Tag Archives: healing

Allegiance: Conclusion

In which we discuss whether we’re Horde or Alliance

You might remember earlier this month that I wrote about whether people had a strong attachment to a particular faction or not, which faction, and why. It had a poll in it, and I promised I’d post the results afterwards. I also asked other people to write on the same topic if they were interested! A few people took me up on my offer to expand their thoughts on the matter:

Gareth over at Altoholic’s Diary wrote about how he started out as Alliance but found out that his heart truly was for the Horde.

Coincidentally, Alas from Kiss My Alas stole my brain (I needed that) and wrote about her experiences Horde-side within twelve hours of my writing about it. Neither of us knew, I swear!

Finally, prompted by some of the discussion in the comments, Kamalia wrote a moving Ode to Orgrimmar.

Who can resist a good pie chart?

There were also many expansive comments. I loved reading all of the different viewpoints. The results of the poll were equally interesting. So interesting, in fact, that I made a chart from them. I’ve colour-coded it for viewing convenience. It is blue leaning towards purple for Alliance folks, red leaning towards purple for Horde, and green for something in the middle. It seems like my readership is fairly evenly split, with a bit of an Alliance bias. Exactly half of respondents either play Alliance exclusively (20%) or identify as an Alliance player although they may have characters of both factions (30%).

The other half play Horde exclusively (8%, somewhat less than the die-hard Alliance folks) or they play both but their heart of hearts is for the Horde (35%). A minority of people don’t have a strong feeling towards either faction and play both equally, or else feel that the factions are irrelevant to their enjoyment of the game (7%). That’s not surprising to me, anyhow, since the “faction” aspect of the game is pretty heavily sold from the very beginning. You must choose before you even make a character, are you for the Horde or the Alliance?

I’m curious why it might be that there are fewer Horde-only people than Alliance-only people. It’s not possible to draw anything conclusive from such a small sample size. I think that many of the my readers are paladins, and the Horde has only one race that can be paladins, so perhaps that’s part of it. Your conjecture or comments are welcome, though!

A few things to keep in mind; this only represents people who read here and felt inclined to vote in the poll. I don’t remember exactly, it was something around 130 people or so. I’m glad that those of you who are Horde don’t mind reading someone who is so unabashedly draenei-oriented. There’s always an opportunity to bail out, though – having Vid’s “quizzical little goat face” up on the header, as Tam would put it, makes it pretty clear from the beginning.

In which we become somewhat more Horde than previously

Meantime, Lara gave me a great idea that our guild is pursuing at the moment. We all made Horde-side alts on our server and we’re going to level and do some LFD together. Having them on the same server is awesome because you can mail heirlooms across factions! They really need to institute cross-server mailings for heirloom items.

Before we started, I thought long and hard about what I was going to make. It had to be a hybrid healer/DPS. I didn’t want another paladin, nor really a druid. I finally decided to make a priest (Pugging Priest?) because even though I have one already, she was one of my first characters and I wonder if I really didn’t give her a fair shake.

So, meet my new Forsaken priest, Mildred:

She has heirloom gear. Skull motif? What skull motif? You'd think I was undead or something.

I had never done the Forsaken zone, or any of the related quests at all, and all of this comparative morality stuff is making me think I should give it a shot from their point of view. (I still won’t poison the draenei in Hellfire though, when we get there). Most of the guild has been happily leveling Horde alts together, and we’re now in the mid-twenties to thirties range. Mildred is going entirely Disc thus far, and I’ve been enjoying it. We did RFC umpteen billion times, Deadmines, Shadowfang Keep, and most recently Blackfathom Deep. One thing worth noting here – being a priest makes it much easier to deal with warlocks at this level than being a holy paladin ever did. I’m just – here, have a renew, and it’s no problem. I remember reluctantly healing life-tapping warlocks while resenting every bit of mana they were taking.

It’s been fun to level these alts as a guild, and I couldn’t really call it pugging since mostly we wind up playing together anyhow. We have a Horde-side guild (with a bank and tabard!) It’s homey, even if it is a bit strange. During one of our dungeon runs I remarked, “This feels weird, because it’s completely foreign, but it’s also completely familiar.” Maybe when we eventually get to 80 we’ll take our little Hordies on a raid or something. You never know!

By the way, in case you missed it, be sure to check out the contest I’m running: The Well-Dressed Paladin, because we all need some more fashion in our lives. I’ve received several entries already and I’ve enjoyed them all quite a bit. It’s going to be fun to share the entries at the end, although choosing the best isn’t going to be easy!

Chowing down on a bit of stormcrow

I’ll admit it up-front and with absolute sincerity: you guys were right. I wrote a pretty bitter entry last week about how pugs were getting me down; but as with many things it’s usually a safe bet to look at your own actions and attitude before deciding the problem is somebody else.

Oh, don’t get me wrong – the quality of pugs at eighty has been variable. There are jerks out there, it’s just that sometimes they are me. Or more likely to be Voss (just sayin’). Anyway, experimentally the other night when I was having trouble sleeping, I started queuing up for pugs on each of my characters in quick succession. It went a little something like this:

Utgarde Keep: Forget the strudels, have some humble pie.

After writing that last blog post about my beloved characters, I’ve had renewed mage interest. I think It’d be nice for Millya to nab the luscious four-piece mage set bonus before the expansion ends. So I queued her up, and to my surprise the wait wasn’t even that long, soon I was alongside some other good folks in Utgarde Keep. I wasn’t off to a strong start when I found that I couldn’t cast Arcane Brilliance. What the heck, why not? No reagents. It didn’t even make sense, because I’m of the school of preparedness that never has me leave home without a stack of at least 100 of the things. No matter, I just cast the single buffs. But whoops, what’s this? I hadn’t realized I was in Frost spec. Well…Frost is nice for heroics, it won’t be a problem, right?

