Making the Jump from 10s Casual to 25s Progressive

My silence about transitioning to a new guild wasn’t exactly intentional. I’ve written a few drafts, but can’t get them sounding the way I want. I tweak them until I get angry and have to go for walks to calm down. I get a lot of exercise, but no post about guild searching and guild joining.

I do love the new guild. The raids are fun, the environment is motivating and the officers do an amazing job of making sure everything runs smoothly and yet still found time to go out of their way to make me feel at home.

What I want to talk about, though, is my performance and the adjustments I made in transitioning from Teamsport, a 10s casual guild, to this team, a 25s hard mode guild.

It’s been over a month now. I wish I could say I’m awesome and the transition was easy and that I got 25s heroic healing mastered on the first click. Well, I guess I could say it, but I’d be lying. It took me several raids and a lot of advice from my heals lead as well as the other holy pally in the guild before I could perform at the same level as the other healers. And, over a month later, there are still fights where my logs are totally embarrassing.

A 10s casual group and a 25s progressive group have different needs and call for a style of healing that is unique to them. I hate the terms “harder” and “easier” because I don’t find one style inherently harder or easier than the other. 10s casual demand you compensate for the weaknesses or indifference of others if you expect to kill anything, 25s progressive require that you push to take your place or else you’ll find yourself carried for a short while and eventually dropped.

Let’s define “Casual” and “Progressive”

It’s like philosophy class! “To each essay, each word’s meaning

“Casual” and “progressive”, in the raiding sense, have very relative meanings.

When I think “casual” I think of this: teammates show up and play well, but most don’t go out of their way to review logs, talk strat, minmax. Raids are less time efficient with waits between pulls and random afks. Fights are done on normal mode with maybe one or two heroic kills at the very end of the tier. Motivations are mostly social, with some loot bonuses.

“Progressive”, to me, means that every individual on the team has kills as their top priority. (They can have secondary priorities too, of course.) Motivation is mostly kills, with some loot bonuses. Teammates do go out of their way to enhance their performance and the pace between pulls is more, lets say, dynamic.

Casual to progressive (or hardcore) is a spectrum with a handful of guilds on each end and most somewhere in the middle. What I’m doing, and what I’m talking about, is moving along the spectrum from a position leaning more toward casual, to a position leaning more toward progressive.

Your job and how it changes

No matter which environment you’re playing in, your job as a healer is this: first keep your assignment alive and secondly, when you can, help others keep their assignment alive.

How this translates into practice depends on the environment you’re playing in. In a less focused team, you’ll be dealing with a lot of extra damage due to mistakes, slow reaction time and, if you’re unlucky, a tank (or fellow healer) who went to the bathroom during the fight and didn’t tell anyone. In a team aiming for progression, there’s less damage going around, and if you falter, other healers will jump to back you up. However, if you falter and are covered for often, you will quickly find yourself expelled from the team for not doing your part.

Then, in 10s, you’re dealing with limited bodies. If your fellow healer goes down (or to the bathroom), you’re on your own. In a 10 man group, you need to be able to work well as a team, but you also need to know how to cover the entire raid should you find yourself in the, very likely, position of single healing. In a 25 man group, you’ll rarely be on your own, so developing team skills tops the to-do list.

Communication, the key to all relationships

During my first raid with Teamsport my tank died.

He got out of range and no one covered for me.” I complained.

The reply I got?

Why didn’t you say anything?

I came to Teamsport from a 25s progression guild. I was used to having people automatically jump in when they saw a need. Eventually I learned to speak up again (and my fellow healers in Teamsport did get better at reading healthbars). When I went back to 25s progression raiding, I was delighted to have people jumping in when they saw a need again, before I had to say anything.

Don’t get me wrong, communication is always important. But in 25s, voice chat gets overwhelmed quickly, so you have to prioritize. Do this absolutely need to be said out loud or is there another way I can communicate this? Can it be typed in healer chat after this fight?

