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Da Voodoo Doctor is In (Advice 5c)

Tanking and Healing Are Ideal Roles for Casual Players Who Like Group Play
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Cooperative group play is rather the point of an MMO. If you play an World of Warcraft and play alone, why not fire up a quality single player game instead? But if you play on a sporadic or very limited play schedule--which for the purpose of this post I will call casual--it’s not always easy to find a group. That’s why I argue that healing and tanking are the best roles for casual players who enjoy group play. Healers and tanks have a much easier time finding groups, are usually accorded more respect in groups, and have more flexibility to leave groups that don’t please them.

I Was a Teenage Druid

I started healing at level 12. I went to a battleground and quickly observed that healers were extremely powerful and in short supply. It made sense based on my experience from console RPGs, where I had used parties of multiple healers to defeat boss encounters at low levels, rather than grinding out level-ups or powerful items. I chose healing because healing felt powerful.

One Deadmines run was enough to also show me the social benefits of playing a healing role. I could find groups and run dungeons quite easily. Since I leveled on a low population server before Looking For Dungeon, that was a substantial benefit.

LFD Changed Everything - And Tanks and Healers Still Have It Better

LFD has taken some of the glory away from being a well-known healer (or tank) on the server, but it has given the benefit of finding groups even faster. That's particularly apparent while leveling. If you have an hour to play, and you put yourself in the queue as a tank or healer, chances are you'll get to spend most of that hour running a dungeon. If the dungeon group goes poorly, you'll be able to get into another one easily. If you queue as DPS the wait times are much longer and you're likely to waste as substantial amount of your limited play time sitting around, waiting, or perhaps playing WoW the single-player game.

The drawback of tanking and healing is that even at low levels, you can't phone it in (as much). Your mistakes are more likely to result in a wipe. That can be stressful. On the other hand, since your mistakes make a difference, you're more likely to learn from them. What’s more, you get to feel powerful. Your choices as a tank or healer make a big difference in your group’s success.

Tank Tolerance

Tanking requires a bit more preparation than healing, because you're expected to know instances and lead the group. In low level dungeons though, you can get away with running ahead like a madman. The group will follow. If you screw up and pull too much and wipe, no one is likely to criticize you anyway, because they'll be thinking of their wait time for a replacement. You have to really, really suck to get kicked as a tank. I've done some profoundly stupid things while tanking, and have yet to be kicked from a group while tanking.

Players in LFD are incredibly tolerant of a large variety of tanking styles. Whether you meticulously mark everything and explain, or just run in and hit all your buttons, the group will go along with it. Silent tank, friendly tank or rude tank; chances are, they'll put up with you. If you are friendly, as I prefer to be, most groups will be friendly back at you and you'll have a great time. Some players will be rude and harsh your mellow, but that's what the ignore button is for. As a tank in a 5-man, you don't need to know what the group is saying, not even your healer. Just make the healer your focus and check that their mana is at a reasonable level. If they go AFK and you pull anyway and you wipe, they'll forgive you enough to finish the instance.

Here Be Dragons: PUGing Raids

The social advantage than tanks and healers had for 5-mans before LFD remains if you PUG raids rather than having a steady raid group. First, it's relatively easy to find a group. Second, as a tank or healer, your opinion tends to matter more. That means that you can affect the quality of the raid and the tone of the conversation in it more than if you were seen as a disposable DPS.

While PUGing raids is not for everyone, I've often enjoyed the role of bad-ass mercenary healer. You have to have a bit of a thick skin, and a relaxed attitude about the outcome of the raid, but it can be quite fun to heal under adverse conditions. When groups turn rude, I have a number of techniques to make the tone more positive, starting with the simplest of silly diversion, to discourses on the nature of fun and the challenge coordinating with players who don't know each other, and only occasionally do I have to threaten to take my toys and go home. Rare are the times when I had to leave the raid.

