Monthly Archives: April 2010

I seem to have misplaced my pants.

A funny thing is happening with my pug runs lately. I haven’t been able to connect much with Lara so I’ve just been doing a few randoms on my own. But the strange thing is, they’re getting exceedingly…competent. Nothing funny is happening as a result of this, which is something of a relief but also leads to a strange feeling of… I’m not sure what to call the feeling. In any case, my guild’s two very vocal protection paladins have been badgering me about being Prot. One of them referred disparagingly to me in the manner of, “Well, what can you do with a pally who won’t tank, anyway?” and the other one insisted “But you could see things the way I see them!” I told him that:

1) I have little to no gear for this venture. Especially, no shield.
2) Learning to tank in pugs at nearly 80 would probably not go well. Learning to tank in heroics would be even worse, so conditionally I’ll only do it if I can drag some guildies along. Which is actually a terrible idea because they’re all ICC-geared and will pull from me casually and effortlessly, but at least they probably wouldn’t die. We had our ret paladin tank Oculus the other day without a single death. How does it make tanks feel to be superfluous? Probably the same way I feel when I’m “healing” my husband’s warrior tank.

Anyway, so I told our pally tank these things, and he said, “You have a shield, you have a healing shield!” and I laughed at him. Then my Violet Hold run came up, and this tanking shield dropped. The tank already had it. With an inward sigh, I piped up, “Does anyone mind if I take that for offspec?” Nobody minded. I have a tanking shield.

“The WoW gods!” pushy paladin proclaimed. “They’re trying to tell you!”

I queued for another random, this time winding up in Gundrak. The only remarkable thing about this Gundrak run was that, firstly, the paladin tank was pretty tough to heal. In an “OMG why is she taking so much damage it’s just trash”  kind of way. We went on like this for a little ways, myself not understanding, but not having time to look at her gear (can’ttalkhealingguys). I couldn’t even remark on it or ask her what was up because I just had to be continuously healing her. I can’t work in these conditions! Anyway, it dawned on me, long after the first boss and somewhere near the trash before the “I’m a purple mojo, no wait, I’m a construct” boss.

She was level 74. The trash in Gundrak is 77, and the bosses are 78. There’s a reason they were beating the everloving snot out of her. That she was even able to hold aggro on them was impressive to me, and I told her so. The whole group loved her, we made it through without any problems…and a tanking ring dropped. Everyone greeded on it. “Does anyone mind if I take that for offspec?” I asked again. Nobody did. If the loot gods have a message for me, I’m not listening.

Unfortunately, presently I’m conflicted. Actually I’m not conflicted at all, I’m decided. Experience gains from Northrend dungeons is the pits. There, I said it. I can do a whole instance like Gundrak, and it’ll net me two bars or something. I can do three quests and get the same. So I’ve quested in some strategic spots to creep my way to level 80 – Zul’drak, for a few quest rewards. These were necessary quest rewards, primarily because…

I disenchanted my pants. Yes. In an effort to make room, I said, “Oh, look at these crappy green pants,” crush, crush, sparkly magic dust, and then later I went to heal something. “…where are my pants?”

So I had to quest to find a new pair of pants. I also want the Argent Crusade folks to love me because they offer some good pants to wear at level 78, with a socket even. Things To Cover My Rear are a primary concern for me, you see. And they also have a ring I can wear once I’m Exalted with them and 80. I don’t know how much of this gear will be obsolete, but I’d really like to minimize the amount of ilevel 200 crafted gear I’ll need. I did buy some BoEs, but it seems that largely, the gear from normal instances is aimed at letting you move into heroics, if you have enough of it, right? This could be a misconception on my part, but I feel that with a solid tank I shouldn’t need too much in the way of additional fancy sparklies of the crafted variety. More on that when I get to eighty and get crushed.

And it will happen soon, oh yes. I quested through a bit of Icecrown yesterday (I wanted the Cannoneer’s Fuselighter, and also to hear Tirion shout “THE TIME OF THE ARGENT CRUSADE IS NOW. Fight them with the fire of a thousand burning suns in your heart!” or similar).

So, to make a long story short: I’d like to be 80! It would take a zillion pugs between 77 and 80 without any questing to do it. Shiny paladin heals are fun. Here are some search results from this week:

helmet dropped in scarlet monastery: This is a good thing, isn’t it? I’m not sure why you had to google it. Did you feel guilty? It dropped and then I ROLLED ON IT. That makes you, you know, someone who runs instances. It’s cool.

stuck outside maraudon of instance dead: You have to head towards the cave. Then run in circles awhile. Head towards the colour of crystals you were doing. In my case, this was usually purple.

scarlet monastery lost in graveyard: I’m really sorry, but you’re beyond help. You’re worse than I am, and I’m pretty bad.

underwear outside pants: You can thank Vid’s earlier, dubious fashion choices for this bizarre search result.

Oh, the shame.

ninja! shadowfang keep: I think this is my favourite search result, somewhat related to the one below it. I was talking about the sneaky orcs in Shattered Halls, but of course it would lead to people indignant about loot ninjas in their groups. It’s the exclamation point that makes it, I think. It conveys a sense of shock and resentment. There! Was! A! Ninja!

shattered halls ninjas: I’d say, “Don’t worry, you’ll run it again and get the same loot,” but even I only ran Shattered Halls once, so I’m very sorry for your troubles.

biggest ninja: It wasn’t me, I swear.

things you’re not supposed to notice
: In my case, it was a chipper rogue I wasn’t supposed to notice, but I like that it’s bringing conspiracy theorists here, maybe. There are so many things you aren’t supposed to notice! Thoughtcrime is death. “Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they they have rebelled they cannot become conscious,” etc.

tank map of gnomer?
: Cassandri made a really spiffy one.

Still Very Important

We interrupt your regularly scheduled painful pug discussion to talk about something else near and dear to my heart. (Okay, pugs aren’t always near and dear to my heart, but you know what I mean).

The other morning, I was sitting at my desk working away when I happened to glance over at Twitter. 35 new tweets? Something must have happened. Yes, this had happened.

25 and 10-person raids will now share a raid lockout, and drop the same items.

Maybe I don’t talk about it very often here, since this is where I write about my masochistic aim to heal every Tom, Dick, and Harry of WoW, but I’m the GM of a strict ten-man guild. I wasn’t always the GM so I can’t take credit for conceiving it, but I inherited it a few months ago and it is going strong. I’m even going to blow our own horn for a second and say that we’re 20th in the US for strict tens progression. We’ve done 9/12 heroic modes, we’re working on heroic Putricide and Sindragosa right now. After that, The Lich King! Top twenty is not the absolute pinnacle, but we definitely don’t have anything to be ashamed of when comparing ourselves to other strict tens guilds. Business Time is a hard-mode focused  tens guild full of some of the best players I’ve had the privilege to play WoW with. Moreover, they’re all people who deliberately choose to eschew twenty-fives, although the twenty-fivess offer better loot and more emblems. They said to themselves, “Yes, I could get better loot by going the other route, but that’s not what I want to do.”  For those who might be unfamiliar with it, ten man guilds typically measure progression rankings using Guild Ox’s “strict” ten man definition. Essentially, when you kill a boss on 25-man (in the case of current progression, Marrowgar 25) it puts up a flag for Guild Ox, you’ve had x number of people in the guild kill Marrowgar 25. This was done in order to prevent people “gaming” the system, and it means that we can have a limited number of people in the guild with that achievement (seven or less). Right now we’re sitting at six. Of course it means that those six people can keep running ICC 25 to get gear, but I think only one person in the guild actually does do ICC 25, possibly two.