It wouldn’t have been a problem, except that I’d forgotten a key detail. Frost is my all-out, balls-to-the-wall PvP spec. I remembered this to my chagrin as the tank skirted by a pack of mobs to continue on to the next corridor… Speak (my beloved water elemental) was not so happy to do so. I saw him go charging by and my heart sank. Oh crap… he was set to aggressive. I like him to charge around and attack everybody, you know – when I’m in a battleground.

Wearing only a thin bit of cloth and whimpering, I blinked down the hallway hoping that the tank would notice the pack of angry Vrykul chasing us. Fortunately for me, he did, and we killed them amid my abject apologies. I don’t think the tank was too mad, because he just said “heh,” and that was all that was said the whole instance. The rest passed without incident; I switched back to Arcane mid-way through, actually did decent damage, and finished up. That’s not a knock against Frost mages, incidentally. It’s just that my Frost spec is very PvP-centric, so it can’t put out the kind of numbers I can with Arcane. It was only later when I went to check my mail, incidentally, that I found out what had happened to my arcane powder.

In a fit of summer inventory cleaning – I’d put it on the auction house. I’m still shocked that nobody wanted it!

This is my mage being fearsome.

Violet Hold: So you’re healing, right?

Next up I queued my super moonkin, Shae, for a heroic. I chose only DPS because it was late, and I didn’t really want the responsibility of healing. I joined the group happily as the load screen for Violet Hold came up. Great, Violet Hold! I love this place because my Starfall can’t accidentally pull extra mobs. Not that I would ever do that.

The only aberration as we zoned in was the night elf with the little plus sign next to his portrait. A priest, okay then. He looked sort of…shadowy, for a healing priest. I figured that he intended to drop shadow form and throw out a few heals when necessary, and so I didn’t question him. A few portals in, though, I was starting to wonder. Most of the group was at half health, the tank was even lower. I dropped moonkin form to HoT us all up, and then went back to DPSing. As the instance went on, I realized that he had absolutely no intention of throwing a direct heal, ever. (This was borne out by the stats at the end – all of his healing was Vampiric Embrace healing).

Granted, he still did quite a bit of Vampiric Embrace healing. More than I did with my direct healing. But as healers know, it’s not just how much you healed but rather when you healed that matters. I suppose I could have bitched at him. Frankly, I think queuing as a healer in order to nab a quick queue when you aren’t actually healing is pretty lame. But I wasn’t in the mood for an argument, so instead I took it as a personal challenge. I wanted to do the maximum amount of DPS, while still keeping the group alive. I managed both goals; as we finished Violet Hold a little while later. I mopped the floor with his DPS and I’d been healing. Nobody died, DPS was done, and Frost emblems were collected. It was actually one of the more fun heroics I’ve run in awhile.

This was the best moonkin screenshot I had in my folder: moonkin jousting. Because that's just how we roll.

Then for a final bit Reflection (Halls, that is).

Commonly accepted as the place where many pugs go to die, it’s the instance that Vidyala heals the most. I guess it’s because her gear is good enough (I’m not sure exactly how the LFD system works) and that many people queue for it specifically because of loot they want. So when I say “I’m willing to heal something at random,” someone else out there is saying, “HoR please.” I joined the group to heal (even though I just said that I hadn’t wanted to heal as my druid) primarily because I’m more comfortable healing with Vid than DPSing. The group consisted of another paladin tanking, a warrior and a mage in charge of the DPS. I’m sure there was another DPS there… but I can no longer remember who they were. They didn’t say a thing the whole time!

The pally tank, on the other hand, made sure we knew exactly what he wanted. “Get in the corner please,” he said. Obligingly, we all filed into the little alcove and crowded into the corner as we waited for the first trash. The trash continued with no problem. I’ll be honest here, I love healing HoR. I don’t think any amount of gear would make it boring. There’s never a time when I can sit back, relax, and stop healing. It was great! I even like fighting Falric. When I was first healing that fight at eighty it gave me hives. Now, I like to see that I can fill those green bars back up to 100% even though the healing/damage reduction debuff is increasing all the time. Even the fear that he does isn’t quite so nerve-wracking; it used to bring me within a hair’s breadth of death.

After we killed Falric, our intrepid tank said “CORNER,” and then “SORRY CAPS,” and I had to laugh. I told him, “Tank, you’re making me feel like my dog.” (“Go lie down! No, over there. Do it nowwww.”) The group laughed, but the tank remained firm. The corner was the place to be. After we’d killed more interminable trash waves and Marwyn, the tank paused to tell the mage (I think they were friends) what to expect from the next part. He concluded ambiguously with “experience a bitch.” As we were killing the next trash, the warrior yelled “BLADES OF LIGHT.” Again I laughed and asked him about it, and the ensuing conversation took us through the chase scene. He said, “It’s like Herod!” I asked him if it was a macro or did he just yell it when the mood struck him. He told me it was a macro with Bladestorm but only when he also popped his trinkets and some other ability, because he didn’t want to be spammy or anything. I only saw him yell it once during the instance, which means 1) he’s succeeding at not being spammy, but also 2) bad DPS! think of all of those wasted trinket opportunities.

Unfortunately there was no useful loot for either the mage or our warrior, but we parted with friendly exclamations on all sides.

I actually had this in my screenshots folder. I'm not sure why.