In 25s, you communicate a lot via raid frames. I can tell if fellow pally is having trouble healing her tank by how he’s gone a few seconds without being topped off. I can tell fellow healer is out of mana because the blue light on her healthbar came on. I know who the Beacon targets are in the raid, because my little Beacon icon is showing. Since you can’t afford for everyone to crowd vent with details of their situations, we can rely on addons (and macros, which I need to get working on, myself) to communicate for us, leaving us with only select information to share via voice chat.

Cooldowns

On my application I wrote “one thing that I’m very proud of is that I use my cooldowns on, well, cooldown.

After my first raid with the guild, the majority of the feedback I received was that I needed to improve my cooldown usage.

No, I didn’t lie on my app. What happened, and this took me by surprise, is that with Teamsport, I used my cooldowns based on need. So whenever I sensed my fellow healers falter, whenever I felt the tank slacking on his cooldown usage, whenever there was a potential for extra damage, the cooldown buttons were pressed. This happened so often that my cooldowns were getting used as soon as they came up.

With the new guild, that sense of urgency never came (my first few raids with them were 10s alt runs, so this is a casual vs progressive thing, not a 10s vs 25s) and thus I had to make a mental effort to use them.

The key in 25s progressive is to get the cooldowns going early on to boost healing and save mana and, most importantly, ensure they’ll come up again before the end of the fight so you can use them more than once. Lay on Hand, I save for OMG moments and Aura Mastery, I make sure not to use within the 2 minutes before I’m called upon to pop it, but everything else now gets pumped out as early as possible, and again as soon as it’s ready.

Last week I won an award for “best use of healer cooldown” (which was an awesome surprise!) so it seems that the mental effort is paying off, but I still have to actively think about cooldown usage.

Single targeting vs HOLY RADIANCE LOVE BAYBEE!

The first time I did Heroic Ultraxion, my numbers were terrible. They were terrible because I was conditioned to thinking “the tank will die if I don’t OMG spam Diving Light on him ALL THE TIME“.

This was another lesson.

Damage in Firelands, at least on 10s, went like this: one person takes damage, then someone else takes damage, then someone else takes damage. My Divine Light finger became twitchy and I came down with a fear of not spamming Divine Light. Dragon Soul is more “everybody taking lots of damage all together, like friends“. Still, in 10s, I concentrated on the tank with the occasional raid heal while my cohealers took care of the non-tanks.

In 25s, though, there is so much splash healing that the tanks rarely need Divine Light spam. Divine Light spammers like me end up with a lot of overheal and very little effective healing.

The key?

Holy Radiance all the time.

Ok, maybe not all the time. Heroic Blackhorn, from the logs I’ve read, is not primarily a Holy Radiance fight. Heroic Ultraxion and Heroic Zon’ozz (two fight where I found myself way below the other healers on the meters) are Holy Radiance fights. I checked my shitty H-Zon’ozz log against another paladin’s awesome H-Zon’ozz log. The major difference? I used Holy Radiance 14 times. The other pally used theirs over 114 times. I think we’ve found a problem!

Mana Management

114 Holy Radiances“, you say, “but what about the mana?!?!

Interestingly, I rarely run out of mana anymore, even when overdoing it on the Holy Radiance. And when I do, I can regen it no problem.

I can think of a few reasons for that. First, when you’re running with a progressive group, you’re killing more things, which means you get more gear. I have more mana regen now simply because I’m better geared. The fights are also a lot shorter. Fights that took up to 12 minutes with Teamsport only take 6 minutes with this team.

Then, because in 25s there are at least 4 other healers pumping out awesome heals, there are more opportunities to use cheaper Holy Lights, or melee a bit, or pop Divine Plea, or drink a Concentration Potion.

So while I still shouldn’t be wasteful with mana, I do have more ressources now to really milk the Holy Radiances.

Conclusion

To each essay, its conclusion.

There are certainly other differences I’ve adjusted to in transitioning from wiping all night on Zon’ozz to wiping all night on Heroic Zon’ozz (though Heroic Zon’ozz went down pretty fast last week…it seems like my Zon’ozz curse may end!). However, communication, cooldown usage, spell selection and mana regenaration are those that stood out to me and that I constantly think about as I’m raiding.