Staying “strict” hasn’t always been easy. It means that when we’re recruiting people, we have to keep an eye on what they have or haven’t done, because we could inadvertently exclude ourselves from the rankings. Yes, the rankings are just e-peen, but progression raiding has a component of e-peen. It’s part of how we’re able to attract people to join the guild in the first place. “Yes, it’s ‘just’ ten mans, but look! We’re pretty good for people doing ‘just’ ten mans!” Finding folks who want to join a strict tens guild is also not easy. On a few occasions, I’ve gone after adverts on the recruitment forums – people who specify that they want their guild of choice to be running tens because they really enjoy tens, and I’ll say, “Have you thought about a strictly tens guild?” Sometimes, it even works! The rest of the time, people might not be rude enough to laugh in my face, but they may as well be. The underlying understanding is, “Twenty-fives are real raiding,” but I’m often unconvinced that they don’t just mean “Twenty-fives have the best gear drops.”

It’s always been something we emphasized in BT, that we get loot to raid, not the other way around. Committing to tens raiding means giving up any hope of ever seeing that best-in-slot trinket that EJ has shown will maximize your DPS. It means knowing that you’ll have to work twice as hard to get equivalent gear, but you’ll get badges about twice as slowly. It means that when we downed The Lich King on 10-man, with our 10-man gear, it was a huge deal to me. A twenty-five man guild can go strolling in and do the same thing with their better gear, and I’ll be honest, I don’t consider it as great a feat or as big an accomplishment. It just isn’t. When you overgear an encounter you can guarantee heavier healing from your healers, higher DPS overall from your DPS, and greater survivability from your tanks. The encounters are supposedly tuned for the level of gear they reward, and I believe that largely they are.

The DPS requirements for Heroic Saurfang are brutal. The healing is incredibly unforgiving. It’s heroic for a reason, and I’m so proud of our guild for doing as well with the heroic mode challenges as they have done. All strict tens have been asking for is parity; for the recognition that what we do isn’t a joke, that just because it takes fewer people, doesn’t mean that it’s “easy mode.” I would have been willing to accept the same items dropping in tens as in twenty-fives, even with just lower ilevel and stat allocations. People who do strict tens aren’t looking to take anything away from people who’d rather do twenty-fives. I believe that’s true. I wish I could say the same of all the twenty-fives raiders I’ve encountered, concerned with making sure their e-peen is gilded while leaving those of us who have chosen a different path out in the cold.

Yes, I said “different,” different, not lesser. And that’s been our gripe all along. You can argue difficulty levels until you are blue in the face, but I firmly believe that tens place the responsibility for raid success squarely on the shoulders of each and every player. If one of your two healers dies in a ten man, you just lost 50% of your healing. If a DPS dies, you’ve quite likely lost the DPS you needed to beat the enrage timer, unless you completely overgear the instance. Sure, I might think that ten mans are easy too, if I were running them in my 25-man gear. I’m starting to get really great gear now since our guild has been beating hard modes every week. We’re gradually upgrading our T10 pieces to be sanctified, and each time we do it is not a cakewalk. These are hard-won tokens. They drop from Saurfang, a fight difficult enough to punish all but the most on-the-ball raiders – one missed taunt, one blood beast not carefully controlled, and he gains enough blood power that it probably spells a wipe. When he drops a token we have earned it! Likewise with heroic Blood Queen – she’s pumping out a massive amount of damage and with our current raid DPS we make the enrage but only if everyone bites their intended target on time, and nobody screws up.

Understand that I’m not saying “Boo hoo ten mans are so hard, poor us,” not at all. We like them to be hard. I love the challenge of tens, which is to me, a challenge in play and not a Human Resources challenge. I don’t think I even know twenty-four people in real life I would happily say I’d like to spend three hours listening to. Why wouldn’t I want to raid, with people whose company I enjoy, doing content that challenges us? That’s what I’m already doing, and Blizz is recognizing that what we’re doing is valid and worthy of reaping the same rewards for effort expended. Many people have spoken up about this, pretty much every blog I read has weighed in to say something. I’m not looking to be excessively controversial – what it comes down to is that I’m all about having fun in this game, and I don’t want my fun to interfere with that of other people. I think that people who want to do twenty-fives, can and will still do them. If people stop doing twenty-fives because tens are what they enjoyed all along, then there was something broken in the first place, and I just can’t bring myself to feel bad about it. I’ve spent this entire expansion sifting through gear to find “not best-in-slot but good enough” gear I was able to obtain from ten mans, trying to convince potential recruits that tens were worth committing to, and watching people wearing twenty-five man gear steamrolling ten mans and laughing about how easy they are. It gets old. I think this can best be summed up by a whispered conversation I had with a mage on my server.

Mage: Hey, are you guys recruiting?
Me: Yes, but we really only need a heal/dps hybrid right now.
Mage: lol aw damn, I have bandages!
Me: Heh, yeah, I know how it is to be a pure DPS when people mostly want hybrids.
Mage: Well keep me in mind ok?
Me: Yes. You should know though (I had a fair idea that he hadn’t researched us at all at this point) that we’re a strict ten man guild. We only run ten-mans, we never run 25s.
Mage: lol why would u do that
Me: Because we like it.

An irrelevant point is that the mage ended this conversation by saying something like “Good luck /tapthatass” to me… (I really don’t know, don’t ask). But if I never have to have that conversation with anyone again with them asking, “lol why would u do that?” then that in itself will make these changes worth it as far as I’m concerned. I have many reasons for doing that, I’m happy to expound upon them at great length.

Even the patience of the Draenei has its limits

Vidyala has had ridiculously awesome luck with loot drops since beginning Northrend instances. It’s as if the Loot Gods look and say, “Lo, and it shall be healing plate,” and it is. I’ll admit something to you all here. This is what I envisioned when I rolled a holy Paladin. So many times I’d seen spellpower plate dropping and thought, “That stuff drops so often, and there’s no one here to take it. If only I had a holy paladin, she would be so well-dressed.” Yes, the motivating factor behind my alt-project, avarice, of course. It’s even working; she’s starting to be so well-dressed! I even had a fancy chestpiece drop, that I don’t wear but I was tempted. Losing 10% of my XP gain is bad, but the chestpiece itself has better stats than my heirloom.

Of the slots in which I am not wearing heirlooms, Vid has:

Head: Unbreakable Healing Amplifiers (an iLevel 200 I can wear at level 72, with a meta socket…thank you, Engineering!)
Neck: Mark of the Spider (BoE zone drop in Azjol-Nerub)
Back: Cloak of Azure Lights (OK, this one was a quest reward… the cloak from Jedoga in Old Kingdom dropped but I lost the roll to a warlock).
Wrist: Glowworm Cavern Bindings (BoE zone drop in Old Kingdom, mail, but it replaced wrists I had from a quest in Nagrand)
Off-hand: Tharon’ja’s Aegis (Tharon’ja in Drak’tharon Keep)
Hands: Aura Focused Gauntlets (Krik’thir the Gatewatcher in Azjol-Nerub)
Waist: Crawler-Emblem Belt (Elder Nadox, Old Kingdom)
Feet: Greaves of the Blue Flight (Ormorok the Tree Shaper, Nexus)

Basically, if Loot For A Paladin can drop, it has dropped, including BoE stuff that my group members were kind enough to let me have (even in one case of mail). I have absolutely nothing to complain about. I’m also a bit obsessive so I’m planning gear for 80.

For anyone else who might be gearing up a healing paladin sometime soon, here are the resources I’ve found. I welcome the addition of any I may have missed, in the comments! Some of them are unfortunately a bit outdated (e.g. Banana Shoulders, it’s a great guide but it was written before the current tier of emblems, and before the ICC and ToC instances).