So, just a quick recap. In the first pug, I was the doofus. In the second, compensating for someone being something of a doofus was quite fun, and in the third everyone was nice, it went very smoothly, and no one was a doofus. Maybe it’s the difference in attitude (mine), maybe it’s that pugs are meant to be experienced purely as a “true” pug – no guildies, friends or relations, just you and four random strangers. All I know is that I had a good time, and I haven’t begrudged the time spent in LFD to pick up extra frost emblems for the past week or so at all.

Not on my watch

This is a slightly late Blog Azeroth shared topic suggested by Ecclesiastical Discipline (I knew I couldn’t type that correctly on the first try…) and it’s a doozy:

When should a healer let someone die?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and hope that my history bears me out. That means “please don’t dig through my blog looking for an instance of when I let someone die deliberately,” but in general, my answer is “I won’t.” Wait, it’s coming back to me, that’s not entirely true. There have been certain special circumstances where I did so, but in general my answer stands.

Tossing out heals for pugs since level 17.

I see the role of a healer as a facilitator. It’s part of what makes it so much fun, at least for me. You are a support for the group. When life gets the group down, you are the one to be there cheering them on, and bandaging their wounds. I take that role seriously, and it’s not lightly that I abandon it.

The damage dealers: “Whoops, I did it again.”

That means that when an over-eager DPS pulls aggro, I view it as a personal challenge to keep them alive. I know some healers would challenge me on this, and even some tanks. (You yank it, you tank it!) There are exceptions to this. When I was leveling Vid, my mana was pretty precious. I didn’t have forty-thousand mana to throw around, nor did I have the ability to simultaneously heal more than one person. I have a responsibility to the tank to heal them, and a further responsibility to keep myself alive so that I can fulfill the first. The other three group members take a back-seat to that. So when a DPS needs heavy healing because they pulled, I might do it – but only if it doesn’t put the tank or myself in jeopardy. This comes into play more in heroics at eighty. My restoration druid has so much mana, she hasn’t drunk a thing in weeks. Needing to heal a DPS probably means I’ll stop casting wrath to direct heal someone.

Again, it’s very situational. In a raiding situation, if someone pulls aggro they are likely to be dead. I’ve told you about the fury warrior-turned-warlock in our guild. His nickname is Dirtface, and it’s Dirtface for a reason. In his words, “I play because the ground in ICC is tasty and delicious.” His death is routine. I still try to keep him alive when I’m a healer. During one heavy pull in our last alt raid, our off-tank had to take a phone call. I’m not sure if he was actually AFK or just distracted, but we had a Fury warrior off-tank for awhile. And heck yeah I put Beacon on him. I wasn’t aware that the tank was AFK, I just knew he didn’t have aggro, wasn’t taking  damage, and didn’t need it. Dirtface lived.

The flip side of this (because I am DPSing at least as often as I am a healer) is a very resounding “mea culpa.” As a healer I try to keep the DPS alive. As a DPS – I don’t expect to be kept alive if I pull aggro. Whether the tank is “bad” or not isn’t relevant, it’s my job to manage my aggro. Sometimes I impose on my healers to heal me when I have gone overboard DPSing, and I’m very grateful for their benevolence, but I don’t expect it. Generally if I die, I have no one to blame but myself!

The wall of bricks: “We can handle all of this, right?”

If a tank dies, I get an immediate wash of intense guilt and regret. It always feels like a personal failure, and in many cases it is. The only exception to this is if a tank really was trying to do too much. I don’t mind a tank pulling aggressively, but I’m not apt to “punish” him for it either. I will do my damnedest to keep a tank up through hell and heavy pulling, but if I fail in that case I wouldn’t take all the responsibility on myself. It comes back to the tank and healer relationship. I was fortunate to have considerate tanks when I first started getting my hooves wet healing as a paladin at eighty, and I usually made a point of saying, “Hey, I’m still pretty new,” just as a heads-up. It’s part of the tank’s responsibility to know their healer’s limits.

I know I’ve pugged in with a great tank when they make their first few pulls a bit cautiously, or even ask me what I’m comfortable with. I know what they are doing; they’re feeling out to see how far they can reach with me backing them up. Only after they get a feel for my healing do they start to pull more aggressively, and I love that. In a short amount of time you’ve established a rapport and trust, even just for the 20 minutes you’re in the instance together, and those are always smooth runs. I like being able to trust the tanks I’m with, which is probably why I tend to prefer tanks I know.

A tank won’t die if I can possibly prevent it, unless he is an incredible jerk. I ran into such a tank wayyy back in my Deadmines days, and I checked: even then I didn’t kill him. Because if he dies, it means that other people are likely to die, and that’s not my decision to make.

It’s my off-spec that is Retribution

Occasionally I do run into a situation when someone will expressly ask or expect me to not heal someone. I know I’ve said I won’t let someone die, but there are a few exceptions, and here they are.

  • Avoidable environmental damage, a.k.a. “Why is the ground burning me?” For this I follow a general rule of “Once, shame on you, twice shame on me.” If someone is standing in something that’s killing them and I can heal them through it, I probably will – the first time. This will be followed by a general reminder, “Please watch out for such-and-such” on the ground. A repeat offense might be healed, but definitely not a third. This is a lesson situation. If there’s no consequence for standing in fire, people won’t ever learn not to stand in it.
  • The tank is having a hard time with someone continually pulling aggro and they ask me to “Please not heal so-and-so” or “Just let them die.” I still have a really hard time with this. It’s happened when a DPS thought they could pull groups instead of the tank, which is not the same as pulling aggro. This is a situation in which I feel the healer has to back up the tank, but it’s always a judgment call. Does it really justify withholding heals? In some cases it does. But I don’t like doing it. The biggest reason is because death of any kind in most instances punishes the whole group and not just the recipient. If I let them die, we have to then resurrect them, have them get their mana back, and probably rebuff them which costs me and other party members a reagent in any case.

