didn’t use this spell that much. But as things got harder and players more retarded; this is a true blessing. With a short cool-down, manageable price and a solid amount of healing, this spell will save lives when bars go red from one second to the next. Just be mentally aware that this initially only affects one target, meaning that in some cases you will have to make a call about who will live and who will die. It can be a rough decision the first couple of times, but for the experienced players (and the megalomaniacs) this can be a part of what makes healing awesome. Later on this spell gets significantly better, when glyphed and once it starts spreading AOE-healing through talents.
Regrowth. “Yeah, but it’ll cost you…”
I have a funny relationship with this spell. I assume you could compare it to having a party with your friends and deciding to just buy everything instead of spending days preparing. Which will naturally cost you a lot.
I used this spell a bit at low level, most it has been gathering a lot of dust in the last couple of levels. Not that I am doubting its effectiveness, but I’m a mana-hugger at heart, and it just pains me to see so much blue-bar disappear. The few times I’ve used this spell have mostly involved situations in which Swiftmend was on cooldown, or I didn’t have time to cast a HoT on the target first. I’m pretty sure it will get a lot more useful later on, though.
Wild Growth. “I’ve had it with this mother-fucking-aoe-damage-in-this-mother-fucking-instance!”Seriously. I’d marry this spell. Make it breakfast on bed and have its children.
I’m likely overestimating its potential, but so far it’s been a blast. An AOE-HoT, slightly more expensive than a single rejuvenate, with a lesser amount of healing done, and 8 seconds of cooldown. Glyphed, this often means you can usually keep up a continuous HoT on the entire party, including that demon-pet. I tend to alternate a bit between this and nourish as a filler-spell, depending on what’s needed in the current situation. As a general patch-up-the-dps’ers between encounters it does a great job, and there really is no harm in just using it if in doubt. Hell, it even has a bad-ass sound.
It won’t save your ass in every situation, but it certainly makes it easier.
All in all, I like the tools so far, and I’m sure it will be much more interesting once greater heal, tree-form and bloom kicks in. What I really like is the fact that so far, none of these spells have seemed redundant. I’m pretty sure I have a handful of situations in which they all saved my hide in their own way. This is kudos to Blizz, indeed.
My usual standard “rotation” involved something like keeping a rejuv on the tank all the time, and if nothing else was happening, just casting Nourish. Interrupting it, if it was about to get wasted. You’ll be surprised how often this is basically enough in the low-level dungeons. When DPS went retard and pulled, I threw them a rejuv and kept doing the same. If damage spiked, swiftmend worked wonders, and by that time the tank had usually picked them up.
When stuff gets complicated is whenever things go out of hand, and I believe this is where your talents will be put to the test. It’s when aggro is flying all over the room, dps’ers running out of sight from you and the tank struggling to maintain what he can (of course, while two mobs are beating on you from ranged) you will make the shots.
Initially this IS overwhelming. For me it was. And it’s tempting (and understandable) to lose control and spam your strongest spells left and right. Your best option, however, is to clear your mind, even if it means spending one or two seconds doing so. Eventually you’ll be faster with training.
Remember to always keep up yourself. If you die, it’s pretty much game over for everyone. This seems like a mandatory advice, but it’s surprisingly easy to forget your own health when Hell breaks loose. So first make sure you’re good, perhaps throw yourself a rejuvenation, and quickly move attention to the tank. Unless your health is dropping rapidly, I tended to save my swiftmend for the tank.
If mana is tight, make sure to keep up yourself and let the tank get the adds of you. Once done, focus on keeping him up. Remember that WoW is funny like that. As long as your dps’ers are standing at 1 hp they’re good. Get used to looking at red bars. If you know they aren’t in any real danger, let them be. Full bars are a luxury which cannot always be afforded.
Also, be prepared to sacrifice. If an encounter goes wrong there is still hope, but throwing out five rejuvenations and being dry on mana will not hold against the damage. Instead, sacrificing a dps (or in severe instances, two) in order to assure enough mana to keep up the rest of you is necessary. When I did Scholomance, our tank turned out to be the rejected offspring of two retarded chipmunks, and chain-pulled half of the first room. I am not objecting to this as he warned us in advance, but he quickly lost control with the mobs, and before we knew it most of the room was upon us. We managed to chew through some of them, but he decided to bail and left. In the end a dps’er died, leaving the three of us. The sprawling beauty of it is that we made it. All empty of mana and every kind of regaining it, maintaining a rejuvenation-nourish rotation between the three of us worked out. It’s times like these you should take a moment to bask in your victory. You deserve it.
Sometimes shit breaks out. And it’s not your fault. We had a couple of wipes in my time, one of them because I wasn’t paying attention. But a lot of times it’s beyond your control. When people pull, stand in fire, or the tank runs away from the group to pull more mobs, leaving you to decide whether to follow him or stay with the rest of your group. It’s not your fault, and remember that you can’t be blamed. Although some kiddos still will.
In the words of Sam & Max; Let them be. Puberty will be hard enough for them.
So, What have we learned so far? Aka: TLDR.
Healing pre-outlands isn’t hard. There are times that will challenge you, but that depends on the people you’re playing with. Being heirloomed and specced for it undoubtedly helps a lot.
I must admit, I skipped a part of the instances. While I did a lot, there was also a solid handful I ended up skipping, simply because healing became downright boring at times. Especially at lower levels or when I out-leveled an instance, meaning I’d just run along and spam rejuvenations all the time. At other times, I merely decided to go and do something else, and level a bit in the new Cata-areas. Which I can recommend, since some of the new quests are really awesome. Do what is fun to you. After all, you’re paying for this : )