Yes, You Too Can Learn to Tank or Heal from the Comfort of Your Own Home

I haven't addressed the relative difficulty of tanking and healing as compared to DPS. New players shy away from these roles because they are perceived as difficult. They are slightly more difficult initially because solo play doesn't prepare you for them. But once you start grouping, which you have plenty of opportunity to do in these roles, you will have the benefit of practice and of advice from other players. Also, when I say casual, I mean players with limited time to play, not the incorrigibly lazy and the terminally incompetent. Any player with normal reaction times and half a brain can come to perform healing and tanking roles well enough to enjoy 5-man content.

A Farewell to Shoes
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A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.

Last week, I bid farewell to shoes, and I don't mean I got rid of my beloved Fleuvogs. Dysmorphia went troll. Casual troll. Serious casual troll.

I've been raiding on my shaman for about two months, and figured I could move over the druid without it being a big deal to play a bit with a group of people I'd met in real life. But like some character from an Ancient Greek drama, I discovered my feelings though my actions, rather than acting out of my feelings.

I wasn't having fun raiding with my guild any more, but I kept doing it anyway, out of loyalty. But I didn't admit to myself that it wasn't fun, or that I had a choice and could go play somewhere else. I was raiding in bad faith. In the moments I admitted that it wasn't fun, kept thinking that if I just stick it out, things will get better, will go back to how they used to be.

Then I got da voodoo and had a good time. And then I knew I hadn't been having fun, and I could have fun right now, not in some nebulous future.

My tweets
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  • Fri, 14:31: I always notice how neat Paragon's kill-shots look, as compared to my guild's. There is something to learn from this.

Raid UI Revised Again
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The movie-making endavour has pushed me to mess with my UI again, so that any movies I take with the UI showing don't embarass me too terribly in the future. There are still some redundant elements, but it is mostly satisfactory. This is my resto UI. I have a somewhat different UI for moonkin

Click on the image to see the tags which identify UI elements.

Visible Addons:

Satrina Buff Frames
Skada damage meter
Pitbull4 Unit Frames
Dominoes (action bars)
OmniCC (puts countdown on buttons)
Tidy Plates with Threat Plates
PowerAuras Classic
Quartz Cast Bar
ForteExorcist (cooldown bar)
Vuhdo (raid frames)
Chinchilla (minimap mod)
Deadly Boss Mod

Tip Tac (better tooltips)
Clique (click casting)
Bagnon (bag mod)

Ever Vigilant Goes Fishing
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My first attempt at a real, edited video. This took me all evening to put together. Part of that was the learning process but I think video editing is just going to be time-consuming.

Dancing with the Stars
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I wanted to see how hard it would be to edit WoW videos on my computer. Turns out, pretty easy! Somehow I managed to record a 20 minuted Heigan encounter back when I was on Darrowmere, and still using Healbot, and still keyboard turning. I found it while looking for some raw footage to experiment with and made a clip from one of the dance sessions.

Resto Druid:Holy Priest::Swiss Army Knife:Fully Equipped Kitchen
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There has be some raiding on the druid. There has been some dungeon running on the priest. In terms of mana efficiency, it's not fair to compare an 83 priest running regular dungeons to a 85 raiding druid. But I think it's fair to compare the toolbox, the fun factor, and the experience of the priest at 83 to the druid at 83.

I'm just going to get this out of the way and say it: the priest is better.

I love my druid. I like healing raids on her (Heroics, not as much). She has all sorts of cool tricks for keeping herself alive, all kinds of fun general utility (green triangle is sleep dragonkin), and one of the most powerful raid-saving cooldowns out there.[1]

But when it comes to straight up healing, the priest has more cool stuff. I feel like a traitor even typing this. My priest's gear was so crappy going into Cataclysm that the dungeon finder didn't even allow me to queue for Black Rock Caverns until I raised my gear level. My druid had 277 epics in most slots. It was, despite this, and despite my ignorance of priest mechanics, easier and more fun to heal on the priest. That might partly be attributed to experience with the dungeons, both for me and my group mates. Once I educated myself a bit about how priests work (as in hey, this Chakra thing is awesome), it was even more fun. It's not just the variety of tools, but the way that they make sense together.