In short, I don’t like punitive healing. If I’m there healing, I’m going to keep everyone alive to the best of my abilities. Sometimes DPS pulls aggro, mistakes happen, things get messy. I revert to my priorities: self, tank, DPS dead last. Sometimes that means they do wind up dead, and if they don’t I feel I’ve done a good job.

Most importantly, when I’m on the damage dealing side and I pull a bonehead maneuver and the healer has to heal me through something smacking me in the face… I make sure and thank them! Usually in the form of, “Thank you for saving me from my own stupidity, I know it was above and beyond the call of duty.” Because it is; the healer isn’t obligated to heal you through extraordinary damage if you bring it upon yourself. Treasure them and be grateful when they do, and remember it if you’re ever on the flip-side! If more people showed a little love for their healers, there’d never be a healer shortage. It can be an incredibly rewarding role when you’re grouped with great people.

These pugs aren’t house-trained.

perky pug

Aw, isn't he cute?

I’m actually a fairly easy-going person. In all the time I spent pugging with Vidyala on her way to eighty, I really didn’t meet very many people that made me angry. Oh, I met some jerks, and it’s pretty well-documented here when I did, but not too many.

Things have changed since the only pugging scene I see is the eighty heroic one, and it’s getting pretty tiresome. A few recent examples, just to illustrate my point:

The scene: Heroic Pit of Saron

Voss and I queued for a random and were immediately fitted into a group that had lost its tank and one DPS. (I wanted to take my ret set out for a spin!) Of course they were more than halfway through the instance; having stalled at the gruesome trash pull as you head up the slope. We defeated it without any problems while the group went on about how they had a “tank who could actually tank.”

Tellingly, the mage was AFK for all of this trash, only deigning to join us again as we approached the corridor to run up to the final encounter. That went reasonably smoothly, even though I was doing something like 40% of the group’s DPS. This is sad mostly because I don’t think I’m all that good at being ret, although my gear is decent. We kill Tyrannus in the Longest Kill Ever, and he drops some things. The mage starts complaining, presumably because he was after the Never Melting Ice Crystal, and then he says, “Does anybody need that?” (A spellpower staff). Usually that’s what people ask when they themselves need it. So we all said that we didn’t need it. The mage rolled needed on the staff, said “Great, that’s my gold then :p” and then dropped group.

I’m left appalled that people can be so blatantly greedy and rude. I hope it isn’t reaching a point where we’ll all have to Need on things we can just to avoid people who think they’re entitled to loot more than anyone else. Did he think that any of the rest of us wouldn’t also sell the staff for the gold, or disenchant it or whatever? I have no words.

The scene: Heroic Old Kingdom

Voss is playing his DK and a bunch of us had queued together, leaving only one pug slot. It starts out harmlessly enough with an exchange of hellos and etcetera. I’m playing my moonkin main so I have to admit, I haven’t been paying very much attention. I am just hurting things and coasting along. I had pulled aggro at one point, but Starfall often does that to me. We’re all on vent just hanging out and shooting the breeze, when the mage pug says in party, “You know death and decay is great for making aggro.”

“Is he being bitchy?” I wonder incredulously in vent. Since we’ve been doing alt runs and getting gear for him, Voss’ DK has rock-solid aggro.  I haven’t noticed him losing aggro. He’s also Frost, and D&D is on a 30 second cooldown, plus most mobs die so quickly any way. It’s a heroic. It’s trash. It’s heroic trash. Seriously? And the mage is doing a good deal less DPS than either of us. We immediately go into “Why are you messing with our guildie mode,” I ask him if perhaps he has a magic button that will enable him to do decent DPS, and if so he should press it. Stews stops healing him (though he says later that he kept bandaging and potting so he never did die). We finish the instance without further words on either side (the wait was too long to just kick him).

Again, we met rudeness with some of our own, but I just can’t understand people being rude without provocation. I’ve run with some truly terrible tanks in my LFD adventures. When I run with a tank like Voss on any of his characters, it’s like the heavens open up and angels sing and there’s a shaft of sunlight that says, “Lo! And there shall be threat generation!” Then I’m happy. Even when the tank is terrible, I don’t say so, what’s the point?

The scene: Heroic Oculus

I still groan inwardly (and outwardly) when I see the loading screen for this place. It isn’t that it’s hard. It’s that herding three other chickens through it always proves to be an exercise in frustration. The other issue is that when we do it, we like to go and clear off the first platform initially. Then we proceed to the inner ring, so that there’s no backtracking. You have to kill all the platform sentry guys anyhow.

For whatever reason, pugs have trouble with this concept. They feel we should proceed directly to the inner ring. Rather than following along with (usually the tank and the healer, although this time I was DPSing again) we went to the platform. They went to the inner ring. Voss said (politely!) “Hey guys, this way,” and immediately one of the other DPS got snippy. “We have a tank and a healer here,” he said, “Just go.”

“Actually, I’m the tank, ” Voss said. Rather than deal with it, we just dropped group and took the debuff. The looong debuff. I was left hand-wringing, “I just wanted to hit some things in the face with my giant sword. Is that too much to ask?” When did people start getting precious about which way they’d go in Oculus? Is it really That Big A Deal to just roll with where the tank and healer are going? It isn’t as if we’re this huge prima donna pair (I am the tank so I can do whatever I want, that’s what being the tank means).

