First impression on raiding with fixed mana in MoP

So we’ve just had our first raid in MoP, Mogu’shan Vaults. It was pretty interesting from a healer perspective. Fixed mana has been one of those ultimately strange concepts from the time it was announced, and to be fair we weren’t quite sure how it would play out in a regular raid. I’m here to give you my first impressions on it, and a few opinions.

Again these are just my opinions, and my observations.

Read moreFirst impression on raiding with fixed mana in MoP

How about a training dummy/event for healers?

OK, so there is this awesome new set of training dummies in the Mists beta that gives someone facing, raid buffs, food buffs and flask buffs, can be killed and has about 50 million health. It’s a pretty damn cool new tool for players to try to more accurately judge their DPS in a raid environment without having to actually go in to a raid. It’s a wonderful idea, a great idea and a necessary idea.

But how about one for healers?

So, lets lay it out there, healing is a stressful job, accompanied by a certain sense of anxiety and dread that accompanies healing a group for the first time. I hear horror stories of people getting booted out of instance all the time when they first start healing because they are new and not perfect. It’s a huge fear. One of the things I always suggest to new healers is to pop into a battle ground. As folks on twitter have pointed out, and I’ve agreed with for years, it helps you sort your UI, and it helps you learn some of the aspects of healing like triage. But it doesn’t teach you everything. Healing a PvP group isn’t quite the same as an instance, especially when you have to manage cooldowns and mana usage for boss mechanics, tanks, DPS and yourself.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t heal in PvP, by all means you should as it’s a great way to test out your UI, spells and what they do as well as key binds, but I still find fighting against another group of people is much different than fighting against a raid or boss design. I just want to make it clear I’m not discrediting PvP healing as a learning tool, but there’s no elegant solution to it. I mean, even Rift has healing dummies to help you gauge yourself.

Now here’s a thought that’s been on my mind for a couple months now. In The Secret World there’s a test you have to take for your preferred role to access nightmare content, and it’s called the gatekeeper. What the gatekeeper does is it forces you to respond to mechanics and use your toolkit. When I stumbled upon this I was immediately reminded of a very old class quest in Vanilla World of Warcraft , and I’m sure some of you will already know where I’m going with this.

Remember when you went for your Benediction priests? Do you remember the difficulty of that class quest and how it made you use everything you had to smartly complete the quest? It was an awesome class quest that worked within the confines of the character class at the time.

So here’s my proposal, lets have something, an event,  that you can go into that gives you NPC party members to heal and a faux boss fight. Through this, players could individually test their mettle, get logs and see if they were having issues without having to risk embarrassment or ridicule. Yes I know it’s an MMO and yes I know there are social requirements to be had, but DPS can go to a dummy and test out their numbers, why shouldn’t other classes get something similar? Why not a faux encounter like the Gatekeeper in TSW that lets you test out our abilities in relative safety. Think of how something like this could benefit healers.

Lets take that a step further, how much would something like this benefit tanks as well, or DPS. It would be an amazing boon. It would relieve so much pressure by eliminating at least partially the notion that you have to be perfect on your first time out. You could test to some extent and get an idea before ever having to walk into an instance. I would wager that if something like this was implemented there would be a lot more willing healers, and a lot more willing tanks. I can’t count how many times people in my own guild have said that they would want to try healing or tanking, but don’t want to do so in a manner that would waste someone’s time while they were learning. It’s nice to have friends to call on to learn this stuff, but sometimes they just aren’t around to help at the times you need them.

Yes you could make the argument that you can learn this while you level up and learn your abilities, but at the end of the day I’d be willing to be the amount of people that level through instances isn’t nearly as great as those that level through questing. Even though questing as a healer or tank has gotten better, it’s more often than not more effective to level as a DPS spec anyways. I’ve had healers message me for advice, and then when they get ridiculed in a 5-man or an LFR, or a new raid they just stop because while they were learning, not everyone understood that and made it twice as difficult.

The Gatekeeper system is one of the best things I’ve seen implemented into an MMO in years, it is something I would love to see re-purposed in other MMOs, if only tooled a bit differently. In our case a repeatable event or quest that lets you test yourself, your new gem setup, your new talent choices, your new reforging or just learning how spells work without the opportunity cost of failing publicly before you’re ready. Lets just make it more of an event and less of a test, make it something healers and tanks could use to get a feel for their respective roles.

Is it  a perfect solution, I can’t really say, but healers and tanks need some love too. Having a new tool for DPS to check their numbers with full raid buffs is really nice, but don’t leave out the healers and tanks, the two most stressful jobs you can choose to undertake in just about any game. I just think adding something like this would be amazing, useful, and combined with everything else at our finger tips would just further strengthen our healers and tanks, and their confidence in their roles.

I’ll write more on this later I’m sure, something more in-depth and detailed, but for now I’m curious to see what you think. Would this be something you’d like to see implemented for healers and tanks?

