Posted tagged ‘heroics’

The Key to Drinking on Borrowed Time

August 1, 2011

Clearly I’m talking about drinking for mana here. I don’t know what else you guys could be thinking…

And by “borrowed time“, I’m picturing 5-man heroic with one of those tanks who plays with his eyes closed and his finger on the forward button. And I’m picturing you, with your mana bar empty, cursing and swearing, trying to keep up.

I don’t get to look at other healers often. In 5 mans, I’m usually the healer. In raids, I’m too self centered to spy on my co-healer’s drinking habits. But I do like to talk to other healers, especially healers who are in guilds similar to mine, where we’re used to chilling a bit between pulls. And on the rare occasion where I’m not the healer in a 5 man, I’m watching my healer’s every move.

So, healers condemned to running 5-mans, tell me, which scenario is more like you?

Scenario 1:

1- Mob pack dies
2- Drink
3- Catch up to group
4- Heal next pull

Scenario 2:

1- Mob pack dies
2-Catch up to group
3- Drink
4- Heal next pull

Scenario 1 is the careful healers. The “when I make a mess I clean it up right away” folk. These people are probably very successful and organized in their offline life.

They probably really hate 5 mans though.

Scenario 2 seems riskier (what if the tank pulls and I’m not ready?), but you have to get over appearances. Consider the following:

1- You can’t sit down to drink while you’re in combat, but if you’re already drinking when someone pulls, you’ll keep drinking.

2- If you mana bar has boiled dry, you want to drink as long as possible, but still be able to get up and back to business if you need to.

And which scenario allows you to drink into combat and get up when your team needs some heals?

Right.

Scenario 2.

Plus, if you’re a paladin (I swear, holy paladins were designed with 5 mans in mind!), Scenario 2 allows you to regen some mana via Divine Plea so that when you do sit down to drink, your mana bar is already partially filled up.

So the key to dealing with hasty tank without running out of mana?

If you need to drink, drink before the pulls, not after.

EDIT: I’ve had a lot of people mention that a tank might pull if you’re nearby but would wait if you’re out of range. I’m not sure that a tank who can’t see you sitting down and drinking is going to notice you’re out of range. And unless I’m totally drained, I also don’t want a tank to stop pulling. I’ll drink for a few seconds into the pull, then stand up when I need to start healing. If I need more time, I’ll ask for it.

You Can Always Tell When I’ve Been Pugging A Lot

May 14, 2011

The tank left, as many tanks do, after Zul’Garub’s raptor boss. A vote-to-kick popped up to kick our warrior. “Shitty fucking DPS” was the reason.

I glanced at Skada. The warrior was doing a bit above 8k. Not amazing, but stuff was dying fast enough and he wasn’t doing anything stupid. Besides, the other two dps were doing 9k and 11k respectively. If the warrior ranked as “shitty fucking“, then they ranked as just “shitty“.

Our three wipes so far has been due to:

Wipe 1: Tank failing on boulders
Wipe 2: Tank pulling more than he could hold aggro on
Wipe 3: Dps who initiated the vote-to-kick being outside the ring when raptor boss was pulled.

The warrior hadn’t caused any problems yet.

Since there were only 4 of us in the group, the final decision as to whether to kick the warrior or not was left to me.

Times I’ll Use Vote-to-Kick

I rarely kick players for being bad. Mainly because I know I struggle to reach 6k dps myself when playing ret. If I pop all my cooldowns, I might be able to reach 7k for a fraction of a second. If I’m lucky. So unless our weakest link is getting in the way of killing a boss (Grim Batol comes to mind), I don’t care about dps much.

Not actual DPS meters

However, when someone’s pulling 4k while the rest of the group, including the tank, is sitting at 14k, I’ll usually agree if a vote-to-kick is initiated.

I don’t know where the DPS benchmarks should be for heroics, but I do think that if someone’s doing under 5-6k, they’re not quite ready for the leap yet and shouldn’t queuing for them. There is a difference between normal 85s and heroics for a reason. But while it can justify a kick, I don’t think it justifies abuse.