That’s only a random sampling of recent heroics with this kind of thing in them. I’m not sure what it is about hitting 80 that causes people to abandon any semblance of civility, but it’s pretty tiresome. Vid has pretty much purchased almost everything she could want with frost emblems, and she’s starting to spend them on retribution gear at this point, so it isn’t a really urgent mission for me. None of my characters need the daily frost emblems and so I only queue for a heroic if someone in the guild is going and needs another person, or if I want to try something out (such as my retribution spec). But even for that, it’s really not worth it.

Am I alone in this? I’m guessing I’m not, at least one of my guildies routinely winds up in Pugs From Hell. (Whenever he goes without one of us, I’m not really sure if he has bad luck… or if pugs are just bad.) Tell me your pug horror stories, get it off your chest. Or better yet, tell me about a pug you’ve had that’s been just really good. I need to believe that not all people pugging at eighty are complete jerks!

But then when you least expect it...

p.s. – I’m planning a sort of a contest, I just have to get a few things ironed out before I share the details, but stay tuned for that. I think it is going to be great fun.

When I Asked If You Had BG Experience…

Some of these built-in commenting system things always put my latest blog entry below my name, when I comment on another blog. I’ve enjoyed having my latest post there because I think it makes me sound combative and fearsome. I could be saying, “What a cute mini-pet you have!” but underneath my name it says, “I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your A*s,” so it’s, “Visit Pugging Pally! We have fearsome things here like swords that I can’t use properly.”

Having such an intimidating tagline did remind me, however, that I tried holy PvP for the first time last weekend! A key component of this story is 1) I did PvP with my paladin and also 2) you’ll notice it’s not my paladin I brought to kill the griefing guy while trying to level my hunter.

It was one of the rare occasions when I’ve gone to PvP with other people. It started when Dirtface (that’s actually his name now, though I feel vaguely guilty using it as an honest-to-goodness name) needed some honour points for… something he needed to buy, I’m not sure. He had never PvPed as a warlock and so he asked if anyone would go with him. Kayla (hunter) was game to go, as was Draos (feral druid) and Ulla (resto druid). I’d been meaning to put Vidyala in a situation where other people could hit her in the face, so I agreed too.

Absolutely ready for PvP. 100%. If you don't count all the PvE gear.

I considered her not altogether unprepared, because she has a few PvP pieces I am using for her PvE set. An aside, I know that Blizz said they wanted to take away the component of PvPing to get gear for PvE (ever since the days of PvPing on my mage to get that giant pink staff, the one that couldn’t be replaced by anything past Kara) but I think they failed. You can trade 30 Stonekeeper’s Shards to acquire 2000 honour points. If you’re like me and on a server where your faction often possesses Wintergrasp, you have a lot of these things. All of my characters had a lot of these things, so it was easy to get enough honour for Vid to buy a 264 cloak and necklace. Neither is as good as something intended for PvE would be, but having the cloak has allowed me to delay purchasing the emblem one in favour of other things. All of which is a long-winded way of saying, I had a little bit of resilience. I even have the Flash of Light PvP libram, which I purchased because I’d thought about trying a FoL build, and it’s nice for 5-mans when casting HL is usually overkill. I used Triumph emblems to buy another PvP piece and off we went, armed with very little knowledge of paladin PvP in general.

A bit of miscommunication landed Ulla and I (both of the two healers) in an Isle of Conquest match while our other three folks were in Arathi Basin. It didn’t take us long to botch the Isle completely; though the Arathi Basin took longer. When we queued up together again, I groaned inwardly to see the Warsong Gulch loading screen. I have not had happy times with Warsong Gulch. I don’t know if it’s because usually it’s just a random assemblage of people who don’t work together… I’ll be honest with you, I sort of like when there’s a bossy person who takes charge of a BG pug. Or even if people are just talking like Gnomeaggeddon was saying the other day. I tend to freeze up a little when it comes time to decide where I would be best employed, and typically (as a healer especially) I’ll find someone to follow into the thick of things and keep people alive. Fortunately for me there are worse strategies as a healer – obviously I’m not going to go off by myself and try to damage things. I am most useful where the fighting is happening. (Except when the fighting is on the road).

But this Warsong Gulch was different, possibly because at least two of the people I was with had extensive BG experience. “I don’t do this one ever,” I confessed in Vent, “So if you want to just tell me where we are going that would be great.”

“We’re going to get the flag, and you’re going to heal us,” was the calm reply. Between the hunter, feral druid, warlock, resto druid and myself, we were one-third of that WSG team and we annihilated them. I got these achievements: Warsong Gulch Perfection (Win with a score of 3 – 0), Warsong Gulch Expedience (Win Warsong Gulch in under 7 minutes), and plain old Warsong Gulch Victory – an achievement I’m not sure any of my other characters actually has (don’t laugh). Sticking close to my buddies for that encounter seemed to work out well. I don’t even think I died.

Our next BG was an Alterac Valley. I’m more confident here, because before “random” BGs were available I spent a great deal of time maging it up in the frosty north. I like the big, epic battle zerg and I actually know the names of strategic points etc. Our little strike team roamed the map reclaiming and defending places while the zerg people down South focused their energy on killing Drek. I still can’t say at this point that I was getting down to the nitty-gritty of healing as a paladin in BGs. I healed a bit, but we never got stuck in a chokehold with a great deal of fighting, it was more short skirmishes. The real combat began in our last match, Arathi Basin.