I still have good fights and bad fights. I still make a lot of mistakes. I even started making mistakes I’d never made before (I had never died to Hour of Twilight until I joined this guild, and now I die at least once a week. How embarrassing!). But I’m determined to push myself as far as I can go, and to eliminate the bad fights.

Holy Radiancing our Heroic Ultraxion kill

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13 Comments on “Making the Jump from 10s Casual to 25s Progressive”

  1. Nazaniel Says:

    One of the big things that I found was different moving from 25s to 10s was that in 25s, I was healing assignment locked, so healing meters meant even less than they do in 10s. Not every healing assignment needs the same amount of throughput, and the cross-healing has to be tempered by the potential to either lull your help-ee into a false sense of security that is suddenly snatched away when your target takes a couple of big hits, or to not react fast enough to big hits on your target by virtue of not having a spell already queued. My experience is that someone assigned to tank heal will very rarely meter as highly in a 25 man as someone assigned to raid heal. Also… your teammates might be doing you a disservice by not trusting the new person and essentially cross-healing your targets too much. It sounds like you have the right mindset about improving though – just don’t get too downhearted :)

    Your logs screenshot looks bizarre by the way – how is it that your HPS looks not too low compared to the others, while your output is much lower? Was your active time low? Perhaps there are too many healers for that fight….

    “Ok, maybe not all the time. Heroic Blackhorn, from the logs I’ve read, is not primarily a Holy Radiance fight.”
    There are fun ways to get in the HR even on fights that aren’t “HR fights” – getting those 2 HRs and LoD in while everyone is stacked for the giant purple swirl of doom is a really satisfying use of it! I also use it on the melee when the actual boss is up too. I love HR (although I still feel kind of guilty about how OP it is).

    Looking forward to hearing more about your transition to 25s :)

    • Ophelie Says:

      I cheated that screenshot, wasn’t in all the fights. Good eye ;) I just wanted a discouraging looking image so I exaggerated.

      I find the healing assignment lock depends on the fight. For example, on Heroic Ultraxion, I’ll get a “heal the tank” assignment, but I rarely need to drop direct heals. In fact, my biggest flaw on that fight was that I wasted too much healing on the tank. When I started prioritizing HR, I performed much better. Heroic Yorsahj, however, is extremely specific, especially during purple phase. And even in 10s, when I had 2 cohealers and they were both alive, I’d keep the tanks as my top priority while our raid healers covered everyone else. I was expecting to be more assignment locked when moving up to 25s, but it doesn’t seem to be the case, at least not in my team.

      I definitely stand by “do your job first, then help others with theirs next”. I’d far rather my cohealers cross-heal my target than allow a wipe to happen. It’s up to me to pull my weight and impose myself, not for them to stand back to make me look better on the meters.

      When it comes to meters, they’re a very loose measure of performance, but a measure nonetheless. Being occasionally below everyone else is normal. It depends on fight mechanics, assignments, luck. Being consistently and substantially below everyone else, especially those of your class and with the same assignment, is a problem.

      As for H Blackthorn, the kill logs I’ve read for the fight show paladins getting a lot of effective healing in with little HR, which leads me to believe that the tank damage in phase 2 is too massive to be worried about HRs. I’ve only made it to phase 2, once though, and have only practiced the fight for about an hour so I don’t have a lot of experience firsthand. Last time I did the fight on normal, I went all out with HRs and did a lot of effective healing but the damage patterns on heroic seem very different from on normal.

  2. Joe Ego Says:

    Assignment locking in 25 man was a lot more severe in Tier 11 & 12 when tank and spike damage was higher and/or more frequent. I spent a lot of time in the lower half of the meters, partly due to assignments but primarily due to the toolbox. While I miss the old Radiance mechanic, the current Holy Radiance finally breaks paladins out of the single/dual/spike target healing.

    Combine the new Radiance with Tier 13 fight mechanics: more identifiable tank vs group healing phases and many, many fights with stacked positions. Now bored paladins aren’t sniping Rejuve targets because they’re bored during light tank damage segments. Blizzard gave us a tool, which just happens to be the perfect tool for 80% of the group healing mechanics in Dragon Soul. Knowing the fights well enough to know when to change spells is standard for any healer on any fight.

