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.
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.
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!
“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.
“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.