Paladincraft.net’s Holy Paladin Gearing

Elitist Jerks Holy Paladin Thread

Banana Shoulders Pre-Raid Holy Paladin Gear List

Wowhead Forum topic someone else wrote about gearing their alt holy spec

Since I’ve hit Northrend with Vid, a funny thing is happening with my pugs. I’m awash in the sheer volume of them. It used to be easy to write an entry, “Oh, I went to this hour-long instance, I’ll write about that.” Now I’ve done Nexus something like six times.

One time was with a paladin tank who had apparently fallen from the sky, into Nexus, with little notion of how to use any of his tools and bad gear to match. He was incredibly hard to heal and I think still learning to tank – or had just queued as a tank for the fast queue times. He was slow. And I’m not of the “gogogo” school, I’d never pull for the tank, or be rude, but this guy was ponderously…just inching his way…through the instance. We could still be there, that’s all I’m saying.

I got dropped into Azjol-Nerub with a tank who was actually from my own server, and I remembered again what Veneretio said about how the dungeon tool is ruining your chances for raid tanking. I don’t know about that in this guy’s case, but I am surprised at the people who don’t seem interested in making connections even when they COULD. I mean, he seemed like a competent tank, I whispered him but he didn’t answer me (I’ll usually ask, “Hey, mind if I add you to my friends’ list?” This tank didn’t want to be my friend, which is fine, but really – how many people would pass up the opportunity to meet a decent enough healer, who isn’t a jerk and seems friendly? Before LFD, my friends list (on my old server) was crowded with tanks I’d met in pugs. I actually once logged over from one healer to another after running a pug with a tank, and he whispered me, “Hey, would you like to come heal xyz,” and I had to laugh because I’d just been running with him. He didn’t know they were both my characters, he’d just noted me as a healer on separate occasions. But nowadays, I guess people figure why bother to make friends on your server? Your next dungeon run is an instant queue away, and there’s a revolving merry-go-round of people willing to fill each role.

I know it’s ironic, coming from me, considering the name and focus of this blog so far, but I find this immensely disheartening. I said from the very beginning that my reason for pugging was that I enjoy the social and teamwork aspect of the game. I didn’t want to silently quest to 80 on yet another character, all by my lonesome. And for me, the experiment with Vidyala has been a smashing success, not the least of which is because a few people with stray characters have come to visit on Moonrunner. I’ve met great people, expanded my social circle – I’ve even met people on my server who happen to read here for some reason or other, which is really cool. But I’ve yet to meet more than a passing acquaintance through a pug. I used to meet people that way all the time.

Anyway, my failpug story for this entry comes to you from Azjol-Nerub, an instance so simple it’s hard to imagine that anyone could mess it up. Yet somehow, this DK tank did. We zoned in and pulled the first trash pack; everything was looking fine, we had no problems, and then the action ground to a halt. We looked back at the tank – he was just standing there. “Did he disconnect?” someone wondered. We did the WoW-equivalent of waving a hand in front of his face. We waited a few minutes, people grumbling. We tried to kick him (still had to wait 12 minutes before being able to kick him). We’d just started thinking about dropping group when miraculously, he moved! Without a word of apology or explanation, he ran in to aggro the next patrol (in Azjol-Nerub, one of the three-packs before the first boss).

The problem is, he was terrible. Aggro? He’d never heard of it. I know that the skirmisher has no aggro table, so that’s not his fault, but it wasn’t the only loose mob. I was web-wrapped and nobody freed me. I lost two DPSers on the first pull…and then we all started to panic as the next pack came towards us (I wasn’t able to get off a rez in time)… the tank had gone AFK. Again.

He came back and said, “Why is everyone dead!” I replied, “That’s what happens when you AFK in the middle of a pull,” while the shadow priest chimed in, “Seriously? You don’t know that these packs are all tied together?” It’s not rocket surgery to figure out when a pug is going south fast with no hope of recovery. I told the tank, “I will rez you, but then I’m out of here, this isn’t worth my time, sorry guys.” That’s what 59-odd levels of pugging have taught me – some pugs aren’t worth saving, it’s best to just put it down. I  have no guilt.

Somewhere in there I had my first Violet Hold run (uneventful). I’m starting to run into people whose 80 friends are running normals with them. It made healing the VH tank sort of a joke. I could have been retribution for that run I think, easily. When I’m not running pugs I’ve been doing a few other things – going back to do now-grey Hellfire quests for the Honor Hold rep. Do you know the quest where you have to assist the Draenei anchorite with an exorcism? He gives you the prayer beads that the dog stole and buried (I think Rades may have mentioned this…)

Anyway, I was doing that quest the other day, and you can target either the anchorite or the “released darkness” (floating skulls). I kept having to retarget the NPC to use the beads on him. Of course NPCs all do that oddly jarring “generic response” thing when you click them, which often leads to funny times:

Very angry human NPC in quest text! But you click him and he says, “Hey there!”

This Draenei was the opposite! I clicked on him the first time and he said, “You have other matters to attend to, yes?”

Sure, I’m helping you with the prayer bead thing. Look, see? I clicked him again.

“The Naaru frown upon such behaviour,” he admonished me.

But I’m just trying to help out! I target and click him again. He says, “Even the patience of the Draenei has its limits,” and then at another click, “I think I hear someone calling you…” This poor NPC just wants me to leave him alone so he can do his “Back, demon!” thing. I was really just being helpful.

It was the final one that broke me, though. In a tone of increasing irritation and despair, there in the midst of the exorcism, the Draenei demanded to know, “Who taught you to act like this?!” NPCs have it rough.

p.s. – I heard a little something about changes to the way that raids work. I’m sure you have too, unless you’re living under a rock. I’ll probably write about them sometime soon, maybe after the furor dies down a little. My unadulterated glee is having trouble expressing itself in 8000 words or less.

p.p.s. – The only funny search result that brought someone here this week was “Straight outta Gnomeregan.” The rest of them are variations of “I died in Blood Furnace,” “How do I get my corpse out of Blood Furnace,” and “Blood Furnace corpse run.” The answer? You came to the very, very wrong place, it took me at least twenty minutes.

Yes, I will murder those men in cold blood to avenge your son (again).

Many thanks to Zelmaru for the Recycle a Post for Earth Day idea. I like it because 1) it’s a post I already have, and 2) it’s a post I already have… but that few people read because I posted it back when the blog had that new blog smell.

This post was originally entitled, “Yes, I will murder those men in cold blood to avenge your son. For great justice,” and can be found here. Although I don’t know why you’d want to find it, since it’s all right here below. It’s so cute, Vid was level 23 when I wrote it. Happy Earth day, everyone!


I keep learning all of these utility things and I feel like such a paladin padawan. Like I learned Hand of Salvation. I know a ret pally will use this on themselves to make sure they don’t pull threat and then go splat. Is it typical for a pally healer to use it in a similar fashion to put on a DPS? Should I save it for myself in case I have a terrible tank and am pulling healing threat (not an unheard of situation, believe me).

Anyway, I keep logging on with Vid determined to look into these things beforehand, and end up saying, “Meh, I’ll figure it out” and just diving in. Today I managed to squeeze in three full instances; leveling handily from 23 some odd to 26. Incidentally – I’m referring to people by their classes instead of their names here to preserve at least some anonymity, not because I actually call people “Tank” or “Hey you person that smacks things.”

Stormwind Stockades – “Shaman didn’t pull shit!”
First up on the random menu, home to Stormwind’s nastiest criminals. No really, these guys are level twenty. One of them even has a BoP blue, they mean business.

I’m learning a few pug cues I never really paid attention to before. One: when your tank walks into Stocks and says “Which way?” you’re probably not in for a great run. Those of you who’ve never had the dubious ‘pleasure’ of enjoying this instance may not know what I mean… it’s a corridor, in essence. You start at the centre. You can go left, and then after you’ve cleared left, you’ll be going right. Or you can go right, and then you’ll be clearing left in due time.

