On Burnout and Alts

Confession: I don’t want to gear my alts.  Don’t get me wrong… I want to play them.  It would be fun, but I don’t want to have them geared enough that I could possibly raid with them.  Short of purposely destroying loot, it would be very hard not to get raid-ready for ICC-10 (given the new instances, badge gear, etc.)  But I don’t wanna!

Background

2 toon rule – alt raids

As a healer, I’m very sensitive about healer burnout.  As such, I want the healers in the guild to have the opportunity to DPS, Tank, or do whatever their little hearts desire occasionally.  I’ve seen too many healers say “screw this, I’m only playing my mage” because they just can’t take the stress of always having to attend the raid or it won’t happen, and to get all the healer-grief dumped on them.

At the same time, the guild was sometimes struggling to fill raids with the right class balance, and we wanted to do 2 raid ID’s but recognized that we might need to use an alt or 2 to fill out the 2nd raid ID.  So we created the 2-toon raiding rule.

The 2-toon rule stated simply that you could only have 2 raiding toons.  We’re not gonna run your 4th alt through Naxx.  2 toons are beneficial for the guild for role versatility and filling out a 2nd ID.  More than 2 is overkill and dilutes loot.

My preference on this would have been for the 2-toon rule to dictate that your 2 toons had to be different roles… such as 1 tank, 1 dps.  But ultimately that idea was scrapped because we don’t have required specs, and some hybrids had 2 equally good specs and gear sets.

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Vent foot pedal (Stealth Switch 2)

Have you ever wished you didn’t have to push-to-talk – but don’t want to go open-mic? I had a hell of a time trying to PTT and still be able to continue throwing heals, getting out of the fire, and other such things.  No matter where I bound my hotkey, I always had to “pause” in some way to talk on Vent.

Then I found the foot pedal of awesome! Stealth Switch 2

The basic premise is that you bind it to a keyboard key, any key, and it fires that key off when you hit the foot switch. You can still use the keyboard key for the same purpose.

I ordered it on a Wednesday and it arrived in my mailbox Friday afternoon. So far, I love it. I bound it pretty easily to my F12 key (after unbinding F12 from “open bags”), and have been using that as PTT on vent.

It was easy to program, though it has some issues with Vista. However, after some swearing, I went to the website and they had simple instructions for getting it to play nice with Vista.

I love having both hands free to play and not having to worry about PTT slowing down my healing or dps. You don’t have to hit the pedal hard. I play barefoot and i have the edge of this resting under my big toe, and I shift my foot a little to click it on. You can get quite the leg cramp if you try to hover your foot over it for an entire raid!

A word of warning: This is NOT the same as stealth switch (original). The original is designed to close windows and stuff to prevent your boss from seeing you goofing off at work. I don’t think it’s meant to work with Vent. Even though it is cheaper, it probably will not be good for your purposes.

(Oh yeah, I’m not affiliated with Stealth Switch 2 and I’m not getting kickbacks or anything.  Just a product that I tried, used, and luuuv.)

Why I have this blog

So… last week in the midst of doing way too much reading about Wow and way too little PLAYING WoW… I decided to make a blog.

Why?

Because I’m a WoW research nerd and my current outlets for out-of-game nerdiness are lacking…

Audience: Guildies

I am the repository of information for my guildies.  I usually at least skim my blogroll daily (I have a feed thingy set up, all the blogs in categories, very professional.)  I look for tidbits that would interest guildies – first just for healing, but now for just about everything.  Rogue nerf?  I post about it.  New guide posted?  I add the link to the appropriate “sticky” on our forum.  All neatly catalogued so that guildies can easily find everything about their chosen professions. (Less so, about boss encounters, I’m workin on it.)

We got a new website in October.  I have 838 posts, 25% of total posts on the website.  It says I average .06 posts a day, but that’s just because it also says I registered December 31, 1969.  I kinda feel like I’m talking to myself.

After doing all this out-of-game work to help people get better, I login and well… get questions about stuff already on the website, painstakingly organized, and checked as much as possible for currentness.  I point people to the website, and that helps somewhat, but it seems that they just don’t want to read it.  Sigh.

Audience IRL

(This my actual dishwasher, though it now reads “Pirates > Ninjas”.)

Besides husband, I have only a few friends who play WoW.   We used to be in the same guild, but a few others wandered away for the horde side, and others are in a guild we left (awkward).  We don’t really talk much about WoW stuff out of game, except to each other.