On the priest I feel like I've been let into a fully equipped kitchen and asked to cook dinner. All the ingredients are there, and all of the tools. There's some unfamiliar tools and I'm probably not using them as well as I could, and maybe not using some of them at all because I'm not quite sure when they'd be good. (Hello there, Binding Heal) I'm a little overwhelmed. But I know I can cook dinner here and that whatever I will need is here. It's an embarrassment of riches.

On the druid I have a Swiss Army knife. The salesman keeps telling me about how you can perform emergency surgery with it, open a beer, fix electronics, set up camp, fight off wild animals, and then field dress them. That's really great, but I just want to cook dinner.

[1] Which is why I completely lose my shit at any raiding druid who does not, at this point in progression, use the Major Glyph of Rebirth. Resurrect an ally, at full health, in combat? Come on! The only thing cooler is Heroism/Bloodlust.

Tank Healing Surprisingly Fun - Halfus Report
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Yesterday was my first real raid. I did not mean to heal, but the situation was either I heal or the raid is short a healer. Even the shadow priest was holy for the night. So much for my decisive intentions to focus on DPS. There's a pattern here I'm seeing. Given the choice between sticking to my guns and doing my preferred role, even if it means the raid does not go, or doing a role that I do not prefer and the raid does go, I choose the raid, even against my better judgement. Interesting. I'm a fucking pushover every time.

I begin to suspect that the only way for me to really go DPS would be to re-roll a pure class on another server where no one knows me. Too bad that I really enjoy the healing game as I'm leveling and tend to level hybrids.

Halfus Report
The healing team was holy paladin, holy priest, and resto druid. The paladin and I focused on the tanks and the priest did exclusively raid healing. I kept my lifeblooms on one tank and the paladin kept his beacon on the other one. We tried a couple of different combination of drakes and whelps. In the end we just released it all (whatever that really means I don't know) which increased the tank damage a lot while reducing raid damage.

By using Tree of Life at the first tank switch, I found I was able to keep my lifebloomed tank up and cross heal the other tank without any difficulty. I find I do not have the skill to keep lifebloom going on two targets past ToL with clever refreshing. That may come with time and familiarity with the fights, but it feels like a gimmick and possibly exploit, and I hope that it will get fixed and druids get balanced around not doing that, because it is silly. During the early phase I ignored the raid healing except for casting Wild Growth when available and the occasional Effloresence when the priest put down his puddle of good. I fed my Innervate to the Holy priest about one minute into the fight and every time it was up thereafter.

By the time we entered the knockdown phase, Tree of Life was up again. I don't remember how many knockdowns we went through, but I used ToL on one, Tranquility on another, and there was at least one where I had nothing. During knockdown I was able to use Barkskin to mitigate my own damage.

Even giving away every single Innervate to the holy priest and holding back nothing on the tank healing, I had no mana issues. I didn't even use a mana potion (not out of cheapness--it was not needed). I have reforged a lot of spirit so I could reach hit cap on my moonkin set, which largely shares gear, but I was shocked what a non-issue mana was on this fight.

I was playing with a very skilled paladin (he posses the kind of amazing situational awareness and great reaction times I find common in current or former serious pvp-ers, but somehow managed not to get the attitude problem that many of them pick up--great guy to heal with all around) which may have contributed to the tank healing feeling relatively easy. I'll have to look at the logs later. The paladin reported that at least as far as how tank healing felt to him, druid-paladin was a lot more secure than paladin-paladin. That was shocking to hear but a pleasant surprise.

My burst is non-existent and I lack a useful tank healing cooldown. My group healing is quite weak. Despite these drawbacks, I found that I have the tools to provide strong, steady and extremely mana-efficient tank healing.

We'll see how I feel in 25s, and eventually, heroic modes. The resto druid is not ready to be put in the trash yet. It is an effective tank healer.

And most importantly from my point of view, it is a very fun tank healer.