It took us so long to go through this instance that by the time we were going right, we had re-spawns. I didn’t even know Stocks could HAVE respawns. The warrior tank didn’t exactly know what he was doing, but we muddled through regardless. Poor DPS at these levels is giving me ample opportunity to judge Wisdom and then flail ineffectually at things with my healing mace to try and get some mana back. I think it’s working somewhat.

At one point we had a group member drop, just as we were coming to the room with the ogre boss. Now, I’m a little vague on the details of what happened here. I’m pretty sure I saw the hunter’s wolf run into the room on the right. I’m tempted to say I saw the warrior tank sprint merrily into the room on the left. And I know for a fact that I followed the shaman into another room. The tank exclaimed gleefully while we were running back to our bodies, “I think I counted ten at one point!”

Did you know the graveyard you appear at when you die in Stocks is in Elwynn? Neither did I! On the long run back I coached my group members on the finer points of not aggroing half the damn instance. “Do you think we need a fifth?” the tank asks. “Nope, we’ll be fine if we don’t pull all three rooms. The hunter pulled a room, you pulled another, and the shaman ran into a third.” The shaman insisted he was only following the feared warrior tank (this is possible) with an emphatic, “Shaman didn’t pull shit!” I had to give him credit for his conviction, but being that I stood in the doorway of a room full of mobs into which he cast a lightning bolt… I remain dubious.

We go back in to try again, unfortunately we somehow lost Dextren Ward in the fray, and he won’t respawn, so we can’t chop his hand off. It’s during this confused trash clearing that I realize something. Every single green that drops, the Hunter is rolling Need on it. When he rolls need on Bright Mantle, I call foul.

Me: Hunter, why are you needing on everything?
Hunter: cuz I can use it and make my armor better
Hunter: do you know how hard it is not to die from melee as a hunter?
Shaman: You should play a lock priest or mage they wear cloth
Hunter: I need the best possible protection
Me: I hope Bright Mantle helps, lol
Hunter: I can use Cloth, Leather and when I hit 40 Mail.
Shaman: Cloth is for a damn caster type… you should only roll need on Leather
Me: I am sure he does, LMAO
Hunter: O chit I gotta go, sorry
Hunter: but cloth shoulders were the best 4 now
Me: Good luck with your melee problem!

I liked the Tourette’s shaman, he tried to get the hunter to give me the shoulders but I demurred. I left the group secure in the knowledge, at least, that the next time the tank should know which way to go (left or right), and the hunter… bless him, I’ll bet he never runs out of mana, he has such high spirit!

Blackfathom Deeps – Please light one candle at a time, guys
I actually made sure to collect the easily available quests for this instance in case I happened to get popped in line for it – and it pays off! I gained at least half a level from these instance quests; they were all red and orange to me. My second instance is everyone’s favourite murloc-ridden, Twilight Cultist dwelling cavern. I have a fond place in my heart for this instance, because it was the first one I stumbled through as a completely noob priest with no idea what I was doing, a year and a half ago. I hope I acquit myself better as a healer this time around and I can make up for past wrongs. I remember it because being my first character at the time, the other party members actually pointed out how bad my gear was – “lol you need better gear!” and I shamed them by saying that it was my first character and I couldn’t afford the AH prices to buy anything.

Vidyala, on the other hand, practically glows when she walks she’s so laden with antiques, so nobody tells her she needs better gear. I join the instance in progress, they’ve already downed the turtle boss, and a mage joins at the same time as I do. We head down the tunnels as the mage begins attacking neutral crabs or something. I tell him we don’t need to kill those, we’re trying to get to the group. As it turns out, the group comes to us, as we reach the first true boss: platform jumping.

I can only assume that the current generation of young WoW players missed out on Mario or something, because we spend an inordinate amount of time waiting for this poor mage to manage three jumps in a row to make it across the water. I remember there’s a cheat you can run along the wall and skip it, but instead I watch as the shaman coaches the mage by showing him where to jump. Amid “lol wut r u guys doing,” everyone comes back to find us. “I’m helping this mage!” The funniest thing is, this is probably the hardest part of the whole dungeon.

Eventually he gets it and we move on – I have to tell the party “to please stop attacking random crustaceans,” and they manage to restrain themselves for the most part. We had a hard time keeping this party together and at one point I thought we wouldn’t finish it – the mage dropped early on, the shaman not long after. Eventually they’re replaced by a hunter and another rogue. It dawns on me, as we’re moving through the Twilight Cultist section and the hunter’s pet tanks a mob off in the corner and dies – my healing UI is not set up to display warlock or hunter pets. I must remember to fix that before I run another instance.

I really haven’t met many tanks I particularly like or trust doing this. I wonder if that will change or improve as I reach higher levels? They’ve been mostly bumbling and blissfully unaware of the fact that the healer can’t heal them if they run on ahead out of range, or if the healer is completely out of mana since they pulled an entire room of murlocs with their face.

By some miracle though we get this one done, too. I even get a piece of loot at the end! Moss Cinch is better than what I’ve been wearing and we only have cloth-wearing casters, so I need roll on it. Cuz I need it to make my armour better. Do you know how hard it is to avoid being killed in melee as a holy paladin? At 40 I can wear plate and I’ll roll Need on that, too!

Razorfen Kraul – Would anyone actually eat the meat that drops from these mobs?
I need to start taking into account that these classic instances…they’re often LONG. These aren’t “I can knock out a quick instance in 20 minutes” kinds of places. They’re more like “Let’s venture into a tangle of thorns and pigs and see how many times we can get lost, mmkay?”

I’m going to be frank here and admit that I recall very little of this actual instance. The tank was pretty decent, except for the expected oblivious understanding of my mana restrictions as he chain pulled while I gasped along behind. Mana, btw, is lasting a goodly long while now. Flash of Light is helping me a great deal to not just spam massive heals; if we have many melee I can cast Holy Light on the tank and see if the little heal from the glyph will top them all off, and spot heal FoL where necessary. A few pulls in here got pretty hairy, and actually the last boss (some big pig lady?) was interesting, she was casting a chain of lightning sort of effect the whole time. I’m not sure what the range on the jump for it was, since she was tanked in a little hut at the top of the stairs.

Anyway, at that point I realized how intense pally healing can get at this level, when you have a lot of AoE damage going out. If you aren’t constantly casting, you’re doing it wrong. This place had a lot of annoying debuffs I couldn’t dispell just yet. Magic effects, curses. No poisons of course, because those I could dispel.

At some point the tank, hunter and I got hopelessly, uselessly lost on the other side of the instance from the druid.

Tank: “Crap guys, I really have no idea where we are.”
Hunter (as we pull a pair of quilboar) “Why don’t you ask these guys for directions?”
Me: “He won’t, guys never do.”

(You know it’s true). At the end of the instance time is getting really tight for me since I haven’t eaten and we’re raiding in about an hour. Once we finally manage to find the rest of the group I tell them I’ve got five minutes, tops, so let’s get this done. A few minutes later they’re still messing around and I say, “Less talk, more killing!” I mention this only because it prompts the warrior to say, “I’m the one doing all the killing here!” and I tell him, “Well, I’m keeping you alive while you do it, so we’ll call it even.” The feral druid is mightily offended by this, and he interjects, “I disagree! Everyone knows it is us who are doing the damaging, you tank things but we will damage them.”

I glance over at the damage meter. Of course he’s right…kinda. In practice, the feral druid has done less than half the damage the tank has, and none of the DPS are even close to the tank. I point out that he put me on follow and went AFK to eat supper for half the instance, although his theory is sound. The tank links the damage meter. I’m actually a little ashamed to be running a damage meter in an instance at this level. So far the hottest DPS I’ve come across is doing a whopping 50 damage per second! Quilboar don’t have that much HP, y’know.

