Does WoW Healing Take A Toll?

Healing. Tanking. Both well-known as high-stress jobs in WoW.

And really, that’s the clue – the fact that they’re almost universally called “jobs”. But are they too much responsibility? Too much effort? And did Mists make it worse?

That’s the interesting discussion that’s blown up in the WoW blogosphere over the last day, all started from Windsoar’s review of how healing’s doing as a play style in Mists

“A lot of things that appealed to me as a tank appealed to me as a healer. Healing is a dynamic role that requires a good understanding not only of the flow of the fight, but of your fellow players, and their foibles. While you might be tempted to fall into a rotation, there are plenty of times when you chuck the rotation and do something on the fly. I feel a personal responsibility for my playmates.

What I hate, and when I know something is horribly, horribly wrong is when I have to be the savior. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes it saves an attempt. But it shouldn’t happen. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a tank, dps, or healer: all can play a vital role in saving a bad attempt, but it should not be the norm. I just want to perform my function to ensure that my raid team meets success. Nothing is more satisfying than a clean, well-executed fight.”

This is an interesting overview, but one aspect in particular stood out to blogger Stubborn – the mention of the healer as the saviour of last resort. And in a really interesting follow-up, he discussed the effect of that responsibility on his enjoyment of WoW

“The doom comes very simply; the mechanics mean that while some damage is unavoidable, more and more mechanics put the dps in charge of their own survival. As a result, the mechanics themselves put healers and their team on opposite sides of the success curve. If every dps avoids every potential damage, healing a fight would be much, much easier.

It plays out like this; every time I see a health bar fall because someone fails to execute the correct maneuver – whether it’s boss specific like kiting oozes out of expanding gas clouds or running away to avoid blowing everyone up or general like missing a defensive cool down – I build a teeny tiny “resentment counter.” Now sure, those go away, like every time I know that player did something awesome or simply as time passes and they are forgotten. I don’t really believe they even consciously register, as it’s not something I could have really written about before right now, but now I can see the small increase and steady decrease.”

I can certainly see the issue – I’ve seen people burn out playing healers, more often than any other class. Is it unavoidable? Is it a necessary trade-off?

I look forward to the ongoing discussion.

What do you think?

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WoW Roundup: WoW As Single Player, Druid Healing Woes, More…

Why do we like less-populated areas in WoW? Where should personal responsibility to a guild begin and end? And are druid healers just totally boned right now?

Read on, and all your questions shall be answered…

  • Bob at Altaclysmic defends preferring zones that are less crowded, rather than super-busy Cross-Realm Zone madness“I have made a decision that it is worth spending my limited time going to personally obtain the ore, but I need to be able to gather sufficient quantities in a certain timeframe for it to be worth the effort.”
  • Matticus ponders the question of where the line should be drawn between players having to provide their own resources or having those resources – flasks, food, etc – provided by the guild“I notice a strong correlation between player performance and their ability to provide their own character improvements. In other words, the players who farm for their own materials or purchase their own augments tend to not die as much and will consistently perform well in their roles.”
  • And Beruthiel updates us on the state of healing in MoP, including a stirring takedown of the ubiquitous “it’s not the class, it’s you” argument“In all of the back and forth and arguments happening, I saw the statement that if you are struggling to heal and perform as a druid “it’s not the class, it’s you” thrown about several times. It was enough to make my blood boil, because it is an inherently FALSE statement.”

If you’re in the US, enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend!

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WoW Roundup: PR, Healing, Faction Changes and more

So, what’s up in the world’s biggest MMO this week? Well, we’ve had the 8-year anniversary (complete with copy-paste email and underwhelming gift), and other topics include improving healing, surviving Tier 14 and the bugbear of Public Relations…

  • The Godmother writes two great posts on a shared topic – PR, unpopular features, and public relations blunderspost 2“Blizzard is clearly not the same entity it was when the game first debuted in the US in November 2004. An awful lot has been pumped into the business of PR since those early days”
  • Shy offers her thoughts on improving and fixing the state of healing in MoP – she’s got some unusual, interesting and controversial opinions“Healing should not be about carefully pre-planning the entire fight in your head. Holding back at times because you know if you don’t it will be a wipe at a later moment anyways due to mana shortage.”
  • And Beruthiel lays out how her raid group are coping with the onslaught of Tier 14 raid content“With those things in mind we made the decision, regardless of the disjointed feel of the released content, to progress just as we would have done should all of the content had been released at the same time. “