Lodur on Twisted Nether

Well folks, looks like this Saturday I’ll be joining the folks over at Twisted Nether for fun and shenanigans. You should make sure you free up some time and come join us, I know I would appreciate it. Taken right from their website

 

  • When is it?: This live show is scheduled for Saturday, April 14th at 8pm PT (11pm ET). Not sure what time that is for you? Use this handy-dandy time converter!
  • Where do I go? To participate on the live show, you will need to go to the TNB Live Show page to connect with the stream. See, totally easy. If you are having issues then go to the Ustream page. Don’t forget to register/login to UStream so you can chat with us!
  • Some general ground rules:
    1. Be nice. If you say very inappropriate things be aware you will be kicked from the room. We are doing this to have a great time, come with a beer, come during a raid, come how you wish, just don’t come to cause trouble.
    2. You may ask questions to the participants during the show, but we reserve the right to use them if and when we can. We will be monitoring the chat room and if we can we will use the comments during the show. We love that you are with us, but we will have to weave them in. Even if it isn’t asked, we all appreciate your questions!

So be sure to stop by and spend some time with us!

HST takes a hit

So, if you’ve looked at the Mists of Pandaria talent calculator anytime recently, you may have noticed that restoration shaman finally got an update. While I definitely like most of the changes, there’s a big change looming that I’m not quite sure what to make of it quite yet. Healing Stream Totem, our tried and true companion, is getting re-worked. It’s hard to tell whether it’s a nerf or not, but my gut instinct is that it’s going to be a nerf. So what’s changed?

Well for starters the totem is now raid wide, it is no longer restricted to group only. That’s a bonus, don’t get me wrong, and one that I think we were missing for quite sometime. So, that part I like. Currently the cost remains the same, clocking in at 3% of your base mana. The base healing number has gone up from 28 to 81, plus your spell power modifiers and talents of course. But here’s the kicker, it now only targets one person, and it will always be the lowest health person in range. That’s right folks, it’s a single target totem now. If that wasn’t enough of a kick in the teeth, the duration has also been adjusted. It is no longer 5 minutes, instead it is a 1 minute duration totem. While it still doesn’t have a cooldown, and you can cast it as often as you want, the 3% base mana cost combined with a 1 minute duration means that if you want to use it you’re going to be burning a whole lot more mana in order to keep it down.

It’s a significant change, and one that I’ve been feeling pretty keenly in the beta. Healing dungeons is a lot more active, as you can’t really rely on the passive healing anymore. It is still affected by mastery so you can now use it as a single target spike healing tool. It’s an adjustment. I’m not going to call it a nerf, but it is a noticeable change in healing behavior for us. It’s just no longer the “always keep it down totem”. My personal belief is that it is a result of us having some new tools in the water tree. Besides healing stream totem and Mana Tide Totem we have our brand new Healing Tide Totem, or rather our Tranquility. That’s an interesting tool, and I can see us using quite well. The hardest thing right now is just breaking the mentality that you HAVE to have your totems down. It just simply isn’t the case anymore.

There are a lot of other changes like the glyph’s we’ll have to work with. Some are awesome, some are meh, others are incredibly situational. I’m going to be evaluating them over the next few days, possibly in video form, so be sure to check often. If you have a specific shaman question, please feel free to ask and I’ll see if I can find out how it shakes down in Mists.

The Burden of Leadership, Lodur bares his thoughts

There are a lot of folks out there that think being in charge, or in a leadership role, of a guild is a big fun thing. You get to set permissions, invite, kick and all that other cool stuff! Truth is, at least for me, it’s another job. Being in charge means that, like at every other job, you are responsible for those beneath you and how they perform. On top of that you become involved in the day to day running of something larger than yourself. This is especially true if you are among the leadership of a raiding guild.

After leaving Unpossible after 5 long years, I had put the officer mantle in the laundry bin to be cleaned pressed and put under glass. Circumstances did not allow me to leave the mantle alone for long, and I find myself in a leadership role again. Over the last two tiers I’ve had a lot on my plate between being in game, my podcast For The Lore, still consistently writing for WoW Insider, and also writing a novel that I’m submitting for publication consideration in the following weeks. On top of various other personal things, it’s been a hell of a long year and I find myself with an over abundance of ideas on the topic of leadership in a raiding guild. So, bear with me here, because I’m about to dump my thoughts a little.

The burden
The wear and tear
The hard choices

Truthfully it wears on you over time. You have to make a lot of hard decisions that are not always easy, and certainly aren’t popular with everyone. Lets take on the topic of friendship in real life, and raiding in game. I’ve talked about it before, but it’s something that keeps rearing it’s ugly head over and over again. Being someone’s friend does not make you immune from being included in those hard choices a competitive raiding guild faces. This includes officers and the rank-and-file of the raid team. Sometimes,  you have to look at someone’s performance, and if found wanting must bench them or otherwise remove them from a fight or raid, until performance can be fixed. It’s for the good of the entire team, and the progression of the raid, and ultimately if that’s your goal that’s what matters most. Don’t take it personally, it’s not a slight against you as a person, it’s just that the numbers aren’t where they need to be. I’ll use myself as an example here.