As Bad As Three-Week Old Tuna Casserole

Vidyala reached another milestone yesterday. Well, it was “yesterday” when I first wrote this, but it’s no longer yesterday. Still, look! For non-paladin people, this screenshot is like secret paladin code for “I am now level 70.”

Every time a pug tank lets a healer drink, an angel gets its wings.

I don’t know why I always seem to end up taking screenshots of her in Ironforge. It’s where I do most of my banking, and my capital city of choice to go to when I need to. Which is nearly never, as she’s an engineer. I honestly just found the engineering AH a few days ago. I had reached Northrend level engineering, and thought, “There’s an engineering trainer in Dalaran! I can just go there.” I clicked on the wrong NPC, and my jaw dropped, literally, as the happy “Ding!” sound of the auction house greeted my ears. I may or may not have turned to my husband and said, “*!&@^@^ there’s a !^!&%!% auction house for engineers in Dalaran,” so great was my surprise and delight.

I have begun Northrend pugging in earnest, quite a bit with my trusty bear, and a little bit on my own. I realized that if I didn’t run some pugs without the “safety net” I might well never do it again. But I was a little afraid. Because you see, we went to Utgarde Keep. And the trash was tough. Everyone was taking a ton of damage, a situation that tends to chill me. “So many people are taking damage!” quickly translates in my mind to “someone is going to die very soon.” In this case I was sort of right – Lara died as we faced Yngvar (a.k.a Mr. Pathetic Failure). All the times we’ve run UK, this has happened.

I’ve found that it’s hard to adapt to the new gear requirements of an expansion without doing a bit of questing to augment. The pre-quests and quests for Nexus have yielded some rather nice returns. I can sense level 80 on the horizon and I am heading for it as quickly as possible! Now my gear is adequate to the instances and I’ve gotten some upgrades inside, as well. We ran Nexus with an extremely oblivious rogue, and a DK who had his eye on my wiener forks, people.

Because Blizz, in their infinite wisdom, won’t let me roll on spellpower mail – even when there’s nobody in the party who would use it, the rogue won some gloves from a boss in Nexus. I lamented that I couldn’t “Need” on them, politely: “Gee, it’s a shame that it doesn’t let me roll on those, I would wear them.” Someone else in the party said, “Oh, that sucks, I would usually hand them over though.” Nothing from the rogue. I said, “Well, that would be nice but it’s entirely up to so-and-so, he’s not obligated.” Which is actually true. Usually polite social pressure works in this scenario, but the rogue was blissfully oblivious. Later on one of the other bosses dropped a fist weapon, and I said (without a hint of sarcasm), “Oh great! I’m glad you got some gear YOU CAN USE.” (OK, so there were no capitals. But still). He said, “Me too.”

Meantime, this Death Knight, wow. I didn’t realize they handed out “Picking up chicks 101″ to Death Knights, because he was a regular Casanova. The conversation (whispered) went something like this:

“Do u work for Blizz?”
“Umm, nope! Why?”
“Ur so polite and nice”
“Not really, I’m Canadian.”
“Oh yah is it cold up there?”
“Not really, the weather’s been really nice, around 50 F.”
“It’s 85 F here in [thisstate] really hot! I like it here I’m originally from [otherstate] though”
(Me, not responding, thinking we could just let this die)
“Love the Canadian accent, BTW”
(Further not responding: and why would he say that? He can’t actually HEAR me typing.)
“Can I keep running with you guys? You and Ann, ur so nice”
“I think we’re finished after this one, sorry.”
(Then finally, at the end)
“I hope I run into you again, ur a really great and nice player!”

Well thanks, DK. U seem nice yourself. A little too nice. I, on the other hand, am probably not as nice as I may otherwise appear. The shadow priest in the same group found this out to his detriment, as he started telling us How To Nexus as we ran into Keri’s room.

“So you have to move when you are taking damage,” he tells the group at large. Nobody really says much. I’ve run this instance so many times. He makes a point of saying it again, but this time he’s pointing it at me. “You have to move when you take damage, Heals,” he says. Yes, heals. “Really?” I type back furiously. “Because I’ve never been here before, I’m glad you knew.”

We finish off Keri with no problems. A funny thing about that damaging aura, though… it persists after she’s actually dead. The shadow priest has taken a lot of damage. Somehow… I’m just not quick enough with the Flash of Light. “You have to move when you take damage,” I tell his corpse helpfully. “I was healing someone else,” he says, sullen. I tell him it’s very nice of him to keep an eye on other people’s health like that. I haven’t quite got the hang of it yet, myself.

When I had time to pug later and Ann wasn’t around, I queued up. I picked Azjol-Nerub specifically because I really wanted to get it done (plus it had loot I had my eye on). I must have the stupidest luck ever, because of the things that Kaliban’s Loot List says are to be found for me in AN – both dropped. A BoE necklace, and the plate healing gloves from the first boss. The group was really nice and let me have the BoE (promptly equipped, replacing my Sethekk Halls quest necklace). The tank was quirky, interesting, and I think doped up on some really powerful cough meds. A few pulls into the instance she says in party, “So, my mage friend and I just wanted to tell you that you are way better than the pally healer that we had earlier today.”
“Thanks,” I respond, “Bad?”

Bad as three-week old tuna casserole!” she says. I can tell this run is going to be fun. And it is, the tank and the mage are joking as we go, my new Northrend gear is proving its worth and healing the place is fine. Interesting, but fine. That’s my happiest instance run zone – people taking enough damage that I need to heal them and I don’t feel like “Why am I here again?” but not so much damage that it’s always a razor’s edge decision as to whether they will live or die. I have something ridiculous like 15K mana now (I know, it’s only the beginning, but for a level 73? I think, not bad.) I ended up running three instances with that group. Azjol-Nerub once, and randomly we drew Utgarde Keep twice. By the end the tank was falling asleep. I told her during the first UK run, that I didn’t want to alarm her but there was this thing that had been happening where I keep killing my tank at Yngvar. “That’s not going to happen,” she replied, and she was actually right. I still don’t
like the fight, but it’s okay now.

The only other thing of note was that I let a moonkin die. I know. My stories seem to have a lot of “I let so and so” die. The thing is, we ran Utgarde Keep twice. The first time, we get to the first narrow, crowded corridor. It is a perfect place, one might think, for a large-radius AoE spell that isn’t targeted. Wait, actually it isn’t a great place for that spell. Nonetheless, the bane of tanks and healers everywhere, and I’m guilty of it myself – Starfall. Also known as “HEY GAIZ I’M HERE CASTING SOME SPELLS COME EAT MY FACE.”

I threw Hand of Protection and beaconed him, healed the tank as she picked up aggro, and he lived, it was all good. So when that instance was done and we queued again and get UK, I wondered – is he going to do the same thing? We run up into the corridor, and sure enough, I see those tell-tale stars. I throw him some heals, initially, giving the tank a chance to pick up the mobs, but her cough medicine is kicking in and she’s a bit slower. He had a ton of things pounding on him and I just let it go. The tank was actually upset, “Was that me? What happened?” she said.

The moonkin, to his credit, owned up right away. “No it was my fault,” he said, and I added, “He is learning that Starfall is both his best friend and worst enemy…” I look at it this way philosophically. It’s better for him to die once in UK when he’s level 71 and maybe pay more attention to when he pops his massive AoE aggro-fest, than for healers to aid and abet that kind of behaviour and have him dying the entire way. Hey, I play a DPS, I know how it is! Why, I know a moonkin who once cast Starfall in the middle of the crowded room before Loken. What moonkin would be so foolhardy, you may wonder? I’ll never tell. Let’s just say I’m aware that my DPSing may come with a healthy dose of death, and almost all of the time it’s well-deserved on my part.