    The final piece, which I think makes the biggest difference and I love the way you focus on it, is the way you work with your other healers. Particularly in Heroic fights, cooldown and assignment coordination is key.

    Good luck with the new group! I really enjoy 25 man raiding and it’s always heartening to see people enjoying it.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Thank you! My heart’s always been in 25s. When I took a break and raided 10s, I missed the chaos (and the larger healing team) badly. I’m so happy to be back!

      What you say about the different tiers makes a lot of sense. I did the beginning of Tier 11 with a 25 progression group, but had to quit early on so I don’t remember much. If it was anything like the 10s experience, than yeah, I really see how past tiers would have been more limiting in terms of assignment locks. I’m loving the damage patterns in Dragon Soul, where each fight is a little bit different to heal and calls for some healer judgment. It’s a good time to be a holy paladin!

  3. Stubborn Says:

    I love it when I or others feel embarrassed by screwing up. That embarrassment shows a lot of care about what your teammates think of you and about how you view yourself as a raider. When players refuse to admit they screwed up or act nonchalant like it’s no big deal, I get worried because I feel like they’re putting their ego before the good of the team, and darkness lay down that path.

    Every time I screw up I feel totally embarrassed, and I think it’s a good thing, and while it doesn’t stop the wipe from happening, it certainly shows you’ve got your gaming priorities in the right place: on the team.

    • Ophelie Says:

      I’m always embarrassed too. I couldn’t imagine not being embarrassed by mistakes! But that might be why I feel more at home in relatively progressive guilds. At least then, everyone wants to be at their best and does everything they can to avoid or fix mistakes. In a more casual guild, where the attitude toward mistakes is “oh well, lets just tell a joke as a we run”, I get frustrated very quickly since I feel alone in my preoccupations with execution.

  4. Aphrael Says:

    Hey, I’m Aphrael(Chainfire) from Method (Formally Ensidia) and I was in pretty much the same place you are. Jumping from healing in a 10man guild to a hardcore progression guild was a big step, the way you heal is completely different. It’s more of a race to see who can be the first to AoE spam heal everyone off while keeping up the targets assigned to you (hellow HC Zon’ozz!).

    Best of luck with your progression :)

    • Ophelie Says:

      Thank you! And thanks for your comment!

      I think you summed my experience up perfectly with “a race to see who can be the first to AoE spam heal everyone off while keeping up the targets assigned to you”. That’s exactly how I feel in raids these days, especially when the other holy paladin is healing with me.

  5. AliPally Says:

    While I acknowledge it has made Paladins viable (if not OP) raid healers, the truth is I’m never more happy than when I’m using all of my various spells in a 2 person healing team, rather than in a group of 6-7 healers and being tied down to a specific assignment, especially if in the latter my role would be spamming radiance all night. I think radiance is the dullest spell I have ever used; lazy healing at its worst.

    Anyway, glad you are enjoying progression again!

    • AliPally Says:

      ‘it’ being Holy Radiance. I’m tired!

    • Ophelie Says:

      Lots of HR spamming but you also still have to keep the tank alive. Whether healing 25s or 10s is more fun is really a personal thing. I can definitely see what others like about 10s (I do kind of miss the exciting moments of 2-manning the last 20% of a boss with the tank because everyone died), yet I love me the chaos of 25s!

  6. anafielle Says:

    Good luck. I LOVE seeing people making the switch to the content level I love so much :D

    I have seen a lot of healers come to us out of 10m raids all the time and I think that healers have the hardest transition. The dynamics of healing on a larger team are very different. I am sure that you will be fine though :)

    • Ophelie Says:

      Thanks! I’ve always been a 25s player at heart, only did a year’s stint in a 10s guild when I took a break from progression raiding. I know a lot of people don’t want to go back after tasting 10s, but not me! As long as there’ll be 25s guilds, I’ll be a 25s raider.

      I still have to put a lot of thought into my healing, but it’s nice, I like the challenge. It can be discouraging at times, especially since the other holy pally is incredibly good, but I’m determined!


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