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Support an Indie MMO, Sandbox your WoW, and more

A quiet day today – everyone’s busy raiding, perhaps? But that gives us time to showcase a project we’re very keen on – plus more great posts:

  • We’ve been following the indie MMORPG project “Project Gorgon” by the Elder Game guys for a while, so we should mention that they’re currently running a Kickstarter to take it to the next stage“Think Asheron’s Call crossed with EverQuest crossed with NetHack.”
  • Bronte surveyed her readers, asking whether they’d advise starting Guild Wars 2 or The Secret World, and she shares the results“I received a ton of a comments, and although GW2 seemed to be winning earlier, TSW has seemed to creep up in the number of recommendations. “
  • Hunter’s Insight hates the letters you receive in Guild Wars 2 from completed Hearts, and they explain why that is“These letters could have been an opportunity to extend lore, get a good laugh, make the world seem larger than it really is. Instead they’re boring, hit all the same notes, practically form letters.”
  • Evlyxx gives us a really useful tip on how to create a “sandbox” WoW installation“Now I could have copied my entire World of Warcraft folder to a new location and it DOES work but I will show you a way that saves you space on your HDD and will save you from having to repeat the process everytime a patch hits WoW. “
  • And Lodur gives his impressions of the first couple of days’ MoP raiding under the new healing mechanics” Do not expect your healers to babysit you anymore, we can no longer heal stupid. You are responsible for your own survival as much as the healers, please accept your PSR. “

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Discipline Priest Quick-Start Guide For WoW Patch 5.4 – Stats, talents and spec, glyphs, rotation, reforging and gems, priorities and healing strategies

See! We knew Smite Priesting was the way to go! Yes, in Mists of Pandaria (WoW Patch [patchnumber]) the Smite playstyle is fully included with every Disipline Priest’s spec choice – along with a bunch of more recent changes! So, to get a quick heads up on how to play a Disc Priest as we all head off to kick Garrosh’s oversized ass, here’s a Quick Start Guide for your stats, talent build, abilities, glyphs, rotation (such as it is), reforging and gems. Enjoy!

Updated [guideupdated] for [patchnumber]

Disc Priest changes in [patchnumber]

Minor changes, stat priorities updated.

Discipline Healing “Rotation” and Priorities

Of course, we don’t really have a rotation – we’re a healing class, dammit! (Well, not unless you count the low-level dungeon rotation of Smite, Smite, Smite, Smite…). But here’s an intro to how best to use your abilities to keep everyone else up.

Tank healing

When you’re healing the tank, you’ll be using:

  • Power Word Shield: One of your primary damage prevention abilities. Re-cast it whenever it drops. Note that when it drops you get mana back!
  • Penance Fairly powerful and efficient. Use whenever it’s off cooldown.
  • Greater Heal Primary healing spell if the tank’s taking more damage than Heal can cope with.
  • Heal Your “spam healing” spell. Use whenever the tank’s taking damage, but if his or her health is going down even with Heals, it’s time to switch to something more powerful.
  • Flash Heal Your panic button. Will run you out of mana FAST, but will also heal the tank FAST.
  • Prayer of Mending Will bounce around injured targets healing them. Use on your primary target during moderate or high damage phases, on CD.
  • Power Word Solace Use on CD unless you’re in an ntense damage phase. Smart-heals nearby players.

You can also use Smite to smart-heal the tank if no-one else is injured, but most of the time it will be too random to use. However, use it in very low-damage phases to build Evangelism stacks.

Keep Grace running on your primary target with Penance and your Heal spells.