Of course, bringing raid strat printouts to a restaurant because we forgot to study up for that night’s raid, we wanted to eat, and we had limited time before Twig had to go to bed… height of romance.  Really.

Twig is not quite ready to discuss the finer points of gaming.

Me: Mommy is a little tired of healing this dumb aggro monkey.

Twig: Monkey “oot oot oot”

Me: That’s right, monkey says “oot oot oot”.  Pug people are idiots.

Twig: Chocolate milk?

Me: Omg, did he seriously just pull that entire group?

Twig: Hee hee I fall down.

Sci Fi "No touchie" rule

I think this was the basic structure of every episode in the first 2 seasons of Stargate: SG1.

  • Dude touches alien thing that he shouldn’t (Don’t sleep with the hot alien, that counts)
  • Bad stuff happens (I told you she had Space Herpes).
  • Rest of episode spent undoing what schmuck did.
  • Entire episode could have been avoided by NOT TOUCHING THE THING IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Surely, we’ve seen this Sci-Fi motif in various shows throughout the years.  We’re all nerds.  We watch all the same stuff.  And you’re yelling at the screen “you freakin idiot, do NOT touch that goo, no good can come of it.  Just walk away.”

Then why is it that you have to remind people every freakin time “Don’t talk to Jaina until we’re ready” or “Don’t talk to bar patrons in BRD” or “Don’t push the button!”  Maybe it’s part of the GO GO GO culture that they need to press everything.  I suspect it’s the “grown up” version of pressing every damn button on the elevator.

Radio Silence

I’m mostly without computer for the weekend (still family in town), so no blogging.  By the magics of the intarweb, I’ve managed to schedule some of my yapping and yammering to appear on this site later in the weekend for your amusement.  Rejoice!

Comments are still moderated.  I’m sort of afraid of some jerkface posting porn links in my absence.  I’ll approve non-genitalia-related comments on Monday (or sooner if I can).

I also posted some more linkies to the blogroll above (points).  The list never ends!  So much to read!

(I would post a link to my blogroll here, but then WordPress informs me “someone has linked to your page” and I feel so special, and it turns out to be me linking to my own lame stuff.  Then I’m sad.)

You're about to hit MY enrage timer.

So you’re in a 10 man, and things are going poorly.  You keep hitting the enrage timer.  You just can’t dps fast enough.  And the healers are healing their butts off and running oom.

And the raid leader says what I consider to be the dumbest sentence ever uttered by raid leader: “Let’s have one of our healers switch to DPS, and we’ll 2 heal it.”

WHAT?!  You want me to 2-heal THIS?  Are you insane?

If we’re hitting the enrage timer, then the DPS has to step up their game.  Don’t put the burden on the healers to step up their game because the DPS is failing! If the DPS isn’t geared enough to put out the numbers to down this boss, then the healers aren’t geared enough to keep the group afloat with only 2 healers.

Usually it’s on an encounter that has a mechanic that can take out a player and prevent that player from doing their job for X seconds… are we just supposed to pray that one of the two healers doesn’t get kidnapped?

And quit standing in the fires! Sure I love getting my healing numbers to epeen greatness, but there’s no way we can afford to drop a healer when there’s way too much totally avoidable damage.

But to object to 2-healing something is like admitting “I suck” or “I’m afraid.”  I get so much crap over this… sometimes even from other healers who wear it as a mark of pride that they can skirt the edge of sanity and reason and somehow squeak out a victory.  No thanks.

There are many encounters that can be 2-healed, depending on the gear/skill level of the participants and the mechanics of the fight.  However, I strenuously object to making MY job harder to make the DPS’s job easier… rather than telling them that they need to be gearing and practicing to put out higher numbers.  And as much as I love a challenge, sweating and swearing through an encounter isn’t exactly “fun.”

Healing assignments: Cross-healing tanks in a 10 man

I usually get stuck with healing assignments, so here is my opinion on tank healing in a 10 man raid.  The alternative to me doing healing assignments is that nobody does them and it’s a holy hell mess.  But that’s a gripe for another time: Raid leaders who believe healing assignments to be unnecessary.

Suppose you have a 10 man raid with 2 tanks and 3 healers:

  • Disc Priest
  • Holy Priest
  • Druid

The standard thing to do would be to put 1 healer on each tank and 1 on the raid. Let’s say I put the Holy priest on the raid.  We’re left with the disc priest and the druid.