I hate when players abuse each other. I know it’s not a big deal to most of the guys I play with, but if I were abused in a pug, and I wasn’t so confident about my healing ability, I’d be really shaken. (I have encountered, um, strange reactions in pugs, but they always started before the first pull and were so very weird that I suspect those players were stoned. Very stoned.) I’d rather see someone removed than witness verbal abuse. When the target of the abuse is sub-performing, especially if they haven’t gemmed or enchanted their gear, there’s not a whole lot I can do to defend them besides kick them and spare them misery.

Initiating vote-to-kicks, though, is something I will do if a player is being a douchebag and annoying me. I don’t mind carrying players, but I have no tolerance for annoying behaviour. Besides, if a person has no regard for the feelings of others, then I really have no regard for their feelings.

An Anatomy of Douchebaggery

The word “elitism” is tossed around a lot. But in my experience, the players who are the biggest douchebags in pugs aren’t particularly good players themselves. It almost feels like they’re people who’ve been picked on in the past for being bad and jump at the opportunity when they’re in a position to do it to others.

Or they’re people who don’t really understand the game or meters, and are looking to attack before they get attacked. (I actually met a healer who spammed healing meters from 5 mans. Yes, you are going to be on top when you’re the only healer. And a high hps just meant people were taking a lot of damage. No damage, no high hps.)

And wannabes. The wannabes. Players from upper-but-not-top guilds who just don’t have the skill, the focus or the discipline to be excellent. Or players from more casual guilds who assume they’re amazing because they’ve always topped the meters in their raids. These guys are quite possibly the worst culprits in heroics. They play badly, are mouthy and are quick to pry on anyone else.

Penny Arcade’s Internet Fuckwad Theory is often referred to explain douchebag behaviour. Which works if you have a Lord of the Flies view of people. But I have trouble believing the person spewing out bullshit and feeling real’ proud of himself for being such a badass is a “normal person”. Oh, maybe he acts like a normal person when there are consequences to his actions, but, really, if someone over the age of 12 gets pleasure from shitting on others or saying “naughty words”, I quite suspect there being something wrong with them to begin with.

Now, I understand anger and raging. I have quite the temper myself, although I’m more likely to get angry about time-wasting or arrogance than about wipes and mistakes. I’m also a lot more likely to get sarcastic and accusatory than swear or name call. But I understand tempers getting heated. Games are like that. You get involved in them, you use them as a safe outlet for stress and, well, I suspect (but have no proof) that the chemical effect games have on the brain trigger short term aggression or crankiness anyway. I’ll never hold outbursts in raids, pvp or even nasty heroics against people.

But gratuitous abuse? Or “OMG LOOK AT ME I SAID A NAUGHTY WORD IM SUCH A BADASS LOLOLOL!!!111one”? Give me a break.

No it doesn’t offend me. It doesn’t hurt my feelings. It does, however, hurt my eye rolling muscles.

Hindsight Wears Rose-Coloured Glasses

I don’t want comments blaming LFD and saying “things were so much better before LFD“.

Sometimes I wonder if the LFD haters ever tried to pug 5 mans before the system got put in. I pugged alone in Vanilla and in pre-LFD BC. I pugged alone a lot.

Back then, pugging a 5 man alone was an all day event. If your instance wasn’t overly popular at that moment, finding a full group took a few hours. By the time you had your group together, someone would have to leave. Before max level, you didn’t always have the luxury of a tank-healer-3dps so you made do with what you had. You’d wipe a lot. People would often have to leave halfway through and you’d spend up to an hour waiting for a replacement while trying to 4 man the instance. I don’t think I ever finished an instance with the same 4 people I started it with.

Where people nicer and did they talk more?

I vaguely remember that they were and that they did. But when you’re stuck with these people for hours and when replacing them was a disgusting task, you either had to be patient or you didn’t pug.