Raid/group healing

  • Power Word Shield: Also very useful for raid healing. Cast on people you know or suspect are about to take damage. Fast and high healing.
  • Prayer of Healing: Your primary group heal. Use whenever it will be useful for healing at least 3 people.
  • Prayer of Mending: The “Bouncing Heal”. Cast on cooldown – as a smart heal, it’ll go where it’s needed (hopefully).
  • Power Word Solace: Use on cooldown (on the mobs, obviously), as it’s a smart heal that restores your mana.
  • Other healing spells: Use Penance when it’s off cooldown, and Greater Heal to spot heal as needed. Only use Flash Heal if someone’s about to die and you can’t use Power Word Shield. Whenever you don’t need to cast anything else, be casting Smite to build Evangelism stacks and do low-powered healing.

Cooldown spells

For when it’s all gone or is about to go a bit pear-shaped:

  • Power Word: Barrier :Best used when the raid’s stacked and you know they’re about to take a lot of damage. Note: this is a powerful CD and can save your raid if used right.
  • Pain Suppression: Powerful damage reduction – coordinate with your healing target as to when to cast this if possible, as it duplicates the effect of many tank cooldowns.
  • Archangel: Frequent-use cooldown powered by Atonement stacks from Smite. Use whenever you need a bit more healing punch.
  • Hymn of Hope: Use during low-damage phases to restore mana to you and nearby casters.
  • Spirit Shell: Use whenever there’s high damage coming in.
  • Leap of Faith: Useful for two things: moving slow, DCed or otherwise distracted people out of the Bad, and annoying your fellow raid members!
  • Inner Focus: Short cooldown, and gives your next Flash Heal, Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing 100% crit chance. Useful frequent-use cooldown. Also grants 5 sec immunity to Silence.
  • Void Shift is an extremely powerful heal if you’re on high health – but it has a very long CD. Assume it can only be used once per encounter.
  • Cascade: Use on cooldown or when you know the raid’s going to take heavy damage.

Buffs

Keep Inner Fire or Inner Will up (the latter helps with mana costs), remember to cast Prayer of Fortitude, and cast Shadow Protection if appropriate.

Discipline Priest Talent Choices

The new 5.x talent system means that you may well want to change talents on a per-fight basis. However, if you’re looking for a general-purpose talent build that’ll get you started quickly, we recommend:

  • Tier 1: Void Tendrils (not very important)
  • Tier 2: Angelic Feather – grants a movement speed increasing effect on the ground.
  • Tier 3: Solace / Insanity
  • Tier 4: Desperate Prayer – powerful self-heal.
  • Tier 5: Twist of Fate
  • Tier 6: Cascade – another powerful group-healing CD.

Stats, reforging and gemming for Discipline Priests

Intellect is your most important stat, boosting your healing, followed by Spirit, which controls mana regeneration. Mana pools are now fixed in size. In MoP, you’re likely to find you need to reforge for additional Spirit until you’re comfortable with your new mana regen.

Crit is our most useful secondary stat.

Gemming: Gem for socket bonuses (Purified in Red sockets, Sparkling in Blue sockets, Misty in Yellow sockets).

Reforging: Reforging depends on your mana. Reforge to Spirit if you need mana regen, which is very likely. Then reforge to Crit.

Disc Priest Glyphs

Glyphs are much more situational in WoW 5.x than before – however, here are some solid general choices:

Major: Glyph of Penance, Glyph of Binding Heal, Glyph of Mass Dispel.

Minor: Whatever you want – they have no performance effect.

Discipline Priest enchants and item enhancements

You should almost always use a profession enhancement item if it provides appropriate stats instead of a general enchant.

  • Shoulders – Greater Crane Wing Inscription
  • Back – Enchant Cloak – Superior Intellect
  • Chest – Enchant Chest – Mighty Spirit
  • Wrist – Enchant Bracer – Super Intellect
  • Hands – Enchant Gloves – Superior Mastery
  • Belt – Living Steel Belt Buckle
  • Legs – Greater Pearlescent Spellthread
  • Feet – Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step
  • Weapon – Enchant Weapon – Jade Spirit
  • Off-Hand Weapon – Enchant Weapon – Major Intellect

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IAMA RIFT Exec Producer, Awesome WoW Toys and more

Let’s change things up a bit today! The blogosphere’s still resounding with the news of SWTOR going F2P, but that’s not all that’s going on – so here’s our pick of the thinking and discussion from elsewhere in the blogosphere today:

  • Beruthiel discusses going beyond “heal the tank” healing in WoW into really dynamic and adaptive healing” I’ve watched players who smash the meters completely fall apart on a fight like Yor’shaj. I’ve watched a healers who sailed through as top healers in Dragon Soul find that they are uncertain of how to heal a more interactive encounter – simply because they don’t know how to be dynamic and react to changing circumstances.”
  • Big Bear Butt waxes lyrical about an unexpected delight – the surprising quality of the WoW-licensed Mega Blox toys“The craftsmanship on the Lich King is just absurd, and the Dragon? Seriously, I am extremely happy with Sindragosa. If there was any one set I would recommend buying, it would be the Sindragosa/Lich King set. It is a masterpiece. It is “pose on my desk and make my geek friends exclaim in delight” levels of awesome.”
  • Zellviren looks at the news of staggered raids for Mists of Pandaria, and asks how this will impact future patch release cycles“There are now “Cutting Edge” feats of strength that are awarded to players who kill these bosses within their patch cycle and without nerfs of any kind. That means the nerfs themselves are now going to be a staple of future raiding, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.”
  • In a particularly cool move, the Executive Producer on RIFT, Scott Hartsman, has been giving long and interesting answers in a Reddit Ask Me Anything interview” The thing with ultra-complex games is that you will have one of those moments, where you log into the game to see how the patch went, and find yourself with your hand on your forehead saying, “What the f….” pretty much every week. “
  • And The Ancient Gaming Noob looks at Cryptic’s PR statements about Star Trek Online – and compares them to Nixon’s “I’m not a crook” speech“Nobody buys a paper when the headline is “Nothing Bad Happened.” Likewise, a headline like “STO Worth $50 Million” or “STO is Perfect World’s Top Performer” do not grab attention… at least not like that “dying” quote does.”

When are you predicting WoW patches? Do you think STO is going down? And have you (or your kids) played with the WoW Mega Blox?

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WoW This Weekend – Healing Winners, Cub Faces Adversity, and Roadtrip!

Lots of interesting posts this weekend, but no big overarching themes, so I’m going to split today’s posts up by interest rather than shared topic!

First up, there’s been a minor resurgence in WoW blogging this weekend, with BBB’s Cub facing his first abusive player, data on healing through Cata, thoughts on lockpicking etiquette, and a rather neat challenge from Tome and Matty:

  • Big Bear Butt’s reports on his nine-year-old son’s journey through Azeroth continue to fascinate – today he talks about he dealt with the inevitable first abusive player in LFD“Nope, you’re not going to find any outrage on my part, I’ve been playing this game for a long time, I know what kind of people play it. The answer is, ALL kinds of people play it. All kinds of people, meaning every kind of person there is. “
  • Fancy a WoW treasure hunt? Tome of the Ancient and Sugar and Blood team up for the Roadtrip Challenge“Try to find the secret locations: this round will have eight, and in Outlands. “
  • Garona at PvE Rogues lays out opinions on a matter close to any rogue’s heart – lock-picking and lockbox etiquette“For those of you that require a rogue’s lock picking skills to open your acquired lock boxes please remember we don’t exist solely to open your boxes for you. “
  • And finally, some fascinating graphs and data from Vixsin at Life In Group 5, who has been looking at how Healing Per Second has varied with raid type and instance over the life of Cataclysm“Given the performance of Druids post-4.1 and the perception that they were winning meters easily, I wonder if it was a conscious decision of the devs to start including encounter effects that could not simply be healed through, but rather required some sort of raid damage mitigation.”

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The Last Challenge – deliberately playing undergeared?

Don’t kick that undergeared healer in your LFR group – they might be a hardcore player looking for the ultimate challenge!

Yes, Tzufit of Tree Heals Go Whoosh has been playing it differently in WoW, and committing what many would view as the ultimate sin – deliberately going into LFR and LFD undergeared. She’s doing it for the challenge – but what she discovers is that on a class she knows, she can do the apparently impossible

“Tzufit, you’re probably wondering, Why the heck haven’t you taken care of this druid? You know how she should be gemmed and enchanted, you have the gold and the crafting toons to make it happen – what’s up? Well, it’s pretty simple, really – I wanted to see if I could get away with healing like this. I pushed myself slowly at first, working my way through the original Cataclysm heroics until the Dungeon Finder thew me into an Hour of Twilight run that I wasn’t expecting. (I’d forgotten that HoTs would still pop up in my queue if my collective iLv was high enough, even if I had selected the “Random Cataclysm Heroic” option.) In that way, pushing myself on this toon happened almost by mistake. I zoned into the End Times dungeon and used the teleporter to get to the first boss – and it was Tyrande. My heart skipped a beat and I prepared for the worst – to wipe, to be ridiculed, to be kicked from the group. But, you know what? It was fine – just like it always is when I’m on my main.