The other thing I wanted to mention was how marked the difference is between: XP gained in Burning Crusade and Classic dungeons versus Northrend dungeons. It’s really not very good. Three instance runs yielded something like eight bars of XP (or less than half a level, if you want to get technical, which I clearly don’t). So there’s another big reason why the “pugging pally” has become the “puquesting pally,” because I want this character to be eighty sometime in the next few weeks. She’s already over four months old. I intend to talk more about the leveling experience once I hit the big 8-0. But for now, I leave you with an image, and a quote from one of our newest guildies. He said, “Your blog makes me want to level an alt! …But not like that.”

The goggles! They do everything! Including gather an army of baby murlocs for me.

“That’s the biggest ninja I’ve ever seen!”

There’s a particular feeling that comes with being a tank and a healer pugging together. It’s a kind of freedom. But more than that, it’s the feeling of “you need us more than we need you.”

Don’t get me wrong, this hasn’t become the blog about how I abuse random puggers. I don’t, and certainly Lara doesn’t. But if a DPS is rude or mouthy – we could kick them, easily, and have another in the time it takes us to click “A member has left your group for [This Instance]. Would you like to find another?” They’re ultimately replaceable. But we’ve been pugging, and it has been fun.

First, I went and did the Nesingwary quests to acquire the Blessed Book of Nagrand. Librams don’t grow on trees, folks, and this is the first one I’ve been able to obtain that actually benefits my healing. I had another one from a Hellfire quest earlier on but it’s not really a Holy libram. So I have this, and lo, it is glorious.

We thought that maybe we’d like to run Escape from Durnholde, and so we’d gone to do the tour-guide pre-quest thing. But when we queued up for it, it was taking an uncommonly long time. (A whole five minutes, no kidding). I remembered that before we’d done the pre-quest there had been a lock symbol (not that kind of ‘lock) next to Durnholde in my LFD queue pane. It won’t put you in there for a random unless you have gone to the Caverns of Time, and done the whole ring-around-the-rosey thing. I consider this a major oversight on Blizz’s part. You worked to make this content, you created the LFD tool so that people would run it. Don’t make it so that the average person can’t hop in there to see it. I like Durnholde, but if we want to do it I think we’ll have to get a group together by asking around in LFG which may be more trouble than it’s worth because I still anticipate the trouble of people not having done the pre-quest. Might be something we’ll need to go back and steamroll later in order to get it done.

Instead we queued for a random, and drew Sethekk Halls again. My husband hates this place so much that when I was running it to get the Anzu mount for my druid, he’d say, “Yeah sure, I’ll go to septic halls with you.” I don’t dislike it, though. We did have a bit of a mishap with one of the mind-controlling totems. The totem picked Lara out of the group – I was frantically trying to beat the totem down, and I think the group turned…and commenced to beat the crap out of my poor bear. She died.

We went on to do The Shattered Halls (what’s with all the Halls places?) It was a pretty interesting run, I’ve never done it at level before. I love having a tank who can innervate me. The gauntlet parts of the instance are just pressing enough that they feel urgent and had me watching my mana use as well as utilizing all the cooldowns available to me. The fire patches at the end of one of these gauntlets proved a bit distracting for one of our DPSers – so attracted was he by the glowing light, much like a moth, that he walked into it and ignited promptly. A similar event happened on the boss who puts shadow void zones on the ground, but I’m sure the incident was unrelated.

I was briefly excited to think that I could blow the door down with one of my engineering bombs, but sadly, I couldn’t. We had no rogue and no blacksmith of the appropriate level either, so we had to Scooby Doo it through the sewers of fel orc muck. Overall, I liked Shattered Halls, it was challenging enough. I would not have liked it with a less familiar tank, though.

He really is a big ninja.

After we were done there, we wanted more of a challenge. Unable to get through the portal to the Isle of Quel’Danas (affectionately referred to hereafter as the Isle of WTF, a moniker that has persisted since the first time I went to do dailies there at level 70 and was bewildered by the mass of people and mobs), we opted to queue for it via LFD without actually picking up the attunement quest.

Our MgT group was actually pretty good. We had two mages and a DK. The DK was one of those random, loud people that just says stuff and leaves you scratching your head. I find these types always make a pug run entertaining, if nothing else. We had a bit of a mishap at the first boss (I want to say Selin Fireheart, but I’m not sure if that’s right). One mage and the DK didn’t come into the room as we were engaging, and got locked out. “YOU LOCKED US OUT OF THE ROOM,” the DK exclaimed. Lara apologized and said she hadn’t meant to, and he stood outside the door ranting and raving the whole time. “Lier,” he said, “You meant to do it.” We assured him that we really hadn’t deliberately been trying to three-man the boss…which we then proceeded to three-man with nary a hitch. And to think, my guild told me I’d need the Arcanite Reaper to do DPS. Hah!

Magister’s Terrace was probably the most pugging fun I’ve had since… the most pugging fun that I’ve had. I knew that going in at only level 69 was fairly bold of us – that instance isn’t messing around. Much like the Icecrown Citadel 5-man instances, back at 70 it had better loot than most of the other instances, and was a “step up” in difficulty. We actually employed crowd control (two sheeped mobs per group, on some pulls) and methodically made our way through with little further incident. The one thing I wasn’t looking forward to was Kael’thas. The kiting necessary to keep the phoenix engaged is tricky. We entrusted this task to one of the mages initially, but I’m pretty sure that the Death Knight got involved. In any case, while we were flying around and freaking out and I was trying to heal the massive AoE damage, one mage died. Then the other mage tried to take over – that mage died too. Then the Death Knight died.

It was just Lara and I, and Kael’thas. “I’ll turn your world upside down!” he kept yelling. I do not mind admitting, I was completely freaking out. Healing on the run is not my strong suit with this character. I slapped Beacon on myself. I healed Lara. I’d swim/fly by and holy shock her, pause for a second to toss a quick FoL, then when we landed, I’d Judge Kael’thas and swipe away at him with my silly healing mace, and Holy Shock, and just whatever. It was hair-raising. It took several “flight” phases. But we got him down! Just the two of us. And for an extra treat, look what he dropped:

I will pet him, and love him, and call him George.

I wanted either Lara or I to have him. I won the roll with a 100, but we will maybe have to go back and get one for her too, when we can do the place with only two. Needless to say, I felt that we earned that little phoenix, even though the DK made a rude gesture at me for my hundred roll. One of the mages was extremely gracious in saying, “I think that it should go to the ones left standing,” which obviously I couldn’t say on our behalf, but I was secretly thinking. When you down the last boss of MgT with just two people, it’s kind of a big deal.

After that, we did this:

Your pathetic failure will serve as a warning to all.

First Northrend instance (twice), and first Triumph emblems. (Why, back in my day, Triumph emblems didn’t just grow on trees… we were grateful to have an instance with DPSers who seemed to know where their “2” button was and didn’t pull aggro. We traipsed all the way to the meeting stone and we liked it…!) But I have to admit, I don’t much mind the change for my spoiled alts. Pugging to 80 should amass a goodly amount of emblems that will serve me well. Right now, even with twinked out gems in my gear I felt that healing this instance was a struggle. Not the whole way, but definitely hairy at parts. I have been using Beacon (Highest DPS/health or myself, and not hunters) and that helps some. I figure that some more gear for Lara and myself probably won’t hurt, even if it means giving up all those luscious gem sockets. I can’t help but remember that everything I’ve read also says that healing five-mans is harder than healing raids, and I could see why that would be. To some extent, is that going to change though, with the Cataclysm changes?