So I suspect the shitty behaviour in pugs is due more to pugging being available to those who wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes in the old system. Plus, with the all the incentives from instances nowadays, more players in general are pugging.

And really, I’d rather put up with the occasional douchebag than go back to struggling for hours every time I wanted to do an instance.

ZG, ZA and Wouldn’t it be Cool if there were 5 Mans that Felt like Raids

April 30, 2011

WoW is buzzing with folk talking about the two revamped instances, Zul’Garub and Zul’Aman.

“Too recycled!”
“Too long!”
“Too hard!”

And, of course, the occasional show off: “Too easy!”

Lissanna did a good post on the topic, rounding up some thoughts and getting some substantial discussion going.

I’ve done ZG. I haven’t gotten around to ZA yet.

I loved ZG. It was awesome. I know the recycled material offends purists who are too good for “lazy content”, but not me. I really enjoy the theme of Cataclysm, where I can go back to all those places near and dear to (or strongly despised by) my heart and see what they look like a couple of years after my services.

ZG was no exception. I didn’t have time to read up on the story, but I was very interested to know that more evil trolls invoking spirits have moved in since I cleared the place in hopes of achievements and tiger mounts.

I’m told ZA is a copy-paste of the original, which is a little disappointing (dudes…dudes! I killed you people years ago! What are you doing back here?), but at the same time, ZA was a brilliant instance. I loved the complexity and creativity of the fights. Especially the fire egg boss that took me so long to figure out and that made me so proud when I finally understood. I’m sort of glad I’ll get to re-experience those fights.

Now let’s look at the complaints surrounding the instances:

Too Long

It took my group a little over 2 hours to complete ZG, and we had a patient, kick-ass tank in heroics gear talking us through. We had a group simultaneously do ZA, without an experienced guide, and it took them barely a few minutes more than us.

Contrarily to what Lissanna says, ZG has very little trash. Much less than the other Cataclysm 5 mans. I also don’t recall doing much in terms of CC. The instance has a feel of a modern raid, with just enough trash to avoid falling back into the Trial of the Crusader trap.

What took up our 2 hours, were the wipes as we struggled to grasp the novel mechanics of the fights. Without wiping, I think we could have easily gotten through the instance in 45 minutes, which is pretty much the same time as the other Cataclysm heroics.

I can’t speak for ZA.

How do these line up with the other heroics from Cataclysm? Well. I remember pugging them during the week of their release. Once the hardcore, now-Sinestra killers were finished with them (I loved those runs!), Cataclysm heroics took well over 3 hours to pug with an average group. As the instances became better known, the players got better geared and the fights themselves were nerfed, the average pug run was shortened to about 45 minutes, with Deadmines still taking the better part of an hour.

Too Hard

I recall a tweet saying: “Don’t bring your alt to the new 5 mans!”.

I’d like to make a correction: “Don’t bring your alt to the new 5 mans yet!”

The fights are actually perfect for gearing alts…once you know them on your main. These fights aren’t gear checks. They’re all mechanics. Do the right thing at the right time and they’re a breeze. Trust me. Our DK soloed the better part of the first ZG fight.

But prepare to die a lot learning the fights. The mechanics are more complex (and interesting) than “pick up adds and don’t stand in the fire”. Think Stonecore, but less shitty.

Once you’ve mastered being at the right place at the right time, though? This is the perfect place to gear your alt.

5 mans should be accessible to anyone!

While I don’t necessarily agree with this statement (I think regulars should be accessible to anyone, heroics should involve a minimal effort), I’d like to point out that my guild had two teams complete the instances Thursday night. And we are your casual, chilling, social raiding guild. At 6/12, with anywhere from 0 to 2 raids a week, we’re not Sinestra killers.

And we did ZG and ZA. We wiped, we ran back, we adjusted our tactics, but at no point did we feel like we were banging our heads against a wall.

Which is actually better than Stonecore and Grim Batol the week those instances were released.