It Burns, Like the Moon


Moonkin is awesome right now.  Resto is not so awesome.  I was going to write a whole lot of stuff about how challenging and interesting resto is, what with the smart use of Clearcasting procs and blah blah blah.  You know what, no.  Healing as a resto druid right now is not fun for me right now.    Perhaps for some people who really like their leisure to be difficult or whose skill is higher than mine, it might be fun.  For me the stress to enjoyment level just isn't right. 

Resto druids lost tree form.  Moonkins actually got new spells.  Resto druids now depend on doling out heals with clearcasting porcs.  Moonkins went from being RNG dependant to having a predictable Eclipse mechanic that allows smart players to plan ahead their damage.  Resto druids used to be mobile and now must stay rooted in place and chain-cast nourish.  Moonkins used to be useless on movement fights.  Now we can conserve our Eclipse and even get a special buff from running around.  

I accept there might only be enough fun to go around for 3 of the 4 druid specs.  Now the fun is in moonkin. 

Hard Like Heroic
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I took some time off work and played WoW like it was my job. On Friday evening Dysmorphia go to the new level cap. A big shout-out and thank you goes to my imaginary friend Demonical who grouped with me from 83 to 85 and substantially increased my leveling speed as well as fun.

Late Friday night, or early Saturday morning, depending on how you reckon time, I ran my first heroic. My gear was just good enough to queue for a random. By luck, I had chosen to quest through zones that gave me good reputation gear, and by design I had healed every single new five man while leveling so I had a good quantity of reputation blues, dungeon blues, and dungeon quest blues.

The first heroic I healed was Black Rock Caverns. That molten armor boss can completely go fuck himself with a diseased porcupine. It took about two hours for my group to figure out and correctly execute the strategy. It went well beyond pleasantly challenging and into frustrating. Everyone was taking huge ticks of unavoidable damage, the tank was getting owned, ads were fucking me up, and I was quickly running out of mana just trying to keep everyone alive. Not topped off--just barely alive. Before I even had a chance to to get the party to 30% the tank ran in for more stacks of party wide damage. FML.

I can’t say that I felt satisfied when we killed him. I didn’t even feel relieved. I think I’m suffering from healer PTSD. When I see people offering 100g in trade for a tank AND a healer for heroics, I want to laugh in their face. Laugh In Their Face. That wouldn’t even cover my repair bill, never mind compensate me for my pain and suffering.

The negotiations for my services as a PUG healer in heroics start at 1,000g. Not that I’m selling them, because I’d rather spend a couple of hours doing Archeology waiting for a good guild group.

Luckily, other heroics have not been as painful and insane. I am, in most ways, enjoying the challenge. But I am not enjoying people trying to do weird, special achievements when I haven’t even done a dungeon on heroic before. It is difficult for me to convey to my group mates, it seems, that just doing the dungeon is quite sufficiently challenging without attempting arbitrary feats on top of it. I also find myself feeling pretty angry at people who stand around waiting for a heal between trash groups as I drink. I’ve stopped healing them. They can die. Slowly, the little ducklings are learning.

I’ve adapted fairly well to the notion that my group mates can sit at low health for long periods of time. I’m trying to adapt to the notion that tanks can’t control all ads and I’m often getting beat on or killed. Since my main heal right now is Nourish, it does rather wreak havoc on my healing to get the constant pushback. Hunters are now my favorite group mates.

Healing makes me feel bad-ass again, and I like that. Healing no longer relies on who can mash Rejuv the fastest or react in a split second to a hit that will two-shot the tank. Triage is back. Smart decisions about healing matter and you have time to make those decisions. I feel more like I’m playing real time strategy than hair-trigger FPS with my healing and I really like that.

However, at current gear and experience levels, the mental focus I need to bring to heroics is more than I’ve needed to bring to raids for the last six months. So I can’t do too many because I run out of focus. I can sustain 3 hours of raid-level tension. Then I either get cranky or start making a lot of mistakes, or both.

I am scared to start raiding. If raiding is the incremental step up from heroics that heroics are from regular 85 instances, I am not sure if I’ll be able to handle it.


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