Now, I won’t put 1 healer on each tank.  Instead I’ll put 2 healers on 2 tanks, with each assigned a primary focus.

The Disc priest’s awesomeness comes in the form of bubbles, which of course have the weakened soul debuff.  If Disc priest is assigned to 1 tank, it looks something like this:

  • Prayer of mending (15 sec CD)
  • Bubble (15 sec debuff)
  • Gheal during borrowed time (roxxor!)
  • Penance (8 sec CD)
  • Uh uh Fheal ohcrapohcrap swear swear swear
  • Penance again
  • Repeat

Ok, it’s not always like that.  But unless you stick another bubble on another target, you have a 15 second “valley” in your abilities where you don’t have buckets of awesome to throw on the tank.

Similarly the druid on 1 tank looks something like this:

  • Rejuv (yay big awesome hot)
  • Regrowth (yay long hot)
  • Swiftmend eep!
  • Uh lifebloom stacks (expensive)
  • Nourish nourish nourish
  • Lifebloom drops when the tank doesn’t need it (fail)
  • WG if there are a lot of melee hanging about the tank
  • Repeat when Rejuv falls off

Well, again, some of the best stuff can only be applied once to a target, just like bubbles… wasted.

So I would tell the Druid to “main heal Tank A and hot Tank B” and the disc priest to “main heal Tank B and bubble Tank A”.  What you get out of this arrangement is:

  • Bubbles on both tanks
    • proccing 2 sessions of borrowed time hastyness instead of 1
    • Any other “proc on bubble” bonuses (t8 4pc bonus)
    • Weakened soul on both targets, increasing healing to other tank if priest needs to throw a direct heal.
    • No chance of renewed hope dropping off the party.
  • Rejuv and possibly regrowth on both tanks
    • smoothing out damage spikes
    • revitalize possible (if talents taken)
    • Proccing effects off druid idols
    • Maximize t9 4pc bonuses to Rejuv
    • Swiftmendable hot on both tanks in case there’s an oopsie

If your healers are pretty good at changing targets and have good situational awareness, assigning tank healers this way can benefit the entire raid.

Example 1: Pally, Druid, Disc priest.  Assign Pally to heal Tank A and bacon Tank B.  Assign Disc Priest to heal Tank B and bubble Tank A.  Druid raid heals.

Example 2: Pally, Holy Priest, Shaman.  Assuming a decent number of melee.  Pally heals Tank A, Bacon tank B.  Shaman heals Tank B chain healing through Tank B to top off Tank A and Melee.  Holy priest heals raid and POM both tanks.

How do you do your healing assignments?  Do you assign 1 healer to each tank or employ a different strategy?

Healing Basics

The Mechanics of Healing

For any healing class, the overall goal is the same: to see who needs heals, for how much, and to be able to provide that heal in the most effective (quick and/or mana efficient) manner possible. The basics are the same for any healing class.

1. See who needs a heal

For this, you will want a mod that provides raid frames other than the blizzard default raid frames. The problem with the blizzard default raid frames is that if you don’t click exactly on a very very small area, you do not end up targeting the person. You need frames where you are not playing “find the pixel” to click on.

  • My recommendation:  Grid
  • Alternatives:  Healbot, Vuhdo
  • Non-healing-centric alternatives:  Perl, Xperl, AgUf, PitBull

2. How much of a heal.

Any of these raid frames can be configured to “healer mode.” This means it will tell you how much health is missing in numerical form. Half a health bar for a mage is very different than half a health bar for a warrior. These exact numbers will help you choose which heal to use.

3. Heal, and heal fast

If you’re using the default UI, you have to do a “two-step” – click on your target to select, and then press a button to administer the heal. This wastes time. This is where “mouseover macros” or “click casting” come in.

Click casting: Programs such as  Clique or  Healbot  can allow you to set click-combos for heals. For example: shift+left mouse click could be flash heal and shift+right mouse click could be gheal. You do not first have to click on the person to target him, and doing “shift click” would not change your current “target” while still delivering the heal to the person you selected. This is very fast but takes some getting used to since you have no visual cues as to what is set to which click combo and you have to remember.

Mouseover Macros: These are fairly simple and useful for people who prefer pressing buttons to clicking. Essentially you write a macro that says /cast [target=mouseover] spellblahblah. This means you do not have to click on the person prior to healing him. You simply hover your mouse pointer over the person’s name in group/raid and hit the assigned hotkey on your keyboard.