Could an average Pug do the instance? Probably not. Not yet. The instances take too much communication and, as social bloggers everywhere constantly moan, communication is difficult in PuGs. But once people run the instances with their guilds a few time and learn the fights, I think ZG and ZA will totally be puggable, and will be comparable to the other Cataclysm heroics in length.

Conclusion: I’d sort of like a raid-style 5 man

I like fights that make me think. I like having a really small team to think with. So I like hard 5 mans.

I thoroughly enjoyed running ZG with the fantastic people in my Thursday group (I was even very tempted to ask our DK out on a date. He was HAWT.). It felt like a raid, except there were only 5 of us and the fights took slightly less wipes than a raid to learn.

The whole time I was thinking, what if there was an epic 5 man designed like a raid? One instance you don’t do often, that you save for an afternoon where you have 5 hours to yourself. A huge instances with twists and turns, Original Stratholme or Blackrock Depths style. A fight were you really need to think before engaging the bosses.

And really, sure, I think 5 man heroics should be accessible to anyone. Anyone with a brain, instead of only a face for rolling.

Cataclysm Heroics Sanity Preservation Guide for Healers

December 28, 2010

You’re pugging heroics? What are you? A sadist?
– Guildie upon discovering that I PuG my heroics more often than not.

I think he meant masochist (my guildies a tough time keeping their fetishes straight)… unless he knows me better than I thought.

Once I got over my initial feeling of being left out (dissolved when other healers got tired of running heroics causing me to receive 3 whispers asking for heroic heals every time I log in), I fell in love with pugging. I’ve also learned to handle myself in PuGs, which has turned me into quite the slave driver, and yes, has really helped developed my sadistic side.

Introduction: What to expect

There are beliefs of varying levels of truth to the rumours going around about PuGs. Let me attempt to clarify them by drawing from my own experience.

Belief #1 – Heroics are too long for casual players.
Answer: Apparently the official forums are overrun with players accusing Blizzard of ruining casual play. Unfortunately, if you’re going to PuG heroics, you need to be prepared to spend at least 2 hours in there. At least. Most people are getting pretty good with the fights now, but during the first week of Cataclysm, I could easily spend 4 hours with a group in a heroic.

Belief #2
- People are jerks in heroics.
Answer: You always run the chance of being paired with the scum of humanity. Stories like this one tell of things you have to be prepared to face. But fortunately, they’re pretty rare. Most of the time, the people you’ll be paired with are just like you: looking to get their valor points and leave.

Belief #3 – Heroics are too hard to PuG.
Answer: They’re not. I pug a lot. And I mean, a lot. It’s only happened to me twice that I didn’t make it to the end: first group tried Corborus in Stonecore a few times then fell apart, second group wiped on Corla in Blackrock Caverns a few times, until I had to leave to run something with my guild. With every other PuG I’ve done, even my very first ones, where I cheated to get a 329ilvl, the final boss went down. Now maybe I’m on the ultimate battlegroup of excellence, but maybe a strategic approach paired with a lot of patience goes a long way.

So how does a healer cope with, as a guildie of mine puts it, “playing Russian Roulette with 5 bullets“? Let me tell you.
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Holy Paladin Reforging

December 22, 2010

Don’t we all love questions with no clear answers?

I’ve had a few people ask about reforging. Each time, I make my way to Elitist Jerks.

At first, the answer I got from there was “Definitely Haste. All Haste all the time OMG yes.

Then I went back and got the answer “Haste is nice, but Crit packs a better punch.

When I looked closely, I also saw “How about Mastery? Can we give Mastery a try?

Then I spoke with paladins who don’t frequent the various resources and received an overwhelming: “Moar Spirit plz!


For the time being, reforging isn’t a black and white issue. And I hope it stays that way- I love paladin healing right now: it feels as if each successful paladin has their own style and adapts in their own way to different content. Which is how healing should be. I don’t know about the rest of you, but the constant adjustments to fit each unique situation is the whole reason I fell in love with healing in the first place.