I was also spending some time doing archaeology (which is basically the only thing I can do while painting my Warhammer-army, besides listening to music) and managed to get my hands on Ring of the Boy Emperor. Which I am sure will be an okay contribution for a newly dinged 85 once the time comes.
Now I’ve stepped through the dark portal. And I am eagerly waiting to find out… Am I prepared?
Instance-rundown (in no particular order):
The Stockades
Coming up next in my journey was the top-secret constellation of the most dangerous criminals to ever set foot upon Azeroth. I’d like to say it was Arkham Asylum, but for once I was actually a bit disappointed with the Cataclysm-change. What’s with the fire-elementals? Seriously? I’ve always thought this revamp could be a great opportunity to do something like Wailing Caverns with a lot of minor bosses, portraying various villains from Batman. A giant killer crocodile, a frost-dk with bad puns… Hell, they even have penguin-models!  I just know Blizzard could pull it off in awesome style. But maybe I’m the only one with that brilliant idea. I don’t know. In the end we bashed in The Jhogger’s face. Boring instance. Next.
The RazorfensI had a great time in both these cases, and my first wipe ever, when the tank decided to pull three packs while I was drinking. Bad idea. The atmosphere in this place is just as awesome as I remember it, and healing-wise it’s not really that intense. Either that, or the mobs just don’t pack that much of a punch. During my run in Downs, I had the pleasure of making a new friend. The tank was pretty mediocre, which meant our hunter put out his new pet “Analpinch” the tanking crab. Analpinch did a really great job. In fact he took a lot less damage than the tank, and he even held better aggro at some pulls. In the end the poor paladin had enough and started telling us to put away the crab.
This meant a dps left, so we had another hunter to join us. Asking what was up we briefly explained him our crab-dilemma and he laughed as he contributed with…you guessed it. Another crab.
Immediately the hunters pulled, the crabs (Analpinch I placed as MT1) grabbed aggro and held on beautifully. The paladin went berserk in chat, and I jokingly said I was too busy healing Analpinch, and I’d read his complaints later. It might be what pushed him over the edge, for he left right afterwards.
We finished the instance with four people. And two crabs.
I will miss Analpinch. Thinking of adopting a crab vanity-pet soon.
If any of the hunters should ever read this, thank you for saving my night : )
Scholomance
Scholomance was one of my all-time favorite dungeons in vanilla. I used to run it a lot with a priest back in my guild who’d never seem to get his headpiece. Therefore I didn’t really suspect scholo to be much of a challenge, and I did end up pretty much leading the way through it.
But whether our tank was below-par or something else was to be blamed this instance was actually semi-hard. There are a lot of mobs and dicey pulls, which can make it all go down in a hurry. Some of the bosses hit for a respectable amount of damage, and there were a few situations that made me lean forward in my chair and stare with great attention.That first gargoyle-boss and the butcher in the basement really ended up hurting people, so be prepared for those. All in all, challenge is a good thing.
Scholo is by itself pretty much unchanged by Cata. The only real difference now seems to be the adjusted level, which likely shows how much Blizzard agrees with me. If it works, don’t fix it. The atmosphere, the enemies, the encounters…everything. It all comes together so nicely. So nicely that I ended up running it twice.  And that crappy staff didn’t drop.
StratholmeAnother of my favorites. I clearly remember how me and rl-friends set the guild record in Vanilla, for the Strat 45-rune. I think we made it all down to 39 minutes, which likely isn’t that impressive compared to some other. Nonetheless we were very proud. Therefore this was another instance I easily navigated in, and it pleased me to see that everything is pretty much still the same. Some changes on the scarlet-side, but nothing serious. I was blessed with a good group for this, so everything went smooth and it was actually quite interesting to see the process from a healer’s perspective. There’s not that much damage going around here, but be prepared for some decursing. Especially if you’re specced into Nature’s Cure.
Zul’farak
Those who know me are aware that I have a fondness for desert-areas. I love them. They’re cozy. You could stretch it to include generally any area in which you felt all on your own, exploring the unknown. Kinda like when you were a child and pretended to go on an adventure in the neighbor-forest. That’s likely why I always make sure to quest in Tanaris and Badlands, and Uldum is the best part of Cataclysm. And likely why the redesigned Dark Shore and Azshara were a let-down for me.
But I’m going off on a tangent here.
Short story: Love ZF. Trolls and desert. And you can mount in it.
Therefore I was shocked when I realized I was two bars from being too high level, which meant I immediately went for the Healer-Mooh-bile.
And the Bly & the Gang event bugged on us, just after I dinged. Group dispersed. Gg.
I hate you, Bly. Stop being such a slow fuck. But from what I saw, still a nice scenic instance.