This will sound overly simplistic but the reason I succeeded in that dungeon is pretty simple: I knew I would succeed. Now, I don’t mean this in some silly, motivational poster kind of way (Believe it and you can achieve it!). I mean that I knew I could heal HoT heroics and LFR with a resto druid, even an undergeared one, because I already had. This feeling, though, is significantly different than when I go into a new dungeon or raid with my priest or shaman healers. This feeling, this confidence, is specific to a resto druid.”

Tzufit goes through her experiences with other healing classes in similar situations, and comes to an interesting conclusion – that your main, the first character on whom you experience content, will always be easier to play, to the point that you can do the apparently impossible. Blending anecdotes and detailed healing analysis, this is a really interesting post.

And I think she’s stumbled upon a valuable point. My oldest characters – despite the massive changes they’ve gone through – still seem to be the characters with whom I play the best. Often, like Tzufit, I’ve found that gear is far less of a problem on a character I’m really familiar with than I’m expecting. Indeed, in Wrath, I had a very similar project to her, testing how bad I could keep my Gearscore and still put out excellent DPS. (I must admit this was also partially a Gearscore-bore-baiting exercise).

What’s your experience? Can you achieve marvels whilst undergeared if you know the character well enough?

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Blog posts about Sin, Heroism And Smarts…

And to close out the day, we’ve got everything from musing on the meaning of “heroism” to hardcore numbers for healers in Mists! Take it away, guys:

  • Matticus has been crunching the numbers on mana in Mists. Want to know what your healing will feel like come MoP?“So we’re going back to entry-level Cataclysm healing? In a word, yes.”
  • Mataoka of Sugar And Blood, inspired by some of this week’s posts and comments, has been musing on what exactly it means to be a hero
  • Vidyala writes about something I know afflicts me reasonably often – the tendancy to just take on too much“My problem is this – I overestimate the time I have. I underestimate how long it’ll take me to get things done. I overextend myself and commit to too many things.”
  • And Fulguralis is mining an interesting source for MMO design – the Catholic concept of Original Sin“Why do Sith and Jedi alike start off neutral? Are we to believe that they’ve never made a choice until the very moment that we rolled them? Is this sort of the Bioware “age of reason” doctrine?”

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And In Lighter News – Pandaren, Another Shattering, and Things That Happened

There have been two pretty serious topics today, one quite upsetting. But there’s still plenty of room for lighter, more fun game-focussed writing too, as the remainder of today’s links prove.

  • The Godmother offers us her thoughts on the early beta Pandaren levelling experience – I won’t quote from this one due to spoiler potential, but it’s a really interesting post.
  • The Grumpy Elf muses on the possibilities offered by a healing class that doesn’t use manaRage:Pros: If it is based on damage you or people you are with receive it could mean unlimited resources. It would most likely need to require you to buff someone, or a few people, as the main generator of rage for you meaning in most cases it would be put it on the tank, a set it and forget it mechanic.”
  • Green Armadillo at Player vs Developer wonders if there are clues out there pointing to a second Shattering“By 2014’s expansion, the early questlines of the Shattering, in which, for example, Sylvanas and Garrosh discuss the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Lich King, will be three years out of date. Will Blizzard want this to be the first thing new visitors to Azeroth encounter? “
  • And A Sunnier Bear presents a really fun list – a look back at the distant past of 2004, and things that happened the year WoW was released“the dominant consoles were the GameCube, the Gameboy Advance, the PS2, and the XBox. My favorite game was Pokemon Leafgreen, and everyone else’s favorite game was Halo 2. The best selling game of the year was Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (the one with the controversial “Hot Coffee” mod).”

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