Firelands was not very kind to restoration shaman. The fights were ones that didn’t let us take advantage of our strengths and as a result other healers tended to do better than us. In our raid team, there were many fights where I would sit myself for the other healers because they were that good and the numbers worked out better. I did the same thing with the second restoration shaman in our group. Do I think I’m a crappy healer? Do I think the other restoration shaman just sucks? No, I don’t, it was just better numbers to configure our raid healers a different way to optimize success.

When you have to bench someone who is a friend of yours, especially in real life, sometimes it’s hard for that person not to be upset by it. I understand that, I get that, but it’s not personal. It’s not that they aren’t your friend, or that you suck at the game, it’s just that things needed to be done a different way. It’s not an easy decision to make, but sometime’s it’s the necessary one You have to separate the leader from the friend when those decisions are handed down the same way you would if your friend was your boss at your 9-5 job. It’s not easy, but it is what it is.

A sellers market
Make your own choices
Evaluate your position

There’s a saying that “it’s my game time and I’ll play how I want to play.” That’s all good and true, I mean you are paying to play the game. Consider, however, that you might not be in the best place to play the game the way you want to. A progression raiding group is going to be looking for a pretty solid set of criteria.  These include, but are not limited to the following

  • Are you willing to change your spec, gearing, chants and reforging to a more optimal setup?
  • Are you willing to play a spec you don’t normally play?
  • Are you willing to be benched if it’s for the good of the team?
  • Are you open to criticism about your performance and information to help attempt to improve your output?

If you answer no to any of these, then you should probably not try to get into a progression raiding guild. If you don’t want to budge on how you play your game it’s just not the right environment for you. Blizzard has made a big deal out of “bring the player, not the class, or spec or cooldown” etc. For the most part that’s true, but when you’re edging into hard mode encounters, or sometimes just a normal encounter in itself, and you want to get through it quickly and efficiently, then it simply isn’t always the case. See above where I benched myself for the good of the raid on a fight. No matter what, there’s always going to be an optimal setup. Whether it’s a raid full of paladins, or nothing but druid healers in a group, there will always be a tweak. Can you do the fights without the optimal group? Sure, but it becomes harder and harder as you progress through content. Sounds counter intuitive, but I assure you it’s true.

Another truth here is that right now it’s a sellers market. What do I mean by that? Cataclysm has royally screwed recruitment over pretty badly. Finding new members to add to your guild  can be a pain and prove rather difficult, especially when you’ve something specific in mind. It’s not that “beggars can’t be choosers” or anything of that nature, but a progression raiding guild might not be keen on accepting that applicant in normal Cataclysm blues and can’t spell their own name when the group is trying to kill heroic Deathwing. There’s a guild for everyone out there, and you need just look if you want to play a particular way that you aren’t allowed to where you are.

LFR
Doing what it takes
Better for the guild as a whole

This is something of a recent development, and something that irked me a little bit. A lot of guilds out there do LFR weekly as a group in order to obtain set bonuses for raiders, gear up new recruits and sometimes just to get a feel for the fight. It makes sense really, it’s an easy way to gear up and see the fights, and still have a bit of a safety net. Hell, my guild even did it for a few weeks to get some set bonuses in action. As a group we were going to go in, and just pound out the 8 bosses on LFR and then go back and do normal raiding. With the raid as geared as it was, LFR should have been easy and would do nothing but help everyone.

What got me about it was that some folks just simply said no and refused to participate in the LFR runs, even if it would help them and the raid as a group. I understand having a preference, I myself am not a huge fan of LFR any longer, but even I showed up for those runs because it allowed people to gear up, see fights and did nothing but raise the entire guild higher and help with normal raiding. What got me was that those same people wanted priority on invites to the normal raid, and expected to get the normal equivalent gear. When neither happened, they complained.

Not going to say someone should be forced into doing something they don’t want to do, but the way it was handled was bad. Immaturely logging out, refusal to listen to reason, and claiming that there wasn’t anything in it for them so they wouldn’t do it. Even when it was needed most, refusing to help the guild by tagging along. Like above, you have to be willing to give a little, especially in a group who wants to accomplish progression raiding. Sometimes you’ll be asked to do something you don’t want to do to help the group. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet, and if you can’t, then maybe you’re in the wrong place.

In the end

This is what’s been on my mind for two tiers now. Working out ways to do what needs to be done, and convey that the decisions aren’t personal, that the raid group as a whole is a larger organism thriving on everyone in the group working to the same means. It’s hard sometimes. It’s frustrating, and borderline infuriating some nights. But, it is what it is. At the end of the day, it’s the officers who bear an incredible amount of burden. Now, I’m not quitting or burning out mind you, just needed to gather my thoughts and get them out “on paper” so to speak. I appreciate my raiders and the ones that not only give me their all but also do more than that. The ones that send me funny tells in raid to keep me laughing or just making sure we’re progressing, I appreciate their actions and what they do for us the officer corp, and for the raid group as a whole.  Sorry for the brain-dump folks, but hope you enjoyed a glimpse into the skull of ol’ Lodur here.