On that note, you won’t find a breakdown of Cataclysm changes for any class here. I’m too easily distractable with my various alts. I can jot down my reactions, though.

Mage: Heck yes we are getting Mage Heroism. There isn’t a single mage change I’m not happy about. They’re mixing up Arcane a little bit, and looking at Fire (which used to be one of my favourite trees to play) and even Frost is getting a bit of attention. I really like being a mage, and Cataclysm looks like it’ll be a good time to be one.

Druid: They went and made all the trees sad. Well, most of the trees. I’m a fairly indifferent tree. If anything, I dislike moonkin form and wish I could choose to eschew it, but it’s one of those things I just deal with because I love the druid’s utility. We were doing Yogg + One Light the other day to get some more people Rusted proto drakes. I was going into the brain room – if I hadn’t been a druid, I couldn’t have put HoTs on the melee as we ran, then went boomkin at the brain and DPSed the heck out of it. Druids are very cool. I think the solution to have the perma-tree form be a minor glyph is a reasonable one. I wouldn’t personally glyph it, but it would let folks glyph it who care about the form a great deal.

Shaman: Right now the shaman is a strong contender for a Class I Might Like To Play More come Cataclysm. The changes aimed at making resto a more mobile healer are quite yummy, as well as instant cast Lava Bursts (Lava burst to the face!) We’ll have to see how this goes, but I like it.

Paladin: I don’t think the nerf to Beacon was a huge surprise. What we have here is a class/spec that is so strong in many contexts that it makes any other option laughable. We’re working on Heroic Saurfang right now and without a Holy Paladin’s ability to heal two people at once… it’s hard. I know that “bring the player not the class” can go too far, but in some cases it can go Not Far Enough. We have a great resto druid and Disc priest but the two of them together can’t touch this encounter the way a holy paladin could. I’m not sure why Blizz delayed the announcement when they announced really, so little. Except the Hands thing. Because I needed another “hands” spell to not get confused about. Yes.

Finally, search engine terms! Because I love them.

can a dk tank ramparts – My personal experience suggests otherwise, but your mileage may vary.

pugs sudden death – Yes, they do that. I’d suggest first things first: Look down. Are your feet on fire? If not, look around: Are there corpses located in anything that resembles: ooze, void zones, burning patches, freezing patches, or anything else commonly called “floor candy”? One of those corpses may be your tank and/or healer, and is possibly the source of your problem. Few pugs are willing to admit that they may have in any way messed up, as well, which leads to Sudden Pug Death.

troll totem – The newly redesigned totems are very cool. They look like this: Totems!

why is scarlett monastery so great – Why is Scarlet Monastery so great? I think that it’s because it’s broken up into digestible pieces (Graveyard notwithstanding, which is a bit boring). It has enough patrols to keep you on your toes, corner places for line of sight pulls, a guy who tortures people for fun, and some weird dominatrix relationship drama thing at the end, plus a pseudo-cultist religious order has “win” written all over it. It’s also pretty linear, which means I won’t get lost in it.

level 80 running alt thru stockade – You don’t really need to google this, do you? Just…run in and facepull things. Everything, if you want. I like to do it with my priest. Shield, facepull half a wing, Holy Nova! Profit. Tell your lowbie buddy to hang way back and don’t do ANYTHING. Don’t even breathe. Just give you plenty of room, don’t cast, and be a loot monkey, that is their appointed task.

quickest way to finish gnomeregan – Hahaha.

wiener fork healer – That’s Mrs. Wiener Fork Healer to you, bub. What are you staring at? They work for marshmallows too.

Of Tanks and Healers

It’s a special moment, isn’t it? You look into each other’s eyes. You think to yourself, “Now here’s someone who would make a Last Stand for me.” They see a certain something in your gaze, a spark. You might even say, a Flash of Light. You know that this is The One. A tank that you can trust.

There’s a certain something about a tank and healer pair, something that people who’ve never played either might not understand. I don’t mean this to be exclusionary, after all – my main raiding character is primarily a damage dealer. But I’ve been a healer and played many healers and it’s truthfully the thing that often draws me back to healing. I find myself missing it.

The tank and healer must cooperate in a way that no other role does. Tanks work together to coordinate pulls, taunts, and specific tasks. Healers work together to know who’s going to heal who and when. You have to be able to trust everyone in your raid team (more about that another time). Of course the tank is watching out for everybody, if they’re a good tank. But your primary task is to keep them alive, and they know that if you die – their grisly demise comes shortly thereafter.You have to be able to depend on each other.

I’ll never forget the time we went back to Ulduar with a new tank. He was new to our group and the encounters. One of the first bosses we tackled was Ignis. This tank was a paladin, and his job was to keep the angry automaton adds off the rest of the raid. We had a Discipline priest healing with myself (resto druid) so the obvious choice was for me to heal the raid, and the OT. Okay. So I was healing this paladin and he missed one of the adds, which merrily proceeded to try and eat my face. I popped Barkskin, started hotting myself up, and then I called out in Vent, “Add on me!”

He snapped back, “I’m a little busy here.

I made a scoff-choking sound of indignation and rage, and then yelled at my monitor (without pushing to talk, naturally), “SO AM I. I’M BUSY TRYING TO HEAL YOUR SORRY *SS.”

I know that he was stressed out because he was new to the encounter, and possibly he’d forgotten that I was a healer… I used to play a DPS role. But I was left with a feeling of betrayal. This tank and I weren’t headed for a good relationship.

The tank’s just not that into you

All the signs are there. They’re pulling away – way, way ahead of you. She says things like, “Heals?” or asks where you were. Actually, amendent, the tank calls you “Heals.” She’s gone while you’re drinking. He doesn’t taunt when something is trying to kill you, or he AFKs when he should be throwing heals your way. There’s no trust there.

I hope we’re not talking about a tank in a raiding situation – but the tank-healer relationship exists in a pug too. Except that pugging is like the equivalent of blind dating fifty people in a row, each less attractive than the previous. They chew with their mouth open or you split the bill and they don’t tip. So what can you do to foster some good tank-healer vibes, both in the short and the long term?

What we have here is a failure to…

I can’t stress this enough. In a pug, communicate, communicate, communicate. If you’re tanking, ask your healer to let you know if their mana is low. Watch their mana. Ask them if they’re comfortable with you making larger pulls. When in doubt about anything, just ask. The healer will know that you are a responsible tank who wants the group to succeed. And you’ll get to know what you can expect from your healer. Even if you’re only together for an hour, you still have to work as a team to get the job done. Don’t ever get accusatory with a healer who seems to be struggling – a bad situation can go from bad to worse. Perhaps they’re new to healing, or maybe you’re harder to heal. If you ask, you can pace yourself accordingly – or maybe even consider things you could do with spec, gear, or glyphs to make healing you easier if you’re inexplicably squishy.

As a healer, I’m going to say it again, communicate, communicate, communicate. You need to drink? Let the tank know. Make a macro if you have to. I made a stupid one for my druid while I was leveling her that was really corny, along the lines of, “Don’t leaf me behind, I’m watering the plants, otherwise I’ll have to bark at you.”

Yes, I know. I like stuff like that, but you’re here reading this, so you already knew. It was lighthearted and a bit nerdy, but it got the point across. Very simple things like owning up to mistakes and just being forthright with how things are at your end can help smooth over what might otherwise be a nightmare pug. When I got lost, I admitted I was hopelessly lost, and my group helped to find me. When I had to continually ask to stop and drink, I confessed that I’d been having mana troubles lately. Especially in pugs while you’re leveling, everyone is in the same boat. They may have struggled with mana, or something else that led to them dying. Most people are just regular, good people. Yes, there are well-documented exceptions.

