Posted tagged ‘10 man raids’

Making the Jump from 10s Casual to 25s Progressive

March 2, 2012

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

I Don’t Want to Write Something Useful, so I’m Going to Talk About 10 Man Raid Leading

March 23, 2010

GM: How’s your 10 man looking this week?
Me: It’s looking good. But it’s not really my 10 man.
GM: It’s your 10 man.
Me: It’s not mine!
GM: You took it over, therefore it’s your 10 man, no ifs, ands or buts.

So I ended up with a 10 man raid. Apparently it’s “mine”. I’m too new age-ish for that. It’s mine and 9 other people’s. It’s ours.

Actually, raid leading is one of those things where I can’t decide if I really like it or really hate it. I enjoy the planning, the list making, all the logistics that go into getting a 10 man together. And when it all works out, it’s extremely rewarding. However, as shocking as it may sound (yeah, I know it’s hard to believe, ha!), I have a terribly anxious personality. I need everything planned and sorted ahead of time and any last minute changes are the end of the world. Not to mention that I’m one of those slow, deep thinkers that take forever to make up their minds. Which is great in certain circumstances. For example, I never make impulsive purchases. In a raid context, however, my lack of spontaneity can be problematic.

*DPS dies*
Druid: Should I battle rez?
Me: Um…

Me: Um…

Me: Um…Yes. Err, no, wait, the boss is already dead.

I had two 10 man teams going in my old guild, although I usually only actually led one of the two (I can’t two box). The experience was bittersweet. We did get some cool guild firsts under my lead. But I also have memories of getting in fights with the backseat raid leader who kept arguing with me (I’ve actually said “Who’s leading this raid, you or me?” before). And the very last raid I led with them ended with wipe after wipe after wipe on Faction Champs, normal mode. In my discouragement, I was crying so hard I couldn’t even speak enough to call the raid. (Apparently, no one noticed which is good!)

So about a few months ago, this happened:

Guild leadership:
We don’t have enough time for progression so we’re taking 10 mans out of our regular raid nights, you’ll have to do them on offnights.
Regular raid leader: I’m starting something on Wednesdays.
Someone else: I’m starting something on Sundays.
Me: I’m free whenever.
Guild: You’re going Sunday.

Then, after a week, the guy who ran Sunday’s group left the guild. In a rare moment of impulsiveness (I guess there’s hope for me yet), I started a new thread, got everyone from the original group to check in and built a new team. Before I knew it, it somehow became known as “my” raid, even though I swear I didn’t do it on purpose.

I was pretty nervous. I’m not an aggressive leader at all. Even in my old guild where everyone was older and laid back, I had no authority whatsoever. I’m the kind of person who says please before telling you to move out of the fire. With a shaky voice.

Luckily, things have been working out so far, the group is fairly disciplined so I don’t really need to be authoritative. I raised my voice once. Immediately, I got 4 whispers:

Four people: Lol, you got mad!

The harshness in my voice was really just me trying to control my giggles. I’m not very good at getting mad.

Oh and I’m obsessed with having my group confirmed as early as possible in the week, as well as with starting the raid on time. The raid is scheduled for 6, we must pull at 6, regardless if only the mage and I are inside the instance. Attendance and punctuality are pretty much the only things I’m inflexible on. And by inflexible on, I mean overly anxious about:

Me: You’re coming on Sunday right.
Raider: Yep.
Me: You’re sure?
Raider: Of course.
Me: Really sure?
Raider: Yeah.
Me: Are yo-
Raider: OMG YES.
*night of the raid*
Raider: Um, I had something come up.
Me: *nervous breakdown*.

And of course there’s always some smartass overhearing me sob on vent.

Smartass: You don’t handle stress very well, do you?
Me:

We’ve had our hurdles. To name them: Superbowl, Valentine’s Day, Spring Break, Gold Medal Olympic Hockey Game, Sindragosa. I don’t think we’ve ever had two consecutive weeks with the same 10 people. There’s always one person who has to work unexpectedly, who has computer issues or needs a night off. Then there’s the stress every week of “3 people want badges, 3 people won’t go if we have to clear downstairs, 2 people don’t know what they want, 1 person doesn’t understand the in-game calender system and 1 person hasn’t discovered we have guild forums yet.”