4. Decursing

Yes, you have to decurse too. Any of the unit frames listed should be configured to highlight when a person has a debuff you can cure, and you won’t have to go sifting through all debuffs to find it. Alternatively, you could use  decursive  which has its own unit frames. I’d advise against this, since it’s a lot to be looking at.

It also might be useful to be able to see debuffs that you can’t do anything about just so you know who might need extra heals.

5. Managing cooldowns

Nothing will slow you down more than hitting an ability and having it say “that spell isn’t ready yet” and you lose precious seconds fumbling for a backup spell. For those who use hotkeys (mouseover macros) you can clearly see that an ability is still on cooldown. For those who use click casting and do not have icons for the heals out in the interface, it is more difficult. A mod such as  Powerauras or  Tellmewhen can be configured to show you when crucial abilities are off cooldown. Alternatively, you can use  Dotimer which has a cooldown tracker.

6. Managing latency

I recommend getting  Quartz bar. It shows your latency at the end of your casting bar, so you know when you can safely start casting the next heal without waiting for the first heal to land. This will save you time as well.

Raid Healing in a Team

Healers in a raid work together to accomplish a common goal. The amount of healing done by each member is irrelevant. What is relevant is that  the healer covered his or her assignments and did not put strain on the other members of the team.

Assignments

Generally, the raid leader or other healer in the raid will assign each healer to a role. It is important that you do your role and not try to cover everyone’s role.

Exceptions:

  • someone really truly looks like he or she is going to die. If you can afford to do it without your assignments dying, toss the heal. Better to step on someone’s toes a little than to let the MT die.
  • another healer is somehow incapacitated by fight mechanics or otherwise. It is good for you to keep an eye on raid debuffs and other conditions that would make another healer unable to do his or her job.

Communication

Healers should communicate with each other to let the team know when one healer may need extra help at a specific time in the fight.

Communicate with the team lead if you have any questions or issues with your assignment. The team lead may not be aware that you are specced or glyphed a certain way that would make your assignment inappropriate.

Healing Meters

If your job is to heal one target, your numbers will be smaller than those of the healer assigned to heal the raid. That’s a given.  Don’t snipe heals.

*twitch*

I’ve been mostly out of game for a week now.  My momma is in town to see the Twig (and me too… I guess).  She’s hogging the computer room for sleeping.

Not that it matters where she’s physically staying in the house – it’s extremely rude to say “Sorry mom, I know you flew 1500 miles, but it’s raid night, so I’m gonna put on my nerdy headset and ignore you.”

I’ve snuck on a few times when she has taken the Twig to the park, but other than that, I’m completely disconnected… and only a few guildies really use the website.  *twitch*

It’s not addiction, or the need to get my phat lewts, or even missing the raids – it’s this weird feeling of being needed online and not being able to be there.  It’s a feeling of helplessness of being unable to do anything meaningful from the website angle.  I have obligations in a game, which I could never explain to a non-gamer.

We’ve had an explosion of recruitment, which is awesome for the guild, and more than ever I feel like I need to be online making sure the new recruits feel included in guild activities.  Usually when I’m about to run an instance, I make sure to include a new recruit, so that they get to know other guildies in the group.  I just have to hope that the veteran guild members are making the effort in my absence.

One raid leader just quit the game.  Another had a totally understandable household emergency and couldn’t be there for the raid – and there was no safety net without Hubby and me online.  Guys, have emergencies next week, thx.

In the meantime, I just have to quit worrying about what catastrophes are happening in Azeroth and focus on spending time with my family.  As a sidenote, my mother being referred to as “Granny” makes me feel extremely old.

Why I am a terrible raid leader

This is exactly how I hear raiding instructions and why I am the worst raid leader on earth.

“Blah blah hits tank hard blah blah raidwide damage blah blah cleanse poison blah blah don’t stand in the green fire blah blah will need extra heals blah blah.”

In the “blahblahs” are instructions that are useful to everyone else that I completely tune out – like when to switch targets, picking up and positioning adds, kill order, boring crap like that.

On the odd night when I’m actually tasked to DPS (and this has happened probably twice) I’m always asking husband “which one do I hit first” and other such noobish questions that I’m thankful I don’t have to say into vent.

Talk about healer tunnelvision!  It’s downright embarrassing having done a fight multiple times and not really “knowing” it at all.