Love story aside, I’m going to take a look at the different reforging options. If you want a “do this” answer, scroll down a bit and you’ll find some reforging suggestions to fit your paladining lifestyle. And if you read all the way to the end, I’ll let you in on my personal strategy.

I’m going to inspire myself from the debate in the Holy Paladin thread on Elitist Jerks as well as use my own experiences to weigh the pros and cons. Two Three weeks into the expansion, I’ve done countless heroics, with pugs of all skill (and common sense) levels as well as guild groups, I’ve killed Conclave of Wind on 10 man, 25 man kills are Halfus (X2) and Argaloth (I’ve done quite a bit of log parsing from other guilds for Halfus too, to see how other healing teams are handling the fight), with a some wiping experience on a few other 25 man bosses. The only area I haven’t investigated much is the world of PvP, so you die hard PvPers are unfortunately on your own for this.
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A Crowd Control Compendium

December 12, 2010

Last updated Dec 18, 2010 – Added some more suggestions, many thanks to you all for filling in the gaps. Changed the one mob per CC explanation and edited the Fear description.

As I was writing about heroics, I found myself listing off the various forms of crowd control (affectionately called CC). Because, to the greatest pleasure of those who complained about the lack of CC during Wrath, Crowd Control is back with a vengeance!

At least it is for now as we’re doing our best to run heroics in our soft and squishy greens and blues.

I’m sure someone has written a similar compendium at some point of another, but I’m not aware of any I could just link to so I made my own, for your enjoyment. Convincing your PuG to actually use CC is a topic for another day, but because knowledge is power and we all love power, here’s a list of all the forms of CC that I’m aware of.

And as usual, if you find anything missing, let me know and it’ll be added with credits given where they’re due.
* * *

Most of the time, nothing listened here will work on bosses (there have been exceptions over the years) but most trash mobs and mobs summoned during boss fights can be controlled using these abilities.

Complete CC

Complete CC keeps the poor creature from doing anything as long as the CC holds. This is your first resort for CC, and the most effective.

Frost Death Knights: Can do an AoE freeze that locks up all mobs within 10 yards for 10 seconds.
Druids: Can Hibernate beasts and dragonkin.
Hunters: Can Freezing Trap most creatures.
Survival Hunters: In addition to freezing creatures, that can also put them to sleep via Wyvern Sting.
Mages: Can Polymorph beasts and humanoids. Can also place a Ring of Frost on the ground, sealing all enemies that enter the area in ice for 10 seconds.
Retribution Paladins: Can Repentance demons, dragonkin, giants, humanoids and undead.
Priests: Can Shackle Undead.
Shadow priests: Can Mind Control.
Rogues: Can Sap humanoids, beasts, demons and dragonkin (must be done before the pull, when out of combat).
Shaman: Can Hex humanoids and beasts and Bind elementals.
Warlocks: Can Banish demons and elementals.Seduce humanoids and Enslave demons.

Note that a Warlock’s Seduction and Enslave Demon and a Shadow Priest’s Mind Control are more inconvenient to the player than other forms of complete CC, so don’t suggest them if other forms are available, unless you know the fight specifically calls for them. Though sometimes you’ll find a Shadow Priest who’s really into Mind Controlling and will jump at any occasion to use it.

Also note that with the exception of Frost Death Knights, each spell can only CC one mob at a time. For example, one shaman can Hex one mob and Bind one elemental, but one shaman cannot Hex two mobs.

Most of these forms of CC will break if the target gets damaged in any way, so be sure that CCed creatures are kept out of the way of AoEs and DPSers who struggle with targeting.

The typical order for casting CC before a pull is:
Rogue Sap -> Hunter Sets Trap -> Mage Polymorphs -> Mobs come running

Partial CC

Partial CC still gives the creature some freedom to cause mischief, but it can keep casters from casting long enough for them to move into melee range (called “silencing”), or roots melee into place. When a melee is stuck somewhere, you can move away from it, so it can’t reach you.

Rooting
Druids: Can Root melee.
Mages: Can Frost Nova to root targets in an area for up to (but usually much less) 8 seconds.