But amazingly enough, week after week things work out. Except Sindragosa, 1% wipes omfg. Unless there’s been a planned delay, we’ve started our raids on times. In about two months, we’ve only had two signed-up-but-didn’t-shows, and one of those was actually a /gquit I hadn’t been aware of.

We’ve become used to playing together. And by that, I mean that our druid doesn’t even have to pay attention to vent or look at her raidframes to know who needs a battlerez and when. We got to know each other and our teammates’ IRL eating/flasking/buffing habits pretty well. During downtime and trash, we joke around on vent and share TMI (unlike the other 10 man team…I sat in their channel once and it put me to SLEEP). They even sorta forgive me for stuff like bopping the tank. My teammates are also great about communicating what they want so the rare times where we can’t resort to a vote, decisions are easy to make.

I get tons of help from the guild leadership, which is a first for me. In the past, I had always been met with “your raids, your problem, we want no part in this”. But now I get a regular supply of answers to my questions and pats on the back when requested. When the other 10 man moved their raid on top of ours, the little conflicts and frustrations that inevitably came up were short lived, despite that we still give each other crap over them.

In the end, even my fears of being a crappy “leader” were resolved when I discovered that one our priests (I’M GOING TO LET YOU ALL GUESS WHO) was probably a sport commenter in a past life. Not only does he seem to know when I’m wishy-washy about a certain fight and need someone else to jump in, but also narrates entire fights in a very entertaining and engaging manner. I can just sit back and hit buttons. (Unless I’m tanking…I haven’t learned my new keybindings yet, so when I tank, I sit back and pound my fist on the keyboard in hopes that my character does something.)

So now I don’t have to say that I lead a 10 man raid, I can say I coordinate a 10 man raid, which sounds much nicer to my ears.

Oh and I’ve become quite attached to the task of getting the group together every week.

Me: OMG we’re going to fail, no ones going to show up, we’re not even going to get Saurfang down. Why the hell did I volunteer for this?
Fellow Raider: I can take over if you want.
Me: NO. MY RAID PAWS OFF. MINE MINE MINE.

What happens when I talk on vent

March 9, 2010

I coordinate the Sunday 10 man ICC runs. Last Sunday, we had a bit of a shakey start, but once we were off, we were off. Despite only having half of our normal group (and one of those who were helping us out claimed that he’d never been in ICC before), we were rocking the place.

Things were going great, but we noticed some strange things… At one point, Stinky dropped aggro on the tank and charged our mage.

Raid: Watch your aggro!
Mage: I was nowhere on the aggro list!
Tank: He wasn’t near me at all on the aggro list, this doesn’t make sense.
Me: Mages just have a secret taunt button.
Raid: You know, a real mage would have iceblocked.

We shrugged it off as a freak event, and moved on. Then Rotface did something similar, gobbling down our enhancement shammy and our poor mage in the process.

Rotface Tank: I somehow lost aggro, I don’t get it. It doesn’t make any sense.

Great, we thought, a bugged instance. We ended up calling a wipe and trying again.

Sure enough, it happened again. Our mage had learned his lesson by then and iceblocked, so only on the shaman was sacrificed.

It was then that our Rotface tank figured out the problem. “It’s like I’m bopped, she said, I can’t attack or anything!

In our guild language, “bop” is the word for Hand of Protection. Quickly, I look for a pally to blame.

No other pallies in the raid.

I check my bop.

Sure enough, on cooldown, the timing coinciding exactly with the aggro reset. I was shocked. I must have hit the wrong button. But it didn’t make sense. I’ve had the same key binding for years and I’ve never hit it by accident.

Then it dawned on me: my key binding for bop is ctrl + right mouse button.

Ctrl = vent press-to-talk
Right mouse button = Holy Light

Speaking on vent and trying to heal causes me to bop the tank.

It had never been in a problem in the past because I don’t usually speak on vent. That night was different because I was leading and, due to some earlier events that evening, was feeling more outspoken than usual. Plus, I usually tank while I’m leading, so I don’t typically find myself casting Holy Light.

In my past guild, the first time I spoke on vent, we wiped. It was just coincidence, but I gained a reputation for wiping the raid when I speak. I guess it’s sort of a curse. Years later, I am still wiping the raid when I speak.

Anyway, for our final (and successful) Rotface attempt, I put bop on cooldown before the pull, then halfway through the fight, just to be safe. I did cast it by accident on a tank later on that night, but thankfully there was no wipe involved.

But I guess it’s time I start revamping my spell bindings.


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