So if you need to give the tank pertinent information, or something is bothering you, or you aren’t sure about something, ask! There are no stupid questions (except “Who’s the tank?” There’s a shield next to your name, doofus.)

Going Steady

Maybe you’re lucky enough to be in a guild with a tank you really like, or you just have a tanking buddy you get to hang out with often, or a similarly fantastic healer. This is a great place to be. If leveling a character via pugs is like blind dating, a solid tank or healer you can trust is like a marriage. She leaves toast crumbs on the counter, but you expect them. You know he’ll be your Guardian Spirit and you’ll be there with a Shield Wall when he needs it.

Often tank-healer pairs really are married in real life. My husband plays a tank, and when I was healing him it was great. We’re sitting in the same room, so I could always say to him, “Go ahead and pull these next three packs, I’ve got you,” or he’d hear that chokey yelp noise I make when I’m throwing out HoTs as fast as my branches can toss them and know that he needed to use a cooldown to give me some breathing space – or I would say to him, “Use something NOW.” It’s a pretty handy situation, but you don’t have to be married to your tank or healer to have a good relationship with them.

I’m going to keep harping on about this, but when you aren’t in the same room with your tank or healer, communication becomes even more vital. Use Vent. The more you run with someone, the more you’ll get to know their idiosyncrasies. “Slaphappy always charges ahead when he’s going to engage a group of mobs, I’ll have to make sure to stick closer to melee than otherwise, so I don’t get left behind,” or “There’s a lot of movement in this fight so I know that Shamtastic might be distracted and need me to use a cooldown at some point.”

You won’t always know exactly what’s going on with the other person – but that’s when you ask. I actually went through a bit of these growing pains myself, when our guild was doing hardmode Mimiron. My job was to tank the head in phase three, and at that time our awesome pally healer would switch off and heal me. It was a bit strange for me to be in a tanking role, and I was goofing it up. His healing skills amazed me. He kept up my squishy self through damage I would’ve never expected to be able to live through, even with mitigation talents. But a few times, I died. I whispered him. Guess what I said.

“Heals?”

NO! I said, “Gee, I’m still getting the hang of this. What can I do better?”

He said that my blinking was making it a bit tougher for him to always keep up with me, and that a few times when I had been line of sighting Mim’s head around a corner, I’d left him completely behind. I was more careful the next times to watch where he was before I blinked away willy-nilly, we stuck together, and his healing kept me alive while I was tanking. We made a great team.

Always Depending on the Kindness of Strangers

I’ve met a lot of tanks during the course of my pug leveling. Some have been good, and I connected with and liked them a lot. Some of them have been very bad. (Maybe they thought that about my healing, too). It’s possible to have a positive experience and a tank-healer combo that communicates well in a pug, but I won’t lie, it is more rare especially in these LFD days when many folks queue as a tank or healer simply because they know it will get them a group instantly and not because they enjoy it or actually know what they’re doing.

To borrow my earlier analogy, if pugging is like blind dating, lately the rejection has been starting to get to me. I struggled for a way to end this entry because I realized that the reason I was writing about tanks and healers was that I was weary of feeling I couldn’t trust the person nominally ‘in charge’ of each run. It became clear to me during my last few Mana Tombs run. In one, the DK tank zoned in, pulled all the trash and nearly died although I was healing him the whole time. “This isn’t right,” I thought, although in party I said “um, omg.” He responded cleverly, “omg ur mom.” So I just said, “Why did you nearly die? That was just trash.”

“Oh, my gear is mostly red and yellow,” he said. “Guess I should go repair.”

Yes, DK, I guess you should. He disconnected instead and we voted to kick him, bringing in a marginally less clueless DK.

Another Mana Tombs run saw me zoning in with a different tank – “Misspladin” [sic]. It didn’t start well, beginning with my usual “Excuse me I just have to respec and regain my mana,” statement. “Please hang on a sec while I drink,” I told the tank. She started pulling right away and didn’t stop, period. I was completely OOM, but I managed to type, “Or  you could just ignore me and start chain-pulling, that would work too.” By some miracle we managed to down the first big shadow boss guy, and then the tank did a curious thing. In chat, he typed only a sort of wicked, evil emoticon… crashed into the next three groups of mobs, and then bubble-hearthed and dropped group.

“OH NO HE DIDN’T,” I shouted in party chat. I’m not going to dwell on what causes people to do things like this. One of the DPSers said she could get her boyfriend to come in and tank. He was a 70 DK. It’s Mana Tombs. How hard can this be, right?

Hard enough that we all nearly died with the exploding arcane wyrm things. Enough that when I said, “Mana,” he ran ahead and kept pulling regardless and we all did die. Again. I said, “And that’s what happens when you pull and your healer is OOM.”

“Having mana is overrated,” he said to me.

“So is dying repeatedly,” I told him.

Faced with a future of tiresome pugs, Vid contemplates exchanging her healing shield and mace for a metric ton of chocolate.

And I meant it. I left the group, wondering if I’d ever even finishing leveling poor Vid, or just start questing and never look back. I was resolved to do it, but then was prevailed upon to give it one last go.

Mana Tombs again, and this time a bear tank. “Let me know if you need to drink,” she whispered to me, “But I’ll keep an eye on your bar.”

The instance started out promisingly with the usual suspects – a DK who felt that he could go ahead and do all the pulling for our bear. But unlike any other tank I’ve seen in all my pugging, she stopped dead.

“You pulled that,” she said, “You fight it.” She stood there. The DK struggled with the group, flailing around as his health took a massive beating. Taking my cue from her, nary a heal went his way. He very nearly died – oh so close to dead – I think she may have taunted the final mob at the last second, or else he just lucked out. I laughed a lot. “Now, are you finished wasting time?” she asked.

Uber-DK lurched ahead and pulled another group. “Apparently not,” remarked the druid, and we killed his extra group, and then kicked him. The rest of the group was pleasant and easygoing, and the run was completely smooth. We didn’t have any deaths or any problems. My heart wasn’t beating out of my chest, nor was I shouting at my monitor in frustration. I knew when I had to drink I could, but I hardly had to drink at all because my tank was so practiced with cooldowns, surgical with pulls, and threw an innervate my way when I needed it.

In short, it was the absolute most fun I’ve had in a pug in a long while. I could relax and actually enjoy it. We went on to do Sethekk Halls afterwards and it was just as good, enough that someone at the end remarked, “Solid group.” It was an incredibly solid group, unbelievably so, and I firmly believe it was so because the tank and I trusted each other and communicated.

(Incidentally – a DPSer named “Bumpirate?” I don’t have to say anything more about that. This stuff writes itself).

But I have to admit, I’ve been holding back on you a little bit. I’ve told you the story but not the whole story, or the whole truth.

The truth is, I went into those last two pugs knowing my tank. If you ever read my comments here, you may also know my tank – she’s Lara, and she’s awesome. Having no prior commitments and looking for a new server for her character, she chose to move her druid alt to my server. I said that I started this experiment because I wanted to experience the game alongside other people, and that’s absolutely true. Writing about it has been a blast, even if the experience itself has been frustrating at times. Having been able to find a friend I can pug with – that I never would have found if I hadn’t done all that pugging, written about it here – is indescribably awesome. I trusted Lara from the first, and I think we both had so much more fun because of it. So if there’s anything that all this pugging has taught me, it’s that it’s a means, not an end – a way to meet people you want to run with again, so you don’t always have to have an endless merry-go-round of what-are-these-people-thinking. Sometimes the tank or healer you were looking for is closer than you think.

I almost gave up on pugging today, but I’m pretty glad I didn’t. In Lara’s words, “I felt good knowing you were back there with your tuning forks!”

To which I can only reply, there’s nothing like having a bear butt you can trust!