And btw.; Tanks. Please. Please. Please.
If your group is engaging mobs; Please don’t run so far away that your healer has to choose between who to stay at. Our heals don’t work like that. If you stay and help till the mobs are down, things will go a lot faster, your healer will use less mana, and you will get to the boss quicker.
Okay?
Uldaman
I was afraid that Uldaman would be hard. It’s been almost two years since I was there, and I remember it as quite challenging back in the days. Truth is, it isn’t. It really isn’t. It’s not even as scenic as I remember it. It looks very outdated compared to so much else, the layout is boring and pretty much the same, and you trudge along those corridors for ages, pull some random dudes and kill them quickly so you can kill more random dudes. I know this is the epitome of dungeons but it seemed so exaggerated here. Don’t know why.
Group was good, we had a nice talk and laugh as we got lost a few times. This is basically why I’d wish I had a guild with similar-level characters I could do this with. After all there is nothing like chilling a bit on vent while killing monsters.
TLDR: I recommend doing Uldaman at least for the nostalgia. Just don’t expect miracles.

Scarlet Monastery
*Rain poured down and the obsidian sky was teeming with thunder on that very night. Leaning against the edge of the window, Sally Whitemane was barely visible in the ascetic torchlight, as if she could fade into gloom at any given second. As she eyed the burning remnants of the once proud monastery, she frowned with disapproval and drew a long sigh that made her slick leather-harness cling to her body and push up her tightly bound pale breasts. Behind her the door made a rusty scream, a warning of ill times to come, as scarlet commander Mograine entered.
For a slight moment, silence ruled the chamber unopposed.
“It’s him again, isn’t it?” Sally’s dark silhouette asked. Mograine dared only nod.
“He’s come to finish the job, m’lady. And he brought friends.”
“Of course he did!” the priestess sneered. “Just like he did with Doan…and the hound-master. I imagine the courtyard is already booming with their cry for vengeance. Shouts of former glory and how blood shall taint the once holy earth…”
“Actually, my lady—“
“How we have defiled what was once righteous, and how our downfall shall signal a glorious era free of oppression. How wrong we were, and how retribution shall take away the spoils of war from our greedy, tainted hands!”
“No!” Mograine interrupted. His lips were tight. “No…In fact…we only saw the cow once. He ran around, behind four others. And, the only thing we ever heard them scream was something like… “I R NOT GUN TANK IF U KEEP PULLIN LEIK THAT U FAGG!!!” ..and “LOL NUB TANK I HAFF A LEVEL 86 DK-TANK AN PULL LEIK TWENTY GROUPS @ ONCE!!11”
Sally’s eye narrowed. The rain had started spilling into the room. This was it.
The cow was coming.*

(No fan-fiction without Whitemane sexual innuendo, remember?)
And mostly because…well. It was Scarlet Monastery. Pretty much everything here seemed the same, the bosses were the same, mobs the same, pulls the same. Retarded players the same. DPS going on a pulling spree, which was absolutely a thrill in the cathedral and of course, I got my Illusionary Rod.  Happy cow.
I have many fond memories of this place too, but again I feel it has become a lot more easy than back in the days. This is actually one of the few instances in which I got to tank on my warrior, and I remember it to be a bit more intense. Good thing was that even I couldn’t get lost in there.

Coming to an end…

Outlands now before me, nobody can tell where the next step of my journey will take me. Having left Azeroth behind, Mosaique sets out to make contact with a whole new group of natives called “Teh Dk’s”. This odd classification of individuals is said to house some of the greatest, but also dumbest, of persons. Will he tolerate them and make his living throughout the Hellfire citadel, or succumb to the sheer idiocy of it all? Only time will tell, so better get those Cenarion Bracers from the AH, and get going.
Northrend awaits.

Keep a lookout for chapter 3.

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