I think of all the battlegrounds this one’s my favourite because it’s fairly straightforward, the map isn’t too large (less opportunity to get lost) and a single player’s contribution can have more effect than in a huge place like AV. Again, we were ideally suited for this because we were on Vent and could talk to each other and decide which node we’d go to – and defend it against attackers, or move on to claim another if there were other people remaining behind. Here’s where I really started to actually PvP as a paladin. Random observations:

1) I love Beacon so very, very much.
Putting Beacon on myself and going to town healing everyone around me is so much fun. I’d be healing and a hunter would sent his pet after me… I could just flat out ignore it. It couldn’t interrupt me. It tickled a bit.

2) Wearing plate armour is OP.
All of my other healers have definitely been squishier than this. Granted, my priest was never Discipline, so take my opinion with a gigantic grain of salt. But I definitely felt more durable.

3) Interfering with the way other people are trying to hurt your team-mates is almost as much fun as just healing them.

With a nearby resto druid’s HoTs, I usually had ample time to make extensive use of my Cleanse button. Removing poisons, diseases, and magic is awesome. Living Bomb on someone? Whoops I’m sorry, ‘fraid not. There’s something immensely satisfying about removing something that was going to hurt – forcing whoever is attacking to either re-apply it and waste a GCD. But they usually didn’t have time at that point because someone would have killed them.

4) I’d rather be casting Flash of Light.
I can really see where different gear/gemming/spec would make a big difference here. In almost every situation, even with the haste I have – Holy Light takes too long. Having more oomph behind my fast little heals would make me more effective for this, I think. The Libram is nice but it can only go so far. I don’t really have the luxury of picking up a second Holy spec because when I do PvE stuff I’m often filling a DPS role (quick VoA which I choose to bring Vid to instead of my main, likewise for the raid weekly). But a PvP spec here would be pretty useful. Preferably something that reduces the duration I can be silenced for, which brings me to…

5) The sound of silence
This is like the kiss of death, and I’m not used to it at all. My only healing PvP experience prior has been as a resto druid – seldom casting anything long enough to be properly interrupted. Rejuv, rejuv, Wild Growth, Lifebloom, oh, are you hitting me? You didn’t notice the bark, right? Well, being a paladin wasn’t like that, but perhaps there’s something I’m missing here (like potentially a PvP spec). Silencing is very bad. Fortunately it never resulted in my death because I had my little posse with me, but even so. I always feel guilty when I’m silenced, and this may be a carryover from PvE content. Because if you get silenced casting when those big skeleton guards in front of Marrowgar do their shout thing? That’s your fault, that is avoidable. But I have the same feeling in PvP! “Oh god I’ve been silenced why what was I doing I must have been casting while the skeleton was shouting…wait.”

6) Blending into a crowd is nice.

Maybe I’m naive and I’m more visible than I think I am, but I definitely felt a bit more incognito as a holy paladin. I don’t have the pew pew green healing lasers of a shaman, although I do have the shield. I don’t have obvious bubbles like a priest, or the dress. More importantly to me, I’m not a giant walking tree, which always screams, “You know my HoTs are OP, try to kill me!” Many times attackers at our nodes would simply never start attacking me at all, which allowed me to focus on healing my people, and inevitably led to success. Obviously the success wasn’t just because of me, but at least I didn’t feel I was a hindrance.

7) Striking out on my own is dumb.
In fact, the only time I died where I died alone and felt that it was completely my fault was when I was heading from Lumber Mill to go with our hunter to a different node and I was lagging behind a bit. A rogue sapped me and my bubble was on CD and I kermitflailed. Probably a good paladin could have escaped it – but I never claimed to be a good paladin – and I died. I think if I had either stayed behind with the group or been RIGHT with the hunter it wouldn’t have happened. I have learned my lesson, just because I wear plate armour doesn’t make me invincible.

And so ended Vidyala’s PvP adventures. We won the Arathi Basin, I got an achievement for 100 HKs and some healing stuff and also Back Door Job which sounds incredibly wrong.

I did, belatedly, find this article about healing tips for holy paladins. It’s arena specific, but I assume many of the same principles apply to battlegrounds. Otherwise, if you’re looking for general PvP info, Cynwise has always got it covered. Please feel free to suggest links to any other paladin PvP resources you may know of, or otherwise elaborate in comments all the ways in which you are better at PvP than I am (really no huge feat, truthfully). I enjoyed it and I think I’ll do it again when the time and inclination hit me. Hitting me is okay, incidentally, silencing? Way below the belt.

What happens if the PvPing Paladin strays too far from her bodyguards, complete with dramatic death scene and anguished hand clasped to...uh. Right.

Vuhdo HoT Display for Holy Paladins

This is the first time I’ve ever set out to write something instructional here. If you aren’t a Holy paladin, and you aren’t interested in using Vuhdo, you probably won’t be very interested in this. Or perhaps you’re curious. Well, Vuhdo is an addon for healing much like Healbot or Grid. It’s my addon of choice as a resto druid because I love its user friendly configuration and HoT display options. Until today though, I realized that as a holy paladin I wasn’t using it to its fullest potential.

A paladin doesn’t need quite as many HoTs set up as a resto druid does, though. We’re primarily interested in our Sacred Shield, Beacon of Light, and Flash of Light HoTs for tracking. Vuhdo has a built-in option for this in the “Buffs” menu. It lets you know when Beacon of Light or Sacred Shield drop off a specified target. This has worked fine for me up until now, for 5-mans; when I realized that “when it drops off” just wasn’t cutting it. I needed to know when it was going to drop off so I could pre-empt it, and also be able to switch targets mid-fight. I set out to configure Vuhdo to show me. It’s actually quite easy to do once you know where to go.

First off, here is the Vuhdo menu that seems most intuitive for tracking Beacon and SS.

"Buffs" panel, with Config selected.