Silencing
Death Knights: Can silence for short bouts via Strangulate and Mind Freeze.
Boomkin Druids: Can cause a Solar Beam, which silences any creature standing within it.
Feral Druids: Can interrupt and spell lockout for 5 seconds with Skull Bash (both Kitties and Bears have their individual Skull Bashes)
Marksman Hunters: Can Silencing Shot for 3 seconds.
Mages: Can also silence for 4 seconds if they’ve specced into Improved Counterspell and time their interrupt well.
Protection Paladins: Can silence one target (and 2 other random targets if not glyphed for single target) for 3 seconds with Avenger’s Shield (and it has a bonus slowing effect when glyphed for it)
Shadow Priests: Can spec into Silence.
Rogues: Can silence for 3 seconds via Garrote, or can lock a creature out of a school of magic for 5 seconds if they time their Kick well.
Shaman: Can do an interrupt/ 2 second lockout via Wind Shear.
Warriors: Pummel causes a short 4 second silence and Arms Warriors can interrupt and completely stun for 5 seconds with Throwdown.
Protection Warriors: A well timed Shield Bash can lock a creature out of a school of magic for 8 seconds.

Fears

When a mob is feared, they can’t do anything. Most fears are pretty short in duration, serving more as a damage reduction technique than anything else, but a 20 second Warlock fear can serve as complete CC, as long as the target is second or third on the kill order or the fear is constantly refreshed.

Historically, feared creatures ran and grabbed the attention of more mobs. Nowadays, Priests , Warlocks and Warriors have glyphs available that remove the running effect of the fear. Not everyone grabs these glyphs though, so it’s worth asking your friendly priesty, warlocky or warriory teammate if they’re glyphed for fearing.

Paladins: Can Turn Evil one undead or demon target for 20 seconds
Priests: Can Psychic Scream 5 random targets for 8 seconds.
Warriors: Can Intimidating Shout 5 random targets for 8 seconds.
Warlock: Can Fear one target for 20 seconds and Howl of Terror 5 random targets for 8 seconds.

Slows and Stuns

Most classes have one or several abilities that will slow down a target (also referred to as snaring), practical for repositioning or kiting (running while being chased by a mob) and a short term stun that will completely take out a target for a few seconds. Since just about every class has these abilities or can have one of these abilities if they spec into it, glyph for it, stand on their head and recite the alphabet backwards 3 times, listing them all would be more confusing than anything else. However should you feel the need to ask for slows/stuns:

Hunters ,Frost (or specced into Slow Arcane) Mages and Death Knights (via Chains of Ice) are the go-to people for slows, with Rogues and Paladins being the experts of stuns.

Note that the Paladin stun, Hammer of Justice, has a fairly long cooldown, so it usually can’t be used more than once or twice a fight.

Many players have shared their class’ stuns and slows in the comments, so if you want to know more (or see what your or your alt’s class can do) have a read through the comments.

Now go forth and take less damage!

Note: Huge thanks to Blinky, Grimmtooth , Shopshopshop ,Windsoar, Poneria, Matt, Kirenaaz, Lady Erinia, Kaboomski, Niliin, Gaia , Velidra, Pewter, Talexei, Gilomor, Berry, Shealle, Tarinae , Deyndor , Skip , Khahan and everyone else who pointed out an omission for their help!

How to Tank Heroics and Not Run Out of Mana

December 26, 2009

This post is dedicated to a former guildie and dear friend. It’s not much, but I do what I can.

There’s something I’ve been wanting to address for a long time, but never got around to it. But now with pugging made easy through the LFD system, the lack of tanks and the abundance of highish ilevel gear, the time is ripe. Especially when I hear horror stories of disc priests getting kicked from the ICC 5-mans for using Power Word: Shield. Especially when the tank is glyphed like this:

Taken from a real armory screenshot.

Yes, keeping your mana up can be a challenge when you’re a brand new tank sporting tier 9 gear. But it can be done. Here’s how.

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