If you look at it, you can set up a colour for each buff. I go with orange for Beacon, yellow for SS. To the right, you can see how that looks on an actual health bar. The problem with this, as I mentioned above, is that the bars will only light up once the buff has dropped off. Not always such a good thing. It also can’t switch targets mid-fight – so while you may have dropped your beacon on another target because of fight mechanics, this bar will show orange to say “Hey, player X doesn’t have Beacon!” But by default, Vuhdo won’t show you who DOES have Beacon. Because of this, after configuring my HoTs I’ve actually turned it off so that it won’t try to tell me to put Beacon on someone who shouldn’t have it. It makes the tank swapping fights easier to do. But first you need to have this info displaying, and that’s where the next menu comes in.

Vuhdo's configuration menu, at the "Panels" tab.

Instead of going into the Buffs menu, along the bottom tabs, click on “Panels.” Then along the right hand-side, look for “HoT Icons.” This is the menu you will see. Make sure that “Own Hots” is checked off at the upper left hand corner there. Below that, you see what looks like a bewildering jumble of circles, but it’s actually pretty easy to understand when you start to mess around with them. In this example you can see that I have the far left red indicator checked off. At the bottom of the screen, you can see how the HoTs I have selected will display with that option. It puts them off the health bar, in a space to the left. That could work for you if you like that – I don’t prefer it, because it means my eyes have to move away from the health bar itself.

In the center of the menu, you can see the “HoT Order” box there. Each arrow points to a place where you can select the HoT you’d like displayed; from in-most to outer. (In my example above, the orange square is Beacon of Light, Yellow is Sacred Shield, and teal is the FoL HoT. I ordered them that way because I always want Beacon  (often on a solitary target) on the left. When you click the drop-down menu, this is what you’ll see:

You must choose, but choose wisely.

Yes, you can have it display your Gift of the Naaru if you’re a draenei like me (and why wouldn’t you be?!) You can also have it show the Sacred Shield, FoL, and Beacon of other paladins by selecting  the “Others” check boxes to the right. I didn’t bother with this because I was the only paladin in our raid tonight, which is pretty rare. Still, it’s potentially useful to avoid overwriting the shields and beacons of others. In this image you can see I have selected a location for my HoTs different from the first one. I want them inside the health bar, and in the upper half so that they don’t obscure the bar entirely. I’ve also opted to line them up along the left; that way when health is dropping I can see it easily without any boxes in the way, but this is a personal choice, and you’ll see it in action a bit later. Next, you’re going to set up your own colours, in case you hate teal.

Pretty colours.

Along the bottom tabs, click “Colors” right next to “Panels” and then go to “HoTs” along the right hand side. This is what you’ll see, more or less, except I’ve already set up my colours. To change the colour of a HoT, just click on the coloured bar along the left and you’ll get a colour selection menu. Here you can see the colours I’ve defined. The options along the right deal with the text of the icons themselves, and how they act as they tick down. Here the default options are shown, I haven’t changed any of this. You can opt to select “Full Duration” next to any HoT to show it ticking down the entire time it’s running, which could be handy if you need to know as much as possible. I might try this out for Beacon so I’ll always know approximately when the refresh is coming, but it might be information overload.

In raid.

Here’s what the above configuration looks like in an actual raid. You can see the orange button indicating that Vinius is my Beacon of Light target, and Beacon of Light is active on him at this time. Immediately below him is Wallofbricks, the main-tank. He has Sacred Shield on him, and you can see that my Flash of Light HoT is ticking down – it has only 6 seconds remaining. As it ticks the box will fade and then disappear entirely, unless I refresh it first. By default, the Beacon and SS indicators will also begin to show similar timers that can be configured, but that’s getting into more “Vuhdo” things and less “Vuhdo paladin” things.

I suppose it’s generally a “duh” but these simple configurations definitely helped with my healing tonight. I didn’t have any downtime on Beacon or SS, was better able to ensure my tank had the FoL heal, and I am a doofus for not doing this sooner. I know there are great addons for tracking these things, but where possible I like to work with the addons I’m already using and clearly Vuhdo knew how to do it, even if I hadn’t yet done it myself. So don’t be like me if you use Vuhdo, configure these things properly, you’ll be grateful later!

Hopefully that was easy to understand, if you have any questions I’ll be happy to answer them in comments if I know the answer, no guarantees!

Running heroics since I’ve turned 80 has been fun. There’ve been a few kooky characters, like the paladin who used his rocket boots to pull the whole first corridor of Drak’Tharon Keep…wait, that was someone in my guild.

Well, we like to keep it interesting. I waded into a few heroics with tanks I trusted before I actually started to pug them. I’ve never had a character before who hit 80 with semi-decent gear (yes, blues!) Dungeon blues are still ilevel 187 or so, they aren’t bad. A full set of them is fine. I still picked up a few other pieces before I felt confident enough to strike out on my own. Of course it would be Gundrak, which is still fixed in my mind as Hard To Heal even though apparently it isn’t anymore.

I was freaking out a little bit – on the verge of asking the melee to make sure and run out of the poison nova, since nobody bothers these days. I didn’t have time before the tank had pulled though, and of course none of the melee ran out of it. And… it was fine. Many tanks now have something ridiculous like 50 K hp or more. This was a DK tank, and he ran through the instance. My guild laughed because I was getting a constant stream of achievements, starting at [Snakes, Why’d It Have to be Snakes?] through [Less-Rabi]. Yes, I got [Less-Rabi] with a pugged group only a day or so after hitting 80. It’s a bit ridiculous. Why, my other characters had to work for that achievement,  uphill in the instance both ways, etc. Nonetheless, I have it. That tank even went to go and kill Eck, and I think he did it to be nice to me because I’d asked the group at the beginning to be gentle, since I was still a pretty fresh 80. Every emblem counts! It was kind.

I kept running heroics on my own with little happening that was noteworthy. I can squeeze one in on my lunch break usually. But one day, an unexpected load screen arrived… Heroic Forge of Souls. I wasn’t sure . Was I ready for it? The Dungeon Finder tool thought that I was. I took a deep breath and dove in. It was fine. Silent, but fine. Practically no one said anything until just at the end, I piped up and said, “So apparently LFD thinks that I can heal this as long as it puts me with uber tank.” The tank laughed and said he wasn’t uber, had just run these many times. He was a paladin with a ridiculous amount of health and I told him that just having run these many times made him uber as far as I was concerned. I just about had to get a new pair of pants when I saw the load screen. It was a short exchange, but it made the instance memorable for me. (That was the same run I got Seethe, hit or no hit, and it was the tank that urged me to roll on it. TAKE it, TAKE it!)

Since then, I’ve been tormenting all and sundry with heroic ICC runs. Even my husband was a bit skeptical. The heroic ICC 5-mans are no joke to heal, after all. But even in pugs, I’ve been tremendously lucky with groups and haven’t really had much to complain about. My only complaint, if I’m allowed to have one, would have to be this.

The silence. Unremitting silence. People who join without a word and drop group at the end the same way that they came in. It makes me feel a little dirty. I mean, I get that people are running these for their two emblems a day. Most people want as few bosses as possible. I had a tank in DTK skip the raptor boss and I was a bit peeved. (Every emblem counts, remember?). I understand that most people see it as a chore rather than actual fun at this point. But it’s still fun for me. I’ve been quietly gathering retribution and protection gear with the aim to try them out at some point. Even though I’ve seen these instances umpteen billion times, I still have fun running them. But I miss the camaraderie, the bizarre people from pugs of old. I wish I could get these people talking. The closest thing to conversation I tend to see is when a moonkin and a DK get into an argument because The Black Heart dropped in Trial of the Champion.

“Tanking is my main-spec,” they both swear up and down (this because I asked if anyone minded if I took it for off-spec.) “I’ve only been running this place for that and I’ve lost the roll twice,” etc. I passed on it, politely, although I honestly don’t think either of them had more right to it than I did. I told the DK that if he wanted it that badly – maybe he ought to be tanking to get it. I know that if my tank were trying to get something like that I’d be more inclined to back him up and try to get any off-spec rollers to pass for him, but I don’t feel as charitable towards any of the DPS who just happen to “need” that because tanking is their “main” spec.

So that’s what passes for conversation in heroic instances these days. As a paladin, I’m not in a great position to do the chipper “Hey folks!” beginning of instance chatter. I’m too busy making sure I have the right aura, the right seal, buffing everyone (Is there a warrior? Has anyone yet bitched at me to GIEF KINGS PLOX? so I can deliberately skip them?) and so I miss that golden opportunity many times apart from saying hello. I tried to see if anyone else had written about how to get people to talk in heroics (I feel like HoTs&DoTs did but I can’t seem to find the post, unless I’m mistaken). I did, however, find an article on ehow.com, “How To Get Someone To Talk Without Asking Them A Bunch of Questions.” I’ve edited it to apply to a pug, here for your convenience in three easy steps.

Step 1: When you know a pug is bothering someone, don’t start by asking them a bunch of questions. Instead try this, but only after you have memorized it (why not macro?)

Step 2: You say: I love you, pugger, and I know something is really hurting you, and I care enough about emblems to know what is really bothering you. Do you realize that if you won’t make chit-chat with me, and share with me when you plan to pull and what drugs you’ve made use of today, then I’m going to have to guess, and then write about you on my blog. And if you make me guess, I’m going to be a real human and guess negatively because, see, we humans never guess positively. We always assume the worst. And if I guess negatively it’s going to hurt our relationship, pugger, and I don’t want that. It’s going to make people on the internet laugh at you. We’re going to be spending the next twenty minutes together, depending on how much HP the tank has and how quickly he can pull. But I love you, pugger. The only question you have to ask me is, “Do you?”

Step 3: Once you ask  ‘do you’? turn and walk away to the other end of the pug, or drop group! You DO NOT WAIT FOR THE ANSWER (not my caps). You’ve already told the pugger that you love them and care for them and you don’t want to guess why they won’t talk to you, but by walking away you’re giving them the space they need. They can look at the symbol beside your party portrait and think about what it means, that little life-giving plus sign or that stabbey knife or stalwart shield. They may burst into tears or call you a lunatic, after they’ve had space and time to think about what they are going to say. You can say this to adult or children puggers, but children shouldn’t be pugging. But they do.

Tips and Warnings: Don’t get into any pugger’s character’s face. Don’t act like a know-it-all, don’t flaunt your gearscore. Let puggers have their space. The pugger may burst into tears, let them. If they want a hug, they’ll let you know.

Alternatively, you could try to start a conversation about something else, but doing the above is guaranteed to get pugs talking! Probably not to you, possibly about you, but at least it’s something.

So how about you? Do you have any way to get pugs to talk? Do you just not bother, or maybe just not care? I’m going to be making more of a concerted effort to get folks to talk a little, but paladin healing doesn’t favour this, at least it didn’t at my initial gear levels when I had to actually, you know, heal people. I’m used to being a druid – hot, hot, hot – chat, hot hot… But heroic running has gotten smooth enough that I can generally afford to swap out my healing sword for my one-handed axe and level the skill on the trash mobs, so I can probably strike up a conversation while I’m at it.